O.J. and the climate change deniers: guilty as charged

8 thoughts on “O.J. and the climate change deniers: guilty as charged”

  1. There’s a very well defined line that separates science from activism, and I think you guys have well and truly crossed it.

    How will you ever get back on track?


  2. Fair question MarcH. And thanks for asking it civilly.

    I do think about it. I truly don’t think the line is clear or well-defined though. There is quite a debate among scientists in many fields about it. Ill post some of this soon.

    Personally, I think it would be grossly unethical to NOT point out problems and threats to marine ecosystems and the planet as a whole if we were aware of them as scientists. I wish the media did a better job of this so that we didn’t have to. Science and environmental reporting is going down the tubes so scientists are having to step in and do a lot more communicating than we’d like.

    The misinformation machine of deniers of various well-documented environmental problems (warming-deniers, overfishing-deniers, habitat loss and species extinction-deniers, etc.) have really forced our hand as well. We have an obligation to refute all this nonsense.

    And as university scientist, educating the public is part of our job.

    Finally, the stuff we study is disappearing before our eyes! The changes I have seen on coral reefs since my childhood are stunning. Should I keep this a secret, hide in the ivory tower, and only share my knowledge with PhD peers that have access to expensive and unreadable scientific journals?

    What do you think?


  3. A key caveat, in my mind, of scientists as activist is that the activism doesn’t affect the science. Some of my published science does support the doom-and-gloom enviro position. But plenty of it refutes it. I can’t speak for all scientists, but I publish whatever I find. I have a number of paper that indicate some problems may not be as big as we thought.

    You can take a look at my publications here: http://web.me.com/ventana121/BrunoLab/Publications.html

    Look at Bruno et al 2009 (seaweed is not taking over the world’s reefs), Idjadi et al 2006 (reefs in urbanized places like Jamaica can recovery very quickly without any management intervention) and a slew of papers that find/argue that biodiversity has little if any affect on marine ecosystem functioning. All pretty contrarian stuff. If the oceans start cooling and reefs start recovering en masse, Ill be the first to publish on it and you will certainly hear all about it on climateshifts.


  4. MarcH wants you guys (us) not to cross the line to “activism”. The more effectively all of us can inform the public about the meaning of the science and its implications for the future, the less the Marcs of this world will like it. In their view, the only people allowed to be “activists” are deniers like Plimer and Monckton. It is similar to the style of , just to pluck a name at random, Andrew Bolt, constantly demanding that scientists be polite, not call deniers deniers (with all that rubbish about the Holocaust) while saying the most vile things about scientists. As long as one side is doing boring science and keeping quiet, and the other is free to run fast and loose in the halls of public opinion, the less chance there is of politicians (and big business) ever feeling pressure to act.


  5. MarcH, do you want all the people who actually have some working knowledge and expertise to shut up and allow the debate on what to do about climate change dominated by people who have no working knowledge and expertise? I for one wish for more of the many scientists who’s work confirms and validates the conclusion that AGW is real and will have serious consequences to become activists. If the people who actually apply scientific scepticism – ie finding out what’s going on by amassing and examining evidence critically – can’t find it in themselves to speak out I think we are all in serious trouble.

    Working scientists, I urge you to take the effort to write to complain and correct whenever misinformation is foisted on the public.


  6. John,
    I don’t think David wants to hear about any studies that don’t support the worst case scenario.

    If one side just stuck to doing “boring” science we’d probably be a lot further along the road to better understanding this little thing called climate sensitivity. One stand out scientist who, in the mould of Richard Feynman, has been doing pretty much just that is Richard Lindzen at MIT. I think his next paper may surprise even you.

    Today’s news report about experts getting it completely wrong about an elephant birth at Taronga Zoo stands as a lesson in humility for all of us who think we know everything about everything.


  7. Ken,
    Many of the articles posted here are not written by scientists. I would welcome more debate and more engagement from climate scientists, with a focus on the science. Remember what Feynman said in his Cargo Cult science address: “In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another”.
    If scientists focus on this last point the public will listen.


  8. MarcH: Feynman’s address sounds more like activism than science to me. Didn’t you say that scientists just stick to the science (using Feynman as an apparent example?)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s