Fw: Panelist Who Dissents on Climate Change Quits
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Panelist Who Dissents on Climate Change Quits
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
August 23, 2005
A scientist who has long disagreed with the dominant view that global
warming stems mainly from human activity has resigned from a panel
that is completing a report for the Bush administration on
temperature trends in the atmosphere.
The scientist, Roger A. Pielke Sr., a climatologist at Colorado State
University, said most of the other scientists working on the report
were too deeply wedded to particular views and were discounting
minority opinions on the quality of climate records and possible
causes of warming.
"When you appoint people to a committee who are experts in an area
but evaluating their own work," he said in an interview, "it's very
difficult for them to think outside the box of their research."
Administration officials said the resignation would not affect the
quality or credibility of the report, a draft of which is being
finished in the next few weeks.
The report, the first product of President Bush's 10-year climate
change research program, is likely to be closely scrutinized by
climate scientists and environmental and industry groups for any sign
of bias or distortion.
Its main focus is to explore why thermometers at the earth's surface,
especially in the tropics, have measured more warming than has been
detected by satellites and weather balloons in the troposphere, the
layer of the atmosphere up to where jetliners cruise.
Dr. Pielke contends that changes in landscapes like the spread of
agriculture and cities could explain many of the surface climate
trends, while most climate experts now see a clear link to
accumulating emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide.
James R. Mahoney, an assistant secretary of commerce and the director
of the federal climate research program, said the scientists involved
in generating the report were "representative of the broad views" on
Mr. Mahoney noted that drafts of the climate report would be reviewed
by the National Academy of Sciences and were subject to public
"I'm disappointed that Dr. Pielke has chosen to resign over this,"
Mr. Mahoney said.
Dr. Pielke said he decided to resign after three papers on the
troposphere trends were published online on Aug. 11 by the journal
Science. The papers said errors in satellite and balloon studies in
the tropics explained why earlier analyses failed to find warming in
Several authors of those papers, who are also authors of the coming
government report, said at the time that the new findings would be
discussed in the report.
Dr. Pielke said those statements were an effort to influence the
shape of the final report.
Several authors of those papers denied this, saying the process of
creating the reports is intended to be public, while the contents
remain confidential for now.
John R. Christy, another author of the coming report who like Dr.
Pielke doubts that human-caused warming poses a serious threat, said
that while disagreements were normal, the effort to generate the
report was improving understanding.
"This process is the worst way to generate scientific information,"
said Dr. Christy, who teaches at the University of Alabama,
Huntsville. "Except for all the others."
Posted by Tim