Log in | Jump |


News & Perspective from the Center for Environmental Journalism
This item was posted on November 7, 2010, and it was categorized as Climate Change, Climate politics.
You can follow comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

The new get-tough campaign from the American Geophysical Union will feature a “climate rapid response team”

Update 11/8/10 6:30 p.m.: Today, the American Geophysical Union issued a press release to make it clear that it has organized what it calls a “Climate Q&A Service,” but that it is not involved with the so-called “rapid response team” that some scientists are organizing. The service “aims simply to provide accurate scientific answers to questions from journalists about climate science,” the press release states. Meanwhile, the independent response team is being organized by scientists to counter what Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York, calls “the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists.” (See below.)

The AGU release says the L.A. Times simply got the story wrong. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“In contrast to what has been reported in the LA Times and elsewhere, there is no campaign by AGU against climate skeptics or congressional conservatives,” says Christine McEntee, Executive Director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union. “AGU will continue to provide accurate scientific information on Earth and space topics to inform the general public and to support sound public policy development.”

Update 11/7/10 5:30 p.m.: Some additional thoughts at the bottom, and a link to Andy Revkin’s post about this at DotEarth.

The original post begins here:

Check this out from today’s Los Angeles Times:

Faced with rising political attacks, hundreds of climate scientists are joining a broad campaign to push back against congressional conservatives who have threatened prominent researchers with investigations and vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The still-evolving efforts reveal a shift among climate scientists, many of whom have traditionally stayed out of politics and avoided the news media. Many now say they are willing to go toe-to-toe with their critics, some of whom gained new power after the Republicans won control of the House in last Tuesday’s election.

And this:

“This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists,” said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.

Does anyone else think there’s a big risk of this ending badly?

A scientist surely has every right to respond vigorously when he or she has been unfairly attacked. But correcting the record and protecting your reputation is one thing; thinking that you’re going to successfully combat the likes of Marc Morano and James Inhofe and thereby help insure passage of legislation to rein in carbon emissions is another thing entirely.

Start with this simple fact, from the recent report of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication: ” . . . despite the recent controversies over “climategate” and the 2007 IPCC report, this study finds that Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming.”

I think they trust scientists because they see them as working in the world of verification, not in the looney-tune world of Marc Morano, James Inhofe, Glenn Beck, et al.  But if scientists wade into the mud-wrestling ring, is there any reasonable expectation that they will not get dirtied up pretty darn good?

In this arena, scientific verification simply doesn’t count. To offer one example, at the extreme it’s a world where people claim without any evidence whatsoever that Barack Obama is spending $200 million a day and requiring one tenth of the resources of the U.S. Navy just to travel to India. And it gets worse. Much worse, as this video dramatizes so alarmingly:

Some will applaud scientists for tackling this craziness head on. And goodness knows, someone has to do it. But if your opponents are willing to say anything at all  (including that you’re a “lesbian vampire,” in the case of Rachel Maddow — seriously, watch the video) so that they can tear you down, eat you for lunch, then regurgitate you, and eat you again, are you really going to win that match by wielding an updated hockey stick graph?

Andy Revkin has posted on this at DotEarth. Definitely worth reading!

This item was posted by .

You can follow comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

This thing has 37 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone else think there’s a big risk of this ending badly?
    Yes, there is indeed a big risk of this ending badly. The biggest risk is that the misinformers and delayers succeed in putting off serious climate action for another decade or two and we continue business as usual, leading to catastrophic climate change undermining the conditions of prosperity and stability required for the pursuit of scientific inquiry. There is then also a smaller risk of climate science losing credibility due to politicisation. But given the scale of the relative risks, I think this move makes good sense.

  2. Cat
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    What else is left to us?

    Now that people with no credentials can get on the media and make bold claims that are flagrantly wrong – and be believed by the general public, what are our options? Do we simply throw up our hands and watch investment in critical education and research money evaporate? Do we hand the world over to the poor players?

