Apr 052009
Authors: John Calderazzo

Ian Bezek’s recent column about “the elaborate hoax” of climate change is shameful and packed with absurd, sweeping statements unsupported by fact./

Let’s focus on his headline argument that “31,000 scientists” have signed a petition saying that there’s “no convincing scientific evidence” that human-caused greenhouses gases now or in the foreseeable future will cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere./ Bezek calls this one of several attacks that during “the past year” that have dented “the orthodoxy” of global warming.//

Yes, there really was such a petition, sponsored by an outfit called The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, whose total of six faculty members work out of Cave Junction, Ore./ They did this 11 years ago — a lifetime in science — with a cover letter written by 86-year-old Frederick Seitz, a once genuinely-distinguished physicist — not climate scientist — who in 1979 began work as a paid consultant for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, advising their “research” program.//

Numerous critics of this petition note that its conclusions are barely if at all peer-reviewed and that its signees include dentists, dead people and many others similarly “qualified” to form a knowledgeable opinion on climate science./ Peer review, as opposed to off-the-cuff and uninformed opinion, is the glue that holds together genuine science and scholarship./

Check out www.realclimate.org, a fine Web site about climate science produced by legitimate climate scientists, for this critique and other debunkings of the more absurd arguments from the climate change denial world.

In fact, there’s an overwhelming and growing scientific consensus (not “orthodoxy,” not the end of any discussion) on human-caused climate change and the need to do something about it./ The American Geological Institute says 97 percent of climatologists believe that human activity is warming the globe./ In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment report unanimously concluded that there’s a 90 percent certainty that “Human-induced warming of the climate system is widespread.”//

Our most prominent organizations that do relevant science have overwhelmingly reached similar conclusions or are greatly concerned about the climate change issues facing the planet: The American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, Ecological Society of America, etc.

CSU has a huge number of scientists working on climate change research, as does the University of Colorado and Boulder’s National Center for Atmospheric Research./ In fact, the Front Range of Colorado is a world leader in this area./

Which brings me to the truly shameful part of Bezek’s “argument.”/Using cherry-picked quotations from a tiny number of people, Bezek adds highly charged rhetoric (“brainwashing,” “the church of global warming” and so forth) to attack the integrity of scientists and, really, scholars in general./ William Gray has at times agreed, saying that researchers’ pursuit of grant money all but predetermines their conclusions.

So, thousands of scientists around the world, including many of our own CSU researchers, are irresponsible frauds?

Evidence for these absurd and insulting claims?/ None./////

Where do you find sound science that is also geared to the public?

Try http://ipcc.ch, http://ucar.edu or http://climatecentral.org./Try our own internationally renowned Department of Atmospheric Science, where professors Graeme Stephens, David Randall, Scott Denning and many others are doing carefully organized research./Check out the Web site http://changingclimates.colostate.edu, which contains links to yet more science organizations, as well as videos of climate change talks, from a variety of perspectives, that have been running here on campus all year.

While you’re at it, drop by this week’s lecture by international policy expert Michele Betsill of CSU’s Department of Political Science./ She’ll talk about Climate Change Politics and Policy Making this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom.

Whatever you do, though, pay attention to people who actually know things and think hard about them./ It’s time to stop this anti-intellectual nonsense.

CSU professor of English John Calderazzo co-directs Changing Climates @ CSU. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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