Climate scientists hit back at WSJ op-ed

Source: Jean Chemnick • Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012

A group of climate scientists faulted The Wall Street Journal for publishing a column in which scientists from other disciplines disputed the occurrence of significant man-made global warming.

At issue is a Jan. 27 op-ed, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” that was signed by 16 scientists whose areas of study included technology, chemistry and meteorology. The noted climate change skeptic Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the only climate scientist who signed it.

In a letter to the Journal today, the climate scientists compared the publishing of the op-ed to consulting a dentist about a heart complaint.

“While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science,” the climate scientists said.

In last week’s op-ed, the interdisciplinary scientists resurrected a claim made during 2009’s so-called Climategate scandal, in which emails were stolen from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit.

The op-ed referenced an email stolen from climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, which climate skeptics have used to support their argument that atmospheric warming might not be occurring.

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t,” Trenberth wrote in that email.

“Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now,” the skeptics wrote in the op-ed. “This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 ‘Climategate’ email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth.

“But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.”

But climate scientists in today’s letter — including Trenberth himself — said Trenberth’s words were willfully taken out of context.

Trenberth “was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend,” the group wrote.

They added that 97 percent of scientists published in the climate science field agree that significant man-made global warming is occurring.

Last week’s op-ed recommended that elected officials support dissenting scientists, who have been excluded from scientific discourse.

“If elected officials feel compelled to ‘do something’ about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data,” the scientists wrote.

“However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review,” they added.

The climate scientists in today’s letter argue the government should not limit efforts to mitigate climate change.

“It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses,” they wrote.


Click here to read the op-ed.Click here to read the climate scientists’ letter.