    The Yale poll demonstrated that Americans trust scientists to some degree. It fails to demonstrate whether the American public can identify a scientist or whether scientific information even has a way to reach them. Indicators of such things do not bode well.

    Scientists must stand up and be recognized. Even though the in-trained hesitancy of the research scientist doesn’t play well with the public’s concepts of confidence, the alternative is unthinkable.

  3. Posted November 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Cat: Recall that the Democrats controlled the Presidency, the House and the Senate — and they still could not pass the cap-and-trade bill. Part of the reason is that they could not muster a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That was because Democratic senators from states such as Michigan, West Virginia and Louisiana (think “cars,” “coal” and “oil”?) simply weren’t too thrilled, even with a bill that probably wouldn’t have done nearly enough to make a meaningful impact.

    And later, Harry Reid torpedoed any hopes for the Kerry-Lieberman bill — which for a time had support from Republican Lindsey Graham — because Reid felt that introducing a poison-pill immigration bill would help him get re-elected. (Well, I guess maybe he was right…)

    So are you suggesting that greater public knowledge of climate change science would have changed this dynamic? Or that the spectacle of scientists engaging in a shoutfest with James Inhofe will in the future?

    But please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that scientists shouldn’t do something to correct the record. But specifically what should they do? Go on the Sean Hannity show? Or Glenn Beck? Or maybe duke it out one-on-one with a climate change denier on CNN?

    That network’s shameful “Global Warming: Trick or Truth?” series back in February featured the “balance as bias” approach, misleading viewers into thinking that a) there is an equal split of opinion on climate change, and b) that there is no difference between a scientist and a climate change denier.

    On the surface, a “rapid response team” sounds compelling. And maybe if they play it right, it will be for the good. But somehow, I don’t think it’s going to work out that way.

  4. Allencic
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    You’re worried that “uninformed” people might win the day against AGW? How about the scientific know-nothings that already have too much power to influence public policy. For example, Carole Browner has a degree in English for God sake! LIsa Heinzeger of the EPA has a damned degree in Philosophy. How in the world do these morons get any say in how the rest of us should behave. Republicans, please drive a stake thru the heart of AGW once and for all!

  5. Posted November 7, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Alencic: I must have missed something. Please show me where I said I was “worried” that “uninformed people might win the day against AGW.”

    Quoting from the Yale study, I did say that “Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming.” My argument was that climate scientists wrestling with the likes of Marc Morano are likely to weaken, not strengthen, that trust. I also believe that increased understanding of the details of climate science by the general public is unlikely to be the key to unlock effective climate and energy policy.

    I’d be happy to debate these issues with you, but first you might consider reading what I actually wrote as opposed to trying to read my mind.

  6. anon
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    If I told you I was 50 years old, a lifelong Democrat, with a BS in Math and Physics from a college that was ranked in the top ten of science and engineering, with advanced degrees in various scientific fields, you might think I would think this head on attack was a great idea.

    Instead you’re going to call me a denier when I say that this statement:

    ““***This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists,” said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.***”

    tells me that climate science is no science as I was taught it.

    How did we go from Heisenberg and double blind studies to agenda driven activist run labs?

    If what Mandia wanted was outreach sessions with lots and lots of Q&A to explain the science to the layman, Cosmos like programs on PBS focused on earth sciences and climate sciences, and again with lots of Feynman like free wheeling Q&A sessions, I’d be very supportive.

    But Mandia proud to say that science and activism and politics go hand in hand with the implicit claim he can still be a neutral observer?


    You guys deserve all the shit that’s rained down on you.

    And we the people deserve better “scientists”.

    You can call me a denier now.

  7. Posted November 7, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Anon: For the record, I am not calling you a “denier.” I actually don’t know what your views are about the science because you haven’t said anything about them — and I will not try to read your mind. I only wish you would not try to read mine.

    If you want to know what I think, read the actual post.

