Meet the Climate Realists
Written by Rebecca Terrell
Though climate alarmists never tire of demonizing greenhouse gases and “fossil” fuels, hell has no fury equal to the venom they reserve for those maligned as “climate deniers.” “This is treason, and we need to start treating them as traitors,” spat environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at the 2007 Live Earth Concert at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium. NASA’s James Hansen testified before a congressional committee in 2008 that “CEO’s of fossil energy companies … should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.” A 2009 Talking Points Memo article reached bloodthirsty pitch by asking, “At what point do we jail or execute global warming deniers?” Earlier, in 2006, the environmental news magazine Grist wrote that “we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”
The smear campaign involves more than mudslinging and threats. In a May Washington Post op-ed, Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island called on the Obama administration to investigate and prosecute the “climate denial network” under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). More recently, New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, ordered an investigation of whether Exxon Mobil has lied to the public and investors about its contribution to global warming. The French government fired its chief meteorologist, Philippe Verdier, after the October release of his book, Climat Investigation, in which he criticizes alarmists in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for having “taken the world hostage” with misleading and erroneous data.
Likewise, the states of Delaware, Oregon, and Virginia have each muzzled their official climatologists for failing to toe the party line, according to a U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee press release. Patrick Michaels, who holds a Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, declared, “I resigned as Virginia state climatologist because I was told that I could not speak in public on my area of expertise — global warming — as state climatologist. It was impossible to maintain academic freedom with this speech restriction.”
Pundits warn that climate-change skeptics and those who support them will face more political and legal reprisals in the near future. They have reason for concern. As executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer announced that those who ignore the urgency of global warming are “nothing less than criminally irresponsible.” And in November Secretary of State John Kerry censured those he claims “put us all at risk” by questioning climate change politics when he said that “we cannot sit idly by and allow them to do that.”
At the heart of the debate is the unsubstantiated claim that humans have transformed a harmless, life-sustaining gas that currently makes up about 0.04 percent of Earth’s atmosphere into a life-threatening pollutant by raising its concentration by around 33 percent over the course of the last century. World-renowned organizations such as the IPCC, NASA, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and even the Vatican say we can, though they lack verifying data, or evidence that such a change would be harmful in any way. Their proof amounts to a supposed 97-percent consensus among climate scientists that humans are destroying the planet with their unquenchable thirst for fossil fuels. This bandwagon fallacy has prompted President Barack Obama to declare the debate “settled” and human-caused climate change to be “a fact” — and to ignore the Constitution, bypass Congress, and enact costly bureaucratic regulations aimed at averting catastrophe.
Who could object to such stamps of authority? You can find a catalog of them at BarackObama.com, where visitors pick their most hated “deniers” and “call them out” by sending an e-mail invoking the 97-percent appeal and tweeting their friends to do the same — a high-tech peer-pressure maneuver. The irony is that many of those climate offenders made the list when they realized Obama & Associates base their 97-percent statistic on a lone 2013 article published in the science journal Environmental Research Letters: “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic [human-caused] global warming [AGW] in the scientific literature.” The authors did indeed find a 97.1-percent consensus that humans are causing global warming, but only among the remarkably few papers that expressed a position on the subject. (Most of the reviewed literature didn’t.) William Jasper explains at TheNewAmerican.com that “only 65 (yes, 65) of the 12,000+ scientific abstracts” included in the study “can be said to endorse the position that human activity is responsible” for AGW. You disagree that one-half of one percent equals 97 percent? If so, you may be a climate denier, too!
But lest you fear to have joined a radical, lunatic three-percent fringe group, The New American has compiled a short sampling of the tens of thousands of rational and reputable scientists who maintain an unbiased skepticism toward AGW, even at the risk of acquiring the career-jeopardizing slur of “denier.” Meet some climate realists:
Judith Curry, Ph.D.
Scientific American calls her a “climate heretic,” while Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann of discredited hockey-stick graph fame recently tweeted that she is “#AntiScience.” But this professor and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology is not easily intimidated by baseless insults. “Her record of peer-reviewed publication in the best climate-science journals is second to none,” brags David Rose of The Spectator. Judith Curry’s research has earned her appointments to and awards from the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation, to name a few, and she is frequently called to give testimony before Congress on climate issues.
Her research in 2005 on the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes related to global warming earned her a “prominent place among climate scientists,” relates Van Jensen in the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. But when the 2009 “Climategate” e-mail scandal hit, revealing correspondence between UN researchers that suggested fraudulent reporting of data to favor their political agenda, Curry says she “saw it as a threat to the IPCC and all of climate science, largely because of this trust issue.”
She told Rose, “I started saying that scientists should be more accountable, and I began to engage with sceptic bloggers. I thought that would calm the waters. Instead, I was tossed out of the tribe.”
