I’m not a scientist, but I’m a climate change “denier” according to Michael Mann. Some readers and one publisher of my last column on the subject called "Stick It, Mike," ask how I can say there is little or no evidence for climate change hysteria spouted by Mann and his ilk when “97% of scientists” contend the evidence is “incontrovertible.” CO2 is a greenhouse gas and one of the gases that causes the atmosphere to warm. I do not believe, however, it is responsible for the catastrophic climate change Mann and his ilk claim.
Wikipedia offers a partial list of who the “deniers” are. The Heartland Institute offers a much bigger list here, where more than 31,000 scientists including thousands with a Ph.D. have signed a statement that says, in part:
…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…
So, where did the 97% figure come from? It’s repeated often by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry among others. A Wall Street Journal article by Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer, Ph.D. cites surveys by students, concluding that:
“the assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of [student] surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.”
Then, Salon Magazine and others “debunked” Bast and Spencer’s debunking of the 97% claim. Anyone researching anything related to the climate change controversy can expect to encounter back-and-forth debunking by the left, which pushes anthropogenic climate change, and by the right which doubts it. It’s up to individual readers to decide which “debunkers” and which “authorities” to believe.
Michael Mann was part of a team producing the UN’s third IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report published in 2001 and prominently featuring his now-famous, or now-infamous, hockey stick graph. The graph purports to show the earth’s climate over a period of 1000 years. The shaft of the hockey stick ostensibly represents 900 years of gradual cooling followed by the blade abruptly shooting up during the 20th century to show warming. In my column here, I contend that he ignored the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age when constructing his graph. I’m not the only one to contend this and our claims have been repeatedly “debunked” and “counter-debunked.”
Since the earth’s thermometer readings only go back to 1880 or so, Mann used “proxy” data, almost exclusively from tree-ring growth, to determine temperatures back to 1000 AD. There are other proxies (glacial ice, coral, etc.) he could have used, but he used only Bristlecone Pines from the Sierra Nevada and a few cedars from the Gaspe Peninsula to construct his hockey stick. By virtually ignoring other tree ring data that conflicted with the outcome he wanted, and giving inordinate weight to data that confirmed it, he constructed his graph. Numerous statisticians lambasted these procedures as deceptive, including Finland’s Dr. Jarl Ahlbeck, Ph.D. who wrote in 2004:
Well, I don't think Dr. Mann came up with his Hockey Stick just because he first discovered MW [Medieval Warming Period] and LI [Little Ice Age] in the data and then wanted to prove that there were no MW or LI at all. He only put a lot of numbers into his computer, played with statistical subroutines for a while and wow, headline-breaking results popped up! Of course he was excited and happy of becoming the man who was able to create a radical shift of paradigm! Good old Bert Bolin [Bert Bolin, Ph.D., first chairman of the IPCC] was almost dancing of joy when he presented the Hockey Stick for the first time. The problem was that nobody could repeat the calculations because Dr. Mann did not provide exact information about the data files and computing procedures. So much for the referee-process, the referees judge the quality of the work according to their personal opinions about what may be true or not, not by double-checking the calculations because it was not possible.
The biggest problem with Mann’s hockey stick graph, however, is not the statistical shell game. The biggest problem is that his proxy data — tree rings — showed temperatures declining after about 1960. This would have made for a very droopy hockey stick, so what did he do? He scrapped the tree ring data and substituted actual thermometer readings that showed a continuous rise for the end of the 20th century. This deception has been called “the divergence problem” and efforts to cover for it called “hide the decline.” The effort to hide it was at the root of the Climategate scandal. Mann knew from the beginning his tree rings showed global temperatures declining after 1940-1960, but very few scientists examined his research closely enough in the first few years after his hockey stick became a worldwide sensation. It was anything but “peer-reviewed” as Mann claimed.
As Australian scientist, Jennifer Marohasy, Ph.D. wrote:
“Of course we know that global temperatures haven’t declined since 1960, or thereabout, so there must be something wrong with the proxy record. This is known as ‘the divergence problem’ and it is a problem, because if tree rings are not a good indicator of global temperature after 1960, how can they be a good indicator of global temperature prior to 1960?”
