Climate modeler Benjamin Santer (left), MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, and non-scientist climate catastrophe activist Harvard history professor Naomi Oreskes expressed their four-alarm fury in a June 21 Washington Post op-ed titled “Attention Scott Pruitt: Red Teams and Blue Teams are No Way to Conduct Climate Science.”
The trio of terror were responding to separate (bipartisan) demands by former Obama Administration Energy Department undersecretary Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist at New York University (NYU), and Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Scott Pruitt, calling for legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective discussion about climate science disputes.
Santer, Emanuel, and Oreskes (right) angrily protested that any such debates represented “dangerous attempts to elevate the status of minority opinions, and to undercut the legitimacy, objectivity, and transparency of existing climate science.”
Koonin had charged in a Wall Street Journal article that Obama Administration bureaucrats had spun scientific data to manipulate public opinion. He wrote, “What you saw coming out of the press releases about climate data, climate analysis, was, I’d say, misleading, sometimes just wrong.”
As an example, Koonin referred to a 2014 National Climate Assessment purporting to show that hurricane activity has increased from 1980. “What they forgot to tell you,” he said, “and you don’t know until you read the fine print, is that it actually decreased in the decades before that.”
Santer, Emanuel, and Oreskes expressed outrage regarding Koonin’s and Pruitt’s assertions “essentially claiming that peer-review systems are rigged, and that climate scientists are not providing sound scientific information to policymakers.” Notably, the lead author, Ben Santer, has been repeatedly and roundly accused of doing exactly that.
Santer first gained notoriety for introducing a totally misleading conclusion into the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1995 summary report which infamously claimed to find, for the first time that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” In doing so, he obligingly revised and contradicted the study team’s actual research conclusions to comply with IPCC’s politically directed messaging agenda.
Santer dutifully deleted an earlier chapter draft which asked, “When will the detection and unambiguous attribution of human-induced climate change occur?” . . . which also answered, “We do not know.” The study team had concluded that “While some of the pattern-based discussion here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to manmade causes.”
The conclusion in Santer’s revised — politically compliant — version was very different. It read, “The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.” The IPCC immediately leaked this unsupportable assertion to The New York Times, where a banner headline breathlessly proclaimed “Scientists finally confirm human role in global warming.”
Santer was also accused of manipulating data in an influential research paper by ending his analysis of global warming patterns in 1987, just prior to a surge of southern hemisphere warming relative to the northern hemisphere went into reverse. Had he not done so, that “discernible human influence” would have been even less discernible.
The late Frederick Seitz, who headed the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in the 1960s, wrote a Wall Street Journal article which accused Santer of “the most disturbing corruption of the peer-review process” in 60 years. Naomi Oreskes subsequently vilified Dr. Seitz and other highly scientifically distinguished alarm skeptics with grossly undeserved ad hominem attacks in her book, Merchants of Doubt.
Santer’s 2008 paper, published in the International Journal of Climatology, erroneously contradicted satellite and weather-balloon data which showed warming did not extend up into the atmosphere as he suggested . . . especially in the tropics where the fabled “hot spot” was supposed to be most evident.
A paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by University of Rochester astrophysicist David Douglass, John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and others highlighted observed data proving that Santer’s models were dramatically overheated. Santer successfully used his influence to delay re-publication of those contrary findings in the International journal of Climatology until he could prepare a rebuttal.
Santer, Emanuel, and Oreskes argue that today’s “scientific consensus” regarding dangers of “human-caused warming” offer evidence enough that “in short, climate science is not broken. It does not need fixing.” So if this is really the case, wouldn’t you imagine that all will be eager to vindicate the merits of their unbroken methodologies and findings against skeptical challengers through openness to rigorous scrutiny?
Science historian Naomi Oreskes should certainly realize that minority opinions have almost always been the ones to have advanced knowledge. As Albert Einstein noted, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”