March 5, 2012
… Some researchers are taking on a greater public-advocacy role to confront what many of them consider an existential crisis. But this strategy carries inherent risks, since scientists’ influence stems from the public perception that their credibility is beyond reproach.
That’s why many in the scientific community recoiled when Peter Gleick, a respected hydrologist, admitted he had tricked the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that questions whether human activity contributes to global warming.
“Integrity is the source of every power and influence we have as scientists,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We don’t have the power to make laws, or run the economy.”
Georgia Institute of Technology atmospheric scientist Judith Curry says human activity is contributing to climate change but it remains uncertain whether it is or will be “the dominant factor.” She said she respected Gleick’s scientific work but worried about where his activism had taken him.