Sarewitz Validated

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen


featured_image_Sarewitz2A week ago I wrote an essay titled “Sarewitz’s Science Smörgåsbord” which was received here with varying degrees of acceptance, resistance and dismay.  It concerned what I thought was a new paper from Daniel Sarewitz “How science makes environmental controversies worse”.   Marcel Crok, independent science journalist in the Netherlands, set me straight, pointing out the paper was written in 2003 — published in 2004.  Crok was the only reader to catch me out.  This was, of course, a truly bonehead mistake on my part — but is proof positive of the idea that one finds what one expects to find — I expected a new paper and incorrectly found it.

This error on my part has turned out to be a windfall.  It means that we can now, 15 years forward in time, look to see if Sarewitz’s “hypothesis” has turned out to be true.

Those readers who took up the challenge to read the Sarewitz paper already know that it is long, written in a style familiar to academics but a bit of a tough slog to read, and makes a wide variety of points about science, politics and public policy.  But let me be a bit presumptuous and posit a hypothesis that might be formed from the whole of it which we can view as a “prediction” about the future, 15 years of which has now passed.

Sarewitz’s “hypotheses”:

“…science makes environmental controversies worse[from the title of the paper]

“…“more science” often stokes, rather than quenches, environmental controversies.”

 “The technical debate — and the implicit promise that “more research” will tell us what to do — vitiates the will to act. Not only does the value dispute remain unresolved, but the underlying problem remains unaddressed.”

Here we can make a simple test:

  1. We consider only the environmental controversy called Climate Change, after 15 additional years of research.  In the first ten of those fifteen years, by 2014, additional climate research already comprised more than  25,000 new papers a year, a rate  predicted to double within five to six years.  A Google Scholar search, limited to results of the year 2018, shows 124,000 papers for the search string “2018 climate change”.  [That’s a lot of research.]
  2. If we Google “climate change controversy” today, as a societal check on whether the controversy has been resolved, we get a listing of “about 56,500,000” links. [ That’s a lot of controversy. ]
  3. And as a third item, we can look at the inaugural year of this website, Watts Up With That, November 2006 which was pretty soon after the publication of the Sarewitz paper to give us an idea of what was the controversy at that time.  Most readers are familiar enough with the current situation in climate science to realize whether or not the situation has changed since then.


Some Examples:

Hurricanes frequency and intensity

HiTech LoTech – Hurricane Strength Nails (WUWT, November 2006) informs us that the number and intensity of hurricanes in the United States is controversial.

Compare to Truth(?) in testimony and convincing policy makers (June 2019) concerning the controversy exposed in testimony about hurricane frequency and intensity in the United States before a Congressional Committee.

Hurricanes frequency and intensity are still a controversy.

Solar Cycles, Sun Spots,  Surface Temperature and Climate Change

Scientists Predict Large Solar Cycle Coming (WUWT December 2006) compares to Solar Cycle Update for November 2018 – warmth sticking around, or cooling ahead? (November 2018).  Then there’s Svenmark (WUWT 2019).

After 15 more years of research, the questions surrounding solar activity and Earth surface temperature are still controversial.

Climate, Chaos and Perspectives on Prediction

Perspective (WUWT December 2006) considers views of sunspots, weather and chaos in the climate system compares to Scientific Hubris and Global Warming (WUWT May 2019) discusses the same issues  “Common sense suggests that quantitative data covering multiple warming and cooling periods is necessary to give perspective about the evolution of climate.”

IPCC and Consensus Science

We have a paper in June 2019:  “Hoppe, I. and Rödder, S. (2019). ‘Speaking with one voice for climate science—climate researchers’ opinion on the consensus policy of the IPCC’” — [ Journal of Science Communication ].  Discussing the problems presented by the process of developing the IPCC-style Science Consensus.  The same controversy existed in 2004 —  see “Consensus science, or consensus politics?” by Mark Schrope, published in Nature (2001).  Was the IPCC consensus process even scientifically sound?  The future kicked up Oreske’s attempts to prove that there was a consensus (later in 2004) — an effort still underway and still heavily resisted — “CEI Files Formal Complaint Regarding NASA’s Claim of 97% Climate Scientist Agreement on Global Warming.”

The “consensus” is still a controversy.

Climate Sensitivity to CO2 Emissions

Not even the very scientific question of the sensitivity of the climate to doubling to atmospheric CO2 has been resolved — in fact, by some accounts, the issue is even more uncertain today than in 2003.  In 1995, IPCC SAR statedThe likely equilibrium response of global surface temperature to a doubling of equivalent carbon dioxide concentration (the “climate sensitivity”) was estimated in 1990 to be in the range 1.5 to 4.5 °C, with a “best estimate” of 2.5°C.”.

For today’s perspective I recommend reading Dr. Judith Curry [Climate Etc.] who has covered the climate sensitivity issue extensively and with great attention to detail.  Curry and Lewis recently wrote “The Impact of Recent Forcing and Ocean Heat Uptake Data on Estimates of Climate Sensitivity”.  Dr. Roy Spencer discusses their paper at his blog in “New Lewis & Curry Study Concludes Climate Sensitivity is Low”.

Climate sensitivity is still a controversy — with a wider degree of uncertainty.

Extreme Weather

Roger Pielke Jr. [in 2001 associated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO — now with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research there – this update 19 July 2019 – kh] — whose story involves the excesses of Extreme Politics, covered fully in The Financial Times in “Ross McKitrick: This scientist proved climate change isn’t causing extreme weather — so politicians attacked” — long-ago showed that weather/climate related disasters had not been more frequent, more powerful, or more economically damaging (when accounting for economics and land-use issues).

In June 2001, he presented remarks toClimate Change Science: A Forum of the National Academies and the U.S. Senatetitled:Societal Vulnerability and Climate[ link is a .pdf ], in which he concluded[This work] does suggest that if a policy goal is to reduce the future impacts of climate on society, then energy policies are insufficient, and perhaps largely irrelevant, to achieving that goal. Of course, this does not preclude other sensible reasons for energy policy action related to climate (such as ecological impacts) and energy policy action independent of climate change (such as air pollution reduction and energy efficiency).13 It only suggests that reduction of human impacts related to weather and climate are not among those reasons, and arguments and advocacy to the contrary are not in concert with research in this area.

Pielke was attacked in so many ways, he actually announced at one time he would not write anymore about climate – ever.  Read his story above to see why he testifies about climate and science still today before Congress.

With others, Pielke Jr. published “Normalized hurricane damage in the continental United States 1900–2017“ in November 2018 stating:  “This analysis provides a major update to the leading dataset on normalized US hurricane losses in the continental United States from 1900 to 2017. Over this period, 197 hurricanes resulted in 206 landfalls with about US$2 trillion in normalized (2018) damage, or just under US$17 billion annually. Consistent with observed trends in the frequency and intensity of hurricane landfalls along the continental United States since 1900, the updated normalized loss estimates also show no trend.

