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29 January 2012

FollowUp 7: Republican Denial of Climate Change

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), owned since 2007 by News Corporation (the same company that owns Fox News), is a conservative newspaper.  The WSJ claims to be a source for unbiased news.  When it comes to reporting on climate change, they are not.  On Friday 27 January, the WSJ published an article titled No Need to Panic About Global Warming.  It was filled with errors.  The Union of Concerned Scientists called it Dismal Science.
To take just one example, the authors claim there has been a “lack of warming” for 10 years. Here’s what we know: 2011 was the 35th year in a row in which global temperatures were above the historical average and 2010 and 2005 were the warmest years on record. Over the past decade, record high temperatures outpaced record lows by more than two to one across the continental United States, a marked increase from previous decades.
So where should decision-makers and the public turn to understand what the vast majority of scientists with relevant expertise really think about climate change?
They should start with the US National Academy of Sciences, established by President Lincoln to advise our nation’s leaders on matters of science. In May 2010, a major NAS  report requested by Congress concluded  that  “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for—and in many cases is already affecting—a broad range of human and natural systems”.
Greg Laden, writing the on Science Magazine blog, held no punches.
The Wall Street Journal has published one of the most offensive, untruthful, twisted reviews of what scientists think of climate change; the WSJ Lies about the facts and twists the story to accommodate the needs of head-in-the-sand industrialists and 1%ers; The most compelling part of their argument, according to them, is that the editorial has been signed by 16 scientists.
The scientists who signed to WSJ editorial are:
Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.
Emphasis added to underscore the fact that this is a group of older and often retired weathermen, engineers, or otherwise not-climate-scientists.
Forbes Magazine, hardly a bastion of liberals, includes a link to the Union of Concerned Scientists article and notes that the WSJ rejected a letter from 255 scientists, members of the National Academy of Sciences, that offers a defense of the scientific method used to approach climate change and concludes that climate change is real and affected by human activity.
But the most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation.
Science magazine – perhaps the nation’s most important journal on scientific issues – published the letter from the NAS members after the Journal turned it down.
The letter in Science magazine is about a page in length followed by half a page of the names of scientists who signed it.  No doubt we will hear one or more of the Republican presidential contenders cite the WSJ letter as evidence that there is no climate change occurring.  The WSJ was wrong as will be those who depend upon them for truth.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads up.

1 October 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
10 October 2011, FollowUp 1.
11 October 2011, FollowUp 2.
17 October 2011, FollowUp 3.
21 October 2011, FollowUp 4.
27 October 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 6.

15 February 2012, FollowUp 8.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 March 2012, FollowUp 10.
11 March 2012, FollowUp 11.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 12.

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