A Free-Market Energy Blog

Exchange with a Climate Alarmist at R Street: Part II

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 19, 2018

“Models, models. Experts, experts. At every step of each Malthusian episode, the latest science is cited as proof of the alarmist position. The Club of Rome studies in the 1970s to Peak Oil studies of recent decades. And the latest climate-model averaging today.”

Why engage with an anonymous climate alarmist (see the exchange yesterday)?

First, ‘mafarmerga” presented serious arguments in the public domain–and identified himself as a professor with peer-review responsibilities in climate science. [Editor update: he has identified himself]

Second, I really like my arguments relative to the opposition. Isn’t it nice that intellectual trends, not only political ones, are going against this latest Malthusian scare? Good for mankind–good for the worldview of economic and political liberty.

Third, going toe-to-toe forces me to better consider opposing arguments and to revisit mine. A scholar must know the different sides of the argument in his or her area of specialty. I want to be an intellectual for the long run–and not a public-policy hack for the short-run who can only offer lawyer-type briefs for a position.

Here are a “Baker’s Dozen” of conclusions I reached from the aforementioned exchange:

  1. The opposition is very fixated on the natural state of things and fears change.  Stasis. If nature is optimal, then the human influence cannot be good, necessarily. This gets to Deep Ecology.
  2. Human flourishing is secondary for the opposition. Alarmists dress their argument in terms of human impacts–that is their equivalent of  ‘greenwashing’–to try to get the attention of the citizenry.
  3. The well-known global greening argument of CO2 defenders is argued away by a trick: assume all-bad-things from climate change to negate the CO2 fertilization effect. (Note how my cited NYT article of the here-and-now benefits of CO2 fertilization was downplayed. It is the hypothesized bad future that is considered.)
  4. The Malthusian inheritance. I emphasize the context of climate alarm in the sequence of “consensus” alarms about population, resources, global cooling (yes), and now global warming. The Malthusians don’t want to acknowledge this damning intellectual pattern of the last half-century; yet they are the same folks with the same certainty and the same banner of “consensus.”
  5. Models, models. Experts, experts. At each step during each Malthusian scare, the latest science is cited as proof of the alarmist position, from the Club of Rome studies in the 1970s to the Peak Oil studies of recent decades. Today, it is the latest climate-model averaging (see #4 above).
  6. The “argument from authority.” Several times above, “mafarmerga”  appeals to the superiority of his expertise to mine. Early on, he resorted to calling me a “denier.” But thanks to the Internet and bottom-line climate scientists such as Judith Curry, “amateurs” such as myself can do pretty well. I also benefit from having had several years of tutelage by the well-known climate scientist Gerald North, who would tell me things that he would not say to his professional and public audiences. (His insinuations about establishment science and honesty were not good–sort of what Climategate taught the world.)
  7. Climate models!!  My opponent is on the record saying that we know the microphysics of climate, the magnitude of SO2 forcing, and the approximate if not precise weighting of natural-versus-anthropomorphic forces—so the models are reliable.  Bunk! As I said in my rejoinder, I rest my case.
  8. He never answered my argument that model-predicted warming is way above real-world warming.  (I thought he would bring up ocean delay, to which I would have responded that that is quite in debate too.)
  9. He never challenged my key fact that climate sensitivity estimates are coming down–very good news indeed.
  10. Sea level: he did not response to my argument that sea level rise in recent decades is similar to prior decades, suggesting that natural factors are at work.
  11. He never challenged my reference to and reliance on Judith Curry’s analysis at Climate, Etc.
  12. He did not want to delve much into the Public Choice and Political Economy side of things, much less energy policy. The fact that even a man-made climate problem could result in a CO2-friendly public policies is a whole other area of debate that he did not want to engage in.
  13. I readily, happily identify myself. He does not. Why? I do not believe “mafarmerga” was a fake because his arguments were serious. But even if he is misrepresenting himself, his arguments deserve careful evaluation. [Editor update: he has identified himself]

Back to Josiah Neeley and R-Street. He and they should study and debate climate science, not assume climate alarmism. The positive externalities of increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide should be acknowleged. The virus of government failure in the attempt to address market failure must be considered.

Bottom line: The “libertarian” case for CO2 regulation conduct by 195 governments is intellectually unjustified and a fool’s errand in the real world.

