The Climate Crusade

Although I am a skeptic regarding the extent of mankind’s impact on global warming, I don’t particularly like it when people describe the scare as a hoax or as a fraud on the public. Hoaxes and frauds executed on a grand scale require a concerted intent to deceive, which I think very few, if any, climate alarmists have. There is no global conspiracy to pull the wool over our eyes – the very idea is ludicrous.

Given the usual run of human foibles, however, systematic errors need only attractive theories, dramatically skewed incentives and confirmation bias to present themselves as seemingly unchallengable truths.    

Incidentally, you’ve probably already noticed that in the first paragraph I referred to the focus of climate alarmism as global warming rather than with the more au courant climate change. I view the newer formulation as a politically convenient dodge, the transparent intent of which is to muddy the waters whenever evidence of dramatic warming is weak. Either anthropogenic – i.e., man-caused – global warming (hereinafter: AGW) threatens to make the planet unlivable in the foreseeable future, or it does not: we shouldn’t confuse evidence for or against that proposition with random fluctuations in weather.

Well actually, there is a third possibility: that AGW is real, i.e., man’s activities are having a warming effect on the climate, but minimal relative to natural factors pushing the climate this way and that as they always have. This, in my view, is by far the likeliest possibility and, if so, it would in no way justify the massive changes that AGW alarmists think must be imposed on all in order to save the world from the fires of Hell.

***

How dare I, to use a Greta Thunberg-ism, presume to question the supposed consensus wisdom of our scientific betters? Well, to begin, in the course of my lifetime I’ve seen regular, apocalyptic predictions about global climatic catastrophes, none of which has come to pass despite the passage of multiple the-world-will-end-by dates. When the world doesn’t end by the predicted dates, the alarmists just push their forecasts back a few years. In this, the AGW alarmists bear a striking resemblance to doomsday cults that have been a regular feature of human history since forever – and they have the same quasi-religious fervor.

Does anybody believe AOC’s statement that the world will end in 12 years if we don’t address AGW? Um, no. She, and other climate extremists (James Hansen, Michael Mann, Al Gore and Prince Charles, to name a few) have beclowned themselves over and over again with such nonsense over the thirty years since the AGW hypothesis first gained traction. Meanwhile, as best I can tell, the climate hasn’t actually changed much. Not great for the alarmists’ credibility.

And in addition to having been wrong with apocalyptic prediction after apocalyptic prediction (https://www.wsj.com/articles/thirty-years-on-how-well-do-global-warming-predictions-stand-up-1529623442) it’s pretty clear to me that the data that allegedly documents horrifying climate trends has been systematically presented in a misleading fashion. The best explanation of how (not why) misleading data is being used to sell the catastrophic AGW proposition is to be found in this short youtube video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8455KEDitpU&feature=youtu.be).

The video speaks for itself; I strongly urge you to give it a few minutes of your time. That said, I have also read analyses of other data manipulation techniques than the one that the video so beautifully documents that have also been used by highly credentialed scientists to distort the historical temperature record with a view to raising the alarm about the possibility of catastrophic AGW.

But wait: if I have already discounted the possibility of a global conspiracy to deceive the public about the extent of AGW, how can it be that the supposedly rock solid scientific consensus around the hypothesis is wrong?

***

To begin, the 97%-of scientists-agree figure used by Barack Obama and innumerable others is as misleading as the data sets highlighted in the above linked youtube video. Answers to a survey are all about how (and to whom) you ask the pertinent question. If you ask scientists, particularly those in the direct or indirect employ of the government, whether mankind is having an effect on the climate (which is more or less what was asked to arrive at the 97% figure), you know what the answer will be, because everything affects everything else. And of course, the scientists know how they’re supposed to answer. Presto, an impressive consensus.

Whenever somebody tries to sell me anything with transparently manipulated data and a phony the-experts-agree and if-you-don’t-we-all-die pitch, I back away quietly. If the product were sound, would they have to try to sell it in this manner? No.

As regards the many scientists who sincerely (and non-fraudulently) believe the catastrophic AGW hypothesis, though, it’s well to consider how human nature deals with complex future possibilities. (Note that I refer to catastrophic AGW as a possibility, a hypothesis, rather than as a fact, because that’s all it is. Pretending that non-falsifiable predictions about the future based on complex, often wrong models is “science” is folderol.)

What I see as the systematic reasons for much of the scientific support of the AGW panic are as follows:

As a starting point, I take it as a given that the theory that there is or should be a direct, linear relationship between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the amount of heat retained on earth is perfectly plausible. Without this scientific plausibility, the idea would never have gone anywhere. The much-hyped models based on that hypothesis have consistently overpredicted rising temperatures, but that doesn’t mean that the theory itself is wholly wrong; it just means (at a minimum) that the theory is incomplete.

(Actually, the data sets, which are much larger than the ones we usually see, that are in the video linked above seem to more or less conclusively disprove AGW theory, at least in its extreme form, by showing that a longer term look back reveals periods before there was nearly as much CO2 in the air, when temperatures were considerably warmer for extended periods, as well as that the rate of sea level rise has been remarkably constant for 150 years. If the catastrophic AGW theory were correct, shouldn’t we be seeing much sharper rises in temperatures and sea levels? Yes, we should).

***

Most climate scientists work directly or indirectly (via grants) for the government. The regulatory (and grant-making) arms of the federal government want to believe in the catastrophic AGW hypothesis. Their regulatory powers were dramatically broadened by the EPA’s “finding” that CO2 causes global warming, and who doesn’t like more power?

The same is true as regards supranational organizations like the UN, which know that their roles (and powers) will be vastly augmented by the general acceptance of the theory of catastrophic AGW, since they would perforce have huge roles in enforcing new global actions to avoid the otherwise-impending end of life as we know it.

Some politicians have even been candid about the fact that they see the AGW panic as a means of achieving the power to change the world in ways that they would very much like to do whether or not there’s any truth to the hypothesis (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/aocs-top-aide-admits-green-new-deal-about-the-economy-not-the-climate).

Climate scientists undoubtedly know that the governments and supranational agencies that employ them want evidence for catastrophic AGW. And that it is a plausible and non-falsifiable theory. And that nobody thinks it’s a great idea for mankind to mess with the climate; indeed, who could possibly want to take the position that, e.g., more coal burning plants would be a good thing?  Not only are scientists financially incentivized to support the hypothesis (Raises! Grants!), they would become pariahs, both socially and within their guild, for, if you will, raining on that parade.

For some, these incentives and disincentives plainly mean they can feel good about themselves while presenting skewed data sets (Hey, it’s all in a good cause!); others are only too happy to keep their heads down and answer “yes” when asked if they “believe in” AGW. After all, by definition, if people are around in profusion, they’re having an effect on the climate.

And for many, confirmation bias means that they will seem to find exactly what they’re looking for in terms of evidence. (As my mother used to say: “If you go looking for trouble, you’re going to find it.”)

Democrat politicians and some now-seemingly-superstar scientists have been trying to sell catastrophic AGW for years, aided and blessed by the media, which love a scary story and to help their political allies, but the American people aren’t buying it. To my mind, our skepticism is wholly justified.

The theory of catastrophic AGW, and the people who push it, don’t have to be frauds to be wrong. They just have to believe that the details that they use to sell the theory matter less than their conviction that the course for which they are advocating is morally in the right, and that selling alarmism will help their careers. As to more skeptical scientists, they just need to look away for fear of destroying their own careers, and an apparent consensus looks rock-solid. 

Until the end of the world doesn’t come.

M.H. Johnston                  

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