A new study claims to show that the few scientists who doubt human-caused global warming are less expert than their climate-change-believing peers. In other words: the climate skeptics aren't just in the minority--they're not very good scientists, either.
Though you'd expect some howls of indignant rage from conservative publications, it seems the first to come out strong against the study is actually a climate-change believer from Slate. Michael Levi admits the study's "message makes sense, intuitively" to critics of climate change skeptics. "Since pretty much all arguments against the basics of climate science are silly, it stands to reason that those who peddle them are silly, too." But this study claims to have proved this, and yet "fails to substantiate its findings ... nothing in the work published this week proves [climate-change-doubting scientists] lack scholarly weight or prominence. In other words, the advocates have used bad social science to show that the science of climate change is sound."
Here, he fears "the greens have played right into [the] trap" climate skeptics are always waiting for them to spring--hyping "sensational studies and predictions that rest on weak or ambiguous logic." In short, though he himself takes climate change very seriously, he thinks this study does damage to the cause:
All of this would be academic quibbling if it wasn't so consequential. The authors of the paper are right that the world is running dangerous risks with the climate system. They are right to be angry at those who claim that climate change is a hoax, and at those in the media who give them a platform to confuse the public. But the way to confront those skeptics is to show that they're wrong--as many dedicated climate scientists have done, again and again. Hyping this paper, instead, simply reinforces the dangerous perception that climate activists will credulously push any news that might further their case. For those who care about this issue, that's tragic.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.