A Free-Market Energy Blog

Bottom Line Climate Science: A Primer

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 9, 2017

“Climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.”

“[General Circulation Models] systematically over-estimate the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide (CO2), many known forcings and feedbacks are poorly modeled, and modelers exclude forcings and feedbacks that run counter to their mission to find a human influence on climate.”

In 2015, the Heartland Institute published the second edition of Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming: The NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus. Edited by Craig Idso, (the late) Robert Carter, and S. Fred Singer, this 100-page primer usefully rebuts the (political) notion of settled climate science–and climate alarmism in particular.

This post reproduces the Key Findings of the book (for full citations behind each point, see the online document). Tomorrow’s post reprints this book’s refutation of the “97 percent consensus” study that has become a sound bite for climate alarmists.


No Consensus

# The most important fact about climate science, often overlooked, is that scientists disagree about the environmental impacts of the combustion of fossil fuels on the global climate.

# The articles and surveys most commonly cited as showing support for a “scientific consensus” in favor of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis are without exception methodologically flawed and often deliberately misleading.

# There is no survey or study showing “consensus” on the most important scientific issues in the climate change debate.

# Extensive survey data show deep disagreement among scientists on scientific issues that must be resolved before the man-made global warming hypothesis can be validated. Many prominent experts and probably most working scientists disagree with the claims made by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Why Scientists Disagree

# Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields of study. Very few scholars have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines.

# Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models.

# IPCC, created to find and disseminate research finding a human impact on global climate, is not a credible source. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt.

# Climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.

Scientific Method vs. Political Science

# The hypothesis implicit in all IPCC writings, though rarely explicitly stated, is that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions.

# The null hypothesis is that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment, as well as current changes in animal and plant characteristics, are the result of natural variability.

# In contradiction of the scientific method, IPCC assumes its implicit hypothesis is correct and that its only duty is to collect evidence and make plausible arguments in the hypothesis’s favor. 

Flawed Projections

# IPCC and virtually all the governments of the world depend on global climate models (GCMs) to forecast the effects of human-related greenhouse gas emissions on the climate.

# GCMs systematically over-estimate the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide (CO2), many known forcings and feedbacks are poorly modeled, and modelers exclude forcings and feedbacks that run counter to their mission to find a human influence on climate.

# NIPCC estimates a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels (from 280 to 560 ppm) would likely produce a temperature forcing of 3.7 Wm-2 in the lower atmosphere, for about ~1°C of prima facie warming.

# Four specific forecasts made by GCMs have been falsified by real-world data from a wide variety of sources. In particular, there has been no global warming for some 18 years.

False Postulates

# Neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late-twentieth-century surface warming (1979–2000) lay outside normal natural variability.

# The late twentieth century warm peak was of no greater magnitude than previous peaks caused entirely by natural forcings and feedbacks.

# Historically, increases in atmospheric CO2 followed increases in temperature, they did not precede them. Therefore, CO2 levels could not have forced temperatures to rise.

# Solar forcings are not too small to explain twentieth century warming. In fact, their effect could be equal to or greater than the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.

# A warming of 2°C or more during the twenty-first century would probably not be harmful, on balance, because many areas of the world would benefit from or adjust to climate change. 

Unreliable Circumstantial Evidence

# Melting of Arctic sea ice and polar icecaps is not occurring at “unnatural” rates and does not constitute evidence of a human impact on the climate.

# Best available data show sea-level rise is not accelerating. Local and regional sea levels continue to exhibit typical natural variability – in some places rising and in others falling.

# The link between warming and drought is weak, and by some measures drought decreased over the twentieth century. Changes in the hydrosphere of this type are regionally highly variable and show a closer correlation with multidecadal climate rhythmicity than they do with global temperature.

# No convincing relationship has been established between warming over the past 100 years and increases in extreme weather events. Meteorological science suggests just the opposite: A warmer world will see milder weather patterns.

# No evidence exists that current changes in Arctic permafrost are other than natural or are likely to cause a climate catastrophe by releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Policy Implications

# Rather than rely exclusively on IPCC for scientific advice, policymakers should seek out advice from independent, nongovernment organizations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest.

# Individual nations should take charge of setting their own climate policies based upon the hazards that apply to their particular geography, geology, weather, and culture.

# Rather than invest scarce world resources in a quixotic campaign based on politicized and unreliable science, world leaders would do well to turn their attention to the real problems their people and their planet face.


  1. John W. Garrett  

    That’s a very nice and extremely useful summation.


  2. Dale  

    The above statements, as is the case for all valid scientific claims, need to include published research evidence to back up the points being made. Without the links to such research, the above article amounts to just another opinion…


  3. T  

    Dale….read the beginning…. they state these are the key findings from the book. Read the book for the research.


Leave a Reply