I am writing with respect to to the opinion article published in the Chronicle Herald on Tuesday Jan 20, 2009 by Paul Schneidereit about climate change. Generally speaking I take Op Eds for what they are, opinions, but sometimes they need to be commented on and retracted because of their gross misrepresentation and distortion of the facts and issues in the name of sparking controversy. Schneidereit’s piece is wrong on just about every level and it is offensive to me.
Let’s start with the facts. Fact #1
On Monday Jan 19, 2009, Science Daily reported that a new survey out of the University of Chicago, by Peter Doran, associate professor of earth and environmental studies published in Eos, Transactions and American Geophysical Union showed an amazing consensus among climate scientists about the anthropogenic causes of climate change. 3,146 earth scientists out of 10,200 responded. The raw interpretation is that there is no controversy among scientists who study climate change. 97% of the scientists who study climate change specifically, the people who provide us with the data to begin with, agree climate change is happening and it is anthropogenic. Among other earth scientists the level is 90% who agree. In any science this is an amazing consensus.
On the assertion by Paul that the numbers of scientists rejecting anthropogenic climate is rising, he fails to quote the source, but I can surmise that this stat comes from the Heartland Institute and an American so called think tank also known for propagating “evidence” that smoking does not cause cancer. But upon further examination most of the people on the list did not sign the statement and the Heartland Institute has refused to remove their names.
Here are some quotes from scientists that are on the list.
“I am horrified to find my name on such a list. I have spent the last 20 years arguing the opposite.” Dr. David Sugden. Professor of Geography, University of Edinburgh
“I have NO doubts ..the recent changes in global climate ARE man-induced. I insist that you immediately remove my name from this list since I did not give you permission to put it there.” Dr. Gregory Cutter, Professor, Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University.
“I don’t believe any of my work can be used to support any of the statements listed in the article.” Dr. Robert Whittaker, Professor of Biogeography, University of Oxford Source of quotes
I had an email conversation with Paul pointing out my thoughts on what he calls scientific consensus and I notice that other readers have also pointed out the same thing from the letters written in response to the article on your web site. He is intractable, though overwhelming evidence to the contrary exists on every level. His justification is that is what op eds are supposed to do.
My response to this is, this is why the scientific community is so disdainful of journalists. Journalists like Paul Schneidereit have no understanding of science, misrepresent the facts and skew the truth. And nothing can justify this in the light of the seriousness of the climate change issue. Its one thing to have misguided opinion, its quite another to have a misguided opinion and a forum in which to present it. Paul joins the list of misfit writers and media pundits who make hay and reputations out of being controversial. Perhaps he might take a walk down the halls of the BIO, Dalhousie, St Mary’s and other institutes doing the studies in the earth sciences and talk with the scientists and researchers who are actually collecting data and doing the science behind climate change, instead of skimming the internet with lies, distortions and obfuscation. He might even go back to school and learn something.
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