Record Low For Climate Science

August 31, 2008 • Commentary
This article appeared in the Washington Times on August 31, 2008.

Ever since Soviet and Western climate scientists published the first international compendium on global warming, back in 1985, we have known that scaring people to death is very good for the environmentalist business. Such documents appear once or twice a year under the aegis of sundry governmental and international agencies, such as the United States’ Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).

Remember that acronym, CCSP. If its latest “Synthesis Report” on climate change sees the light of day, we may one day thank CCSP for policies that drive America into the poor house.

The problem is that our professional selfishness has a price: We have to agree the problem is so bad that it becomes, in Al Gore’s words, “the central organizing principal for civilization.” So we climate scientists wind up espousing policies are so drastic they will paralyze any economy.

Having been a climate scientist for about as long as these documents have been around, I have had the opportunity to review and comment on many documents that do this — not that my comments are listened to very much. I found two changes in the thousands of pages of the last (2007) IPCC report — after I sent in a 30,000-word point‐​by‐​point review.

I’ll be lucky to get even that much attention after my equally long critique of a new CCSP report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The sum of my analysis: This is the worst document in this genre I have ever seen. By comparison, it makes the 1962 Mets (or, for that matter, 2008’s Washington Nationals) paragons of professional excellence.

Virtually every sentence can be contested or simply ignores published science that disagrees with CCSP’s preconceived message. In its own words: “Aggressive near‐​term actions would be required to alter the future path of human‐​induced warming… future generations will inherit the legacy of our decisions.”

If “future generations” and “legacy of our decisions” sound more to you like politics rather than science, you’re correct. The CCSP report isn’t a science document at all. Not unless global warming science is a virtually one‐​sided world where almost everything is bad and getting worse, and where a moderate response dishonors our progenitors.

Of course, this can’t be. Global warming lengthens growing seasons. Carbon dioxide, the cause of (part of the) warming (dormant for 11 years now) clearly improves crop yields in a world where stupid global warming policies (like burning our food supply in cars) are increasing food scarcity. If they have the money, by and large, Americans move to a warmer climate. And so on — which is why the CCSP document and the delete key should become intimate friends.

How did such a remarkable distortion see the light day? The “product lead” is Tom Karl, who heads the Commerce Department’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. He is perhaps the most political and politically savvy climate scientist in U.S. history. When Al Gore was vice president, he would issue monthly briefings on the horrors of climate change. When Mr. Gore exaggerated some local flood, or claimed Florida would burn because of global warming, Mr. Karl stood by and remained mute. But now, with the prospect of an increasingly Democratic Senate, and a president who will go along with the madness of climatically futile policies (Barack Obama or John McCain on global warming? Pick em!), Mr. Karl and CCSP have picked up the scent.

From a policy viewpoint, it’s even worse. The current administration has punted to the next president the question of what rules EPA should make about global warming. All the levers of political power — the presidency, Congress and the relevant agencies — are therefore all pointed in the same direction. All will cite the CCSP as their bible, and anyone who voices a more factual opinion will in fact be marginalized as insane.

Want more evidence as to the perfidy of the CCSP process? The senior editor is no climate scientist; it’s Susan J. Hassol, who wrote the HBO global warming “documentary,” “Too Hot Not to Handle.” Laurie David, the force behind Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” was the executive producer. This isn’t science, it’s science fiction.

The first illustration inside the front cover gives away the spin. It’s a picture of people of as many races and sexes as possible holding hands. What that has to do with climate change science is a mystery, but it certainly reflects a political view.

The draft CCSP report knowingly uses Photoshopped imagery of a flood, uncritically publishes a misleading temperature history, which splices together two completely different sets of climate data, and generally assumes people are stupid.

There’s a wonderful picture on Page 55 of two senior citizens, captioned: “The elderly are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.” If that’s true, then there must be massive and increasing numbers of heat‐​related fatalities in hot cities with old populations. In fact, Tampa and Phoenix have a disproportionately elderly population and very few heat‐​related deaths; statistically, Tampa has the fewest of any major U.S. city.

It may shock the CCSP, but when heat waves become more frequent, people change their habits and localities adapt their infrastructure to better deal with the heat.

Trash the entire report. It’s neither scientific nor logical. It’s a political document. Send the product lead back to Asheville and the senior editor back to Hollywood.

But of course, that won’t happen. Instead, the CCSP report and its production team will be lionized. It will serve as the basis for the most onerous environmental legislation and regulations in U.S. history. And when historians look back at a nation made poorer by foolish policies (which themselves will have no effect on warming), they will wonder how climate science could have gone so far into the wilderness of politics.

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