- - Thursday, September 4, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Scientific practice is a bit off these days. It seems as if the promoters of man-made climate change only want one answer for the cause of every climate phenomenon. Among them:

The reason why thermometers are rising so quickly worldwide. The reason worldwide temperatures have leveled off in the past 17 years. The cause of the higher-than-average hurricane season in 2005. The cause of the lower-than-average hurricane season in 2013. The reason there has been so little snowfall in the U.S. and Europe. The reason there has been so much snowfall in the U.S. and Europe.

If climate science were a category on the popular game show “Jeopardy,” where the answer must be in the form of a question, there would be but one response allowed for the cause of all these contradictory events: “What is man-made climate change?”

Not every “unusual” atmospheric condition or event evokes the humans-are-responsible answer, however. Oftentimes, to attract unwary audiences, not-so-unusual but still unfamiliar events are exaggerated by purveyors of pernicious prognostications.

Take the “polar vortex” scare. This natural phenomenon was proffered as something new, something frightening, something produced by people living comfortably as a result of the use of carbon-based fossil fuels. Of course, it is none of that. This is verified by the Glossary of Meteorology, published by the American Meteorological Society in 1959, in which this well-known phenomenon was clearly defined, not hyped.

As the ancient Ecclesiastes writer observed, there really is “nothing new under the sun.”

Certainly, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) practices the sort of science that gives the desired response first, then seeks the appropriate corresponding questions.

The IPCC defines its role as “to assess … the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.” In other words, the IPCC assumes from the get-go the desired answer that anthropogenic climate change is a fact. It is then the game of researchers, enticed with prized government grants, to find the evidence that always lead to that conclusion.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also gets in on the act. The Federal Register recently announced that the EPA is looking for research participants for its new campaign to fight the impact of climate change (ostensibly human-caused) on public health. Of course, healthy skeptics need not audition.

This is not how science is supposed to work. It’s not supposed to be like some rigged game show with fabulous prizes for coached contestants and self-serving promoters, including environmental and social activists, career politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats, crony capitalists, inciteful journalists, bloggers and public relations spinners.

Furthermore, the correct responses to the highly complex questions surrounding long-range global climate change have definitely not been “settled”; so, the pat game-show-type response must not be, “What is man-made climate change?”

Science must ask the questions first, then work diligently to ascertain the right answers. Among appropriate climate questions are: Why hasn’t the globe shown a statistically significant temperature rise for more than 15 years, and why has there not been an increase in frequency of U.S. hurricanes? These issues are still being fervently researched, as they should be. Despite claims to the contrary, 97 percent of scientists do not agree that human beings are causing climate change. Most are looking for real answers.

To keep climate science out of jeopardy, and to change the channel on these long-running popular programs that sponsor foregone conclusions, fruitful scientific answers must be produced by fertile questions.

At this time, there is no question that the climate system is much too complex for hasty, arrogant assertions about long-range global conditions.

Anthony J. Sadar, a certified consulting meteorologist, is author of “In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic’s Guide to Climate Science” (Telescope Books, 2012). JoAnn Truchan is a professional engineer specializing in chemical engineering and air-pollution control.

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