What Evidence Would Persuade You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?
Ronald Bailey below has decided to move to the side of the Gods after having been a skeptic. So his arguments for his new belief are interesting. What he says is that warming is still going on even though we cannot detect it. Some small changes are happening that would happen if there were warming so that is enough to convince him.
The story that heat suddenly started to hide in the deep ocean 18 years ago is just a desperate guess propped up by shaky statistics that ignores the nature of heated molecules -- which is to rise. Even frantic Warmist Stefan Rahmstorf doesn't accept that story. He is an oceanographer and that background makes it clear to him how implausible the ocean story is.
Bailey seems unaware that the small changes concerning him have mostly occurred over quite a short timescale, a scale too short to be sure that there is any reliable trend. Starting your measurements of Arctic ice from 1979, for instance, is a very short time span for estimating a trend, considering the slow and erratic pace of climate events. And in the last few years the trend seems to have reversed anyway
More importantly, he does not even address the problem posed by the very small scale of temperature change over the last 100 years or so. Why is a temperature rise of less than one degree Celsius a problem? Nobody noticed it when it was happening so why would anybody notice a continuation of that trend? The Warmist answer is a prophecy of Armageddon. And in that we DO have a regularity of nature: Prophecies of Armageddon always fail.
Warmists prophesy that the warming trend will not continue on its gentle way. It will suddenly accelerate due to feedbacks. But the principal feedback proposed (clouds) is highly speculative and on the best evidence wrong. Take that feedback away and all the rest of Warmism could be true and yet give no grounds for concern. The whole scare depends on feedbacks that probably won't happen and which have certainly not so far been observed
Furthermore, the focus on CO2 is tendentious. There are many influences on climate so even if there were warming going on how would we know that CO2 was the guilty party? Correlation is not causation, as Bailey himself admits. Global warming theory perfectly easily allows that the warming effect of CO2 will be too minute to detect.
I could go on but will close with a comment by James Taylor of the Heartland Institute -- received via email:
"Ron Bailey presented and then debated a straw man. Few people argue against the notion “that man-made climate change is real.” The pertinent issues for skeptics regard context, pace, and consequences – and to a certain extent the relative importance of anthropogenic vs. natural forcings. Bailey habitually creates and then debates weak global warming straw men, which leads me to believe Bailey either lacks the intelligence to discern what is being debated or is deliberately misrepresenting what key issues are in dispute regarding the global warming debate".
In 2005, I changed my mind about climate change: I concluded that the balance of the scientific evidence showed that man-made global warming could likely pose a significant problem for humanity by the end of this century. My new assessment did not please a number of my friends, some of whom made their disappointment clear.
At the 2007 annual gala dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a D.C.-based free-market think tank, the master of ceremonies was former National Review editor John O'Sullivan. To entertain the crowd, O'Sullivan put together a counterfeit tale in which I ostensibly had given a lecture on environmental trends pointing out that most were positive. After my talk, O'Sullivan told the audience, a young woman supposedly approached me to express her displeasure with regard to my change of mind on climate change.
Continuing his fable, O'Sullivan recounted to the hundreds of diners that I had tried to explain why my views had shifted. Eventually realizing that the young woman was having none of it, I then purportedly asked her if it wasn't enough that we two actually agreed on most environmental policy issues. The young woman paused for a moment, said O'Sullivan, and then retorted, "I suppose that Pontius Pilate made some good decisions, too." Being compared, even in jest, to the Roman governor who consented to the crucifixion of Jesus is, to say the least, somewhat disconcerting.
Welcome to the most politicized science of our time.
So what evidence would convince you that man-made climate change is possibly real? Keep in mind that despite what progressive dimwits like Naomi Klein might assert, the scientific evidence does not mandate any particular program.
What about higher temperatures? Obviously, in order for there to be any man-made global warming, temperatures must be going up. Are they? Yes.
Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased from 280 parts per million in the late 18th century to around 400 ppm today. And the trend in average global surface temperatures has been increasing since the late 19th century. As I've reported before, all of the global temperature datasets, both the instrumental and satellite, find that the atmosphere has warmed since the 1950s.
