Daniel: Freitas: Who Is the “Denier”?
In a recent Congressional district 1 debate, David Cicilline asked John Loughlin what his evidence was that pollution is not causing global warming. If he asked this so that he could truly examine the evidence for himself, that would be a noble thing. But Cicilline appears uninterested in the evidence. It seems he would rather score political points by trying to label Loughlin as a global warming “denier.” Apparently David Cicilline has already arrived at a verdict and is promising to act on it if elected to Congress.
Yet, despite Al Gore’s pronouncement that “the debate is over,” anyone who has ever inquired about this subject knows that there is wide ranging disagreement over the data. Mayor Cicilline might be interested to learn that many notable scientists have serious doubts that the earth is warming due to anthropogenic causes. One such scientist is Dr. Willie Wei-Hock Soon, an astrophysicist at the Solar and Stellar Physics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and chief science adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute. In one of Dr. Soon’s papers, published in the peer reviewed Geophysical Research Letters, which ranks in the top ten of the most highly cited research publications on climate change over the past decade, Dr. Soon presents compelling evidence that natural causes, specifically changes in solar radiation, are responsible for temperature fluctuations from 1880 to 2000. The data presented by Dr. Soon also shows that during a period when carbon dioxide was essentially constant, temperatures were rising dramatically and when carbon dioxide was rising dramatically, temperatures were falling.
Unfortunately, it is too often the case, that when data is presented which challenges individual beliefs, the argument quickly descends into ad hominem attacks. Take, for example, a recent post on the blog, skepticalscience.com, where one contributor writes, “Don’t get hoodwinked by scientists-for-hire like Willie Soon.” Or Mayor Cicilline’s ad where he calls Loughlin “an extremist” on global warming. These emotional responses only serve to stifle critical thinking.
The debate over Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is legitimate, and the debate is not over. When people ignore or demean the work of scientists to promote what they “believe,” they hurt science. When politicians make policy decisions that limit industrial capacity based on their “beliefs,” they hurt us all. Mayor Cicilline should not only tolerate opposing views on AGW, he should actively seek them out. Cicilline’s “case closed” mentality on AGW exposes a closed mindedness that our state and our nation can ill afford.