Beware the inquisitional environmentalists

Climate skeptics erupt: Don't you dare attack Michael Crichton's award!

Andrew Leonard
November 2, 2006 10:20PM (UTC)

The American Quaternary Association's denunciation of the literary award bestowed by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists upon Michael Crichton has sparked some pushback in the Oct. 24 issue of Eos, the weekly newsletter of the American Geophysical Union.

Letters from the well-known climate skeptic Fred Singer and the lesser-known petroleum geologist Kevin Corbett take the American Quaternary Association and the American Geophysical Union to task for their "overarching political demagoguery." We'll leave the science to the folks at Real Climate, who brought this latest brouhaha to our attention. But we can't ignore Dr. Corbett's flowery rhetoric.


Corbett, who appears to be involved with an oil and gas company with the peculiar name of Sequoia Production, says that AMQUA's original letter "and AGU's position in promoting this view are nothing short of evangelical environmentalism with a dark shade of inquisitional environmental repression."

Wait, there's more.

"The 'inconvenient truth' here is that AGU lacks the integrity to act under its own name and has gone far outside the bounds of scientific inquiry and entered the realm of trenchant advocacy for a preferred political agenda."

My copy of Webster's defines "trenchant" as 1. cutting; sharp; 2. keen; penetrating; incisive; 3. forceful; vigorous; effective.

But in the immediate previous paragraph, Dr. Corbett calls AMQUA's statement "a poorly reasoned and self-justifying position." We must invoke the immortal words and memory of Inigo Montoya: Dr. Corbett, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

This may seem like a minor point. Perhaps it would be more trenchant to note that Dr. Corbett's comrade-in-arms, Dr. Singer, has previously disputed that there is any connection between CFCs and the ozone hole or ultraviolet rays and skin cancer, and has attacked studies on the cancer risks of secondhand smoking as "junk science." But if you're going to be dumb enough to defend the award given by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists to Michael Crichton for fictional services rendered in the cause of climate change skepticism, then you deserve all the mockery you get.


UPDATE: Kevin Corbett calls me "a font of ignorance and bombast." I may have to change the the title of this blog.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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