Civil Climate Discourse

The issue of global warming/climate change has been used to polarize populations for political leverage. People like myself who are skeptical of alarmist claims find it difficult to engage with others whose minds are made up with or without a factual basis. In a recent email Alex Epstein gives some good advice how to talk about energy and climate. At the end I provide links to other material from Alex supporting his principle message regarding human benefits from using fossil fuels. Text below is his email with my bolds.

Two simple-but-powerful tactics

1. Opinion Stories

Unless I have some specific reason for wanting to have a long conversation I like to keep my conversations short, with the end goal of getting the other person to consume some high-impact resource.

One way to make this even more effective is to offer to email/mail the person a resource. Then you’ll have their contact info and can follow up in a few weeks.

The last paragraph of your message is really important. You’re telling the story of how you came to your opinion. I call this device “the opinion story.”

Here’s how it works.

Imagine you’re trying to persuade someone to read your favorite book. My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

I used to say: “Atlas Shrugged is the best book you’ll ever read. You have to read it.”

That’s an opinion statement. If you haven’t read the book I’ll bet that statement makes you resistant. “Oh really? You’re telling me what the best book I’ll ever read is? You’re telling me what I have to read?”

Opinion statements often breed resistance and reflexive counter-arguments. So now I try to persuade people differently.

I might say: “My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read it when I was 18 and the way the characters thought and approached life motivated me to pursue a career I love and give it everything I have.”

How do you react to that statement?

Probably better. You’re probably not resistant. You may well be intrigued. And you can’t disagree with me–because I didn’t tell you what to think, I told you my opinion story. I respected your independence.

While statements breed resistance and counter-argument, stories often breed interest and requests for more.

You can use opinion stories for anything, no matter how controversial.

For example, if someone asks me about my book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, I don’t need to say “I prove that we should be using more fossil fuels, not less.” I can just say “I researched the pros and cons of different forms of energy and was surprised to come to the conclusion that we should be using more fossil fuels, not less.”

I like to have an opinion story for every controversial opinion I hold.

2. Introducing Surprising Facts

Reader Comment: “The problem I always run into is that they really believe Germany is a success.”

I’ve had the same experience, too! On many issues.

Often in conversation the phenomenon of conflicting factual claims on an issue—such as the impact of solar and wind on Germany’s economy—leads to an impasse.

One way to deal with this is to focus on establishing an explicit framework, with human flourishing (not minimum impact) as the goal and full context analysis (not bias and sloppiness) as the process. Most disputes stem from conflicting frameworks, not conflicting facts. And if you offer a compelling framework you’ll be more trustworthy on the facts.

That said, here’s a tactic I discovered a few years ago to make certain factual points much more persuasive in the moment..

I’ll start with how I discovered it.

I was walking through the Irvine Spectrum mall with a good friend when we ran into two young women working to promote Greenpeace.

My friend found one of the women attractive and said he wanted to talk to her. I thought, given my experiences with (paid) Greenpeace activists, that this was unlikely to be an edifying experience, and encouraged him to instead record a conversation between me and one of the women. Unfortunately for posterity, I was unpersuasive and what follows was never recorded.

I decided to talk to the other Greenpeace woman. She quickly started “educating” me on how Germany was successfully running on solar and wind.

Me: “Really? I’m curious where you’re getting that because I research energy for a living–and Germany is actually building a lot of new coal plants right now.”

Greenpeace: “No, that can’t be true.”

Me: “Okay, how about this? I’ll email you a news article about Germany building new coal plants. If I do, will you reconsider your position?” [Note: This is an example of the technique I recommended above.]

Greenpeace: Hesitates.

Me: “Actually, wait, we have smartphones. I’m going to Google Germany and coal. Let’s see what comes up.”

Displaying on my iPhone is a recent news story whose headline is something very close to: “Germany to build 12 new coal plants, government announces.”

Me: “So what do you think?”

Greenpeace: “I don’t know,” followed by—very rare for a Greenpeace activist—having nothing to say.

Had this been a normal person I am confident the live confirmation of the surprising fact would have made a lasting impression.

I think this tactic works best for news stories about surprising facts. Vs. an opinion story about some issue of analysis, like what Germany’s GDP is.

Summary

Alex Epstein is among those who demonstrate from public information sources comparisons between societies who use carbon fuels extensively and those who do not. The contrast is remarkable: Societies with fossil fuels have citizens who are healthier, live longer, have higher standards of living, and enjoy cleaner air and drinking water, to boot. Not only do healthier, more mobile people create social wealth and prosperity, carbon-based energy is heavily taxed by every society that uses it. Those added government revenues go (at least some of it) into the social welfare of the citizenry. By almost any measure, carbon-based energy makes the difference between developed and underdeveloped populations.

A previous post Social Benefits of Carbon referenced facts and figures from Alex’s book which can be accessed here

Other Resources:
Two Page Overview of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels — What it is and why it matters 
main points are:
How to think about our energy future
Fossil fuels & human flourishing: the benefits
Fossil fuels & human flourishing: environmental concerns

11 page Introduction to The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs updated.

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Raw Water: More Post-Modern Insanity

Available from Amazon

Contemporary style-setters display great nostalgia for pre-industrial ways of living, without ever having to subsist in the natural world. Thus they advocate getting energy from burning trees or windmills so that evil fossil fuels can be left in the ground. Now these Luddites want to turn back scientific progress in water purification, claiming that untreated water is superior.

John Robson explains in the National Post article Raw water is proof the comforts of pampered modernity have gone too far   Excerpts below with my bolds.

With the raw-water craze, people are deliberately drinking unhealthy water for their health, writes John Robson.Postmedia News

In case you’re also in hiding from the insanity we call “popular culture,” there’s this new trend where you get healthy by drinking “naturally probiotic” water that hasn’t been treated to remove animal poop. No, I mean to remove essential minerals, ions and, um, animal poop.

The National Post says people aren’t just deliberately drinking unhealthy water for their health, they’re paying nearly $10 per litre for non-vintage Eau de Lac. Yet they would riot if asked to pay such a price for gasoline or, indeed, to drink ditch water from their tap.

Many reputable people have leapt up to condemn this fad as obviously unhealthy. But they are getting the same sani-wiped elbow that common sense, authority and pride in past achievement now routinely receive. (Can I just note here that the Oprah for President boom, which in our fast-paced social-media times lasted roughly 17 hours, foundered partly because she rose to fame and fortune peddling outrageous quackery? Donald Trump did not invent or patent contempt for logic and evidence.)

Raw water is hardly the only fad to gain in strength, the more reputable opinion condemns it. And let’s face it; reputable opinion has dug itself a pretty deep hole with its propensity for disregarding evidence and silencing dissent. I don’t just mean in the bad old days. But there must be some kind of golden mean between believing every news story with “experts say” in the headline and refusing to vaccinate your children or boil your water.

Seriously. Raw water? Doesn’t everybody know if you must drink from a tainted source it is vital to cook the stuff first? Tea wasn’t healthy primarily because of the plant’s alleged medicinal properties. Boiling water to make it meant you killed the bacteria … before they killed you.

My late friend Tom Davey, publisher of Environmental Science & Engineering, was routinely indignant that people could be induced to pay premium prices for bottled water when safe tap water was the single greatest environmental triumph in human history. But today some trendies are willing to pay premium prices to avoid safe tap water, partly on the basis of the same hooey about trace elements that made “mineral” water popular, partly out of paranoia once the purview of anti-fluoridation Red-baiters, and partly out of amazing scientific ignorance including about the presence of vital nutrients in food, especially if you don’t just eat the super-processed kind.

There. I said it. Some of what we ingest is overly processed, relentlessly scientifically improved until it becomes harmful (a problem by no means restricted to food). But some isn’t, including tap water.

I realize safe drinking water was hailed as an achievement back when mainstream environmentalists wanted the planet to be nice for people. Today’s far greater skepticism about whether human and environmental well-being are compatible creates considerable reluctance to make our well-being a significant measure of progress. But I am in the older camp. Without being insensible to the “crowding out” of ecosystems even by flourishing human communities, let alone poor ones, I still believe we can live well in harmony with nature, and only thus.

Some conservative associates think my deep unease with factory farming requires me to line my hat with tin foil. Other people believe my support for conservatism requires me to line my head with it. But I can only fit so much metal into either, and I draw the line at deliberately drinking the kind of water that used to bring us cholera epidemics.

Would it be impolite to cite this trend as proof that modernity has more money than brains, that the more a life of luxury is delivered to us as a birthright rather than being a hard-won and inherently precarious achievement, the less we are able to count our blessings or act prudently?

By all means save the whales. Get plastic out of the oceans. Protect ugly as well as cute species and their ecosystems. Know that man cannot flourish cut off from nature, and weep at Saruman’s conversion of the Shire from bucolic to industrial in the Lord of the Rings. But you can’t do yourself or the Earth any good while dying of dysentery you brought on yourself by pampered stupidity.

Ross Pomeroy adds an essay at RealClearScience ‘Raw’ Water Is Insulting (my bolds)

In 2015, 844 million people lacked access to even a basic drinking water service. These people, almost entirely from developing areas in Africa and Asia, are forced to play roulette by drinking water potentially contaminated with bacteria and viruses that cause diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio, as well as a variety of parasitic infections. Globally, a half million people die each year from diarrhea contracted via contaminated drinking water, many of them children. Another 240 million suffer from schistosomiasis, a parasitic infestation of flatworms originating from snail feces.