Yes, there was indeed a radical shift of paradigm, a worldwide sensation, and the IPCC was indeed dancing with joy. Al Gore used Mann’s graph, made the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth, and rode that to the Nobel Peace Prize with the IPCC. A Skeptical Mind blog claims: “In the UK the Government announced that the DVD of the ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ would be sent to every school in the country as a teaching aid.” Teachers in the USA showed it again and again to millions of students across the country.
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected chanting that his voters would be able to tell their children: “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal!” In October, 2009, he too was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — for what, no one can say, but he got it anyway. Riding that, he would personally attend the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December, 2009. It was a very heady time for progressive environmentalists and Michael Mann in particular as author of the catalyst for all this — the hockey stick graph.
Then, in November, 2009, just prior to the big Copenhagen Conference, it all started to unravel. A computer hacker in the UK found some damning emails between and among the principals involved with Mann’s “divergence problem.” The scandal eventually became known as Climategate, involving the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The phrase “hide the decline” and “hide the divergence” originate in these emails, which go back more than ten years prior to 2009.
Mann and his colleagues sent these Climategate emails back and forth in which they’re trying to stifle Freedom of Information Act requests for their data, which they say they “lost.” They’re also in a panic trying to discredit other scientists who were publishing papers critical of their research finding, their editors who accepted them, and the journals in which the papers are published. “How can we rid ourselves of this troublesome editor?” asks CRU Director Phil Jones about one, mimicking Henry II’s complaint about St. Thomas More — and we know what happened to that poor monk.
A 2009 article by Bob Tracinski in Realclearpolitics is instructive here. He writes:
When another article by a skeptic was published in Geophysical Research Letters, Michael Mann complains [in the climategate emails], "It's one thing to lose Climate Research. We can't afford to lose GRL." Another CRU scientist, Tom Wigley, suggests that they target another troublesome editor: "If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU [American Geophysical Union which publishes the GRL] channels to get him ousted." That's exactly what they did, and a later e-mail boasts that "The GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/new editorial leadership there."
Not content to block out all dissent from scientific journals, the CRU scientists also conspired to secure friendly reviewers who could be counted on to rubber-stamp their own work. Phil Jones suggests such a list to Kevin Trenberth, with the assurance that "All of them know the sorts of things to say...without any prompting."
So it's no surprise when another e-mail refers to an attempt to keep inconvenient scientific findings out of a UN report: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. K and I will keep them out somehow-even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" Think of all of this the next time you hear someone invoke the authority of peer review-or of the UN's IPCC reports-as backing for claims about global warming.
This scandal goes beyond scientific journals and into other media used to promote the global warming dogma. For example, RealClimate.org has been billed as an objective website at which global warming activists and skeptics can engage in an impartial debate. But in the CRU e-mails, the global warming establishment boasts that RealClimate is in their pocket.
I wanted you guys to know that you're free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through.... We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you'd like us to include.
[T]hink of RC as a resource that is at your disposal.... We'll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don't get to use the RC comments as a megaphone.
And anyone doubting that the mainstream media is in on it, too, should check out New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin's toadying apologia for the CRU e-mails, masquerading as a news report.
Climategate emails also reflect panic because world temperatures were not rising as their computer models predicted. Their Cassandra reputations were threatened. Tracinski describes it thus:
These e-mails show, among many other things, private admissions of doubt or scientific weakness in the global warming theory. In acknowledging that global temperatures have actually declined for the past decade, one scientist asks, "where the heck is global warming?... 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." They still can't account for it; see a new article in Der Spiegel: "Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out." I don't know where these people got their scientific education, but where I come from, if your theory can't predict or explain the observed facts, it's wrong.
Climategate threatened to derail the entire global, progressive, multi-billion dollar gravy train and it had to be stopped, so the UN and affiliate governments called in their lackeys in the media for a massive cover-up and debunking. Do a net search on Climategate and the first several dozen hits will all refer to it as the “so-called” scandal and citing allegedly non-partisan sites like factcheck.org. Actual and potential anthropogenic climate change dissenters saw clearly what would happen to them if they chose to go off the reservation. They would be smeared as “illegitimate” scientists and their grant money would dry up. Scientific journals would refuse to publish them. Their careers would be over.
