Are Opinions on Climate Change Related to Dependency on Government Money?

money“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower, farewell address, 1961.

By Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger |

In our post last week titled “Climate Alarmism: When is this Bozo Going Down?” we described how new research increasingly casts doubt on the validity of climate models and their projections of future climate change.  It is increasing clear that climate models simply predict too much warming from human greenhouse gas emissions.

But the scientific community, or at least that part of it which makes its living off climate alarm, is slow to accept this.

Who can blame these folks?  More money flows from the government into universities (or government labs) to study the effects of climate change if we all agree that human greenhouse gas emissions are leading to climate change of a dangerous magnitude.

So it is left to the emeritus or retired profs to lay bare the truth.

A fine example of this can be found in a recent article in the New York Times’ DotEarth blog run by ex-Times science reporter Andy Revkin. In his story looking into the implications of new scientific findings concerning the potential impacts of ocean circulation variability on our understanding of the behavior the global average surface history (parts of which we described in our last post), Revkin interviewed four prominent climate researchers.  The level of confidence that each showed in the mainstream (climate model-driven) global warming meme (despite this new research suggesting that something may be rotten in the state of Denmark) appears proportional to how much professional advancement still lies ahead.

Josh Willis’ (a young scientist from the government’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) views on climate change seemed unshaken by the new research:

In regards to your question, if you mean how robust is the “slowdown” in global surface warming, the answer is it just probably just barely statistically significant. If you are wondering whether is it meaningful in terms of the public discourse about climate change, I would say the answer is no. The basic story of human caused global warming and its coming impacts is still the same: humans are causing it and the future will bring higher sea levels and warmer temperatures, the only questions are: how much and how fast?

Andrew Dessler, a mid-career professor at Texas A&M, appeared pretty much equally unmoved:

Second, I think it’s important to put the hiatus in context. This is not an existential threat to the mainstream theory of climate. We are not going to find out that, lo and behold, carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas and is not causing warming. Rather, I expect that the hiatus will help us understand how ocean variability interacts with the long-term warming that humans are causing. In a few years, as we get to understand this more, skeptics will move on (just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record) to their next reason not to believe climate science.

John Michael Wallace, a late-career professor at the University of Washington who recently became emeritus, expressed much more interest in the idea that the new research could lower confidence in just how much human greenhouse gases were impacting climate change:

…It seemed to me that the hiatus in the warming, which by then was approaching ten years in length, should not be dismissed as a statistical fluke. It was as legitimate a part of the record as the rapid rises in global-mean temperature in the 1980s and 1990s…

The new paper by Tung and Chen goes much farther than we did in making the case that Atlantic multidecadal variability needs to be considered in the attribution of climate change. I’m glad to see that it is attracting attention in the scientific community, along with recent papers of Kosaka et al. and Meehl et al. emphasizing the role of ENSO-like variability. I hope this will lead to a broader discussion about the contribution of natural variability to local climate trends and to the statistics of extreme events.

And finally Carl Wunsch, late-career professor emeritus at M.I.T. was pretty frank about the new research and the state of climate science:

The central problem of climate science is to ask what you do and say when your data are, by almost any standard, inadequate? If I spend three years analyzing my data, and the only defensible inference is that “the data are inadequate to answer the question,” how do you publish? How do you get your grant renewed? A common answer is to distort the calculation of the uncertainty, or ignore it all together, and proclaim an exciting story that the New York Times will pick up.

We couldn’t have said that better ourselves!


Global Science Report is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science, where we highlight one or two important new items in the scientific literature or the popular media. For broader and more technical perspectives, consult our monthly “Current Wisdom.”

87 thoughts on “Are Opinions on Climate Change Related to Dependency on Government Money?

  1. Are Opinions on Climate Change Related to Dependency on Government Money?

    Well f’crapsake, ya think? I don’t get a single dime hence I’m a voracious skeptic. That will all change when the leftist largess starts rolling in. /sarc

    • Let’s see…
      Does a bear….yup
      Is the pope… yup
      Does a one-legged duck swi…yup.

