You too can be a climate scientist
Attend the Heartland Institute and accept the energy industry into your heart as your personal savior and you can become an expert.
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 30, 2011 | Comments (3)
The Heartland Institute is up to its usual tricks, delivering a religious retreat-like conference about climate change denial and passing it off as science. They are an energy-industry funded climate change denial outfit that equips their congregation followers with the latest anti-climate science preaching.
It is an approach that seems to have confused at least one state senator about the difference between the two. The story is instructive because it is happening in state legislatures across the country, and the stakes are tremendous.
A few weeks ago MinnPost's Don Shelby published an expose of a state senator named Mike Jungbauer, a leading expert on global warming in the Minnesota senate. Jungbauer is a global warming skeptic who says he has spoken at the Heartland Institute.
Here is one of the Glenn Beck-like videos Jungbauer has produced on the subject of global warming:
You can see more of them on his campaign web site.
Jungbauer is extremely articulate, as the video shows, and takes a similar approach in his official duties as senator, telling expert testifiers that he has spent 8 years of his life studying 13 different disciplines of science, including taking a tropospheric chemistry class:
Just one problem - Jungbauer is not a scientist. He has not even graduated from college. Yet he tells people he has a background in biochemistry. The tropospheric chemistry class, on further questioning, turned out to "part of a discussion in another class I took." Most likely at the Heartland Institute.
Jungbauer seems to be acting as if he were a preacher, ordained in climate science, and can put his personal spin on his sermons. In fact, he is ordained - by Christian Motor Sports International in Gilbert, Arizona, to provide "chapel services, pastoral care, outreach and Christian fellowship at car races, car shows, cruise-ins and tractor pulls."
The Shelby piece was quite critical, and after it came out, the Heartland Institute issued a statement demanding an apology. They are currently promoting their sixth denialist conference, titled "Restoring the Scientific Method." The web site says that "The scientists speaking at this conference, and the hundreds more who are expected to attend, are committed to restoring the scientific method. This means abandoning the failed hypothesis of man-made climate change, and using real science and sound economics to improve our understanding of the planet’s ever-changing climate."
It is difficult to understand what economics has to do with improving our understanding of the planet's ever-changing climate. But this confusion makes perfect sense in a world were you are making a rhetorical or religious argument couched as a scientific one. The giveaway that this is what Jungbauer is doing is the beginning of his video: "wrong information->wrong conclusions."
It turns out the current list of "scientists" speaking at the conference have a similar level of expertise to Senator Jungbauer. Most are not, in fact, scientists at all, as Brian Angliss points out over at Scholars & Rogues, but true believers, preaching old energy revivalism on today's version of the sawdust circuit.
In the Shelby article, Sen. Jungbauer agreed to debate John Abraham of climaterapidresponse.org. Science Debate has invited him and offered to provide a fair, nonpartisan moderator and venue. Whether you agree or disagree with Jungbauer's views, these sorts of discussions are important to have to bring science closer to the people whose lives it affects, which is something both Jungbauer and Abraham clearly agree on. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government."
I will update when Senator Jungbauer responds.
Tags: Antiscience, Religion, Politics, Climate Change, Republicans