Judith Curry recently gave us “Extremes” — previewing her testimony to a congressional committee — still a controversy?  Oh yah….

Extreme weather and its relationship to climate, changing or not, is still a controversy.


It is a simple truth that the climate controversy has become arguably more contentious since 2003 — certainly it is obvious that on the policy side there has been no societal resolution — the world’s governments have not banded together to co-operate to carry out the IPCC prescription designed, by them, to solve the climate problem as they see it.  While annual COPs have been held, all at great expense and fanfare, there has been no binding international treaty — there has only been vague promises.  The biggest sources of CO2 emissions have not even agreed to reduce their emissions by any climatically significant amount over a reasonable future.


Is Climate Science stagnating, standing still?

I thought so at one time — there is a lot of what Curry refers to as climate science “taxonomy” — “‘taxonomy’, i.e. research that is neither useful nor contributes to fundamental understanding. Climate model taxonomy is characterized by endless analysis of IPCC climate model runs and projection of ‘dangerous impacts’”.

Last year, in rejecting a proposed essay of mine written for her blog, Dr. Curry simply pointed me to her weekly feature: Week in review – science edition — in which she highlights new work in the field that she considers significant — work that is moving the field forward to a better understanding.

A lot of good work is being done — incrementally moving the field along, one understanding or insight at a time.

So why doesn’t that good science solve the climate question and climate policy  gridlock?  Because, maybe, Sarewitz was right (at least so far):

If scientists are doing their job, then “more science” often stokes, rather than quenches, environmental controversies.”

 # # # # #

 Author’s Comment Policy:

 I know, I know, if we only used a falsifiable hypothesis….if only Popper! If only, if only….

It won’t do, I’m afraid.  Science is not going to solve society’s values-laden climate change question.  Science is not going to scatter the logjam that is national, or international, climate change action policies.

More science, good, carefully designed and carried out research, may answer some of our still outstanding questions about how the climate works and what atmospheric CO2  means for the climate long-term.  More science will, I believe,  eventually reveal a solution to our current energy problem — how to shift from burning things for our energy needs to something more economical and more ecologically benign.

It is my view that most of our questions will be answered by the passing of time assuming continued efforts by the honorable men and women of science.

The science answers will not resolve our differences,  those that are based on values — worldviews, religious views, moral standards, political value systems.  We’ll have to find ways to talk to one another and find areas of agreement — socially and politically pragmatic solutions to our differences, so we can move ahead to a better future.

Please feel free to disagree in Comments.  If speaking to me, begin with “Kip…”

# # # # #




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Tom Halla
July 19, 2019 6:28 am

There is so much ” Don’t confuse me with any facts, you denier” on the warmist side, only ennui will end the mass movement on climate change.
While considerably larger, climate change as an issue will probably end like the War on Cancer, with most participants not really saying anything about what was once a grand cause to save the world. Only remnants, like California’s Proposition 65 will remain.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 19, 2019 7:38 am

Tom ==> I just heard an add on radio today from a group promising to “End Cancer” if I would just send them some of my money. That silliness aligns with the efforts to “Do this!” or “Do that!” to “Stop Climate Change”.

In the 60’s it was a real possibility that we could change national policy in the US and bring the war in Vietnam to a close. Public protests did bring about a change in public perception of the war, =changed public attitudes, and altered the political landscape — and Nixon finally called it quits.

Public protests may change public attitudes about the climate question and may actually force some [ill-advised] public policy changes — but not of it stands a chance to “stop climate change”.

There are good and wise, no-regrets actions that can and should be carried out by governments — unfortunately, they are not the ones being demanded by radical activists.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 11:51 am


Isn’t it Bernie Sanders (or another Dem candidate) that is running on a platform of curing cancer in the very near future?

Mark Broderick
Reply to  Bill_W_1984
July 19, 2019 2:47 pm

Joe Biden

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 6:30 pm

Actually, curing cancer is Biden’s shtick. If elected President of the U.S., he’ll cure cancer.

John Dowser
Reply to  Bill_W_1984
July 19, 2019 11:45 pm

It’s bipartisan though, Trump is already talking about curing cancer and eradicating AIDS in his latest campaigns speeches (e.g. last June, Amway Center). What that means is that there are indeed some developments ongoing which all politicians hope to be “responsible” for the coming years and use it for campaigning already. And of course this is also hyperbole, the devil sits in the details. Some new treatments are coming though, whoever is elected.

Nick Schroeder
July 19, 2019 6:51 am

By reflecting away 30% of the incoming solar energy the atmosphere/albedo makes the earth cooler than it would be without the atmosphere much like that reflective panel behind a car’s windshield.
Greenhouse theory has it wrong.

The non-radiative processes of a contiguous participating media, i.e. atmospheric molecules, render ideal black body LWIR from the surface impossible. The 396 W/m^2 upwelling from the surface is a “what if” theoretical calculation without physical reality. (And, no, it is not measured!) (TFK_bams09)
Greenhouse theory has it wrong.

Without the 396 W/m^2 upwelling there is no 333 W/m^2 GHG energy up/down/”back” loop to “warm” the earth. (TFK_bams09)
Greenhouse theory has it wrong.

These three points are what matter, all the rest is irrelevant noise.

No greenhouse effect, no CO2 global warming and climate change neither caused nor cured by man.

Since the earth is actually hotter without an atmosphere radiative greenhouse effect goes straight onto the historical trash bin of failed theories and all the handwavium, pseudo-science, thermodynamic nonsense pretending to explain it follows close behind.

Roger Caiazza
July 19, 2019 6:53 am

Roger A. Pielke Jr. is at the University of Colorado Boulder not NCAR.

That does not change any of your conclusions in my opinion.

Reply to  Roger Caiazza
July 19, 2019 7:27 am

Roger ==> At the time he addressed the “Climate Change Science: A Forum of the National Academies and the U.S. Senate”, he was associated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, at Boulder, CO (even had a NCAR email address) — I’ll add a note about the time of the association. Thanks.

Dr Pielke Jr is now associated with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado Boulder and also involved in Sports Governance.

July 19, 2019 7:23 am

Separation of logical domains. Science is a philosophy and practice in the near domain, but has taken on universal pretensions in the post-normal period.

Reply to  n.n
July 19, 2019 7:29 am

n.n. ==> It can be certainly said that ‘Science does not, and can not, dictate public action”.

HD Hoese
July 19, 2019 7:41 am

As a biologist with a certain experience I would be careful with the comparison to “taxonomy.”
There was, and probably still is, a bigotry towards what was called “stamp collecting,” you can’t do field work science in a bucket sort of thing. I’m not suggesting that here, but I recall (perhaps a little extreme) insight that you can’t understand evolution without reviewing to the point of understanding the taxonomy of some group. Newer genetic technologies are producing some interesting comparisons to old “taxonomy.” Descriptive works without elaborate statistical proofs may be difficult in some fields to get published now, but have given insight in the past. Collections of libraries and once living critters are now in some peril in part because of our current “scientific” culture.

