In Response to: Temperatures rising

“Temperatures rising” is a disappointing example of the poor coverage climate science gets from journalists. The evasion “Professor Happer says X” is used to avoid discussing the merits of X — often, as in this case, leaving the impression that X is true. If PAW is incapable of determining the truth of X, then it ought to find the necessary expertise, readily available at Princeton. Just two examples:

1) “According to Happer, computer models developed by the IPCC ... fail to account for recent periods of global cooling.”

First, the IPCC is not in the business of developing models; its models are from the peer-reviewed literature. Is it plausible that the scientific community accepted them without testing on past data? If Happer can show that something’s wrong, why hasn’t he published a journal article, rather than arguing with Sen. Boxer? It’s absurd that these questions didn’t occur to PAW.

The earth cooled slightly from 1940–1970. This was a period of high sulfite aerosol pollution, which produces cooling, outweighing the warming from CO2.

Far from being ignored by scientists, this was IPCC report chapter 9. Lay readers can see “Attribution of recent climate change” on Wikipedia.

2) “[Stolen] e-mails ... seemed to suggest that researchers have modified data to support global warming theories ... ”

“Seemed to suggest” are weasel words — none of the accusations here stands up to scrutiny. No results were faked; no results have been called into question. The real scandal of “Climategate” was the media frenzy of lazy reporters repeating baseless charges, as PAW does here.

Our grandchildren will wonder why we failed to take action when the science of climate was clear. Poor journalism will get much of the blame. PAW has done some great reporting on climate science at Princeton. It is a shame that it failed here.

Mitchell Golden ’81