Hunter S. Thompson’s famed alter ego, the great Gonzo, once spoke wistfully of his equally renowned attorney, Laszlo: ” Laszlo? He is gone. He will be missed. Not by me, but….” I must admit to sharing much of the same sentiment in the wake of the President’s announcement this week that the US would be exiting the Paris Climate Accord. The wailing and gnashing of teeth which has followed this announcement is as spectacular in scale as it is hyperbolic in tone. Why if NASA had announced the discovery of a giant asteroid in an unalterable collision course with the planet that would still have to compete for a place on the front page. For the many who seem to be at worst horrified, or at the least deeply saddened, I do not count myself in their numbers. It will be missed, but not by me.
In spite of the voluminous reports to the contrary I suspect that in the country as a whole there are more in my column with this topic. Some of these are people who are able to approach the question rationally and thus conclude that the argument for climate change as presented simply does not measure up to sound science. There are others who without making a thorough examination of data merely discount the whole idea for no other reason than an inherently skeptical nature. And, lest we forget, there are undoubtedly those who just don’t give a shit. On an emotional level I would have to identify as being in that third category. On an intellectual level I find myself in equal measure of the first two.
In weighing any issue it is first important to call something what it is, otherwise there is no prayer of having all reading off the same script. If the definitions are not agreed upon all the debate in the world is utterly futile and this is where our problems begin. Twenty years ago the term was “global warming”. Implied in this by those carrying the banner was that the term referred to global warming as the product of human activity. As years passed and data was compiled which would clearly contradict the warming trend the label was altered to “climate change”. As before the implication remained that this was a result of human activity. So in either case one is presented with terms that say one thing, but are intended to imply something beyond what is on it’s face. Regardless the words used to define the issue let us just say for argument’s sake that the concern underlying what is expressed is the human impact upon long term climatology. This is in fact what is being asserted by the leaders of this “movement”. Just consider, as another example, the “health care” debate. In that instance the real subject is not health care, rather health insurance.
The Paris Climate Accord defines the problem using the term climate change, so as a matter of simplification we shall stick with this term for discussion. Ostensibly this accord proposes a set of actions and policies to be implemented by the signatories for the purpose of curbing those human activities which have been deemed detrimental to the long range trends of the mean global temperature. For the purpose of quantification the benchmark has been set to contain the rise of that mean temperature to no more than 2 degrees fahrenheit by the end of this century. This is a convenient set of parameters as statistically speaking the vast majority of those alive today will not be around at the end of the term to see whether or not, A) that the goal has been met, or B) that the proposed climate models were in any way correct. More importantly those responsible for establishing the plan will not be around to defend the results whether they be good, bad or indifferent.
Another important factor in weighing a question is to gather data from multiple sources. Our liberal friends are constantly reminding us that diversity it critical. Following their logic one might be safe in assuming that this same principle will apply in data collection. Aside from this it is a practice that is essential to proper scientific method. While science is to be blind, impartial to any considerations other than raw data, reality does require one additional element. One has to consider the source. This is especially true in this case as it seems that many carrying the banners and sounding the horns are not scientists, rather they are politicians, celebrities and other curious varieties of public figures. To be fair I realize that these are only the mouthpieces, not those actually conducting the science, but these people do like to cite “the science” and the “consensus of scientists”. So then we must ask ourselves who are these scientists?
The scientists most often cited as the source affirming the climate-change-by-man credo are climatologists. On it’s face the label seems clear enough, doesn’t it? A climatologist is someone who studies climate. Well, that much is true. If one cares to, and indeed I am one who does, burrow down deeper into what a climatologist is this is best explained in this way. A climatologist is a meteorologist with either two or four additional years of post graduate work in their field. Or not. A meteorologist who has been visible on a major network, whatever other credentials they may possess, is regarded among those to adhere to the premise of climate change (the movement, not the phenomenon) as a credible source to affirm their belief. Into this mix one can also count the avuncular and beloved “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. William is photogenic, more or less, possesses an engaging personality on camera, and I will admit does seem to be rather knowledgeable in science in a general sense. This does not, however, automatically make him an accredited authority in the study of climate. There are numerous scientists who reside within the academic community who are recognized as authorities in this field. Many hold titles in prestigious institutions where they are ostensibly professors. The TA’s of course perform this less dignified task; their primary role is to conduct research. Theirs is the realm of theory. Now theory in and of itself is not a bad thing, per se, I don’t wish to imply that it is. Theories are formed based on a set of observations and are designed to be then tested in practice.
