November 30, 2020 | Jerry Bergman

The Problem With Climate Consensus


Question Climate Change?
Be careful. You may lose your job!

 by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Much has been in the news about climate change and the harm it could cause. Presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to spend $2 trillion to deal with climate change. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her Green New Deal claims that “global warming at or above two degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrialized levels will cause—

(A) mass migration from the regions most affected by climate change;

(B) more than $500,000,000,000 in lost annual economic output in the United States by the year 2100;

(C) wildfires that, by 2050, will annually burn at least twice as much forest area in the western United States than was typically burned by wildfires in the years preceding 2019;

(D) a loss of more than 99 percent of all coral reefs on Earth;

(E) more than 350,000,000 more people to be exposed globally to deadly heat stress by 2050;

(F) a risk of damage to $1,000,000,000,000 of public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the United States.

According to the Green New Deal proposal, global temperatures must be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrialized levels to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate, which will require—

  • global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030; and
  • net-zero global emissions by 2050.

“Whereas, because the United States has historically been responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, having emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014, and has a high technological capacity, the United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic transformation.”[1]

The common claim is that these conclusions are the scientific consensus, thus beyond question. Are they? Biden says one of his first acts as president will be to implement major parts to the program outlined above. After all, human-caused climate change, as outlined in the quote above, is the scientific consensus, he claims.

Reasoning on the Issue

In fact, many people question if an average 2 degree rise in temperature, or 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrialized levels, will actually cause the horrific effects the government report claims. Even the human body, which is so critically sensitive to temperature change that 5 or 6 degrees above normal can kill, can normally deal with a degree or two of change. The average temperature range in the normal healthy human body is from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C).[2] And a range from 96 to 100, while less common, is still considered in the healthy range.  Only a temperature of over 100.4°F (38°C) is a concern, indicating a fever caused by an infection or illness.

More specifically, body temperatures of healthy adults vary from person to person with a mean μ = 36.8 Celsius and standard deviation σ = 0.4 degrees Celsius. Thus, 68 percent of people have body temperatures within ±1 standard deviation of the mean, or between 36.4 and 37.2 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, about 95% of people have body temperatures within ±2 standard deviation of the mean, or 36.0 and 37.6 degrees Celsius. Yet similar average changes are interpreted as catastrophic to the Earth!

In a previous post, I noted the fact that university professors have been terminated on the grounds that they urge caution related to the current claimed consensus on climate change. These people are subject to name-calling, such as “Climate Change Denier,” as is common against evolution doubters or Holocaust deniers.[3]

Professors Fired Due to Their Questions about Climate Change

I have a thick file of professors terminated due to their concerns about the accuracy of climate change predictions. In answer to the question “what happens to professors who dare question climate orthodoxy,” Professor Beisner writes, “sometimes they’re told to shut up. And if they don’t, sometimes they get fired. And after that, sometimes they get told to shut up about being fired.” This happened to

Dr. Peter Ridd, ex-professor of marine science at James Cook University in Australia. Ridd had the temerity to point out, in a chapter for the book Climate Change: The Facts 2017, that studies on which the claim that rising atmospheric CO2 concentration—blamed also for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming—was to blame for declining rates of calcification in the Great Barrier Reef were fatally flawed.[4]

Although some so-called climate change deniers are able to find employment, the so-called liberal press has openly condemned employing such persons. For example, one article condemned appointing one scientist for “a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration” because he “has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science.” Evidently, those who question global warming should be totally ostracized for their heresy. The scientist in this case is “David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology.”[5] The government funded National Public Radio added the following:

Legates has a long history of using his position as an academic scientist to publicly cast doubt on climate science. His appointment to NOAA comes as Americans face profound threats stoked by climate change, from the vast, deadly wildfires in the West to an unusually active hurricane season in the South and East.