      So yeah…pretty sure that opinions FOR Climate Change are dependent on OTHER PEOPLE’S money.

  2. Meanwhile, the folks on this side of the debate sit… patiently waiting for those checks from the Koch brothers to start rolling in.

  3. In a few years, as we get to understand this more, skeptics will move on (just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record) to their next reason not to believe climate science.

    I am sorry but I don’t recall us skeptics dropping those arguments, does anyone else here remember that?

    • Well, to be fair, I haven’t felt the need to argue those points for a while now.

      Mostly because I never heard a reasonable, cogent argument come back from the panicky side, so I assumed they ceded those points.

    • In a few more years as greater understanding of the processes are understood, the warmists will have moved on to reason/argument #169, as to why it only looks like they don’t have a clue about ongoing climate changes.

    • Only to the extent that (a) new proxy based studies seem to be fewer in number and (b) the satellite record is getting longer and more compelling. Just watch what happens if Mann releases a new paleo study. But I doubt Mann is that stupid given how well informed his likely critics are. Has Briffa written anything new recently?

      • No they been rather quite , Mann’s been ‘working ‘ but some of ‘the Team’ do seem to have gone MIA.
        But sadly they have not retired yet ?

    • Our changing the names to the more appropriate hokey stick or hockey schtick probably confused the poor fellow.

      • “Hockey team scores goal on own net, celebrates anyway so as to not be embarrassed. Team later denies goal was ever scored, declares they’ve won the game, does victory lap.”

    • The hockey stick was taken apart and totally trashed by McIntryre & McKitrich plus 2 senate committees despite Mikey’s mates trying to prop it up. Even warmists are too stupid to try and use that one again. Dodgy fraudulent surface station records would seem to very much ongoing.

    • If we did, it’s because things like the hockey stick were basically trashed and continuing to refute it is just beating a dead horse.

    • I actually think it was people like Dessler who dropped the hockey stick because they were taking a beating. We don’t hear many actual climate scientists touting it anymore, do we?

      Now as the surface station record, they incorrectly believe BEST shows the data is correct. It most certainly is not.

    • It’s just more disinformation – cleverly and cunningly designed to distract, divert and misdirect the reader down a warmist rabbit- hole, rather than any attempt at rational and honest argument. Vintage Cold War stuff. Some psy-ops folk in the CIA should know how to deal with this cr@p better than most…I sure don’t.

  4. ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

    • Indeed.:Andrew Dessler (“We are not going to find out that, lo and behold, carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas and is not causing warming.“) will surely never understand, for as long as his income depends on not understanding, that the greenhouse gas CO2, which causes warming, does not and cannot ever cause enough warming to be dangerous.

    • But it is someone else’s money. And there is something about that sizable government research grant that makes ethics and the elderly dying of cold in energy poverty, dwindle to insignificance.

      • In the USA there is no government money. One way or another it all comes from the citizens. Even the phony money put on the books through Quantitative Easing will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren either through increasing taxation, devaluation of the dollar or higher inflation. TANSTAAFL!

    • A-greed (see what I did there?) :)
      In fact, the term “taxpayer’s money” should automagically replace every occurence/utterance of the phrase “Government money”.

  5. Just shows what happens as people get around the block a few times. The less you know, the more certain of it you are

  6. As an aggie, I find Dessler rather embarrassing. Whatever his contributions to the field are, they keep being overshadowed by his antics and warming-through-rose-colored-glasses comments to the press. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him utter anything resembling science. (Read: science equals the examination of evidence to prove or disprove a hypothesis or theory and consider all possibilities.)

    In his lab, I suppose every single result affirms all hypotheses.

  7. If the only problem for the AGW believers was the global temperature anomaly hiatus, then hand-waving for a decade or two would work to keep the Climate Change, “CO2 is killing us” meme alive.