Here in the United States, we generally don’t have to worry about waterborne illness. That’s because our tap-water travels through a rigorous system of mechanical filtration and chemical treatment which expunges contaminants, resulting in H2O that’s clean, refreshing, and among the safest in the world.

Raw water is insulting; insulting to the health of those that drink it, to the intelligence of those who consider it, and to the hundreds of millions of people around the world who yearn for treated water free from raw contamination.

 

The Children’s Climate Lawsuit Harms The Children

When launching a boomerang, watch out when it comes back on you.

This post provides further perspective and some legal background regarding the lawsuit campaign by Hansen et al fronted by idealistic children.  First an article at Investor’s Business Daily points out how the lawsuit is not in the best interest of present or future generations: The Children’s Climate Lawsuit Against The Children  Excerpts with my bolds below from Benjamin Zycher Jan. 12, 2018

Litigation may be as American as apple pie, but some lawsuits are so destructive that they stand out even among the hugely expensive wreckage wrought by our legal system. The most prominent current example is the “children’s” climate lawsuit (Juliana v U.S.): A group of kids, including “future generations, through their guardian Dr. James Hansen,” claim that the government’s actions and failures to act have caused climate change, thus violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and have failed to protect essential public trust resources.

First the Policy Concerns the People’s Interest not the Judges

I leave the numerous legal issues to the lawyers (see backgrounder further on), although precisely how the ineffable Hansen came to be the “guardian” for future generations is a question both fascinating and amusing. Instead, it is crucial to recognize first that the fundamental policy assumption underlying this lawsuit — we can make “the children” better off by making them poorer — is preposterous.

More generally, the lawsuit is a blatant attempt to circumvent democratic processes, in terms of both the Congressional power to make policy and the authority of the president to implement it.

Climate policies — mandated reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — by and large are energy policies, and the constitution is silent on which such policies would serve the interests of future generations, or on the appropriate tradeoffs between the interests of “the children” and the adults alive in the here and now.

Those are policy questions, and this attempt to induce judges to interfere with Congress’ legislative powers is deeply destructive of our constitutional institutions. Should “the children” not be concerned about that? Why are “the children” not suing about, say, the national debt?

Second CO2 is Not a Pollutant

The claim about the protection of “essential public trust resources” boils down to an assertion that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant.” No, it is not: A certain minimum atmospheric concentration of it is necessary for life itself. (Merely look at NASA’s time-lapse photo of the earth’s greening over the last 30-plus years.) By far the most important GHG is water vapor; does anyone claim that it is a “pollutant?” Obviously not, and not because ocean evaporation is a natural process; so are volcanic eruptions, and the massive amounts of effluents emitted by volcanoes are pollutants by any definition.

Third Energy Poverty Shortens Lives 

Consider a homo sapiens baby born in a cave some tens of thousands of years ago, in a world with environmental quality effectively untouched by mankind. That child at birth would have had a life expectancy on the order of ten years; had it been able to choose, it is obvious that it willingly would have given up some environmental quality in exchange for better housing, food, water, medical care, safety, ad infinitum. That is, it is obvious that people willingly choose to give up some environmental quality in exchange for a life both longer and wealthier.

The Lawsuit Will Make Future Generations Worse Off

In other words, the children’s lawsuit is inconsistent with actual interests of future generations, as the obvious underlying assumption is that future generations would prefer the purest possible environmental quality. That is not correct: Future generations want to inherit the most valuable possible capital stock in all of its myriad dimensions, among which environmental quality is one important component among many, and among all of which there are tradeoffs that cannot be avoided.

Is it the position of the attorneys representing “the children” that making energy more rather than less expensive unambiguously would make future generations better off? In order for future generations to receive the most valuable possible capital stock, the current generation must consume and invest resources most productively.

If regulatory and other policies implemented by the current generation yield less wealth now and a smaller total capital stock for future generations, then more resource consumption and more emissions of effluents currently would be preferred from the viewpoint of those future generations.

Lawsuit Asserts Facts Not in Evidence

That is only the beginning of the problematic factual assertions and assumptions underlying the children’s lawsuit. The measurable effects of increasing GHG concentrations are far smaller than the climate models would lead one to believe. The degree to which recent warming has been anthropogenic is unsettled in the scientific literature; and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its fifth assessment report (AR5) has reduced its estimated range of the effect in 2100 of a doubling of GHG concentrations from 2.0–4.5 to 1.5–4.5 degrees C.

There actually is little evidence of strong climate effects attendant upon increasing GHG concentrations, in terms of sea levels; Arctic and Antarctic sea ice; tornado activity; tropical cyclones; U.S. wildfires; drought; and flooding. IPCC in the AR5 is deeply dubious (Table 12.4) about the various severe effects often hypothesized (or asserted) as future impacts of increasing GHG concentrations.

One might assume that the facts underlying a lawsuit ought to be consistent with its central claims; one would be wrong. And wrong again if one assumes that the policy objective would make an actual difference: The Paris agreement with full U.S. participation would reduce temperatures by 2100 by seventeen one-hundredths of a degree. The U.S. contribution would be fifteen one-thousandths of a degree. Add another one one-hundredth of a degree if you believe that the Obama pseudo-agreement with China is meaningful. (It is not.)

Children Used by Environmental Ideologues

Precisely what is the children’s climate lawsuit trying to achieve? It cannot be protection of our constitutional principles, or protection of future generations, or environmental improvement. Only one possibility remains: It is part of the long-term effort by the environmental left to use any means possible to exert control over other people’s property, economic choices, and lifestyles. The plaintiff attorneys are happy to participate in a litigation process in which “the children” are irrelevant.

Legal Context

For those interested in the legalities Andrew Varcoe provides a Legal Backgrounder published at the Washington Legal Foundation Does the Constitution Provide a Substantive Due-Process Right to a Stable Climate System?  Excepts below with my bolds.

Americans have many views on the causes and severity of climate change—and on the pros and cons of conceivable policy responses. But most Americans would likely react with some measure of surprise to one suggested solution—the notion that individual citizens have a constitutional right, enforceable by judicial diktat, to a stable climate system. Surprising or no, this suggestion has landed in the lap of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In June, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a mandamus petition in that court in Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit pending in federal district court in Oregon.

The Juliana plaintiffs claim a substantive due-process right— a fundamental, unenumerated right—to a stable climate. They also argue that the federal government has an enforceable public-trust duty to protect the atmosphere and other resources from climate change. DOJ’s mandamus petition asks the Ninth Circuit to direct the district court to dismiss the Juliana case. Although the Trump Administration filed the mandamus petition, the Obama Administration had asserted the same basic jurisdictional and merits arguments before the district court.

The Ninth Circuit may rule on the petition soon. While this litigation presents several important questions, this Legal Backgrounder focuses only on the core merits question whether there is a fundamental, unenumerated right to a stable climate system protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

1. It seems unlikely that a Ninth Circuit panel would recognize a constitutional right to a stable climate system.

A mandamus petition is a request for extraordinary relief. The Ninth Circuit has various options for ruling on the government’s petition without reaching the merits. That said, if the court were to reach the merits now, it seems likely that the court would hold that there is no fundamental right to be protected against climate change. As a general matter, federal courts are rightly reluctant to create or recognize new fundamental rights protected by substantive due process. As the Supreme Court has said, judges must “exercise the utmost care whenever we are asked to break new ground in this field, lest the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause be subtly transformed” into judges’ “policy preferences,” and place great public questions “outside the arena of public debate and legislative action.

Older lower court decisions are consistent with the view that interests related to pollution and climate change are not protected by substantive due process. See Nat’l Sea Clammers Ass’n v. City of New York, 616 F.2d 1222, 1238 (3d Cir. 1980) (Constitution protects no “right to a pollution-free environment”), vacated in part on other grounds sub nom. Middlesex Cty. Sewerage Auth. v. Nat’l Sea Clammers Ass’n, 453 U.S. 1 (1981).

Prudential factors militate against crafting a new constitutional right in the air pollution context. Congress has already enacted a comprehensive statute to regulate air pollution—the Clean Air Act (CAA)—and has amended it over several decades. After the Supreme Court held that the Act authorizes federal regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, see Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 532 (2007), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began regulating such emissions. Despite recent political changes, EPA has not proposed to stop regulating GHG emissions.

Congress is free to override federal common law, but not a constitutional precedent. For example, the plaintiffs want the district court to determine “the minimum safe level of atmospheric CO2 concentrations” and the “timeframe” for achieving that level. But what if the court misses the mark in doing so? Congress and the President would have no power to override such an error.

2. It also seems unlikely that the Ninth Circuit would extend the state-created danger doctrine to climate change.

The Juliana plaintiffs invoke a different strand of substantive due process when they rely on the state-created danger doctrine. Under that doctrine, a governmental entity takes on a constitutional duty to an individual whom it places in peril in deliberate indifference to his or her safety.5 The Juliana plaintiffs argue that the defendants or their predecessors assumed such a duty when they “authorized, permitted, and promoted the extraction, transportation, and combustion of fossil fuels for decades with full knowledge that such activities would manifest unique and personalized injuries to individuals.” This argument could be seen as an extrapolation from the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. Nonetheless, as applied to climate change, the argument is fundamentally problematic for several reasons.

First, the state-created danger doctrine covers dangers attributable to government actions, not to government omissions. See DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept. of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189, 195, 197-203 (1989). The doctrine provides no remedy for failures to regulate private activity. Second, even when limited to government actions, the plaintiffs’ argument would expand the state-created danger doctrine so radically as to make it unrecognizable and unworkable. The argument proves too much. Courts have applied the doctrine to government actions that cause direct physical harm to individuals— typically, actions by law enforcement officers or other government agents. But climate change is immeasurably more complex than such incidents. Climate change is a kind of global mass tort, with diffuse and innumerable causes and impacts, involving a very large number of potential wrongdoers and victims.

Andrew R. Varcoe is a Partner with Boyden Gray & Associates, PLLC, in Washington, D.C. The firm’s clients and lawyers have a mix of views on climate change policy issues. Mr. Varcoe thanks his colleagues, and Professor Douglas A. Kysar, for their contributions to the ideas in this Legal Backgrounder; he alone is responsible for any errors.

Footnote:  More on Children’s Trust and Lawsuits see Climate War Human Shields

Rise and Fall of CAGW

 

On January 8, 2018 Ross Pomeroy published  at RealClearScience an interesting article The Six Stages of a Failed Psychological Theory

The Pomeroy essay focuses on theories in the field of psychology and describes stages through which they rise, become accepted, challenged and discarded. It has long seemed to me that global warming/climate change theory properly belongs in the field of social studies and thus should demonstrate a similar cycle.

Formerly known as CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming), the notion of “climate change” is logically a subject of social science rather than physical science. “Climate Change” is a double abstraction: it refers to the derivative (change) in our expectations (patterns) of weather. Thus studies of “Climate Change” are properly a branch of Environmental Sociology.

As a social psychology theory, CAGW/climate change bundles together three interdependent assertions.

From the beginning the claimed science, impacts and policies were bundled, which makes CAGW theory unusual. Psychological theories do not typically give rise to activism for changes in social and political policies. Thus the six stages above focus on the rise and fall of a scientific conclusion, with little or no reference to impacts and policies. At the end of this post are links to resources regarding these latter two points.

Examples of Failed Psychology Theories: The “Backfire Effect” and others

Ross Pomeroy (my bolds):
With the publication of his exhaustingly researched and skillfully reported article, “LOL Something Matters,” science writer Daniel Engber convincingly demonstrated that the “backfire effect,” the notion that contradictory evidence only strengthens entrenched beliefs, does not hold up under rigorous scientific scrutiny. Bluntly stated, the “backfire effect” probably isn’t real.

The debunking of this longstanding psychological theory follows similar academic takedowns of ego depletion, social priming, power posing, and a plethora of other famous findings. Indeed, much of what we “know” in psychology seems to be false.

There’s a good reason for this: psychology, as a discipline, is a house made of sand, based on analyzing inherently fickle human behavior, held together with poorly-defined concepts, and explored with often scant methodological rigor. Indeed, there’s a strong case to be made that psychology is barely a science.

How Theories Advance and Collapse

Seeing how disarray defines psychology, it makes perfect sense that the field’s leading theories are vulnerable to collapse. Having watched this process play out a number of times, a clear pattern has emerged. Let’s call it the “Six Stages of a Failed Psychological or Sociological Theory.”

Stage 1: The Flashy Finding. An intriguing report is published with subject matter that lends itself to water cooler conversation, say, for example, that sticking a pen in your mouth to force a smile makes things seem funnier. Media outlets provide gushing coverage.

Stage 1 CAGW Theory

For Climate Change, by many accounts the flashy finding was James Hansen’s famous 1988 testimony in the US Senate. Hansen’s claim to detect global warming was covered by all the main television network news services and it won for him a New York Times front page headline: “Global warming has begun, expert tells Senate.”

While Hansen’s appearance was a PR coup, he actually jumped the gun.  By 1995 IPCC scientists had not yet agreed that humans are causing global warming.  The story of that problem and the subsequent claim of first detection by John Houghton and Ben Santer is described in detail in Bernie Lewin’s fine historical account. (My synopsis is linked at the end.)

So in this sense, the actual Flashy Finding was published by Santer et al. just before Rio COP in Nature July 1996 entitled: A search for human influences on the thermal structure of the atmosphere
B. D. Santer, K. E. Taylor, T. M. L. Wigley, T. C. Johns, P. D. Jones, D. J. Karoly, J. F. B. Mitchell, A. H. Oort, J. E. Penner, V. Ramaswamy, M. D. Schwarzkopf, R. J. Stouffer & S. Tett  From the abstract:

The observed spatial patterns of temperature change in the free atmosphere from 1963 to 1987 are similar to those predicted by state-of-the-art climate models incorporating various combinations of changes in carbon dioxide, anthropogenic sulphate aerosol and stratospheric ozone concentrations. The degree of pattern similarity between models and observations increases through this period. It is likely that this trend is partially due to human activities, although many uncertainties remain, particularly relating to estimates of natural variability.

An article published the same month in World Climate Report was entitled:“Clearest Evidence” For Human “Fingerprint?” Results clouded if more complete data used  The WCR essay concluded:

We are frankly rather amazed that this paper could have emerged into the refereed literature in its present state; that is not to say that the work is bad, but that there are serious questions—similar to ours—that the reviewers should have asked.

The inescapable conclusions:

1. The vast majority of the “fingerprints” of the greenhouse effect are found way up in the atmosphere, especially in the stratosphere.

2. The “detection” models that were used either don’t predict very much future warming or were run with the wrong greenhouse effect and produce absurd results when the right numbers are put in.

3.And finally, down here in the lower atmosphere, the evidence is much more smudged and is based upon a highly selected set of data that, when viewed in toto, shows something dramatically different than what the paper purports.

The period that Santer et al. studied corresponds precisely with a profound warming trend in this region. But when all of the data (1957 to 1995) are included, there’s no trend whatsoever! We don’t know what to call this, but we believe that at least one of the 13 prestigious authors on this paper must have known this to be the case.

Stage 2: The Fawning Replications. Other psychologists, usually in the early stages of their careers, leap to replicate the finding. Most of their studies corroborate the effect. Those that don’t are not published, perhaps because the researchers don’t want to step on any toes, or because journal editors would prefer not to publish negative findings.

Stage 2 CAGW Theory

Following the human detection claim, the media increasingly filled its time and pages with reports of “multiple lines of evidence” proving CAGW.  Typically these consisted of :

Global temperature rise
Warming oceans
Shrinking ice sheets
Glacial retreat
Decreased snow cover
Sea level rise
Declining Arctic sea ice
Extreme events
Ocean acidification

However, all of these are equivocal, involving signal and noise issues.  And in any case, the fact of any changes does not in itself prove human causation.

Overview of the structure of a state-of-the-art climate model. From the NOAA website.

As suggested by the Santer et al. flashy finding, the claim of human causation was based upon climate models.  And the effort to substantiate that claim was primarily a campaign to construct and experiment with GCMs.  From History of climate modeling by Paul N. Edwards .

Like ripples moving outward from the three pioneering groups (GFDL, UCLA, and NCAR), modelers, dynamical cores, model physics, numerical methods, and GCM computer code soon began to circulate around the world. By the early 1970s, a large number of institutions had established new general circulation modeling programs. In addition to those discussed above, the most active climate modeling centers today include Britain’s Hadley Centre, Germany’s Max Planck Institute, Japan’s Earth Simulator Centre, and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the United States..

How many GCMs and climate modeling groups exist worldwide? The exact number can be expanded or contracted under various criteria. About 33 groups submitted GCM output to the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) in the 1990s.A few years later, however, only about 25 groups contributed coupled AOGCM outputs to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP)—reflecting the greater complexity and larger computational requirements of coupled models.  Notably, while the AMIP models included entries from Russia, Canada, Taiwan, China, and Korea, all of the CMIP simulations came from modeling groups based in Europe, Japan, Australia, and the USA, the historical leaders in climate modeling.

The difficulties and uncertainties with climate models have been long understood, and have not been overcome  through the decades, as indicated by the failure to reduce the range estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2.  From Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions: unknowns and uncertainties Willie Soon et al.

Specifically, we review common deficiencies in general circulation model (GCM) calculations of atmospheric temperature, surface temperature, precipitation and their spatial and temporal variability. These deficiencies arise from complex problems associated with parameterization of multiply interacting climate components, forcings and feedbacks, involving especially clouds and oceans. We also review examples of expected climatic impacts from anthropogenic CO2 forcing.

Given the host of uncertainties and unknowns in the difficult but important task of climate modeling, the unique attribution of observed current climate change to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, including the relatively well-observed latest 20 yr, is not possible. We further conclude that the incautious use of GCMs to make future climate projections from incomplete or unknown forcing scenarios is antithetical to the intrinsically heuristic value of models. Such uncritical application of climate models has led to the commonly held but erroneous impression that modeling has proven or substantiated the hypothesis that CO2 added to the air has caused or will cause significant global warming.

Stage 3: A Consensus Forms. The finding is now taken for granted, regularly appearing in pop psychology stories and books penned by writers like Malcolm Gladwell or Jonah Lehrer. Millions of people read about it and “armchair” explain it to their friends and family.

Stage 3 CAGW Theory  

The Claims of 97% Consensus of scientists on the question of CAGW stem from five papers, conveniently referenced on NASA’s website.

The first claim of 97% came from a survey sample of 77 climate scientists who said “Yes” to 2 statements: “It has warmed since 1850.”; “Human activity has contributed to the warming.” That survey questionnaire was deliberately not sent to those known to be skeptical: scientists not employed by government or universities; astronomers; solar scientists; physicists; meteorologists.

Another paper noted by NASA on their website 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.

Two papers were produced by John Cook  who 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.

Finally, a key paper was from Naomi Oreskes who 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

More inclusive surveys with more pointed questions show much more diverse opinions. Most scientists agree it has warmed since 1850, the end of the Little Ice Age. Geologists have evidence that the earth was warmer than now during the Medieval Warm Period, more warm during the Roman Warm Period, warmer still in the Minoan period. So the overall trend is a cooling over the last 11,500 years.

Most agree that human land use, such as making dams, farming, building cities, airports and highways, all affect the climate in those locations. The idea that rising CO2 is causing dangerous warming is controversial, with dissenters a large minority.

Stage 4: The Rebuttal. After a few decades, a new generation of researchers look to make a splash by questioning prevailing wisdom. One team produces a more methodologically-sound study that debunks the initial finding. Media outlets blare the “counterintuitive” discovery.

Stage 4 CAGW Theory  

There have been many rebuttals of CAGW theory and in the blogosphere they are proclaimed and shared among skeptics.  But it is still rare for mass media outlets to acknowledge any finding that contradicts the prevailing “consensus” view of CAGW.  On the multiple lines of evidence, the NIPCC series of reports provide references to a trove of peer-reviewed literature that do not support CAGW.  The most recent report is Climate Change Reconsidered II and the list of scientists, authors and reviewers includes people who have objected to CAGW over the years.

An important proof against the CO2 global warming claim was included in John Christy’s testimony 29 March 2017 at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The text below is from that document which can be accessed here.

Figure 5. Simplification of IPCC AR5 shown above in Fig. 4. The colored lines represent the range of results for the models and observations. The trends here represent trends at different levels of the tropical atmosphere from the surface up to 50,000 ft. The gray lines are the bounds for the range of observations, the blue for the range of IPCC model results without extra GHGs and the red for IPCC model results with extra GHGs.The key point displayed is the lack of overlap between the GHG model results (red) and the observations (gray). The nonGHG model runs (blue) overlap the observations almost completely.

Main Point: IPCC Assessment Reports show that the IPCC climate models performed best versus observations when they did not include extra GHGs and this result can be demonstrated with a statistical model as well.

More discussion on this rebuttal is at Warming from CO2 Unlikely

But the mass media is still in thrall of the catastrophic theory (bad news is good for business).

Stage 5: Proper Replications Pour In. Research groups attempt to replicate the initial research with the skepticism and precise methodology that should’ve been used in the first place. As such, the vast majority fail to find any effect.

Stage 5 CAGW Theory

In the case of climate change, the rewards are all skewed in favor of CAGW.  Not only is that bundle of beliefs politically correct, the monopoly of research funding for consensus projects leaves contrarian scientists high and dry.  And to the degree that the case rests on complex and expensive computer climate models, few centers are in a position to challenge the conventional wisdom, and almost none would be rewarded for doing so.

Despite this, every year there are hundreds of new research papers published challenging CAGW.  Kenneth Richard at No Tricks Zone has done yeoman work compiling and summarizing and linking to such studies. His most recent review is  485 Scientific Papers Published In 2017 Support A Skeptical Position On Climate Alarm

The papers are sorted into four categories of views questioning climate alarm.

N(1) Natural mechanisms play well more than a negligible role (as claimed by the IPCC) in the net changes in the climate system, which includes temperature variations, precipitation patterns, weather events, etc., and the influence of increased CO2 concentrations on climatic changes are less pronounced than currently imagined.

N(2) The warming/sea levels/glacier and sea ice retreat/hurricane and drought intensities…experienced during the modern era are neither unprecedented or remarkable, nor do they fall outside the range of natural variability, as clearly shown in the first 150 graphs (from 2017) on this list.

N(3) The computer climate models are not reliable or consistently accurate, and projections of future climate states are little more than speculation as the uncertainty and error ranges are enormous in a non-linear climate system.

N(4) Current emissions-mitigation policies, especially related to the advocacy for renewables, are often ineffective and even harmful to the environment, whereas elevated CO2 and a warmer climate provide unheralded benefits to the biosphere (i.e., a greener planet and enhanced crop yields).

As for climate models, there is a single center (the Russian Institute of Numerical Mathematics), working on GCMs that produce unalarming results.  Out of 33 CMIP5 generation models the INMCM4 appears in the earlier graph above as the only one tracking close to temperature observations.  And reports of the upgrade to INMCM5 appear promising.  For more on this topic:

Climate Model Upgraded: INMCM5 Under the Hood

Stage 6: The Theory Lives On as a Zombie. Despite being debunked, the theory lingers on in published scientific studies, popular books, outdated webpages, and common “wisdom.” Adherents in academia cling on in a state of denial – their egos depend upon it.

Stage 6 CAGW Theory 

Clearly, we are still a long ways from CAGW going to zombie status.  There is still way too much money and fame attached to climate advocacy. But it is fair to say that the position of CAGW has become more precarious.  The presence of a skeptical US President, and the withdrawal of funding and political support for alarmists makes it possible for others to express doubts and explore flaws in the consensus theory.  The collapse of green energy schemes in places like Germany and Australia may also portend the onset of stage six.

Of course, the only sure sign of a theory’s failure is when it becomes the butt of jokes and ridicule in mainstream media.  For that I do appreciate the work of cartoonist Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle:

More humor at Cavemen Climate Comics for Sunday

Background Articles

The Flashy Finding: Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)

The Fawning Replications: Climate Models Explained

A Consensus Forms: Talking ClimateNASA and Climate Dogma

The Rebuttal: Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

Proper Replications: Climate Reductionism

Zombie CAGW:  Climate Policies Failure, the Movie

Postscript: Charles MacKay on Collective Delusions

Of course the classical masterwork in this field is the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds By Charles MacKay 1841.  Title is link to full pdf text.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

In the present state of civilization, society has often shown itself very prone to run a career of folly from the last-mentioned cases. This infatuation has seized upon whole nations in a most extraordinary manner. France, with her Mississippi madness, set the first great example, and was very soon imitated by England with her South Sea Bubble. At an earlier period, Holland made herself still more ridiculous in the eyes of the world, by the frenzy which came over her people for the love of Tulips. Melancholy as all these delusions were in their ultimate results, their history is most amusing. A more ludicrous and yet painful spectacle, than that which Holland presented in the years 1635 and 1636, or France in 1719 and 1720, can hardly be imagined.

Some delusions, though notorious to all the world, have subsisted for ages, flourishing as widely among civilized and polished nations as among the early barbarians with whom they originated, — that of duelling, for instance, and the belief in omens and divination of the future, which seem to defy the progress of knowledge to eradicate entirely from the popular mind. Money, again, has often been a cause of the delusion of multitudes. Sober nations have all at once become desperate gamblers, and risked almost their existence upon the turn of a piece of paper. To trace the history of the most prominent of these delusions is the object of the present pages. Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

MacKay’s study was exhaustive for its time, comprising three volumes;

VOL I. Considered National Delusions, including:
THE MISSISSIPPI SCHEME
THE SOUTH SEA BUBBLE
THE TULIPOMANIA.
RELICS.
MODERN PROPHECIES.
POPULAR ADMIRATION FOR GREAT THIEVES.
INFLUENCE OF POLITICS AND RELIGION ON THE HAIR AND BEARD.
DUELS AND ORDEALS
THE LOVE OF THE MARVELLOUS AND THE DISBELIEF OF THE TRUE.
POPULAR FOLLIES IN GREAT CITIES
THE O.P. MANIA.
THE THUGS, or PHANSIGARS.

VOL. II described Peculiar Follies, including:
THE CRUSADES
THE WITCH MANIA.
THE SLOW POISONERS.
HAUNTED HOUSES.

VOL. III compiled more general popular madnesses under three categories:
BOOK I: Philosophical Delusions, down through history with particular recent attention to Alchemists
BOOK II: Fortune Telling
BOOK III: The Magnetisers, a fad only subsiding when the book was written.

Museum Offends Warmists: Tweetstorm Ensues

Correction January 9, 2018:
My terminology in the title is off.  The event is more properly called a “twitstorm.”

Wonderful example of leftist conspiracy ideation explodes when warmists are exposed to historical truth.  At the American Museum of Natural History in New York a plaque in place for 25 years has been attacked as though it were a Confederate statue. The whole story comes from a sympathetic source, the Verge:
The climate change misinformation at a top museum is not a conservative conspiracy.

The article describes a  fine dust-up of political correctness.  (Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.)

