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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t call greenhouse gas skeptics ‘deniers’

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2011

Climate scientist Michael Mann has asserted: "I think it's very unfortunate that fossil-fuel industry-funded climate-change deniers ... continue to harass UVa. [University of Virginia], NASA and other leading academic and scientific institutions with these frivolous attacks." ("Don't look behind the green curtain," Commentary, Friday). It is anything but unfortunate or frivolous to insist the data that forms the foundation of multibillion-dollar climate policy be accessible for anyone to evaluate.

If scientists on Mr. Mann's side of the debate are confident that their data and calculations are correct, then what are they afraid of? Referring to those of us who do not support the climate scare as "climate-change deniers" is both a mistake and a logical fallacy. It is a mistake because no reputable scientist on either side of the debate denies that climate changes. The only constant about climate is change - it changes all the time no matter what we do.

The term "deniers" is often used by supporters of the hypothesis that our greenhouse gas emissions are causing a climate crisis. They use it in order to equate their opponents to Holocaust deniers and so elicit negative emotions. This is the logical fallacy referred to as "ad hominem" in that it is against the man, not the idea. It is a common but offensive public-relations trick and should be shunned by all honest citizens.

Use of the phrase "fossil-fuel industry-funded" to discredit our point of view is also a logical fallacy, by saying that we are funded by vested interests, appear to have a motive to lie, and, therefore, what we say is wrong is clearly illogical. It also implies that our scientific opinions can be bought and thus we are dishonest, which would again be an ad hominem logical fallacy. Besides, many skeptical scientists have nothing to do with the energy industry, fossil fuel or otherwise.

Using Mr. Mann's logic, we should be highly suspicious of anything he and others produce while funded by government since the government supports the climate scare. But that would be a logical fallacy as well.

It is time to drop all such name calling and simply look at what the science really says. And the best way to do this is to make all the data and calculations completely public.

TOM HARRIS

Executive Director

International Climate Science Coalition

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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