In the present we are way too far into numbers (example of significant figures) over proofs. The warning has been out for decades. Examples– Hedgpeth, J. W. 1979. As blind men see the elephant: The dilemma of marine ecosystem research. pp. 3-15 in Estuarine Interactions, Academic Press and Anderson, D. R., K. P. Burnham and W. L. Thompson. 2000. Null hypothesis testing: problems, prevalence, and an alternative. Journal of Wildlife Management. 64(4):912-923.

One can get mired in consumption of any part of your table, as are some now fixated with extreme high temperatures. Lots of numbers get crunched in areas of research I follow closely with little new understanding. Maybe the smörgåsbord comparison will be useful.

July 19, 2019 7:42 am

Whether the earth is cooling or warming, we know for sure it’s a crisis, and the solution is Global Looting. Trust us, we’re scientists.

Ron Long
July 19, 2019 7:47 am

Kip, science is the orderly process of identifying reality. Science has no role in controversies, politics, consensus, etc. The iteritive and introspective process of science is simply beyond the computing power of the majority of people so they adapt their own view of what science is and go blithely on their way. I do not fault Sarewitz for writing an essay about all of this, but there is simply no scientific connection here. At least neither he nor you will be burned at the stake.

Reply to  Ron Long
July 19, 2019 7:59 am

Ron ==> Relieved to hear I shall be spared the stake.

If you followed comments below my original Sarewitz piece , you saw that a lot of readers here expected that “Science done right” would resolve the climate controversy — others felt it already had done so. Certainly the IPCC “The Debate is Over” crowd believes science has already settled the issues.

The tough, tough truth that after all these years of “More Science, More Science” we haven’t even managed to definitively articulate the problem.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 8:01 am

The tough, tough truth is that after all these years…

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 20, 2019 1:18 pm

Kip, you probably have read Richard Lindzen’s essay describing how climate science was corrupted, and in the process demonstrates how and why any branch of science is at risk.
His paper was : Climate Science: Is it Currently Designed to Answer Questions?
His text provides names and details:

How science was perverted from a successful mode of enquiry into a source of authority;

What are the consequences when fear is perceived to be the basis for scientific support rather than from gratitude and the trust associated with it;

How incentives are skewed in favor of perpetuating problems rather than solving them;

Why simulation and large programs replaced theory and observation as the basis of scientific investigation;

How specific institutions and scientific societies were infiltrated and overtaken by political activists;

Specific examples where data and analyses have been manipulated to achieve desired conclusions;

Specific cases of concealing such truths as may call into question gobal warming alarmism;

Examples of the remarkable process of “discreditation” by which attack papers are quickly solicited and published against an undesirable finding;

Cases of Global Warming Revisionism, by which skeptical positions of prominent people are altered after they are dead;

Dangers to societies and populations from governments, NGOs and corporations exploiting climate change.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 8:22 am

That’s because 97% of climate science is based on a faulty hypothesis. When you begin with a false axiom, most of what follows is going to be meaningless, and in the quantity over quality publish -or-perish culture of academia, junk science built on junk science quickly becomes a library of junk science.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 19, 2019 8:50 am

Robert ==> Yours is one of the many favorite framings of the problem of climate science itself.

Thanks for the link to Smaldino and McElreath — you might also like “Academic Research in the 21st Century: Maintaining Scientific Integrity in a Climate of Perverse Incentives and Hypercompetition“.

Ron Long
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 9:33 am

Kip, I should admire your continued banging of your head against the wall because I believe you think it will help. “Science done right” will never solve the climate crisis, an artificial construct, because the actual complexity of the science goes right over the mental limit of the majority. Try washing down a couple of aspirin with a glass of scotch.

Reply to  Ron Long
July 19, 2019 9:45 am

Ron ==> I’ve taken the aspirin (miracle drug) but am a teetotaler, so settled on ice water (very hot here today. I’m sure you are aware that I’ve written here on complexity and chaos in regards to the climate question.

“the actual complexity of the science” is part of Sarewitz’ reasoning.

Ron Long
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 2:09 pm

Then Sarewitz should drink the scotch.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 20, 2019 8:41 am

The “problem” has nothing to do with real science.

The climate is always changing.

So what ?

The warming in the past 325 years hurt no one.

There is no global warming problem.

The CO2 increases in the past 78 years — 1940 through 2018 — were accompanied by a roughly +0.6 degree C. increase of the global average temperature (cause unknown).

That was a harmless global warming rate of less than +0.8 degrees C. PER CENTURY — which hurt no one, and will hurt no one if it continues for another century, or two.

There is no CO2 problem.

The only problem is political — the overreaction to CO2 scaremongering, being used to frighten people, with the goal of having them demand that their government DO SOMETHING ABOUT CO2 NOW !

That SOMETHING will be a socialist government in the U.S., having a lot more power over the private sector, run by Dumbocrats.

A few “environmentalists” have (accidentally?) admitted their ultimate political / economic goal in past decades.

Alexandria Occasionally Coherent’s chief of staff (Saikat Chakrabarti) RECENTLY admitted the primary goal of the Green Ordeal (that reads like a communist manifesto) was economic, not environmental:

The CO2 scaremongering relies on obvious junk science, and science fraud, because the science does not matter.

The government bureaucrat scientists and their computer games are just props.

Their jobs require scary climate predictions every year, wrong for 30+ years in a row, but wrong predictions don’t seem to matter — nothing they predict can ever be falsified.

This is yet another attempt to control people by creating a boogeyman (sometimes they are real, but often false), something that has been done by smarmy religious and political leaders for many centuries !

Religious leader:
You must do as I say without question, or your soul will go to hell !

Dumbocrat “leader”:
You must do as I say without question, or Earth will turn into hell for your children (from CO2 global warming).

It’s all nonsense, but there are a lot of gullible, easy to control, people in the world — it works on them.

I’m just not one of them !

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 21, 2019 9:57 am

I don’t know what you’re saying Hansen, but if you are supporting the continued government funding of most climate science, and expecting different results in the future, that would be a definition of insanity.

You have already admitted, in this article, to being a “bonehead” in your last article. So you’ve just received a “promotion”.

Daniel Sarewitz’s title: “How science makes environmental controversies worse”, makes no sense.

Real science doesn’t make controversies worse — junk science does!

As I explained in my prior comment, the climate change “controversy” has almost nothing to do with real science.

There are real scientists involved, although I prefer to call them “government bureaucrats with science degrees”.

Their primary goal is to make scary, wild guess predictions of a 100% bad news future climate, and that’s not real science.

