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The CO2-Climate Controversy
Volume 12, Number 13: 1 April 2009

In an editorial in the 13 March 2009 issue of Science, Christopher Reddy (Director of the Coastal Ocean Institute of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) writes that "one often-overlooked responsibility of scientists is explaining their work to people," in order that they might contribute to "sound policymaking." Now more than ever, he notes that "issues such as climate change ... are migrating from scientific journals to the non-science community," and he says "it's critical that scientists venture beyond their laboratories to put these issues into the correct contexts and help the public understand what is known, unknown, and under debate [our italics]," which is precisely what we try to do -- and have been doing for well over a decade now -- in each weekly issue of our CO2 Science website.

Most recently, in this regard, we have also affixed our names to a declaration sponsored by the Cato Institute that was widely published in a number of major U.S. newspapers. It began with the following statement that was made by President-Elect Barack Obama on 19 November 2008: Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.

The signatories to this declaration all agreed, as we next said, that "with all due respect Mr. President, that is not true," and we went on to state that "the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated," that "surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest," and that "there has been no net global warming for over a decade now."

We also told the president that "after controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events," that "computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior," and that his "characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect."

Why did we do this? We did it because we believe it is our sacred duty -- as "scientist citizens" -- to help President Obama (and other elected officials) better understand "what is known, unknown, and under debate" regarding CO2 and climate change. By virtue of joining with many of our fellow scientists in disputing the so-called scientific consensus on this issue, we demonstrated -- by that very act -- that the science is not beyond dispute, and that there is not a consensus, much less a scientific consensus, regarding the subject.

Proof of this contention is evident on nearly every page of our website, where we have archived all of the contents of each of the weekly issues we have produced over the past eleven-plus years, and where we have also filed these materials under various subject headings, producing succinct summaries of many of them. We urge all who seek to become better informed on the many aspects of the CO2-climate debate to read what we have culled from the scientific literature that stands in stark contrast to what is claimed by the climate-alarmist community, and to afterward judge for themselves what they think is most nearly correct with regard to this most vital topic, upon which legislative action at the highest level of government within the United States is imminent.

Sherwood and Craig Idso

Reddy, C. 2009. Scientist citizens. Science 323: 1405.