A must read: A Veneer of Certainty Stoking Climate Alarm


In Private, Climate Scientists Are Much Less Certain than They Tell the Public

By Rupert Darwall*

Foreword by Judith Curry, President of the Climate Forecast Applications Network and former Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology

While the nations of the world met in Bonn to discuss implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trump administration was working to dismantle President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and to establish a climate “red team” to critically evaluate the scientific basis for dangerous human-caused climate change and the policy responses.

The mantra of “settled science” is belied by the inherent complexity of climate change as a scientific problem, the plethora of agents and processes that influence the global climate, and disagreements among scientists. Manufacture and enforcement of a “consensus” on the topic of human-caused climate change acts to the detriment of the scientific process, our understanding of climate change, and the policy responses. Indeed, it becomes a fundamentally anti-scientific process when debate, disagreement, and uncertainty are suppressed.

This essay by Rupert Darwall explores the expressions of public certainty by climate scientists versus the private expressions of uncertainty, in context of a small Workshop on Climate organized by the American Physical Society (APS). I was privileged to participate in this workshop, which included three climate scientists who support the climate change consensus and three climate scientists who do not—all of whom were questioned by a panel of distinguished physicists.

The transcript of the workshop is a remarkable document. It provides, in my opinion, the most accurate portrayal of the scientific debates surrounding climate change. While each of the six scientists agreed on the primary scientific evidence, we each had a unique perspective on how to reason about the evidence, what conclusions could be drawn and with what level of certainty.

Rupert Darwall’s essay provides a timely and cogent argument for a red/blue team assessment of climate change that provides both sides with an impartial forum to ask questions and probe the other side’s case. Such an assessment would both advance the science and open up the policy deliberations to a much broader range of options.

Judith Curry, Reno, Nevada, November 7, 2017

* Rupert Darwall is a strategy consultant and policy analyst. He read economics and history at Cambridge University and subsequently worked in finance as an investment analyst and in corporate finance before becoming a special adviser to the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has written extensively for publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Spectator, Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Daily Telegraph. He is the author of the books, The Age of Global Warming: A History (2013) and Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (2017).

Introduction. How dependable is climate science? Global warming mitigation policies depend on the credibility and integrity of climate science. In turn, that depends on a deterministic model of the climate system in which it is possible to quantify the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) with a high degree of confidence. This essay explores the contrast between scientists’ expressions of public confidence and private admissions of uncertainty on critical aspects of the science that undergird the scientific consensus.

Instead of debating, highlighting and, where possible, resolving disagreement, many mainstream climate scientists work in a symbiotic relationship with environmental activists and the news media to stoke fear about allegedly catastrophic climate change, providing a scientific imprimatur for an aggressive policy response while declining to air private doubts and the systematic uncertainties.

Two Statements, Two Perspectives. Two statements by two players in the climate debate illustrate the gap between the certainty that we are asked to believe and a branch of science shot through with uncertainty. “Basic physics explains it. If global warming isn’t happening, then virtually everything we know about physics is wrong,” states Jerry Taylor, president of a group that advocates for imposing a carbon tax on the United States.1 In so many words, Taylor says that the case for cutting carbon dioxide emissions is incontrovertible: Science demands conservatives support a carbon tax.

The second statement was made by an actual climate scientist, Dr. William Collins of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Speaking in 2014 at an American Physical Society climate workshop, Collins, who was a lead author of the chapter evaluating climate models in the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, talked of the challenges of dealing with several sources of uncertainty. “One of them is the huge uncertainties even in the historical forcings,” he said, referring to the natural and anthropogenic factors that affect the climate.2 Commenting on the “structural certainty” of climate models, he observed that there were “a number of processes in the climate system we just do not understand from basic physical principles. … We understand a lot of the physics in its basic form. We don’t understand the emergent behavior that results from it.”3

In an August 2017 TV interview with talk show host Bill Maher, former Vice President Al Gore pointed out that 14 years earlier, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) climate scientist James Hansen had said there were only 10 years left to avoid a tipping point. “Have we crossed a point of no return where this thing spins out of control?” Gore posited. “The scientists still tell us: No, we have not gotten to that point. We can still avoid the most catastrophic consequences if we start acting boldly now.”4

But some tipping points have unfortunately been passed. I’ll give you an example—a very large part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Just two years ago they said, okay, that’s crossed the tipping point. It is now going to be gone no matter what we do— and that actually hit me pretty hard when that news came out because it does mean there’s going to be considerable sea level rise no matter what we do. But we still have the ability to control the pace of that disappearance.5

In fact, the speculative link between greenhouse gas emissions and changes in the West Antarctic ice sheet is, at best, extraordinarily attenuated. Gore’s belief that humans can influence what happens there is fanciful. As we shall see, scientists abuse their standing to engage in political advocacy by lending their credibility to sensational claims often with little or no evidence while neglecting to mention competing explanations that don’t fit the climate change story.

The 2014 APS Climate Workshop: A Perfect Venue for Open Debate. Things are different when climate scientists are on the stand alongside their peers who know the science as well as they do, but disagree with the conclusions they draw from the same body of knowledge. Such open debate was on display at the 2014 American Physical Society climate workshop, which took place in Brooklyn and lasted just over seven hours. A unique event in the annals of the climate debate, it featured three climate scientists who support the climate change consensus and three climate scientists who do not. That format required an unusual degree of honesty about the limitations of the current understanding of the climate system. For the most part, circumspection, qualification, and candid admissions of lack of knowledge were the order of the day.

The workshop participants debated the problematic role of computer projections of future temperature increases that form the basis of concern about future climate change. In particular, it highlighted the IPCC’s dubious practice of manipulating models to produce politically favored results.

Sparks flew on the question of falsifiability. On one side, the failure of climate projections to match reality was taken to imply the need for more research and more data; on the other, to indicate that the assumptions made by consensus-supporting climate scientists need revising.

Drawing extensively from the 573-page transcript of the APS climate workshop, this paper examines the gap between how climate scientists debate with each other and how they speak to the media and the wider public. It tackles the following specific topics.

· West Antarctic meltdown. It starts with a major New York Times story on the supposed imminent demise of the West Antarctic ice sheet—a victim, it is implied, of mankind’s hydrocarbon profligacy that will be met with biblical punishment in the form of rising sea levels and the flooding of coastal cities around the world. Nowhere is there any mention that West Antarctica sits atop areas of geothermal activity that, according to a recent study, is possibly the densest region of volcanoes in the world, a discovery which a Washington Post headline spun as “[a]nother climate-change nightmare: 91 new volcanoes beneath Antarctica’s ice.”6

· The enhanced greenhouse effect in perspective. It then puts into perspective the “forcings”—the energy added to the climate system—from the enhanced greenhouse effect caused by human carbon dioxide emissions and compares them to those that are now thought to cause the succession of ice ages and interglacials.

· The IPCC’s use and abuse of climate models. Climate models are the principal tools used by the IPCC to attribute climate change to human activity. The climate system might not be amenable to a reductionist treatment, but that is how climate models work. Worse, for its temperature projections extending out to 2100, the IPCC uses values for carbon dioxide climate forcings that are known to be too high.

· Can the climate consensus be wrong? How do we know the climate consensus isn’t wrong, is the question posed by Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes, a leading figure on the “consensus” side of the climate debate. A straightforward approach is to see how well the scientific consensus on previous environmental scares have stood the test of time.

· Climate science and falsifiability. Scientists from both sides at the APS workshop rejected the argument that falsifiability does not apply to climate science. In principle, a scientific hypothesis should be capable of being refuted by an empirical test. The course of the discussion revealed which side remains true to this fundamental principle of science.

· John Christy’s congressional testimony. The analysis discussed at the APS workshop was further developed by Alabama state climatologist John Christy in his March 2017 congressional testimony. In it, Christy showed how the IPCC had suppressed analysis contradicting its headline claim that human activities contributed most of the observed warming over the past four decades.

· Politicized science vs. red/blue team appraisals. Christy’s testimony and the APS workshop demonstrate that the IPCC scientific evaluation process is broken and its headline claims are biased and unbalanced. Opposition from consensus-supporting climate scientists to red/blue team appraisals, an approach adapted from military war-gaming by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, further illustrates the need to embed critical dialogue in climate science appraisals.

· The need for informed consent. The climate change consensus demands radical economic and social change. In a democracy, this requires the public’s informed consent through their elected representatives. The politicized IPCC process lacks the integrity to discharge this function. From the start, the IPCC was created with an activist intent. Therefore, a new approach is needed to the critical evaluation of climate science and the claims on which the consensus rests.

West Antarctic Meltdown. West Antarctica has become the poster child of the media’s climate change alarmism. Late in 2016, four New York Times journalists visited the West Antarctic ice sheet, which had been singled out by Al Gore as having passed a climate change tipping point. “Recent computer forecasts suggest that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high level, parts of Antarctica could break up rapidly,” they wrote in a three- part story on their trip published in May. “Antarctica’s collapse has the potential to inundate coastal cities across the globe.”7 Scientists, they claim, now believe that West Antarctica is a disaster waiting to happen, if human-caused global warming has not already set the calamity in motion. “It’s kind of a blowtorch on the underside of the ice shelf,” one of the experts told them.8

Two climate scientists had done some computer modeling. If carbon dioxide emissions were drastically reduced in line with international climate goals, a catastrophe might not yet be inevitable, one of them claimed. “There’s still a chance that all hell will break loose,” Dr.

Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts said. “But the model is suggesting

there’s a way to reduce the risk of a big sea-level rise from Antarctica.”9 The policy implications of this claim are not hard to discern.

This speculation depends on greenhouse gas emissions causing the ice sheet to disintegrate. However, the human causation story is not straightforward, as the Times report quietly concedes. The warmer water under the ice shelf has not been linked to global warming—“at least not directly.”10 It had likely been there for centuries, so why had it not cooled down by now? Is something still warming the water? Stronger winds might be associated with global warming, which could be stirring them up.

Despite the presence of a figurative blowtorch under the West Antarctic ice sheet, the word “geothermal” appears nowhere in the Times piece. The area sits atop the West Antarctic Rift System, where, according to a 2014 paper by four University of Texas geophysicists, “geothermal fluxes are expected to be high, heterogeneous, possibly transient.” Heat from the Earth’s interior, they note, is “likely a significant factor in local, regional, and continental ice sheet stability.”11 Did the Times fly four of its journalists to Antarctica to report on geothermal fluxes? The word does not appear in their three-part report.

“I don’t think the biblical deluge is just a fairy tale,” a retired glaciologist told them. In language that, if used by a non-scientist, would be disregarded as activist hyperbole, he continued: “Some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind.”12 The reportage was framed to stoke fear of mass inundation. The very existence of Miami, New York, Shanghai, and many other coastal cities, the report suggests, is tied to Antarctica’s fate, unless mankind mends its ways.

The recent discovery of 91 volcanoes under West Antarctica was reported by the Washington Post as a human-caused climate change story. Only three quarters of the way through the story did the paper quote the remarkable third-year student at the University of Edinburgh, Max Van Wyk de Vries, who had made the discovery, saying that Antarctica as a whole had generally been doing better than most glaciers around the world. “It’s not melting rapidly like glaciers in the Rockies or Alps,” he said.13

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect in Perspective. A rise in global sea level would be one of the most certain consequences of man-made global warming. The problem is that, according to a 2014 paper published in Nature, the rate of global sea level rise has been increasing for 200 years, since well before man-made global warming could have made any difference.14 Thus rising sea levels are consistent with anthropogenic warming but are not evidence of it. Scientists would need to find a further acceleration on top of the already occurring rise.

