Climate Science isn’t just a pertinent science anymore, it’s become a critical field of study. Thousands of researchers supported by billions of dollars, work in many fields to understand the earth’s climate and project its future. The result is the publication of tens of thousands of articles that are then reviewed by both the U.N. and the US government in formal assessment reports. The goal – to provide “best answers” for non-experts, decision makers in both government and the private sector and of course scientists in other fields. In effect these assessment reports summarize the research and interpret the findings for non-scientists.
The most recent assessment report released by the United States Global Change Research Program was accompanied by significant fanfare and intense media coverage and defined the science for non-experts. Meanwhile, given the intensive authoring & review process one would expect these summaries to be complete, objective, and transparent, i.e., the ‘gold standard.’
~ The overlooked dimension of climate science. ~
By and large these reports usually meet expectations, but a careful examination of the most recent of these reports reveal some elementary failures that mislead or misinform readers on important points. Nonetheless, the media eagerly publicizes and features reports that support its narrative regardless of accuracy.
One recent assessment authored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and entitled “How We Respond” summarized these assessment reports as follow.
“Our nation, our states, our cities, and our towns face an urgent problem – climate change. Americans are already feeling its effects and will continue to do so in the coming decades. Rising temperatures will impact farmers in their fields and transit riders in cities across the country; meanwhile, extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and drought, are occurring with greater frequency and intensity. While these problems pose numerous risks to society and the planet undoubtedly the biggest risk would be to do nothing. Science tells us that the sooner we respond to climate change the lower the risk and cost will be in the future.”
The problem with the summary was two-fold, first it didn’t summarize and secondly it didn’t even seek the endorsement of the organization’s 120,000 members. Dr. Steven Koonin, former director of the Center for Urban Progress and Science at New York University, former Under Secretary for Science – Department of Energy during the Obama administration, and one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on climate commented…
“This type of misleading summary is more common than one might think and a more accurate report would have read – The earth has warmed during the past century partly because of natural phenomena and partly in response to growing human influences and these human influences, (most importantly, the accumulation of CO2 from burning fossil fuels) exert a physically small effect on the complex climate system. Unfortunately, our limited observations and understanding are insufficient to usefully quantify either how the climate will respond to human influences or how it varies naturally. However, even as human influences have increased almost fivefold since 1950 and the globe has warmed modestly, most severe weather phenomena remain within past variability projections of further climate and weather events, rely on models demonstrably unfit for the purpose.”
The contrast between those two statements is startling, and therein lies the problem with the climate debate because it begs the questions, why do some individuals and organizations (the AAAS among them) tend toward unsupported hyperbole when communicating about climate? Why do these “experts” take the posture of persuasion when they should be imparting information completely, impartially, and within context? And wouldn’t we all be better served if they used a more factual, cautious, and less alarming tone?
The AAAS review is illustrative all that is wrong with the climate debate, i.e., the activists are far more interested in indoctrination than education and statements from the elites who know better what’s good for us, such as the following are not uncommon – Stephen Schneider, an Environmental Biology professor at Stanford University, said during an interview, “That as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but… which means we must include all the doubts the caveats the ifs, ands, and buts; however, we’re also human beings who would like to see a better world. And within the context of climate, we need broad based support to capture the public’s imagination, and that means media coverage. And to garner the necessary media attention we have no choice but to offer scary scenarios and make overly simplified & dramatic statements while making little mention of any doubts.”
My sincere hope is that the world wakes up and takes the matter of climate seriously, and by seriously, I mean dealing with the topic in an open, honest, and factual manner without the hypocrisy of the agenda-driven left.
Quote of the day: “The left is not necessarily aiming at totalitarianism. But their know-it-all mindset leads repeatedly and pervasively in that direction, even if by small steps, each of which might be called ‘micro-totalitarianism.’” – Thomas Sowell