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Steve Forbes Claims Global Warming Is a Myth

Reported by Marie Therese - April 4, 2006

Last Saturday morning, Steve Forbes said this about global warming: "There are no real facts to back it up. It's now become a religion instead of science and great fundraiser for extreme environmentalists. I don't think it's a hoax, just bogus science, like eugenics was decades ago. I got news for you ... the weather patterns change. A thousand years ago, Europe was warmer than it is today. Five hundred years ago we had a mini-ice age. Sixty years ago between 1940 and 1970, the weather got cooler. Now it gets a couple of degrees warmer and suddenly the world's comin' to an end. It's nonsense."

Mr. Forbes was clearly a little mixed up here. Eugenics was a "social philosophy" that claimed that the human race could be improved through the application of scientific techniques. Global warming is not a philosophy. It is a scientific theory, formulated as the result of much scientific study. It is widely accepted. Virtually no credible scientist disputes that the planet is warming up. Only a handful of environmental scientists disagree. Forbes may be taking his information from Steven Milloy, who writes for FOXNews.com, publishes two blogs, JunkScience.com and CSRWatch.com and is an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute . He calls himself a "junk science expert" and an "advocate of free enterprise."

After Forbes made this statement, Quentin Hardy, Forbes Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, noted that the information comes not from guys standing outside with thermometers but from "core samples and good information that now tell us that things are accelerating faster in some weird, spiky way that never happened before. Nine of the ten hottest years, since people did stand out with thermometers in 1861, have been since 1995. That is a weird spike and we should be worried about it."

Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes, held up a piece of paper claiming it was a 1975 story from Newsweek magazine that claimed that "the evidence was so massive that there was not doubt that we were entering [the] beginning stages of a new ice age." He went on to claim that Thomas Kuhn taught us a long time ago that science is just as subject to fads as any other human discipline. He concluded by saying that global warming is just a fad cooked up by the baby boomer generation.

So, let me get this straight. Mr. Kargaard's justification for his opinion that global warming is junk science is one article from 1975 and an opinion expressed by author Thomas Kuhn?

Staff writer Lea Goldman brought the panel back to political reality, saying that "85% of this country believes it is happening - more than half believe it's serious." She then asked "Why is it that the industrialists and their sympathizers on Capitol Hill resort to attacking the messengers instead of the science?" She went on to say that those who don't believe in global warming "are on the fringe - they become the crackpots."

The ever-pragmatic Elizabeth MacDonald, Forbes Senior Editor, brought it back to Wall Street, saying that, while she listens to scientists, she also listens to Wall Street where firms like Goldman Sachs, J. P Morgan Chase and Lehman Brothers all agree that gloabl warming exists and that they are worried about it.

It was up to Associate Editor Victoria Barret to bring out the main argument for decreasing hydrocarbons, namely, that it will lessen our dependence on despotic governments who hold us hostage with oil. She said "I think green, meaning eco-friendly, is the new red-white-and-blue. Green is patriotic because we need to reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern despots and dictators for oil and green will allow us to do that."

Steve Forbes was not moved by any of the arguments.

FORBES: Well, the extreme environmentalists, like the Kyoto Protocol, want to put a straightjacket and impose socialism which they can't do with red so now they do it with green. 17,000 scientists have signed petitions saying global warming is not a problem so, if it's an uncertainty, don't treat it as a religion [and] browbeat everyone who isn't going along with it." He continued, "...[We] don't really know what changes the climate. It could be sunspots, ocean currents. It keeps changing every few years."

Here, Forbes was referring to a petition signed by 17,000 scientists worldwide ago in 1998 in opposition to the Kyoto Accord. Here is the text of the petition, originally crafted by Dr. Fredweick Seitz:

"We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."

Scientific American magazine took a sample of the petition's signatories and reported the following:

"[This magazine] took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition—one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community."

Quentin Hardy argued that "we better think long and hard about our behavior." He continued, saying "We've been given a garden in this world and we've been despoiling it because it's too much work to try and solve the problem."

Steve Forbes then made one of the most absurd statements I have ever heard uttered on TV: "As countries get richer, the environment gets better. We have more forests on the east coast today than we did at the time of the landing at Jamestown. Technology is our friend, not our enemy."

Elizabeth MacDonald countered by asking how the people of China would feel about Forbes' statement as they've seen pollution increase and people die from benzene that is dumped into rivers.

The discussion continued as follows:

DAVID ASMAN, Host: So what happens is eventually, when people have a little more change in their pocket they spend it on lowering pollution. China hasn't quite gotten there yet.

CROSSTALK

MacDONALD: I don't - you know what, I don't agree with that!

ASMAN: It's happened.

MacDONALD: No. It's not happening.

ASMAN: Sure it has! There's plenty of examples.

MacDONALD: Look at the amount of the SUV - look at the amount of SUVs on the highway. You know and that's spilling more CO2 ...

FORBES: The air is cleaner today than it's ever been in our history

MacDONALD: No, it is not! There's more CO2 in the atmosphere than at the beginning of the 18th century. It's dirtier.

MALE VOICE, off screen, possibly Quentin Hardy: And we're living dirtier.

BARRET: (indecipherable) installing solar panels.

FORBES: We live longer and we say the world is coming to an end!

MacDONALD: Because of great technological advances in medicine.

ASMAN: Quentin, go ahead.

HARDY: Well, look. We know about the greenhouse effect. It was warmer on earth before because there was more carbon dioxide in the air. Since the industrial revolution ...

ASMAN: OK.

HARDY: ... we've been producing a hell of a lot of carbon dioxide.

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