The 2012 American Meteorological Society Statement “Freedom of Scientific Expression”

The American Meteorological Society has pubished its statement “Freedom of Scientific Expression”. It reads [highlight added]

Advances in science and the benefits of  science to policy,  technological progress, and society as a whole depend upon the free exchange of  scientific data and information as well as on open debate.  The ability of scientists to present their  findings to the scientific community, policy makers, the media, and the public  without censorship, intimidation, or political interference is imperative.  With the specific limited exception of  proprietary information or constraints arising from national security,  scientists must be permitted unfettered communication of scientific results.  In return, it is incumbent upon scientists to  communicate their findings in ways that portray their results and the results  of others, objectively, professionally, and without sensationalizing or  politicizing the associated impacts.

These  principles matter most — and at the same time are most vulnerable to violation  — precisely when science has its greatest bearing on society.  Earth sciences and their applications have  growing implications for public health and safety, economic development,  protection of the environment and ecosystems, and national security.  Thus, scientists, policy makers, and their  supporting institutions share a special responsibility at this time for  guarding and promoting the freedom of responsible scientific expression.

[This statement is considered in force until  September 2017 unless superseded by a new statement issued by the AMS Council  before this date.]

This is a refreshing affirmation of the need for scientific objectivity and the absence of political pressure to limit the presentation of the spectrum of viewpoints on climate and other science issue.

I have posted on a number of examples where such pressure was applied. Among them is the treatment of those who question the robustness of the surface temperature data as applied to diagnosis global warming.  In my public statement

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“. 88 pp including appendices

I wrote with regards to this assessment

Future assessment Committees need to appoint members with a diversity of views and who do not have a significant conflict of interest with respect to their own work. Such Committees should be chaired by individuals committed to the presentation of a diversity of perspectives and unwilling to engage in strong-arm tactics to enforce a narrow perspective. Any such committee should be charged with summarizing all relevant literature, even if inconvenient, or which presents a view not held by certain members of the Committee.

Only time will tell, of course, if the guidelines of the AMS Statement will be followed, but at least we now have a formal statement from this professional society that this objectivity and openness is required of its members.

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