Published July 21, 2008
Despite rumors to the contrary, global warming is still happening, the American Physical Society says.
The climate-change blogosphere buzzed last week that the entire organization of more than 4,000 American physicists had suddenly changed its position on global warming and decided that humans were, in fact, not responsible for the rise in average temperatures over the past century.
What did happen was that the July 2008 newsletter of the APS' Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 separate units within the APS, included an article written by British Viscount Christopher Monckton refuting the main points of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's conclusion that humans are changing the world's climate.
Monckton is a Cambridge-educated classicist, journalist, hereditary peer and former adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He's not a scientist, however, and his article was headlined with this disclaimer:
"The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions."
Published alongside it was another article written by two physicists entitled "A Tutorial on the Basic Physics of Climate Change," essentially discrediting Monckton's refutation.
Jeffrey Marque and Alvin Saperstein, the editors of the Forum on Physics and Society's newsletter, said they "thought it appropriate to present a debate" about the IPCC's conclusions on the theory of anthropogenic climate change.
"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution," they wrote.
That statement itself was countered by the declaration it "does not represent the views of the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society."
Various blogs took the existence of Monckton's article as evidence the world's scientists were changing their mind about climate change.
The APS has since posted this statement on its front page:
"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.'"