Over the weekend, Twitter users — including some climate scientists — were upset by a plaque at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, which seems to be spreading misinformation about climate change. The panel, titled “Recent Climatic Changes and Extinctions,” misstates the role that human emissions of greenhouse gases play in causing global warming. It also says that, although we’re currently living in one of Earth’s warm periods, “there is no reason to believe that another Ice Age won’t come.” But it turns out, the panel was put up 25 years ago, according to the museum, so it contains outdated information that reads very differently today.

From an exhibit on Recent Climatic Changes and Extinctions:

The Offensive Text on the Plaque

Images of the sign were first tweeted by environmental economist Jonah Busch, and were shared over 2,000 times. Busch tweeted that the panel is at the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing, which was funded by right-wing philanthropist and fossil fuel magnate David H. Koch, and asked the museum to “separate this panel from its donor’s interest.” The tweet sparked outrage among scientists and the general public: “Dear @AMNH I bring my young kids to visit regularly because science & natural history is fascinating, inspiring and fun,” one tweet read. “Please do not misguide their curious minds. If we can’t even trust the AMNH to give us the facts who can we? Very sad.”

But the sign is actually located in the Hall of Advanced Mammals in the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives, and was installed “many years before David Koch supported the Dinosaur Halls,” says Kendra Snyder, a spokesperson for the AMNH, in an email to The Verge. Busch says he didn’t realize that hall was separate from the dinosaur wing because both are on the same floor. Because some of the permanent exhibitions at the AMNH were funded by Exxon as well as the Koch brothers, which are known funders of climate deniers, “it makes it that much harder to give them the benefit of the doubt,” Busch tells The Verge. But Snyder says that at the AMNH, “scientific and educational content is determined by scientists and educators. That is not the role of donors.”

The sign reflects the scientific data available at the time, Snyder says, adding that today, that same information is “clearly subject to misinterpretation.” “If that label copy were written today it would likely come with a different context and emphasis, including more recent scientific data,” Snyder says. “This happens sometimes in permanent halls and we do review existing content — this is a case where we will do that.”

The journalist adds her spin to the story:
The dinosaur wing at the AMNH still bears his name. But the plaque in question is not in that wing, according to Snyder. The sign explains what causes ice ages, Earth’s cyclical periods when temperatures drop and glaciers spread. The sign says that, “There is no reason to believe that another Ice Age won’t come. In the past, warm cycles lasted about 10,000 years, and it’s been that long since the last cool period.” But that’s probably wrong, based on what we know today. Because we pump heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the world is warming up — and that is messing up Earth’s cycles of cold and warm spells. In fact, our CO2 emissions will delay the onset of the next ice age by at least 100,000 years.

The sign in the dinosaur wing also says that, “Human-made pollutants may also have an effect on the Earth’s climatic cycle.” Today, using the word “may” is misleading: the role our greenhouse gas emissions play in causing climate change is well established. Virtually all scientists agree that human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, are to blame for the warming up of our planet. In fact, the entire world — except the United States — is working together to cut emissions in order to curb global warming.

Summary

Such a tragedy that a supposedly safe space like a museum would mention cooling in the future. Our CO2 emissions prohibit anything but a warmer future.  Human CO2 ensures that the next ice age is postponed almost indefinitely, and that should be on a big sign that everyone can see. And wishy-washy words like “may” have no place in the world as warmists know it.

Can anything in the building be trusted?  Everyone be vigilant! (sarc/off)

Will Lawyers Destroy Science?

Justice: Blind and scientifically illiterate. (Credit: Storyblocks)

Several posts on this blog report on legal maneuvers as anti-fossil fuel activists turn to the courts to advance their agenda.  Now we have an article questioning whether legal thinking is relevant to scientific issues.  From Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience: (Full text below in italics with my bolds)

Will Lawyers Destroy Science?

Scientists and lawyers do not get along. There’s a reason for that. Simply put, scientists and lawyers do not think alike.

I was smacked in the face by this reality when I was called into jury duty in 2011. The case involved a car accident, and the standard in Washington State for the jury to decide in favor of the plaintiff is a “preponderance of evidence,” which is a fancy way of saying, “51 percent.” Essentially, a coin toss decides if the plaintiff wins a bunch of money.

The judge asked if any of the potential jurors objected to that. I did. “I’m a scientist,” I explained, “and I need more evidence than that.” So, I was shown the door.*

That experience taught me that scientists and lawyers live in two completely different worlds. Scientists want 95% confidence and margins of error; lawyers want 51% confidence. Scientists want all evidence to be considered; lawyers do everything in their power to dismiss evidence they don’t like. Scientists rely on reports written by experts; lawyers often consider them inadmissible hearsay. At their best, scientists pursue truth; at their best, lawyers pursue the truth, so long as it benefits the client.

These are fundamentally irreconcilable worldviews that are forever destined to be in conflict. And the lawyers are winning.

Scales of justice Alaska Commons

Will Lawyers Destroy Science?

Consider Mark Jacobson, the climate scientist who is suing a prestigious journal for $10 million because it hurt his feelings. There is good reason to believe that the lawsuit will be dismissed, but not before lawyers have collected a nice fee for themselves. Jacobson’s attorneys and the journal’s attorneys can both make a lot of money arguing with each other, even if the suit never actually goes to trial. Routinely, lawyers are required to solve problems that they themselves created. If something like this were to occur in any other area of life, it would be called racketeering.

Recently, RealClearScience wrote an article that covered a paper published in the journal Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine about how a particular herbal tea was linked to acute liver failure. The maker of the tea threatened to sue RealClearScience, which pulled the article because it didn’t want to deal with a lawyer.

In both examples, the scientific enterprise is collateral damage. The mere threat of a lawsuit can be used to shut down scientific debate. This is deeply troubling.

A Lawsuit-Happy Nation

Unfortunately, there are no signs of such lawsuit abuse stopping. Researchers at Harvard’s John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business published a report that showed that the number of lawsuits filed in the United States far exceeds those of similar countries:

On a per capita basis, the lawsuit rate in the U.S. is higher than Canada (by 4 times), Australia (3.8x), Japan (3.3x), France (2.4x), and the UK (1.6x).

Beware, science. A lawsuit-happy nation turns its eyes to you.

*Note: Mission accomplished. I didn’t want to be there, anyway.

Dr. Alex Berezow is the Founding Editor of RealClearScience and Assistant Editor of RealClearWorld. He also is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors. Furthermore, he co-authored the book Science Left Behind, which sold more than 5,000 copies. His work regularly appears in USA Today and The Economist, among other publications. In 2010, he earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Washington.

See Also:

Critical Climate Intelligence for Jurists (and others)

Climate Scientist Sues Over Hurt Feelings

 

How Cold Is It? Niagara Falls Froze.

Visitors take photographs at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. AARON LYNETT / THE CANADIAN PRESS

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The teeth-shattering temperatures threatening to put New Year’s Eve festivities on ice have even managed to freeze part of Niagara Falls.

With the bone-chilling, record-smashing temperatures, tens of millions in Canada and the northern United States are suffering through the cold snap expected to continue another week.

On New Year’s Eve day, Ottawa is to see a high of just -19 C and a low of -28. And it’s to be even colder as we ring in 2018. On New Year’s Day, it won’t get any “warmer” than -22, with the low dropping all the way to -32. That’s an actual temperature, folks, not a wind chill.

The record low for Dec. 31 (1938-2010) is listed by Environment Canada as -26.1 C in 1962, with the Jan. 1 Ottawa record (1939-2011) at -27.2 in 1947.

“2017 is about to end with the coldest air of the year,” Environment Canada said in a news release. “A fresh surge of record-breaking Arctic air is forecast to encompass the entire province in its icy grip. A trough of low pressure currently over Southern Ontario will drop south of the Great Lakes tonight, opening the door to an even colder northerly wind.”Already, New Year’s Eve events planned for Ottawa and Toronto have been curtailed because of the cold.

Ottawa 2017 organizers have moved New Year’s Eve events into city hall. The only outside event will be the torch lighting set for 8:17 p.m. Sunday..

Visitors take photographs at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Friday. AARON LYNETT / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The freezing temperatures in the U.S. are being blamed on a number of deaths on the road and people exposed to the cold.

• Icy road conditions in central Michigan triggered more than 30 crashes Friday, including a pileup involving 40 cars.

• South Carolina endured a rare bout of freezing rain that shut bridges that needed to be de-iced.

• Two thresher sharks washed up near Cape Cod, Mass., frozen to death.

• In South Dakota, an 83-year-old woman died from exposure when her car crashed. Earlier, three others froze to death near Lake Erie when their car slid off the road.

• Across the Great Lakes, in Erie, Pa., help lines have “been ringing off the hook” after the city — two hours west of Buffalo — was plastered by a massive 165-cm dump of snow.

“This is a crippling snow event,” Zach Sefcovic, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told Reuters. “They are no strangers to snow in that part of the state, but this much snow in that short a time is just unprecedented.”

For the current winter forecast from Dr. Judah Cohen see: Arctic Fork in the Road Dec. 25

Where are we going with this?

Footnote:

h/t Paolo Macera

It’s so cold even this Quebec snowman is headed south.

