Sen. James Inhofe, photo via flickr
Climate scientists are pushing back against politically motivated attacks on their research and reputations with a new letter published today in Science. The letter, which was signed by 250 members of the National Academies of Science, calls the attacks against climate scientists "McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution."The New York Times is reporting that Dr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, who helped craft the letter, said that it was offered to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post but they all declined to run it. Dr. Gleick also said that the letter was prompted in part by the political attacks that followed the overblown and misunderstood hysteria that came after emails were stoled and released from a climate research institute in England. The ensuing scandal came to be known as Climategate.
Climate deniers such as Sen. James Inhofe have used the stolen emails to try to undermine the reputation of some of the world's leading scientists on climate change. The attacks have gained currency with the public, making a response from scientists a much needed rebuttal.
The letter reads in part:
Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:
(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.
More on Climategate:
Jon Stewart Takes on "ClimateGate"
Sarah Palin: Climate-gate is Reason to Not Act on Energy Addiction and Dirty Fuels