The Year in Climate Realism: A Review of 2016

Published January 6, 2017

Fake news!? Fake news!? I’ll tell you about fake news! For decades, scientists like me have been drowning in it.

At first, it was funny to read about how kittens, redheads and the Loch Ness monster were allegedly affected by climate transmogrification (CT). (The term “climate change” really doesn’t cut it for true activists, does it?) Eventually even the people at Number Watch stopped keeping track of the more than 800 items on their list of things allegedly caused by CT because they were blown over by the scale of the journalistic baloney storm (BS) that fills human news bandwidth on climate.

Initially, rationally minded people could chalk it up to human confusion and misinformation. But after the recent fake news follies of 2016, weighed against the sheer scale of the past absurdities, only the most earnest boy scouts would not see much of it as pure disinformation instead.

Postmodern journalism maintains that the science of climate is like a toothpaste commercial where a consensus of dentists determines what toothpaste you should use. If you support their commercial’s thesis, you are scientific; if you don’t, then you are an enemy of the state, a Republican, or even a Trump supporter. That’s the climate science of postmodern journalism: 100% pure fake news, top to bottom.

One of the greatest achievements of the postmodern mind is the theory that one can control the weather with taxes. Yes, I know!  It sounds so crazy that you just want it to work. I recall weather control schemes like cloud seeding, and of course there are more elaborate ideas in Star Trek, but controlling weather with public policy and virtue—there are no words. Imagine the cure for cancer being increased library fines!  The true accomplishment was not their baloney storm (BS), but the level of cultural fervor that has been aroused through it, leading to titanic global power plays that have kept this zombie theory animated for a decade or two after it should have collapsed under its own weight.

Even though it is stylish to excoriate conservatives with toothpaste-commercial moralizing about science, there is no science in the toothpaste-commercial science consensus picture. There is only politics, money, and power.  The political events of 2016 make plain that the climate arena is a side show in a much larger political struggle that has nothing to do with science.  Some sort of link between climate and power may have been inevitable because death, taxes and weather are all inevitable. Its such a glorious convergence of inevitabilities that rich and powerful increased-government enthusiasts could not pass it up.

And so they didn’t, making CT the mother of all baloney storms (CTBS) extending back decades before 2016. But the shenanigans of 2016 has made clear that something ugly has been done to us in science by people trapped in a political plane, incapable of comprehending that science is orthogonal to it.

Is it Over Yet?

Meanwhile, gallant scientists have passed away in 2016.

In January, my friend, Robert Carter, an Australian scientist born in New Zealand, died suddenly. Bob was a former university department head and a geologist, known internationally for his work in paleoclimatology. He fought against the social irrationalism of CTBS for years. After he publicly questioned it, he lost his status as an internationally known expert nearly overnight, and was tossed  into a nether world where he would be regarded as an unqualified climate denier, even being stripped of library privileges—every petty indignity  a blow for virtue in the eyes of arrogant narcissistic fools, blind to the distinction between political and scientific thinking.

Bob and I corresponded frequently. We even had a long Skype conversation the weekend before he died. We were discussing a project to get people to actually see with their own eyes the Trubi Marls successions at Capo Rosello on the south coast of Sicily, where one sees ancient climate change clearly in the rocks. Well, that plan won’t happen now, but perhaps one day I will make my way there in Bob’s memory.

He described CTBS as “surreal” and saw it as a postmodern rejection of the enlightenment.  It was from him that I first heard the term “climate realist” to describe the few scientists and educated laymen who publicly stood against CTBS. He also first brought up the notion of “noble cause corruption” to help explain it. After the battles over the infamous “hockey stick,” he once exclaimed, “Thank God for the Royal Canadian Mounted Sceptics!” (He wouldn’t have spelled skeptics with a “k”.)

He had a deep calming voice that always carried a stabilizing message of rationality and realism. I’ll miss that. We both wondered in our many email dialogues about the strange phenomenon where CTBS induces anti-science authoritarian bullies to pretend to represent science. He never complained about his lot in this, always keeping his courage, but he did wonder, like me, when the madness would end.

