Frozen in Time
Feb 18, 2018
​Atmospheric science 50 years later

Anthony Sadar, American Thinker

The climate of the atmospheric science field has changed dramatically over the past few decades.  The “weather,” once considered a safe topic of conversation in polite company, has morphed into the subject of heated socio-political debate.  Besides scientists, there are celebrities, politicians, pundits, and pontiffs all contributing to the meteorological mayhem.

Fifty years ago, when the climate was not so controversial, I recorded my first weather observation.  On February 18, 1968, I noted winds from my homemade instrument perched in a tree outside my bedroom window.  I recorded weather conditions several times each day almost without fail from that time on when I was in eighth grade until I went off to college, getting my undergraduate degree in meteorology from Penn State in 1976.

From my first assignment in the profession as a weather observer at a remote site in Alaska, 160 miles above the Arctic Circle, to work as an air pollution meteorologist in private consulting and government service, a lot has changed since 1968.

Increasing computer power and computational rapidity, innovative satellite and radar technology, refinement and deployment of weather sensors, and the like tremendously expanded meteorological capabilities.  Understanding and concomitant forecasting of atmospheric conditions reached new heights to where confidence in our ability to accurately predict the future has quickly grown, perhaps too hastily.

Throughout the decades, experiencing the downs and ups of global temperatures and its enthusiastic publicists, I learned several important lessons.

- Good scientists operate in humility.  Arrogance leads to errors.

- A scientist must be free to explore any hypothesis, theory, or doubt.  Truth is not the winner of a “consensus” popularity contest.

- Science literacy means appreciating the difference between knowledge, on the one hand, and assumptions, guesses, and beliefs on the other.

- Political science pressure negatively influences natural science outcomes.  Scientific practice works to discover facts, not invent them.

- Crisis-mongering is particularly harmful to climate science.  Crisis-mongering tends to soak the middle class by trying to solve problems that don’t exist with solutions that don’t work, while depriving the world’s poor of a better tomorrow.

My guess is that substantial global climate changes from human activity will be limited to the small- and medium-range scales.  Whether these changes will be drastic or not depends on your perspective.  People living in cities that were once forests, with its attentive micro-scale climate change, are likely to be grateful for the change.  Others may see all those city-dwellers as the problem.  Potential mesoscale alterations of storm tracks will benefit some while dissing others.  Measured, long-term, global-scale impacts can just as likely be small and beneficial as large and catastrophic.

I don’t know what the atmosphere will be like fifty years from now.  But one thing that seems certain is that the climate of atmospheric science research and application will benefit enormously from constructive independent thinking, not from rigid conformity to groupthink and outcomes induced by politicized government largesse.

Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and the author of In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail (Stairway Press, 2016).

Feb 14, 2018
It’s weather, not climate change, Governor Brown

Robert W. Endlich

Weather, not human-caused CO2-fueled global warming, is responsible for California wildfires

Robert W. Endlich

2017 featured incredibly intense, damaging wildfires in California: first the Wine Country fires of October, and later the massive Thomas Fire in December. Each destroyed hundreds of homes, the latter in many of the affluent suburbs and enclaves northwest of Los Angeles and Hollywood.

The Thomas Fire is the largest in modern California history, with over 1000 structures destroyed. The fires and subsequent mudslides killed over 60 people and left many others severely burned or injured.

California Governor Jerry Brown almost predictably blamed human-caused, carbon dioxide-fueled global warming and climate change, specifically droughts, as the cause of these conflagrations. During a December 9 visit to Ventura County, he again insisted that the drought conditions were the “new normal.” While acknowledging that California has experienced “very long droughts” throughout its history, he claimed that the returning dry spells of recent decades were “very bad” and would be “returning more often” because of manmade climate change.

It’s a nice attempt to deflect blame from his state’s ultra-green policies and poor forest management practices. Moreover, Governor Brown is just wrong about the alleged role of manmade climate change, as an examination of meteorological and climate data demonstrates. NOAA’s rainfall records for California show rainfall slightly increasing in California over the 125-year period since rainfall records began.

