- - Wednesday, June 10, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Many knowledgeable skeptics of the man-made climate change hypothesis lament the incessant ad hominem attacks rather than fruitful debate of this important societal issue.

Alan Carlin, a retired senior Environmental Protection Agency analyst who had challenged the Obama administration’s faulty climate science, in his new book “Environmentalism Gone Mad” (Stairway Press, 2015), noted that those pushing the “global warming doctrine” have almost always “refused to openly debate the scientific issues raised by skeptics but instead derided them or questioned their motives or sources of funding.” We witnessed this just recently with Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva’s attack on several prominent atmospheric scientists who dare to defy the authoritarian “consensus” on climate. These veteran scientists include MIT emeritus atmospheric-science professor Richard Lindzen and climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer.

Characterizing formidable opponents as nut jobs, idiots or shills is a technique for the lowest form of debate and the realm of spin doctors, not for the honorable scientific profession. But mischaracterization is perhaps the best way to win an argument when the audience, in this case the general public, is ill equipped to understand the complexity of the topic. The public is destined to choose sides on the issue based on their trust in and the likeability of the messenger. Hence, those hyping a disastrous climate future, with much help from the mainstream media, will make themselves out to be reasonable, friendly and trustworthy. Opponents of the dire futurists are then simply portrayed as untrustworthy fools, as is anyone who would believe the contrarians.

This disingenuous strategy is a big challenge for those of us who work daily in the field of science that strives to understand objective reality. A big part of that field is the application of what is commonly called the “scientific method,” where the major components are observation, hypothesis and testing. Once again, Mr. Carlin points this out in “Environmentalism Gone Mad” by stressing that the crucial “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” hypothesis, which asserts that rising carbon-dioxide concentrations will dramatically increase average global temperatures, “does not satisfy the scientific method” largely because observed reality has not matched predictions. Consider that, aside from the one surface temperature analysis just released in the journal Science, numerous temperature measurements have revealed that the globe has experienced a relative flatlining of temperatures for nearly two decades — this despite man’s best efforts to stay alive and comfortable with carbon-based fuels.

Furthermore, proper scientific practice mandates that climate science conclusions should be based on the scientific method rather than consensus opinion. Such opinion is typically fostered by government largesse and groupthink that conforms to a particular ideology, leaving the resulting conclusions quite questionable.

What’s happening in the field of climatology hits close to home. From my teenage years until now, my personal, academic and professional life has been involved in the atmospheric sciences. Early in my career, I became interested in the greenhouse effect, then global warming, then climate change, now the carbon-pollution/extreme-weather issue. I have carefully followed this morphing monstrosity for 30 years. During that time, I have taught meteorology and climatology for Penn State and other institutions, and, as an air pollution meteorologist, have completed numerous air modeling projects. (Note that air pollution meteorology is a subset of the meteorological profession that includes climate-change studies.)

Regardless of my background and passion for the profession, I am branded with the nonsensical “climate denier” label because I remain unconvinced based on the lack of incontrovertible scientific evidence that humans have much meaningful influence over the complex global climate system in the long run.

And thousands of seasoned practitioners like me, who have good reason to remain skeptical of man’s purportedly damnable role in climate change, are targeted for derision by political opportunists, closed-minded, arrogant scientists, environmental zealots, professional spin doctors, and those who have just a superficial knowledge of how science is supposed to work (like insouciant journalists).

So what? Many, if not most, atmospheric scientists, economists, academics and entrepreneurs making a living off the climate change issue would likely say “it’s just business, it’s not personal.”

But to me, it’s personal.

Anthony J. Sadar, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, is author of “In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic’s Guide to Climate Change” (Telescope Books, 2012).

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