Monday, May 13, 2013

Assessing the Climate Change Skeptics

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were ~ John F. Kennedy (5/29/1917 to 11/22/1963) the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his death in 1963.

According to climate change skeptic Willis Hart of the blog Contra O'Reilly I am a moron who knows absolutely nothing about climatology. Why the insult (followed by a semi-factual statement)? Because, according to him, I referred to the "reasoned and well thought out" works of climate change skeptics Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, John Christy, William Happer, And Freeman Dyson as "stupidity".

To this I say... no, sorry, you are wrong. What I said was that I think the notion that the majority of the world's climate scientists are liars who are faking their research is stupidity (Willis has asserted numerous times that the research is being faked, the "climateagate" emails being proof of that).

But do I have enough knowledge of climatology to outright declare that the scholarly works of the climate change denying scientists Willis admires are all "stupidity"? I will admit that I do not (which is why I didn't). However, if one does actually investigate the people he names, you'll find that there are problems to be found. For one, not all of these people are climate scientists. For another, at least one has ties to big oil...

Richard Lindzen: Atmospheric physicist and Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wikipedia says, "he believes that decreasing tropical cirrus clouds in a warmer world will allow more longwave radiation to escape the atmosphere, counteracting the warming". However, "most mainstream researchers consider Dr. Lindzen's theory discredited".

Also, according to SourceWatch, "Lindzen charged oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services [and] his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels and a speech he wrote, entitled Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus, was underwritten by OPEC". Not only that, but he was a witness for the tobacco companies when they were denying a link between smoking and cancer!

Roy Spencer: Climatologist and principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Wikipedia notes that "Spencer is a signatory to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting".

OK, so we've established that he's cuckoo - and I say that as a person who identifies as Christian. Seriously, a religious belief that God is going to protect us from global warming does not cut the mustard as real science. I'm surprised Mr. Hart cites him. The Hartster must be unaware of his religious views and how they have influenced his scientific ones.

Also, SourceWatch (in regards to Spencer) says, "there are several flaws in [Spencer's] methods... inconsistent initial conditions [and] failure to use the appropriate data... All of these flaws pushed his model to produce a lower climate sensitivity estimate. When the flaws are corrected, the model estimates climate sensitivities of at least 3°C, which is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) central estimate".

John Christy: Climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. According to Wikipedia he is "a strong critic of scientists who make catastrophic predictions of huge increases in global temperatures and tremendous rises in sea levels". Skeptical Science says, "The foundation of Dr. Christy's arguments are that despite over four decades of climate science research, we still do not understand the workings of the global climate much better than we did in 1970, and that as a result, we are jumping to conclusions in blaming recent global warming on human activities. However, contrary to Dr. Christy's uncertainty exaggerations, the human influence on the recent global warming is one of the aspects which climate scientists are most certain about".

William Happer: American physicist who has specialized in the study of atomic physics, optics and spectroscopy. He is not a climate scientist. Wikipedia says, "in February 2009 Happer testified before the U.S. Congress, I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind, for among other reasons because of its beneficial effects on plant growth".

Skeptical Science disagrees with the "CO2 is plant food and thus good" theory, noting, "CO2 enhanced plants will need extra water both to maintain their larger growth as well as to compensate for greater moisture evaporation as the heat increases. Where will it come from? In many places rainwater is not sufficient for current agriculture and the aquifers they rely on are running dry throughout the Earth".

Freeman Dyson: Theoretical physicist and mathematician, but not a climate scientist. Regarding Freeman, Wikipedia notes that "Dyson agrees that anthropogenic global warming exists, and has written that one of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas".

So what's the problem? Dyson says, "my objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, ABOUT WHICH I DO NOT KNOW MUCH, but it's rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have..."

That wraps it up in regards to the people whose works Willis claims I referred to as stupidity... even though I didn't. However, now that I've done some research I have reconsidered. While I'm sure these are all extremely intelligent men (all smarter than I), I must conclude that there is definitely some stupidity within the works of these skeptics. Perhaps Willis is correct in labeling me a moron? What do you think me-buck?

Update 8/10/2015: This commentary is included on a list of "all blog posts mentioning Freeman Dyson relating to Climate Change" on the site The Carbon Capture Report, which "is one of the world's premiere sources of daily news and public perception reports of carbon capture and sequestration, climate change, and the energy sector around the world, 365 days a year".

SWTD #149, wDel #23.


  1. I say, "Sometimes the moron is the wiser of the two."

    Changing what you said is a common tactic for those who cannot argue with what you said. Your "stupidity" comment did not even refer to people. It referred to a notion, a thought. To say you were calling people stupid says more about Will than it does about you.

  2. Find out at what caused the warming that ended over a decade ago. A link is included to a site that presents a simple science-based equation that calculates temperatures since before 1900 with an R2 of 0.9 using only one widely available variable.


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