Studies: Global warming, climate science far from settled

Published: Monday, Aug. 1 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

In the report, global warming skeptics were compared to people who believed AIDS had nothing to do with viruses, the MMR vaccine was unsafe, complex organs could never evolve or that 9/11 was a U.S. government plot.

The reason the BBC should limit the airtime of skeptics, the report said, is because they were actually in denial.

This is not the same as skepticism, for a skeptic is willing to change his or her mind when provided with evidence," the report says. "A denialist is not.

While its easy to suggest that day-to-day weather is an indication of global warming — something that was attempted after the major winter snowstorms in New York and Chicago, the rash of tornadoes in the South and the July heat wave across much of the country — weather patterns are not necessarily indications of global warming. Additionally, global warming science does have other weaknesses.

Patrick Michaels at Forbes says one of these weaknesses can be found in relying on "pal reviewed" science rather than peer-reviewed science. Even more concerning than pal science, however, is the possibility of suppressed science.

Charles Monnett, a U.S. government wildlife biologist, was placed on leave while he was investigated for integrity issues, Bloomberg reports. Monnetts work was featured in Al Gores documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, according to the International Business Times, and his observational report on polar bear drowning in 2006 helped the animals become the first species classified by the U.S. as being threatened due to global warming.

While Jeff Ruch, executive director of the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told the International Business Times that Monnett was being targeted as a way to interrupt his scientific studies, the Denver Post reports the suspension was not related to his scientific work.

A recent study at the worlds leading physics lab at the European Organization for Nuclear Research examined the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. However, after the study was finished, CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer said scientists should refrain from drawing conclusions based on the experiment, The Register reports.

The reason for this, Heuer said, is because that would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate.

Nigel Calder, a British science writer, suggests the settled science of global warming may be one reason for the suppression of scientific conclusions from the study.

Its OK to enter the highly political arena of the climate change debate provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support (Henrik) Svensmarks heresy that the sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation, Calder writes. The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its director general forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results.

While the global warming debate may never be fully settled in the political arena or in the minds of individuals, Al Bredenberg at ThomasNet News writes that it's important for open-minded debate to continue — or even to begin.

True believers are fond of saying that there is no dispute about whatever they think should be the official version of the truth, Bredenberg said. That would work really well if they were in charge of a large society of, say, sheep. As much as researchers and pundits on both sides might hate to acknowledge it, human-induced climate change is a controversial question.

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