Climate Scientists Violate Own Advice: Opine On Topics About Which They Have No Expertise

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Follow the money

Back on January 27, the Wall Street Journal ran an op/ed by some distinguished researchers arguing that climate change is no big deal. The op/ed, No Need to Panic About Climate Change, asserted: 

…the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

If there is not all that much warming, then why is there so much brouhaha about it? The op/ed continued:

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.

Not too surprisingly, those accused of being bought-and-paid for alarmists were annoyed. Earlier this week, the Journal published a response from 38 of the perturbed alarmists, Check with Climate Scientists for Views on Climate. Their letter asserted:

Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.

You published "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science.

So, there! And what do "real" climate scientists believe? 

Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter. And computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.

Thus, climate experts also know what one of us, Kevin Trenberth, actually meant by the out-of-context, misrepresented quote used in the op-ed. Mr. Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend.

Question: How long before the short-term variation with minimal warming [PDF] suggests that there may be something wrong with the climate computer models? Just asking. 

In any case, the climate experts then go on to become the equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology:

It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses. In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.

Really? Scanning the list of signers of the letter one does not find that any seem to have any special expertise on economics and public policy. Perhaps the climate "dentists" are recommending open heart surgery to treat tooth decay. Interestingly, the op/ed to which they object does cite economic expertise in reaching its conclusions: 

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

I will also mention that the public policy side of the Reason Foundation which publishes this website released a report back in December looking at the economics of climate change that reached similar conclusions:

"Using the IPCC's own highest emission scenario, we show that by 2100 the Gross Domestic Product per capita of today's 'developing' countries will be double that of the U.S. in 2006, even taking into account any losses resulting from climate change. Thus developing countries will have significantly more resources and better technology to cope with climate change than even the U.S. does today," Goklany says. "But these advances in adaptive capacity and what they'll mean for our ability to cope with any potential warming are virtually ignored by the IPCC when it assesses the possible impact of global warming."

The study outlines three approaches to tackling climate change: cutting emissions of greenhouse gases; focused adaptation; and economic growth. "The best strategy by far to combat climate change is economic growth," says Julian Morris, the study's project director and vice president at Reason Foundation. "Economic growth is the best way to eliminate poverty; meanwhile, the resulting wealth and technological advances  will enable people better to address all the problems they face, including any challenges that global warming may present."

For what it's worth, the climate experts asserting consensus about the reality of man-made global warming cannot, on the basis of their climate expertise, assert a consensus on the policies needed to address the problem.

 Go here to read the Reason Foundation study on the best policies to handle future climate change. 

NEXT: Come See the Matt Welch/Jonah Goldberg Libertarian/Conservative Smackdown Tonight in D.C. at AEI! Or at Least Watch the Live Podcast! Also, Listen to the Pre-Interview!

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  1. Salt in bread will bring destruction down upon us, not this CO2 business.

    1. Yeah, I saw that.
      CDC declares bread/dinner rolls gastronomic enemy number one.
      Unlike them, I think you’re kidding. Still, for your consideration: It’s Time to End the War on Salt.

      “This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure.”

      “In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine?an excellent measure of prior consumption?the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease.”

      “Over the long-term, low-salt diets, compared to normal diets, decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number in the blood pressure ratio) in healthy people by 1.1 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 0.6 mmHg. That is like going from 120/80 to 119/79.”

      1. Clearly you’re just a bought-and-paid-for shill of Big Salt. Diamond Crystal is probably paying both you and those evil Koch Brothers!

      2. But Michelle Obama wants everyone in the nation to go on a low-salt diet!
        Surely she can’t be wrong.

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  2. Another five years of Argos and satellite observations + the fallout from the CERN stuff on cosmic ray induced cloud formation will either put a stake through the heart of the cult or convert it into a proper respectable religion.

    So far, based on what I see, I’m thinking stake.

    1. Being clever folks, and loyal bureaucrats, CERN will release the cosmic ray cloud formation data Friday evening after the Euro splits up.

    2. Dude, they’ll hook up with the peak oil people, the anti-meat crowd, etc etc and just go full on religion that worships Mother Gaia and believes humans are a blight upon her.

      Seriously, climate change is just another bullet in the gun; the gun itself is a belief as old as time that abundance and advancement are sinful and that we must repent and return to simplicity.

