Human progress is stifled by bad government, false beliefs, and ill-informed social and economic practices. Good government and sound scientific practice are built on the same basic foundations: the transparent sharing of information and data, and public debate. This helps ensure claims made by researchers are accurate, which is best assured by retesting. In addition, this gives the public confidence those who enact laws and regulations are basing their decisions on the best available science, not simply making deals behind closed doors to benefit themselves at the expense of the public good.
Sadly, for the past decade or more, just the opposite has occurred in the field of climate research, with so-called mainstream climate scientists: (1) promoting projections of climate models that have repeatedly failed tests of their validity, over actual data concerning temperatures and various weather events; (2) suppressing research by leveling ad hominem attacks against, and threatening to ruin the careers of, climate scientists whose findings dispute one of more points of the so-called consensus view that science definitely shows humans are causing catastrophic climate change; (3) tampering with or manipulating raw data in order to force it to conform to models’ projections of unusual warming; (4) withholding the evidence they claim proves dangerous anthropogenic warming from examination by other scientists, Congress, regulatory agencies, and the public; and (5) refusing to publicly debate the causes and consequences of climate change. Climate alarmists have operated in ways that are the antithesis of what makes science uniquely suited to answer questions about the natural world for the betterment of humanity.
For more than two decades, The Heartland Institute has fought against efforts by scientists advocating the theory of anthropogenic climate catastrophe (SAACCs), and their fellow travelers in the mainstream media and the halls of economic and political power, to undermine the pursuit of knowledge, in service of greater wealth and political power for themselves. We have worked with climate scientists and numerous other institutions to put climate research and findings on a sound scientific footing by publishing and promoting peer-reviewed research on the state of the climate and holding numerous public conferences at which original research is presented for outside review and criticism. For these meetings, we have consistently solicited the participation of SAACCs, challenging them to debate the causes and consequences of climate change and the benefits and costs of the modern energy system. Asserting with a fervency demonstrated by close-minded religious zealots throughout history, “the science is settled, there is nothing to debate,” few SAACCs have taken up the challenge. As the late Charles Krauthammer reminds us, “There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge.”
Perhaps the reason SAACCs have been loath to debate climate science and policy has less to do with the science being settled than with the fact that on the few instances they have debated the science in the past, the audience came away less convinced humans were causing dangerous climate change than they were before hearing both sides of the story.
In 2007, for instance, Intelligence Squared, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose stated mission is “to restore critical thinking, facts, reason, and civility to American public discourse [by] [p]rovid[ing] a forum for balanced and intelligent debate that is widely distributed as a radio program, podcast, online broadcast, television, and digital video series,” held a public debate on the motion that “Global Warming is Not a Crisis.” Before each debate Intelligence Squared hosts, it polls its live and online audiences. Pre-debate, a slight majority (56 percent) of those in attendance disagreed with the claim “Global Warming is Not a Crisis,” with 30 percent favoring the motion and 13 percent undecided. Pre-debate, most of those listening online (59 percent), agreed global warming was not a crisis, with 32 percent being against the motion and nine percent undecided. In a forum in which three climate realists and three prominent SAACCs were each able to put forward their best evidence and arguments and respond to questions from the audience, post-debate polling showed a huge shift in favor of the motion. Forty-six percent of those in attendance (a 16 percentage point shift) now favored the motion, while 12 percent remained undecided and just 42 percent still believed climate change was a crisis. The online shift was even starker. Post-debate, 95 percent of the online audience agreed global warming wasn’t a crisis, zero were undecided, and just 5 percent still believed a climate crisis was in the offing.
The Heartland Institute’s latest effort, a public debate concerning climate science, focuses less on revealing new truths about the climate and more on educating the public and politicians about the actual state of the climate so they can make informed and, we hope, wise energy policy decisions.
Heartland has challenged prominent scientists to explain and defend their hypothesis of a human-caused climate crisis in a debate with skeptical scientists moderated by John Stossel on September 23, the day the United Nations holds its next Climate Summit in New York City. The event will be livestreamed from the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
In a Washington Times commentary, Frank Lasée, president of The Heartland Institute, explained our reasons for holding the debate. “Scientific advancement benefits from more information, discussion, and debate rather than less. Before bold action on climate change, we need a bold public discussion,” writes Lasée.
In the press release announcing the debate, Heartland Director of Communications Jim Lakely explains, “This debate has never been more important than now, especially considering the views and plans put forth by the Democratic candidates for president. Every one of them, and the United Nations, blame human activity for global warming, insist it will be catastrophic to life on Earth, and demand big changes to the way Americans live, work, eat, travel, and build. Doesn’t the wholesale reordering of our society demand at least a little bit of public debate? We think so.”