The cause of these horrific events was dogmatically claimed because global temperatures have risen “nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.”[6]

It gets more complicated. As Rebecca Hersher explained: “Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner sent a letter to Legates expressing concern about his opinions on climate change, given that he was the state climatologist at the time. Minner asked him to refrain from casting doubt on climate science.”[7] Furthermore, Hersher concluded, “Advocates who reject mainstream climate science … have had a leading role in shaping the Trump administration’s response to global warming, including the decision to exit the Paris climate accord.”[8]

More Victims of Intolerance

A few other examples of discrimination include Professor Nickolas Drapela, who was fired from Oregon State University for expressing his doubts about human-caused climate change.[9] Another example is Professor Judith Curry, the head of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.[10] Yet other examples include Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumdria University (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK); Professor Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; S. Fred Singer Ph.D.; Craig Idso, Ph.D. and Robert Carter, Ph.D. Not only is climate-change denial ending careers, but so is questioning other so-called consensus science conclusions. University of California ecologist Ignacio Chapela was terminated for a related issue: his concerns about genetically modified plants.

The problem is so great that Professor Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, wrote over 15 years ago in an article titled Climate of Fear that:

There have been repeated claims that this past year’s hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?[11]

The Alarmism Triangle: A Self-Perpetuating Panic

In this 16-year-old article, which so far has been proven correct,  Lindzen answers why the climate change craze has gained public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes. He writes as follows:

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science — whether for AIDS, or space, or climate — where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today.[12]

If Biden has his way, the number $1.7 billion will become over $2 trillion.[13] The big problem of concern here was explained by Professor Lindzen as follows:

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis… So how is it that we don’t have more scientists speaking up about this junk science? It’s my belief that many scientists have been cowed not merely by money but by fear.[14]

Summary: The Need for Debate and Discussion

As with Darwinism, dogmatism rules. I am not a climatologist and cannot fully judge all of the issues related to this concern, but I am concerned about the repression of those respected scientists who are expressing concerns about the climate change issue. I am also concerned about the potential results of the so-called Green New Deal which could be disastrous for our nation and the world. These are issues we need to debate; the ramifications of proposed actions need to be explored. The fact is, climate is only a prevailing average of regional meteorological conditions that are not rigidly static, and the Little Ice Age (from the early 14th century through the mid-19th century) which followed the Medieval Warm Period (AD 950 to AD 1250) illustrates only one well-known example of this non-anthropogenic cyclic change.

Winter skating on the main canal of Pompenburg, Rotterdam in 1825, shortly before the solar minimum (of sunspots in 1833), by Bartholomeus Johannes van Hove. The Little Ice Age brought colder winters to parts of Europe and North America in the 1600s. It got so cold that it produced encroaching glaciers during the mid-17th century which destroyed farms and villages in the Swiss Alps. From Wiki Commons.

 

[1] House Resolution 209. https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hres109/BILLS-116hres109ih.pdf

[2]U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001982.htm

[3] Bergman, Jerry. 2020. Is Climate Change An Existential Threat? The Parallel Between Climate Skeptics and Darwin Skeptics. CreationEvolution Headlines, March 26. https://crev.info/2020/03/is-climate-change-an-existential-threat/

[4] Beisner, E. Calvin. 2018. “What Happens to Professors who Dare Question Climate Orthodoxy?” Cornwall Alliance, May 24. https://cornwallalliance.org/ /what-happens-to-professors-who-dare-question-climate-orthodoxy

[5] Hersher, Rebecca. 2020. Longtime Climate Science Denier Hired At NOAA. NPR Science, September 12. https://www.npr.org/2020/09/12/912301325/longtime-climate-science-denier-hired-at-noaa

[6] Hersher, 2020.

[7] Hersher, 2020.

[8] Hersher, 2020.

[9] Paper by Gorden Fulks, Ph.D. in physics. Copy in Jerry R. Bergman’s personal files.

[10] Lemonick, Michael. 2010. Climate heretic: Judith Curry turns on her colleagues. Nature, November 1. https://www.nature.com/news/2010/101101/full/news.2010.577.html

[11] Lindzen, Richard. 2006. “Climate of Fear,” The Wall Street Journal,  p. A-14, April 12. On line at https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB114480355145823597

[12] Lindzen, 2006.

[13] Lomborg, Bjorn. 2020. The good and bad of Joe Biden’s $2 trillion climate change plan: Bjorn Lomborg. The Orange County Register, October 13.

[14] Lindzen, 2006.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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