Sunday, August 25, 2013

Climate Warming Denier ADN Letter Writer Dr. Maccabee Linked to Koch Brothers

Dr, Howard Maccabee wrote a letter to the Anchorage Daily News ridiculing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change draft report. 

His letter begins:
"Justin Gillis' Aug. 20 article "Sea Level Could Rise 3 Feet by 2100"  is speculation, not science.  The assertion that seas will likely rise by 3 feet is almost absurd, since current levels rise about 2 mm. per year (about 6 inches in 80 years)."
The title of Gillis' article in the print version of the ADN is unfortunate, but not inaccurate reporting.  The online title is "Climate Panel Reports Near Certainty on Warming" the same title as the original NY Times article.

In any case, the article does NOT assert "that seas will likely rise by 3 feet."  What the article actually says is
"that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than 3 feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace."
 I would say that "could conceivably" is not even close to Maccabee's "will likely."

The online article has more of the original NYTimes article than the print version.  It says, later in the article:
"Regarding the likely rise in sea level over the coming century, the new report lays out several possibilities. In the most optimistic, the world's governments would prove far more successful at getting emissions under control than they have been in the recent past, helping to limit the total warming.
In that circumstance, sea level could be expected to rise as little as 10 inches by the end of the century, the report found. That is a bit more than the 8-inch increase in the 20th century, which proved manageable even though it caused severe erosion along the world's shorelines.
At the other extreme, the report considers a chain of events in which emissions continue to increase at a swift pace. Under those conditions, sea level could be expected to rise at least 21 inches by 2100 and might increase a bit more than three feet, the draft report said."
 The "8-inch increase in the 20th century" is very close to Maccabbee's own figure of "6 inches in 80 years."  Actually, Maccabee's figure comes out to 1.5 inches per 20 years.  Add 20 years to Maccabee's figure to get a century and you're at 7.5 inches. Another two inches in the 21st century is not only conceivable, but probably highly optimistic.

Maccabee asserts this is 'speculation, not science' but goes on to use words like absurd and ridiculous - distinctly unscientific terms - to challenge the report.

I've linked Maccabee to the Koch brothers in the title. I don't want to commit the rhetorical fallacy of guilt by association.  The facts about how Maccabee mischaracterizes the report speak for themselves.   However, to a certain extent, it doesn't hurt to look at the credentials of the people involved, how they do their work, and who supports them.

The IPPC is made up of climate scientists from around the world reviewing the scientific works on these issues.  They won a Nobel Prize in 2007 for their work.  You can read more about what they are doing and how here

One should also ask about Dr. Maccabee's credentials on Climate Change.  He's an MD who has a UC Berkeley PhD in Radiation Biophysics.** A Heartland video presentation he made on Climate Change says Dr Maccabee is the President of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.  His environmental resume says he was President from 1982-4 and is still on their Board.   Their website has lots of pseudo scientific articles that deny climate change.  But there is nothing on it to say who they are or who funds them.  But Sourcewatch reports:
Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) "promotes homeland defense and prudent preparedness for disasters of all kinds, including war or terrorism," according to its website. Topics addressed by DDP include "global warming, ozone 'depletion,' radiation hazards and radiation hormesis." [1]
DDP is skeptical of climate change, as the title of their web page on the subject suggests: "Ozone hole, Global warming, and other Environmental Scares." [2]Doctors For Disaster Preparedness was a co-sponsor to the Third International Conference on Climate Change , which in turn was sponsored by the Heartland Institute.
The Heartland Insitute is  funded by ALEC and the Koch Brothers - the main source of Climate Change Deniology. ( I first wrote about ALEC when I attended a presentation they gave to legislators in Juneau in February 2011.)

These are the hard core climate deniers.  Guilt by association can be fraught with logical dangers.  But it's also helpful to know where speakers come from.  Using someone from the Heartland Association to talk about climate change is like inviting a member of the Nazi Party to talk about Jews.  (I know that using Nazi similes is frowned on, but I'm reading a book that takes place in Berlin in 1933 and the similarities are striking for both make a science of propaganda.  I'm not saying these people are Nazis, but their objectivity is about the same as Nazi objectivity.  And Climate Change deniers, to the extent that they hold back Congress and other governing bodies from taking serious action now, could endanger the lives of far more people than the Nazis killed.) 

Here's another article by Gillis specifically looking at water level reports.

** This is almost totally unrelated, but quirkily interesting.  When I first tried to look up Maccabee's academic field, I switched around the terms and googled "Bioradiation Physics" I didn't find anything until page three where I found "professor of medical radiation and physics."  Clicking on it got me to this page of  Berkeley at War : The 1960s
by W.J. Rorabaugh Professor of History University of Washington.

click to enlarge and focus  from Berkeley At War
Heynes was the new UC Berkeley Chancellor in 1965 after the Free Speech protests on campus.  I'd note these events at the Berkeley campus took place 30 years before Maccabee got his PhD there and that Professor Jones was probably long gone.  But it is eerie. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.