By how much? Summed over the past 35 years—that is, since the advent of satellite monitoring—temperatures have increased by at most 0.56 C° (1 F°) and at least by 0.455 C° (0.8 F°). In general, the instrumental records suggest that surface temperatures have warmed on average by about +0.9 C° (1.6 F°) since the 1950s.
Let's look at the near-term trends. The average rate of increase since 1979 varies among the temperature datasets from a high of +0.16 C° to a low of +0.13 C° per decade. The rate of surface temperature increase dramatically slowed after 1998 to rate of around +0.05 C° per decade. Of course, correlation does not imply causation, but how sure can you be that the rise in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases just happens to coincide with an entirely natural increase in average temperatures? Conversely, how sure can you be that a natural decline in average temperatures is not temporarily countering a trend toward to higher temperatures caused by accumulating greenhouse gases? Explanations based on natural variability work both ways. I will address the recent “hiatus” in temperature trends below.
What about converging daytime and nighttime temperatures?
Climatologists predicted that man-made warming would produce a decrease in the differences between low nighttime temperatures and high daytime temperatures. And indeed, a decrease between day and night temperatures has been occurring in the United States, China, Spain, and other regions. This phenomenon is global, although more recently daytime and nighttime temperatures have been increasing at about the same rate. Along with the observed increases in average temperature, heat waves have become more common since the 1950s.
What about earlier spring and later fall seasons?
Many studies find that the onset of spring is occurring earlier than it did decades ago. A 2015 study reports that the advent of spring in the Northern Hemisphere occurs about 4 days earlier than in 1980. A 2006 European study found that spring is arriving about 3 days earlier, and a 2014 study reported that the growing season in the Northern Hemisphere is expanding.
Part of the reason that spring is advancing is that the extent of snow cover in March and April in the Northern Hemisphere has been falling. As a 2011 study in the journal Cryosphere reports, "The rate of decrease in March and April Northern Hemisphere (NH) Snow Cover Extent (SCE) over the 1970–2010 period is ~0.8 million km2 per decade corresponding to a 7% and 11% decrease in NH March and April SCE respectively from pre-1970 values." The decline in snow cover is broadly in line with climate model predictions.
What about disappearing glaciers and Arctic sea ice?
The Arctic-wide melt season has lengthened at a rate of 5 days per decade from 1979 to 2013, according to a 2014 study in Geophysical Research Letters. A 2014 review article looks at what satellite data are telling us about recent climate trends in the Arctic. Temperatures are rising at 0.6°C per decade, about 4 times the global average. Sea ice extent has been falling at 3.8 percent per decade, and spring snow cover is dropping by 2.1 percent per decade. The Greenland ice sheet has been losing mass at a rate of 34 gigatons per year, though that has increased sevenfold since 2002 to an estimated 215 gigatons per year.
Ice is not melting only in the Arctic. Most of the world's 130,000 mountain glaciers are also disappearing.
The growing extent of sea ice in the Antarctic over the past decades is a climate change conundrum. On the face of it, more sea ice would indicate cooling rather than warming. Researchers are still trying to figure out what is going on. One idea is that warmer waters are melting the bases of freshwater Antarctic ice shelves. The fresh water then cools the sea surface thus promoting the freezing of more sea ice. When climate researchers don't understand what is going on they often attribute the empirical trends to "internal variability."
What about stronger rainstorms?
As temperatures increase by 1 degree Celsius, global average water vapor in the atmosphere is estimated to increase by around 7 percent. It is difficult to determine the average global humidity. But a 2005 study parsing satellite data finds that the atmosphere did moisten, as predicted, between 1982 and 2004. A 2014 study confirmed the finding and suggests that the increase is mostly the result of man-made warming.
Increased atmospheric humidity suggests that precipitation should also increase. The data show that this is happening. A 2013 study that analyzed data from nearly 9,000 weather stations from around the globe found increases in annual maximum daily precipitation at nearly two-thirds of the stations since 1900. (Climate change does not appear to be exacerbating hurricanes, tornadoes, or droughts.)
What about warming oceans?
