George Taylor is a embarrassment to Oregon. He passes himself off as the official state climatologist even though Oregon doesn’t have such a position. Today an article in the Oregonian (“Experts square off over climate change”) quoted Governor Kulongoski:
"He's not the state climatologist," the governor said. "I never appointed him. I think I would know.”
Apparently Oregon State University’s College of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences gave Taylor this title, because the Oregonian story says that the position of state climatologist was dissolved by the legislature in 1989.
Regardless, Taylor loves to spout off about how humans really aren’t a big factor in causing global warming, an unscientific position that makes him a darling of big oil and conservative organizations like the Heartland Institute, which recently trotted Taylor out as among the serious scientists who are debunking scaremongering about climate change.
Yeah, right. You’d be hard pressed to find a truly serious scientist who doesn’t accept that human caused climate change is happening. Heck, Taylor’s own college admits this on its web site:
Climate change is happening globally and in the Pacific Northwest. Humans are contributing to global warming and climate change in a measurable way.
Willamette Week ran an expose on Taylor in August 2005. I’d been ranting about the absurdity of Oregon’s climatologist being a global warming denier for several months previous. It’s even more absurd now that we know he isn’t the climatologist.
But Taylor is still up to his old tricks. Just a few days ago (January 26) right-wing talk show host Lars Larson had Taylor as a guest. He introduced Taylor as the “official state climatologist.”
Taylor then proceeded to mangle facts and science. He said that the 1930s was the warmest decade in Oregon, which isn’t true: the 1990s was. He also claimed that 1917-42 saw the most melting of Oregon glaciers. Also not true, according to this Oregonian story.
"It's almost universal that all glaciers are retreating," said Peter Clark, a professor at Oregon State University and an international authority on glaciers. "The signs of retreat are dramatic and accelerating."
If Taylor simply went around speaking as an uninformed individual with views about global warming that aren’t shared by reputable scientists, that wouldn’t be so bad.
However, when he writes a letter to the editor as the state climatologist, passing along the untruth that the 1930s was the warmest decade on record in Oregon, that’s unconscionable.
Email the dean of George Taylor’s college at OSU, Mark Abbott. Tell him that Taylor needs to stop being called the state climatologist. And that Oregon deserves to have someone competent heading up the Oregon Climate Service.
Lars Larson asked Taylor whether, if we change our human activities enough, we can have an effect on human caused global warming. Taylor’s answer: “I don’t believe that’s true.”
Willamette Week said that Taylor’s critics call him one of the most dangerous men in Oregon. Could be an overstatement. But human caused global warming is real and deadly serious.
To have someone saying otherwise, who is passing himself off as Oregon’s climatologist, that is dangerous.
[Update: Advance reports of what will be in the soon to be released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change feature headlines such as "World's scientists say climate change is much worse than they thought." But George Taylor feels that he knows more than the world's experts on climate change, because he continues to claim that humans are having a minimal effect on global warming.
The report supposedly will say: "It is virtually certain that human activity has played the dominant role in causing the increase of greenhouse gases over the past 250 years." But don't worry. George Taylor says it isn't so. And so long as Oregon State University continues to bestow upon him the title of "state climatologist," unfortunately some people are going to believe him.]