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Demonizing Dr. Christy

Mar 4, 2019

University of Alabama Huntsville Professor Dr. John Christy was recently appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, which advises the federal agency on issues of science and the environment.

The appointment was an opportunity for Alabama’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, John Archibald, to weigh in on Dr. Christy and his appointment.

Mr. Archibald wrote on February 5, 2019, that Dr. Christy’s appointment was:

“…a big win for those who favor a do-nothing approach for the changing planet.”

“…a huge triumph to those who hold humankind guiltless and powerless to affect the climate.”

“…a big political victory for those who believe all humanity need to do in the face of global scientific consensus and pressure to reduce greenhouse gases is to do what it has always done. Just say eff it and drive on.”

“… a smashing success for those who believe our best hope comes with our heads in the sands, listening to the 3 percent of climate scientists who say man is not to blame, instead of the 97 percent, as NASA points out, agree that climate-warming trends of the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”

“Most Alabamians will call it a big ol’ win, because worrying about preserving life on the ball costs money and keeps the super-rich from getting super richer.”

Mr. Archibald rebuts Dr. Christy’s work by citing a single study performed by the Brookings Institute, which finds that Alabama will suffer the fifth highest economic cost in the country from climate change, and Birmingham is projected to suffer the 15th worst climate-related loss of metro areas.

Mr. Archibald’s synopsis of the Brookings study is, “Alabama and much of the South is the red hot center of the resistance to action on climate change, and the molten core of the consequence in the U.S. The findings are just…Karmic.”

He further writes, “I know what you are saying. I can hear you. You’re saying these pointy heads at Brookings are just more of those lefty conspirators who passed through Berkley on their way to meet George Soros for a passionfruit daiquiri on his private yacht. The website labels Brookings left center but its factual rating as very high.” So there you are.

I was surprised to find that I know one of the study authors, Dr. David Victor, who did pass through Stanford on his way to teach at UC – San Diego. David is a very bright, thoughtful professor who knows more about fossil fuels than I ever hope to. In discussions with David, we have agreed our opinions on climate change differ. He didn’t call me names nor accuse me of ruining the world. I can’t think of a single reason to call him names.

But, Mr. Archibald indicts Dr. Christy as the leader of climate skeptics who believes that humanity should do nothing in the face of scientific consensus to reduce greenhouse gases, have their heads in the sand on climate issues, and just say eff it and drive on by. Mr. Archibald implies Dr. Christy doesn’t care about the human race or the environment and has sold his soul for sound bites. He is a demon. He is the devil.

That is not the John Christy I know and respect. He is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has been the Alabama State Climatologist since 2000. He was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement in 1991 for his team’s global temperature data set. He was awarded a Special Award by The American Meteorological Society for developing a global precise record of the earth’s temperature from operating polar satellites and was appointed a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 2002. He served as Lead Author for the U.N. reports by the IPCC Panel on Climate Change. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois and an M.A. in Mathematics from Cal State – Fresno. He was a missionary in Kenya and has shared stories with me about the suffering in third world countries because of the lack of access to affordable energy sources. He has served as mission-pastor in South Dakota where he taught college math. He is a loving father and grandfather.

Yes, Mr. Archibald, Dr. Christy knows a little about climate science, and he is a decent, caring and compassionate man. Do you know as much about climate science? Have you done as much for your fellow man? Yet, you feel empowered to demonize him solely because you hold a different opinion on climate change? Pulitzer Prize winners should be cut of better cloth.

I hope Mr. Archibald and everyone else will have a good month.

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