Lawrence Solomon: Those scientists urging Trump to embrace carbon include the best climate experts around

(March 2, 2017) The U.K. Guardian decides who can and who cannot study the causes of climate change; dismisses physicists, space scientists and the effects of sun on climate.

Richard Lindzen is among the signatories of a letter to Donald Trump telling him carbon dioxide is ‘not a pollutant.’ Credit: CJ Gunther for the National Post.

This article, by Lawrence Solomon, first appeared in the National Post

President Trump received a petition from 300 scientists last week, urging him to withdraw the U.S. from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty signed in Rio in 1992 that officially marked the beginning of the global warming scare.

“While we support effective, affordable, reasonable and direct controls on conventional environmental pollutants, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” wrote MIT’s Richard Lindzen, in a letter accompanying the petition. “To the contrary, there is clear evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful to food crops and other plants that nourish all life. It is plant food, not poison.” The petition, started just a few weeks ago, is growing as more scientists come forward daily to enthusiastically embrace carbon dioxide.

“Just who are these 300 ‘scientists’ telling Trump to burn the climate?” asked the U.K.’s Guardian in its headline. It then proceeded to mock the signatories.

“If you read the headlines, it might have seemed impressive: ‘300 Scientists Tell Trump to Leave UN Climate Agreement.’ Wow, 300 scientists. That’s a lot right? Actually, it’s a pitiful list. First of all, hardly anyone on the list was a climate scientist; many were not even natural scientists. It is almost as though anyone with a college degree (and there are about 21 million enrolled in higher education programs just in the USA) was qualified to sign that letter.”

OK, let’s see how pitiful that list is. Let’s start with some of its climate scientists, whom The Guardian seems to think have exclusive rights to study the causes of climate change.

Lindzen, who spearheaded the petition, has for decades been considered one of the world’s leading climate scholars. The winner of numerous prizes and the author or co-author of over 200 scholarly papers and books, he is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT; a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters; and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society.

Fred Singer, another signer, was the first director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite; vice chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Oceans and Atmosphere; a deputy assistant administrator for policy at the EPA; a deputy assistant secretary for water quality and research at the U.S. Department of the Interior; and a founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami.

Roy Spencer is also no slouch. Formerly senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, he’s the co-developer of a method for satellite monitoring of global temperature and the author of numerous papers on climate and satellite meteorology. He’s also the principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, one of the primary sources of temperature data for the U.S. government.

Then there’s David Evans (PhD, Stanford), who was the Australian Greenhouse Office’s carbon-accounting modeler; Tim Ball (PhD, University of London), prize-winning professor emeritus at University of Winnipeg and a prolific author of papers on climate; Madhav Khandekar, a PhD scientist at Environment Canada (now retired) who authored or co-authored over 150 papers on weather and climate science; etc., etc., etc.

Are the qualifications of such scientists properly described as “pathetic?” Or would “pathetic” more fairly describe the standards of journalism at The Guardian?

But it gets worse. The Guardian might recall that the Earth orbits the sun, and seasons change in the process. Since Galileo invented the telescope 400 years ago, scientists have studied the effects of the sun on climate. Giants among them have included Milutin Milanković, the Serbian astronomer, geophysicist and climatologist who a century ago explained Earth’s long-term climate changes, including its ice ages, by changes in the Earth’s position relative to the sun. It is absurd to dismiss physicists and space scientists among other disciplines as having no relevance to the study of the climate. NASA, after all, has had the world’s largest climate change budget.

Hence other signatories among the 300 include illustrious scientists such as Gerald Griffin, former director of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center; Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of climate studies and space research of the sun sector at Russia’s Pulkovo observatory; physicist William Happer, professor emeritus at Princeton, former chair of its University Research Board and former director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s US$3-billion Office of Energy Research; and Freeman Dyson, perhaps America’s best-known scientist, professor emeritus at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.

Last week’s petition isn’t novel. Numerous earlier petitions by scientists also opposed the demonization of carbon dioxide — one received more than 30,000 signatures, more than 9,000 of them from scientists with PhDs. The earlier ones were mocked by the press and ignored by those in power. This one, too, may be mocked by the likes of The Guardian but it won’t be ignored by those now in power.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe. Email:

About Lawrence Solomon

Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada's leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s and became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life. An advisor to President Jimmy Carter's Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970's, he has since been at the forefront of movements to reform foreign aid, stop nuclear power expansion and adopt toll roads. Mr. Solomon is a founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation and the executive director of its Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute divisions. He has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the editor and publisher of the award-winning The Next City magazine, and the author or co-author of seven books, most recently The Deniers, a #1 environmental best-seller in both Canada and the U.S. .
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