Meteorological conditions, as they develop over the course of a year, and during the multi-year El-Nino to La Nina cycles known as ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation), result in conditions that favor wildfires in California. Fire is a part of nature, much to the consternation of those who blame manmade climate change, and much to the dismay of those whose lives are disrupted by wildfire events such as these.

Of course, they can be - and are - worsened and even made catastrophic by failures to manage forests properly, especially when hundreds of homes are built near forests, and when weather and climate cycles intersect with those failures and incidents that start a wildfire.

In the United States, the “Sun Belt” from California to Florida receives that name because a feature of global circulation causes descending air about 30 degrees north and south of the equator. At the surface, this “Hadley cell” is evident in high pressure monthly and annual means (or averages); it’s also called the subtropical high and subtropical ridge.

In the northern hemisphere, the position and strength of the subtropical ridge changes over the course of the year, getting stronger and moving further north in the summertime.

In California that poleward migration of the subtropical ridge diverts rain-producing storm systems poleward to the north, resulting in an almost complete loss of rainfall in the summer. The annual Los Angeles climatology illustrated in Figure 1 helps tell the story of the California wildfire season.

With this information, if we think critically, the usual situation is for vegetation to sprout in wet winter months, grow - and then dry out because of the lack of summer rainfall, causing vegetation to be driest in late summer and early fall.

This is exactly the situation described in a recent article that mentions October as the worst month for wildfires and quotes University of California fire expert Max Moritz, who says “By the time you get to this season, right when you’re starting to anticipate some rain, it’s actually the most fire prone part of the year.” Power line and other management failures increase the likelihood of disaster.

Yet another factor is the failure or refusal of government agencies to permit the removal of dead, diseased and desiccated trees and brush from these woodlands - especially in the broad vicinity of these communities. In fact, California forests have 129 million dead trees, according to the US Forest Service. Together, these factors all but ensure recurrent conflagrations and tragic losses of property and lives.

As autumn sets in, the first cold frontal passages and cold air masses build into Nevada and adjacent states, and a northeasterly pressure gradient develops over California. Because of atmospheric physics, a process called adiabatic compression causes hot, dry winds to develop, often quickly and dramatically.

The Wine country fires of 2017 began suddenly during the evening of October 8, with development of the first fierce Diablo Winds of the season. Contemporary news accounts link the onset of ten fires within ninety minutes to PG&E power poles falling, many into dry trees. In one account, a Sonoma County resident said “trees were on fire like torches.”

The Mercury News carried a story saying that Governor Brown had vetoed a unanimously - passed 2016 bill to fund power line safety measures. But the governor wants to spend still more money combating manmade climate change and compelling a major and rapid shift from fossil fuels to expensive, unreliable, weather-dependent wind and solar power for electricity generation

There was a significant cooling of Pacific Ocean temperatures from the peak of the 2015-16 El Nino to December 2017, such that La Nina conditions have developed in recent months. This distinct pattern shift brought distinctly drier conditions from southern California and Arizona to Florida and South Carolina.

This pattern shift is part of the evolution of temperature and precipitation change areas characteristic of the ENSO sequence of events. Contrary to Governor Brown’s politically inspired assertions, it clearly is not the result of human-caused, CO2-fueled global warming.

This brings us to the devastating Thomas Fire, which began on the evening of 4 December 2017, and was not completely contained by New Year’s Eve, 31 December. Behavior of this fire was controlled by a large-in-extent and long-in-duration Santa Ana Wind event, and like the previous Wine Country Fire, was dominated by high pressure over Nevada and persistent hot, dry, strong down-slope winds that commonly occur during such meteorological conditions.

In short, it is meteorological conditions which create the environment for the spread of such fires. This year’s changeover from wet El Nino to dry La Nina conditions played a significant part in the atmospheric set-up for the 2017 fires.

In Australia, it is widely accepted that fuel reduction actions are an accepted practice in fire management.

