“The climate-crisis industry is much larger than merely the IPCC and vaguely defined government agencies. Other major players include wealthy, powerful Big Green pressure groups; wind, solar and biofuel companies that offer supposed alternatives to fossil fuels; politicians who have tied their careers, influence and campaign contributions to the global warming/climate change/extreme weather mantra; and journalists and media outlets that have also hitched their wagons to this global movement.”
Georgia Institute of Technology climate sciences professor Judith Curry has perceptively interpreted a recent analysis by economists William Butos and Thomas McQuade on how “Big Players” can distort climate research and other scientific endeavors. Their discussion, and hundreds of comments that followed, deserve careful consideration.
Big Players are institutions and officials who have the funding, influence and power to dictate who receives grants, what research gets published, whose evidence and conclusions receive wide coverage, and whether the findings and related policy proposals will be debated. These players distort the normal scientific process that has led to numerous discoveries, innovations and improvements in the human and world condition. “Prototypical Big Players are central banks and government agencies empowered with discretionary policymaking,” say Butos and McQuade.
They “render emergent outcomes unstable and unreliable, and create an ideal breeding ground for incentives that motivate ideologically biased people to circumvent normal constraints in the name of pursuing a ‘greater good,’” the two explain.
These “privileged actors” also “disrupt markets.” In Curry’s words, they “are not subject to market constraints and to the discipline of market competition,” but “their discretionary actions have widespread impacts on the expectations and actions of market participants.”
Their effects are felt in two ways, the economists explain. First, entrepreneurs spend less time assessing fundamental economic data, and more attempting to predict Big Player activities. Second, the dominant decision makers blunt the role of normal market mechanisms in weeding out participants that are less adept at appraising economic data, while granting advantages to enterprises that are “actively favored” by the Big Players.
Markets dominated by Big Players are also prone to “herding” or “herd instincts.” Market participants often have “little reliable information as to the Big Player’s next move,” and so take their cues from what others are thinking and doing. They get onboard for a piece of the action, and refrain from making moves or saying things that might put them at odds with the Big Players’ agenda or favored enterprises.
Judith Curry Responds
Dr. Curry notes that Butos and McQuade
have no apparent engagement with the IPCC or climate science. As outsiders, they provide a fresh perspective on the climate science-government-industrial complex.
To Curry, their analysis of herding and crony science versus contrarian behavior is “spot on.” The IPCC’s role “in reinforcing herding behavior seems obvious” in the Big Player context, she adds.
That assessment is equally true of the White House and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – and of the ways Big Green, the Climate Empire, and their political and media allies strike hard to marginalize, silence and destroy anyone who dares to contest their climate or energy theses.
How can we “break out of this situation of herding and crony science?” Dr. Curry wonders. A growing body of evidence “supports an important if not dominant role of natural variability,” which makes it somewhat “safer” to discuss solar and other natural forces and fluctuations. “Further, the IPCC’s ponderous reports and diminishing reputation (e.g. AR5 was a bit of a yawn, Pachauri’s travails, etc) are working in the direction of cutting this Big Player down to size somewhat,” she suggests, referring to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and former IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri.
However, there is still “a strong social contract between scientists who are funded by the government, and the IPCC that supports the government’s political agenda. The feedbacks supporting this social contract in principle can be reversed; it remains to be seen what, if anything, will trigger this reversal. I suspect that it will be the climate itself, if the hiatus/pause/slow down continues,” she concludes.
One certainly hopes that will be the case – to advance honest science and protect people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and welfare. However, any attempts to reform the current system are almost certain to meet intense resistance.
Protecting Big Player’s Trillion
The climate-crisis industry is much larger than merely the IPCC and vaguely defined government agencies. Other major players include wealthy, powerful Big Green pressure groups; wind, solar and biofuel companies that offer supposed alternatives to fossil fuels; politicians who have tied their careers, influence and campaign contributions to the global warming/climate change/extreme weather mantra; and journalists and media outlets that have also hitched their wagons to this global movement.
They are deeply entrenched, constantly recruit new crony capitalist members that have strong financial interests in perpetuating the arrangements, and do almost whatever may be required to counter threats to their hegemony. That includes manipulating or fabricating temperature data, linking every storm and drought to CO2 and GHG emissions, dismissing real-world evidence that their hypotheses, computer models and assertions of doom are simply wrong, and silencing all critics.
Universities and other institutions that employ alarmist scientists are likewise partners in this “social contract,” to protect their reputational investment and the 30-50% share of every grant they receive. So are thousands of companies in dozens of industries that increasingly rely on mandates, subsidies and restrictive regulations that politicians and government agencies provide. They all depend on people continuing to believe our planet, wildlife and human civilization are threatened by runaway warming and destructive climate changes, due to our continued reliance on hydrocarbons.
Becoming part of the climate science-government-industrial complex also shields member companies from penalties that are applied forcefully to fossil fuel interests. Oil and gas companies, for example, are routinely prosecuted and fined for harming wildlife habitats or killing birds and bats. However, industrial wind facility operators have received blanket multi-year exemptions from the Endangered Species Act, even though their turbines kill millions of birds and bats annually in the United States and Europe.
Australian science writer Joanne Nova’s “Climate Money” study calculated that the U.S. government alone spent $79 billion between 1989 and 2008 on climate science and technology research, “education” campaigns, administration, foreign aid and tax breaks. The spending has soared since President Obama took office.
