Trump as Whisperer

There’s an old joke about a donkey trainer known far and wide for training donkeys in a gentle way, a “donkey whisperer.” One day, a man who had a defiant donkey brought him to the donkey whisperer for training. The donkey trainer immediately pulled out a two-by-four and whacked the donkey right between the eyes. The man was taken aback. “Why would you do that?, he asked. Your’re supposed to be the donkey whisperer!” he cried. “Well,” said the donkey whisperer, “before you whisper, you need to get their attention.”

After watching President Trump’s inauguration speech, I am guessing he is already thinking beyond draining the swamp. The federal bureaucracy is immense and set in its ways. Like a donkey, it digs in its heels and refuses to cooperate. We see lots of push back from climate alarmist senators in the confirmation hearings, a torrent of posts from Podesta’s blogs, internet sales of “Resist” T-shirts, scaremongering by journalists, along with street protests, defiant celebrities and fearful outbursts from government employees.  He seems to be getting their attention.

Let’s see how well Trump follows the advice of Teddy Roosevelt.

The Climate Change Teapot

The confirmation hearings with questions from global warming zealots reminded me of Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy.

The notion of global warming/climate change resembles closely that mythical teapot.  People like Lewandowsky and Oreskes psychoanalyze unbelievers.  And public hearings are conducted to uncover unseemly heresy inside political appointees.  At least when religion is recognized as such, and not confused with science, modern societies understand it is a matter of opinion and freedom of thought and expression is accepted.

 

Oceans Make 2015 & 2016 Climate

 

Ocean temperature measurements come from a global array of 3,500 Argo floats and other ocean sensors. Credits: Argo Program, Germany/Ifremer

We are seeing lots of claims about the temperature records for 2016 and 2015 proving dangerous man made warming.  At least one senator stated that in a confirmation hearing.  Now that HadSST3 data is complete for last year, let’s see how obvious is the ocean’s governing of global average temperatures.

The best context for understanding these two years comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature these years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.

The chart below shows the last two years of SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3.

hadsst3-2015-2016all

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 are first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back to its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added two bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

Finally, the oceans are entering 2017 at the same temperature level as 2015, only now with downward momentum.

Much ado will be made of this warming, including claims of human causation, despite the obvious oceanic origin. However, it is unreasonable to claim CO2 functions as a global warming agent, yet the two hemispheres respond so differently.  Moreover, CO2 warming theory expects greater warming in the higher latitudes, while this event was driven by heating in the Tropics, contradicting alarmist warming theory.

Solar energy accumulates massively in the ocean and is variably released during circulation events.

 

Senators Sing from Climate Hymnbook

More from true believers in climatism during today’s Senate confirmation hearings, featuring Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey.

Ryan Zinke, nominee for Secretary of the Interior appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for his confirmation hearing Tuesday.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont:
Is President Elect Trump right? Is climate change a hoax?

Secretary of the Interior Nominee Ryan Zinke:
First of all, the climate is changing. That’s indisputable. Secondly, man is having an influence. I think the debate is about what is that influence, and what can we do about it.

If confirmed I will inherit the USGS, where there are a lot of great scientists. I am not a climate scientist, but I will become a lot more familiar with it, and it will be based on objective science. I don’t believe it is a hoax.

I believe we should be prudent, I don’t know definitively. There is a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle.

Senator Sanders:
Actually, there is not a whole lot of debate now, the scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems. There is a debate within this committee, but not in the scientific community.

If climate change is already causing devastating problems, should we be drilling for fossil fuels on public lands?

Nominee Zinke:
We need an economy and jobs too. I support an “all of the above” approach to energy sources. I think that is the better way forward.

Scott Pruitt Nominee for Director of EPA appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Senator Ed Markey, Massachusetts:
NOAA, NASA have declared that 2016 is the hottest year in the 137 year record that has been kept. Donald Trump has said that global warming is a hoax caused by the Chinese. Do you agree that global warming is a hoax?

