Cheap Seats 2019
The Sky is Not Falling - 10/02
By Rich Trzupek
The message was clear: “There is no climate emergency”. With those five simple words a global network of scientists and professionals attempted to inject reasonableness and decorum into what should be a robust discussion about a complex scientific and public policy issue, but has instead degenerated into an ever more intense mud-slinging contest over the years.
The war of the slogans involves people who hold one view dismissing their opponents as wild-eyed socialists attempting to leverage public fear and ignorance to further their political agenda, while people who hold an opposing view dismiss those who disagree with their supposedly settled scientific conclusions as nothing more than the sputtering of knowing shills for or ignorant dupes of evil energy interests.
In between those extremes that are so popular with armies of Public Relations professionals who shape the messages of public interest groups and professional politicians to maximum effect, are a not quite silent majority of scientists and professionals who take a much more measured, reasoned view of the science when considering the supposed climate emergency some say we are facing.
A group of five hundred-some scientists and professionals signed on to the “European Climate Declaration” that was released last week. This simple, short and very understandable statement proposed how scientists and professionals who believe that analysis of any public policy issue involving complex science should be approached from a reasoned, fact-based perspective.
Statements like “97% of climatologists agree that anthropogenic climate change is occurring” is not a statement of fact, it’s an opinion twice removed. It’s an opinion that involves evaluation of the legitimacy of how the results of the poll in question were sorted to dismiss some answers and allow others, and it’s an opinion in terms of how representative the sample size with respect to all climate professionals.
Statements like “modeling shows that catastrophic climate change will occur in the next (pick a number) years unless drastic changes are made” is also an opinion. It’s an opinion because the results of any model, and in particular any model that purports to predict the future of anything as complex as the entire planet’s climate system, necessarily relies on a multitude of choices made by the model’s designer. The relative importance of the many, many factors that go into the model’s calculations are choices determined by the judgements made by the model designer when designing the complex equations that operate behind the scenes in the models. Those judgements are matters of opinion, not statements of fact.
In a letter sent to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations the leaders of the European Climate Declaration urges the UN to “…follow a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation.”
Hundreds of scientists and professionals from thirteen European nations signed on to the Declaration, supported by fellow signatories from ten other countries residing in other nations. I was honored to be asked to be one of the signatories from the United States and most enthusiastically agreed to do so.
There is likely to be much criticism of the professional qualifications of many of the signatories, since many, like me, are not climatologists. And yet, so many people speaking out on the issue of climate change who are convinced there is a climate emergency have so little personal understanding of the science involved in the discussion. Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would-be politicians like Tom Steyer and pundits like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews have little or no personal understanding of the actual scientific principles involved. They can point to their preferred “expert” and declare that we should trust him or her without question, but they don’t know why.
Even professionals like mechanical engineer Bill Nye and astronomer Phil Plait, who are very much experts in their own fields, have demonstrated that they have little personal knowledge of the nuances of climate science though they use their positions and popularity to assume positions of authority regarding this singular issue, the principles of which they personally grasp far less than other vocal non-climatologists like Lord Monckton, Anthony Watts, Mark Steyn, Steve McIntyre or a chemist and air quality professional who moonlights as a contributor to The Epoch Times.
I will close with three important claims that form part of the European Climate Declaration. I believe each to be accurate and hope that reasonable people can use these claims, and the others contained in the declaration, as the basis for civilized, respectful and meaningful discussions in the future.
One: “The world has warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate, and at less than half the rate to be expected on the basis of net anthropogenic forcing and radiative imbalance. It tells us that we are far from understanding climate change.”
Two: “Climate models have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools. Moreover, they most likely exaggerate the effect of greenhouse gases such as CO2. In addition, they ignore the fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is beneficial.”
Three: “There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050. If better approaches emerge, we will have ample time to reflect and adapt. The aim of international policy should be to provide reliable and affordable energy at all times, and throughout the world.”
Well said. Well said indeed.