Thursday, September 17, 2020

Reply to the WaPo on the Legates appointment

Joseph Bast

The Washington Post’s coverage of David Legates’ appointment to a position with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is hopelessly biased and inaccurate, par for the course for the Post’s coverage of environmental issues.

The lead sentences say Prof. Legates has “long questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming.” In fact, Prof. Legates has long questioned whether there is a scientific consensus, and his writing (including in peer reviewed science journals) shows there is not. He is not alone. Most scientists disagree with the exaggerated claims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The reporters say, disapprovingly, that Prof. Legates was “forced out of his role as [Delaware's] state climatologist” by a Democrat governor who objected to his views on climate change. Yet later in the article, the reporters strenuously object to the idea that Prof. Legates may have been hired  by the Trump administration because of his views. The reporters’ hypocrisy destroys their credibility.

NOAA, according to the reporters, “has until now continued its climate research and  communication activities unfettered by political influence.” No source is given for that claim. What they mean is that after President Obama thoroughly politicized and weaponized the agency in his war against coal, his administration’s hold-overs have done all they can to obstruct the current administration’s efforts to correct the situation. The Deep State is firmly in control of NOAA.

The reporters quote an anonymous source inside NOAA calling the appointment a “midnight hire” and saying “the need for any new talent coming into this organization at this point is really not needed” (sic). Right. Why would any reporter use this ridiculous and transparently self-serving comment by an anonymous source in a “news” story?

The reporters define The Heartland Institute as “funded in part by the fossil fuel industry.” How much? They don’t say. (They never say.) The truth is that less than 10% of the organization’s budget comes from companies in the energy industry, and this has always been the case. Heartland receives less funding from energy companies than nearly any of the environmental organizations in the country who are on the other side of the global warming debate. Haven’t you heard? Exxon-Mobil supports a carbon tax. This smear is just a Democrat Party talking point with no basis in fact. Five minutes on Heartland’s website would have revealed this.

The reporters obviously spent less than five minutes on Heartland’s website because they go on to say Prof. Legates is lead author of a “Heartland-funded, non-peer-reviewed rebuttal to the IPCC, called “The IPCC Reconsidered.” Really? Heartland has published a series of reports (five volumes so far, each about 1,000 pages long composed of reviews of peer-reviewed scientific research) titled “Climate Change Reconsidered.” Those reports are produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC); Heartland only publishes them. They are peer reviewed; as a lead editor, I know this first hand.

According to the reporters, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is “a research and advocacy group” and its staffer is a “watchdog.” Right. And Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a charity that operates soup kitchens in low-income neighborhoods. In fact, the UCS is a hard-left advocacy group that uses scientific controversies to advance its anti-free enterprise, anti-America agenda. Of course it could be counted on to attack a scientist who refuses to go along with its propaganda efforts. No real reporter would go to such a source for a comment on Prof. Legates’ appointment.

The article ends with some long quotations from a “marine scientist” and former Obama political appointee attacking Prof. Legates. They couldn’t find a climate scientist willing to criticize the appointment? Or someone who isn’t an Obama legacy? Was Michael Mann, the usual go-to character assassin of the liberal media, too busy blogging about his support for BLM? (Mann who, incidentally, is viewed by his peers as “an embarrassment to the profession.” A whole book with that title has been written about him.) Oh, check that, Mann was the first person interviewed by PBS when Prof. Legates’ appointment became known.

The Washington Post continues to make a fool of itself by playing stenographer to the most radical fringe of the environmental movement. Prof. Legates is a fine man with a distinguished academic career, his appointment at NOAA may be a long-overdue attempt to inject new talent into an organization that lost its independence and integrity a long time ago.


Biden's Wildfire Gaslighting

Forest mismanagement, not climate change, is most responsible for massive wildfires.

