According to NOAA, the number of tornadoes has been steadily growing since the 1950s, despite a drop in numbers in the last five years.
They show the above chart prominently in their Tornadoes – Annual 2016 Report.
However, they know full well that it is meaningless to compare current data with the past, as they explain themselves in the section Historical Records and Trends, which is hidden away on their own website:
One of the main difficulties with tornado records is that a tornado, or evidence of a tornado must have been observed. Unlike rainfall or temperature, which may be measured by a fixed instrument, tornadoes are short-lived and very unpredictable. If a tornado occurs in a place with few or no people, it is not likely to be documented. Many significant tornadoes may not make it into the historical record since Tornado Alley was very sparsely populated during the 20th century.
Much early work on tornado climatology in the United States was done by John Park Finley in his book Tornadoes, published in 1887. While some of Finley’s safety guidelines have since been refuted as dangerous practices, the book remains a seminal work in tornado research. The University of Oklahoma created a PDF copy of the book and made it accessible at John Finley’s Tornadoes (link is external).
Today, nearly all of the United States is reasonably well populated, or at least covered by NOAA’s Doppler weather radars. Even if a tornado is not actually observed, modern damage assessments by National Weather Service personnel can discern if a tornado caused the damage, and if so, how strong the tornado may have been. This disparity between tornado records of the past and current records contributes a great deal of uncertainty regarding questions about the long-term behavior or patterns of tornado occurrence. Improved tornado observation practices have led to an increase in the number of reported weaker tornadoes, and in recent years EF-0 tornadoes have become more prevelant in the total number of reported tornadoes. In addition, even today many smaller tornadoes still may go undocumented in places with low populations or inconsistent communication facilities.
With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the United States, the total number of EF-1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These tornadoes would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.
Of course it is nonsensical to claim that the bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years – there has clearly been a large reduction.
Note as well that they have not even bothered to update the graph for 2015. Could it be they would rather the public did not find out the truth?
Meanwhile, over at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) you can see that, when allowance is made for changing reporting procedures, last year may well have had the lowest number of tornadoes on record.
The SPC is also part of NOAA, but is the department that actually deals with tornado events and data on a day to day basis. As such, they tend to be more interested in the facts, rather than a political agenda.
While we still await the final numbers and classification for last year, but what we do know is that there was no EF-5. Indeed the last occurrence was the Moore, OK tornado in May 2013.
It is unusual to go nearly four years without one, as there have been 59 since 1953, effectively one a year on average.
The bottom line is that the NOAA headline graph is grossly dishonest. Indeed, if a company published something like that in their Annual Accounts, they would probably end up in jail!
NOAA themselves know all of this full well.
Which raises the question – why are they perpetuating this fraud?
Reflections on the stabilization of Earth’s climate by life.
People frequently believe the claim that basic physics, established in the 19th Century, is sufficient to predict that Earth will warm in response to increasing CO2. However, I argue here that negative feedbacks due to life (‘Gaia’) may have stabilized the planet’s climate — on geological timescales and in recent decades. The biology of any such stabilization is far from settled, with a mechanistic understanding delayed by evolutionary debate. I conclude that even with such advanced biology we have little power to predict global climate changes.
There is a basic flaw in the basic physics argument of climate change: biology. Indeed, just one word should be enough to cast doubt on all models of the atmosphere: “oxygen”. No educated person is unaware of one aspect of Earth’s basic biology: most atmospheric oxygen results from living organisms. Physics and chemistry therefore cannot explain atmospheric composition or properties. Basic chemistry would leave the planet a rusty ball (like Mars or Venus). So, as James Lovelock articulated in his Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, the properties of our atmosphere result from the tight coupling of living and non living components (biota and abiota). Earth’s obvious and massive departure from chemical equilibrium is unique in the solar system. So, if it’s easy to understand that life is central to atmospheric chemistry, why have many people found it much harder to understand life could be pivotal in atmospheric energy and climate? And if life is so intimately involved, predictive models would need to include it — which I’ll argue they can’t because the biology is too complex.
An initial response, I anticipate, will be that oxygen is not a climatically-active gas, because it is not radiatively active. However, that does not weaken the argument that life changes Earth far from the state which non-biological “basic” science would predict — an example of the planetary power of life. Moreover, few realise that oxygen could have major implications for the long-term temperature trajectory of the planet, if it is helping to keep Earth wet. This controversial idea was discussed in meetings on Gaia in Oxford in the 1990s, postulating that in the absence of life and oxygen, the splitting of water by sunlight would eventually lead to desiccation of the planet (as hydrogen bled away into space). Photo-dissociation might be offset by the presence of atmospheric oxygen, scavenging hydrogen and restoring water. If so, the dominant climatically-active gas in the atmosphere — water — also owes its abundance to life.
Whether the planet is wet due to life requires further study and discussion. Fortunately my argument — that life is largely missing from the models — does not depend on this. What is more important is that people who believe basic physics is sufficient to predict climate should consider cloud condensation.
It is very widely accepted that clouds are hard to model, yet central to understanding climate sensitivity to CO2. It is not even known if the overall cloud feedback effect in a warming world is positive or negative. Indeed, the IPCC (2013) state: “Clouds and aerosols continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth’s changing energy budget….some aspects of the overall cloud response vary substantially among models…”.
The basic physics of absorption and emission of infrared radiation have been combined with complex and uncertain physics to estimate that doubling of CO2 would warm the Earth by about one degree Celsius. Feedbacks involving water vapour and clouds are required to invoke larger climate changes from a doubling of CO2. Unsurprisingly, cloud feedbacks estimated from models vary substantially. Cloud-related feedbacks could be net positive (because condensed water emits infrared radiation). Cloud-related feedbacks could be net negative (because clouds reflect sunlight back into space). Further, cloud processes and convection induce and modify complex atmospheric motions, from very small scales to planetary scales. The uncertainty of cloud behaviour might eventually be tractable with complex physical models for a lifeless planet (which somehow retained water), but I think that the uncertainty is amplified to unmanageable levels on our biologically-active Earth.
It was James Lovelock who identified a potentially huge impact of life on the climate. No wonder, then, that he now argues that “anybody who tries to predict more than five to ten years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly”. Consider this: some unknown fraction of the cloud of this planet, of unknown type and altitude and climate activity, is produced for unknown reasons by unknown numbers of living species with unknowable population dynamics. If there are any modellers who think this is tractable, I hope they will indicate how in the Comments below.
How, how much, and why is life involved in cloud formation? Nobody knows. I’ll outline a few of these unsettled elements of the science of climate change.
The question “how” is life involved is the simplest: some species release chemicals that become cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), without which water remains a vapour. Some species secrete a gas, DMS (dimethyl sulphide), which seeds some clouds. Some plants secrete gases with similar properties, including Volatile Organic Compounds such as isoprene and pinene. Clouds are often observed rising over rainforest trees and other forests. It has been known for hundreds of years that some forests create rainfall (and I hypothesize that life in lakes similarly creates some of the clouds associated with them).
Unfortunately, “how much” cloud is created by life is unknown, a problem worsened by paucity of data on how much of each type of cloud cover there is and was (particularly before satellite observations). Some argue that life creates a substantive fraction of the global cloud cover, others less – and the fraction will vary through time.
“Why” does life create clouds remains unknown, but two fascinating evolutionary reasons have been proposed. Hamilton and Lenton (1998) suggested that “microbes fly with their clouds”. This is a proposal I expect many scientists will too-readily dismiss — even if they understand the track record of Hamilton as the biologist central to modern evolutionary theory (through his initially controversial ideas). However, the ‘selfish’ reason microbes of oceans, forests (and lakes?) secrete a cloud-forming gas (at metabolic cost) could be to generate latent heat of condensation, thence uplift of air — and thus dispersal of life to sites with more opportunities. And a plausible reason for plants to generate clouds is that they use rainfall. Predictions that clouds should increase when plankton become stressed (such as by nutrient deficiency or irradiance) will require long-term and large-scale observation.
