The Paper that Blew it Up

By Andy May

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with Bull…” W. C. Fields

and, flying a bomber over Berlin.

In late February 2015, Willie Soon was accused in a front-page New York Times article by Kert Davies (Gillis & Schwartz, 2015) of failing to disclose conflicts of interest in his academic journal articles. It isn’t mentioned in the Gillis and Schwartz article, but the timing suggests that a Science Bulletin article, “Why Models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” (Monckton, Soon, Legates, & Briggs, 2015) was Davies’ concern. We will abbreviate this paper as MSLB15. Besides Soon, the other authors of the paper are Christopher Monckton (senior author, Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley), David Legates (Professor of Geography and Climatology, University of Delaware), and William Briggs (Mathematician and statistician, former professor of statistics at Cornell Medical School). In the January 2015 article, the authors “declare that they have no conflict of interest.”

MSLB15 was instantly popular and devastating to the climate alarmist cause and to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2013). The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a research organization set up by the United Nations in 1988. MSLB15 was published online January 8, 2015 and downloaded 22,000 times in less than two months, an outstanding number of downloads. The New York Times article appeared less than two months after MSLB15 hit the internet, it was a “fake news hit job.”

The paper caused a stir because it explained that the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report or “AR5” reduced its near-term warming projections substantially, but left its long-term, higher, projections alone. This was because the IPCC central, CO2 feedback-based, estimate of the climate sensitivity to CO2 was reduced from 3.2°C (5.8°F) to 2.2°C (4°F) per doubling of CO2 concentration. The sensitivity to CO2 is often abbreviated “ECS” for Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity. The MSLB15 calculation was done the way the IPCC used in their Fourth Assessment Report, abbreviated “AR4.”

If the new estimate is correct, the projected rise in temperature for the 21st century is less than one-degree C. Another implication of the change is that the combustion of all fossil fuels estimated to exist would only cause a temperature increase of 2.2°C (4°F). This amount of warming is trivial, good for humanity, but bad for the climate alarmists.

The organization that models climate projections for the IPCC is the CMIP, or the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. It was created in 1995 to consolidate climate models from around the world into a set of projections that could form the basis for the IPCC reports. The CMIP climate models used for the IPCC fourth and fifth assessment reports overestimate global warming by a substantial amount as shown in John Christy’s plot from a previous post and shown again here as Figure 1.

Figure 1. John Christy’s famous graph comparing the AR5 IPCC climate models to weather balloon and satellite observations for the mid-troposphere. The satellite and weather balloon observations are independent of one another and surface measurements. From Christy’s 2016 Congressional testimony (Christy, 2016).


AR5 was essentially a repeat of AR4 with respect to the computation of human influence on climate. Yet, MSLB15 tells us that deep in AR5 a dramatic change was made in the model calculations that lowers the computed climate impact of CO2. But the change was not reflected in the AR5 long-term climate projections. Monckton points out that the IPCC made the changes due to pressure from expert reviewers to bring their climate projections and model parameters into line with observations (Monckton, 2015b). The IPCC made the change, then ignored it in their longer-term projections.

Modern computer climate models are expensive “general circulation” models that model thermal energy moving through the atmosphere and the upper part of the oceans. The models break the atmosphere into 3D grid boxes that are assumed to be in local thermodynamic equilibrium and only change at their edges where they contact neighboring boxes. The older models, such as the 1979 Charney model (Charney, et al., 1979), were simpler and modeled the whole atmosphere and upper ocean conceptually.

As discussed in our last post, the complexity of modern models has not changed the estimated climate sensitivity to CO2 or made it more accurate. The 1979 Charney Report model computed the same range of sensitivity to CO2 as AR5 reported in 2013. This range (1.5° to 4.5°C) has survived intact for forty years despite the efforts of thousands of researchers spending over one-hundred billion U.S. 2014 dollars between 1993 and 2015 (U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2016) in the U.S. alone.

So, when MSLB15 showed up online, explaining that the AR5 model’s feedback estimates suggested an ECS of 2.2°C (4°F), rather than the AR4 estimate of 3.26°C (5.9°F) (IPCC, 2007, p. 798) it caused a huge uproar. As Rud Istvan noted in a post, at the time, “If you are taking heavy flak, you are over the target.” The B-17 or Avro Lancaster being flown by Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates and William Briggs must have been directly over central Berlin given the response by the alarmists and the news media.

The direct warming from CO2 or ECS is small, around one-degree Celsius for a doubling of CO2. This slight warming will cause a feedback, generally assumed to be due to an increase in absolute humidity, caused by warmer temperatures. Water vapor is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, so this reduction in feedback, from AR4 to AR5, is what the climate alarmists are worried about. Why is the range of ECS in AR5 the same as in AR4 when such an important component of CO2-caused warming was reduced? Did politics overrule the scientific findings?

Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that no best estimate of ECS was given in AR5. There are many ways to compute ECS and they disagree so much, that the IPCC did not give a best estimate. Both TAR (the IPCC third assessment report) and AR4 provided a best estimate of 3°C (5.4°F), so if AR5 had stated their feedback-implied ECS of 2.2°C (4°F), the precipitous decline would have been obvious and politically damaging. So, they were silent. The obvious question is why? Did they think no one would notice the intellectual dishonesty?

To estimate ECS, one can use climate model results, analysis of feedbacks (like in AR4 or MSLB15), observed temperature and CO2 changes (Lewis & Curry, 2018), or paleoclimate studies. The dilemma the IPCC faced in AR5 was that these estimates did not agree and many of them were far below those given in AR4 and previous assessment reports, as shown in our previous post. One wonders why the IPCC is so sure that humans control the climate with their greenhouse gas emissions, when the impact of the main greenhouse gas, CO2, is so poorly understood? Since no best estimate of ECS was given in AR5, one can argue that our understanding is diminishing with time.

Once Christopher Monckton and his co-authors, including Willie Soon, noticed that the CO2 feedback forcing was lowered in AR5, they created a simple model to investigate this difference and published their assessment. It is virtually impossible to attack the “Irreducibly simple climate model” presented in the paper, it is too basic. As Istvan reports the derivation of the MSLB15 model is impeccable. So, the alarmist cabal initially said that Science Bulletin was an obscure journal, therefore the paper cannot be any good. Predictably, that didn’t work, besides, the Science Bulletin is the Chinese version of Nature or Science.

Criticism of MSLB15
Rud Istvan’s post on the paper is illuminating and interesting, as is Monckton’s reply. Many traditional climate scientists, even Judith Curry, are somewhat dismissive of MSLB15. They think this simple approach to climate modeling doesn’t provide any insights into why the climate models do not agree with observations. Kevin Trenberth complains that the model is too simple (Briggs, 2015). Istvan comments that: “Trenberth’s comments to the NYTimes are indefensibly misleading in my opinion, and provide a vivid object lesson about consensus climate ‘science’ and its reporting” (Istvan, 2015). We agree with this assessment. MSLB15 explicitly recognize that their model is simple:

“[The MSLB15 model] is not, of course, intended to replace the far more complex general-circulation models; rather, it is intended to illuminate them.” (Monckton, Soon, Legates, & Briggs, 2015)

The irreducibly simple model is simple, it is in the title of the paper and Trenberth’s statement to the New York Times (Briggs, 2015) is vacuous. MSLB15 is important, not as an advance in climate science, but because it illuminates the serious flaws and internal contradictions in the IPCC/CMIP climate models. Further evidence that the IPCC models are seriously flawed is that they are no more accurate in predicting the climatic impact of CO2 now than they were in 1979, the MSLB15 model merely drives this painfully obvious point home. Billions have been spent; one would think we would have seen some progress by now.

The subtitle of this post, a quote from W. C. Fields, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with Bull…” says it perfectly. The IPCC computer models and the ludicrous idea that averaging them provides us with a reliable and useful prediction of future climate is an attempt to “baffle us with bull….” This human-caused climate change perpetual money-squandering machine must start producing answers or be cut off from funding.

The MSLB15 model reduces the nonsense to its essence and shows this deception, if not clearly as we would like, at least more clearly and succinctly than the IPCC does. Compared to the real world, the IPCC models are too simple, their complexity doesn’t help us understand the human impact on climate, it merely provides a way to hide their inadequacies and push a chosen agenda. This was what I took away from reading MSLB15.

Rud Istvan thinks the simple model could be made simpler and have the same effect. Monckton thinks the model needs the all the elements it has, to be useful. Either way, Istvan found the model to be useful and we agree. I have no problem with the model as a useful way to understand the more complicated general circulation models. It is not, as MSLB15 readily admits, a replacement for them. It sheds light on them and provides a useful reality check.

The point MSLB15 makes, is that the IPCC model based ECS estimates are inflated. They could add that they are inaccurate and are not improving with time and money spent. Monckton says in his rebuttal to Istvan, we must let “the daylight in on the magic” (Monckton, 2015b, p. 6). We agree.