Nominee Scott Pruitt: I do not, Senator.

Senator Markey: So, Donald Trump is wrong.

Nominee Pruitt: I do not believe climate change is a hoax.

Senator Markey: OK, I think that is important for the President to hear.

Senator Bernie Sanders:
As you may know, some 97% of scientists who have written articles for peer-reviewed journals have concluded that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating problems in the US and around the world. Do you believe that climate change is caused by carbon emissions from human activity?

Nominee Scott Pruitt
As I said in my opening statement, the climate is changing and human activity contributes to that in some manner.

Senator Sanders:
97% of the scientists who publish in this field believe that human activity is the fundamental reason we see climate change. Do you disagree with that?

Nominee Pruitt:
I believe that the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity to impact the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing and whether the human activity contributes to it.

Senator Sanders:
While you are uncertain, the vast majority of scientists are telling us, if we do not get our act together, and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, there is a real question as to the quality of the planet we will be leaving to our children and our grandchildren.

The overwhelming majority of scientists say we have to act boldly, and you are saying more debate is needed on this issue, and we should not be acting boldly.

Nominee Pruitt:
No Senator, as I said the climate is changing.

Senator Sanders:
Why do you think the climate is changing?

Nominee Pruitt:
In response to the CO2 issue, the EPA administrator is constrained by statutes passed by this body.

Senator Sanders:
I am asking for your personal opinion.

Nominee Pruitt:
My personal opinion is immaterial.

Senator Sanders:
Really. You’re going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?

Nominee Pruitt:
Senator, I have acknowledged to you that human activity impacts on the climate.

Senator Sanders:
The scientific community doesn’t tell us that it impacts, they say human activity is the cause of climate change and we have to transform our energy system. Do you believe we have to transform our energy system in order to protect the planet for future generations?

Nominee Pruitt:
I believe the EPA has a very important role in regulating emissions.

Senator Sanders:
You haven’t answered my question.

Summary

Again the 97%, though Sanders is more circumspect in linking that to scientists publishing in the climate field. He doesn’t let on that it originated from 75 out 77 respondents, culled from more than 3000.  Furthermore, he greatly exaggerates their views when he says climate change is already causing “devastating problems.”

From these interrogations, we see that Senators are seeking personal opinions on a subject not of knowledge but of belief. That is actually an unconstitutional basis for qualifying a federal appointee. (Article Six)

The whole emphasis on 97%, vast, or overwhelming majority is to distract you from the fact that these are opinions.  Neither scientists nor senators know the future, since we lack sufficient knowledge of the climate system to predict its behavior.

Global warming/climate change is a matter of opinion in several respects:
No one knows as a matter of fact whether additional CO2 will result in warmer or cooler temperatures, or make any noticeable difference at all.

It is also anyone’s guess what we can do today to ensure desirable temperatures in the future.

If we had the power to determine future temperatures, opinions vary as to what temperature level would be ideal for everyone living around the world at different  latitudes.

It is hubris to think that government can control the weather and climate. (King Canute, where are you when you are so needed?)  Wise political leaders would realize that there will likely be future periods both colder and warmer than the present. They would also recognize that cold is the greater threat to human health and prosperity. Planning for future climates focuses resources on two priorities:  Robust infrastructures and reliable affordable energy.

NASA and Climate Dogma

Recently in a confirmation hearing Senator Harris of California claimed that according to NASA, 97% or more of actively published climate scientists agree that climate warning trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. Then she suggested no one should doubt this finding.

Going to NASA’s page on this topic, you can see clearly that NASA scientists did no such research. In fact, the citations are to only five studies done by people with little or no background in atmospheric physics and research.

The first two papers are by John Cook, founder of the notorious Skeptical Science website.

