What I Learned about Climate Change: The Science is not Settled

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Four Hard Questions
  3. The Climate Consensus
  4. Manufacturing Consensus
  5. Who Can We Believe?
  6. What Should We Do?
  7. Summary
  8. What Do You Think?
  1. What are the natural drivers of temperature and its variability?
  2. What does the projected natural increase in temperature mean for the environment and people?
  3. What does the increase in greenhouse gases from human activity mean for oceans, environment, animals, habitats, and humanity?
  4. Is Decarbonation the Right Solution?

1. What are the natural drivers of temperature and its variability?

Incoming solar radiation is the primary driver of temperature. A second factor is the atmosphere, which traps heat and reflects some of it back to earth. Other factors play smaller roles. I’ll start with the familiar greenhouse-gas model and then present a more accurate picture based on solar activity.

Smoking gun #1: The Hockey Stick is Wrong; The Medieval warming period was real and worldwide.

  • Class I and II only (most accurate): 0.155 C
  • Class III, IV, and V sites only: 0.248 C
  • NOAA 2015 “adjusted” calculation: 0.309 C

Smoking gun #2: Government agencies have rigged climate data to support man-made global warming.

Note: It’s easy to find nonscientific articles and videos that “prove” the hockey stick has been validated by updated research and that the sun’s energy doesn’t fluctuate. However, one central tenet of journalism is that you can’t fact-check a source by asking the source, and that’s exactly what most journalists are doing. To fact-check the IPCC, look at the peer-reviewed literature written by scientists who are not in the IPCC.

Smoking gun #3: Solar fluctuations correlate better with observed temperature fluctuations.

Not only do fluctuations in solar energy drive changes in climate, the oceans react to increases in solar energy by generating clouds that help regulate temperature. Since 2013, much research has been aimed at constructing a more accurate picture of past temperature/solar radiation correlation and developing a realistic solar-driven climate prediction model*, taking the greenhouse effect into account.

2. What does the projected natural increase in temperature mean for the environment and people?

Sea level won’t likely rise in response to increased CO2. For starters, sea level rises and falls more than people think. Global mean sea level rose about 15 cm (6 inches) in the twentieth century. The IPCC models predicted higher levels by now, but researchers have found no link between CO2 and sea level. Sea level rises linearly; the rate of rise is not increasing. Any rise so far is very much in line with natural factors, not man-made. Estimates range from 5-20 cm (2–8 inches) of sea level rise (naturally) by the end of this century.

3. What does the increase in greenhouse gases mean for oceans, environment, animals, habitats, and humanity?

This is the domain of climate models. I could write twenty pages, but I’ll summarize my research:

  1. According to Bob Tisdale, a researcher I respect after reading his book Climate Models Fail, the IPCC models simply aren’t skillful. They failed to predict the past twenty years, they don’t realistically model the cloud response, and there is simply too much uncertainty about the inputs to get decent outputs.
  2. NASA GISS, in realizing that global temperatures refuse to conform to their models, has said that the increase in heat is trapped in the oceans. This bit of model trickery also does not stand up to careful analysis.
  3. The IPCC models are falsifiable — if temperature doesn’t go up over the next ten years or so, we will have to agree that the IPCC models are, and always were, dead wrong. It is not looking good.
  4. According to J Scott Armstrong, all climate models so far don’t meet the minimum criteria for a skillful forecast. He has testified before congress on climate forecasts, polar-bear counts, and other misconceptions. Here is his 15-minute talk:

Smoking Gun #4: Rigged Inputs and Wrong Assumptions About Feedback Lead to Computer Model Failure.

Correlation is not Causation
Killer storms. Bee colony collapse. Mosquito-borne diseases. Ticks heading south for the winter. Heat-related deaths. Arctic lobster populations. Algae blooms. Global temperatures. These things may or may not be increasing, but let’s assume they are. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is also increasing. So are the number of toilets made every year and the number of vinyl records sold. When a particular scientist issues a press release describing the future collapse of ecosystems, I recommend asking “What evidence do you have?” When they say something we can see today is due to “anthropogenic global warming,” they are saying that the extra 120 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere — about 30% of the total — are causing the phenomenon right now, as opposed to all other possible natural explanations, including variance. I recommend asking, “How can you be sure?” Just because we haven’t seen something in the past century doesn’t mean it wasn’t going to occur anyway.

Smoking Gun #5: All metastudies so far disagree with the IPCC projections.

We only have two so far, but they are significant: one on temperature, and one on ocean acidification. Anyone who claims otherwise is going to have to explain why his/her claim invalidates the metastudies. That’s a lot to ask, but this is the level of proof science demands.

4. Is decarbonization the right solution?

Okay, but even if there’s a lot of uncertainty, what about the small possibility that something really bad could happen? Shouldn’t we put money and resources into doing something, just as an insurance policy?

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Provocateur, professional heretic, slayer of myths, speaker of truthiness to powerfulness, and defender of the Oxford comma.

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David Siegel

David Siegel

Provocateur, professional heretic, slayer of myths, speaker of truthiness to powerfulness, and defender of the Oxford comma.