Judge delivers crushing blow to Washington Clean Air Rule

h/t GWPF for breaking this story  The WSJ article is parywalled, so here is an article from the Bellevue Reporter Judge delivers crushing blow to (Governor) Inslee’s Clean Air Rule Full text below with my bolds

Twenty-seven months ago Gov. Jay Inslee set out to curb emission of carbon pollutants through a sweeping rewrite of the state’s clean air rules.

A week ago a Thurston County judge said Inslee’s executive fiat went too far.

Superior Court Judge James Dixon concluded the governor’s Department of Ecology exceeded its authority with the regulatory scheme it developed and had been taking steps to put in place.

Inslee didn’t issue a statement on receiving this legal lump of coal.

His spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, said in an email that the ruling is “disappointing” and they are looking into options the department can pursue.

The rule targeted the state’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as natural gas distributors, petroleum product producers and importers, power plants, metal manufacturers, and landfill operators. Large manufacturing operations, such as the Boeing Co. plant in Everett, also made the list of those expected to be affected at some point in the future.

Inslee wanted to require those large polluters to reduce carbon emissions by an average of 1.7 percent annually. Initially, the rule would apply to those that release at least 100,000 metric tons of carbon a year. Every three years the threshold would drop and as a result more companies would be subject to the requirements.

From the outset, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) opposed the approach as an overreach from the executive branch. Two years and 29,000 pages of legal filings later, a judge agreed.

Dixon, ruling from the bench, concluded the department’s regulatory reach is limited to those companies that directly introduce contaminates into the air, said Bob Battles, AWB’s general counsel. It lacked authority to regulate suppliers of natural gas and petroleum products because they are not an emitting party, he said.

This is a crushing blow for the governor.

The clean air rule is the centerpiece of Inslee’s legislative and political crusade against climate change. He’s called it “the nation’s first Clean Air Rule, to cap and reduce carbon pollution.” He touted it on college campuses around the state and at international conferences around the globe.

Now it’s gone.

There may be an appeal. Ecology’s lawyers want to see if at least the portion of the rule applying to emitters such as refineries can go forward.

But adjudicating this matter further will take time. If there are appeals, it’s unlikely the regulation as now written could be enforced before the end of the governor’s second, and possibly last, term as governor.

At this point, he’s got to be looking to the Legislature or the electorate for an assist.

Democratic lawmakers could provide it by using their majorities in the House and Senate to send him legislation directing new regulations be imposed on carbon polluters.

And it’s probably just a happy coincidence that Dec. 14, one day before the judge put the kibosh on his rule, Inslee said he’ll put forth a new carbon pricing scheme sometime next month which they’ll be able to consider.

But Dems have struggled mightily to agree among themselves on what to do on climate change so don’t count on 2018 being much different.

Voters seem like the best bet at this point.

If environmentalists can get a measure on next November’s ballot and wealthy Inslee friends like billionaire Tom Steyer cq JC pony up enough dough, it could pass.

That certainly would ease the sting of getting the lump of coal.

In olden days kings ruled by fiat, but nowadays you need the people’s consent, disappointing to Obama and now Inslee.

Critical Climate Intelligence for Jurists (and others)

 

Recently I saw an activist website complaining that jurists were going to seminars led by staff at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. I wondered what might be on offer different than alarmist materials from Union of Concerned Scientists, National Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, World Wildlife, and so on. So I went looking to see what was upsetting to the climate faithful, and found some unexpected resources for climate realists, including those serving on the bench.

The Scalia Law School at George Mason University has a long standing Mason Judicial Education Program providing continuing education for jurists. The linked website provides this description:

For over four decades, the LEC’s Judicial Education Program has helped train the nation’s judges and justices in basic economics, accounting, statistics, regulatory analysis, and other related disciplines. The Program offers intellectually rigorous, balanced, and timely education programs to the nation’s judges and justices in the belief that the fundamental principles of a free and just society depend on a knowledgable and well educated judiciary. To date, over 5,000 federal and state judges from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including three current U.S. Supreme Court Justices, have participated in at least one of the LEC’s judicial education programs. As one JEP participant has put it: the courses have “made us better at our work and improved the administration of justice.”

From time to time there are seminars where jurists discuss cases indicative of newer tendencies in litigation. The school publishes reports of these gatherings as well as studies and articles by legal scholars in its Journal of Law, Economics and Policy. This post relies on excerpts from several essays linked below.

The Basics of Climate Law

Readings in the Journal show that climate legalities are part of environmental law, which is an aspect of the Common Law dimension called Property Rights, in particular a tort called Public nuisance. As described by legal scholar Richard O. Faulk:

Public nuisance consists of a few elements, and they’re not very complicated. First of all, a public right must be involved—a right common to the general public that they have a legal right to enjoy. Second, there must be a substantial interference with that right that causes some sort of damage, or threatens to cause some sort of damage. Two remedies are available in public nuisance litigation. The first is an equitable remedy known as abatement, where a court can, upon finding a public nuisance, order the defendant to stop or to change its activities. The court can also order the defendant to remediate the problems caused by it. Under some circumstances, damages may be awarded. Costs of remediation and other compensatory awards may be available.

Woman on a ducking stool. Historical punishment for ‘common scold’ – woman considered a public nuisance. (Welsh/English heritage)

Let’s look at a couple of examples. I live in Houston. Let’s say that during Hurricane Ike a tree fell from my property and crashed into my neighbor’s house and damaged his roof. Under those circumstances, no public right is involved. Under those circumstances, it’s simply a private dispute between landowners. It may be private nuisance that he has a tree in his living room, but it’s a matter between us as private land owners, and a public nuisance does not arise.

But let’s say that the tree falls the other way and it blocks the street in front of my house. Under those circumstances, the public has a clear right to go down that road, to navigate it, to deal with whatever errands it needs to run. Since the fallen tree invades a right that’s common to everyone, it’s a public nuisance. The remedy is to order me to remove the tree.

Now, that’s a simple illustration. Let’s look at global warming. Let’s say, for example, that several utility companies in the Northeast burn coal in their plants. Those plants, through their smokestacks, release greenhouse gases—all kinds of things like carbon dioxide, methane, various other things as a result of the combustion of the coal. Let’s say that, for the purposes of argument, science has established that those types of emissions cause or contribute to cause global warming, which is a deleterious thing to human beings.

I don’t think anyone would doubt that the air we breathe is a common resource. So, there probably is a public right involved in these circumstances. But there are other issues. One of them is whether the emissions of these particular defendants are, in fact, substantially contributing or causing the climate change.

Generally in tort cases involving public nuisance, there is a term, which we all know from negligence cases and other torts, called proximate causation. In proximate causation, there is a “but for” test: but for the defendant’s activity, would the injury have happened? Can we say that climate change would not have happened if these power plants, these isolated five power plants, were not emitting greenhouse gases? If they completely stopped, would we still have global warming? If you shut them down completely and have them completely dismantled, would we still have global warming? Is it really their emissions that are causing this, or is it the other billions and billions of things on the planet that caused global warming—such as volcanoes? Such as gases being naturally released through earth actions, through off-gassing?

Is it the refinery down in Texas instead? Is it the elephant on the grasses in Africa? Is it my cows on my ranch in Texas who emit methane every day from their digestive systems? How can we characterize the public utilities’ actions as “but for” causes or “substantial contributions?” So far, the courts haven’t even reached these issues on the merits.

As Faulk says, the courts have not yet considered climate cases on their merits due to preemptive issues, such as standing, damages and liability. And there are additional hurdles before courts can rule on climate change.

What about the separation of constitutional powers?

Joseph F. Speelman:

The idea expressed by the National Resources Defense Counsel and other NGOs was that they didn’t like democracy because it didn’t get them what they wanted, and so they were going to use the courts to run the American political process— fundamentally anti-democratic philosophy that they have consistently maintained—and might I add—relatively successfully.

The theory of public nuisance the way it’s being utilized now, is simply lawlessness—nothing less than pure lawlessness. This is (stated by) the man that wrote the language on public nuisance, but never intended it to be used the way it is being used. It’s being used to try to change society. Is that the law’s job? Or is the law’s job to try to set standards so that people like me can advise clients on how they can obey the law? It’s so much fun to say, “Do the right thing.” What is the right thing?

What about limits to liability?

About every two or three years, the people that brought you asbestos and tobacco come up with new ideas; predatory ideas. They’re designed to separate money from people that have it and take it somewhere else. So it is about the money. Now, try to explain that to your client. Put yourself in my posture. The only way I can safely advise a client to avoid liability in this environment is to not make, buy, sell, or insure anything—but that would make it really hard for us to do what the administration asks business to do, which is to hire people.

The circuit court deemed the theory of public nuisance, as it’s being utilized, standardless liability—no standards. No ability for Joe Speelman to advise his client on how to do the right thing to avoid liability. There are no standards. I can’t tell you how to do it. And if I can’t do that, then the entire process by which business operates and makes things and sells things in this country, ultimately comes down—we get to what we really have, which is a casino mentality. So, as I said when I started—from those folks that brought you asbestos, lead litigation, and tobacco—we now have climate change.

What about effective remedies?

