Guest Post by Ira Glickstein.
What’s the difference between a whimsical fable and an environmental fallacy?
- On the outside, fables are light-hearted fibs. But oh so true on the inside.
- Environmental fallacies are just the opposite, serious and plausible on the outside but hiding egregious falsehoods on the inside.
Environmentalists have promoted the theory that human civilization is the main cause of global warming. They argue that Governments worldwide must take immediate drastic action to prevent a catastrophe. The chain of proof in their human-caused climate catastrophe theory is broken in at least six places:
Fossil fuels cause some air pollution, but the most dangerous air pollution comes from the fallacies uttered by environmentalists :^). If the voting public is misled by this kind of “environmentalist air pollution” our free economy will be destroyed, and with it, the most successful experiment so far of free peoples governing themselves. Only a High-Intellect Twit (HITwit), a person who is smart in some academic domain but quite foolish otherwise, could come up with and believe all these fallacies!
Environmental fallacy #1: Scientists have an accurate measure of warming since 1880.
Environmental fallacy #2: Human activities, primarily fossil fuels, are the main cause.
Environmental fallacy #3: Scientists can accurately predict future warming scenarios.
Environmental fallacy #4: Human-caused warming will lead to an environmental disaster.
Environmental fallacy #5: “Green” energy and conservation can replace most fossil fuel.
Environmental fallacy #6: Therefore, the Government must mandate and subsidize “green” energy to save our Planet.
Each of the above statements has a germ of truth that gives a patina of scientific validity to the argument, but none of them can stand close examination.
FALSEHOOD #1. Scientists have an accurate measure of warming since 1880, and it is at least 0.8⁰C.
The statement is false because the very US government-funded scientists charged with analyzing thermometer readings agree that their own past analyses are faulty, or that the raw data is of poor quality, or both. By their own admission, they have had to analyze and re-analyze the data multiple times. They have corrected their previous errors by more than plus or minus a quarter degree, altering the supposed warming trend by up to half a degree.
NASA GISS emails, released under the Freedom of Information Act, include one by climate scientist Makiko Sato  that details how official data, issued in 1999 for US mean surface temperatures, showed 1934 more than 0.5⁰C warmer than 1998. That result, indicating a strong cooling trend in the US, was, let us say, inconvenient for the case of a warming world. Sato details seven adjustments that cooled 1934 and warmed 1998 until, according to three 2007 analyses, they were nearly equal, a net change of more than half a degree. (Re-analysis continued after Sato’s 2007 email. According to the latest available reports , 1998 was 0.078⁰C warmer than 1934. Our tax dollars at work! The 1934 data is old enough to collect Social Security, yet they are still making it work for them.)
This is not a cherry-picked example. Starting in 2001, virtually all officially reported US temperatures prior to the 1970′s have been systematically adjusted down, thus exaggerating apparent warming. Temperatures after the 1970′s have been systematically adjusted up, further exaggerating the claimed warming. 
Apologists point out that this is only US surface temperature data and the US covers only about 2% of the Earth’s surface. However, if US data analyzed by US scientists has half a degree of “adjustment” slop in it, how much worse must worldwide data be? If the wiggle room in data analysis (0.5⁰C) is almost as large as what they claim to have measured (0.8⁰C), the official US, UK and other adjusted climate data has no scientific validity. It is anecdotal, at best.
The truth: The Earth has warmed a bit since 1880, but no more than 0.4⁰C.
FALSEHOOD #2. Human activities, primarily fossil fuels, are the main cause.
This statement is false because, even as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue their rapid exponential rise , global temperatures, as measured by satellite sensors  over the past dozen years, have stabilized and even dropped a bit. If CO2 was the main cause of temperature rise, temperatures would have had to go up over this period, at least a bit. They have not, which disproves the strength of the causal relationship. There must be other causes that are greater than burning fossil fuels.
The Truth: While human-caused CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases undoubtedly have effects on temperatures, they are not the main cause of recent warming. Human activities will not, indeed cannot, cause any kind of “tipping point” or “runaway” warming. It is becoming clear the main cause is natural cycles, such as Solar activity that modulates cosmic rays , and multi-decadal ocean oscillations, neither of which is under control or influence by humans.