  8. Foxgoose
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    NOBODY expects the Climate Inquisition!

  9. PandR
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    The inference is that if you agree with AGW, you are a scientist. If you disagree, then you are not. So sad, this represents a gross politicization of science. You deny the existence of the thousands of scientists who do not agree with you, including the hundreds who have had there careers destroyed because they can prove AGW is hogwash. Very sad, the AGU is really just a one sided political party.

  10. Posted November 8, 2010 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    “…this study finds that Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming.”

    I think that’s the kicker. As a scientist of sorts (ChemE), I have great trust in other scientists, but consider climatologists to be more like astrologists or carpetbaggers than scientists. They seem too willing to adjust data to fit their original hypotheses. If I were to do that in my line of work, it would cause large explosions and death. It just doesn’t strike me as science.

    So I certainly do not trust climatologists. Not even a little. But if someone asked me if I trusted scientists, I would say yes with great vigor. Climatologists do great harm to science by calling themselves scientists.

  11. Mike M.
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    In the real world one scientist says x=y. Another scientist says x=z. The scientists disagree. Eventually, one of their views will be accepted as the correct view.

    In the world of climatology, the scientist that says x=z is spreading disinformation or misinformation and is probably funded by some shadowy, but well organized, fossil fuel conspiracy.

    Is it any wonder why two thirds of the American public reject AGW?

  12. fred g
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Originally I believed in global warming and in what scientists said on this issue. Then I became aware of scientific arguments such as those presented by Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Roger Pielke, etc. For a sampling of such points of view visit:




    Whenever I posted ideas garnered from such thinkers on pro-AGW (anthropogenic global warming) web sites I was met with name calling and deletion of my posts. Almost never did I receive attempts at rational counter-arguments.

    I even e-mailed a few prominent pro-AGW scientists. They would not or could not answer the objections I presented to AGW. Even they responded with juvenile name-calling.

    The efforts by these pro-AGW scientists to debate those who do not believe in global warming will fail. Face it, after spending billions on global warming research the scientists involved in that research cannot prove that increasing CO2 levels causes harmful warming. Scientists have been calling for laws, such as cap-and-trade, that would destroy our civilization as we know it for absolutely no benefit. Scientists hawking nonsense such as AGW should not be trusted even to teach a high-school science class much less set policies determining the energy-use policies of the world. The AGW issue has shattered my trust in scientists (but not in the scientific method).

  13. Jean Demesure
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    @Tom Yulsman
    “If you want to know what I think, read the actual post.”

    Let me guess, you think Morano & Inhofe tell lies about climate change whereas Gore & Kennedy and the WWF (which contributes mightily to the IPCC propaganda) are truthfull. And you think people, except those like you, are too stupid not to see who tells lies and who is truthfull.

  14. Posted November 8, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Jean: Sorry, but you’re no better than I am at mind reading (and I admit I’m lousy). And if you were serious about engaging in a thoughtful debate, you would actually read what I’ve written instead of simply bloviating. That’s fine. I’ve done my share. But please don’t attribute ideas to me when you clearly have absolutely no clue whatsoever what I think.

  15. Posted November 8, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    This attempt must and will be handled very carefully.

    Staying above the fray has not worked. Honest, hard-working scientists have been smeared.

    Do you think Michael Mann could ever have imagined that something as innocuous as tree-ring research would bring him the vilification of every conspiracy theorist on the planet? Who knew!

    There are pitfalls, but doing nothing has failed. Time for a change. Time to stand up for our children.

  16. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    @Foxgoose wrote: “NOBODY expects the Climate Inquisition!”

    Neither did anyone expect a “Crack Suicide Squad”:


  17. mkjon
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    In all of my mathematics classes I was told that 0.04% (the amount of CO2 in air) was closer to zero than it is to one and when I multiply any number by zero, the answer is zero. That is CO2′s share in Climate Change.

  18. Robinson
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Of course it’s going to end badly. It’s going to end badly because the “evidence” for AGW has been vastly overstated, the uncertainties vastly understated and most of it has been “manufactured”. Moreover, the proposed mitigation for this non-problem is unworkable.

