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I'll take that apology now
Scripps Howard News Service


January 31, 2006

I'll take that apology now. You know, the same apology uber-conservatives (UCs) continuously demand from progressives when UCs feign indignation over an alleged progressive faux pas.

I'll take my first apology for invention of the term "junk science." It has been used by UCs to discredit environmentalists and scientists who first discerned human activity is provoking climate change. I'll take my second for uber-conservative insistence that global warming is a fabrication of the looney Left.

For quite some time, most scientists have agreed global warming is for real. This weekend The Washington Post published an item that read, "Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend."

"This 'tipping point' scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible."

The Post isn't the supposedly liberal New York Times. In fact, it has been right-leaning in its coverage and editorial bent since Katherine Graham became chummy with the Reagans in the 1980s. I'll take that apology now.

What incredible news! The worldwide scientific community is so convinced of human impact on global warming that the debate has shifted to whether it's too late to reverse the damage. But not here in the United States. Our UC government is still playing the "we need to study this some more before we jump to any conclusions" game. That is when it's not trying to stifle public statements by what few credible government scientists it hasn't booted from its payroll.

Just this past week, NASA's top climate scientist told reporters the Bush administration has tried to stop him from "speaking out." His unpardonable sin? He gave a lecture in December calling for speedy reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - those pesky little pollutants linked to global warming.

Scientist James Hansen is the longtime director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He is quoted as telling reporters that officials at NASA headquarters ordered the public affairs staff to review upcoming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for more interviews.

Hansen says he plans to ignore the restrictions. But such heroism didn't have even a hint of impact on the UC-anti-warming campaign. Nope, note a mite. Some lockstep UC Web site called,, posted the following response to Hansen's heroism, "Losin' it, Jim?"

Then there's that mildly oxymoronic Web site, It sports the following message posted last summer, "Global warming is a classic scare campaign initiated by the Greens after a previous effort in the 1970s to influence public policy by declaring a coming Ice Age failed to generate any response. What we are seeing now is yet another worldwide coordinated campaign by the Greens to rescue the global warming theory from the junk heap to which it should be consigned."

Tell that to European governments that are taking global warming seriously. Britain's David Warrilow who heads science policy on climate change for one of his country's ministries told the Post, "consuming massive amounts of fossil fuels (is like the) strategy of the Titanic's crew."

I'll take that apology now, thank you. Especially for the predictable Bush administration's response to the Post's story, "Some scientists, including President Bush's chief science adviser, John H. Marburger III, emphasize there is still much uncertainty about when abrupt global warming might occur."

Well, let's just sit here for a few more decades, through a few more record hurricane and tsunami seasons, as the average global temperature rises yet another 5 degrees, and keep arguing about whether global warming exists.


Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service.
E-mail bonnieerbe(at)

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