Local gadfly called out for using ‘libelous language, lies and distortion’ on climate science
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The national discourse over climate science and global warming took a local twist recently, as a local resident was called out for his commentary published in the Vail Daily trying to convince readers that global warming is not caused by human activities.
Long-time Copper Mountain resident Martin Hertzberg has frequently penned opinion pieces and letters to the editor that are full of misleading statements, inaccuracies and distortions, presenting them all as scientific fact.
Here’s an excerpt from his Sept. 30 piece in the Vail Daily:
“Knowledgeable climatologists knew that the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings settled Greenland and grapes grew in northern England, was much warmer than today and that its presence in all regions of the world was overwhelming. Similarly for the Roman Warm Period that preceded it and for a whole series of natural warmings and coolings until one gets back to the big one: the interglacial cooling of about 20,000 years ago.
And that all happened without any significant human emission of carbon dioxide.
The conclusions being promulgated by the scientifically illiterate diplomats who control the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are fraudulent concoctions that have already been denounced by many of its scientific members.
Those diplomats, like the bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency, have huge egos and a lust for power. That is far more important to them than the triviality of scientific truth. Once committed to one side of such an issue, they will rarely admit that they have made a mistake. Once having invested their political capital and our economic resources to start the huge, massive inertia wheel turning, it takes too much courage, energy and loss of face to stop it.”
The local papers publish Hertzberg’s ramblings blithely, but this time, Hertzberg got a response from Michael Mann, a distinguished climate researcher who is perhaps best-known as author of the hockey stick graph that depicts a sharp upturn in global temperatures coinciding with increases in atmosheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
Here’s part of the letter from Mann in response to Hertzberg’s commentary:
“It’s hard to imagine anyone packing more lies and distortions into a single commentary. Mr. Hertzberg uses libelous language in characterizing the so-called “hockey stick” — work of my own published more than a decade ago showing that recent warming is unusual over at least the past 1,000 years — as “fraudulent,” and claiming that it “it was fabricated from carefully selected tree-ring measurements with a phony computer program.”
These are just lies, regurgitation of dishonest smears that have been manufactured by fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers, and those who do their bidding by lying to the public about the science …
Mr. Hertzberg’s lies are pernicious. Their intent appears to be to do convince you that there is no harm in our continued unfettered release of carbon into the atmosphere.
It is not only us, but our children and grandchildren who will suffer the consequences of devastating changes in our environment in the years and decades to come if we listen to charlatans like Mr. Hertzberg.”
Read the rest of Mann’s comments here.
It’s encouraging to see Dr. Mann take issue with Hertzberg’s drivel, which the Summit Daily News and the Vail Daily have been publishing for years. As Mann suggests, some of Hertzberg’s language is borderline libelous, and the newspapers in question need to be much more careful and selective in what they print and how they present it.
I’m all for freedom of speech, but there are some limits, and libel is one of them. The Summit Daily News and the Vail Daily are being irresponsible, and doing a disservice to their readers by continually publishing Hertzberg’s scientifically unfounded commentaries, at least without a serious disclaimer.
There is no good science supporting the viewpoint that climate change and global warming is not caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. But that doesn’t give the editors and publishers of those newspapers a license to publish false claims, even if they’re presented as opinion.
There is currently a lively national debate over the way the media reports on climate change. As important as this topic is to our ski and snow-related economies, the editors of the local papers seem blissfully — or perhaps willfully — ignorant of those discussions, a scary thing for local readers.