Mark Richardson and colleagues (Richardson, Hausfather, Nuccitelli, Rice, & Abraham, 2015) try to show that the MSLB15 model underestimates global mean temperatures. Richardson, et al. do not refute MSLB15, they simply refute a strawman of their own creation. Further, the only period that Richardson, et al. use, that is long enough to be considered “climate,” is 1900 to 2010. For this period, both CMIP5 and MSLB15 have errors that are well within the margin of error for the temperature datasets they cite, HadCRUT4, Cowtan & Way, and Berkeley Earth. Their shorter periods, 1970-2010 and 2000-2010 are too short to be meaningful.

Next, the alarmists, possibly including John Holdren, senior advisor to President Obama, began to attack Willie Soon, one of the authors, through his employer, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. John Holdren had already attacked Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas’ 2003 papers (Soon & Baliunas, 2003) and (Soon, Baliunas, Idso, Idso, & Legates, 2003b) when he was still at Harvard according to The Harvard Crimson (Sanchez, 2003). He claimed the papers were a “flawed analysis.” They were not flawed and MSLB15 was not flawed either. MSLB15 might be overly long and a difficult read, but it is not flawed, as far as we can tell.

Unable to attack the science, the alarmists wanted the skeptics in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics silenced. The Smithsonian responded with new directives on conduct that contained a “loyalty to the Smithsonian” clause. The Smithsonian’s Inspector General investigated Soon and found no wrongdoing on his part, but this simply enraged the critics and didn’t settle anything (Arnold, 2016). Attacks on climate skeptics were common in 2015 and 2016 and the Obama administration was not alone, some of the harassment came from Congress, particularly from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Raúl Grijalva.

The New York Times and the other news organizations covering the story should have written about what MSLB15 said, the story isn’t that complicated or hard to explain. But they didn’t. The fact they attacked the authors, without discussing what they wrote in their peer-reviewed paper, speaks volumes, as stated in the web site “Bishop Hill” by Andrew Montford (Montford, 2015). The news media didn’t care about climate science, after all, the “science is settled,” isn’t it?

The 2015 Attack
As mentioned at the top of the post, the height of the attacks on Willie Soon, by the New York Times (Gillis & Schwartz, 2015) was on February 21, 2015. They attacked Willie Soon personally. They relied upon false information from Kert Davies (Davies, 2020), the founder of the secretive Climate Investigations Center or CIC. Davies suggested that Willie Soon had a conflict of interest and lied in MSLB15 when he said he didn’t. Davies and the New York Times claimed that Soon had received undisclosed money from ExxonMobil and the Southern Company.

Most of the New York Times article is either wrong or misleading and in our new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History, we address each of their accusations. Here we will just cover a few of the most egregious lies. The basis for the attack was a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to obtain internal documents from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where Soon is employed as an astrophysicist. The FOIA was filed by Davies and Greenpeace.

As he had previously done in 2010 (see our book for details of the 2010 FOIA request), the director, Charles Alcock, made a crucial mistake and ordered Willie Soon to comply with the request. Unlike departments in the Executive branch of the government, a government trust, like the Smithsonian Institution, does not have to comply with FOIA requests. Thus, Alcock’s order is persecution of an employee. Alcock is specifically allowing Davies, the New York Times, and Greenpeace to intimidate and harass one of his employees. The documents (New York Times, 2015) include research proposals from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory that were written by Soon to The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) a leading natural gas and electric utility company, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, and Donor’s Trust.

Science is a process for challenging the consensus view. Science cannot prove anything, the scientific process is about disproving things, particularly consensus opinions. For example, both Copernicus and Galileo disproved the idea that the Sun revolves around Earth. Science uses observations, analysis, and logic to disprove erroneous assumptions made by the public.

The New York Times obviously does not understand this 9th Grade definition of the scientific method and their article asserts:

“The documents shed light on the role of scientists like Dr. Soon in fostering public debate over whether human activity is causing global warming. The vast majority of experts have concluded that it is, and that greenhouse emissions pose long-term risks to civilization.” (Gillis & Schwartz, 2015)

This unsupported assertion is laughably anti-scientific. As we have seen, “the vast majority” or a consensus of scientists is a political thing. A scientist looks at the conclusion of the “vast majority” and asks, “Is that true? How can I test that idea?” Challenging the consensus view is the whole idea of science. A true scientist wants to foster “public debate.”

The premise of the New York Times article is quite disturbing for several reasons. Firstly, they assume the so-called “consensus” view that climate is controlled by humans is true, even though no direct evidence supporting it exists. The computer model projections relied upon by the IPCC are not direct evidence. In fact, MSLB15 suggests the models are not even accurate. Let us not quibble over the words “causing climate change” and “controlling climate.” Everyone agrees that humans have some influence on climate, the debate is over how much. The alarmists clearly believe that CO2 is the “control knob” for climate change (Lacis, Schmidt, Rind, & Ruedy, 2010).

Secondly, they assume that privately funded research, by an established and very credible astrophysicist, working for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is somehow tainted by donations to the Smithsonian. Thirdly, they seem to think that since Soon “has received little federal research money over the past decade” that this somehow makes him inferior to other researchers. All three assumptions are horrible. Do they really think that private companies should not be allowed to fund scientific research? Or, if they do, that the research should be discounted based only on the source of funding?

These views are not only juvenile, they are anti-scientific and possibly violate the free speech portion of the first amendment of the U.S Constitution. It is illegal to attempt to take away a person’s constitutional rights through intimidation or other means (Columbia Law School, 2020).

One of the Smithsonian studies, partially funded, by ExxonMobil, Donor’s Trust and the Southern Company was “Understanding Solar Variability and Climate Change: Signals from Temperature Records of the United States.” For one interested in climate change this would seem to be an important topic to investigate. The checks from these organizations were made out to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory or the Smithsonian Institution (see my book for photocopies of the checks). No money was paid to Willie Soon, who is a government employee and paid a salary. He wrote the proposals for the Smithsonian Institution as one of his duties as a Smithsonian employee (Arnold, 2016).

Science stands on its own, the conclusions either follow from the evidence and analysis presented, or they do not. The study can be replicated, or it cannot. Funding has nothing to do with it. Just because the New York Times reporters cannot understand Soon’s papers, does not mean no one can. Other scientists will read his papers with a properly skeptical eye and let him, or others, know if there is a problem. The papers survive or fail on their own merits.

The first amendment grants people and through them corporations, the right to free speech and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This concept is supported by the Supreme Court in rulings like Citizens United (Smith, 2020). The New York Times article complains that Soon presented his research, funded through the Smithsonian, by the Southern Company, ExxonMobil and the Donor’s Trust, to Congress. Are they saying that Soon and the people who funded some of his research should have their first amendment rights taken away because they disagree with “most” scientists or the New York Times? That is not the way science, or the United States works. In general, the article was anti-science and anti-American.

The scientific community provides a place for scientists to debate ideas. The scientific playground contains thousands of peer-reviewed journals that allow all sides an opportunity to present their data, analysis, and conclusions for inspection. Unfortunately, once politicians and the news media became involved in the human-caused climate change debate it became a disaster. Politicians used personal attacks, suppression of opposing views, ridicule, harassment, and intimidation, rather than reason to push their views on scientists. All of these were used against Willie Soon and his former supervisor Sallie Baliunas. His friends and colleagues, David Legates, Christopher Monckton, and William Briggs, were also attacked unfairly. Politics and a scientifically ignorant news media corrupt science to an unacceptable degree. We are opposed to all government funding of scientific research for this reason. My next post and my new book discuss this viewpoint further.

This is an abbreviated excerpt, with minor modifications, from my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History.

To download the bibliography, click here.

163 thoughts on “The Paper that Blew it Up

  1. We are opposed to all government funding of scientific research
    Is a thoroughly ridiculous statement. Who else could fund fundamental [and expensive] science?

    • Leif, Corporations and private equity. They provide nearly all the useful research funds today. Government research money goes to creating plots for disaster movies and churning manure with powerful computers to generate the same ECS numbers over and over again. Nic Lewis has done more useful climate research on his home PC than the hundreds of billions of government dollars spent over the past 40 years.

      • They provide nearly all the useful research funds today
        Complete Nonsense. And shows deep ignorance. The NSF (look it up if you don’t know what it is) for example funds really fundamental science, that no private person or company would do [no immediate profit]

        • Complete truth, though as a progressive I can understand why you feel the need to close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears in order to avoid this truth.

          • NSF would never willingly finance research that possibly puts holes in consensus science.

            That alone is reason enough that NSF should be disbanded. Leave the taxes with the citizens.

            Besides, NSF should be thoroughly investigated and every contract (grants) they issue should be evaluated against the laws that control/allow those contracts.

        • Leaf:
          Why don’t you list some of the products and/or services that were developed directly from NSF funded research, and tell us how much money the NSF gets each year.

          Traditionally, government spending is high, but results are mediocre. NSF is funded by a transfer of funds from the private sector to the government. What makes you think research HAS to be government funded?

