The “Junk Science” Misleader

Steven Milloy makes a nice living working at home ($90,000 a year, according to Mother Jones) as a science abuser. Formerly he was the executive director of the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. Among his achievements, according to reporter Chris Mooney, was a column he wrote in the right-leaning Washington Times in 2001 advising the current administration on a ""lingering infestation" of Clinton-friendly "science moles" within the Federal government.""

He also writes a regular column for FoxNews called Junk Science. It’s worth a look. He collects all sorts of science news, simply listing one study after another, and then puts his spin on particular issues. Often he attacks particular scientists. Frequently he doesn’t even attempt to contest the story he lists, but simply expresses an attitude about it. For example, here’s a story from today, complete with his expressed attitude in brackets, as if nothing else needed to be said:

[Sigh…]  "Climate change: The ultimate wake-up call" – "The evidence that global warming is making extreme storms like hurricane Katrina worse is becoming overwhelming" (Glasgow Sunday Herald).

Yes, how wearisome it is that some people care about our planet’s health.

But occasionally Milloy does attempt to put  up an argument. Here’s one of his "top ten irresponsible claims by environmental scientists" from last year:

"Global warming could cause polar bears to go extinct by the end of the century by eroding the sea ice that sustains them," is the dire warning in a new report from an international group of "researchers" called the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

I’m not quite sure about the polar bears’ future, but it doesn’t seem any alleged manmade global warming has anything to do with it. The report, titled "Impacts of a Warming Arctic," pretty much debunks itself on Page 23 in the graph labeled, "Observed Arctic Temperature, 1900 to Present."

The graph shows Arctic temperatures fluctuate naturally in regular cycles roughly 40 years long. The Arctic seems to be undergoing a warming phase — similar to one between 1900-1940 — which will likely be followed by a cooling phase — similar to that of 1940-1970.

The report’s claim that increased manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are causing a rise in Arctic temperatures is debunked by the same graph, which indicates the near-surface Arctic air temperature was higher around 1940 than now, despite all the greenhouse gas emissions since.

By contrast, take a look at the first paragraph from this month’s report on the Artic found in Eos, the weekly journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The Arctic system is moving toward a new
state that falls outside the envelope of glacial-interglacial
fluctuations that prevailed during
recent Earth history. This future Arctic is likely
to have dramatically less permanent ice than
exists at present. At the present rate of change, a
summer ice-free Arctic Ocean within a century
is a real possibility, a state not witnessed for at
least a million years. The change appears to be
driven largely by feedback-enhanced global
climate warming, and there seem to be few, if
any, processes or feedbacks within the Arctic
system that are capable of altering the trajectory
toward this “super interglacial” state.

Notice any mention of a "cooling phase" soon to come?

Me neither.


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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