Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” Lee Iacocca
In his essay, “Reflections on Mark Steyn’s ‘A Disgrace to the Profession’ about Dr. Michael Mann” Rick Wallace wrote,
Tim Ball, Fred Singer and others have been countering the AGW meme for a few decades, but to little avail.
He is correct. Yes, there is a slight increase in the number of skeptics as evidenced by the increased readership at WUWT, but it is a fraction of even total Internet users. Even those who read and comment on WUWT articles on the site often say they are not scientists or don’t fully understand the topic. Others demonstrate their lack of knowledge and understanding without the caveats.
But why is this? Why haven’t their voices carried? And, conversely, why was The Team so successful in getting their message out? Was it because, possibly for quite other reasons, there was already a receptive audience at hand? That there was an existing matrix of attitudes and beliefs to which the AGW belief system could adhere? And this matrix served to amplify some messages while it filtered out other, conflicting messages.
In a preface to the essay, Anthony Watts wrote,
“Given what happened today in live testimony before the House Science Committee where Dr. Mann was testifying, this review seems germane and timely.”
We can add to the timeliness the recent Washington D.C Heartland Climate Conference held (March 23-24, 2017). The conference was held with the optimism created by the election of President Trump and appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of EPA. By some accounts, it was a successful conference that spoke primarily to the science issues and some of the economic ramifications. In doing so, it overlooked, as skeptics have consistently, Iacocca’s challenge. These events will have little impact on effectively slowing the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) juggernaut. It will join the list of events, which I and others expected would crash the vehicle. Just a few key examples
· The 1988 claim by James Hansen before Senator Timothy Wirth’s orchestrated piece of theatre that he was 99 percent certain that humans were causing global warming.
· The 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution asked US Senators whether they wanted to vote to ratify Kyoto Protocol. They voted 95-0 not to vote on ratification.
· The 2009 Heartland Institute Climate Conference was presenting skeptical views on a world stage.
· The 2009 leak of 1000 emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). These emails were clearly carefully selected to provide evidence of wrongdoing that the public would likely understand. It didn’t help.
· The 2010 release of 6000 more CRU emails further documented the malfeasance, which Mosher and Fuller summarized in their book Climategate: The Crutape Letters;
“The Team, led by Phil Jones and Michael Mann, in attempts to shape the debate and influence public policy:
Actively worked to evade (Steve) Mcintyre’s Freedom of information requests, deleting emails, documents and even climate data
Tried to corrupt the peer-review principles that are the mainstay of modern science, reviewing each other’s’ work, sabotaging efforts of opponents trying to publish their own work, and threatening editors of journals who didn’t bow to their demands
Changed the shape of their own data in materials shown to politicians charged with changing the shape of our world, ‘hiding the decline’ that showed their data could not be trusted.”
The juggernaut survived these charges that would have shut down completely any other program. The CRU and the IPCC are still operating. This was the same Michael Mann who appeared before a US Congressional House Committee on Science and Technology Hearing titled “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method along with Judith Curry, John Christy and Roger Pielke Jr. The event received praise from skeptics and people who know and understand what has been going on. They focused on Mann’s character, manner, methods. Julie Kelly wrote a National Review article titled “Michael Mann Embarrasses Himself before Congress” that summarizes most of the skeptic’s perspective. She observes,
‘If the climate-change evangelist can’t be bothered to take a House hearing seriously, why should anyone take him seriously?”
This is incorrect. Mann took it very seriously, was well prepared and exploited it for every political opportunity – he dominated the entire proceedings. He had the advantage of not caring or having to care about the truth. His performance was designed for most of the public who have no idea about what is true. He knows this works because that assumption has driven the juggernaut from the start.
Mann also understood the political and manipulative nature of Congressional hearings. They are charades supposedly seeking the truth, but are really designed to make the politicians look good. They use the opportunity to put material on the official record that supposedly supports their position in the form of appeal to higher and wider or popular authority. Often, the politician simply read their staff-written position paper and don’t even bother with the expert.
My challenge to skeptics is to view the hearing as an uninformed citizen. From that perspective, I would argue that Mann was the most effective and persuasive. He was assertive, apparently provided hard evidence, had the backing of most scientists and scientific societies. He turned the minority status role the organizers gave him into the base for his victimization role. It wasn’t a debate, but he turned it into one and clearly believed, as would most uninformed observers, that he won.
He also believes he won because he marginalized his three opponents by calling them deniers in the pay of corporate entities. They believed they deflected this challenge with the help of the Chair, but that added to his victimization because it placed the Chair against him. The deniers said he was wrong, but because of time constraint offered no alternate explanations. They said the computer models were wrong but didn’t explain how or why. Their answers were properly vague because there are few definitive answers, but that contrasted with Mann’s confident assertiveness. Their vague answers underscored that they were a fringe group, thus justifying their denier label. They said Mann’s claim of increasing severe weather was incorrect but offered no graphs to prove it. They clearly had personal animosity to Mann but denied it when challenged. They provided no motive or even an explanation for why all these thousands of scientists would present false material and information and offered no explanation for their inferred claim that Mann was cheating.
