Climate Science Strikes Back
If a letter appearing in the May 7, 2010, issue of Science is any indication, it looks like climate science traditionalists are trying to stage a comeback. The article by P. H. Gleick and a cast of hundreds, entitled “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science,” states that “we are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular.” Decrying the attacks on climate scientists by “deniers,” the letter reiterates the signatories' support for dogmatic climate change theory. While admitting that the IPCC “quite unexpectedly and normally, made some mistakes,” they call for an end to “McCarthy-like threats” against themselves and their colleagues. Painting themselves as victims, they have gone on the offensive—like the evil Empire of Star Wars fame, climate science is striking back.
Likening climate change to the theories of the origin of Earth, Evolution and the Big Bang, the letter's signatories state: “There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.” They quickly play the uncertainty card, repeating the tired better-safe-than-sorry argument, saying “for a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.” Their song remains the same: we don't have real proof but we should act anyway, just in case we are right.
A foreshadowing of the letter's credibility was the use of a now famous photoshopped picture of a single polar bear, stranded on a small ice-flow (clicking on the small picture at the begining of the article will bring up the bogus “collage”). The Science article on-line contains this correction:
Due to an editorial error, the original image associated with this Letter was not a photograph but a collage. The image was selected by the editors, and it was a mistake to have used it. The original image has been replaced in the online HTML and PDF versions of the article with an unaltered photograph from National Geographic.
The replacement image, perhaps acknowleding that the ice isn't melting.
Photo: Paul Nicklen/National Geographic/Getty Images.
If only they would admit their larger transgressions so easily. Aside from the pictorial faux pas, the letter itself repeats the same tired old arguments. And of course, they can not help but call those who question their theory “deniers.” If anyone is in denial it is this group. The central points of the letter are reproduced below, judge for yourself.
Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:
(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
(v)The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.
These cranky boffins must think that, if they repeat the same lies enough times, everyone will start believing them again. No serious skeptic claims that a single cold winter reverses the past century's warming trend, though AGW supporters constantly trumpet the warmest this and that. The truth can be seen in the chart below, produced by NASA's GISS.
Mean global temperature has not changed for over a decade. NASA/GISS.
This graph appeared in “Playing the Uncertainty Card,” but bears repeating, as does the statement by Mark A. Cane: “Over the past decade, the mean global temperature did not rise much, if at all.” Gleick et al. assert that Earth's climate is “now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.” Dr. Cane, a distinguished climate scientist from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, seems to think that nature is doing the overwhelming: “This pause in global warming cannot be attributed to cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions by the planet's human population, so it must be nature taking a turn towards colder temperatures.”
At the end of the letter, it is claimed that skepticism of anthropogenic global warming has created a hostile environment for climate scientists. These pedants are amazed that people get upset when they are purposefully lied to, when data are manufactured to prove climate scientists' pre-ordained outcomes, and when leading experts collude to mislead the public. The same protests have been made by hucksters and confidence men down through the ages.
We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: We can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.
Do they really expect everyone to accept their assertions of imminent disaster based on the flimsy, and often falsified, evidence present by the IPCC? Do they really think that the peoples of the world would accept a crash program to reorganize the economies of every nation without overwhelming proof that significant change was occurring? These “scientists” not only don't live in the real world, they have abandoned it in favor of perfidious computer models. Immersed in their models' fantasy worlds, they can play god with Earth's climate and reassure themselves that their half-formed notions are true.
The signatories are all members of the US National Academy of Sciences but do not claim to be speaking on its behalf. The Academy itself, however, has embarked on a new course of open advocacy and decided to overtly recommend a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax. “We really need to get started right away. It's not opinion, it's what the science tells you,” said academy panel vice chairman Robert Fri, prompting Roger Pielki Jr. to label that statement “the boneheaded comment of the day.”
Pielki uses the term “stealth issue advocate” to describe someone, like Fri, who hides their advocacy behind science. The Gleick et al. letter is a veritable who's who of stealthy and not so stealthy advocates. Below is the full list of signatories to the Science letter. I propose that, when the notion of dangerous, human caused global warming is finally put to rest, we raise a monument to scientific folly, with a bronze plaque containing the names of those listed here.
Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.