John Cook has an undergraduate education in physics from the University of Queensland and a post-graduate honors year studying solar physics, worked as a self-employed cartoonist before founding a website pushing climate alarmism. For this he was given the title of the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. He is currently completing a PhD in cognitive psychology, researching how people think about climate change.

Next paper is by W. R. L. Anderegg, at the time a PhD student in the department of Biology at Stanford University. He went on to become a professor at Princeton and Utah Universities in the field of ecology and biological sciences, studying the effects of global warming on forests.

Then the paper that invented the 97% number was published by Professor Peter Doran and his grad student Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, also at Stanford. Interests in global change and communicating science led to Dr. Doran named a Leopold Fellow in 2008 by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment. Doran specializes in polar regions, especially Antarctic climate and ecosystems.

Finally, Naomi Oreskes received her PhD degree in the Graduate Special Program in Geological Research and History of Science at Stanford in 1990. Her fields are History of Science and Economic Geology, and she is a prominent activist for IPCC activities.

All five of these papers have been extensively criticized in the peer-reviewed literature for their poor quality. For example:

Regarding Anderegg et al. and climate change credibility, PNAS, Dec. 28, 2010 by Lawrence Bodenstein

The study by Anderegg et al. (1) employed suspect methodology that treated publication metrics as a surrogate for expertise.

In the climate change (CC) controversy, a priori, one expects that the much larger and more “politically correct” side would excel in certain publication metrics. They continue to cite each other’s work in an upward spiral of self-affirmation.

Here, we do not have homogeneous consensus absent a few crackpot dissenters. There is variation among the majority, and a minority, with core competency, who question some underlying premises. It would seem more profitable to critique the scientific evidence than count up scientists, publications, and the like.

Regarding purely scientific questions, it may be justified to discount nonexperts. However, here, dissenters included established climate researchers. The article undermined their expert standing and then, extrapolated expertise to the more personal credibility. Using these methods to portray certain researchers as not credible and, by implication, to be ignored is highly questionable. Tarring them as individuals by group metrics is unwarranted.

Publication of this article as an objective scientific study does a true disservice to scientific discourse. Prominent scientific journals must focus on scientific merit without sway from extracurricular forces. They must remain cautious about lending their imprimatur to works that seem more about agenda and less about science, more about promoting a certain dogma and less about using all of the evidence to better our understanding of the natural world.

A more complete list of published papers refuting these studies is here: All “97% Consensus” Studies Refuted by Peer-Review

Summary

Climatists are often running a shell game, and you really do have to watch the pea. Here they are using NASA space credentials to hide bogus research by people who are more activist than scientist. In the details, you find no research done by people who went into space. The four sources are a cartoonist/psychologist, a biologist, a polar ecologist and an historian.

In fact, many of the real NASA scientists are extremely critical of NASA’s participation in climate activism.  Senators who raise NASA as evidence of climate change should be directed to The Right Climate Stuff, where esteemed NASA scientists give plenty of good reasons to doubt NASA on this topic.

Footnote:

The same gambit was played by Brian Cox in Australia, claiming NASA credibility for a bogus temperature graph produced by GISS, a minor branch of NASA.  The real graph not shown by Cox is this one:

Background is here: Gotcha Graph from GISS

CO2 Causes Earthquakes! Really?

earthquakegraph

Number of worldwide earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or greater over the last two decades. British Geological Survey

From the “Headlines Claim, Details Deny” department comes this whopper regarding climate effects on seismic activity in Canada.

Natural disasters are expected to increase as climate change pushes global temperatures higher, and some scientists believe earthquakes will also become more frequent. Global News (here)

The alarm is sounded by one scientist, Bill McGuire, writing in the Guardian last fall:

“An earthquake fault that is primed and ready to go is like a coiled spring … all that is needed to set it off is – quite literally – the pressure of a handshake,” writes scientist Bill McGuire, author of Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.

As usual with these alarmist pieces, if you bother to read the details in the text, you discover the headline is misleading or totally false. (“Fake News,” anyone?).

