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Another respected scientist took a stand in the worldwide debate over the source and importance of climate change. Last week, Dr. Ivar Giaever, professor emeritus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, professor at large at the University of Oslo and a 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) in protest over the society’s rigid stance on climate change.
A part of the official APS statement with regard to global warming states that the “evidence is incontrovertible” that human activities have led to rising global temperatures through increased emissions of carbon dioxide. Like many scientists in a variety of disciplines, Giaever was offended by the implication that the science is settled and no further research or discussion about the issue is needed.
“In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of a proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?” Giaever said in an e-mail to Kate Kirby, executive officer of APS. “The claim…is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”
The idea that global warming is such a critical issue that the kind of intellectual debate that is central to the scientific process should not be allowed goes back to the Clinton administration. It was then that Vice President Al Gore stated with finality that the “science was settled” and the supposed crisis was so acute that the traditional scientific process should be abandoned.
That pronouncement, especially coming from someone with no scientific training like Mr. Gore, offended and continues to offend many a scientist. Nonetheless, a number of scientific organizations like APS, the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, have definitively stated that dangerous global warming is real and that mankind is definitely the cause.
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