      1. True – the meme that there was a perfect time in the past that was destroyed by man though his hubris and that we must change our ways and make sacrifice to undo that fall from grace is a powerful religious one.

        1. Officer am I free to gambol?

      2. Those humans you disparage for believing “humans are a blight upon her” are just thinking farther ahead and with less self-deception than you, for they (I among them) would actually like to know that a few generations from now, the Earth will still be as hospitable to human and other life as it is now. Oh, yeah, and I eat meat. Hate to kill one more of your “reasoned” stereotypes. As for “abundance and advancement,” it’s not that either is sinful; it is that the way we are getting them now is not sustainable. But that, of course, doesn’t fit with your silly view.

  3. From an interesting article by Robert Anton Wilson:

    The scientific method uses logical systems creatively, to seek new discoveries. The ideological method uses logical systems fallaciously, pretending they prove something when all they do is offer models to be tested by experience.

    Here is the full article. It’s actually about the abortion argument, but one could substitute abortion for global warming and it applies perfectly.

    1. Wow, that’s great quote!

  4. Is it just me, or are there some weird things happening on the site today? All the O’s in the post titles are capitalized, and when the pages load random letters show up first, then everything else fills in.

    1. I’m getting a realy random font issue that goes after it finishes loading.

          1. Apparently it’s just you.

    2. Yesterday the scribd embed of the Prop 8 decision looked like a combination of Arabic and Chinese – which almost led me to comment on the inscrutability of Reinhardt’s reasoning (but I figured it really was just a display glitch).

    3. It’s just a glytch in the Matrix, pay it no mind.

    4. All the O’s in the post titles

      Obama hackers!!!

      1. I’m getting in my save file; somebody is playing on Reason…lol

  5. the climate experts asserting consensus about the reality of man-made global warming cannot, on the basis of their climate expertise, assert a consensus on the policies needed to address the problem.
    They also can’t claim any accuracy within their computer models, until and unless they have been fully vetted by experts in the AI and predictive modelings fields. To gamble public monies on the validity of these models would be like betting on an Indie car winning a race after is was tuned by the local lawn mower repair man.

    1. The computer models are not intended to predict what the climate will actually do, they are intended to justify policies that those writing the paychecks to the “scientists” would like to implement.

      The computer models are working perfectly.

      1. This is a really interesting echo chamber of idiocy.

  6. There are topics that climate scientists do have expertise in???

    1. Milking the taxpayers for grant money.

      1. The ones getting rich from climate change are those working for oil and coal to prove that climate change is a hoax, just as scientists employed by tobacco companies spent years proving, or at least claiming despite proof to the contrary, that cigarettes did not cause cancer. Now that’s ideology running science. But the blindness induced by self-interest, as demonstrated by the commenters on this site, is clearly without limit.

    2. Wielding hockey sticks?

  7. Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition?

    Considering the fact that poor dental health is a contributing factor to heart disease, you probably should consult your dentist about your heart condition and likewise consult your cardiologist about your dental health.

    1. Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition?

      Considering the fact that poor dental health is a contributing factor to heart disease, you probably should consult your dentist about your heart condition and likewise consult your cardiologist about your dental health.

      1. That doesn’t make any sense. If poor dental health is a factor in heart health, an ethical cardiologist would tell you to seek advice from a dentist on how to improve your dental health. He should NOT advise you on proper dental health practices.

    2. You should; dental work needs to be completed before any heart procedure

  8. Aren’t the German’s bailing on Global Warming?
    http://thegwpf.org/best-of-blo…..eptic.html

    1. That link is… pretty damned explosive.

      Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of Germany’s environmental movement, no longer trusts the forecasts of the IPCC. Doubt came two years ago when he was an expert reviewer of an IPCC report on renewable energy. “I discovered numerous errors and asked myself if the other IPCC reports on climate change were similarly sloppy. I couldn’t take it any more. I had to write this book.”

      1. I’m sure “Big Oil” the Koch brothers, and of course THE KORPORASHUNZZZZ!!!!!!!!11111!! just finally got to him. Eveyone has their price.

        As an aside, the fact that it’s so easy to mindlessly spoof all the lefty “talking points” is a pretty good indicator of how little thinking is actually required to believe their shit.

