The political climate isn’t good for scientists with dissenting views on global warming, leaving some researchers to fear that honest research could be blackballed in favor of promoting a “consensus” view.
A dispute erupted this week in Oregon, where Gov. Ted Kulongoski is considering firing the state’s climatologist George Taylor, who has said human activity isn’t the chief cause of global climate change.
That view is not in line with the state policy of Oregon to reduce “greenhouse gases,” which are considered by many researchers to be the chief cause of global warming.
And Taylor is not alone.
Although a recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report summary said there is 90 percent confidence that human activity is the main cause of global warming, climatologist are far from unanimous in that view.
“It seems if scientists don’t express the views of the political establishment, they will be threatened and that is a discomforting thought,” said Alabama state climatologist John Christie, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Christie told Cybercast News Service that while research has not been politicized in his state, he’s concerned about others. State climatologists in Virginia and Delaware as well as Oregon have faced scrutiny from state government officials for their views on global warming.
Christie stressed that Taylor and others do not deny that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are problematic to the environment, nor do they deny that global warming exists. Rather, he said, they argue that the matter is not as catastrophic as environmentalists argue.
Environmental groups have argued that global warming skeptics should be ignored or marginalized, but the American Association of State Climatologists urges policymakers to move cautiously when addressing the matter.