Cracks in the Climate Consensus?

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Posted on January 18, 2017 in Cell Biology, Education, Fossils, Geology, Media, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Politics and Ethics

It’s still dangerous to challenge Big Science about climate change. In the new political climate, a growing number of voices are willing to take the risk.

The science is settled, we are told, about man-made global warming. Listen, though, to the opening paragraph of “Three questions climate science must answer” on Phys.org:

The signing of the Paris agreement in 2015 may give the impression that the major questions concerning climate change have at last been answered and that climate science has met its challenges.

But a new Perspective article in Nature Climate Change today begs to differ, defining three key questions vital for society and calling for an international climate change research effort on par with the investment in the International particle physics laboratory, CERN.

Maybe Australians on the panel have more guts to call truth to power than the average American or European climate scientist, but that’s a bold departure from the smug elitism of journal editors who call anyone who doesn’t agree with the consensus stupid or evil. If the consensus were as strong as the public is told, why would a CERN-level research effort be needed? Here are the three questions this group says remain unanswered:

  1. Where does the carbon go?
  2. How does weather change with climate?
  3. How does climate influence the habitability of the Earth and its regions?

That’s a bit like saying, “We understand cars, except where the gasoline goes, how the transmission works, and how to drive them.” What questions, exactly,  have climate scientists answered?

The paper, published by the world’s leading scientific publisher Nature, does not question man-made global warming. What it does, though, is call into serious doubt the evidential foundation of that consensus. The 13 authors concur with the big picture, but state that climate scientists do not know how the big picture connects with regional and local impacts on people. Believing that warming is man-caused is no more helpful than stating that cancer is caused by runaway cell division. OK; what do you do with that?

To put it in a particularly Australian way, we don’t plan for a bushfire season based on what is happening with global average temperatures, we look at temperature and humidity in our area instead.”

Additional cracks in the climate edifice keep appearing in the science media from time to time. For instance:

Deep mantle chemistry surprise: Carbon content not uniform (Science Daily): Carbon was assumed to be uniformly distributed in magmas, but new evidence shows it’s not. This affects assumptions of volcanoes’ contributions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

San Francisco Bay Area methane emissions may be double what we thought (Science Daily): Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. New estimates double the amount coming from natural gas leakage in the San Francisco Bay. This affects in a “non-trivial” way California’s projections of how much carbon it must reduce to meet goals of the Paris accords. (Notice also that much of this extra methane is from leakage of natural gas, which comes from within the earth.)

Researchers describe global sea level event during the hot greenhouse climate of the dinosaur age (Phys.org): Scientists continue to adduce evidence for global warm periods that humans had nothing to do with. During the Cretaceous, these scientists say, “the presence of polar ice was unlikely” and there were large excursions in sea levels.

Study of microbes reveals new insight about Earth’s geology, carbon cycles (Science Daily). “Grasping the biological, chemical and geological processes microbes engage in is critical to understanding and predicting global climate, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient transport and other natural phenomena.” If those processes were already known, the research going on at the DOE’s Argonne National Lab would not be required.

Skeptics Not Cowering

Name calling is not working. A number of credible scientists and journalists continue to confront the Establishment, unfazed by the accusations that they are stupid or wicked for not falling in line with “settled science.” Bjorn Lomborg, for instance, released a video for Prager University this week that mocks the Paris Accords, stating that even under the most draconian of proposed cutbacks, America can only achieve a reduction of 0.057 °F. World efforts, also, fall far short of the 2° C arbitrary target for 2100. The Paris Accords only account for 1% of what the experts claim is needed. Moreover, most of the world’s efforts remain to be discussed and implemented after the year 2030. No wonder Lomborg calls globalist policies useless; they would only delay predicted catastrophic global warming by 8 months, he says. Lomborg considers climate a real problem that needs solutions, but argues counter-intuitively that they are most likely to come from private enterprise and benefactors like Bill Gates, not by government regulators.

Conservative journalist Mark Steyn punches back harder than Michael Mann (a global warming guru, hero of the consensus) hits him. Before reading his latest article “The craziness of the climate science echo chamber,” better put on flameproof clothing. Steyn is not just unfazed by being called a “denier,” he is a fierce attack dog against Mann and the consensus. He calls ousted climate scientist Dr. Judith Curry to the stand as a star witness for his depiction of Mann as a bully and misogynist. Who has the right science in this interchange is not ours to say; the point is that critics of the consensus are not taking the name-calling lying down, and they have some prominent experts backing them up. Curry is a published climate scientist and member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee, but “because the science leads away from Michael E Mann and his cartoon climatology, she has been subject to a vile campaign of character assassination by him and his creepy little coterie.” The video interchange in the article, taken before a Congressional committee, gives some flavor of the arrogant elitism of the consensus and the bold pushback of the skeptics.

With a new President and cabinet taking power in the U.S. this Friday, many of whom are skeptics of man-made global warming, the tide may be turning against the consensus. For the short term, Big Science and Big Media will undoubtedly continue their character assassination of anyone who doesn’t tow the Big Science line. But a new spirit of questioning of mainstream insiders is in the air. It may become politically correct for qualified but shy skeptics to come out of the woodwork and state what they really believe on this topic, with less fear of recrimination. Time will tell.

Update 1/19/17: Space.com produced a video from NASA-Goddard that shows the globe warming based on temperature measurements, turning from a lovely blue and yellow to threatening red in just a few years. Simultaneously, Live Science asserted, “2016 Was Earth’s Hottest Year on Record, and Humans Are to Blame.” That’s not knowable for the reasons stated above. Another article on Space.com offers to explain “How NASA Knows 2016 Was the Hottest Year.” A closer look past the bluffing assertions, however, shows significant uncertainties in these claims. The last article admits that measuring absolute temperature is a “murkier proposition” than measuring relative temperatures. None of the articles addresses the philosophical issues of calibration and integration we discussed in our 1/16/15 entry, “What is the temperature of the earth?” Finally, NASA’s video is a very misleading case of visualization propaganda. Even if the data are as trustworthy as they claim, the animators chose colors that exaggerate the slight temperature increases, making them seem like going from a refrigerator to a toaster. Most people probably did not even notice that 2016 was the “hottest year on record.” Records only go back to 1880, but geologists speak of warming and cooling periods far more drastic than that in times where humans had nothing to do with it. Collectively, these articles seem geared at scaring readers into trusting Big Science, not engaging their critical thinking skills. Meanwhile, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology admits that climatologists are unable to model the impact of proposed mitigation scenarios, nor do they know how to reduce CO2 emissions. How, then, came they shame people and governments into doing something, when they can’t even say what they should do? – except, perhaps, to feel guilty.

Climate change is not our focus at CEH, but it serves as a thermometer for Big Science’s response to criticism of their self-generated elitism. If the time comes where they can no longer push the government and the public around, and alternative media present sufficient challenges to their presumptive authority, they may actually have to argue evidence instead of assuming their words are divinely inspired, not to be questioned by the unwashed. The elitists act the same way when discussing evolution. Without accountability, they feel free to trash critics outside their echo chambers as illiterate peasants. What happens when the Visigoths storm the castle? (5/09/06) Will Big Science’s empirical weapons really be up to the task?

 

 

 

 

 

One Comment

Plazatoro January 18, 2017

Big science can start by properly identifying their enemy — carbon dioxide, which is a colourless, invisible compound gas, essential to all life on earth. Instead everybody is running around talking about carbon, which has nothing to do with global warming. Get it right.

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