Not when their predictions are consistently wrong, for over 30 years, falsifying their 1970’s era theory about how CO2 affects the atmosphere … but it seems that nothing can falsify their theories = that’s not real science.

I say the process of (primarily) government funded climate change “research” is providing almost nothing of value to taxpayers, so the process is broken.

Cut off the government funding.

In my 21 years of reading climate science as a hobby, I’ve seen almost no progress in understanding climate change.

A formula from the 1970s is still used today to predict the future average temperature, completely ignoring 30+ years of wrong predictions.

When that 1970’s formula was deemed not scary enough, a water vapor positive feedback theory was invented to make rising CO2 levels appear dangerous, by allegedly causing runaway global warming !

One obvious answer to this (primarily) science fraud is to cut off all government funding of climate change “research”, and climate assessment “studies”.

They provide a negative return on the investment, because they are mainly fiction, used to support counterproductive energy policies.

There is no logical reason for taxpayers to keep paying for so many scary predictions of the future climate, that are always wrong.

Let non-profit groups and corporations pay for all climate change “research”.

We’ll probably get the same garbage in – garbage out “studies” funded by the “environmental” non-profits.

For non-profits, If the future climate is claimed to be bad news, the climate studies will get the usual “pal review”, and be used to justify the existence of the “environmental” organization that funded the study.

Corporations may want to pay for long-term climate predictions, if climate change could significantly affect the sales of their goods and/ or services.

Corporations will want accurate climate predictions for their money, not fairy tales about the death of our planet.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 22, 2019 3:40 am

Kip, thousands of researchers will be out of research funds –

Macron promised to take them all, to need them all

– obviously not now, must be hampered by other bus[i]es.

Jay Albrecht
July 19, 2019 8:03 am

I remember from a statistics class that they hypothesis can go either way. “How science makes environmental controversies worse.” may also be: “How environmental controversies make science worse.” A little bit of both may be going on – along with a touch of “feedback!”

Reply to  Jay Albrecht
July 19, 2019 8:13 am

Jay Albrecht ==> Very astute observation. The politicization of science, resulting in Modern Science Controversies, is exactly what Sarewitz is about — the biasing effect of this politicization on research is well-known, mostly denied or ignored, and subject to a great deal of digital ink. See Curry on Bias.

Reply to  Jay Albrecht
July 19, 2019 6:11 pm

I would certainly agree with Jay Albrecht.

Let’s take another example – air pollution. That is a problem that has been addressed in most of the Western world and air quality certainly has improved. There certainly was a lot of political resistance to addressing the problem, but in spite of the complexity of the issue, the causes and solutions were easy to prove. My understanding is that the scientific research into the problem informed the political solutions. So, Sarewitz would seem to be not useful here.

CAGW is neither clear as to cause or, if indeed it is a problem, to solutions. It requires, not scientific understanding, but subservient models that can be manipulated to produce preconceived results. In a scientific sense, CO2 is simply not tenable as a control knob on the climate. All of the paleogeographic research of decades having CO2 lag temperature had to be ignored as did our historical and stratigraphic understandings of past temperatures. I’m not trying to be Popperian here, but really, it is magical thinking, not scientific. CAGW has been a scam from the get-go and was always political from Hansen’s first closed window congressional sauna. It has been 30 years since Hansen made his gloom and doom predictions and has a single one of them come true?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 8:15 pm

“… pragmatic solutions …” to what, exactly, Kip?

Jack Klok
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 20, 2019 2:13 am

We’ll I think we can say that many people are really fearful about the future climate (for their children and grandchildren)
We can address those fear’s (even if irrational) which could improve their (mental) life considerably.
Best ‘ no regret’ idea out there is to go for Nucleair Energy. Solid CO2 free base load electricity.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 8:17 pm

And what is “… better-directed research …,” Kip?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 20, 2019 9:53 am

Thanks, Kip. I agree that research dollars should be directed to real problems, as opposed to climate hysteria.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 10:22 pm

“You frame the current Climate Controversy as having been created by bad and intentionally biased science for political purposes …”

Yes, that is my conclusion. That doesn’t mean I am not concerned about the climate, just that I think it has become a political football, not science, and impossible to determine what is going on because one side in the controversy controls the media and academic research through government funding and bullying. I think they exert that control pretty much exclusively for political control and understanding the climate is no longer of any interest (for some because they believe in CO2, for others because they care only about power). Possibly that is too cynical, but when I see how any climate heretic is treated and how even the most miserably connected to climate publication has to make obesiance to climate change, I don’t think I could be cynical enough.

I see air pollution as a more complex phenomenon than you (and I would include ‘acid rain’ , ozone depletion, mercury from coal plants etc. – not just the smog), but I would agree that a major difference between Climate Change and Air Pollution is that much of the latter was visible, smelly, and had a discrete source. Hard to deny something that assaults your eyes and nose every day (Santa Ana’s blowing excluded – I did do some research on LA smog effects in the San Bernardino Mts in between degrees, so I had first eye experience). Acid rain seemed very convincing too, but now not so much. Ozone, I understand, is still up in the air. Unlike Climate Change, though, science could show the origins of ambient photochemical smog, the effects of mercury, dead forests in acid lakes, and a hole in the ozone layer. Climate Change cannot show anything concrete other than CO2 increasing and those who promote it make things up to support their position. That is how it seems to me and the scientists that actually are interested in understanding the climate seem a small and persecuted minority. Cheers

July 19, 2019 8:09 am

One thing is true in my mind. No matter how long and how hard they try the climate changers will never disprove a fundamental axiom of engineering, namely that you can’t build a reliable system from unreliable componentry. Just like they won’t be able to change the climate but it’s the former that will be most apparent first and be their undoing.

There is no magic energy storage in nature to be unlocked and all we’ve ever succeeded in doing is reversing the natural sequestration of carbon process, mimicking the sun, copying the hydrological cycle with pumping water uphill or storing calories. Take your pick Greenies but we’re not going back to human and animal exertion.

Reply to  observa
July 19, 2019 8:17 am

observa ==> Thanks for the engineering viewpoint. Glad to hear I shall also be spared being consigned to row a roman galley to bring cars from Japan and Korea to the US.

Your observation — unreliable componentry — also applies to those of us who research or write about research. We make errors, we sometimes find what we are looking for, we sometimes fool ourselves — we are all, somewhat, unreliable componentry.

July 19, 2019 8:18 am


Thanks for bringing this subject up . A good analysis.

For my part, as a longtime WUWT subscriber I have the impression (just an impression) that the debate has shifted over the years from the science to the political issues. This leading to what Judith refers to as “Taxonomy” research where many of the projects seem to be concerned with statistically proving the modelling predictions and alarmist conclusions to be invalid, rather than challenging the logic, assumptions and methodology involved in detail. (obviously there are many exceptions to this fortunately).
Thus now we get thriving polar bears, penguins, puffins etc. Boringly little sea level rise, an ice ridden arctic and a dearth of Human CO2 footprint. All couched in scientific terms and a welter of statistics; but hardly achieving very much.

