I meant to blog about this earlier, but check out Joe Romm’s post on an open letter from scientists supporting the I.P.C.C. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m somewhat skeptical of lists like these because I don’t think every scientist is qualified to comment on climate change. It’s very easy to find yourself in a contest where both sides simply collect Ph.D signatures to bolster their case. Check out this petition of 9,000 Ph.D’s who reject global warming. On the face of it, I don’t see why either list is more authoritative. We can easily devolve into arguments over who has a bigger list of supporting scientists.
Of course I trust and respect the pro-IPCC position more. I consider co-author Steve Schneider to be one of my informal mentors. I’ve learned amore from him than I have from almost anyone else. His desire to fight back is entirely understandable. Constant attacks have provoked this response. I wish I could offer some positive suggestions rather than criticism. As painful as it is for me to say, I don’t think this list helps.
I think you’re right. The problem with open letters and seeking to obtain a consensus or list of signatories is that the other “side” will do the same, leaving you at an impasse or counting numbers. Adding another letter to the mix probably just encourages this rhetorical game to continue.