This is not the case in the USA, where considerable debate still rages over the issue, and where environmentalists, politicians, regulators and courts have united to block tree thinning, brush removal and harvesting of dead and dying trees. The resulting conditions are perfect for devastating wildfires, which denude hillsides and forest habitats, leaving barren soils that cannot absorb the heavy rains that frequently follow the fires - leading to equally devastating, equally deadly mudslides.

In fact, environmental regulations associated with ill-fated attempts to help the spotted owl have eliminated logging and clearing throughout California and most of the Mountain West - with catastrophic results. Special legislation has been drafted to begin to address this problem.

However, it is uncertain whether the legislation will be enacted and whether timber harvesting and/or fuel reduction strategies can be implemented in time to address the fuel excesses that exacerbate these dangerous conditions, setting the stage for yet another round of infernos and mudslides that wipe out wildlife habitats, destroy homes and communities, and leave hundreds of people dead, injured or burned horribly. When will the responsible parties be held accountable, and compelled to change their ways?

Robert W. Endlich has a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s in meteorology and served as US Air Force Weather Officer for 21 Years. He has provided toxic corridor and laser propagation support to the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, published in the technical literature and worked as software test engineer at New Mexico State University.

Feb 06, 2018
Food Production Is A Modern Agricultural Miracle; Global Investment in Renewable Energy Has Stalled

By Steve Goreham

Agriculture is under attack. Environmentalists label modern farming as unsustainable, blaming farming for polluting the planet and destroying the climate. But today’s food is abundant and nutritious - a modern agricultural miracle.

From 1961 to 2013, world population more than doubled from 3.1 to 7.2 billion. But agricultural output more than tripled over the same period, according to data from the United Nations. We are slowly winning the battle against world hunger. The percentage of chronically undernourished people has fallen from 30 percent of world population in 1950 to about 11 percent today.

Not only the quantity, but the quality and variety of food are much better than in past ages. A 2015 study at Stockholm University compared modern food to recipes from the chef of King Richard II of England in the 1300s. The study concluded that people of today’s developed nations eat better than the kings of old.

In the 1300s, King Richard did not have pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, which came to Europe from the Far East in the 1400s. He did not have coffee, which was first brewed in Arabia in the 1400s. He did not have oranges, corn, or pineapple, which arrived in Europe from Asia and North America during the 1400s and 1500s. Today we enjoy dozens of varieties of fruits, vegetables, and meats that were not available in past ages.

Today’s foods are a product of thousands of years of efforts to cultivate more abundant and more nutritious crops. Cross-pollination of plants, cross-breeding of animals, and now genetic engineering of plants and animals continues to deliver rising farm output with better food quality and variety. Grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and even seafood continue to improve due to advanced farming techniques.

But environmental groups attack modern farming methods as unsustainable, scorning the farmer’s use of water, land, pesticides and energy. A 2010 UN Environmental Programme document states:

Agricultural production accounts for a staggering 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use, and 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions...The use of agrochemicals is related to ecotoxicity, eutrophication and depletion of phosphorus stocks. Intensive agriculture is related to substantial energy use. The loss of soil and biomass carbon can contribute to climate change.

The attacks on agriculture are too numerous to address in a single article, but one aspect of modern agriculture is not well known. Farmers are now giving land back to nature.

According to UN data, land used for farming is now declining. Total world agricultural area, the sum of crop land and pasture land, peaked in 2000 at 4.95 billion hectares and declined about one-half percent through 2013. Over the same period, world agricultural production increased 37 percent. The recent decline in total farm land use occurred despite 41.3 million hectares added for biofuel production, an area larger than Germany.

An astounding improvement in agricultural yields provides rising output without the need for additional land.

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Corn Production and Acreage Graph courtesy of Steve Goreham

Gains in United States corn yield are a remarkable example. U.S. land employed to harvest corn peaked in 1918. Today, US farmers produce five times more corn on 11 percent less area than 100 years ago.