That has not happened yet. The paper’s authors, drawn from universities in Florida, Britain, Australia, and Germany, point out that the lower end of the range of global sea-level rise projected by the IPCC is “broadly consistent” with a continuation of the average rate observed over the 20th century.15 The upper bound of a 980 centimeter rise for 2100 over 1986-2005 levels would require a major acceleration over the average 20th century rate. At the earliest, it is likely that rates significantly higher than past ones would only become evident in global data sets later this decade or early in the next, and up to 60 years later in individual tide gauge records.

It could be an even longer wait for global warming to show up in tide gauge records. Some numbers help explain why and provide perspective on the enhanced greenhouse effect, principally from carbon dioxide emissions. According to NASA, the average amount of incoming solar radiation at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere is 340 watts per square meter—equivalent to just under six 60-watt incandescent light bulbs. Of this, 77 watts per square meter is absorbed by the atmosphere and 163 watts per square meter absorbed by the Earth’s surface to be re-radiated back into the atmosphere.16 In its Fifth Assessment Report, the IPCC reckoned that the forcing effect of the enhanced greenhouse gas effect (carbon dioxide and two dozen other greenhouse gases) in absorbing this outgoing radiation was 2.83 watts per square meter in 2011—less than 1 percent of incoming energy.17

Hypotheses about the warming effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere originated in the 19th century. The Irish physicist John Tyndall (1859) and the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius (1896) thought fluctuations in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might explain the succession of ice ages, of roughly 100,000 years, and interglacials, relatively short periods of greater warmth lasting 15,000 to 20,000 years. In the 1920s, the Serb mathematician and astronomer Milutin Milanković developed an alternative theory based on three cyclical variations in the Earth’s orbit altering the amount of solar radiation received at high latitudes correlating with the series of ice ages.18

How do current anthropogenic forcings—the extra energy from the enhanced greenhouse effect—and those caused by Milanković cycles compare? William Collins of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was asked this at the APS 2014 climate workshop by New York University theoretical physicist Steven Koonin, who served as undersecretary in the Department of Energy during President Obama’s first term. As noted, the APS workshop is unique in the history of climate science: on one side, three experts subscribing to the consensus and three expert critical of it, moderated by non-climate scientists, including Koonin.

“In some cases, six watts,” answered Collins.

“Locally, it’s 100 watts per square meter in the summer Arctic,” MIT’s Dr. Richard Lindzen added from the IPCC critics’ bench.19 Lindzen returned to the topic later in the session. Annually averaged over the globe, you had almost no forcing from the Milanković cycles getting a big climate response, Lindzen observed.20 Averaging the annual change in radiative forcing caused by Milanković cycles over the entire globe conceals the magnitude of the change toward the poles. What Lindzen called the “currently fashionable paradigm” requires changes in CO2 to produce the cycle of ice ages. Was the global climate so sensitive that forcings of 1.5 watts per square meter from the extra CO2 found in ice cores sufficient to cause profound climate change? “I think that makes no sense,” Lindzen said.21

What Milanković understood was that the variation of incoming energy during Arctic summers could determine how much snow and ice survives the summer, so that ice sheets could build up over long periods of time. The 100 watts per square meter variations caused by Milanković cycles above 65 degrees North (the parallel that cuts Greenland’s southern tip) is approximately the energy required to account for the melting and freezing of the ice over ice age time scales.

Localized changes of 100 watts per square meter—equivalent to nearly 30 percent of the energy of the Sun arriving at the top of the atmosphere—brought about genuine climate change. How plausible is it to believe 3 watts per square meter—less than 1 percent of incoming solar energy—is sufficient to bring about irreversible, potentially catastrophic changes in the world’s climate? Sensitivity measurements from space show a “huge amount” of variability in clouds and other things, Lindzen argued. Why aren’t there “degrees of freedom” that the system adjusts to small imbalances? “I think that is probably the way one ought to look at the climate system.”22

The IPCC’s Use and Abuse of Climate Models. That is not how the general circulation models (GCMs) used by the IPCC work or how inferences from them are interpreted and then projected into the world by the IPCC in what has been called the gold standard of climate science.23 The discussion in Brooklyn shows that putting the words “gold standard” and “IPCC” in the same sentence demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of the reliability of IPCC-sanctioned climate science.

“It’s clouds that prevent us from fundamentally in some reductive fashion understanding the climate system,” Princeton Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Professor Isaac Held, senior research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, declared from the IPCC climate consensus bench.24 Collins made a similar point toward the end of the session. “My sense, to be honest with you, is that, and I think this all makes us a little bit nervous,” he said; “climate is not a problem that is amenable necessarily to reductionist treatment.”25

Yet the IPCC’s top-line judgment in its Fifth Assessment Report—that it is “extremely likely” that the human emissions of greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of the warming since the mid-20th century—was described by Dr. Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the third and most prominent of the IPCC consensus team, as likely to be conservative.26 The basis for this claim? General circulation models. Santer, whose involvement in the IPCC dates back to his role editing the 1996 Second Assessment Report to remove passages deemed unhelpful to the Clinton administration’s climate policy agenda, was the most bullish of the pro-consensus three throughout the workshop. It was very difficult to find model runs that produce less than half the observed warming, Santer said.

Santer’s claim would have sounded impressive if earlier in the day Collins had not presented charts showing GCMs performing poorly in reproducing temperature trends in the first half of the 20th century.27 Lindzen asked, what in the models causes the 1919-1940 warming? “Well, they miss the peak of the warming,” Held replied.28 While the IPCC is extremely certain that the late 20th century warming is mostly man-made, to this day it cannot collectively decide whether the earlier warming, which is of similar magnitude to the one that started in the mid-1970s, is predominantly man-made or natural. “It actually turns to be very hard to use the past as prologue,” Collins conceded before explaining: “We do not have a first principles theory that tells us what we have to get right in order to have an accurate projection.”29 And, as Held noted, over the satellite era from 1979, GCMs over- estimated warming in the tropics and the Arctic.30

There is a more fundamental objection to Santer’s position. General circulation models embody climate scientists’ current thinking about how the climate system works. Santer’s argument that only with man-made greenhouse gas forcings do GCMs reproduce late 20th century warming is tantamount to saying “because this is the only way we can explain the phenomenon, it must be true.” This logically requires all possible explanations to be known. That is an impossible standard to meet. It would mean science could never advance, as it implies that no new scientific hypotheses can or will be developed. If all possibilities are known from the start, science becomes solely an exercise in collecting and analyzing data— an important aspect of science, for sure, but not one that gives science its unique explanatory power and its capacity to advance.

Santer’s argument implies climate science is a closed system incapable of making the leaps that punctuate the history of scientific endeavor. In a 2008 paper, Lindzen noted that progress in climate science in solving actual scientific problems has moved at “a much slower rate” than might be expected.31 He highlights the role of fear in attracting federal funding to scientific research, something that has been happening since the 1960s: “The fact that fear provides little incentive for scientists to do anything more than perpetuate problems, significantly reduces the dependence of the scientific enterprise on unique skills and talents.”32 Reliance on fear as a motivator of funding has severely damaged the ability of science to usefully address problems, Lindzen argues, as “the solution of a scientific problem is rewarded by ending [financial] support. This hardly encourages the solution of problems or the search for actual answers.”33

Climate science has a lot of ground to make up. The same models that are used to project future temperature rises do not even get the past right, a point made at the APS workshop by Alabama state climatologist John Christy from the critics’ side: “If the models can’t tell us what happened, how can they tell us why it happened?”34

Nonetheless, projections derived from general circulation model are used to tell policy makers when greenhouse gas emissions must peak and by how much they must fall to avoid temperatures rising more than the two-degree Celsius increase above pre-industrial levels stipulated in the Paris climate treaty. Steven Koonin, chairing the APS workshop, read an extract from chapter 10 of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. Model-simulated responses to forcings—including greenhouse gas forcings—“can be scaled up or down.”35 To match observations, some of the forcings in some of the models had to be scaled down. But when it came to making the centennial projections, the scaling factors were removed, probably resulting in a 25 to 30 percent over-projection of the 2100 warming, Koonin said.36 Only the transcript does full justice to the exchange that followed.

Dr. Koonin: But if the model tells you that you got the response to the forcing wrong by 30 percent, you should use that same 30 percent factor when you project out a century.

Dr. Collins: Yes. And one of the reasons we are not doing that is we are not using the models as [a] statistical projection tool.

Dr. Koonin: What are you using them as?

Dr. Collins: Well, we took exactly the same models that got the forcing wrong and which got sort of the projections wrong up to 2100.

Dr. Koonin: So, why do we even show centennial-scale projections?

Dr. Collins: Well, I mean, it is part of the [IPCC] assessment process.37

“It is part of the assessment process” is not a scientific justification for using assumptions that are known to be empirically wrong to produce projections that help drive the political narrative of a planet spinning toward a climate catastrophe.

Can the Climate Change Consensus Be Wrong? “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?” is the title of a 2007 essay by the Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes, a leading advocate for climate mitigation policies. “No one denies the fact of natural variability, but natural variability alone does not explain what we are now experiencing.”38 At the APS workshop, NOAA’s Isaac Held took a more open-minded approach. “I worry,” he told the workshop, “Are there smoking guns out there that will change the consensus? I think we focused on two of them, the hiatus [in warming] and the tropical, upper tropospheric warming. Those are real issues. I don’t have the answer.”39

Originally trained as a mining geologist, Oreskes has become the go-to academic for major media outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, for quotes and op-eds to validate the climate change catechism. Previously at the University of California, San Diego, her 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, co-written with Erik Conway, catapulted her to prominence and, in 2013, helped land her a full professorship at Harvard.

According to Oreskes, there are no valid scientific reasons for doubt. The only reason to think the rise in temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide might be coincidental is “to avoid committing to action.”40 In fact, her own words indicate a strong adherence to green ideology. “To deny that global warming is real is precisely to deny that humans have become geological agents, changing the most basic physical processes of the [E]arth,” Oreskes writes of the less than 1 percent of incoming solar energy retained in the atmosphere. “There are now so many of us cutting down so many trees and burning so many billions of tons of fossil fuels that we have indeed become geological agents.”41

Might the consensus on climate change be wrong? “The relevant question for us as citizens is not whether this scientific consensus might be mistaken but rather whether there is any reason to think that it is mistaken,” Oreskes asserts.42 The difference between these two options is meaningless, though, as the procedure is the same—look at previous examples where the scientific consensus supported environmental alarm and see whether that consensus was right or wrong.

When so much store is put on deciding science by consensus, it makes sense to look at analogous episodes in the past and determine whether the consensus was solid or fallible then. This is what Oreskes and Conway do in Merchants of Doubt and this author does in Green Tyranny (October 2017). Both books examine two prior episodes—the acid rain scare of the 1970s and 1980s and the nuclear winter scare of the 1980s, but come to diametrically opposite conclusions on the consensus fueling them.

