Op-ed: Climate science debate hits local media

Bob Berwyn.

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.


9 thoughts on “Op-ed: Climate science debate hits local media

  1. Now Bob, is this any way to start the week end? It will be interesting in seeing how many yeas & nays come out on this.

  2. This is an interesting article and I followed the link to read the full text of Hertzberg’s LTE, but when I tried to follow the link for Mann’s response it took me only to Hertzberg’s LTE. In the interest of balance I’d like to be able to read both articles.

  3. Bob,

    Almost twelve weeks without skiing this year in Colorado. Must be due global warming. I hear that .during the last ice age, they only had four weeks a year without skiing.

  4. Why AGW (aka ACC) science is NOT conclusive and SHOULD NOT be used for making far-reaching public policy decisions:

    1. Climategate scientists silenced other scientists with ad hominem attacks or by preventing publication of their contrarian papers.
    2. Climategate scientists plotted to silence editors of scientific journals who dared publish contrarian papers.
    3. Scientists asserted “consensus” to bolster the efficacy of climate science.
    4. A chief Climategate scientist said: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
    5. The East Anglia CRU “lost” the database from which the historical temperature record was created and, from which, it could be verified.
    6. Environmental groups continuously publish propaganda (faux science) supporting the AGW/ACC hypothesis.
    7. The IPCC discards reports and comments from its contributing scientists whose research contradicts the AGW/ACC hypothesis.
    8. AGW/ACC scientists have co-opted the phrase “climate change” to imply (wherever it is used) that it actually means “manmade” instead of “naturally occurring” climate change.
    9. Mainstream media reporters gratuitously attribute bad weather events to AGW/ACC.
    10. Government spent $100 million for research on manmade causes of AGW/ACC, yet spent nothing in the search for natural causes.
    11. Government tells us that carbon fuels are a threat to humanity, yet only proposes “solutions” in the form of massive subsidies for PART TIME energy sources (wind, solar, Cap and Trade, etc.) to replace the FULL TIME carbon fuel devil.
    12. Government never tells us the amount of global temperature reductions their “solutions” could be expected to yield.
    13. Government has yet to offer a huge “X-Prize” or massively funded the R&D to find a new energy source that could replace carbon fuels.
    14. Government has yet to create a Plan, including a timeline, for achieving a carbon free economy.
    15. Scientists silently accept government’s “solutions” as sufficient to save us from the threat of carbon fuels.
    16. Government uses the threat to humanity as grounds to create a New World Order… a one world government.

    Because global warming science is NOT as conclusive as we are led to believe, the above things must be done to protect it from effective scrutiny… otherwise government will lose its rationale for wresting control of energy from the private sector, and will lose its $100 billion investment to make that happen.

    1. Hmmmm….

      1. Name one scientist who they supposedly silenced, and how they did it. Just one. It can’t be too difficult. The fact is that they wrote their own rebuttals in the peer reviewed literature.
      2. Prof. Kerry Emanuel explains quite clearly how this science stuff works, and why editors must be competent and trustworthy.
      3. Evidence of, please?
      4. Quote mining. Trenberth’s travesty had nothing to do with a lack of heat, and everything to do with the state of the satellite monitoring sytem.
      5. The ‘database’ as you describe it, was a pile of weather station paperwork (the raw data) as tall as Niagara Falls if stacked in a one sheet pile. They had to move to a new building, the papers using the data had been published for a very long time without challenge in the peer reviewed literature, the university’s admin threw it out. The paperwork is still available from each nation’s meteorological service, so it’s actually impossible for anyone to destroy the data.
      6. Anti-environmental groups still lie about the science and the economics.
      7. There are a number of papers cited by the IPCC in their reports which go against what you would probably refer to as the grain.
      8. Republican Party adviser, Frank Luntz, wrote a report for the GOP and Bush telling them they must use ‘climate change’ instead of ‘global warming’ to describe the phenomenon, as focus groups showed it made the public feel it was less of a danger. You can thank the GOP for the predominant switch in terms. It’s known as “the Luntz Memo” and you can find it via Google as it was leaked.
      9. Quite the opposite. Go to MSM reports of the spate of floods and drought in the US this year (over a hundred events IIRC), and see how many even mention climate change.
      10. Falsehood. The satellites would still be sent into space to monitor the weather, and the deep sea buoys would still be deployed to monitor the oceans. One third of US busienss relies on reliable weather and climate monitoring, not to mention the military, and the NOAA satellites, for instance, help rescue thousands of lost and stranded individuals as part of a satellite rescue network. Tell us how many contrarians put satellites into space, by the way.
      11. Oil, coal and gas will eventually run out. In the case of oil, I challenge you to find one single set of independently audited estimates of oil reserves for the OPEC countries. An oil crash that would make 2008 like a walk in the park is more than feasible.
      12. The goal is to keep global average temperature below 2C. It’s all in the treaties.

      The rest are too ironic given the cries for less goverment involvement.

  5. JeffM’s comment above has no substantive back-up for any of his assertions.

    1-3 are meaningless and untrue.
    4 Trenberth’s meaning can be found here.
    5 is meaningless because all relevant data is available from the original sources.
    6-9 are meaningless and untrue.
    10-14 are political unsubstantiated viewpoints.
    15 & 16 are conspiracy nonsense.

    How to write so much, with so little evidence and so little of substance !

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