The world has passed the point of peak agricultural land use. Today, farmers are feeding the growing world population and providing us with the best food in history, while at the same time returning land to nature.

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the new book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

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Global Investment in Renewable Energy Has Stalled

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Earlier this month, the Trump Administration announced a decision to apply a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels. The Solar Industries Association denounced the measure, projecting job losses and cancellation of solar investments. But the solar tariff discussion hides a larger renewable energy issue. Global investment in renewables has stalled in the US, in Europe, and in many markets across the world.

Since the 1990s, sustainable advocates have called for investment in wind, solar, and biofuel energy as the solution to global warming, pollution, and feared resource depletion. National, state, and provincial governments responded, promoting green energy with feed-in tariffs, renewable portfolio standards laws, renewable grid priority, and other subsidies and mandates. Carbon trading markets and carbon taxes were enacted to impose costs on hydrocarbon fuels to favor renewable energy.

These efforts resulted in a rapid rise in renewable deployments across the world. From 2004 to 2011, global renewable energy investment grew at a 26.7 percent compounded annual rate. By the end of 2012, more than 200,000 wind turbines were operating worldwide. Germany alone boasted more than one million solar rooftop installations.

But since 2011, investment in renewables has stalled. From 2011 to 2017, global green energy investment grew at only 0.7 percent per year - essentially flat. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2017 investment in renewables grew only 1 percent in the US, but was down 16 percent in Japan, down 20 percent in India, down 26 percent in Germany, and down 56 percent in the United Kingdom. Investment in China was up 26 percent, supporting a meagre 3 percent global renewable investment growth in 2017.

European nations have the highest per person renewable investment in the world and extensive experience with renewables. Europe invested over $100 billion each year in renewable energy in 2010 and 2011. But last year, Europe’s renewable investment was only $57.4 billion, down 50 percent from the record years of 2010‒2011.

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So why is renewable investment faltering? One answer is that renewable projects are heavily dependent upon subsidies, and subsidies are being cut. The combination of rising electricity prices and budget-busting subsidy bills is forcing nations to cut back.

Europe invested $850 billion dollars in renewables from 2000 to 2014 and continues to pay a huge ongoing price. Residential electricity prices climbed to three times the US price in Spain and four times the US price in Denmark and Germany. German consumers pay an EEG levy in their electric bills, amounting to 25 billion Euros a year to subsidize renewable energy. Environment minister Peter Altmaier estimates that cumulative renewable subsidies paid by German consumers will total an astonishing one trillion euros by 2040.

Over the last five years, subsidies or mandates have been cut in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Retroactive cuts to feed-in tariffs were made in Bulgaria, Greece, and Spain. Germany cut feed-in tariff subsidies by 75 percent and levied grid fees on residential solar owners. In 2015, the UK government suspended all new subsidies for onshore wind farms and reduced subsidies for residential solar installations, causing a steep fall in investment in both 2016 and 2017.

US subsidy cuts are also in process. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 began a phased reduction of the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) from 2016‒2019. If not extended again, the PTC subsidy will expire after 2019. The Act also reduced investment tax credits for wind and solar.

Some claim that renewable energy can power modern society. A 2017 paper by Mark Jacobsen and others at Stanford University, calls for 100 percent renewables by 2050, with wind and solar providing 95 percent of the energy. But this wishful thinking is not supported by the trends.

Since 1965, global energy consumption more than tripled to 13.3 billion tons of oil equivalent, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. In 2016, wind and solar provided about two percent of the total. Each year the world consumes an additional United Kingdom worth of energy. Wind and solar sources are unable to supply even the annual growth in world demand, let alone replace our traditional energy sources.

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Renewable energy investment has stagnated, buried by rising energy prices and unaffordable subsidies. The world is being forced to return to sensible energy policies based on cost, performance, and real environmental benefit.

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the new book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

Feb 02, 2018
Cold winters are testing the limits of US energy grid

By Jordon McGillis, The Hill

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The arctic air that has frozen the northeastern U.S. over the first weeks of 2018 has prompted New Englanders to crank up the heat and New England’s utility companies to scramble for fuel.