    2. No, they’re not. They have the second highest global investment in renewable energy behind China. U.S. is third.

  9. It doesn’t matter.

    Ultimately the climate scientists do not consider this to be a question of economics.

    Proving that it would cost more to prevent global warming than to mitigate it (assuming there’s any warming to mitigate) will just get them to say, “But think of what we’re doing to da Earf!”

    It’s the same way with technological solutions. If you devised a way to slow global warming technologically, they would just come back with, “But that will just create new problems!” As if drastically cutting back CO2 production isn’t also going to “create new problems” or something.

    1. I am pretty concerned about the idea of radically reducing the critical compound for plant growth in the atmosphere by human means. I’d be even more concerned if I believed for a second that atmospheric CO2 was actually a positive feedback cycle. Overshooting a positive feedback target that critical to the food cycle is terrifying. Like, deploying every nuclear device on Earth at the same time terrifying.

      1. Plants stop growing when CO2 is at 150ppm.

        Plants stop thriving when CO2 is at 220ppm.

        CO2 levels in 1750 were 290ppm

        Current CO2 levels are 390ppm.

        In prehistoric times the concentration is thought to have been as high as 6,000 ppm and the Earth did not turn into Venus.

        1. I’m in your corner on this one. I had a knock-down-drag-out a couple weeks ago on whether atmospheric CO2 concentrations were positive or negative feedback. As there’s always been CO2 in the atmosphere, and it has varied b/t about 250ppm and 1000ppm since respiration became a widespread evolutionary strategy, this seems problematic to me. I was just sniping.

  10. You have to admire they’re consistency.
    Global Cooling. Global warming. Over population. Climate change.

    One solution: The Miracle of Socialism.

    1. Oh, please. No one’s talking about reducing CO2 to levels that would not support plant life. How do you even get to that concern and have the hutzpah to post it on a site that has “reason” in its title?

  11. Of climate science and AIDS “experts”….

    _”While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS.”_

    The “retrovirus expert” to whom they refer is Dr. Peter Duesberg, who had the temerity to respond to the “consensus” of experts, led by the ethically challenged, junk science cancer researcher at NIH, Dr. Robert Gallo. Isn’t science supposed to be about questioning, re-questioning and then re-questioning again any truth claim?

    And just who the hell is going to do that questioning of those “in consensus” if not NON-“experts?”

    Those who make their livings from hundreds of billions of dollars in government and non-profit grants certainly aren’t going to rock the boat. They are keepers of the keys to the gold-filled temple.

    Those of us who do question scientific orthodoxy are rewarded for our efforts by being called “climate deniers” or “AIDS denialists,” attempts to shut down all debate by associating us with the most horrific imagery possible, Holocaust denialism.

    If you are willing to read something by a “non-expert” on “HIV=AIDS,” here are my 8,000 words on the subject from 5 years of intensive research as a journalist: http://www.terrymichael.net/Ht…..eport.html
    And consider this piece I wrote, more specifically on the questioning of both climate and AIDS consensus at TheStreet.com: “Nobel Curse for AIDS, Big Pharma,” http://www.terrymichael.net/PDF Files/Street.comAIDS_Gilead_PieceCachedPDFVersion.pdf

    1. Those who make their livings from hundreds of billions of dollars in government and non-profit grants certainly aren’t going to rock the boat. They are keepers of the keys to the gold-filled temple.

      That’s the issue that most on the environmental political wing can’t get their minds around.

      You’re only in it for the money if you’re Exxon. But if you’re a scientist on the gravy train of grants and government funding? Nothing to see here, just good science.

      1. You mean, like, oil companies, for instance, with their billions in government subsidies. I guess you don’t mind that part of “socialism.”

    2. If AIDS isn’t caused by HIV, then what causes it?

      btw – AIDS is caused by HIV

      1. Just because every AIDS case since the identification of HIV has been infected with HIV doesn’t mean… never mind.

        1. Not quite…

          There have been a handful of people without HIV who show symptoms of AIDS. Of course, the immune system is complicated, and it’s probable that several different infections or conditions could cause an immune system to shut down.

  12. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

    Farewell Address, 1961

  13. Nue Mexican can’t feel confident after thirty eight of his trusted authorities signed on to such a poorly drafted, fallacy ridden letter. That attempt moved the ball backwards.