          The research has to be useful, not just scientific papers written at great expense to the taxpayers, that sit on a shelf and collect dust. Not that everything the government does is bad: Our goobermint spent a lot of money to go to the moon in 1969, and came back with some really neat moon dust. And government employee Al Gore invented the internet, or so he claimed.

        • The $100+ billion you are raving about is only about $4 billion a year. NSF spends twice that. NASA’s budget is $23 billion. NOAA’s is $5 billion. Etc. Most of that is useful, and not coming from private or corporate interests.

          • Most of that is useful, and not coming from private or corporate interests.

            By definition this premise is non-sequitur bollox. ALL monies provided by government interests are done so FROM the profits of “private or corporate interests.”

          • Leif
            Not to argue
            But ALL “government” money comes from private and corporate interests.
            The government has no money other than what they take from us.

            I’m not arguing against government funding of science, I’m arguing against the clear politicization of science BY governments.

            Here in Canada it is obvious every time PM Trudeau, an intellectual nullity, proclaims about science

          • Mr. Svalgaard,
            It all comes from corporate and private interests. It’s called taxes. The govt. has no money of its own. It must tax or borrow (or print). Many of us remember Eisenhower’s departing speech as he left the oval office and we are skeptical of the government’s relationships with academia and industry.

          • The government has no money other than what they take from us.

            LOL That’s a good one. I guess you don’t know what public debt is, right? The government only has to create bonds and people will give them the money. Apparently without limits.

          • The government only has to create bonds and people will give them the money.

            Hilarity ensues even further when we note that even with the above argument’s infantile, anti-intellectual genesis in Jerktown, it doesn’t contradict the OP’s premise at all.

            That the people “give them the money” obviously necessarily presupposes the government “takes it from” the people.

          • Where would we be if our Fed Govt hadn’t continued to fund the development of the Wuhan Virus, by sending money to that nice Lab in Wuhan? Thankfully, after some jerks ran that nice Bat Lady out of America, Dr. Fauci had the good sense to send her our money. (It would’ve been bad if he sent a personal check. Much better that he sent our money)
            Oh wait.

        • You’re right, Leif.

          DOE funds all the National Labs that promote basic and applied research across the US.

          Neither the labs themselves, nor any of the basic research carried out there, would be funded otherwise. Chemical companies — Exxon, Chevron, Shell, etc., have all closed their R&D labs. Bell Labs is gone.

          Technology corporations rely on government sponsored research, which is far more wide-ranging and more likely to strike a serendipitous finding than the economically-constrained research carried out in corporate R&D labs.

          None of the research at the National Labs labs has the 5-year economic horizon that restricted corporate research.

          People not involved in science have no idea of the enormous amount of background research that precedes the new products and advances they see, and generally take for granted.

          No one doing research knows where the mother lode of new science and technology lays. But they all have some idea about where to look. Only a few percent finding a breakthrough will more than pay for all the rest. And they’re all looking for it.

          The only way to find the way forward is to fund curiosity-driven research, to let people go where their interest takes them — the informed searching for the new.

          Only the government is able to fund curiosity-driven research.

          The payoff has always been much larger than the cost. The evidence for that is as close as your $400.00 iPhone.

          • Yes governments often become the researcher of last resort for research that has little commercial use currently. That fact seems to get lost in much of the discussion above.

          • The evidence for that is as close as your $400.00 iPhone.

            Well, unless correlation isn’t causation, i.e., unless you’d argue that the iPhone would never have been invented unless government research grants had necessarily caused the impetus for the advances from which it subsequently came into being.

            First, that’s obviously not a falsifiable hypothesis given the iPhone now exists. So you have that against you. Further, that it’s already invented isn’t evidence that it never would’ve, regardless of the Grauniad’s argument otherwise:

            https://tinyurl.com/yypa74dk

            A counter-example would do, e.g., could you cite for me any of the many ancient scientific advancements the Greek’s brought to the world that were originally funded by the state? The advancements in medicine? How about Algebra, and then later from the original Greek system, the system from Al-Khwarizmi of Baghdad?

            Why do we have these groundbreaking ancient scientific advancements without the assistance of the state, and indeed, in some cases, despite the state, if for example one adheres to the common notion that the Roman State vis a vis the Roman Church condemned Galileo for his views on astronomy (there’s modern scholarship that argues agin’ that analysis, but anyway . . . )?

            Isn’t it true that your only real evidence of your position is that the state first extorts funding for scientific research from private institutions, thereby resulting in *some* advancements in various disciplines, therefore, it must be true that government extortion of private funds is the only way in which curiosity-driven research exists?

            And then even if the assumption re: curiosity-driven research is granted, how will you quantify “curiosity-driven” research? Are you able to enumerate exactly those significant historical technological advancements driven solely from curiosity-driven research that were first funded by the state? Surely not the iPhone. Even Bregman in the Guardian article I cited doesn’t argue the iPhone was the result of curiosity-driven research. Neither would Brittanica:

            “Moore and seven colleagues resigned and joined with Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation to form a new company, Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, in Santa Clara, California. In 1957 Fairchild was looking to enter the transistor business, and the “traitorous eight”—as Shockley labeled the defectors—presented themselves as a prepackaged solution. With Fairchild’s financing and investments from each of the founding members, the new company soon emerged as a major transistor manufacturer.”

            https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gordon-Moore

            And secondly, who gives a pffft about iPhone’s anyway?

            I like me Android . . .

            🙂

          • iPhone no. 95% of first iPhone was already available from the chip makers. We saw it years before Jobs & team brought it all together. The genius there was vision and maticulous organisation. Academics love taking the credit for stuff that’s never been near a University. Most academic based fundamental research is self-indulgent and costly some straight criminal waste of OUR money.

          • The iPhone uses lithium batteries, Sy. They were invented in academic labs.

            This National Academy of Engineering study, Grossman, et al. (2001) Contributions of Academic Research to Industrial Performance in Five Industry Sectors J. Technol. Transfer 26, 143–152, doi: 10.1023/A:1007848631448; has this to say:

            Academic research has made substantial contributions in varying degrees to aerospace; financial services; medical devices; network systems and communications; and transportation, distribution, and logistics services. These have ranged from graduates trained in modern research techniques, to fundamental concepts and “key ideas” out of basic and applied research, to the development of tools, prototypes, and marketable products, processes, and services.

            Edwin Mansfield, in (1991) Academic research and industrial innovation Research Policy 20, 1-12, doi: 10.1016/0048-7333(91)90080-A says at the end of a long complex analysis, that,

            Our results, while they do not address the very difficult question of how to allocate the social returns between academic and industrial research, indicate that, without recent academic research, there would have been a substantial reduction in social benefits. This really is what the estimated social rate of return, as defined above, is saying.

            Mansfield looked only at technological outcomes within 15 years of the original research contributions to information processing, electrical equipment, chemicals, instruments, drugs, metals, and oil..

            One can find similar studies of other fields, notably Chemistry.

            At SLAC, where I have direct experience, the strictly academic development of synchrotron radiation sources has provided enormous benefits to chemical/catalytic, medical, and device technologies.

            Most of the academic research contributions to technology and society are invisible, Sy, because they happen well before the technology appears.

            But academic research, in particular, lays the foundational ground-work where all that technology later takes root and grows.

            And it all happens before anyone realizes that there is an economic/technological payoff.

          • It’s basic economics, if government is doing the research and giving it away for free, what company can afford to continue funding it’s own research department.

          • The iPhone uses lithium batteries, Sy. They were invented in academic labs.

            Thanks Pat. I understand your argument, but I might counter by saying the use of lithium batteries by the iPhone can’t presuppose the iPhone wouldn’t exist without them. If it weren’t lithium, then I suspect Apple would’ve used something else.

            Now I don’t know if this is true, it’s your specialty, but if you were to counter the counter by saying, “Well Sy, *all* batteries currently in use on the planet today were created in academic laboratories,” then that might be more convincing. Even then I still don’t see the payoff being “much larger than the cost,” what with nonsense like this going on:

            https://justthenews.com/accountability/waste-fraud-and-abuse/hold-hhs-spends-hundreds-thousands-funding-study-non

          • No doubt there’s waste fraud and abuse in academic research, Sy.

            Given the reports of non-replicable research I’ve read, there’s no doubt about it. Most of it, though, seems to be concentrated in medical (drug) research and perhaps in Psychology.

            Less so in STEM. The politics gets injected when Congress in particular, mandates research priorities and goals.

            I’ve spoken with one or two relatively high people in the arm of the DOE that supports energy science, and asked what is the greatest obstacle to quality research. Their answer was micro-managing by Congress.

            The Congress puts political goals on the NSF or the NIH or DOE. Then people of appropriate politics get placed onto the grant review boards. Grants are awarded in one direction, the research focus gets distorted, and the people who apply for grants quickly learn what buttons they must push to get the money.

            Often, researchers will use a bit of the money granted for politicized project A to do a bit of research on their actual research interest K.

