Writer owes Schmitt, readers apology

Published January 31, 2011

Mark Boslough’s Jan. 24 My View, “Climate-change deniers ignore science,” reached a new depth of vitriol and dishonesty in the debate over climate change.

He should apologize to Harrison Schmitt, the staff and supporters of The Heartland Institute, and readers of The New Mexican and formally retract his false factual statements.

While there is little disagreement among scientists that the Earth’s climate warmed in the second half of the 20th century, there is no broad agreement as to the causes of the warming, its impacts on human health or animal habitat, whether the warming trend will continue in the 21st century, or, importantly, what if anything should be done about it. Boslough is either ignorant of this fact or dishonest when he claims otherwise.

The lack of consensus among scientists is demonstrated by every survey conducted of scientists, by the 31,000 American scientists who signed a petition specifically rejecting the claim that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are disrupting Earth’s climate, and by new research appearing nearly every day in leading scientific journals.

If you doubt this, visit the website of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change at www.nipccreport.org and read the reviews of the latest scientific discoveries.

Boslough falsely accuses Harrison Schmitt of making a false statement in 2009 about Arctic sea ice having returned to 1989 levels, and then failing to correct the error. In fact, National Snow and Ice Data Center records show conclusively that in April 2009, Arctic sea ice extent had indeed returned to and surpassed 1989 levels.

Boslough unleashed a series of outright lies about my organization, The Heartland Institute. Heartland is not a “right-wing organization”; we are center-right, exactly where about 70 percent of the American people are.

We have never “generate(d) reports containing, among other things, fabricated temperature data and doctored graphs.” These are very serious charges, yet Boslough offered no evidence or examples to support his allegations because he cannot. They are simply lies.

Boslough claims that “denialist rhetoric” may have contributed to “violent threats” (sic) made against a speaker he had invited to a conference. Threats of violence have no place in any debate about science or policy, so this is indeed inexcusable.

But I doubt that Boslough or his friends have received nearly the amount of hate mail or been threatened as often as members of my staff and I during the past four years for simply pointing out that there are two sides to the climate-change debate. Even this short essay is likely to unleash another torrent of slander and threats.

Unlike Boslough and his allies, global-warming realists don’t, by implication, compare people who disagree with them to Holocaust deniers. That is a disgusting rhetorical trick that is likely and perhaps even calculated to inflame the emotions of people, some of whom may be mentally unbalanced.

Perhaps Boslough believes that by defaming those who disagree with him, he can take the public’s attention off the myriad flaws in his own global-warming theories.

Perhaps he believes facts are irrelevant, and telling lies about his opponents is a justifiable means to some higher end. Either way, it is regrettable that The New Mexican allowed itself to be used by a man willing to use such tactics.

Civil discourse has no room for bullies like Mark Boslough. He should apologize to his victims and then be banned from future debates on this topic.

Joseph L. Bast is president of The Heartland Institute, a 27-year-old national nonprofit research organization with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.