The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dangerous and Dishonest

The most dangerous and dishonest of all documents is a political treatise that claims to be a scientific study. That's what we see in last week's much ballyhooed White House report on climate change. Most scientific studies (that is, those that reflect real science) are carefully measured, noting areas of uncertainty, indicating the scope and probable inaccuracies of data collected. They present a hypothesis, but clearly recognize that others will examine it critically and that clear and compelling real-world data must be presented to support it. A true scientific document presents all countervailing evidence enabling the reader to accurately assess areas of uncertainty.

That's not what we see in the White House document. Clearly designed to unnecessarily frighten the public, the White House report on climate change was quickly parroted by Obama's trained hamsters in the media—no critical analysis, no examination of the claims, no countervailing facts—nothing. Except a sky-is-falling tone that is clearly intended to rush through ill-advised and unproven "solutions"—something the Obama's government (and sadly, the government of other presidents) has done frequently and with catastrophic effect (i.e., high cost, low efficiency, broken promises).

The White House would have us believe that severe weather events are far more common, all due to "climate change." Their problem is that there are a few pesky facts that get in the way. Investor's Business Daily comments:
... according to the government's own records — which presumably the White House can get — severe weather events are no more likely now than they were 50 or 100 years ago and the losses of lives and property are much less devastating.

Here is what government data reports and top scientists tell us about extreme climate conditions:

• Hurricanes: The century-long trend in Hurricanes is slightly down, not up. According to the National Hurricane Center, in 2013, "There were no major hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin for the first time since 1994. And the number of hurricanes this year was the lowest since 1982."

According to Dr. Ryan Maue at Weather Bell Analytics, "We are currently in the longest period since the Civil War Era without a major hurricane strike in the U.S. (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5)"

• Tornadoes: Don't worry, Kansas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there has been no change in severe tornado activity. "There has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years."

• Extreme heat and cold temperatures: NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index of unusually hot or cold temperatures finds that over the last 10 years, five years have been below the historical mean and five above the mean.

• Severe drought/extreme moisture: While higher than average portions of the country were subjected to extreme drought/moisture in the last few years, the 1930's, 40's and 50's were more extreme in this regard. In fact, over the last 10 years, four years have been below the average and six above the average.

• Cyclones: Maue reports: "the global frequency of tropical cyclones has reached a historical low."

• Floods: Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., past chairman of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Weather Forecasting and Analysis, reports, "floods have not increased in the U.S. in frequency or intensity since at least 1950. Flood losses as a percentage of U.S. GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940."

• Warming: Even NOAA admits a "lack of significant warming at the Earth's surface in the past decade" and a pause "in global warming observed since 2000." Specifically, NOAA last year stated, "since the turn of the century, however, the change in Earth's global mean surface temperature has been close to zero."

Pielke [past chairman of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Weather Forecasting and Analysis] sums up: "There is no evidence that disasters are getting worse because of climate change. ... It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate time scales either in the U.S. or globally."
These facts represent an inconvenient truth (to coin a phrase). Because the report does not emphasize them, we see yet another example of dishonesty by the Obama administration—this time using using the mantle of science as a cover for a political agenda.

UPDATE (5/15/2014):

The Times (U.K.) reports:
A leading climate scientist has resigned from the advisory board of a think-tank after being subjected to what he described as “McCarthy”-style pressure from fellow academics.

Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, said the pressure was so intense that he would be unable to continue working and feared for his health and safety unless he stepped down from the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s academic advisory council.
Bengtsson had the temerity to question the scientific basis of some global warming claims. His inconvenient questions are unacceptable when "the debate is settled" and when answers to those questions are not easy to provide because there is no clear climate science to provide those answers. This is what happens when politics and leftist ideology infect scientific inquiry. Science is diminished.

It's fascinating to hear the Left decry McCarthy tactics when they were the victims, but are now perfectly willing to use the same tactics (think: "deniers") against those who disagree with their worldview.

UPDATE-II (5/15/2014):

Bengtsson made the suggestion that climate models be validated against past historical data, indicating that the models have trouble predicting know historical data. That's heresy for those who practice the climate change religion.

And this comment on the Bengtsson story from Rupert Darwall:
Especially significant was a tweet [condemning Bentsson] from Gavin Schmidt, a leading climate modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute, who for many years worked alongside James Hansen. “Groups perceived to be acting in bad faith should not be surprised that they are toxic within the science community,” Schmidt tweeted. “Changing that requires that they not act in bad faith and not be seen to be acting in bad faith.”

Evidently the right to practice and discuss climate science should be subject to a faith test. It is an extraordinarily revealing development. Fears about unbelievers’ polluting the discourse, as some academics put it, illustrate the weakness of climate science: The evidence for harmful anthropogenic global warming is not strong enough to stand up for itself.

Inadvertently Schmidt’s tweet demonstrates how far climate science has crossed the boundary deep into pseudo-science. Karl Popper observed of the trio of pseudo-sciences prevalent in 1920s Vienna that their followers could explain why non-believers rejected their manifest truths. For Marxists, it was because of their class interests. For subscribers to Freudian psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler’s psychology, non-belief was evidence of unanalyzed repressions crying out for treatment. So it is with climate science. Only the pure of heart should be allowed an opinion on it.

Science regresses if it becomes intolerant of criticism. At the beginning of her reign, Queen Elizabeth I of England spoke words of tolerance in an age of religious strife, declaring that she had no intention of making windows into men’s souls. Unlike religion, science is not a matter of the heart or of belief. It exists only in what can be demonstrated. In their persecution of an aged colleague who stepped out of line and their call for scientists to be subject to a faith test, 21st-century climate scientists have shown less tolerance than a 16th-century monarch.

There is something rotten in the state of climate science.
Something rotten indeed.

UPDATE (5/16/2014):
In a follow-on article The Times (U.K.) reports:
Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause, it was claimed last night.

In an echo of the infamous “Climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia, one of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.
Since two expert scientists, Al Gore and Barack Obama, have told us that "the [climate] debate is over" I'm sure they'd approve of the suppression of countervailing scientific evidence as both appropriate and necessary.