After quoting that scary claim, the article goes on to make numerous statements of fact contradicting Mr. McGuire.

While many parts of the country are prone to seismic activity, experts say Canadians shouldn’t worry about their city or town suddenly becoming a earthquake hot spot due to a warmer atmosphere.

Earthquakes rattle Canada thousands of times every year — there are an estimated 2,500 annually in Western Canada alone. Thanks to the Internet, social media and apps, we’re now more aware of the activity that has always commonly occurred.

“Climate change is not something that just started,” noted Christie Rowe, assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at McGill University.

“All the earthquake patterns that we know of are basically [from] the last century. So the patterns that we know of are already happening in the climate changing world.”

“A lot of people think there’s suddenly an increase but it’s just that they’re getting a lot more coverage than they used to,” said Alison Bird, earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada.

Climate change, “won’t generally cause more earthquakes to happen,” Bird said.

“No, climate change will not result in increased earthquake activity,” agreed Gail Atkinson, professor of earth sciences at Western University, in an email to Global News.

“The glaciers receded from the last ice age, which was considerable time ago — we’re talking about thousands of years,” said Bird. “Because the weight of those glaciers receding has been lifted, the ground is slowly moving up after having that weight removed from it, and you can have earthquakes because of that sort of thing. They tend to be quite small.”

While there may be more small events, Canada’s sparsely-populated Arctic is unlikely to suddenly see massive seismic activity.

Summary

Note the flip-flopping (equivocation) around the term “climate change”. When geologists and seismologists are speaking within their discipline, they are referring to natural changes over thousands of years. With activists “climate change” serves as code for CO2 causing global warming.

Reading the article again, it actually serves to debunk McGuire’s claims, except for the first paragraph or two. The journalist actually sought the views of level-headed experts and printed them for readers to have as context. The gruel is getting pretty thin for desperate alarmists.

thisguyisfalling2R. I. P.  Chicken Little.

More on counterfactual headlines at Headlines Claim, but Details Deny

The Ocean Climate Spin Zone

ocean_gyres_big

This image shows the five major ocean gyres. It shows that gyres rotate in a clockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and a counter-clockwise direction in the Southern hemisphere. The black square shows the approximate location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the red circle shows the position of the Beaufort gyre in the Arctic Ocean.

Professional hydrologist Rob Ellison has for years been thinking and writing to connect the dots between the sun, ocean and climate. Recently he wrote this post at his excellent blog Terra et Aqua, An Earnest Discovery of Climate Causality (link in red)

Below I provide some excerpts from his discussion about an ocean mechanism which would be much better understood, were it not for the CO2 obsession sucking up most of the research funding.

Overview

It is hypothesized that upwelling in the Pacific Ocean is modulated by solar activity over periods of decades to millennia – with profound impacts on communities and ecosystems globally. The great resonant systems of the Pacific respond at variable periods – the tempo increased last century for instance – of La Niña and El Niño alternation. . .The mechanism proposed is a spinning up of the Pacific gyres as a result of colder and denser polar air. Low solar activity spins up the gyres producing more frequent La Niña (more equatorial upwelling) – and vice versa.

Pacific Oscillations Global Impact

The Pacific has a globally influential role in climate variability at scales of months to millennia. The variability in atmospheric temperature, rainfall and biology has its origin in the volume of cold water rising off California and in the equatorial Pacific. It is an ever changing anomaly.

The principle of atmospheric heating and cooling by ENSO is very simple. Cold, nutrient rich currents cascade through the deep oceans over a millennia or more. These turbulent currents don’t generally emerge through a sun warmed surface layer. By far the most significant deep ocean upwelling is in the eastern and central Pacific. Cold water in contact with the atmosphere absorbs heat and warms as the atmosphere cools. At times there is less upwelling and warm water spreads eastward across the Pacific – warming the atmosphere. It is simple enough to see in temperature data.

