CNBC recently invited Marshall Institute Chair Will Happer, just retired as a tenured physics professor from Princeton University, to appear on Squawk Box to address comments he had made about the demonization of CO2. It was a good example of an interviewer, Andrew Ross Sorkin, acting like a prosecuting attorney instead of someone trying to obtain information.
Sorkin also attempted to discredit Happer by claiming that he received funding from Exxon. If he had done his homework, he would have discovered that Exxon grants to the Institute stopped around 2007, that directors do not get paid, and that our position on climate change predated that funding by a number of years. He would do well to read, Ted Koppel’s Nightline admonition to Al Gore–it is not the funding or the politics of a scientist that matters, it is the immersion of hypothesis in the acid bath of truth.
There is no doubt that members of the climate orthodoxy started using the word denier to equate anyone who did not support their point of view with holocaust deniers. Making such a comparison goes beyond insulting. The objective is to intimidate and silence. Science is about the search for truth using a process that questions conventional wisdom about how the world works in an effort to find better explanations. “Scientists” who use the term denier are undermining their profession. Demonization is a tactic when someone cannot prevail in an open debate.
Neither Professor Happer nor the Marshall Institute deny that climate change is real. We do not deny that global warming, the predecessor to climate change, is real. We do not deny that human activities contribute to climate change. And, we do not deny that CO2 contributes to the warming of the earth. Without it, the earth’s average temperature would be about 0 degrees.
So, why are we called deniers? Because we reject the vision of a climate apocalypse if CO2 emissions are not drastically reduced. Models that forecast runaway global temperatures have been shown to be seriously flawed. They are based on the hypothesis that there is a strong causal relationship between CO2 emissions and temperature increases. As a result, the models relied on by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) drastically over estimate temperature increases. They are unable to replicate past temperatures without adjustments and they did not forecast the halt in warming that began around 1998. That halt in warming is why the true believers changed from referring to global warming to climate change.
The lack of increased warming has led the IPCC to gradually reduce its estimate of climate sensitivity—the amount of warming from a doubling of atmospheric CO2. And, a number of scientists believe that the current estimate is still too high.
In spite of the IPCC’s assertion that human activities are the primary cause of warming over the past 60+ years, it also admits that there is meager understanding of important climate variables—solar effects, the role of oceans, cloud formation, and aerosols. Indeed, in its early assessments of climate science, the IPCC asserted that solar activity had little impact on global warming. That view has slowly changed. Astrophysicists have demonstrated a relationship between solar activity and cloud formation that is an important determinant of global temperatures. And, many of those scientists believe that the 16 year halt in warming may presage a prolonged period of global cooling.
So why does the term denier continue to be used? It masks a political agenda by environmentalists to attack fossil energy and it is a means by which climate orthodoxy scientists gain funding to pursue research to confirm their beliefs. The scientists who are active in promoting the vision of an apocalypse also get funding to travel around the world to meetings about climate change.
Facts matter and ultimately they prevail.