One way to “lie with statistics” is to plot the data with an axis of the graph at an arbitrary value that exaggerates the variations. The figure below plots Temperature in Kelvin (above Absolute Zero) against CO2 levels referenced to zero, and indicates that Temperatures have remained quite stable as CO2 has gone up quite visibly.
FALSEHOOD #3. Scientists can accurately predict future warming scenarios.
This statement is false because official warming scenarios depend upon a misunderstanding of the nature and magnitude of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity. ECS is how much temperatures will rise given a doubling of CO2.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assumes ECS is a mono-modal distribution with the most likely value lying between 2⁰C to 4.5⁰C, with an asymmetric “fat tail” that extends out to 10⁰C or higher, and with a single peak at 3⁰C. However, this conclusion is based on combining the results of ten separate studies, from 2001 through 2006, that are each quite different . They peak at various temperatures, from 1.1⁰C to 3.8⁰C. Some of the study results hardly overlap. Indeed, the one thing they have in common is their “fat tails” that extend out beyond 6⁰C, which turns out to be impossible based on the limited glaciation of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
In 2011, Andreas Schmittner showed that ECS is multi-modal, with at least two separate peaks for data taken over land, and five separate peaks for over water . A multi-modal distribution generally indicates that different populations have been conflated and, therefore, all bets are off with respect to the scientific validity of predictions of means that assume a mono-modal variable.
In addition, Schmittner showed that “fat tails” beyond about 6⁰C incorrectly retrodict the LGM as a totally frozen “snowball Earth”. However, it is well known that the LGM did not extend equatorwards beyond 40⁰ north and south latitudes. Thus, ECS-based models are not scientifically valid. 
The Truth: All else being equal, a doubling of CO2 levels will increase average temperatures by less than 1⁰C, and most likely less than 0.5⁰C. Climate models overestimate warming because they wrongly assume that clouds, on net, cause positive feedback. They also ignore the effect on cloud formation of cosmic ray modulation due to natural solar cycles.
Indeed, natural forces not under human control or influence are as likely to drive us into a period of global cooling as global warming. Future generations may come to thank us for the bit of added warmth due to our burning of fossil fuels.
FALSEHOOD #4. Human-caused warming will lead to an environmental disaster.
This statement is false because humans simply do not have the capability to cause more than relatively moderate warming and increases in CO2 levels that cannot imperil human civilization.
The Truth: The supposed disaster of global warming has been overhyped. As Climate-gate and other scandals have revealed, the temperature data have been diddled, the books cooked, and climate models have failed to predict the near-term future, much less the long term.
Predictions of imminent disaster due to human activities are overstated speculations at best. Recent moderate warming and CO2 increases are likely to be of net benefit to human civilization.
FALSEHOOD #5. “Green” energy and conservation can replace most fossil fuel.
This statement will be true at some time in the distant future because fossil fuels are not renewable and therefore cannot last forever. However, for the foreseeable future (a century or two) the statement is clearly false.
Hydroelectric and nuclear power are the two significant “green” sources that make economic sense now and into the forseeable future.
Technological developments have made offshore oil as well as oil sands and shale oil much more attractive than anyone predicted a decade ago. Fracking has driven the price of natural gas way down. Coal to gas, coal to liquid, and other new technologies will make coal, our most plentiful fossil fuel, both cleaner and cheaper.
So-called “green” energy has proven to be much more costly than fossil energy, and, except for some special cases, it cannot succeed in the marketplace without massive government mandates and subsidies.
The Truth: Fossil fuels will be our primary source of energy for many decades into the future, even as “green” energy slowly increases in importance. As fossil sources become scarcer and therefore more and more expensive compared to “green” sources, the energy industry will voluntarily switch to non-fossil energy and consumers will, in their own self-interest, embrace efficiency. To some limited extent that is happening now. It should be encouraged by allowing free market forces to do their magic.
FALSEHOOD #6. Therefore, the Government must mandate and subsidize “green” energy to save our Planet.
