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June 21st 2015 print

Walter Starck

Ignore, Dismiss, Excuse, Deny

Climate science -- the comfortably settled careerist variety -- would have us believe it has identified causes and trends that place its projections beyond challenge and dispute. Well, one thing is certain: when reality fails to match warmist expectations, the denials are pathological

banana apple smallIt is normal in science for important hypotheses to be met with scepticism at first and then to be accepted or disproven over time by testing predictions against empirical evidence. The absolute pre-eminence of empirical evidence over any and all authority or consensus is the essential core of science and what sets it apart from other areas of understanding and belief.

The hypothesis of dangerous global warming caused by CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels has repeatedly failed numerous empirical tests, while ongoing appeals to authority and consensus have served only  to render it an un-scientific farce.

Among the failed predictions:

  • A lack of statistically significant global warming for over 18 years, with no end in sight
  • Failure by all leading climate models through large overestimation of warming trend
  • Complete absence of a predicted signature mid-troposphere hot spot
  • Storms, floods, droughts and heat waves all remain well within historical limits
  • Arctic sea ice is also well within historical limits, and Antarctic sea ice is at record highs
  • Rate of sea level rise shows no evidence of acceleration
  • Island land area of Pacific atolls is growing, not decreasing
  • No evidence of increasing rate of extinctions
  • No evidence of increasing incidence of coral bleaching events
  • No sound evidence of major climate induced shifts in fisheries or other ecosystems
  • Polar bear populations well above levels of the recent past
  • Winter snow cover is not decreasing
  • Agricultural yields are increasing, not decreasing
  • No mass movement of refugees attributable to climate change
  • No latitudinal expansion of tropical diseases

The response of climate alarmists to such repeated failures has made it clear that their true commitment is not so much to concern over any real danger from climate change as it is to maintaining and promoting belief in the threat.  Instead of relief and hopeful interest in any good news indicating the danger may have been overestimated, the knee-jerk reaction by alarmists is angry rejection.  Their response then follows wht might be called the IDED pattern: ignore, dismiss, excuse, deny.

At first the conflicting evidence is ignored. If it starts to gain attention, it is dismissed as being only an error or minor anomaly. When this fails to be believable, the effort shifts to concocting farfetched explanations of how the problem hasn’t really diminished but is only being temporarily hidden or diverted.

Finally, as these excuses begin to lose credibility, even to conflict one another, the last-ditch defence becomes outright denial.  Regardless of how compelling the counter evidence, it can always be sifted, selected, manipulated and interpreted to claim the opposite, inevitably inspiring an enthusiastic acceptance from committed followers of the cult.

The ongoing failure of the planet to warm as predicted is a prime example.  When it first began to become apparent, the plateau was simply ignored. Then, as public recognition of the pause grew, the response was to dismiss it as just a minor, unimportant blip in the data. When it could no longer be credibly dismissed, the excuses began. All those efforts have been met with immediate and serious doubts, provoking further and evermore elaborate and dubious rationales. At present, about 60 different ‘explanations’ for the 18-year pause have been offered. One would have sufficed if it could be sustained.

Recently, the response has shifted into denial mode. First came a denial about the absence of a mid-troposphere hot spot. This was soon followed by a denial of the lack of surface warming. That both these tacks have produced papers that passed peer review, were published in leading journals and granted immediate uncritical acceptance as sound science by the alarmist community stands as a travesty and indictment of science itself. What now passes for “climate science” makes Scientology looks positively robust by comparison.

Once again, as always, we see volumes of far less uncertain evidence ignored and “adjustments” applied, plus dubious statistical manipulation to samples that are cherry-picked from noisy, uncertain data in order to fabricate a bogus warming trend. Such tossing aside of scientific caution, along with the ready acceptance of the most doubtful claims, speaks volumes of the utter disregard of scientific integrity now endemic in climate research.

Worse still, the corruption is not limited to the science; but rather, it serves as the foundation for a much wider and more dangerous structure of delusion. News reports regurgitate press releases from the parent research institutions which add further hype to already misleading findings. Activists and vested interests further select and embellish the misinformation for their own purposes. Politicians then indiscriminately swallow the lot, making it the basis for policy.

Meanwhile the BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China — along with much of the developing world smile politely at our naivety, pay lip service to our delusions, and forge ahead with their own development while we slip further into political, economic and cultural malaise.

Although dangerous anthropogenic global warming was arguably a plausible concern when first proposed, supporting evidence has remained meagre despite billions of dollars in research. At the same time conflicting evidence has steadily increased, even with little or no funding for research, and it is now sufficient to strongly indicate that the danger has been greatly overestimated. In fact the only apparent effect thus far of increased atmospheric CO2 has been a significant increase in primary productivity. This includes a notable greening of arid regions along with important increases in agricultural yields.

