Wednesday, May 2, 2012



May 2, 2012


What on earth was that?  Two days of winter in the middle of a freak summer that wasn’t even due for another couple months. So is the planet’s temperature in turmoil? Do we need to be concerned?

Not if you believe folks like Walton County’s representative, Dr. Paul Broun, and other mockers of the climate change phenomenon. Like “Professor” Jim DeMint next door in South Carolina, who famously declared that global warming didn’t exist because his state just had snow. Or disgraced Georgia dumpling Newt Gingrich, now buried under an avalanche of pro-Romney votes, who pooh-poohed the existence of global warming after three historic snowstorms in Washington.

These guys aren’t experts, and silly pronouncements like this are tailored for those unfortunates who’ll believe anything. Taking advantage. It’s unfair.

We’ve experienced the strangest weather in recent years. So now the climate change deniers roll out their backup argument, which is, kayokayokay then, the North Pole is melting, we’ll give you that, and yeah yeah sea levels are rising.  But even if the weather has gone berserk (c’mon fellas, it’s as obvious as a wart on a witch’s nose) human industry is not to blame.

Here’s Broun attacking the clean air bill known as ACES in 2009 with his take on global climate change. “It is a hoax,” he said, suggesting it would kill jobs and raise the cost of food, medicine, electricity and gasoline and hurt chiefly the poor and the elderly.

Put the violins away because none of that’s true. The FactCheck organization of conservative icon Walter Annenberg exposed Broun’s blather as “simplistic and misleading.” In reality the dollar impact is minimal: the Congressional Budget Office put the cost at 48 cents a day. Other studies such as that from the University of Massachusetts have shown it would cost zero while creating, not killing, 1.7 million new jobs  - 59,000 of them in Georgia.

The air is ours and contaminating it is an assault on all earth dwellers, yet the perpetrators get subsidies. We should punish them for polluting: instead we pay them. Pumping exhaust gases from vehicles and factories into the atmosphere destroys the ozone, allowing harmful rays to wash over our precious planet. No question. But Broun and his pals seek to cloud the issue, claiming there’s some kind of international “consensus” disproving this fact. Quoth Broun: “Scientists all over this world say the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community.” All over the world, huh: can he produce them? No.

Broun is a family physician. If 97 doctors prescribed immediate surgery and he and two others said I didn’t need it  – I think I’d go with the 97.

Does he even know sulfur dioxide produces acid rain? Only one percent comes from volcanoes, the rest from industrial activity such as burning coal, oil or gas for electricity. Broun’s biggest benefactors are Exxon Mobil, Whitaker Oil, The Southern Company and multinational Koch Industries who control huge oil and chemical interests. Koch also funds DeMint and controls the tea party.

A scientist on whom these guys have been relying is University of California physicist Richard Muller, a man whose “findings” were financed by the pollutin’ Koch Brothers themselves. Six months ago, after years of graciously accepting their cash, Muller admitted: global warming is a fact and burning these fossil fuels “could have a disastrous impact on the world.”  His new realization coincides with findings by the national atmospheric administration NOAA, with NASA and with 97% of climate scientists worldwide. Not the fictitious ones to whom Broun referred.

The lifeblood of Ohio is industry and the state’s Republican governor John Kasich was a heavy hitter in the fight to resist emissions control because... well, because his state is one huge factory. Last month he relented. Global warming was real, he said, and we needed to do something about it.

Of course the deniers deny that. “Deny it even if they prove it to you,” as the ex-wife used to cackle. My question is whether they believe their own words. If so, they’re naive nincompoops, but I’m sure they know it’s hogwash. In which case they’re simply liars who have prostituted themselves to Big Oil and Big Industry.

We’ve gone from whew! to brrrr! for two days and back to whew! again but now the winter-that-never-was is over. Summer is here despite the calendar, and we’ll be getting those scary Red Alerts about unhealthy ozone levels and asthma and kids and old folks needing to stay indoors

Bad air days? Walton County had 69 of them during 1999’s long, sweaty summer and experts envision a repeat although the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts our summer will be “much cooler than normal”. Say, who is this old farmer and what does he know! He forecast last Christmas season would be wild, wet and bitterly cold. Ho ho ho.

No, I shouldn’t make light of it. Two years ago thousands in neighboring Tennessee saw their homes washed away by a furious freak rainstorm. Last summer all but two of Texas’ 254 counties were on fire during that state’s worst drought ever. The terrifying tornados and hurricanes will be stronger and more frequent, says NOAA. Disease will flourish, polar bears will die out.

Just great!

A month ago a Nobel-prizewinning panel of climate scientists warned nations to prepare for a serious onslaught of deadly weather disasters.

But Broun is still repeating Koch’s bull.


© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.