I guess climate modellers will counter that they have performed sensitivity analyses, and that life and its interations with clouds, are not needed to predict the future climate accurately enough, or have small effects. Such arguments might have convinced me whilst models appeared to fit the unadjusted observations. However, several inexplicable (but biologically evident) warmer periods in the Holocene and Eemian damage climate model credibility. It’s not possible to do sensitivity analysis for an element of a system if there is no reliable benchline against which to measure the effects of manipulations.
Biology is very poorly represented in all of ‘climate science’, be it the mechanisms, ecological effects or policy response. Tellingly, the IPCC Assessment Report (2013) calls its first volume ‘The Physical Science Basis’. As one of the few scientists publishing on the evolutionary mechanisms of ‘Gaia,’ I know that very little attention has been paid to this topic. Perhaps if Bill Hamilton were still alive and researching the stability of the Earth system, things would be different. Because Lovelock’s original version of Gaia has an evolutionary flaw, I redefined Gaia as “planetary stability due to life”, and worked with Hamilton and Peter Henderson to seek mechanisms compatible with evolutionary biology. (Amongst the reasons few biologists have taken an interest in Gaia are that the original theory and models, such as ‘Daisyworld’, had an evolutionary bias, required ‘group-selection’, or implied natural selection amongst communities or planets). Instead, Hamilton, Henderson and I looked for negative feedbacks through two biological processes: i) ecology (density-dependent population growth); and 2) evolution (frequency-dependent selection – a mechanism also postulated by Richard Dawkins in The Extended Phenotype in 1982). The frequency of cloud-producing living organisms (abundance or biomass) is likely to be responsive to CO2, generating positive and/or negative biological feedbacks (Canney & Hambler, 2002, Biological Feedback, in: The Encyclopedia of Global Change).
At the risk of adding yet another failure to the litany of failed climate predictions, I predict climate models will struggle to include biology. No amount of physics, basic or complex, will overcome this deficiency. It is not possible to model population changes of even one species of organism several generations into the future. The unpredictability of complex systems is well known in ecosystems – as Robert May and colleagues demonstrated in the 1970s for multi-species fisheries. Populations of species that influence each other’s survival, reproduction or dispersal in ways related to abundance are likely often to demonstrate ‘deterministic chaos’, in which simple equations including time lags often generate superficially chaotic population changes. Even two species coupled through the Lotka-Volterra differential equations may show such behaviour. Imagine the problems, then, of modelling millions, billions or even trillions of microbial ‘species’ on Earth – when not even the number of species is known, let alone each of their requirements and climatic influences. Whether multi-species systems have more predictable emergent stability remains to be seen; this would make incorporation of ecology into climate models easier. Such stability is being investigated by Peter Henderson in the ‘Dam World’ model of Gaia he created with Bill Hamilton (Canney & Hambler, 2013, Conservation).
Modelling changes in plankton becomes even more implausible when one considers the responses to changing CO2: ‘ocean acidification’ might boost plankton through improved bicarbonate availability, and thence even cool the planet through DMS induced clouds. Or it might impact plankton through metabolic costs, thereby reducing calcification and a carbon sink and creating a positive feedback. The population and metabolic consequences of interactions (including those between warming water, CO2 outgassing, pH changes, thermoclines, nutrient and carbon dioxide availability for photosynthesis) are not known for any planktonic species, let alone entire hyper-complex marine ecosystems. Even if population changes could be predicted, we could not predict their cloud production behaviour — or the overall effect on albedo or convection.
It should come as no surprise to scientists and the public that wildlife has climate impacts – yet few realise how large these can be. When and if people accept that life can greatly change the chemistry of the atmosphere, they may be ready for another logical step. In this paradigm, temperature drives life drives CO2 levels. As Murry Salby (2012) deduced (Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate), CO2 lags temperature on a wide range of timescales (including glacial to interglacial oscillations, the last few hundred years, decades, and within a year). About 5% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year is from human activities, leaving ample scope for minor changes (perhaps in solar activity) to change the major biological sinks and sources of this gas and overwhelm human influences on radiative forcing. Perhaps the paradigm shift required to understand causality in climate is comparable to discovering the ancient nature of fossils, or plate tectonics, or neo-Darwinism, or the inhibitory models of plant succession. I’ve witnessed and taught through some of these shifts, so know how hard they are.
The ecology and evolution of negative feedbacks and Gaia might provide a framework to reconcile climate data and theory – but with very different theory to the basic physics of the climate. Instead, climate becomes — as many others have noted — a perhaps intractable and wicked problem. Prediction and attribution of useful climate detail may be beyond any science. If ‘the pause’ continues, or the world now cools or warms, we may never know why. It might be that negative biological and other feedbacks prevented runaway warming in the past, and have already begun to act. Or solar activity might be driving the carbon cycle, stifling CO2 increase. Or both. If extinction rates continue to rise such feedback may collapse — a perverse outcome of climate policy that destroys habitat. We hear a lot about high risk justifying high expenditure on reducing CO2 emissions, despite low probability of such risk. If we applied those expenditures to protecting the biological component of climate, we would conserve the climatically-active ecosystems — not, perversely, destroy them though renewable energy impacts and opportunity costs.
I anticipate many of the suggestions above will raise calls for publication in journals. Perhaps that’s the way physics works. Yet many key biological advances have been published in books or informal articles. Some of Hamilton’s ideas were published only in less formal articles and in a film on clouds (which very few people have watched). Moreover, conventional peer review demonstrably does not work well in some areas of climate science.
I thank Judith Curry for yet another brave move in hosting this entry. I hope policy makers will focus on no-regrets actions (such as protecting forests and marine life) which are relatively cheap and would work even if I’m wrong.
Link to essay published in the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society: ‘Thank you for Gaia’, by Clive Hambler [hambler-bes-gaia-paper]
Biosketch. Clive has been an Oxford College Lecturer in biology at Merton, St Anne’s, Pembroke and Oriel. He joined Hertford in 1998 and is the college’s director of studies for Human Sciences. He works in Oxford’s faculties of Zoology, Geography and Anthropology. He is coauthor of the acclaimed book Conservation, published by Cambridge University Press (see reviews).
I was asked to write this short article to be published in the January newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS). A longer version of the article, with references, will be published in a 2017 SAFS conference proceeding.
If we accept an operational definition of “pseudo-science” as whatever any critic of so-called “pseudo-science” probably means, then vehement criticisms of the said “pseudo-sciences” are generally made for one of four reasons:
- To invalidate unworthy ideas, as part of the normal course of science itself — a classic example is the 1989 case of “cold fusion” and its fallout, in the field of condensed matter physics and chemistry
- To celebrate and maintain the middle-class belief that modern society is based on scientific knowledge; to fight against idolatry in the realm of ideas; to participate in improving public discourse and consciousness
- To provide false legitimacy for problematic areas of establishment science that survive owing to systemic financial and professional interests — the preeminent example being establishment medicine (see below)
- To attack a legitimate criticism of a dominant scientific position (collateral attack by appeal to authority or “consensus”, using denigration)
Thus, the full array of motives for engaging in the sport of “pseudo-science” bashing spans a spectrum from good scientific practice to ordinary social behaviour in structured society to support for organized fraud to outright base competition that is incompatible with the science ideal. Here, I outline the last three reasons, as follows. A longer version of this article, with references, will be published elsewhere.
Popular support for establishment science as state religion
Given the epidemic lack of understanding of science concepts, it is not surprising that there is a wide array of beliefs that are at odds with the school lessons about science, including: astrology, “intelligent design”, “free energy”, “orgone”, “creation biology”, and homeopathy.
Realistically, virtually all citizens are entirely unable to critically evaluate what we take as being scientific truth, regarding public policy and regulatory questions. Thus, “public education” means state propaganda. We are reduced to “scientists have concluded” or “there is a scientific consensus that” and so on.