Does the recent 17-year hiatus in rising global temperatures cut strongly against the notion of man-made global warming? The pause certainly was not predicted by the computer climate models. As the researchers at the private consultancy Remote Sensing Systems have noted, "The troposphere has not [their emphasis] warmed as fast as almost all climate models predict." University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist John Christy compared 102 climate model predictions with actual temperature data and found that "their response to CO2 on average is 2 to 5 times greater than reality." Pretty damning.
Other researchers have reluctantly come to acknowledge that there has been a slowdown in surface temperatures. But while surface temperatures may be on pause, they are convinced that "global heating" is not. Lots of researchers have been reporting that for the past couple of decades, 90 percent of the extra heat from greenhouse warming has been sequestered in the oceans. In February, Nature Climate Change asserted that planetary warming continues "unabated," with most of the excess heat being absorbed by the top 2,000 meters of the oceans. Just how and where the heat gets buried in the oceans remains controversial.
Last year an intriguing study in Science suggested that natural variability in the North Atlantic can keep transporting heat downward into the deep ocean for periods lasting 20 to 35 years. Those researchers propose that "the latter part of the 20th century saw rapid global warming as more heat stayed near the surface. In the 21st century, surface warming slowed as more heat moved into deeper oceans."
How about some falsifiable predictions?
Another February 2015 article in Nature Climate Change makes the bold prediction that the current hiatus will likely last only until the end of this decade. Around 2020, the authors suggest, the oceans will start to release the stored heat and surface temperatures will begin to rise rapidly. An even more alarming (alarmist?) article in the April 2015 Nature Climate Change asserts that the rate global average temperature increases will rise to 0.25°C per decade by 2020, "an average greater than the peak rates of change during the previous one to two millennia."
The future course of man-made warming depends on climate sensitivity, conventionally measured as how high average temperature would eventually increase if atmospheric carbon dioxide were doubled. In recent years, there has have a lot of back and forth between researchers trying to refine their estimates of climate sensitivity. At the low end, some researchers think that temperatures would increase a comparatively trivial 1.5 degrees Celsius; on the high end, some worry it could go as high as high 6 degrees Celsius. The uncertainty over this variable is largely why I think that future warming could become a signficant problem. In a 2014 article in Geophysical Research Letters, a group of researchers calculated that it would take another 20 years of temperature observations for us to be confident that climate sensitivity is on the low end and more than 50 years of data to confirm the high end of the projections. How lucky do you feel?
In his magisterial 1960 essay "Why I Am Not A Conservative," economist Friedrich Hayek observed:
"Personally, I find that the most objectionable feature of the conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it—or, to put it bluntly, its obscurantism. I will not deny that scientists as much as others are given to fads and fashions and that we have much reason to be cautious in accepting the conclusions that they draw from their latest theories. But the reasons for our reluctance must be rational and must be kept separate from our regret that the new theories upset our cherished beliefs."
It might be that it is just so happens that natural climate variability has boosted global temperatures and the trends discussed above are occurring coincidentally at the same time the concentrations of carbon dioxide are 30 percent above their highest levels in the past 800,000 years. Correlation does not imply causation. The data cited (and uncited) do not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that man-made climate change is real. However, in my best judgment the preponderance of the evidence suggests that the greenhouse gases produced by humanity are warming the climate and that it could be a significant issue later in this century. In the foregoing I have aimed to cite data, not model outputs. I have long been a critic of computer climate models.
To restate: The existence of man-made warming does not mandate any particular policies. So back to the headline question: If generally rising temperatures, decreasing diurnal temperature differences, melting glacial and sea ice, smaller snow extent, stronger rainstorms, and warming oceans are not enough to persuade you that man-made climate is occurring, what evidence would be?
Joe Bastardi: Is There Anything in the Global Warming Debate That Would Convince Me I'm Wrong?
There is a constant process I go through, from a forecast for tomorrow, to when I train with weights. Unless challenged, you do not improve. So the challenge is listed in the title above. I must always seek the right answer. It’s not getting soft, it’s simply using this methodology to either confirm or deny my idea.
