Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Corruption of Science, Climate Change and the NCA

Earlier this week the US released what it calls The National Climate Assessment (NCA). This documents purports to be a comprehensive, arms-length, scientifically based analysis of the evidence with respect to the impact of climate change in the US. It suggested, with a high degree of confidence, the impact of man-made climate change was already evident and is the primary cause of extreme weather events. The press coverage was generally “na├»ve acceptance” and certainly uncritical.  The press also fell for the line that the “science is settled” and that “this analysis is purely scientific”.

The report is, like the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), political – it is agenda driven science. For example, the idea that the only cause of climate change is CO2 produced by industrial processes and mankind, is a political position not really supported by climate scientists.  The idea that sea level rises are likely to be eleven times higher than over the last one hundred years is not supported by most scientists. The idea that the earth continues to warm is not supported by an analysis of actual temperature data – there has been no global warming for 17 years and 9 months according to these data. The idea that hurricanes and tornadoes are increasing in the US is bunkum – their frequency and intensity has declines 25% since 1900.

Don’t take my word for this, take that of Professor Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Snr. or his son Roger Pielke Jnr. – all climate scientists. All have been highly critical of the NCA. Their key points:

  •            The uncertainties associated with the science are greater than the confidence levels expressed in the NCA as the document itself makes clear. Thus, the claims of what will happen are exaggerated – the science is that certain.
  •            Climate models, on which a lot of the NCA appears to be based, are not very robust when it comes to predicting climate – they have not predicted the pause in global warming, the lowering of the rate of sea level rise or the significant growth of ice extent in the Antarctic.
  •            The NCA is inconsistent with the IPCC. The latest report on the science from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and analysis provided by the adminstration’s own National Climatic Data Center conclude that there isn’t a case for extreme weather increases – no significant trends for floods, droughts, hurricanes or tornadoes. All of these reports are based on a meta-analysis of the same science that the NCA looks at. How can they come to a radically different conclusion?
  •         The idea that all climate change has a single cause – manmade C02 – is not well founded in science. Indeed, Judith Curry makes the observation that the phrase ‘climate change’ is now officially meaningless.  The NCA report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change.  Any increase in adverse impacts from extreme weather events or sea level rise is caused by humans. Possible scenarios of future climate change depend only on emissions scenarios that are translated into warming by climate models that produce far more warming than has recently been observed. This is clearly non-sense and non-science.
  •             The suggestion that the science makes clear that reducing emissions is “the one way” we can reduce extreme weather events is also non-science and non-sense. The evidence makes clear that the primary reason that the impact of severe weather is greater now than in the past is because we have given permission for more building on flood-plains, more building in vulnerable coastal areas and more building in the established areas of vulnerability from tornadoes and hurricanes. Smarter planning, adaptation to changes in climate are as valid a response. Reducing CO2 emissions unilaterally from one country will also have very little impact on man-made CO2 emissions globally. Climate is global and local. This is the most political component of the NCA – and makes clear that the report was designed to present this solution (reduce and act on emissions and we can avoid these dangers): policy based evidence.

The preoccupation with CO2 is getting in the way of understanding climate, climate change and the opportunities of benefits from these changes together with risk. More and more genuine scientists are abandoning the IPCC / NCA narrative in favour of science. Recent converts include several IPCC authors and  scientists who have previously been IPCC / NCA supporters. The edifice is getting more desperate and more extreme. The NCA report is an example of how extreme things are getting.

What makes things worse is the fawning press. The job of the press is to sell newspapers or secure and sustain “eyeballs” (viewers). Doom sells. Threats sell. Poor science and critical analysis of poor science does not. Given that so few journalists have a real training in science and critical analysis of science, it is not surprising that uncritical journalism is what we see. This feeds the political agenda.

President Obama now has the “cover” he needs to enact sweeping regulation through the EPA – by-passing a sceptical Congress – to curb C02 emissions, stop Keystone pipeline, curb fracking, end coal based energy and change emissions requirements for transportation. There could also be new taxes on emission and new subsidies for so-called “green energy”. This is why the science in the NCA says what it says. Follow the money and the current democratic / left / green agenda. The fact that this science is partial, flawed and hysterical is not the point – that fact that it is aligned is.

The corruption of science in this field in the US is now complete. We need to rely on scientists not beholden to the political agenda to let us see the real evidence and analysis. It is not at all what the NCA are presenting.

1 comment:

oldroyd said...

I still find it hard to accept that the community of scientists adhering to the IPCC prognostications are part of gigantic green/left/environmentalist conspiracy that ‘good’ scientists such as the Pielkes have revealed. This difficulty is increased by the revelations of right-wing/pro-business & Wall Street activities to spread disinformation in the way that you accuse the IPPC-believers of doing, albeit with corporate rather than government connivance. By and large, the influence of corporate power over governments is far greater than that of any ‘green’ lobbies, so it is odd that governments as well as large numbers of scientists can adhere to a conspiratorial ‘green’ agenda.

You have long pointed out the hazards of modelling the future, but surely the current 3% ever-upward growth rate of global GDP (doubling every 23.3 years; in China 8% - 8,75 years) on a finite and arguable ‘full’ planet, can only be a ‘crash course’ as resource depletion, pollution, land use, deforestation, species diversity loss, etc. keep pace? Climate change notwithstanding, it is hardly ‘good science’ to overlook the relationship between exponential growth of human impact on the planet and the need to make its geometric curve into the sinusoidal ‘S’ curves of growth and decline that describe the self-regulating natural world. The global population ‘S’ curve seems to be in train now but even with the levelling off of human population by 2100 the likelihood of another 3 billion people using earth’s diminishing resources should be a top priority for scientists of all persuasions.