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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friedman: Scientists Should Fight Back

Thomas Friedman calls for scientists to go on the offensive against climate change deniers and skeptics:

Global Weirding Is Here, by Thomas Friedman, Commentary, NYTimes: Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax and, therefore, we need not bother with all this girly-man stuff like renewable energy, solar panels and carbon taxes. Just drill, baby, drill.
When you see lawmakers like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina tweeting that “it is going to keep snowing until Al Gore cries ‘uncle,’ ” or news that the grandchildren of Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma are building an igloo next to the Capitol with a big sign that says “Al Gore’s New Home,” you really wonder if we can have a serious discussion about the climate-energy issue anymore.
The climate-science community is not blameless. It knew it was up against formidable forces... Therefore, climate experts can’t leave themselves vulnerable by citing non-peer-reviewed research or failing to respond to legitimate questions, some of which happened with both the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Although there remains a mountain of research from multiple institutions about the reality of climate change, the public has grown uneasy. What’s real? In my view, the climate-science community should convene its top experts — from places like NASA, America’s national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology and the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre — and produce a simple 50-page report. They could call it “What We Know,” summarizing everything we already know about climate change in language that a sixth grader could understand, with unimpeachable peer-reviewed footnotes.

At the same time, they should add a summary of all the errors and wild exaggerations made by the climate skeptics — and where they get their funding. It is time the climate scientists stopped just playing defense. The physicist Joseph Romm, a leading climate writer, is posting on his Web site, climateprogress.org, his own listing of the best scientific papers on every aspect of climate change for anyone who wants a quick summary now. ...

I don't think a panel of experts will help much, but it's a start. What's really needed is for a few key leaders on the right to act responsibly, acknowledge the problem, and commit to working toward a solution. But the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

    Posted by on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 01:55 AM in Economics, Environment, Politics, Science | Permalink  Comments (138)


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