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Skeptical About Skeptics

Are TV meteorologists climate scientists?

It depends on who you ask.

Yes, according to Sen. James Inhofe, a conservative Oklahoma Republican, champion of the oil industry, and zealous nonbeliever in human-caused global warming.

No, says the  Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit group that describes its self as “defending scientific integrity.” The Center is perhaps best known for its experts who debunk paranormal claims like alien abductions or curses.

Inhofe is the top Republican on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. In that capacity, he issued an official report listing hundreds of scientists who “dissent over man-made global warming claims.” This, Inhofe argues, shows that the science over the existence of climate change is far from settled and that there is a  “growing groundswell of scientific opposition” to predictions of global warming. Originally issued in 2007, the report was updated in 2008 and 2009 as the original 400 names of scientists listed rose to more than 700.

The Center for Inquiry has been busy scrutinizing the credentials of 687 of the dissenting scientists named in Inhofe’s report. It released its findings today.

The Center found that 150 of the scientists listed in Inhofe’s report are meteorologists, including several broadcasters. And it also found no evidence that 80% of those listed had ever published a peer-reviewed publication “remotely related to climate change.”

“While there are indeed some well-respected scientists on the list, the vast majority are neither climate scientists, nor have they published in fields that bear directly on climate science,” says Stuart Jordan, senior advisor at the Center. He is a solar physicist retired from NASA.

Jordan sees Inhofe’s report as a political, not scientific. “This is one more effort of a contrarian community to block corrective action to address a major problem fraught with harmful consequences for human welfare and the environment,” he concludes.

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