Global Warming Consensus Melts

, Evan Sumortin, Leave a comment

In Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, he assures the public that the “[global warming] debate in the scientific community is over.” The Heartland Institute disagrees. On June 2nd, 2009 the Institute hosted its Third International Conference on Climate Change, touting an impressive speakers list that included scientists, economists, and politicians. Their stated mission was to challenge the “consensus” on global warming.

Dr. Richard Lindzen, a Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spoken at the conference since its inception. Each time, he confronted the alleged scientific consensus by exposing the fundamental reason why many scientists support global warming despite so much evidence to the contrary. “Endorsing global warming just makes their life easier,” Lindzen argued.

According to Dr. Lindzen, scientists that are able to relate their work to global warming are more likely to receive instant recognition with politicians and the media. Often times, this recognition leads to government funding. “Most of the atmospheric scientists and oceanographers who I respect do endorse global warming,” he readily admitted. “The important point, however, is that the science that they do that I respect is not about global warming.”

To exemplify this point Lindzen mentioned Wally Broecker, a Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. “[His] work clearly shows that sudden climate change occurs without anthropogenic influence, and is a property of cold rather than warm climates. However,” Lindzen notes, “[Broecker] staunchly beats the drums for alarm and is richly rewarded for doing so.” For example, in September 2008 Broecker was the recipient of the Balzan Prize for “his extraordinary contributions to the understanding of climate change.”

Lindzen further asserted, “Most arguments about global warming boil down to science versus authority. For much of the public, authority will generally win since they do not wish to deal with science…thus, for over twenty years the National Academy had a temporary nominating group designed to facilitate the election of environmental activists. The current president of the academy is one of these. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has been headed by James McCarthy and John Holdren in recent years, and these have been public advocates for global warming alarm…There are numerous other examples.”

The scientists who are willing to stand up to alarmism have seen their grants disappear and their work dismissed as junk-science. “James Holdren was long on the board of the MacArthur Foundation which has awarded ‘genius’ grants to numerous environmental activists” and “Science and Nature have both publicly taken positions against publishing anything that opposes the notion of dangerous anthropogenic warming, while publishing highly dubious science endorsing the notion,” stated Lindzen.

In the case of Science magazine, the controversy followed a study by Dr. Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, in December of 2004. Her research consisted of analyzing 1,000 papers on the subject of global warming, published since the early 1990s. She concluded that 75% of them backed the theory of man-made global warming and none dissented from it.

Dr. Benny Peiser, a professor at Liverpool John Moores University, was one of many scientists to disagree with Dr. Oreskes’s unequivocal conclusions. Dr. Peiser decided to conduct his own analysis with the same documents and found the following: “Of all 1117 [papers], only 13 (or 1%) explicitly endorse the ‘consensus view’. 322 [papers] (or 29%) implicitly accept the ‘consensus view’ but mainly focus on impact assessments of envisaged global climate change. 470 (or 42%) [papers]… do not include any direct or indirect link or reference to human activities, CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions, let alone anthropogenic forcing of recent climate change.”

Dr. Peiser submitted his findings in order to be published in Science but was rejected on the grounds that “basic points” of his research had been “widely dispersed over the internet.” Dr. Peiser challenged the legitimacy of this statement stating, “It is simply not true that they have appeared elsewhere.” Later, he wrote back to them, “As the results from my analysis refuted the original claims, I believe Science has a duty to publish them.” They did not.

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Lindzen argued that proponents of global warming “fail to note that there are many sources of climate change, and that climate change occurred many times both before and after man appeared on earth. Given the ubiquity of climate change, it is implausible that all change is for the worse. Moreover, the coincidence of increasing carbon dioxide and the small warming over the past century hardly establishes causality.”

Despite these doubts, mainstream reporters continue to insist on a consensus.

In a recent debate on MSNBC’s Hardball between the host, Chris Matthews, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), Matthews claimed, “There is a huge consensus on global warming in the country right now and man’s contribution to it.” He continued to openly criticize Rohrabacher’s skepticism about global warming by calling him names without actually confronting several scientific arguments that Rohrabacher presented. Rohrabacher was condescendingly asked, “Are you a Luddite…are you a part of the Planet of the Apes that doesn’t want science?” To this he responded, “[I’m] someone willing to speak the truth…in my lifetime I have never seen an effort with more pressure to try to cut off debate than this issue… you have just demonstrated to your audience by calling names…how do you discuss science with those types of terms?” At the conference, Rohrabacher challenged “believers” of global warming by boldly stating, “The case is not closed…the tide is turning.”

Although mainstream reporting continues to exaggerate the consensus among the scientific community, the tide is indeed turning. In a recent Gallup Poll, a record high 41% say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated. That is a 6% increase from the 2008 poll.

Evan Sumortin is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.