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Some inconvenient facts

By Ben-Peter Terpstra - posted Wednesday, 6 June 2007

“Dr. Hurd C. Willard and a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explained in January 1976 that planet Earth is gradually headed toward another irreversible ice age, which will progressively make itself evident over the next 125 years.” - WW III : signs of the impending Battle of Armageddon by John Wesley White, 1977.

Global cooling out. Global warming in. The catastrophic predictions are rivalled only by the Book of Revelation.

Disturbingly, “saving the environment” crusades are often characterised as a battle between the “evil” forces of conservatism, and the “angelic” forces of socialism. Further, war metaphors are used to rouse the troops. The earth is always melting, or burning.


Amid all the hyped-up prophecies, however, there is reason to be concerned, and I’m not talking about melting icecaps or frozen beaches here. I’m talking about history. The record is clear: media ideologues, movie stars, and would-be presidents, are using bad history to support bad science. This is unethical. Working class jobs are on the line.

How many times, for instance, does Al Gore denounce his critics as “flat-earthers” in a year? Yes, he believes that in the so-called Dark Ages, angry Catholics trekked around Europe denouncing men of science as “globe-earthers,” no doubt.

But history paints an entirely different picture. In the Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, Tom Bethell, an Oxford graduate, points out that: “The claim that medieval scientists and theologians believed the earth is flat was concocted in the nineteenth century.”

Likewise, Jeffrey Burton Russell, an emeritus professor of history at the University of California states: “In the first fifteen centuries of the Christian era [only!] five writers seemed to have denied the globe, and a few others were ambiguous and uninterested in the question.” Today’s lesson: Al Gore likes attacking dead Catholics because they can’t speak back.

For more facts, you can read Inventing the Flat Earth. Nevertheless, there are no primary sources to support Gore’s spin that there was a huge war between “flat-earthers” and “globe-earthers”.

While I’m at it, what is it with these scaremongers and their obsession with reinventing histories? But there’s hope. I contend that a basic understanding of history will enrich students of science, and protect us all from alarmists.


Here’s another example of how history can correct misinformation. In The Politically Incorrect Correct Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, Christopher C. Horner states: “One key alarmist tactic is to redefine the word ‘Arctic’.”

For example: “The Artic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), which has served as the basis for serial, breathless stories about a melting Arctic in recent years chose to expand the Arctic Circle by 450 miles in all directions.” Curiously, they didn’t advertise their new maps as well as their new temperature readings.

Naturally, a student of history will not be surprised to learn that when one expands traditional boundaries - by about 50 per cent in this case - one can colour temperature readings.

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About the Author

Ben-Peter Terpstra has provided commentary for The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and Menzies House (Adelaide).

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