Thursday, July 17, 2014

New York Times Profiles John Christy, A Climate Change Denier: When Will They Learn?

John Christy, a "real" climate scientist, received another whitewash in the New York Times on July 15. The author of this article portrayed the dispute between Christy and his critics as an interesting scientific discussion. The author portrays Christy as an honest scientist unjustly scorned by his colleagues. The article attempts to elicit our sympathy for this beleaguered scientist.

Only it's not true. Christy is not an honest scientist. He is one of two or three scientists on the planet who cling to the data produced in an experiment involving data gathered by hot-air balloons and earth satellites. Numerous papers have been written explaining the errors in this data, but Christy will have none of it. Christy and his colleague, Roy Spencer, made an analysis of the balloon data and are staking their scientific reputations on its validity. Due to their obstinacy in the face of overwhelming evidence, however, their scientific reputations are about as weak as the poll ratings of the Republican party.

Christy is not an honest scientist because he has been using the usual right-wing outlets to publicize his views. These outlets include Heartland Institute, where Christy is listed as a climate change "expert" in their Journalist's Guide to Global Warming Experts (2008). Note: Christy has reportedly refused to appear at any of Heartland's climate change denier conferences because, according to NY Times science reporter Andrew Revkin, he does not wish to be presumed guilty by association. Christy's articles have been published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has received funding from the Koch brothers and other energy companies as it spews out tracts claiming that the EPA is protecting tiny insects at the expense of jobs, among other prejudicial nonsense

Christy has published numerous climate denier articles in, (and here) a blog whose only purpose is to attack climate scientists who disagree with climate-science deniers. 

Christy has regularly appeared at climate denier conferences held by the Cato Institute, including a 2003 conference on climate change that featured a roster of climate change deniers. The Cato Institute has received more than $12 million in funding from the Koch family and its front organizations between 1986 and 2011. Cato undoubtedly pays its conference speakers for their appearances, so Christy has apparently benefited from Koch largess.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an op-ed where Christy claims his balloon observations disprove the conclusions of nearly every other climate scientist. The Wall Street Journal, through its continual beating the drum for climate skeptics, has long since ceased to be a neutral reporter of scientific facts.

The New York Times should recognize that there is a political discussion going on here, not a scientific one. Arrayed on the side of climate change deniers are oil companies and other corporations that contribute heavily to publicize their political views. Therefore, the Times should research and publish articles about where the money to publicize deniers like Christy comes from. Where is the Times article on that?

All these articles are have one goal, to cloud the issues and make us doubt scientific opinion. We do not doubt scientists when they tell farmers when to plant crops, nor when they tell us that some food additives are poisonous instead of healthy, nor when they instruct oil companies how to process crude oil into gasoline--no, all the science that tells us those things is just fine. When it comes to climate science, however, climate change deniers warn us not to believe the vast majority of scientists who warn us about the dangers of global warning, but instead to trust the 3 or 4 who take money from the Koch brothers and tell us not to worry about the future.

Climate change deniers are like the human sharks who promoted no-interest loans. No-interest loans delay payment until some time in the future when those who receive them are hit by huge increases in loan payments that they have no ability to pay. Climate change deniers urge that we should do nothing to prevent catastrophic climate change. There are no observable ill effects at present. But future generations will pay a huge price for our blindness and inaction. Perhaps our descendants, like the debtors of no-interest loans, will be unable to pay the price.

Errata: A previous version of this post erroneously reported that John Christy had given a keynote address for the Heartland Institute. I apologize for the mistake.

1 comment:

Jim Lakely said...

John Christy has never given a presentation at a Heartland Institute climate conference, let alone given a keynote address. Where did you get that information?