Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Wreckage of the “Climate Consensus”

The Global Warming/Climate Change charade is falling apart faster than the Democrats 2010 electoral fortunes. Falsified data, omitted relevant data, unreliable sources – the most prestigious propagators of the global warming case are beset with scandal after scandal. Here are a few highlights:

 From The Crackup of the Climate Consensus, by Steven F. Hayward:

The climate-change campaign is in catastrophic free fall.

Nearly every day brings a new embarrassment or retraction for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the supposed gold standard for "consensus" science.

The anti-warming lobby long demonized skeptics as the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers while warning of climate "tipping points." Now, the "Climategate" scandal that broke in November is looking like a true tipping point: The leaked e-mails have done to the climate-change debate what the Pentagon Papers did for the Vietnam War debate 40 years ago -- changed the narrative decisively.

For years, skeptics have been pointing out serious defects or gross exaggerations in the climate narrative -- glaciers that weren't actually melting; weak or incomplete data in the records of surface temperature that supposedly proved unprecedented warming; a complete lack of backup for claims that storms and drought are growing more severe. Plus, global temperatures have been flat for the last decade -- increasingly falsifying the computer models that project our doom.

 From Climate Science Unraveling, by Keith Lockitch:

Following the Climategate scandal, I commented that on the climate issue “there has been a consistent pattern of exaggeration and deception, of context-dropping claims, and of distortion of the facts and the scientific process”—and that this has been driven by “a widespread commitment to environmentalist ideology.”

Well since Climategate, there have been so many other scientific scandals that have emerged it’s hard to keep up with them all.

 Mr. Lockitch cites this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal:

It has been a bad—make that dreadful—few weeks for what used to be called the “settled science” of global warming, and especially for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is supposed to be its gold standard.

First it turns out that the Himalayan glaciers are not going to melt anytime soon, notwithstanding dire U.N. predictions. Next came news that an IPCC claim that global warming could destroy 40% of the Amazon was based on a report by an environmental pressure group. Other IPCC sources of scholarly note have included a mountaineering magazine and a student paper.

 He also cites a piece from the Orange County Register, which documents the growing list of scientific distortions, now numbering 19.

 Then, From Fox

There is the fact that, contrary to the predictions of the computer models that so much of global warming “settled science” depends on, there has be no warming since 1995. While this may only be a break in the two century long gradual warming trend, it was one of “a number of eye-popping statements to the BBC's climate reporter” made by Phil Jones, former head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia. The CRU is “the research center at the heart of the Climate-gate scandal”.

 And Rich Lowry weighs in:

A funny thing happened to this "consensus" on the way to its inevitable triumph, though: Its propagators have been forced to admit fallibility.

For the cause of genuine science, this is a small step forward; for the cause of climate alarmism, it's a giant leap backward. The rush to "save the planet" can't accommodate any doubt, or it loses the panicked momentum necessary for a retooling of modern economic life.

That the global warming crusade is increasingly being exposed as the hoax that it always was doesn’t surprise me. I never bought into it, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before it would collapse. The only question was, how much damage would be done to our livelihoods and our freedoms before it was exposed. It appears that we may now have been saved from the Cap & Trade catastrophe.

For the record, let me state my position on the issue of climate change. Climate variations are natural. They occur constantly. It’s of course possible that human industrial activity contributes, but there is no evidence that man is a major factor, if at all. To the extent that he is, it is part of the natural process. Like any life form, man has a means of survival. Unlike all other life forms, man’s means is to alter, not adapt to, the environment, through his faculty of reason, to suit his needs and comfort. This is a fact of nature. As an example, and by the standard of human life as a value, the fossil fuel industry – the focus of evil for the environmentalists - has been a huge improvement to the environment. Man’s living environment, that is. Think about that the next time you leave your warm home, drive to your favorite supermarket, step out of your heated car that got you there, and then hustled across a frigid wintertime parking lot and into a toasty store – all courtesy of the oil industry.

To the extent that specific, local instances of man-made pollution occur, they can and should just be fixed through technological advancement, a by-product of human freedom. (The role of the government with regards to pollution is a complex legal question, which is properly addressed within the context of the application of individual rights to the field of law.) But broad changes in the “natural” environment that are a by-product of man’s industrial, technological activities are not a bad thing, when you consider the alternative. Humans can not live in unaltered nature, like an animal. Yes, some pollution may be unhealthy. But “we must remember”, philosopher Ayn Rand has observed, “that [for man] life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death.”

This brief statement, however, doesn’t in and of itself invalidate the claims of the global warming camp.

