User:William M. Connolley/The science is settled

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Got deleted: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/The science is settled

"The science is settled" is a slogan attributed by opponents of the Kyoto Protocol and global warming theory to supporters notably in the Clinton administration. There are no known examples of its use outside the skeptic press, though some of the statements that were made have similar implications. The slogan itself has therefore become a detail in the political debate.

Use as a rhetorical tool[edit]

The phrase is vague, and people who use it may not elaborate what exactly is settled. Certain aspects of climate change are widely accepted: that human actions have increased the amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, for example. Other aspects—the exact degree of climate change to be expected within the next century, if any—are not settled. In between are issues such as how much the earth has warmed recently and how much of this is due to human activity.

Opponents of global warming theory have said: "There is an idea among the public that 'the science is settled.'"[1] "How many times have we heard from Al Gore and assorted European politicians that 'the science is settled' on global warming?"[2] "We are assured that 'the science is settled.'"[3][clarification needed]

Uses of the slogan, or things somewhat like it[edit]

Clinton and Gore[edit]

In 1997, United States President Bill Clinton said:

  • "The science is clear and compelling. We humans are changing the global climate." (source: article)
  • "First, I am convinced that the science is solid, saying the that climate is warming at a more rapid rate, that this is due in large measure to a dramatic increase in the volume of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere, and that nobody knows exactly what the consequences are going to be or when they're going to be manifest, but, on balance, it won't be all that long and they won't be good."
  • U.S. Vice President Al Gore at same event, in response to question "And the administration accepts that fact that that debate [about effect by humans] is over.": "Yes, sir. Yes, sir. On that one point, yes, sir."

Robert Watson[edit]

According to Sovereignty International, in 1997 Robert Watson:

was asked in a press briefing about the growing number of climate scientists who challenge the conclusions of the UN that man-induced global warming is real and promises cataclysmic consequences. Watson responded by denigrating all dissenting scientists as pawns of the fossil fuel industry. "The science is settled" he said, and "we're not going to reopen it here." [6]

Some GWT supporters suggest the quote is a fabrication, noting that the organization quoting Watson is involved in promoting "global warming skepticism". No other records of the press briefing have been produced.

Tim Wirth[edit]

  • On June 3, 1997, GWT opponent S. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) debated Bert Bolin, chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. During the debate, Singer projected on a screen a quote allegedly from Undersecretary of State Timothy Wirth saying that global warming science was "settled." Bolin responded by questioning whether Wirth had been correctly quoted: "I think Tim Wirth, if quoted correctly, that he doesn't mean what you implied he meant. I've spoken to him, I know he doesn't mean it." [7] SEPP subsequently publicized this statement by Bolin in a news release claiming that Bolin "took issue with the statement by Tim Wirth," prompting Bolin to complain that SEPP had misinterpreted his remark. [8]
  • On July 31, 1997, In the Senate record, in comments about Senate Resolution 98 (the Byrd-Hagel Resolution) Senator Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) said: "While it is true that Undersecretary of State Tim Wirth said that `the science is settled,' it is clear that there is not a broad scientific consensus that human activities are causing global warming." At the same meeting, Dr. Santer said: "Even the Chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Bert Bolin, says that the science is not settled. When told that Undersecretary of State Tim Wirth had said the science was settled, Dr. Bolin replied: `I've spoken to [Tim Wirth], I know he doesn't mean it.'" (Congressional Record 1997, page S8626)
  • On June 28, 1998, global warming skeptic Patrick Michaels revived SEPP's claim, stating that during the months leading up to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, Wirth had "repeatedly declared that 'the science is settled.'" [9] However, this column by Michaels was written more than six months following the meetings at which the Kyoto Protocol, was drafted, which suggests that Michaels was probably paraphrasing loosely rather than quoting Wirth's words verbatim.

Stu Eizenstat[edit]

  • The Global Climate Coalition, an organization created by the fossil fuel industry to oppose action on global warming, complained in November 1998, "Undersecretary Eizenstat repeated the Clinton administration's shopworn claims: the science is settled and recent weather is proof that global warming is upon us." [10] However, the GCC did not claim that this paraphrase of Eizenstat's alleged remarks was an exact quote.
  • A press release [11] from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which describes itself as "a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government" and, which strongly opposes the Kyoto treaty, claims that "US lead global warming negotiator Stu Eizenstat misled the press at a November 10 press briefing. He announced that the 'science is settled', parroting Vice President Al Gore's favorite non-truth, and went as far as to refuse to answer a reporter's question about the science."

Dr Kurt M. Cuffey[edit]

  • "Mounting evidence has forced an end to any serious scientific debate on whether humans are causing global warming. This is an event of historical significance, but one obscured from public view by the arcane technical literature and the noise generated by perpetual partisans....
But now, after this summer of 2005, the serious scientific debate about global warming has ended. There is now no reasonable doubt that atmospheric pollution is causing global warming, and this warming is strong enough to have serious consequences in the next century" [1]

John Quiggin, economist[edit]

  • "There’s no longer any serious debate among climate scientists about either the reality of global warming or about the fact that its substantially caused by human activity…" [2]

David Milliband, UK Environment Minister[edit]

  • "I think that the scientific debate has now closed on global warming, and the popular debate is closing as well"[3]

Camilla Cavendish[edit]

  • "The science debate is effectively over. The Stern review means that the economic debate is all but over. Only the political debate is left..."[4]


See also[edit]