Per an earlier post, the National Post recently defamed the renowned astrophysicist Dr. Nigel Weiss with an article lumping him in with a group of climate change “deniers.”
In response to this – an error that caused him a good deal of embarrassment among serious scientists – Dr. Weiss wrote this Letter to the Editor:
SOLAR ACTIVITY AND GLOBAL WARMING
The article by Lawrence Solomon, which portrays me as a denier of global warming, is a slanderous fabrication. I have always maintained that the current episode of warming that we are experiencing is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and that global temperatures will rise much further unless steps are taken to halt the burning of fossil fuel. Compared to these effects, the influence of variations in solar magnetic activity is unimportant, however interesting it may be to astrophysicists like me.
For further details see the Press Release on the University of Cambridge website
If you thought that a responsible newspaper would offer a quick correction and apology, you would have missed your bet with the National Post. Instead of running Dr. Weiss’s complaint on the letters page, “the editor” gave it to writer Lawrence Solomon, who instead challenged Dr. Weiss with this email:
Dear Dr Weiss,
I am writing in response to your letter to the editor of the National Post, in which you take issue with my characterization of you as a “denier.” I can understand your objection to having a negative term assigned to you, although my use of this term is meant to be ironic – it is clear that I am not hostile to those I describe. I use the term “denier” to describe scientists who do not believe that the “science is settled.”
I do not understand, however, what other objections you may have to my column. Have I misrepresented your statements, for example, or attributed beliefs to you that you do not hold? If I have, I would very much like to understand how I have done so.
As Mr. Solomon is well able to string together apparently intelligent paragraphs, it would appear that his impenetrability on this issue is intentional. It was abundantly clearly that Dr. Weiss was not complaining about the “epithet” denier because he finds it distasteful. He’s complaining because it is pointedly not true.
Dr. Weiss says, “I have always maintained that the current episode of warming that we are experiencing is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases,” and “compared to these effects, the influence of variations in solar magnetic activity is unimportant.” And yet, having written a whole column describing Weiss as a believer in the sunspot theory of global warming, Solomon wonders, “Have I misrepresented your statements, for example, or attributed beliefs to you that you do not hold?”
Larry, Larry, Larry. What do you think Dr. Weiss meant by “slanderous fabrication”?
More amazing than this rude riposte – this argumentative, ungracious and insensible retreat into “irony” – was Solomon’s next column: Even with Dr. Weiss’s correction in hand, Solomon followed, on Friday, Feb. 9, with this article , in which he again characterizes Dr. Weiss as someone who denies that greenhouse gases are the principal cause of climate change. Solomon then concludes with a disingenuous plea “to drop the term denier from the scientific lexicon.”
Once again (and slowly, for the benefit of the National Post) Dr. Weiss is not saying that he would rather be called a “skeptic ” than a “denier” - he's neither. He is saying he would rather that Larry Solomon tell the truth.
According to another National Post story, a new Compas poll shows that Canadian business executives are still divided over whether to believe that the science behind climate change is settled. Small wonder if they are depending upon the National Post for the “facts” on which they must base their opinions.