Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Fashionable dogma. Religious zealotry. We're bigger than that. (This blog is written by Candian journalist Donna Laframboise)

The Naked Climate Change Emperor

Strip away the pseudoscience and you’ll find one thing: politics. People attempting, via international treaties, to constrain human lives. For the sake of Mother Gaia.

naked_emperorIn a few weeks, world leaders will gather in Paris to boast about their bold stance on climate change. But strip away the considerable nonsense surrounding this topic, and a few stark facts remain. Back in 1992 – well before science had anything conclusive to say about humanity’s impact on the climate – the United Nations persuaded countries to sign an international treaty aimed at saving the planet from ‘dangerous’ human-emitted greenhouse gases.

Let me repeat that. The treaty came first.

Now let’s meet a UN entity called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We’re told it’s a ‘scientific body.’ But that’s a cynical ploy. The IPCC’s job is to provide scientific cover for the political convictions that spawned the treaty. As I explain here, scientists aren’t in charge at the IPCC. Reports written by scientists get re-written by bureaucrats and diplomats. These reports are then cited by governments as evidence that carbon taxes, job-killing regulations, and trillions in climate expenditures are necessary. IPCC science says so.

In 2010, a committee struck by the InterAcademy Council (a collection of science academies) investigated the internal workings of the IPCC. Media coverage of the resulting 100+ page report was brutal. The New Scientist called on the IPCC’s chairman to resign. So did an editorial in the Financial Times. Geoffrey Lean, “Britain’s longest-serving environmental correspondent,” said the report showed the IPCC to be an “amateurish, ramshackle operation.”

Politicians the world over shrugged off this damning appraisal. Since then, everyone has carried on, pretending not to know that “significant shortcomings” were identified at “each major step of [the] IPCC’s assessment process.”

In 2011, my book-length exposé of the IPCC appeared. I demonstrate that the IPCC is an unprofessional, untrustworthy organization that saw no need for a conflict-of-interest policy for two entire decades. I point out that, rather than recruiting disinterested experts from unrelated fields to evaluate climate models, the IPCC has repeatedly invited people whose careers depend on these tools to conduct such evaluations. I tell the story of the hurricane expert who quit in disgust, after discovering firsthand that politics trumps scientific evidence at the IPCC.

bad_teenMore shrugs.

A few weeks ago, a Paris-based company specializing in mathematical modelling released a 195-page white paper. Absolutely free of charge, the Société de Calcul Mathématique (SCM) provides an alternative perspective on the same questions the IPCC has spent 27 years examining.

Unlike many members of the public, the authors of this paper are well equipped to understand the IPCC’s charts and calculations. They declare that there “is not a single fact, figure or observation that leads us to conclude that the world’s climate is in any way ‘disturbed.”’ Rising sea levels, they say, are a “normal phenomenon” that have “nothing to do with so-called global warming.” Moreover, while they admit humanity has had some effect on the climate, they consider human influence to be:

tiny, quite negligible in comparison with natural causes. Nature makes major changes, human beings make small ones, which our natural arrogance lends a significance they simply do not have. [p. 4]

One third of this white paper is devoted to the IPCC, and ‘scathing’ doesn’t begin to describe that section. The IPCC’s methodology, says the SCM, is “highly biased” and “arbitrary.” IPCC statements and conclusions are dismissed as being entirely meaningless, logically flawed, totally absurd, intellectually dishonest, and in violation of scientific norms.

The SCM accuses the IPCC of relying on “entirely hypothetical” mechanisms and “nonvalidated mathematical models.” Using such models to guide political decisions, it says, is “dishonest and illogical.” Here’s a quote from page 183:

In reality, evidence for human influence has not grown – far from it. The studies are all contradictory, showing that we do not understand anything about the phenomena in question. The IPCC is implying that we have scientific certainties and that these certainties point to a single culprit: humankind. That is just being dishonest.

Here’s a second quote, from page 186 of the paper:

The IPCC report is totally flawed in terms of basic scientific method, since it ignores the natural variations in the variables that it seeks to analyze…

The IPCC report is equally flawed in terms of data acquisition, since in principle it chooses the data or datasets that support its theses and discard[s] all the rest…

The IPCC report is highly ideologically biased. It does not follow any of the basic rules of scientific research…

The SCM has done work, in the past, for the French government. It is well aware that, by releasing this paper prior to the Paris climate conference, it may be punished economically and in other ways. “But mathematicians,” says the paper, “do not believe in crusades; they look at facts, figures, observations and arguments.”

In 2010, the InterAcademy Council report appeared. In 2011, my exposé was published. Now, in 2015, the SCM has released its white paper. Each of these examinations of the IPCC highlights significant concerns. The nature of these concerns is such that, in a sane universe, government officials preparing for Paris should be having minor heart attacks.

But the message doesn’t penetrate. The notion that IPCC reports are unreliable simply doesn’t compute. It’s as though our leaders, the world over, have decided to close their eyes and block their ears. That sound you hear is my book being swept under the rug.

The climate change emperor is naked, folks. Strip away the pseudoscience and you find one thing: politics. The political philosophy striving for ascendance here is one that believes human lives need to be constrained, via international treaties, for the sake of Mother Gaia.

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