Global warming skeptics lack credibility

Changes in coral reef ecosystems have long been considered climate-change warning signs. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Leading Australian researchers urge media and public to be question motives of  unfounded climate-change claims

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A trio of Australian climate change researchers say that self-proclaimed global warming skeptics lack scientific credibility, charging that many of them have never conducted authentic peer-reviewed research or had their work published in respected scientific journals.

The scientists — Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor Terry Hughes and Professor John Pandolfi — are all coral reef researchers and have been ranked among the world’s 20 most influential scientists in the field of climate change.

They challenged the public and the media to be far more cautious in accepting views about climate change put by people whose work has not been subject to rigorous scientific scrutiny and peer-review – and to question the motives behind it.

“There are no climate skeptics among the coral reef science and management community, because we have seen first-hand the damage caused to reefs in response to the global warming that has already occurred. The evidence for man-made climate change is unequivocal,” said Hughes, director of the Australian Centre for Coral Reef studies. “Our focus now is to move beyond the gloom, doom and denial, and look for practical solutions that will limit the damage from climate change.”

“The evidence emerging from both ocean and atmospheric science makes it increasingly clear that humanity is going to have to get atmospheric carbon dioxide levels back down to 350 parts per million or less if we are to avoid major impacts on the planet and everything that lives on it,” said Hoegh-Guldberg, deputy director of the respected Australian research institution. “It is good that Australian science is playing a significant role in this global awakening – and Australians generally can support their science by demanding greater urgency and more action from their governments and political parties.”

“We are entering a new era in the history of environmental change on our planet,” Pandolfi said. Dramatic changes in climate coupled with massive degradation from overexploitation and pollution continue to threaten the foundations of many ecosystems. By showing that these linked threats are unprecedented in the Earth’s long history, we are drawing a line in the sand for immediate and substantial action to promote the rehabilitation and recovery of ecosystem goods and services,” he added.

Hughes, Hoegh-Guldberg and Pandolfi have published extensively in the world scientific literature, in particular on the impacts of climate change on the world’s coral reefs, fish and ocean ecosystems, and on the appropriate management responses to human-related climate change. Collectively, their research papers on climate change have been cited by over 5000 other scientific publications, giving their work a powerful influence over the thinking of other researchers globally, who then cited it in their own peer-reviewed reports.

James Cook University, where the ARC Coral Centre is headquartered, ranks 1st in Australia and 2nd in the world, for the impact of its climate change research. The US National Center for Atmospheric Research is ranked as the world’s most cited institution.

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