John Coleman, USA TODAY
Science has taken a back seat at the United Nations.
On this Earth Day 2016, there is a great deal of frenzy about how our Earth is going to become uninhabitable, as the civilized activities of man allegedly trigger unstoppable global warming and climate change.
With the Obama administration set to commit the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement by signing our nation onto the document Friday, it is obvious that science has taken a back seat at the United Nations.
The environmentalists, bureaucrats and politicians who make up the U.N.’s climate panel recruit scientists to research the climate issue. And they place only those who will produce the desired results. Money, politics and ideology have replaced science.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres has called for a “centralized transformation” that is “going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different” to combat the alleged global warming threat. How many Americans are looking forward to the U.N. transforming their lives?
Another U.N. official, Ottmar Edenhoffer, has admitted that the U.N. seeks to “redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” The former head of the U.N. climate panel also recently declared that global warming “is my religion.”
When all the scare talk is pushed aside, it is the science that should be the basis for the debate. And the hard cold truth is that the basic theory has failed. Many notable scientists reject man-made global warming fears. And several of them, including a Nobel Prize winner, are in the new Climate Hustle movie. The film is an informative and even humorous new feature length movie that is the ultimate answer to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. It will be shown one day only in theaters nationwide on May 2.
As a skeptic of man-made global warming, I love our environment as much as anyone. I share the deepest commitment to protecting our planet for our children and grandchildren. However, I desperately want to get politics out of the climate debate. The Paris climate agreement is all about empowering the U.N. and has nothing to do with the climate.
Weather Channel founder John Coleman has spent more than 60 years as a meteorologist, including seven years as the original Weathercaster on ABC’s Good Morning America. He was founder of The Weather Channel.
Obama’s top climate advisor visits Reed College
By Gordon Fulks
In the pagan world of climate worship, the highest of all high holy days is “Earth Day.” This is when Al Gore rises from the dead to save us from carbon dioxide. In the days before his ascension, his many disciples proclaim throughout the land that we will be saved from warm days if we repent our sins, cut our carbon footprints, take public transportation, support taxes (especially carbon taxes), and vote for Democrats.
It’s sooo simple, you do not need any scientific training to master climate, just follow others who have no training either, like Obama’s “senior” climate advisor Brian Deese. He is the recently minted lawyer from Yale University who is an expert on everything. Just ask him!
Deese showed up at Reed College a week before Earth Day to a very friendly reception from their Environmental Studies Department and its Chairman (Assistant Professor of History Joshua Howe). I kid you not. Reed’s top climate expert is an historian without scientific training!
So what do these “experts” talk about? Deese liked his trip to Paris in late November for the annual UN climate conference. It was “truly historic,” as the leaders of China and India humored Obama’s climate obsession with soothing promises, forgetting to mention that they are planning to build 500 new coal fired power plants to keep their industrial revolutions going. These will not be highly efficient and clean American coal plants. They will be primitive plants that spew vast quantities of noxious pollutants into our atmosphere. Yet Deese saw the non-binding Paris Agreement as “Humanity’s best chance to save the planet.”
How does Deese expect to save the planet? In the nonsensical world of politics, renewable energy works just fine. We can install ever more megawatts of wind and solar generation at great cost and appear on paper to have plenty of electricity, “cheaper than coal.” But what happens when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow, namely most of the time? Deese has apparently never considered such ‘details’ that make renewables so costly and impractical.
Although Deese loves to talk about his experience with world leaders, he has a decidedly myopic view of the world experience with renewables. While the Germans, Spanish, and English have clearly seen the enormous downside to politically-based technology and are trying to scale it back and build real power plants, the Obama faithful refuse to see anything wrong. They want European disasters repeated here. Endless subsidies at taxpayer and ratepayer expense provide the life support for renewable energy companies in America, a fact that has not escaped the Obama Administration, but one that they keep very quiet. And they are especially quiet about the bankruptcies.
As with all climate alarmists, Deese throws around a few numbers that he does not understand. To keep up the hysteria, he talks about widespread starvation from “an expected 30% decrease” in agricultural production with rising carbon dioxide. Never mind that agricultural production greatly benefits from higher atmospheric CO2, such that we can now feed the seven billion people who call this planet home. And should they be correct about CO2 driven warming (which they are not), crops generally benefit from warmth.
