Tucker Carlson's Hot Air on Kulongoski and Climate Change

Jon Perr

There's an old expression that you can learn a lot about a man by the enemies he makes. By that standard, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongski is a good man, indeed.

ThinkProgress is reporting that right-wing bloviators including Matt Drudge and Tucker Carlson have taken their jihad of global warming denial to Oregon. As ThinkProgress details, MSNBC's Carlson wrongly attacked Governor Kulongski for his plans "to fire the Oregon climatologist for his skeptical view of warming."  According to Carlson:

"George Taylor, Oregon’s longtime state climatologist, holds a contrary view. Taylor believes global warming is mostly the result of what he calls natural variations, long-term trends that humans can’t control. Among climatologists, this is not considered a crackpot view, but politically in Oregon, it is heresy.

The Democratic governor of that state has announced that he will strip George Taylor of his title for daring to question the causes of global warming. Keep in mind that the governor is not a scientist. He hasn’t cited any dishonesty in Taylor’s scholarship. He just doesn’t think he ought to be allowed to disagree with the conventional wisdom on global warming."

As both ThinkProgress and BlueOregon's Kari Chisholm have correctly pointed out:

  1. Taylor is not the “state climatologist.” Oregon abolished the position in 1989. He was bestowed the title by Oregon State University, not by Gov. Kulongoski or the state of Oregon.
  2. Taylor is not a “climatologist.” Taylor is a meteorologist. He does not possess a PhD or have a background in climatology.
  3. He will not be fired. Taylor will not lose his job or income, which comes from Oregon State University. He will merely be stripped of his title, which he never earned but claims to retain. Gov. Kulongoski has the right to appoint a climatologist who is an expert in the field and adheres to the state’s climate policies.

When it comes to hot air, this crass hypocrisy, conflict of interest and aversion to truth is Tucker Carlson's stock in trade. Just this week, Carlson called Libby trial prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a "lunatic" who is "running around destroying people's lives for no good reason." (In 1998, of course, he praised Clinton inquisitor Ken Starr.). It must run in the family: Tucker's father Richard is both a contributor to and advisory committee member for the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund.

  • (Show?)

    Well, as an Oregonian who has had a run in with Tucker Carlson I can rest easy knowing that all Oregonians will finally realize just how crazy he is. This confirms it!

    Where's Jon Stewart when you need him to put Carlson in his place.

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    We should strip Tucker Carlson of his title as a journalist and give him the title he truly deserves, of that as a media whore.

    How ironic that Tucker makes these comments about a meteorologist when all Tucker is is a hot air front bloviating from the right. Perhaps I can now become our state right wing bloviologist. Oh, that's right, Lars Larson already has the job, darn it.

  • Thomas Ware (unverified)

    Carlson would be welcome to join the young bucks and I out on The High Desert when the moon rounds out again later this month. Knock back a few beers, talk about how things used to be, how they are today, lies, treaties broken...

  • powkat (unverified)

    Jon Stewart was right - and remember, Tucker couldn't make it on PBS, even when it was run by a right-wing whack-job.

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    Why do you call it "global warming denial?"

    From what I have seen there are a great many scientists (including Taylor?) who do not deny global warming. They just argue that it is not human caused.

    There was a book just released before Chrismas and another coming out this spring, both by respected scientists who also take that position (I don't remember the books off hand, I'll try to find them).

    So if you are denying that they are denying what does that say about your premise?

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    Only a very few climatologists deny the human causation of global warming. A slightly larger group of non-climatologists, and non-scientists, deny it as well.

    Most of them are of the quality of people like Frederick Seitz, who was declared incompetent by his employer RJ Reynolds in the 80s, but started a new career denying tested and accepted scientific principles anyway.

    I'm sure there's a group of people, even scientists, who don't believe in gravity, either. Doesn't make them right, or even worthy of debate.

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    Stack up all of the accredited scientists that deny human complicity in global warming.

    Remove the ones that receive significant funds from energy vendors.

    The remaining pile is very tiny indeed.

    TorridEcho: Not worthy of scientific respect or debate.

    It's ALWAYS about who cuts the checks.

  • oregonj (unverified)

    My question is:

    Why is Tucker Carlson using lies to defend a sinking ship?

    Providing inaccurate information in the support of a lost cause must be very profitable - but what kind of satisfaction could he derive from listening to himself deliver this kind of manure.

  • Gordie (unverified)

    Not to nitpick, but if you look into the degree requirements for meteorologists and climatologists across the nation, one can't presume that a meteorologist has no background or necessarily less backgrouond in climatology than a climatologist. There's a lot of variety and overlap within the atmospheric sciences. In a few instances, a meteorology degree at one school provides more in-depth work in climatology than a climatology degree at another school.

    So if you want to attack Taylor's background and expertise, by all means have at it. But you don't get meteorology degrees without at least some climatology coursework.

  • j_luthergoober (unverified)

    Tucker is just a George Will wanabe with only an undergraduate degree from Trinity... put the goober in a box, outta sight, outta mind on a shelf in the garage and be done with it. Although I have to give the nepotistic little brown-noser credit for calling Grover Norquest a "mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep..." Truer words haven't been spoken about either of them.

  • KC (unverified)

    I attended an event about a week ago where George Taylor and Phil Mote were speaking. I felt Mote came across as much more professional and knowledgeable. Taylor started by talking about how persecuted he was and then constantly turned everything into a joke, which I thought started to degrade the quality of the event. I was surprised to hear he did not have a Ph.D., because I think they did introduce him as "Dr. Taylor." They also used the term "State Climatologist" frequently, and I doubt most people at the standing-room-only event knew that this was not an official title that was given to him by the state.

    I am not trying to say everyone has to have a Ph.D. to be taken seriously, but I found the information Taylor presented to be a hodgepodge of references which appeared to be much more random and out of context than those of Dr. Mote. Taylor brought up speculations about very questionable research, such as the possibility that cosmic rays might be a major factor behind global warming. Clearly he is not a Physicist, so I guess he just found an article about this somewhere and then proceeded to draw his own conclusion. The trouble is, of course, I am sure I could still find articles in scientific journals saying cigarettes do NOT CAUSE CANCER, but how do you assess that research in light of the mountain of research that contradicts it. That is where specific expertise in the field helps. That is why Dr. Mote and about 2,500 international scientists from many different fields have gotten together at the IPCC and compile an exhaustive study on the best knowledge we have about global warming. I think it is unlikely that Mr. Taylor has mentally outperformed them all.

    After the talk, I tried to ask him if we are supposed to be paralyzed into inaction just because one researcher somewhere publishes a study that says the moon is made of green cheese (probably with the support the cheese industry). "That's a policy issue," he told me. He just "does science." Presumably, that means he can just throw out any speculation that strikes his fancy, and we are all supposed to listen. When politicians like Jim Inhofe quote George Taylor on the floor of the U.S. Senate and use it as a reason for not adopting emissions standards or the Kyoto treaty, that is not his fault. I agree that it is not totally his fault, but we need to know the level of confidence we can place in scientific findings, and inaccurate assumptions about someone's credentials might cause people to give them more credence than they really deserve.

    So, I think it is a good thing that Mr. Taylor not go around calling himself the State Climatologist. It is true that meteorologists take some classes in climatology, but so did I, as an undergraduate elective. Does that make me a climatologist?

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