‘Climate Climbdown’

June 4, 2010 17:38

Environment: The Royal Society of Britain is rewriting its official position on global warming. We’d say the consensus that man is causing the planet to heat is cracking, but there never was a consensus in the first place.

IBD Editorials

Last December, the 350-year-old Royal Society, considered the top scientific institution in Britain, published the following statement: “It is certain that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use change lead to a warming of climate, and it is very likely that these greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of the global warming that has been taking place over the last 50 years.”

But now, just six months later, the Royal Society, under pressure from skeptics, says it will publish a new “guide to the science of climate change” this summer. According to the London Times, “The society has been accused by 43 of its fellows of refusing to accept dissenting views on climate change and exaggerating the degree of certainty that man-made emissions are the main cause.”

British media were more dismissive. The Times’ environment editor labeled the 43 dissidents as “rebels,” the Financial Post described their demands to be heard as a “revolt” and the BBC quoted an unnamed Royal Society member who said the skeptics are “strident.”

The BBC also included this statement from Lord May, previous Royal Society president: “On one hand, you have the entire scientific community, and on the other you have a handful of people, half of them crackpots.”

The name-calling, however, doesn’t change the strong point that the 43 dissidents are trying to make — that there’s no agreement human activity is warming the earth and that pretending otherwise is scientific fraud.

Sure, there exists a large inventory of opinion, an excess of political posturing and an abundance of stubbornness among scientists too invested in global warming speculation to cool off and think clearly. But there’s never been a general agreement among scientists that man’s greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change.

As columnist Gerald Warner wrote last week in the British media, “even the theories of iconic pioneers such as Einstein are routinely revisited by scientists.”

In language that can come only from the droll British mind, the Telegraph is calling the Royal Society’s reassessment a “climate climbdown.” Which sounds right to us, and far less dissonant than, say, Al Gore hectoring America about carbon footprints.


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