Like global warming, the scientific basis of the acid rain scare had been supported by numerous national academies. Oreskes and Conway assert the science is still valid by resorting to the simple expedient of not reporting the findings of the 10-year, $500 million National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program that demonstrated it is not.43

Oreskes’s and Conway’s performance on the nuclear winter scare is even worse. Sergei Tretyakov, a Russian spy who defected in 2000, revealed that the nuclear winter scare had been concocted by the KGB as part of a massive Soviet campaign to undercut the West’s nuclear rearmament program in response to Soviet deployment of SS-20 missiles in Eastern Europe.44 With a handful of exceptions, the scientists who aligned themselves with this effort would later be proponents of global warming. “The attack on nuclear winter was a dress rehearsal for bigger fights yet to come,” according to Oreskes and Conway, along the way attacking the reputations of Reagan-era scientists who disputed the science of the nuclear winter.45

What Oreskes and Conway omit from their account is that the “merchant of doubt” who administered the scientific coup de grâce on the science of the nuclear winter was none other than Stephen Schneider, to whom the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report was dedicated.

Oreskes and Conway knew that Schneider was co-author of the 1986 article as they cite an editorial in which it is discussed.

Climate Science and Falsifiability. “The true standard of impartiality,” wrote Lord Charnwood in his classic biography of Lincoln, “is that he should conceal no fact which, in his own mind, tells against his views.”46 As a historian, Oreskes does not provide an account of the past that meets Charnwood’s standard. As a science scholar, she rejects the principle of falsification in favor of consilience, the notion developed by the Victorian intellectual, William Whewell. Consilience describes the “jumping together” of different pieces of evidence from independent sources that point to the same conclusion, some of which were not contemplated in the formation of the hypothesis. According to the biologist Stephen Jay Gould, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as the coordinating principle behind the history of life is the most brilliant example of the power of consilience.47

In an essay commemorating the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth, science writer Matt Ridley points out that 20th century DNA analysis has led to the “triumphant vindication” of Darwin’s “inspired guesswork.”48 Until genetics, the idea that humans were closely related to chimpanzees was pure speculation. The study of genes could have falsified Darwin’s

theory of non-random natural selection among random mutations. Genetics could have found no branching tree pattern in genomes, showing that common ancestors share different gene sequences in the same proportion. But it did find such a pattern, and Darwinism passed a sharp falsification test. As for climate science, we can be sure that if theories of man-made catastrophic climate change had passed a test, we would have heard all about it.

There is another important difference. Darwin, who once trained to be an Anglican clergyman, did not start with a theory of evolution that he subsequently set out to prove. It was his unquenchable interest in the natural world, his extraordinary powers of observation, and the astonishing originality of his mind that led him to make sense of his observations and deduce a mechanism to explain them. That is not how climate science works. Many climate scientists do not simply observe climate phenomena and then deduce explanations for their observations. When it comes to the theory that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere leads to global warming, they start out with a preconceived premise and then seek out evidence confirming the theory.49

For the same reason, climate scientists seek confirmatory evidence of global warming in shrinking ice caps, retreating glaciers and inferring past temperatures from tree rings. The risk of falling prey to confirmation bias accounts for the shoddy peer review of the “hockey stick” at the turn of the 21st century, a reconstruction of past temperature based on tree ring samples that showed what climate scientists wanted to see. It took two Canadian independent researchers from outside the field, Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, to expose the contrivance that generated the hockey stick, which told a story of a 900-year trend of declining Northern Hemisphere temperatures followed by an abrupt uptick at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a prime example of the shortcomings of peer review.50

It requires robust statistical analysis to attribute temperature rises to human activities. It matters whether future temperature rises are likely to be a lot or a little, and for that climate scientists have recourse to general circulation models. Falsification of climate models, Oreskes concedes, is “a bit of a problem,” because the accuracy of their forecasts will not be known for some time.51 GCMs that do not reproduce the past are not rejected. Rather, Oreskes says, their parameters are revised.

Not everyone agrees with Oreskes. “Folks often say models are not falsifiable. They cannot make predictions which we can actually test,” Ben Santer told the APS climate workshop. “That’s not true.”52 An earlier generation of climate scientists had identified changes in the pattern of vertical warming. This would indicate the fingerprint of human-induced warming because the distinctive pattern of a warming troposphere (the lowest portion of the atmosphere to about 50,000 ft.) and cooling stratosphere over the tropics would not have been caused by internal climate variability and volcanic activity. Twenty-eight control model runs of the dominant modes of natural variability do not generate this pattern on long time scales, Santer told the workshop.53

John Christy revisited the troposphere warming above the tropics in his presentation to the workshop. “I am one of those people that builds climate data sets,” he said.54 Referring to the tropical tropospheric “hot spot,” Christy told the group: “[I]f you want to look at

something that has a greenhouse signature from model simulations, that would be the place to do it, because it has the biggest signal, the most [atmospheric] mass.”55 Comparing 102 model runs of the tropical mid-troposphere with data from weather balloons and satellites, in every case the computer runs are “much warmer” than the observations.56

The IPCC’s solution in the Fifth Assessment Report was to say there was low confidence in the observations. Christy was unconvinced. “I don’t think that’s the case. I think we do have good information on observations and we have pretty good confidence.”57 Santer argued the problem was the forcings, especially those in respect of aerosols (very small airborne particles) and the effect of ozone depletion. “We know beyond a shadow of the doubt that we got some of the forcings wrong systematically.”58

A lively exchange developed between Christy and Santer. Georgia Tech’s Dr. Judith Curry, the third member of the critics’ bench, had crossed swords with Santer on whether the IPCC’s statement that more than half the observed warming was anthropogenic was more than expert judgment. In subsequent testimony to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Curry explained:

Science is often mischaracterized as the assembly and organization of data and as a collection of facts on which scientists agree. Science is correctly characterized as a process in which we keep exploring new ideas and changing our understanding of the world, to find new representations of the world that better explain what is observed. … Science is driven by uncertainty, disagreement, and ignorance—the best scientists cultivate doubt.59 [Emphases in original]

Curry’s approach to science stands firmly on the methods and philosophical standards of the scientific revolution—mankind’s single greatest intellectual achievement.

Christy went on to argue for a red team appraisal of the whole climate modeling enterprise, something he had been suggesting for 15 years. This encountered stiff opposition from IPCC-supporting scientists, who argued that that had already happened and was unnecessary. The discussion became heated, and Santer lost it, lashing out at Christy:

I would say, John, that unlike you, who just presented these discrepancies and threw up his hands and said, oh, we don’t understand these things, we have actually tried to understand these things, we have actually tried to understand why the differences exist and whether they are bona fide model response errors, whether they are forcing errors, whether they are internal variability errors.

So, I just don’t think it’s sufficient to just do the kind of analysis you have done, show discrepancies and say this proves that all models are wrong or are too sensitive to anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. That is not helpful in advancing the state of the science.60

In effect, Santer was tacitly conceding that consensus climate science and the models on which it relies are not sufficiently advanced to meet a falsification test. While the world is

asked to put its faith in climate model projections to justify the enormous costs of decarbonizing the world’s economy, climate modeling remains a work in progress.

John Christy’s Congressional Testimony. In 2017, Christy took his analysis of the model prediction of a tropical tropospherical hot spot to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. “To test this result we follow the traditional scientific method in which a claim (hypothesis) is made and then is tested against independent information to see if the claim can be sustained or whether it is falsified,” Christy told the committee.61 Comparing model trends with the actual 38-year trend, the models failed to represent real world observations by “a highly significant amount.”62

The IPCC had these results in time for inclusion in chapter 10 of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. What to do with them? The inconvenient findings were relegated to an annex of supplementary material and fashioned into charts that are hard to understand, Christy told the committee.63 They show model trends in which extra greenhouse gases are included lying completely outside the range of the observational trends, indicating that the GCMs, as hypotheses, failed a simple scientific-method test. It is hard to argue with Christy’s conclusion: “That this information was not clearly and openly presented in the IPCC is evidence of a political process.”64 The IPCC then went on to increase its confidence in asserting that humans were causing the majority of climate change based on those very same models.

The finding that IPCC climate models perform better at matching observations without extra greenhouse gases is supported by a statistical analysis undertaken by Christy. Not only do its results falsify Oreskes’s contention that those who argue that natural variability as a prime cause of temperature change are motivated solely by ideology, it also undermines the scientific basis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 endangerment finding against carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, which provides the EPA with the legal basis for regulating them.

In the endangerment finding, the Obama EPA had asserted that natural factors could not explain the observed warming. Christy’s statistical analysis shows that they do explain 75 to 90 percent of the warming since 1979. Unlike the GCMs cooked up with extra greenhouse gas warming, trends produced by the statistical model are not statistically different from observational data. By contrast, climate models, on average, fail to reproduce the global average bulk temperature trend.65 In a straight pass/fail empirical test, natural variability passes and consensus climate science fails.

Politicized Science vs. Red/Blue Team Appraisals. The APS workshop provides the strongest corrective to date to the politicized IPCC process. It revealed the IPCC’s unscientific practice of using different assumptions for projecting future temperature increases from those used to get models to reproduce past temperature. One need not be a climate expert to see that something is seriously amiss with the near certainties promulgated by the IPCC. “I have got to say,” Koonin remarked to climate modeler William Collins, “that this business is even more uncertain than I thought, uncertainties in the forcing, uncertainties in the modelling, uncertainties in historical data. Boy, this is a tough business to navigate.”66

Koonin came away championing Christy’s idea of a red/blue team appraisal, a term drawn from war-gaming assessments performed by the military rather than from politics, which EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has since adopted.

A revealing indicator of its potential value is the response to it. A June 2017 Washington Post op-ed, condemned calls for red/blue team appraisals as “dangerous attempts to elevate the status of minority opinions.”67 Two of the three authors we have already met—Santer and Oreskes. Ben Santer’s public positions are contradicted by the more private ones he took at the APS workshop. In a 2017 scientific paper, he attacked Scott Pruitt for claiming that satellite data had shown a leveling off of warming, “which some scientists refer to as the ‘hiatus.’”68 One of those very scientists was Santer during the APS workshop (“So, using this method we remove ENSO [El Niño-Southern Oscillation] effects and the hiatus is still there.”).69

Like Santer, Oreskes’s case against a red/blue assessment is also contradicted by her own arguments. Consilience is not so different from what happens in a legal case, Oreskes wrote in her 2007 paper on the rightness of the climate consensus. A prosecutor presents evidence that holds a consistent story. The defense need only show only that some element of the story is at odds with another. “In other words, scientists are more like lawyers than they might like to admit”—only in the case of climate science, Oreskes now argues the accused is not permitted a defense attorney. Even the medieval Catholic Church had a devil’s advocate to test the case for canonization.

Peer review of scientific papers is the best system we have, having served science well for several centuries, write Santer, Oreskes, and Kerry Emanuel, the op-ed’s third author. In her 2007 essay, Oreskes goes so far as to define science as the consensus of scientific experts derived from what she thinks is “the basic test for what it takes to be counted as scientific— namely, being published in a peer-reviewed journal”—a feature of all academic fields, scientific and non-scientific alike, and a reversion to the kind of appeals to authority that characterize pre-modern science.70

Peer review and publication in academic journals are inevitably biased toward supporting the dominant paradigm of the day. In his 2008 paper on climate science, MIT’s Lindzen notes that disagreement with conclusions of the IPCC is a common basis for rejecting papers, “as long as the disagreement suggests reduced alarm.”71 Concern about peer review and the academics’ output predates the rise of global warming and is spread wider than the natural sciences. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan once noted: “Academic programs almost everywhere are controlled by rent-recipients who simply try to ape the mainstream work of their peers in the discipline.”72

The nuclear winter scare, which turned out to be scientifically worthless, was based on two papers in Science, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.73 Having seen through the bogus peer-reviewed science of nuclear winter, Emanuel should have known better than to put his name to an article extolling the peerless virtue of peer review.