When the President’s young advisor finished with his preaching and asked “If you buy my case...” I wanted to jump up and say “NO!” But I waited for him to invite “a conversation” with the audience. There were many adoring comments from the audience, and a few mildly critical ones that seemed too technical for the audience of non-scientists to comprehend.
So when it came my turn, I suggested that perhaps Deese’s claim of ‘settled science’ was based on the fact that the President did not listen to the many of us who questioned his theory. I asked why Obama had not responded to an open letter that more than a hundred prominent scientists had written to him seven years ago. I told the audience that it addressed Obama’s frequent statement on climate: “Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.”
Our response was: “With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true. We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the facts...”
At that point Deese and the audience tried to cut me off. I politely asked to finish the sentence but was shouted down. When a coed grabbed my microphone, I continued anyway with what they deemed so heretical: “Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.”
I tried to point out that the letter was signed by a Nobel Laureate in Physics (Ivar Giaever) who is a Democrat, but the audience did not want to hear anymore blasphemy. After all, this is monochromatic Reed College where only politically correct comments are permitted. It is about as far as you can get from a model campus, where all credible ideas from the well-educated get a respectful hearing, and tolerance reins supreme.
Deese ended his presentation with the ironic admonition to “get educated on the facts and science.” When I attempted to talk with him afterwards, his very embarrassed hosts tried to physically block me from doing so. But I managed to thank him for coming and shake his hand just as he was leaving. He grimaced. It was a perfect ending for an event where the President’s advisor expected only the admiration due an apostle.
Gordon J. Fulks, Ph.D. lives in Corbett, Oregon, and can be reached at email@example.com. He holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago, Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.
Gordon also responded to a story in the Huffington Post about Old People Not Caring about Climate Change
The Climate Scam is fashioned in all sorts of ways to convince the gullible to play along. Pitting seniors against young people is but one. Traditionally rebellious youth love to take on their elders. But are they really taking on the Establishment when supporting hysteria over science? Of course not! They are supporting the Establishment that sees Climate Change as a way to control them.
A major casualty in this political struggle is science itself. A whole generation is growing up thinking science is a political exercise, especially if they want to earn a living from it. Supporting Obama Administration “science” is good for their careers, while opposing it can be catastrophic.
I was lucky to grow up in a different era when politics and science were largely separate human activities. I never had to concern myself with a fellow scientist’s political beliefs, because they were irrelevant. We could discuss a scientific issue without any political interference. It was wonderful.
Today, political considerations heavily influence beliefs among scientists who have signed on to climate hysteria. A recent study of professional members of the American Meteorological Society (Stenhouse et al., BAMS 2014) showed that those supporting the prevailing paradigm did so for completely unscientific reasons: their liberal political views and their belief that virtually all of their colleagues were in agreement. This made the authors of the study, who were alarmists, uneasy, because they realized that those supporting their perspective were doing so for the wrong reasons. Competent science is anything but a political exercise. It properly pivots on logic and evidence only.
Furthermore the study showed that the claimed “scientific consensus,” that alarmists hold more dear than the paradigm itself, is far from true. Alarmism is on very shaky ground with scientists who do not earn their living from it.
Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
Corbett, Oregon USA
And from elders who have heard it all before from impending ice ages to global warming notw climate change. they know its politicized nonsense.
Dr. Willie Soon is an astrophysicist in the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He began as a post-doctoral fellow in 1991 and took his scientist position in 1997. His subsequent career is a textbook example of speaking truth to power and bravery facing the consequences.
Dr. Soon produced an important series of astrophysics papers on the sun-climate connection beginning in 1994 and received positive discussion in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s second and third assessment reports (1996 and 2001). In that era, the IPCC still admitted uncertainties about human influence, despite green NGO pressure and U.S. State Department insistence on finding a “smoking gun” in weak data. Even Bert Bolin, co-creator and first chairman of the IPCC (1988-1997), deplored the denial of uncertainty he saw rising. In his 2007 History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change (page 112), Bolin wrote, “It was non-governmental groups of environmentalists, supported by the mass media who were the ones exaggerating the conclusions that had been carefully formulated by the IPCC.” In 1997 Bolin went so far as to tell the Associated Press, “Global warming is not something you can ‘prove.’ You try to collect evidence and thereby a picture emerges.”
