Meet the Skeptics! James Taranto of the WSJ in a Charm Offensive

February 11, 2014

Sparkling and debonair, James Taranto – the Wall Street Journal’s self described “Tarantosaurus Sex” holds forth above – ladies, – he’s single! Don’t rush – line forms to the left…..

His take on the battle of the sexes is as refreshingly insightful as his climate science below:

“The contentious ‘pause’ in global warming over the past decade is largely due to unusually strong trade winds in the Pacific ocean that have buried surface heat deep underwater,” London’s Guardian reports. This is supposed to explain away the absence of warming:

The findings should provide fresh certainty about the reasons behind the warming hiatus, which has been claimed by critics of mainstream climate science as evidence that the models are flawed and predictions of rising temperatures have been exaggerated.

But wait. Why are the Pacific trade winds so strong? An Australian climate scientist “said it was unclear what has caused the increase in Pacific trade winds, although warming in the Indian Ocean has been cited as a potential trigger.”

Another way of formulating that hypothesis is that global warming causes global cooling, which has canceled out global warming. In other words, maybe the world’s climate regulates itself in ways the climate scientists have yet to figure out.

Joe Romm in ClimateProgress:

I suppose it was inevitable that some anti-science extremist would compare the doomsday claims of evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping with the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that says unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions risks multiple simultaneous catastrophes for human civilization.

It’s just sad that this extremist was the editor of The Wall Street Journal‘s online editorial page, James Taranto.  His inane, defamatory piece, “The Christian Al Gore: The eternal appeal of doomsday cults,” makes one question the factual basis of every thing that appears in the WSJ.  After all, if an astrologer and Flat-Earther can rise to such prominence at the leading financial newspaper in the country, and publish pure anti-science nonsense, then on what basis is there to believe that the rest of the staff is any more rational?

Oh yes, I forgot.  There’s an impenetrable firewall between editorial and news at the WSJ.  No doubt it’s as impenetrable as the firewall in Wall Street investment banks between the corporate-advisory group and the brokerage department.

Taranto’s money graf is:

To reject traditional religion is not, as the American Atheists might have it, to transform oneself into a perfectly rational being. Nonbelievers are no less susceptible to doomsday cults than believers are; Harold Camping is merely the Christian Al Gore. But because secular doomsday cultism has a scientific gloss, journalists like our friends at Reuters treat it as if it were real science. So, too, do some scientists. It may be that the decline of religion made this corruption of science inevitable.

Yes, because science has a scientific gloss, real journalists treat it as if it were real science.  So, too, do some scientists.

20 Responses to “Meet the Skeptics! James Taranto of the WSJ in a Charm Offensive”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    “Charm Offensive”? None of the former; a great deal of the latter.
    That said, Planet of the Apes is suddenly much more believable.

  2. petersjazz Says:

    Uncertenty is a reson for inaction. So we should stop CO2 emissions until we are 100% certain about the sciense!

  3. andrewfez Says:

    There are lunatics on both sides of the sex battle.

    A while back some faction of the modern feminism community birthed the idea that wikipedia was something of a misogynist’s paradise and decided to inject feminist philosophies into the website’s content. For example, as late as of last year, if one were to look at wiki’s page on sexual dimorphism they would have found, between information derived from peer reviewed science literature, information injected from a book called ‘The Gender and Science Reader’ whose description includes, ‘a comprehensive feminist analysis of the nature and practice of science’, and whose objective included the illumination of ‘how science reinforces gender and racial stereotypes’. The quotes from the book have since been removed, but they attempted to downplay the science concerning physiological differences between males and females.

    I won’t go into the more extreme examples as they have nothing to do with climate or science.


  4. Let me stick my neck out here and suggest that Taranto’s comment is only half stupid.

    The increase in wind stress found in England et al goes way beyond previous cycles. Therefore it is not impossible that it is not simply part of a cycle, but a new condition caused by rapid anthropogenic warming. Therefore we cannot simply assume that at some point it will reverse itself. So he could be right in part.

    Now the problems:

    a) For the wind to keep us on a slow warming pathway, the wind stress has to keep increasing. How far can it go? What other impacts would an increasing wind stress anomaly over the pacific have?

    b) Heat continues to accumulate in the climate system. It’s not escaping, it’s just going into the oceans quicker. So this result does not affect the equilibrium warming at all. However if wind stress continues to increase, the initial warming (characterized by TCR) will be slower, however the remaining warming (between 70 and 100 years) will be faster to compensate.


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