After the APS workshop, it is understandable that Santer and other scientists supporting the consensus want to avoid a similar ordeal. It gave the IPCC’s dirty linen a needed airing by revealing the shortcuts, the uncertainties, and dial-turning used to get politically acceptable results.

John Christy’s congressional testimony showed how the IPCC buries inconvenient data that contradict the IPCC’s carefully crafted key messages in its Summary for Policy Makers.

Even that is a misnomer. Scientists prepare a draft, which is then redrafted in a conclave of representatives from the member governments, mostly officials from environment departments trying to get their ministers’ views reflected in the final document. As Lord Turnbull, formerly the United Kingdom’s top civil servant and a permanent secretary of the Department of the Environment, explained to the House of Lords: “In short, it is a summary by policymakers not for policymakers.” [Emphasis added]74

Might global warming turn out to be as wrong as the acid rain and nuclear winter scares? All three were originally weaponized for political purposes, the nuclear winter by the KGB in the 1980s to advance the Soviet Union’s geostrategic interests and acid rain and global warming by Sweden in the 1970s. As I relate in my book, Green Tyranny, Sweden’s Social Democrats had an ambitious civil nuclear power program and sought to bolster the case for it by launching a war against coal. Acid rain and then global warming were deployed in that war.

Due above all to Swedish efforts, for global warming, a formalized structure was conceived and established at the outset in order to manufacture the scientific consensus required to propel policy action.75 Before he became the IPCC’s first chair, Bert Bolin worked closely with two Swedish prime ministers and featured prominently in the acid rain scare. More than anyone else, Bolin brought the IPCC into being, writing later that he envisaged it as “an organ that provided an international meeting place for scientists and politicians to take responsibility for assessing the available knowledge concerning global climate change and its possible socio-economic implications.”76 [Emphasis in original] Records from secretive meetings at Villach in Austria and Bellagio in Italy that preceded its formal creation show how the IPCC had a political purpose hard-wired into its DNA at its conception.77

Conclusion: Climate Policy’s Democratic Deficit. Open debate is as crucial in science as it is in a democracy. It would be contrary to democratic principles to dispense with debate and rely on the consensus of experts. The latter mode of inquiry inevitably produces prepackaged answers. But, as we have seen, relying on “consensus” buttresses erroneous science rather than allow it to be falsified. The scientific consensus on acid rain turned out to be wrong and that on nuclear winter dangerously so. Had the Reagan administration followed the policy prescription of the scientists who were pushing it and backed away from the West’s nuclear arms build-up, the Soviet Union may have prevailed militarily during the Cold War by succeeding in its strategic aim of splitting the Atlantic Alliance.

The IPCC is the institutional embodiment of the third scientific consensus. It was created to persuade, not provide objectivity and air disagreement. By contrast, the APS workshop gave both sides an impartial forum in which they could ask questions and probe the other side’s case. In doing so, it did more to expose the uncertainty, disagreement, and ignorance—to borrow Judith Curry’s words—around climate science than thousands of pages of IPCC assessment reports.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal for red/blue team assessment is a logical progression from the workshop. The hostile reaction it elicited from leading consensus advocates strongly suggests that they fear debate. Climate scientists whose mission is to advance scientific understanding have nothing to fear and much to gain. Those who seek to use climate science as a policy battering ram have good reason to feel uncomfortable at the prospect. The biggest winner from a red/blue team assessment will be the public. If people are to buy into policies that will drastically alter their way of life, they should be fully informed of the consequences and justifications. To do otherwise would represent a subversion of democracy.


1 Kendra Pierre-Louis, “These conservatives want to convince you that climate change is real,” Popular Science, May 1, 2017, http://www.popsci.com/conservative-climate-change.

2 American Physical Society, “Climate Change Statement Review Workshop—Transcript of Proceedings,” January 8, 2014, p. 32, http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-seminar-transcript.pdf.

3 Ibid., pp. 35-36.

4 “Real Time with Bill Maher,” HBO, August 4, 2017, https://youtu.be/xHuK-VxBW3k.

5 Ibid.

6 Avi Selk, “Another climate-change nightmare: 91 new volcanoes beneath Antarctica’s ice,” Washington Post, August 15, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/08/15/another- climate-change-nightmare-dozens-of-volcanoes-beneath-antarcticas-thinning-ice/?utm_term=.6e24749b0d27 7 Justin Gillis, “Antarctic Dispatches—Part 1, New York Times, May 18, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/climate/antarctica-virtual-reality.html?mcubz=1.

8 Justin Gillis, “Antarctic Dispatches—Part 3, New York Times, May 18, 2017.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Dustin Schroeder, Donald Blankenship, Duncan Young, and Enrica Quartini, “Evidence for elevated and spatially variable geothermal flux beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” PNAS, Vol. 111, No.25 (June 24, 2014), http://www.pnas.org/content/111/25/9070.full.pdf. For those awaiting impending inundation from the blowtorch under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, University of Texas researchers estimated geothermal fluxes under the Thwaites glacier of 0.1-0.2 watts per square meter, that is between one five hundredth and one thousandth of the energy that produces interglacials.

12 Justin Gillis, “Antarctic Dispatches—Part 2, New York Times, May 18, 2017.

13 Selk.

14 Ivan Haigh, Thomas Wahl, Eelco Rohling, René Price, Charitha Pattiaratchi, Francisco Calafat, and Sönke Dangendorf, “Timescale for detecting a significant acceleration in sea level rise,” Nature Communications (April 14, 2014).

15 Ivan Haigh, Thomas Wahl, Eelco Rohling, René Price, Charitha Pattiaratchi, Francisco Calafat, and Sönke Dangendorf, “Timescales for detecting a significant acceleration in sea level rise,” Nature Communications (April 14, 2014), p. 2, https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms4635.

16 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “The Earth’s Energy Budget Poster” (2016), https://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/energy_budget/.

17 Gunnar Myhre, Drew D. Shindell et al, “Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, p. 676,


18 Rupert Darwall, The Age of Global Warming: A History (London: Quartet Books, 2013), pp. 27-28.

19 American Physical Society, p. 172.

20 Ibid., p. 317.

21 Ibid., p. 316.

22 Ibid., pp. 316-318.

23 Oren Cass, “The Problem with Climate Catastrophizing,” Foreign Affairs, March 21, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2017-03-21/problem-climate-catastrophizing.

24 American Physical Society, p. 329.

25 Ibid., pp. 561-562.

26 Ibid., pp. 491-492.

27 Ibid., p. 54.

28 Ibid., p. 466.

29 Ibid., pp. 88-89.

30 Ibid., p. 488.

31 Richard S. Lindzen, Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions? Paper prepared for a meeting sponsored by Euresis (Associazone per la promozione e la diffusione della cultura e del lavoro scientifico) and the Templeton Foundation, November 29, 2008, revised September 21, 2012, p. 1, https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.3762.pdf.

32 Ibid.

33 Ibid., p. 21.

34 American Physical Society, p. 334.

35 Ibid., p. 253.

36 Ibid., p. 259.

37 Ibid., pp. 269-270.

38 Naomi Oreskes, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?” (2007), p.73, https://www.lpl.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/resources/globalwarming/oreskes-chapter-4.pdf.

39 American Physical Society, “Climate Change Statement Review Workshop – Transcript of Proceedings,” January 8, 2014, p.487

40 Oreskes, p. 73.

41 Ibid., p. 93.

42 Ibid., p.80

43 Pete Earley, Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007.

44 Ibid., p. 114

45 Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011), p. 65.

46 Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1917), p. 8.

47 Stephen Jay Gould, The Hedgehog, the Fox and the Magister’s Pox (New York: Harmony Book, 2003), p. 211. 48 Matt Ridley, “Modern Darwins,” National Geographic, February 2009, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/02/darwin-legacy/ridley-text.

49 Darwall, The Age of Global Warming, p. 113.

50 Ibid., pp. 200-224.

51 Oreskes, p. 85.

52 American Physical Society, pp. 178-179. Santer’s claim that the hot spot is unique to man-made warming is incorrect. Rather, it is due to condensation in rising air and the resulting latent heat release (the moist adiabatic lapse rate). The concept of the hot spot is relative—the troposphere warming faster than surface warming. This suggests that the surface temperature record in the tropics overstates any actual warming there. It also implies that the general circulation models used by Santer in his analysis are faulty in not producing a hot spot with non-anthropogenic warming.

53 Ibid., p. 203.

54 Ibid., p. 330.

55 Ibid., p. 335.

56 Ibid., p. 343.

57 Ibid., p. 30.

58 Ibid., p. 272.

59 Judith A Curry, Statement to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the United States House of Representatives, March 29, 2017, p. 3, https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-115-SY-WState- JCurry-20170329.pdf.

60 American Physical Society, pp. 502-503.

61 John R. Christy, Testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, March 29, 2017, p. 3, https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-115-SY- WState-JChristy-20170329.pdf.

62 Ibid., p. 7.

63 Ibid., p. 8.

64 Ibid., p. 9.

65 Ibid., p. 11.

66 American Physical Society, pp. 92-93.

67 Benjamin Santer, Kerry Emanuel, and Naomi Oreskes, “Red teams and blue teams are no way to conduct climate science,” Washington Post, June 21, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/06/21/attention-scott-pruitt-red-teams-and-blue-teams-are-no-way-to-conduct-climate- science/?utm_term=.8e697634d5c8.

68Benjamin D. Santer, Susan Solomon, Frank J. Wentz3, Qiang Fu, Stephen Po-Chedley, Carl Mears, Jeffrey F. Painter, and Céline Bonfils, “Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades,” Scientific Reports, May 24, 2017, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-02520-7.

69 American Physical Society, p. 214.

70 Oreskes, p. 93. .

71 Lindzen, p. 16.

72 Quoted in Leland B Yeager, Is the Market a Test of Truth and Beauty? Essays in Political Economy (Auburn, Alabama: Nabu Press, 2011), p.251.

73 R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack, and Carl Sagan, “Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions,” Science Vol. 222, No. 4630 (December 23, 1983) and Paul Ehrlich et al., “Long-term Biological Consequences of Nuclear War,” Science, Vol. 222, No. 4630 (December 23, 1983), https://canvas.harvard.edu/files/2112592/download?download_frd=1&verifier=aFBR7DRZQpnbTm1SYx wnMFzucKN2OUUO73VDv6hh.

74 Lords Hansard, Col. 1051, December 8, 2009, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldhansrd/text/91208-0010.htm#091208120000161.

75 Rupert Darwall, Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (New York, 2017), pp. 122-128.

76 Bert Bolin, A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change: The Role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 39.

77 Rupert Darwall, Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (New York, 2017), pp. 126-128.


116 thoughts on “A must read: A Veneer of Certainty Stoking Climate Alarm

  1. …In Private, Climate Scientists Are Much Less Certain than They Tell the Public…

    They must all hang together, or assuredly they will all hang separately…

  2. …Might global warming turn out to be as wrong as the acid rain and nuclear winter scares? …

    You can add the Ozone Scare to that, though the details are yet to become widely known…

    • Yet Acid Rain is still taught in schools in the UK at least as an environmental success story. Most people aged between 15-30 almost certainly think it was a real problem, solved by Greenies.

      • I have seen the devastation by acid rain of the forests in Germany in the early seventies. Subsequent installation of equipment on the coal power stations & other factories to remove sulfurous compounds solved this problem.
        The ozone scare is probably a hoax.

        its decrease was probably a natural oscillation?

