Defending Science

From the June 9 editorial:
"An ACS member recently wrote me to complain about the lead News of the Week story on CO2 and climate change in C&EN's April 7 issue (page 9). In his letter, the member wrote that regulating CO2 "would change the national economy and decrease our standard of living" and, as such, "it is critical to know whether or not increased CO2 emissions would be a significant danger to the public." I chose not to publish the letter for reasons that will become clear in the remainder of this editorial. My correspondent does not think that increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere contribute to climate change. To support that position, he cited a paper by Arthur B. Robinson and coworkers at the Oregon Institute of Science & Medicine (OISM) published in the Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons (2007, 12, 79). Huh? The Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons (JAPS)? What has a journal with that name got to do with climate change? With all due apologies to my correspondent, the answer is: nothing."
Read the rest of Rudy's editorial.

Author: Rachel Pepling

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  1. Thank you for your editorial. It is disheartening at times to see the distraction that is passed off as science even debated. I look forward to the reading the letters from angry ACS members who disagree with you.

  2. After reading the editorial I looked up the AAPS and found they have done much more than one brief essay could chronicle. Among other things they filed an amicus brief in defense of Rush Limbaugh’s right to support his drug habit by “doctor shopping.” It’s good to know someone is protecting the rights of millionaire drug abusers!

  3. What’s really sad in this commetary is the hint of revelation of the quantity of socialist manager “wannabe’s” contained within this otherwise scholarly organization. Unfortunately, the fields of science are riddled with scholars who, while astute in their respective fields, have little to no concept of human nature and history and are subsequently the first on any bandwagon that purports to improve humanities lot through “management” and “social activism”. A quick perusal of the past centuries major events quickly shows that more often than not this enamourment with social control leads inevitably to trenches filled with the bodies of the opposition.

    Consensus means squat to scientific enquiry. The fact that one dissenting opinion has cited what appears on it’s face to be an unreputable journal says nothing about the pros or cons of the theory which espouses that human generated contributions to atmospheric gasses produces measurable and definably hazardous changes in climate. The planet has gotten along quite well in the past with levels of Carbon Dioxide that exceeded current levels by as much as 5X.

    But then again, the main purpose of the editorial appears to be a personal crusade against “the right” and freedom. If one is to criticise the source, motivation, and validity of an opponents arguement it sorely behooves one to NOT utilize the oppositions stance on issues which the author has an uninformed personal opinion of such as social welfare programs (dependant on unbacked fiat monetary systems which have never stood the test of time), gun control (where the liberalization of handgun laws produces decreases in crime in every state that undertakes them), and mandatory vaccination (while arguably non-rational, an anathema to our Constitutionally individualistic society).

    For what it’s worth, you might also note that after stating this opinion of mine, I also managed to get through the entire thing without referring to my respondees and/or opponents as the “moon bat left” , or “ivory tower elitists” (unlike Mr. Baum’s repeated “right wing” references), though whether or not I actually hold those attitudes toward them is something they can ruminate over while sipping Zinfandel, with pinkie extended, at their next “How much do we really hate the U.S. and all it’s created” event.

  4. Posted on the National Acadamies’ website:

    June 10 — Today the science academies of the G8 countries, as well as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, issued statements urging leaders worldwide to take action on two pressing global challenges. To mitigate and adapt to climate change, nations must begin a transition to being “low-carbon societies,” a shift that will require energy-saving changes in all sectors — from housing to transportation to industry — and the development of a range of clean energy sources. Meeting global health challenges, such as infectious disease outbreaks and the rising incidence of lifestyle-linked diseases such as diabetes, will require stronger collaboration among nations, as well as the strengthening of their health systems and health work force.

    A position arrived at, I am sure, through ruminating while sipping Zinfandel with pinkie extended and contemplating how much they hate the U.S.

  5. To understand the “uncertainty” portrayed in the media around climate change, you have to be aware of the disinformation campaigns: — it’s definately worth skimming the full report down to tables 1 and 2.

    If the above link doesn’t work, just google:
    “ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science”

    Thanks, Rudy, for having the courage to rise above it, and call people on the disinformation that spreads through neo-con circles like wildfire.

  6. What’s wrong with Zinfandel?

  7. And the pinky extension is just used to minimize heat transfer that could ruin the wonderful aromatic chemistry in my glass, pfft.

  8. Chris,
    I am going to have to get all my Zinfandel drinking done in the next few months. I am getting deployed to Iraq soon with an Army Aviation Brigade (transport and attack helicopters) and we are not allowed to sip Zinfandel over there. I enlisted voluntarily and happily so you can see not all of us Prius drivers hate America.

  9. In his recent editorial “Defending Science” (9-Jun-2008), editor-in-chief Rudy Baum has again chosen to take a strong position on a topic about which neither he nor the chemistry profession at large offers any special expertise. Regular C&E News readers are familiar with such excesses on the part of Mr. Baum, who never misses an opportunity to take a shot at anything he deems to be “a right wing effort in the U.S. to discredit widely accepted science…” Rather than publish the offending letter questioning linkage between CO2 and climate change (allowing readers to assess its merits directly), Mr. Baum cravenly chooses simply to mock one of its citations with statements like “Huh? The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JAPS)? What has a journal with that name got to do with climate change?” Mr. Baum apparently misses the delicious irony that neither he nor C&EN can offer any particular expertise on atmospheric modeling either. Apparently perceiving his role as a Global Warming “defender of the faith”, he bars open rebuttal while targeting for ridicule readers’ attempts to point out that the verdict is not quite yet in. He thus tries to tar the entire community of those who might interpret the facts differently, merely because he has decided that he knows better. For anyone with the open-mindedness and scientific curiosity necessary for an honest evaluation of the global warming debate, supporting data for many legitimate and well-supported contradictory arguments are freely available on the web.

    It is amusing how similar today’s global warming arguments are to the opposite warnings from the 1970s, when the scientific consensus was that a new ice age was unfolding. It is also unfortunate that some anthropogenic global warming proponents like Mr. Baum choose to present their positions with such a sense of quasi-religious certainty and apocalyptic zeal. They mock (or censor) opponents and struggle to transform a potentially productive scientific debate into a question of moral imperative, in which legitimate dissenters become heretics and outcasts unworthy of equal participation in the scientific discussion (some even going so far as to equate them with holocaust deniers). This has created a climate of fear where industry leaders must rush to prove their global-warming bona fides, despite very significant uncertainties about what our climate future may actually hold. C&E News should refuse to engage in such non-scientific demagoguery.