So, is there anything in the global warming debate that would convince me I’m wrong?
As a matter of fact, yes.
1.) The PDO, which is tracking nicely with the 1950s, turned cold early- and mid-‘50s, warmed late (as it is now) and then turned cold again. The AMO, which is in its warm endgame now, turned cold, but temperatures did not fall. However, since 2007 and the flip of the PDO, there has been a slight decrease in global temperatures based on NCEP CFSR data.
That’s one factor.
2.) Another is the top of the stratosphere, which has been cooling since the late 1970s. But since the Pacific flipped, it’s warming! That to me says there was an expansion in levels below it (warming). Now, the question becomes: Is this warming driven by the cycles of the ocean – which I believe – that reverses as it cools, leading to stratospheric warming? (We may be starting to see that now and the result would be stronger cold invasions over the continent.) Or is it truly because of the increase in human-caused greenhouse gases? (There’s nothing we can do about nature, though one may argue fossil fuel CO2 is entirely natural, since it comes front plant and animal life anyway.)
From 1979-2008, it cooled over the Arctic region.
But over the last several winters, it is reversing and warming.
3.) I am watching the Southern Hemisphere, because ice expansion in an area surrounded by water seems to be a perfect counter-balance.
Notice how total global sea ice, again since the decadal shift in the Pacific around 2007, has returned more or less to normal!
4.) Finally, I am waiting for someone, somewhere, to quantify the global water vapor, which I believe is the true measure of the climate system. Over the tropics, where the trapping hot spots are supposed to occur, water vapor varies directly with the ups and downs of the tropical oceans. Understanding that, and the relationship to global cloudiness, would be huge.
Example: The 400 mb mixing ratios anomalies over the tropical Pacific in the warm cycle of the Pacific 1978-2007:
Since the PDO flip, it has dried out, and this is in direct opposition to the trapping hot spot theory over the tropical oceans.
Objective satellite-era-based measurements in conjunction with oceanic cycles would be a much better way of measuring where the climate is going. Obviously, a sustained increase in water vapor, by far the most prominent greenhouse gas, would be indicative of a change that is meaningful. The bulk of the “warming” has been where it’s dry and cold. In the long-running record highs, it’s not getting hotter. Additionally, the current hysteria that everything is the worst ever is a function of several non-scientific, highly subjective variables. Chief among them is the fact that we can observe almost everything now, and people are not acquainted with what has happened before in detail. If we want to continue to follow along with global temperatures, then it’s a simple test: Watch what they do over the next 15-20 years as the oceans cool.
These are things I look at that can lead me to say, Joe, you are wrong.
For me, this debate is far from settled. And it’s the atmosphere that should settle it, not agendas.
Now, I ask people who don’t see things my way: Is there anything that can challenge your position on this? If not, then your position is dogma, very different from what is needed to strive for the correct idea on this matter.
Nutty Muslim Professor: “The Patriarchy is Killing our Planet,” US to Blame for Rape in Middle East
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, who has taught at University of Sussex’s School of Global Studies and and Brunel University, has written an article in which he claims that “global warming,” among other crises, are “gendered,” and men are at fault.
The piece, titled “Patriarchy is killing our planet – women alone can save her,” appeared in “The Ecologist.”
Dr. Ahmed specifically pins the world’s problems specifically on men; not specific men, but men as a whole. The way to solve it is by destroying the patriarchy.
He explains, “The global epidemic of violence against women and their systematic exclusion from the power structures that rule us are integral to man’s violent exploitation of Earth and her resources.”
Detailing the problems that face the earth, Dr. Ahmed writes, “The global crises we face today are legion, but their disparate nature is illusory.” In reality, they all have the same source: men.
Ahmed writes, “In all these cases, we see that our relentless plunder of our own planetary life-support systems, correlates with our unnerving tendency to divide, exclude and ‘Otherize’, often in ways that are so insidious we find it difficult, even painful, to acknowledge these processes.” He concludes, “But to this day, one of the most ever-present yet still unacknowledged processes is patriarchy.”