This season’s above-average heating and electricity demand has tested grid reliability at a time when the topic has had particular political salience. Most reporting on the matter has lauded the resilience the grid has shown, but a fuel-security analysis performed by the group that oversees New England’s power system delivers a pessimistic chill. ISO New England’s analysis reveals that in winters to come fuel insecurity will plague the region.

Insecurity despite abundance

What makes ISO New England’s report so tragic is that the United States is now a veritable world energy superpower.

Ten years ago, concerns about energy prices and fuel security were a standard element of the national zeitgeist. But a decade removed from the oil price peak of $147 per barrel in July 2008, our national concern over resource depletion has been rendered moot. Spurred by the high prices of the mid-2000s, American companies embarked upon nothing less than a domestic energy renaissance. Since 2005, oil production in the United States has increased by 50 percent, oil exports have seen a tenfold increase, and oil imports have fallen by a quarter.

More critically for electricity, however, have been the gains made on the concomitant natural gas front. Natural gas production has soared over the past decade by 50 percent and in late 2017 the United States became a net-natural gas exporter - meaning that America now sells more to foreign countries than it buys from them.

Given the positive developments that have left markets awash with energy resources, one would expect American utility companies would be well-positioned to meet the needs of their customers. Instead we are now being warned by ISO New England that in future winters utilities will be unable to meet demand during bouts of frigid weather. The group’s projections in almost every future scenario forecast the implementation of rolling blackouts - the sequential disconnection of blocks of customers from power - to protect the grid from outright disaster.

Though the resources are close at hand, a combination of laws and regulations has made New England dependent upon natural gas, yet unable to access all that it needs. While the presence of natural gas in New England’s electricity fuel mix has grown from 18 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2017 to an anticipated 56 percent in 2025, New England’s ability to receive natural gas has not kept pace.

Pipeline paucity

On Jan. 23, ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that, “when it gets cold the region does not have sufficient gas infrastructure to meet demand for both home heating and power generation.” It is a theme van Welie has conveyed since at least 2013. The pipeline constraints to which he points have at times caused New England to have the most expensive spot natural gas prices in the world - including this January.

At the barricade preventing the transport of gas from the abundant reservoirs of Pennsylvania and West Virginia to New England is the state government of New York. Cursed by geographic happenstance, New England needs New York’s consent to receive gas from the Marcellus Shale. But New York politicians and regulators headed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo refuse to grant it whenever possible. In addition to a hydraulic fracturing ban, New York politicians have put the brakes on pipeline projects through their permitting power, blocking the Constitution and Northern Access pipelines outright.

New England, for its part, is not much better. In the summer of 2017 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court nixed a pipeline cost-sharing proposal that would have helped to reduce stress on the grid during a harsh winter like New England is experiencing now. The hostility to pipelines is so pervasive in the northeast that ISO New England takes that bleak view that “no new incremental gas infrastructure will be built to serve power generation.”

The Jones Act

With state governments blocking new pipeline construction to bring in affordable shale gas, New England buys liquefied natural gas (LNG) transported by sea.

Since the United States is now an LNG exporter, New England would seem to have a reliable option. But domestic shipping of LNG is made impossible by the obtuse Merchant Marine Act of 1920 - commonly called the Jones Act. The Jones Act mandates that only American-built, -owned, -crewed and -flagged vessels can participate in maritime shipping between domestic ports.

The alleged purpose of the Jones Act is to improve national defense. While that may have made sense to lawmakers with the specter of German U-boats fresh in their memories, the Jones Act’s only effect today is that it drives up prices for consumers and protects a special interest group.

The Congressional Research Service has found that the Jones Act results in American vessels operating at twice the cost of comparable foreign ships. There are no Jones Act-compliant LNG ships at this time and New England therefore contracts with importers from around the Atlantic. While Trinidad and Tobago is the largest supplier, this month the Everett LNG import terminal is due to receive Russian gas produced by Yamal LNG, a facility subject to U.S. financial sanctions.

