President Obama has put salvation from dreaded climate catastrophes on his action agenda hot list. During his second inaugural address he said: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” He went on to shame anyone who disagrees with this assessment, saying, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and powerful storms.”
This sort of scary presidential prognostication isn’t new. He previously emphasized at the Democratic National Convention that global warming was “not a hoax,” referred to recent droughts and floods as “a threat to our children’s future,” and pledged to make the climate a second-term priority.
As much as I hate to nit-pick his doomsday scenarios, it might be appropriate to correct a few general misconceptions before getting back to that “overwhelming judgment of science” stuff.
Regarding wildfires, for example, their numbers since 1950 have decreased globally by 15%. According to the National Academy of Sciences, they will likely continue to decline until around mid-century.
As for those droughts, a recent study published in the letter of the journal Nature indicates that globally, “…there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.” And as the UN Climate panel concluded last year: “Some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia.”
Also, by the way, global hurricane activity, measured in total energy (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), is actually at a low not encountered since the 1970s. In fact, the U.S. is currently experiencing the longest absence of severe landfall hurricanes in over a century. Wilma, the last Category 3 or stronger storm, occurred more than seven years ago.
But supposing these recent circumstances were different … because after all, climate really does change. Even virtually all of those whom the President claims “deny” that “overwhelming science” recognize this. (If climate didn’t change, would we even need a word for it?)
The larger issue has to do with just how many of those who stoke the global warming alarm fires have real confidence in that “science.” So let’s briefly review just a few candid comments that some of them have offered on this topic. These are but a very small sampling of my favorites.
How Climate Alarmism Advances International Political Agendas
The term “climate” is typically associated with annual world-wide average temperature records measured over at least three decades. Yet global warming observed less than two decades after many scientists had predicted a global cooling crisis prompted the United Nations to organize an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and to convene a continuing series of international conferences purportedly aimed at preventing an impending catastrophe. Virtually from the beginning, they had already attributed the “crisis” to human fossil-fuel carbon emissions.
Opening remarks offered by Maurice Strong, who organized the first U.N. Earth Climate Summit (1992) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, revealed the real goal: “We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrialized civilization to collapse. Isn’t it our responsibility to bring this about?”
Former U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth (D-CO), then representing the Clinton-Gore administration as U.S Undersecretary of State for global issues, addressing the same Rio Climate Summit audience, agreed: “We have got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” (Wirth now heads the UN Foundation which lobbies for hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to help underdeveloped countries fight climate change.)
Also speaking at the Rio conference, Deputy Assistant of State Richard Benedick, who then headed the policy divisions of the U.S. State Department said: “A global warming treaty [Kyoto] must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the [enhanced] greenhouse effect.”
In 1988, former Canadian Minister of the Environment Christine Stewart told editors and reporters of the Calgary Herald: “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”
In 1996, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev emphasized the importance of using climate alarmism to advance socialist Marxist objectives: “The threat of environmental crisis will be the international disaster key to unlock the New World Order.”
Speaking at the 2000 UN Conference on Climate Change in the Hague, former President Jacques Chirac of France explained why the IPCC’s climate initiative supported a key Western European Kyoto Protocol objective: “For the first time, humanity is instituting a genuine instrument of global governance, one that should find a place within the World Environmental Organization which France and the European Union would like to see established.”
How Some Key IPCC Researchers View Their Science
For starters, let’s begin with two different views by some of the same researchers that are reported in the same year regarding whether there is a discernible human influence on global climate.
First, taken from a 1996 IPCC report summary written by B.D. Santer, T.M.L Wigley, T.P. Barnett, and E. Anyamba: “…there is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcings by greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols…from geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change…These results point towards human influence on climate.”
Then, a 1996 publication “The Holocene”, by T.P. Barnett, B.D. Santer, P.D. Jones, R.S. Bradley and K.R. Briffa, says this: “Estimates of…natural variability are critical to the problem of detecting an anthropogenic [human] signal…We have estimated the spectrum…from paleo-temperature proxies and compared it with…general [climate] circulation models…none of the three estimates of the natural variability spectrum agree with each other…Until…resolved, it will be hard to say, with confidence, that an anthropogenic climate signal has or has not been detected.”
In other words, these guys, several of whom you will hear from later, can’t say with confidence whether or not humans have had any influence at all…or even if so, whether it has caused warming or cooling!
IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer, speaking in November 2010, advised that: “…one has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth…”
The late Stephen Schneider, who authored The Genesis Strategy, a 1976 book warning that global cooling risks posed a threat to humanity, later changed that view 180 degrees, serving as a lead author for important parts of three sequential IPCC reports. In a quotation published in Discover, he said: “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, on the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people, we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that, we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of the doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
Kevin Trenberth, a lead author of 2001 and 2007 IPCC report chapters, writing in a 2007 “Predictions of Climate” blog appearing in the science journalNature.com, admitted: “None of the models used by the IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed state.”
