New York Times reporter Justin Gillis used the solar eclipse set for Monday to publish an 800-word commentary lamenting the lack of “respect” for scientists sounding the alarm on global warming.
“Thanks to the work of scientists, people will know exactly what time to expect the eclipse,” Gillis wrote in his opinion piece. “In less entertaining but more important ways, we respond to scientific predictions all the time, even though we have no independent capacity to verify the calculations. We tend to trust scientists.”
“For years now, atmospheric scientists have been handing us a set of predictions about the likely consequences of our emissions of industrial gases,” Gillis wrote. “These forecasts are critically important, because this group of experts sees grave risks to our civilization. And yet, when it comes to reacting to the warnings of climate science, we have done little.”
Gillis claims many of the predictions made by early 20th Century scientists about greenhouse gas-induced climate warming have come true, and blamed much of the inaction on phasing out fossil fuels on money from industry.
Gillis forgets the mention that climate science is still in its infancy compared to astronomy, which has been studied for thousands of years. Ancient Babylonian priests tracked the movement of stars for religious purposes, and Aristarchus of Samos first suggested a heliocentric solar system in the 3rd Century B.C.
“Commodity companies benefit from exploiting forests. Fossil-fuel companies, to protect their profits, spent decades throwing up a smoke screen about the risks of climate change,” Gillis wrote.
“Most of them now say they have stopped funding climate denial, but they still finance the careers of politicians who say they are skeptical of climate science and who play down the risks,” he wrote.
I’m going to stop right there and remind our readers major oil and gas companies were some of the biggest proponents of staying in the Paris climate accord, and many of those same companies fund groups pushing for a carbon tax.
It’s not as clear cut as Gillis makes it out to be. Despite the nuances, Gillis doubles down, comparing climate scientists today to 17th Century mathematician Galileo Galilei, who the Catholic Church forced to recant his theories of heliocentrism.
“Think about Galileo standing in the dock of the Inquisition, forced to recant his belief that the Earth moves around the sun,” Gillis wrote.
“If you respect and honor the scientists who did this work, then spare another moment to think about the scientists whose work is under attack today, and why,” he wrote.
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