The Public Policy

Profiles in Cowardice

What has happened in Arkansas the last few weeks is illustrative of the global warmists' nervous intolerance.

By 1.22.09

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The intimidation tactics and belittling words of those in global warming alarmism are only a means to cloak the weaknesses of their arguments, especially now that the scientific and economic evidence has found a broader, more receptive audience -- check the latest poll results if you don't believe me.

Put succinctly, their efforts to silence opposing viewpoints to their dogma have only proven that they are a bunch of chicken-twits. Now that doubting Dorothy has doused Elmira Gulch's other ego with a cocktail of moderating temperatures and an economy in distress, the cries that their forecasts are "melting, melting, aagghhhh" approach a shrill peak.

What has happened in Arkansas the last few weeks is illustrative.

The story starts, as is the case in so many states, with Gov. Mike Beebe's (video link) creation of the Governor's Commission on Global Warming. In most other states where they've been developed, these panels have been fashioned purely by executive fiat. Arkansas's GCGW was authorized also by a law (PDF) to study potential impacts of global warming and ways to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (the presumed evil behind global temperature uptick). But the GCGW was also given the mandate to "study the scientific data, literature, and research on global warming to determine whether global warming is an immediate threat to the citizens in the State of Arkansas…."

Turns out this area of "study" was only allowed to go so far. As is the standard when the Center for Climate Strategies is granted management control of a state's climate commission (approaching two dozen so far), the prerequisite for CCS to take the job is that no debate of the climate science is allowed. Like the intolerant Al Gore, CCS cannot suffer dissent, flat-earthers, or moonwalk-deniers.

Needless to say, the likelihood that global warming would cause the Arkansas River to flood the William J. Clinton Presidential Library -- or other climate-driven Razorback State catastrophe could-be's -- was never discussed. Instead doom was presumed (PDF) should greenhouse gases continue unabated.

It seemed everyone there went happily along with the program. I sent an op-ed to explain problems with the process to Democrat-Gazette editor of the editorial page (or "EEP") Ed Gray, and he said, "I would rather have someone from Arkansas writing about Arkansas subjects." Fair enough, I thought at the time.

But towards the end of 2008, as has happened in other states, I began to hear from concerned folks who followed the process. One I engaged myself was Dr. Richard Ford, an environmental economics professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who also happened to be the only economist on the GCGW. He had not heard of me, but I was told he did not appreciate how CCS drove the commission towards their predetermined conclusions. He was a local and directly knowledgeable source on the subject, and therefore met the Democrat-Gazette's qualifications, right?

Not so fast. According to Ford -- who submitted his own piece about the GCGW to the newspaper -- EEP Ed told him, "I have decided to stay out of that -- if I use it I would have to use a companion piece." As I have learned over the last two years, the EEP species sometimes demand a "companion piece" when global warming dogma is challenged, especially when they are cornered by a well-reasoned, fact-based essay. Meanwhile hundreds of other op-eds sail into publication, companionless. Perhaps the EEPs' endangered habitat is affecting their judgment.

But it turned out that EEP Ed's demurral had limited suppressive effect. As 2008 closed, syndicated columnist David Sanders of roughly two dozen Arkansas newspapers trained his critical eye upon the sham process that was the GCGW. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Yes, six (6) times. As Dr. Ford sounded warnings about the GCGW with legislators, Sanders's reports drew out others on the commission with similar gripes.

"The commission members themselves weren't as big of participants as was CCS, quite frankly," said Gary Voigt, president of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. "Commission members didn't have the input; CCS's consultants had most of the input. There was a structure and a goal."

"As a commissioner," said Kevin Inboden of Jonesboro's city and water utility, "when I hear that the commission recommended this or that, it doesn't tell the whole story. There was a lot of dissension and opposition."

The piece de resistance of the resistance came in a legislative hearing held last week in Little Rock, in which famed atmospheric scientist skeptic Roy Spencer, "Red Hot Lies" author Chris Horner, and two myth-busters from the Science and Public Policy Institute delivered multiple puncture wounds to global warming alarmism. As a local left-wing blog threw apoplectic fits, a Democratic Senate committee chairman tried to shut the meeting down. But the pressure brought by Sanders, the scheduled skeptics, and the bold dissenters on GCGW was too much, and the hearing was held.

The Arkansas scenario was a microcosm of the alarmists' flailing on the issue globally. The more they try to silence their opposition, and portray them as unworthy of contemplation while positing their own outrageous doomsday scenarios, the further they push themselves to the fringe in public perception. That so many who hear these calamity predictions are freezing their keisters this winter doesn't help the warming cause.

Before long the alarmists who have so desperately and cowardly avoided debates will be begging for them, so they can recover their evaporated credibility.

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About the Author

Paul Chesser publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, a news aggregator for North Carolina, and is a contributor of articles, research and investigative reports for both national and state-level free-market think tanks.