For me the basic problem lies in the flaws inherent in the IPCC et al. logic and assumptions which have given rise to invalid conclusions and it is these that need to be addressed.

As an example I draw attention to the IPCC definition of Radiative Forcing whereas, whilst being defined as a Force, somehow is converted to an energy flux.
To me this is a fundamental error which never seems to get considered or debated; but nonetheless infects many of the subsequent logical steps and calculations leading to the general conclusions.

If I am wrong about this I do wish someone would put me out of my misery and explain why.

There are other flaws which I will not raise here except perhaps the erroneous assumption that water provides a positive feedback to the GHE.

Reply to  Alasdair
July 19, 2019 8:42 am

Alasdair ==> Your comment — interesting in its own right — is an very good example of what Sarewitz speaks of when he goes on ( and on, and on ) about the “framing of the problem” — “Consider climate change, which may variously be understood as a “problem” of climate impacts, weather impacts, biodiversity, land use, energy production and consumption, agricultural productivity, public health, economic development patterns, material wealth, demographic patterns, etc. Each of these ways of looking at the problem of climate change involves a variety of interests and values, and each may call on a body of relevant knowledge to help understand and respond to the problem.”

Climate Science — and its inability to resolve its surrounding controversy — may be looked at in the same way. We each see ‘the problem’ with the science (as a whole or in its various parts) through the lens of our scientific training, our field, our specialty, our politics, our worldview, etc etc.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 11:16 am

Kip, to get to the nut of the climate science problem, one must go to the beginning. The UN IPCC was created by international politicians and their bureaucratic enablers ostensibly to describe Man’s impact on the global climate. Throughout the process of creating the IPCC and continuing after its creation, however, those involved invariably stated that the goal was globally-directed actions by the involved governments to control national industrial activities. No interpretation of climate science was accepted that conflicted with the goal of scaring everybody into compliance. CliSci was fatally bent by denial of contrary science.

The immediate problem this iteration of international do-gooders ran into was national self-interest; no sane politician would intentionally disadvantage its country’s industries in relation to other countries’ industries. A whole series of Conferences of the Parties (COPs) over the years culminated in the 2015 COP Paris Accords. Since nothing was binding, everybody except some European idiots went merrily on their way.

Today’s massive political push for declarations of climate emergencies is the last desperate attempt by the international socialists, NGOs, etc. to dominate compliant world governments. Even if they succeed, they will fail: Citizens in compliant countries will see their standards of living fall in relation to the non-compliant countries of China, India, Africa and others. All hell will break loose against the feckless politicians. [Wife, where did you put my Yellow Vest?]

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 5:18 pm

Kip, it is the politics that is driving the funding of CliSci. It is the funding that is driving the “scientific” groupthink, and that funding is being driven by the UN IPCC through the participating and complicit national political/bureaucratic/NGO green ideology. Who do you think that it is that actually go to all these COP’s and other group-fests?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 12:03 pm

Yes indeed with the problem being exacerbated by many of those who have not benefitted by a STEM based education, where matters of Genda, Diversity, Justice, Diet and the rest get befuddled into the debate.

Fallen angels dancing on the point of a thermometer needle comes to mind.

I note you have avoided comment on the IPCC RF definition validity. Perhaps wise. My email: if you would like to take it up.

Reply to  Alasdair
July 19, 2019 4:51 pm

Alaadair ==> You’ve Got Mail!

Kurt Linton
July 19, 2019 8:54 am

It doesn’t matter whether science answers a problem definitively, or not. People will not accept an answer they don’t like. Case in point: science has known for decades that Advanced Maternal Age (and to a lesser extent, APA) is responsible for “the rise in birth defects”, but people will not accept the truth because they want to blame others.

Reply to  Kurt Linton
July 19, 2019 9:04 am

Kurt ==> The issue of “people believing what they are predisposed to believe” is a well known, documented phenomenon. Thank you for adding it into the conversation. Of course, Scientists are expected to rsist that tendency and be totally disinterested and unbiased. They are, however, humna.

I have an interest in the birth defects issue — can you post some links to reliable papers?

Kurt Linton
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 12:26 pm

That’s the problem, Kip. There’s no market for “bad news”. The Roizen/Patterson study (Lancet, 2003) on Down’s Syndrome which was cited in my old Patho. text (Huether, et al) is still around but I doubt you’ll find much else. Wannabe career-first parents get mad at their doctors for warning them about the risks. Accusing them of “scare tactics” and whatnot. People typically don’t understand probability, though. Even a ten-fold increase in the risk of a certain problem is still a very small risk and genetic screening is increasingly available. However, for those for whom it’s too late… well blame vaccinations or whatever. What’s more, there’s a huge market for sciency sounding papers that will tell them just what they want to hear.
I put “the rise in birth defects” in quotes purposely, because their isn’t any (well, outside of regional issues, of course). The uptick is EXPECTED from AMA, just as their has been an increase in bald men over the last couple of centuries. Both are linked to age. It’s just genetics (my training is in molecular bio. btw).

Reply to  Kurt Linton
July 19, 2019 4:13 pm

Kurt ==> Thanks for the clarification. My wife and I got a rather late start in the having children business, and kept at it rather late (last one when my wife was 46). All are fine adults now, of course. We were well aware of the advance Maternal Age problem, but aware that it was most significant for a first child, not so much for the fourth, but still, worrisome.

Jim Whelan
July 19, 2019 9:24 am

looking at the list I conclude the opposite: Political controversy generates more “science”. What has happened is that as the science shows the politics is flawed more studies are funded to try to get the “right” answer.

July 19, 2019 10:10 am

Kip says: “…eventually reveal a solution to our current energy problem…”

What current energy problem? Abundance? CO2 is a benefit, coal available for hundreds of years, methane hydrates available for thousands of years, so please identify the specific problem that needs a solution.

Reply to  mkelly
July 19, 2019 4:16 pm

MKelly ==> I see we frame the energy question differently — there are plenty of downsides to combustion of carbon-based fuels, even though they are in the category of “the best readily available solution” at the moment.

Phil R
July 19, 2019 10:11 am


It is my view that most of our questions will be answered by the passing of time assuming continued efforts by the honorable men and women of science.

That might be a somewhat baseless assumption given the many dishonorable men (and some women) of (climate) science. People like Mikey Mann (for the men) and Naomi Oreskes (for the women) come to mind, though I’m sure others could offer many other examples.

July 19, 2019 10:16 am


Science marches on even when it loses its way. Alfred Wegener proposed the continental drift theory on geographical, geological and paleontological evidence in 1920. Geology rejected it until the 1960s. But that doesn’t mean Geology didn’t advance between 1920-60. It advanced enormously, and eventually the advances allowed to resolve the controversy. It just may take a very long time.

