Oh no! Climate panel might include skeptics!


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According to this Washington Post article, the Trump administration is considering naming some skeptical climate scientists to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, something that the newspaper, the global warming crowd, and some EPA employees apparently consider a horrible taboo.

[T]he inclusion of a handful of climate contrarians has caused early concern among environmental groups and some employees at the agency. “We should be able to trust that those who serve the EPA are the all-stars in their fields and committed to public service,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said the upcoming round of appointments will test whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is “remotely interested” in independent scientific advice. “He already has a parade of lobbyists and advisers providing him with the perspectives from oil, gas, and chemical companies. The Science Advisory Board is a check on political influence and can help the agency determine whether the special interests are telling it straight.”

What I find really hilarious in reading the article is its description of the various skeptics, almost all of which are qualified climate scientists. The article quotes their skeptical positions as if these positions are the insane ravings of an idiot, but everything these skeptics say is accurate and well documented by research over the past century. For example, there is this quote:

Another scientist, Craig Idso, is chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, where he has written that “the modern rise in the air’s CO2 content is providing a tremendous economic benefit to global crop production.”

Yet another scientist, Richard Keen, is a meteorologist and author who traveled with the Heartland Institute to Rome in 2015 for a “prebuttal” to Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change. There, he argued that “in the past 18 years and how many months, four months, there has been no global warming.” Another candidate, Anthony Lupo, is an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Missouri. In 2014, he told a local Missouri media outlet, KOMU 8, that “I think it is rash to put the climate change completely on the blame of humans.”

Idso is correct. Crops benefit from more carbon dioxide. This is common knowledge in the agricultural community, and has been amply proven by numerous studies.

Keen is also correct. In 2015 there had been no warming for almost two decades, and that pause only ceased last year because of El Nino, and appears now to have resumed.

Lupo is also correct. The theory that human behavior is the sole cause of global warming has not been proven, and if anything, the failure of every computer model based on this theory to predict the pause in rising temperatures suggests it is wrong.

If anything, the article illustrates the ignorance of its author and the newspaper, both of whom appear completely unaware of the actual uncertainties that exist in the climate field.

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15 comments

  • Cotour

    I have an on going battle with an environmental lawyer friend of mine. He describes human activity as the now pretty much main driver of “Climate change” (Its no longer “Global warming”). I tell him I am happy to give him a bit on that premise that human activity may have some effect on climate, but it does not appear to primarily control or unduly influence it to the point that is claimed, so I can not give you a lot on the other.

    This is the new cry: Hurricane Irma would not have been as strong as it was if not for human’s burning oil! Its like the climate effect called a “hurricane” never existed before and they only exist now because of mans activities. Another customer who is a big time ecologist and environmental scientist plainly claimed that “The intensity of Harvey and how it behaved sitting over Texas is unprecedented, and people say that “Climate change” is not real”. I just smiled and let it go.

    The political religion that is “Climate Change” is now more a religion rather than a quantifiable scientific observation. As I have been told before by my lawyer friend; “The American people are too stupid to properly understand what needs to be understood”. This thinking has brought you 20 trillion in debt.

    How dare this particular government introduce another point of view!

  • Edward

    Oh no! You mean that the skeptics have not yet been executed for crimes against humanity?

    I have been saying, as Fulks does in the article, the globe has been warming for the past three-ish centuries as it has come out of the Little Ice Age (LIA). What is more: before the LIA, the Earth was a degree or so warmer than it is now, so we should expect at least another degree of warming before the recovery is over.

    Since the warming began a couple of centuries before man started to put large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and since there has been no warming in the past couple of decades (during which time China has surpassed the US in CO2 production), it is clear that nature has more influence on the Earth’s “fever” than mankind’s CO2 production does.

    But, if the Chicken Littles do not like to have people of reason on their little committee, then maybe they should be appeased. After all, appeasement worked well with Germany. Just ask former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Or ask Winston Churchill, who had to deal with Chamberlain’s mess — you know, the “peace in our time.” If we appease the Chicken Littles then we should have no floods in our time (that would be a first).

    It seems to me that just as they did in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Chicken Littles are looking for an excuse to alarm us that we need to obey their directives or die by flooding. Or die by ice, depending upon the direction of temperature change; the next major ice age is due any millennium, now.

    From the article: “Several of the candidates are affiliated with the Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based conservative think tank with a long history of questioning various aspects of climate change science.

    Remember when we were supposed to question authority? Neither does the hippy generation, who invented the concept. Neither do their children and grandchildren.

    But then again, 97% of climate scientists are in consensus that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is taking place.
    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024/pdf;jsessionid=D5E5F92C05095ED25200D0A9F73B54C6.ip-10-40-1-105

    Well, OK. So it is only 97% of the 1/3 of climate scientists whose papers suggested an opinion that warming or cooling was occurring. The important thing is to obey directives, not question the authority of the minority of climate scientists.

