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BYU science professors write letter rebuking Utah Legislature

BYU scientists wrote a letter rebuking Utah Legislature in response to lawmakers’ reactions to testimonies given about climate change.

In a conference with the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee of the Utah Legislature two sides of the climate change issue were presented.

Jim Steenburgh, chair of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Utah, argued for the verity of human-induced climate change. Steenburgh said that more than 90 percent of climate scientists agree humans are a significant factor to that change.

Legislators, the letter said, seemingly chose the other “fringe” interpretation of climate change and accused climate scientists who agree with Steenburgh of jumping on the climate-change
bandwagon for personal gain.

To this reaction the 18 BYU professors wrote, “we feel it is irresponsible for some of our legislators to attempt to manipulate the scientific evidence in order to support a political agenda.”

One signer, BYU biology professor Byron Adams, said he added his name because he expects lawmakers to look at the data and evaluate it accordingly.

BYU geology master’s student, Adam McKean, has worked with many of these professors and was a TA for geology professor Summer Rupper, who led the letter writing effort.

“I feel like science is there to research truth,” McKean said. “When you include politics in that, people take sides ... and good science gets ignored.”

BYU geology professor Ron Harris signed, wanting lawmakers to separate the issues between science and politics.

Harris said that the 18 signers are not politically motivated because of their
diverse political views.

“Scientists at BYU are as diverse as scientists anywhere,” Harris said. “[But] we don’t have any difference in opinion that [climate-change] is happening.”

Harris said that they are concerned when the issue becomes polarized and felt that it would have been irresponsible to do nothing.

“We expected more from our politicians,” Harris said. “We expect more objectivity.”