Global Warming: Changing Hearts, Changing Minds
By Justin Deering
A few months back, noted climate skeptic Richard Muller reversed his position, saying that temperatures on the earth are indeed rising. After conducting a study partially funded by the Charles Koch Foundation, noted for funding global warming skeptics and tea party, Muller declared that while it made sense to be a skeptic two years ago, there was no longer any reason to do so.1
More recently, noted environmental leader James Lovelock, formulator of the Gaia Hypothesis, reversed his position as well. While once he claimed that man-made global warming would lead to the deaths of billions and billions of people by the end of this century, he has since noted the lack of warming and had this to say:2
I was “alarmist” about climate change and so was Gore! The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books—mine included—because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened. The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now. The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium.
If these were just politicians flip-flopping on an issue, well, that’s to be expected. But take notice, because these are prominent individuals in the field who have made a living based on their previous assertions; changing their stances threatens their very livelihood. These two examples should cause everyone to question and reassess their own beliefs when it comes to issues such as climate change.
It’s easy to get the idea that global warming skeptics aren’t familiar with the science, that if they were more educated they would accept the idea catastrophe is right around the corner. A new study dispels this myth, in fact demonstrating the opposite—an increase in scientific literacy actually leads people to challenge the prevailing scientific wisdom concerning climate change.3,4
To illustrate this fact, consider that recently, a group of 49 former NASA employees, including astronauts and engineers, have written to the agency and asked them to discontinue making “unproven and unsubstantiated remarks” regarding manmade global warming. They feel that the science is not settled, and that taking a position that agrees with carbon dioxide emissions as the cause of climate change would reflect poorly on the agency in the future.5 Would anyone be willing to say that these NASA scientists were ignorant or anti-science?
NASA sponsors research into many areas of cutting-edge scientific inquiry, including the relationship between carbon dioxide and climate. As an agency, NASA does not draw conclusions and issue “claims” about research findings. We support open scientific inquiry and discussion.
Even so, James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, continues to write things like “Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening.”7 Hansen continues to be a source of embarrassment for the agency, with his multiple arrests, the most recent one being to protest the development of the Canadian oil pipline.8,9