Is it a Failure to Communicate, or Faulty Climate Science?

Published May 31, 2013

Earlier this month, a New York Times article by Andy Revkin voiced concern over a gap between “the consensus” of climate scientists and public acceptance of the theory of human-caused global warming. Revkin pointed to a study published in April by Dr. John Cook and other researchers, which claimed that 97 percent of scientific papers over the last decade “endorsed the consensus” of man-made warming. But is it a failure to communicate the science to the public, or a case of bad science?

A 2010 paper from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University recommended that advocates for activist climate policies emphasize the dangers to the health of citizens:  “Successfully reframing the climate debate in the United States from one based on environmental values to one based on health values…holds great promise to help American society better understand and appreciate the risks of climate change…” So, if Americans fear for their health, then they’ll more readily accept that humans are causing dangerous climate change.

Climate science has smelled for some time. The 2001 Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced “new evidence” claiming that “the increase in temperature in the 20th century was likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years.” This was the famous “Hockey Stick Curve” of Dr. Michael Mann, which became an icon for Climatism, trumpeted to the world and taught in schools across the globe.

But the tree-ring data used by Mann and his research team did not show a temperature rise at the end of the 20th century, so they pasted the thermometer record for the last 50 years onto the 1,000-year curve to provide the alarming hockey stick temperature rise. Later analysis by Stephen McIntyre and Dr. Ross McKitrick found that the Mann algorithm would also produce a hockey stick from input of random noise. The IPCC dropped the Mann Curve from their 2007 Fourth Assessment Report without any explanation.

Then in November 2009 came Climategate, the release of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University. An unidentified hacker or whistle-blower downloaded more than 1,000 documents and e-mails and posted them on a server in Russia. The CRU is the recognized leading keeper of global temperature data, and CRU scientists wrote and edited the core of the IPCC reports.

The Climategate emails showed CRU practices that were seriously at odds with accepted scientific procedure. Evidence of bias, data manipulation, deliberate deletion of emails to avoid sharing of information, evasion of freedom of information requests, and attempts to subvert the peer-review literature process were all used to further the cause of human-made global warming.

Based on model projections, the IPCC First Assessment Report of 1990 told the world to expect a “best estimate” rise of 0.3oC per decade in global temperatures, leading to 2025 temperatures that would be 1oC higher than 1990 temperatures. The IPCC also projected a “high estimate” and a “low estimate” rise. Today, global temperatures remain well below the IPCC’s low estimate. Contrary to model projections, temperatures have been flat for the last 15 years.

IPCC Temperature Projections Article

It doesn’t matter if 97 percent or even 100 percent of published papers endorse the consensus of man-made warming. One hundred percent of the world’s top climate models, 44 models in all, projected a rise in global surface temperatures over the last 15 years. And 100 percent of the climate models were wrong. The empirical data does not support the theory of dangerous man-made climate change.

Since global temperatures are not rising, proponents of man-made climate change are now reduced to weather scaremongering. In the best tradition of ambulance chasing, the recent severe tornado in Oklahoma, Hurricane Sandy, and other weather events are blamed on mankind’s relatively small contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide, a trace gas.

But any citizen who can read can learn that today’s weather is not abnormal. Hurricane Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane that made a direct hit on New York City. But according to the National Climatic Data Center, 170 hurricanes made US landfall during the 20th century. Fifty-nine of these were Category 3 or better, with wind speeds much stronger than those of Sandy. So how is a single Category 1 hurricane “evidence” of dangerous climate change? Historical data also shows that the US experienced more strong tornados in the 1960s and 1970s than today.

The reason for lukewarm public acceptance of the theory of man-made warming is not a failure to communicate, but that the science is rotten.

[Originally published in The Washington Times]