Global warming is a contentious topic. Opinions on both sides can be loud and angry.
But in the past week, the loudness and anger climbed a few more notches. When a group of so-called "skeptics" expressed an opinion, a Huffington Post blog argued they were scared of science, saying, "the folks who deny scientific facts deserve to be laughed at and scorned." A New York Times blog took a more measured tone, saying that the skeptics "appear to flunk climate economics." Earth Times described their opinion as "a call to play with fire."
And who was this pack of jackals who fear science and deserve such scorn? They were members of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, the World Federation of Sciences, the Royal Dutch Meteorological Service, and distinguished universities around the world.
To understand what prompted the anger, it's best to look at the opinion that started it. On Jan. 28, the group of scientists published a signed editorial, titled "No Need to Panic About Global Warming," in The Wall Street Journal. The editorial expressed a strong opinion. It asserted that CO2 isn't ruining the Earth; it even contended that CO2 is a benefit. Moreover, the editorial was steadfast in its position that many high-level scientists don't believe in global warming, and are tired of the demonization of those who speak their opinions.
"The oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true," it said. "In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed."
Right now, the Internet is buzzing with anger over the editorial. Many blogs have said that The Wall Street Journal turned down a comparable editorial written by scientists who believe in global warming. It's not known if this is true; calls to The Wall Street Journal by Design News were not returned.
But forget for a minute whether you do or don't believe in global warming. Global warming -- or "climate change," as it's now called -- is an unbelievably complex subject that's deeply understood by only a handful of people. In truth, most of us rely on conclusions from various studies, done by people we trust, to determine where we stand on the subject. But, good grief, if an opinion of distinguished scientists doesn't match our own, does it deserve scorn?