What do scientists think about stolen emails?

Today, when we talk with Ed Perry, Outreach Coordinator of the Global Warming Campaign of the National Wildlife Federation, we will be discussing the witch hunt by members of the Young Americans for Freedom, the 9.12 Project, and the Commonwealth Foundation who have used stolen emails as one more pretext for attacking climate science in general as well as particular climate scientists. Mr. Perry has told local news, "What we see here is a character assassination of [Michael Mann] who has submitted articles in peer reviewed scientific journals that have been vetted by other scientists and his character's being assassinated.” Co-host of this show, Peter Buckland, told another local news outlet, "This going after Michael Mann is really just kind of this way of manufacturing a controversy which is meant to fuel denial of climate change."

Mann has been exonerated of 3 of 4 charges by an investigative team at Penn State. One more charge is being taken up by another panel with more expertise on the particular charge. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has stated that it supports these investigations and finds them appropriate.
Scientific integrity demands robust, independent peer review, however, and AAAS therefore emphasized that investigations are appropriate whenever significant questions are raised regarding the transparency and rigor of the scientific method, the peer-review process, or the responsibility of individual scientists. The responsible institutions are mounting such investigations.
These seem reasonable measures to many. Some say that YAF, the 9.12 Project, and the Commonwealth Foundation and their corporate and think tank backers think that climate science is guilty until found innocent which they think is impossible because it's guilty. As one science teacher recently told me, "They won't let go until they get the answer they want."

What do scientists think of these shenanigans?

Two letters were recently submitted from prominent scientists and organizations asserting that climate change is real, thoroughly supported through the scientific enterprise, and that we must act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (like CO2) immediately. On December 4th, 2009 (updated December 7th), 29 scientists wrote "An Open Letter to Congress from U.S. Scientists on Climate Change and Recently Stolen Emails" that states:
As U.S. scientists with substantial expertise on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems, our built environment and human well-being, we want to assure policy makers and the public of the integrity of the underlying scientific research and the need for urgent action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. In the last few weeks, opponents of taking action on climate change have misrepresented both the content and the significance of stolen emails to obscure public understanding of climate science and the scientific process.

We would like to set the record straight.

The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming. The scientific process depends on open access to methodology, data, and a rigorous peer-review process. The robust exchange of ideas in the peer-reviewed literature regarding climate science is evidence of the high degree of integrity in this process.
The signatories on that letter come from environmental, biological, physical, chemical, and atmospheric scientists from the United States' most prestigious and elite universities and organizations including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Harvard, MIT, Rutgers, Ohio State, Rice, UC San Diego, and Stanford.

The letter above reaffirms an October 21, 2009 letter, itself a reaffirmation of a 2006 statement, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Statistical Association, and 13 other scientific organizations. They write:
Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver...

If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.
Scientists had good reason to believe that this was occurring almost fifty years ago and the evidence today is incontrovertible. As the AAAS has stated elsewhere, “the pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.” The scientists in relevant fields think these emails are a distracting political ploys. Manufactured controversies.

So why the misdirection? What are the motives behind the climate denialist movement? What can you do about it? Listen today, Friday February 26th from 4-5 pm and get the scoop from Ed Perry.


Taking the gate off of Climategate: Ed Perry talks climate change's reality

On this week's show we will be tackling one of the most contentious battles on the sustainability scene - climate change denialism. Rush Limbaugh summed up the position like this on December 11, 2009: "When I talk to people who believe in this global warming crap… it's fake science. They may have educations and degrees that say they are scientists, but they're not. They're political hacks and leftists."

The climate denialists have waged a war against sound science for the last decade. They have circulated petitions that ask prominent academics to agree to statements that read, "Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful." Much of this misinformation is spread by media figures like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck worked in concert with powerful politicians like former President George W. Bush and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and mega-corporations and their front groups like ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Coal Council to block sound science and place prominent scientists in virtual kangaroo courts. All because their power is threatened. But they have prevented meaningful action domestically and at the international level.

Our guest this week is something of an expert on these matters. Ed Perry (on the left in picture taken from targetglobalwarming.net) is the Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator for the Global Warming Campaign of the National Wildlife Federation. The NWF says that "Global warming is the biggest threat to wildlife." Why? What is to be done about it?

Mr. Perry will be joining us to discuss the science behind our understanding of climate change and the unique threats it presents, the history of climate change denialism and the denialist movement's activities. We will also discuss the dust-up over so-called "Climategate" at Penn State is about, something Mr. Perry has said is a piece of "character assassination" of Michael Mann, one of Penn State's most respected climate scientists. Finally, we will discuss what everyday people can and should be doing about climate change, both politically and personally.


For an excellent video on the issue of climate denialism, Mr. Perry strongly suggests watching this piece "The American Denial of Global Warming" from University of California Television. President Lyndon B. Johnson even knew that we were tinkering with the atmosphere: "This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through… a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”


Students are the heart of the sustainability movement

Mike and Peter are back this spring 2010 with Sustainability Now radio on The Lion 90.7. Every Friday from 4-5 pm we will be bringing you the latest on sustainability at Penn State, the Centre Region, Pennsylvania, and beyond. There is no shortage of great practices from people here working together to make our world a better place to live. Not just to live, but to flourish.

From the slow and steady work in local soil by gardeners, farmers, and children to large-scale agricultural work, understanding the climate, and working for justice on global climate change, we will be talking with and reporting on some big issues. Look for us to be around campus and the Centre region to talk to you on the street too. We want to meet you and hear what you have to say about bringing us to live abundant lives that we can sustain in a more healthy relationship with other organisms.

The sustainability movement would be nothing without college students. When the environmental movement began almost forty years ago, students were its greatest advocates. Awakened by the environmental work of Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold and the social justice movements of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and the women's liberation movment, students began to see non-human nature as needing human advocates. The voiceless needed a voice.

And today, we are will be talking with students from two of Penn State's environmental groups. Jared Blumer is an officer in Penn State's 3E-COE [*], a group of current and future teachers working on getting sustainability into schools. Over the last year, they have been fighting to get Penn State to ban the sale of Aquafina. Why? Even more, what do they think should be happening in schools? Kevin May and Kelley Cresswell are in Penn State's EcoAction, the longest running student environmental group at Penn State. We'll talk about their action on the Kleercut campaign and the future of environmentalism. Where are we going?

Both groups recently joined a counter-protest against one staged by Penn State's Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and the 9.12 Project who have been calling for an independent investigation on Michael Mann regarding the so-called "Climategate" issue. Why did they come out? You can watch local news or read an article on the protest, read YAF president Sam Settle's letter to the editor on an investigation, and read Michael Mann's recent Voices article on climate change (pdf). We want to hear what this means for environmental work here at Penn State.

Call in 814-865-WKPS (9577) or AIM us: TheLION907.

[*] Peter Buckland is the president of 3E-COE.