Science is made by humans, and therefore is susceptible to human biases, as scientists fall into fashions and select the part of the evidence that fits their favored hypotheses.

The current “consensus” will not be ended by more evidence. The current generation of climate scientists has already made its mind. Climate alarmism will have to run its course until a new generation challenges the previous one, as it always happens.

Reply to  Javier
July 19, 2019 1:22 pm

As has been said “Science advances, one funeral at a time.”

Reply to  John_C
July 19, 2019 2:29 pm

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
Max Planck, 1906. Known as the Planck Principle. In: Schriften des Vereins für Socialpolitik 116

Reply to  Javier
July 19, 2019 4:19 pm

Javier ==> I certainly agree that a certain faction or cabal of climate scientists have lost their way, dragging a lot of good people from other fields down with them.

I am optimistic that truth will out — and understanding will follow.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 4:40 pm

“I am optimistic that truth will out”

Kip, I’m optimistic that the socialists will push this so far that common people, consumers and utility ratepayers, will out. [Wife, where did you put my Yellow Vest?]

Reply to  Javier
July 19, 2019 9:21 pm

Sadly, science advances one funeral at at time.

Worse most of the those with enough integrity and job security to question the current dogma are going to die first. This shit is going to get worse before it gets better.

July 19, 2019 10:20 am

What are you talking about?
Really, straight up.
The premise here is that the “Smörgåsbord” does not and can not resolve the issues.
So what is it at issue? From the last post I gathered that the “Smörgåsbord” consists all of:
1) Solid science, Pro side
2) Solid science, Con side
3) Weak science
4) Junk science
5) Activists pushing an agenda
6) Con artists
7) Any manner of types of people looking to cash in.

When people protested the inclusion of groups 4, 5, 6 as “science” , the reply was “That is the Smörgåsbord”.
Now the assertion is made again that science cannot resolve, and more research only makes it worse.

My Contention:
A) If the “Smörgåsbord” includes all of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, then it is not science, it is something else like public policy, or sociology, or society, or something. Then yes, it may never resolve.

B) If you insist that the “Smörgåsbord” is science, then you must restrict it to 1, 2, 3, and maybe even 4. Reject all of the emphatically non-science elements like 5, 6, 7.
Then things *will* resolve, with more research. This is how science works. This is how we come to understand. All the great understandings of science were built on previous work. The Germ Theory Of Disease, The Photoelectric Effect and Quantum Mechanics, All of Organic Chemistry, on and on. All come from a resolution of vexing questions.

C) It seems what we have here is a case of someone who wants his cake and to eat it too.
Include all of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 in the “Smörgåsbord”, *insist* that it is all *science*, then further assert that science never resolves.

A digression on controversy:
Consider: A maritime/nautical is holding a working group meeting concerning navigational standards for international shipping. Boring, technical, but needs doing from time to time.
A *crazy* person armed with a big stick and a box of rocks barges into the meeting. He screams “The Earth Is Flat, THE EARTH IS FLAT, THE EARTH IS FLAT!!!!!!
The crazy man throws rocks at all the meeting participants, swing his stick an anyone who approaches.
All the while screaming “THE EARTH IS FLAT!”
** ALL Hell Breaks Loose **

A reporter covering the session files his “news of the conference today” report.
Huge controversy breaks out among experts concerning the shape of the Earth. Vocal advocates on both sides of the issue were passionate in their beliefs. Science once thought “settled”, turns out to be quite uncertain after continued research. The issue is not resolved after all.

And that is what you get when all voices are given equal weight.
And that is why you can never get a resolution with a crazy person, or someone with a vested interest in keeping a controversy alive.

Reply to  TonyL
July 19, 2019 4:24 pm

TonyL ==> Not exactly sure what your point is, but I would include only 1, 2 and 3 (possibly 4, as that is a value judgement about the science). The others are not on Sarewitz’ table.

You confound the various voices in the climate controversy with the science about climate.

The voices formed their opinions and viewpoints on the parts of the science they relate to and find align with their values.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 5:08 pm

Kip, I’m going forward here in increments, covering different details in future comments.

Climate science is very clear; it is speculation about future events that is in contention. The science (physics’ mathematical calculation) indicate that, all else being equal, a doubling of CO2 could engender about 1C of total average global warming. Speculation about the operations of water vapor and clouds leads different camps to speculate 0C (to negative) all the way to tipping points leading to runaway global warming. CliSci tends to the alarmist camp; their paychecks depend on it.

Actual tracking of climatic metrics shows no negative impacts of increased CO2 since the end of the Little Ice Age. Other than slight warming and minor water vapor increases, there have been no documented measurable negative impacts on any climatic metric related to CO2 increases, especially since the 1950’s. There has been no increases in storms, heatwaves, hurricanes, droughts, flooding and etc. Fear-mongering about them, however, is rampant in CliSci; they abuse terms such as extremes when describing statistically indistinguishable minor variations in rainfall and droughts.

Over, for now.

Tom Abbott
July 19, 2019 10:35 am

From the article: “A Google Scholar search, limited to results of the year 2018, shows 124,000 papers for the search string “2018 climate change”. [That’s a lot of research.]”

Good Lord! How do other science subjects like astronomy or biology compare to this number?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 19, 2019 4:26 pm

Tom ==> If you check it out, let us know!

My Google Scholar search was not very scientific — just a quicky to see a rough guess in the amount of research it would turn up for a year.

July 19, 2019 10:35 am

Humans as a species seem to have an emotional affinity with apocaliptic stories. This goes back as far as there is any written history. I think it stems from the fact that there are so many aspects of life in which we have no control over the environment in which we live. All of the apocaliptic stories demand some sort of sacrifice, whether it be a goat, your first born or trillions of dollars, the message is the same. As such, I don’t think we are talking about politics as much as religion.

Those of us who have bought into Science, in a way are not that different in that we see the solutions as problems that can be solved with facts: the most rational see solutions to human problems in terms of the best available knowledge in the present, with possible alterations as more information becomes available. The problem with this is that the dominant conceptual framework dominates the approach to research. In my field (neuroscience of pain and analgesia), changes in the framework seem to occur on the scale of generations. The framework pushes the direction of research, and anything that does not fit is simply ignored until there is a tipping point, and the tipping can seem to be geologically slow.

I have always been impressed by the attractiveness of simple theories to most people, even those who intellectually admit that more than one thing may be going on at the same time. Thus, for most people, having one thing, CO2, to blame for all problems is attractive in the same way that the Israelites blamed their problems on messing with ‘other gods’. It goes very deep into the emotions to the extent that I cannot even talk with some of my family about the actual sea level rise, because not believing is apostasy.