The cold truth

In 2013, van Welie sounded the alarm, informing the Senate that New England was becoming more reliant on natural gas for power generation without investing in natural gas supply infrastructure. Sadly, ISO New England’s message has gone unheeded and insidious laws and regulations continue to harm the region. The result is that despite unprecedented domestic energy production, New Englanders will soon find themselves out in the cold.

Jordan McGillis is a policy analyst at the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit focused on free-market energy and environmental research and policy.

Jan 25, 2018
Climate Science And The Process Of Orthodoxy Enforcement

Francis Menton

Michael Crichton on “States of Fear: Science or Politics?”

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Recently several of my posts on the subject of climate change - - including one last week titled ”In Climate Science, Predictions Are Hard, Especially About The Future” - - have attracted large numbers of comments.  Most of the comments have been supportive, but many have been critical—which is not surprising.  Among the critical comments, several of the most thoughtful have raised similar questions, that go something like this:  If there is really nothing to this global warming scare, then how and why have so many people calling themselves climate scientists gotten together to conspire to promote this story to the public?  After all, how would such a conspiracy even work?  Do hundreds of them hold clandestine meetings where they recognize each other with some kind of secret handshake?

As examples of relatively balanced comments raising this point, there are two from a guy named Steven Wangsness.  Excerpts:

What I want to know is why 95 percent or more of the world’s climate scientists, most of whom drive gasoline-driven cars and probably own oil stocks in their 401Ks and IRAs, are engaged in a massive, world-wide conspiracy to push the idea of global warming. What is the incentive for all these presumably normal, well-educated folks to engage in such a pernicious hoax? ... 

You also assume that thousands of PhDs around the world are engaged in a massive conspiracy and not one of them has broken ranks and busted the hoax. 

It just seems implausible to Mr. Wangsness, and many others, that such a “conspiracy” could be formed.  And perhaps, if thought of as a conspiracy, they are right.  But now think about the processes by which orthodoxies are created and enforced.  There are many, many examples in human affairs of large numbers of people—even into the billions— agreeing on the precise details of a complex belief system, otherwise known as an orthodoxy.  What processes lead to such huge numbers of people to enter into such an agreement?  Clearly part of the process relates to specific rewards and punishments handed out by the people who run the orthodoxy system.  But I would suggest that a far bigger part of what makes orthodoxies work is the universal human desire for peer acceptance.  If you don’t go along with our official belief system, we will ostracize you!

Consider what is undoubtedly the archetypical example of a strictly-enforced orthodoxy system, namely the Catholic Church.  As background, I should mention that I was raised as a Catholic.  I continue to have large numbers of friends who are practicing Catholics, and I respect them both as people and for their beliefs.  I also have great respect for the Catholic Church as an institution (less so for its current head).  I do not regard Catholics as stupid or evil for having signed on to the Church’s orthodoxy.  But, here we have a perfectly clear and, you will have to admit, somewhat quirky orthodoxy to which some 1.2 billion people have subscribed in great detail.

The bishops of the early Catholic Church gathered in 325 AD in the city of Nicaea, and agreed upon something called the Creed that states the fundamental beliefs of the religion.  With some minor modifications made in later years (mostly in 384 AD), every Catholic recites this list of beliefs at every mass, under the leadership of a priest.  Do they really all deeply believe every detail of this statement?  They certainly say that they do, at least once a week.  It’s a basic requirement of being a practicing Catholic. 

For those who are not Catholics, I’ll give you some examples of what’s in the Creed.  I’m including the relevant Latin text, as well as the English translation:

“I believe in one God.” (Credo in unum Deum.).  This is a monotheistic religion. 

Oh, but it is one God in three persons, the Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Is this a contradiction?  We all agree that it is not.

