24 November 2011

It May Not Seem Like it, But Scientific Truth Is Slowly Winning The Day.

Posted by Dan Satterfield

It’s just not been a good year for those who think climate science is a plan for one world government, or taxing them to death. With one study after another indicating that mainline climate change predictions are solid, it’s not really surprising that another batch of emails stolen in 2009 from climate researchers was released this week. The media reaction (a big yawn) to this latest release seems to have been quite a surprise for the felons involved. It did, however, have some beneficial consequences.

Here’s why.

The Berkeley temperature study was funded by uber climate deniers the Koch brothers no less.

After the first batch of emails were released, the accused scientists were completely cleared (by up to 9 different investigations).  That fact, (unlike many of the accusations) was buried on the back pages or not reported at all. However, this week’s release provided the opportunity to make all those exonerations clear, and responsible media outlets did just that.

Stephen Lewandowsky has an excellent story in the (London) Guardian and the Guardian continues to be one of the most reliable sources for accurate science journalism anywhere. The news of this new batch only briefly appeared on the BBC website’s most read stories, confirming the public is no longer fooled by these kinds of attacks on climate researchers. At least a majority of them.

The release of the emails is likely connected to the release of the BEST study headed by Dr. Richard Muller. Muller was the darling of the deniers after expressing some doubts about the accuracy of the surface temperature record. With the rapidly dwindling numbers of skeptics in the science community, Muller was their last, best hope. Imagine their horror, when his much heralded independent study of the temperature record, ended up confirming NASA, NOAA and the UK Hadley Center. The Daily Show had a rather hilarious take on all this and it is well worth watching.

It seems to me that virtually all of the criticism of climate researchers is rooted, not in a distrust of the science, but is instead based on an extreme fear of the consequences of their findings. There’s a new study out this week from George Mason University that indicates the public has realized that climate change due to rising greenhouse gases is solid science. What we do about that unpleasant truth, however, is both a scientific and political question.

With only a few exceptions now, if someone tells you the IPCC reports are all wrong, you can be almost certain they have little or no background in atmospheric physics. Instead they are giving you an opinion based on fear and political belief.  The exceptions to this are just a handful of researchers (out of thousand upon thousands worldwide). That’s just not a subjective personal opinion either, it’s based on a peer-reviewed study.

Below are the results of the GMU study released yesterday:


From George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Full study is here.

Galileo spent the end of his life under house arrest, because his scientific truth conflicted with that of the Catholic Church. The Attorney General of Virginia wants to put Dr. Michael Mann in jail because Dr. Mann’s scientific truth conflicts with the AG’s fundamentalist religious views. The church was afraid of the truth, and so is the Attorney General of Virginia. Give a wide berth to people who are afraid of the truth, the past shows they are often dangerous.

Kind of scary how history repeats itself, no? Just remember my favorite quote by Neil de Grasse Tyson: “The laws of physics are real, everything else is politics.”