Systemically, from an operational perspective, establishment science is a state religion. It is not anchored in empirical evidence that can be evaluated by the non-expert individual using reason and intellectual discernment. It frames and supports the established order. It provides legitimacy to government programs. It purports to appease our deepest quests for meaning, and supplies a creationist mythology (cosmology, string theory, and so on). Its high priests are venerated and occupy top ranks in the class hierarchy.
Ordinary well-educated citizens have invested in many beliefs delivered by establishment science, and have integrated these beliefs into their personal identities. It is therefore natural that middle-class and professional-class individuals have a learned and reflexive impulse to attack “pseudo-science”. These attacks can be individual or can coalesce via the animal behavioural collective phenomenon known as mobbing.
Legitimacy for problematic areas of establishment science
A stunning example is the organized barrage of criticism and legislation against “alternative medicine” that is largely benign and harmless, intended to imply that establishment medicine — said to be scientifically sound — is the only trustworthy system for repairing individual health.
The problem here is that establishment medicine is anything but shaped by objectively evaluated empirical evidence, and anything but scientifically sound. The eminent medical researcher Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis has demonstrated that “most published research findings are false”.
In North America, between 6% and 8% of citizens will be killed by medical errors of all types. In just one area of establishment medicine, Professor Dr. Peter C. Gøtzsche has come to the point of flatly concluding that long term use of psychiatric drugs cause more harm than good. In his words, based on a decade of research: “Psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world, as I show below. Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal. … Overstated benefits and understated deaths …”
Attacking legitimate criticisms of establishment positions
Climate science has major domestic and geopolitical implications. It is routine to attack critics as immoral or crazy, and for influential actors and groups to seek legal instruments of intimidation and enforcement. The Wikipedia list of “pseudo-sciences” includes “climate change denial”.
This is a remarkable inclusion because several high-profile establishment climate scientists expressly reject the so-called “consensus”, including: Judy Curry (Georgia Institute of Technology), Richard Lindzen (MIT), Hendrik Tennekes (Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute), Nir Shaviv (Racah Institute of Physics), Craig D. Idso (Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change), and many others. Furthermore, detailed studies contradict claims that industrial-era CO2 has had a causal effect on climate and extreme-weather events.
Agitation against “pseudo-science” has two illegitimate interrelated societal mechanisms: Institutionally, it is propaganda (by word and by action) intended to legitimize and impose establishment science. Individually, it serves to preserve the identity-tied personal investment in belief of the teachings of establishment science.
For those of us who cling to the ideal of the university, a review of anti-“pseudo-science” agitation should lead us to support a strict meaning of academic freedom, which does not admit institutional suppression or containment of any chosen research direction and expression. We must trust that actual freedoms of research and expression lead to the best that society can be, through the discourse that arises, whatever that discourse will be.
Denis Rancourt is a former tenured full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and writes social theory articles. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism
This one was doing the rounds yesterday.
From the BBC:
Migrating birds are arriving at their breeding grounds earlier as global temperatures rise, a study has found.
Birds have reached their summer breeding grounds on average about one day earlier per degree of increasing global temperatures, according to the research by Edinburgh University.
The study looked at hundreds of species across five continents.
It is hoped it will help scientists predict how different species may respond to future environmental change.
Reaching their summer breeding grounds at the wrong time – even by a few days – may cause birds to miss out on maximum availability of vital resources such as food and nesting places.
Late arrival to breeding grounds may, in turn, affect the timing of offspring hatching and their chances of survival.
Long-distance migrants, which are shown to be less responsive to rising temperatures, may suffer most as other birds gain advantage by arriving at breeding grounds ahead of them.
Flowering and breeding
Takuji Usui, of Edinburgh University’s school of biological sciences, said: “Many plant and animal species are altering the timing of activities associated with the start of spring, such as flowering and breeding.
“Now we have detailed insights into how the timing of migration is changing and how this change varies across species.
“These insights may help us predict how well migratory birds keep up with changing conditions on their breeding grounds.”
The study examined how various species, which take flight in response to cues such as changing seasonal temperatures and food availability, have altered their behaviour over time and with increasing temperatures.
The researchers examined records of migrating bird species dating back almost 300 years.
The study drew upon records from amateur enthusiasts and scientists, including notes from 19th-century American naturalist Henry David Thoreau.
Species that migrate huge distances – such as the swallow and pied flycatcher – and those with shorter migrations – such as the lapwing and pied wagtail – were included in the research.
The study, published in Journal of Animal Ecology, was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.
So, let’s get this straight.
One day earlier for each degree of global warming. That means birds are migrating a whole day earlier than during the 19thC.
And we are supposed to be concerned about this?
In fact, given the inter-annual variability, I simply do not believe that these results have any statistical significance whatsoever. The error margins must dwarf the results.
But here’s the thing. Birds have been adapting to changing climate for millennia. It is not the climate that forces them to do anything. Quite the reverse in fact. Birds will adopt the strategy that is most beneficial for them.
The longer they can stay at their summer breeding grounds, the better it is for them, as it allows more time for them to raise their chicks.
The project was funded by the NERC. Isn’t it time we stopped wasting taxpayers’ money on such rubbish?
In the world of climate science, the skeptics are coming in from the cold.
Researchers who see global warming as something less than a planet-ending calamity believe the incoming Trump administration may allow their views to be developed and heard. This didn’t happen under the Obama administration, which denied that a debate even existed. Now, some scientists say, a more inclusive approach – and the billions of federal dollars that might support it – could be in the offing.
“Here’s to hoping the Age of Trump will herald the demise of climate change dogma, and acceptance of a broader range of perspectives in climate science and our policy options,” Georgia Tech scientist Judith Curry wrote this month at her popular Climate Etc. blog.
William Happer, professor emeritus of physics at Princeton University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is similarly optimistic. “I think we’re making progress,” Happer said. “I see reassuring signs.”
Despite harsh criticism of their contrarian views, a few scientists like Happer and Curry have pointed to evidence that global warming is less pronounced than predicted. They have also argued that this slighter warming would bring positive developments along with problems. For the first time in years, skeptics believe they can find a path out of the wilderness into which they’ve been cast by the “scientific consensus.” As much as they desire a more open-minded reception by their colleagues, they are hoping even more that the spigot of government research funding – which dwarfs all other sources – will trickle their way.
President-elect Donald Trump, who has called global warming a “hoax,” has chosen for key cabinet posts men whom the global warming establishment considers lapdogs of the oil and gas industry: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to run the Energy Department; Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma to run the Environmental Protection Agency; and Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
But while general policy may be set at the cabinet level, significant and concrete changes would likely be spelled out below those three – among the very bureaucrats the Trump transition team might have had in mind when, in a move some saw as intimidation, it sent a questionnaire to the Energy Department this month (later disavowed) trying to determine who worked on global warming.
It isn’t certain that federal employees working in various environmental or energy sector-related agencies would willingly implement rollbacks of regulations, let alone a redirection of scientific climate research, but the latter prospect heartens the skeptical scientists. They cite an adage: You only get answers to the questions you ask.
“In reality, it’s the government, not the scientists, that asks the questions,” said David Wojick, a longtime government consultant who has closely tracked climate research spending since 1992. If a federal agency wants models that focus on potential sea-level rise, for example, it can order them up. But it can also shift the focus to how warming might boost crop yields or improve drought resistance.
While it could take months for such expanded fields of research to emerge, a wider look at the possibilities excites some scientists. Happer, for one, feels emboldened in ways he rarely has throughout his career because, for many years, he knew his iconoclastic climate conclusions would hurt his professional prospects.
When asked if he would voice dissent on climate change if he were a younger, less established physicist, he said: “Oh, no, definitely not. I held my tongue for a long time because friends told me I would not be elected to the National Academy of Sciences if I didn’t toe the alarmists’ company line.”
That sharp disagreements are real in the field may come as a shock to many people, who are regularly informed that climate science is settled and those who question this orthodoxy are akin to Holocaust deniers. Nevertheless, new organizations like the CO2 Coalition, founded in 2015, suggest the debate is more evenly matched intellectually than is commonly portrayed. In addition to Happer, the CO2 Coalition’s initial members include scholars with ties to world-class institutions like MIT, Harvard and Rockefeller University. The coalition also features members of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorology Society, along with policy experts from the Manhattan Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute and Tufts University’s Fletcher School.
