As of today, 9/10/07, I'd like to publicly declare that I'm quite bored with the current Ivory-bill hysteria.
If you've been paying attention (and if you have a brain in your head), it should be obvious by now that the announced 21st-century IBWO rediscoveries were mistakes, and that we're almost certainly facing endless years of intriguing glimpses, noises, bark scaling, etc, but never ever any confirmation of a living, breathing Ivory-bill.
This situation is not going to hold my attention indefinitely.
Right now, I'm much more interested in the scientific debate about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
A big difference between the IBWO debate and the catastrophic AGW debate:
1. The IBWO rediscovery claims were almost certainly completely untrue (there were zero living IBWOs in 2004), while the AGW debate is based on some scientific truth (ie, anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are almost certainly warming the earth a bit).
The crux of the catastrophic AGW debate is the magnitude of "a bit" in the above sentence.
From my perspective, the current AGW debate is strikingly similar to the IBWO debate as it was a couple of years ago:
1. If you suggest that AGW fears are likely to be vastly overblown, you still run the risk of being treated as a heretic. This will change.
2. I've heard several otherwise-intelligent people argue that deliberately stoking overblown AGW fears may be disingenuous, but "the end justifies the means" if it results in people living a more "green" lifestyle. We heard similar arguments from people who would promote a non-existent Ivory-bill population for the "greater good" of local forest conservation.
In both cases, I believe a "crying wolf" policy is counterproductive in the long run. People will be less likely to listen to your real environmental concerns if you deliberately mislead them with imaginary or overblown ones.
3. In my view, a very large portion of catastrophic AGW believers are reasonably smart folks that simply haven't taken the time to look at the facts for themselves. They remind me very much of Tim Allwood of a couple of years ago, who was an IBWO TB until he took the time to look at the flimsy evidence for himself.
4. The media bought heavily into the catastrophic AGW story just as they bought into the ridiculous IBWO rediscovery story. They're not part of any "conspiracy"; they just know a big story when they see one, and they're mostly incapable of or unwilling to do basic scientific fact-checking for themselves.
5. Both stories have a high-profile visual that has been largely discredited (the Luneau video and the "hockey stick" graph respectively).
6. James Hansen in the catastrophic AGW story is probably the best counterpart for the John Fitzpatrick role in the IBWO fiasco.
7. Lubos Motl's blog is one of many blogs filling a niche somewhat like this blog's small role in the IBWO debate.
Don't forget--like me, you could become skeptical of catastrophic AGW predictions and yet still be in favor of things like these: research for alternate fuels, recycling, forest conservation, carpooling, a brighter future for your children, etc etc.
After examining the situation for the better part of a year, here's my prediction of how the catastrophic AGW debate will play out: Just as in the IBWO debate, over time, more and more prominent scientists will publicly join the side of the skeptics. Eventually, the media will tire of the story, and like the IBWO debate, the whole thing will end not with a bang but with a whimper.
It may take years, but I believe most of you will eventually come around to my skepticism on this topic for a simple reason: you're smart and I'm right. :^)
In the IBWO debate, I ended up spending quite a lot of time debating with the TBs, and I don't intend to let that happen this time around.
For now, I've changed this blog's name from "Ivory-bill Skeptic" to "Tom Nelson". With this name change, I'll feel more free to post about anything that interests me.
I have no idea how the next year will play out. I still plan to post Ivory-bill links, but I may choose to go completely silent here for long periods.
No doubt many current readers will no longer be regular visitors to this blog. Thanks for reading; it's been fun!
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