23 Responses to The Washington Post Continues to Publish George Will’s Climate Change Disinformation
But Hiatt is back to publishing disinformation on climate science by Will. In his Friday column, Will poses a debate question for Jon Huntsman:
You, who preen about having cornered the market on good manners, recently tweeted, “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” Call you sarcastic. In the 1970s, would you have trusted scientists predicting calamity from global cooling? Are scientists a cohort without a sociology — uniquely homogenous and unanimous, without factions or interests and impervious to peer pressures or the agendas of funding agencies? Are the hundreds of scientists who are skeptical that human activities are increasing global temperatures not really scientists?
In fact, an excellent 2008 review article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) debunked that “pervasive myth” of “scientists predicting calamity from global cooling” and found “the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.
A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth’s basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. In fact, emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then….
When the myth of the 1970s global cooling scare arises in contemporary discussion over climate change, it is most often in the form of citations not to the scientific literature, but to news media coverage.
The authors put together this figure on “the number of papers classified as predicting, implying, or providing supporting evidence for future global cooling, warming, and neutral categories”:
The article ends with a powerful discussion of what the National Research Council concluded in its 1979 review of the science:
In July 1979 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Jule Charney, one of the pioneers of climate modeling, brought together a panel of experts under the U.S. National Research Council to sort out the state of the science. The panel’s work has become iconic as a foundation for the enterprise of climate change study that followed (Somerville et al. 2007). Such reports are a traditional approach within the United States for eliciting expert views on scientific questions of political and public policy importance (Weart 2003).
In this case, the panel concluded that the potential damage from greenhouse gases was real and should not be ignored. The potential for cooling, the threat of aerosols, or the possibility of an ice age shows up nowhere in the report. Warming from doubled CO2 of 1.5°-4.5°C was possible, the panel reported. While there were huge uncertainties, Verner Suomi, chairman of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Board, wrote in the report’s foreword that he believed there was enough evidence to support action: “A wait-and-see policy may mean waiting until it is too late” (Charney et al. 1979).
Clearly, if a national report in the 1970s advocates urgent action to address global warming, then the scientific consensus of the 1970s was not global cooling.
As for the other bunk in Will’s piece, Media Matters dismantles it:
By Contrast, The Vast Majority Of Climate Experts Say Humans Are Warming The Planet
Survey: 97% Of Active Climate Scientists Said Human Contribution To Global Warming Is “Significant.” A survey conducted by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman of the University of Illinois asked earth scientists:
1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
With 3146 individuals completing the survey, the participant response rate for the survey was 30.7%. This is a typical response rate for Web-based surveys….
Results show that overall, 90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1 and 82% answered yes to question 2. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement with the two primary questions. In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2. [Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 1/20/09, emphasis added]
Study: 97-98% Of Active Climate Researchers Agree; “Unconvinced” Researchers Have “Substantially” Less Expertise. From a study led by William Anderegg of Stanford University:
Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6/21/10, emphasis added]
Survey: 84 Percent Of American Climate Scientists Say “Human-Induced Warming Is Occurring.” A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for George Mason University of members of either the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union found that “Eighty-four percent say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring.” [George Mason University, 4/24/08]
Survey: 84 Percent Of Climate Scientists Say Humans Are Driving Climate Change. Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch of Germany’s Institute for Coastal Research conducted an international survey of climate scientists in 2008 and asked, “How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?” Eighty-four percent answered either 5, 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much). [Institute for Coastal Research, 2008]
Wash. Post Has Repeatedly Published Will’s Climate Change Misinformation
Will Previously Misrepresented A Study To Support His Global Cooling Claim. In April 2006, Will cited several news reports from the 1970s to claim that people were “told to be worried, very worried, about global cooling,” including a December 1976 article in Science magazine. In fact, that paper addressed only long-term trends “with periods of 20,000 years and longer.” [Media Matters, 4/7/06]
Will Distorted Sea Ice Data From Research Center. In February 2009 Will misused data and distorted statements made by the Arctic Climate Research Center in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring. Will later falsely claimed that he “accurately reported” what the research center said. The Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt reportedly defended Will’s distortion. [Media Matters, 2/22/09, 2/26/09] [Columbia Journalism Review, 2/26/09]
Will Misused WMO Climate Data Despite Criticism From WMO Official. Will wrote in a February 2009 that global warming is a “hypothetical” calamity and that “according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.” In response, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud called this claim “a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge.” Nevertheless, Will repeated the claim in a column two months later. [Media Matters, 4/2/09]
Will Advanced “Climategate Falsehood.” Following the release of stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Will wrote in December 2009 that the emails “reveal some scientists’ willingness to suppress or massage data.” In fact, numerous investigations later determined that the scientists involved did not tamper with data to exaggerate global warming. [Media Matters, 8/8/11]
Will Falsely Claimed “Evidence Of Warming” Is “Elusive.” In an October 2009 column Will claimed that “evidence of warming” is “elusive.” In fact, scientists have repeatedly provided strong evidence of long-term warming. [Media Matters, 10/1/09]
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