There was a time in atmospheric science were questioning a theory was actually encouraged, that peer review could be trusted, and scientists were not threatened for voicing their opinion. Those days are long gone, and recently has become far worse.
On August 14th, a Peer-Reviewed study was made public by Nature.com, called “Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians“. The study claims that the media provides far too much exposure to individuals, called Contrarians and Deniers, in the media and that they should be silenced. So who are these deniers that dare question even the smallest aspect of Anthropogenic Global Warming? You can get the complete list here. Let’s take a look at a few of these names.
Dr. Roy Spencer: Meteorologist. Principle research scientist at the University of Alabama, Team Leader at NASA for Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer. Awarded for NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.
Dr. Richard Lindzen: Atmospheric physicist with a focus on mid-atmospheric dynamics, atmospheric tides, and ozone photochemistry with over 200 published peer-reviewed papers and books.
Dr. Roger Pielke SR: He helped to invent numerical modeling of the atmosphere which is the basis for all-weather forecasting & climate models. His work on land use and climate is seminal. He has over 350 published papers and journals along with over 40,000 citations. This means, his work and knowledge has been and continues to be the foundation of a ton of research in meteorology, climate, and pretty much all sorts of atmospheric science topics.
Dr. Judith Curry: Former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Member of the National Research Council. She has published over 140 papers and books on climate science. She can be credited to opening the door for a lot of women in the field of atmospheric science.
There are more we can go over, but I think you get the point. These people, who don’t even deny climate change, just slightly disagree with some conclusions or even had the audacity to even speak to an organization that would be considered on the right of the political spectrum. These scientists mostly support the research from the IPCC or in some cases even were authors of the reports included in the IPCC!
In the case of Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., his work is the cornerstone for many of the models we have today. Organizations that provide weather information for your favorite phone application can thank Dr. Pielke Sr. for their very existence.
My point is that these scientists aren’t some bloggers who never step foot in an atmospheric science class. These people above and more on the list included have made significant, groundbreaking discoveries in atmospheric science. They have helped to pioneer improvements in forecasting the weather in the short, medium, and long-range. They have developed the primary theories we use to understand climate. These are the people that some want to silence because they won’t go along with the idea that the world is going to end.
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM
The fact this study was peer-reviewed and considered ethical, in this atmospheric scientist opinion, just reinforces the fact that we have a serious problem with both the peer review process and the ethical approach in discussing climate change. If this was simply a study on how climate information and ideas are presented to the public, that would be a completely viable and ethical topic to discuss. Instead, you have a paper that suggests that any competing idea or even slight deviation from AGW theory should be silenced and prevented from entering the arena of ideas. This isn’t science, this is the Spanish Inquestionition. This is how science dies.
The fact of the matter is that none of us can let this stand. Whether you agree with these well-established scientists or Dr. Mann is not the issue. The issue is if you silence the practice of questioning scientific theory, especially from individuals who practically lead the science in research, how can you possibly improve the science as a whole? Is it not possible that some aspects of AGW theory could be wrong? Is saying such a statement grounds to be banished from academia?
The truth is that right now, that is exactly what we have in place. I personally saw the writing on the wall back when I was an undergraduate at SUNY Oswego. At the time, way back in 2002, I was interested in pursuing a Masters and Doctorate but saw the politics for what it was. I decided on a different route for my career. How many others who are far more gifted than I, have we lost because of these similar concerns? How many have been blocked or prevented to present their research? We will never know.
What we do know is there are people out there right now trying to silence individuals who are well respected and made incredible contributions to Atmospheric Science. What hope would an undergraduate have?
THIS NEEDS TO STOP
The fact of the matter is that this needs to stop. These attacks on atmospheric scientists integrity and ability to speak simply because we disagree needs to come to an end. Just this past weekend I defended Dr. Shepherd, not because I agreed with him, but because it was the right thing to do. We need to disagree without the need to attack and destroy each other’s careers and reputations. I do hope that many who simply may disagree with the scientist above would take a similar stand that I did this past weekend, but so far the reaction has been deafening silence, which is very disappointing.
Sadly, we already are seeing exactly why this “research” was done and how this list will be used. The message is clear, shut up and agree or have your career and reputation destroyed. A scientist who has a firm handle on their theory and looks forward to improving said theory doesn’t need to silence anyone. They don’t need to smear anyone for any reason, they just need to have the data lead the way.
The truth is though, science doesn’t care about your politics, who you like, or how well you can hide declines or match up charts. Science doesn’t care if you think the Earth is not warming or that the whole world will burst into a ball of fire. Science doesn’t care if you vote for this person or that person. Science doesn’t care if you try to silence people or not. Science is about truth and in the end, the truth will be clear for all to see.