Right wing smears scientific consensus on global warming as a "cult"

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Following the release of reportedly stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, numerous right-wing media figures have attempted to undermine the case for action against global climate change by comparing the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming to a "cult." However, as the Union of Concerned Scientists has stated, the scientific understanding of climate change is "based on the work of thousands of scientists from hundreds of research institutions" and "[t]he e-mails provide no information that would affect" this understanding.

Right-wing media converge on talking point that climate change science is a false religion

Wash. Times: "Belief in global warming" is "a form of cultism." The Washington Times asserted in a December 4 editorial: "Belief in global warming had long had a tinge of theology about it, a form of cultism that adherents and defenders elevated to a holy crusade." The editorial further stated, "The veil has been pierced, the myth revealed, the scales have fallen from the people's eyes. The pagan priests are fleeing the temple, their sacred idols are being pulled down, their holy works renounced. Their god, finally, is dead."

Malkin: "[C]limate change cult" enabled by mainstream media. Conservative blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin stated during the December 3 edition of Fox & Friends, "[M]ost of the mainstream media have been the official enablers of the climate change cult." Malkin further stated that Energy Secretary Steven Chu "compared Americans who challenged a lot of this cult mentality about global warming and climate change to unruly teenagers."

IBD: Global warming science "has taken on all the trappings of a cult." Investor's Business Daily stated in a December 2 editorial that "[w]hat has been passed off as climate science has taken on all the trappings of a cult." The editorial also asserted, "As the high priests of what Czech President Vaclav Klaus has called a 'religion' prepare their pilgrimage to worship the earth goddess Gaia in Copenhagen, complete with humanity being sacrificed, the heresy of climate truth is finally being heard."

Coulter: "The global warming cultists want us all dead." Ann Coulter wrote on December 2 that the CRU scientists are "cult members" who "plotted to get editors ousted and the publications discredited." Coulter added that, "Until now, the global warming cult's sole argument has been to demand that everyone shut up in response to the 'scientific consensus' that human activity was causing global warming." Coulter further wrote:

Even if the Earth were warming -- which apparently it is not -- the idea that humans using energy-efficient lightbulbs would alter the temperature of the globe is approximately as plausible as the Aztecs' belief that they were required to wrench the beating heart out of living, breathing humans in order to keep the sun on its path.

Sadly, the "human sacrifice deniers" lost the argument to Aztec CRU scientists, who explained that there was a "scientific consensus" on the benefits of ritual murder.

But at least the Aztecs only slaughtered tens of thousands of humans in the name of "climate change." The global warming cultists want us all dead.

AmSpecBlog: "[T]he cultist genuflect reverently before their idol, Science." In a November 28 post on the American Spectator blog titled, "The Temple Cult of Scientism," Robert Stacy McCain wrote, "The High Priests perform their statistical rituals and the cultists genuflect reverently before their idol, Science. And it's all very impressive until the truth is discovered."

Andrea Peyser: "[T]he scientific and political left .... treat global warming as a cult." In a November 30 column titled "Climate-cult con is hard to 'bear,'" Andrea Peyser wrote, "The international 'Climategate' scandal is now moving into its third week. And reaction from folks on the scientific and political left -- or is that redundant? -- who treat global warming as a cult in which naysayers must be crushed has been depressing: Total denial."

Lowry: "Church of Warmism" is a "doomsday cult." In a December 8 New York Post column, "Global warming's doomsday prophets," Rich Lowry wrote:

The phrase "doomsday cult" entered our collective vocabulary after John Lofland published his 1966 study, "Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith." Lofland wrote about the Unification Church. His subject could almost as easily have been the Church of Warmism.

Its college of cardinals has gathered in Copenhagen amid professions of an imminent global apocalypse that allow no room for doubt or deviation. "The clock has ticked down to zero," declared UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. Yes, the end is nigh -- just as surely as when the Millerites gathered on Oct. 22, 1844, to witness the Second Coming, only to comfort themselves at the end of the night, "Well, maybe next year."

James Hirsen: "[T]he cult leader of global warming theory is Al Gore." Appearing on the December 6 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, Newsmax.com's James Hirsen stated, "[W]e have to say the cult leader of global warming theory is Al Gore. He's become a Hollywood celebrity by virtue of the fact that he is -- his film won an Oscar. He's won a Grammy. He's won -- you know, he lives in a 20-room mansion outside of Nashville. He has an indoor swimming pool. He jets around preaching this global warming."

Michael Ledeen: CRU emails prove global warming "was a cult and not science." During the December 4 edition of Hannity, frequent Fox News guest Michael Ledeen referred to "the religious dimension to this so-called scientific theory," asserting that "[i]t was never more than a hypothesis but it became an article of faith." He later stated of the emails, "[W]hat it proves is that it was a cult and not science. Because science has to deal with all the evidence, whether you like it or whether you don't. Cults lock out evidence that they don't like. And they locked it out."

Broad consensus on global climate change "supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence"

IPCC: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is a scientific body established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization, has established that "[w]arming of the climate system is unequivocal." The IPCC "reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide," and its reports are the product of contributions from "[t]housands of scientists from all over the world." In a statement on the CRU emails, IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said, "Every layer in the process (including large author teams, extensive review, independent monitoring of review compliance, and plenary approval by governments) plays a major role in keeping I.P.C.C. assessments comprehensive, unbiased, open to the identification of new literature, and policy relevant but not policy prescriptive," and that "[t]his thoroughness and the duration of the process followed in every assessment ensure the elimination of any possibility of omissions or distortions, intentional or accidental."

Nature: "Nothing in" hacked "e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real." A December 2 editorial in the science journal Nature stated of the hacked CRU emails: "Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real -- or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails."

AMS: Position on climate change "based on a robust body of research reported in the peer-reviewed literature." Following the release of the stolen emails, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) reaffirmed its Statement on Climate Change, stating that it "is based on a robust body of research reported in the peer-reviewed literature." AMS further stated: "For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true -- which is not yet clearly the case -- the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited."

UCS: "For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers around the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus." The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has stated that "[t]he e-mails provide no information that would affect the scientific understanding of climate change, as many contrarians are falsely claiming. For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers around the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus on the extent of climate change, the urgency of the problem, and the role human activity plays in causing it." UCS further stated: "The findings of the USGCRP, IPCC and other scientific bodies are based on the work of thousands of scientists from hundreds of research institutions. The University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) is just one among many such research institutions. Even without data from CRU, there is still an overwhelming body of evidence that human activity triggering dangerous levels of global warming."

Peter Kelemen: "[A]lleged problems with a few scientists' behavior do not change the consensus understanding of human-induced, global climate change." Kelemen, a professor of geochemistry at Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, wrote, "I think it is important for scientists to clearly state that if basic data were withheld, or if there was unprofessional tampering with the peer-review process, we do not condone these acts. It is equally essential to emphasize that alleged problems with a few scientists' behavior do not change the consensus understanding of human-induced, global climate change, which is a robust hypothesis based on well-established observations and inferences." Kelemen further wrote:

Outspoken critics often portray climate science as a house of cards, built on a shaky edifice of limited data and broad suppositions. However, it's more realistic to think of the science as a deck of cards, spread out, face up. Some data and interpretations of those data are more certain than others, of course. But pulling out one or two interpretations, or the results of a few scientists, does not change the overall picture. Take away two or three cards, and there are still 49 or 50 cards facing you.

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