Columnist Chuck Green attacked former Vice President Al Gore over his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, asserting in a column in The Pueblo Chieftain that Gore's selection "diminished the once-noble award." Green did not mention the numerous Colorado scientists who shared in the prize as part of their work with the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change, or whether their selection also "diminished" the award. Furthermore, in challenging "Gore's theory" on climate change, Green cited Colorado State University professor William Gray -- despite the fact that the majority of scientists disagree with Gray's theory on rising global temperatures.
In his October 17 column in The Pueblo Chieftain, Chuck Green continued a pattern identified by Colorado Media Matters (here and here) of conservative Colorado media figures attacking former Vice President Al Gore over his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, claiming that the selection of Gore "diminished the once-noble award." Green also mirrored another conservative criticism, in a column critical of what he called "Gore's theory" that global warming has been "caused by wasteful human activity," by omitting any mention of the numerous Colorado scientists who shared the prize with Gore for contributing research to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which also recently concluded that the Earth's climate is warming and that most of the observed warming is "very likely" due to human influences.
Green touted Colorado State University professor emeritus of atmospheric science William Gray -- who once called global warming "one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people" -- but made no mention of four other CSU scientists who shared the Nobel Prize with Gore for their IPCC work. Green also failed to mention that the overwhelming majority of scientists disagree with Gray's claim that rising global temperatures are part of "a natural cycle," and agree that climate change is caused primarily by human activity, as Media Matters for America has documented.
Furthermore, Green claimed that Gray's "study of hurricane activity on the planet ... contradicts the Gore camp's contention that man-caused global warming has caused an increase in hurricane activity." In fact, as Media Matters has noted, during his March 21 testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Gore stated: "There is no consensus linking the frequency of hurricanes to global warming and I've never said there is -- it's the intensity of hurricanes. It's also true, the scientists say, you can't take an individual storm and say, 'This is caused by global warming.' But the odds of stronger storms are going up." [emphasis added]
Green's criticism of Gore followed the October 12 announcement that Gore and the IPCC would share the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."
According to Green, "Prominent scientists labeled Gore's choice as the award winner as foolish, and the president of one research organization said it was 'disappointing' that 'an environmental alarmist' would receive such high recognition." Green did not identify the "[p]rominent scientists" who he said called Gore's selection "foolish," although the "environmental alarmist" remark mirrored one made by Joseph Bast, president of the free-market think tank the Heartland Institute. Green also did not mention the roles of Colorado-based researchers who contributed to the work of the IPCC, including Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder (NCAR).
As the Rocky Mountain News reported on October 13, "Co-winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore are dozens of researchers from Colorado's powerhouse atmospheric-science institutions." The News further reported:
The Colorado scientists, from Boulder, Fort Collins and Golden, explained global warming to diplomats from 100 nations in a series of influential reports for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"It's a tremendous feeling to see the work that has been going on for so long and by so many people to be acknowledged," said Susan Solomon, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That the Nobel was awarded for peace rather than chemistry or another hard science was fine with Solomon.
"Science has a role to play in serving world peace," she said. "Better to know the facts than to live in ignorance."
Solomon, the first person to explain that man-made chlorofluorocarbons were destroying the ozone, took the lead in summarizing for policymakers the science of climate change in the 2007 report.
"Over 100 governments were involved in negotiations with about 30 or 40 scientists," said Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. "All the wording was approved on a word-by-word basis."
The triumph, for many of the Colorado scientists, was that 100 nations signed the IPCC's 2007 summary report, which concluded that the connection between human activities and global warming is "unequivocal."
"Evidence is now so strong that we were able to get that approved," said Trenberth, lead author of "Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change" in the 2007 IPCC report.
In the tense negotiations, "The scientists determined what got said -- the politicians determined how it was said," Trenberth said.
The News also reported that "[d]ozens of scientists from NOAA, NCAR, the University of Colorado and Colorado State University also are members of the UNIPCC and will share in the award."
