The Silence of the Scientists

NOAA's GOES-East satellite /
NOAA's GOES-East satellite /

Informed commentators are noticing that human-caused global warming is not the danger that it has been said to be, yet many inconsistently still call for “smart solutions” to address what is likely a non-issue.

Bjorn Lomborg, for example, argues that the overwrought pronouncements of climate doom that pervade the media are preventing the world from sinking ever more money into “green energy.”

For starters, we do not know with any confidence that dangerous warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions actually exists, and extra green energy cannot fix what is not broken.

It’s also confusing to conflate energy and environmental policy. Energy policy is concerned with diversity, security, and cheapness of supply; environmental policy with nurturing Earth’s natural environment.

If carbon emissions rise faster than anyone predicted, but the rise in global air temperatures is about 90 percent less than expected, and if we are told that we should be seeing more droughts whereas there is actually a decrease, then so-called “scientific’” forecasts about carbon dioxide emissions are woefully wrong.

How can we possibly trust them to make policy decisions?

Cautious scepticism is clearly appropriate when contemplating the myriad problems involved in estimating global air temperature by all of the main governmental agencies (NASA, NOAA, and the UK Meteorological Office).

And while atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen from about 360 to 400 parts per million over the last 18 years (i.e. by 10 percent, which in turn represents more than 30 percent of all human emissions since 1850), the global air temperature, more accurately measured by satellite sensors, shows no increase and certainly no sign of accelerating.

It remains true that carbon dioxide emissions provide the environmentally vital services of greening the planet and assuring our food supply.

What causes both the widespread alarmism and the public ignorance of the beneficial effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Scientists remaining silent.

Have you noticed that when a political figure makes an exaggerated statement about global warming, a commonplace occurrence, no government scientific agency or leading university scientist ever corrects them? Why not?

And then, discussing global warming as a “carbon” problem, as lobby groups and politicians do, represents scientific illiteracy because it fails to distinguish the element carbon from the molecule carbon dioxide. It also deliberately encourages the public to confuse a colourless, odourless, beneficial gas with soot.

The saddest part of today’s sorry state of climate research is that so many scientists choose to remain mute about these widespread abuses of scientific nomenclature and method. They fear intimidation.

For vicious despoilation of the reputation of non-conformist scientists has long been the leaf out of the Alinsky rule book enforced against any scientist who questions the global warming-carbon dioxide mantra.

Take the new paper, “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” by Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David R. Legates, and William M. Briggs, a study which highlighted the reasons for the unrealistic predictions of global warming models. The science of this paper has so far been ignored, but there immediately arose a call for the firing of one of the authors, the distinguished Dr Willie Soon.

All four of the authors of this paper have declared no conflict of interest; having neither sought nor received funding for conducting their research. Nonetheless, last weekend the New York Times, Guardian, and other progressive papers and blogs unleashed a fury of false accusations of conflict of interest against Dr. Soon — revealing thereby that they have no competence to judge the science involved, expert though they manifestly are at pillorying the man.

It is particularly notable that the editor of the Science Bulletin, the journal in which the Monckton et al. paper was published, has commented that the paper passed “our rigorous peer-review process.”

The three authors of this opinion article have also suffered repeatedly from similar attacks in the past. Like Dr. Soon, we have found the criticisms hard to rebut because of the overwhelming public influence, Megaphone media support, and political reach of the major environmental lobby groups.

In what has truly become an Age of Disenlightenment, a nexus of bloggers, environmental activists, politicians, journalists, and (most sadly of all) scientists have modified the famous phrase that Evelyn Hall used to summarise Voltaire’s attitude towards freedom of speech. The recast aphorism now reads: “I disapprove of what you say, and will pursue to the death every way of preventing you from expressing it.”

Such attacks on independent researchers, and the exaggeration or misrepresentation of climate research results that has become commonplace, are in fact an evil every bit as pernicious as direct scientific fraud.

Whatever their personal views, and whatever intimidation they may face, all independent scientists should feel beholden to find ways of publicly supporting the freedom of enquiry and discussion that is epitomized by the research of Dr. Willie Soon and other expert scientists who remain sceptical of environmental scares such as dangerous global warming.

Simply put, a technologically advanced, civilized society cannot survive unless public policies are formulated based not on spin, deceit, and untruthfulness but rather on the unemotional, logical, and balanced principles of intellectual enquiry developed during the Enlightenment.


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