      • “henryp November 30, 2017 at 6:53 am

        I have seen the devastation by acid rain of the forests in Germany in the early seventies.”

        Which was blamed on the Britain. Britain was slugged with the “Dirty Man of Europe” nickname.

    • The problem with these arguments (acid rain, global warming and ozone) is that these issues are still controversial, so that many can still argue that the scares were scientifically correct.

      Of course, the history of science is basically the story of how one concensus after another turned out to be hopelessly wrong e.g. phlogiston, the ether and meteors originating in the atmosphere. Even Einstein was attacked by the concensus scientists – but they were wrong and Einstein was right..

      A perfect example is continental drift. A hundred years ago the scientific concensus was that the continents were fixed and unmoving. The one scientist (Wegener, if my memory is correct) who claimed that the continents were in fact on the move was attacked and even accused of being mad. But of course today no one seriously claims that he was wrong and today we have a good understanding of how continental drift works. This is a perfect example of how the concensus can be totally wrong – and of how the sceptic turned out to be right!

      This is probably the best argument against concensus: time after time, one scientific concensus after another turned out to be completely wrong.

      • Emmanuel Velicofsky (Spell?) in one of the greatest books, “WORLD’S IN COLLISION”, that I ever enjoyed, also comes to mind. The theories advanced were thoroughly ostracized by the then (Intelligencia) Scientific Consensus, again the consensus was wrong. The book was banned in the ’50s—how does that happen in a Constitutional Representative Republic ?

      • I find this a very flakey argument. The problem with it is that every area of good science is also supported by a consensus. There are certainly scientific paradigm shifts at times which cause consensus to flip into a new state but that doesn’t mean they are always wrong.

        Since you bring up plate tectonics, which is now the new consensus, I presume you would agree that it isn’t very likely that we will one day discover they are all wrong and the Continents do not in fact drift? The only issue was a natural lag in accumulation and acceptance of new evidence.

        You are correct in that a consensus does not render something true. It is the supporting evidence which confers high probability of truth and the consensus generally follows that.

        The fatal flaw with the alarmist climate consensus is, ah, there isn’t any evidence. None at all which is what makes it so hilariously and transparently absurd.

      • Also you have the tectonics argument in complete antiphase. Wegener wasn’t a sceptic. Wegener was the guy with the bold and revolutionary new hypothesis. The sceptics were the old guard who thought it couldn’t possibly be true. The sceptics in that case were totally wrong and it was the sheer weight of empirical evidence which eventually demonstrated that they were wrong.

        In the climate alarmism case it is the bold new hypothesis which is actually wrong. It has zero supporting and plenty of refuting evidence and this time we are in the position of old guard – but this time we’re right.

      • Actually by the time Wegener published his research, he had evidence that was airtight and solid.
        They only thing missing was a mechanism.
        He developed the ideas that were almost surely given to him by his father in law, one of the fathers of climatology and the inventor of the most widely used system of climate classification in use even today.
        Wladimir Koppen was a botanist, and also a geographer, among his other areas of expertise, and among his travels were trips to Africa, where he was able to link geological strata on both sides of the Atlantic in precisely corresponding layers, right down the flora and fauna preserved in them as fossils.
        It has been reported that the existence of the mid Atlantic ridge was unknown prior to the mapping of the sea floor by the scientists aboard the Vema in the 1950s, and was not confirmed until the Glomar Challenger mapped the seafloor and obtained cores samples that were analyzed and dated.
        But this is far from true.
        Wegener himself was aware of the mid Atlantic ridge, and speculated that the sea floor was spreading at this juncture and provided a mechanism for what he termed continental drift.
        Much of the reason Wegener’s ideas were not accepted had to do with hard headed misconceptions about what he was saying.
        Wegener was well aware of the continental shelves, and of erosive, sedimentary, and igneous processes that had altered the shapes of the coastlines since the continents were last joined, and yet the fact that sea level was known to vary and rocks were know to erode and the shorelines were not an exact match were all used as “evidence” to ridicule what was in fact a cohesive and well thought out idea with many separate lines of supporting evidence. Real evidence.
        In fact, a child could not help noticing the striking fact of the matching coastlines of various continents, most easily notable example being South America and Africa.
        If the continents were not in fact part of a whole that had split at one time in the past, by what incredible coincidence would they bear any similarity in shape at all? The odds are so stupendously slim as to make it ludicrous to reject the idea out of hand. There is not other way to explain it!
        Add in the matching geological strata that bore matching fossils, one would have to be willfully blind not to believe it. Seemingly so at least. (We see this today…the facts are in front of our eyes, but many refuse to see them.)
        Africa and South America are an obvious match, as is the southeast coast of Africa and Madagascar. Others are less obvious but almost no where does the fit appear impossible, Florida being a notable exception. But even at that time it was known that many places were areas of land accumulation by volcanism (central America) and sedimentation and reef building (Florida).
        Koppen gave Wegener all he needed to fill in the gaps, which he did, and tied it all together with great insight.
        Today we know that CO2 was in the past far higher with no disastrous consequences or tipping point to runaway global warming. We know that warmer periods in history and prehistory have been beneficial, not harmful. We know that CO2 is the essential basis of the entire biosphere and is actually dangerously low in concentration. We know that when interglacials end the ice sheets that form kill entire continents dead, down to the bedrock and beyond. We now that perpetually frozen areas of the earth are virtually barren wastelands for life, that nothing survives freezing, at least not for long.
        We have the ice core data from Greenland showing the ever cooler warm periods and ever more frigid colder intervals between, from the HCO to the LIA. We know it was warmer and is getting colder, and warmer is better. We are lucky for every degree of warmth, and for every molecule of life giving CO2.
        Yes, we see the same hard headed refusal to see what is obvious and right in front of our noses, even today.

      • “Bill November 30, 2017 at 11:25 pm
        Aren’t Einsteins theories a consensus?”

        After over one hundred years of tests, validations, proofs, without failures; yes, you could state that the Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is a current consensus.

        CAGW is heading for it’s fourth decade of falsification following failure following falsification.

        CAGW consensus is a religion.
        Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is science.

    • Whether “acid rain” was real or not, it made sense and was quite cheap to add scrubbers to remove sulfuric fumes.
      Whether “nuclear winter” is scary or not, it still make sense to reduce the risk of nuclear weapon use.
      Whether “Ozone hole” is man-made or perfectly natural, the risk is serious enough and the price small enough to pay a few dollar to DuPont for new substitutes of his Freon (which just at that time happened to fell in the public domain, what a coincidence…).
      The war against fossil fuel is entirely another magnitude, we are talking of hundreds of dollar just in electricity bill right now for Average Joe, just to begin with, and eventually reducing his income and wealth to a quarter of what it is right now (“Factor Four” reduction).

      • The cost of switching away from Freon was not minor.
        While the damage that might be caused by a collapse of the ozone layer could be severe, the evidence that such a collapse was happening or could happen was very weak at best.

      • “Acid rain” might have been the original justification for the EPA imposing regulations to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, but the fact is that breathing sulfur dioxide is toxic to human and animal life, and sulfur dioxide can dissolve in rain water to produce sulfurous acid, which is damaging to plant life.

        There is no evidence that carbon dioxide is toxic to any life on earth–all animals (and humans) exhale it, and plants actually require it to produce food for themselves and other life on earth.

        Whether or not the “acid rain” scare was overblown, the regulations against sulfur dioxide emissions have been largely successful. Scrubbers on smokestacks from coal-fired power plants can usually remove more than 95% of the sulfur dioxide from the emitted smoke, and are relatively inexpensive to operate and have little effect on the cost of electricity. Another major source of sulfur dioxide emissions (from Diesel engines) has been greatly reduced by requiring the use of “ultra-low-sulfur Diesel”, which refiners can produce by reacting sulfur-containing Diesel fuel with hydrogen, which removes the sulfur as hydrogen sulfide, which can then be converted to solid sulfur or sulfuric acid for use in car batteries.

        Removal of sulfur or sulfur oxides was a manageable problem because most fuels don’t contain more than 2% sulfur by weight, technologies are available that are very selective toward reacting with sulfur, and sulfur oxides are recognized as toxic. There are many benefits to reducing sulfur oxide emissions, and the cost is relatively low.

        Trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is much more difficult because natural gas (recognized as the cleanest of the fossil fuels) contains over 75 wt% carbon, and most petroleum fractions are about 86 wt% carbon. Anything that burns (including sugar in our bodies) emits large amounts of carbon dioxide, so that trying to “capture” carbon dioxide is a much greater problem than capturing sulfur oxides. Since carbon dioxide is non-toxic, the only incentive anyone may have to prevent its emission would be fear of some other harmful effect of “too much” carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

        The claim that carbon dioxide could cause catastrophic warming of the atmosphere and melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps and sea-level rise provides alarmists with the perfect excuse for banning all combustion processes for producing energy, whether it be electrical, or heat, or transportation.

        The costs of banning all burning are tremendous, considering the cost of replacing the energy produced, and the “benefits” of avoiding climate change are nebulous at best, and may be non-existent. So the alarmists resort to fear of some catastrophe in future centuries to try to scare people into action. But for how many years can they “cry wolf” without any of their predictions coming true before people stop believing them?

      • The interesting thing with acid rain was, it became much more evident after the soot (particulates) was removed. The soot protected the trees from the sulfates, so you had cleaner air but trees dying faster.

      • The only drawback to scrubbing sulphur from generating plant smokestacks is that we now have to add sulphur to agricultural fertilisers.

      • Some crops grow better under somewhat acidic conditions, and sulfur lowers the pH to make the soil more conducive to growth. Sulfur is also an essential micronutrient for plants.
        But many plants grow best in sweet soil (higher pH, more alkaline) and for this lime is widely used.
        This is not some new development necessitated by smokestack scrubbers!

  3. “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
    Written in 1989 by Alarmist guru, Stephen Scneider.

    • To complete the Schneider quote:
      “….This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both. “

      • ABC.. roflmao.. !

        You really have to get some sort of reality into that feeble little mind of yours.
        Learn to recognise propaganda pap and sludge when its there in front of you.

        Also realise that those people have MAJOR mental disturbance issues.

        They actually pretend to “believe” their own nonsense. So SAD !!!

      • For sure Andy.
        It is a very strange thing to read about people who are so-called expert climatologists talking about how much hotter the world is now, and how unsurvivable a few degrees more of warmth will be for the human race if they are not able to convince us deniers of our imminent doom and allow them to take control of the weather and the sea level!
        They really do seem to be such good liars they have convinced themselves.
        Not only ignorant, but cowardly and delusional Chicken Littles, pretending at science.

    • Not so naive and enjoying all that honey provided by the world’s poor whilst claiming to be part of a pure and ascetic priesthood.

    • I’m not so sure about the history part, which is being rewritten and subject to the dreaded sub-setting, in which “unhelpful” facts are simply not mentioned. Facts are being downplayed in favour of emotions, and there are very few critical voices being heard, probably because the MSM has jumped onto the emotion bandwagon, people getting upset get all the clicks, facts get very few.

    • My thought was Al Gore. But what do I know?
      Seems to be a continuation of the Bill Maher talk show with Gore, introduced in the previous paragraph.

      I do know about 10:45 AM — just started to snow. Won’t be much. Although I’m glad we do not have to go over Snoqualmie Pass today.
      Greetings, John.