He then explains the different things that men have caused. He writes, “Climate change is gendered…Poverty is gendered… Food and water is gendered… Violence is gendered.”
To “the patriarchy,” Dr. Ahmed writes, “rape is good for business.” He even blames the rape of women in Middle East countries on “Western” arms dealers and “Western intervention”. In “Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, to less developed regions like Africa,” the rape of women is, in part, the United States’ fault, he writes.
Ahmed then attacks capitalism, writing, “Contemporary global capitalism might be making some people richer, but it is making more people poorer and unhappier, in a context of accelerating uncertainty and conflict. And by the end of this century at least, we face the prospect, according to the consensus of our best scientific minds, of a largely uninhabitable planet if we continue business-as-usual.”
In the end, “misogyny is an integral function of planetary destruction,” Ahmed concludes. “If we want to save the planet, patriarchy must die. That means recognizing and taking responsibility for the fact that patriarchy is integral to the structures of power we take for granted, across East and West.”
Australian study finds Earth is greener than 10 years ago: Total amount of vegetation found to have increased significantly over past decade
Carbon is good for you
For years we have been told mankind is destroying the planet, felling trees and systematically ripping up forests. So it may be a surprise to some that Earth is actually greener today than it was a decade ago.
In an authoritative new study, scientists have calculated that the total vegetation on the planet increased substantially between 2003 and 2012.
While tropical jungles are still disappearing – felled for timber and to make way for cattle pasture – tree growth elsewhere has outstripped the loss.
The unexpected findings show that the area of ground covered by plants has increased in Russia, China, Australia and Africa, leading to a net gain in vegetation cover.
Some of this is due to deliberate conservation, such as a huge tree-planting campaign by the Chinese. Elsewhere high rainfalls have resulted in faster growth of shrubs and grasses on the plains of Africa, northern Australia and South America. And the abandonment of large agricultural areas following the collapse of the Soviet Union led to forests reclaiming farmland.
But whatever the cause, the increase in vegetation is indisputably significant.
The Australian team, whose results are published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found the ‘greening effect’ has been so substantial that the world’s trees and plants are storing 4billion more tonnes of carbon than they were a decade before.
Carbon dioxide in the air is sucked up by plants’ leaves and converted through photosynthesis into the food they need to grow, locking the carbon in their wood. The 4billion tonne increase in plant carbon storage is the equivalent of 7 per cent of the 60billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted through industry and transport over the same period.
The surprising results – gathered by scientists who analysed 20 years of satellite data – comes after decades of warnings about environmental catastrophe caused by deforestation.
The scientists studied radio waves naturally emitted by the Earth’s surface to calculate the amount of vegetation covering the land. Using satellites, they were able to calculate the way forest patterns had changed over 20 years, which they say is a more accurate way of measuring deforestation than simply surveying land use.
Study author Professor Albert van Dijk, of the Australian National University, said: ‘Previous analyses of vegetation biomass focused on forest cover change. With our approach we found unexpectedly large vegetation increases in the savannas of southern Africa and northern Australia.’
Lead author Dr Yi Liu, of the University of New South Wales, warned that the gains may be easily lost as weather patterns shift with climate change.
He said: ‘Savannas and shrublands are vulnerable to rainfall – one year can be very wet, and more carbon will be fixed in plants, but the next year can be very dry, and then we will lose the carbon fixed in previous years.’ He added that huge vegetation loss is still occurring on the edge of the Amazon forests and in the Indonesian provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
And while the increase in grasslands and pine forests is a rare glimmer of hope for conservationists, it only goes some way to mitigating the ongoing loss of tropical rainforest, which supports more species than any other ecosystem on Earth.
Will Rachel Carson Be the First Woman on the $20 Bill?
Isn't this racist? Her unfounded attacks on DDT have led to millions of African deaths
There’s a movement afoot to put a woman on the $20 bill and retire the slavery-supporting, Trail-of-Tears-blazing President Andrew Jackson from his long-held post.
