I realize the editorial page of a newspaper is heavy on assertions and light on facts, but the Outside Editorial “Climate conference at odds with reality” published in the Juneau Empire on Dec. 3 was such a blatantly misleading rant that I’m baffled why the Juneau Empire editorial staff would choose to reprint it.
There was much to refute in that highly partisan opinion piece, but the most outrageous claim was that Christopher Booker, a conservative columnist for the Telegraph of London, was somehow an authority on global temperature records.
Mr Booker, who has no scientific credentials, has written about a number of wild (and debunked) claims in recent years, suggesting for example that asbestos is not a health risk and there is no link between passive smoking and cancer.
Yet, somehow his suggestion that temperatures around the world have been “systematically adjusted upward” for the past 30 years is supposed to carry weight. By citing his name and article, are we expected to believe that this agenda-driven critic is more knowledgeable than the vast majority of scientists who study the subject, or that these experts in their field have deviously conspired to manipulate world weather records to justify their research?
That’s not how science works. It is not a political “opinion” but the careful and methodical analysis of data to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Findings are peer reviewed and published in professional journals, not newspaper columns, so that others can examine and reproduce the result. Climate change conclusions are not based solely on one type of data set, such as temperature records. They are supported by measurements across many disciplines of things like retreating glaciers and ice caps, northward advances of temperate flora and fauna, and sea water rises and chemical changes, not to mention studies based on global satellite data and computer models.
The ability to publish unsubstantiated opinions on scientific topics in a newspaper column does not make someone an authority.
Retired National Weather Service meteorologist