There is no dispute about the basic facts of this issue: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas; the world's automobiles and power plants pour nearly 6 billion tons of it into the air every year; and there are countless indications that the planet is warming. Perhaps the most revealing is the fact that average temperatures have been gradually rising, and the ten hottest years on record since the 1860s have occurred since 1973.
In his book, See, I Told You So, Rush Limbaugh misquoted a Gallup poll, claiming that 53% of scientists do not believe that global warming is taking place, 30 percent say they don't know, and only 17 percent are "devotees of this dubious theory." (1) Unfortunately, this is a gross misrepresentation the original poll, which actually found that 66 percent of all scientists agree that global warming has occurred, 10 percent disagree, and the rest are undecided. Rush apparently got his incorrect numbers from a second hand source (either George Will or the National Review) without bothering to confirm them. He has continued to use these false figures despite the fact that Gallup has issued a rare written correction: "Most scientists involved in research in this area do believe human-induced global warming is occurring now." (2)
The scientific consensus that human greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming is quickly growing unanimous. Even the top critics in science have been won over. Thomas Karl -- who has been described as "the darling of global warming skeptics," and whose doubts about global warming have been quoted by conservatives the world over -- has even been swayed by the evidence. One could hardly imagine a clearer warn...
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...ed into the atmosphere, ahead of the former Soviet Union, which comes in at second place with 14 percent. To be sure, this is not a proud statistic for capitalism -- at least in its more unregulated form.
1. Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 180.
2. Steven Rendall, Jim Naureckas and Jeff Cohen, The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (New York: The New Press, 1995), p. 17.
3. Except where otherwise noted, all facts and quotes in this essay are from Charles Petit's article, "New Hints of Global Warming," San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, April 17, 1995, pp. A1, A6.
4. "Ice Cubes for Penguins," Newsweek, April 3, 1995, p. 56.
5. Thomas A. Boden, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, cited by Lester Brown et al. (eds.), Vital Signs 1994 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994), p. 69.
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