Dr. Soon’s study of solar influence on climate behavior made him a target for alarmists, but he had defenders. In 2013, the Boston Globe acknowledged his guts and sound science with a quote from iconic science leader, Freeman Dyson: “The whole point of science is to question accepted dogmas. For that reason, I respect Willie Soon as a good scientist and a courageous citizen.”
In February of 2015, Greenpeace agent Kert Davies, a vocal critic since 1997, falsely accused Dr. Soon of wrongfully taking fossil-fuel company grants by failing to disclose “conflicts of interest” to an academic journal. The journal’s editors and the Smithsonian Institution found no violation of their disclosure or conflict of interest rules. However, the Greenpeace accusation caused a clamor around the world as lazy liberal reporters repeated it for major media with no fact-checking for accuracy.
The Greenpeace ruckus brought high-level Obama administration pressure on the Harvard-Smithsonian Center to silence climate skeptics - Vice President Joe Biden is a member of Smithsonian’s Board of Regents. The Institution responded with an elaborate new Directive on Standards of Conduct that forced its employees to wade through bureaucratic rules replete with an Ethics Counselor and a “Loyalty to the Smithsonian” clause of a sort not seen since the McCarthy Red Scare.
The Institution announced an Inspector General investigation of Soon, combing his emails and announcing that he had broken no rules. That seriously stung the NGO-Media-Politician coalition, which launched more attacks.
Ten days apart in the Spring of 2016, two outlets published stories scurrilously demonizing Dr. Soon. Both articles were long on bias and bogus claims but short on facts. The two activist/writers, David Hasemyer of the controversial Rockefeller-funded InsideClimateNews and Paul Basken of the for-profit Delaware corporation, The Chronicle of Higher Education, seem to have forgotten journalistic ethics and the facts.
Basken’s March 25 item, “A Year After a Climate-Change Controversy, Smithsonian and Journals Still Seek Balance on Disclosure Rules,” bemoans the fact that last year’s load of Greenpeace false accusations hadn’t caused the Institution to impose harsh enough rules to get rid of all scientists with climate skeptic views. Any fact checking didn’t show.
Hasemyer’s April 5, 2016 piece, “Smithsonian Gives Nod to More ‘Dark Money’ Funding for Willie Soon,” bewails the fact that Soon’s employer didn’t follow their playbook but approved a $65,000 grant from the non-profit Donors Trust, which is despised by greens because it uses anonymous “donor-advised-funds.” Such “dark money” grants are an IRS-approved shield pioneered decades ago by the far-left Tides Foundation for its $1.1 billion worth of grants to radicals, much of it “dark,” which Hasemyer didn’t seem to recall.
Hasemyer also neglected to note that even if Donors Trust’s “dark” grant came from ExxonMobil Foundation, the fossil-fuel philanthropy also gave universities $64,674,989; museums $2,771,150; the Red Cross $2,549,434; the Conservation Fund, Nature Conservancy and similar groups $1,210,000; Habitat for Humanity $798,000, Ducks Unlimited, $402,000 and many more from 1998 to 2014 according to IRS records. Will they be demonized as shills too?
Neither Hasemyer nor Basken displayed any familiarity with what scientists have to go through in order to do science in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics or how it works, which is the bedrock of sound, ethical journalism on the topic.
The Center combines the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of the universe. It is comprised of six divisions, and Dr. Soon is listed in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences (SSP) Division.
About one-third of the Center’s scientists, including Willie Soon, are employed in what are called “Smithsonian Trust positions.” These positions are held mostly by PhD specialists, unlike Federal civil service. According to the Smithsonian Employee Handbook, Federal position paychecks are paid from the Smithsonian’s annual Federal appropriation and Trust position paychecks are paid from the Smithsonian’s Trust Fund. Scientists in Trust positions are paid by the hour with a Smithsonian paycheck.