R-Street needs to step up its game–and question both climate alarmism and forced energy transformation. Like Peak Oil, climatism is proving to be a Malthusian exaggeration.

8 Comments


  1. John Garrett  

    Well stated and well done, Mr. Bradley !!

    Reply

  2. John Garrett  

    Now, all that remains is to get the martinets of PBS to produce and broadcast a rebuttal of last night’s two-hour long NOVA climate advertorial.

    Reply

  3. rbradley  

    Oh, a reader kindly sent me this: “… it is clear that your interlocutor is Mark Farmer, a professor of cellular biology at the University of Georgia. He sits on the city council of Winterville, Georgia….”

    Reply

  4. mafarmerga  

    “How can I even consider publishing this ”

    Do what you want Rob. Personally I don’t give a damn. After all it is your blog and your moderated response section. You control the whole process. You want people to continue thinking that I was too afraid of you to respond? Go ahead. We both know it was because R Street deactivated the comments section, but sure. Continue to feed the myth that I was not willing to engage. Your readers will love you for it.

    You wanted a response, I gave you one. You choose not to share it with your readers? That is your editorial right to censor me, not mine. Just get off your high horse for a moment and stop pretending that you are interested in engaging in a real dialog. You have not cited a SINGLE peer reviewed study. Not one. Enjoy the accolades of your ditto heads, they think that you are wonderful.

    Want to talk climate science as an equal? Then stop being so lazy and do the hard work. Start actually reading research papers instead of relying on biased blogs. I’m a biologist but I have read hundreds of papers on climate science and I understand the field. Can you even begin to explain to me how a greenhouse gas works? Most of my Ph.D colleagues cannot and I’m willing to bet that you cannot either.

    I don’t pretend to be an energy expert.
    Stop pretending to be a climate science expert.

    -Namaste

    Reply

    • rbradley  

      This response by “mafarmerga” was longer than a post and included this: “I have been threatened and called every horrible word by climate change deniers. You have show yourself to be combative, judgemental, and arrogant. Why would I want to open myself up to angry emails, nasty letters, and abusive phone calls from your followers? Been there, done that. I’ll stick to a pseudonym.”

      “Climate change deniers”? I responded to ‘mafarmerga’: “Denier? As in Holocaust Denier? Really. How would a Jewish person respond to this? Even Joe Romm cautioned: ‘Since I lost many relatives in the Holocaust, I understand all too well the unique nature of that catastrophe. The Holocaust is not an analogue to global warming, which is an utterly different kind of catastrophe, and, obviously, one whose worst impacts are yet to come.’

      ” … stop relying on biased blogs.” Judith Curry’s? Virtually all of my positions are consonant to her conclusions.

      I did refer ‘mafarmerga’ to the Happer, Koonin, Lindzen “Climate Tutorial” in case he really wants to get up to speed on the non-alarmist case.

      Reply

    • John Garrett  

      mafarmerga—

      Can you explain why climate models have consistently forecast warmer temperatures than have actually been observed?

      Do you really believe that Russian temperature records from, say, 1917-1950 are reliable?

      You don’t really expect a sentient, rational person to believe that people were making accurate daily observations all over Russia during the Revolution or the Civil War or during the Sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad?

      Do you honestly believe that Chinese temperature records from, say, 1913-1980 are reliable?

      Do you really expect anybody to believe that accurate daily temperatures were recorded in China during the Revolution or “The Great Leap Forward?”

      Do you seriously believe that Sub-Saharan African temperatures from, say 1850-1975 are accurate?

      Please don’t tell us you think accurate daily temperature recordings were made in Sub-Saharan Africa during any part of the 19th century and most of the 20th.

      Do you really believe that oceanic temperatures from, say 1800-1970 are accurate? ( as we know, the oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface).

      Do you really believe there were accurate daily temperature observations made in the Bering Sea or the Weddell Sea or in the middle of the Pacific at any time before the advent of satellite observations in 1979?

      Are you kidding me?

      All this is even prior to considering the GISS homogenization adjustments or the adjustments made for the UHI effect.

      These are measurement error and uncertainties in excess of the putative change in global temperatures.

      The truth of the matter is that climate “science” has absolutely no idea whatsoever whether there has been warming or not.

      Reply

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