The Washington Examiner headline says, “John Kerry calls climate change deniers members of ‘Flat Earth Society’.” It typifies all reports about US Secretary of State John Kerry’s head-on attack on scientists trying to practice properly skeptical science. I challenge John Kerry to produce a single person who studies climate who denies climate change. Apparently everybody, except John Kerry, knows that climate changes all the time, it always has and it always will.
In statements made to support his political agenda, Kerry manages to perpetuate a series of errors, myths and slurs. One is the claim Al Gore made before the US Senate in 2007 that the “science is settled” and the “debate is over.” Kerry said,
“The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand,”
Kerry displays further ignorance by marginalizing those who question the science.
“We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.”
These are frightening words and a disturbingly narrow position from one of the most powerful statesmen and diplomats, in the world. In the land of “free speech,” he believes no venue should be allowed, and thus people denied their free speech rights. Whatever happened to Voltaire’s view that I completely disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it? Apparently this is too liberal for this liberal. It confirms George Will’s trenchant observation that,
“When a politician says, “the debate is over,” you can be sure of two things: the debate is raging, and he’s losing it.”
He clearly doesn’t know the history of science that determined centuries ago that science is never settled. As Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) wrote,
Another error is a conceit that the best has still prevailed and suppressed the rest: so as, if a man should begin the labor of a new search, he were but like to light upon somewhat formerly rejected, and by rejection brought into oblivion; as if the multitude, or the wisest for the multitude’s sake, were not ready to give passage rather to that which is popular and superficial, than to that which is substantial and profound: for the truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.
By participating in the denigration of scientists who dare to practice the scientific method Kerry displays more ignorance and a purely political motive. He calls them climate change deniers, with all the holocaust denial connotations of that phrase.
The scientific method requires that all scientists are skeptics, so it was a correct designation. Kerry clearly doesn’t understand that, but knew the term achieved the marginalizing of those who opposed him.
Scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the University of East Anglia hired to create and prove the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis knew they had a problem. Thomas Huxley identified it over a century earlier.
“The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
The ugly fact developed after 1998 when CO2 levels continued to increase as temperature stopped increasing, in contradiction to their major assumption. We learned, from an email leaked from the CRU (IPCC), that it prompted reaction from the Minns/Tyndall Centre on the UEA campus that said,
“In my experience, global warming freezing is already a bit of a public relations problem with the media.”
To which Swedish Chief Climate Negotiator Bo Kjellen replied,
“I agree with Nick that climate change might be a better labelling than global warming.”
Proper science requires they consider the null hypothesis that something, other than human CO2, is causing warming. Instead, they opted to defend the political objective, and the mantra shifted from global warming to climate change. At the same time, they raised the emotional stakes by saying some scientists moved from questioning to denying.
Thanks to the work of the “flat-earthers” who Kerry scorns, people began to learn that climate change is normal. Increasingly cold winters reinforced their doubts and prompted another shift begun by President Obama’s Science Czar, John Holdren. He recommended the switch from climate change to climate disruptions. In 2014, the White House formalized the idea with the 840 pages, “National Climate Assessment.
CBS News explained the transition in an article titled,
“Report Uses Phrase ‘Climate Disruption’ As Another Way To Say Global Warming.”
Climate change’s assorted harms “are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond,” the National Climate Assessment concluded Tuesday. The report emphasizes how warming and its all-too-wild weather are changing daily lives, even using the phrase “climate disruption” as another way of saying global warming.
Kerry is behind the times using climate change and “flat earthers” as epithets. Get with the program John. I suggest you call me a ‘climate disruption disrupter’ because I still know the science does not support the political agenda?
John Kerry is the third most powerful cabinet member and the most powerful statesman and diplomat in the most powerful country in the world. His words and actions on climate and attacks on some scientists are ignorant and shameful. He uses personal insults because he doesn’t understand the science. Worse, he denies scientists free speech, the primary tenet of the US Constitution to which he swore an oath of allegiance.
It is our duty as skeptics/deniers/disrupters to practice T.H Huxley’s creed;
“The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”