Guest post by Phillip Goggans,
In an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader this autumn, I argued that climate skepticism was a sensible position for informed laymen such as myself. I pointed out that, contrary to what is often said, there is no scientific consensus that we are in a climate crisis. Also, the graphs showing hockey stick changes in global temperatures are based on controversial data. The fact that climate activists routinely cite this data with no mention of the controversy is, in itself, a reason not to trust them. I mentioned that competent people have argued that the world hasn’t warmed very much, that we aren’t sure how much warming is due to natural variability, and that the computer models on which the dire predictions are based are not reliable.
My lead-in for this column was a provocative statement by Michael Mann urging people to ignore climate skeptics. Don’t try to argue with them, he said; report them and block them. The point of my column was that this degree of certainty in climate catastrophism was unwarranted. A sensible, reasonably well-informed person might really doubt we are in a climate crisis.
An editor from the Herald-Leader appended a note to my column warning readers about my supposedly fringe view. To protect their readers even more, they sandwiched my column between two alarmist ones. One was from an attorney in Lexington who evidently knows no more about climate science than I do. He took the case for climate catastrophism to be so simple and straightforward that even a “sixteen-year-old can understand it.” The other was a derisive rebuttal from none other than Michael Mann.
Of particular note was his use of a 2016 survey of meteorologists to support his “consensus” thesis. Mann links to an article in The Guardian that summarizes the survey. It says that only 5% think that the warming has entirely natural causes. Mann infers that “pretty close to 97%” think global warming is mostly caused by humans. This is contradicted in the article. It says “29% believe that the change is largely or entirely human caused; 38% think most of the change is from humans.” A clear third of meteorologists in 2016 are not convinced that humans are causing the warming. In other words, the very document that Mann uses to support his “consensus,” in fact, refutes it. Finally, the survey does not even address the major question on which Mann claims a consensus, viz., that global warming is imminently dangerous.
He dismissed with contempt my statement – easily verified – that many eminent scientists dispute climate catastrophism.
He smeared Tony Heller as a Sandy Hook “truther.” My mention of documents from Climategate provoked his indignant response that “something like 10 different investigations” cleared the implicated scientists of any wrongdoing. A more accurate account of that scandal appears in recent papers by Judith Curry and Ross McKitrick. Mann calls the 70’s cooling scare a myth rooted in a controversy about the cooling effects of certain pollutants. Could he really believe this? Fear of an impending ice age at that time is thoroughly documented.
Finally, he urges his readers to listen to “serious” people, not “carnival barkers” like me.
I wrote a brief, civil reply correcting his mistakes and going a little way towards defending myself against his insults. The Herald-Leader had blindsided me with Mann’s attack and so I thought they owed me a little space to respond. More importantly, they owed their readers a correction of Mann’s misinformation. They would not publish my reply and would not explain why. I suppose they are certain that we are in a climate crisis and that, under these circumstances, normal journalistic scruples do not apply.
Mann’s irascibility is forgivable. I had called a tweet of his “misleading and foolish” and so of course he wanted to strike back at me. More troublesome, though, is his evident willingness to mislead.