Reflections on the State of Climate Science

In late June, I attended the annual international conference of a prestigious environmental organization -- the Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) -- and presented a paper on atmospheric modeling.

To kick off the environmental conference in warm Long Beach, California, Ms. Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation, gave the lead keynote address on June 24th. Regarding the previous day's Supreme Court decision on the EPA's control of "carbon pollution," Ms. McCabe said her agency was "very pleased with the decision."  So, you know all is not well for certain industries going forward. The high court's ruling allows the EPA to impose greenhouse gas emission limits on major existing industrial sources, and then to go after new sources with stringent restrictions.

Also, when asked for his recommendations to young professionals, Dr. Barry Wallerstein, the Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District and keynote speaker for the second day of the conference, said he would focus on climate change and sustainability. In addition, he predicted no more nuclear power plants in California's energy future.

During the week-long affair, attended by well-over 1000 professionals, I had a chance to reflect on why an association of well-intentioned practitioners has so readily succumbed to what I believe to be a biased, wrongheaded conclusion that humans are responsible for long-term global climate change. After all, the global temperature trend has been rather flat after more than 15 years, even though practically all climate models predicted rising thermometers.

For the most part, graduates in fields related to the environment (such as environmental engineering and science, biology, meteorology, ecology, and the like) have been well trained in the fundamentals of each discipline, yet at the same time have been somewhat indoctrinated in a perspective that is "progressive"  (i.e., leftist, including socialism and statism). This seems to be especially true of the younger generation of graduates.  Perception from progressive groupthink, a hallmark of the hallowed halls, likely makes a lasting impression.

To confuse matters, academic, government, and business progressives convolute some of the principles and language and techniques of capitalism to promote their programs -- programs that would be hard-pressed to survive without the assistance of capitalism. Enticing concepts of entrepreneurship and profiting from energy efficiency are proffered as if they are the proprietorship of progressivism.

Furthermore, apart from the apparent indoctrination from grade school through graduate school that has inculcated the “incontrovertible conclusion” that people are ruthlessly destroying the planet, man-made climate-change hype via the media and PR spin doctors has infused acceptance of boundless human culpability into the psyche of everyone from the general public to atmospheric-science practitioners.

In addition, along with continued onerous, complex federal regulations, there are literally billions of dollars available for researchers securing grant money, consultants advising on carbon credits, and technocrats proposing carbon dioxide control and sequestration contraptions. It’s easy to cash in on assessing “the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation,” as stated in the role of the U.N.’s Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change.

What's more, as I delineated last year in American Thinker, “those who sincerely believe they know the long-term future of the global climate are committed to the cause. Commitment can be admirable, but nobody, no matter how smart, can predict the future climate decades ahead with any serious degree of accuracy. That has already been demonstrated with the leveled temperature trend that belies predictions.”

There is hope for intelligent diversity, however, as many professionals with a valuable alternative view are speaking up. Earlier this month, just after the AWMA meeting, a conference was held in Las Vegas of those who are unconvinced of many of the claims made about human influence on climate change. This was the 9th International Conference on Climate Change. (I unfortunately did not attend the noble gathering, and you can bet that Janet McCabe didn't either.) Related to the conference is the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), "an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to present a comprehensive, authoritative, and realistic assessment of the science and economics of global warming."

Apart from the thousands of knowledgeable scientists, engineers, and economists participating in the Las Vegas conference, NIPCC, and numerous similar groups, there are so many of us unaffiliated professionals who sympathize with the cause of returning increased perspective and integrity to an honorable profession.

With persistent broadminded scientific practice and the continued unfolding of climate conditions in ways not predicted by vaunted climate models, the future looks warm indeed for a turnaround in climate-science thinking.

Anthony J. Sadar is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic's Guide to Climate Science (Telescope Books, 2012).