    • Juan,
      It was a continuation of Gore bull from the previous paragraph.
      Footnote 5: ibid, abbreviation of the Latin ibidem, “in the same place”. It means the same source as the reference directly above it, which is #4,“Real Time with Bill Maher,” HBO, August 4, 2017, https://youtu.be/xHuK-VxBW3k
      If you like hearing Gore spout his baloney, have a gander at the video.
      It is a hoot.
      Al Gore deserves to be in jail.
      hard to believe he has escaped any consequences for his sexual assaults. Hopefully it wil all catch up to him one day, including his crimes against humanity. Mahar too.

  4. The hardest thing to do….is get an expert to admit theydon’tknowshit
    …climate science is like some hamster on a wheel

  5. This piece does not reproduce well here on WUWT. The formatting, footnotes, paragraphs and editing in general make it difficult to read.

    Where is the original located?

  6. How “Climate Scientist™” makes pancakes…

    This is accepted high efficiency method of making pancakes as endorsed by the consensus of Green thinkers, and is awaiting patent application by AI Gore Inc.

  7. William Collins is asked to compare forcings from greenhouse gases and the Milankovic cycle. His answer: In some cases, six watts

    I have no idea what this means. Is one source 6 watts greater than the other? If so, which one? Or are they both comparable, at around six watts? Or…??

  8. The discussion became heated, and Santer lost it, lashing out at Christy…

    One wonders whether Santer was ‘tempted to beat the cr*p out of’ Christy…

    Ben Santer’s public positions are contradicted by the more private ones he took at the APS workshop.

    Or maybe he just beats the cr*p out of himself…

  9. Religious “leaders” have been preaching fear and apocalypse ever since they could first crawl up onto a rock and gather a crowd. Why? That’s easy ……….money and power.

    • Borgia, interested in money and power, may have been dangerous when you stood on his way to money and power, but was otherwise pretty benevolent.
      Savonarole, NOT interested in money or power, was dangerous to you no matter what.

      • Savonarola had little interest in money or economic power. But he was TOTALLY interested in intellectual, religious power. Not titles, the power itself.

  10. Judith Curry’s introduction says:

    The transcript of the workshop is a remarkable document. It provides, in my opinion, the most accurate portrayal of the scientific debates surrounding climate change. While each of the six scientists agreed on the primary scientific evidence, we each had a unique perspective on how to reason about the evidence, what conclusions could be drawn and with what level of certainty.

    Absolutely! The transcript is extraordinary and everyone should read it and disseminate it as widely as possible. The detail and caveats that Koonin extracts from the pro-CAGW climate scientists are remarkable. Highly recommended.

  11. Santer says that Christy ” show discrepancies and say this proves that all models are wrong or are too sensitive to anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. That is not helpful in advancing the state of the science.60″

    Showing your model is incorrect is unhelpful??? Did he really just say that?

    Further proof the CAGW folks have abandoned science wholesale.

    • Santer did say that although he also said that they should be working on making the models better which is a valid point. I have to agree with you however that in order to make the models better you must first find out what is wrong with them.

      • There’s an assumption here that it is possible to usefully model the long term behaviour of a system like the climate. There is way too much bland acceptance of the concept that we can model whatever we like. The sheer hubris of this assumption is breathtakingly stupid, ignorant and arrogant.

  12. Of course the big question is that “Veneer of Certainty” coming from ecologically managed, sustainable sources?

  13. ABCCBSNBCCNNMSNBCBBCNPRPBSNYTWaPoLAT has an ironclad grip on the dissemination of news and information on a daily basis, backed up by Public Education to hammer home the falsehoods in a relentless assault on impressionable minds. And now Moody’s has jumped the shark…

  14. Having government fund research that supports a political agenda is very dangerous. I suspect that if tax rates were based on the number of planets in our Solar System the government would fund research to redefine planets to re-include Pluto and add Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Europa, Triton and our own Moon to the list.

    • …..”Having government fund research that supports a political agenda is very dangerous. I suspect that if tax rates were based on the number of planets in our Solar System the government would fund research to redefine planets to re-include Pluto and add Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Europa, Triton and our own Moon to the list.”……….

      and how about all those asteroids?

  15. Oreskes is the lady who regrettably became the Pope’s science advisor on these matters. Her brother was the head of NPR’s news dept who was recently fired due to on the job sexual misbehavior. Richard Lindzen of MIT is the real thing.

    Theo W. Pinson Law Offices of Theo W. Pinson 2920 Lamar Houston, Tx. 77003 Ph. 713-229-8823 Fx. 713-229-8852 C. 713-253-7014


  16. A model is only a research tool, a toy, until it is proven to work. No climate models today are good enough to be used for public policy.
    In high school physics, the teacher presented some “logical” notion of Aristotle’s again and again, and then presented an experiment to test the idea. I am sure Aristotle must have been right on some things, but we never saw any of those in class. That teacher defined “science” as LEADING TO CORRECT PREDICTIONS.
    By that definition, the models are not scientific. By that definition, there is almost no science in “climate science.”

    • Aristotle was a philosopher, not a scientist. He made metaphysical demonstrations. Any references he made to science were not critical to his metaphysics, which is not science. Any refutation of Aristotle’s metaphysics based on science is not valid.

      • Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Scholastics made metaphysical arguments, not scientific ones, which draw probabilistic conclusions from empirical premises. Metaphysics uses elements from science, mathematics and other types of reasoning to arrive at conclusions that follow necessarily from the argument.

        One example of a metaphysical demonstration is based on the nature of cause and effect. The argument is developed to show that God is the uncaused cause of the universe. This is true whether or not the universe has always existed and had no beginning.

      • Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Scholastics made metaphysical arguments, not scientific ones,

        I repeat, Aristotle wrote scientific works. I Googled for “Aristotle scientific works” and found these quotes on the Results page:

        Aristotle wrote an estimated 200 works, most in the form of notes and manuscript drafts touching on reasoning, rhetoric, politics, ethics, science and psychology. They consist of dialogues, records of scientific observations and systematic works.

        Between the two of them they originated the science of biology, Aristotle carrying out a systematic investigation of animals, Theophrastus doing the same for plants.

        Aristotle wanted a piece of all available intellectual action. He published a large number of works in fields as diverse as poetry and politics; religion and rhetoric; logic and literary theory; music and metaphysics; and many other fields,

        Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works. Aristotle’s views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship.

        Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, geography, geology, physics and zoology. Because of his establishment of his own school, Aristotle made big contributions to science education.

        Aristotle wrote three types of works: dialogues or other works of a popular character, collections of scientific data and observations, and systematic treatises.

        Although Aristotle’s most important work was on biology, he also dealt with logic, …

        But fewer people know that he was also a great scientist — and the first one. He was the first person to understand that theories about how the natural world works have to be tested by the evidence of our senses: by empirical reality. He wrote about physics, cosmology and chemistry …

    • Mr. Knights, please forgive my delayed response. I started to reply late Thursday night, but decided I would not be able to answer adequately in the time available. Fridays I spend some time with my older daughter and then take my wife out to dinner at our favorite restaurant. I now have time to answer you.

      Amazing what you “find” when you google. You can get some, even a lot, of information, but I do not think much real understanding. We will reach agreement about Aristotle only if we achieve a common understanding about him, which may or not be possible. My understanding follows:

      Aristotle and his teacher Plato are considered to be the two greatest philosophers of all time. Aristotle was called “The Philosopher” by the Scholastics and Thomas Aquinas. I do not think that Aristotle’s “most important work was on biology,” as you cite above. Aristotle’s most significant work is his philosophy, especially his metaphysics. His science work was minor. His work collected under the title of Physics is primarily a Philosophy of nature.

      Aristotle is a very difficult writer to understand. I would imagine that it is unlikely that anyone on this site has read any Aristotle in the original unless they took a “great books” course. Even translations are difficult because of Aristotle’s style that makes it difficult to follow his train of thought. As a result, most read books written about Aristotle’s ideas. That too involves certain difficulties.

      If you know anything about the history of science, philosophy, and religion, you understand that many (maybe most) modern scientists and modern philosophers are actively engaged in efforts to distort and misrepresent Aristotle’s arguments concerning God, the human soul, natural law and related matters. If you want to get a reliable picture of what Aristotle taught, you need to consult a reliable guide who both understands Aristotle and can accurately describe his writings in an understandable way.

      I assume that because you resorted to googling information, you probably have not actually read much about or by Aristotle. If you are interested in his philosophy and metaphysics, I recommend starting with some works by Mortimer Adler, specifically his book Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. Other books by Adler that I find to be beneficial are Ten Philosophical Mistakes, Truth in Religion; Intellect: Mind Over Matter; How to Think About God; and Desires, Right and Wrong. Another reliable source is Edward Feser. You might want to start with his The Last Superstition and his Neo-Scholastic Essays. His most recent book, which I have yet to read, is Five Proofs of the Existence of God.

      Now regarding Esther Cook’s comment about her high school teacher, which prompted my original, and obviously inadequate, response. It seems to me the teacher was likely using “science” in a dishonest or misleading way to attack Aristotle. These worthless methods are frequently used to attack Aristotle. However, because Aristotle’s metaphysical “notions” about “logic” are not based on science, they cannot be refuted by conducting an experiment, unless it is some kind of metaphysical thought experiment that shows an error in the logic.

      I stand by my original statement regarding Aristotle, the Scholastics, and Thomas Aquinas making metaphysical arguments, not scientific arguments. (As the Scholastics and Thomas Aquinas built on and clarified many of Aristotle’s ideas, you may want to follow on with them. Feser has a beginner’s guide to Aquinas.)

      I hope this helps you understand why I said what I said, even if you do not agree with me.

  17. ““I don’t think the biblical deluge is just a fairy tale,” a retired glaciologist told them. In language that, if used by a non-scientist, would be disregarded as activist hyperbole, he continued: “Some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind.””

    Okay, it is physically impossible for there to be a rain-based, worldwide flood, which is what most people imagine when people talk about The Biblical Flood.

    However, the end of the last glacial period was not really all that long ago, 12,000 years , and the human race was probably very aware of the 120+ m rise in sea level during 18,000 to 8,000 years ago (averaging 0.5 inch of rise a year and easily detected in a generation. The perceived flooding would create a folklore of flooding that was swamping the coastal lowlands all around the world (or, at least, all the sea-edge areas they knew of).

    Memory of the 60 m rise from 11,000 to 8,000 years ago is enough (close to 0.8 inch of rise a year) to make “the flood” a world wide item in the human experience. For that matter, as many people back then lived in coastal regions, they would all share the same stories of flooding, thus generating The Flood meme.

    Yes, there was a Flood. but it had nothing to do with man or God.

    • higley7 November 30, 2017 at 10:11 am
      ” it is physically impossible for there to be a rain-based, worldwide flood, which is what most people imagine when people talk about The Biblical Flood.”

      !. You present a straw-man argument, since the Bible tells us the rains ended after 40 days yet the flood continued to rise an additional 110 days. The rains were not the source of the flood, the “fountains of the great deep” were. The rain was a consequence of great quantities of geothermally warmed water gushing out of the sea bottom.

      2. Increased outflow from rivers draining melting ice sheets is the source of the sea level rise you are referring to. Coastal communities always live at river mouths. If they noticed a four foot rise of the sea per century, they would have noticed increased flow of their local river. How would that give rise to a belief the sea level rise was rain caused?

