There are cranky skeptics and then there are cranky skeptics. A perfect example of the latter – second only, perhaps, to our old favorite, Jim Inhofe – is John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel and San Diego weatherman. (As you might recall, Coleman very publicly broke with TWC last year when he accused the network of succumbing to “global warming alarmism.”)
Coleman has been peddling his brand of reactionary skepticism for years – memorably calling it the “greatest scam in history” – culminating in his recent appearance on Fox News’ “Red Eye,” during which he vowed to sue Al Gore for fraud. Yes, you read that right: sue him.
Taking a page straight out of Christopher Monckton, Coleman whined to host Greg Gutfeld – a paragon of fair and balanced journalism, I might add – that he and his coalition of “30,000” scientists were sick and tired of all this consensus talk and that they weren’t going to take it lying down anymore (especially now that the evil Liberal Media had essentially shut him out).
If that sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard it before.
At last year’s 2008 International Conference on Climate Change (or, as I like to call it, the “2008 Skeptic-Palooza That Wasn’t”), Coleman spewed the same tired diatribe, accusing Al Gore and carbon credit sellers of perpetrating mass “financial fraud” and of burying a “legitimate” debate. He urged his fellow discontents to help him launch a lawsuit in order to expose their shady practices:
“If the lawyers will take the case – sue the people who sell carbon credits. That includes Al Gore. That lawsuit would get so much publicity, so much media attention. And as the experts went to the witness stand and testified, I feel like that could become the vehicle to finally put some light on the fraud of global warming.”
Well, it’s been almost a year since that epochal meeting, and there’s still no sign of a lawsuit – this despite the heroic efforts of Frank Bi of the International Journal of Inactivism and others to ease his endeavor. (Of course, it doesn’t help that previous attempts to do so failed miserably.) It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that Coleman and his acolytes could be biding their time, looking for just the right opportunity (perhaps this year’s Copenhagen climate talks) to strike. But somehow I doubt that.
If Coleman’s on-air appearance is any indication of the strength of his legal argument, he’ll probably want to spend more time preparing anyway. For one thing, he claimed that average global temperatures had risen by “maybe a tenth of a degree” over the last century; strange then that the IPCC reported in 2007 that temperatures actually increased by an average of 0.74°C over the same period.
Coleman’s take on the “hockey stick” graph (a reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the past millennium that shows a sharp rise in the last century) was equally laughable. Far from being disproven by “science,” as he asserted, its findings were in fact reaffirmed by a sprawling 2006 report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences. The authors drew on 1,200 overlapping proxy records, or data sets, including ice and sediment core contents and coral and tree growth trends, to derive historical temperature patterns for the past 2,000 years in both hemispheres. Their conclusion: Yes, Virginia, global warming is real.
As for Coleman’s 30,000 backers: Let’s just say that that number may be slightly inflated. Based on a long-discredited petition passed around by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine during the 90s, it was even debunked by the Skeptics Society. The National Academy of Sciences called it “misleading” and “not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.” Oh, and did I mention that several of its signatories are already dead?
Maybe it's time to ask Frank Bi to circulate that petition again. Second time lucky?