US climate scientists: World at a crossroads on climate

In an important article for Politico magazine in the States, four of America’s most distinguished scientists have called for action on climate change.

In an important article for Politico magazine in the States, four of America’s most distinguished scientists have called for action on climate change, arguing:

“How we as a society use what we have learned from climate science could define our generation.”

Dr. James McCarthy, a professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University, Dr. Lisa Graumlich, the dean of the College of the Environment at the University of Washington, Dr. Chris Field, the director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Dr. James Hurrell, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research co-authored the article.

Together they write:

Right now, our nation – and the world – are at a crossroads. Yet we seem stalled – despite an increasingly clear picture of what human-induced global warming is doing to our planet.”

Their warning comes after the New York Times this week ran an editorial titled “A climate change corrective”, in response to what the newspaper calls the “debunking of climategate”, and it opened with this line.

“Perhaps now we can put the manufactured controversy known as Climategate behind us and turn to the task of actually doing something about global warming.”

This followed an online article from the BBC’s Richard Black, which began:

“It’s beginning to look like a pattern. An apparent scandal is unveiled that threatens to rock climate science to its very core, a scandal that usually ends in the suffix ‘-gate’. Himalaya, Amazon, and Climate itself are just three of the stems that have borne the suffix in recent months.

“Sections of the blogosphere then erupt with claims of deception, malpractice, political machinations and even fraud.

“Later, a more sober analysis by some body of learned men and women tends to turn that view on its head, concluding – in summary – that while there may be lessons to be learned, the science of human-induced climate change is not rotten at its core – in fact, it is in pretty good health.”

As Left Foot Forward already reported, the so-called ‘Amazongate’ story was retracted. The so-called ‘Africagate’ story was also retracted. The IPCC was vindicated in its warnings about Dutch sea levels. And the Muir Russell inquiry exonerated the scientists at the centre of the ‘climategate’ controversy of any dishonesty or manipulation of data.

To return to the words of the leading American scientists, “the urgent need to act cannot be overstated” – and to put behind us what another top scientist, Raymond Bradley, the director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, has described as:

“A shameful chapter in the history of news reporting.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.