A group of climate scientists has formed a “climate rapid response team” to communicate accurate information to the public and actively engage the denialists and politicians who are launching attacks on climate science and scientists.The Los Angeles Times was first to report on the rapid-response team on November 8. As quoted in the Guardian, the convener of the “rapid-response” group, Dr. John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, said: “Our goal is not to become partisan. But if we are going to respond to denialists’ claims which are unfounded in science then perhaps we are going to be viewed as going toe-to-toe with critics.” Dr. Abraham previously spoke out about and painstakingly debunked an error-riddled speech made by climate denier Christopher Monckton at a nearby university.
The LA Times reported that at least 39 climate scientists have joined the rapid-response team. Members of the team noted thus far in the media include Richard Feely, senior scientist with NOAA; Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University; Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University; and Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College. We’re looking forward to their work.
With the rapid-response project, scientists are asserting the necessity of being able to communicate accurate information to the public in a timely fashion and to counter directly those who misrepresent climate science. Will they be accused of contributing to the politicization of science themselves?
On that score, Dave Roberts of Grist.org argued in an excellent post that “centrists” and would-be apolitical scientists would like to dodge the reality that the right-wing conservative movement has become essentially an arm of the fossil-fuel status quo and promotes its position by moving virtually in lockstep to reject the mainstream scientific consensus on human-caused climate change and the need for public action to deal with it. Many conservatives directly equate climate science with the push for government “cap and tax” regulation of greenhouse gases. This approach sidesteps any meaningful discussion of either science or policy solutions and does a disservice to the national dialogue on the preeminent science-based issue facing society. Under these circumstances, Roberts says, “speaking the truth is a political act. The only way to escape politics is to lapse into silence.”
This rapid-response effort is distinct from that of 700 members of the American Geophysical Union who have joined the Climate Q&A Service, volunteering to respond to media inquiries in the context of the upcoming Cancun COP16 climate change conference. A similar effort was organized for the Copenhagen COP15 conference.
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