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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A group of scientists from conservative Brigham Young University has criticized state lawmakers over their recent handling of the climate change issue.
The 18 scientists rebuked legislators in a letter sent Oct. 26, five days after the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee heard from Roy Spencer, an Alabama climatologist who doubts human activities are largely responsible for climate change.
The scientists criticized lawmakers for giving the "fringe" position of Spencer equal weight to that of the broad, scientific consensus that climate change is occurring largely because of human activities.
"We have no specific political agenda to support but agree that whatever action is taken, it should be informed by the best available scientific evidence," the scientists wrote. "We encourage our legislators not to manipulate the scientific evidence to suit any political agenda."
The 18 Ph.D.s at the school specifically refuted Spencer's claim that his critics have ignored natural cycles. The scientists called that assertion "patently false," saying natural climate variability has been extensively studied.
They also took issue with Spencer's allegation that researchers were simply "jumping on the climate-change bandwagon for prestige and monetary gain."
"When members of the Legislature give this kind of testimony too much weight, it puts all of us at risk by promoting poorly informed decisions," the letter says.
Rep. Christopher Herrod, a Provo Republican and committee member, said the scientists misunderstood Spencer's science.
"The more they say there is consensus, the more they lose credibility," Herrod, a real estate developer and entrepreneur, told the Salt Lake Tribune.
"There is no consensus. Send us a study that addresses all the points that were made. (Without that) they are hurting their case," he added.
The scientists said they agreed with the scientific consensus, but noted that their political views vary, as do their ideas about "how society ought to respond to threats posed by a warming climate."
Summer Rupper, a BYU climate scientist, led the letter-writing effort.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)