However arcane that may sound, many know Peiser only as the pesky director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation who routinely embarrasses man-made climate change diehards with his weekly compilation of green policy flops -- washouts such as Solon, Q-Cells, Solar Millennium and Solarhybrid. These are all once-thriving German solar energy firms that recently filed for bankruptcy, like America's Solyndra.
The irreverent Peiser email report usually consists of a half-dozen or so stinging mainstream news clips with links, chosen partly because they include a "Benny" -- a ready-made, slap-in-the-face headline -- such as the London Daily Telegraph's "Climate scientists are losing the public debate on global warming."
But every now and then, a wickedly droll "Double Benny" headline will unexpectedly pop up, as it did this Wednesday in The Washington Examiner: "Astronauts condemn NASA's global warming endorsement." Columnist Paul Bedard gave details: "In an unprecedented slap at NASA's endorsement of global warming science, nearly 50 former astronauts and scientists -- including the ex-boss of the Johnson Space Center -- claim the agency is on the wrong side of science and must change course or ruin the reputation of the world's top space agency."
That story whacked NASA for toadying up to Big Green and its out-of-place admonitions against man-caused climate change. Bedard wrote that the space heroes "demanded in a letter to Administrator Charles Bolden that he and the agency 'refrain from including unproven remarks' supporting global warming in the media."
The average Peiser selection is slightly more sedate, like the Canadian Globe and Mail's recent taunt, "Healthy Polar Bear Count Confounds Doomsayers." The story quoted Drikus Gissing, director of wildlife management for Canada's newest and largest province, Nunavut: "'There is no doom and gloom.' [Gissing] said the media in southern Canada has led people to believe polar bears are endangered. 'They are not.' He added that there are about 25,000 polar bears across Canada's Arctic. "'That's likely the highest [population level] there has ever been.'"
Many of Benny's friends don't know that a six-mile-wide asteroid -- Minor Planet 7107 Peiser -- was named in the good gadfly's honor by the International Astronomical Union. Peiser is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of Spaceguard UK, the Brits' contribution to the international program that tracks Earth crossing objects with such assessment tools as the radio beacon the Russian Academy of Sciences hopes to land on Apophis, the current highest-threat asteroid.
What's that got to do with rubbing the greenies' noses in their own waste? A lot, actually. The organization provides a congenial setting for Peiser's professional study of "neocatastrophism" -- the social or political magnification of natural catastrophes. He has written extensively on the lifeboat beliefs and attitudes of those who obsess about the potential risk posed by near-Earth objects, global warming and other envisaged cataclysms.
This week's Peiser email highlighted only three items, two of them editorial messages from his Global Warming Policy Foundation. The academic Dr. Peiser puts on his advocate hat and makes us aware of that gnawing feeling that things just aren't going right. As he quotes Apollo VII astronaut Walter Cunningham, "We can either adjust to the climate as it changes, as we have always done, or we can adjust after wasting billions -- no, trillions -- of dollars in a hopeless attempt to control the temperature of the Earth."
Our leaders are simply not able to set our ship on a prosperous course. Or they're not willing. It's enough to make one into a neocatastrophist just obsessing over neocatastrophists.
Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.