MIT atmospheric sciences professor emeritus Richard Lindzen points out that “billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy” – and supposedly replacing it with expensive, inefficient renewable systems that raise energy costs, destroy jobs and cost lives. Those are huge incentives to join the complex.
As the pressure for debate and reform mounts, the Climate Empire insists that its actions serve “the greater good” – preventing catastrophic climate changes. But aside from the absence of evidence clearly linking fossil fuel emissions to significant climate events (or even to phenomena that are simply different in frequency or intensity to what mankind and planet have endured since time immemorial), there are two insurmountable problems with this alarmist tautology.
The “Greater Good”?
First, it requires depriving billions of people of reliable, affordable energy today – to prevent hypothetical crises decades from now. And that means causing thousands of deaths each winter in Britain and Europe in households where families cannot afford proper heat – and millions of deaths annually in Third World countries, from lung, intestinal and other diseases that modern energy and living standards would prevent.
Should the Climate Empire have such life-or-death powers? And who has the moral or legal authority to grant it such powers? Perhaps there was a reincarnation of Moses’ burning bush?
Second, China, India and other rapidly expanding economies are not about to stop using more fossil fuels, while developing countries are determined to use those same fuels to lift their citizens out of poverty. Thus even totally eliminating hydrocarbons in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe would do nothing to reduce CO2/GHG emissions – and absolutely nothing to moderate climate fluctuations and extreme weather events, even if these emissions have somehow replaced the complex, powerful, interconnected solar and other natural forces that “used to” cause ice ages, little ice ages, warm periods, hurricanes, floods and droughts prior to 1975, 1995, 1900 or the modern industrial era.
(Of course, eliminating fossil fuels in these modern nations would quickly send living standards, health and welfare plummeting – and send disease and death rates to where they were 120 years ago.)
Some nations appear willing to sign a new climate treaty, so long as it does not contain binding emission targets – but does include pledges that developed nations will transfer energy technologies and up to $100 billion per year to poor countries: as mitigation, adaptation and reparation money for allegedly altering Earth’s climate. But that hardly adds to the “97% consensus” that climate alarmists so love to assert.
Moreover, only the rich elites in those countries will get this money, and the only technologies the IPCC and Big Green will want transferred are the renewable varieties, so that they can tell poor families how much energy and what living standards they will be “allowed” to have.
Another Attack on Dr. Willie Soon
And so the Climate Empire strikes back again, more desperately and viciously. One of the more ignorant (or outright deceitful) articles is a recent Inside Climate News hack-job on Harvard solar and atmospheric scientist Willie Soon, whose studies support a much larger role for the sun in climate change than the IPCC “consensus” currently maintains. Author David Hasemyer’s false, misleading or even libelous statements are too numerous to address sufficiently, but a few of the most absurd and egregious claims demand a response.
Although Dr. Soon “relies on grants from outside sources to pay for his research and entire salary, the Harvard-Smithsonian [Center for Astrophysics] name helped give his discredited theories legitimacy in some circles,” Hasemyer states. Virtually all Center researchers – and all research scientists in virtually every university – are expected to secure external grants to pay their salaries. The universities lend their names to the proposals, grants and results, and take around 40% off the top to cover administrative costs and lights, heat and other expenses related to operating the research facility.
Dr. Soon’s theories may face rejection by climate-crisis advocates. However, climate-change science is far from settled; his analyses have withstood intense scrutiny; and actual temperature, climate, weather, and solar observations increasingly suggest that natural forces dominate climate and weather systems. So, to say that his or other scientists’ solar research has been “discredited” (or even disproven) is simply false.
“When Stephen Mulkey was an environmental scientist at the University of Idaho,” he advanced the claim that climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels, but apparently lost the debate, “even though he had the vast majority of climate scientists worldwide on his side,” Hasemyer asserts. Dr. Soon won the “mismatch” only because “he had something even stronger on his side: the imprimatur of Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution.” What utter self-serving nonsense. (The audience was stupid, Mulkey-qua-Gruber might say.)
Soon won the debate because his evidence and explanations convincingly supported his theory, while Mulkey’s weak arguments and reliance on a nonexistent consensus did not. Soon had the prestige of his position because he is a top-notch scientist. Mulkey’s experience epitomizes why alarmists almost always refuse to debate climate realists (dangerous manmade climate change skeptics), and why alarmists depend so heavily on third-party character assassination.
“Both Harvard and Smithsonian have made clear that climate change is caused by human activity,” the Inside Climate piece continues. “What we once thought was a problem for future generations is in fact an issue we must face today,” according to a prepared statement by the university’s greenhouse gas reduction initiative, Hasemyer writes. The source of that claim explains everything. The GHG initiative wants more money and will promote the disaster mantra to ensure that its funding is not disrupted.
Not a single Category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States since late 2005, the longest such period in more than a century, and perhaps since the Civil War. Tornado activity is also down, sea levels are rising at barely six inches per century, Antarctic ice is at record levels, the frequency and duration of droughts is within historic norms. Where is the crisis? The link to human activity?
Or as another climate scientist put it, If Harvard came out tomorrow and proclaimed that Aliens brought life to Earth from outer space, would that make it true, and force all evolutionists at Harvard out of the University? Since when are self-serving, grant-perpetuating proclamations a valid substitute for the scientific method: hypothesis, evidence gathering, analysis, validation – or rejection?
What Lies Ahead?
Will the lies and other outrages ever stop? Probably not anytime soon. But those of us who believe in the scientific method, evidence instead of models and proclamations, and modern living standards for all who want them must not cease our efforts.
For as Rabbi Tarfon said five centuries ago, “You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.