Professional climate change deniers' crusade continues  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

New Scientist has an article by Michael Mann on the anti-climate science campaign in the US - Professional climate change deniers' crusade continues (via Bruce).

I'D LIKE to say I was surprised when news broke a year ago that emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK, had been hacked into and leaked, and that scientists' personal emails were being quoted out of context to disingenuously imply impropriety on their part. But I wasn't.

Books such as Merchants of Doubt by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have detailed how front groups for the fossil-fuel industry have been waging an orchestrated, well-funded campaign against climate science and climate scientists for more than two decades. Hacking into the CRU's email was simply the latest skirmish in this war against science, timed to forestall any progress towards lowering carbon emissions at the Copenhagen climate conference being held about a month later.

In January this year, the state of Virginia swore in Ken Cuccinelli as its attorney general. Cuccinelli was already known to have a radical agenda that included trying to end protection of the rights of gay college students. This agenda soon proved to extend in other directions, too.

In February, Cuccinelli filed a request with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about its findings that greenhouse gases endanger public health. He said that he was also looking for judicial review in the federal court. As his press statement explained, he took issue with "unelected bureaucrats with political agendas", who, he alleged, were using "falsified" data to regulate US industry and destroy the economy.

A few weeks later, on 1 April, Cuccinelli announced - and despite the date, he wasn't joking - that he planned to challenge the March 2010 standards on fuel efficiency for cars and trucks that had been finalised by the Obama administration and the EPA. He also issued a civil subpoena to my former employer, the University of Virginia, demanding that they hand over 10 years' worth of emails and documents of mine, including correspondence with more than 30 other leading climate scientists.

The intent was clear: in my view, it was to uncover yet more emails that climate change deniers hoped would further embarrass climate scientists.

So why the ongoing attacks against me by Cuccinelli and other groups and individuals doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry? Undoubtedly, it is because of the prominent role our now decade-old "hockey stick" reconstruction of past temperature trends has played in public discourse on climate change. The graphic, which I helped to create while I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts, tells a simple story: that the warming of recent decades is unprecedented in at least a millennium. This has made it a compelling icon in the climate change debate. It has also made the graphic a compelling target for climate change deniers, who believe that they can discredit all climate science by undermining the credibility of this one graphic.

The problem for them, however, is that dozens of groups, using different statistical methods, different data sources, and so on, have all come to the same conclusion as our study: recent warming is anomalous in a long-term context. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 report extended the period of warming back even further to at least the past 1300 years.

Moreover, the case for human influence on climate change hardly rests on our palaeoclimate research, or even on the entire field of palaeoclimatology. It is based, instead, on multiple lines of evidence and, in particular, the match between modern observations and the predictions of simulations using climate models.

1 comments

Anonymous   says 4:34 PM

Why don't articles like this make the blogs more often? We need clear -- unambiguous and unassailable -- evidence and commentary from the scientists on the front line.

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