Last Thursday around 1 p.m., I began my dissertation defense — a 45-minute talk for the final stage of the Ph.D. process. At almost exactly the time I was wrapping up, Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington) issued a press release titled "New Scientific Data Justifies Repealing Global Warming Response Act".
When people learn of my engineering background, they often ask why I changed gears and pursued a path in media and politics.
Mike Doherty is Exhibit A.
I consider the well-funded, coordinated assault on and politicization of science to be one of the most dangerous threats to our country's future.
Doherty's statement, which was noticed by the Drudge Report, falsely claims that "[t]here are many credible members of the scientific community who have questioned the theory of global warming, and now we have some scientists actually suggesting the earth's temperatures may be entering a period of dramatic cooling." It continues: "According to recent news reports, a top observatory that has been measuring sun spot activity predicts that global temperatures will drop by two degrees over the next 20 years as solar activity slows and the planet drastically cools down."
Apparently he is referring to "news reports" such as this editorial which points to the research of Dr. Kenneth Tapping, the project director at Canada's National Research Council at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. Tapping was not directly quoted, so I reached out and asked if Doherty's statement is an accurate characterization of his work and conclusions.
Tapping replied: "Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of bogus rubbish circulating on the web. I make no predictions on global climate one way or the other. I am not a climatologist. The only thing I foolishly discussed with someone who put a private conversation on the web was that the next solar cycle is a bit late starting. NOAA predictions are that it will not be getting under way until well into 2009. We concur with that prediction. For the climatological consequences of that, if any, I am afraid you will need to speak to a climatologist." He continued: "The moral of the story is that one has no control about what people put on the web, and there is little that one can do about it afterwards."
Almost comically underscoring his profound ignorance on the difference between weather and climate, Doherty cites a weather man — one with no expertise on climate science — as his second example of dissent with the universal scientific consensus.
Doherty is a dangerous politician who through willful ignorance would deny scientific evidence and readily accept junk science if it fits his ideological agenda. And he will continue to recklessly abuse the stature of his office to attempt to deceive the public.
Who knows what he'll propose next week? He might call for tearing down Xanadu since it's encroaching on the habitat of the Jersey Devil.
Perhaps he'll argue for offshore drilling rigs as our best chance for finding the Loch Ness Monster. Or maybe in a joint press conference with the Bigfoot hunters, he'll demand stricter enforcement of the Highlands Act in order to protect Sasquatch.
Juan Melli, associate editor at Politicker.com, has finished a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Princeton University.