The Son was initially “born of the Father” (ex patre natum) at a time “before all ages” (ante omnia saecula), by a process described as “begotten not made” (genitum non factum).
Later, the Son “became flesh” (incarnatus est) by a process in which the Holy Spirit impregnated a virgin (de Spiritu Sanctu ex Maria Virgine).

The Holy Spirit “proceeds” not just from the Father, but also from the Son (Et in Spiritum Sanctum… qui ex Patre Filioque procedit).  The business about the Holy Spirit proceeding “also [from] the Son” (Filoque) is the basis of the rift between Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox religions.  The Eastern guys insisted that the Holy Spirit “proceeded” only from the Father. 
There are plenty of other items.  Does every Catholic actually fully understand and believe each of these precepts?  It doesn’t really matter.  In return for regularly expressing these beliefs, they get to participate in the religion, which includes being part of a community of family, friends and peers, of ceremonies and sacraments, and of a promise of a happy afterlife. 

The rewards are almost entire mental and spiritual, rather than material.  And on that basis some 1.2 billion people subscribe.  In the case of priests, adherence to the orthodoxy is further enforced by a hierarchy that controls access to the jobs, as well as promotions to positions of Monsignor, Bishop, Archbishop, and so forth.  If you demand a change to the Creed, you can’t be a priest, period.

The Catholic Church is just one example of a detailed orthodoxy subscribed to by a huge number of people.  The Islamic religion is another example of comparable size, although I don’t know the details of what they have agreed to as their orthodoxy.

Now apply the principles of orthodoxy creation and enforcement to the field of “climate science.” A commenter responding to Wangsness made this point:  “The answer is simple. Follow the money.” I’m not saying there’s nothing to that, but note that in the case of the Catholic Church (and for that matter Islam and any other religion) money has little to nothing to do with why people subscribe; and yet huge numbers do.  The main factor is peer pressure and acceptance; the second major factor is the forcible exclusion of heretics.  So consider what surrounds you if you want to be in the field of “climate science” today:

In order even to start out, you need to get a job at an academic institution.  If you let it be known that you are even slightly skeptical about “climate science,” you get branded as a heretic, and in all likelihood you will never get hired.

To advance in academia, you need to get articles published in prestigious academic journals.  The most prestigious journals in the fields of science are Science and Nature.  In recent years those journals have been controlled by global warming zealots who have made it their business to be sure that no even slightly skeptical article in the climate field can see the light of day.  From 2013 to 2016 the editor of Science was one Marcia McNutt.  McNutt published an editorial in her magazine in 2015 that said about climate science: “The time for debate has ended. Action is urgently needed… [D]eveloped nations need to reduce their per-capita fossil fuel emissions even further...” In 2016 McNutt was elected as the head of the National Academies of Science. As a young, skeptical climate scientist, how are you going to buck this?

For more examples of ruthless orthodoxy enforcement as to climate change in the academic world, see my posts here and here.

But here’s the amazing thing:  given the relentless peer pressure to conform in climate science, and the ruthless exclusion of heretics from rights to publish and from awards and recognition in the field, in fact the level of subscription to the climate orthodoxy among people in relevant areas is far less than the 95% that Mr. Wangsness cites.  The frequently-made claim of a “97% consensus” among climate scientists famously originated in an article by Cook, et al., in 2013, that was then quickly debunked in multiple places, for example here and here.

When Wangsness says that “not one of them has broken ranks and busted the hoax,” he is wrong.  There are scores of top scientists in relevant fields like atmospheric physics and meteorology who have broken ranks and scream as loudly as they can on a daily basis that there is nothing behind this alarm.  Just last October I was involved in submitting a letter to EPA from 65 top scientists demanding a reconsideration of EPA’s “Endangerment Finding” because of lack of scientific basis for climate alarm.  The list of skeptics among the very top people in physics includes the likes of Freeman Dyson ("My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models.") and Will Happer of Princeton, Richard Lindzen of MIT, and Ivar Giaever of RPI.  It is truly an embarrassment to the profession of journalism that a relatively well-informed citizen like Mr. Wangsness can be unaware of this.

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