New Point of Inquiry Episode: Climate Science Strikes Back

By Chris Mooney | November 20, 2010 9:50 am

My latest hosted episode of POI has gone up–it’s about the newly created Climate Science Rapid Response Team, formed by several climate researchers to battle back against misinformation. Here’s the show description:

For the community of scientists who study the Earth’s climate, these are bewildering times.

They’ve seen wave upon wave of political attacks. They’re getting accustomed to a public that grows more skeptical of their conclusions even as scientists grow more confident in them.

No wonder there’s much frustration out there in the climate science world—and now, a group of researchers have organized to do something about it. Their initiative is called the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, and it pledges to organize dozens of researchers to help set the record straight.

But can scientists really maintain a war room? What would that look like? How far can they go in fighting back against misinformation, without leaving themselves politically exposed?

To answer these questions, Point of Inquiry called up two of the initiative’s founders: John Abraham and Scott Mandia.

John Abraham is an associate professor of engineering at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has some 80 published papers, conference papers, and patents to his name.

Scott Mandia is a professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, New York. He runs the “Global Warming Fact of the Day” group on Facebook, and is known as @AGW_Prof on Twitter.

You can listen to the new episode here.


Comments (13)

  1. RK

    So…this is an organization with a bias, that climate change is man made. I wonder…will they list all the scientists that are actually dubious of the claims that the major influencing factor on climate change is man, rather than other climate inputs, or just stick with the incredibly biased and self-serving position that “scientists grow more confident in [man made climate change]? (I’m sure the scientists that sign up for this WILL become more self confident in their beliefs on man made climate change, regardless of the science that disagrees) Will they list their funding sources objectively and completely, so people can see if there is undue political influence on this group?

    Can’t wait to see how they respond factually and point by point to the movie “Cool It” by Bjørn Lomborg that challenges the man made climate change advocates. I imagine that may be one of the reasons this group has been created in the first place. Can’t have a true scientific debate…no, we must have the dogma of man made climate change as the one, the true belief system. Its sounding more and more like religion, less like science.

  2. cray

    I believe this should be titled “Climate Science Socialists Strike Back”. If you think you’re fooling anyone, you’re even more arrogant than I thought. A German economist and IPCC advisor recently fessed up and admitted that the “global warming” alarm was mainly about wealth redistribution, not climate. The standing ovation Maximum Socialist Leader Hugo Chavez received in Copenhagen should settle that debate forever.

  3. Chris Mooney

    heheheh…he said socialism.

  4. tresmal

    A German economist and IPCC advisor recently fessed up and admitted that the “global warming” alarm was mainly about wealth redistribution, not climate.

    Citation definitely needed.

  5. RK

    IPCC Official: “Climate Policy Is Redistributing The World’s Wealth”
    Thursday, 18 November 2010 13:16 Neue Zürcher Zeitung
    Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection, says the German economist and IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer. The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.

  6. losemg34hbh9

    To they also fight misinformation that happens to be false but also is in accord with their beliefs? Or is “misinformation” anything that (factual or not) contradicts with their beliefs?

    The reason for mistrust is partisanship.

    Critics are not trusted when they “debunk” every contridiction and even those that are well founded are debunked with weak arguments.

    When critics admit reasons for debate, debunk only false claims, and debunk misinformation on all sides of an issue, including their own, they will deserve trust and be trusted.

  7. Citation definitely needed.

    And of course the citation goes straight back to a climate denialist site.

  8. Jen

    The alarmist warming articles just keep coming from this mag–see The Coming Plague, Dec 2010. I for one have canceled my subscription…and will be telling others to do the same.

  9. ThomasL


    I’m not going to go look for it, but I read a MSM write up of that a few days back. There are ways to spin it (as most things, interpretation matters), but there is no denying he more than hinted that most of the current push has to do with economic concerns – why you don’t see serious negotiations to *reduce* things *worldwide*, but rather to “redistribute” it with credits and other such schemes.

    Chris can go “socialism… hehehe” all he wants, but for those of us who studied Poly Sci such is actually in line with the theory. A *core* tenant of Socialist thought is that the state is better able to establish distribution of goodsresources than any other method (I.E., central planning). There are other conditions that of course must be met for something to be “Socialist” – and we haven’t met them so obviously aren’t there yet. However “not there yet” does not equate with “not moving in that direction”, and such thinking assuredly moves the line farther towards such an outcome.

  10. TTT

    RK: Can’t wait to see how they respond factually and point by point to the movie “Cool It” by Bjørn Lomborg that challenges the man made climate change advocates

    It really doesn’t, actually. Like many deniers, you have little choice but to cite sources who actually undercut your own claims.

    Lomborg agrees with all of mainstream science on the foundational facts of man-made climate change. He has repeatedly stated that human greenhouse gas emissions are having a warming effect, observable within our lifetimes, and that this will have negative impacts on our civilization. The only difference between Lomborg and Gore is that Lomborg is cheaper: believing in the smaller threat estimates and wanting to spend less money on the problem. If that’s the kind of hero you want, then by all means hold onto his cape. He’s just going to take you right where all the rest of us already are–just a little slower.

    Note that Lomborg is also a well-debunked con artist whose scientific credentials are negligible, and who is usually mostly wrong even when he is a little bit right. But in this case he straight-up does not hold the opinions you project onto him.

  11. I’m not going to go look for it

    Of course you’re not.

    There are ways to spin it …

    Which is why it shows up on climate denialist sites.

    …there is no denying he more than hinted…

    There is no denying that he hinted? How can you write that phrase and not see the flaw in your own argument.

    I’ll point out that the title of the post RK links to and others like it, include in quotes, something that the man never said.

    The problem here is that, again, climate “skeptics” are pretending that there is some vast conspiracy in the scientific community to falsify their data and their conclusions. The argument is so outlandish that Rube Goldberg would have been embarrassed to caricature it. So instead of debating the science, we get an argument about what some guy meant when he gave his personal views based on the translation of an interview in a foreign newspaper.

    Here’s my take.

    There will be no conservative solutions to the problems of global climate change until conservatives stop pretending that the problem does not exist.

  12. Bobito

    Jinchi. I agree with your take. But, I think there must be some movement on the other side as well. I would add:

    There will be no solution until liberals stop using global warming as political leverage. As long as global warming is tied to cap and trade it will struggle for support.

    There are plenty of solutions to this problem that don’t include a tax that will adversely affect low income people and industry.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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