If there were any doubt that dissenting academics would see their careers destroyed by Climategate 1.0, they were dispelled when a new batch of 5000 emails was published in 2011 and reported in Forbes here as Climategate 2.0. The new batch revealed cooperation by government agencies like the US Dept. of Energy in stifling data requests by the few dissenters still out there, cherry-picking information that supported anthropogenic climate change, and burying scientific studies that contradicted it.
David Rose conducted an interview with Judith Curry, Ph.D., climate scientist at Georgia Tech and published it in the UK Spectator as a lead up to last December’s Paris Climate Summit:
‘It’s unfortunate, but he [Michael Mann] calls anyone who doesn’t agree with him a denier,’ she tells me. ‘Inside the climate community there are a lot of people who don’t like what I’m doing. On the other hand, there is also a large, silent group who do like it. But the debate has become hard — especially in the US, because it’s become so polarised.’ Warming alarmists are fond of proclaiming how 97 per cent of scientists agree that the world is getting hotter, and human beings are to blame. They like to reduce the uncertainties of climate science and climate projections to Manichean simplicity. They have managed to eliminate doubt from what should be a nuanced debate about what to do.
Scary stuff, but Rose explains why she soldiers on anyway:
Curry’s independence has cost her dear. She began to be reviled after the 2009 ‘Climategate’ scandal, when leaked emails revealed that some scientists were fighting to suppress sceptical views. ‘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. There’s no way I would have done this if I hadn’t been a tenured professor, fairly near the end of my career. If I were seeking a new job in the US academy, I’d be pretty much unemployable. I can still publish in the peer-reviewed journals. But there’s no way I could get a government research grant to do the research I want to do. [Emphasis mine] Since then, I’ve stopped judging my career by these metrics. I’m doing what I do to stand up for science and to do the right thing.’
That’s what Michael Mann and his pseudoscientific toadies have done: “largely eliminate doubt” about what President Obama and Secretary Kerry call the biggest crisis facing mankind. It’s only the old-timers like Curry and a few others like Professor Ivar Giaever, Ph.D., winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics. He does not believe CO2 causes global warming. At a 2012 meeting of other Nobel laureates in Germany, he said:
“I’m not really terribly interested in global warming. Like most physicists, I really don’t think much about it. But in 2008 I was on a panel here about global warming and I had to learn something about it, and I spent a day or so — half a day maybe — on Google. And I was horrified by what I learned… Global warming has become a new religion — because you can’t discuss it, and that’s not right…
Pseudoscience is a very strange thing, because in pseudoscience you begin with a hypothesis which is very appealing to you, and then you only look for things which confirm the hypothesis. You don’t look for other things. And so the question then… Is global warming a pseudoscience?
We come to the hockey stick graph — which the previous speaker showed in a little different manner — and I have to say I have to rely on HC Anderson and the Emperor’s new clothes. The little boy was innocent: he didn’t see that the Emperor had clothes on. And I am the little boy here: I don’t see that the CO2 is the cause of all these problems.
As you heard, I resigned from the American Physical Society because of this statement: “The evidence is incontrovertible.” The American Physical Society discussed the mass of the proton: The mass of the proton is not incontrovertible… But the global warming is. See, that’s a religion. That’s a religious statement, like the Catholic Church says the earth is not round, and the American Physical Society says that the global warming occurs. I mean, that’s a terrible thing. So, I resigned from the Physical Society and I hope I can get one or two of you to resign as well…”
Then there’s Lennart Bengtsson, who participated actively in the development of ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) where he was Head of Research 1975-1981 and Director 1982-1990. In 1991-2000 he was Director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. Since 2000 he has been professor at the University of Reading and from 2008 the Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland. Professor Bengtsson has received many awards including the German Environmental Reward, The Descartes Price by the EU and the IMI price from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). He is member of many academies and societies and is honorary member of the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological Society and European Geophysical Union. His research work covers some 225 publications in the field of meteorology and climatology. In recent years he has been involved with climate and energy policy issues at the Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Although Bengtsson has published research papers, once he voiced his skepticism about anthropogenic climate change, things changed. Then he had the temerity to join the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a group which postulates that man-made global warming is questionable. What happened to poor old Lennart? His very next paper was rejected. Then he abruptly resigned from the GWPF, saying something extraordinary:
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. (He’s 80 years old) If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.