            It can be a mess. Congress should butt out of managing science. NSF, etc., should fund quality curiosity-based proposals in basic science. Serendipity will produce all the progress anyone could want.

            And an end of political pressure will restore some integrity to the research process.

          • Thanks Pat:

            I think you nailed the un-overcomeable problem here:

            The Congress puts political goals on the NSF or the NIH or DOE. Then people of appropriate politics get placed onto the grant review boards. Grants are awarded in one direction, the research focus gets distorted, and the people who apply for grants quickly learn what buttons they must push to get the money.

            As you know, this is Andy May’s point over at his latest article. We can talk about the way things ought to be, but I’m unaware of any objectively verifiable evidence from any time throughout history (so far) where asking the state to be efficient in its operations has resulted in satisfaction for its subjects.

            In this context, by “efficient in its operations” I mean in the sense of granting your premise that the state ought to put “an end [to] political pressure” tied to the resources it doles out to researchers.

            Thanks for the discussion, take care!

          • I’m rather late to the party here…as usual (anymore, my WUWT time is normally spent reviewing and approving comments, rather than actually participating in discussion)…

            But, I tend to agree with Pat, rather than Andy on this one. Businesses / corporations are necessarily interested in research that can generate value to them and their customers. They are not set up to explore knowledge for its own sake.

            Furthermore, with regards to government research and the national lab complex, would we really want private corporations to be responsible for research into nuclear energy (for example)? Being in the industry myself, I’m comfortable with this being the province of the government…even if it tends to be slow as molasses in setting a direction and even slower in achieving a result (uncovering new knowledge). That’s a drawback, certainly, but I believe it’s a necessary “cost” we bear to ensure that every Tom, Dick, and Harry isn’t experimenting with radioactive materials in their basement.

            Plus, the sunk costs of unfruitful research are dispersed more easily by governmental research programs, than they would be from the private sector. One only has to examine the case of Pharmaceutical companies, and the cost of new drugs – which bear the burden of the costs of all those compounds that fail to make it to market – to see this play out.

            On a more philosophical note, my opinions here probably help elucidate why I “identify” as a conservative rather than libertarian. I do think that a small, limited government is best…but I don’t believe we’re better off with everything privatized. Not everything is simply a matter of efficiency and return on investment. I mean, where we draw the line between public and private domains should always be up for discussion, I just don’t instinctually revert to a “privatize everything” opinion.

            All the best.

            rip

        • “The NSF (look it up if you don’t know what it is) for example funds really fundamental science, that no private person or company would do [no immediate profit]”

          Sure. Like string theory which has produced no testable results in 40 years. Most of the physical sciences are simply played out and no longer worth funding. There is a lot left in medicine and biological sciences, but they are funded by NIH.

          • Most of the physical sciences are simply played out and no longer worth funding.

            The view from the late 19th century.

          • Here it is: Albert A. Michelson, speech given in 1894 at the dedication of Ryerson Physics Lab, University of Chicago.

            “The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote… Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.

            No one has precocious knowledge of the extent of future knowledge, Walter. Not even you.

        • Many years ago a relative who worked for Dow pointed out that the basics all came form government funded research, primarily in universities. The chemical company then picked up all the useful basic research. However, in the last 30 years, universities have put a premium on research that could be worked into $$. Thus, basic research which does not have an obvious nearterm payoff has decreased. This is a problem for the longer term.

      • Leif, I know exactly what the NSF is. It is a Democratic Political Advocacy organization, similar to the Union of Concerned Scientists. We all know what privately funded research has done for us, transistors, the internet, cell phones, personal computers and on and on. What has the NSF ever done? Justify their existence if you think so highly of them. Almost twice as much NSF money goes to Democratic states as Republican states. A considerable amount of the money goes overseas, especially to China and into the pockets of democratic activists, like Jagadish Shukla.
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/30/rico20-4-million-nsf-grant-while-shuklas-organization-is-being-dissolved/

        • Andy,

          I think a more apt way to put it would be that the private sector pays for almost all of the research where accountability is a factor.

          The private sector is motivated by profits, the public sector is more likely to be motivated by politics. The former requires accountability, the latter does not.

          I think Leif is correct about the funding of fundamental science.

          • In theory, the government should pay for curiosity based research that might lead to breakthroughs, but probably won’t. They can’t be managed, planned or predicted. When they do occur, society benefits hugely.

            We have the example of medical research where drug companies scour the published research looking for stuff they can turn into profit-making products.

            The drug companies first step is to replicate or reproduce the research. The problem is that as much of 90% of published research findings can’t be reproduced, often even by the original scientists. link

            The problem is that scholars must publish if they want a career. To publish, they must produce interesting results. There is no punishment for being wrong. That pretty much explains the replication crisis.

            So, although the government should promote and finance curiosity based research, the process has been corrupted to the point where it’s nearly useless.

          • “The drug companies first step is to replicate or reproduce the research.”

            Actually, the first step is to drive inexpensive competing medications off the market by making them illegal. Showing correlations with negative outcomes for these competitors is not difficult. Proof of cause and effect is no longer relevant.

          • Where’s the deluge of papers analyzing the usefulness of billions spent on each academic field of fundamental research. There’s little to no accountability. Horror; papers analyzing papers.

          • … usefulness …

            There are whole departments whose output is very low quality and very corrosive to society. example They were allowed to come into existence because of academic freedom. When they achieved a critical mass, they gave birth to cancel culture and destroyed freedom of speech and thought for everyone else. Defund the universities.

            With regard to science and engineering, it’s a crap shoot. Very few papers result in anything useful. On the other hand, we desperately need the ones that do pan out. You can’t predict which ones those will be and if you try to manage the process you pretty much guarantee that they won’t happen. Greatness cannot be planned.

            We have to continue to fund crappy research. Doing otherwise would result in throwing the baby out with the bath water.

          • When my company, Kelly Space & Technology, Inc., had a contract with NASA to to define possible future space architectures, NASA produced a lengthy list of technologies it thought needed to be developed to further space transportation. I sent a team of people on a round-robin tour of all of the NASA centers to query the working troops about these technologies. My people learned that all of them were already at TRL-7 or above, with the results of their development programs sitting on shelves collecting dust. In fact, we learned of TRL-7+ technologies of incredible value that no one outside of NASA has yet heard of to this day. They weren’t all developed by NASA personnel – most had been “developed” (or disclosed) under contract with private companies.

            Some years later, I had dinner with Frank Hoban, a NASA historian of some note. He told me of being tasked by Administrator Dan Goldin, my former boss at TRW, to come up with a “spin-off” story. Frank tasked his team to look at 6,000 technologies which NASA had at various times claimed to have developed. Out of 6,000 case studies, they found that not a single technology had been developed by NASA. Every single one was either a long-established commercial product, developed on industry dollars, and adapted to NASA applications, or something already in development by a private company that NASA promised to buy when it was ready. The entire “spin-off” project was quietly deep-sixed.

            Elon Musk has done more development in the field of space launch since 2001 than NASA has done since 1958, most of it on his own nickel and other private investment. Tonight he launched four astronauts to the International Space Station, and successfully recovered the first stage of his Falcon 9. NASA has been talking about flyback boosters for 50 years, but never even tried to do one. Government engineering R&D has entered an age where no one will try anything. Instead, there is an almost endless “risk reduction phase” in which all development risks are targeted for identification and elimination. The ultimate outcome has become the identification of too many risks to be eliminated, so the elimination phase is cancellation of the program.

            Don’t count on government for any advancement of science or engineering. Where funding of “science” isn’t driven by the lust for power, the funding of “engineering” is driven by Congressional pork politics. It’s a total waste of all funds for research and development. Just look at Pfizer, which took no advance government money for development of its coronavirus vaccine, but is probably going to beat everyone else to market.

        • Andy, I also agree with Leif that fundamental science must be funded by the public governing bodies. Private funding would leave too many holes and unexplored areas because no profit will be seen coming from them. We already see that with the treatment for Third World diseases.

          What we must make sure is that the money doesn’t come with strings attached, like the pursue of certain results or the support of certain positions.

          • Javier,

            I think the most useful argument here is against the notion that government funded science is more trustworthy that private sector funded science.

      • Additionally NIH funds quite a bit of basic research as well as clinical trials that really matter (to especially smaller companies). Also there are benefits through all the indirect funding coming from government assets like Hubble, GEOS and other satellites, military research, communications, energy and the list goes on.

        Granted a lot goes down the rabbit hole, but most of that is political.

        Also B27 –> B17

        • Actually, I missed that error of the B-27 typo and I am very knowledgeable on the B-17. My neighbor flew one in WWII. So I have no excuse. Martin Capages Jr. American Freedom Publications.

        • Yes, biased clinical trials to prevent cheap drugs being used that would prevent the new expensive drug sales.
          Why don’t you take a look at who finances the trials and the Board that makes the decisions.
          Corrupt as hell.

        • Discovering fossil evidence of past microbial life on Mars might not be useful… But it would be WAAAYYYY COOL! 😎

        • NSF: DKIST, LIGO, lots of stuff

          people who say that taxes are private and corporate contributions to science are wrong. That is not what Any meant.

