National Post's Peter Foster: Is he suffering stupidity, venality or both?

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In one of his periodic diatribes against science, scientists and any risk analyst who thinks that 95% certainty is enough to cause concern about global warming, the National Post’s Peter Foster has attacked Canadian scientist Andrew Weaver – using an argument that the newspaper has admitted, twice before, is flat-out untrue.

So, rude as it is to ask, we have to wonder if Mr. Foster is

a) an incredibly slow learner;

b) not a frequent reader of his newspaper’s “Corrections” feature;

c) so ideologically blinded that evidence just doesn’t matter to him; or

d) on the take?

There is, perhaps, a fifth answer, which to some degree gathers up some of the other four. The denial team leaders at the National Post – Peter Foster, Terence Corcoran, Lorne Gunter, Lawrence Solomon – have exhausted themselves shouting into the wind on this issue. They have spent their credibility and they have left themselves no graceful line of retreat. In fact, if any one of them now stood up and admitted that the science explaining anthropogenic global warming is overwhelming, they would become a laughingstock in their own narrow-minded community. Clearly, nearing the end of their fading careers – at their fading newspaper – they can’t take the strain.

In this instance, Foster’s actual attack on Weaver is not even that compelling. Foster says the University of Victoria scientist – one of the most frequently published and widely respected climate modellers in the world – “unleashed a diatribe against the research of Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre, who inconveniently exploded the IPCC‘s alarmist ‘hockey stick’ graph.”

Well, as the Post has been forced to admit before, Weaver did no such thing. Though many others have and to good effect. Go to RealClimate.org and search “McKitrick,” “McIntyre” or “hockey stick” and you’ll find pages of criticism, pretty much all of it well taken.

Foster also says that “Mr. Weaver has even suggested that it is dangerous to allow skeptics a voice in scientific debate.”

First of all, that’s “Dr. Weaver” – a relevant honorific that sets an esteemed Canada Research Chair apart from, say, a business writer with no expertise whatever in science. Second, and again, Weaver has suggested no such thing. As he says himself, “This statement makes no sense since by definition, real scientists are skeptics. Being skeptical is precisely how one advances science.”

Need it be said: Being stubborn, blind, sloppy and immune to evidence is less helpful.

PS

For strenuous determination to ignore all science and common sense, you can’t beat Terence Corcoran’s climate update in today’s paper, also attacking Andrew Weaver (why do they hate him so?).

Corcoran argues that an outbreak of winter weather in Toronto suggests that the entire theory of global warming is about to collapse. And he advertises the quibble-fest coming up this weekend at the International Conference on Climate Change. Check out the scientific credentials in this mob of “experts” and then think about the old aphorism: “birds of a feather ….”

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