It all started with an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal. On January 27, 16 scientists published “No Need to Panic about Global Warming,” which stated that there was no scientific reason to worry about climate change.
The Wall Street Journal op-ed pointedly stated that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and that computer models have exaggerated the effects of the gas on climate change.
“A large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed,” the scientists wrote.
What has resulted is a flurry of articles and blog posts popping up on the Internet, in a rage about the claim that climate change is not a serious issue.
Along with the many blogs and online articles, 39 scientists wrote a rebuttal to the piece, entitled “Check with Climate Scientists for Views on Climate,” published in the Wall Street Journal on February 1. The group of scientists refuted most of the evidence and ideas in the op-ed.
They stated that the arguments of the climate change critics were irrelevant to the debate over global warming, and pointed out that article was written by scientists with no expertise in the field, the “climate change equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology.”
Some scientists and journalists, however, have looked at these heated debates and seen an even larger concern: that both sides are being far too stubborn and not letting any real scientific conversation occur.
Andrew C. Revkin, author of the New York Times’s “Dot Earth” blog, argued that these debates are simplifying a complex issue – each side is passionately pointing at their own data without acknowledging the other side – and therefore knowledge about climate change is not growing.
“It’s always easier to cast an opponent in stark, caricatured terms. But society loses out in the resulting din,” Revkin wrote.
Revkin, among others, believes that the majority of the scientific community (which believes in climate change) should look closely at the claims and evidence made by the opposing scientists in order to strengthen their own argument.
Robert O. Mendelsohn, a Professor of Economics and Forest Policy at Yale University, stated, “I have read through the Journal op-ed article and I believe that they have a point in that the climate community sometimes goes after authors who find contrary results, almost like how the Roman Catholic Church went after heretics in the Middle Ages.”
Instead of going into attack mode, scientists should facilitate open conversations that could actually improve our knowledge about climate change, many are claiming.
Contact Cassidy Holahan at [email protected]