Fred Pearce at New Scientist: Making Stuff Up
In a recent article in New Scientist journalist Fred Pearce decided to make up a quote by Dr. Gavin Schmidt. Read on to see Gavin’s letter to New Scientist that correct’s Pearce’s Journalism 101 mistake:
In the piece entitled “Climate sceptics and scientists attempt peace deal”
( http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/02/climate-sceptics-scientists-at.html )
Fred Pearce includes a statement about me that is patently untrue.
“But the leaders of mainstream climate science turned down the gig, including NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who said the science was settled so there was nothing to discuss.”
This is completely made up. My decision not to accept the invitation to this meeting was based entirely on the organiser’s initial diagnosis of the cause of the ‘conflict’ in the climate change debate. I quote from their introductory letter:
“At this stage we are planning to have a workshop where the main scientific issues can be discussed, so that some clarity on points of agreement and disagreement might be reached. We would try to stay off the policy issues, and will also exclude personal arguments. The issues we have in mind are Medieval Warm Period, ice, climate sensitivity, and temperature data. We would hope to have smaller groups discussing these in some detail, hopefully with scientists who are very familiar with the technical issues to lead the discussion.”
Since, in my opinion, the causes of conflict in the climate change debate relate almost entirely to politics and not the MWP, climate sensitivity or ‘ice’, dismissing this from any discussion did not seem likely to be to help foster any reconciliation. At no point did I declare that the ‘science was settled’ and that there was nothing to discuss. Indeed, I am on record as saying the exact opposite: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/
Pearce might well note that even I am included in the “spectrum” that “disagree[s] with Schmidt”!
Fred Pearce did not interview me for this piece. I should like to request that in future, if my views are of interest, that he (or anyone else) should actually ask me directly. I am not hard to contact.
PS. I am not a ‘leader of mainstream climate science’ either.
Pearce states that two of the issues that most perturbed the Lisbon paticipants were:
- The biggest, most totemic, issue remains the IPCC’s adoption of the “hockey stick” narrative, which holds that 20th-century warming is unique over the past millennium. Most in Lisbon saw this as a scandalous example of IPCC editors taking sides in an unresolved debate, and of how “scientific findings were judged according to their political utility”.
- Equally contentious is the charge – the pet subject of several in Lisbon – that the IPCC is “in denial” about whether ocean oscillations, which can absorb and release heat from the atmosphere but are not well represented in climate models, could explain the global warming of the past 40 years.
#1 is has been addressed in my blog post titled: Shooting the Messenger with Blanks where I showed that the hockey stick-shape temperature plot that shows modern climate considerably warmer than past climate has been verified by many scientists using different methodologies (PCA, CPS, EIV, isotopic analysis, & direct T measurements).
#2 seems odd. How does a warming ocean cause nights to warm faster than days, the troposphere to warm while the upper layers are cooling, winters to warm faster than summers, measured increases in downwelling heat, and measured decreases in outgoing heat from the planet?
What magic are the oceans performing that are mirroring the effects of greenhouse warming while simultaneously stopping the effects of massive increases in heat-trapping gases?
I will be sending a copy of The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism (which details the human fingerprints of global warming) to Fred Pearce and to New Scientist as soon as I post this article.