No, the icecaps are not going away; no, the polar bears are fine; no, winter will be with us always; no, the sea will not grow to cover the planet; no, carbon dioxide is not a dangerous gas; no, the alkaline oceans are not becoming acidic. No matter what factual blows it received the baloney storm would not end. We sometimes wondered whether we would live  to see the end of it. Some questions have simple answers: No, you didn’t, Bob. 

Bill Gray was also a famous climate realist who passed away in April. He was a professor at Colorado State University who was a world renowned expert in hurricanes. Of course it was not possible to dwell on the physics of hurricanes if it got in the way of CTBS. Naturally the baloney storm called for more destructive and frequent hurricanes caused by CT. Bill would have none of that, which put him on the wrong side of the fashion that CTBS induced.  

It is the job of research scientists, like Bill, to challenge the fashion—no point to the job otherwise, is there. If the fashion has the answers, then there is no reason to find new things out through research.  Thus Bill, in the best scientific tradition, naturally found himself outside of fashion and the kind treatment afforded by it, including any potential largesse of government research funding. It has always been this way. It is human nature. But with CTBS such prejudicial attitudes, normal to science fashion have been enormously heightened.

A careful scientist keeps his head down. But Bill was completely fearless nonetheless. I never saw the like of it. That said, he was a kind and generous man, whom I learned much from. He too did not live to see the public vindication he deserved. When was the last monster hurricane that made landfall on the continental US?

Olavi Kärner also passed in March. He was a patient soft-spoken even-tempered scientist from the Estonian Astrophysical Observatory near Tartu, whom I greatly respected.  

His circumstances were quite different than the others I mentioned.  He came out of the authoritarian environment of Soviet times, only to find it showing up all over again, intruding into his work on climate. Of course he knew exactly what he was dealing with. He once told me that freedom made him realize that his previous life “was like living upside down.”

Sadly, his book on climate data, Towards a New Climate Description: Analysis of Forcing and Response Time Series from Tartu University Press, finally came out just before he passed.

These people were all wonderful human beings, whom I shall never forget. They were much more than names unwillingly embroiled in a global political power struggle. They were all steady, brave souls, and we are all diminished by their loss. They are not better known simply because there is an awful lot of willful not-listening going on out there because of the postmodern mind.

I dearly hope that we have finally reached the beginning of the end for CTBS and that I will live to see it become history, unlike some of my friends in 2016. But one never knows.

Ten Righteous Journalists Could Be Found in 2016

Breitbart took a lot of unwarranted fake-news criticism toward the end of 2016. Contrary to that criticism, Breitbart supplies the biblical minimum ten righteous journalists so that Journalism could be spared divine destruction. For them, helmets were not just a fashion statement in 2016. Thank you for your brave efforts, which have my admiration.

I would like to single out two Breitbart luminaries for special kudos. First, I mention Milo Yiannopoulous particularly because he has boldly stood up to the most sophomoric outbursts in public forums this year. Having endured such things personally (to a lesser extent), entertaining as they are, I know it takes considerable nerve:  kudos!  And, Milo, if you are interested in the vulgar details of feminist fluid mechanics, give me a call.

I finish with a 2016 hat tip to James Delingpole for a very important reason other than his steadfast resistance against climate alarmism. He has shown consistently that he is more interested in facts than authoritarian pronouncements allegedly made by experts.

Too many are intimidated by the CTBS cult of expertise. Citizens of a democracy cannot afford to leave important decisions to persons unknown, for reasons that are too technical for laymen to comprehend.

Delingpole seems above such intimidation. He is the role model for everyone to follow: learn the stuff as if it is your right, or stop talking about it! And that goes double for the postmodern fake-news environment reporters out there who have never heard of the Navier Stokes equations!

Happy New Year!

[First posted at Breitbart.]