Climate scientists plan campaign against global-warming skeptics

Published: Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 - 12:00 am

Faced with increasing 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 have vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The 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.

On Monday, the American Geophysical Union, the country's largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.

Some are prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk-radio and television shows.

John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, who last May wrote a widely disseminated response to climate-change skeptics, is organizing a "Climate Rapid Response Team," which so far
has more than three dozen leading scientists to defend the consensus on
global warming in the scientific community. Some are also preparing a
handbook on the human causes of climate change, which they plan to start sending to U.S. high schools as soon as this fall.

"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.

"We are taking the fight to them because we are . . . tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The
truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has

During the recent election campaigns, skepticism about climate change became a rallying cry for many Republican candidates. Of the more than 100 new Republican members of Congress, 50 percent are climate-change skeptics, according to an analysis of campaign statements by the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group.

Prominent Republican congressmen such as Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., have pledged to investigate the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. They say they also intend to probe the so-called Climategate scandal, in which thousands of e-mails
of leading climate scientists were hacked and released to the public late last year.

Climate-change skeptics argued that the sniping in some e-mails showed that scientists suppressed research by skeptics and manipulated
data. Five independent panels subsequently cleared the researchers
involved and validated the science.

"People who ask and accept taxpayer dollars shouldn't get bent of shape when asked to account for the money," said James M. Taylor, a senior fellow and a specialist in global warming at the conservative Heartland Institute in Chicago. "The budget is spiraling out of control while government is handing out billions of dollars in grants to climate scientists, many of whom are unabashed activists."

Ongoing public interest in Climategate has prompted climate scientists to act.

The American Geological Union plan has attracted a large number of scientists in a short time because they were eager to address what they
see as climate misinformation, said Jeffrey Taylor, research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and manager of the project.

Still, the scope of the group's work is limited, reflecting the ongoing reluctance by many scientists to venture into politics.

In the week that Abraham and others have been organizing the rapid-response team, 39 scientists agreed to participate, including Richard Feely, senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

"People who've already dug their heels in, we're not going to change their opinions," Mandia said. "We're trying to reach people who
may not have an opinion or opinion based on limited information."

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Are you suggesting that the skeptical side of the argument have zero evidence?
By all means...

This is before we even determine whether man and his CO2 emission are the cause. The fact remains that CO2 and temperature have remained unrelated to a degree throughout the earth history, as shown by

Wher eis the correlation?

Warming could only have occurred, as stated by the IPCC for the last 20 years, so how do YOU explain the previous warming, at the same rate, since 1820?
So your assertion is that the skeptics are funded by big oil? I presume I could counter that the believers are funded by green industry, and carbon trading initiatives? How much money IS involved in carbon industry now?
Follow the money!
You are right... Lets's look at the chap who is in charge of the IPCC, and Al Gore, who is making a pretty penny. By the way, saying something is not the same as proving it.
That's a lovely article. I especially like the part at the bottom, saying that the errors that the IPCC had were caught by scientists, and not skeptics. EVERY scientist should be a skeptic.

How about this link... The popular science list of skeptical papers, and articles for you to work your way through... Can you dismiss them all?

Here is another...
Where did I say I dismissed it? You forget that I am not the one dismissing anything. I am the one saying let the science show the way, and not the ones who can have the biggest campaign, or shout the loudest. I'm afraid it is you guys doing the dismissing. Yes, the other site is a popular technology site. Are you going to dismiss the papers from Lindzen, Evans, etc, that are posted within?
Adriana, you can't be implying that Nature carries more weight than Popular Science? Say it ain't so!
I've noticed you seem to err on the side of mocking, rather than simply discussing the points. Have a look at the articles, and papers listed within it, rather than simply dismissing it off the bat.

No wonder you are a believer if you can dismiss things so easily.
I'm happy to let the science speak for itself. I've read this stuff for years, and I will gladly change my position should the evidence show something different. The point of the OP was that scientists are going to start defending their science more publicly. They are not talking about a publicity campaign like their opponents are using, but rather to answer any objections that may be brought forth.

You jumped into this discussion with one dismissive word after another. "Utter Nonsense!" you said.