I have a preference for near global coverage and depth integrated satellite temperature records – it doesn’t miss energy in latent heat at the surface for one thing. 21st century instrumentation is much to be preferred going forward. Over the past century the 20 to 30 year influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) anomaly can be seen in the surface records. Warming to the mid 1940’s, cooling to 1976, warming to 1998 and little change since. The PDO and ENSO are, moreover, in lockstep. A cooler PDO anomaly and more frequent and intense La Niña – and vice versa.

Pacific Gyres Spinning Up Climate Change

The atmospheric/ocean system of triggers and feedbacks varies – usually abruptly with triggers. The trigger for more upwelling I can only imagine is the great ocean gyres. Ocean gyres spin up on the surface through winds and planetary rotation. Pressure systems shift polar winds and storms into lower latitudes. High polar atmospheric pressures spin up the gyres pushing cold polar water into the Californian and Peruvian currents. Roiling cold water upwelling sets up wind and current feedback across the Pacific.

More polar cold water at the surface facilitates upwelling in critical regions.  Trade winds spin up as a feedback and piles warm water against Australia and Indonesia.  Sometimes the winds falter and warm water flows back eastward suppressing cold upwelling.  The whole is a complex and dynamic system triggered by changes in atmospheric pressure zones in the north and south Pacific.  Great movements of atmospheric mass driven by a marginal change in solar activity.  A large reaction from a small jolt as expected with technically chaotic systems.

Tessa Vance and colleagues from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC found a proxy of eastern Pacific upwelling in an ice core at the Law Dome Antarctica.  A higher salt content – from polar westerlies – is a proxy for solar activity.  But also results in changes in the great Pacific gyres and the intensity of upwelling.   More upwelling brings rain and cyclones to Indonesia and northern and eastern Australia, drought in the United States of and South America, cooler global temperatures and biological abundance.   Less in El Niña conditions and we – in Australia – get drought.   The absolute volume of rainfall is roughly constant but where it falls on the planet changes.

The record captures in high resolution the 20 to 30 year Pacific beat, the change in the ENSO tempo last century and has at least a resemblance to the solar signal over a 1000 years.  But even with a millennial high El Niño anomaly last century – conditions have been far more extreme at other times in the past 12,000 years.

Conclusion

Will there be more La Niña over the next centuries? Can we expect more El Niño in a thousand years?  Might we see great herds return to the Sahel?  The future remains unpredictable.   Still – a return to the mean scenario does suggest better odds on a cooler sun and a little more upwelling in the Pacific Ocean – a cooling influence on the atmosphere and the inevitable regional variabilities in rainfall.

Oceans Make Climate is a major theme at this blog, since I fortunately made the acquaintance of Dr. Arnd Bernaerts.  Rob Ellison adds another important dimension with his consideration of the gyres.

Footnote:

Recently I noticed how sea surface temperatures drove the 2015-2016 global warming, as shown in the HadSST3 record:

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 are first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back to its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added two bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Finally, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

Much ado will be made of this warming, including claims of human causation, despite the obvious oceanic origin. Further, it is curious that CO2 functions as a warming agent so unevenly around the world, and that the Tropics drove this event, contradicting CO2 warming theory.

Anatomy of the Hottest Years Ever

 

Climate Dogma Tests

Article Six of the US Constitution says:

No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

In that context, what do we make of questions being put to federal government appointees at their confirmation hearings?

Mike Pampeo, CIA Director nominee at the Senate Intelligence Committee

California Senator, Kamala Harris
In the past you have questioned the scientific consensus on change. Nevertheless, according to NASA, multiple studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals, showed 97% or more of actively published, um, climate scientists agree that climate warning trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Do you have any reason to doubt NASA’s findings?

CIA Director Nominee, Mike Pompeo:
Senator, I’ve actually spoken to this in my political life some. My commentary, most all has been directed to ensuring the policies that America put in place, uh, actually achieve the objective of ensuring we didn’t have catastrophic harm that resulted from changing climate. I continue to hold that view.