          • The NSF is highly “AGW climate agenda” driven.

            For example they may have seen that the solar cycle values were being used as the obvious reason for the beneficial warming since the LIA….

            …. and found a group of scientists who they PAID to see if they could get rid of some of the variability.

            Are you funded by them, Lief ?

            Is that why you are defending them so vigorously ?

          • I am very dissapointed after going through all of the comments that Mr Svalgaard has been able to give a single example to support his argument.

    • Who funded it before government got into the act?

      BTW, speaking of conflict of interests, here we have Leif defending his own income stream.

      • Who funded it before government got into the act?

        Super-wealthy landowning aristocrats. Like Newton, Cavendish, Darwin, Maxwell, Lavoisier, Edison (whose private mafia destroyed his rival Tesla), and basically all scientists up to the age where government (boo hiss) started to pay for research.

        We’re those the good old days? Children during WW1 less likely to live to 5 years than soldiers survive the trenches? You decide. Is that what you want to go back to? MAGA!

        • So much paranoia and so little actual intelligence. Let me check, yup, hard core progressive eager to display it’s ignorance for all to see.

          Edison’s private mafia? Do you make a habit of making it up as you go? Anyone who thought you could beam practical amounts of power through the air wasn’t playing with a full deck, and it finally caught up with him.

          The fact that life expectancy has increased over the last 200 years is due 100% to private enterprise. It was the free market that created all the wonder drugs and wonder products that have improved everyone’s lives. The only role government has played is to get in the way and leach of those benefits in order to fund a sub-class of professional leeches, such as yourself. Someone who’s only skill in life is whining about how much more you want other people to give you.

        • Mark
          Your Talebanic fanaticism for private versus public is blinding you to reality. The best model is private and government funded working in balance. But you have to see everything as black and white in a desperately simple free market Puritanism. You may not have noticed, but the American model of private wealth generation which feeds an elite within fortresses and walled communities, while the streets are filled by beggars and turds 💩 , is not winning friends and influencing people around the world. Distrust of public officials means the US can’t even do elections any more. If anything, nations are turning to Europe and even China and Russia for examples of states which function efficiently and fairly for all the population. Those turds up and down the sidewalks can be smelt all round the world.

          • I don’t live in a walled community and haven’t seen streets filled by beggars and turds. Even while in San Francisco I didn’t see the beggars and turds. You watch too much BS on TV. And if you will notice, it’s not the red states, but the “progressive” blue states that have the homeless and dirty streets. The true American ideal works and that’s why we have huge numbers of people trying to immigrate to the US at all times. There aren’t that many people from the US trying to move to Europe, China and Russia. Even the celebrities who promised to leave in 2016 still live here.

          • Phil, there is no public private funding working in balance. All he funding comes from private, period. Either they taxes or grandchildren having to pay back borrowed money.

            I think the recent peace deals between Israel and Arab countries backed by US is evidence we are winning friends. More may happen before the year is up.

            When public officials make decision that directly contravene the constitution then we should distrust public officials. The election us a mess because of those very public officials.

            I think the Uighurs in China and people in Hong Kong would disagree with you working fairly for all the population.

            I think the emoji you used accurately describes your post.

          • Mark accused me of being a parasite of public taxpayers money, displaying an ideological view of private-good-public-bad which I wanted to argue is simply not applicable to the real world. Yes private companies can be successful and are the backbone of a capitalist economy with which I have no problem. But to argue that any governmental or “public” entities are both ineffectual and evil is false. The two are so intertwined that it’s hard to draw the line between them. Who collects the garbage for instance. A private company! I hear you crow. OK but who pays them? Probably the local tax funded municipality. So tax money hard-earned by private enterprise goes to the public sector then back to private etc., many times.

            What about the police? A similar story, tax payer funded but supplemented by a lot of private enterprise like the companies making their cars and guns etc. If you so dislike public organisations like the police, then you probably were of one voice with the BLM protesters who demanded to defund the police. What’s not to like about that? – keeping private money away from the public sector. So in Minneapolis they did it and now the demoralised and defunded police aren’t bothering to oppose violent crime any more, many are leaving the force.

            Trust and respect and a sense of collective identity help societies and economies to work in practice. This means respecting a mutual role for public and private.

            In Europe and the UK in particular, privatisation of previously public organisations like railway track management have been disastrous. In the UK the new millionaire managers of private contractors paid public money to run the railways, realised immediately that the best way to cut costs and divert money to shareholders was to stop costly activities which brought no quick profit, such as maintenance of track and equipment. So literally they stopped maintenance. Within half a decade there were a handful of spectacular train crashes where scores of people died.

            Mark’s assumption that I’m a public sector minion is false, I’m a scientist in a private (German-American) company making scientific analytical and imaging equipment. We’re fully private and listed on NASDAQ. But 75% of our business is capital equipment grants from governments to universities. We also sell to pharmaceutical companies and oil industry research labs and other industries such as vehicle manufacturing. But the vast majority is government research funding. In science it’s all like that, and intertwining of public and private.

          • Not believing that government is the answer to all problems is Talebanic.
            Wow, absolutely wow.

            BTW, I notice that you didn’t even bother to respond to any of my refutations of your previous claims. Just dove straight into the insults.

            How progressive of you.

      • Who funded it before government got into the act?

        It was self-funded by scientists, benefactors, or paid by universities. But according to the law of diminishing returns they discovered nearly everything that could be discovered on the cheap. Science is now a lot more expensive and a lot less productive. It will reach a point it will be a luxury we can’t afford. No point in making longer particle colliders already.

        • Javier, what you are really saying is, it requires too much effort for scientists and universities to make the case to individuals to part with their money voluntarily. It is much simpler when one can just ask the government to take it from them.

    • There is lot of science done in Russia and China, by all means not all of it is the first class or even good, but there is a lot of useful stuff, all funded by state and state’s agencies.

      • “and China, by all means not all of it is the first class or even good”

        You mean like research on bat viruses 😷

        • Hi Fred
          Some in the CCP might say it was ‘successful’ beyond their wildest dreams, paralysing most of the west economies and so allowing China to bulldoze its way towards no. 1 which was only at a distant horizon before.

      • Covid19 vaccine development is a supreme beauty contest between the scientific research establishments of many countries. There are two front-running contenders for a vaccine for the world market. The Pfizer mRNA vaccine and Russia’s Sputnik modified adenovirus vaccine.

        And Russia’s Sputnik will win. Mainly because the Pfizer vaccine requires storage at -80 C while Sputnik can be stored at room temperature or just a regular kitchen fridge.

        Of course the USA will do what it does best, which is not science, but mafia coercion and intimidation. Bribes and threats like you’ve never seen will be carried by thick-necked thugs all round the world. But they won’t change the outcome. Russia’s Sputnik will vaccinate much of the world against covid19, while Pfizer’s elite plaything will service the wealthy luvvies in their razor-wire walled communes.

        • Phil, the J&J vaccine is also a modified adeno. And Covid will be about the 10th produced by this proven Jansen platform. It is the one I will take. And needs only standard refrigeration, not dry ice.

        • When the press and some public officials went out off their way to disparage HCQ + zinc we lost an inexpensive effective barrier against covid.

          The shame is their hated for Trump cost us time, money and most of all fellow Americans.

      • Newton was Warden of the Mint – looks like he knew where the money was. He oversaw the Great Re-coinage.
        Today’s Green New Deal with Digital currencies, inflated at a whim, overseen by Mark Carney, seems to be an old tradition.

        As Keynes wrote in Newton’s biography, Newton was not a scientist, rather the last Alchemist.

        Not quite true – Carney is the last Alchemist. He “makes no hypotheses” either.

    • Leif is right.
      It’s ridiculous to make a blanket attack on government funded research in general. Because it accounts for the vast majority of scientific research worldwide. Even what looks private often feeds on government grants substantially.

      Sounds like biting the hand that feeds.

    • “Who else could fund fundamental [and expensive] science?” Folk like Archimedes, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Pasteur, Darwin, Mendeleev, Lister, Edison, Tesla, Gates, Jobs and many others got by without massive Government funds at their disposal.

      • In every single case follow the money trail.
        Archimedes hired by the King, Newton was Warden of the Mint, Pasteur hired to save the beer industry…
        In Jobs case – did Apple ever pay US taxes? Sounds like Government support.

    • It should say: We are opposed to all government funding of scientific research where politicians play a direct role in the funding decisions. The funding should be decided on the basis of scientific merit, which these people cannot judge, and not based on political considerations. For that, one would need a council composed of scientists with a serious track record in the field (at least 300 peer-reviewed publications in major scientific journals)? Appointments to this council should also be limited in time. The money should be granted by the government to this council without any conditions regarding the funding decisions.

