Demands by a House committee chairman for all documents and communications related to research by a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration distract from the reality of climate change and can have a chilling effect on scientific discovery, AAAS CEO Rush Holt and Carnegie Institution global ecologist Chris Field wrote in a 16 March op-ed for LiveScience, an online news site.
AAAS Chief Executive Officer Rush Holt | David Sharpe
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has been seeking documents regarding research that seemed to debunk the notion of a global warming slowdown or pause. He renewed his demands at a House subcommittee hearing this week. The research, published last June in the journal Science, concluded that an improved record of surface temperatures no longer shows evidence of a slowdown in global warming.
In their op-ed, Holt and Field review the findings of the NOAA team and two other groups that have examined surface temperatures. One group, led by Bala Rajaratnam at Stanford University, found even stronger evidence against a global warming pause. The other team led by John Fyfe of the University of Victoria in Canada found that the recent warming, while clearly continuing, has been slower than many models have predicted.
“So, working independently, several research teams have converged on almost identical results for warming over the past century at the global scale, but with periodic fine-tuning as additional information becomes available,” Holt and Field write. “This is the way science is supposed to work. Asking tough questions and re-examining evidence make up the essence of the scientific method.”
They add: “Don’t be fooled by red herrings. Human-caused climate change is real. Attacking the integrity of scientists will not further our understanding of what’s happening to our planet. Similarly, efforts to undermine research findings for ideological reasons are a confusing disservice to the public.”