By Tom Harris
Albert Einstein once said, “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
While the gods must consider Monday’s U.S. Senate Climate Action Task Force all-night marathon the ultimate comedy, climate scientists are crying over the event. This is not just because of the serious science mistakes in the session. Climate experts are also concerned that the public will not realize that many of the senators’ assertions were science fiction.
The senators repeatedly argued that the science of climate change is ‘settled.’ Scientists supposedly know that our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are causing a climate crisis. We must take action to stop the unfolding human-caused climate catastrophe, the senators asserted.
Like children frightening each other with ghost stories, the speakers seemed to be competing for the most alarming forecasts. Senator Ed Markey (D, Mass), easily took first place with his warning that: “The science proves there is a danger…The planet is running a fever but there are no emergency rooms for planets.”
Professors Chris Essex (University of Western Ontario) and Ross McKitrick (University of Guelph) classify this sort of remark as part of the Doctrine of Certainty that has ruined the climate debate. In their book Taken by Storm, they explain, “The Doctrine is a collection of now-familiar assertions made about climate, all of which must be accepted without question.”
If one dares question the Doctrine, the reaction from true believers is immediate—you are a denier, an enemy of nature, a pawn of big oil and you must be silenced. The senators did not even consider the possibility that, as Essex and McKitrick say, “The Doctrine is not true. Each assertion is either manifestly false or the claim to know is false”.
Besides the Democratic senators who took part in this week’s climate extravaganza, America’s leading Doctrine of Certainty campaigners include U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barak Obama. Following Obama’s assertion in January’s State of the Union address that “the debate is settled,” Kerry told Indonesians last month that the science backing what he called “the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen” is “something that we understand with absolute assurance of the veracity of that science.”
In reality, trying to unravel the causes and consequences of climate change is arguably the most complex science ever tackled. Essex and McKitrick explain, “Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.”
One of the reasons the Senate Task Force can get away with their exaggerations is that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the U.K.’s Royal Society (RS), and other national science bodies are not doing their jobs.
Rather than working to help to defeat the anti-science Doctrine of Certainty that is distorting the climate debate, the NAS, RS, and others make absolute assertions concerning topics about which we have little knowledge.
The NAS/RS report, “Climate Change: Evidence & Causes,” released on February 27, is a prime example. In it there appear numerous unfounded assertions that cannot be supported by science. For example, it says, “If the rise in CO2 continues unchecked, warming of the same magnitude as the increase out of the ice age [i.e., 4 to 5 °C] can be expected by the end of this century or soon after.”
This is irresponsible since it encourage governments to prepare only for warming while ignoring the possibility that far more dangerous cooling is on the way as the Sun weakens into a ‘grand minimum’ over the coming decades.
Reports such as that of the NAS and RS provide political cover for politicians from developed countries to bring in draconian and unnecessary CO2 regulations, rules that are destroying their most important source of electric power—coal. Ontario has already closed most of its coal stations because of the government’s blind adherence to climate change doctrine. This has led to soaring electricity prices, a major cause of the province’s decline from ‘have’ to ‘have not’ status.
With the Senate Climate Action Task Force’s help, the Obama administration appears determined to do the same in the U.S., ending America’s use of coal, their least expensive and most reliable electricity source. The President and his allies promote wind and solar power, the least reliable and most expensive options available, in the absurd belief that this will stop the climate from changing.
Will capitulating to the climate change Doctrine of Certainty be the blunder that finally brings down the U.S. economy? Let’s hope we never find out.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (www.climatescienceinternational.org).
- Tags: Anti-science