“Curry lost her place in the IPCC clique,” wrote Jensen. Suddenly, “her opinions were called ‘unconstructive,’ full of ‘factual misstatements,’ and ‘completely at odds’ with her previous position on global warming.” Yet Curry maintains her belief in the warming effect of human-generated carbon dioxide. What keeps her blacklisted is that she disputes the obsessive focus on one atmospheric gas as the main driver of climate variability. While she told Jensen that her goal is “to bring together the polarized sides of climate debate and return scientists’ focus to thorough research,” it’s likely the IPCC will continue ignoring her as a disloyal provocateur.
You can follow Dr. Curry on her blog, Climate Etc., at judithcurry.com.
E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.
A native of the United States, E. Calvin Beisner grew up in India, where his journalist father was stationed at the time. “As a small child in Calcutta, India, I observed, daily, two things,” he recalls in a June editorial in the Washington Times. “First, a beautiful, red-flowering vine hanging from an enormous tree, which displayed the beauty and fertility of God’s creation. Second, scores of dead bodies of the poor who had died overnight of starvation and disease, which displayed to me the horrors of poverty.”
The stark contrast of vigorous abundance juxtaposed with fatal deprivation later motivated Beisner to found the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a volunteer network of scholars focused on applying biblical principles to economics, government, and environmental policy. His organization untiringly promotes the appreciation that, in order to rise out of poverty, people must have access to abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. Radical environmental policies “would slow, stop or reverse the rise out of absolute poverty … for the world’s 1.3 billion poorest who have no access to electricity and rely on wood and dung as primary cooking and heating fuels — smoke from which kills about 4 million yearly,” explains Beisner. “The roughly 2 billion who left absolute poverty for merely severe poverty over the last 25 years would find their progress checked or, more likely, would be driven back into absolute poverty.”
This is the theme of the Cornwall Alliance’s Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change, signed by hundreds of scientists who agree that in the climate arena, “Rather than a careful reporting of the best evidence, we get highly speculative and theory-laden conclusions presented as the assured results of science.” The Open Letter warns, “The effect, tragically, is that the very people we seek to help could be harmed instead.” This scientific consensus, sent to the Pope in April, seems to have fallen on deaf ears, but it is worth noting that its extensive list of signatories belies the alarmists’ supposed 97-percent consensus.
Dr. Beisner’s website is www.cornwallalliance.org, where visitors can sign a petition entitled “Forget ‘Climate Change’, Energy Empowers the Poor!”
What do you call a man who installs a 10-kilowatt solar array on his house, retrofits his home with LEDs, drives an electric car, and champions installation of a 125-kilowatt solar array on a local school? “Climate misinformer,” “scientist-smearing denier,” and “utter fake” are a few of the insults Anthony Watts has earned, despite these conservationist measures.
Watts hosts the popular climate blog Watts Up With That? (WUWT), admitted by friend and foe alike to be one of the world’s most influential online global-warming resources. Watts also launched the renowned Surface Stations Project, which effected an overhaul of the way the U.S. government tracks surface temperatures.
In a Heartland Institute Daily Podcast in July, he recalled the genesis of his two ventures: “Both of those things got started entirely by accident.” After retiring in 2002 from a 25-year career as a local television weatherman, he began a general science blog for his local newspaper. He then decided to pursue an old idea — to determine the effect of paint on weather station temperature-recording devices — and publish the results on his blog. But he found more than he bargained for.
“The station at Marysville, California … was essentially in the middle of a parking lot, with air blowing on it from air conditioning units. And all of a sudden I realized I had a much bigger problem on my hands.” The problem was that the U.S. National Weather Service requires its thermometers to “be 30 meters or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source.” Such conditions yield inaccurate recordings. Watts consulted Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. at the University of Colorado who advised, “You need to start up a nationwide project to look at these things. No one’s done it.”
Watts recruited some 650 volunteers to “visually inspect and photographically document more than 860” stations. The result was his landmark 2009 study, Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?, exposing gross rule violations at nearly 90 percent of U.S. temperature measuring sites and revealing faulty and erroneous data-recording practices.
This explosive research forced the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an official investigation in 2011 that confirmed Watts’ findings. The violations contributed to the federal government reporting a 1.4 degree Fahrenheit increase in U.S. temperatures since 1895, and GAO insisted that NOAA revamp its U.S. Climate Reference Network, a system of temperature stations in (now) pristine locations throughout the United States.
Watts blogs daily at www.WattsUpWithThat.com.
Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D.
Richard Lindzen started life as a shoemaker’s son in the Bronx. Now, as emeritus professor of meteorology at MIT, he sits atop the world’s scientific hierarchy as a leading expert on climate dynamics and global heat transport. His 21-page curriculum vitae includes membership in and awards from the American Meterological Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union. He is a distinguished senior fellow at the Cato Institute and has served as consultant to NASA and lead author of the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report on climate change in 2001.
What’s his opinion of human-caused catastrophic global warming? “It’s just nonsense,” he stated at a November climate summit hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Demonization of CO2 is irrational at best, and even modest warming is mostly beneficial.”