    1. Why bring me into this?

      I have always said that the primary solution to reducing C02 is for individuals to make their own informed decisions about how to reduce their carbon footprint. Sure, there are some policy proposals that reduce overall government intrusion into the economy that also have the benefit of indirectly putting a price on carbon usage (i.e., revenue neutral carbon taxes replacing labor taxes – which may provide individuals with an incentive to reduce their use). But, I have consistently pointed out that while the science behind the AGW claim rests on a reasonably solid scientific footing, that predictions about the impacts of that information on economic or social aspects of societies is a much harder scientific question about which we only have the most speculative data.

      Any “policy expert” or “economic expert” who says they know what the impact of any of these proposed policies is over the long term better start their discussion by saying that they are, pretty much, just guessing. Climate science models may not be as precise as some may wish, but they are light-years ahead of the economic forecasting tools being used to say thing like “the resulting wealth and technological advances will enable people better to address all the problems they face, including any challenges that global warming may present.”

      1. No one has said that, so you make a ridiculous point.

  14. Hey leave dentists out of this, you anti-dentites.

  15. “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record.”

    That is laughably disingenuous. First of all, yes, it may be the warmest decade on record, but that’s because it has plateaued at a relatively high level. It is not continuing to get hotter based on the data. Also, the “record” they’re referring to doesn’t go back very far at all. Plenty of other research indicates there have been warmer periods in the history of the planet.

    1. “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record.”

      What is thier definition of “on record”?

      This is a record isn’t it?

      http://westinstenv.org/wp-cont…..000yrs.jpg

      1. More importantly, the fact that it is the warmest decade on record doesn’t prove that the trend is continuing if the temperature has been flat the past 10 years.

        1. No kidding, that’s obvious. But the fact that they continue to make this stupid claim shows that they’re political shills, and not scientists, and is one of the major reasons I know the entire thing is a fabrication.

    2. I must be growing: this decade is my tallest ever.

    3. http://tamino.wordpress.com/20…..torf-2011/

      Do it yourself.

      1. Why when i can simply look at this graph and see that January 2012 is the same temp as January 1980.

        http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp…..y_2012.png

        1. Because one method/comparison might be more valid than another? Perhaps?

    4. Ten years does not make a long-term climate trend. Look at the overall temperature-average graph for as long as records have been kept.

  16. The green’s worship of windmills is just dum. Matt Ridley cleans their clocks:

    http://www.rationaloptimist.co…..ainst-wind

  17. “Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work.”

    Exactly! Who do you trust more to explain the nature of ghost-infestation: a parapsychologist whose works have been vetted by his peers, or a skeptical physicist who can’t tell ectoplasm from an astral echo?

    1. cynical: Magnificent!

  18. Afraid of hormones in milk…

    …takes acid from complete strangers.

    1. Not much in the world that is going to affect you at microgram dosages.

  19. Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition?

    Seeing as how gum disease has been linked to a number of physical disorders previously thought unrelated, I certainly might.

  20. Why? Because we the experts said so, that’s why!

    Seriously, didn’t the Simpsons try this already? & IIRC it didn’t work out too well, even with a Hawking appearance.

  21. First off: They’re all dentists! Nearly all of the authors from both letters have degrees in chemistry, physics, or geology. The only difference is where they ended up working… The majority of authors of the second letter work for government agencies (or government-funded research organizations) that were created and continue to be funded out of a fear of climate change. They have clear, personal, financial interest in propagating this lie.

    Even if you want to buy the environmentalists’ tired and unsubstantiated argument that the Koch brothers and “Big Oil” have bought the results of “deniers'” studies, that doesn’t detract from the equally important financial interests on the other side. I’m not even going to posit that solar or wind energy companies/investors sway results, because there is no need for outside money. The benefits that result when you claim that the sky is falling and only you know how to stop it should be obvious.

    I’ve witnessed it first-hand: in environmental research, grant proposals that don’t derive their impetus from climate change (or at least pollution, urbanization, etc) are rejected every time. If you want money, just throw out the term ‘climate change’ a few times and predict the demise of a species, and you’ll be rolling in the dough.

  22. Your “50 years of economic growth” is predicated on continuing a carbon-based economy and, more importantly, one in which the costs of drilling for and burning fossil fuels are externalized so that we never pay the true cost of oil. If we did, then suddenly renewable energy makes oil and coal look like fool’s gold.

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