"Merchants of Doubt " tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades that link smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole.
In 2393, a historian of the Second People's Republic of China reviews the "Penumbral Age" (1988-2093), when politicians, corporations, and scientists ignored the statistical significance of climate disaster. Carbon dioxide warming the planet, deadly summer heat and fires, and the collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet lead to a second Black Death and "the Great Collapse" of the Western world.
Why did American geologists reject the notion of continental drift, first posed in 1915? And why did British scientists view the theory as a pleasing confirmation? This text, based on archival resources, provides answers to these questions.
The theory, research, data collection, and analysis that came together in the late 1960's to constitute plate tectonics is one of the great scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century. In "Plate Tectonics," editor Naomi Oreskes has assembled those scientists who played crucial roles in developing the theory to tell - for the first time, and in their own words - the stories of their involvement in the extraordinary confrimation of the theory.
"Discerning Experts" assesses the assessments that many governments rely on to help guide environmental policy and action. Through their close look at environmental assessments involving acid rain, ozone depletion, and sea level rise, the authors explore how experts deliberate and decide on the scientific facts about problems like climate change. They also seek to understand how the scientists involved make the judgments they do, how the organization and management of assessment activities affects those judgments, and how expertise is identified and constructed. "Discerning Experts" uncovers factors that can generate systematic bias and error, and recommends how the process can be improved. As the first study of the internal workings of large environmental assessments, this book reveals their strengths and weaknesses, and explains what assessments can--and cannot--be expected to contribute to public policy and the common good.
Selected Articles by Naomi Oreskes (Some articles are licensed for CWRU only. Please check your libraries for access.)
The article discusses issues related to climate science in the U.S. Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have alleged major uncertainties in the science. There might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme, IPCC's purpose is to evaluate the state of climate science as a basis for informed policy action, primarily on the basis of peer-reviewed and published scientific literature.
The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%-100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.
Appeals to scientific uncertainty are often used to forestall action on climate change. We examine the seepage of this contrarian discourse into the scientific community. We highlight psychological reasons for scientists’ susceptibility to seepage. We use the global warming “hiatus” as an example of the consequences of seepage. We offer ways in which the scientific community can detect and avoid such seepage.
Climate scientists are not alarmists but have underestimated recent climate changes. We identify a directional bias toward erring on the side of least drama (ESLD). ESLD is an internal pressure arising from norms of objectivity, restraint, etc. ESLD may cause scientists to underpredict or downplay future climate changes.