This statement is false because the underlying assumptions are false. Our Planet is not in danger. “Green” energy cannot replace most fossil sources in the foreseeable future. And, a “cure” based on Government mandates and subsidies will most likely be worse than the “disease”.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wind, solar, ethanol, or any of the other harebrained schemes the climate change authorities have seduced us into supporting with taxpayer funding. No, the problem is with the process of public funding that inevitably distorts true market forces. It is a process that in-errantly chooses exactly those solutions that benefit special interests while making the real problem worse.
The Truth: Without doubt, fossil fuels are limited. Oil, natural gas, and even coal may be exhausted within the next century or two. Less expensive sources will run out first. Deep ocean oil, Arctic oil, shale oil, and additional fossil fuel technologies yet to be developed, will eventually raise the price of fossil energy to the point where market forces will drive industry to invest their own money to develop alternatives.
When the government picks winners, using our taxpayer money, you can be sure special interests, such as politically connected corporations and unions, will pressure the bureaucrats to choose net losers. Corn Ethanol has been a gigantic payoff to agricultural interests. It has raised the price of grain worldwide which has been a disaster for the poorest among us. Solar projects, such as Solyndra, wasted billions while creating zero permanent jobs and less than zero usable energy.
Government-provided seed money has been wasted on crazy schemes that have their own environmental drawbacks. Wind power kills birds and exposes animals (including humans :^) to noise pollution. Both wind and solar energy require backup by fossil fueled power plants when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
Private companies invest their hard-earned money only when there is a good chance it will pay off for their investors. Thus, they generally pick net winners. If a private venture turns sour, private money is lost and those responsible may lose their jobs and their employer may be forced out of business. That necessary process has been called “creative destruction”.
When government wastes our money on a loser, no one gets fired. The politically-connected recipients say the equivalent of “oops” (but in more legal mumbo-jumbo words), and keep their profits, except for the fraction they re-invest in further political contributions. The public agency responsible continues to blow taxpayer dollars. (What do we call it when a government program happens to pick a real winner? An accident. :^)
Fossil fuels cause some air pollution, but the most dangerous air pollution comes from the fallacies uttered by environmentalists :^). If the voting public is misled by this kind of “environmentalist air pollution”, our free economy will be destroyed, and with it, the most successful experiment so far of free peoples governing themselves. Only a High-Intellect Twit (HITwit), a person who is smart in some academic domain but quite foolish otherwise, could come up with and believe all these fallacies!
 Makiko Sato, Email dated 14 August 2007 to James Hanson, NASA GISS, Original at http://www.judicialwatch.org/files/documents/2010/783_NASA_docs.pdf (page 48), annotated copy and detailed explanation at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/25/do-we-care-if-2010-is-the-warmist-year-in-history/
 NASA GISS, Contiguous 48 U.S. Surface Air Temperature Anomaly (C), accessed 9 June 2012, from http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.D.txt
 NASA GISS systematic distortion of US mean temperature data. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/16/the-past-is-not-what-it-used-to-be-gw-tiger-tale/
 NOAA Atmospheric CO2 measured at Mauna Loa observatory. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#mlo_full
 University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) Satellite-Based Temperature of the Lower Global Atmosphere. http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_May_2012.png
 Nigel Calder, 2012, Svensmark’s Cosmic Jackpot, http://calderup.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/a-stellar-revision-of-the-story-of-life/
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, figure 9-20, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-9-20.html
 Schmittner, A., Urban N. M., Shakun, J. D., Mahowald, N. M., Clark, P. U., Bartlein, P. J., Mix, A. C., and Rosell-Melé, A. (2011), Climate Sensitivity Estimated From Temperature Reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum, Science, 334, 1385-1388,doi: 10.1126/science.1203513. (Behind a paywall, but free access via Schmittner’s blog, http://mgg.coas.oregonstate.edu/~andreas/ Then scroll down to the paper, click on pdf.)
 Ira Glickstein, 2011, CO2 Sensitivity is Multi-Modal – All bets are off. An analysis of Schmittner, 2011, paper: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/18/co2-sensitivity-is-multi-modal-all-bets-are-off/