Similarly, as the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported on October 13, at least four CSU scientists "are among the thousands of scientists who have worked on IPCC projects through the years, including David Randall, an atmospheric science professor [at CSU] and a coordinating lead author on a chapter in the panel's Fourth Assessment Report on climate change released this year." The Coloradoan further noted:
CSU's connection to the prize highlights the important work going on at the university, said Bill Farland, vice president for research.
"The important issue here is the recognition of the important role this kind of scientific contribution can play in decision-making on a global basis," Farland said. "We're very proud of the scientists from CSU that played a role."
CSU researchers Keith Paustian, Richard Conant and Stephen Ogle have also contributed to the IPCC.
Green did not indicate whether the Colorado scientists should suffer the same criticism as Gore, but he did note Gray's criticism of Gore and his comment about global warming: " 'We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realize how foolish it was,' Colorado State University meteorologist William Gray said of Gore's version of global warming." Green further wrote:
Among the most outspoken scientists who disagree with Gore's views, Gray is predicting that a period of global cooling is imminent as part of a natural cycle of earthly environmental conditions.
Rather than accepting Gore's theory of global warming, caused by wasteful human activity, Gray attributes it to oceanic warming related to salt content and solar activity that is at a peak level.
However, as Media Matters has noted, on April 26, 2006, RealClimate.org, which describes itself as "a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists," responded to a paper written by Gray by detailing "the fundamental misconceptions on the physics of climate that underlie most of Gray's pronouncements on climate change and its causes" and "the gaping flaws" in his "scientific argument." Colorado Media Matters, likewise citing the RealClimate critique, noted its conclusion that Gray has "fail[ed] to adapt to a modern era of meteorology, which demands hypotheses soundly grounded in quantitative and consistent physical formulations, not seat-of-the-pants flying."
Moreover, a May 28, 2006, Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach reported that Gray "concede[d] that he hasn't published the idea [his theory about recent warming trends] in any peer-reviewed journal. Achenbach also noted that Gray's rejection of climate models puts him "increasingly on the fringe" in the field of meteorology. When Achenbach "ask[ed] Gray who his intellectual soul mates are regarding global warming," Gray responded, "I have nobody really to talk to about this stuff.'" In the article, Gray was quoted as saying, "Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews." Gray reportedly expressed regret for that comment later.
In touting Gray, Green also failed to mention that the IPCC disagrees with the assertion that rising temperatures are part of a "natural cycle." In fact, according to the panel's recent conclusions, evidence that the Earth's climate is warming is "unequivocal" and most of the observed warming is "very likely" due to human influences.
Later in his column, Green asserted:
Gray, whose fame comes primarily from his study of hurricane activity on the planet, cites statistics that show significantly more severe hurricanes (101) occurred during the 49-year period beginning in 1900 than the number of hurricanes (83) that swept the planet during the 49-year period beginning in 1957 -- which contradicts the Gore camp's contention that man-caused global warming has caused an increase in hurricane activity.
As Media Matters noted, while Gore in his book An Inconvenient Truth (Rodale Books, May 2006) attributed the claim "that global warming is even leading to an increased frequency of hurricanes" to "some" scientists, he also acknowledged that "[t]here is less agreement among scientists about the relationship between the total number of hurricanes each year and global warming." Further, in the update to his film, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore said: "There is no scientific consensus linking the absolute number of hurricanes to global warming." From the update:
GORE: In the year that has passed by since the end of filming An Inconvenient Truth, there have been several brand-new scientific studies that have further firmed up the emerging consensus that links stronger hurricanes with higher ocean temperatures, particularly higher temperatures in the top layer, the top 200 feet, where the heat energy drives strength into these ocean-based storms. There is no scientific consensus linking the absolute number of hurricanes to global warming. There's some indication that on a worldwide basis, the number stays fairly steady. But when hurricanes do form out of these delicate and mysterious atmospheric conditions in the oceans, then global warming makes them stronger. And, when they get stronger with more moisture, they become more destructive.