      3. Why did you bring this theory up?


    • Yes, higley7, you are absolutely correct. A global wide flood happened happened at the ending of the ice age, and our ancestors knew it literally as it happened real time before their eyes. The Black Sea deluge is also a hypothesized catastrophic rise in the level of the Black Sea circa 5600 BC from waters from the Mediterranean Sea breaching a sill in the Bosphorus strait. This is probably the precise nature of the original ‘local’ flood by the Gilgamesh flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Many scholars believe that the flood myth was added to Tablet XI in the “standard version” of the Gilgamesh Epic by an editor who utilized the flood story from the Epic of Atrahasis. A short reference to the flood myth is also present in the much older Sumerian Gilgamesh poems, from which the later Babylonian versions drew much of their inspiration and subject matter.

      This much later came down from the Hebrew legends of the Genesis flood myth, now known in our modern Bible. The fact that most every ancient culture had a flood myth is very convincing evidence that humans world wide were very aware of rising ocean levels over many generations, and incorporated it into their verbal myths as well as later into written myth. Truth is usually stranger than fiction, but not in the sense that the ‘fountains of the deep’ were literally opened up. A lot of the glacial ice melted in a relatively short order of 10,000 years. We know this with 100% certainty.

      • Earthling2 November 30, 2017 at 1:11 pm
        “The fact that most every ancient culture had a flood myth is very convincing evidence that humans world wide were very aware of rising ocean levels over many generations”

        Yes, most every ancient culture having a flood myth would be very convincing evidence that humans world wide were aware of a catastrophic flood in their culture’s past. But, how can can a steady rise of ocean levels over many generations – at the rate of 4′ per century – qualify as being worthy of myths claiming all who were not aboard a life boat were certainly drowned?

        Even the worst telling of the Black Sea Flood has the water level of the Black Sea rising 80 meters over 300 days. .27 meters per day would not drown all who were not in a life boat.


      • Indeed, I have always been a bit puzzled about Noah apparently seeing the rainbow for the first time and indeed there was a promise [from God] that a worldwide flood [to end life] would never happen again. It suggests a different type of atmosphere setup before the flood. I remember that there was a theory of ancient man living under much higher pressure [before the flood], presumably because of a ring of water vapor around earth. I have not heard about this theory again so I don’t know what became of it.

      • HenryP Had Noah’s Flood been a result of rain, the amount of rain required would have killed everyone in the ark by overheating due to heat of condensation. Therefore, a water canopy containing an ocean’s worth of water was realized to be not what was meant by “waters overhead”. That realization does not mean that weather patterns prior to the Flood had to be just like today. Perhaps it ONLY rained under an overcast sky when there was no direct sunlight to produce a rainbow.

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk › … › Clouds › Mid level clouds

        Nimbostratus clouds are dark, grey, featureless layers of clouds, thick enough to block out the sun and produce persistent rain.


      • Stevan Reddish

        thanks. That looks like a reasonable explanation to me except we have a bit of conflict in the written records
        1) the account of Noah, [apparently] seeing the rainbow for the first time after the flood [according to the narrative]
        2) the account in Genesis, in which earth [before the flood] was made wet from the bottom up, meaning it was always dewing [presumably especially in the mornings]

      • henryp December 1, 2017 at 9:54 am

        henryp, The fields being watered by a mist is reported in Gen. 2:5,6, before there was anyone to conduct farming. After the Fall, Gen. 3:17-19 reports God changed everything. Thenceforth Adam had to labor in hot, dusty fields. That was probably the start of rainy seasons, and dry seasons, with irrigation required for the dry season.


    • When scientists did their analysis [of the flesh] it seems that the mammoths caught in the Russian ice were frozen instantly in a matter of minutes rather than years…..
      How to explain this?

  18. It really is a must read. It is clear that a group of scientists have decided that anthropogenic global warming must exist and everything else flows from that. Saving the planet does begin to lose its sparkle after several decades of false alarmism. These people have created a trillion dollar industry and back pedalling is not an option.

    This workshop has shone a spotlight on their weaknesses. They will not wish to repeat the experience. The writer rightly points out that decarbonizing the economy of the world is a huge and costly undertaking. The people have a right to examine the justification in more detail and question those who advocate the need.

  19. “The same models that are used to project future temperature rises do not even get the past right”

    As I understand it, they are using effectively the same models for weather forecasts as they do for 100-year climate predictions, but run with different time steps, initial assumptions, maybe different parameters for unknowns, etc. Yet those models are fantastically bad at even predicting tomorrow’s weather, or today’s! I watched Environment Canada bungle the temperature forecasts on Monday by a whopping 6 degrees – as near as 5 minutes into the murky future! For instance at 8:55 the current temperature was -8, yet they confidently forecast that at 9:00, in just 5 minutes, it would become a full 8 degrees warmer, namely 0 Celsius. Really!? As it turns out, to no one’s surprise but EC’s, nature doesn’t work like that – at 9:00 the actual temperature was a more believable -6. They continued to mis-forecast the day’s high temperature by a full 6 degrees all day, confidently predicting the whole time that it would suddenly get another 6 degrees warmer any minute now, trust us! I’m still waiting for that to happen… and I am amazed that anyone would have any more than 0 confidence in these sorts of models to make 100-year predictions after a performance like that. (Regardless of whether you think “weather” and “climate” are completely separate processes, and completely separate models, or not!)

  20. I have seen Michael Mann at a small talk at MIT, when asked if the implications of his talk meant that warming in climate models is ‘vastly overstated’ respond ‘I agree with that. I have a reputation out there as some sort of climate alarmist, but I think there is a missing negative feedback.’

  21. The UNFCCC COP process frequently asserts the Precautionary Principle (PP) as the reason we must “take action on climate change. PP is explicitly invoked in Article 3.3 on Principle of the Convention. (referring to the UNFCCC).

    The UNFCCC defines the Precautionary Principle:
    “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures”

    By “take action” they mean measures by which the 1st World industrialized nations drastically begin curtailing economic output (GDP and CO2 emissions are tightly coupled) over the several decades and while also preventing the developing world from attaining affordable, reliable electricity to build their economies and better the lives of their citizens.

    From fossil fuels though nations acquire the economic wealth and infrastructure that strongly mitigates damage that comes from using fossil fuels. And an inability to mitigate damage is even more acute in the developing world where wide-spread poverty and lack of access to international commerce drives environmental degradation through deforestation and lack of pollution controls.

    That the UNFCCC proposed actions to rapidly start decarbonization of economies and curtail fossil fuel use would strongly repress economic growth across the world; this makes the application of the Precautionary Principle self-contradictory.

    Proper application of the precautionary principle with regards to economic prosperity argues against a de-carbonization. De-carbonization would directly lead a slowing or reversal of economic growth and that would exacerbate environmental degradations in all nations and their abilities to deal with the regular natural disasters (earthquakes, typhoons/hurricanes, floods, drought, tsunamis, etc) that have always happened and will continue to happen without any rise in global temperatures.

    • Adding CO2 to the air is the best thing humans have ever done for their planet.

      The planet is greening again.

      Night are slightly warmer here in Michigan.

      There is no bad news from adding CO2 to the air.

      So the leftists can take their “precautionary principle”
      and stick it where the sun don’t shine!

      The leftist Precautionary Principle really says;
      “Do as we say, even if we are wrong,
      and doing what we say is very expensive,
      and actually counterproductive.”

      I stop listening after ‘do as we say’.

  22. Nowhere is there any mention that West Antarctica sits atop areas of geothermal activity that, according to a recent study, is possibly the densest region of volcanoes in the world, a discovery which a Washington Post headline spun as “[a]nother climate-change nightmare: 91 new volcanoes beneath Antarctica’s ice.

    This bears repeating over and over. Antarctica geothermal heat flux map. Notice the melting Thwaites Glacier on the left. The large heat flux to the right (red area) lies directly beneath the mountain range that forms the Thwaites glacier head.

  23. The warmer water under the ice shelf has not been linked to global warming—“at least not directly.” It had likely been there for centuries, so why had it not cooled down by now? Is something still warming the water?

    Maybe glacier melt water from geothermal heating running down the glacial valleys and exiting to sea underneath the ice shelf? Do ya think?

  24. I don’t deny that less than 25,000 years ago northern Illinois was covered by more than mile of glacial ice. I don’t deny that less than 12,000 years ago mammoths were flash frozen in Siberia with fresh grasses still in their stomachs. I don’t deny that 1,000 years ago Vikings in Greenland were cropping barley so they could use the grain to make beer. I don’t deny that the Thames River froze solid to such an extent that during 26 separate winters from 1408 until 1814, Londoners were able to hold a Frost Fair on the ice.

    The truth is that the climate is always changing. There would be something wrong it it did not. The real question for us today is to what extent is human activity harming our biosphere in a material manner, so that it endangers our food and ecosystem? Up until now, advocates of “climate change” demand solutions that converge far more on socialism than on anything else. It seems with every passing day the one constant in the debate about this issue is far more about how socialistic the policiy solutions must be than any other factor. That tells me that the “settled science” involved is far more Scientific Socialism than any real science.

  25. I am asking permission to comment (freely) on this portion of the post, Mod(s);

    “In an essay commemorating the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth, science writer Matt Ridley points out that 20th century DNA analysis has led to the “triumphant vindication” of Darwin’s “inspired guesswork.”48 Until genetics, the idea that humans were closely related to chimpanzees was pure speculation. The study of genes could have falsified Darwin’s theory of non-random natural selection among random mutations.

      • Thanks for the response, Anthony . . but, this is a catch 22 sort of situation, it seems to me. Do you feel you have some scientific way to rule out the potential that we are in a Created Universe? Or that hyper-advanced aliens didn’t seed life on this planet? You can just call those potentials ‘religion’, it’s a free country (and your site ; ) but the Supreme Court called atheism religion too . . when it involves people “bound” by a set of shared beliefs. That’s what word means . . I consider this religious persecution, sir. (mild, mind you, but still persecution ; )

        Thanks again, especially in terms of the “climate war” and all . .

    • PS ~ It is utterly unjust to hold me (for instance) responsible for what others choose to do in response (ie; starts a food fight), I respectfully contend. (Especially if you told them that’s all they need do to shut me out (for instance ; )

      • Perhaps, but it is also completely just for Anthony to want to avoid allowing a comment thread that goes way outside the topic of the main post, especially one people will be referring to for years.

      • Well, I can’t really present my case here, I feel, that the “veneer of certainty” problem, in climate science, was not seen as a problem to the “scientific community” en mass, because it was made acceptable long ago to effectively ban “skepticism” about certain theories . . to the point of forcing people to pay for their own children’s indoctrination into the Evolution (grand origins story kind, not mere Darwinian “natural selection” theory, which to my mind is little more than a recognition that nature can do what agriculturalists have been doing for millennia) ideology/belief system.

        Why? The big ‘E’ theory/concept has no practical use, has led to no inventions, no patents, no technological advances at all (that I have been able to identify). Why must all the children be taught to . . imagine life coming into existence, and all the varieties of it “evolving” into existence, as if science itself somehow depends upon that ideology/belief system?

        It clearly doesn’t, since science itself in the modern sense of the word comes to us (predominantly) through people who believed in a Created Universe (Christians), and who dominated science until rather recently . . about two thirds of all Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry and medicine, have been awarded to people who identify as Christians, after all . .

  26. “I don’t think the biblical deluge is just a fairy tale,” a retired glaciologist told them. In language that, if used by a non-scientist, would be disregarded as activist hyperbole, he continued: “Some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind.” The reportage was framed to stoke fear of mass inundation. The very existence of Miami, New York, Shanghai, and many other coastal cities, the report suggests, is tied to Antarctica’s fate, unless mankind mends its ways.