Scientists in Trust positions must find donors who will give the Smithsonian grants that pay for the science. An employee information document states, “Obtaining competitive funding is an important part of the scientists’ jobs and a measure of their career success.” The grants always go directly to the Smithsonian for the science project with a 30 to 40 percent cut off the top for the Institution’s management and overhead, but never go directly to the scientist. Media attacks on Dr. Soon misrepresenting his success at this duty as nefarious are either ignorant or disingenuous.
Scientists in Trust positions must follow exacting procedures in order to obtain grants for their science according to the rules in the elaborate Contract and Grant Administration document.
The prescribed steps most relevant to Dr. Soon’s position are: First, the scientists must prepare a draft of their proposed scientific project or work. The draft then goes for pre-approval to the Director’s Office, held since 2004 by distinguished astronomer Charles Alcock. The scientists must give the Director suggestions for potential funders, but all decisions are the Director’s.
If the Director approves the draft proposal, he signs it and gives it to the Grant Office, which prepares the presentation package, including a budget, the approved proposal, and a cover letter formally requesting a grant. The Director signs the cover letter and the grant officer sends it to the potential donor.
The donor replies to the Director saying yes or no. If yes, the reply may contain a pledge to be paid when invoiced by the Center or direct payment to Smithsonian, which handles all of the Center’s money. The scientist who performs the project may not know and has no need to know who gave the grant.
When scientists perform an “off the clock” (unpaid) study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal and pays for it out of personal funds, as Willie Soon has on numerous occasions over the years, all Smithsonian approvals and checkpoints must still be passed. Claims that Dr. Soon has pocketed any off-the-clock grant money have all been shown false.
Writers who accuse Dr. Soon of wrongdoing despite firm evidence to the contrary are violating the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, which states, among many other points:
“Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting. Journalists should support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”
The hostile coverage attacking Dr. Soon could hardly be considered ethical journalism by these professional standards. The writers and publishers of such unethical journalism should be brought to account.
In our view, the fact that so many scientists agree so closely about the [causes of the] earth’s warming is, itself, evidence of a lack of evidence for [human caused] global warming. - D. Ryan Brumberg and Matthew Brumberg
The latest nonsensus on consensus from Cook, Oreskes et al. has been published [link]. The title ‘Consensus on consensus’ pretty much sums up what the paper is about - they claim that the combined weight of all the climate consensus papers that finds >90% agreement by scientists should convince us that ‘97%’ is robust.
I have criticized the idea of the 97% consensus many times [link], and I will leave it to others to critique this latest paper.
In this post I focus on the paradox of the climate consensus, as articulated in a blog post by D. Ryan Brumberg and Matthew Brumberg entitled The Paradox of Consensus. Excerpts:
Consensus, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. The more easily testable and verifiable a theory, the less debate we would expect. But as a question becomes more complex and less testable, we would expect an increasing level of disagreement and a lessening of the consensus. On such topics, independent minds can - and should - differ.
We can use a simple formula to express how an idea’s popularity correlates with its verifiability. Let us introduce the K/C ratio - the ratio of “knowability,” a broad term loosely encapsulating how possible it is to reduce uncertainty about an idea’s correctness, to “consensus,” a measure of the idea’s popularity and general acceptance. Topics that are easily knowable (K ~ 1) should have a high degree of consensus (C ~ 1), whereas those that are impossible to verify (K ~ 0) should have a low degree of consensus (C ~ 0). When the ratio deviates too far from the perfect ratio of 1, either from too much consensus or too little, there is a mispricing of knowledge. Indeed, in cases of extreme deviations from the perfect ratio, additional support for a concept with such a lopsided K/C ratio increasingly subtracts from its potential veracity. This occurs because ideas exist not simply at a single temporal point, but rather evolve over the sweep of time. At the upper reaches of consensus, there is less updating of views to account for new information - so much so that supporters of the status quo tend to suppress new facts and hypothesis. Government agencies deny funding to ‘sham’ scientists, tenure boards dissuade young researchers from pursuing ‘the wrong’ track, and the establishment quashes ‘heretical’ ideas. Too high consensus (skewed K/C ratio) inhibits the ability of an idea to evolve towards truth.
While not always clear why the K/C ratio can become highly skewed, one interpretation is that more than just the search for knowledge is at play.
