When a journalist, activist, scientist, or government watchdog who had been exposing misdeeds of the Russian government or President Vladimir Putin dies mysteriously, no one is really surprised anymore. It is sad, tragic, and criminal, but it is not unexpected in a country where free speech has never really been on firm footing and the government is not truly bound by the rule of law.
When journalists or whistleblowers are thrown in jail in Egypt or Saudi Arabia for offending the powers that be, usually accused of fomenting revolt or blaspheming the prophet, around the world there is an uproar in the press and in some nations’ capitals, but no one is really shocked – these non-western countries have long histories of jailing political dissidents or those who support causes not popular with the government.
When Google and Facebook – purported bastions of free speech, the open sharing of information, dialogue, and connecting people regardless of national boundaries – close accounts and limit the research access of people and concerning topics that critique or offend political commissars in China, it’s disappointing but not unexpected. Despite their founders’ claims they are about connecting people, the companies are really about profit, and if providing a forum for free speech offends the leaders of what could be a huge market, profits come before allegiance to basic human rights.
People are shocked however, and courts allow recourse, when those in political power attempt to quash open debate over topics of public importance in the United States and to a lesser extent in other Western countries. I’ve previously written about attempts by national legislators and state attorneys general to suppress debate over fundamental scientific and economic questions still alive in the climate debate. Senators and Congressmen proposed the U.S. Attorney General investigate corporations and research institutes like my own, The Heartland Institute, for continually pointing out the science is not settled and there is more we don’t know about the causes and consequences of climate change than what we do know with any kind of certainty.
Thankfully, in the United States we still have a semblance of the rule of law. The First Amendment’s protection of free speech still means something in the courts and the court of public opinion, even if not to some politicians who actually as part of their oath of office swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. As a result, other than to waste public resources, little has come of these attempts.
What I didn’t realize until early September was several climate realist organizations were until recently under threat of prosecution in Canada. As Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun said, “It’s like something out of George Orwell’s 1984.”
In 2015, Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law firm, filed a complaint with Canada’s federal Competition Bureau (CB), calling on it to investigate Friends of Science, the International Climate Science Coalition, and The Heartland Institute for denying climate science had determined humans were causing dangerous climate change.
Ecojustice asked the Commissioner of Competition to refer the matter to the Attorney-General of Canada for “criminal charges against the denier groups.”
I knew nothing about this latest witch-hunt until three months after the bureau had discontinued its 14-month probe, when a reporter contacted me for comment.
I’ll just close my thoughts on various Big Brothers’ climate “thought crime” investigations both at home and abroad quoting Goldstein:
As someone who has written extensively on climate change for a decade, my view is that all of this is madness. We are entering into dangerous territory, a fundamental attack on free speech.
If we’re going to use agencies of the federal government to investigate and even prosecute “climate deniers,” for making “false and misleading claims” then let’s damn well do the same for “climate alarmists,” who do the same thing all the time.
I read and hear politicians making “false and misleading claims” about climate change almost daily, particularly with regard to what federal and provincial carbon pricing schemes will actually accomplish, as opposed to what our governments are claiming they will accomplish.
But the way to decide these issues is through public debate, not running to an agency of the federal government to shut up people we disagree with, particularly a government that itself makes false and misleading claims about man-made climate change all the time.
I could not agree more.
— H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
The Heartland Institute is hosting an America First Energy Conference in Houston, Texas on November 9 at the J.W. Marriott Galleria. Speakers include Heartland’s new president, former Congressman Tim Huelskamp, University of Delaware climate scientist David Legates, and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. Contact Heartland Institute Director of Development Gwen Carver at [email protected] or 312/377-4000 to become a sponsor of the event. Registration for the event is $349.00 (including meals). Register online at: http://americafirstenergy.org/register/.
A study in Nature Geoscience confirms what many climate realists have long known: Climate models grossly overstate the amount of warming Earth has experienced as carbon dioxide levels have increased. This study is important because the authors are all climate true believers, among those who developed the idea of a “carbon budget,” the amount of carbon dioxide humans could emit over the next few years to keep Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) above temperatures seen in the late nineteenth century.
Negotiators of the Paris climate agreement had been led to believe it would be almost impossible to limit the temperature increase to 2°C, much less 1.5°C, unless humans limited the amount of carbon dioxide emitted over time to between 200 and 1,000 gigatons – we currently emit approximately 41 gigatons per year. At the low end of 200 allowable tons of carbon dioxide to limit warming to 1.5°C, humans would have used up the carbon budget by 2022.
By contrast, this new study estimates we have more than 700 billion tons (700 gigatons) left in the carbon budget to keep warming below 1.5°C, and presumably an even larger amount of carbon dioxide could be emitted and still keep Earth under 2°C.
In an e-mail to The Washington Post, study co-author Joeri Rogelj of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria said the carbon budget increased because, “The most complex Earth system models that provided input to [the IPCC] tend to slightly overestimate historical warming, and at the same time underestimate compatible historical [carbon dioxide] emissions. These two small discrepancies accumulate over time and lead to a slight underestimation of the remaining carbon budget.”
Hundreds of billions of tons of additional allowable carbon dioxide emissions and more than two decades of allowable emissions at current rates, rather than less than a decade, seem more than “slight” misestimations to me.
As The Post correctly notes, the fact scientists are still finding such gross miscalculations concerning the impact of carbon dioxide on temperatures raises the question of how well science really understands the climate and the factors that affect it.
Glen Peters, of the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, told The Post, “The implications are pretty profound. It goes to show, this carbon-budget approach is still much more, let’s say, immature scientifically than what we often assume.”
Contrary to former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman’s claims there is “broad consensus” and “no debate” on critical questions of climate science and the impacts of climate change, many questions – such as the extent to which it is possible to accurately forecast future climate conditions or tease out humanity’s influence on climate – are very much unsettled. Accordingly, Joseph L. Bast, CEO of The Heartland Institute, and Roger H. Bezdek, Ph.D., president of Management Information Services, Inc, write in The Hill a red team-blue team investigation of these climate questions and others is “long over-due.”
As described by Bast and Bezdek, “The red team-blue team methodology was pioneered by the national security community to test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce – or at least understand – uncertainties. The process is considered a best practice in complex high-consequence situations such as intelligence assessments, spacecraft design, and major industrial operations. Would not Whitman agree that global warming is a complex high-consequence situation? … How could an open and public debate result, as Whitman contends, in the public knowing ‘less about the science of climate change than before?'”
Noted physicists and climate researchers – including Steven Koonin, Ph.D., who served in the Obama administration; William Happer, Ph.D., at Princeton University; Judith Curry, Ph.D., of the Georgia Institute of Technology; Freeman Dyson, Ph.D., at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; and S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., first director of the national weather satellite service –support the formation of a red team-blue team. Does anyone besides perhaps Whitman herself, a career politician and bureaucrat, believe she knows more about the state of climate science than they do?
“It is fiscally irresponsible and irresponsible governance to spend trillions of dollars on uneconomical technologies, forcing consumers to buy products they do not want, and destroying entire industries on the basis of untested hypotheses and inaccurate forecasts,” write Bast and Bezdek, explaining why a red team-blue team exercise is “imperative.”
SOURCE: The Hill
Long-term tracking of tropical cyclones in the Southern Pacific Ocean was spotty before the advent of satellites in the 1970s, with most tropical cyclones forming and dispersing in the middle of the vast Pacific with little or no attention. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), since 1970, when satellite coverage began, the number of tropical cyclones has declined even accounting for a change in how cyclones were defined in 1978. In addition, BOM finds the number of severe tropical cyclones has fallen as well.
BOM has determined tropical cyclone activity in and around Australia is driven primarily by variations in El Niño and Southern Oscillation oceanic current patterns, with more tropical cyclones occurring during La Niña years and fewer during periods of El Niño. No human greenhouse-gas influence on tropical cyclone patterns near Australia has been found.
SOURCE: Climate Change Dispatch
In 2010, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was forced to admit it falsely claimed human-caused climate change would cause the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by 2035. Now a new report in Nature: Scientific Reports reveals Himalayan glaciers have been shrinking for 400 years, long before industrialization and thus the growth in human greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists from the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences used tree ring data to establish that even as European glaciers were expanding during the Little Ice Age, Himalayan glaciers were shrinking. The researchers found natural factors – including ocean currents, which affect the monsoons and limit snowfall on the glaciers, and solar irradiance – are primarily responsible for glacial decline.
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