Reply to  Fran
July 19, 2019 4:31 pm

Fran ==> Thank you for your professional viewpoint.

“The problem with this is that the dominant conceptual framework dominates the approach to research. ” this in climate science (and other fields) has a lot to do with funding bias — the funders buy into a narrative for the field, and pursue it by offering grant money to investigate along a rather narrow path.

Thomas Homer
July 19, 2019 1:10 pm

If theory offers no tools of reason, is it an unreasonable theory?

July 19, 2019 4:32 pm

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks ==> Can you offer readers here a link to your paper?

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 20, 2019 9:20 pm

Hi, Kip.

I’m not a sociable person… a bit of a digital Luddite, really. Strange, considering how many programming languages I know and all the hacking I’ve done… I attribute it to having observed far too many times the seamy side of humanity, and my (and those like me) attempts at stopping such activity, including a history-changing recent event which helped to put someone into office which not many leftists wanted in office, I’m sure.

So I don’t partake of social media, nor do I have a website, and I generally tend to remain anonymous / pseudonymous. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when one challenges the rabid leftists in my locale, and I really don’t want to have to end a rage-mob in protecting my family… although, Lord knows, I’m fully capable of it if necessary.

So no, I don’t have a link to my paper. It’s an informal paper written mainly for my own edification, and for the future education of my young sprog should they fall prey to the climate change hysteria. The science is solid, but I also tear into the snowflakes, exposit on socialism, delve a bit into BSM QM and provide incriminating ClimateGate quotes.

I can send it to you via email, if you like.

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 22, 2019 1:07 pm

I sent it to you via anonymous email.

The text was updated to correct an error… I’d assumed that CO2 would undergo deposition in the coldest conditions at Antarctica, an exothermic process releasing 26.1 kJ/mol. But the low partial pressure of atmospheric CO2 means just as much CO2 sublimates as deposits, so no net deposition occurs, even at the new (lower) temperature measured via satellite of -98.6 C.

LOL@Climate Catastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 20, 2019 9:53 pm

The core of the text which disproves CAGW:
The radiative cooling of air via solely translational mode energy converting to radiation
CO2{v20(0)} (at 288K+) + CO2{v20(0)} (at 288K+) -> CO2{v20(0)} + C02{v21(1)} -> CO2{v20(0)} + CO2{v20(0)} + 667.4 cm-1

You’ll note the above interaction is a direct conversion of translational mode energy (which we perceive as temperature) to 14.98352 µm radiation. This directly cools the air, and the effect is significant, since nearly all the translational mode energy is converted to radiation, leaving the CO2 molecules at a very low temperature, whereupon they absorb energy by colliding with other atmospheric constituents. The effect begins taking place significantly at ~288 K, the temperature at which the majority of the molecules will have sufficient translational mode energy to convert to vibrational mode energy.

288 K also happens to be the stated average global temperature… that is not a coincidence, it is a mechanism long known. As CO2 concentration increases, this effect will become more pronounced, increasingly damping any temperature excursions above ~288 K by increase of radiative emission via this interaction, and below ~288 K by reduction of radiative emission via this interaction.

It is not necessary for CO2{v20(0)} to collide with another CO2 molecule for this interaction to take place, any other molecule will do… the Equipartition Theorem dictates that all atmospheric constituents at the same temperature will have the same translational mode energy. So in reality, the above interaction could be represented thusly:
X (at 288K+) + CO2{v20(0)} (at 288K+) -> X + C02{v21(1)} -> X + CO2{v20(0)} + 667.4 cm-1
where X is any atmospheric molecule.

Further, you’ll note that if a CO2 molecule is already in the CO2{v21(1)} vibrational mode quantum state, a collision at just 0.1 K higher temperature (ie: ~288.1 K) can excite it to the CO2{v22(2)} state, whereupon it can emit a 14.97454 µm photon to de-excite to the CO2{v21(1)} state, and a 14.98352 µm photon to de-excite to the CO2{v20(0)} state.

Even further, you’ll note that if a CO2 molecule is already in the CO2{v22(2)} vibrational mode quantum state, a collision at just 0.1 K higher temperature (ie: ~288.2 K) can excite it to the CO2{v23(3)} state, whereupon it can emit a 14.96782 µm photon to de-excite to the CO2{v22(2)} state, a 14.97454 µm photon to de-excite to the CO2{v21(1)} state, and a 14.98352 µm photon to de-excite to the CO2{v20(0)} state.

This implies that for temperatures above ~288 K, more of the translational energy of atmospheric molecules will flow to CO2 vibrational mode quantum state energy, rather than vibrational mode quantum state energy of CO2 flowing to translational energy of other atmospheric molecules, simply for the fact that at and above that temperature, the combined translational energy of two colliding molecules is sufficient to excite the CO2 vibrational modes. This increases the time duration of CO2 vibrational mode quantum state excitation and therefore the probability that CO2 will radiatively emit, breaking LTE. Therefore the energy flow is to CO2, not from it.

In other words, at and above ~288 K, the combined translational mode energy of two molecules is higher than C02{v21(1)} vibrational mode energy, and therefore energy will flow to CO2 from other atmospheric molecules’ translational mode energy during molecular collision, simply because CO2 can radiatively emit that energy and break LTE.

If you need, I can provide the equations to calculate and convert translational mode and vibrational mode energies. There are also calculators online that’ll do it. (, for instance)

July 19, 2019 6:58 pm

Hi Kip,
Another interesting and thought-provoking article, as usual. I’m not sure how far apart we are in reality, but I find Sarewitz informitive in understanding how politics corrupts science, rather than as a hypothesis about what science can contribute to policy discussions. I find this bon mot attributed to Henri Poincaré useful when I think about science:

“Science is made up of facts like a house is made of bricks, but a pile of facts does not make science nor a pile of bricks a house.” – Henri Poincaré (attributed)

If your model/hypothesis is flawed then, piling up supporting facts won’t get you anywhere. So, if you think the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, you can pile up supporting facts day in and day out and your model will never be falsified (apologies to Popper, but his ideas are more of a guide on how to best do science than a description of what we do). You need a better model if you want to know what is going on and you will only get that from new facts that don’t fit the narrative.

Anyway, full disclosure: I was once a true believer, even an author on an early modelling paper looking at what MIGHT happen if climate change caused changes in rainfall (people used to understand that climate models were very iffy), and it was the discordance between what was being published in my fields of interest and what I knew to be the facts that first caused doubts. So, I found facts informing my beliefs. Then Climate Gate pushed me over the edge but it was the cavalier attitude towards adjusting data that outraged me more than the bullying and nastiness. Anyway, I don’t think all ‘facts’ are equal. Cheers

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 9:44 pm

Hi Kip,
Sorry if I seemed to imply that all research into understanding the climate was corrupt. I was trying to make a dichotomy between those who are trying to understand climate and those who know the ‘truth’ and are trying to pile up facts in support of the CO2 control knob view of climate catastrophe, weather extremism, etc. Of course there are good scientist who would like to understand what is going on and, sadly, they seldom make the news, are more likely to be rejected for publication than published and, like Peter Ridd and others, have been hounded out of research by the CAGW mob. To me, though, in Sarewitz’s view these ‘facts’ are all treated as equal. I think that is a flaw in his analysis.

