Skeptic Magazine Needs to be More Skeptical of Man-Made Global Warming

Published July 21, 2012

A quarterly magazine called Skeptic published a cover story a few weeks back by Donald Prothero titled “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.” That struck us here at The Heartland Institute as rather strange.

Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change, which is the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media. And we have two immense volumes of peer-reviewed literature and the videos of many conferences to prove it.

So if the very name of your magazine is Skeptic, shouldn’t readers expect you to carefully examine the spoon-fed doctrines of the likes of Al Gore, Michael Mann, the UN’s IPCC, etc., and be … well … skeptical of “doctrine” — especially in light of the Climategate scandal? Alas, no.

Skeptic magazine, as the headline of the cover story makes clear, is not skeptical of global warming. Like the Roosters of the Apocalypse who allow group-think and ideology to trump their scientific judgment, Skeptic refuses to take serious the mounting and even overwhelming scientific case against man-made global warming. It’s amusing and ironic, then, that the Skeptic article begins with a quote from Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman:

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Yet the fact is: Reality, and scientific observation of nature, tells the truth about the climate — and man is not causing a climate catastrophe. Skeptic Magazine is the one regurgitating public-relations lies disguised as a hard-boiled look at the climate debate and grounded in real science.

Feynman has posthumously become a bit of a YouTube star for his one-minute explanation of the scientific method. The video below, from a lecture at Cornell in 1964, blows up Skeptic magazine’s idea of what science is.

In one minute, Feynman lays out how the scientific method works: Theories are constantly proposed, questioned and tested. Only after a theory goes through many exhaustive rounds of scientific examination — using observational data — can  a “guess” become a “law” of science. And even then, a well-founded scientific “law” laid down by the smartest people in history is temporary. Just ask Newton.

Men and women who couldn’t hold Feynman’s briefcase have for years told us that the science is “settled”: Human activity is causing a catastrophic climate disaster — no matter that their computer model predictions haven’t come true, violating the scientific method and becoming the decades-later butt of Feynman’s presentation.

Yet Skeptic magazine, of all publications, dedicated a nine-page cover story to carrying water for public-relations hacks — propagandists — and not the kind of real, observable science that should be its hallmark. But let’s not completely condemn Skeptic. It still has the fact that there is no solid evidence for Bigfoot in its favor.

Christopher Monckton — Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, good friend of Heartland, advisor to Lady Thatcher, and one of the most learned “laymen” experts on climate science — gives that Skeptic article a hearty vivisection. Skeptic refused to publish it, so we share it here. There’s a short version and a long version of his reply, and they are both devastating.

Lord Monckton starts it off with his typically cheeky and refreshing in-your-face style:

Be skeptical, be very skeptical, of Skeptic magazine’s skepticism of climate skeptics. The latest issue has, as its cover story, a Climate Change Q&A, revealingly subtitled Climate Deniers’ Arguments & Climate Scientists’ Answers.

The article, written by Dr. Donald Prothero, a geology professor at Occidental College, opens with the bold heading How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.

Anyone who starts out by using the hate-speech term “Climate Deniers” – laden with political overtones of Holocaust denial – cannot expect to be taken seriously as an objective scientist.

Despite this promise of “Climate Scientists’ Answers”, only four peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists are cited among the 41 references at the end of the article.

And the implicit notion that “Climate Deniers” are non-scientists while true-believers are “Climate Scientists” is also unreasonable. Many eminent climate scientists are skeptical of the more extremist claims made by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC. We shall cite some of their work in this response to the Professor’s unscientific article.

His reply to the Skeptic article contains tons of scientific research — with no fewer than 42 citations in the footnotes. A taste of the truth:

1.    Is “global warming” occurring at anything like the predicted rate?

No, it isn’t, say the skeptics. Predictions of doom have repeatedly failed.

Sea level: Aviso Envisat data show sea level rising in the eight years 2004-2012 at a rate equivalent to 1.3 inches (3 cm) per century. What is more, sea level in 2011-2012 was lower than in each of the previous seven years:

Sea-ice extent: Growth in Antarctic sea-ice extent almost matches the decline in the Arctic over the past 30 years, so that global sea-ice extent shows little change since the satellites have been watching:

When the data doesn’t match the hypothesis, it’s not science. It’s propaganda.

Read all of Monckton’s reply to Skeptic magazine, and become a “skeptic” worthy of the name.


Jim Lakely ([email protected]) is the Director of Communications at The Heartland Institite.