Hoax of the century
With publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" in 1859, the hunt was on for the "missing link": that man evolved from a monkey.
In 1912, in a gravel pit near Piltdown in East Sussex, there was found the cranium of a man with the jaw of an ape. "Darwin Theory Proved True," ran the banner headline.
Evolution skeptics were pilloried, and three English scientists were knighted for validating Piltdown Man. It wasn't until 1953 that closer inspection discovered that the cranium belonged to a medieval Englishman, the bones had been dyed to look older and the jaw belonged to an orangutan whose teeth had been filed down to look human.
The scientific discovery of the century became the hoax of the century. But Piltdown Man was not alone.
In 1922, Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History, identified a tooth fossil found in Nebraska to be that of an "anthropoid ape." He used his discovery to mock William Jennings Bryan, newly elected to Congress, as "the most distinguished primate which the State of Nebraska has yet produced."
But by 1925, Nebraska Man's tooth had been traced to a wild pig, and creationist Duane Gish, a biochemist, had remarked of Osborn's Nebraska Man, "I believe this is a case in which a scientist made a man out of a pig, and the pig made a monkey out of the scientist."
These stories are wonderfully told in Eugene Windchy's "The End of Darwinism." But if Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man were the hoaxes of the 20th century, global warming is the great hoax of the 21st. What have we learned:
• In its 2007 report claiming that the Himalayan glaciers are melting, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relied on a 1999 story in a popular science journal, based on one interview with a little-known Indian scientist who said this was pure "speculation," not supported by any research.
• The IPCC report that global warming is going to kill 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest and cut African crop yields 50 percent has been found to be alarmist propaganda.
• The IPCC report declared 55 percent of Holland to be below sea level, an exaggeration of over 100 percent.
• While endless keening is heard over the Arctic ice cap, we hear almost nothing of the 2009 report of the British Antarctica Survey that the sea ice cap of Antarctica has been expanding by 100,000 square kilometers a decade for 30 years.
• Though America endured one of the worst winters ever, while the 2009 hurricane season was among the mildest, the warmers say this proves nothing. But when our winters were mild and the 2005 hurricane season brought four major storms to the U.S. coast, the warmers said this validated their theory. You can't have it both ways.
• The Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University, which provides the scientific backup for the IPCC, apparently threw out the data on which it based claims of a rise in global temperatures for the century. And a hacker into its e-mail files found CRU "scientists" had squelched publication of dissenting views.
Today's global warming hysteria is the hoax of the 21st century. H.L. Mencken had it right: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Pat Buchanan is the author of the book "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War.'"