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Saturday, July 19, 2008

The right’s misguided frenzy over the American Physical Society - The Carpetbagger Report

Right wingers go nuts...over false story.

Daily Tech had an item yesterday afternoon that caused a bit of a stir in conservative circles.

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

This, coming the same day as Al Gore’s speech, was apparently quite exciting to those on the right who prefer to deny global warming and/or its causes.

One said, “The Association of Physical Scientists has reversed its position on anthropogenic global warming. Where it once considered its position ‘incontrovertable’ [sic] it is now sponsoring open debate on the matter… This is a big deal. The APS represents some 50,000 physicists worldwide.”

Another argued, “[Physicists] bailing on Gore…. The rats are leaving the ship. Global warming alarmists are frauds.”

Jonah Goldberg initially said, “The same day that Al Gore does his man-to-the-moon spiel on global warming, the American Physical Society — the second largest professional association of physicists — rescinds its total support for the global warming. I await the usual chorus to sing us a tune about how the APS is ‘anti-science.’”

Red State told readers, “The headline at The Drudge Report website, ‘Group Repping 50,000 Physicists Opens Global Warming Debate…’ [linked to dailytech.com] says it all.”

Except, in this case, it didn’t say it all.

Here’s what the APS explained:

The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:

“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that “Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum.” This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.

So, what happened here? Climate Progress explains the story very well, but it appears that one sloppy editor relied on one frequently-debunked British Lord — and conservatives reflexively pounced on a development that was far from what it appeared to be.

Kevin summarized this nicely: “Lord Monckton, who triggered the original article in DailyTech, may be a lord, but he’s also a longtime global warming skeptic. There’s nothing new here, and, as you might expect, scientists continue to believe that climate change is largely driven by human activity. Nice try, though.”

The right’s misguided frenzy over the American Physical Society - The Carpetbagger Report

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