Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hijacked by the right, a scientist disembarks

A few years back a real scientist published a well respected paper noting some cooling trends in parts of Antarctica. The author became an unwitting recruit of the arational right - including performance artists like Crichton and Coulter. He chose the New York Times as his exit from the madness. My favorite line is emphasized ...
Cold, Hard Facts - New York Times

... Our results have been misused as “evidence” against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel “State of Fear” and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents — all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that “the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle.” I have never thought such a thing either.

Our study did find that 58 percent of Antarctica cooled from 1966 to 2000. But during that period, the rest of the continent was warming. And climate models created since our paper was published have suggested a link between the lack of significant warming in Antarctica and the ozone hole over that continent. These models, conspicuously missing from the warming-skeptic literature, suggest that as the ozone hole heals — thanks to worldwide bans on ozone-destroying chemicals — all of Antarctica is likely to warm with the rest of the planet. An inconvenient truth?

Also missing from the skeptics’ arguments is the debate over our conclusions. Another group of researchers who took a different approach found no clear cooling trend in Antarctica. We still stand by our results for the period we analyzed, but unbiased reporting would acknowledge differences of scientific opinion.

The disappointing thing is that we are even debating the direction of climate change on this globally important continent. And it may not end until we have more weather stations on Antarctica and longer-term data that demonstrate a clear trend.

In the meantime, I would like to remove my name from the list of scientists who dispute global warming. I know my coauthors would as well.

Never even thought. That is pretty definite.

There's still important science to be done about what's happening over antarctica, and there's work to be done to improve climate models and better characterize all the contributors to global warming and climate change.

There's also important social science research to be done on the nature of irrationality in the American right ....

I didn't miss his slightly strained pitch for more monitoring stations in Antarctica. I'm sure that's a good thing on the merits, but it also reflects a scientist's love for his domain of study ...

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