Letters to the Editor: Criticism of climate scientist activism is Big Oil nonsense

An activist in goggles and mask embraces a decorative polar bear at a protest.
Young people take part in a climate protest in Warsaw in 2020.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: It was gratifying to see Nicholas Goldberg endorse the activism of climate scientists.

The fossil fuel lobby purposefully used denialist spokespersons with scientific credentials to enhance credibility in their brazenly invalid scientific pronouncements. Multiple admirable climate activists (Katharine Hayhoe, Michael E. Mann and Naomi Oreskes) were excellent scientists long before they became activists.

NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus’ level of knowledge and heartfelt eloquence is extremely powerful. The allegation of bias against him and others is a standard “merchants of doubt” technique used to delegitimize valid climate science.


Policy recommendations that cite the best science cannot be dismissed as unfairly prejudicial against the fossil fuel or banking industries. Relevant expertise, if anything, increases the responsibility of the individuals who understand an issue more clearly than pundits, political figures or lobbyists, to become activists and address pressing social problems.

Gary Stewart, Laguna Beach


To the editor: Science is, to a large extent, made by scientists — that is, social beings with values, experiences and identities that shape their research agenda. The scientific questions that scientists ask are steeped in values, and so are the questions scientists choose not to ask, if not outright ignore or suppress.

Fortunately, social justice movements have made it a moral imperative for scientists to proactively consider the role of certain variables that were previously discouraged, purposefully ignored or politically suppressed.

Moreover, the research agendas of scientific communities are shaped not exclusively by the findings from previous studies, but also by scientists’ personal concerns, such as Kalmus’ worry for his children. Accordingly, scientists are at their best when they are socially engaged and their research agendas proactively include the righting of wrongs.

Advocacy is the epitome of a responsible scientist. Take, for example: What is the role of racism in global warming, and what are we scientists doing about it?


Andrés J. Consoli, Santa Barbara

The writer is an associate professor in the department of counseling, clinical and school psychology at UC Santa Barbara.