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Chinese Academy In Climate Change Uproar

Christina Larson, Science Insider

Every year, the National Science Library here, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), coordinates the translation, rights, and publication of thousands of papers and books from other languages into Chinese. Usually this activity doesn’t cause a stir. Last week was the exception, when CAS released a Chinese-language edition of Climate Change Reconsidered, published by the Heartland Institute, which is a libertarian think tank in Chicago, Illinois, that disseminates research arguing that human activity is not driving climate change.

Jim Lakely, Heartland’s director of communications, told the conservative online news site Breitbart News: “Translating and publishing nearly 1,300 pages of peer-reviewed scientific literature from English to Chinese is no small task, and indicative of how important CAS considers Climate Change Reconsidered to the global climate change debate.” (The article featured a picture of a wincing Al Gore.)

CAS sees things differently. Heartland’s characterization of the academy’s decision to translate Climate Change Reconsidered was “strongly misleading … implying that the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) supports their views.” A CAS official points out that the decision to translate Climate Change Reconsidered was made by Zhang Zhiqiang, deputy director of the National Science Library, who is not a scientist. In his preface to the translated edition, Zhang stated that the project was undertaken “to help Chinese researchers understand different points, opinions and positions in debates on climate change.”

Heartland’s spin has forced CAS to be more assertive. Before a release ceremony for the translation at the science library on 15 June, the CAS official says, the academy’s headquarters warned Zhang to make explicit in his remarks at the ceremony that CAS does not endorse Climate Change Reconsidered‘s findings. Heartland has since issued a statement acknowledging that the translation does not amount to an endorsement.

ScienceInsider, 17 June 2013