Since the new IPCC synthesis report isn't coming out until 2014, deniers can't nitpick its findings yet. (Okay, yes, there was a typo in the bit about Himalayan glaciers in the last one, but that doesn't change the fact that GLOBAL WARMING.) Therefore, they've resorted to ad hominem about the graduate students who contribute to the report. The biggest criticism: They're graduate students! Why would we trust them on anything?
The Fox News story "U.N. Hires Grad Students to Author Key Climate Report" could basically be subtitled "we've never been inside an academic lab":
Grad students often co-author scientific papers to help with the laborious task of writing. Such papers are rarely the cornerstone for trillions of dollars worth of government climate funding, however — nor do they win Nobel Peace prizes.
Okay, Rep. Henry Waxman says the U.S. government contributes $2.3 million dollars to the IPCC (that's with an "m," but we understand if Fox News is still working on the alphabet). The National Science Foundation has eight grants for active large-scale climate projects that are bigger than that (sometimes WAY bigger, and it's also worth noting that sometimes the same projects have multiple grants). You can bet your student loan bill those projects make heavy use of graduate student work and graduate student writing. Come to think of it, my husband's physics experiment has gotten more than $2.3 million from the NSF, and so far all the papers to come out of it have been written by grad students.
So basically Fox is being dumb, but did they also have to be nasty? Their main "expert" for this story, Canadian journalist Donna LaFramboise, seems to have a particular grudge against grad students:
“We’ve been told that [the IPCC] is a responsible business man in a three-piece suit, but it turns out it’s a sloppily dressed teenager — a spoiled brat that can’t be trusted,” she said.
Someone get this woman a ponytail.