Mann presented his latest research relating changes in the changes in the Jet Stream with severe weather. Nobody at the hearing pointed out that his claims were scientifically incorrect and the result of false computer model simulations. It is evident that Mann and his fellow authors did little historical research on the vast amount of data and literature beginning with the discovery of the Jet Stream during WWII and the work of Carl-Gustaf Rossby. The format of the hearings prevented any cross examination of Mann’s material, so it again made him more authoritative that the “deniers.” Overall, by trying to control the hearings and achieve their result the organizers played right into the hands of a person determined to disrupt the proceedings.
A major reason it appeared to the uninformed observer that Mann ‘won’ was the inability of the “deniers” to provide definitive answers. They are correct but think of the contradiction this creates for the uninformed. This small group of deniers is saying we don’t know the answers, but Mann is wrong.
The sad part is most skeptics would not have done any better. I watched another group of skeptics make a similar disastrous, unable to see the forest for the trees performance, before the Canadian parliament. They were asked questions that none of them could answer all the questions. The answers they gave were scientific jargon that few in the room understood. Worse, their answers indicated bad science by the AGW proponents. If so, was it bad because of incompetence or deliberate malfeasance? Either way, it raises several questions that if left unanswered or unexplained only give Mann credibility. If the science was wrong why and how did it pass peer review and go unchallenged? If it was deliberate malfeasance, how could so few people fool the entire world? Either way, if you make or infer the charge, you must provide an explanation and a motive. I did not hear that in the Ottawa or Washington hearings.
I did not attend the Washington Conference, partly for lack of funding, but primarily because I saw nothing to slow the political juggernaut that is global warming. I offered to make a presentation bringing everybody up to date with my legal situation, but also providing the political context for the lawsuits. Why did three prominent IPCC members, Gordon McBean, Andrew Weaver, and Michael Mann, bring, what amount to SLAPP lawsuits against me. I think there are two fundamental reasons. They could not say I wasn’t qualified, although they tried. I also had an ability to explain the complexities of climate and climate change in a way most could understand. I honed these skills by
- Instructing basic weather knowledge and forecast skills as an operations officer in Atlantic Canada and sub-Arctic and Arctic Canada.
- Teaching a first-year university climatology course for 25 years.
- Teaching a required Science credit university course for Arts students for 25 years.
- Teaching a non-credit university course for Seniors titled “The Way the Earth Works” for 25 years.
- Giving hundreds of public presentations to professional groups in primary industry like farmers, foresters and fishermen whose economies are directly impacted by weather and climate over 40 years.
- Writing a monthly column, Weather Talk” for Canada’s largest circulation farm magazine Country Guide. I was fired after 17 years because of action by a single Board member.
- Writing a monthly column for The Landowner for the last seven years.
- Giving hundreds of open forum public presentations over 40 years.
- Publishing a first-year university textbook on climatology.
A good example of the latter is important because it illustrates the challenge and explains why groups have been so ineffective, as Wallace identifies, in “countering the AGW meme.” Recently, I gave a public presentation in Mount Vernon in Washington State. The organizer warned me that people were in attendance who planned to disrupt the proceedings. There was no disruption, and when I asked what happened, the organizer told me that they left with one person commenting, we have never heard any of this before.
The solution to breaking the AGW meme is not in the science, good or bad because the public doesn’t know the difference. It is in showing how the science was created to achieve a predetermined result, namely the demonization of CO2. Then you must provide a motive. Why would scientists pervert science as David Deming identified in his letter to Science and congressional testimony?
“With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So, one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said, we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period. “
I made this challenge to explain climate in a way the public can understand the main theme of my presentation at the First Heartland Climate Conference in New York in 2009. I know from many discussions during the conference that few understood. Those that did were already in the education and communication business; people like Marita Noon who is now working for the Heartland Institute. A major point in my presentation was to accept that whether you like it or not Al Gore’s movie was a remarkably effective piece of propaganda. His latest effort is not even that, but most of the public won’t know. It is ineffective because Gore’s motives and hypocrisy have been exposed, not because public understanding of the science has improved.
Wallace’s charge that Tim Ball, Fred Singer, and others have challenged the AGW meme to no avail is correct. This, despite all the scientific evidence presented over the years up to and including Heartland’s 12th Conference and the recent Congressional Hearing. Little or nothing has changed. What is the solution?
Trump won in the minds of working and middle-class people, which is where the climate war must be won for lasting victory. They only need to understand enough science to know how it was corrupted, but they must know the motive. Until that happens, all the AGW proponents need to say is that Trump is acting to line the pockets of his billionaire friends. Mann demonstrated the technique in his congressional presentation.