Among the top 15 nominees is marine biologist Rachel Carson. In 1962, Carson authored Silent Spring, a seminal book for the environmental movement that warned of the degradation of natural systems if pesticide use continued unchecked. Drawing from many scientific studies, she described how DDT enters the food chain by accumulating in the fatty tissues of animals (humans, too). Today DDT is classified internationally as a probable carcinogen that persists in the environment for long periods.
Silent Spring was a bestseller, in part because, as the President’s Science Advisory Committee under John F. Kennedy acknowledged when it examined and later defended Carson’s findings, the American public had previously been unawares that pesticides were toxic.
The scientific community also largely backed Carson up, but chemical companies and some government scientists went on the attack. Carson’s gender was regularly used as a means to undermine her work; she was called “hysterical,” a “nun of nature,” and a “sentimental woman who loved cats.”
During the several years it took to finish Silent Spring, Carson learned she had breast cancer—a diagnosis she kept secret for fear that the chemical industry would use it to discredit her. She died in 1964. Carson didn’t live to see the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency six years later or the 1972 ban of the sale of DDT within the U.S.—two events she helped bring about.
Nobody needs to be paid to be climate skeptics -- because Warmist "Science" Is so Bad
Members of the Scientific Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently criticized the Royal Society’s positions on climate.
Their clear, authoritative scientific objections to the Royal Society’s positions reveal the weak scientific foundation on which the great climate fervor has been based. The public must either become conversant enough to grasp this or step back and get out of the way of those who have. Scientists don’t need to be paid to oppose the ideas of climate orthodoxy, because those ideas are just so damn bad.
To the Bitter End
Accusing scientists of venal motives when they raise questions about climate has come to be what passes for scientific debate. Unlike the GWPF critique, this is not science at all. Al Gore recently renewed calls for climate deniers (as they are pejoratively called by the dogmatists) to be punished. This follows brazen political-style attacks on scientists because of their views on climate. In particular there has been an aggressive assault questioning our ethics, morality, competence, and even sanity. It has been amazingly coordinated, coming simultaneously from a number of fronts: activists, Congress, Hollywood, and even some psychologists.
This entire assault could not be more anti-scientific. The protagonists are political interlopers in science who do not understand or respect the nature of scientific truths and how they are discovered, let alone how they are justified. One of the greatest lessons from the history of science is that humans don’t only get things wrong, but they stubbornly hang on to the stupidest of ideas to the bitter end. I do not absolve myself from this; it is my legacy as much as yours.
The Followers of Eris
What the dogmatists understand well is eristic argument, after Eris the Greek goddess of discord and chaos. Eristic tactics come to us from the ancient Greek sophists. Eristic methods manifest themselves today in the works of Saul Alinsky. As the goddess’s qualities suggest, they are inherently divisive. The objective is victory, not truth. This is foreign to the training and personalities of most scientists. I, like other scientists, go into debates with a collegial attitude, tolerant of contrary thinking, no matter how wrong it may seem. Freely doubt the ideas; respect the people. When confronted with eristic tactics though, which are often absurd, aggressive, and deeply irrational, we are left gobsmacked. Like any other humans, scientists can speak the language of political nonsense, but they speak it badly. Their famous political naivety makes them easy prey for any political operative. And so we loose against eristic tactics, even when we know they are coming.
The followers of Eris see opposition in terms of a struggle for power, while scientists see opposition as a means for testing thinking. For scientists, opposition is a feature not a bug. Authorities can proudly convince themselves to be absurdly wrong, until some brave souls stand up to them. Sometimes there is a heavy price.
An easily comprehensible example would be the case of the physician Ignaz Semmelweis. He proposed that patients would be helped if you thoroughly washed your hands between patients. The consensus among experts of his day was that he was wrong. He was driven out and ended his days in a psychiatric hospital. This phenomenon is not the exception, but the rule. In countless cases ranging from obscure technical issues, known only by experts, to grand insights like continental drift, this story, or something like it, has been played out again and again in history.