With such voices joining in, the debate over global warming might shift. Until now, it’s normally portrayed as enlightened scholars vs. anti-science simpletons. A more open debate could shift the discussion to one about global warming’s extent and root causes.
Should a scientific and research funding realignment occur, it could do more than shatter what some see as an orthodoxy stifling free inquiry. Bjorn Lomborg, who has spent years analyzing potential solutions to global warming, believes that a more expansive outlook toward research is necessary because too much government funding has become expensive and ineffective corporate welfare. Although not a natural scientist, the social scientist Lomborg considers climate change real but not cataclysmic.
“Maybe now we’ll have a smarter conversation about what actually works,” Lomborg told RealClearInvestigations. “What has been proposed costs a fortune and does very little. With more space opening up, we can invest more into research and development into green energy. We don’t need subsidies to build something. They’ve been throwing a lot of money at projects that supposedly will cut carbon emissions but actually accomplish very little. That’s not a good idea. The funding should go to universities and research institutions; you don’t need to give it to companies to do it.”
Such new opportunities might, in theory, calm a field tossed by acrimony and signal a détente in climate science. Yet most experts are skeptical that a kumbaya moment is at hand. The mutual bitterness instilled over the years, the research money at stake, and the bristling hostility toward Trump’s appointees could actually exacerbate tensions.
“I think that the vast ‘middle’ will want and seek a more collegial atmosphere,” Georgia Tech’s Curry told RealClearInvestigations. “But there will be some hardcore people (particularly on the alarmed side) whose professional reputation, funding, media exposure, influence etc. depends on cranking up the alarm.”
Michael E. Mann, another climate change veteran, is also doubtful about a rapprochement. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State and author of the “hockey stick” graph, which claims a sharp uptick in global temperatures over the past century, believes ardently that global warming is a dire threat. He concluded a Washington Post op-ed this month with this foreboding thought: “The fate of the planet hangs in the balance.” Mann acknowledges a brutal war of words has engulfed climate science. But in an e-mail exchange with RealClearInvestigations, he blamed opponents led by “the Koch brothers” for the polarization.
Mann did hint, however, there may be some room for discussion.
“In that poisonous environment it is difficult to have the important, more nuanced and worthy debate about what to do about the problem,” he wrote. “There are Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Inglis and George Shultz trying to create space for that discussion, and that gives me hope. But given that Donald Trump is appointing so many outright climate deniers to key posts in this administration, I must confess that I – and many of my fellow scientists – are rather concerned.”
Neither side of the debate has been immune from harsh and sinister attacks. Happer said he stepped down from the active faculty at Princeton in part “to deal with all this craziness.” Happer and Mann, like several other climate scientists, have gotten death threats. They provided RealClearInvestigations with some of the e-mails and voice messages they have received.
“You are an educated Nazi and should hang from the neck,” a critic wrote Happer in October 2014.
“You and your colleagues who have promoted this scandal ought to be shot, quartered and fed to the pigs along with your whole damn families,” one e-mailed Mann in Dec. 2009.
Similar threats have bedeviled scientists and writers across the climate research spectrum, from Patrick Michaels, a self-described “lukewarmer” who dealt with death threats at the University of Virginia before moving to the Cato Institute, to Rajendra Pachauri, who protested anonymous death threats while heading the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Putting such ugliness aside, some experts doubt that the science will improve even if the Trump administration asks new research questions and funding spreads to myriad proposals. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and a member of the National Academy of Sciences who has long questioned climate change orthodoxy, is skeptical that a sunnier outlook is upon us.
“I actually doubt that,” he said. Even if some of the roughly $2.5 billion in taxpayer dollars currently spent on climate research across 13 different federal agencies now shifts to scientists less invested in the calamitous narrative, Lindzen believes groupthink has so corrupted the field that funding should be sharply curtailed rather than redirected.
“They should probably cut the funding by 80 to 90 percent until the field cleans up,” he said. “Climate science has been set back two generations, and they have destroyed its intellectual foundations.”
The field is cluttered with entrenched figures who must toe the established line, he said, pointing to a recent congressional report that found the Obama administration got a top Department of Energy scientist fired and generally intimidated the staff to conform with its politicized position on climate change.
“Remember this was a tiny field, a backwater, and then suddenly you increased the funding to billions and everyone got into it,” Lindzen said. “Even in 1990 no one at MIT called themselves a ‘climate scientist,’ and then all of a sudden everyone was. They only entered it because of the bucks; they realized it was a gravy train. You have to get it back to the people who only care about the science.”
Climate Central just ran this piece, which the Washington Post picked up on. They claimed the US was “overwhelmingly hot” in 2016, and temperatures have risen 1,5°F since the 19th century.
The first problem with their analysis is that the US had very little hot weather in 2016. The percentage of hot days was below average, and ranked 80th since 1895. Only 4.4% of days were over 95°F, compared with the long term average of 4.9%. Climate Central is conflating mild temperatures with hot ones.
They also claim US temperatures rose 1.5°F since the 19th century, which is what NOAA shows.
The problem with the NOAA graph is that it is fake data. NOAA creates the warming trend by altering the data. The NOAA raw data shows no warming over the past century
The adjustments being made are almost exactly 1.5°F, which is the claimed warming in the article.
The adjustments correlate almost perfectly with atmospheric CO2. NOAA is adjusting the data to match global warming theory. This is known as PBEM (Policy Based Evidence Making.)
The hockey stick of adjustments since 1970 is due almost entirely to NOAA fabricating missing station data. In 2016, more than 42% of their monthly station data was missing, so they simply made it up. This is easy to identify because they mark fabricated temperatures with an “E” in their database.
When presented with my claims of fraud, NOAA typically tries to arm wave it away with these two complaints.
- They use gridded data and I am using un-gridded data.
- They “have to” adjust the data because of Time Of Observation Bias and station moves.
Both claims are easily debunked. The only effect that gridding has is to lower temperatures slightly. The trend of gridded data is almost identical to the trend of un-gridded data.
Time of Observation Bias (TOBS) is a real problem, but is very small. TOBS is based on the idea that if you reset a min/max thermometer too close to the afternoon maximum, you will double count warm temperatures (and vice-versa if thermometer is reset in the morning.) Their claim is that during the hot 1930’s most stations reset their thermometers in the afternoon.
This is easy to test by using only the stations which did not reset their thermometers in the afternoon during the 1930’s. The pattern is almost identical to that of all stations. No warming over the past century. Note that the graph below tends to show too much warming due to morning TOBS.
NOAA’s own documents show that the TOBS adjustment is small (0.3°F) and goes flat after 1990.
Gavin Schmidt at NASA explains very clearly why the US temperature record does not need to be adjusted.
You could throw out 50 percent of the station data or more, and you’d get basically the same answers.
One recent innovation is the set up of a climate reference network alongside the current stations so that they can look for potentially serious issues at the large scale – and they haven’t found any yet.
NOAA has always known that the US is not warming.
All of the claims in the Climate Central article are bogus. The US is not warming and 2016 was not a hot year in the US. It was a very mild year.
Climatologist Prof Phil Jones, who was at the centre of the Climategate row over hacked emails, will be succeeded by Prof Timothy Osborn.
Prof Osborn, who has worked at the UEA since 1990, said: “UEA provides a superb environment for climate research and so it is a privilege for me to become the Climatic Research Unit’s next director of research.
“I’m looking forward to leading our pioneering climate research, establishing with greater certainty the details of how and why the Earth’s climate is changing and the consequences for the future.”
No doubt Phil’s well earned retirement will give ample opportunity to adjust homogenise his golf scores!
“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper” – George Orwell
Recognizing that their time is up on January 20, 2017, global warming fraudsters have turned the volume up to eleven with fake news that the Arctic is hot at Christmas.
