A story that could seriously damage the credibility of a broad swathe of climate change sceptics has blown up, in the wake of a new Heartland Institute list of 500 scientists whose work allegedly "undermines the idea of human-induced climate change".
The list is an attempt to deflect the idea that there is no real science behind the deniers, however, it did not take long for many of those named on it to come forward claiming their work had been grossly mis-represented.
Five New Zealanders appear on the list, namely Associate Professor Chris Hendy (University of Waikato), Dr Matt McGlone (Science Team Leader, Landcare Research), Dr Neville Moar (retired DSIR,), Dr Jim Salinger (Principal Scientist, NIWA) and Dr Peter Wardle (retired DSIR, FRSNZ). They and a significant portion of the list are very upset at their inclusion and have requested their names be removed.
The five have today issued a public statement strongly objecting to the implication that they support Heartland’s position and reiterating their support for the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as to global warming and its causes, reads today's Greenpeace press release on the issue.
“The sceptics have sunk to new depths if they’re prepared to mislead the public by using with the names of upstanding New Zealand climate scientists,” says Greenpeace climate campaigner Simon Boxer.
The incident comes just as a notorious New Zealand sceptic linked to the Heartland Institute puts his case to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on the Government’s emissions trading scheme.
“Owen McShane, who was paid by Heartland to speak at their conference in New York in March, gave evidence to the Committee this morning that climate change is a hoax,” said Boxer. “If this latest incident is any indication of the veracity of sceptics’ case, let’s hope the Select Committee paid no heed to his submission.”
Heartlands also helped Mr McShane - and fellow member of the NZ Climate Science Coalition Bryan Leyland - travel to the recent UN climate conference in Bali, where they ran workshops to try and draw attention to his anti-climate science argument, to little effect.
“Sceptics are like a huge number of species in the world - at risk of extinction from the truth about climate change,” said Boxer.
Greenpeace says it’s a sign of how desperate climate sceptics are that they’ve used the names of eminent New Zealand scientists to falsely back their cause.
In 2004, Greenpeace launched the research project ExxonSecrets to highlight the more than decade-long campaign by Exxon-funded think tanks to deny the urgency of global warming and delay action to fix the problem.
Find a map of Heartland, its staff and associates, the Exxon-funded groups they are linked with and the NZ Climate Science coalition at exxonsecrets.org.
The international climate blog, DeSmog Blog, originally broke the story, and it has so far published responses from scores of scientists, ourtraged at being included in the list. DeSmog also amusingly notes that a number of those on the list would be unable to respond, as they are no longer alive. Here's a taste of some of the responses from the living:
“I am horrified to find my name on such a list. I have spent the last 20 years arguing the opposite.” - Dr. David Sugden. Professor of Geography, University of Edinburgh.
“I have NO doubts ..the recent changes in global climate ARE man-induced. I insist that you immediately remove my name from this list since I did not give you permission to put it there.” - Dr. Gregory Cutter, Professor, Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University.
“Please remove my name. What you have done is totally unethical!!" Dr. Svante Bjorck, Geo Biosphere Science Centre, Lund University.
“I don't believe any of my work can be used to support any of the statements listed in the article." - Dr. Robert Whittaker, Professor of Biogeography, University of Oxford
Let's see how many more scientists come forward over the coming weeks to get their names struck from the list - upwards of 45 have done so already.
The Heartland Institute has now withdrawn the claims the list makes, but is so far refusing to remove anyone's name from the list.