    • The problem is the government in the equation obviously. I think also that to say being opposed to all funding is a bit absolute
      Not all issues are a matter of ideology or political agenda

      Though Butterflies 40k, butterflies and climate change 400k, an ideological and political sell refilling trough of cash was set out for this shite. It came in the 100s, garbage paper after garbage paper. Hiring frenzies of like minded ideologues. In terms of climate change at least, government funding was used to open the door to government turning on the green faucet.

      The damage that has caused already is hard to calculate in material and human cost.

      The government and its advisors are incompetent almost always. Its almost always bureaucracy rotten and stale.

      On matters of global scientific import, government should absolutely NOT get involved in funding.
      It should be an organisation that does not have one politician in it.!!!

      Government can fund energy research, sure, agriculture research, sure. Those are investments in the future of the country. Better materials for building. Engineering. sure.

      Sciences for global policy, no, the research you fund can affect every other country, like the misuse of climate papers for already desired policies and actions (I wonder if that could ever happen?)

    • Those who perceive possible profit from the new knowledge gained is one group that springs to mind immediately. Do you really believe that governments have been responsible for invention and human progress?

      The sole purpose of government is to protect it’s citizens from each other and foreign invasion. All of the responsibilities and authority they, those who rule, have assumed have been for the advancement of their control of the commoners. Any reading of human history in any nation or culture will illustrate that fact to anyone with an open mind.

  2. If you’re taking flak, you’re over the target. Willie has probably taken more flak than the rest of the skeptical scientific community, combined.

    Great work Andy! Is your book available in bookstores? Amazon is on the long list of companies my wife and I are now boycotting.

    • “If you’re taking flak, you’re over the target” is simply wrong. In WW2 the Luftwaffe had heavy concentrations of Flak along the coast that any RAF stream attacking the Ruhr would have to pass over. Leiden was especially notorious. Frequently Flak was withdrawn from target areas to allow the night fighters to get easy victories.

        • I am not sure which point you are disputing, but the Flak concentrations, especially at Leiden would have been well known to them. As to Flak sometimes being withdrawn from targets,
          https://tailendcharlietedchurch.wordpress.com/tail-end-charlie-ted-church/rear-gunner-sentinel-of-the-skies/
          describes a bombing run with FW190s attacking the bombers. If there was Flak present the night fighters would not have been there.

          How many did you speak to? When were they flying? What targets were they attacking? Flying in Bomber Command in 1943 was totally different to 1945.

          • Harry, The stories I heard from my relatives, mostly passed now, flew over Berlin and other areas of Germany in WWII in 1944 and 1945. If they knew about the Leiden AA batteries, I don’t remember them mentioning it. But they caught a lot of flak when they were near Berlin. Those were the stories they told. They also had to fight off a lot of fighter planes and the Germans had radar by then which made things worse. They started flying the B-17’s after D-Day if that makes any difference. They were stationed in England.

          • Harry Davidson, I can’t speak personally about flak location in WW2, but my experience in Vietnam (1969), flying backseat in OV-10 Bronco, says that the real guns were almost always directly guarding something important. ZSU-23’s were sometimes positioned in an “ambush” location, for instance along an obvious ingress route to a battle site, but almost always were directly guarding an important location.

          • So Harry we devolve now to where even colloquial expressions need to be fact checked and the underlying meaning dismissed?

        • Anyway, regardless of the accuracy of its WWII provenance, the meaning is clear, and accurate in context. Let’s not quibble!

          • Yep.

            If you are taking flak, you are over the target.

            Is effectively the same as…

            “If you have FW190’s chewing your @$$ off, you are over the target.”

            Also… The fact that a commonly attributed quote might be misattributed, doesn’t alter the quote or the common attribution.

    • “Willie has probably taken more flak than the rest of the skeptical scientific community, combined.”

      Seems like those attacking him must be racists.

      • Seems like those attacking him must be racists.

        They absolutely are. In today’s Alice in Wonderland of progressive morality, anything with dark skin is a holy cow but it’s open season on Chinese, Russians, Iranians and the growing list of officially sanctioned racial enemies. But BLM – we’re not racist! It’s called moral licensing.

  3. “Global Warming” and “Climate Change” are brands of apocalypse and nothing more.

    Sadly they’re not even as high quality as MEGA CONSTRUX building blocks and ABI ADS sports wear.

  4. As discussed in our last post, the complexity of modern models has not changed the estimated climate sensitivity to CO2 or made it more accurate. The 1979 Charney Report model computed the same range of sensitivity to CO2 as AR5 reported in 2013. This range (1.5° to 4.5°C) has survived intact for forty years despite the efforts of thousands of researchers spending over one-hundred billion U.S. 2014 dollars between 1993 and 2015 (U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2016) in the U.S. alone.

    Uh, isn’t most of that billions and billions spent on the hardware necessary to put all those climate satellites up and other expensive stuff?

    • Steve, Probably. Any estimate of the cost of climate change research is going to be affected by the rules they set. Weather satellites and solar satellites might have been justified just on the need to improve weather predictions and for military needs. They might have been launched regardless of the climate change scare. Same is true for ARGO. But, remember the 100B$ mentioned in the post is just for direct research, it does not include subsidies and tax breaks for solar and wind all over the world, or the research funded in Europe and Asia. Military-industrial complex be damned, the climate-industrial complex is worse and even more useless.

      • Thanks for the reply. I have kept up with the budget requests for the U.S. Global Change Research Program Last entry in my file is:
        YEAR….BILLIONS
        2016….3.406
        I’ll have to check to see what it is today
        God Bless President Trump, it’s
        2.4 $Billion for 2019.
        https://www.globalchange.gov/about/budget

        I don’t know how much of that is spent on the models, but I expect it’s not a large fraction. If you know different, I stand to be educated. Anyway I posted that because, sure as God make little green apples, the other side will scream, “Exaggeration, models don’t cost $100 Billion.” And imply that everything else you say can be dismissed out of hand.

        I am critical of our side 1. Buying into their bullshit and 2. Spewing our own bullshit. I’m sure the facts are on our side, so as Joe Friday said, “Just the facts.”

      • Andy,

        For many years, the Air Force maintained a duplicate set of weather satellites that NOAA had no access to. That started changing in the late 90s when more cooperation was mandated and DODs budget was not quite as fat.

  5. The claim that Dr. Soon had a conflict of interest has been well and thoroughly refuted elsewhere.
    I’ll deal with the hypocrisy of a journalist who seeks to discredit a paper written by 5 scholars, by trying to throw mud on one of the authors.

    • MarkW, Even worse, the article didn’t mention a single word about Soon’s research itself. Most articles at the time were the same, they were only written to slander him personally. Although you are correct, the slander has been refuted, it is still often repeated. There is a lot more in the book. I found that the slander of Soon was central to the history of the climate change debate. This was largely due to the quality of his work and its impact. He simply carried much more weight than most of the other skeptics, so he received the most flak. Also, Soon (from my book) “just wanted to talk about the science.” They never published his arguments, of course. Journalists are, by and large, pretty dim bulbs.

  6. Why has WUWT gone all-in mental masturbation about lukewarmism?

    Andy May writes an article on falsifiable hypotheses with no falsifiable hypotheses in it (since they don’t exist in climate bullsh!t science).

    Dave Middleton writes an article that has some gibberish yammerers having an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 9C to appease the fcuking total nitwit that is loydo.

    “climate” is way more than the turd in humanity’s collective swimming pool. Let’s call a turd a turd. It’s not even rolled in glitter.

    Fred, could you please take it from here before I get a ban?

    • Phil, Don’t get all upset about our difference of opinion. Science is all about debate and arguing. In a perfect world the person with the best data and analysis wins and we all get smarter. Debate and questioning things helps us all, at least until someone forces us to drink hemlock, anyway.

      • It’s not a difference of opinion actually (other than on the definition of a falsifiable hypothesis ha ha). I pretty much agree with everything you say. It’s just the way that we’re going to have to do this that has to change.

        Strangely, since I have the “correct” two kids (in their 20s), I actually have my opinions for the children and their children and the future of the planet, including being not good, but fabulous stewards of the environment in the face of the vile kleptocracy.

    • Most of here believe in following the science.
      The science shows that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that helps to trap heat in the atmosphere.
      A very weak one, but a green house gas none the less.

      You don’t refute bad science by throwing out worse science, which is what the sky dragons attempt to do.

      • Sorry, big error here. CO2 does NOT trap heat (random motion of the particles comprising a body). It RE-RADIATES infra-red light back to the Earth’s surface.

        If ECS is a very small number indistinguishable from zero, why are we bothering about it?

        • It is a small number, it is distinguishable from zero. The fact that CO2 slows down the rate at which energy escapes from the system means the energy density has increased, and hence the temperature has also increased.

      • You’re doing it again MarkW.

        It’s a strawman.

        The baseline starts at 280 ppm.

        So you might have said “The science shows that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that helps to trap heat in the atmosphere above 280ppm.
        A very weak one above 280ppm, but a green house gas none the less.”

        Which would be an incorrect statement, because no science has ever shown this. You’re the purveyor of the bad science.