    Since the Cook paper ignored 2/3 of climate scientists, because they didn’t show anything that could be misinterpreted as opinion, we can conclude that the methods used in the paper were heavy on the confirmation-bias side of the equation. So, are there really 1/3 of climate scientists who say that there is AGW, or is the paper inaccurate in that assessment, too?

    Is even an acknowledgment that global warming is partially caused by human activity (how partial?) a suggestion that the warming is catastrophic enough to make some form of intervention desirable?

    From the article: “D’Aleo reiterated his skepticism that humans are driving a steady warming of the globe through greenhouse gas emissions, instead saying he thinks urbanization is creating pockets of heat where people live.

    But that does not explain why the past two decades showed little, if any, warming. Unless the Earth actually cooled over that time yet the heat-island effect hid that phenomenon, then pockets of heat would explain the recent flat temperature curve.

    It would not be the first time the Earth cooled during its recovery from the LIA. 1935 to 1975 was another period of global cooling, causing the Chicken Littles — er — climate scientists to think that the next ice age (due any millennium) had started. There was another three-decade period during the late 19th century in which global temperatures also trended downward about 1/2 degree.

    From the article: “The Science Advisory Board of the EPA hardly ever takes on the issue of [is] climate change real,

    Then the article demonstrates that the board takes on the issue of policy based upon the assumption that not only is climate change real (of course it is real, the climate has been recovering — changing — from the LIA) but that mankind has an influence on this change and that we must obey government directives in order to prevent these natural occurrences of changing climates.

    Apparently they fail to take on the issue of which climate is the desirable climate. Today’s climate? The 2006 climate of Al Gore’s Nobel winning movie? The 1994 climate of the Kyoto Agreement? The climate of 1974, when Time Magazine announced the coming Ice Age? The 1935 climate of the dust bowl? The climate of 1814, the year of London’s last River Thames Frost Fair? The climate of the LIA? The climate of the Medieval Warm Period (sometimes known as Medieval Climate Optimum)? Or the cold climate of the previous ice age, the climate that ice cores have found to be most common in the recent few million years?

    If you are going to take on climate issues, you have to decide upon what is the optimal climate from which deviation is to be prevented. Otherwise you don’t know what policies should be implemented.

  • David

    If there is one thing that observing public comment of the last two decades has taught me is that it is a shame that the science of climatology has become such a left/right issue. In my eyes, there’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides as to how we arrived at this point on the issue. For myself, all I’ll say right now is that I have always been skeptical of ALL true believers, regardless of their position on any issue, including that of the climate. My position is and has always been open to review and reanalysis as data is reviewed and new work is conducted.

    Regarding the article, I’ll observe two things. First, as noted in the article, the public comment period is open. So exercise your freedom and submit your comments!!! Too many people cry out on forums like this yet don’t and won’t make the effort to write their government. Second, take the time to read the article in its entirety. In my eyes it doesn’t seem quite as horrible as Mr. Zimmerman’s writings suggest. The 95+ percent of people who write for newspapers and t.v. shows are not experts on this science, so I try (and fail sometimes) to remember that.

    Now if our current president actually cares about science, maybe he could actually pick out a science advisor for himself. Eight months into his term and yet no presidential science advisor. His comments in the past indicate a stark lack of knowledge of science so perhaps that is why, but it certainly doesn’t do the country any good to have a leader who thinks so little of science that he will not appoint one to guide him.

  • Phill O

    As indicated by an earlier post on the navy troubles, I was a student of Edward Demming and an advocate for his ideas of “Profound knowledge”; which is getting a perspective from outside the agency.

    Wow, Trump fallowing Demming’s wisdom?

    I am not blind to the character assassinations of Trump by the media, the dems or his own party members. However, it is nice to hear something that the turkey is doing right, this being one.

    Right now some republicans are looking like idiots trying to push their own agenda, while the dems are doing solidarity. When Republicans go ahead with the Paris accord, they really make me worry about the future of rational thought that is so often exhibited here but few other places.

  • Phil Berardelli

    I think I’ve posted this anecdote before, but it remains appropriate. Twenty years ago, when I was freelancing, I profiled for a newspaper the career of a prominent local microbiologist. In the course of interviewing him, he related an astounding story. He had been accepted as a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the late ’70s. During a pre-semester reception for students and faculty, he was amicably chatting with a professor who asked him what line of research he intended to pursue. He replied that as an undergrad he had studied incidences of retrovirus infections in animals and now he wanted to extend his studies to the possibility of retroviruses in humans. At that point, the amicable conversation ended. The professor exhibited a shocked and angry facial expression, physically grabbed the young man and pulled him away from the group and into an alcove. There, he sternly explained that retroviruses could not infect humans, that the microbiology community’s overwhelming consensus was that such infections were impossible, and that if the young man pursued this line of research he would be ridiculed and drummed out of the field.

