Global Warming... & Mugwumps

What empowers global warming?  Mugwumps.

By: Roger Snodgrass

Monitor News


The Second International Conference on Global Warming and the Next
Ice Age hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory in Santa Fe
last week may have expressed the premises of its chairman Petr Chylek,
but it fell well short of the standards of scientific excellence that
the laboratory is supposed to uphold.


Chylek said he thought scientists with different perspectives on the climate
change issue should be talking to each other rather than simply talking
to people who agreed with them.


Sure enough, the two mismatched sides of the controversy – one robust and
confident, the other whiney and pathetic – were nominally represented,
although the quality of the so-called skeptics was so inferior as to
bring the motivation for including them into question.


The conference title treated the issue like a joke, as if the world were
taking itself way too seriously on whether or not the ice caps would
melt and the lowlands flood.

Some people at the conference said in fact that the attendance list was
peculiar and that they knew scholars who decided not to attend because
of the crackpot element that was disproportionately welcomed.


Chylek calls himself an agnostic on the subject of global warming.

"I don't think it can be decided," he said.




Mugwumps are classically described as people who sit on a fence
with their mugs on one side and their wumps on the other.



Chylek is far too charming to be criticized for his reluctance to take a side
and he readily acknowledged that when he came up with the conference
title, he started getting e-mails asking what happened to his brain.


The conference organizers surely did not consciously set out to butter up
the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who is one of
the laboratory’s main congressional overseers. And hopefully, they
weren’t explicitly pandering to the oil-patch President, who has taken
every opportunity to obfuscate and avoid responsibility on this subject
on behalf of his core supporters.


But that’s exactly how it appeared.


As the conference met, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas was once again
calling scientists on the carpet in Washington to “prove” they were wrong
and conniving.


Barton for some reason became infuriated by a famous logo of the global
warming debate known as the hockey stick. This graph associated with
papers by Michael Mann of Pennsylvannia State University
and his colleagues was first published nine years ago, but its
depiction of a sharp increase in temperatures in the Northern
Hemisphere starting in the 1990s has driven the congressman mad.


Last June, he held what could have been called the First Annual Hockey Stick
Witch Hunt, which his Republican colleague and Chairman of the House
Science Committee Rep. Sherwood Boehlert called “misguided and
illegitimate.” He charged Barton with trying “to intimidate scientists,
rather than to learn from them.”


On Wednesday, the Second Annual Hockey Stick Witch Hunt heard from Michael
Mann himself, who defended his work in a reasonable way, on a panel
stocked half-and-half between believers and doubters.


One of the latter was John Christy, the state climatologist of Alabama,
who made another pitch for uncertainty and concluded by criticizing the people
who demonize “energy.”


Christy had presented a paper at the Santa Fe conference the previous week,
using anecdotal evidence he had accumulated himself as a missionary in
Kenya, to challenge temperature readings as evidence of greenhouse


“The question is carbon dioxide,” Chylek said in his introductory remarks at
the conference, referring to the main culprit in the gang of greenhouse
gasses that are normally charged with causing global warming. “We are
all thinking about reducing CO2, but are we serious?”


No, apparently some of us are not. And others in all sincerity are
determined to fiddle-faddle and goof around and look for cheap shots.


The national laboratories have been in the vanguard of climate research.
LANL’s own climate modeling has played a role in establishing and
advancing the international consensus.


LANL’s recent conference played up ambiguity, when in fact there is an
overwhelming and increasingly more reliable consensus among the
scientific community that perceives an alarming global warming trend at


Despite the science and despite the palpable effects and reasonably
well-understood causes of this hockey stick crisis, LANL has signaled
that they are not too proud to carry the administration’s water,
regardless of the science.


As for the do-nothing members of Congress, they deserve a great big hockey
puck of voter rejection right in the wump.


[ed: the do-nothing members of Congress got the big hockey puck of voter
rejection in November... the chairs of the respective energy oversight
committees will no longer be 'wumpers-in-charge']