Climate Science Watch Update – May 16, 2011

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Updates on some areas of interest: (1) America’s Climate Choices report from National Research Council prompts Washington Post editorial calling climate change deniers dangerous.

(2) Plagiarism problem leads journal to retract article by Wegman, who criticized climate scientists and questioned global warming in report for denialist Congressman Joe Barton.

(3) Record Mississippi River flood water level following record heavy rainfall in Mississippi watershed, as warned of in multiple U.S. climate assessments and EPA Endangerment Finding, threatens states represented by denialist politicians.

America’s Climate Choices

“Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”

America’s Climate Choices, National Academy of Sciences / National Research Council

See Washington Post editorial, May 16:

“Climate change denial becomes harder to justify”

(Editorial title in hardcopy newspaper: “Clarity on climate change – Little room for doubt about global warming in a new, authoritative report”)

... Seizing on inevitable points of uncertainty in something as complex as climate science, and on misreported pseudo-scandals among a few scientists, Republican members of Congress, presidential candidates and other leaders pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.

Not so, says the National Research Council. “Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.”

Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear …

The report:

America's Climate Choices.  By Committee on Americas Climate Choices, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council.  Published by the National Academies Press, 2011. 

Also see:

U.S. National Academy of Sciences Presents "America's Climate Choices" (Nick Sundt, World Wildlife Fund Climate Blog, May 12)

Just days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called April “a month of historic climate extremes across much of the United States," the National Academy of Sciences released a report today (12 May 2011) describing the opportunities Americans have to prepare for a future where such conditions are more frequent and severe -- and to reduce the risks of much greater climate disruption in the future. Texas Congressman Joe Barton, remains unmoved -- despite a commitment made in late 2009 to accept the academy's findings, and despite extraordinary drought conditions in his home state. …

National Academy of Sciences slams climate disinformation campaign, flawed media coverage (Climate Progress, May 16)

Wegman

See Dan Vergano, USA Today, May 16:

Climate study gets pulled after charges of plagiarism.  Evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process have led a statistics journal to retract a federally funded study that condemned scientific support for global warming.

The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The "Wegman Report" suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.

The journal publisher's legal team "has decided to retract the study," said CSDA journal editor Stanley Azen of the University of Southern California, following complaints of plagiarism. …

See the series of Wegman investigative posts at Deep Climate, which has done much of the heavy lifting on this matter. Today:

Retraction of Said, Wegman et al 2008, part 1

Retraction of Said, Wegman et al 2008, part 2

Mississippi flood

See Brad Johnson, Grist, May 16:

Mississippi flood causes billions in damage, while local representatives deny climate threat

… This precisely what scientists have warned would come about as greenhouse pollution warms the air and oceans, and industrial agriculture worsens runoff [PDF]. In 1999, scientists found a clear trend of increased flooding [PDF] of the Mississippi River basin because of increasing precipitation. In 2000, the federal government's Climate Assessment warned that "the projected increase in very heavy precipitation events [PDF] will likely lead to increased flash flooding and worsen agricultural and other non-point source pollution as more frequent heavy rains wash pollutants into rivers and lakes," citing the catastrophic 1993 flood of the Mississippi River as an example. The federal government's 2009 climate assessment report warned that greenhouse pollution will cause "more frequent flooding" [PDF] in the Midwest, including the Mississippi River. The EPA endangerment finding, which most of the politicians in Mississippi basin voted to overturn, similarly warned of "greater flood risk" [PDF]. …

The states suffering from the flooding are represented by politicians who have voted to disregard the threat of a polluted climate system. …

Earlier posts:

NRC: US should act now to cut emissions, develop a national strategy to adapt to inevitable impacts

Talking at Power Shift 2011 about how to deal with climate change denialists

Deep Climate investigation of denialist and “skeptic” attack on Hockey Stick temperature record

Texas wildfires rage amidst historic drought conditions. Denial of science in Washington, DC, confronted by climate reality.

Ben Santer on the attribution of extreme weather events to climate change

This entry was posted in Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Science Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Climate Science Watch Update – May 16, 2011

  1. John Mashey says:

    Especially for those with academic experience, the behind-the-scenes details are found in the 17-page PDF @
    DeSmogBlog.

    This annotates the email from Wegman to Elsevier trying to explain the plagiarism away and ask to submit an errata sheet to avoid a retraction.

    Editor Azen considered this an option.
    Elsevier did not.

    Put coffee down before reading.

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