Ben Santer Speaks (While "Global Climate Coalition" Slinks into History)

It "was one of the most vicious attacks I have ever seen on the integrity of a scientist," says one scientist on how the energy industry used to treat federal global climate expert Ben Santer. Santer's "heresy" was a 1995 report, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Second Assessment and the following words: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." At that time, more than 70 groups from the American Petroleum Institute to Union Carbide, painted their target (and rhetoric) on Santer. The Global Climate Coalition set an early standard for front groups and astroturf, and accused Santer of "scientific cleansing" when the world was reeling from Bosnia's "ethnic cleansing." Now the GCC is defunct and Santer's work has been afffirmed by sophisticated new testing, models and technology. Santer reflects: "I was a messenger bearing news that some very powerful people did not want to hear. So they went after the messenger. ... I just happened to get in the way and had to be discredited." Today, says Santer, "All of us--policymakers, public, media, and scientists--have important roles in [climate change] debate. Let's hope it takes place sooner rather than later."