The Arctic is extremely cold, but there is a very narrow band of relatively mild air running along the Prime Meridian across the pole.
Greenland is extremely cold, and has gained a record amount of ice this year.
It was all-time record cold -80F in Siberia this week, as the fraudsters behind the climate scam tell the public the Arctic is “super-hot.”
In Surgut a woman was cycling at minus 43C.
There are only 90 days per year when the North Pole can melt, and those dates have been running colder than normal in recent years.
Heatwaves in the Arctic have been occurring for as long as people have been visiting there.
Ice at the pole is currently two meters thick, the same as it was in 1940.
In 1940, the ice at the pole was also two meters thick.
The fake news press has been pulling this same Arctic scam for as long as anyone can remember. Arctic conditions are the same as they were 60 years ago, and they have been predicting an ice-free Arctic for as long as anyone can remember.
I worked for Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology – BOM for 2 years from 1973 to 1975. I was trained in weather observation and general meteorology. I spent 1 year observing Australia’s weather and 1 year observing the weather at Australia’s Antarctic station at Mawson.
As part of it’s Antarctic program, Australia drills ice cores at Law Dome near it’s Casey station. On our return journey in 1975 we repatriated a large number of ice cores for scientific analysis. The globe’s weather and climate records are stored in these ice cores for the past 1 million years approximately.
Australia’s Antarctic program went by the name of Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition or ANARE for short. This is now known as Australian Antarctic Division or AAD. Returned expeditions formed a club called the ANARE Club of which I have been a member since 1975. Members have many functions and reunions and they have a reunion dinner every year. At this dinner there has always been guest speakers from Australia’s Antarctic Division. These guest speakers are usually someone of the caliber of the Divisions Chief Scientist or the Operations Manager and the talks are designed to keep members updated on the Antarctic scientific program.
The annual dinner is also a place where members keep in touch with each other and network and this communication continues throughout the year via email.
The International Panel on Climate Change – IPCC
The IPCC was created by and is a joint 50/50 partnership between the World Meteorological Organisation – WMO and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It has extremely narrow terms of reference in that it’s role is to determine that humans are causing global warming. In that regard it is only looking at human induced forcings over the past 150 years, just to make sure it reaches that result. That makes it a political body with a political agenda.
World Meteorological Organisation – WMO
The WMO has structurally changed since 1974. Today it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. When I went through training with the BOM, the WMO had a shared global headquarters between Melbourne, New York, Moscow and London. I don’t know when this structure changed. Australia had a leading role in the WMO and was a dissemination point for weather data.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology – BOM
BOM’s headquarters are in Melbourne. Australia has claim to 5.9 million square kilometres, about 42% of Antarctica. That claim is on hold while the Antarctic Treaty is in place. On the Antarctic continent Australia has 3 full time stations, Mawson, Davis and Casey, as well as a 4th, Macquarie Is., in the Southern Ocean. BOM has a full time presence on all these stations. Weather data is collected throughout the day and night at all these stations. At Mawson in 1974, we collected not only our own data but all the weather data from Davis, the Japanese station at Syowa and the Russian station at Molodezhnaya. Mawson sent all this data to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission – OTC in Sydney where it was forwarded on to BOM in Melbourne. A second Russian station, Mirny, was collected by Casey and forwarded on the BOM Melbourne via OTC.
BOM used this data, in conjunction with all the observational data obtained from all the weather stations and observational points throughout Australia, as part of Australia’s weather maps and forecasting. Additionally, Melbourne was the WMO distribution point for all weather data in our region. BOM Melbourne collected and collated all this data and forwarded it on to the WMO.
Temperature Data and IPCC’s Climate Change
In 2013 I attended an ANARE Midwinter Dinner – MWD. Australian Antarctic Division – AAD’s Acting Chief Scientist Dr Martin Riddle was our guest speaker at this function. I met with him over canapes before the dinner and spoke with him for about 20 minutes. I tried to get a sneak preview what his talk was going to be about. He said he was Australia’s lead scientist on the IPCC and, aside from giving us an update on the scientific program in the Antarctic, he was going to talk about climate and global warming. I asked him, were we not in an interglacial warm period in the 100,000 year Milankovitch Cycle and wasn’t all this current warming natural? His jaw dropped and was aghast. Our discussion ended there and he raced off not looking too happy. I couldn’t help but getting the feeling that I wasn’t supposed to know anything about the Milankovitch Cycles. It seemed like no one was supposed to know this.
It seems apparent that we all are just supposed to listen to what the IPCC are telling us and don’t ask questions. So what are the IPCC telling us?
The IPCC have produced 102 climate models to predict our future climate. The world’s meteorological organizations use weather models to forecast and predict weather and have been for many years. They have proved to be very accurate over 4 days and reasonably accurate over a week. The IPCC’s climate models are notoriously inaccurate. We’ve had these models now for some 30 years and we now have 30 years of data to compare them against. They are not even close to accurate.
Dr Roy Spencer is a meteorologist, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite. At an International Conference on Climate Change in his presentation he said referring to the IPCC models below.
Climate models are not even forecasting. Those curves on the chart are hindcasts.¹ They already knew what the answer was but still can’t get them right.
In spite of this, the IPCC seem adamant that there is nothing wrong with their models and it must be the data that is not right. Roy Spencer said: There’s no comparison. The IPCC are now hinting, maybe we shouldn’t trust the observations, let’s just trust the models.
Temperature Adjustments – Homogenization
One has to be excused for being skeptical here but it does look prima facie like the IPCC has asked their 50% partner, the WMO, to give them some temperature data that more closely matches their models. At least 3 of the WMO’s senior partners, BOM – Australia, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA – America and Met Office – UK are adjusting their temperature data to something that has a much more closer resemblance to the IPCC’s models. There is no evidence that Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia – (Roshydromet), is involved with these adjustments.
They are taking this:
And turning it into this:
An Australian scientist, Jennifer Marohasy, has been taking a close interest in the adjustments BOM are making.² She produces weather forecasting models and has a grave concern about these adjustments. One of the data inputs to weather forecasting models in temperature. It appears that the temperature is not correct/accurate now.None of these organizations will say or explain what they are doing or are being vague when asked. Raw data is being removed from public scrutiny and no one knows if it is actually being destroyed. Officially they are providing no scientific basis for making these adjustments. The adjustments they are making are complex. The 1940/41 and 1998 El Ninos have been wiped from these records.
But they haven’t just lowered and raised the temperatures in one hit, they’ve slowly incriminated the adjustments so that it all looks natural. If they’d lowered and raised them in one hit you’d have a chart that looks like this.
At one of our recent MWD reunions I caught up with and spoke to a colleague who spent many years working at the BOM as a weather observer and forecaster both in Antarctica and Australia. This person is outside of the realm of politics and wishes to remain anonymous. The person’s last job was working on these temperature adjustments. The job of this person’s team was to adjust the temperatures upwards so has been working on adjustments from 1990 until the present.
I asked, why was BOM making these adjustments and it was explained to me this way.
When there are temperature observational points located in the CBD area of large cities where there are tall buildings, it has been well known to BOM and generally, that these temperatures would be half to one and a half degrees C cooler if the tall building and the city wasn’t there. It is a phenomenon known as “the island effect”. It is the same as when, on a cold day, the hairs on your arm stand up and that insulates a warm layer of air close to the skin. Tall buildings do the same thing. Additionally, these tall buildings are heated and air conditioned and every time people walk in and out of the building, hot or cold air blows out altering the ambient street temperatures.
But the anomaly in what this person is saying here is that this person’s team is adjusting country temperatures upwards by half to one and a half degrees C so that they match the city temperatures. That’s creating about a degree C of warming when if they had adjusted the city temperatures down half to one and a half degrees C, they’d be creating approximately a half a degree of cooling.
Jennifer Marohasy’s charts for Rutherglen in country Victoria show this quite clearly. Note these are truncated to 1910.
