On Climate, Ad Hominem, Funding, and Facts

Published August 5, 2016

Another day, another ad hominem attack on those who would defend free speech and progress in science.

In a July 29 op-ed in the San Antonio Express News (behind a paywall, unfortunately), Rich Casey launched a broadside attack against Texas Rep. Lamar Smith (R), his fellow Republicans on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Exxon and The Heartland Institute. Never fear, we’re tough, we can handle it.

Our crime? Battling the attempts by several Democratic state attorneys general (AGs) to squash free speech and suppress scientific discovery and debate regarding purported human-caused climate change.

In particular, Casey objects to the subpoena issued by the Science Committee (see last week’s CCW) for documents related to Democratic state AGs’ collaboration with environmental groups to, under color of law, deny the free speech rights of climate realists to explore and highlight the weaknesses of anthropogenic global warming theory and the policies proposed to fight it.

Rather than address substantive science or economic matters, Casey tries to direct attention away from the uncertainties in climate science and the bullying tactics state AGs are using, by attempting to impugn the reputation of climate realists like The Heartland Institute based on who funded their work more than a decade ago. Casey’s article is reminiscent of the old legal adage, “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

For example, intending to indicate Heartland’s views on climate change are bought and paid for by Exxon, Casey wrote, “ExxonMobil gave the self-described ‘nonprofit research organization’ [The Heartland Institute] $736,500 between 1998 and 2006.”

That is true, but it shows the weakness of his argument. Heartland has not received a dime from ExxonMobil since 2006, two years before Heartland hosted the first of its 11 International Conferences on Climate Change and three years before it published the first volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered series for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Heartland has become known throughout the world as the leading think tank promoting skepticism about catastrophic, human-caused climate change.

If the conversation must turn to funding, consider this: The amount of government money flowing to organizations, agencies, universities, and scientists who toe the party line about humans causing catastrophic climate change, calling for an expansion of big government and ever greater control over peoples’ lives, dwarves the amount of money climate realists have received from all sources. Since global warming first hit the headlines, I would wager, more federal money has gone to climate scientists and groups promoting climate fears than had gone to climatology and meteorology cumulatively in the prior century. Far be it from me to suggest university and government scientists, bureaucrats, and regulators might overstate their certainty about human-caused climate change and its risks just to keep billions of dollars flowing to their coffers.

Legally, “fraud” is an intentional misrepresentation of material existing facts or a purposeful omission of material facts made with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing another person to act, and upon which another person relies with resulting injury or damage. If the state AGs have any evidence of fraud on the part of companies or organizations raising questions about the Obama administration’s climate policies, they should bring charges first, and only then issue subpoenas. That’s how normal legal proceedings work. They have no such evidence, thus they’ve launched a fishing expedition.

Climate realists acknowledge the climate is changing and always has changed, just as temperatures have always fluctuated. Realists simply raise questions about how confident we should be concerning claims humans are responsible for the recent warming. Realists point out the warming has paused for more than 18 years, despite ever-rising carbon dioxide levels. Realists recognize sea levels are rising: They’ve risen more than 400 feet since the end of the most recent ice age, but they are rising at a slower rate now than they have for the vast majority of that time, and rates of recent sea level rise have not accelerated despite climate alarmists’ claims.

Antarctic sea ice and snow and ice cover are growing, polar bears are thriving, Atlantic hurricanes are at near record lows for frequency and strength, instances of drought and flood are within historic norms, plant coverage is expanding, with crop yields setting records year over year, and fewer lives are being lost to climate-related events than ever before. All of these facts contradict the projections made by climate models and the claims state AGs are making in support of their witch hunt.

If climate alarmists have nothing more to offer in defense of their views than misguided attacks on climate realists based on who funded some of our work more than a decade ago, their position is weaker and even less worthy of serious consideration than I thought.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: San Antonio Express News and Climate Change Weekly #220


Dem VP pick Kaine joins warmist witch huntAirlines in EPA crosshairsWater vapor, not carbon dioxide emissions, drives climatePetition launched to remove air conditioning from State Department property


Newly minted Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined 18 of his colleagues in a rhetoricfest in mid-July, offering a resolution of disapproval against the fossil fuel industry and organizations who write about doubts they have concerning the immediacy of and danger from climate change.

The resolution states, “Congress — (1) disapproves of activities by certain corporations, trade associations, foundations, and organizations funded by those corporations — (A) to deliberately mislead the public and undermine peer-reviewed scientific research about the dangers of their products; and (B) to deliberately cast doubt on science in order to protect their financial interests …” The senators asked the Justice Department to investigate those cited for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and engaging in fraud.

There is no evidence of fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies or skeptic fellow travelers. Climate skeptics have sound justification for questioning the extent of our knowledge concerning humans’ influence on the climate system, the extent of our understanding of the climate system, and the evidence of impending doom. As Bill O’Keefe notes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report identified 11 factors that contribute to warming but claimed a high degree of knowledge about only 45 percent of them. The National Academy of Sciences stated, “because there is considerable uncertainty in [our] current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward).”

O’Keefe concludes, “Debate over matters for which there is substantial uncertainty is how knowledge is advanced. Actions that can have the effect of chilling debate and the free expression of views not only impedes the process of learning, it threatens a cornerstone of a free society.” SOURCE: Richmond Times-Dispatch


On July 25 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled greenhouse gases from airplanes endanger public health. As a result of this endangerment finding, EPA is required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under the federal Clean Air Act, removing a hurdle to implementing internationally agreed rules on airliner pollution.

EPA claims aircraft are the third-biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions from domestic transportation. The endangerment finding triggers the EPA rule-making process either to adopt the emissions standard developed by the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or develop its own standard “at least as stringent.” Under the ICAO standard, aircraft manufacturers would need to take action by 2020 to improve the design or halt production of 40 percent of current aircraft designs, said Anthony Philbin, a spokesman for ICAO.

The latest planes from companies such as Boeing and Airbus meet the new emissions standards. U.S. officials have pushed for a quicker phase-out of less-efficient planes, meaning EPA may choose to establish more stringent standards or a shorter timeline for change.

SOURCE: Yahoo News


A new Scientific Reports study demonstrates natural fluctuations in water temperatures of the Pacific Ocean are directly related to the temperature of the tropical tropopause, and ultimately surface climate changes. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation influences not only the climate and ecosystems in the Pacific region, but also global mean temperature by affecting wind systems over the tropical and subtropical Pacific, altering air transport between the lower and upper layers of the troposphere, ultimately regulating the temperatures at the boundary to the stratosphere.

This research contradicts the dominant hypotheses about the temperature variability of the tropical tropopause, linking a cooling trend there beginning in the 1970s to the increase in greenhouse gases. This hypothesis was based on what the authors refer to as a “patchy data base and simplified climate models.” By contrast, the new study shows the cooling of the tropical tropopause is likely part of a natural fluctuation extending over several decades. Dr. Wuke Wang, lead author of the study, said, “It has long been thought that human influences already affected the tropopause. However, it seems that natural variability is still the dominating factor.”

SOURCES: Watts Up With That and Scientific Reports


Calling attention to the hypocrisy in Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent claim refrigerators and air conditioners are as big a threat to humanity as ISIS, a petition has been launched on Change.org calling on the State Department to remove all air conditioners from its facilities. In support of the petition, Change.org notes, “it is the duty of our elected and appointed government officials to lead by example.” Now here’s a climate initiative I can get behind.

SOURCE: Change.org

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