Abusing Science

Number 12 of a series

To this list you might add the Institute of Public Affairs. Based in Australia, they are the sponsors of the book shown above. The book has a number of contributors, and I have been reviewing contributions by geologist Ian Plimer, long known as a defender of biological evolution against the claims by creationists. On the matter of AGW he has cast his lot with those who deny some valid science. In Climate Change The Facts he has contributed a chapter titled “The Science and Politics of Climate Change.” He concludes his section with:

Conclusion Climate change catastrophism is the biggest scientific fraud that has ever occurred. Much climate ‘science’ is political ideology dressed up as science. There are times in history when the popular consensus is demonstrably wrong and we live in such a time. Cheap energy is fundamental for employment, living in the modern world, and for bringing the Third World out of poverty.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

His concluding argument is interesting in the way it plays off requirements versus reality. Presently the use of fossil fuels is what is keeping a large segment of the human population afloat. I sometimes make the unsubstantiated claim that if everybody stopped pumping petroleum today, upwards of one billion people will die as a result within the first year. There is no doubt the dependency exists.

However, bad news does not counter sober fact. Arguing that drastic reduction of carbon dioxide emissions today will have bad consequences is not the same as arguing that carbon dioxide emissions will lead us to a catastrophe in the future.

In his section Ian Plimer addresses five points:

Many Western governments have a politically popular ideology that argues that:

i. There is an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by human activities;

ii. The increased CO2, a greenhouse gas, will lead to ever increasing global warming;

iii. There will be tipping points, sea level rises, extinctions and ocean acidification;

iv. Climate change will be irreversible and that human emissions of CO2 must be reduced or stopped as soon as possible; and

v. In order to stop climate change, energy sources need to be shifted from coal, gas and oil to wind, solar, tidal and biomass.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition. [emphasis added]

Governments and their agencies claim that science supports their ideology, but while research grants are given to support this ideology, naysayers are denied grants, ignored, or—more commonly—pilloried. This doesn’t happen in many other branches of science, where competing theories are supported with research funds, ideas are energetically discussed, and theories are changed based on new validated evidence. Matters of climate change have been politicised, everyone has an opinion (despite commonly not having the knowledge to underpin an opinion), scientifically illiterate journalists become champions of a cause rather than impartial journalists, and various media networks have taken a partisan political position.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

It is interesting that Plimer should take this tact in light of the sponsor’s name on the cover of the book. The following is from the Wikipedia entry for the Institute for Public Affairs:

The IPA adopts a position of doubt about climate change and finances several Australian climate change science doubters.

In 2008, the institute facilitated a donation of $350,000 by Dr G. Bryant Macfie, a climate change sceptic, to the University of Queensland for environmental research. The money is to fund three environmental doctoral projects, with the IPA suggesting two of the three agreed topics.

In 2010, the IPA published a compilation of essays by prominent climate change skeptics titled Climate Change: The Facts and edited by John Roskam and Alan Moran. An expanded version with 22 essays was published in 2015 through Stockade Books and a follow-up edited by Jennifer Marohasy was published in 2017, both in Kindle format.

In 2017, Marohasy and IPA colleague John Abbot publisher a paper on climate change in the journal GeoResJ, also discussing the work on the IPA website,in The Spectator Australia, and in Marohasy’s blog. The research concludes that much of recent warming could be attributable to natural variations, and that the “world was about as warm in 1980 as it was during the Middle Ages.” This conclusion was welcomed by conservative media outlets but heavily criticised by climate scientists who pointed to methodological flaws in the research and declared it unworthy of publication. Gavin Schmidt, the Director of NASA‘s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has pointed out that some data were shifted in time by approximately 35 years, leading to the omission of warming that has occurred since 1965. Schmidt described the research as “worthless” and an example of “what happens when people have their conclusions fixed before they start the work.”

Despite Plimer’s saying, “…naysayers are denied grants, ignored, or—more commonly—pilloried,” it would appear there is ample funding to support opposing views in climate science. Ample funding to support opposing views comes appears to be ample funding not so much for research as for propaganda.

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

I am yet to find a scientist or read a paper which claims that the climate is not changing.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

He has yet to find a scientist who claims the climate is not changing. That means one of two things. Either a bunch of scientists are lying, or else the climate is changing. And the climate is changing.
According to a study led by Eric Rignot from the University of California at Irvine, which looked at details of ice and snow from the entire continent of Antarctica since 1979, Antarctica’s crucial ice sheet has been melting for the entire 39 year period, but that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Talk about politics and scientific malfeasance if you want, but you need to counter the evidence that the ice is melting. Good luck with that.

One thought on “Abusing Science

  1. Pingback: Abusing Science | Skeptical Analysis

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