Christopher Landsea, a top expert on the subject of cyclones, became astounded and perplexed when he was informed that Trenberth had participated in a 2004 press conference following a deadly 2004 Florida storm season which had announced, “Experts warn that global warming [is] likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity.” Since IPCC studies released in 1995 and 2001 had found no evidence of a global warming-hurricane link, and there was no new analysis to suggest otherwise, he wrote to leading IPCC officials imploring: “What scientific, refereed publications substantiate these pronouncements? What studies alluded to have shown a connection between observed warming trends on Earth and long-term trends of cyclone activity?”
Receiving no replies, he then requested assurance that the 2007 report would present true science, saying: “[Dr. Trenberth] seems to have come to a conclusion that global warming has altered hurricane activity, and has already stated so. This does not reflect consensus within the hurricane research community.” After that assurance didn’t come, Landsea, an invited author, resigned from the 2007 report activity and issued an open letter presenting his reasons.
A note from Jones to Trenberth: “Kevin, Seems that this potential Nature [journal] paper may be worth citing, if it does say that GW [global warming] is having an effect on TC [tropical cyclone] activity.”
Jones wanted to make sure that people who supported this connection be represented in IPCC reviews: “Getting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital – hence my comment about the tornadoes group.”
Raymond Bradley, co-author of Michael Mann’s infamously flawed hockey stick paper which was featured in influential IPCC reports, took issue with another article jointly published by Mann and Phil Jones, stating: “I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL [Geophysical Research Letters] paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year reconstruction.”
Trenberth associate Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research wrote: “Mike, the Figure you sent is very deceptive … there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC …”
Wigley and Trenberth suggested in another e-mail to Mann: “If you think that [Yale professor James] Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official [American Geophysical Union] channels to get him ousted [as editor-in-chief of the Geophysical Research Letters journal].”
A July 2004 communication from Phil Jones to Michael Mann referred to two papers recently published in Climate Research with a “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL” subject line observed: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow—even if we have to redefine what the peer review literature is.”
A June 4, 2003 e-mail from Keith Briffa to fellow tree ring researcher Edward Cook at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York stated: “I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc…If published as is, this paper could really do some damage…It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically… I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review—Confidentially, I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting.”
Tom Crowley, a key member of Michael Mann’s global warming hockey team, wrote: “I am not convinced that the ‘truth’ is always worth reaching if it is at the cost of damaged personal relationships.”
Several e-mail exchanges reveal that certain researchers believed well-intentioned ideology trumped objective science. Jonathan Overpeck, a coordinating lead IPCC report author, suggested: “The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out.”
Phil Jones wrote: “Basic problem is that all models are wrong – not got enough middle and low level clouds. …what he [Zwiers] has done comes to a different conclusion than Caspar and Gene! I reckon this can be saved by careful wording.”
Writing to Jones, Peter Thorne of the U.K. Met Office advised caution, saying: “Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary…”
In another e-mail, Thorne stated: “I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.”
Another scientist worries: “…clearly, some tuning or very good luck [is] involved. I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer.”
Still another observed: “It is inconceivable that policymakers will be willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.”
One researcher foresaw some very troubling consequences: “What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multi-decadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably…”
The Costs of Ideology Masquerading as Science
As Greenpeace co-founder Peter Moore observed onFox Business News in January 2011: “We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It’s not good for people and it’s not good for the environment…In a warmer world we can produce more food.”
When Moore was asked who is responsible for promoting unwarranted climate fear and what their motives are, he said: “A powerful convergence of interests. Scientists seeking grant money, media seeking headlines, universities seeking huge grants from major institutions, foundations, environmental groups, politicians wanting to make it look like they are saving future generations. And all of these people have converged on this issue.”
Paul Ehrlich, best known for his 1968 doom and gloom book, The Population Bomb, reported in a March 2010 Nature editorial that a barrage of challenges countering the notion of a looming global warming catastrophe has his alarmist colleagues in big sweats: “Everyone is scared s***less [fecally void], but they don’t know what to do.”
Yes, and it should, because consequences of subordinating climate science to ideology, however well-intentioned, have proven to be incredibly costly.
The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) reports that federal climate spending has increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010 (a total $106.7 billion over that period). This doesn’t include $79 billion more spent for climate change technology research, tax breaks for “green energy”, foreign aid to help other countries address “climate problems”; another $16.1 billion since 1993 in federal revenue losses due to green energy subsidies; or still another $26 billion earmarked for climate change programs and related activities in the 2009 “Stimulus Bill.”
Virtually all of this is based upon unfounded representations that we are experiencing a known human-caused climate crisis, a claim based upon speculative theories, contrived data and totally unproven modeling predictions. And what redemptive solutions are urgently implored? We must give lots of money to the U.N. to redistribute; abandon fossil fuel use in favor of heavily subsidized but assuredly abundant, “free”, and “renewable” alternatives; and expand federal government growth, regulatory powers, and crony capitalist-enriched political campaign coffers.
It is way past time to realize that none of this is really about protecting the planet from man-made climate change. It never was.