    What a nimrod*. The reporter uses the bible to stoke fear of a worldwide flood, ye the bible states that God guaranteed that a worldwide flood would never happen again.

    * “The true definition of Nimrod is “A great hunter”, but after Bugs Bunny called Elmer Fudd this name for so long in Looney Tunes cartoons, it took on a new meaning….A moron or clutz. “

    • “Some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind.”

      Most every ancient culture having a flood myth is very convincing evidence that humans world wide were aware of a catastrophic flood in their culture’s past. Most of these “myths” tell of a life boat saving a few, while all who were not aboard the life boat drowned.

      I don’t see how a gradual rise in sea level over many generations, at the rate of 4, 5 or even 6′ per century would inspire a “myth” that all who were not aboard the life boat perished.

      I think some other world wide flood did the inspiring.


  27. The EPA got GWP wrong (bad logic)
    The consensus is blaming the wrong thing for the planet warming (“because this is the only way we can explain the phenomenon, it must be true.”)
    The irony is: harming humanity by reducing something, the increase of which has been and is helping humanity.
    Meanwhile, the real issue, with potential for disaster, is being ignored.

  28. The upper bound of a 980 centimeter rise for 2100 over 1986-2005 levels would require a major acceleration over the average 20th century rate.

    No kidding. That’s 103 mm/yr, when the current rate is around 3 mm/yr.

  29. From the article—shouldn’t there be a “not” where I’ve inserted one?

    “he problem is that, according to a 2014 paper published in Nature, the rate of global sea level rise has [NOT] been increasing for 200 years, “

  30. Sure a fine discussion,nice to see Santer running true to form.
    However what is new? Apart from the tiny attempted climb down by the consensus persons.
    Having read the Climategate Emails/CRU email dump..I already knew the public certainty is backed by private ignorance and uncertainty. And a whole bunch of unprofessional pathetic conniving.
    Scientists these people are not.

    And that seems to be penetrating their world view, I smell fear on the consensus camp.

    • IIRC, the APS had to update its statement on GLOBAL WARMING every five years, and this get-together was part of preparing the ground for the one that year or the next.

  31. My argument against the consensus is simply two words : Paradigm Shift

    The best example I have is the nutrition consensus around fat. Google “The Sugar Conspiracy and you will find an article from The Guardian which is a good synopsis.

  32. The junk science, led by government bureaucrat employees with science degrees,
    may be called “climate science”, but has nothing to do with real science.

    I prefer the term “fake science”,
    because using the word “junk”,
    would be insulting to real junk!

    Modern climate “science” is leftist fake science,
    that consists of:

    (1) Computer games that make wrong predictions
    (they could be called “models” if they made right predictions,
    but the wrong predictions tell us they are not models
    of any climate process that exists on our planet!),

    (2) Peer reviews only by like-minded people, and

    (3) Bogus surveys claiming a 97% consensus,
    used for character attacks on skeptics,
    when the honest number would be about 50%,
    (as if real science is determined by a vote!)

    Real Science uses the the Scientific Method,
    which is completely different than climate “science”:

    (1) Observation made,

    (2) Hypothesis formed,

    (3) Experiment designed,

    (4) Data collected,

    (5) Data analyzed,

    (6) Hypothesis accepted, or rejected,

    (7) Experiment report written,

    (8) Report peer reviewed by skeptical scientists, and

    (9) Replication of experiment by skeptical scientists.

    My climate blog for non-scientists,
    presented as a public service,
    with no money for me.
    – Leftists please stay away — you might get upset!

  33. I haven’t read the whole article yet, but I will.

    For now, I stopped at THIS gem:

    “Basic physics explains it. If global warming isn’t happening, then virtually everything we know about physics is wrong,” states Jerry Taylor, president of a group that advocates for imposing a carbon tax on the United States.

    That’s a pretty bold statement, and so I looked up Jerry Taylor, to find very little in his background that would give him the knowledge or expertise to make such a bold statement. He appears to be someone who studied political science and who apparently started believing the hype, which he now parrots under the guise of knowing anything about physics — he might know much about PSEUDO physics, but he seems to know little of the “physics” to which he refers in his dramatic statement.

    In other words, Jerry Taylor is spouting pure BS.

    Okay, off to read the rest of the article now.

      • Also, it doesn’t take that much physics to postulate that “global warming is happening”. It takes a little ancient climate research, maybe. And, based on such research, there’s really no debate that the Earth most likely is warming up — from the last ice age. So, yeah, “global warming” is happening. So what? Jerry Taylor places this non-controversial statement into a controversial context, where humans are an implied cause of Earth coming out of the last ice age. As usual, he would take advantage of many people’s lack of knowledge about the cyclic nature of hot and cold periods throughout the entire duration of Earth’s existence so far.

        So, not only is he spouting pure BS, he is framing it in a toilet seat and hanging it on a wall of deceit. Yeah, I like metaphors. And the article here cites Taylor’s words as though his crap should be representative of anything credible. Quoting him is BS too, in other words.

  34. Again, may I point out that there is one simple fact that constitutes the Achilles’ heel of climate science? There is not ONE hard-data-based study in the climate-related, peer-reviewed literature that supports or proves the purported CO2/warming link that is the cornerstone of all “warmist” arguments. Proof of concept through hard-data is ESSENTIAL to all scientific theory or hypotheses. If they can’t be proven by hard data studies, they must be either modified or rejected. When challenged to produce such a study, climate scientists can’t do that. The closest I’ve seen them come is Feldman et al.’s 2015 study, and even that uses correlation rather than actually confirming the link. I know of three studies, one of which is my own, that unequivocally disprove the link. It’s high time we called the “warmists” on this.

    • To be clear, I’m not saying that CO2 doesn’t absorb IR radiatiion. Tyndall and many others proved that, and absorption is abundantly clear in the MODTRAN6 database. My question is: is the back-radiationfrom CO2 warm enough to cause warming of Earth’s surface? CO2 absorbs within the band 13 to 17 microns, which if converted to Wien temperatures (I know, that’s not entirely proper) correspond to -51 to -103 degrees C, i.e., much colder than any temperature experienced at Earth’s surface except for occasional snaps of extreme cold at the South Pole. If CO2’s comblike absorption line spectrum were broadened enough to approximate a continuous Planck spectrum of radiation,its most intense line would be 14.95 microns, corresponding to a Wien temperature of -80 degrees. Cooler objects can’t transfer heat to warmer ones and this is certainly true of CO2’s back-radiation and Earth’s surface..

      • David

        I agree that there is no clear evidence from testing, proving that the net effect of more CO2 is that of warming rather than cooling.
        The sun emits 0-5um and earth emits 5-20 um.
        In the places where the molecule has ‘absorption’ the molecule acts like a little mirror, – the radiation cannot pass or get through – sending 62.5% back in the direction where the radiation came from.
        In the case of CO2 we also have absorption in the 1-2 and 4-5 um where the sun emits. Indeed, we can measure this radiation deflected from earth via the moon coming back to earth.
        Tyndal and Arrhenius were not aware of this and only looked at their closed box experiments.

        The results of my own investigation shows that there is no measureable net effect of more CO2 in the atmosphere in the relevant concentration range.

  35. Comparisons of the CO2 forcing today to the Milancovic forcing to impute high climate sensitivity misses the fact that Milancovic forcing causes the climate to cross a very obvious tipping point in climate as we pass in and out of glaciation. Near such a tipping point climate sensitivity, as measured in terms of the ratio of response to input, will be extremely high and certainly much higher than sensitivity away from that tipping point.There is no tipping point on the hot side near our current climatic state.

    Sensitivity is not constant but is a function of climate state. One could argue that treating it as a constant is a necessary simplification and good approximation. But using that argument to conflate sensitivity near a known tipping point with sensitivity away from that tipping point is disingenuous bordering on dishonest.

  36. David

    To give a summary of all my investigations into climate change

    Concerned to show that man made warming (AGW ) is correct and indeed happening, I thought that here [in Pretoria, South Africa} I could easily prove that. Namely the logic following from AGW theory is that more CO2 would trap heat on earth, hence we should find minimum temperature (T) rising pushing up the mean T. Here, in the winter months, we hardly have any rain but we have many people burning fossil fuels to keep warm at night. On any particular cold winter’s day that results in the town area being covered with a greyish layer of air, viewable on a high hill outside town in the early morning.
    I figured that as the population increased over the past 40 years, the results of my analysis of the data [of a Pretoria weather station] must show minimum T rising, particularly in the winter months. Much to my surprise I found that the opposite was happening: minimum T here was falling, any month….I first thought that somebody must have made a mistake: the extra CO2 was cooling the atmosphere, ‘not warming’ it. As a chemist, that made sense to me as I knew that whilst there were absorptions of CO2 in the area of the spectrum where earth emits, there are also the areas of absorption in the 1-2 um and the 4-5 um range where the sun emits. Not convinced either way by my deliberations and discussions as on a number of websites, I first looked at a number of weather stations around me, to give me an indication of what was happening:

    The results puzzled me even more. Somebody [God/Nature] was throwing a ball at me…..The speed of cooling followed a certain pattern, best described by a quadratic function.
    I carefully looked at my earth globe and decided on a particular sampling procedure to find out what, if any, the global result would be. Here is my final result on that:

    Hence, looking at my final Rsquare on that, I figured out that there is no AGW, at least not measurable.

  37. David

    I advise people that complain about global warming to first check and see what is happening in their own backyard. As you can see from my own results: you might get a surprise….
    Make sure that the data set you are looking at is globally representative [special sampling procedure] and that they not affected by degeneration [due to the absence of atmosphere]. Be very wary not to trust any data set, but your own.
    In fact, looking at my Tmean, I found that, on average, in the SH, there is been no warming (0.00K/annum) whereas in the NH it was 0.024K/annum giving me a global average of 0.012K/ annum or 0.12K per decade, over the past 40 years.
    How to explain the ‘global’ negative or no warming in my own area?
    It took me some time to figure out what was happening.
    Come down 1 km into a gold mine here and discover how big the elephant in the room really is. Earth’s inside iron core has been moving. North east. It is like a magnetic stirrer effect caused by the sun. The distance the magnetic north pole has traveled over the past 50 years is actually quite staggering compared to the previous 100 years.. You can google its exact movement.
    I also discovered that the solar polar magnetic field strengths determines how many of the most energetic particles are able to escape from the sun. We are protected by our atmosphere from these most harmful radiation by our atmosphere, whereby ozone, HxOx and NxOx is formed. In its turn, the concentration of these substances TOA determine how much UV (i.e. heat) is going into the oceans. This is where your biggest variation in solar irradiation comes from and it is determined by the various solar cycles,
    ie. Schwabe, Hale, Gleissberg, DeVries, Eddy, Bray cycle.
    The Eddy cycle is 1000 years, and by all historical records, we can see that we are now about where we were a 1000 years ago when the Vikingers built settlements in Greenland that are only becoming visible now due to the melting of snow and ice.

  38. The biotech company Amgen had a team of about 100 scientists trying to reproduce the findings of 53 “landmark” articles in cancer research published by reputable labs in top journals. Only 6 of the 53 studies were reproduced (about 10%).

    When inquiring about one of the problematic studies, this was the response..

    “We went through the paper line by line, figure by figure,” said Begley. “I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they’d done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story”

    Well at least it’s “only” a Cancer study, not something life and death like
    arguing over if your grand kids should take a jacket to school 100yrs, and a day from now


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