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Inhofe's 650 "dissenters" (make That 649... 648...)

The Senate's proudest global-warming skeptic, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, recently released a list of "MORE THAN 650 INTERNATIONAL SCIENTISTS" who "DISSENT OVER MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING CLAIMS." Exciting! Let's take a look.

First, a bit of background: In January, Inhofe posted his initial list of more than 400 "prominent scientists" who, he claimed, disputed that man-made greenhouse gases were responsible for rising global temperatures. Trouble is, when people started sifting through the names, they found that many experts on the list were actually weathermen, economists, and people with no real background in climate science. Worse still, when Andrew Dessler started contacting some of the actual climate scientists listed, many of them expressed first shock, then horror, and then e-mailed Inhofe's staff and demanded to be taken off, since they didn't disagree with the scientific consensus on climate change at all.

Well, fine, every list has its warts (and, in fairness, Inhofe's list still looks more reasonable than Rolling Stone's best-of-2008 album list), and we'll grant Inhofe a do-over. So here's the latest release. Many of the names are the same as before. But now, among other things, Inhofe's website cites a study allegedly proving that half of recent warming is due to the sun. Well, Joe Romm e-mailed the paper's author, Anja Eichler, who replied that she was "misinterpreted" on this point, and that her study actually shows something perfectly compatible with the IPCC consensus: Variations in solar activity have been correlated with temperature change in the past, but over the last 150 years, that hasn't been the case. "In this time," Eichler notes, "the increase in the CO2 concentrations is significantly correlated with our temperature." That's… pretty much what all the other recent scientific studies say. Not an auspicious start.

Update: Sen. Inhofe's communications director, Marc Morano, e-mails to say that Eichler wasn't included in the list of 650—they were merely reprinting on their website a post by another physicist, Lubos Motl, who cited Eichler's study as an example of "skeptical climatological literature" that showed the "participants of the Poznan conference are lunatics." Noted and corrected.

Second update: Here's a Belgian scientist who is on the list of 650 but doesn't appear to be a skeptic, either.

And a third: I see Inhofe's "Gang of 650" also includes Erich Roeckner, a renowned climate modeler at Germany's Max Planck Institute, who's quoted as saying there are still kinks in current climate models. But that's not controversial; all climatologists recognize that their models can't account for every last physical process. Inhofe's report then cites Roeckner telling Nature in 2006, "It is possible that all of them are wrong"—implying that he's casting doubt on the link between human activity and climate change. But he's not! Roeckner was referring to the IPCC's emissions scenarios, which involve assumptions about the rate of growth of greenhouse-gas emissions. (Scroll down here for the full quote.) We already know that emissions are growing faster than the IPCC's worst-case scenario, and that's bad news, not good.

Anwyay, Roeckner's as far as you get from a "dissenter": See this 2004 paper, which yet again establishes the link between greenhouse-gas emissions and temperature increases. Or see this link, where Roeckner is qutoed in multiple news stories sounding downright alarmist about the consequences of man-made warming. "Humans have had a large one-of-a-kind influence on the climate... Weather situations in which extreme floods occur will increase," he informed Deutsche Welle in 2004. "Our research pointed to rapid global warming and the shifting of climate zones," he told ABC News in 2005. Quite the heretic, that one.

--Bradford Plumer