There are a couple of problems I see with these sources. The research scientist with tenure at a major university, aside from the pure science, performs another important function. Universities don’t bring these people on board their faculty so they can fuel the research out of their own coffers. These scientists are brought on board so that their credentials lend feasibility to the endowment of grants, many of which come from government. If you think that there are no politics involved when obtaining one of these grants then you are sorely mistaken my friend. This is where politics only begins to be injected into this equation. It sets the stage for circumstances often found, for right or wrong, in many crime investigations. A detective or set of detectives may have for whatever reason formed a working theory of what may have occurred. When this happens there is the tendency not to follow facts where they may lead, instead seeking evidence or facts that will fit the theory at the exclusion of anything which may contradict that theory. Although this may not be proper procedure a detective’s experience and prior knowledge of the parties involved may well provide a sufficient intuition for pursuing a theory which does ultimately lead to justice being rendered. In these cases this behavior may be forgiven. Not so with science. Science is not about intuition or consensus. There is no reason not to think that this has occurred in this particular science. In fact there is some rather high profile evidence of the deliberate falsification of data to fit the theory from no less than a former Fellow of East Anglia University who had been on the inside of an “official study” of climate change.
The other problem that I have with these sources comes from where common sense beckons. If a goodly number of climatologists are an advanced form of meteorologist then logic would dictate that one look at prior performance. Meteorologists that we see on television are always needing to qualify those occasions when they’ve gotten it wrong by explaining that it is not an exact science. I’ve always been mildly humored by the forecast of a 20% or 40%, or any % chance of rain. Or snow. To my way of thinking it’s 50%: it is going to rain, or it isn’t. But I understand that it is not as simple as that. A percentage of a chance of one weather phenomenon or another is built upon models, based on probabilities. They are at best an informed guess. This is not meant as a criticism with which to tar the entire profession. It is just a simple fact. They can forecast probabilities, but at the end of the day they can only work with what nature gives us. My point here is just to cast a justified level of skepticism to the accuracy of weather or climate forecasting. We are talking about a science that has in most cases only a little better than 50% accuracy rate in forecasting what the weather will bring for the next 5 days. Never mind 5 years, or as is the case with the climate change commandos 50 or 100 years. Questioning the validity of this science as it is repeatedly shoved down our throats is not “climate change denial”. It is an entirely reasonable question to ask if we want to stake so much upon policies which are rooted in nothing more than models that may have no better than a 50% chance of being correct. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with 3 of the 6 chambers filled. Who would do that?
It is utterly ridiculous and dishonest to brand someone as a climate change “denier” because they don’t automatically subscribe to your pet theory. I don’t deny climate change, I simply dispute your version of it. There is climate change. There always has been and there always will be. The last truly momentous climate change occurred with the end of the last Ice Age, which I would point out there is ample science to prove that this occurred over tens of thousands of years. Climate will change and there is not one damned thing we can do about it. The entire premise is deeply flawed. Climate is changing because of human activity; ergo, reducing or eliminating the activity will change the climate in the other direction or halt the climate’s move in it’s current direction. If there is any denial happening it is a denial of reality on the part of the climate change argument.
Denial is a hallmark of liberal or progressive thought. Socialism doesn’t work because it denies human nature. Inserting political correctness into the daily interactions between the sexes does not work because it denies human nature. Prohibitions do not work because they deny human nature. Progressives deny God, or as I like to think of it Nature, because it presumes an authority greater than their own. They don’t want to eliminate God; they want to be God. Their tireless efforts to convince all of humanity that we are on the course of climate catastrophe if we do not follow their way is one of the greatest proofs that they want to be God. It’s not enough for them to deny human nature. Now they just want to deny Nature period. We can have endless debate about God, the nature of God or the wrath of God. Our history shows that we will never agree, but as to the wrath of nature? There is no denying that. You don’t have to like it, I’m sure that most of us don’t, but that does not change the facts. Nature will do as it sees fit whether we are here or not.
So farewell Paris Climate Accords! You will be missed, but not by me.