The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network–Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) Technical Advisory Forum released a report in 2015 confirming that the Surface Air Temperatures were being adjusted, confirming the process is called Homogenization, confirming that other weather monitoring institutions around the world are making these same adjustments and purporting to justify why the adjustments are being made. Observing practices change, thermometers change, stations move from one location to another and new weather stations are installed. They refused to release their complex mathematical formula used to make the adjustments. They claim that homogenisation is essential in eliminating artificial non-climate systematic errors in temperature observations. non-climate related factors include:
- the replacement of thermometers;
- changes in observing practices;
- expansion of the network into remote locations;
- changes in infrastructure surrounding a weather station;
- relocation of weather stations.
The only reason on that list that really makes any sense is changes in infrastructure surrounding a weather station. You can’t calibrate a thermometer used 100 years ago with one used today. When reviewing Jennifer Marohasy’s paper on Rutherglen, just as one example, none of the above apply yet Rutherglen’s temperatures were still adjusted. In her report Jennifer wrote:
In a special advisory issued by the Bureau in September 2014, it is claimed that the adjustments – which create the artificial warming trend in the homogenised temperature minima – were necessary to make the Rutherglen series consistent with the trends measured at neighbouring weather stations. However, it is apparent that in this advisory, annual raw minima values from Rutherglen are compared with data from neighbouring sites that have already been homogenised. This approach, which may once have been considered fraudulent, is now consistent with the postmodernist epistemology that underpins homogenisation as practiced by the Bureau . . .
Jennifer has requested of BOM why Rutherglen was adjusted when none of the BOM’s homogenization criteria applied and received no response.
My observation of all of this is that these so called reasons for making these adjustments are not reasons but excuses. If any adjustments are to be made, city/urban temperatures should be adjusted down to match what the temperature would be without tall buildings. Adjusting country/regional temperatures upwards to match the city is a fabrication to suit an hypothesis or agenda and the reasons are just an excuse. If there was any real reason for an adjustment, aside from the island effect in cities, it would be for where there is a Stevenson Screen out in the middle of an asphalt car park. That temperature should be adjusted down. Yet all these adjustments are both up and down, depending on the time period, with the end result a temperature chart that resembles catastrophic warming. And that is coincidentally exactly what the IPCC are looking for.
That makes these adjustments political not scientific.
- It is reasonable to make certain adjustments that are intended to improve accuracy.
- Adjustments should be rare.
- Adjustments should not be to suit a political purpose and there should be no mechanism that allows to even make this possible.
- As a scientific practice, the reporting agencies should ALWAYS maintain and report the original raw data. It should be publicly available for download. It should be easy to find and not buried under numerous web pages making it impossible to find.
Once you start introducing reasons to make adjustments then it becomes too easy to use them as an excuse to adjust everything to suit a purpose. It becomes easy to allow for political interference. Political interference should be impossible.
Brendan Godwin was a Radio Technical and Officer Weather Observer Bureau of Meteorology for Mawson Station in the Antarctic 1974
The Washington Post is misleading their frozen US readers once again about the Arctic, telling them the Arctic has temperatures 50 degrees above normal and record low sea ice. They say this is not normal.
Temperatures in Greenland are incredibly cold. The reason the North Pole is not as cold as normal is because deep waves in the jet stream have brought the cold air south, and milder air north.
It has snowed in the Sahara Desert for the first time in 40 years.
Arctic sea ice extent is higher than 2012 and 2013, and about the same as last year. There is no “record low sea ice” as the Washington Post fraudsters claim.
What is going on in the Arctic with meridional circulation was explained by Science News during the 1970s ice age scare. There is nothing unusual going on in the Arctic.
The December 1977 issue of National Geographic showed exactly what was going on.
Deep dips in the jet stream brought warm air towards the pole, and cold air to the Midwest and East.
Florida was frozen during January, 1977. California was warm and had record drought.
Alaska was 50 degrees in January 1997, and the bears refused to hibernate. Note the same 50 degree number used in the Washington Post article.
This is just one more fake news attempt by the Washington Post to derail President Trump’s efforts to end junk climate science. Warm air in one place normally means cold air somewhere else. This is perfectly normal weather and has nothing to do with fake news global warming.
So far, everyone who has jumped in front of the Trump Train has been crushed.
Secular and religion-based political systems can bear an uncanny resemblance. Observing their respective dogmas, catechisms, and sacraments, we might even wonder, with William Cavanaugh, whether the divide is as sharp as we commonly think. Recent events certainly call the distinction into question. We see that a secularist can be as much a fanatic who is willing to denounce heresy and impose his will through violence as any religionist. As Cavanaugh writes in The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict:
“I argue that there is no transhistorical and transcultural essence of religion and that essentialist attempts to separate religious violence from secular violence are incoherent. What counts as religious or secular in any given context is a function of different configurations of power. The question then becomes why such essentialist constructions are so common. I argue that, in what are called ‘Western’ societies, the attempt to create a transhistorical and transcultural concept of religion that is essentially prone to violence is one of the foundational legitimating myths of the liberal nation-state. The myth of religious violence helps to construct and marginalize a religious Other, prone to fanaticism, to contrast with the rational, peace-making, secular subject. This myth can be and is used in domestic politics to legitimate the marginalization of certain types of practices and groups labeled religious, while underwriting the nation-state’s monopoly on its citizens’ willingness to sacrifice and kill. In foreign policy, the myth of religious violence serves to cast nonsecular social orders … in the role of villain. They have not yet learned to remove the dangerous influence of religion from political life. Their violence is therefore irrational and fanatical. Our violence, being secular, is rational, peace making, and sometimes regrettably necessary to contain their violence. We find ourselves obliged to bomb them into liberal democracy….
“In the West, revulsion toward killing and dying in the name of one’s religion is one of the principal means by which we become convinced that killing and dying in the name of the nation-state is laudable and proper….
“What is implied in the conventional wisdom is that there is an essential difference between religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, on the one hand, and secular ideologies and institutions such as nationalism, Marxism, capitalism, and liberalism, on the other, and that the former are essentially more prone to violence—more absolutist, divisive, and irrational—than the latter. It is this claim that I find both unsustainable and dangerous. It is unsustainable because ideologies and institutions labeled secular can be just as absolutist, divisive, and irrational as those labeled religious. It is dangerous because it helps to marginalize, and even legitimate violence against, those forms of life that are labeled religious.” (Emphasis added.)
I submit that Cavanaugh’s point is verified by the widespread reaction to anyone who dares doubt the CIA’s narrative in the alleged Russian hacking of the Democrats’ email accounts. Woe betide anyone who would question the “intelligence community’s [sic]” infallibility or honor. More broadly, observe the treatment accorded anyone doubting that bureaucrats are selfless disinterested guardians of the public weal.
But those are not the only signs of our secular dogma. One can also detect it in the hysterical denunciation of anyone who expresses skepticism toward the scientific priesthood in the matter of climate (formerly climate change; formerly global warming). Climate denier, sinner: recant or suffer excommunication! (It’s no coincidence that the priesthood provides support for measures that would expand bureaucratic power over our lives.)
And the invective aimed at those who believe that American-flag burners ought not to be imprisoned, much less stripped of citizenship, or that people ought to be free not to stand for the national anthem or Pledge of Allegiance (to a flag!) certainly demonstrates that at least one secular democratic republic is no stranger to sacred rituals and objects, or the concepts heresy, blasphemy, and infidel.
These examples demonstrate that both progressives and conservatives each have their secular dogmas, and they occasionally overlap. One cannot always predict how one side or the other will come down in any given case because shifting occurs under the pressure of politics. One who questions “American exceptionalism” is likely to be branded a heretic — but branded by whom? In the recent campaign, President Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton invoked American exceptionalism, but Republican President-elect Donald Trump distanced himself from the idea. (“I don’t like the term.”) Normally Republicans are the heresy hunters on this matter, but this was not a normal year.
Recall how Ron Paul was treated when during his campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination he put the 9/11 attacks in context: “They’re over here because we’re over there.” Rudy Giuliani and others demanded that Paul recant.