For his unorthodoxy, Lindzen is often the object of climate alarmist attacks — most recently, a witch hunt launched by U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva. The Arizona Democrat targeted several individuals, including Lindzen, contacting the universities where each of them has worked, demanding outside funding details. Grijalva admitted having no evidence supporting any conflict of interest or failure to disclose funding sources. “We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate,” wrote Lindzen in a March op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Backlash in the scientific community forced Grijalva to concede his “overreach” to the National Journal. But, says Lindzen, “At least Mr. Grijalva’s letters should help clarify for many the essentially political nature of the alarms over the climate, and the damage it is doing to science, the environment and the well-being of the world’s poorest.”
Interestingly, Lindzen had complained in the Fall 2013 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons about the virtual government monopoly on funding for climate research, making science vulnerable to ideologues who exploit the system for political agenda. “This immediately involves a distortion of science at a very basic level: namely, science becomes a source of authority rather than a mode of inquiry,” he explained, likening the current situation to Lysenkoism, an utterly erroneous genetics hypothesis sanctioned in Soviet Russia from the 1930s until 1964. Lysenkoism asserted inheritance of acquired characteristics and helped promote Marxist evolutionary theory. The Soviet government mandated Lysenkoism as the only correct genetics theory; those who resisted were imprisoned and even executed.
“In contrast to Lysenkoism,” wrote Lindzen, “Global Warming has become a religion” with a “global constituency, and has successfully coopted almost all of institutional science.” But he offered the encouragement that “the evidence from previous cases offers hope that such peculiar belief structures do collapse.”
Patrick Moore, Ph.D.
Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout is Patrick Moore’s 2010 exposé of how he “became a sensible environmentalist,” while “Greenpeace became increasingly senseless as it adopted an agenda that is antiscience, antibusiness, and downright antihuman.” Moore co-founded the organization in 1971, and spent the next 15 years as a director of Greenpeace International, earning a worldwide reputation as an environmental leader.
But by the 1980s, the Greenpeace governing assembly had become dominated by political activists lacking scientific backgrounds, who decided to campaign for a worldwide ban on chlorine. Moore tried to reason with them that “85 percent of our medicines are manufactured with chlorine chemistry … that the addition of chlorine to drinking water represented the biggest advance in the history of public health,” and that you can’t ban an element on the periodic table. But Greenpeace went forward with its folly, even convincing some Latin American countries to remove the “devil’s element” from their drinking water. An ensuing cholera epidemic in 1991 — which caused more than one million illnesses and claimed more than 10,000 lives — convinced the countries to chlorinate again. Yet Greenpeace reaffirmed its opposition the same year in a statement declaring, “There are no uses of chlorine which we regard as safe.”
Moore parted ways with Greenpeace over the chlorine scandal. He says that ever since, policy after policy “reflects their antihuman bias, illustrates their rejection of science and technology, and actually increases the risk of harm to people and the environment.” He points out the hypocrisy of their opposition to measures such as hydroelectric dams — which provide “the most abundant renewable source of electricity” — and nuclear energy, “even though it is the best technology to replace fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Not that Moore is taken in by the global-warming swindle. At a recent Texas Public Policy Foundation climate summit, he declared, “Let’s celebrate CO2!” He called it “the foundation of life on earth” and pointed out that “the deserts are greening from rising CO2.” As for the popular demonization of that naturally occurring chemical compound, he said, “We are dealing with pure political propaganda that has nothing to do with science.”
Art Robinson, Ph.D.
“You can’t prove science by polling. It doesn’t matter how many scientists sign up behind an idea. It’s no merit with respect to whether the idea is true or false.” Art Robinson made these comments during his acceptance speech at the Heartland Institute’s 2014 International Conference on Climate Change for its Voice of Reason Award, granted for his Global Warming Petition Project. More than 31,000 U.S. scientists have signed the document, which reads in full:
We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
If consensus has nothing to do with veracity, why did this co-founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and editor of the monthly newsletter Access to Energy circulate the petition? “It has proved useful, not in saying anything about the science of the subject, only in proving that they do not have a consensus,” he explained. Funded entirely by his newsletter subscribers, the petition project “would have been a lot larger, we just ran out of stamps,” Robinson quipped to laughter.
But then his tone became more serious. “In a general sense this fight is a microcosm of a much broader thing,” he warned. “We are on a Democratic playing field trying to save a Constitutional Republic, and these people are just one element of what’s coming.” Robinson lauded the Founding Fathers for recognizing that all democracies in history failed because they each “devolved to mob rule” in which 51 percent of the people can vote away everyone’s God-given rights. He urged his audience to fight untiringly to save our Republic. “If they can take something as rigorous as science … and pervert it to the point where it can … cause the deaths of billions of people by withdrawing their energy supplies, then we have failed.”