Hot times for climate change science rhetoric
Full of hot air, polarized rhetoric, and scandal - climate change science issues are boiling over - maybe even more than usual - on newspaper editorial pages and the blogosphere.
This is the first edition of Climate Lens, a guided aggregation of recent climate change science news and voices for those interested in the intersection of weather, climate, politics, and the environment. The Climate Lens will be published about every two weeks. I encourage reader participation by posting interesting news and views you've encountered in the comment area below.
Let's get to it...
Journalists & scientists slam skeptic politicians: Republican doubters of climate change science have been taking a beating in the press the last couple of weeks.
In an editorial, the Post ripped Va. attorney general Ken Cuccinelli for his relentless investigation of Michael Mann, a professor of climatology who worked at the University of Virginia (now at Penn State), unpopular among climate skeptics for his methods and findings. The Post said Cuccinelli is "on a fishing expedition designed to intimidate and suppress honest research and the free exchange of ideas upon which science and academia both depend -- all because he does not like what science says about climate change."
Piling on, the Post printed an opinion piece from Mann himself. Mann not only took a shot at Cuccinelli, but also two Republican congressmen:
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has threatened that, if he becomes chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he will launch what would be a hostile investigation of climate science. The focus would be on e-mails stolen from scientists at the University of East Anglia in Britain last fall that climate-change deniers have falsely claimed demonstrate wrongdoing by scientists, including me. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) may do the same if he takes over a committee on climate change and energy security.
What could Issa, Sensenbrenner and Cuccinelli possibly think they might uncover now, a year after the e-mails were published?
The truth is that they don't expect to uncover anything. Instead, they want to continue a 20-year assault on climate research, questioning basic science and promoting doubt where there is none.
(On Tuesday, the Post printed a contrary perspective from Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tx, who stated "Mr. Mann's global warming projections were rooted in fundamental errors of methodology." But Mann, in a rebuttal published on the Bad Astronomy blog, wrote that Barton: "... continues to misrepresent my research, insult my character and spread misinformation about climate science.")
In a commentary on related issues, the National Journal's Ron Brownstein came down hard on the Republican stance on climate science. He wrote: "The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones."
Not to be outdone, the New Republic published an essay "Hot Mess: Why are conservatives so radical about the climate?" by climate activist Bill McKibben who wrote:
These people [conservatives] aren't reading the science and thinking, I have some questions about this. They're convinced of a massive conspiracy.
The odd and troubling thing about this stance is not just that it prevents action. It's also profoundly unconservative. If there was ever a radical project, monkeying with the climate would surely qualify.
La Nina takes hold, but it's still globally warm. During El Nino, an episodic warming of the Pacific, the global temperature usually heats up. The opposite tends to occur during La Nina, when the Pacific cools. La Nina conditions developed in August, but the global temperature has yet to dip. University of Alabama's Roy Spencer reported September's global temperature "stubbornly refused" to respond to La Nina, holding about 1 degree F above average.
Colorado State's Roger Pielke Sr. who accepts that greenhouse gases contribute to climate change but cautions they are just one of many factors, posted an interesting reaction: "If this persists while we are in a La Niña pattern (when we expect cooling) it will provide strong support for those who expect a long term warming to occur as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere."
Hurricane blogger and Weather Underground founder is a climate change believer: Count Weather Underground chief meteorologist Jeff Masters, among the "those" (referred to by Pielke Sr. above) who expect warming as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate.
Masters, who was profiled at Yale Climate Media Forum was dismissive of the scientific chops of his meteorological brethren who believe otherwise:
Masters considers himself different from most meteorologists, many of whom he says are unreasonably skeptical of climate change science. He says he thinks their skepticism stems in part from bachelors degree meteorology students' not being required to study climatology or climate science as part of their formal degree requirements.
Masters says he believes that the conclusions of the IPCC report are "genuine, valid, and probably understated."
Masters, who holds a Ph.D. in meteorology, told Yale Climate he has received hundreds of "hate e-mails" due to his views on the issue.
Esteemed physicist resigns from professional society over climate stance: The same folks writing hate letters to Masters are probably sending fan mail to skeptic Hal Lewis, an emeritus professor of physics at the University of California Santa Barbara, who submitted a fiery letter of resignation to the American Physical Society. Here's an excerpt:
....I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare.
Lewis's action was roundly cheered at WattsUpWiththat.com, a leading skeptics blog. On the other hand, progressive climate blogger Joe Romm wrote a scathing commentary on Lewis, starting with: "A physicist named Hal Lewis who doesn't know the first thing about climate science has resigned from the American Physical Society because he doesn't know the first thing about climate science."
On Tuesday, the American Physical Society denied Lewis's claim that the "organization is benefiting financially from climate change funding" and defended its stance on climate science, stating: "In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis' claim that global warming is a 'scam' and a 'pseudoscientific fraud'." Lewis responded to APS's comments on the blog WattsUpWithThat yesterday.
'Gates' galore: Of late, there's been a rash of scandals in the climate change realm. And, of course, the blogosphere must legitimize each scandal by christening it with some obligatory name ending in "gate" which can be used by whatever side to prove it's right.
CWG's Andrew Freedman wrote extensively about Climategate earlier this year. Then 'Splattergate' exploded onto the scene the week before last when an activist climate group in the United Kingdom released a controversial, gory video in which individuals (including children) who show indifference to global warming get blown up (read about the video at Post Carbon) .
Now there's Skepticgate (originated via Twitter by the NY Times Andy Revkin), or, should it be "Copygate"?
Whatever-'gate', the Post's Rosalind Helderman described the issue as follows:
A leading skeptic of climate change science whose work was cited last week by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli is himself under investigation on charges that his work contained plagiarism and inaccuracies, a George Mason University [GMU] spokesman confirmed Friday.
Said "leading skeptic"is GMU statistics professor Edward Wegman who criticized Mann's methods in the report (commissioned by a Republican congressional committee in 2006) now under investigation (for plagiarism and inaccuracies).
See the range of reactions:
Dipping Into The Sour Mash, Part 2 (WattsUpWithThat, Thomas Fuller)
Stop the blogs! (Rabett Run, Josh Halpern)
Copygate (Climate Audit, Stephen McIntyre)
Have you read interesting climate science news or perspectives in the last week or two? Post them below and discuss.
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