    But the troubles for the Climate Change-Church of Global Warming-“CO2 is evil” crowd are multifaceted.
    All the earlier predictions of past IPCCs and ALGore, James Hansen, et al, are in the public domain for retrieval and inspection via the internet. All it takes is a curious mind, a desire not to be duped from a pol wanted more of your hard earned money, or a desire not to see your electric bill double or triple in real cost in the next decade. Also the alarmists’ claims of a coming Ice Age in the mid 70’s are there for inspection too.

    Some of the other PR problems of past claims that haunting the Church of AGW:
    Arctic sea ice recovery, Antarctic sea ice records, diminishing numbers and strengths of tropical cyclones and storms, better historical reconstructions of past climate change (LIA, MWP, HTM, etc) without manmade CO2 forcings. Coral reefs in recovery from El Nino induced bleaching, and steadily increasing food crop yields are also inconvenient truths.

    The only point left for the AGW/Climate Change crowd now are quantifying the hypothetical ocean pH decreases that more pCO2 will bring. I am in the belief that vast incalculably large amounts of sea floor basalts will buffer any pH change to a narrow range, even if pCO2 soars in the coming centuries. Something must buffer that pH as CO2 was much higher in the past and the oceans were productive and shell-forming creatures were abundant from the Cambrian on. But ocean pH change is an uncertainty that likely will take several decades more of data to resolve since long term pH measurements, unlike surface temperatures, are not available. Of course, the AGW-Climate Change always have the make-believe computer models to tell a naive public that the oceans are becoming “acidic”.

    • Surely you meant shell beds/limestones rather than basalt? Basalt is a basic rock but not in the sense of not being acidic. Acid and basic as applied to rocks refers to the amount of free quartz.

  8. Are Opinions on Climate Change Related to Dependency on Government Money?

    Does 10 pounds of dough make a BIG muffin?

    Do ursine mammals defecate in the forest?

    Is the Pope catholic?

    • 10 pounds of dough could make a big hamburger bun or a big loaf of bread, It doesn’t necessarily make a muffin.

      Some do it in zoos.

      Well, yes but, that’s not important.

  9. I thought Willis’ statement about the hiatus being just barely statistically significant was interesting as the hiatus is a lack of statistical significance in the regression slope.

  10. For some useful idiots, maybe. But for the agenda drivers, no. Its about power and for the sake of power they need to destroy individual freedom.

  11. The two sets are characterized by a bigger difference then grant money. The young guys have undergone much more sophisticated regime of leftist indoctrination then the old guys.

  12. There is something almost operatic to the demise of CAGW.
    “I am the very model of a modern major general”; by Gilbert and Sullivan keeps running thro my mind as I read these statements of the obvious.
    We are living in interesting times, corruption is systemic, the current religion of Politically Correct Speech is insane , yet to earn a living and get along with our fellow citizens, we shut up and conform.
    Dishonesty is an essential career trait.
    Honesty is to be “anti” what ever the delusion of the day.
    That we cannot have a civil society (AKA civilization) without trust, seems to escape the attention of those who lie and sneer at those who do not lie to advance their own interests.
    These Climatologists are not outliers, this is management central.
    Bureaucracy is the heart of darkness, there is no place for truth in the self serving, posterior covering world of our entitled “helpers”.
    Once scientists are controlled by the bureaus they are absorbed into the collective.
    There is a reason we have seen very few new ideas from science of late.
    But this is not unique to the government, as government has imposed greater regulation upon business, compliance has come to dominate productive work.
    Every manager must cover their liability to government persecution in the event of any accident.
    50% of workers are below average, some dangerously so.
    Accidents will happen as there is no known cure for human stupidity.
    But the enforcement arms of the bureaus will never accept reality, so every worker is encouraged even forced(by loss of a few jobs) to lie, CYA and repeat the mantra.

  13. “Are Opinions on Climate Change Related to Dependency on Government Money?”

