Let’s start this story here: there are “warmists” and “alarmists” or there are “dissenters” and “skeptics.” Warmists/alarmists are terms used by those who don’t believe global warming is man-made — and they use the terms to describe groups who do and advocate for action to curb it. Dissenters/skeptics are terms used by those who believe there is enough scientific evidence to support man-made climate change — and they use the terms to describe others who are in “denial.”
Now that we have those definitions out of the way, here’s the latest in the warmist vs. dissenter battle. A story published on Monday in the New York Times has some — who would most likely be labeled as dissenters by warmists — lambasting its publication and the author as being “profoundly dishonest.”
The topic of Justin Gillis’ article in the Times is about a group of “scientific dissenters” who believe the effect of clouds on the environment is relatively uncertain in that they could “shift in such a way as to counter much of the expected temperature rise.” Gillis includes information by MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen who is described as leading the charge on this theory. He also reports the flip side: that the clouds won’t change enough to reverse the effects of global warming.
Here‘s the crux of Lindzen’s theory as reported by Gillis:
Dr. Lindzen says the earth is not especially sensitive to greenhouse gases because clouds will react to counter them, and he believes he has identified a specific mechanism. On a warming planet, he says, less coverage by high clouds in the tropics will allow more heat to escape to space, countering the temperature increase.
With that hopeful prognosis, Gillis points out that some politicians and some organizations like the free-market think-tank The Heartland Institute have welcomed this theory. There is opposition though, including scientific evidence and opinions by climate experts, that clouds will not in fact have a mitigating effect on global warming and that computer analysis in climate change research needs to be improved to understand just how clouds will influence the climate.
Much of Gillis’ rhetoric throughout the article though is what has some dissenter websites riled. For example, NewsBusters, a product of the conservative Media Research Center, writes “New York Times’s confessed climate activist (and journalist) Justin Gillis made Tuesday’s front page with a 2,500-word story on what he called the last line of defense for climate change skeptics.” The organization culls through Gillis’ article emphasizing some of the language it took issue with. Here are a few examples (emphasis added by NewsBusters):
- For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong.
- However, politicians looking for reasons not to tackle climate change have embraced Dr. Lindzen and other skeptics, elevating their role in the public debate.
- Among the many climate skeptics who plaster the Internet with their writings, hardly any have serious credentials in the physics of the atmosphere. But a handful of contrarian scientists do. The most influential is Dr. Lindzen.
- Today, most mainstream researchers consider Dr. Lindzen’s theory discredited. He does not agree, but he has had difficulty establishing his case in the scientific literature. Dr. Lindzen published a paper in 2009 offering more support for his case that the earth’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases is low, but once again scientists identified errors, including a failure to account for known inaccuracies in satellite measurements.
NewsBusters writes that Gillis in his article is “nodding” in agreement with “scare-mongering scientists.”