Climate Alarmists Everywhere Celebrate Advocacy Over Science in New NCA

E. Calvin Beisner | November 10, 2017 | 11:02am EST
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Gee, I wish I’d had $7.9 billion to play with over the last three years! But I didn’t. In very rough terms, that’s over 7,500 times what the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation has spent (none of it from taxes).

This was one of the first things that came to my mind when I saw that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP), a federal interdepartmental effort, has just released its fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA)—after spending $7.9 billion since its last NCA in 2014.

The NCA is a 477-page behemoth that hardly anyone will ever read in its entirety and far fewer will understand. That hasn’t kept the mainstream media from touting its “findings” as gospel truth that demands immediate and drastic response from everybody and his dog.

USA Today shouted, “Humans to blame for global warming, massive federal government report says.” The Washington Post’s three dependable climate alarmist reporters Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin, and Brady Dennis churned out “Trump administration releases report finding ‘no convincing alternative explanation’ for climate change.” And Lisa Friedman’s report in the New York Times was headlined “U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials.” (Never mind that the NCA was essentially finished before Trump was elected and was entirely the product of Obama appointees.)

You’d have thought something interesting had happened.

But none of this is interesting. None of it is new. It’s what the GCRP has been saying for years.

What would I have done if I’d had even, say, 1 percent of the GCRP’s budget? The $79 million would have been enough to employ 79 researchers for three years at $333K apiece per year.

At that price, I suspect I’d have been able to bring together a team that would have followed one of the basic canons of science: deal with all the evidence, not just what supports your hypothesis (or your agenda).

That’s definitely not what the GCRP did.

As Steven Koonin, Undersecretary of Energy for Science during President Obama’s first term and now Director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, put it in the Wall Street Journal, the 2017 NCA (just like the 2014) repeatedly cites data supporting its alarmism while ignoring data—sometimes from the very same sources, and sometimes even buried deep inside its own report—that undermine it.

In 2014, the NCA made an art of crying wolf with statistics, reporting Greenland and Antarctic ice loss, for instance, in hundreds of gigatons (Oh, my!) but not revealing that the rate amounted to 0.1 percent and 0.0045 percent per decade, respectively, or a combined 3.3 inches of sea level rise per century.

Koonin cites two examples of data mishandling in the 2017 report:

“The report ominously notes that while global sea level rose an average 0.05 inch a year during most of the 20th century, it has risen at about twice that rate since 1993. But it fails to mention that the rate fluctuated by comparable amounts several times during the 20th century. The same research papers the report cites show that recent rates are statistically indistinguishable from peak rates earlier in the 20th century … .

“The report’s executive summary declares that U.S. heat waves have become more common since the mid-1960s, although acknowledging the 1930s Dust Bowl as the peak period for extreme heat. Yet buried deep in the report is a figure showing that heat waves are no more frequent today than in 1900.”

The NCA assiduously turns a blind eye toward contrary research. For example, a paper by University of Alabama climate scientist John Christy, Weather Channel co-founder Joe D’Aleo, and econometrician James Wallace found that if you control for solar, volcanic, and ocean current variability, you can explain all the global temperature changes over the last 60 years, leaving nothing to blame on carbon dioxide.

“These deficiencies … are typical of many others that set the report’s tone,” Koonin adds.

“Such data misrepresentations,” he says, “violate basic scientific norms. In his celebrated 1974 ‘Cargo Cult’ lecture, the late [Nobel Prize-winning physicist] Richard Feynman admonished scientists to discuss objectively all the relevant evidence, even that which does not support the narrative. That’s the difference between science and advocacy” [emphasis added].

Koonin’s prescription for this disorder?

“First, the report should be amended to describe the history of sea-level rise, heat waves and other trends fully and accurately. Second, the government should convene a ‘Red/Blue’ adversarial review to stress-test the entire report, as I urged in April. … Finally, the institutions involved in the report should figure out how and why such shortcomings survived multiple rounds of review.”

The coming days and weeks will, no doubt, see more revelations of bad science in the NCA. For now, let climate alarmists everywhere celebrate.

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.


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