    Proposing a Scientific experiment to find out. Cut off all Government funding to Climate research, then see how long it takes for AGW Climatologists to jump ship to another Tax payer free ride.

    • Hard empirical data hunting and collection methods (balloons, satellites, better ground station sitings, ARGO, etc) are good and should be funded.

      However, IMO, the US NASA-DOE-NSF Climate Modelers and their expensive supercomputers should have their funding cut 80%-90% so that only one small core group survives as a NSF-NOAA-NASA interagency model group. The unemployed modelers can go find work in the financial services and insurance industries where their model skills are tested or they are let go.

      The remaining climate modeler group would throw-out CMIPx as a failure and work on basic theoretical underpinnings of their equations and assumptions before once again, in a decade or two, trying to produce a GCM output with any predictive power for policy makers.

  14. Andrew Dessler: “they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record”

    Who says the arguments were dropped?

  15. “Are Opinions on Climate Change Related to Dependency on Government Money?”

    Does a bear s**t in the woods?

  16. Damn these guys piss me off. Dessler is so full of crap. The hockey stick didn’t fix itself in recent years, it is still bogus. The surface station record still has issues. Willis is full of it on the statistical significance of the “slowdown”. It never ends.

  17. Interesting that Dessler thinks “… skeptics will move on (just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record)…”

    When did that happen? I wasn’t aware that anybody had just given up on disproving Mann’s schtick, and I thought discussions about surface station records were high up the agenda.

    Or have I missed something?

  18. “The level of confidence that each showed in the mainstream (climate model-driven) global warming meme (despite this new research suggesting that something may be rotten in the state of Denmark) appears proportional to how much professional advancement still lies ahead.”

    It could also be proportional to how much indoctrination they received during their formative years at educational institutions.

  19. Do snake oil sell men want to sell more snake oil , of course they do .
    So why should others involved in similar profitable scams , and its not just money but fame to , stop what they are doing .

    The thing to remember about the IPCC is that its an UN body and the first and most important task of UN bodies is to ensure that they keep going not to solve the problem they were set up to deal with , and no AGW no IPCC its really that simple .
    Climate ‘science’ a poorly funded and less cared for relation to the physical sciences, has become major league with almost more money than it knows what to do with and massive increases in ‘professorships’ etc , on the back AGW
    Numinous special interest groups have firmly hitched their wagon to ‘the cause ‘ hopping to ride it to achieve objectives , even if these objectives there bad for and unwanted by the people, that otherwise would never happen .
    Individuals like St Gore have made personal fortunes out if .
    And nobodies like the poor cartoonists and his side kick are getting presidential mentions and prime time news coverage to boast their sad little egos.

    There is NO grand conspiracy to promote ‘the cause ‘ but there are lots of individuals whose interest lie not in the truth around climate change but in the ‘right story’ around climate who sometimes follow a common path.

  20. I’m really not thinking, Dr. Dessler, that Dr. Lindzen has ‘moved on’ unless you can point me to some evidence that, I assure you ,I am unaware of.

  21. “just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record”

    Excuse me? The skeptics won the “hockey stick” debate. As evidenced by the fact that the “hockey stick” was dropped from AR5. And the other one is still in progress.

    • The Marcott 2013 bladeless input data hockey stick needs to be more widely publicized in order to show up these slanderous charlatan propogandist liars:

      Too bad Glenn Beck isn’t on Fox News any more. He’d expose it there if he was. Too many public skeptics wimp out on this nuclear level debunking of climate alarm, why I cannot fathom.

  22. The Tung & Chen paper never would have made it past the hockey team peer review 5 years ago.
    Since nature stopped cooperating with model projections a decade and a half ago, some sanity is now returning to the field, however begrudgingly.

  23. Once upon a time in the rebellious Flower Power days, government money funding research was evil. Now it is influencing and driving research on priorities set by politicians.

  24. My brother recently told me that when he was doing his Ph.D. in geology at Brown in the 1980s, and global warming alarmism was just bubbling up, fellow earth science graduate students and early-career professors were rubbing their hands at the prospect of all the $$$$ to be mined out of the government on global warming research.