        • No strawman, just basic science, the kind you aren’t emotionally equipped to handle.

          Science has shown that CO2 traps heat.
          That isn’t even debatable.

          • Sorry Mark, but there is no science that shows that CO2 levels above 280ppm have any effect on global temperature or any other climate parameter.

            These are facts and have nothing to do with emotion. The strawman is that you believe that the ” CO2 traps heat” extends to the current Earth’s atmosphere when there is zero evidence for that.

            I’m hitching my boat to Feynman and Einstein on this.

            …. and just so you know, if you can find any evidence of the above, I’m perfectly capable of dealing with it emotionally. I’ve been a professional scientist, dealing with great, shit and everything in-between data for 40 years.

      • Have you answered Fred’s questions yet. He’s only asked you about 30 times, but I could have missed your answers which, of course, would be laughable. I’m sure.

  7. ECS is Zero, i.e. 0.

    The … “computational tea-leaves” that CIMP have no physical basis in epistemological objective reality, … merely … phantasmagoria of psychopaths and sociopaths.

    The Earth’s varied atmospheres over 4.5 billion years of Geologic History that have evolved into what we have in the Holocene, and even in this moment in reality, have ignored the content variations of CO2.

    Ha!

    Cheers,
    Reg

    • It is the most recent version from John Christy. I wouldn’t want to try and make one myself, you wouldn’t believe how much work goes into that graph.

      • Anthony put a more recent graph in a comment about a year ago. El Ninos reduced the divergence from 2015 to 2019, somewhat reducing the claim that the models run too hot. A LaNina this winter will improve its optics…

  8. Love your articles Andy – please keep up the good work. I carry your graph of the earth’s temperature over the last 550 million years on my phone and show it to folk who don’t realise that the earth is in a particularly cold period now (because all they hear from the media is ‘global warming’) or that the average temperature over this time span is closer to 19ºC than 14ºC. One guy I was showing it to was amazed by it – “I had no idea about this” was his comment. I live in the UK and most folk over here have no grasp of the basic science and are brainwashed by the lefty woke brigade at the BBC.

    Please keep on keeping on.

  9. Andy May:

    You said 2.2 deg C (4 deg. F). Actually, it is 35.96 deg F, according my computer calculator, which is quite a big deal.

    Otherwise, a good post.

      • Andy May:

        I am still confused.

        You had written “CO2 feedback-based estimate of the climate sensitivity to CO2 was reduced from 3.2 deg. C. (5.8 deg F) to 2.2 deg. C (4 Deg. F) per doubling of CO2 concentration.

        Doesn’t that mean, that if the CO2 concentration doubles, there will be an increase in average global temperatures of 2.2 Deg. C.? That would be an increase of 36 Deg. F., so that a current pleasant mid-summer day of 80 Deg. F would rise to a nearly unbearable 116 Deg. F? A very big deal!

  10. A little ancient history about NSF from having a large study, published 1971 on research done in 1965-66 partly funded by it and others before in graduate school and later, all parts of larger projects. My recollection is that it was an idealistic program based on WWII success, significant money not put in until Sputnik (1957). There were much fewer strings attached, researchers had more freedom than what developed, somewhat of a crony system with members of institutions rotating as NSF reviewers, similar to the EPA problem. I would bet that if you looked at most, if not any field, you would see more conformity now, not altogether wasted, but top (or similar) down management.

    That, more complicated, evolution I would argue is what led to a lot of current problems, less freedom of thought, research risk and much less about problem solving. Since it was government money, politics, not so steadily, began its dominance. Based on early political sniping about projects, some probably realistic, less money overall might have been wasted than if hadn’t happened, Still find innovation though, must be less from NSF funding, private running into other problems. Like snobbery about applied science.

    • HD, Sounds like what my research found. The government money is dispersed with strings. You better come to the conclusion I want or you don’t get any more money. You can have as much as you want, as long as you support my agenda. NSF science is almost all useless.

    • I looked into NHF funding, and have also reviewed for them. Their model, at least in the 1990’s was ‘contract research’: you proposed a bunch of experiments and received further funding on the basis of finishing them. The problem in basic science is that not infrequently an experiment leads to a change in direction or focus. There was no provision for this. I remember one grant I reviewed in which a tedious serious of experiments had been completed in a situation where a radical change in direction would have been more rational. However, the applicant had fulfilled the previous contract and got the score for that despite the fact that 2/3 of the series were just done to fulfill the contract. It was a stark contrast with canadian NSERC, where what you acheived was important, and if you had to change horses in midstream, you did not suffer. I decided not to apply to NSF, because I valued my freedom.

  11. Reporters and politicians alike should all read this statement and sign documents that they have both read and clearly understand it.

    “Science stands on its own, the conclusions either follow from the evidence and analysis presented, or they do not. The study can be replicated, or it cannot. Funding has nothing to do with it. Just because the New York Times reporters cannot understand Soon’s papers, does not mean no one can. Other scientists will read his papers with a properly skeptical eye and let him, or others, know if there is a problem. The papers survive or fail on their own merits.”

    Neither funding sources, subject matter, or researchers leads to a determination of a paper being wrong. Only the evidence, analysis and direct conclusions can do so. Reporters and politicians should be attacked the same way they attack others, with ad hominems until the cows come home.

  12. Leif
    Andy May is right in suggesting grant money for scientific research should come from the private sector.
    Government money cannot be presented without bias. And as the world has seen when it gets fixated on one project it is unable to judge defeat.
    And will keep pouring in funds, essentially from taxpayers.
    Who are involuntarily forced into risky deals. As as we have seen with wind and solar energy schemes.
    In the 1500s, the Fugger Bank was huge and in the late 1500s published a financial newsletter.
    At the time there were many alchemists who ironically always needed money to turn lead into gold.
    One publication condemned “alchymists” and noted that it was mainly governments that were gullible enough to put taxpayers money into such speculations.
    Of course, today’s equivalent to alchemy is the fake wizardry of interventionist central banking.
    A subject for another day.

  13. Andy, thanks for defending Dr. Willie Soon, who is a great astrophysicist and honest, clear thinker. Not all scientists are trying to prove something is not right. If I tried to prove there was not any gold in an area by drilling a barren hole my career would not be so rewarding (same with David and black gold). One more comment: the NSF has wandered off into social science, so now it is the NSSF.

  14. Government scientists in the agencies known to the general public, are in fact near worthless. NASA has not not any real science in decades and its most useful enterprises are now in private hands. NOAA is a political hack base , where grievance studies majors vie with climate “scientists” to see who is more uneducated. The CDC has proven itself a hot bed of political hacks that could not make it in the private sector but, amazingly, are allowed to profit off of their very position from that sector. The FDA likewise it a nest of graft seekers and charlatans. What they all have in common is that all of these employees are parasites, sucking the blood out of America and producing nothing in return.

  15. Andy, many thanks. I am still on the battlefield, but older so only now occasionally firing for affect.
    Monckton’s ‘Irreducibly simple’ equation was ‘impeccable’ mathematically (albeit further irreducible), but his physical parameters sometimes pushed the credible. In that give and take long ago over at Judy’s, as you repeat, I think we got closer to truth. Thank you for resurrecting my stuff.

    • Rud, Thanks for the kind words. No post or journal article is perfect. But, any post or article that helps advance our understanding is valuable. MSLB15, your post, and Lord Monckton’s reply did that. I just tried to drive that point home.

  16. I seem to recall someone saying.
    “The Government can not give you anything. The Government can only give you something that they have taken away (or borrowed) from somebody else.”
    And – sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.
    Governments have been trying to come up with nuclear fusion reactors for over 50 years. But, as with orphan
    Annie, it’s always 5 years away.

  17. … the timing suggests that a Science Bulletin article … (Monckton, Soon, Legates, & Briggs, 2015) was Davies’ concern.

    That’s probably giving Kert Davies way too much credit for having any appreciation for science papers. More likely, he was simply concerned that Dr Soon authored SOMETHING that would undermine the IPCC / Al Gore world of global warming. In order to steer the public away from anything Dr Soon wrote, Davies had to regurgitate yet another variation of the “crooked AGW skeptic scientists” accusation, because that’s just what Davies had long done already. Quoting from my own guest post here at WUWT ( https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/10/14/the-automatic-climate-lawsuit-generator/ where I dissected one of the latest global warming lawsuits while noting Davies’ ‘material’ cited in it ) seventh paragraph from the end:

    At the time in February 2015, after the strange and unexplained departure of Kert Davies from Greenpeace, his sudden reemergence in the media blitz was a surprise enough to me that I wrote a GelbspanFiles blog post titled “Kert Davies is Back. Again.” The startup of his Climate Investigations Center website made no sense to me in 2014, but my view changed upon my discovery of his related “Climate Files” website and how that could apparently be used as a vehicle to supply global warming lawsuits with material under a name that looks much more benign than one plagued with anti-fossil fuel industry bias like “Greenpeace.”

