In his March 2 Washington Times column, nationally syndicated columnist John McCaslin claimed that a February 28 National Geographic News article "cites 2005 data" showing similar warming trends on Earth and Mars as "evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun." McCaslin wrote that had the article been printed before the Academy Awards -- at which An Inconvenient Truth, a film featuring former Vice President Al Gore's presentation on global warming, was awarded the Best Documentary Feature -- "Al Gore might have flown home empty-handed." McCaslin went on write: "The question now is whether Mr. Gore's coveted Oscar can be recycled." In fact, National Geographic News did not itself assert the existence of evidence that "changes in the sun" are largely responsible for global warming -- as McCaslin suggested -- but, rather reported on "one scientist's controversial theory." McCaslin further ignored the numerous climate scientists quoted in the article criticizing the theory promoted by this single scientist.
The February 28 National Geographic News article focused on the views of "Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia," who has noted that "2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey" show "that the carbon dioxide 'ice caps' near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row." According to the article, Abdussamatov claims the data represent evidence that "the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun."
After explaining Abdussamatov's theory, the article reported that the theory has "not been well received by other climate scientists." The article first quoted "Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England's Oxford University" saying that Abdussamatov's "views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion" and that they "contradict the extensive evidence presented in the most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report." The article added that "[t]he conventional theory is that climate changes on Mars can be explained primarily by small alterations in the planet's orbit and tilt, not by changes in the sun" and that "most scientists think it is pure coincidence that both planets are between ice ages right now."
Finally, the article reported that "the biggest stumbling block in Abdussamatov's theory is his dismissal of the greenhouse effect," and quoted Amato Evan, a climate scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who said that "without the greenhouse effect there would be very little, if any, life on Earth, since our planet would pretty much be a big ball of ice."
McCaslin included a quote from the article in which Abdussamatov appears to approve of the theory. But McCaslin failed to make clear that the theory actually originated with Abdussamatov and that the article quoted numerous scientists debunking it.
From the column (which was also linked to on The Drudge Report):
It's a good thing National Geographic News waited until after the Oscars were presented in Hollywood on Sunday night before publishing its story on global warming, or else Al Gore might have flown home empty-handed.
Three days after "An Inconvenient Truth," Mr. Gore's global warming show, took home an Oscar, National Geographic's Kate Ravilious reports that it's not just Earth, but Mars too, that "appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures."
She cites 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions, revealing that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars' south pole are diminishing, "evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun."
Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, is quoted in the article as saying the Mars data is evidence that the "long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars."
The question now is whether Mr. Gore's coveted Oscar can be recycled?