The two biggest problems in the climate change debate are the lack of candor and the lack of honesty that begins with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an agenda-driven organization that has repeatedly proven itself to be a source of dangerous information on climate.
Most people’s minds on the matter (least in the West) are pretty much made up as objective science has taken a back seat to politics. And let’s not kid ourselves, politics, not the good of planet earth is the prime driver of the climate debate. Politics is preeminent, it’s that simple. Exacerbating the matter, many of the climate activists driving the debate are also some of the most powerful people in the world, and powerful people don’t want to be told they’re making trillion-dollar mistakes.
In 2017 early on during the Trump administration there was an attempt at creating a transparent and straightforward debate about climate change by using a “red team – blue team” exercise proposed by Obama administration veteran Steven Koonin. Such an exercise would have been enormously beneficial to the country and hence the world, but it was ultimately scuttled. Then EPA Director Scott Pruitt was all for it, but the idea was reportedly shot down by then White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly.
~ What’s a Red Team – Blue Team Exercise? ~
Dr. Koonin proposed having a range of climate & earth science experts from both sides of the debate gather to test and challenge each other’s theories. And what could possibly be a better way to create a culture of evidence-based policy making that would begin to end the politicization of climate science? I liken a red team – blue team exercise to a ‘shirts vs. skins’ pick-up basketball game among neighborhood buddies. Each team wants to win but it’s not a cage match, everyone shakes hands afterwards and walks away still friends.
When used by the military, the protocol typically features a “red team” tasked with testing assumptions, identifying vulnerabilities, and role-playing from adversarial perspectives, to see whether a “blue team” can adequately defend prevailing ideas. Red team – blue team methodology was pioneered by the national-security community to test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce or at least understand uncertainties. So, when Koonin’s proposed exercise was axed, it was a lost opportunity for America.
Meanwhile, the process is now considered a best practice in high-consequence situations such as intelligence assessments, spacecraft design and major industrial operations. And if adapted to the issues of the climate debate these exercises will be both different and more rigorous than the current peer review process, which is usually adjudicated and confidential, rather than being moderated and public.
Let’s face it, the only places where climate science is settled is in the minds of agenda-driven politicians, alarmists, and deniers – and sometimes they’re one and the same. So, why not put all the “pros and cons” out there, analyze them, and arrive at courses of action accordingly?
I was surprised to learn there already are many intense debates within climate science; most of us are not aware of them because the legacy media has chosen not to report them. But as noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, more and more scientists are challenging one another in an effort to separate human impacts from the climate’s natural variability. Most interestingly, at issue are not nuances, but fundamental aspects of our understanding, such as the apparent and very unexpected slowing of global sea-level rise over the past two decades.
When first proposed, Koonin described how summaries of scientific assessments meant to inform decision makers, such as the United Nations’ Summary for Policymakers, largely fail to capture this developing methodology in the climate debate. They fail because consensus statements conceal rather than reveal judgment calls and thus feed into the “settled,” “hoax” and “don’t know” assertions currently plaguing the political dialogue.
Honest scientific debate requires that scientists portray not only their certainties but also their uncertainties, and at times, admit to things they may never know. Not doing so is literally a form of malpractice because it prevents society from being fully informed about the matter.
The benefits of such and exercise are many; but most importantly, it would produce a clear and traceable public record. No more cherry-picking results. Additionally, it would provide public policy makers with a better understanding of certainties and uncertainties, more firmly establish points of agreement, and identify where research is most needed all while putting science rather than politics front and center in policy discussions. It’s also believed the inherent tension of a professional adversarial process would boost public interest and clear the air of many unfounded falsehoods emanating from both sides while demonstrating to the public how science actually works.
Such an exercise could reveal positions that are weaker than claimed or perhaps stronger if rebuttals and criticisms are countered effectively. But whatever the outcome, both scientists and politicians would have fulfilled their responsibilities to society, and climate policy discussions would be better informed.
The Trump administration punted on Koonin’s proposal; but John Kerry and his merry band of elitists who spend much of their time flying around on their private jets lecturing us mere mortals, now have a golden opportunity to lay all their cards on the table, but they won’t even discuss alternative viewpoints, compelling me to ask, “What could they possibly be afraid of?”
Quote of the day: “Insufficient facts always invite danger.” – Spock