This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, November 28, 2014:
Given the national media's foregone conclusion that the climate change debate is over, there is little likelihood that Linda Prokopy's latest survey challenging the climate change consensus will receive any air time, regardless of her credentials.
Prokopy is an associate professor of Natural Resource Social Science at the establishment Purdue University, and she has all the credentials, educational background, and publishing credits that one would need to get national attention and respect. But only, it appears, if her conclusion lends support to the establishment meme that man is causing climate change and something must be done now!
She had the audacity to
survey farmers and scientists directly involved in the agricultural sector and to ask them what they thought about that meme. Of the 173 scientists and climatologists she included in her survey, a very predictable 90 percent of them believed that climate change was happening, with half of them blaming it on human activities, like farming.
However, of the 4,778 corn producers she and her fellow researchers surveyed, only 66 percent said they thought the climate was changing, and just eight percent blamed humans. A quarter of them said they believed climate change resulted from natural causes, with another third holding that there wasn't enough evidence to prove the point either way.
She summarized the survey, saying:
Results reveal that agricultural and climate scientists are more likely to believe that climate change is mostly due to human activities than farmers and advisers….
This discrepancy in beliefs creates challenges in communicating climate science to [the farmers and their advisers].
When the Media Research Center (MRC) got hold of her survey, they put it in terms of the debate they have weighed in on for decades. Founded in 1987 by conservative author and activist Brent Bozell III, MRC's stated mission from the first was to “prove — through sound scientific research — that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values.” Writing for MRC, Susan Long expressed surprise at its findings:
While 90 percent of scientists and climatologists surveyed thought the climate was changing, only about 50.4 percent contended that humans were the primary cause….
This evidence is inconvenient to the many media outlets that have endlessly repeated that 97 percent of scientists endorse the global warming hypothesis. Prominent outlets like NBC and the New York Times, as well as countless others, have effectively shut down debate by asserting [that] there is no scientific debate.
With no effective debate, of course, the media becomes a mouthpiece for what supports their agenda: Government must fix this or we will all die! Left alone, of course, is any serious discussion of exactly what “climate change” now means, having morphed from the inconveniently limiting phrase “global cooling” and from there to “global warming.”
The phrase: “If you would converse with me, define your terms” has been attributed to John Locke, but what Locke actually wrote in 1689 is revealing and pertinent:
The names of simple ideas are not capable of any definition; the names of all complex ideas are. It has not, that I know, been yet observed by anybody what words are, and what are not, capable of being defined; the want whereof is (as I am apt to think) not seldom the occasion of great wrangling and obscurity in men's discourses….
Without definitions of complex ideas, then, readers are left with conclusions often based upon error: finely crafted, persuasively presented, and logically apparently unassailable, especially if they are repeated endlessly.
H. L. Mencken, author of Prejudices in 1920, put the matter more succinctly: “Explanations exist: they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”
For some, such as Michael Mann, a climate-changer who says he has studied the world's temperature record for the past 1,000 years (!) and who then published his findings using his famous “hockey stick” graph, there is no dissent. If dissent rears its ugly head, Mann is there to lop it off. Last January, Mann wrote in the New York Times:
The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science.
This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist.
Notice his choice of words which serve to define the character of those questioning the meme: “fringe,” “clings,” “irrational,” virulent strain,” and “infects,” each of which is clearly defined and serves as his response to surveys such as Prokopy's of Purdue University. This is his alternative approach to responding to adverse opinions with sound reasoning and respectful dignity. It is, with apologies to Samuel Adams, “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” or what is used when the defender of false beliefs runs out of answers.
Consider efforts by Marc Morano, who served as communications director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In 2007 he published a minority report titled “Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims,” which he updated later to “over 700 scientists” and then to “more than 1,000 scientists.” Instead of responding to the doubters by examining their data and conclusions, Morano's enemies launched ad hominem attacks against him. He was called a “hired assassin” who “spreads lies about scientists.” He was labeled the “Climate Change Misinformer of the Year” in 2012 by Media Matters, and his career was portrayed as “a lesson in the art of lying” by the German magazine Zeit.
Merely by surveying farmers and their advisers about what they think of the “climate change” meme, Professor Linda Prokopy may unwittingly have put her career in serious jeopardy, if the media bothers with it at all. After all, farmers are far too close to the subject to have any opinion on the matter of man-made climate change.