    Long story short: The professor’s words intimidated the student so much that he immediately dropped out of school. But several years later, he joined the team of microbiologists who had, indeed, discovered three strains of retroviruses that infected humans. We all know the name of one of them: HIV. That team, headed by Dr. Robert Gallo, eventually shared the Nobel Prize with a French team for their discovery — which had required their defying their colleagues and risking their careers.

    How different the world would be today had Gallo’s team not persisted — heroically in many cases — and the overwhelming scientific consensus had held. If so, we still might not know the cause of AIDS.

  • Cotour

    Phil O:

    Listen to W. Cronkite, the voice of the nation, rationalizing America surrendering “some” of our sovereignty. A bitter pill he calls it, necessary to accomplish the utopian New World Order / One World Government, international courts that rule over us and all.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w2isCEoEmN8

    The Paris accord is just another step towards this non American world dream.

    I do not like bitter pills.

  • Nick P

    Phill O

    I believe Trump has indicated a willingness to return to the Paris Accord only if the terms are renegotiated to be more favorable to the US.

  • Phil Berardelli

    A second anecdote, if I may. About a decade ago I attended a climate conference at NCAR in Boulder. For a week my colleagues at the time and I heard presentations about the lateI st advances in the field, including modeling advances. The modelers, in particular, spoke confidently about how there was no doubt anthropomorphic global warming, or AGW, was real and increasing. I also had several private conversations with the observationalists — the scientists who were collecting the actual data. Those individuals told me, off the record, that in effect they were seeing it happen.

    At the end of the conference, I and the other journalists were invited to a roundtable discussion. One by one, we were asked to relate our impressions of the week. I remarked that what had troubled me the entire time was the suspicion and outright disdain aimed at scientists and others who had been labeled “skeptics.” I asked if the word “skeptic” should not describe every scientist on the planet, and whether everyone in the room should agree with the words of Carl Sagan, who once defined science as the relentless pursuit of the facts, wherever inconveniently those facts may lead.

    (Incidentally, Sagan also said this, though I didn’t use this quote at the time: “At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”)

    My remarks fell on mostly deaf ears, which I could tell from the shocked looks aimed my way — though I did spot one or two people silently nodding.

    They never invited me back.

  • wayne

    Phil-
    good stuff.

    Richard Feynman
    ” Why”
    https://youtu.be/36GT2zI8lVA
    (7:32)

  • Cotour

    ” Carl Sagan, who once defined science as the relentless pursuit of the facts, wherever inconveniently those facts may lead.”

    “At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counter intuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”

    Thinking that must be revisited often, even here.

  • Phill O

    Cotour: I will not sit next to the devil. I wish it were true that we could have a just world government, but humans keep getting in the way.

  • Cotour

    Phill O:

    I think people like Cronkite, elites, who have witnessed the worst in man kind and the worst in American exercise of power develop an attitude that “There must be something better”. There is nothing better, there is only worse.

    The Constitution that structures these abuses that Cronkite has witnessed also provides the remedy over time. So to be so close to the corruption you might think it reasonable to think that an organization / concept like the U.N. would be a “better” solution. Once again, it is not. We are stuck with the Constitution and so we must deal with the good, the bad and the ugly that emanate from it.

    The solution is not to discard it but to reconnect to it and allow the cleansing light of truth to shine where it needs to and on whom it needs to be shone, what ever the consequences. That is the only solution, we just have to get to the point and have the guts and the honesty to do it.

  • Cotour

    I just listened to William F. Pepper, lawyer, journalist, writer, communist (?), he knew Castro, Che, Chavez, M.L. King, the Rockefeller’s, the Kennedy’s, was in Viet Nam etc, etc. This is a very interesting interview / talk. See what you think, a very interesting, detailed and credible witness to history?

    http://nuarchive.wbai.org/ : Play Guns And Butter, Wednesday, Sept. 20th. Well worth the hour investment.

    What Mr. Pepper illustrates is S.O.M. exercised in the real world. We are all at some point “useful idiots”. What we must endeavor to do is understand these things both in the objective and the subjective and balance them in real time. Pepper is a moral idealist / journalist / lawyer and tells a very credible and believable story about how power, real power, deadly power, is exercised. “Climate Change” IMO can certainly be filed at some point within these issues.

    For Trump to be successful and survive the experience he will also have to somehow balance the line that he draws. Too idealistic and he may not survive. Draw the “correct” line and he has the potential to go into the history books as one of the greatest presidents. History is written by the victorious, I must assume that Trump understands that.

    Government / Power is Amoral, We The People are moral, and some way, some how we must understand. What are the great story’s in history based in? Where did Shakespeare get his best material? Real life, and we are living it. We just may not be able to see it correctly in real time because we are immersed in it.

  • Cotour

    Q: what happens to “Climate change” when NASA’s satellite indicates that the sea level is falling!?

    https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

    Now besides pollution and particulate, that we all should be concerned about related to industry and other human activities what does a falling sea level indicate?

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