Jason S. Johnson:

These are all interstate public nuisance cases. There are plaintiffs in some states suing defendants who, for the most part, are in other states. There is some overlap in some of the cases such as Comer and Kivalina, but generally, the interstate character of these public nuisance actions is very, very important.

Now, what’s the problem with externalization across states? One: it’s very likely that this is going to be an inefficient externalization. That is to say you come up with some award from the court, and the basic idea of economics is we use the liability system, to what? To internalize costs. If people bear the costs of their actions, they have an incentive then to take precautions or take various steps to lower the cost to other people of the actions that they take. The inefficiency of the externalization here is very, very likely. Why? Among other things, there are very real benefits from global warming that can be expected to benefit lots of states and lots of cities.

States that think they’re going to be beneficiaries, or think that they’re going to be real net losers from greenhouse gas emission reduction— because they’re states where a lot of electricity comes from burning coal and/or they mine and produce coal in those states—those states are not at the table in these litigations either. There are a lot of benefits and costs that are not included in this dyadic interstate public nuisance litigation. They’re almost sure to generate inefficient results. Another reason why they’re sure to generate inefficient results is because the benefit of any litigation depends upon the remedy affecting behavior, and behavior affecting the harm that people suffer.

It’s simply a fact that by 2020, China is going to be responsible— forget about India and Brazil—for about 45% of the world’s greenhouse gas emission reduction. So, there’s no remedy in any of these cases that will provide any relief to any of the plaintiffs.

Finally, what’s going to happen? Who knows what’s going to happen at the Supreme Court level. But these are likely to be very ineffective and counterproductive. Remember, for a lot of environmental groups, the reason for bringing these interstate public nuisance cases is they thought they were going to force Congress to act. Well, Congress didn’t act.

Excerpts above come from the Judicial Symposium on Civil Justice Issues: Climate Change Litigation

Climate Law Itself is Changing

A more recent symposium addressed a contextual shift in principles and assumptions, differing from older concepts underlying case law precedents from the past. Briefly put, the environment is no longer seen as static, but is rather dynamic at all time scales. And in parallel, the economic system is now recognized as dynamic and fluid, rather than determinative. Both of these paradigm shifts alter the way jurists and others consider environmental claims and responses to them.

Excerpts below come from Dynamic Ecology and Dynamic Economics,issue 11.2 in the Journal of Law, Economics and Policy

Jonathan H. Adler:

Most of today’s environmental laws and programs are based upon outmoded assumptions about the relative stability of natural systems when free of human interference. Scientists have understood for decades that ecosystems are anything but stable. To the contrary, ecosystems are incredibly dynamic and change over time due to both internal and external forces. An ecosystem is the “paradigmatic complex system,” exhibiting dynamic and discontinuous behavior. To be effective, therefore, environmental management systems must themselves be sufficiently adaptive.

Noted ecologist Daniel Botkin argues that “solving our environmental problems requires a new perspective” of environmental concerns that incorporates contemporary scientific understandings and embraces humanity’s role in environmental management. Recognizing a new perspective is but the first step, however. There is also a need to identify how this perspective can inform environmental policy, not just on the ground but in the very institutional architecture of environmental law and management. Then comes the really hard part, for even if it is possible to conceive of how environmental management should proceed, it may be devilishly difficult to put such ideas into practice. Old habits die hard. Legal and institutional norms die even harder.

Contemporary environmental law embodies archaic assumptions about the natural world. Through the middle of the 20th century, “the predominant theories in ecology either presumed or had as a necessary corollary a very strict concept of a highly structured, ordered, and regulated, steady state ecological system.” Under this view, nature naturally tended toward an equilibrium state—a “balance”—absent human interference. Maintaining and protecting this balance was, in this view, ecologically superior and ultimately better for humanity as well. Contemporary ecological science has “dismissed” these theories and the accompanying notion of a “balance of nature.”

The architecture of contemporary environmental law was erected when the equilibrium paradigm still held sway. As a consequence, the edifice of environmental law sits on an unstable foundation. The equilibrium paradigm justified “a wide range of prohibitions on human activities that alter ‘natural’ land and water systems” and other environmental restrictions on productive activity.

Contemporary ecological science embraces a more dynamic understanding of the natural world and rejects the idea of a “balance of nature” that would exist but for human interference. Two insights about natural systems are essential to the contemporary view. First is the recognition that ecological systems are always in flux. There is no true “natural” state for ecosystems. No “climax” or endpoint toward which ecosystems move or evolve if left undisturbed. Second, in this day and age, there is no part of the globe in which ecosystems exist wholly apart from human influence.

The environmental laws and regulations on the books are “out of date.” As Botkin observes, “whether or not environmental scientists know about geological time and evolutionary biology, their policies ignore them.” Too often environmental policy and protection measures are based upon “nonrational, ideological beliefs instead of rationally derived facts in harmony with modern understanding of the environment.” Yet, many of the most pressing environmental problems today “exhibit the hallmark characteristics of complex adaptive systems.”

Many existing environmental laws impose binary decisions on agencies—either a species is endangered or it is not, a level of pollution may be anticipated to endanger health or it is not, etc. Once such determinations are made, specific regulatory consequences follow automatically. If a species is endangered, it triggers the regulatory requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  If a pollutant may be reasonably anticipated to threaten health and welfare, certain types of emission controls must be imposed.

Markets are also complex, adaptive, and dynamic systems. Just as it is not always possible to predict the ecological consequences of specific environmental management measures, it is often not possible to predict the market effects of such measures, or—perhaps more importantly—how such interventions will affect the interplay of economic decisions and environmental outcomes. Market actors will often respond to regulatory constraints in unanticipated ways, with unforeseen (and perhaps undesirable) effects.

There are opportunities to improve the adaptive and responsive nature of environmental protection efforts in the United States, but such opportunities are inherently limited so long as environmental protection is dominated by a relatively centralized, top-down administrative structure. Conventional regulatory and administrative systems are not particularly adaptive or responsive to changing environmental conditions, or even to changed understanding of environmental needs. Bureaucratic systems change slowly and are rarely forward looking. This is due, in part, to legal constraints, but also due to the nature of monopolistic bureaucratic systems, and the inherent information limitations that hamper the ability of such systems to acquire and account for relevant information—let alone to encourage the discovery of such information in the first place. Bureaucratic structures are resistant to change, and this is particularly true where such resistance poses few risks. Regulatory agencies do not go out of business when they fail to adapt. To the contrary, a failing agency is more likely to see a budget increase than it is to close its doors. The feedback mechanisms that force private firms to be adaptive and responsive to changing market conditions are largely absent from the administrative state.

So even if agency heads are willing to make the effort, they face a daunting gauntlet of interest group opposition and judicial scrutiny. According to Professor Ruhl, when the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) sought to integrate adaptive management into the habitat conservation plan (HCP) permitting process, interest group litigants and courts were quick to challenge the agency’s authority to incorporate greater flexibility into the program.

Due process concerns about adaptive management are greatest where federal agencies are engaged in the regulation of private land or the imposition of restrictions that directly affect private rights, including some rights on federal lands. Adopting adaptive management policies and techniques is far less problematic in the context of managing government lands than where environmental management decisions encroach upon private interests or risk infringing upon private property rights. While there may be political obstacles, including interest group resistance, to reducing the procedural obligations of agencies engaged in resource management decisions, there are less likely to be judicially cognizable property interests of the sort that could implicate Due Process concerns.

Climate Change Seen Through Dynamic Ecology

Daniel Botkin has led the shift in paradigm to Dynamic Ecology, especially in his influential book: Discordant Harmonies: a New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century. 1990 Oxford University Press, New York.

Daniel B. Botkin is Professor Emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara, in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology.

In 2014 he shared his view of the climate change issue in Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Science,Space and Technology. The whole document is enlightening, and included point-by-point critique of IPCC statements. His main points are highlighted below, while details and examples are in the full text.

1.I want to state up front that we have been living through a warming trend driven by a variety of influences. However, it is my view that this is not unusual, and contrary to the characterizations by the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment, these environmental changes are not apocalyptic nor irreversible.

2.My biggest concern is that both the reports present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports are “scientific-sounding” rather than based on clearly settled facts or admitting their lack. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen usually think.

3.HAS IT BEEN WARMING? Yes, we have been living through a warming trend, no doubt about that. The rate of change we are experiencing is also not unprecedented, and the “mystery” of the warming “plateau” simply indicates the inherent complexity of our global biosphere. Change is normal, life on Earth is inherently risky; it always has been. The two reports, however, makes it seem that environmental change is apocalyptic and irreversible. It is not.

4.IS CLIMATE CHANGE VERY UNUSUAL? No, it has always undergone changes.

5.ARE GREENHOUSE GASES INCREASING? Yes, CO2 rapidly.

6.IS THERE GOOD SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON CLIMATE CHANGE? Yes, a great deal of it.

7.ARE THERE GOOD SCIENTISTS INVOLVED IN THE IPCC 2014 REPORT? Yes, the lead author of the Terrestrial (land) Ecosystem Report is Richard Betts, a coauthor of one my scientific papers about forecasting effects of global warming on biodiversity.

