Friday, July 16, 2010

In Russia, RIA Novosti Criticizes Pseudoscience and Jumps on the Global Warming Bandwagon

This is a picture of the Tomsk scientist Dr. Sergei Kirpotin. He has been studying the release of the greenhouse gas methane in the thawing Russian permafrost. Dr. Kirpotin is concerned that global warming is causing the Russian permafrost to thaw, which releases long-stored methane and that this methane accelerates global warming even more.

During the so-called "Climategate" scandal the Russian media ignored Dr. Kirpotin's views. Instead, Russian media such as the low-brow tabloid Pravda and Russia Today T.V. provided a forum to Western climate change denialists such as Lord Christopher Monckton. In Russian-language print media, Monckton was incorrectly characterized as an "ychonyi" which means "scholar" or "scientist."

Perhaps the heat wave and drought are changing Russia's luke-warm views about man-made global. Recently, the Russian government's press service, RIA Novosti, published an article about the sensitive problem of pseudoscience and the occult in Russia. RIA Novosti is now publishing many articles about global warming and even citing legitimate Western and Russian scientific sources. According to a June survey, most Russians believe that global warming is real.

RIA Novosti isn't quoting Western denialists like Lord Christopher Monckton, perhaps because Russians now realize that Monckton is not a scientist and that his presentations cite sources who believe in the occult such as Nils-Axel Morner.

George Monbiot at the Guardian (7-14-10) comments on the irrational beliefs of some denialists, including Nils-Axel Morner.

Morner's work in fact consists of indirect measurements in just a few locations, which reveal the sum total of zilch about recent changes in sea level and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. But the interesting thing, which connects this to the Monckton issue, is that Morner has also made a series of wild claims about other matters. He maintains that he possesses paranormal abilities to find water and metal using a dowsing rod. He also insists that he has discovered "the Hong Kong of the [ancient] Greeks" in Sweden. Working with a homeopath called Bob Lind, Morner inflicted unauthorised damage on an Iron Age cemetery in order to try to prove his thesis.

Similarly, Peter Taylor's claims that the planet is in fact cooling down have been given prominence by the Daily Express and other outlets, though they are unfounded in science. His book Chill has been a hit in the denier community. Taylor has also claimed to have uncovered toxic dumping by venturing into the astral realms. He has speculated that a Masonic conspiracy was tuning into his thoughts, and had sent a "kook, a ninja freak, some throwback from past lives" to kill him. He has also maintained that plutonium may "possess healing powers, borne of Plutonic dimension, a preparation for rebirth, an awakener to higher consciousness".

As these examples suggest, those who lead the movement which claims that manmade climate change isn't happening often seem to entertain a number of other irrational beliefs.

Here is RIA Novosti's article "Most Russians believe global warming real - poll" (6-23-10). RIA Novosti seems to have a better grip on science than Pravda or Russia Today T.V.

More later...

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