    Scientists should not get involved in public policy, especially if they are funded by taxes. There is a direct conflict of interest here. I would have thought this obvious.

  19. GoFigure
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The science on this global warming issue is sufficiently clear that any intelligent person can understand. Never mind the politics. Try (for example) my google document at: http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddrj9jjs_0fsv8n9gw

  20. Felix S.
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Things have gone badly for the warmists.
    Avoiding debates with the sceptics have made the sceptics more powerful.
    This is not me talking, these are the polls talking. The change in the UK BBC polls regarding AGW has been one of the sceptics greatest victories this last year. The collapse of the Chicago Climate Exchange was another victory. Things are NOT working for the warmists. You need to do something different or the sceptic victory will be complete…

  21. Tom
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink


    If Dr. Mann didn’t want such scrutiny he should have never used his position as IPCC an lead author to pimp his own research above all others. As noted by Dr. Don Easterbrook there are over 1900 references in the Georef database to the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Dr. Mann was able to use his position in the IPCC to overrule them all in what was a clear abuse of power. He now complains that the hockey stick was perhaps too high profile? He is the one who made it so!

  22. Larry
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Tenney, ‘Staying above the fray has not worked.’?

    I’ve spent the last 2 years following the inside orbit of Michael Mann and his ‘team.’ If you think Mann is above the fray, you have obviously not read closely the emails of, say, Climategate. However, Climategate is but the surface of his efforts.

    He has been proven wrong again and again on his ‘innocuous tree-ring research’ and the hockey stick. (If you disagree and think he’s correct or a saint, you’re only reading Real Climate.) Yet, he is too important to the AGW story. So, there’s a very large effort by his team, fellow rent-seeking scientists and journalists to prop Mann up. (Real Climate is the front face of Fenton Communications, who have perfected the art of the smear.)

    Mann is on the run. He is not some ‘innocent’ scientist, but instead someone who has pulled strings to get editors fired, smeared his fellow scientists, and encouraged his team to disparage counter-AGW studies and get them rejected from journals. Contrary to your point, it is sis ‘science’ that will cause millions of children to suffer through ruinous policies. Yes, he needs to account for those actions. That’s not anti-science. It is Mann that is anti-science.

    On the Yale survey — this is too selective and unrepresentative. Do some more digging and you’ll see both here and in Europe that ‘belief in the scientists’ on climate change has been dropping for years and is extremely low. Is this because of deniers? No, it’s from more scientific work that keeps showing AGW as overplayed by vested interests, a la Gore.

  23. googler
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Matt Ridley has a good summary of the issues the “rapid response team” should address:


    As he says in his piece “…it is vital that we all read all sides of the argument.”


  24. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    @ Tenney Naumer wrote: “Do you think Michael Mann could ever have imagined that something as innocuous as tree-ring research would bring him the vilification of every conspiracy theorist on the planet? Who knew!”

    Who are the real “conspiracy theorist[s]” here? A few posts down, one finds this comment from another warmist:

    @ Mike M. Wrote: “In the world of climatology, the scientist that says x=z is spreading disinformation or misinformation and is probably funded by some shadowy, but well organized, fossil fuel conspiracy.”

    This is tragic and I don’t mean the “shadowy, but well organized, fossil fuel conspiracy” supposedly lurking out there. Scientific American conducted a survey of its readers. The results must have been embarrassing to its strong AGW advocacy. It showed that 77% of its readers were AGW sceptics and that over 80% thought the IPCC to be a corrupt organisation.


    So is there a fossil fuel conspiracy within Scientific American readership?

    “Is it any wonder why two thirds of the American public reject AGW?”

    You bet it’s a wonder. It is actually a profound “wonder” that there is so much scepticism, given that funding and resources for sceptics is paltry compared to that which is poured into the Global Warming machine. Save those prepared to do research on the Net, there is only one side of the story available. As for sceptics’ funding, that’s pulled from the warmist sky. The sceptical scientists don’t get the massive grants and neither do sceptical universities. “Nothing to see here”, has never has attracted much public coin and interest while, “The sky is falling” historically has – for a while, anyway.