Senator Harris
Do you believe that NASA’s findings are debatable?

Nominee Pompeo:
I have not looked at NASA’s findings in particular. I can’t give you any judgment on that today.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State nominee at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Bob Corker, Committee Chair:
Would you state your personal position as it relates to climate change?

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson:
I came to the position over about 20 years as an engineer and a scientist. I came to the conclusion a few years ago that the risk of climate change does exist and the consequences could be large enough that action should be taken.

Senator Corker:
Do you believe that human activity, based on your belief in science, is contributing to climate change?

Nominee Tillerson:
The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect. Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.

Senator Tim Kaine:
Exxon-Mobil had a history of funding and promoting climate science denial, despite its internal awareness of the reality of climate change, during your tenure with the company, true or false?

Nominee Tillerson:
Since I am no longer with Exxon-Mobil, I am in no position to speak on their behalf. The question would have to be put to them.

Senator Kaine:
The allegations are about Exxon’s knowledge of climate science and decision to fund and promote a view contrary to its awareness of the science, are those allegations true or false?

Nominee Tillerson: That question will have to be put to Exxon.

Senator Kaine: Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or do you refuse to answer?

Nominee Tillerson: A little of both.

Senator Jeff Merkley:
Do you agree with the viewpoint that the odds of dramatic events occurring, whether more forest fires, or more hurricanes with more power, is a rational observation from the scientific literature?

Nominee Tillerson:
As you indicated, there is some literature out there that suggests that. Other literature says that it is inconclusive.

Senator Jeff Merkley: I am sorry to hear that viewpoint. Overwhelmingly, the scales are on one side of this argument.

Senator Tom Udall: Do you plan or would you support any efforts to persecute, sideline, or otherwise retaliate against career state department employees who have worked on climate change in the past?

Nominee Tillerson: No sir, that would be a pretty unhelpful way to get started.

Summary

The climate dogma is captured in a famous tweet:
Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. Barack Obama

Since that is not what the scientists said, nor what say many other scientists (who were not asked), this is clearly a creed of some kind of religion, call it climatism.

Asking nominees whether they subscribe to a creed or not violates Article Six of the Constitution. Inquisitors can claim there’s no formal religious organization, but they are still looking to disqualify based on dissent in a matter of belief.

Yellow Climate Journalism

 

Definition of “Fake News”:  When reporters state their own opinions instead of bearing witness to observed events.

We are now fully entrenched in an age of “yellow” journalism, especially regarding the issue of global warming/climate change. Below I will deconstruct a recent egregious example, but first we need a background from renowned philosopher Mortimer Adler.

On the Difference Between Knowledge and Opinion

Knowledge refers to knowing the truth, that is understanding reality independent of the person and his/her ideas. By definition, there is no such thing as “false knowledge.”

When I show you two marbles then add two more marbles and ask you how many marbles there are, the answer is not a matter of opinion. You have no freedom to assert any opinion other than the answer “four”.  By the axioms of mathematics we know the true answer to this question.

A great many other issues in human society, politics and culture are matters of opinion, and each is free to hold an opinion different from others. In such cases, the right opinion is usually determined by counting noses with the majority view ruling.

Note that school children are taught right opinions. That is, they are told what their elders and betters have concluded are the right answers to many questions about life and the world. Those children do not yet possess knowledge, because as Socrates well demonstrated, you have knowledge when you have both the right opinion and also know why it is right. Only when you have consulted the evidence and done your own analysis does your opinion serve as knowledge for you, rather than submission to an authority.

John R. Christy is a professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

On Climate Knowledge, Dr. John Christy (here)

Climate science is a murky science. When dealing with temperature variations and trends, we do not have an instrument that tells us how much change is due to humans and how much to Mother Nature. Measuring the temperature change over long time periods is difficult enough, but we do not have a thermometer that says why these changes occur.

