Oregon Petition

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The Global Warming Petition Project, also known as the Oregon Petition, is a petition urging the United States government to reject the global warming Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and similar policies.[1] It was organized and circulated by Arthur B. Robinson, president of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in 1998, and again in 2007.[2][3] Past National Academy of Sciences president Frederick Seitz wrote a cover letter endorsing the petition.[4]

According to Robinson, the petition has over 31,000 signatories. Over 9,000 report to have a Ph.D.,[1][2][3] mostly in engineering.[5] The NIPCC (2009) Report lists 31,478 degreed signatories, including 9,029 with Ph.D.s.[6] The list has been criticized for its lack of verification, with pranksters successfully submitting Charles Darwin, members of the Spice Girls and characters from Star Wars, and getting them briefly included on the list.[7]

Petition text[edit]

The text of the petition reads, in its entirety:[4][8]

The petition included a covering letter from Frederick Seitz, chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, and made reference to his former position as president of the US National Academy of Sciences; together with a manuscript plus a reprint of a December 1997 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Science Has Spoken: Global Warming Is a Myth", by Arthur and Zachary Robinson. The current version of Seitz's letter describes the summary as "a twelve page review of information on the subject of 'global warming'."[9] The article is titled "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" by Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon.[10][11][12]

As of October 2007, the petition project website includes an article by Arthur Robinson, Noah E. Robinson and Willie Soon, published in 2007 in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.[13]

Signatories[edit]

The Oregon Petition Project clarified their verification process as follows:

  • The petitioners could submit responses only by physical mail, not electronic mail, to limit fraud. Older signatures submitted via the web were not removed. The verification of the scientists was listed at 95%,[14] but the means by which this verification was done was not specified.
  • Signatories to the petition were requested to list an academic degree.[15] The petition sponsors stated that approximately two thirds held higher degrees.[14] As of 2013, the petition's website states, "The current list of 31,487 petition signers includes 9,029 PhD; 7,157 MS; 2,586 MD and DVM; and 12,715 BS or equivalent academic degrees. Most of the MD and DVM signers also have underlying degrees in basic science."[16]
  • Petitioners were also requested to list their academic discipline. As of 2007, about 2,400 people in addition to the original 17,100 signatories were "trained in fields other than science or whose field of specialization was not specified on their returned petition."[14] The petition sponsors state the following numbers of individuals from each discipline:[16]
    • Atmospheric, Environmental and Earth sciences: 3,805 (Climatology: 39)
    • Computer and Mathematical sciences: 935
    • Physics & Aerospace sciences: 5,812
    • Biochemistry, Biology, and Agriculture: 2,965
    • Medicine: 3,046
    • Engineering and General Science: 10,102

Credentials and authenticity[edit]

The credentials, verification process, and authenticity of the signatories have been questioned.

Jeff Jacoby promoted the Oregon Institute petition as delegates convened for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1998. Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, said event organizers "take it for granted" that global warming is real when scientists do not agree "that greater concentrations of CO2 would be harmful" or "that human activity leads to global warming in the first place."[17] George Woodwell and John Holdren, two members of the National Academy of Sciences, responded to Jacoby in the International Herald Tribune, describing the petition as a "farce" in part because "the signatories are listed without titles or affiliations that would permit an assessment of their credentials."[18] Myanna Lahsen said, "Assuming that all the signatories reported their credentials accurately, credentialed climate experts on the list are very few." The problem is made worse, Lahsen notes, because critics "added bogus names to illustrate the lack of accountability the petition involved".[19] Approved names on the list included fictional characters from the television show M*A*S*H,[20] the movie Star Wars,[19] Spice Girls group member Geri Halliwell, English naturalist Charles Darwin (d. 1882) and prank names such as "I. C. Ewe".[21] When questioned about the pop singer during a telephone interview with Joseph Hubert of the Associated Press, Robinson acknowledged that her endorsement and degree in microbiology was inauthentic, remarking "When we're getting thousands of signatures there's no way of filtering out a fake".[20] A cursory examination by Todd Shelly of the Hawaii Reporter revealed duplicate entries, single names lacking any initial, and even corporate names. "These examples underscore a major weakness of the list: there is no way to check the authenticity of the names. Names are given, but no identifying information (e.g., institutional affiliation) is provided."[22] According to the Petition Project website, the issue of duplication has been resolved.[23] Kevin Grandia offered similar criticism, saying although the Petition Project website provides a breakdown of "areas of expertise", it fails to assort the 0.5% of signatories who claim to have a background in Climatology and Atmospheric Science by name, making independent verification difficult. "This makes an already questionable list seem completely insignificant".[24]

In 2001, Scientific American took a random sample "of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science."

Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.[25]

Former New Scientist correspondent Peter Hadfield says scientists are not experts on every topic, as depicted by the character Brains in Thunderbirds. Rather, they must specialize:

"In between Aaagard and Zylkowski, the first and last names on the petition, are an assortment of metallurgists, botanists, agronomists, organic chemists and so on. ... The vast majority of scientists who signed the petition have never studied climatology and don't do any research into it. It doesn't matter if you're a Ph.D. A Ph.D in metallurgy just makes you better at metallurgy. It does not transform you into some kind of expert in paleoclimatology. ... So the petition's suggestion that everyone with a degree in metallurgy or geophysics knows a lot about climate change, or is familiar with all the research that's been done, is patent crap."[26][27]

NAS incident[edit]

A manuscript accompanying the petition was presented in a near identical style and format to contributions that appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a scientific journal,[28] but upon careful examination was distinct from a publication by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Raymond Pierrehumbert, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Chicago, said the presentation was "designed to be deceptive by giving people the impression that the article … is a reprint and has passed peer review." Pierrehumbert also said the publication was full of "half-truths".[29] F. Sherwood Rowland, who was at the time foreign secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, said that the Academy received numerous inquiries from researchers who "are wondering if someone is trying to hoodwink them."[29]

After the petition appeared, the National Academy of Sciences said in a 1998 news release that "The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal."[30] It also said "The petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy." The NAS further noted that its own prior published study had shown that "even given the considerable uncertainties in our knowledge of the relevant phenomena, greenhouse warming poses a potential threat sufficient to merit prompt responses. Investment in mitigation measures acts as insurance protection against the great uncertainties and the possibility of dramatic surprises."[30]

Robinson responded in a 1998 article in Science, "I used the Proceedings as a model, but only to put the information in a format that scientists like to read, not to fool people into thinking it is from a journal."[29] A 2006 article in the magazine Vanity Fair stated: "Today, Seitz admits that 'it was stupid' for the Oregon activists to copy the academy's format. Still, he doesn't understand why the academy felt compelled to disavow the petition, which he continues to cite as proof that it is "not true" there is a scientific consensus on global warming".[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Brennan, Phil (May 19, 2008). "31,000 Scientists Debunk Al Gore and Global Warming". Newsmax. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  2. ^ a b Avery, Dennis (May 24, 2008). "31000 scientists sign Oregon GW Skeptic Petition". Canada Free Press. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  3. ^ a b Henry, Devin (May 28, 2008). "Climate change petition pits scientists against each other". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  4. ^ a b "What warming consensus?". The Washington Times. November 16, 1998. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  5. ^ Morrison, David (September–October 2011). "Reports of the National Center for Science Education". National Center for Science Education. ISSN 2159-9270. 
  6. ^ Idso, Craig and S. Fred Singer (2009). "Climate Change Reconsidered: 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Appendix 4, The Petition Project". The Heartland Institute. ISBN 978-1-934791-28-8. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  7. ^ Mann, Michael E. (2012). The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Columbia University Press. p. 66. 
  8. ^ "Global Warming Petition Project". Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  9. ^ Frederick Seitz. "Letter from Frederick Seitz". OISM. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  10. ^ A. B. Robinson, S. L. Baliunas, W. Soon, & Z. W. Robinson (1998). "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide". J. Am. Physicians and Surgeons 3, 171-178. 
  11. ^ A. B. Robinson, N. E. Robinson, W. Soon (2007). "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide". J. Am. Physicians and Surgeons 12, 79-90. 
  12. ^ W. Soon, S. L. Baliunas, A. B. Robinson, and Z. W. Robinson (1999). "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide". Climate Research 13, 149-164. 
  13. ^ Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide by Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon. Published in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 2007; 12(3), 79.
  14. ^ a b c "Explanation". OISM. Archived from the original on 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  15. ^ OISM Mail-in Petition
  16. ^ a b "Qualification of Signers". OISM. Archived from the original on 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  17. ^ Jeff Jacoby. Scientists don't agree on global warming, The Boston Globe. 5 November, 1998.
  18. ^ George Woodwell and John Holdren. Climate-Change Skeptics Are Wrong New York Times. November 14, 1998.
  19. ^ a b Myanna Lahsen (Winter 2005). "The Example of the 1998 Petition Campaign". Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics: The Need for Demarcations. Science, Technology, & Human Values 30 (1). p. 137. doi:10.1177/0162243904270710. 
  20. ^ a b Joseph H. Hubert Odd Names Added to Greenhouse Plea Associated Press. (abridged version) 1 May, 1998.
  21. ^ David McNeely. It’s easy for pseudoscientists to mislead people, Edmond Sun. February 22, 2006.
  22. ^ Todd Shelly. Bashing the Scientific Consensus on Global Warming, Hawaii Reporter. 14 July, 2005.
  23. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Global Warming Petition Project. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  24. ^ Kevin Grandia. The 30,000 Global Warming Petition Is Easily-Debunked The Huffington Post. October 27, 2012.
  25. ^ "Skepticism About Skeptics (sidebar of Climate of Uncertainty)". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 2006-08-23. , October 2001
  26. ^ Peter Hadfield. How my YouTube channel is converting climate change sceptics The Guardian. 29 March, 2010.
  27. ^ Peter Hadfield. Meet the Scientists. 25 May, 2010.
  28. ^ Arthur B. Robinson; Sallie L. Baliunas, Willie Soon,Zachary W. Robinson (January 1998). "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide". OISM and the George C. Marshall Institute. Archived from the original on 2007-01-14. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  29. ^ a b c David Malakoff (10 April 1998). "Climate Change: Advocacy Mailing Draws Fire". Science 195 (5361): 195. doi:10.1126/science.280.5361.195a. 
  30. ^ a b "Statement by the Council of the National Academy of Sciences regarding Global Change Petition" (Press release). National Academy of Sciences. April 20, 1998. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  31. ^ Mark Hertsgaard (May 2006). "While Washington Slept". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]