    Climate Industry, Wall of Money:


    But it isn’t only the huge gulf with the finances; the warmist lobby has always had the media in its pocket, not only covering up for things like fudged numbers, scandals (Climategate) and an increasingly uncooperative earth, but adding its own fuel to the fire by way of tedious Alice-in-Wonderland Armageddon prophesies and also adding AGW innuendo to any notable (or ordinary) weather events, such as drought, rain, much snow, little snow, much fog or little fog, etc. etc. Hundreds of contradictory AGW Armageddon ‘signs’ have been listed and laughed at. The religious parallel is reinforced by the way the machine wants our money and our unquestioning compliance (sceptic = denier = heretic!). It also has its high priests who live opulent lifestyles with massive carbon footprints – you think they really care about your children? It even has demons from the dark side, disciples of the “shadowy” oil companies. Accordingly, rather than a conspiracy, I consider AGW – renamed to the infinitely more ‘sign’ friendly, “Climate Change” – to be a quasi religious disorder.

    Now, when are you conspiracy theorists – and by default that’s what you are – actually going to produce some evidence of all this money pouring into scepticism? Show us all sceptical scientists living even minor Al Gore lifestyles. Show us the media by which the evil oil companies access and brainwash the public, without the benefit of media support. Also, don’t forget to tell us about our ‘organisation’ and and how it works.

  25. James Macdonald
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    As a skeptical scientist, when I need some reassurance, all I have to do is read the comments from most any blog site. They are almost always heavily in favor of the skeptics. The AGW gang is so insular and arrogant, they will eventually collapse of their own bloated self rightousness.

  26. Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Dear Larry and Tom,

    The so-called hockey stick has been proven over and over again with multiple lines of evidence. If you choose to live in a parallel universe, this is your problem.

  27. Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Larry and Tom, you are recycling lies that have been refuted over and over again. I guess that works for you.

  28. Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    You of the Scientific American unscientific poll — I guess you failed to notice all the Shell Oil ads on that webpage.

  29. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, how embarrassing. It’s gone from 700 scientists, to 39 scientists, to zero scientists. I thought that debating sounded uncharacteristically brave of them.

  30. Robinson
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    What multiple lines of evidence Tenny? As far as I know the criticisms have been sustained (Wegman, North for example). There aren’t any “multiple lines” that don’t use the same data series or the same erroneous statistical methods.

  31. Larry
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Tenney, again, there is a very strong cabal that ‘must’ make Mann correct and continue to rewrite history, but it is getting more tenuous for Mann as Medieval Warm Period is not firmly re-established. (Please get thee to a site with research.)

    McIntyre has not been refuted (except by the Hockey Team). Basically, Mann’s poor statistics will yield a hockey stick even if fed random numbers from a phone book. Yes, that’s the quote from statisticians. And ‘that’, Tenney, has been repeatedly shown to be true. Mann’s work has been dissected quite thoroughly, and I’m surprised that you are not aware of Wegman, NSF, and subsequent critiques of Mann.

    Even the IPCC 2007 backtracked on Mann after featuring him earlier. (Are you not aware of the IPCC rescinding the hockey stick from featuring it 7 times as the largest color illustration in the prior report?!) The people who keep yelling ‘Lies’ the most are Mann, Santer, Trenberth, etc. — in other words, the Team.

    Even my old friends at National Geographic (despite great sales on AGW stories) on throwing in the towel on the MWP…

    “National Geographic now acknowledges the Medieval Warm Period”

    Excerpt below:

    “As Greenland returns to the warm climate that allowed Vikings to colonize it in the Middle Ages, its isolated and dependent people dream of greener fields and pastures—and also of oil from ice-free waters.”

    Mann used his connections with Nature magazine to go after Daniel Greenberg, a widely respected author, for having the guts to write a favorable review of the book “The Climate Fix”. Below is an email from Greenberg, followed by his angry retort back to Mann.

