Climate Change Theory: What's Wrong with it?
I can’t believe I’m still writing about climate change. I’d have stopped long ago were it not for persistent calls to blow up the U.S. economy in order to save the planet. The cult-like demand for action permeates every part of public life, government, media, academia, even K-12. Rep. Among the draconian policy solutions, Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal would have enormous negative impact on our economy.
For the record, climate does vary -- think ice ages. And a combination of natural climate variability and measurement problems make the likelihood of singling out a human fingerprint very low. I look here at how climate alarmism is being sold in a distinctly unscientific manner.
The term ‘science’ properly refers to the scientific method, which is a system of inference designed to weed out incorrect ideas in favor of those supported by experiment and observation. The crux of the scientific method is rejection of theory rather than proof of it. From Bacon to Hopper and Feinman, it has been well understood that scientific theory must be “falsifiable,” that is, subject to test and rejection. Falsifiability depends on narrow and specific conditions imposed by theory. If the conditions fail, the theory is wrong.
On the other hand, we hear a lot these days about consensus, skepticism, and denial. Warmists often cite the “97-percent consensus” that manmade climate change is true and “settled.” This claim stems from a single study of article abstracts dealing with climate. The study suffers from a number of serious method flaws and has been roundly debunked. A more reasonable conclusion from the study is that 3% of the abstracts support manmade warming, not 97%. In reality the science is not at all settled.
What else is wrong with climate change alarm?
First, how did global warming get to be climate change? At least with warming there is a scientific theory: increase CO2 levels and get two or three degrees of direct and indirect warming. Why the switch to talking about too cold/too hot and other severe weather? Perhaps it’s because satellite and weather balloon data have failed to bear out GW theory for almost 20 years. Well, says NASA, surface weather station data do show warming as expected. But this picture emerges only as a result of serial and unexplained fudging of the data. Plus, NASA is from the government and has made such a mess of land and sea surface data as to make it useless as evidence for anything but data manipulation.
Second, there’s an awful lot of argument from authority going on in the alarmist camp. The researchers there call themselves climate scientists and make the ostentatious claim that only they can understand the atmosphere. Did you get what I said about the scientific method? What in that description suggests that only experts can be critics? Not to mention, the most powerful cohort in the warmist universe is the computer modelers. These guys design code that reflects theory, what they think is going on in the air. CO2 is in; solar is out. Then they run the models to get a whole bunch of curves and say, well then; that proves it. The models did just what we told them to do. Anything funny about this logic?
The climate wonks have a receptive audience. A couple of generations of smart people who learned about science stuff in school say: if scientists say it’s going to be bad then by golly it will be bad. One of these smart people, presidential candidate Sen. Kamela Harris, declares climate change to be existential and demanding of action, no matter the cost. Existential? A couple of hypothetical degrees Celsius is existential? How do you think your petition to lighten up would fare in her office? How about Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse calling for RICO prosecution of deniers. Or former President Obama implying that climate change deniers don’t believe in the moon or think it is made of green cheese. I’m pretty sure we did away with the green cheese theory a long time ago.
It kind of sorts out into curious folks who aren’t much impressed with the historical record of Malthusian doom-casting and smart people who just know that our evil species is bad for the planet. The curious folks think about the evidence and the smart people just don’t understand why curious folks don’t like science. What? If I don’t believe in string theory I don’t like science?
But what if it isn’t about science in the first place?
The question of greenhouse gas warming has been around a bit more than 100 years, working its way through Fourier, Arrhenius, Callender and Revelle. But the political interest in CO2 is relatively recent. The global warming juggernaut began in the mid ‘70s as a crisis epiphany under the leadership of the late UN diplomat Maurice Strong. Mr. Strong served as the first executive director of the United Nations Environment Program and recognized the potential value of CO2-induced warming theory as a tool to proselytize for globalization. Strong was the driving force behind Agenda 21, a program to enforce sustainable energy development through public education and training.
The scientific arm of Agenda 21 is the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which name telegraphs its staff of bureaucrats. IPCC has published Summaries for Policy Makers (SPM) based on existing refereed science papers. One of IPCC’s noteworthy accomplishments has been to assure that its SPMs are unencumbered by underlying technical detail. Translation: the SPMs say whatever the bureaucrats want them to.
Mr. Strong believed that pending environmental disaster required a globalist solution. His thinking was bold and not necessarily restricted to scientific inference:
“… in order to save the planet, [a group of world leaders] decides: Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?”
Later on, German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III Mitigation of Climate Change, opined:
“One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy, … We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” (Philosophy and position on climate change)
And more recently, Christiana Figueres, a former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and a leader of the 2015 Paris Accords said in an official UN press release:
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”
Wait a minute! You mean to tell us we’ve been pouring tens of billions down a climate change rat hole for a couple of decades and what you really want to do is screw up the economy? We’ve been robbed!
Dr. William Lippincott is a retired environment scientist. His inferences are based on extensive literature research on the mechanisms of climate variability, a task open to any student of the scientific method.