My complete and enduring skepticism has been based on four observations.

 First, the climate issue is political. The collectivist Left has latched onto global warming as a vehicle for expanded statism. To the extent that human activity is altering the climate, a very debatable claim in light of current evidence, the “problem” is technological. Technological advancement requires individual freedom, as the whole history of the Industrial Revolution has clearly demonstrated. Yet central government planning and the consequent loss of freedom saturates every “solution” offered by the Left. The climate issue has been nothing more than a vehicle for age-old socialist goals.

 Second, the hysterical attempts to promote the ideas of a “scientific consensus”, that the science is “settled”, and that the debate is “over” is a blindingly bright red flag. Anyone who is confident that the facts support his position welcomes skepticism, because he knows he can debunk the skeptics. It bolsters his case to refute opponents’ arguments. Yet all we have gotten are vicious tactics to demonize anyone who challenges the Left’s “consensus” dogma. They will go so far as to destroy careers and reputations. These are the tactics of thugs, not self-confident advocates of a legitimate intellectual cause.

 Third, global warming has been portrayed as an unmitigated disaster. All of the consequences are portrayed as bad. But I remember how the 1970s global cooling scare was portrayed as totally catastrophic as well. Then, as now, man was "somewhat responsible". Only then, as Time reported on 6/24/74 (Another Ice Age?), the culprit wasn't CO2, but man-made dust (yes dust) caused by - are you ready? - his "fuel burning"! Fossil fuels just can't get a break. Billions would starve as farmable lands shrink. Well, you can’t have it both ways. The fact is, there is good and bad in climate change, which is attributable mainly to natural forces. Climate change is a very gradual process, encompassing decades and centuries, leaving plenty of time for free individuals to deal with the drawbacks and exploit the positives such changes will engender. If climate change is the danger portrayed by the alarmists, they would promote individual rights and capitalism, so people are free to take the actions necessary to adapt to the gradual changes. They would seek to educate, giving people the factual tools to guide them. Instead, they seek a “moratorium on brains” - to stifle the mind under government edicts. It didn’t work for the Soviets, and it won’t work for the environmentalists (if man’s well-being is really their goal).

 The fourth and final point ties all of the rest together. Scientific research has become heavily politicized. This is necessarily so because science is heavily funded by government. This means that scientists must depend on politicians for their funding, which means that they must satisfy politicians or lose their grants. The “science” behind the global warming charade, I have long believed, can not be trusted. That's because funding must be filtered through an entrenched environmentalist-dominated political establishment. The spreading scandals have vindicated my suspicions. Without the politicization of science, especially climate science, wrought by government funding, the climate change scaremongers would be relegated to the conspiracy theory fringe, where they belong.

The global warming cabal has been knocked back on its heels. But they’re not yet finished. They’ll attempt a comeback. “The climate-change circus”, warns Mr. Hayworth, “isn't yet ready to join such past enthusiasms as the ‘population bomb’ or the Club of Rome's ‘Limits to Growth’ nonsense: It has too much political and institutional momentum behind it…” But they are now up against the headwinds of declining public support. More and more people are on to them.

In the meantime, they're not giving up easily, but they’re looking more and more like kooks. Reports Mr. Lowry:

"In The Boston Globe, MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel marshals a new argument for fighting warming: 'We do not have the luxury of waiting for scientific certainty, which will never come.' Really? That's not what we were told even a few months ago -- before climate alarmism acknowledged doubt."

Are you ready for catastrophic energy price increases, shortages, and freedom restricted at the hands of all-powerful central planning government bureaucrats who are not bound by the “luxury” of facts, logic, reason – or scientific certainty?

This may be the beginning of the end for the latest environmental catastrophe movement. But this movement, dating back at least to Thomas Malthus, has a long history of manufacturing some new alarmist environmental concoction. The Maltusian connection, as I previously pointed out, is firmly entrenched in the Environmentalist Movement.

They’ll be back.


jthomas said...

It's interesting that if Ayn Rand were alive today she would have disowned you for such naive, blind following of the political nonsense you subscribe to about climate science.

The best she would say about your mindless thinking is that, maybe, you weren't quite as bad as Creationists.

It's amazing that you make no effort to understand science.

Andrew B said...

Nice way to back yourself up JT.

Unfortunately for you warmists, Evolutionary Theory and the Global Warming Hypothesis are a world (of evidence) apart, as this article demonstrates:

Mike Zemack said...


Thanks for pointing out the excellent essay from the Objective Standard blog. I hadn't seen it.