    Re my stirring experience of jousting with Mann, Ehrlich, and Rahmstorf: What a scurrilous bunch. My sympathy to you and anyone else who has to deal with them. They’re gravediggers of science. Nature will soon publish my riposte and, I think, a disclaimer of any ties to me by the Marshall Institute. Below, my further exchanges with the low-life trio.

    Best regards, Dan

    Here is Greenberg’s email to Michael Mann that concludes the exchange, reproduced with his permisison:

    Dear Professors Mann, Ehrlich, and Rahmstorf,

    Your correspondence concerning my review of Roger Pielke’s book “Climate Fix” has provided me with a deeper understanding of the widespread public skepticism toward climate science. In your hands, apple pie and motherhood would come under public suspicion. Have you considered taking a remedial reading course? Can you comprehend the difference between a book reviewer’s own beliefs and the reviewer’s presentation of the beliefs expressed by the author of the book under review? Apparently not. Furthermore, your insinuation of an undisclosed relationship between me and a conservative think tank is preposterous. In 2006, I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Marshall Institute—as I have done with numerous other organizations, including the Brookings Institution, RAND, AAAS, and various academic societies and universities. Common practice for journalists. Nor did I, as you allege, write a report, or anything, for the Marshall Institute. The panel’s words were transcribed and published by the Institute. I wrote nothing for them. You guys are the devil’s gift to the Tea Party and other climate-change wackos.

    Sincerely, Dan Greenberg

  32. Posted November 9, 2010 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    John Mashey has thoroughly debunked the so-called Wegman Report. NSF found for Mann. You are just repeating the denialosphere lies.

  33. Posted November 9, 2010 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Here is Michael Mann in his own words at a talk he gave on Sunday to the National Association of Science Writers meeting:


  34. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    @ Tenney wrote: “You of the Scientific American unscientific poll”

    Hey, it’s not me of the poll. Scientific American is an AGW advocacy domain. They would have choked on their findings. Best you take your charge about it being unscientific to them; they’re your guys. However if you can suggest any way that that result could be massively flipped into the reverse, let’s hear it.

    ” — I guess you failed to notice all the Shell Oil ads on that webpage.”

    No I didn’t see any. Actually I still don’t, but as Mike told us, those oil companies are “shadowy”, right? Tenney, have you checked under your bed lately?

  35. Posted November 9, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    A quick announcement to everyone who has been commenting here: I appreciate everyone’s participation. Even though I disagree with much of what people have said, I’ve read almost every post and followed many of the posed links as well.

    But at this point, I’m mostly seeing repetition of the same arguments, along with a lot of reflexive cynicism that isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.

    So I will leave comments open on this post for the rest of the evening. But then I think we’ll move on.

  36. Posted November 9, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Just so everyone knows what the Climate Denial Machine does behind decent people’s backs, check out this letter sent to Scientific American, today, by a lawyer who litigates for anti-environmental interests (interesting how he cc-ed the infamous Patrick Michaels, but makes no mention of him in the letter) — my comments are in square brackets:

    From: “George Kresovich” <GAK@hcmp.comGAK@hcmp.com>>

    Date: November 9, 2010 2:14:05 PM EST
    To: editors@sciam.com
    Cc: Michael Mann, Phil Jones, judith.curry@eas.gatech.edu; pmichaels@cato.org; pa@lomborg.com

    Subject: Why are so many skeptical about climate science?

    Dear Editors:

    In his article in your November issue discussing the “transgressions” of Marc Hauser, the Harvard primatologist accused of seeing and reporting data that others could not see or reproduce, Scott Lilienfeld asserts – quite correctly – “The very edifice of science hinges on the willingness of investigators to entertain the possibility that they might be wrong.” It is reassuring to note that there is at least one person at your magazine who understands the fundamental basis of science.