8. ARE THERE SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE STATEMENTS AT PLACES IN THE REPORT? Yes, there are.

9. What I sought to learn was the overall take-away that the reports leave with a reader. I regret to say that I was left with the impression that the reports overestimate the danger from human-induced climate change and do not contribute to our ability to solve major environmental problems. I am afraid that an “agenda” permeates the reports, an implication that humans and our activity are necessarily bad and ought to be curtailed.

10. ARE THERE MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH THE REPORTS? Yes, in assumptions, use of data, and conclusions.

11. My biggest concern about the reports is that they present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports, in other words, are “scientific-sounding,” rather than clearly settled and based on indisputable facts. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen usually think.

12. The two reports assume and/or argue that the climate warming forecast by the global climate models is happening and will continue to happen and grow worse. Currently these predictions are way off the reality (Figure 1). Models, like all scientific theory, have to be tested against real-world observations. Experts in model validation say that the climate models frequently cited in the IPCC report are little if any validated. This means that as theory they are fundamentally scientifically unproven.

13. The reports suffer from using the term “climate change” with two meanings: natural and human-induced. These are both given as definitions in the IPCC report and are not distinguished in the text and therefore confuse a reader. (The Climate Change Assessment uses the term throughout including its title, but never defines it.) There are places in the reports where only the second meaning—human induced—makes sense, so that meaning has to be assumed. There are other places where either meaning could be applied.

14. Some of the report conclusions are the opposite of those given in articles cited in defense of those conclusions.

15. Some conclusions contradict and are ignorant of the best statistically valid observations.

16. The report for policy makers on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability repeats the assertion of previous IPCC reports that “large fraction of species” face “increase extinction risks” (p15). Overwhelming evidence contradicts this assertion. And it has been clearly shown that models used to make these forecasts, such as climate envelope models and species-area curve models, make incorrect assumptions that lead to erroneous conclusions, over-estimating extinction risks. Surprisingly few species became extinct during the past 2.5 million years, a period encompassing several ice ages and warm periods.

17. THE REPORT GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT LIVING THINGS ARE FRAGILE AND RIGID, unable to deal with change. The opposite is to case. Life is persistent, adaptable, adjustable.

18. STEADY-STATE ASSUMPTION: There is an overall assumption in the IPCC 2014 report and the Climate Change Assessment that all change is negative and undesirable; that it is ecologically and evolutionarily unnatural, bad for populations, species, ecosystems, for all life on planet Earth, including people. This is the opposite of the reality.

19. The summary for policy makers on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability makes repeated use of the term “irreversible” changes. A species going extinct is irreversible, but little else about the environment is irreversible.

20. The extreme overemphasis on human-induced global warming has taken our attention away from many environmental issues that used to be front and center but have been pretty much ignored in the 21st century.

21. Do the problems with these reports mean that we can or should abandon any concerns about global warming or abandon any research about it? Certainly not, but we need to put this issue within an appropriate priority with other major here-and-now environmental issues that are having immediate effects.

22. The concerns I have mentioned with the IPCC apply as well to the White House’s National Climate Assessment.

Summary

The good news: Some people in the legal community are reflecting analytically about climate claims appearing in litigation, and are speaking out about the failure of facts and logic to support the allegations.

The bad news:  The more I read, the more I fear the judiciary is caught in the past and ill-prepared for the onslaught of cases coming from the anti-fossil fuels activists.  Jason Johnson, one of the above presenters said this on his website:

Legal scholarship has come to accept as true the various pronouncements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientists who have been active in the movement for greenhouse gas (ghg) emission reductions to combat global warming. The only criticism that legal scholars have had of the story told by this group of activist scientists – what may be called the climate establishment – is that it is too conservative in not paying enough attention to possible catastrophic harm from potentially very high temperature increases.

Scientists who have been leaders in the process of producing these Assessment Reports (“AR’s”) argue that they provide a “balanced perspective” on the “state of the art” in climate science,with the IPCC acting as a rigorous and “objective assessor” of what is known and unknown in climate science. Legal scholars have accepted this characterization, trusting that the IPCC AR’s are the product of an “exhaustive review process” – involving hundreds of outside reviewers and thousands of comments. Within mainstream environmental law scholarship, the only concern expressed about the IPCC and “consensus” climate change science is that the IPCC’s process has allowed for too much government influence (especially from China and the U.S.), pressure that has caused the IPCC’s future projections to be too cautious – too hesitant to confidently project truly catastrophic climate change.

Thus politicians, environmental law scholars and policymakers have clearly come to have extreme confidence in the opinion of a group of scientists – many of whom play a leading role on the IPCC – who hold that the late twentieth century warming trend in average global surface temperature was caused by the buildup of anthropogenic ghg’s, and that if ghg emissions are not reduced soon, then the 21st century may witness truly catastrophic changes in the earth’s climate. In the legal and the policy literature on global warming, this view – which may be called the opinion of the climate establishment – is taken as a fixed, unalterable truth. It is virtually impossible to find anywhere in the legal or the policy literature on global warming anything like a sustained discussion of the actual state of the scientific literature on ghg emissions and climate change. Instead, legal and policy scholars simply defer to a very general statement of the climate establishment’s opinion (except when it seems too conservative), generally failing even to mention work questioning the establishment climate story, unless to dismiss it with the ad hominem argument that such work is the product of untrustworthy, industry-funded “skeptics” and “deniers.”

This paper constitutes such a cross-examination. As anyone who has served as an expert witness in American litigation can attest, even though an opposing attorney may not have the expert’s scientific training, a well prepared and highly motivated trial attorney who has learned something about the technical literature can ask very tough questions, questions that force the expert to clarify the basis for his or her opinion, to explain her interpretation of the literature, and to account for any apparently conflicting literature that is not discussed in the expert report. My strategy in this paper is to adopt the approach that would be taken by a non-scientist attorney deposing global warming scientists serving as experts for the position that anthropogenic ghg emissions have caused recent global warming and must be halted if serious and seriously harmful future warming is to be prevented – what I have called above the established climate story.

To use legal terms, is the work by the IPCC and establishment story lead scientists a legal brief – intended to persuade – or a legal memo – intended to objectively assess both sides? The second and related objective of this Article is to use the cross examination to identify what seem to be the key, policy-relevant areas of remaining uncertainty in climate science, and to then at least begin to sketch the concrete implications of such remaining uncertainty for the design of legal rules and institutions adopted to respond to perceived climate change risks.

Far from turning up empty, my cross examination has (initially, to my surprise) revealed that on virtually every major issue in climate change science, the IPCC AR’s and other summarizing work by leading climate establishment scientists have adopted various rhetorical strategies that seem to systematically conceal or minimize what appear to be fundamental scientific uncertainties or even disagreements. The bulk of this paper proceeds by cataloguing, and illustrating with concrete climate science examples, the various rhetorical techniques employed by the IPCC and other climate change scientist/advocates in an attempt to bolster their position, and to minimize or ignore conflicting scientific evidence.

There are, to be sure, many chapters in the IPCC Assessment Reports whose authors have chosen to quite fully disclose both what is known as well as what is unknown, and subject to fundamental uncertainty, in their particular field of climate science. Still, the climate establishment story — comprising all of the IPCC Assessment Reports, plus the IPCC’s “Policymaker Summaries,” plus the freelance advocacy efforts of activist climate scientists (exemplified by James Hansen of NASA) – seems overall to comprise an effort to marshal evidence in favor of a predetermined policy preference, rather than to objectively assess both what is known and unknown about climatic variation and its causes.

To his credit Jason Johnson has done his homework on Climate Science and you can see his results in the document Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination

How many other jurists have girded themselves for this battleground?

Climate Change No Longer a US Security Threat


The news was reported by the Federalist Trump Admin To Remove Climate Change From List Of National Security Threats. Excerpts below with my bolds.

The Trump administration will reverse course from previous Obama administration policy, eliminating climate change from a list of national security threats. The National Security Strategy to be released on Monday will emphasize the importance of balancing energy security with economic development and environmental protection, according to a source who has seen the document and shared excerpts of a late draft.

“Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system,” a draft of the National Security Strategy slated to be released on Monday said. “U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”

President Obama made climate change, and the burdensome regulations that accompany its focus, a primary focus of his administration, including in his National Security Strategy released in 2015. “[W]e are working toward an ambitious new global climate change agreement to shape standards for prevention, preparedness, and response over the next decade,” that report said.

“In some ways, [climate change] is akin to the problem of terrorism and ISIL,” Obama said at climate talks in Paris in 2015. During a weekly address, Obama said “Today, there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change.”

In September 2016, President Obama released a memorandum requiring federal agencies to consider the effects of climate change in the development of national security-related doctrine, policies, and plans. All of this alarmed critics concerned with more pressing security risks.

By contrast, President Trump’s National Security Strategy will focus on conventional and immediate national security risks. The draft says, in part:

North Korea seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons. Iran supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction. Jihadist terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al Qaeda are determined to attack the United States and radicalize Americans with their hateful ideology. States and non-state actors undermine social order with drug and human trafficking networks, which drive violent crimes and cause thousands of American deaths each year…. Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law. Terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety. These actors adapt quickly to outpace our defenses.

As for climate change, the draft report says “The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while growing its economy. This achievement, which can serve as model to other countries, flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains –not from onerous regulation.”

See also: Climates Don’t Start Wars, People Do