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Adventures In Climate-skeptic Land

Now this is amusing: The Cato Institute recently got 100 Ph.D.s to sign one of those "skeptic" letters sneering at the science behind climate change, complete with a short footnoted statement about how there's no warming, the models suck, blah blah. They ran it as an ad in the Times, the Post, etc. So the climate scientists at Real Climate took a closer look at Cato's footnotes and noticed that none of the papers the think tank cites support their conclusions. The ad's method boils down to: "Ignore the facts you don't dispute, pick some others that are ambiguous and imply that, because they are subject to some debate, we therefore know nothing."

Anyway, Cato's Jerry Taylor responded today at National Review, arguing that the post somehow proves that climate scientists are panicked and have to use ad hominem attacks to shout down the brave truth-tellers on the right. This is absurd. Let's agree that the main points in Taylor's post are all perfectly fair: Someone who receives lots of oil-industry money, who has no expertise in climate science, who works for an ideologically driven think tank, and who flies in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus might have valid criticisms to make. That's possible, sure. But it doesn't change the fact that the Real Climate folks demolished Cato's argument on the merits...

--Bradford Plumer