Thursday, August 11, 2011

Twilight in America, thunder on the right

It's wicked hot all across America. Massachusetts is having torrential rainstorms that would seem like monsoon even in Memphis, where they would at least be more familiar. There are enough goddamn moths here in New England to carry off a flock of sheep, and no more pecorino romano for us.

Fox has intentionally effaced the difference between weather and climate, but even Fox's viewers have to be starting to wonder if maybe there is something to this global warming shit after all. Call out the big guns! Gotta keep those dollars flowing into fossil fuels! Most of all, can't let those liberals with their smug reliance on facts win.

Fox brings on Joe Bastardi, chief meteorologist of AccuWeather. Oooh, impressive. He reassures viewers that, not only is global warming wrong, it's transparently, obviously wrong. Bastardi is airily confused how such a theory could possibly have achieved such popularity. He leaves it to the hosts to introduce (in-traduce) slanders against scientists, and they do. "Poll shows Americans think scientists lie, the dirty egg-headed SOBs." (O.K., not quite.)

What are Bastardi's arguments?

First, conservation of energy, which he dresses up in its tuxedo as the first law of thermodynamics to make it sound as complex and authoritative as possible for the great unlearned. Bastardi is claiming that greenhouse gases would have to create energy to warm the earth. This claim immediately proves that he deserves nothing more than total mocking disdain. By the same argument, a greenhouse couldn't work either. Maybe Thelma and Delbert, sitting on their barcaloungers suckling the bullshit teat of Rupert Murdoch, have never been in a greenhouse, or maybe they think the gas bills must be immense to keep one of them so warm with all that single-pane glass.

This thermodynamic argument is the anencephalic descendant of the second law argument against evolution. (Yeah, I'm sure that one's been advanced with a straight face on Fox, too.) Only god can violate thermodynamic laws! More complex organisms couldn't possibly occur naturally in a physical environment of never-decreasing disorder. As if there were no sources of energy available to overcome entropy. Hint to convinced Fox viewers and other ignoramuses: Don't look up when you go out during the day. Oh, and don't think even a first thought, much less a second one, what makes it daytime. You might have to change your mind.

The sun, implicated in both evolution and global warming! Fox-aholics can't even believe in the sun anymore. The sun can be the energy source of global warming and global warming's cause can still be human because gases we've put into our atmosphere in huge amounts retain more of the sun's heat, rather than allowing it to radiate back into space. Where it has no effect on climate. But where it still exists. This is the first most basic scientific explanation of the warming data. It's almost as if half the population is immune to learning.

Second, Bastardi claims that LeChatelier's Principle prohibits this kind of change. Oooh, another fancy name - did I pronounce it correctly? It must be good stuff! Of course, Bastardi makes a total and elementary misconstruction of the real science. Sure, any chemical reaction becomes less responsive to an increase in one reagent as that increase grows further.

But that doesn't mean there's some magic fairy keeping the addition of a reagent from changing the final chemical concentrations. (If you believe there is a magic fairy, what's its rate constant, dickhead?) You may have more trouble dissolving that sixth heaping tablespoon of sugar into your iced tea, but until you get the solution saturated, you're making your swee' tea sweeter. Or you could just eat it out of the bowl.

Somehow, more and more CO2 has dissolved into the atmosphere, and while there it continues to have all its expected effects.

The fact that the oceans are also absorbing CO2 doesn't change the measured atmospheric concentration, it only means that if we reverse the trend, the oceans will release some of their CO2 as gas, and that will slow improvement.

The rest of Bastardi's so-called science is a complete muddle of discredited bullshit. But for Fox...

That ought to hold 'em until fall brings a breeze and relief from uncomfortable reality. Oh, heterodoxy, the confusion, the pain. Let them get back to loving Big Brother.

Bastardi may call himself a meteorologist, but he isn't. He has an undergraduate major in meteorology with no advanced training. He's a weather girl who lifts weights and probably caps his teeth. He's a storm-chasing celebrity. He's willing to whore himself out to Fox for the money, the hell with the truth.

  • You can't trust their facts.
  • You can't trust their analysis.
  • You can't trust their good faith
Their stock in trade is bullshit, perfumed just enough that ignoramuses will be satisfied by the pablum they take to be plausible mumbo-jumbo.

There's a little coda on the bullshit symphony: At around 3:08 in the linked video, Bastardi blames environmentalists for claiming that the winter's snows could have been caused by climate change. At least we should have waited for hurricanes and heat waves. This slimy putrescence knows quite well that any such claim merely of possibility, not of fact, was made in response to the massive conservative propaganda that the mere existence of winter disproves warming is happening at all.

Oh, but this all happens on "Fox and Friends", and that's an opinion show. Defenders of Fox will tell you this and claim it's exculpatory. It's just the opinion segments on Fox that lean right. The news is fair and balanced. Yet the Fox News logo keeps right on spinning (how apt!) in the lower left corner, whispering, "This is news. You should believe this. You want to believe this."

Anyone who tells you that Fox is not pure propaganda likes a steady diet of bullshit, wants confirmation of their stupid and venal prejudices, can't find their ass with both hands even while their head is doing self-service colonoscopy. (And yeah, that sadly includes friends and family I love, much as I hate the sin of their willful ignorance.)

The stupid is winning, and that drives me up the fucking wall.

The bleak news for liberals, nostalgic for a time when journalism was about what had happened and why, is that the revolution will be televised. The revolutionaries will be reactionaries hunting liberals, nostalgic or not, and Fox will be their Radio Rwanda.

We thought Nixon was extreme. Then we thought Reagan was extreme - and he courted the far right. Then we knew Gingrich and his bomb-throwers were extreme. Then the Bushists implemented extreme neocon foreign policy, a muscular foreign policy to grasp empire openly. Now the Teahadists, having already re-achieved the 1920s, want to go back to the Robber Baron era.

No doubt as a stepping stone to neo-Confederacy.

(h/t Atrios)

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