So Sen. James “global warming is a hoax” Inhofe (R-Okla.) issues a report in which he claims:
Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called “consensus” on man-made global warming.
“Padded” would be an extremely generous description of this list of “prominent scientists.” Some would use the word “laughable” (though not the N.Y. Times‘ Andy Revkin, see below). For instance, since when have economists, who are pervasive on this list, become scientists, and why should we care what they think about climate science?
I’m not certain a dozen on the list would qualify as “prominent scientists,” and many of those, like Freeman Dyson — a theoretical physicist — have no expertise in climate science whatsoever. I have previously debunked his spurious and uninformed claims, although I’m not sure why one has to debunk someone who seriously pushed the idea of creating a rocket ship powered by detonating nuclear bombs! Seriously.
Even Ray Kurzweil, not a scientist but a brilliant inventor, is on the list. Why? Because he apparently told CNN and the Washington Post:
These slides that Gore puts up are ludicrous, they don’t account for anything like the technological progress we’re going to experience … None of the global warming discussions mention the word “nanotechnology.” Yet nanotechnology will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within 20 years … I think global warming is real but it has been modest thus far — 1 degree f. in 100 years. It would be concern if that continued or accelerated for a long period of time, but that’s not going to happen.
And people say I’m a techno-optimist. So Kurzweil actually believes in climate science — rather than the reverse, as Inhofe claims — but thinks catastrophic global warming won’t happen because of a techno-fix that stops emissions. If wishes were horses … everyone would get trampled to death. In the real world, energy breakthroughs are very rare, as we’ve seen, and it’s even rarer when they make a difference in under several decades.
Then we have the likes of this from Inhofe’s list:
CBS Chicago affiliate Chief Meteorologist Steve Baskerville expressed skepticism that there is a “consensus” about mankind’s role in global warming.
Wow, a TV weatherman expressed skepticism. If only the IPCC had been told of this in time, they could have scrapped their entire report. Seriously, Wikipedia says “Baskerville is an alumnus of Temple University and holds a Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University.” I guess Inhofe has a pretty low bar for “prominent scientists” — but then again he once had science fiction writer Michael Crichton testify at a hearing on climate science.
I don’t mean to single out Baskerville. Inhofe has a lot of meteorologists on his list, including Weather Channel Founder John Coleman. I have previously explained why Coleman doesn’t know what he is talking about on climate, and why meteorologists in general have no inherent credibility on climatology. In any case, they obviously are not prominent scientists.
Then we have people like French geomagnetism (!) scientist Vincent Courtillot, geophysicist Louis Le Mouël, geophysicist Claude Allègre, geomagnetism (!!) scientist Frederic Fluteau, geomagnetism (!!!) scientist Yves Gallet, and scientist Agnes Genevey — whose “research” on global warming is brutally picked apart by RealClimate here and especially here (and again here by other scientists), who together “expose a pattern of suspicious errors and omissions that pervades” their work.
So, yes, the Inhofe list is utterly ignorable compared to either the IPCC report or the Bali declaration by actual prominent climate scientists. The notion it is relevant to the climate debate is laughable, as even a cursuory examination makes clear. And yet in an article unhelpfully titled, “Climate Consensus ‘Busted’?” the NYT‘s Andy Revkin amazingly writes of it:
The perennial tug of war over what average people should think and do about human-caused global warming has just experienced another big yank, this time from those saying actions to cut greenhouse gases are a costly waste of time.
Big yank? More like Inhofe is letting go of the rope. Revkin continues:
But when you sift through the studies, what emerges (to me at any rate) is not so much the shattering of a consensus as a portrait of one corner of the absolutely normal, and combative, arena in which scientific ideas emerge and either thrive or fade.
What does Inhofe’s list have to do at all with the normal scientific process? What do meteorologists and economists have to do with the normal process of climate science? Should scientists really be influenced at all by one inventor’s wild claim that nanotechnology will eliminate fossil fuels in 20 years. Or by a contrived and mistake-riddled study by geomagnetists?
One final (depressing) note: How effective is Inhofe’s media outreach compared to that of the entire community of climate scientists? Well, according to technorati (PDF), as of today, Dec. 21, the IPCC Synthesis report has had 278 blog reactions since its release November 17, whereas Inhofe’s “report,” issued just yesterday (Thursday), has already had over 300 blog reactions.
We have a long way to go if we’re going to triumph over the disinformation and preserve the health and well-being of the next 50 generations. Let’s all redouble our efforts in the new year.
This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.