    A shame he is dubious about WUWT based on reviews on ‘skeptical’ ‘scientific’ websites (he’s no longer in the sciences, realizing yeare ago that more personal profits were to be gained by working in the financial sector).

  25. In a few years, as we get to understand this more, skeptics will move on (just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record) to their next reason not to believe climate science.

    Hmmm……Well, it seem seem “The Hockey Stick” is only being defended in the “I sue you” courts rather than the “courts” of the scientific method. Why not move on in those circles?
    “The Surface Station Record”? Well, since the climate models say they are in need of adjustment then I guess the jury is still out.

    • This represents knowingly willful slander by alarmists, not naivete. All these guys are fully aware that climate models rely not on the greenhouse effect itself for alarm, but vast 2-3X amplification of it along with eventual runaway feedback scenarios. As this continues, this slander, it starts to form a pattern and becomes actually libelous as far as class action or the RICO statute is concerned. Their statement is a weasel worded lie. They are well aware that they may indeed find out that, lo and behold, water vapor is a negative instead of positive feedback, as skeptics have suggested for years, as they are very much well aware of.

  26. OK… $2Billion/year new $$ thrown at ~1000 climatologists. Doing anything that might interrupt that flow of largess might turn your colleagues against you. Plus… obscure practitioners of “not really a mature science yet” get elevated (ficitiously) to “real scientist” status. And you get to be the heroes that saved the world. TRUTH BE DAMNED!

  27. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The way to solve the whole global warming “problem” is to terminate all funding to the “cause.” Of course, once the well runs dry, the true believers will find another hobgoblin to torment us with and raid our wallets.

  28. I’ve far from moved on. Seems to be the essence of the whole argument that early temps were cooled and later temps warmed.
    We shouldn’t let the artic ice norm be dictated by how much ice there was in 1979 either. This year could be very much closer to the norm than 1979 .

  29. I suggest we employ the following phrase when we refer to those “scientists” who make their living touting CAGW:

    “Tax payer subsidized climate scientist”
    “Government subsidized climate scientist”

    Extensive use of this appellation in all correspondence and skeptic articles might get through to the public and lower their unjustified trust/esteem for the so called “scientists

    It mirrors the name calling tactic employed by the progressives.

    • When I was Virginia State Climatologist, I used to (and still do) call them “Federal Climatologists”

  30. I regularly have lunch with a group of retired scientists and engineers. Our former employer, a national laboratory, takes the position that global warming is real. None of us who are retired believe that global warming is real. If global warming is real the only solution is nuclear energy and there is relatively little effort in the nuclear energy field.

    • There is no job in this administration for anyone who does not toe the party line. Just look at how many military Generals have been fired. Or look at the healthcare debacle.

  31. Carl Wunsch wonders “If I spend three years analyzing my data, and the only defensible inference is that “the data are inadequate to answer the question,” how do you publish?”

    Follow the party line, start out with the word “may” and end with “further research is needed”.

    Incidentally it seems to be necessary to watch the press drop the “may” and say nothing. Then watch people who should know better pick up on the “result” and work it into their beliefs as though the “may” never existed.

  32. The problem is “who hands out the grants”?

    They mostly flow from the National Science Foundation (NSF) which needs new members who are not so beholden to the global warming scam. As in, they all need to be sent out to pasture/to the penalty box for a 50 year match penalty.

    We need someone to re-write or hockey stick what the NSF is about. The other grant funding agencies (of which there are many) can be hockey sticked/butt-ended next.

    What is needed is NOT a simple minor high sticking penalty, but more of a good old Canadian/Bobby Clarke slash to Kharlamov’s ankle on purpose as directed by the coach/congress.

