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March 09th 2009 print

Bob Carter

Heartland-2: session one

President Vaclav Klaus reports latest poll from the Czech Republic: only 11 per cent of people believe that man has a significant influence in warming the climate. 

West Australian Joanne Nova’s Climate Skeptics Handbook launched, and a 150,000 print run announced. 

“We will win this debate”, says Dr Richard Lindzen, “for we are right and they are wrong”. 

The opening session of the Heartland-2 Conference opened with a bang here in Manhatten tonight [Sunday evening March 8, 2009]. With registrations of around 700 persons, the conference is almost twice the size of its predecessor last year. The audience for the two opening plenary talks, held over dinner, included an eclectic mixture of scientists, engineers, economists, policy specialists, government representatives and media reporters. 

In welcoming delegates, and opening the conference, President of the Heartland Institute Joe Bast also launched two new publications. The first, by Anthony Watts, is a summary of his extensive studies of the weather stations at which U.S. surface temperatures are measured (“Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable”), which have revealed that many stations are scandalously poorly sited for their intended purpose. The second, “The Skeptic’s Handbook”, by Joanne Nova from West Australia, is a succinct and well illustrated briefing paper that summarizes accurately the evidence against dangerous human-caused warming in a humorous and easily understood format. 

The first Plenary Address was given by President Vaclav Klaus, who is President of both the Czech Republic and (for a 6 month current term) the European Union. His talk was greeted, both before and after, with standing ovations. 

In response to a question, he reported a just-released Czech poll, which shows that only 11% of persons questioned in a recent poll believe that man has a significant influence in warming the global climate. 

The President commenced his talk by commenting that little change had occurred in the global warming debate since his talk, 12 months earlier, at the Heartland-1 conference. He likened the situation to his former experience under communist government, where arguing against the dominant viewpoint falls into emptiness. No matter how high the quality of the arguments and evidence that you advance against the dangerous warming idea, nobody listens, and by even advancing skeptical arguments you are dismissed as a naïve and uninformed person. 

The environmentalists say that the planet must be saved, but from whom and from what? “In reality”, the President commented, “we have to save it, and us, from them”. 

Klaus reported his discouragement at participating in meetings with other senior politicians at Davos and within the EC. Here, he finds that not one other head of state who will make common cause in support of a rational assessment of the scientific evidence. Instead, all believe that the summaries provided by the IPCC represent the scientific “truth” on global warming. 

But the climate data do not support the theory of human causation; the IPCC summaries therefore do not represent science, but instead environmental politics and activism. As a result, large and highly organized rent seeking bureaucracies and groups have emerged, and they further propagate the climate alarmism that is now in their self-interest. 

President Klaus professed to be puzzled by the environmentalists’ approach to technical progress. It as if they “want to stop economic progress and take mankind centuries back”, he said. Applying their ethic of “saving the world”, western electorates are being asked for the first time in history to abandon successful current technologies before new technologies have been developed to replace them. Klaus stressed that there is no known, feasible way in which modern technological society can be run based on present sources of renewable, clean, green energy. 

The second Plenary Address was delivered by Dr Richard Lindzen of MIT, an acknowledged world leader in atmospheric physics and a doyen of meteorological science.  

Dr Lindzen started by making the important observation that being skeptical about dangerous human-caused global warming does not make one a good scientist, and nor does endorsing global warming necessarily make one a bad scientist.

He then pointed out the professional difficulties that are raised for many skeptics when   scientists whose research they respect nonetheless endorse global warming. In most such cases, however, the science that such persons do is not about global warming in the strict sense. It’s just that supporting global warming makes their life, and especially their funding life, easier. 

Thus, it is a particular problem for young scientists to oppose the prevailing alarmist orthodoxy, because to do so is to cruel their chances of receiving research funding. For as long as it is the AGW spin that attracts the research funds, for so long will there be a strong disincentive for most scientists to question the hypothesis in public. 

Lindzen commented that the politicization of the AGW issue has had an extraordinarily corrupting influence on science. Most funding that goes to global warming would not be provided were it not for the climate scare. It has therefore become standard to include in any research proposal the effect of presumed AGW on your topic, quite irrespective of whether it has any real relevance or not. 

Lindzen asserted that it boils down to a matter of scientific logic against authority. The global warming movement has skilfully co-opted sources of authority, such as the IPCC and various scientific academies. For instance, over a period of 20 years, the US Academy of Science has had a backdoor route for the election of environmentalists as Members of the Academy. The success of this tactic is indicated by the fact that the current President of the Academy (Ralph Cicerone) was elected that way and is a strong environmentalist. 

But in giving an endorsement of alarm about climate change, the NAS, as well as similar societies in other countries, has never polled their own expert membership. Rather, the pro-alarm policy statements that are issued by various professional societies express the views of only the activist few, who often control the governing Council. 

Despite the manifold problems of combating the alarmist climate message, Dr Lindzen concluded his talk with the rousing observation that in time the climate rationalist cause will win. “When it comes to global warming hysteria”, he said, “neither gross ignorance nor even grosser dishonesty has been in short supply. But we will win this debate, for we are right and they are wrong”. 

During an extended question and answer session after the conclusion of the two plenary addresses, Drs Klaus and Lindzen were in close agreement about two things. 

The first, is that global warming hysteria is being fomented as part of an environmentalist ideology; it is a politically organized movement. The grip that this hysteria now has on public opinion is explained partly by the fact that there is no equivalent, politically organized movement to mount a defense of sound science. Instead, there is simply a collection of persons who are united mainly by their common affront at the gross abuse of science that is going on. 

The second common viewpoint was expressed in response to the question “What arguments are the most effective to promulgate the skeptics’ cause of building policy, not on authority, IPCC or otherwise, but on sound science”.  

Both President Klaus and Dr Lindzen agreed that the most important arguments were (i) that sound science demonstrates that human increases in carbon dioxide are not going to cause dangerous global warming, and (ii) that a thorough cost-benefit analysis must be applied to all potential policy options. 

For those on all sides of the argument accept that the Kyoto Protocol, despite its high cost, will do nothing towards measurably reducing global temperature; and the public need to be informed that the same is true also for the more ambitious carbon dioxide cuts mooted under cap and trade legislation. If taxpayers are to fund the operation, then it is only fair that they be told that the considerable pain, which will run to many trillions of dollars, will be for no measurable gain. 

It was not expected that new science would be presented at the opening Plenary Session of Heartland-2. What participants got, instead, were inspirational messages delivered by two inspirational leaders of the climate rationalist cause.

Bob Carter

UPDATES:

Bob Carter’s preliminary article on Heartland-2 here

Heartland-2: session two here

Heartland-2: session three here

SOURCES:

Joanne Nova – The Skeptic’s Handbook

The full text of President Klaus’ speech will be posted on the websites of the Climate Science Coalition: 

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/

http://www.nzclimatescience.org/

http://www.auscsc.org.au/

As this article went to press, an account of the Heartland-2 meeting by Andrew Revkin appeared in the New York Times. Reading it is an interesting exercise in spot-the-spin.