President Donald Trump is a “climate arsonist,” Joe Biden ridiculously asserted Monday in a speech about the deadly wildfires raging across much of the Pacific Northwest. Biden, of course, blames Trump’s lack of action on climate change. In what can best be described as apocalyptically unhinged remarks totally devoid of genuine scientific truth, Biden insisted that if Trump has “four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?” In what fantasy land is Biden living? He is blatantly and bizarrely politicizing environmental disasters as if Trump were some mythical Greek god capable of capriciously controlling the elements.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Trump was in California Monday viewing some of the fire damage when he was asked by a reporter what role he believes climate change had in causing the fires. “Well, I think this is more of a management situation,” Trump responded. “If you look at other countries, if you go to other countries in Europe, Austria, Finland … they’re forest nations. They’re in forests and they don’t have problems like this.” This answer had the Leftmedia crying foul, with CNN, for example, declaring, “Trump baselessly questions climate science during California wildfire briefing.” (Clearly, the folks at CNN are living in the same fantasy land and may be reading the same teleprompter as Biden.)

Yet Trump isn’t the one denying scientific reality, as the Left’s fake “fact-checkers” falsely claim. Trump’s assertion that forest mismanagement is the primary problem producing these massive wildfires is not “scapegoating,” as Biden spuriously asserts; it is sound opinion supported by forestry and ecology experts.

Bob Zybach, a forester with 20 years of experience and a PhD in environmental science, has long argued that it all started with Bill Clinton’s forest management change. “If you don’t start managing these forests, then they are going to start burning up. Thirty years later, they are still ignoring it,” Zybach argued. “They’ve gone and left hundreds of thousands of acres of burnt timber, a fire bomb waiting to happen, standing in place because the black back woodpecker prefers that habitat.” Zybach further observed, “It’s great for lawyers, but it’s bad for people who breathe air or work in the woods. The prescribed burns are an ancient form of management for keeping the fuels down so these events don’t happen.”

Career fire ecologist Tim Ingalsbee advises that the way to solve the problem is “to get good fire on the ground and whittle down some of that fuel load.” Ingalsbee laments, “It’s just … horrible to see this happening when the science is so clear and has been clear for years. … Every year I warn people: Disaster is coming. We’ve got to change. And no one listens. And then it happens.”

Finally, ecofascists do have a roundabout point that the vast majority of these wildfires are caused by people. The National Park Service reports, “Nearly 85 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans. Human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, equipment use and malfunctions, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson.” But this fact shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Smokey Bear, who has long admonished, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

Indeed, maybe people should quit lighting fires in the Pacific Northwest — and in American cities — and set about to fix the problem.


The doomsday lies of climate activists never stop

India flooding

Photos and videos are extremely useful tools in storytelling and even in conveying news to the masses. Be they simple photographs of people or videos of people marching through a street, they help us relate to the actual events and stories.

In the past decade, climate-change enthusiasts and activists have utilized this aspect to the utmost to highlight natural disasters and propagate the idea that climate change has aggravated them.

But often this grim and devastating image of natural calamities does not reveal the complete picture. In fact, climate activists exaggerate weather events (short-term and local) as climate events (long-term and global to regional) and misrepresent regular incidents as unprecedented ones.

Last month, I came across a retweet by Greta Thunberg, a globally recognized climate activist. She retweeted a tweet showing recent flooding in India. The tweet was preceded and followed by a series of tweets that highlighted allegedly climate-driven natural disasters in an attempt to drive home the need for climate action.

It was surprising for me to learn that Greta and others portrayed the regular summer rainfall downpour in India as something unprecedented and use it as an arsenal to promote their climate doomsday narrative.

India is in the midst of its summer rainfall season. Also known as the monsoon, these rains are the lifeline for India's 1.3 billion people. They are a boon, not a disaster as Greta and other activists claim.

The excess rainfall has brought much joy to the majority of the Indian people, who depend on rain for agriculture. Farmers have already begun sowing, and a historic food crop output is expected in 2021, topping already record-high levels.

As for the flooding Greta retweeted, the flooding in the state of Bihar is unrelated to long-term climate change. With increasing population, more people have been prone to be impacted by flood waters than before.

Flooding in that region has been a regular event, and not something new and unprecedented. The rainfall data since 1871 reveal that the annual precipitation levels have always been erratic, with no significant trend.

