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Scientists to take on global-warming skeptics

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Faced with increasing political attacks, hundreds of climate scientists are joining a broad campaign to push back against congressional conservatives who have threatened prominent researchers with investigations and have vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The efforts reveal a shift among climate scientists, many of whom have traditionally stayed out of politics and avoided the news media. Many now say they are willing to go toe-to-toe with their critics, some of whom gained new power after the Republicans won control of the House in Tuesday’s election.

The American Geophysical Union, the country’s largest association of climate scientists, plans today to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution. Some are prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk-radio and television shows.

John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, who in May wrote a widely disseminated response to climate-change skeptics, is organizing a “Climate Rapid Response Team,” which so far has more than three dozen leading scientists to defend the consensus on global warming in the scientific community. Some are preparing a handbook on the human causes of climate change, which they plan to start sending to U.S. high schools as soon as this fall.

“This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists,” said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.

“We are taking the fight to them because we are … tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed.”

During the recent election campaigns, skepticism about climate change became a rallying cry for many Republican candidates. Of the more than 100 new Republican members of Congress, 50 percent are climate-change skeptics, according to an analysis of campaign statements by the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group.

Prominent Republican congressmen such as Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., have pledged to investigate the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. They say they intend to probe the so-called Climategate scandal, in which thousands of e-mails of leading climate scientists were hacked and released to the public late last year.


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