Political Climate
Jan 16, 2017
Scott Pruitt’s nomination - a call for support so he can stop the trainwreck that is the EPA

Donald Trump nominated the man who is the expert at running lawsuits against the EPA to run it. Naturally this threatens a lot of sacred totems, not to mention a very big trough.  Protests are raging. In reply, people are speaking up in support of Pruitt.

Those who think his nomination should be opposed are confused saying that “Mr. Pruitt’s backers tout it as a virtue that he has sued the EPA. ... In every instance, Mr. Pruitt has joined forces with polluting industries seeking to avoid clean up responsibilities.”

The EPA is so lost, it doesn’t know what real pollution is anymore. Opposing the EPA is what any good environmentalist would do.

The religious mission against plant fertilizer in the hope of holding back the tide by half a millimeter in 2100 is noxious, damaging, dangerous in so many ways. It deprives the poor of cheap energy, good jobs, and warm houses. It hurts the environment because it makes the EPA, the US, so much less effective at solving real environmental problems. The pogrom against carbon (we are carbon life forms) is anti-science, eating away at the core tenets of the scientific method, and teaching a whole generation nonsense. The CO2 fixation is over-riding every other environmental issue because the EPA makes it so. The toxic effect the EPA has on the broader community, the economy, on science and on education makes this more important than any single environmental issue today.

The EPA has run so far off the rails that only someone who has opposed it could possibly fix it. Trump can’t defeat the madness on his own. The nomination hearing is Wednesday morning US time. And Dr Nan Hayworth is collecting messages and names in support. If you want to add your name and thoughts below in comments or email them to me, I will forward them to her. Thank you. And if you think that international names don’t count, remember that science is bigger than any one country, and if Obama can threaten the Brits on Brexit, why can’t Brits help explain what science is (and what pollution is) to Congress.

Here’s one from Professor J. Scott Armstrong:

Dear Dr. Hayworth, January 15, 2017

Following up on your correspondence with Willie Soon, I strongly agree with the policies favored by Scott Pruitt.I have spent over 50 years as a forecaster and, over the past decade, have had the pleasure of working with Willie Soon, who I view as one of the leading climate scientists in the world. Along with Kesten Green, I am a Director of the primary website dealing with forecasting methods, author of Long-Range Forecasting, and of a handbook on forecasting methods, “Principles of Forecasting.” Our studies have produced what we claim to be the only evidence-based forecasts of long-term global mean temperatures: there is no evidence that long-term warming is occurring.I proposed a ten-year bet with Al Gore on this issue in order to increase interest in testing predictive validity. (Ten years is not sufficient time to assess long-term trends and I expected to have only a 2/3 chance of winning, given natural variability). Mr. Gore refused to take the bet, so Kesten Green has been posting what would have happened had he done so on theclimatebet.com. Year nine just ended.We have been unable to find scientific forecasts showing that that warming would be harmful. I testified before Senator Boxer’s committee on this matter with respect to polar bears. My testimony was based on this paper.We have been unable to find any scientific forecast that there are cost-effective ways to affect global temperatures, up or down.

Here is a short summary of the above studies on climate change.

Kesten Green and I have recently founded the Iron Law of Regulation website. This states that “There is no form of market failure, however egregious, which is not eventually made worse by the political interventions intended to fix it.” We started the site with an attempt to get evidence about regulations that have been useful and thus to help design new regulations. No one has been able to produce scientific evidence about regulations that have violated the aforementioned Iron Law (i.e., to have actually improved human welfare, not to mention the preservation of individual liberties).

Kesten Green and I are currently involved with a paper called “Guidelines for Science.” In it, we document that much research currently published in academic journals violates the basic scientific principle of objectivity: We call this “advocacy research.” It allows researchers to announce their hypotheses and then to provide only the research that supports their hypotheses. This is the method used in the research papers that support the “global warming hypothesis.” This is not science and scientists have warned of this non-scientific approach for centuries. We have developed a checklist that can enable clients to evaluate whether a paper complies with scientific principles; it can be completed by intelligent adults, regardless of background, in less than an hour and we find good inter-rater reliability. The latest working paper, version #378, is attached.

I look forward to a favorable outcome for your hearings and would be willing to help in any way that I can.

Best,

Scott
J. Scott Armstrong, Professor

The Wharton School, JMHH 747
Home Phone 610-622-6480
U. of Pennsylvania, Phila., PA 19104
homepage



Dec 30, 2016
Skeptical Climate Scientists Coming In From the Cold

By James Varney, RealClearInvestigations December 31, 2016

In the world of climate science, the skeptics are coming in from the cold.

Researchers who see global warming as something less than a planet-ending calamity believe the incoming Trump administration may allow their views to be developed and heard. This didn’t happen under the Obama administration, which denied that a debate even existed. Now, some scientists say, a more inclusive approach - and the billions of federal dollars that might support it - could be in the offing.

“Here’s to hoping the Age of Trump will herald the demise of climate change dogma, and acceptance of a broader range of perspectives in climate science and our policy options,” Georgia Tech scientist Judith Curry wrote this month at her popular Climate Etc. blog.

William Happer, professor emeritus of physics at Princeton University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is similarly optimistic. “I think we’re making progress,” Happer said. “I see reassuring signs.”

Despite harsh criticism of their contrarian views, a few scientists like Happer and Curry have pointed to evidence that global warming is less pronounced than predicted. They have also argued that this slighter warming would bring positive developments along with problems. For the first time in years, skeptics believe they can find a path out of the wilderness into which they’ve been cast by the “scientific consensus.” As much as they desire a more open-minded reception by their colleagues, they are hoping even more that the spigot of government research funding - which dwarfs all other sources - will trickle their way.

President-elect Donald Trump, who has called global warming a “hoax,” has chosen for key cabinet posts men whom the global warming establishment considers lapdogs of the oil and gas industry: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to run the Energy Department; Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma to run the Environmental Protection Agency; and Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

But while general policy may be set at the cabinet level, significant and concrete changes would likely be spelled out below those three - among the very bureaucrats the Trump transition team might have had in mind when, in a move some saw as intimidation, it sent a questionnaire to the Energy Department this month (later disavowed) trying to determine who worked on global warming.

It isn’t certain that federal employees working in various environmental or energy sector-related agencies would willingly implement rollbacks of regulations, let alone a redirection of scientific climate research, but the latter prospect heartens the skeptical scientists. They cite an adage: You only get answers to the questions you ask.

“In reality, it’s the government, not the scientists, that asks the questions,” said David Wojick, a longtime government consultant who has closely tracked climate research spending since 1992. If a federal agency wants models that focus on potential sea-level rise, for example, it can order them up. But it can also shift the focus to how warming might boost crop yields or improve drought resistance.

While it could take months for such expanded fields of research to emerge, a wider look at the possibilities excites some scientists. Happer, for one, feels emboldened in ways he rarely has throughout his career because, for many years, he knew his iconoclastic climate conclusions would hurt his professional prospects.

When asked if he would voice dissent on climate change if he were a younger, less established physicist, he said: “Oh, no, definitely not. I held my tongue for a long time because friends told me I would not be elected to the National Academy of Sciences if I didn’t toe the alarmists’ company line.”

That sharp disagreements are real in the field may come as a shock to many people, who are regularly informed that climate science is settled and those who question this orthodoxy are akin to Holocaust deniers. Nevertheless, new organizations like the CO2 Coalition, founded in 2015, suggest the debate is more evenly matched intellectually than is commonly portrayed. In addition to Happer, the CO2 Coalition’s initial members include scholars with ties to world-class institutions like MIT, Harvard and Rockefeller University. The coalition also features members of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorology Society, along with policy experts from the Manhattan Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute and Tufts University’s Fletcher School.

With such voices joining in, the debate over global warming might shift. Until now, it’s normally portrayed as enlightened scholars vs. anti-science simpletons. A more open debate could shift the discussion to one about global warming’s extent and root causes.

Should a scientific and research funding realignment occur, it could do more than shatter what some see as an orthodoxy stifling free inquiry. Bjorn Lomborg, who has spent years analyzing potential solutions to global warming, believes that a more expansive outlook toward research is necessary because too much government funding has become expensive and ineffective corporate welfare. Although not a natural scientist, the social scientist Lomborg considers climate change real but not cataclysmic.

“Maybe now we’ll have a smarter conversation about what actually works,” Lomborg told RealClearInvestigations. “What has been proposed costs a fortune and does very little. With more space opening up, we can invest more into research and development into green energy. We don’t need subsidies to build something. They’ve been throwing a lot of money at projects that supposedly will cut carbon emissions but actually accomplish very little. That’s not a good idea. The funding should go to universities and research institutions; you don’t need to give it to companies to do it.”

Such new opportunities might, in theory, calm a field tossed by acrimony and signal a detente in climate science. Yet most experts are skeptical that a kumbaya moment is at hand. The mutual bitterness instilled over the years, the research money at stake, and the bristling hostility toward Trump’s appointees could actually exacerbate tensions.

“I think that the vast ‘middle’ will want and seek a more collegial atmosphere,” Georgia Tech’s Curry told RealClearInvestigations. “But there will be some hardcore people (particularly on the alarmed side) whose professional reputation, funding, media exposure, influence etc. depends on cranking up the alarm.”

Michael E. Mann, another climate change veteran, is also doubtful about a rapprochement. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State and author of the “hockey stick” graph, which claims a sharp uptick in global temperatures over the past century, believes ardently that global warming is a dire threat. He concluded a Washington Post op-ed this month with this foreboding thought: “The fate of the planet hangs in the balance.” Mann acknowledges a brutal war of words has engulfed climate science. But in an e-mail exchange with RealClearInvestigations, he blamed opponents led by “the Koch brothers” for the polarization.

Mann did hint, however, there may be some room for discussion.

“In that poisonous environment it is difficult to have the important, more nuanced and worthy debate about what to do about the problem,” he wrote. “There are Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Inglis and George Shultz trying to create space for that discussion, and that gives me hope. But given that Donald Trump is appointing so many outright climate deniers to key posts in this administration, I must confess that I - and many of my fellow scientists - are rather concerned.”

Neither side of the debate has been immune from harsh and sinister attacks. Happer said he stepped down from the active faculty at Princeton in part “to deal with all this craziness.” Happer and Mann, like several other climate scientists, have gotten death threats. They provided RealClearInvestigations with some of the e-mails and voice messages they have received.

“You are an educated Nazi and should hang from the neck,” a critic wrote Happer in October 2014.

“You and your colleagues who have promoted this scandal ought to be shot, quartered and fed to the pigs along with your whole damn families,” one e-mailed Mann in Dec. 2009.

Similar threats have bedeviled scientists and writers across the climate research spectrum, from Patrick Michaels, a self-described “lukewarmer” who dealt with death threats at the University of Virginia before moving to the Cato Institute, to Rajendra Pachauri, who protested anonymous death threats while heading the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Putting such ugliness aside, some experts doubt that the science will improve even if the Trump administration asks new research questions and funding spreads to myriad proposals. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and a member of the National Academy of Sciences who has long questioned climate change orthodoxy, is skeptical that a sunnier outlook is upon us.

“I actually doubt that,” he said. Even if some of the roughly $2.5 billion in taxpayer dollars currently spent on climate research across 13 different federal agencies now shifts to scientists less invested in the calamitous narrative, Lindzen believes groupthink has so corrupted the field that funding should be sharply curtailed rather than redirected.