Before experiencing the above difficulties, Bengtsson said in 2014:
My interest in climate science is strictly scientific and I very much regret the politicisation that has taken place in climate research. I believe most serious scientists are sceptics and are frustrated that we are not able to properly validate climate change simulations. I have always tried to follow the philosophy of Karl Popper. I also believe that most scientists are potentially worried because of the long residence time of many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, our worries must be put into a context as there are endless matters to worry about, practically all of them impossible to predict.
I have always been sort of a climate sceptic. I do not consider this in any way as negative but in fact as a natural attitude for a scientist. I have never been overly worried to express my opinion and have not really changed my opinion or attitude to science. I have always been driven by curiosity but will of course always try to see that science is useful for society. This is the reason that I have devoted so much of my career to improve weather prediction.
So, unlike Ivar Giaever, Bengtsson couldn’t handle being shunned as a heretic. He buckled. If you stray from the orthodoxy, you won’t be published. You won’t get grant money for research. Your career will be over. And, you lose your friends in the community. Lennard couldn’t bear that last one. I feel sorry for him.
It’s also instructive to recall that it was only forty years ago that international scientists were warning about an imminent ice age. This New York Times article reports: “An international team of specialists has concluded from eight indexes of climate that there is no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.”
That article ran in 1978. By the 1980’s the global warming scare was on. A recent editorial in Investors Business Daily quotes Ottmar Edenhoffer, former chairman of an IPCC working group who suggests a hidden agenda for the IPCC:
“One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole. We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.
What was that? The article went on to say:
“For those who want to believe that maybe Edenhofer just misspoke and doesn’t really mean that, consider that a little more than five years ago he also said that ‘the next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.’
Mad as they are, Edenhofer’s comments are nevertheless consistent with other alarmists who have spilled the movement’s dirty secret. Last year, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, made a similar statement.
‘This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,’ she said in anticipation of last year’s Paris climate summit, ’This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.’
The plan is to allow Third World countries to emit as much carbon dioxide as they wish — because, as Edenhofer said, ‘in order to get rich one has to burn coal, oil or gas’ — while at the same time restricting emissions in advanced nations. This will, of course, choke economic growth in developed nations, but they deserve that fate as they “have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community,” he said. The fanaticism runs so deep that one professor has even suggested that we need to plunge ourselves into a depression to fight global warming.”
This is scary stuff. Are these people Marxists in environmentalist clothing?
To get some idea of the size of the government research grant gravy train, I Googled “How much money is spent on climate change research?” A 2011 Forbes article researching GAO, OMB, and other sources states:
“Data compiled by Joanne Nova at the Science and Policy Institute indicates that the U.S. Government spent more than $32.5 billion on climate studies between 1989 and 2009.
If the billions spent on research for green technology, green energy investment initiatives, and tax breaks for green technology purchases are folded in, the cost is several times that:
OMB pointed out that their previously noted agency budget compilations didn’t include revenues lost for the special deductions and tax credits intended to encourage greenhouse gas emission reductions. They attributed to those subsidies a cost of $7.2 billion in federal revenue losses during 2010 alone, ($16.1 billion since 1993), bringing the total since 2003 to $122.8 billion. Then there’s still another $26.1 billion earmarked for climate change programs and related activities within the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or “Stimulus Bill”).
These figures account for only two years of the greatly increased spending on anthropogenic climate change under the Obama Administration. And, it should be noted here that foreign governments spend many billions more.
In the same Google search, I came up with a more recent 2014 article from Scientific American entitled: “How Money Changes The Climate Debate” which asks: “Why have conservative groups been so successful in casting doubt on global warming?” The figures they cite of money coming from private sources like Exxon, conservative think tanks, and the Koch brothers amount to a pittance compared to government funding for the other side:
For example, from 2003 to 2010, foundations that were partly associated with Mellon fortune heir Richard Scaife gave $39.6 million; the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee gave $29.6 million; and foundations affiliated with Koch Industries Inc. or its owners, the Koch brothers, contributed $26.3 million.
Notice we’re talking millions here and not billions.
The biggest donor listed is Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund, which accounted for almost $79 million; individuals can put their so-called donor-advised funds at Donors Trust and then direct the organization to give money on their behalf to nonprofits.
