JunkScience Lies: APS Offers Respectful Correction

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Using methodology that Junkman Steve Milloy has refined over more than a decade, the pro-pollution website Junk Science today announced that the American Physical Society (APS) “has declared that there is no scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.”

But a quick click on the APS website produces this:

The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:

“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

Isn’t there a technical, legal and socially bruising word to describe when someone says something that is directly at variance with an observed, easily verifiable truth?

The APS goes on to explain how this question arose – how Junkman Milloy might have thought that he could get away with his flight of fallacy:

An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that “Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum.” This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed. (My emplasis.)

(Hat tip to DeSmogBlog’s frequent – and frequently intemperate – commenter Ian Forrester, who has been trying to make this point clear for a couple of days, now.)

So, the editors of an online newsletter loosely associated with the APS entertain a submission from Christopher, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, notwithstanding that Monckton is a) not a scientists and b) well-known for his record of making stuff up when it suits him – or when it might help increase his income.

Steve Milloy, who advertises himself as a consultant to (among others) the “chemical, materials (and) energy” industries, then uses the Monckton submission as justification to email everyone he has ever met (or who will accept JunkScience mailers) to say:

HUGE: APS ENDS CONSENSUS MYTH!

The most forgiving among you might suggest that Milloy is capable of an honest mistake, that he may legitimately have confused one of 39 leaflets produced by members of the APS with a respected peer-reviewed journal of a national professional association of physicists.

I am less convinced. This is a guy who cut his teeth in public relations and was an early executive director for The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), an astroturf group established by Philip Morris on the advice of the PR firm APCO Worldwide. TASSC existed to reassure people of the safety of second-hand smoke, ozone depleting chemicals and, surprise, extra CO2 in the atmosphere. And Milloy has been lobbying for such causes ever since.

This is not an unsophisticated player.

Nevertheless, I sent him this email at 8:45 PST today, July 18, 2008.

Steve,

Contrary to your report today, the APS has NOT retreated from endorsing the consensus position on climate change, a fact you can confirm by reading the disclaimer prominently displayed on the APS website. If you acknowledge that fact on your website (JunkScience) and apologize for misleading your readers, I will praise your responsible reaction on my website (deSmogBlog.com) and apologize for calling you a liar.

Let me know,

I eagerly await the opportunity to report his response.


For a more in-depth look, check out DeSmog’s comprehensive research database on the climate denial industry. 

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