For the third time, at least, the National Post has painted a respected international academic as a climate change “denier,” regardless that the scientist is no such thing.
In the most recent instance - part of a 10-part series called “The Deniers” - writer Lawrence Solomon (left) justifiably lauds the work of that “Nigel Weiss, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a scientist as honoured as they come.”
But Solomon then steps way over the line of accurate journalism. He says that Weiss believes “The science is anything but settled … except for one virtual certainty: The world is about to enter a cooling period.”
Weiss was so offended by this mischaracterization that he issued a news release, saying “Professor Nigel Weiss, an expert in solar magnetic fields, has rebutted claims that a fall in solar activity could somehow compensate for the man-made causes of global warming.”
“Although solar activity has an effect on the climate, these changes are small compared to those associated with global warming,” Weiss said in the news release. “Any global cooling associated with a fall in solar activity would not significantly affect the global warming caused by greenhouse gases.”
The Post has not yet seen fit to acknowledge Dr. Weiss' position with a correction.
Which is not so surprising when you look back in the series. The first story in “The Deniers” series featured Dr. Edward Wegman, a professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University. Dr. Wegman had testified before a Senate committee last year, criticizing the use of statistics in the now-famous graph known as the “Mann hockey stick.” But Wegman told the committee that he and his fellow statisticians “were not asked to assess the reality of global warming and indeed this is not an area of our expertise. We do not assume any position with respect to global warming except to note in our report that the instrumented record of global average temperature has risen since 1850 according to the MBH 99 chart by about 1.2º centigrade.” He's no denier.
The Post's second story featured Dr. Richard S.Tol, and claimed that Tol believes climate change, if it is occurring, will be beneficial. Per this earlier post , however, Tol also acknowledges the human causation of climate change and supports action to stop it. Again, no denier.
There are other questionable stories in this series. For example, Solomon quotes the research of Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center, as proof that cosmic rays are affecting the earth's temperature. But while Solomon implies that the sun is therefore the principal cause of climate change, Svensmark says clearly in this paper that that his work “does not imply that other factors can not affect clouds or climate.”
The most committed denier in this series appears to be no scientist, but rather the writer, Lawrence Solomon.