Wall Street Journal attacked over climate change denial
Climatologists question credentials of scientists who claimed in WSJ that global warming is no big deal
A GROUP of leading climate scientists has slapped down The Wall Street Journal for publishing an article which claimed that (a) global warming is used by governments to raise taxes and (b) climate change sceptics are like the Soviet scientists who were persecuted in the 1950s for believing in genetics.
In a letter published by the Murdoch-owned newspaper yesterday, the climatologists said the 16 scientists who put their names to the climate-sceptic piece are "the climate-science equivalent of dentists practising cardiology".
The offending article, published last week, kicked off by claiming: "A large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed."
The 16 "concerned scientists" point to "a collection of stubborn scientific facts" which undermine "the message that increasing amounts of the 'pollutant' carbon dioxide will destroy civilisation". One of these “facts” is that the last decade has seen no global warming.
The scientists claim that computer models have greatly exaggerated the extent of global warming that CO2 emissions will cause. They allege that many young scientists are scared to voice their doubts over global warming for fear of damaging their careers.
The piece also contains the oft-repeated allegation that climate change is used by governments as an excuse to raise taxes and by scientists to secure funding.
The sceptics even compare themselves to the Soviet geneticists of the 1940s and 50s who were executed for rejecting the Communists' erroneous belief, led by Lamarckian biologist Trofim Lysenko, that acquired characteristics could be inherited.
Lysenko and his team, they note pointedly, "lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them".
In a response published in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, 38 distinguished climate scientists fought back, asking: "Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition?
"Most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert."
They observe that scientists such as these exist in other disciplines. "For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes Aids. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science."
The climatologists also lay to rest the myth that there was no warming over the last decade: "In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter."
The Wall Street Journal is well known for publishing articles that challenge the consensus scientific view that human activity is responsible for climate change.
Peter Gleick, writing in Forbes, noted that before printing the controversial piece last week, the WSJ had rejected an article calling for a better quality of debate on climate change signed by 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
Gleick writes: "Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation."