Monday, March 02, 2015
Judith Curry's reflections on the witch-hunt against skeptics
It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus. The political motivations of all this are apparent from barackobama.com: Call Out The Climate Deniers.
It is much easier for a scientist just to ‘go along’ with the consensus. In a recent interview, as yet unpublished, I was asked: I’ve seen some instances where you have been called a “denier” when it comes to climate change, I am just curious as to your opinion on that? My reply:
"As a scientist, I am an independent thinker, and I draw my own conclusions about the evidence regarding climate change. My conclusions, particularly my assessments of high levels of uncertainty, differ from the ‘consensus’ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Why does this difference in my own assessment relative to the IPCC result in my being labeled a ‘denier’? Well, the political approach to motivate action on climate change has been to ‘speak consensus to power’, which seems to require marginalizing and denigrating anyone who disagrees. The collapse of the consensus regarding cholesterol and heart disease reminds us that for scientific progress to occur, scientists need to continually challenge and reassess the evidence and the conclusions drawn from the evidence".
Well, the burden is on Georgia Tech to come up with all of the requested info. Georgia Tech has a very stringent conflict of interest policy, and I have worked closely in the past with the COI office to manage any conflicts related to my company. Apart from using up valuable resources at Georgia Tech to respond to this, there is no burden on me.
Other than an emotional burden. This is the first time I have been ‘attacked’ in a substantive way for doing my science honestly and speaking up about it. Sure, anonymous bloggers go after me, but I have received no death threats via email, no dead rats delivered to my door step, etc.
I think Grijalva has made a really big mistake in doing this. I am wondering on what authority Grijalva is demanding this information? He is ranking minority member of a committee before which I have never testified. Do his colleagues in the Democratic Party support his actions? Are they worried about backlash from the Republicans, in going after Democrat witnesses?
I don’t think anything good will come of this. I anticipate that Grijalva will not find any kind of an undisclosed fossil fuel smoking gun from any of the 7 individuals under investigation. There is already one really bad thing that has come of this – Roger Pielke Jr has stated:
"The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues. I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject. I am a full professor with tenure, so no one need worry about me — I’ll be just fine as there are plenty of interesting, research-able policy issues to occupy my time. But I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”"
Update: I just remembered something interesting/entertaining. Too bad Grijalva only requested my travel since 2007. In 2006 I was on the ‘green circuit’, with numerous invites from green advocacy groups. One trip is particularly notable, which was organized by the Wildlife Federation. Peter Webster and I had an hour with then Governor Jeb Bush, and then another hour with then candidate Charlie Crist.
Following that meeting, we visited several different cities, where I and Joe Romm (!) gave a tag team presentation on the climate change problem and the solutions.
So I’m not sure how to ‘score’ this one; Wildlife Federation and Romm on one side, and Jeb Bush on the other side. To those of you not following U.S. politics, Jeb Bush is a Republican candidate for President in the 2016 elections.
Global Warming: Follow the Money
It isn’t the fossil-fuel companies that are polluting climate science. Citing documents uncovered by the radical environmental group Greenpeace, a group of media outlets — including the New York Times and the Boston Globe — have attacked global-warming skeptic Wei-Hock (Willie) Soon for allegedly hiding $1.2 million in contributions from “fossil fuel companies.”
The articles were the latest in an ongoing campaign by greens and their media allies to discredit opponents of the warming agenda.
But in allying themselves closely with activist groups with which they share ideological goals, reporters have fundamentally misled readers on the facts of global-warming funding. In truth, the overwhelming majority of climate-research funding comes from the federal government and left-wing foundations. And while the energy industry funds both sides of the climate debate, the government/foundation monies go only toward research that advances the warming regulatory agenda.
With a clear public-policy outcome in mind, the government/foundation gravy train is a much greater threat to scientific integrity. Officials with the Smithsonian Institution — which employs Dr. Soon — told the Times it appeared the scientist had violated disclosure standards, and they said they would look into the matter.
Soon, a Malaysian immigrant, is a widely respected astrophysicist, and his allies came quickly to his defense. “It is a despicable, reprehensible attack on a man of great personal integrity,” says Myron Ebell, the director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who questioned why media organizations were singling out Soon over research funding.
Indeed, experts in the research community say that it is much more difficult for some of the top climate scientists — Soon, Roger Pielke Jr., the CATO Institute’s Patrick Michaels, MIT’s now-retired Richard Lindzen — to get funding for their work because they do not embrace the global-warming fearmongering favored by the government-funded climate establishment.
“Soon’s integrity in the scientific community shines out,” says Ebell. “He has foregone his own career advancement to advance scientific truth. If he had only mouthed establishment platitudes, he could’ve been named to head a big university [research center] like Michael Mann.”
Mann is the controversial director of Pennsylvania State’s Earth System Science Center. He was at the center of the 2009 Climategate scandal, in which e-mails were uncovered from climatologists discussing how to skew scientific evidence and blackball experts who don’t agree with them.
Mann is typical of pro-warming scientists who have taken millions from government agencies. The federal government — which will gain unprecedented regulatory power if climate legislation is passed — has funded scientific research to the tune of $32.5 billion since 1989, according the Science and Public Policy Institute. That is an amount that dwarfs research contributions from oil companies and utilities, which have historically funded both sides of the debate. Mann, for example, has received some $6 million, mostly in government grants — according to a study by The American Spectator — including $500,000 in federal stimulus money while he was under investigation for his Climategate e-mails.
Despite claims that they are watchdogs of the establishment, media outlets such as the Times have ignored the government’s oversized role in directing research. And they have ignored millions in contributions from left-wing foundations — contributions that, like government grants, seek to tip the scales to one side of the debate.
Last summer, a minority staff report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works gave details on a “Billionaire’s Club” — a shadowy network of charitable foundations that distribute billions to advance climate alarmism. Shadowy nonprofits such as the Energy Foundation and Tides Foundation distributed billions to far-left green groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, which in turn send staff to the EPA who then direct federal grants back to the same green groups. It is incestuous. It is opaque. Major media ignored the report.
Media outlets have also discriminated in their reporting on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Times trumpeted Greenpeace FOIA requests revealing Soon’s benefactors, yet it has ignored the government’s refusal of FOIA filings requesting transparency in pro-warming scientists’ funding. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, for example, has submitted FOIA requests asking for the sources of outside income of NASA scientist James Hansen (a key ally of Al Gore). The government has stonewalled, according to Ebell.
Media reporting further misleads readers in suggesting that “fossil fuel” utilities such as the Southern Company (a $409,000 contributor to Soon’s research, according to the Times) seek only to undermine climate science.
In truth, energy companies today invest in solar, biomass, and landfill facilities in addition to carbon fuels. Companies such as Duke Energy, Exelon Corporation, NRG Energy, and Shell have even gone so far as to join with green groups in forming the U.S. Climate Action Partnership — an industry/green coalition that wants to “enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
This alliance worries a scientific community that is hardly unanimous that warming is a threat. Continued funding of contrarians such as Soon and Lindzen is essential to getting the best scientific research at a time when the EPA wants to shut down America’s most affordable power source, coal — at enormous cost to consumers.
The lack of warming for over a decade (witness this winter’s dangerous, record-breaking low temperatures) and Climategate are proof that the establishment has oversold a warming crisis. Attempts by the media to shut up their critics ignore the real threat to science.
Rajendra Pachauri’s Resignation Letter
The resignation letter of the IPCC chairman is a two-page love letter to himself.
Rajendra Pachauri resigned as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today. It was a long time coming. As a journalist who has followed his career for the past five years, writing enough to fill a full-length book, my assessment of 74-year-old Pachauri is a harsh one: He has been a non-stop train wreck.
Today, he finally exited the stage. In true Pachauri fashion, his resignation letter is a two-page love letter to himself. You wouldn’t know that recent allegations of sexual assault, stalking, harassment, and uttering threats suggest strongly that he is a longtime sexual predator.
You wouldn’t know that this latest scandal has profoundly undermined the credibility of the IPCC in the run-up to the UN climate summit scheduled for Paris in December.
Instead, Pachauri talks about all the wonderful things that happened during his 13-year reign. He refers to “priceless assets” and “unmatched contributions.” And to the “close friends and colleagues” who urged him to finish his term rather than quit early. (Neglecting to mention the calls for his resignation issued by the Sunday London Times, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, and the New Scientist over the years.)
Pachauri’s letter talks about his “greatest joy” and his “sublime satisfaction.” And about religion:
"For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma."
Yes, the IPCC – which we’re told to take seriously because it is a scientific body producing scientific reports – has, in fact, been led by an environmentalist on a mission. By someone for whom protecting the planet is a religious calling.
Even here, at the end, Pachauri fails to grasp that science and religion don’t belong in the same sentence; that those on a political mission are unlikely to be upholders of rigorous scientific practice.
What’s missing from this letter is any suggestion of remorse. When a scandal-plagued leader resigns because his alleged misdeeds are nuking his organization’s reputation, that is a mark of failure. He has let everyone down.
Where are his words of apology to the thousands of IPCC-linked scientists whose honour is now eternally tarnished by their association with him?
In August 2013, after US Secretary of State John Kerry described Pachauri’s leadership of the IPCC as “extraordinary,” I asked the rhetorical question: If that is the case, what would a bad job look like? before listing 17 reasons why Pachauri’s behaviour has been inadequate and inexcusable.
How To Solve The Water Crisis: Use More Fossil Fuels
It’s cliché to say we have a water crisis. It’s certainly cliché to blame it on “climate change,” i.e. fossil fuels.
But if we look at the big-picture data, as against fixating on the most dramatic headlines about the places that happen to be in a state of drought (such as southern California, where I live), a different story emerges: thanks in part to increasing fossil fuel use, we are bringing about a world where our bodies and our crops have more of the water they need, not less.
The Water Opportunity: Ending Drought as We Know It
Let’s look at droughts. To read the headlines about “megadroughts” you would think that drought is a worse problem than ever. And that would be a big, big problem.
Droughts are historically the most common form of climate-related death; a lack of rainfall can affect the supply of the two most basic essentials of life, food and water. Drought is also supposed to be one of the most devastating consequences of CO2 emissions, so let’s see how they match up.
Clearly, CO2 emissions have not had a significant effect on droughts, but expanded human ability to fight drought, powered by fossil fuels, has: from better agriculture (more crops for more people), to rapid transportation to drought-affected areas, to modern irrigation that makes farmers less dependent on rainfall. Shouldn’t fossil fuel energy get some credit here?
To give you one particularly astonishing data point, the International Disaster Database reports that the United States has had zero deaths from drought in the last eight years. This doesn’t mean there are actually zero, as the database only covers incidents involving ten or more deaths, but it means pretty near zero.
Historically, drought is the number-one climate-related cause of death. Worldwide it has gone down by 99.98% in the last eighty years, for many energy-related reasons: oil-powered drought-relief convoys, more food in general because of more prolific, fossil fuel-based agriculture, and irrigation systems. And yet we constantly hear reports that fossil fuels are making droughts worse. These reports give credibility to climate-prediction models that can’t predict climate, but no credibility to the plain facts about how important more energy is to countering drought.
The Water Opportunity: Clean Drinking Water for All
Access to clean water goes up dramatically in the last 25 years as countries have used more and more fossil fuels.
To understand this trend—and why it’s not a coincidence—we have to step back and ask the question: Where does clean water come from?
Most of Earth’s surface is covered with water—but not nearly enough of it is usable for our high standards and purposes.
Most of the water is saltwater in the oceans. Most of the fresh water is trapped in massive ice sheets in places like Antarctica or Greenland. Some is part of a large water cycle of clouds and precipitation. Some portion is naturally “poisoned” brackish water of low quality in soil layers deep below the surface, containing too much salt and too many metals and other chemicals to be of any use without energy-intensive treatment. Nature does not deliberately or consistently produce “drinking water” able to meet a rigorous set of human health specifications.
As I wrote in my article “How Fossil Fuels Cleaned Up Our Environment”:
"We need to transform naturally dangerous or unusable water into usable water—by moving usable water, purifying unusable water, or desalinating seawater. And that takes affordable energy.
If you were to turn on your faucet right now, in all likelihood you could fill a glass with water that you would have no fear of drinking. Consider how that water got to you: It traveled to your home through a complex network of plastic (oil) or copper pipes originating from a massive storage tank made of metal and plastic. Before it ever even got to the distribution tank, your water went through a massive, high-energy treatment plant where it was treated with complex synthetic chemicals to remove toxic substances like arsenic or lead or mercury. Before that, the water would have been disinfected using chlorine, ozone, or ultraviolet light to kill off any potentially harmful biological organisms. And to make all these steps work efficiently, the pH level of the water has to be adjusted, using chemicals like lime or sodium hydroxide."
Natural water is rarely so usable. Most of the undeveloped world has to make do with natural water, and the results are horrifying. Billions of people have to get by using water that might contain high concentrations of heavy metals, dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas (which produces a rotten-egg smell), and countless numbers of waterborne pathogens that still claim millions of lives each year. It’s a major victory for any person who gains access to the kind of water we take for granted every day—a victory that fossil fuels deserve a major part of the credit for.
The lesson is clear: if we want a water-filled future, we need a power-filled future. One where we have more power to turn unusable water into usable water—to move clean water to where it needs to be. Clean water is overwhelmingly something we create, not something we get. Remember that next time you hear about a “water crisis,” because a water crisis is ultimately a power crisis: a failure to produce or use the power that can get clean water to anyone, anywhere.
More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
Warmists never learn
They can't afford to
The Associated Press and Seth Borenstein are at it again. The article by Seth Borenstein and Luis Andres Henao titled ‘Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The ‘Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change’‘ was published on February 27, 2014.
The AP left out contrary peer-reviewed studies, inconvenient data and trends that counter the articles ‘worse than we thought’ narrative. The AP paints an erroneous picture of potential sea level rise, volcanic causes of any melting and the current state of Antarctica and the geologic history of the continent.
Why did the AP not include any ice specialists with differing views? See: Prominent Scientist Dissents: Renowned glaciologist declares global warming is ‘going to be a big plus’ – Fears ‘Frightening’ Cooling – Warns scientists are ‘prostituting their science’ – Dr. Hughes is an internationally renowned glaciologist who pioneered many of the modern ideas currently under study in the field.’ Dr. Hughes has travelled to the Arctic ten times and the Antarctic thirteen times since 1968, mostly as the principal investigator of NSF-funded glaciological research.
Of course this was no surprise given the article was co-written by Seth Borenstein who’s recent reporting on ‘hottest year’ claims had to be corrected. See: AP ‘clarifies’ ‘hottest year’ claims: ‘Kudos to Marc Morano for keeping the heat (heh) on about this’
AP’s Seth Borenstein at it again! Claims ‘global warming means more Antarctic ice’ — Meet the new consensus, the opposite of the old consensus
Borenstein has a long history of promoting global warming fears at the expense of journalistic ethics. See: ‘Long sad history of AP reporter Seth Borenstein’s woeful global warming reporting’ More on Borenstein here.
Climate Depot Analysis:
First off, no mention of all=time record sea ice (not land based ice sheets) expansion in Antarctica. See: Feds: ‘January had largest Antarctic sea ice extent on record’ – NCDC: ‘Antarctic sea ice during January was 890,000 square miles (44.6 percent) above the 1981–2010 average. This was the largest January Antarctic sea ice extent on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2008 by 220,000 square miles.’ & National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC): Past 3 years in a row set ice record! ‘Sea ice in Antarctica has remained at satellite-era record high daily levels for most of 2014′
And yes, AP’s Seth Borenstein has previously tried to claim that more Antarctic sea ice is caused by global warming. See: AP’s Seth Borenstein at it again! Claims ‘global warming means more Antarctic ice’ — Meet the new consensus, the opposite of the old consensus
Of course this claim ignores contrary data. See: Brian Gunter: ‘Antarctic Continent Has Not Warmed In The Last 50 Years’ — ‘Zero temperature trend for the main regions of the Antarctic continent’
And by just focusing on the smaller West Antarctic ice sheets, the AP seems to be intentionally misleading readers by ignoring the conditions on the vast bulk of Antarctica. See: 2013: New paper finds the majority of East Antarctic glaciers have advanced in size since 1990 – A new paper published in Nature.
Climate Depot’s Point-By-Point Rebuttal of latest Antarctic melt fears:
AP claim: ‘In the worst case scenario, Antarctica’s melt could push sea levels up 10 feet (3 meters) worldwide in a century or two…Scientists estimate it will take anywhere from 200 to 1,000 years to melt enough ice to raise seas by 10 feet, maybe only 100 years in a worst case scenario.’
Climate Depot Response: This is just speculation, unproven predictions amped up with extreme scenarios and not based on current climate reality. According to the AP’s article, the melt rate has slowed down. See: Sunshine Hours blog: Antarctica Losing 130 gigatons of ice per year (last Year it was 159 gigatons per year) 1) Last year it was 159 gigatons per year (Almost all of it where there are volcanoes under the ice)
2) NSIDC: “The Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 30 million cubic kilometers (7.2 million cubic miles) of ice.” A gigaton of ice is approximately one cubic kilometer of ice.
