Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Global warming claims crippling

From politicians who exaggerate and misrepresent the state
of climate science to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s consensus
building to the media’s ridicule of scientists who disagree, the attacks on
science are everywhere. The global warming movement poses as being scientific,
but is actually a profoundly anti-scientific movement.

Al Gore and others declare the debate over and smear those
who disagree as “deniers” and stooges of industry, placing them in
the same category with those who believe the earth is flat and the moon landing
was staged in a movie theater.

Mr. Gore has demonstrated his willingness to disregard
science — for example, by inserting biblical phases into his presentations —
if he thinks it will help his cause. And when asked about some of his alleged
scientific statements, he claimed his scientist confidants told him these
things privately and hadn’t published such views because they couldn’t prove


By appealing to faith, using ad hominem attacks and claiming
privileged knowledge with which only he can be trusted, Mr. Gore demonstrates a
profound disregard for science. These tactics represent a desire not to engage
in scientific debate, but to shield one’s views from scrutiny.

A similar attack on science comes from the IPCC. The IPCC
subverts the scientific process by declaring itself the sole arbiter of climate
science. It claims to represent the authoritative view on the subject, not
because it has earned it, but because it’s the only game in town. When someone
challenges the IPCC’s conclusions, they’re simply dismissed as outsiders
lacking the right forum, funding, peers or consensus.

Take Dr. Frederick Seitz, for example. In a Wall Street
Journal article, he criticized the IPCC for removing from a report passages that
cited a lack of evidence linking anthropogenic greenhouse gases to warming. He
argued the effect of these edits “is to deceive policy makers and the
public into believing that the scientific evidence shows human activities are
causing global warming.” A number of other scientists supported his view,
claiming, in a co-signed letter to The Bulletin of the American Meteorological
Society, “In our view, the alterations to the text were both substantial
and substantive. In one stroke they eliminated clauses that have been discussed
over many months and agreed to by the four lead authors, 30-odd contributors
and numerous reviewers.”

Still other scientists like professor Paul Reiter say their
research has been ignored or misrepresented by the IPCC, causing them to resign
as IPCC contributors.

Rather than addressing the substance of these criticisms,
the IPCC and other organizations declare such criticism of the panel
off-limits. The American Meteorological Society and University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research responded to Dr. Seitz’s article by saying “attacks
on the IPCC process …? such as occurred in the editorial-page piece in
The Wall Street Journal … have no place in the scientific debate about issues
related to global change. … Letters and opinion pieces can be written by any
individual, and one opinion piece can carry as much or more weight in the
public’s mind as a letter signed by 40 scientists who have passed scientific
muster over many years by publishing on the topic in the peer-reviewed literature.”

According to this view, science becomes a popularity contest
where only views that can garner enough signatures and published materials are
suitable for public consumption. Who will be the arbiter of “legitimate
debate?” Presumably the IPCC. This is profoundly anti-scientific.

Science cannot be decided by committee. Scientific truth
must be judged on the merits of individual arguments and data and must stand or
fall based on that merit regardless of the support a particular view garners.

The purpose of peer-review — the alleged basis of the IPCC
— is to allow scientists’ work to be scrutinized and competing claims to be
aired. Such sifting and winnowing can only occur by allowing all arguments and
criticisms to be heard. An organization like the IPCC that seeks a
“balancing of evidence” or of competing claims, thereby selecting
which scientists and evidence are fit to be heard, necessarily reaches a
political conclusion, not a scientific one. It is not consensus that science
seeks to achieve, but truth.

As the drumbeat to “do something” about climate
change intensifies and proponents claim that the science is settled, one
question should be at the forefront of one’s mind: Does this movement really
care about science? My answer is a resounding “no.”


Jim Allard ([email protected]) is a senior
majoring in biology.

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