Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Truth Shall Set You Free

In Washington, it will set you free from your job if the truth conflicts with politically correct doctrine.

In a rational world, meaning somewhere beyond the Washington state line, honesty and accuracy count for something. In the Ever Green state though, political correctness trumps statistical correctness, and as a consequence, Mark Albright, Washington’s assistant state meteorologist, has been shown the door. He was right. The mayor was wrong. Albright has to go. At least he doesn’t have to report to a re-education camp – not yet anyway.
In the gospel according to Al Gore, it’s okay to lie in the cause of global warming. “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it (global warming) is,” Gore told a friendly interviewer last year.
Considering the adulation that Gore’s over-representation has gained him, there can be little doubt that when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wrote a guest column for the Seattle Times, he felt perfectly comfortable claiming that the northwest was already suffering from global warming. He was seizing the eco-moral high ground. And according to the Goracle, his moral superiority grants him license to lie. It’s sort of like earning dishonesty offset credits.
Nickels claimed that the average annual snow pack in the northern Cascade Mountains was down by 50% since 1950. This is the number that had been tossed around for some time now by global warming activists and has gained the status of truth that is often accorded to the Big Lie. The problem is that the number is wrong, very wrong. The only debate is how wrong.
Nickels was troubled that the leftist dominated Washington State Supreme Court had found that Seattle City Light’s program of making itself carbon neutral by purchasing carbon credits was illegal. He derided their decision as “short-sighted.”
Pointless, illegal showboating strikes me as short-sighted. And spending money on carbon offset credits will not add to the snow pack.
Nearly all of the electricity that Seattle City Light provides its customers already comes from environmentally friendly hydropower or nuclear power. Nevertheless, Seattle’s greenies felt the need to make the meaningless gesture of purchasing carbon credits to offset the emissions of its service vans, etc. The court found that this was an illegal expenditure by a publicly owned utility and Nickels was troubled enough to repeat a fib. Excuse me, I mean he over-represented the facts.
Politicians lie. We all know that. What makes this interesting is that a University of Washington meteorologist was fired from his job as Associate State Meteorologist for saying that the numbers weren’t true and for backing it up with data. Referencing actual numbers, part-time UW Mark Albright cited actual data and showed that the northern Cascades snow pack is not declining at all.
His bosses tried to salvage Nickels’ reputation by arguing that, although the snow wasn’t down by 50%, it was declining. Albright’s boss, State Climatologist Phillip Mote argued that the snow pack was down, by a very significant 35%. But to come up with that number, or the more modest 10-15% decline favored by other meteorologists, one has to have stopped collecting data about 10 years ago. Since the mid-1990’s, snow pack has been above average and for the last 30 years, the average snow pack has been, well, quite average. There has been no decline.
But in a world where those who express skepticism of the Al Gore scenario are condemned as the moral equivalent of holocaust deniers, firing someone who lets facts get in the way of the agenda is perfectly justifiable. My favorite term for this is “eco-McCarthyism.”
What happened to Mark Albright really does encapsulate an institutional bias within the meteorological community. While meteorologists claim to have been offered bribes or even threatened to get them to publicly oppose the anthropogenic global warming (APW) theory, the fact is that the threats and bribes are stacked against global warming skeptics. Anybody who doubts APW theory in the course of a job interview has no chance of getting a faculty position at a university. Anyone who challenges APW before getting tenure will get the boot. Tenured professors will not get promoted for the same offense. And nobody will ever get a government grant to investigate alternative explanations for global warming.
And, as was demonstrated in the Mark Albright case, one does not have to challenge global warming to be purged. You only have to challenge a data point.

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