So … at 130 gigatons per year, how long before Antarctica melts? That would be 30,000,000 / 130.
The Answer: 230,000 years until Antarctica melts. Why did Associated Press Borenstein fail to mention that?
AP Claim: ‘130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations. That’s the weight of more than 356,000 Empire State Buildings, enough ice melt to fill more than 1.3 million Olympic swimming pools.’
Climate Depot Response: Sounds scary, right? Well, that is what the AP reporters want you to be scared. But just how alarming is that melt rate? The AP answers that question many paragraphs later.
“At its current rate, the rise of the world’s oceans from Antarctica’s ice melt would be barely noticeable, about one-third of a millimeter a year. The oceans are that vast.”
So all of these analogies about Empire State Buildings and Olympic swimming pools amount to ‘barely noticeable.’ Of course the rate of sea level rise is not noticing anything unusual in Antarctica.
Even the IPCC concedes that there was no significant anthropogenic influence on climate prior to 1950, thus man is not be responsible for sea level rise beginning 150-200 years ago, at the end of the Little Ice Age.
Via The Hockey Schtick: The sea level rise over the past ~200 years shows no evidence of acceleration, which is necessary to assume a man-made influence. Sea level rise instead decelerated over the 20th century, decelerated 31% since 2002 and decelerated 44% since 2004 to less than 7 inches per century. There is no evidence of an acceleration of sea level rise, and therefore no evidence of any man-made effect on sea levels. Sea level rise is primarily a local phenomenon related to land subsidence, not CO2 levels. Therefore, areas with groundwater depletion and land subsidence have much higher rates of relative sea level rise, but this has absolutely nothing to do with man-made CO2.
Scientist counters media hype on Antarctic ice sheet ‘collapse: ‘It has been in progress for several thousand years, and is neither new nor man-caused’
Some Perspective on the Headlining Antarctic Ice Loss Trends – The press coverage is aimed to make this sound alarming—“This West Antarctic region sheds a Mount Everest-sized amount of ice every two years, study says” screamed the Washington Post. Wow! That sounds like a lot.
Turns out, it isn’t. The global oceans are vast. Adding a “Mount Everest-sized amount of ice every two years” to them results in a sea level rise of 0.02 inches per year.
Climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels Mocks climate claims: ‘Sea levels have been rising since before the end of the last ice age, about 11,600 years before the Industrial Revolution’
More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
Australia: Fracking to go ahead in Federal territory
THE Northern Territory lacks the proper regulatory environment to go ahead with fracking, a report has found, as the government moves forward to permit the practice.
THE Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry report recommends laws to effectively manage environmental risks associated with the practice, which on Thursday was banned for a further five years in Tasmania. "There is no justification whatsoever for the imposition of a moratorium," the report read.
Mines and Energy Minister Dave Tollner said the government would "broadly" adopt all six recommendations in the report, which the NT government released on Thursday.
"Obviously there's been a lot of heat in community debate on the issue and the government is very keen to get the community on board," Mr Tollner told reporters.
The government is considering drawing up exclusion zones around regional centres to allay health concerns by residents.
Mr Tollner said it could take a year or longer to set up the right regulations; meanwhile, there are 24 wells in the works to be drilled this year.
While the regulations are being redrawn, operators will have to abide by a set of "guiding principles", and if they violate them they will be forced to stop work, Mr Tollner said.
But relying on operators to monitor themselves is "completely nonsensical", said David Morris, principal lawyer for the NT Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).
"If you've got a good operator things will probably be done in accordance with the guidelines, and if you've got a bad operator they won't," he told AAP.
Mr Morris said mining often occurred in remote parts of the NT, with the closest populations being indigenous communities who often didn't fully understand the science.
Mr Tollner said mining groups needed to communicate better with the community in explaining fracking processes. "We expect them to be very upfront and transparent with the community and they have to explain exactly what they're doing," he said.
The report is "a victory for science over scaremongering," said Steven Gerhardy, NT director of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
He said the report offered a "sensible blueprint" for the shale gas industry, which could provide jobs, investment and improved infrastructure in remote and regional areas.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here
Posted by JR at 1:35 AM