I suppose I would be labelled a denier, but I actually have no opinions on climate other than CO2 as a control knob seems to have been well and truly falsified and most of what I have read about CAGW is BS. Weather doesn’t seem to have changed much in its broad aspects over my lifetime, but I’ve no idea what might happen with the climate over the next century or two, because nothing I have read sounds plausible. Cheers

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 20, 2019 5:41 pm

Kip – I really wish Ioannidis would turn his x-ray eyes on climate science publications.

Thanks for an interesting analysis and discussion.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 19, 2019 9:53 pm

PS – ‘climate science taxonomy’ seems a poor choice of a term for what Dr Curry seems to be referring to. It makes me think of definitions and classifications of, for example, different storm intensities. If you can’t tell the difference between a thunderstorm and a hurricane, or a Category 1 from a Category 5 hurricane, that what can you say about the weather? That is the basic use of of taxonomy in all sciences: it provides the terms of reference. If you can’t tell one rock from another, then good luck doing geology.

July 19, 2019 9:54 pm

Okay, your takeaways from the Sarawitz paper, interspersed with my comments:

Sarewitz’s “hypotheses”:

“…science makes environmental controversies worse” [from the title of the paper]”
Science (the real thing) is the production of facts. Facts are only controversial when they encounter those who rely on counter-facts. Human progress is made by facts overcoming counter-facts – otherwise, the race remains in the same place forever, believing in the counter-facts. (An old example – lightning, and where it strikes, is entirely up to God. Putting those Franklin rods on buildings is heresy! This controversy died out only after many churches were burned to the ground…)

“…“more science” often stokes, rather than quenches, environmental controversies.”
Good! See above. The fact about the numbers of polar bears certainly stoked an environmental controversy – between those who know the real number, and those that are promoting the false number.

“The technical debate — and the implicit promise that “more research” will tell us what to do — vitiates the will to act. Not only does the value dispute remain unresolved, but the underlying problem remains unaddressed.”
Well, of course it could vitiate the will to act. It might make people unwilling to do things that make them uncomfortable – or actually threaten their health and life – when doing those things is entirely unnecessary. The “underlying problem” is all too frequently not a problem, but a value judgement of its own. The “underlying problem” for Greens is either “too many people” or “capitalism” – neither of which is a problem. It is their value judgement that far fewer people (particularly of the brown variety) and control of the remainder by their enlightened cadre applying the principles of glorious socialism is a moral good.

July 20, 2019 2:07 am

The trouble with all of this is that it misses the point. As with most environmental claims, the proof can only happen at some quite distant period in the future (proof in a scientific sense). But we are told that by then it will be too late and the world will have ended. So we have to act now regardless of a lack of proof.

There are times when this may be sensible, but what is demanded here is a massive cost and a huge change in our economies and societies. This is not a scientific question. Science simply cannot tell us whether a hypothesis is correct without proof, and we cannot have proof without suffering the consequences.

And so we have two extremes – do everything and do nothing – arguing past each other because they are making their judgements in different ways that cannot be reconciled. Those in the middle – do a bit, keep researching the science – are vilified by both sides.

I can see no way for either extreme to prove they are right except over a relatively long period of time. Neither side will accept that however. So we remain at an impasse intellectually. As ever, Progressives grasp this quickly and take action whilst Classical Liberals debate amongst ourselves about “proof”.

July 20, 2019 6:33 am

A paper written 15 years ago? Let us look:

The bit about the election controversy seems oddly timely in light of what happened in 2016, I will note. But on to the Climate Change bit.

“…climate models and knowledge of atmospheric dynamics suggest that increased warming may contribute to a rising incidence and magnitude of extreme weather events…; but observations of weather patterns over the past century do not show clear evidence of such increases, while model results are still ambiguous, and data continue to be lacking to make conclusive cases…”

True. There is little evidence weather events have become more extreme, despite the headlines screaming every time there is a blizzard, heat wave, hurricane or drought – weather events that have always occurred and which will continue to occur.

paul rossiter
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 21, 2019 3:05 am

The problem is, the “15 years” generally wasn’t conducted under the scientific method, hence the lack of resolution. If Karl Popper and Bertrand Russel doesn’t convince you, how about Richard Feynmann:

Have a look at around 4:50 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.

July 21, 2019 5:24 pm

Fran , July 19. A very well written comment, I will send it onto my friends, I do have a few, Hi.

LOL@ KKK. July 19. Very interesting, but the problem is hat most if
not all of the “”Useful Idiots”” can not and/or do not want to understand facts.

Thanks Kip for a very interesting article, plus the very interesting
comments too

I keep on saying it, we need that Red team /Blue team match, with the result then published by the government.

Perhaps we should be saying, “” CO2 is not a Greenhouse gas, it re-radiates any warmth it picks up. Its the gas of al life and is greening the planet”.

Remember, “”Keep it simple stupid””


LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Michael
July 21, 2019 8:19 pm

You’d be amazed at the level of sleaze the leftists have engaged in.

The same company which originally made public the DNC hacking and tied it to Russia was hired by the DNC prior to the hacking. And they were hired to perform the analysis on the DNC computers. Shawn Henry, formerly an FBI executive, was hired to run that company. That company is funded in large part by CapitalG investments… CapitalG is Google. That same company was then hired to ‘ensure the security’ of the 2016 election computer system.

What not a lot of people know is that that same company had placed code on the 2016 election computers to flip votes to Clinton, an ‘insurance policy’ to ensure she won, no matter what. Which is why Clinton was so sure she’d win, and why the leftist media was predicting a landslide win for her. The plan was apparently to make it appear to be a close race until near the end, then have Clinton pull ahead by a considerable margin to give her a solid mandate to implement her socialist agenda. The video of Bill bouncing with joy in the Javits Center was right after they’d flipped the switch on that code.

But a group I’m affiliated with got into those computers, neutered that code and locked out that company… which is why Clinton became enraged, attacked Robbie Mook, started drinking heavily and had to be sedated… to the point that she was so out of it that John Podesta had to take the podium after the loss to address the crowd. Clinton had to be carried out of the Javits Center afterward, then she went into seclusion for awhile. The head tech guy of that company melted down and threatened DJT via Twitter immediately after the election.

These people are dangerous, and we came within a hair’s breadth of being essentially enslaved to a group of elitist socialists who would decide every aspect of our lives, while enriching themselves and making everyone else poorer.

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