We cannot appeal to direct evidence for the cause of change, so we argue.

The real climate system is so massively complex we do not have the ability to test global-size theories in a laboratory. Without this ability, we tend to travel all sorts of other avenues to confirm what are essentially our unprovable views about climate. These avenues tend to comfort our souls because we crave certainty over ambiguity.

Without direct evidence and with poor model predictability, what other avenues are available to us? This is where things get messy because we are humans, and humans tend to select those avenues that confirm their biases. (It seems to me that the less direct evidence there is for a position, the more passion is applied and the more certainty is claimed.)

One avenue many folks tend to latch onto is the self-selected “authority.” Once selected, this “authority” does the thinking for them, not realizing that this “authority” doesn’t have any more direct evidence than they do.

Other avenues follow a different path: Without direct evidence, folks start with their core beliefs (be they political, social or religious) and extrapolate an answer to climate change from there. That’s scary.

Exhibit A of Yellow Climate Journalism

Unfortunately we see that climate journalists often distort their articles by confusing factual reporting of events with their own opinions.

“In the conduct of trials before judges in our courts there is a famous rule called the opinion rule. The opinion rule says that a witness giving testimony must report what he saw or what he heard. He must not report what he thinks happened, because that would be giving an opinion, not knowledge by observation.”
~ Mortimer J. Adler

One of many typical articles on climate is this one from Wired: Tillerson’s Hearing Seals It: the US Won’t Lead on Climate Change 

See how the author forces his own opinions to subvert what he observed.

After more than six hours of testimony, Tillerson backtracked even further, telling senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that though the evidence of a changing climate was clear, the cause wasn’t. “The science behind the clear connection (to human activity) is not conclusive,” Tillerson said, an assertion as false as the scientific consensus is clear. (my bold)

Tillerson said that he and the president elect would do a “fulsome review” of US climate change policies. “I also know that the president, as part of his priority in campaigning, was ‘America First,’ so there is important considerations as we commit to such accords, and as those accords are executed over time: are there any elements of that that put America at a disadvantage?” he said. The negative effects of climate change, of course, don’t discriminate on the basis of national borders. (my bold)

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who believes government money currently spent fighting climate change could be “better spent” elsewhere, pushed Tillerson to commit to abandoning US funding for anti-climate change initiatives. Specifically, Barrasso opposes support for the Green Climate Fund, an international program set up to help developing nations deal with the effects of climate change. The US under Obama has pledged $3 billion.

“In consultation with the president, my expectation is that we are going to look at these things from the bottom up in terms of funds we’ve committed toward this effort,” Tillerson said.

Even in his non-answer, it’s clear Tillerson was open to dropping such funding. Instead, he opined on the power of electricity to lift people out of poverty. A noble aspiration, perhaps, but one that would provide little consolation to communities ravaged by climate change now and in the future. (my bold)

Summary, Five criteria for distinguishing between knowledge and opinion:

1. Whether or not everyone must agree.
2. Doubt and belief are relative only to opinion, never to knowledge;
3. We can have freedom of thought only about matters of opinion, never knowledge.
4. Consensus differentiates between knowledge and opinion; only with respect to opinion do we talk about consensus.
5. Matters of opinion are subject to conflict, knowledge is not.

By all criteria, global warming/climate change is a matter of opinion, not knowledge.

Any teacher will tell you it is much easier to teach a student who is ignorant than one who is in error, because the student who is in error on a given point thinks that he knows whereas in fact he does not know. . .It is almost necessary to take the student who is in error and first correct the error before you can teach him. . .The path from ignorance to knowledge is shorter than the path from error to knowledge.
Mortimer Adler

Mortimer J. Adler, Founder of the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas

Climate Progress on a Rant

There is a torrent of Anti-Trump posts from “Climate Progress”, part of the “Think Progress” set of websites directed by John Podesta and funded by George Soros and Tom Steyer.  The ranting is over the top and could crash the internet before the inauguration.  Maybe that’s the objective.  Look at today’s output of “progressive thinking.”