    • Thanks for the Link Russell. I will study your post and the links in it tomorrow. I missed it somehow. Something really stinks in Delaware. I could never get to the bottom of it, but Greenpeace, Kert Davies, John Passacantando, Sheldon Whitehouse, Raul Grijalva and their buddies at George Mason University stink to high heaven. Dollars to donuts that some of the NSF money funneled to Jagadish Shukla and Edward Maibach and friends at George Mason makes its way to Senator Whitehouse’s pockets. I put what I was comfortable with in the book, but there is more to the story than I could verify.

  18. I keep this statement unclear: “This was because the IPCC central, CO2 feedback-based, estimate of the climate sensitivity to CO2 was reduced from 3.2°C (5.8°F) to 2.2°C (4°F) per doubling of CO2 concentration.”

    A fact is that according to AR5, the ECS of the IPCC is likely in the range of 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high
    confidence). I think that the ECS value of 2.2°C is entirely from MSLB15. The IPCC did not report the central or average value of the ECS – only the range. Of course, it is relatively simple to calculate the average and it is not 3.2°C but 3.0°C.

    And by the way, I repeat once again, the ECS is not the right choice to estimate the temperature trend for this century as the IPCC clarifies and I fully agree but it is the TCS/TCR.

    • Antero, AR5 did not report a central value because the various methods of computing ECS disagreed a lot! My book explains all of this more thoroughly. What MSLB15 did was compute ECS in the same way it was computed in AR4, it came out to 2.2, not 3.2, due to changes in the water vapor feedback calculation. The changes were to make the backcast of temperatures match observations better. But they did not change their forecast. Anyway as explained in the paper and in my book, you don’t average 1.5 and 4.5 to get the mid value of 3, that is incorrect. If you add forcing, the proper way is to average the forcing, if you do that the midpoint temperature is much lower than the average temperature. It isn’t 3, it is much closer to 2. You need to read my book.

      • Here’s a good analogy:

        P50 (and P90, Mean, Expected and P10)

        When probabilistic Monte Carlo type evaluations are adopted, this is a statistical confidence level for an estimate.

        P50 is defined as 50% of estimates exceed the P50 estimate (and by definition, 50% of estimates are less than the P50 estimate). It is a good middle estimate. Mean and Expected (same level of measure just different names) usually lie about the P40-P30 levels in oil field evaluations and are therefore high estimates. P90 and P10 are low and high estimates respectively.

        P90 means 90% of the estimates exceed the P90 estimate. It does not mean that the estimate has a 90% chance of occurring – that is a very different concept.
        The central limit theorem indicates that the P50 estimate has more chance of occurring than the P90 and P10 estimates.

        https://www.cooperenergy.com.au/our-operations/glossary/p50-and-p90-mean-expected-and-p10

        Depending on the shape of the distribution, P50 is usually significantly less than P mean. There’s a hard boundary for P100. It’s the “Dean Wormer Line” (zero-point-zero). The distribution is rarely symmetrical. It is normally skewed towards P0, the high side.

        http://www.intaver.com/images/RP_Forum_Mean.png

        The temperature observations have generally tracked around P90. They usually only touch P50 during strong El Niño cycles.

    • Yep… TCR is the one that gets noticed. The delta between ECS and TCR will be buried in the noise level of the climate signal.

  19. It is easy to find different values for all major key figures of AR5. For example in Table 9.5 is a summary of 30 AOGCMs. The model means of these AOGCMs are RF 3.7 W/m2 (same as Myhre et al.), ECS 3.2 C, and TCR 1.8 C.

    An essential feature is a huge range of results. In any other science, it would mean that the science behind the results is very fragile but according to the IPCC the accuracy or confidence (the IPCC term) is “very high”. Indeed. All this shows the arrogance of the climate establishment. They have total hegemony in the scientific literature and in the main media.

  20. This is an illuminating but depressing article.

    MSLB15 was released almost six years ago.
    If President Trump is to be remembered for one signal failure, it should be for his failure to tackle the influence of the UN and the climate alarmists.

    Stepping back from the Paris Agreement was a start but it should not have been the end. The free-world will suffer from his failure to win hearts and minds by tackling the alarmists’ 24/7 propaganda.

    I find it intensely saddening.

  21. One wonders why the IPCC is so sure that humans control the climate with their greenhouse gas emissions, when the impact of the main greenhouse gas, CO2, is so poorly understood?

    I suggest you read the terms of reference that are the founding principle of the IPCC.

    The IPCC is not set up to determine whether or not anthropogenic climate change exists, but to assess its effects on human and natural society in order to issue guidance to governments. It is 100% a political think-tank and always was.

    It uses the old salesman’s trick “Let’s not discuss whether or not you want to buy, but move on to arguing over the price” of the ‘assumptive close’ .

    To put it bluntly, questioning whether it exists is outside their remit: that is simply taken as fact. In the same way that Marxism will never engage in debates about whether history is in fact a narrative of oppression: they assume it is, and then move on to examine it using that metric. And naturally, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail…

  22. Having read a lot of the discussion here I’ve come to the conclusion that both Upton Sinclair and Many Rice-Davies apply to the arguments in favour of the current Status Quo.

  23. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with Bull…” Not found attributed to W. C. Fields before 2005.

    • You are assuming that the Green Movement wishes to continue pretty much as now but without CO2 emitting fossil fuels. This is a fundamental error. They don’t give a rat’s ass about CO2; what is in their sights is western civilisation. They want to end the use of fossil fuels because that is what underpins that civilisation.

      If their genuine concern was about the damage that CO2 does — for which there is no scientific basis — they would be going all out for nuclear power generation, not the bird-munching, bat-killing, forest-clearing, environment-destroying “renewables” which can NEVER, EVER provide the 24/7 uninterruptible power supply that comes from coal, gas, and nuclear.

      It really is as straightforward as that. And until we challenge them head-on on those grounds we will continue to lose the only fight that matters.

  24. From the article: “Figure 1. John Christy’s famous graph comparing the AR5 IPCC climate models to weather balloon and satellite observations for the mid-troposphere. The satellite and weather balloon observations are independent of one another and surface measurements. From Christy’s 2016 Congressional testimony (Christy, 2016).”

    Yeah, and the comparison between the real temperatures and the computer-generated temperature forecasts would look even worse, if a Bogus, Bastardized Modern-era Hockey Stick chart (HADcrut4) had not been used for comparison. This particular bogus Hockey Stick chart downplays the warm Early Twentieth Century, which was just as warm as it is today.

    Why do skeptics play on the field the alarmists have created: The Bogus Hockey Stick chart? The deck is already stacked against you doing it that way. You have accepted a lie and are arguing within that lie when you do that. You are not arguing reality, rather, you are arguing science fiction.

    We have a written temperature record that refutes the Bogus Hockey Stick chart, and the Bogus Human-caused Climate Change claims of the alarmists, based on the Bogus Hockey Stick chart. Skeptics ought to start making that argument.

    The Bogus Hockey Stick chart is a made-up scam. People should say so in no uncertain terms.

  25. Earth’s climate is self regulating even though there are an ice age from time to time it recovers.

    Attacking someone through their employer is not science but it is cowardly and defines the truth of their cause.

  26. The biotechnology revolution in the last 40 years began with research on how bacteria resist bacterial viruses. That research discovered restriction endonucleases which made genetic engineering possible. No one, and I mean no one, would have claimed there would ever be any commercial value derived from understanding how bacteria resist their viruses. Curiosity based research to answer fundamental questions is essential for progress, and no company is going to pay for it. Climate science is the only major research field of which I am aware that is seriously compromised by a political narrative that constrains and controls science. Biomedical research has a few particular topics in which this can occur, but in general, we are free to find what we can find and to put forward any hypothesis that can be supported by data and/or a new intellectual construct that allows us to see data differently. Just because one does not understand the potential value of a particular line of research does not indicate it will not eventually have great practical value. Just one more thought. One commenter said that NSF funded researchers should be accountable to the taxpayers. You would not believe how much accountability scientists must deal with. We spend almost half of our time on administrative matters that are required to keep our labs running and to meet compliance requirements. I can tell you where every penny of federal $$ I have used went and why the costs were legitimate. We have to be ready for that, because we get audited from time to time.

  27. Those who perceive possible profit from the new knowledge gained is one group that springs to mind immediately. Do you really believe that governments have been responsible for invention and human progress?

    The sole purpose of government is to protect it’s citizens from each other and foreign invasion. All of the responsibilities and authority they, those who rule, have assumed have been for the advancement of their control of the commoners. Any reading of human history in any nation or culture will illustrate that fact to anyone with an open mind.

  28. “So, the alarmist cabal initially said that Science Bulletin was an obscure journal, therefore the paper cannot be any good. Predictably, that didn’t work, besides, the Science Bulletin is the Chinese version of Nature or Science.”

    Not to quibble, but Nature and Science used to be credible journals, but for a decade or more they have produced a great steaming pile of global warming alarmist falsehoods and have earned negative credibility.

    Science Bulletin should not be compared to such worthless screed as Nature and Science.

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