If you want to understand the climate change debate, follow the money. By my math, the totals mentioned by Scientific American don’t add up to even one billion. However, even this relative pittance is under attack by the paranoid climate alarmist community. In a major escalation of their alarmist efforts to stifle dissent as reflected in Climategate 1.0 and 2.0, they have persuaded government to actually criminalize funding for studies that might cast doubt on their “scientific consensus” or “settled science.” It’s instructive to look at one single alarmist researcher: how much he has amassed in grant money and what he’s doing to keep it flowing.
A March, 2016 story in the Washington Free Beacon tells us:
A government-employed scientist calling for a racketeering investigation into climate skeptics may have illegally drawn a large taxpayer-funded salary from a nonprofit group, according to a senior member of Congress. George Mason University meteorologist Jagadish Shukla and his wife received nearly $5.6 million from the Institute for Global Environment and Society between 2001 and 2014, public records show.
The $5.6 million salaries they paid themselves from their “non-profit” come out of at least $63 million they got since 2001, the earliest date from which records are available. They got even more in the ten years before that. It’s quite possible that Mr. and Mrs. Shukla received more than the $79 million their opponents got from their single biggest donor. They alone control the Institute for Global Environment and Society (IGES), so it would interesting to audit how much of the other $57 million in taxpayer funds may have gone into their pockets. Nearly all the money came from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Shortly after Dr. Jagadish Shukla and other alarmists wrote to President Obama and Attorney General Lynch on September 1, 2015 asking for a RICO investigation of their critics, Congressman Lamar Smith’s House Science, Space, and Technology Committee began investigating the Shuklas. Smith wrote to the NSF to alert them about IGES. When he wrote to the Shuklas asking they not destroy any correspondence with colleagues about their letter to the president, they abruptly shut down IGES.
The Washington Free Beacon stayed on the case, however, and reported that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) did not support the federal RICO action, favoring state RICO actions instead. That came to pass a few weeks ago when 17 Democrat state attorneys general, including Maine’s, began RICO investigations into climate “skeptics,” an outrageous violation of First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), one of the first organizations targeted with a subpeona, filed suit against a Democrat Virgin Islands attorney general, one of the seventeen who are initiating actions against 90 conservative groups. CEI’s attorney is Chris Horner.
Horner, who is also a senior legal fellow at CEI, sought records that he expected would show Shukla, Maibach, and other public university scientists working behind the scenes to advance the legal campaign against oil companies and groups that take policy positions contrary to those of the AGs going after Exxon. GMU initially told Horner that there were no responsive documents to open records requests. But he received emails from requests filed with other state universities that included emails to or from Shukla and Maibach. He sued GMU to compel the release of those and other emails. A Virginia court ruled last month that GMU did in fact withhold responsive documents, and ordered their release. The university is appealing that decision to the Virginia Supreme Court, and sought on Friday to prevent the documents’ release pending that appeal.
A judge in Richmond rejected that request on Friday, [May 13, 2016] allowing the documents to be released.
The emails were released, and here they are. This essay is a long piece, and I’m asking you to click the email link and read still more. These emails are stunningly similar to the East Anglia emails of Climategate 1.0 and 2.0, and constitute another 3.0 collection. This time they were obtained legally, and not by hacking.
This climate “skeptic” writer suspects that the Shuklas and their alarmist colleagues were and are so threatened because they know how tenuous their precious “consensus” is — how unsettled their “settled science” may become if those evil “deniers” should come up with any more flaws in their research to “save the world.” Climategate 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 emails gave us a window on their real world. Ask yourself, reader: if there really is such a consensus, why have they criminalized dissent?
This essay explains why so few climate skeptics want to go public with their doubts for fear of the climate alarmist steamroller — a very real thing. I must admit here that I have some trepidation myself about being sued by the suit-happy and paranoid Michael Mann for what I’ve already written. Can I afford to defend myself? I’m not an organization so I don’t have to worry about Maine Attorney General Janet Mills filing criminal charges against me — yet.
I’m just a small-time columnist trying to expose what I see as a major threat to my world — not anthropogenic climate change, but the threat Professor Ivar Giaever identified: “Global warming has become a new religion,” he said. I’m afraid because its 21st century Inquisition may soon have authority to put me in jail as a heretic.