At any rate, as Alex Nowrasteh shows, the right indeed has its “own, nationalist version of PC, their own set of rules regulating speech, behavior and acceptable opinions. I call it ‘patriotic correctness.’ It’s a full-throated, un-nuanced, uncompromising defense of American nationalism, history and cherry-picked ideals. Central to its thesis is the belief that nothing in America can’t be fixed by more patriotism enforced by public shaming, boycotts [excommunication?] and policies to cut out foreign and non-American influences.”
Let’s look closer at the heresy that the CIA may be neither honest nor free of error. Here’s another area where Trump has shaken things up. In the past, Democrats and progressives were liable to be the ones expressing wariness about the CIA, and Republicans and conservatives were the ones to defend it. Today it is Trump who dismisses the CIA allegations against the Russians (which not all government spy agencies believe), while Democrats act appalled that anyone would doubt “our 17 intelligence agencies.” They feign incredulity that Michael Flynn (of whom I am no fan), Trump’s choice for national security adviser, would say that the CIA has been politicized. They seem to forget that their beloved President John F. Kennedy came to despise the CIA and threatened to destroy it after it misled him about the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion. Despite Trump, however, most establishment Republicans are sticking to the old script.
The outrage against those who cast aspersions on America’s spy bureaucracy is ludicrous. Do people really forget that in 2013 Director of National Intelligence James Clapper publicly lied — there is no other word — when he flatly denied to a Senate committee that Americans were being spied on en masse? (Edward Snowden soon exposed Clapper’s shameless lie.) Do they also forget that the CIA was politicized during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq? The Bush administration wanted a reason to invade, and the agency was told to come up with evidence of WMD and of involvement with al-Qaeda. There was no evidence, but that did not matter. Counter-evidence was ignored or ridiculed. That was hardly the first instance of politicization.
Defense of the CIA in the email disclosures is a massive exercise in question-begging — that is, in assuming what is disputed. When skeptics demand evidence, apologists (including many “news reporters”) respond by asking why the skeptics are unconcerned about a foreign power’s attempt to undermine American democracy. Some have gone so far as to accuse skeptics of being Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots, if not actual agents. McCarthyism lives.
But why would we take the CIA on faith, unless we are committed to a secular nation-state dogma that must not be questioned? As Glenn Greenwald writes, “CIA officials are professional, systematic liars; they lie constantly, by design, and with great skill, and have for many decades, as have intelligence officials in other agencies.”
Apologies for the CIA has taken another illegitimate form: identifying skepticism exclusively with Trump and his supporters. By this route apologists imply that the only people who reject the CIA’s narrative are special pleaders with a vested interest in the legitimacy of Trump’s election in the face of Russian “interference.” What about the skeptics who did not support Trump? We’re supposed to believe that no such persons exist. This is obvious nonsense. Serious critiques of the CIA’s anonymously leaked conclusions exist, and they have nothing to do with helping Trump.
The effort to sanctify the CIA requires the suspension of common sense. Judges instruct juries to take their common sense into the jury room. We should not let the technical aspects of cyber-security breaches lull us into leaving ours behind.
To hear the U.S. government tell it, Russians, under Putin’s direction, left their “fingerprints” all over the place when they hacked the email Democrats’ email accounts. (WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and a close associate, Craig Murray, say that Russians were not the source.) But we’re also told that the Russians are as sophisticated as Americans in all things cyber. But aren’t those two claims inconsistent?
As a fan of mystery shows, I know how the great TV detectives would react to a crime scene overflowing with obvious “evidence” that a well-known professional criminal had done some devilish deed. “It just doesn’t add up,” Frank Columbo or Tom Barnaby might say. Why would Putin leave a calling card? (Andrew Cockburn asks similar questions here. Read more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) As Sam Biddle writes at The Intercept, “It’s very hard to buy the argument that the Democrats were hacked by one of the most sophisticated, diabolical foreign intelligence services in history, and that we know this because they screwed up over and over again.”
Doesn’t it sound as though someone framed the Russians? I have not heard this question asked on CNN, but that’s probably because the media have no interest in giving time to informed skeptics.
Another thing: in what way did the Russians — assuming for the sake of discussion that they did it — “destabilize” or “interfere with” American democratic institutions? After all, according to the official narrative, all the Russians did was disclose some embarrassing — but hardly devastating — undisputed facts about the DNC and the Clinton campaign. It’s hard to believe that making it impossible for Debbie Wasserman Schultz to chair the DNC dealt a major blow to American democracy. It’s equally hard to take seriously the claim that the election was “disrupted” by revelations that Hillary Clinton holds both private and public decisions on issues or that her campaign was worried that the private email server in her basement might be a problem for voters. What might the Russians reveal next, that water is wet?
Does anyone seriously believe that such revelations changed the outcome of the election? Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of almost 3 million. Are we to believe that the revelations only did their damage in rust-belt swing states? Let’s get real. She started out her campaign widely distrusted.
Say what you will about the hacking (or perhaps leaking), but let’s not pretend that when voters learn the truth about a candidate, an election has been disrupted or that democracy has been attacked. Do the people who say these things listen to themselves?
If the Russians were serious about sowing confusion and disillusionment, why wouldn’t they have planted disinformation, as the Soviets were accused of doing? (I have not heard it alleged that “Pizzagate” was the work of the Russians. Now there’s disinformation.) Does former KGB agent Putin not know how to meddle in an election?
The whole damn story fails the laugh test. Here’s the comforting part: if Russia did it, then Putin must be the head of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. So what are we worried about? It hardly seems worth going to war over. (See Jack Shafer’s Who’s Afraid of a Little Russian Propaganda?)
Finally, it is amusing to see the priests of the pundit class and political officialdom rush to the fainting couch at the thought that “a hostile foreign power” might have attempted to meddle in “our” election. They surely know that the U.S. government has been doing such things for decades, even in Russia — and worse, since the U.S. government also has helped oust elected leaders in, among other places, Iran, Chile, and most recently Ukraine. (See Ishaan Tharoor’s The Long History of the U.S. with Elections Elsewhere. For more, see Stephen Kinzer’s Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.) American exceptionalism apparently means the U.S. government can do whatever it wants because it’s good, but others may not — especially Russia because it’s evil. That’s why no media discussion of Russian actions may mention the many bipartisan U.S. provocations since the Cold War ended (if it actually ended), such as the expansion of NATO to the Russian border, incorporating former Soviet allies and republics, in violation of President George H. W. Bush’s pledge not to do so.
President Obama now threatens to retaliate. But if Russia really committed the hack, maybe that was in retaliation for persistent U.S. interference in its sphere. Preferable to war would be a sit-down and a pledge by both sides to quit fooling around.
So heretics and blasphemers unite! Considering that Russia, a nuclear power, is now accused of committing an act of war, we have nothing to lose and much to gain.
Guess who the new climate ‘conspiracy theorists’ are?
When I first saw this published in the WaPo, I thought it was a joke: Why I’m trying to preserve federal climate data before Trump takes office. Excerpts:
Trump is serious about overtly declaring war on science. This isn’t a presidential transition. It’s an Inquisition. It’s a 21st-century book burning. The incoming administration is likely to be willfully hostile toward the scientific process, with far-reaching implications.
One of the most tangible consequences of sharp cutbacks in federal funding for climate science is the potential loss of critical data — whether by neglect or malice — that underlie global efforts to understand our climate system. By all accounts, that’s exactly what Trump and his team want: Ignorance of how human actions are affecting our planet makes it easier to maintain the status quo.
‘Saving’ climate data
WaPo has another article on the topic: Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump. Excerpts:
Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.
The efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information.
In recent weeks, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a growing list of Cabinet members who have questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus around global warming. His transition team at the Department of Energy has asked agency officials for names of employees and contractors who have participated in international climate talks and worked on the scientific basis for Obama administration-era regulations of carbon emissions. One Trump adviser suggested that NASA no longer should conduct climate research and instead should focus on space exploration.
Those moves have stoked fears among the scientific community that Trump could try to alter or dismantle parts of the federal government’s repository of data on everything from rising sea levels to the number of wildfires in the country.
Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, argued that Trump has appointed a “band of climate conspiracy theorists” to run transition efforts at various agencies, along with nominees to lead them who share similar views.
“They have been salivating at the possibility of dismantling federal climate research programs for years. It’s not unreasonable to think they would want to take down the very data that they dispute,” Halpern said in an email. “There is a fine line between being paranoid and being prepared, and scientists are doing their best to be prepared. . . . Scientists are right to preserve data and archive websites before those who want to dismantle federal climate change research programs storm the castle.”
To be clear, neither Trump nor his transition team have said the new administration plans to manipulate or curtail publicly available data. But some scientists aren’t taking any chances.
Breitbart counters with this article: Fake News – Climate Scientists ‘Save’ Data from Donald Trump. Excerpts:
No one has done more damage to “climate data” in the past three decades than the corrupt, politicized activist scientists who are now afraid that they may be neutered or booted out of office by the incoming administration.
One of the many shocking revelations of the 2009 Climategate emails was that in some cases the raw temperature data had been destroyed or lost by the scientists whose job it was to maintain it. Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia admitted that they had not kept “the original raw data” for reasons of “data storage availability”.
That, in turn, prompted a lawsuit by the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market advocacy group, is arguing that U.S. EPA’s climate policies rely on raw data that have been destroyed and are therefore unreliable. The nonprofit group — a staunch critic of U.S. EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases — petitioned (pdf) the agency last week to reopen the public comment period on its proposed “endangerment finding” because the data set had been lost (E&ENews PM, Oct. 9).
But climate scientists familiar with the data insist that the reports are based on sound science and that the data in question was altered as part of standard operating procedure to ensure consistency across reporting stations.
For the alarmists now to turn around and claim that the Trump administration is unfit to look after data that they’ve already lost and destroyed is, as Tony Heller puts it, an “Orwellian Climate Moment“.
NOAA overwrites their monthly temperature data, and wanted $260,000 to recover data which should have been downloadable online in a matter of seconds. Fee Notification Letter – 2014-001602
Well, the conspiracy theory about climate data and climate science seems to be growing. At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, there was a #standupforscience rally. Images and videos are provided by a post at WUWT.
Scott Waldman of ClimateWire has a good overview: Scientists prepare for ‘nightmare scenario’ under Trump (unfortunately behind paywall). Excerpts:
SAN FRANCISCO — Climate scientists are ready for battle.
With President-elect Donald Trump naming skeptics to Cabinet positions and sending mixed messages about his own view of established climate science, the world’s researchers say they fear and dread the next four to eight years. As more than 20,000 earth and climate scientists gathered here for the American Geophysical Union’s first major meeting since the election, they vowed to combat any federal effort to stifle their work.
For a short time Tuesday, dry presentations of research papers were replaced with protests. Scientists, some donning white lab coats, chanted “Out of the lab, into the streets!” and “Resistance, resistance, resistance” in defense of their work.
The pushback from scientists comes amid mixed messages from the incoming Trump administration about climate change.
State and federal officials from the Obama administration buoyed the crowd of anxious researchers by telling them they were not alone.
Of particular concern is one of the weapons that the Trump administration could deploy against them. David Schnare, general counsel of the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, who has represented groups that have sued for access to climate scientists’ unpublished emails and research, is now part of the transition team.
Lawyer Peter Fontaine fought Schnare’s attempts to get Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann’s emails for years through a series of court battles.
Yawn. Michael Mann again. See Steyn versus Mann: norms of behavior. Standing up for integrity in climate research does not require that you stand up for Michael Mann’s egregious behavior. So . . . losing data — sort of like what happened to the hockey stick data and meta data?
Buzzfeed has a more balanced article: Climate Scientists Split Over How to Survive Trump. Excerpts:
Just a couple of hours earlier, BuzzFeed News had sat down with Margaret Leinen, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and current president of the AGU. She acknowledged the concerns, but urged calm until it’s clear what the Trump administration is going to do. “A lot of people like me have seen transitions before,” she said.
“I think that immediately anticipating that the federal government will start destroying datasets is an overreaction,” Leinen said. “Remember also that Congress has a lot to say about this.”
Somewhere in the middle, judging from the AGU meeting, are the vast majority of researchers who want to steer clear of politics and simply get on with their work. They went about their business as usual, checking their emails and scurrying from talk to talk — many of the younger scientists carrying cardboard tubes containing posters describing their research.
Later that evening, the top brass of NASA’s Earth sciences division held a packed town hall meeting, delivering a pep talk with the message: “Keep calm, and carry on”…for now, at least. Thomas Zurbuchen, a Swiss-born space scientist who is the space agency’s most senior science official, warned against “amplifying noise,” and urged everyone to “behave like scientists,” and wait for evidence of what the new administration wants to do.
“When the data come, when we have the evidence, when there is a line at which decisions have to be made, there may be fights that have to happen,” he said. And if that time comes, Zurbuchen also warned against infighting between space scientists and Earth scientists over NASA research dollars. “United communities are a lot harder to beat than divided communities,” he said. “Let’s stick together, and stick up for each other.”
An epidemic of activism
Nature has a provocative article: Is Donald Trump pushing more scientists towards political activism? It seems that the answer is ‘yes’.
From a column in Nature from a few months ago: The elephant in the room that we can’t ignore. Excerpts:
The playwright Bertolt Brecht had a good line on expertise. In his plays, doctors, lawyers and other ‘experts’ are generally portrayed in threes. They squabble haplessly among themselves, each manoeuvring into the position that most elevates themselves in the eyes of their aristocratic paymaster.
And that, sadly, is the role to which senior scientific leaders have sometimes reduced themselves. In the main, they have been happy to accept the autocracy of politics and finance, even, like the president of the European Research Council, hanging around at the annual meeting of business leaders at Davos in Switzerland, hoping to pick up crumbs from the rich man’s table.
The problem extends down into the community itself. We like to talk about ‘engaging the public’, but many scientists really just want to talk at them.
And those senior scientists who do engage with the government or public — as scientific advisers, for example — often take up highly political positions without acknowledging that they are doing so. For example, they support free-trade agreements that cede the right of democratic governments to control things such as cigarette advertising or pesticide use without hard, scientific evidence. This is a political position that is pursued with great dedication by global corporations — and that is haplessly bought into by many scientists without a thought for its consequences.
But at the top, there is paralysis: leading scientific organizations do little except chase money and reinforce the ruling nexus of politics and finance .
So, what are the ‘alarmists’ afraid of? This article from the Manhattan Contrarian nails it: The Impending Collapse of the Global Warming Scare.
The definition of ‘conspiracy theory’:
A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy without warrant, generally one involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by government or other powerful actors.
‘Without warrant’ is key here; there is simply no evidence to support the crazy ideas and fears about the Trump administration’s policy about climate science — simply, because he apparently hasn’t even started thinking about it yet, including appointments for the Undersecretary of NOAA, the Administrator of NASA, etc. Zurbechan’s statement is exactly correct: “behave like scientists,” and wait for evidence of what the new administration wants to do.
JC message to the alarmed scientist/advocates:
Get over it, your side lost. Changes of Presidential administrations occur every 4 or 8 years, often with changes in political parties.
Get busy and shore up your scientific arguments; I suspect that argument from consensus won’t sway many minds in the Trump administration.
Overt activism and climate policy advocacy by climate scientists will not help your ’cause’; leave such advocacy to the environmental groups.
Behave like a scientist, and don’t build elaborate conspiracy theories based on conflicting signals from the Trump administration. Stop embarrassing yourselves; wait for the evidence.
Be flexible; if funding priorities change, and you desire federal research funding, work on different problems. The days of needing to sell all research in terms of AGW are arguably over.
Open your minds to different perspectives and interpretations of scientific evidence.
If you are advocating for policies, do some serious homework about the policy process, economics, and unintended consequences of technologies and policies.
Understand that climate policies are not the only, or even primary, driver for energy policy.