Latest posts by H. Sterling Burnett (see all)
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Politicians, international bureaucrats, radical environmental activists, and bought-and-paid-for government scientists recently gathered in Paris to shape a climate change treaty less about fighting climate change and more about ensuring the existence of an ongoing flow of big-dollar research grants to researchers and activist organizations and greater control of the world economy for politicians and bureaucrats.
Dissenting voices were not welcome at the Paris conference. Scientists, economists, and politicians bucking the tide of misinformed climate alarmism were not invited.
A counter conference examining the real climate data, cohosted by The Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, was held across town at the Hotel California. Its speakers were excluded from the U.N.’s venue.
In the United States, on December 8, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, convened a hearing titled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” This hearing provided a real discussion of the evidence on whether humans are causing catastrophic climate change requiring draconian restrictions on fossil fuel use.
Before the hearing, Cruz described climate change as a “pseudo-scientific theory” perfect for those who want to impose “massive government control over the economy, the energy sector, and every aspect of our lives.” The scientists who testified reinforced his point.
The University of Alabama–Huntsville’s John Christy, one of the scientists critical in developing, maintaining, and collecting global satellite temperature data, testified scientists have a limited understanding of how recent human greenhouse gas emissions affect the climate, and he said the U.N. models show much more warming than actual observations record. On average, Christy says climate models display three times the rate of warming actually recorded.
“Models do not accurately represent at least some of the important processes that impact the climate because they were unable to ‘predict’ what has already occurred,” said Christy. Christy insisted to the committee climate models fail at the simple test of telling scientists what has already happened, what will happen in the future, or why many climate changes have occurred.
Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry testified she has become increasingly concerned the integrity of climate research is being compromised by the politicization of the subject, which is healthy neither for science nor public policy. Curry cited considerable disagreement about the most consequential issues: whether the warming has been dominated by human causes versus natural variability; how much the planet will warm in the 21st century; and whether warming is in fact dangerous.
Curry went on to note any climate scientist expressing uncertainty in the climate debate is categorized as a “denier” who is assumed to be ideologically motivated or captive to funding from the fossil fuel industry. This results in enormous pressure for climate scientists to conform to a fictional consensus dangerous anthropogenic warming is occurring. The pressure is imposed by politicians, federal funding agencies, universities, professional societies, and scientists—many of whom are green activists themselves.
Princeton and Columbia University physicist William Happer reinforced Christy’s testimony. Speaking with authority as the person responsible for funding the early development of the first climate models as director of the Office of Energy Research in the U.S. Department of Energy from 1990 to 1993, Happer testified there are credible estimates the temperature rise we might expect from a doubling of carbon dioxide from preindustrial levels could be as low as 0.5° Celsius, just one-sixth of the sensitivity assumed by most climate models.
Whereas the temperature impact of a doubling of carbon dioxide is likely to be small, the effect on agriculture could be tremendous, Happer reported. Preindustrial CO2 levels of 280 parts per million (ppm), were barely above the 150 ppm level, where many plants die from carbon dioxide starvation. Thousands of peer-reviewed studies show almost all plants grow better (and land plants are more drought-resistant) at atmospheric carbon dioxide levels two to three times higher than at present. Consequently, Happer argues, policies limiting carbon dioxide emissions are likely to cause far more harm than good.
The Paris conference, by contrast, was one big dog-and-pony show, with science fiction being hyped while scientific evidence was ignored. Western nations tried their best to limit the economic opportunities of the poor in developing countries by restricting their access to reliable, affordable, fossil-fuel-generated energy, while corrupt leaders in developing countries tried to extort billions of dollars in payoffs from industrialized countries in exchange for keeping their people poor.
Unlike the political machinations in Paris, the U.S. Senate hearings defended the scientific method, individual freedom, and the right of all to strive for a more prosperous future. Give me Cruz’s vision for the world’s future over that of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon any day.