The climate debate is not over. The Heartland Institute is ready to prove that in a public forum. Are those who claim climate science is settled willing to defend their position publicly? If not, in the immortal, although evidently never actually uttered, words of Ricky Ricardo to Lucy (whom we all loved), they’ve “got some ‘splainin’ to do!”
— H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
In a recent Real Clear Energy article, reposted by or commented upon by a number of additional news outlets, my Heartland Institute colleague James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy, notes the best data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows no warming across the United States since January 2005, when the agency began recording temperatures at its newly built U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). NOAA created USCRN to avoid controversies over adjustments it made to raw temperature data recorded at temperature stations affected by urbanization and other sources of artificial heat that had grown up around or been placed near them.
“USCRN includes 114 pristinely maintained temperature stations spaced relatively uniformly across the lower 48 states. NOAA selected locations that were far away from urban and land-development impacts that might artificially taint temperature readings,” Taylor writes.
Since 2005, USCRN temperature stations show no warming across the continental United States. “There is also good reason to believe U.S. temperatures have not warmed at all since the 1930s,” Taylor writes. “Raw temperature readings at the preexisting stations indicate temperatures are the same now as 80 years ago. All of the asserted U.S. warming since 1930 is the product of the controversial adjustments made to the raw data. Skeptics point out that as the American population has grown, so has the artificial warming signal generated by growing cities, more asphalt, more automobiles, and more machinery.”
Between the temperature measurements from global satellites operated by scientists at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and those taken from USCRN, there is little reason to fear humans are causing runaway global warming—it’s not shown in the actual data.
Liberal gadfly filmmaker and critic of all things conservative Michael Moore and his longtime collaborator, director Jim Gibbs, have produced a new film, Planet of the Humans, showing the limited usefulness of wind and solar energy in replacing fossil fuels. The documentary deconstructs the wish-fulfillment fantasies pushed by environmental activists and progressive politicians. As Gibbs explained in an interview with Breitbart, neither Moore nor he had intended to challenge the environmental movement’s push to replace fossil fuels with renewable power. Instead, they wanted to understand why the effort hasn’t been more successful, wondering why fossil fuels still dominate our energy system.
Instead of dark forces and moneyed interests suppressing so-called green energy, they found corporate interests were behind and profiting from policies subsidizing and mandating renewables, and renewables actually require the use of fossil fuels.
“It turned out the wakeup call was about our own side,” Gibbs said in a phone interview. “It was kind of crushing to discover that the things I believed in weren’t real, first of all, and then to discover not only are the solar panels and wind turbines not going to save us … but [also] that there is this whole dark side of the corporate money. … It dawned on me that these technologies were just another profit center.”
The liberal journal Counterpunch calls the film “the most important documentary of the century,” writing, “Forget all you have heard about how ‘Renewable Energy’ is our salvation. It is all a myth that is very lucrative for some. Feel-good stuff like electric cars, etc. Such vehicles are actually powered by coal, natural gas … or dead salmon in the Northwest.”
Counterpunch lists a number of claims by environmentalists which Planet of Humans exposes as false, making the following points:
- All “alternative energy” itself is fossil-fuel-based. None of it could or did exist without fossil fuels. Solar panels themselves are made with metallurgical coal and quartz—both derived from blowing up mountains;
- Same with wind and even hydro and nukes, as the essential major ingredient in the creation of cement and steel is … coal. None of these technologies existed, nor could they exist, without fossil fuels. … Even eCon [Elon] Musk’s famed battery plant in Nevada is powered by … fracked natural gas. The huge bird- and desert-destroying Ivanpah Solar array in California also has fracked natural gas as an essential ingredient;
- The documentary depants the ubiquitous memes/reports of how “Germany gets its energy from renewables.” It trots out footage of a series of the top misleaders stating one after the other, “Germany gets 30 percent from renewables,” “40 percent,” “50 percent” “60 percent”,… The reality is that Germany gets just 3.5 percent of all its renewable energy from solar and wind combined. A whopping 70 percent of what passes for “Green” energy in Germany comes from Biomass—grinding up trees in the Amazon and the U.S. Southeast and shipping them to Europe where Germany (and Great Britain) burns them for electrons and get Carbon Credits for doing so!
Gibbs points out both he and Moore believe climate change is a problem. They are simply pointing out the alternative energy sources proposed to solve it, cannot do so. In the process, the movie exposes many of the people and organizations shilling for big renewable energy projects, such as Bill McKibben, Al Gore, Richard Branson, Robert Kennedy Jr, and Van Jones, as either fools, charlatans, or profiteers.
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