Chuck Green suggested in Chieftain that global warming consensus is "opinion ... based on partial evidence"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In a column that appeared in the February 18 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain, Chuck Green made numerous misleading claims about global warming and the broad consensus among scientists that human activity has played a significant role in climate change.

Despite a broad consensus within the mainstream world scientific community that human activity is responsible for increasing global temperatures, columnist Chuck Green misleadingly asserted in a syndicated column published February 18 in The Pueblo Chieftain that global warming is "a variety of scientific theories based on incomplete and short-term findings, picked over by amateurs with political agendas." As Media Matters for America has documented, thousands of scientists share the consensus view that human activity is responsible for the planet's recent warming, as the National Academy of Sciences concluded in a June 2006 report. Additionally, Green advanced the inaccurate conservative talking point that recent cold weather and winter storms in Colorado and New York somehow discredit the scientific evidence of global warming.

In his column, Green echoed other conservative commentators on the subject of climate change by stating, "Some claim that half the world's scientists believe that human behavior has contributed significantly to a long-term trend of increasing global temperatures; others say that up to 90 percent might entertain that possibility. But that isn't science. It is opinion gathering based on partial evidence." Green later suggested that rather than a strong unified consensus in the climate change field, "What we have so far is a variety of scientific theories based on incomplete and short-term findings, picked over by amateurs with political agendas."

Green's unsupported references to "amateurs with political agendas" and his suggestion that there is a divergence of popular opinion regarding the causes of global warming ignored the conclusions of the recently released first volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report. The IPCC -- which, as The Washington Post noted, is "made up of hundreds of scientists from 113 countries" -- found that "based on new research over the last six years, it is 90 percent certain that human-generated greenhouse gases account for most of the global rise in temperatures over the past half-century."

A number of other media and scientific sources also have described the IPCC as an authoritative voice on global warming science. For example, in a February 18 Denver Post guest editorial, climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research -- one of the numerous lead authors of the Fourth Assessment Report -- noted the scope of the report and the review process:

The IPCC process is very open. Two major reviews were carried out in producing the latest report, and climate "skeptics" can and do participate, some as authors. There were more than 30,000 comments by about 600 reviewers. The process is overseen by two editors for each of the 11 chapters. The strength is that it is a consensus report.

Also, in a February 3 article about the Fourth Assessment Report, The New York Times reported:

John P. Holdren, an energy and climate expert at Harvard, said the report ''powerfully underscores the need for a massive effort to slow the pace of global climatic disruption before intolerable consequences become inevitable.''

[...]

The conclusions came after a three-year review of hundreds of studies of past climate shifts; observations of retreating ice, warming and rising seas, and other changes around the planet; and a greatly expanded suite of supercomputer simulations used to test how the earth will respond to a growing blanket of gases that hold heat in the atmosphere.

The section released Friday was a 20-page summary for policymakers, which was approved early in the morning by teams of officials from more than 100 countries after three days and nights of wrangling over wording with the lead authors, all of whom are scientists.

Aside from the 450 lead authors and 800-plus contributing authors, the report was reviewed by more than 2,500 scientific experts with an opportunity to scrutinize the IPCC conclusion that with regard to the amount of planetary warming forced by greenhouse gases, "its rate of increase during the industrial era is very likely to have been unprecedented in more than 10,000 years."

In addition to ignoring the evidence of broad scientific accord, Green repeated the conservative talking point that cold weather and winter storms somehow cast doubt on the scientific evidence of global warming. According to Green, "[B]ased on their personal experience, farmers in Southern Colorado and residents of upstate New York -- who normally would have nothing much in common -- can agree on one thing this winter: If global warming is real, and under human control, can someone please hurry it up?"

As Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, here, and here), pointing to sporadic inclement weather in one area of the United States as "evidence" that disproves global warming is misleading and simplistic. As a USA Today article noted, "Global warming is shorthand for 'climate change,' and the term is correct if you realize that it's referring to the average temperature of the Earth over the years; not to the temperatures at particular times and places."

Finally, in a jab at former Vice President Al Gore, Green parroted a conservative canard by saying, "Former presidential candidate Al Gore, who invented the Internet, now is leading the international political movement to invent human interdiction in long-range global climactic conditions." As Colorado Media Matters has also noted, numerous sources verify that Gore never stated that he "invented" the Internet.

From Chuck Green's column, "Global warming science isn't a majority opinion," published in the February 18 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain:

Science isn't a consensus. It is incontrovertible proof.

[...]

Right now, depending on who is paying for the study and what you want to believe, there seems to be a wide range of opinion in the scientific world about the extent and the cause of global warming. Some claim that half the world's scientists believe that human behavior has contributed significantly to a long-term trend of increasing global temperatures; others say that up to 90 percent might entertain that possibility.

But that isn't science. It is opinion gathering based on partial evidence.

[...]

And certainly, based on their personal experience, farmers in Southern Colorado and residents of upstate New York -- who normally would have nothing much in common -- can agree on one thing this winter: If global warming is real, and under human control, can someone please hurry it up?

[...]

Former presidential candidate Al Gore, who invented the Internet, now is leading the international political movement to invent human interdiction in long-range global climactic conditions.

[...]

What we have so far is a variety of scientific theories based on incomplete and short-term findings, picked over by amateurs with political agendas.

That isn't science.

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