You must know full well that "Climate Change Skeptic" is political code that has nothing to do with actual skepticism of any kind, but is in fact synonymous with "Corporate Tool"?
No.. Corporate tool is something you have inserted into the debate with no evidence at all. My bringing in phrases like "Utter nonsense" are entirely justified in the context of the conversation. Go back and have a look if you don't believe me. It was when you said that any dissenting voices were paid for by big oil. That IS utter nonsense. You said it had been consensus for 20 years, and yet we only have certain datasets for the last 30+ years. That is in no way proven science. That is where the "utter nonsense" side of things came from. I explained that in my response in which I asked you to show the correlation between man and global temperature. You still haven't done that.

Al I have done on this thread is question the science, and question the mentality of people who seem to think that a conclusion has been reached, so that's it. All dissenting voices are clearly corrupt. If anyone has been shown to be corrupt and mistaken it is climate science. References to polar bears in decline, glacial retreat rates, sea rise rates, atoll islands going under the water, and so on, and so forth. If anyone has put the IPCC in more doubt it is their own conclusions. Hell, we simply have to look at the issues with modeling, and forcing that they use to see that the science isn't quite there, at least not at the IPCC level. The science still needs to be done, but it needs to be done from a scientific standpoint, not from a standpoint equivalent to the shouty types of greenpeace past, who's only aim seems to be to drown out anyone who has an alternative viewpoint. That's not even a viewpoint similar to creationists, that you equated them with, who have nothing to back up their claims. There is plenty of evidence, testing, and experimentation that has been done, and is being done that is contrary to the 'consensus' opinion. I linked to many of those papers and articles, but apparently an editorial in Nature magazine trumps those hundreds of articles and papers for some reason.
Amazing! All you need to do is google Global Warming and you will know instantly who is trying to drown out who. The "skeptics" are far better funded. And their mission is clearly to, as you say "to drown out anyone who has an alternative viewpoint."

What is your stake in this fight? You know most of the links you have provided are private sites owned by deniers with an agenda, and not universities or legitimate scientific communities. The reasonable course would be to err on the side of caution in this debate. But you appear to be all in with the corporate interests. You claim to have come to your conclusions through reason and logic, but that seems highly suspect.

A reasonable man would err on the side of caution regarding a potential threat as dangerous as this one:

"Skeptics often claim that the science of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is not “settled”. But to the extent that this statement is true it is trivial, and to the extent that it is important it is false. No science is ever “settled”; science deals in probabilities, not certainties. When the probability of something approaches 100%, then we can regard the science, colloquially, as “settled”.

The skeptics say that results must be double-checked and uncertainties must be narrowed before any action should be taken. This sounds reasonable enough – but by the time scientific results are offered up to policymakers, they have already been checked and double-checked and quintuple-checked.

Scientists have been predicting AGW, with increasing confidence, for decades (indeed, the idea was first proposed in 1896). By the 1970s, the scientific community were becoming concerned that human activity was changing the climate, but were divided on whether this would cause a net warming or cooling. As science learned more about the climate system, a consensus gradually emerged. Many different lines of inquiry all converged on the IPCC’s 2007 conclusion that it is more than 90% certain that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are causing most of the observed global warming.

Some aspects of the science of AGW are known with near 100% certainty. The greenhouse effect itself is as established a phenomenon as any: it was discovered in the 1820s and the basic physics was essentially understood by the 1950s. There is no reasonable doubt that the global climate is warming. And there is also a clear trail of evidence leading to the conclusion that it’s caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. Some aspects are less certain; for example, the net effect of aerosol pollution is known to be negative, but the exact value needs to be better constrained.

What about the remaining uncertainties? Shouldn’t we wait for 100% certainty before taking action? Outside of logic and mathematics, we do not live in a world of certainties. Science comes to tentative conclusions based on the balance of evidence. The more independent lines of evidence are found to support a scientific theory, the closer it is likely to be to the truth. Just because some details are still not well understood should not cast into doubt our understanding of the big picture: humans are causing global warming.

In most aspects of our lives, we think it rational to make decisions based on incomplete information. We will take out insurance when there is even a slight probability that we will need it. Why should our planet’s climate be any different?"

Rebuttal written by James Wight. Last updated on 4 September 2010.


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