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The Sciences

The Nisbet Report on Our Climate Failures, Part I

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyApril 19, 2011 7:45 PM


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Matthew Nisbet has a big contrarian report out that criticizes environmentalists--and scientists, and Al Gore--for their role in the failure to pass a climate bill or to achieve progress on the issue. Meanwhile, the report seeems to downplay the influence of climate change denial, ClimateGate, and Fox News. I collaborated with Nisbet on framing several years ago, and thought his work on that topic was insightful--but I'm troubled by this report, as I know are many, many others. Joe Romm has gone on the offensive, and one of Nisbet's peer reviewers, Robert J. Brulle, has dropped off. Romm debunks Nisbet's (apparent) claim that environmental groups outspent their industry opponents during the cap-and-trade battle. Media Matters, meanwhile, challenges Nisbet when it comes to the significance of ClimateGate (which, obviously, has had a transformative effect on the political debate around climate, as anyone paying attention to Capitol Hill knows) and of Fox News. No one has yet taken on the part of the report that I find in some ways the most stunning: Nisbet's attempt to claim that members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "in comparison to other social groups for which data is available [rank] among the most partisan and ideological." Nisbet also acts as if the notion that there were copious attacks on science during the last administration is just some biased opinion subscribed to by politicized AAAS scientists--rather than a reality extensively documented by myself and many, many others, like the Union of Concerned Scientists. For the moment, I just want to flag this--I've collaborated with Nisbet in the past, but this is not something I can stay silent about.

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