It does not mean that experts are always even mostly wrong. It only means that when humanity does take a step ahead, that step naturally concerns something that prideful experts didn’t know before. Over the generations, this lesson has been gradually absorbed into the scientific world. The heretics and crackpots might just be right, and so there is an awareness (even if grudging) that tolerance of what seems wrong is essential—the scientific version of free speech. It is probably no accident that scientific advances tend to be made in the freest environments. Scientists must ask critical questions of each other about their works to move us all ahead. It’s their job. Opposition is necessary, but only opposition with a presumption of good will, where all agree that the objective is truth, not crushing your enemies.
The Field That Never Was
Climate, as the scientific field we know today, is very young. It was cobbled together from pieces of a number of established fields and elevated into the limelight only very recently as science goes. It was particularly vulnerable to antirational inroads because there was no core body of scientific knowledge, like say physics or chemistry have. Before the great climate fervor, the term “climate science” was virtually unheard of. Instead, climatology was a tranquil, narrow, and descriptive area, with little funding and few practitioners. Today’s version, climate science, is driven as much by trumped up public fears as traditional scientific objectives. I have heard many times that what we scientists should work on “depends on what policymakers want.”
The fields and methodologies of climate science are a disjointed collection that few have anything approaching a universal command of, let alone a universal command from which to form a knowledgable consensus. Is climate research the gathering and description of data? Is it statistical time series analysis? Is it meteorology extended by supercomputers? Is it molecular spectroscopy? Is it oceanography, glaciology, geology, thermodynamics, physics, orbital mechanics, computer science, survey research, economics, biology, dynamical systems theory, solar physics, or much more? It is easy to say “all of the above,” but specialists in these subfields often wonder privately what the other specialties are actually there for. For example, “do we really need complex models when greenhouses are so simple?” Or, “We modelers can help paleontologists more than they can help us.” There are many such examples.
The shared vision of this collection of fields, as they stand, has simply not been academic for the most part. Its identity is inextricably bound to the climate fervor itself, which is created and fanned by politicians and media through relentless promotion, torrents of funding, and the punishing of nonconforming scientists. It is unclear what defines climate science as a whole academically, let alone what climate is in and of itself. No, we don’t even have a coherent, physically based, definition for climate, let alone climate change. That is not because we can’t recognize change, but we do not know what parts of the endless, ongoing ubiquitous change actually count. This is as deep a problem as there is in modern science. All we have are ad hoc definitions guarded from scientific criticism by ignorant followers of Eris. Those followers call this settled science.
The dogmatists and followers of Eris have destroyed the collegial atmosphere among scientists, and they push for scientists on the wrong side of their dogma to be treated as enemies of the state, as we have all recently witnessed. Science, as a whole, has been damaged by them. Because of them, climate science remains frozen and deeply flawed with no way to grow up, despite avalanches of funding thrown at it. Money is not enough. Academic freedom sometimes seems like a gratuitous anachronism, but climate science is the very thing it was made for. Fortunately, some academic organizations, such as the American Meteorological Society and the University of Delaware, have taken a principled position on this. But others seem to have wilted. Modern universities and academic institutions are not as independent as we would like to believe. They live on grants and government funding.
Eristic methods have proven most effective politically. But the political victories of those employing them are hollow. They cannot ultimately defeat the scientists opposed to their dogma because those scientists have never been playing a political game, no matter how much dogmatists rant and flail otherwise. They easily push us out of political and popular discourse, but Nature is the final judge. On that, they are way over their heads. No eristically-charged hyper-politics can ever trump Nature. If it is not already obvious to you that the dogmatists have egg on their faces because of this, hold on, Nature has more coming. Eventually stonewalling with, “What egg on my face?” will only leave the wider public laughing at them even more than they already are.
There is no justification for acting like vicious badgers toward scientists. The response of some GWPF scientists to the climate orthodoxy shows that scientists do not need to be paid to have reason to question the climate orthodoxy. Its positions are scientifically very weak, not strong, and it is the dogmatists that are responsible for that weakness. If they want to employ the credibility of science to support their agendas, they must learn to treat scientists holding contrary views in a credible manner. Such scientists have an important and respected role to play in advancing science. Dogmatists, of course, don’t easily change, so this stalemate may well continue until intelligent laymen have had enough and push them off the stage. Meanwhile, we are still here, and we are not going anywhere.
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