‘Climate Rebel’ Reporting In

October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm

In Calgary last week I delivered a 40-minute presentation to the 9th annual Friends of Science luncheon. All seats were occupied and DeMille Books (which set up a table in the lobby) sold out of the hard copies they’d brought along.

While in Calgary I had the pleasure of meeting scores of charming, sincere, often highly-qualified Canadian skeptics, as well as some serving members of the provincial legislature.

Over the past week I’ve been interviewed on three different Canadian television shows – thank you Sun News Network and CTV Calgary. I also received some outstanding coverage in the Calgary Herald, coverage which then got re-printed in British Columbia’s The Province.

My PowerPoint presentation is here in PDF format. Beginning on the second page, if you hover your mouse above the orange icon in the top left corner my prepared remarks will appear. In some cases, those remarks have been truncated by the software. I’m sorry about that, but you’ll get the idea. A more complete, text-only version of my speaking notes is here.

Last week I tried out a new self-description, one that has been bopping around inside my head for a while. I called myself a ‘climate rebel.’

Those of us who dissent from mainstream thinking about climate change truly are voices in the wilderness, analogous to the Rebel Alliance in the fictional Star Wars’ universe. Scattered, underfunded, thin-on-the-ground – that’s us.

On the other hand, the forces assembled against us are massive. For many years now, the United Nations, national as well as local governments, Fortune 500 corporations, nearly all of the media, and activists from small church groups to multinational players have vigorously promoted the view that human activity has triggered dangerous climate change.

The process of researching and writing my book made me profoundly doubt that hypothesis. The more I learned, the less convinced I became that we have sufficient information to come to any firm conclusions with respect to what’s happening with the climate, never mind what’s causing those changes.

Many of the beliefs held by scientists with respect to over-population and global cooling back in the 1970s – or acid rain and the ozone layer in the 1980s – turned out to be well wide of the mark. Which means I need to hear a compelling argument as to what’s different this time.

Why should we imagine that scientists now have it right? Why were those other predictions so embarrassingly wrong? When are we going to have a conversation about the tendency among certain scientists to be drama queens?

From my perspective there are sound reasons to suspect that those alleged multiple lines of evidence pointing to human-caused climate change aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. If the data hasn’t been fiddled after the fact (oops, I mean adjusted ad nauseum - see here, here, here, and here for starters) there’s little evidence that quality assurance was ever present to begin with (see here and here).

Finally, the conduct of many central players in the global warming drama (Michael Mann, Phil Jones, James Hansen, Stephen Schneider, Rajendra Pachauri, Kevin Trenberth, Susan Solomon) does nothing to inspire confidence in their professional judgment.

In light of all the above, declaring oneself a ‘climate rebel’ is perfectly sensible and reasonable. It also seems to have struck the right note with the media. Both the print and television coverage last week picked up on it in a positive manner.

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A backup of the Calgary Herald piece appears here

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Entry filed under: activist scientists, media, predictions that failed. Tags: , , , .

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