Sunday, September 24, 2006

Climate Change Skeptics the New Flat Earthers

When the Wall Street Journal published and editorial this summer attacking the scientific facts behind global warming and climate change it strayed from its usual area of expertise in economics to tangle with science.

Now of course economics is not a science, no matter how hard it tries to be one. It is at best a statistical model. As G.B.Shaw said if you put all the economists in the world end to end they would still not reach a conclusion.

Well the WSJ editorial got much play in the conservative blogosphere and in the right wing press as yet another conclusive reason to deny the obvious, and to deny the 'science' of global warming. It's called grasping at straws. Or in this case hockey sticks. It attacked a graph produced by a climate scientist that modeled global warming over the past 900 years that appeared similar to a hockey stick. The blogosphere and the usual right wing flat earthers had a field day with it.

Well here is a challenge made to the WSJ and to all those of you who oppose the science of global warming, which puts you in the same camp as the creationists. It's from a column in Scientific America. Not known for being a kooky journal.

Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Will the Wall Street Journal's editorial writers accept a challenge to learn the truth about the science of global climate change?
By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has for years railed against these scientific findings on climate change, even as the global consensus has reached nearly 100 percent of the scientific community, including the reports commissioned by the skeptical Bush White House.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page completely ignored this report. Instead, it cited a report commissioned by Congressman Barton from three statisticians with no background in climate science, who quibbled with aspects of Mann's methodology. Yet climate scientists quickly showed that addressing the criticisms has no practical effect on Mann's conclusions. Nonetheless, on this thoroughly flimsy and misleading basis, the editorial page declared that "there's no reason to believe that Mr. Mann, or his 'hockey stick' graph of global temperature changes, is right," called the research "dubious," and said that the climate science community "often more closely resembles a mutual-admiration society than a competitive and open-minded search for scientific knowledge." In other words, it hid the evidence and trashed climate science.

Many of the paper's own reporters laugh or cringe at the anti-scientific posture of the editorials, and advise the rest of us simply not to read them. Nevertheless, the consequences of those editorials are significant. The Wall Street Journal is the most widely read business paper in the world. Its influence is extensive. Yet it gets a free pass on editorial irresponsibility.

As a neighbor to the paper at Columbia University, the Earth Institute has repeatedly invited the editorial team to meet with leading climate scientists. I've offered to organize such a meeting in any way that the editorial board would like. On many occasions, the news editors have eagerly accepted, but the editorial writers have remained safe in their splendid isolation.

Yes Mr. Sachs is that Mr. Sachs, the economist not a climate scientist. But he has them ready to take on the flatearth society that is the editorial board of the WSJ and the science reporters at Fox.

RealClimate heartily endorses such an approach and, while we leave it to others to judge who the 'world leading' authorities are, we'd certaintly be willing to chip in if asked. To those who would decry this as a waste of time, we would point to The Economist who recently produced a very sensible special on global warming and proposed a number of economically viable ways to tackle it, despite having been reflexively denialist not that many years ago. If the Economist can rise to the challenge, maybe there is hope for the Wall Street Journal....

Any takers?


Global Warming

Climate Change

Find blog posts, photos, events and more off-site about:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: