An Even More Inconvenient Truth

“Global Warming is incontrovertible.” The American Physical Society (APS) describes the scientific issue as “incontrovertible” much to the dismay of many of its members. Last September, Ivar Giaever, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and supporter of President Obama, resigned from the APS over this statement. Giaever asks “in the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of a proton changes or how a multi universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?” Political goals have supplanted good science as how the APS operates. A recent opinion in the Wall Street Journal, signed by sixteen preeminent physicists and climatologists, questions whether drastic action to address global warming is necessary.

The experts point out that while the earth has warmed in the last 100 years, most of the warming occurred before the 1940s, when carbon dioxide output was much less than it is today. Most troubling is the fact that the earth has not warmed in the past ten years. Although many steps have been taken to reduce the “carbon footprint,” surely carbon dioxide output has not decreased in the past ten years. Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth wrote in the “Climategate” email in 2009 that “the fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

According to the WSJ article, carbon dioxide “is not a pollutant,” but it is exhaled by billions of humans every second. CO2 helps plants grow and its increased presence in the atmosphere has most likely led to increases in global agricultural yields. Greenhouse operators increase the concentration of CO2 in order to boost growth.

What makes this situation even worse is how it reflects upon the scientific community. Scientists who choose to speak out against the effect carbon dioxide has on global warming are immediately vilified by the academic community. Such an environment is antithetical to the scientific method and the integrity of the scientific community.

I applaud these sixteen scientists for questioning a legitimate hypothesis and challenging the status quo. In 2003, when Chris de Freitas, of the University of Auckland, published a paper in the journal Climate Research that demonstrated how recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate change over the past thousand years, the scientific community quickly denigrated  him. While Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university position, he lost his position as editor of the journal, Climate Research. The scientist was ostracized despite the fact that his paper was both factually correct and peer reviewed.

While global warming may indeed be true, it is right that an issue of such importance should be more closely examined. The consequences of global warming are too far reaching to blindly agree with it. The scientific community must become more open to critical and opposing views. Cultivating a culture that rejects opposition and serious doubts is for Soviet Russia, not some of the brightest minds on Earth.

–William R.F. Duncan