Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Following Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, Al Gore is releasing an update of his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. It’s called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, in which no doubt we will hear the same apocalyptic hysteria of its predecessor, and the same lurid predictions that will never come true. The difference between the 2006 Academy Award winner and the updated version is that now volumes of counter-evidence and exposure of the manipulation of climate data make it obvious that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a progressive cult-belief and alternative energy boondoggle, not real science.
Earlier this month PJMedia covered a new report that seriously challenges the data all warmists rely on to buttress their case that the planet has been steadily warming to disastrous levels. This peer-reviewed paper examines how the raw data from weather stations are manipulated and altered by the three main purveyors of temperature data known as Global Average Surface Temperature (GAST)––The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research––before being used by other researchers. Incorporating more reliable satellite temperature data––which for going on two decades do not show any meaningful rise in temperature, let alone the steep rise that the GAST data show––the authors come to this devastating conclusion:
_The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality._ In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent year have been the warmest ever––despite current claims of record setting warming.
Moreover, the legitimate need to control for any environmental factors that could distort raw temperatures has been abused to produce a preordained conclusion:
While the notion that some “adjustments” to historical data might need to be made is not challenged, logically it would be expected that such historical temperature data adjustments would sometimes raise these temperatures, and sometimes lower them. This situation would mean that the impact of such adjustments on the temperature trend line slope is uncertain. However, each new version of GAST has nearly always exhibited a steeper warming linear trend over its entire history.
These types of manipulation of data, however, have been obvious going back to 1998 and Michael Mann’s infamous “Hockey Stick” graph, in which the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250), when temperatures were about as hot as they are today, was erased to show a steep linear rise in temperatures. And NOAA’s manipulation of data also has been exposed by the Real Climate Science blog, which examines NOAA’s charts and graphs claiming to show that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and U.S. temperatures have increased 1.5°F since the 19th century. In fact, critical analysis reveals that in 2016, “The percentage of hot days was below average, and ranked 80th since 1895. Only 4.4% of days were over 95°F, compared with the long term average of 4.9%.”
As for the second claim of a 1.5°F rise, “NOAA creates the warming trend by altering the data. The NOAA raw data shows no warming over the past century.” The altered data are made to correlate with the increase of atmospheric CO2, conveniently supporting the main hypothesis of a “greenhouse effect” in which temperatures increase along with the greater volume of CO2 in the atmosphere––a hypothesis dating back to 1896. Additionally, missing weather station raw data––42% of stations in 2016––have been replaced by fabricated data.
Warmists, of course, like most cultists have a whole repertoire of very unscientific tactics for swatting away these inconvenient truths. They use the ad hominem and genetic fallacies to demonize critics, accusing them of being stooges of the oil companies or flat-earth kooks, even as they ignore the warmists who have received billions in government grants and green-energy subsidies, and who like Al Gore indulge in end-of-times scenarios–– “Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation,” he told Fox News––redolent of Millerism and other eschatological melodramas. And of course, it’s okay for Al Gore to make millions of dollars off such subsidies and “renewable energy” investments. Not to mention celebrity status and perhaps political capital; he’s being touted as a presidential contender in 2020, the environmental knight who will slay the “denier” dragon Trump who besmirched our national reputation and endangered the planet by withdrawing the U.S. from the preposterous Paris Climate Accord. And let’s not forget global-warming “scientists” themselves, who over the years have reaped billions of federal dollars, with $22 billion of taxpayer money slated just for 2017. At least oil companies spend their own money.
Then there’s the argument from authority, especially the modern willingness to reflexively credit with objective wisdom anyone calling himself a “scientist,” and to be hypnotized by the seeming self-evident truth of quantitative data. Most revealing, however, is the incessant claim that since “97% of scientists” believe in AGW, there is a “scientific consensus” that AGW is a scientific fact rather than a hypothesis compromised by our lack of enough scientific knowledge about how global climate functions over space and time. But the “97%” canard has been repeatedly exposed as an artifact created by unscientific polling. Thousands of respected and credentialed scientists question the central hypothesis and predictions of those endorsing AGW.
As for quantitative data, don’t forget that most pseudoscience is replete with copious numbers and formulas, from alchemy, phrenology, craniometry, and astrology to eugenics and “scientific racism” with its carefully quantified crania sizes and skewed IQ tests. Early 20th century eugenics also was considered a scientific fact acknowledged by a “consensus” of “scientists,” and was endorsed by professors at America’s elite universities, one of whom went on to become president. As respected progressive sociologist Edward A. Ross wrote in 1937, the endorsement of eugenics was “a perfect index of one’s breadth of outlook and unselfish concern for the future of our race.” Only religious nuts and the uneducated questioned a theory backed by the work of Charles Darwin. We know what that “consensus” led to––forced sterilization, “scientific” justifications for racial segregation, restrictions on immigration based on race and ethnicity, and ultimately the crematoria of Auschwitz.
Real science, of course, seldom leads to a “consensus,” and thinking it does can lead to unforeseen consequences. For example, after decades of being told that the “scientific consensus” on nutrition was that fat and cholesterol led to heart disease, now we are hearing “never mind.” Unfortunately, the avoidance of dietary fat led to a shift to carbohydrates, which in turn contributed to today’s obesity epidemic. Likewise, following the warmist’s prescriptions to outlaw carbon, our most efficient and cheapest energy source, will stunt economic growth in the developing world, leaving billions of people in disease and poverty; and will increase energy poverty in the U.S. and prevent job growth, all to achieve a meaningless reduction in the temperatures projected by computer models.
Skepticism, not consensus, is the hallmark of science. As Karl Popper said, “The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” The warmists reveal their political and ideological interests when they demonize opponents, insist on “settled science” to stifle debate, unleash state Attorneys General to hound researches and corporations, sue critics for defamation, and do anything in their power to stop “sever attempts to refute” the AGW hypothesis.
The Al Gore show is a progressive revival-tent meeting, an excuse for intrusive big government and crony-socialist rent-seeking. The fact is, from its beginning global warming has been a political, not a scientific movement. Rupert Darwall has documented the growth of the global warming fad as a political movement. As he wrote in 2015 before the Paris Climate Accord signed by President Obama,
Global warming is preeminently a political project. On Tuesday, the leaders of France and Germany met to set a goal for the December climate summit in Paris: to fully decarbonize the world economy by the end of the century. It required, Angela Merkel and François Hollande declared, “a profound transformation of the world economy and society.” The role of experts is to provide a scientific consensus to support the drumbeat of alarm. When the president of America declares climate change an immediate threat to national security and accuses skeptics of “negligence” and “dereliction of duty,” scientific skepticism becomes an enemy of the state. The shrillness of the president’s rhetoric draws attention to the weakness of the science. The true believers have given up trying to win over the undecided.
That sums up the problem. The solution is to start practicing real science again, take the big thumb of the federal government and its deep pockets off the scales of the debate, and base energy policy on science and what is best for the American people, rather than on what serves the pecuniary interests of researchers, progressive politicians, and countries like China, and that gratifies the weird combination of stale nature-love and two-bit Marxist clichés about the evils of industrialism that passes for science among the bicoastal elites.