Measures to reduce CO2 emissions have proven to impose very high costs for little or no reductions. Although various new energy technologies appear hopeful they are yet to become economically and technologically viable; likewise the time scales on which these gains might be achieved. At the most optimistic estimate, their widespread adoption seems likely to  be some decades away, and getting there successfully will be strongly influenced by ongoing economic conditions in the meantime. Attempting to force the adoption of premature technologies is more likely to result in costly delays and failures than it is to speed the process.

The corruption of science associated with climate change alarmism has been evident to honest researchers since shortly after the hype began. Frederick Seitz, a highly respected scientist, had this to say in the Wall Street Journal of June 12, 1996, in regard to the second IPCC Assessment Report, which was published in 1995:

“In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.”

Since then the situation has only become worse.

A useful summary of six strong rebuttals of the recent highly publicised report (Karl et al. 2015) claiming there has been no hiatus in warming can be found here.

One of the most telling shortcomings of the Karl et al. study can be found at lines 71-76 in the online supplementary materials which accompany the report itself (emphasis added):

“Previous versions of our SST analysis included satellite data, but it was dis-included in a later release because the satellite SSTs were not found to add appreciable value to a monthly analysis on a 2° grid, and they actually introduced a small but abrupt cool bias at the global scale starting in 1985 (30). Other observing systems, including satellites, and model simulations could provide important insights that would enable the quantification of interpolation uncertainties in data-sparse regions, but haven’t been used in this study.”

In other words, the best and most comprehensive data available were excluded altogether because it showed a a trend counter to the researcher’s preconceptions and expectations.  That this important admission was buried in techno-gibberish among supplementary material, rather than featuring prominently in the report itself, is revealing. It appears the authors wished to cover themselves against a possible accusation of fraud, so they settled on a means of disclosure which would attract minimal attention and, with a little luck, might go unnoticed altogether.

Virtually all developed nations are now facing serious economic malaise of a long-term and ongoing structural nature. The underlying causes include ageing demographics, increasing global competition, loss of technological advantage, rising unemployment exacerbated by rapid advances in IT and robotics, increasing welfare dependence, an ever-growing regulatory morass seriously impeding productive activity and a government sector grown too large for the economic base to support. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars are being squandered on hypothetical solutions to the imaginary problem of climate change. The only significant demonstrable results have been the corruption of science, increased prices for food and energy, and large scale environmental desecration. Trying to continue to impose ever more costly, restrictive and ineffective means to reduce carbon emissions goes beyond stupidity.  It involves a self-righteous fanaticism of a kind any terrorist would readily recognise.

As vast sums  continue to be squandered, we can start calling the fraud for what it is and demand it be brought to an end. Or, we can let unfolding reality impose its own harsh decision a bit later. As the alarmist nonsense cannot be sustained, it must eventually cease. Stopping it sooner rather than later will avoid a great deal of unnecessary pain.

Walter Starck, a regular Quadrant contributor, is a marine biologist. His biography can be found here


Comments [2]

  1. Bill Martin says:

    Laypeople, such as myself, who are keenly interested in the Global Warming/Climate Change controversy and endeavour to keep ourselves well informed, are constantly bewildered by the fact that most of the political leadership in western countries – with some notable exceptions – appear to support the alarmist stance. It does not seem possible that they are all so simple minded that they actually believe the hype, in spite of the ever mounting contrary evidence. Some, of course, would be. In most cases it seems to be a matter of attempting to stay on side with a majority of the electorate and/or some vital vested interests. (Some, of course, support the alarmist cause as the hidden agenda to transfer the wealth of the developed countries to the third world so that everyone, everywhere could be equally poor, as dictated by international socialism.)

    So, does that mean then that the majority of electors believe the alarmist propaganda?
    Probably not. What it likely means is that a majority of the population either lack the necessary intelligence to comprehend the issues or are mentally lazy to attempt to do so. After all, it is so much easier and socially popular to discuss the details of football matches, the finer points of fishing gear, celebrity gossip and the like. So, without much insight into the matter and even though they might not be particularly worried about it, they are swayed enough by the relentless exposure of the alarmist views to think there must be something to it. Considering that the impending doom scenario is vehemently supported by “respected” journalists and commentators as well as by popular actors, actresses, other entertainers and celebrities, including the Pope, even taught to children in school, it is not surprising that “the man/woman in the street” can not easily dismiss it. The state of this phenomenon is likely to be at a sufficiently high level for politicians to fear a backlash if they openly oppose the alarmist view. Those brave enough to do so are pilloried mercilessly, even before their constituents had the chance to register their possible disapproval.

    Certainly, there is a plethora of material available online and a few selected publications, such as Quadrant, but all that is likely to be “preaching to the converted”. Very little of it ever reaches those who so sorely need enlightenment.

    Bill Martin.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Bill, I think you are right about sceptics preaching to the converted. In my area, there are three dedicated sceptics who regularly have letters published in our local newspaper (strangely it’s a Fairfax publication but, to their credit, I have never had a letter not published). We think of ourselves as foot soldiers in the war and just hope that enough uncommitted readers can be convinced. Let’s hope the same is happening in other regions.
      I try not to proselytise on a personal level, other than to correct the odd egregious error.