P. H. Gleick,* R. M. Adams, R. M. Amasino, E. Anders, D. J. Anderson, W. W. Anderson, L. E. Anselin, M. K. Arroyo, B. Asfaw, F. J. Ayala, A. Bax, A. J. Bebbington, G. Bell, M. V. L. Bennett, J. L. Bennetzen, M. R. Berenbaum, O. B. Berlin, P. J. Bjorkman, E. Blackburn, J. E. Blamont, M. R. Botchan, J. S. Boyer, E. A. Boyle, D. Branton, S. P. Briggs, W. R. Briggs, W. J. Brill, R. J. Britten, W. S. Broecker, J. H. Brown, P. O. Brown, A. T. Brunger, J. Cairns, Jr., D. E. Canfield, S. R. Carpenter, J. C. Carrington, A. R. Cashmore, J. C. Castilla, A. Cazenave, F. S. Chapin, III, A. J. Ciechanover, D. E. Clapham, W. C. Clark, R. N. Clayton, M. D. Coe, E. M. Conwell, E. B. Cowling, R. M Cowling, C. S. Cox, R. B. Croteau, D. M. Crothers, P. J. Crutzen, G. C. Daily, G. B. Dalrymple, J. L. Dangl, S. A. Darst, D. R. Davies, M. B. Davis, P. V. de Camilli, C. Dean, R. S. Defries, J. Deisenhofer, D. P. Delmer, E. F. Delong, D. J. Derosier, T. O. Diener, R. Dirzo, J. E. Dixon, M. J. Donoghue, R. F. Doolittle, T. Dunne, P. R. Ehrlich, S. N. Eisenstadt, T. Eisner, K. A. Emanuel, S. W. Englander, W. G. Ernst, P. G. Falkowski, G. Feher, J. A. Ferejohn, A. Fersht, E. H. Fischer, R. Fischer, K. V. Flannery, J. Frank, P. A. Frey, I. Fridovich, C. Frieden, D. J. Futuyma, W. R. Gardner, C. J. R. Garrett, W. Gilbert, R. B. Goldberg, W. H. Goodenough, C. S. Goodman, M. Goodman, P. Greengard, S. Hake, G. Hammel, S. Hanson, S. C. Harrison, S. R. Hart, D. L. Hartl, R. Haselkorn, K. Hawkes, J. M. Hayes, B. Hille, T. Hökfelt, J. S. House, M. Hout, D. M. Hunten, I. A. Izquierdo, A. T. Jagendorf, D. H. Janzen, R. Jeanloz, C. S. Jencks, W. A. Jury, H. R. Kaback, T. Kailath, P. Kay, S. A. Kay, D. Kennedy, A. Kerr, R. C. Kessler, G. S. Khush, S. W. Kieffer, P. V. Kirch, K. Kirk, M. G. Kivelson, J. P. Klinman, A. Klug, L. Knopoff, H. Kornberg, J. E. Kutzbach, J. C. Lagarias, K. Lambeck, A. Landy, C. H. Langmuir, B. A. Larkins, X. T. Le Pichon, R. E. Lenski, E. B. Leopold, S. A. Levin, M. Levitt, G. E. Likens, J. Lippincott-Schwartz, L. Lorand, C. O. Lovejoy, M. Lynch, A. L. Mabogunje, T. F. Malone, S. Manabe, J. Marcus, D. S. Massey, J. C. McWilliams, E. Medina, H. J. Melosh, D. J. Meltzer, C. D. Michener, E. L. Miles, H. A. Mooney, P. B. Moore, F. M. M. Morel, E. S. Mosley-Thompson, B. Moss, W. H. Munk, N. Myers, G. B. Nair, J. Nathans, E. W. Nester, R. A. Nicoll, R. P. Novick, J. F. O'Connell, P. E. Olsen, N. D. Opdyke, G. F. Oster, E. Ostrom, N. R. Pace, R. T. Paine, R. D. Palmiter, J. Pedlosky, G. A. Petsko, G. H. Pettengill, S. G. Philander, D. R. Piperno, T. D. Pollard, P. B. Price, Jr., P. A. Reichard, B. F. Reskin, R. E. Ricklefs, R. L. Rivest, J. D. Roberts, A. K. Romney, M. G. Rossmann, D. W. Russell, W. J. Rutter, J. A. Sabloff, R. Z. Sagdeev, M. D. Sahlins, A. Salmond, J. R. Sanes, R. Schekman, J. Schellnhuber, D. W. Schindler, J. Schmitt, S. H. Schneider, V. L. Schramm, R. R. Sederoff, C. J. Shatz, F. Sherman, R. L. Sidman, K. Sieh, E. L. Simons, B. H. Singer, M. F. Singer, B. Skyrms, N. H. Sleep, B. D. Smith, S. H. Snyder, R. R. Sokal, C. S. Spencer, T. A. Steitz, K. B. Strier, T. C. Südhof, S. S. Taylor, J. Terborgh, D. H. Thomas, L. G. Thompson, R. T. Tjian, M. G. Turner, S. Uyeda, J. W. Valentine, J. S. Valentine, J. L. van Etten, K. E. van Holde, M. Vaughan, S. Verba, P. H. von Hippel, D. B. Wake, A. Walker, J. E. Walker, E. B. Watson, P. J. Watson, D. Weigel, S. R. Wessler, M. J. West-Eberhard, T. D. White, W. J. Wilson, R. V. Wolfenden, J. A. Wood, G. M. Woodwell, H. E. Wright, Jr., C. Wu, C. Wunsch, M. L. Zoback
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The climate science Empire striking back under cover of England's winter snow.