“They should probably cut the funding by 80 to 90 percent until the field cleans up,” he said. “Climate science has been set back two generations, and they have destroyed its intellectual foundations.”

The field is cluttered with entrenched figures who must toe the established line, he said, pointing to a recent congressional report that found the Obama administration got a top Department of Energy scientist fired and generally intimidated the staff to conform with its politicized position on climate change.

“Remember this was a tiny field, a backwater, and then suddenly you increased the funding to billions and everyone got into it,” Lindzen said. “Even in 1990 no one at MIT called themselves a ‘climate scientist,’ and then all of a sudden everyone was. They only entered it because of the bucks; they realized it was a gravy train. You have to get it back to the people who only care about the science.”



Dec 26, 2016
On climate change, leftists just think they’re smarter

By Anthony Sadar

As the war of words and policy on climate change rages on, magazines that cover general science are a common battleground. New Scientist, based in the United Kingdom, is one such publication, providing a perspective on science and society that differs from the United States.

An article entitled “Seeing Reason” was the cover story in the Dec. 3-9 issue of the magazine. The piece covered how human brains skew facts and how the brain might be corrected to think properly. As I suspected from this left-leaning journal, the article zeroed in on the populace’s reluctance to accept the “settled fact” of human-induced climate change.

After beginning with examples of the general public’s convoluted thinking displayed in the electoral victories of President-elect Trump and Brexit, the piece moved on to “truthiness.” “In recent years, psychologists and political scientists have been revealing the shocking extent to which we’re all susceptible to truthiness, and how that leads to [polarized] views on factual questions from the safety of vaccines to human-caused climate change,” writes the author, Dan Jones.

The slant of the article comes from a perspective provided by psychologists. It seems “motivated reasoning” drives people to reject the “unambiguous” science of climate change, which “"is happening and human activity is driving it. Yet despite this, and the risks it poses to our descendants, many people still deny it is happening.”

Of course, “The major driver, especially in the US, is political ideology.”

However, one Yale University researcher found that, “in contrast to liberals, among conservatives it is the most scientifically literate who are least likely to accept climate change.”

Putting aside the fact that no one denies that climate changes, should we wonder why the most scientifically literate conservatives are least likely to accept manmade disastrous climate change? Could it be that those of us who have a more intimate knowledge of scientific research and practice are better able to sort out fact from fiction and form our own conclusions?

According to the article, no, not at all. Rather:

“This apparent paradox [of scientifically literate conservatives being least likely to accept climate change conclusions] comes down to motivated reasoning: the better you are at handling scientific information, the better you’ll be at confirming your own bias and writing off inconvenient truths. In the case of climate-change deniers, studies suggest that motivation is often endorsement of free-market ideology, which fuels objections to the government regulation of business that is required to tackle climate change.”

The conclusion of the studies is quite arguable. And, of course, motivation with respect to ideology and politics doesn’t happen with leftist thinkers on the unambiguously settled science of climate change.

Is it possible that the hallowed, echo-chambered halls of academia are subject to their own biases, blinkered by leftist ideology and politics, and subject to elitist arrogance? Is that why there are so many studies that brand, as something akin to mentally deplorable, populist riffraff who don’t reason like academics?

The article goes on to reveal the discovery of a personality trait that mitigates motivated reasoning. That trait is “scientific curiosity,” a characteristic found in “people who seek out and consume scientific information for personal pleasure.” Thankfully for resolute academics, unlike scientific literacy, “scientific curiosity is linked to greater acceptance of human-caused climate change, regardless of political orientation.”

Could it be that those who are merely curious without an intimate comprehension of science and scientific practice are more easily influenced by “settled” scientific assertions and more inclined to demonstrate their understanding of science by going with the “consensus” views?

The article ends with a lament of the “dark money in politics” that supports “climate-denial groups,” as if there is no dark money supporting leftist politics and its subsequent science.



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