Junk Climate Science
A popular saying is that those that don’t believe in God will believe in anything. Global warming provides and excellent reason for making an effort to believe in God, or at least in Judeo-Christian ideology that is the basis of our civilization.
Global warming religion originates in well-financed scientific organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The scientific basis of the catastrophe theory is junk science made to seem authoritative by dressing it up with lengthy reports based on dubious computer models. These organizations and scientists greatly benefit from rivers of government money and bask in the prestige that comes from being credible-seeming prophets.
The junk science is bad, but the camp followers in the media and environmental non-profits are far worse. They amplify the junk science claims into hysterical predictions of imminent doom. The climate science establishment mostly sits on the sidelines, the members abdicating their responsibility as public servants and apparently happy with ignorant exaggerations of their scientific conclusions.
In 2005, when I retired, I took up the study of global warming. I joined the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. I went to their annual meetings of both organizations. I exhibited posters and went to the AGU annual climate change banquet in San Francisco Chinatown. I attended Gordon Research Conferences that related to climate change. These conferences encourage open discussion by requiring attendees not to quote other attendees. I made every effort to build relationships with climate scientists.
At one Gordon Conference a former insider at the National Science Foundation stood up and said that the NSF was corrupt in various ways, for example directing grants to their friends. You could have heard a pin drop. Nobody defended the NSF and nobody agreed with the critic. They all pretended to be turtles. Presumably most of them had pending grant applications or plans to submit applications.
As President Eisenhower said in his 1961 farewell address about government support of science: “the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”
Although I was deeply invested in studying the science, the friendships with climate scientists were the most helpful aspect of my study. Very few establishment climate scientists openly depart from orthodoxy. But plenty of climate scientists doubt the orthodoxy but are afraid to speak up.
The orthodoxy is that the atmospheric climate models can predict the future and that we face a catastrophe caused by burning fossil fuels. This is obviously a leap of faith. There are many models from different science groups and they disagree with each other. According to a well-known climate scientist, their outputs do not “correspond even remotely to the current observed climate.” Models are evaluated by simulating past climate to see how well the model can track it. This is analogous to creating a mathematical model of the stock market that tracks past ups and downs and then applying the model to try to predict the future. This doesn’t work well as evidenced by the fact that there are not hordes of stock market forecasters that are billionaires. The problem is that fitting the past with a model is often an exercise in curve fitting that has no predictive power about the future.
Academic life is in varying degrees oppressive. Scientists go through a long apprenticeship starting as graduate students. Although climate science strives to be like physics with well-defined rules and principles it doesn’t work out that way due to the complicated nature of the Earth’s climate. Climate science is more like medicine than physics. The senior authorities or high priests of climate science have converged on the doomsday view. Doomsday works for them. Contradicting high priests is not a good way to get ahead.
A consequence of the intellectual oppression in climate science is that there are no early career mainstream climate scientists that are public critics of the orthodoxy. If one should emerge, he would be looking for a new line of work very quickly.
As exhaustively documented by the websites realclimatescience.com and wattsupwiththat.com there is nothing new about climate doomsday predictions. What’s worse the official climate records of the government are both unreliable and tampered with.
Global warming orthodoxy emphasizes CO2 as the main driver of climate. But other well-known factors such as solar cycles, cosmic rays, and the overturning circulation of the oceans are capable of influencing climate. The Danish scientist Hendrik Svensmark has built a convincing climate theory based on changes in the sun’s magnetic field that influence cosmic ray bombardment of the Earth and subsequently the formation of clouds. Svensmark is attacked or ignored by the establishment faith.
Once after the AGU climate banquet in San Francisco I was walking through Chinatown with a prominent senior scientist that had dissented to an extent from orthodoxy. We encountered another scientist, and my friend introduced me as his favorite skeptic. The other scientist became angry, and my friend became obviously upset if not fearful. My friend was making the mistake of associating with me, a subversive. Climate scientists that associate with the wrong people can lose their jobs.
I don’t want to exaggerate. American universities and research institutions are not North Korea. I think casual skepticism is tolerated. Skepticism becomes a problem when the orthodoxy is criticized in scientific or public forums.
Richard Lindzen is a climate scientist that speaks his mind and cannot be fired because he has made too many important discoveries. He wrote an exemplary insider’s article.
Somehow the use of wind and solar energy for generating electricity has become official government policy. The idea is that wind and solar don’t generate CO2 and thus will thus reduce CO2 emissions from burning coal and natural gas to make electricity. Important climate scientists have attacked their followers for promoting wind and solar technologies that are highly impractical and very expensive. The companies that build these billion-dollar installations are of course engaged in promotion of their defective technology.
The generation of electricity is well understood engineering. Wind and solar cost too much and must be backed up by traditional generating plants. Wind and solar only work when the weather is favorable. Solar does not work at night or if it is cloudy. Wind works when the wind is blowing strong enough but not too strong.
The only scalable method of generating electricity without CO2 is nuclear and the environmental left hates nuclear even though they claim to be terrified of global warming. You can read my book, Dumb Energy, if you want the details.
Corruption of science is not new. Examples include Lysenkoism, Pathological Science, and Cold Fusion. Wrong science may be driven by individual and organizational self-interest but it can also be the consequence of wishful thinking, confirmation bias, or honest mistakes.
Norm Rogers educated as a physicist was a cofounder of Rabbit Semiconductor. He has written many articles concerning global warming and green energy. He has a website. He is a member of the board of directors of the CO2 Coalition and was formerly on the board of the National Association of Scholars.
Image: US Navy