Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
Latest posts by Jim Lakely (see all)
A dear liberal friend of mine from college presented to me the other day a column by National Public Radio’s Adam Frank titled “Science Deniers: Hand Over Your Cellphones!” My friend said via Facebook message: “Would love to hear your thoughts on this.” As luck would have it, The Heartland Institute is hosting its 6th International Conference on Climate Change from June 30 – July 1, so I’ve had this subject on the mind.
Here follows my Facebook response, the response of a layman. (I’m not climate scientist, but the knowledge of the ones I know and read over the years has rubbed off on me.) I humbly present this as a rebuttal to a columnist who has achieved the stature of NPR columnist, but is not as nearly as clever — or as knowledgeable about climate science— as he thinks he is:
Wow! Where to start? Let’s just break down this NPR column down as I go with the stuff that makes me go “GAHHH!”
First: I (and Heartland) are not “Climate Change Deniers.” To the contrary, we (and the scientists who present at our conferences: ICCC1, ICCC2, ICCC3, ICCC4, and ICCC5) maintain something the “warmists” seem to deny — the fact that the climate is always changing. I saw a story just this week in which scientists found new data about the migration of the Vikings away from Greenland — settled around 980 AD, and abandoned at the start of what is called the “Little Ice Age,” which began around 1400 AD.
When Greenland was first settled by the Vikings, it had the climate of modern-day Edinburgh, Scotland — plenty warm enough to grow some crops (especially hay for livestock). And it was abandoned because it got too cold — with no CO2 caused by man to blame. (Previous settlers from around 1500 BC also abandoned southern Greenland for the same reason.)
So, to sum up Point One: The scientists who come to our conferences do not “deny” that climate change is happening. They look at the data — both short-term and very long-term — and come to the conclusion that any warming that is occurring (and it’s been virtually flat the last 10 years) is not outside the realm of historic natural climate variations. Oh, and there is little-to-no evidence that CO2 emitted by man is driving climate change in any significant way. (I’ll stop there. See videos of past conferences for more info.)
Second: The word “skeptic” is fine, as NPR columnist Adam Frank uses it (while still sprinkling in “denial” rhetoric here and there). Scientists SHOULD be “skeptical” of the current dogma. Einstein was a skeptic of the laws of physics that Isaac Newton established for the universe (as was Newton himself was a skeptic of the prior scientific “consensus” 200 years earlier). And Einstein changed history — and science — because he refused to be cowed by the “consensus.” In fact, “consensus” and “science” should never be very close to each other in any discussion. (It’s only because “consensus” is a useful tool of politicians with specific policy aims — combined with the ignorance of most reporters — that the public has forgotten that the two terms should have a healthy distance.)
But here’s where NPR’s Adam Frank kind of gives up the ghost:
Many of the skeptics’ questions had, however, already been addressed many times and in many ways by scientific literature on the subject. Bringing those facets of the research out into the light for public consumption is one the challenges the climate-science community faces as it moves forward.
These are laymen commenters (for the most part) at NPR’s blog. In truth, the “skeptics’ questions” by scientists have largely been blackballed from the “peer-reviewed” literature (though a few have snuck through). The whole “Climategate” scandal was all about how those who are making a living on government grants — by promoting man-made climate catastrophe with unproven-by-real-data computer climate models — were keeping scientific examination of their findings OUT of “legitimate” discussion. The whole point was/is to end the debate.
I find it almost cute, if I’m reading Adam Frank correctly, that he laments that the “warmist” side of the discussion is not getting enough traction in the scientific and popular media. Please. And if he really wants the “skeptic” side of the debate to come forth, the tone of his article doesn’t show it. Oh, and I’m sorry, but I also gotta call BS on this little attempt at sleight of hand by Adam Frank of NPR. He dismisses “Climategate” and Michael Mann’s debunked “hockey stick” graph with this:
These are all talking points intended to avoid real engagement with the scientific process …
No. It’s not just “talking points.” The Climategate emails revealed a coordinated effort to keep many esteemed scientists who found that the data didn’t add up OUT OF THE DISCUSSION. This has EVERYTHING TO DO with the scientific discussion — and it is the “warmists” who “avoid real engagement” in discussion.
Also: The “process” by which Michael Mann formulated his “hockey stick” graph was bogus, and unscientific. You can’t take the hockey stick graph seriously and care about the “scientific process.” Besides, as a point of argument, Adam Frank should not be allowed to just wave waive critics of Mann away because he believes the graph. At a place like NPR, Frank should argue why it should be believed — or, at the very least, link to something that defends it. Frank does neither.
“Corruption” they say, “It’s all corruption.”
In their worldview the scientists are in it for the money or the fame or the power. Scientists are overstating the case. They are ignoring other evidence. The science itself is not just wrong, it’s purposely wrong and designed only to fool the general public. How does that sentiment line up with their every day dependence on science for the miracles of modern life? Like my New Age friends and their alien pyramid builders, science deniers talk one game and play another.
Yes. It is corruption. They are in it for the money — grants, from both government and “Big Oil,” which has huge investments now tied up in “green” energy. Contrary to popular opinion (and I speak here from experience as the communications director of a “skeptic” outfit), the likes of us are hardly swimming in the kind of cash people like Michael Mann are. There is little money in “skepticism” when every government in the world — and, especially, the UN — is betting the other way.
Oh, and the “catastrophe” scientists are overstating the case. And they are ignoring other evidence. And I think the logical conclusion is that it is purposely wrong (see: Climategate). And the general public is fooled — thanks, in large part, to NPR and columnists like Adam Frank.
I was bemused by Frank’s correlation (in several paragraphs) of “the miracles of modern life” to belief in what guys like Mann and the “warmists” say. Shall a “denier” throw away his iPad or refuse life-saving heart surgery because Mann’s scientific method is fatally flawed? Please. If medical science and climate science were equally provable, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Does one really have to address this absurd point? It’s juvenile … yet, Frank makes it. And, despite his feints at giving genuine, scientific “skeptics” some respect, he nonetheless in this passage characterizes them as the kind of folks who would deny evolution or prescribe leeches after a heart attack. C’mon. Is this guy in junior high?
The reason “skeptics” don’t question science in “very specific cases” — such as the treatment of heart disease, and the development of the Internet, and GPS systems — is because they are proven to work. This gets back to why more and more of the public (Adam Frank among the excluded) don’t buy the theory that man is destroying the planet: The data doesn’t prove it. The “warmists” for at least 30 years have produced computer models that would predict catastrophic global warming caused by man. They have predicted the total meltdown of the snows of Kilamanjaro, the reduction to nearly nothing of the glaciers of the Himalayas, the irretrievable flooding of major cities, the end of agriculture in various areas of the globe, and the disappearance of whole inhabited islands.
None of those predictions have come true, and the observable and recorded data keeps proving inconvenient to these predictions — which is what birthed the scientific corruption of Climategate and the debunked “hockey stick.” In short: When reality slams into their predictions, they game the data.
This column by Adam Frank is absurd, and I don’t blame him (too much) for his rhetorical flourishes. It is the result of ignorance on the part of Frank, and most who write about the climate. I would encourage him to attend our conference in Washington this month. If he truly has the open mind to science he says, he’d never write such a column again.