Climate Progress : Trump is assem­bling the most anti-Iran team
Today: 16:03

@Climate Progress : No Senator Cruz, Jeff Sessions didn’t lead the bankru­pting of the Alabama Klan
Today: 15:56

@Climate Progress : Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson didn’t mention energy, climate, or Exxon in his opening remarks
Today: 15:52

@Climate Progress : Jeff Sessions may soon get to decide whether 63 people live or die
Today: 15:41

@Climate Progress : Six critical questions about conflicts of interest that Donald Trump must answer
Today: 15:37

@Climate Progress : Trump claims he has ‘nothing to do with Russia.’ His son said the opposite.
Today: 15:08

@Climate Progress : 15 things Trump said about Russia that seem even weirder now
Today: 14:51

@Climate Progress : The abortion providers who will see us through a Trump presidency
Today: 14:18

@Google: Trump Nominee Rex Tillerson to Face Questions About Russia, Climate, Rights Wall Street Journal
Today: 13:02

Trump Nominee Rex Tillerson to Face Questions About Russia, Climate , RightsWall Street Journal WASHING­TON—Pre­sident-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Rex Tille­rson, went before senators for a confir­mation hearing Wedne­sday, and planned to tell lawmakers that Russia poses a danger and that North Atlantic Treaty Organi­zation …
Today: 14:43

DeSmogBlog: Fake News You Can’t Use, They’ll Abuse, We All Lose. Except Putin. Putin Wins.
Today: 14:19

@Google: What senators should ask Rex Tillerson about climate change Vox
This is a guest post by ClimateD­enierRou­ndup   Vox What senators should ask Rex Tillerson about climate change Vox One of those questions is about climate change, and it’s worth focusing on that subject for a moment, because this is a very strange and uncertain moment in climate politics. Normally a presid­ential candidate would have taken some kind of position on a … Time to Grill Rex Tillerson on Climate Change New York Times Trump Nominee…
Today: 14:18

Climate Progress : Coretta Scott King: Jeff Sessions would ‘irrep­arably damage’ my husband’s work
Today: 01:19

@Climate Progress : Al Franken lays into Trump for attacking Minnes­ota’s Somali-American community
Today: 01:04

@Google: Republ­icans want to fight climate change, but fossil-fuel bullies won’t let them Washi­ngton Post
Forbes Crazy Carbon Crystals Could Combat Climate Change Forbes In other words the solution could be used to grab CO2, which contri­butes to climate change, direct from the atmos­phere and store it tempor­arily into crystals that form as a result. The resear­chers envision using the process as a way to boost the … and more » Washi­ngton Post Republ­icans want to fightclimate change, but fossil-fuel bullies won’t let them Washi­ngton Post Talking to my Senate Repub­lican colle­agues about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escaping. The convers­ations are often private, even furtive. One told me, “Let’s keep talking, but you can’t let my staff know.” The dirty secret is that … and more »
Today: 01:02

@DeSmogBlog: How Jeff Sessions Profited from Introd­ucing a Fracking Exemption for Drinking Water Rules @The Carbon Brief: Double threat to UK’s birds and butter­flies from climate change and land use
With U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the midst of Senate confir­mation hearings, watchdog group Food and Water Watch has raised new questions about how Sessio­ns and his family p­rofited from a fracking loophole provision he intro­duced in the Se­nate. In the UK, rising temper­atures are making life increa­singly uncomfo­rtable for species of wildlife better…
The group has unveiled new documentsshowing that Sessions­’ family owned stock in Energen, a Birmin­gham, Alabama-based oil and gas company,… The post Double threat to UK’s birds and butter­flies from climate change and land use appeared first on Carbon Brief .
Today: 00:02