You cannot fight for the truth with lies. Why is this so hard to learn?
This is a big ethics story, with general ethics lessons and serious public policy repercussions in an area already muddled with ethical misconduct on all sides. I’m going to restrict Ethics Alarms to the purely ethical analysis. and, at the end, point out some of the excellent articles that the incident has inspired regarding the policy implications of it all.
Last week, leaked documents prepared for a board meeting of the libertarian think tank, the Heartland Institute, were published on various blogs and websites. The Institute is a major player in the effort to disprove, debunk or discredit scientific studies showing man-made climate change, and block the adoption of anti-climate change policies while undermining public support for them. One of the most provocative documents was a “Climate Strategy” memorandum laying out Heartland’s secret efforts in sinister terms. The source of the documents, and the one who made them available to global-warming promoting bloggers, was a mysterious individual calling himself “Heartland Insider.”
Now the source has revealed himself, and it is a prominent climatologist on the front lines of the climate change battle, scientist Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute. Gleick explained what occurred in a column at the Huffington Post: Continue reading
The final categories in the Worst of Ethics 2010. Coming up: The Best of Ethics, 2010.
(If you missed Part 1 of the Worst, go here.)
Worst Ethics Presentation: “Ethics in Politics: An evening with Former Governor Rod Blagojevich” (Presented to its students by Northwestern University) Continue reading
The story told by former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams is shocking in many ways. It shows an abject refusal of Attorney General Holder’s D.O.J. to enforce the law equally with black and white. It shows sympathy within the Obama Administration for, of all, groups, the Black Panthers, a racist organization. It details perjury by high-ranking officials, and a hard breach of President Obama’s pledges to uphold the rule of law, embrace transparency, and to embody a post-racial philosophy. Finally, it shows the same kind of manipulation of law enforcement by ideological zealots that stained the Bush Department of Justice. Continue reading
It is clear that the Obama Administration, if only to bolster the fading support of its most Left-ward constituency, is going to try a full-court press to get some form of carbon tax or “cap and trade” bill. These were once referred to as “climate change” measures, but since polls are showing that the American public’s belief in Al Gore’s jeremiad is waning fast, now these are “prevent more oil spills like the one going on now” bills. Obama, much to the global warming zealots’ dismay, only snuck in one little “climate” in his Oval Office speech, and that was without “change.”
This is all just politics, but the fact is that the American public has some straight talk coming, and it doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon, or even the Deep Horizon. In the past year, the Climate Change Express has pretty much jumped the rails, with the collapse of international summit; the East Anglia “Climategate” revelations that supposedly objective scientists were blocking dissenting conclusions and hiding inconsistencies, the uncovering of evidence of unprofessional practices at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and some embarrassing pronouncements and predictions that appeared to be off by hundreds of years or so, or wrong entirely.
Despite all this, the U.S. media has been caught in a time warp, with no major news organizations altering their previous official conviction that the fact of catastrophic climate change and the main cause of it–human activity—are “settled science,” even though this is just plain false. Continue reading
For those of you with an open mind: Der Spiegel has posted an exhaustively researched and remarkably even-handed explanation of how the clash of policymakers’ time-tables, advocates, researchers and an immensely complex area of science has the climate change issue confused beyond easy repairing. Its saga shows a true ethics train wreck, beginning with scientists compromising their credibility and objectivity by allying themselves with environmental advocates. Opponents of global warming used deceptive tactics to minimize the significance of legitimate research results, the media and politicians hyped results beyond their actual meaning, and then pro-climate change researchers compromised their own integrity by adopting unethical practices of their own. This process has been ongoing, and deteriorating, for almost a decade. Continue reading
James Lovelock, 90, is a legendary scientist, environmentalist and futurist. He has just given a lengthy interview in which he opines about the recent scandals in climate science, the value of skeptics, the limitations of political solutions to big problems, and the inherent uncertainty of science. The interview is remarkable for what it reveals about this independent scientist’s honesty, integrity, respect for adverse opinions and understanding of human nature. It is also that true rarity, an assessment of climate change that is measured, reasonable, persuasive, and logical.
You can read the whole interview here, and the key statements here.
I swear, this post has nothing to do with whether climate change is soon going to have the East Coast under water and the polar bears playing beach volleyball or not. The ethical issues raised by Al Gore’s last volley in the global warming wars are journalistic integrity, public honesty, and respect for the intelligence of the American public. Continue reading
Brief ethics notes on a wild week…
- How dare the killer whale be a killer?…Tilikum, the killer whale who either playfully or maliciously killed his trainer at Orlando’s Sea World this week, will apparently stay in the facility. Some pundits (the ones I have heard were of the foaming-at-the-mouth conservative fanatic variety) regard it as absurd not to put down a murderous whale when a dog, bear or tiger that similarly ended a human life ( Tilikum may have ended three) would routinely be destroyed. One doesn’t have to be a PETA dues-payer to see this as advocacy for blatantly unfair retribution. Let’s see: Sea World takes a top-of-the-food-chain predator out of the oceans out of its natural environment, earns admission fees by making it perform tricks for the amusement of humans in a theme park, pays relatively tiny and fragile trainers to interact with the three ton beast, and when the predators does what it is naturally designed to do—kill—we blame the whale? Continue reading
Americans woke up today to a snow-covered world that might not be getting warmer after all.
You may not hear about it or read about it right away, depending on what your news sources of choice are. Many news organizations and reporters have disgraced themselves, their profession and their professional ethics standards (values trashed: competence, diligence, responsibility, honesty, objectivity, fairness) so thoroughly that they will surely wait as long as possible before admitting they were wrong, if not how wrong they were. But I know where this is going, and it is not going to be good for anyone. Ethics fiascos, a.k.a ethics train wrecks, never are. Continue reading
Long before Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Republic of Georgia crashed and died on a training run there, Vancouver’s Whistler Sliding Centre, now the site of the Olympics luge, bobsled and skeleton competitions, had been the target of complaints, warnings and controversy regarding its safety. After the first international training event at Whistler in November 2008, the president of the luge governing body openly expressed worries over the speed of the track. Since then, there have been sufficient accidents on the track, not only in the luge, but also bobsled and skeleton races, that the fatal accident there could not fairly be called “a surprise.” Just a day before the Georgian was killed, United States luger Mark Grimmette was quoted as being concerned about the course’s speed, saying, “I think we’re probably getting close, too close, to the edge.” Later the same day, a Romanian luge racer was knocked unconscious during his training run. The frequency of crashes during the training runs last week were far above the norm.
Nevertheless, Olympic and luge officials chose not to make changes to the course that would limit the speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour that luge, bobsled and skeleton competitors were reaching, speeds beyond what they were used to, or had trained to handle.
And yet… Continue reading