  33. I believe this debate was set straight some time ago when a conversation between a physicist and and UN climatologist became unintentionally public. It seems the timing is right to run the story again for the full viewership to consider:

    Climatologist; I have a system of undetermined complexity and undetermined composition, floating and spinning in space. It has a few internal but steady state and minor energy sources. An external energy source radiates 1365 watts per meter squared at it on a constant basis. What will happen?

    Physicist; The system will arrive at a steady state temperature which radiates heat to space that equals the total of the energy inputs. Complexity of the system being unknown, and the body spinning in space versus the radiated energy source, there will be cyclic variations in temperature, but the long term average will not change.

    Climatologist; Well what if I change the composition of the system?

    Physicist; see above.

    Climatologist; Perhaps you don’t understand my question. The system has an unknown quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere that absorbs energy in the same spectrum as the system is radiating. There are also quantities of carbon and oxygen that are combining to create more CO2 which absorbs more energy. Would this not raise the temperature of the system?

    Physicist; There would be a temporary fluctuation in temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, and perhaps a change in temperature distribution from surface to top of atmosphere, but for the long term average of the system as a whole… see above.

    Climatologist; But the CO2 would cause a small rise in temperature, which even if it was temporary would cause a huge rise in water vapour which would absorb even more of the energy being radiated by the system. This would have to raise the temperature of the system.

    Physicist; There would be a temporary fluctuation in the temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, but for the long term average of the system as a whole… see above.

    Climatologist; That can’t be true. I’ve been measuring temperature at thousands of points in the system and the average is rising.

    Physicist; The system being chaotic, it may be due to one or more cyclic variations that have not completed, or are coincidental, and a few thousand measuring points across an entire planet are insufficient in any event, even if you have thousands of years of data, which you don’t. Unless the energy inputs have changed, the long term temperature average would be… see above.

    Climatologist; AHA! All that burning of fossil fuel is releasing energy that was stored millions of years ago, you cannot deny that this would increase temperature.

    Physicist; Is it more than 0.01% of what the energy source shining on the planet is?

    Climatologist; Uhm… no.

    Physicist; rounding error. For the long term temperature of the planet… see above.

    Climatologist; Methane! Methane absorbs even more than CO2.

    Physicist; see above.

    Climatologist; Clouds! Clouds would retain more energy!

    Physicist; see above.

    Climatologist; Ice! If a fluctuation in temperature melted all the ice less energy would be reflected into space and would instead be absorbed into the system, raising the temperature. Ha!

    Physicist; The ice you are pointing at is mostly at the poles where the inclination of the radiant energy source is so sharp that there isn’t much energy to absorb anyway. Anyway, removing the ice would expose water that is warmer than the ice which would then radiate more heat to space, cooling the planet and…. see above.

    Climatologist; Blasphemer! Unbeliever! The temperature HAS to rise! I have reports! I have measurements! I have computer simulations! I have committees! United Nations committees! Grant money! Billions and billions and billions! I CAN’T be wrong, I will never explain it! Billions! And the carbon trading! Trillions in carbon trading!

    Physicist; (gasp!) how much grant money?

    Climatologist; Billions…. Want some?

    Physicist; Uhm…

    Climatologist; BILLIONS AND BILLIONS

    Climatologist; Hi. I used to be a physicist. When I started to understand the danger the world was in though, I decided to do the right thing and become a climatologist. Let me explain the greenhouse effect to you…

    • Ah thanks so much for this. I hadn’t seen it before. I think it just about cover the sorry mess we find ourselves in, nicely. Excellent!


  34. It’s interesting to note that the hockey stick is, to this day, (see latest post at Climate Audit), still being dismembered. In fact the story has come alive again, partly induced by the Mannboy/Steyn court case.

  35. The last time I saw the figures for United States , the government hands out about $21 billion/annually of free money for climate warming related projects Globally it is a $ billion per day business . This kind of money will stoke a lot of global warming fires and produce a steady stream of alarmist papers .

  36. just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record

    So he thinks Anthony and the rest of us have dropped the argument about the surface record, does he? Like the Tweety said: “He don’t know me vewy well.”

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