Last week, we happened to stumble across a press report about a group of climate scientists so eager to shut up their critics that they want to employ the State’s police, courts and jailers for the purpose. Specifically, a group of academic (and presumably tenured) climate alarmists supporting the “CAWG” theory (CAWG=”catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”) have written a letter to president Obama, attorney-general Lynch and OSTP director Holdren, demanding that so-called “climate deniers” (or the organizations allegedly supporting them) be prosecuted under the RICO act (you can see the document here (pdf) – already its first paragraph is “alarming”, as they inter alia brag about things they have incorrectly predicted to happen for more than 35 years, such as an increase in “extreme weather”).
This is not the first time that climate alarmists are letting their inner Stalin hang out and are trying to impose a spot of Lysenkoism for the “good of humanity”. For those not au fait with Lysenko: the man was an influential Soviet biologist who came up with an erroneous theory “based on dialectic materialism” about how to improve crop yields. It never worked, but over the 44 years during which his influence lasted (!), more than 3,000 biologists were either fired, jailed and even executed for opposing his views (a number of modern-day radical climate alarmists are also on record for demanding the harshest imaginable punishments for “deniers”).
The Debate over the Poorly Conceived AGW Theory is not Over
Here are a few excerpts from the letter we want to briefly comment on:
“The risks posed by climate change, including increasing extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and increasing ocean acidity – and potential strategies for addressing them – are detailed in the Third National Climate Assessment (2014), Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The stability of the Earth’s climate over the past ten thousand years contributed to the growth of agriculture and therefore, a thriving human civilization. We are now at high risk of seriously destabilizing the Earth’s climate and irreparably harming people around the world, especially the world’s poorest people.
Apart from the absurd insinuation that only “government-funded science is good science”, as if none of the people involved had any self-interests, science is not the result of some imaginary “consensus” or attains the status of holy writ once its conclusions appear in a government-sponsored paper. As an example, it took the “consensus” 40 years to accept Alfred Wegener’s theory on continental drift, by which time he was dead.
In principle there is nothing wrong with employing a conceptual approach in the natural sciences, but eventually, empirical data must bear hypotheses out. It is moreover not true that we can “afford” to bring industrial civilization to a standstill on the off-chance that the alarmists might be right one day, especially considering how wrong they have been so far.
Let us just briefly address the handful of things listed above. “Extreme weather events” like hurricanes and tropical cyclones have actually done the precise opposite of what has been and continues to be widely claimed – their frequency has declined to multi-decade lows (e.g. in Australia, the “lowest level of cyclone activity in modern history” was reported last year. US readers will have noticed that since Katrina a decade ago and the intrusion of Sandy, hurricane activity has actually been de minimis – statistics confirm it loud and clear).
Rising sea levels: it appears the rise is so slow that the catastrophes that have been predicted since at least 1980 not only have not happened, but that the opposite has occurred in these cases as well. No Micronesian islands have sunk beneath the waves – au contraire, they are growing. Of the 50 million “climate refugees” that were certain to swamp us by 2010, only one has shown up to date, and this seems to be a case of someone trying to get a residence and work permit in a developed country by means of an innovative method. The exact opposite of the alarmist predictions happened in this case as well: the very regions that were supposed to be the main source of “climate refugees” and should have been almost depopulated by now have seen the strongest population growth on the planet.
We haven’t followed the debate on the “acidification of the oceans” very closely, but we note that there definitely is a debate, as this notion appears to be based on questionable data (a.k.a. “sparse and contradictory evidence”). Lastly, even the alarmists are acknowledging that there has been a near 19 year “pause” in global warming (although NOAA is scandalously altering past surface temperature records from their actually measured to “assumed” values, in order to create a warming trend literally from thin air). They have hitherto seen fit to provide 66 different excuses for why the forecasts of their models have been so completely wrong. It is very mean of Mother Nature that she refuses to cooperate with the alarmist agenda. Of course, that the central premise of the AGW theory might actually be wrong isn’t even considered by these worthies (luckily they haven’t yet found ways to retroactively fiddle with the satellite data).
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