I'm not going to lie, my first reaction to seeing this was sheer amusement, for who among us has not wanted to waterboard or otherwise inflict grievous bodily harm upon Christopher Hitchens at some point?
I've repeatedly used this website to marvel at the number of subjects in which people like James Dobson or Rush Limbaugh are experts. Whatever hot-button issue happens to be in the headlines on a given day, Dr. Dobson is suddenly able to speak of it with thundering, soul-shaking authority. The Constitution? He practically wrote that motherfucker! Climatology? Junk scienceTM….but he's an expert in it anyway! Medical research? He does that kiddie shit while he's half-asleep and watching Night Court reruns! There may not be a subject of public debate that has suffered more egregiously from this phenomenon than climate change. Everybody's an authority, fully qualified to speak definitively on global warming. I think the qualifications for becoming a global warming expert involve a urine test…and not even a drug test. It's just a test to see if you can actually pee in a cup, a.k.a. the Entrance Exam at Arizona State.
That's fine. The American appetite for corn-pone opinion – in fact, the ponier the better – is endless. What's disgusting is when its purveyors are passed off as Real Experts.
Take, for example, this standard-issue Global Warming Scientists are Alarmists with No Evidence tract by James Kerian. Who? Well, according to the tagline, "James Kerian is a mechanical engineer and small business owner in Grafton, North Dakota." Hmm. I daresay they're trying to imply ("mechanical engineer") that Mr. Kerian is some sort of scientist. Or, failing that, someone who can do math and therefore a virtual Max Planck in the eyes of our society. As for the small business owner part, well, that's just there to let you know he's good people.
Turns out that James Kerian has made his mark on this world (if I may so wantonly debase the idea of making one's mark) by inventing a machine that sifts and sorts vegetables by size. That's neat. It gives me the power to choose either Medium or Jumbo white onions at Kroger. But a climatologist it does not make. It doesn't even put him in the ballpark. This piece, for all intents and purposes, might as well have been written by a garbageman – who almost certainly would have more perspective and have done a superior job.