Environment

Team B

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 23, 2010 1:26 PM

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Since Last November, Georgia Tech climate researcher Judith Curry has criticized the groupthink tendencies of a subset of the climate science community. So I'm not surprised to see her echo this sentiment by William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University, in his recent congressional testimony:

We need to establish a Team B of competent scientists, charged with questioning the party line. The DoD and the CIA do this, there was a devil's advocate (promoter fidei) for sainthood, why not the same for climate change?

However, in her comment over at this thread, Curry didn't include Happer's sentence preceding his Team B suggestion:

Global-warming alarmists have tried to silence any who question the party line of impending climate apocalypse.

Now this may be a subtle distinction on my part, but I see political advocates as the leading front of global warming alarmism, not climate scientists. I'm not so sure there is a "party line" of imminent climate doom that climate scientists have bought into, notwithstanding the likes of James Hansen. (Also, it's really more the political advocates who attempt to silence anti-alarmists.) You could argue that climate scientists enable the political alarmism by not forcefully challenging the advocates on their claims. But if I read Curry's endorsement of Happer's suggestion correctly, she's essentially saying that this Team B would serve as a check on the groupthink within the climate science community:

Well arguably the closest thing we have to a "Team B" is the Heartland Climate Conference on Climate Changewhich was held last week in Chicago. The conference received almost no coverage by the MSM.

On that last note, it bears mentioning that previous Heartland assemblages have been covered by the MSM. One of the hallmarks of these prior conferences was political agitprop. So I think the press this time around just assumed it was going to be another annual bashing of climate scientists and Al Gore. In that sense, I think the lack of coverage this year is more a reflection of the perspective journalists have of those prior Heartland gatherings. Lastly, I want to point out that Happer's House testimony differs little from what he said last year to the Senate, of which Bill Chameides wrote this effective rebuttal. Still, however wrong Happer may be on his other points, that doesn't make the Team B concept illegitimate. Of course, judging by those non-existent WMD's, there's no guarantee that a Team B (which existed in the CIA and DoD in the runnup to the Iraq War), can counteract groupthink and bad decisionmaking. UPDATE: Bart Verheggen has a very useful take on why there is so much resistance to the Heartland group.

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