    In that same issue you profile “climate heretic” Judith Curry and report the impact that Climategate has had on climate research and public policy. You note that “bodies ranging from the U.N. to the British government to universities on both sides of the Atlantic” have concluded that the researchers involved (principally Professors Michael Mann and Phil Jones) had made no major errors and had not distorted their findings. Apparently, for Scientific American, this settles the matter.

    It would be good if all scientists everywhere always reported the results of their investigations with scrupulous accuracy. Would that we could live in such a heavenly world. But distorting evidence does not “undermine the very edifice of science.” Isaac Newton and Gregor Mendel, to mention just two, smoothed their data. Nevertheless, such inevitable, all-too-human failings pose no fundamental threat to science.

    Science itself provides the best defense against such unethical behavior. Results that cannot be reproduced and bad data will be found out – as long as we hold fast to the essential principle on which the edifice of science is founded – the willingness of scientists to entertain the possibility they might be wrong.

    And that is why your apparent acceptance of the conclusion that Climategate was not a serious breach of scientific ethics rings so false. Professors Mann and Jones and their colleagues may or may not have distorted their findings and reached erroneous conclusions. Their peers will have to determine that.[THEY ALREADY DID, OVER AND OVER, THE RESULTS STAND] And, if they did commit such transgressions, their failings could be, to extend your religious metaphor, either venial or mortal sins depending on the extent of their distortions and the effort and time needed to correct them. But such sins would have eventually been found out, and science would have proceeded – a bit tarnished perhaps – on its drunkard’s walk to a better and more complete understanding of the universe.

    But what Professors Mann and Jones did in Climategate is much, much worse than simply playing tricks with the data to support their hypothesis.[FALSE] It is undisputed that they attempted to silence researchers reporting data and advancing hypotheses in conflict with their own. [FALSE] They also attempted, with clear evidence of success, to put the journal Climate Research in limbo if it failed to sing from their hymnal and to usher out of the choir those who refused to do so.[FALSE] This is not scientific sin. It is a complete repudiation of science itself. It is scientific heresy. And, while sinners should be punished (and, if they repent of their misdeeds, eventually forgiven), heretics – well, heretics should be treated much more severely.

    If it is part of Scientific American’s mission to defend science, your voice should be leading the chorus in condemnation of Professors Mann and Jones. But I am not surprised that you have not called these sinners to account because I remember your response to Bjorn Lomborg’s book, The Skeptical Environmentalist.

    Just a few years ago, you found it necessary to defend science in response to the facts and arguments presented by Mr. Lomborg. Science needed no such defense. Mr. Lomborg had merely presented evidence for all to see and claimed that this evidence supported his conclusions. [FALSE] Those who thought he was wrong were free to review his evidence, analyze his arguments, and refute them if they could. Mr. Lomborg may or may not have been correct, but he did not attack science – he embraced it. [FALSE]

    Your dogmatic response to Mr. Lomborg and your silence regarding the much greater transgressions of Professors Mann and Jones speaks eloquently either to your fundamental lack of understanding of what science is all about – which I doubt – or to your own bias and hypocrisy. You apparently share the doctrines of the leading secular religion of our time, doctrines embraced by your co-religionists, Professors Mann and Jones. You need look no further than a mirror to see the fundamental basis for the mistrust that the climate change skeptic community exhibits. I for one will rejoice and kill the fatted calf if Scientific American returns to the skeptical fold of true science.

    Very Truly Yours,

    George Kresovich

    George A. Kresovich
    1221 Second Avenue | Suite 500 | Seattle, WA 98101
    d: 206.470.7610 | 206.623.1745 | f: 206.623.7789

  37. Ken
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    There is no such thing as climate denialist, there are only people that what to hear both sides of the debate. Weather it climate change or peak (cheap) oil both lead to the same conclusion, we need new sources of energy. It would be a lot more helpful if both side worked together to make that happen.

One Trackback

  1. Posted November 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    [...] from critics in the blogosphere, hundreds of members of the American Geophysical Union are forming a rapid-response team aiming to challenge disinformation and misinformation deployed in the policy wars over global [...]

Comments are currently closed