The scope of agreement achieved by the world’s climate scientists is breathtaking. To first approximation, around 97% agree that human activity, particularly carbon dioxide emissions, causes global warming. So many great minds cannot possibly be wrong, right?
Yet something nags us about this self-congratulatory consensus. Our intuition is that this narrow distribution of opinions yields a knowability to consensus ratio far removed from the perfect ratio of 1. To reach their conclusions, climate scientists have to (a) uncover the (historical) drivers of climate, (b) project the future path of these inputs and others that may arise, and (c) predict how recursive feedback loops interact over multi-decadal time horizons, all without being able to test their hypotheses against reality.
We would, therefore, expect this limit on empirical verifiability to birth widely divergent views on the path, causes, and consequences of earth’s future climate. In other arenas, only after a theory has been empirically verified has the scientific community coalesced around it. Even then, scientists continue to subject such theories to rigorous testing and debate.
Yet the expectation of a rich debate among scientists about climate change does not reconcile easily with the widely endorsed shibboleth that human activity will warm the globe dramatically and dangerously over the next one hundred years. Any discussion that doubts the fundamental premises of climate change is dismissed by the mainstream media and climate scientists as pseudo-science conducted by quacks or ideologues.
In our view, the fact that so many scientists agree so closely about the earth’s warming is, itself, evidence of a lack of evidence for global warming. Does this mean that climate change is not happening? Not necessarily. But it does mean that we should be wary of the meretricious arguments mustered in its defense.
This essay provides an important insight in the K/C ratio - the ratio of knowability to consensus.
There is genuine scientific consensus on the following points:
- global temperatures have increased overall since 1880
- humans are contributing to a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations
- CO2 emits and absorbs infrared radiation
For the most consequential issues, there remains considerable debate:
- whether the warming since 1950 has been dominated by human causes
- how much the planet will warm in the 21st century
- whether warming is ‘dangerous’
- whether radically reducing CO2 emissions will improve the climate and human well being
Leveraged by the consensus on the three points above that are not disputed, the climate ‘consensus’ is being sold as applying to all of the above, even the issues for which there remains considerable debate.
For past a certain point, each increase in the level of consensus makes it more difficult for new information to surface, thereby lowering the veracity we should assign to it.
The skewed scientific ‘consensus’ does indeed act to reinforce itself, through a range of professional incentives: ease of publishing results, particularly in high impact journals; success in funding; recognition from peers in terms of awards, promotions, etc.; media attention and publicity for research; appeal of the simplistic narrative that climate science can ‘save the world’; and a seat at the big policy tables.
The net result of this skewed ‘consensus’ is that inadequate attention is being paid to natural climate variability, and too many people, including scientists, assume that CO2 is a giant control knob that, if reduced, can eliminate bad weather, sea level rise, etc.
While not always clear why the K/C ratio can become highly skewed, one interpretation is that more than just the search for knowledge is at play.
Apart from the professional incentives described above, there are a range of political drivers that incentivize the consensus, including broad environmentalism, anti-fossil fuel sentiments, anti-capitalism sentiments, and a desire for world government that transcends national policies.
And finally, there is the seductiveness of identifying a simple cause of all of society’s problems, and a simple solution.
I think the Brumbergs are correct to conclude:
In our view, the fact that so many scientists agree so closely about the [causes of the] earth’s warming is, itself, evidence of a lack of evidence for [human caused] global warming.
Eliciting the opinion of experts is worthwhile, but it is important to clearly delineate which ‘experts’ should count:
There must be a sufficient number of others who did arrive (and continue to arrive) at the same conclusion through independent verification and testing.
A substantial majority of the individuals responding to the ‘expert’ surveys have not contributed to the primary literature on detection and attribution and have not conducted an independent assessment of this issue. Instead they have arrived at their conclusion based on the second-order evidence that a ‘consensus’ exists.
This consensus that has been manufactured by the IPCC in response to perceived desires of policy makers “makes it more difficult for new information to surface, thereby lowering the veracity we should assign to it.”
So, what have Cook, Oreskes et al. accomplished with their new paper? They are further reinforcing a very skewed consensus that is not defensible based upon our knowledge base.