The Warmists Cop a Plea

When the golden god

Gives their light; drowns the Earth

We the people go blind

Steven Koonin, a prominent scientist, has written a book critical of global warming with the title Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why It Matters. Plenty of important scientists before him have been critical of global warming, but most of those were not as well connected as Koonin, who held a high position during the Obama administration.  Koonin has been harshly attacked by the advocates of global warming doom for not following the party line.

Koonin exposes the faulty science behind the global warming doom theory. As a member of the science establishment, Koonin doesn’t go so far as to use the word "fraud." He probably should have

Compared to other exposés along the same lines, Koonin’s book carries more weight due to his prominence. Koonin is a high-level defector, and his former friends are not happy.

Koonin’s defection is ideological. He really believes that science is a search for truth, not for fame and fortune. At the age of 70 he is ready to act on his beliefs.

The global warming doom theory is more science fiction than science, but a fiction that is very good for the professors who invented the theory. Climate science was an obscure corner of academia until the professors got the idea that by burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide mankind will trigger a catastrophic change in the climate. Global warming made the professors important. Instead of toiling away at dusty desks in the basements of tawdry academic buildings, they are flying first class to important meetings wearing thousand-dollar suits.

The evidence for global warming is provided by complicated computer models.  Computer models are the lazy scientist’s friend. It is a lot easier to write a paper or promote a theory using a computer model as compared to, for example, taking samples from a cave in Mongolia. Critics can’t get traction against computer models because it takes entirely too much work to understand the details buried in thousands of lines of code. The climate computer models must be “tuned,” a process of adjusting coefficients and massaging data to make the model agree with previous years’ climate. If a model fails to predict future climate catastrophe, that is a signal that more adjustments are needed. Most scientists are not consciously committing fraud, rather the unconscious process of confirmation bias is at work. Confirmation bias is the tendency to find a path consistent with existing belief. Confirmation bias does not excuse a fraudulent theory. Scientists are supposed to avoid confirmation bias.

Koonin is far from the only critic of computer models. The prophet of population doom, Professor Paul Ehrlich said “to err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.” In an oblique reference to the benefits of prophesying doom, Ehrlich said that if he was going to take a trip on the Titanic, he would go first class.

Koonin suggests using red and blue debate teams to aid in revealing the truth. This is a system often used by the military. It is like the adversary system that plays out in courtrooms every day. The terms “red” and “blue” are not meant to refer to political parties.

The red and blue teams are a good idea, but implicitly assumes good faith on both sides. The advocates of global warming almost never engage with their critics due to the danger that the weakness of their position might be revealed.  Attorneys in a courtroom or military officers analyzing a military strategy are not going to lose their jobs if their side in a red and blue debate doesn’t prevail. But if global warming advocates lose the debate, the doom theory will be weakened, and the advocates of the theory will suffer career damage. Thus, if forced into a red and blue team, the global warming professors can be expected to behave unethically and try to destroy the credibility of the debate.   

If critics of a scientific theory are attacked or fired from their jobs, that is a signal that the scientific theory really is a political movement. Climate scientists understand the danger and are careful to follow the party line. Secretly, as exposed by anonymous polls, they know that the theories are weak. I’ve often had the experience of a climate scientist swearing me to secrecy before having a discussion.

Global warming is being taken seriously. As a result, trillions are being budgeted for completely impractical wind and solar energy.

There is an extensive network of amateur scientists and non-profit organizations that have websites and write articles critical of global warming doom. A good example is the highly credible website run by a television meteorologist Anthony Watts. Koonin never mentions this network of critics. Even to the dissenter Koonin, these are invisible men. Professional science tends to be clique science that ignores outsiders and enforces ideological conformity.

Real reform of science would require supervision by people not members of the establishment. It would require cutting extravagant budgets. It would require punishment of unethical conduct. The climate doom situation provides motive for real reform. But if the science establishment is allowed to enter a plea to a lesser crime such as an honest mistake, then real reform will be evaded. They should not be allowed to cop a plea.

Norman Rogers, educated as a physicist, is the author of the book Dumb Energy critical of wind and solar energy. He has been on the board of both the National Association of Scholars and the CO2coalition. He is a retired entrepreneur.

Image: BenBella Books

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