Accusations fly but organization willing to host balanced debate

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is catching heat for abruptly withdrawing its offer to all the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society to hold its monthly meeting there.

The chapter has planned to present three speakers who doubt that human activity is the main cause of global warming. The meeting was scheduled at OMSI for Tuesday, Nov. 29. But OMSI notified the group the room was no longer available over the weekend.

OMSI marketing vice president Mark Patel says the organization is willing to be associated with a debate over the causes of global warming, but not a one-sided presentation. Patel says OMSi has offered to host a debate on the topic organized by the Oregon AMS chapter in the future.

"When we host something, people naturally assume we endorse it, so we want to make sure that it's a balanced presentation. We want to see more of a conversation than a one-sided presentation," says Patel.

After news of the withdrawal spread, Oregon AMS chapter President Steve Pierce says he received numerous emails from members accusing OMSI of censorship. Pierce made no accusation himself but asked OMSI officials for an explanation.

In response, OMSI issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

"On October 22, the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) asked OMSI if they could hold their November 29 meeting at OMSI, after hours, at no charge. AMS has been a longtime community partner and we agreed without knowing the nature of the program planned for the meeting. The AMS sent OMSI additional details about the event on November 3, including the topic, scheduled speakers, and the plan to open the meeting to the general public. Due to the public invitation, OMSI became concerned that the event might be misconstrued as an OMSI-endorsed event and we had not been involved in the development of the programming. After a great deal of discussion and consideration, we came to the conclusion that it was not appropriate for OMSI to serve as a venue for the event without proper opportunity for our full involvement.

"We have apologized to the AMS for the inconvenience that this has caused. OMSI is unwavering in our commitment to provide life-long science opportunities for children and adults. We have extended a formal invitation to the AMS to jointly develop and co-host a public forum on the science behind the human impact on climate change. We look forward to setting a date for this event and communicating it out soon."

The scheduled presenters had included former Oregon State Climatologist George Taylor, meteorologist Chuck Wiese and Physicist Dr. Gordon Fulks, all of whom were planning to explain why they they believe humans are not the main cause of global warming.

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