Climate Change Conclusions: You Get What You Pay For
With this morning's release of the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of the fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of scientific evidence behind climate change by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is time to recall the IPCC's original stated purpose. In their own words, the role of the IPCC is to assess the "risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation..." In other words, the organization's mission assumes from the get-go that anthropogenic global warming is a fact.
So, it is understandable that a climate researcher looking for financial support will craft their study proposal in such a way as to meet the needs of public and private entities seeking to endorse the IPCC position. This is not dishonest. The researcher is meeting a need and being paid to meet that need. Fair enough.
But, "you get what you pay for" and this is not how authentic scientific research is supposed to work. As pointed out by Al Gore himself in his movie An Inconvenient Truth, socialist Upton Sinclair observed that "It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it."
Consider the alternative. Suppose an organization pays someone to research the possibility that human impact on long-term, global climate change is negligible. Is this considered improper with respect to authentic science while payment-to-endorse-human-induced-climate-change is not?
Furthermore, authentic scientific research requires that a hypothesis like "humans are responsible for long-term global climate change" be falsifiable; that is, able to be disproven. And, if it is disproven by, for instance, prognostications not matching reality, then the hypothesis should be discarded or reworked.
For more than 15 years now, as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise sharply, global temperature increases have not materialized as confidently predicted. So, understandably, what we now have by those championing the science-for-hire model is a frantic rush to continue to defend the hypothesis that humans are largely responsible for long-term global climate change via "carbon pollution" emissions.
Frenetics are required since too much is at stake; too much money, effort, and prestige have been spent spinning-up a state of fear [h/t to the late Michael Crichton].
Yet, too much is truly at stake for scientific practice. The climate of contemporary scientific research must follow a more objective course, so that such research is in the service of humanity, rather than servant to the highest bidder.
Anthony J. Sadar, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, is author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic's Guide to Climate Science.