There have been no significant changes in rainfall pattern, according to scientists at the Indian Meteorological Department. To claim otherwise reveals ignorance of the real climate in the region.

This methodology – of portraying natural disasters as a consequence of climate change and claiming it as unprecedented – has become a common practice among climate activists.


Scientific cancel culture exposed

An inquiry into Great Barrier Reef farming yields remarkable confessions as institutions are challenged by evidence.


The Senate committee inquiry into the regulation of farm practices impacting water quality on the Great Barrier Reef has yielded some remarkable confessions by science institutions about the state of the reef. It has been the first time many of the scientists have been asked difficult questions and publicly challenged by hard evidence. They have been forced out of their bubble.

It was revealed by Paul Hardisty, boss of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, that only 3 per cent of the reef, the “inshore reefs”, is affected by farm pesticides and sediment. He also stated that pesticides, are a “low to negligible risk”, even for that 3 per cent.

The other 97 per cent, the true offshore Great Barrier Reef, mostly 50km to 100km from the coast, is effectively totally unharmed by pesticides and sediment.

This has been evident in the data for decades but it is nice to see an honest appraisal of the situation.

Why has this fact not been brought to the public’s attention in major documents such as the GBR Outlook Report produced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority? Why has everybody been deceived about the true extent of the problem?

AIMS was also forthcoming on other important points. Records of coral growth rates show no impact from agriculture. Large corals live centuries, and have annual growth rings like trees. They record their own rate of growth. If farming, which started about 100 years ago on the reef coast, was damaging it, there should be a slowing of the growth rate. The records show no slowing when agriculture started a century ago, or when large-scale use of fertiliser and pesticides began in the 1950s.

I have written previously that AIMS has been negligent in not updating the GBR-average coral growth data for the past 15 years. We have the scandalous situation that there is data going back centuries – but nothing since 2005. AIMS claimed coral growth rates collapsed between 1990 and 2005, due to climate change; however, there is considerable doubt about this result because AIMS changed the methodology for the data between 1990 and 2005. At the Senate inquiry, under some duress, AIMS agreed it would be a good idea to update this data if the government will fund the project.

Updating the coral growth rate data will be a major step forward. It will prove or disprove the doubtful decline between 1990 and 2005. It will also give the complete record of how the GBR has fared in the past 15 years, a period when scientists have become more strident in their claims that it is on its last legs.

Hardisty, to his credit, has recently implemented red-blue teams within his organisation to help with quality assurance of the work that AIMS produces. A red team is a group of scientists that takes a deliberately antagonist approach to check, test and replicate scientific evidence. A genuine red team is a far more rigorous quality assurance approach than the present system used in science – peer review – which is often little more than a quick read of the work by the scientist’s mates. What AIMS has done internally is similar to what I have been proposing – an Office of Science Quality Assurance that would check, test, and replicate scientific evidence used for public policy.

Unfortunately, Hardisty’s commitment to quality in science was not reflected by many other important witnesses at the Senate inquiry. Many are in denial and resorted to shooting the messengers. An extract from a letter signed by Professor Ian Chubb, a former Australian chief scientist, was read out by Senator Kim Carr.

Disputing the conventional wisdom on the reef was likened to denying that tobacco causes cancer, or that lead in petrol is a health risk. Worse still, the reason sceptics do this, apparently, is “usually money”. Scientists such as Dr Piers Larcombe, the pre-eminent expert on the movement of sediment on the reef, with decades of experience, is thus written off as a corrupt charlatan.

It is scientific “cancel culture”. It is easier than confronting Larcombe’s evidence that farming has very limited impact on the GBR.

It is customary to be very cynical of our politicians, but it was senators Roberts, Rennick, Canavan and McDonald who forced some truth from our generally untrustworthy science institutions. Only our politicians can save us from them.

The evidence about the reef will not be buried forever. All the data indicates agriculture is having a negligible impact on the reef, and recent draconian Queensland legislation against farmers is unwarranted. And this issue will be influential come the Queensland state election on October 31.



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.  

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