Bill Nye the Science Guy Says James Inhofe Is Not a “˜Climate Skeptic’

A group of scientists say that a commonly used phrase in press coverage of climate change is all messed up.

Sen. James Inhofe
National Journal
Ben Geman
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Ben Geman
Dec. 10, 2014, 1:31 p.m.

How should re­port­ers write about law­makers and oth­ers who dis­pute the sci­entif­ic con­sensus that cli­mate change is largely driv­en by hu­mans? A group of 48 sci­ent­ists, sci­ence writers, and oth­er ex­perts—in­clud­ing pop­u­lar edu­cat­or Bill Nye—have some strong views on the sub­ject.

The group is­sued a state­ment last week tak­ing the me­dia to task for us­ing the phrase “cli­mate skep­tic,” say­ing that the word “den­ier” is more ac­cur­ate. In the state­ment, the Com­mit­tee for Skep­tic­al In­quiry dis­ap­prov­ingly cites a Novem­ber New York Times piece that de­scribed GOP Sen. James In­hofe, who calls glob­al warm­ing a “hoax,” as a “prom­in­ent skep­tic of cli­mate change.”

The sci­ence ad­vocacy group says that the terms “skep­tic” and “den­ier” have been wrongly con­flated in the press. “Prop­er skep­ti­cism pro­motes sci­entif­ic in­quiry, crit­ic­al in­vest­ig­a­tion, and the use of reas­on in ex­amin­ing con­tro­ver­sial and ex­traordin­ary claims. It is found­a­tion­al to the sci­entif­ic meth­od. Deni­al, on the oth­er hand, is the a pri­ori re­jec­tion of ideas without ob­ject­ive con­sid­er­a­tion,” writes the group, which also in­cludes No­bel Prize win­ner Har­old Kroto and Ann Druyan, who helped cre­ate both Cos­mos TV series and was the wife of the late Carl Sagan.

The let­ter ar­rives at a time when polit­ic­al battles over cli­mate-change policy are es­cal­at­ing. One of the biggest fights will come when as­cend­ant Cap­it­ol Hill Re­pub­lic­ans—in­clud­ing In­hofe, who will be chair­man of the Sen­ate’s en­vir­on­ment com­mit­tee next year—launch ef­forts to thwart Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion green­house-gas reg­u­la­tions.

The over­whelm­ing view of sci­ent­ists is that green­house-gas emis­sions from burn­ing fossil fuels and oth­er hu­man activ­it­ies are the main driver of glob­al warm­ing. For in­stance, the Amer­ic­an Met­eor­o­lo­gic­al So­ci­ety states: “It is clear from ex­tens­ive sci­entif­ic evid­ence that the dom­in­ant cause of the rap­id change in cli­mate of the past half cen­tury is hu­man-in­duced in­creases in the amount of at­mo­spher­ic green­house gases.”

The Dec. 5 state­ment from Nye and the oth­ers says the dis­tinc­tion between “skep­tic” and “den­ier” is im­port­ant in polit­ic­al de­bates. “As sci­entif­ic skep­tics, we are well aware of polit­ic­al ef­forts to un­der­mine cli­mate sci­ence by those who deny real­ity but do not en­gage in sci­entif­ic re­search or con­sider evid­ence that their deeply held opin­ions are wrong. The most ap­pro­pri­ate word to de­scribe the be­ha­vi­or of those in­di­vidu­als is ‘deni­al,’” the sci­ence ex­perts write.

“Not all in­di­vidu­als who call them­selves cli­mate change skep­tics are den­iers. But vir­tu­ally all den­iers have falsely branded them­selves as skep­tics. By per­pet­rat­ing this mis­nomer, journ­al­ists have gran­ted un­deserved cred­ib­il­ity to those who re­ject sci­ence and sci­entif­ic in­quiry,” the state­ment adds.

What We're Following See More »
HE WAS 85
Former Rep. Joseph McDade Dies
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Rep. Joseph McDade, an 18-term Republican congressman who was known for bringing federal dollars home to his northeastern Pennsylvania district and who was acquitted in 1996 on a bribery charge," died Sunday. He served in the House from 1963-99 and was a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

Source:
ANALYSIS INCOMPLETE DUE TO DEADLINE
CBO: “Millions” Would Lose Coverage Under Graham-Cassidy
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Congressional Budget Office projected Monday that the last-ditch GOP ObamaCare repeal bill would result in 'millions' of people losing coverage. The agency did not give a specific number given a lack of time to do the analysis before a vote." CBO also said the bill would reduce deficits by $133 billion over ten years.

Source:
END OF THE ROAD
Susan Collins a “No” on Graham-Cassidy
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
ASKS ATTORNEYS IF THE ISSUE IS MOOT
Supreme Court Removes Travel Ban Case from Calendar
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Supreme Court on Monday dropped the dispute over President Trump's travel ban from its oral argument calendar. The high court directed attorneys for both sides to submit 10-page briefs on whether they view the case as moot by noon on Oct. 5. Both sides must address whether the expirationof Trump's travel ban order on Sunday rendered the case moot and whether the new order from the president renders the existing litigation moot."

Source:
PROTESTERS BEING ARRESTED
Graham-Cassidy Hearing Recesses
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login