Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Blogging around

Atrios has some interesting comments and links concerning Santorum.

Dominion is doing a masterful and entertaining job deconstructing Penn and Teller's recent show on environmental myths. I'm still looking for it on Showtime but haven't been able to find it.

Update 4/25: I was finally able to catch the show and 'bullshit' is an appropriate name for it. I find it offensive they would take on such a serious topic in such a skewed and sloppy way. Sure there are people in the environmental movement who aren't skilled speakers and others who aren't able to recognise the scientific name for H2O, but then there are those who could argue intelligently any of the 'points' Penn and Teller claimed to 'debunk'. Obviously they weren't keen on inviting any of those people onto their silly show.

There isn't anything of value I can add to Dominion's work. As for 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' his 15 minutes of fame didn't last long as his work was largely discredited by noted scientists around the world.

As the book's subtitle--Measuring the Real State of the World--indicates, Lomborg's intention was to reanalyze environmental data so that the public might make policy decisions based on the truest understanding of what science has determined. His conclusion, which he writes surprised even him, was that contrary to the gloomy predictions of degradation he calls "the litany," everything is getting better. Not that all is rosy, but the future for the environment is less dire than is supposed. Instead Lomborg accuses a pessimistic and dishonest cabal of environmental groups, institutions and the media of distorting scientists' actual findings. (A copy of the book's first chapter can be found at www.lomborg.org)

The problem with Lomborg's conclusion is that the scientists themselves disavow it. Many spoke to us at Scientific American about their frustration at what they described as Lomborg's misrepresentation of their fields. His seemingly dispassionate outsider's view, they told us, is often marred by an incomplete use of the data or a misunderstanding of the underlying science. Even where his statistical analyses are valid, his interpretations are frequently off the mark--literally not seeing the state of the forests for the number of the trees, for example. And it is hard not to be struck by Lomborg's presumption that he has seen into the heart of the science more faithfully than have investigators who have devoted their lives to it; it is equally curious that he finds the same contrarian good news lurking in every diverse area of environmental science.

Equally as pathetic was their obvious intent to quell opposition to any curtailing of logging. I don't find their attitude to be truly representative of logic and research but more in line with the deregulation at the expense of the environment no matter what religion certain conservative and alleged libertarian minded people subscribe to.

Mother Jones covered the Bush plan to 'fight fire with logging' last year well worth a read. This article defines the pros and cons of a 'clear-cut drought solution' pretty well. This article explains 'the lousy economics of Bush's new forest policy', something you'd think a Libertarian would think worthy of debate. And this explains how Bush has forged ahead absent environmental review which is basically what Penn and Teller did on their show.

In other words they managed to become what they accused the environmental community of being; incompetent intellectuals who try to rally support for their cause with cheap gimmicks and sensational material.

Clear Skies is another nightmare left for another time.

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