Leaders Ignore Climate Change Controversy at Summit

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS TRUMPS SCIENTIFIC REALITIES

by Tom Harris, Executive Director, ICSC, ©2016

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted the 2016 North American Summit in Ottawa on June 29 attended by Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

(Jul. 1, 2016) — In Wednesday’s Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership, President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Pena Nieto agreed, “to work together to implement the historic Paris Agreement, supporting our goal to limit temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees C.”

Obama told Canada’s Parliament, “This is the only planet we’ve got, and this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it!”

Underlying such assertions is the unjustified belief that climate science is well understood. According to Obama, Trudeau, and Pena Nieto, a global warming catastrophe awaits if we do not reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by quickly moving away from fossil fuels.

Yet thousands of highly qualified, independent scientists do not share this opinion. Besides their scientific publications, they have made their views known through countless newspaper editorials and open letters. Perhaps the most straight-forward was the Climate Scientists Register of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). In the space of only three days in 2010, 142 climate experts from 22 countries endorsed the following statement:

“We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.”

Among the 64 signatories from the United States were Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Professor of Physics, Founding Director, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska; Robert W. Durrenberger, former Arizona State Climatologist and President of the American Association of State Climatologists, Professor Emeritus of Geography, Arizona State University; William Happer, Professor of Physics, Princeton University; and Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Many scientists told ICSC that they agreed with the Register but feared reprisals from their employers or activists if they publicly endorsed the statement.

Such concerns are not unjustified. Two of ICSC’s scientists have had death threats and there have been cases of academic dismissal for espousing politically incorrect views on climate change. In recent months, we have see attempts by state legislators in California and 16 state attorneys general to criminalize some forms of ‘climate change denial.’ On June 25, the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee unanimously agreed to call for the Department of Justice to investigate corporations who disagree with political correctness on climate science.

Despite such intimidation, debate rages in the scientific community about the causes and consequences of climate change. This is well revealed by the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Citing thousands of peer-reviewed references published in the world’s leading science journals, NIPCC reports demonstrate that today’s climate is not unusual, and the evidence for future climate calamity is weak. The NIPCC explains how the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ignored much of the available scientific literature that does not conform to their position on climate change and so often comes to conclusions that do not match the facts.

Statements in support of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) by national science academies are also tainted. Not a single one that officially supports the DAGW hypothesis has demonstrated that a majority of its scientist members agree with their academy’s position. Their statements are merely the opinions of the groups’ executives, or small committees appointed by the executives.

Yet last year, the White House tweeted: “97% of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” A few days later, Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed, “97% of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent.”

This is unsubstantiated. There has never been a reputable, worldwide poll of scientists who study the causes of climate change that demonstrates that a majority of them support the DAGW hypothesis.

Even if someday a survey does show a scientific consensus in support of the position held dear by Obama, Trudeau, and Peña Nieto, it would still prove nothing about nature. Scientific ideas are not proven right by a show of hands, political correctness or intimidation. Were it otherwise, we would still believe that witches cause bad weather, Earth is the centre of the universe, and hand-washing is unimportant in public health.

It is not surprising that all three leaders erred in this way. They are relying on the IPCC which often labels its climate science conclusions unequivocal, or statements that cannot be wrong. In support of their position, the UN body presents empirical data. But data is always subject to interpretation, so cannot be used to prove truth.

We are best served when our leaders encourage scientists to be fearless intellectual explorers, going wherever their research leads, independent of contemporary fashion. Wednesday’s leaders’ summit did the opposite, merely reinforcing a point of view many scientists consider foolish. Citizens of all three countries deserve better.

_______________________

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

11 Responses to "Leaders Ignore Climate Change Controversy at Summit"

  1. Judah Freed   Friday, July 22, 2016 at 6:49 PM

    Critical thinkers can do the same web research I did and decide for themselves.

  2. Tom Harris   Monday, July 4, 2016 at 3:22 PM

    ICSC response to Mr. Freed’s latest attack:

    Mr. Freed says, “My position in 2015 and now is that Harris and his fellow climate change deniers act as paid fronts for the fossil fuel industry.”

    ICSC response: As I explained to Mr. Freed many times, he has no evidence for this statement when it comes to ICSC. He needs to show us the evidence if he thinks it is true.

    Mr. Freed says: “I hope fair-minded people think clearly for themselves about climate change and the skeptical Harris editorials.”

    ICSC response: Agreed. So why can he not limit himself to comments about the content of my article instead of going off on ad hominem and other logically fallacious attacks? We do not question his motives or smear him, even though we disagree with his position on climate change.

    Mr. Freed says: “I support reasoning from valid evidence rather than from what I believe is misleading propaganda from the fossil fuels industry.”

    ICSC response: Agreed.

    Mr. Freed says: “Further, I argue that almost every respected independent atmospheric or geophysical scientists (and Harris is neither, I gather) today believes that climate change is mainly caused by human activity.”

    ICSC response: That is a unsubstantiated. As I explain in my article, “There has never been a reputable, worldwide poll of scientists who study the causes of climate change that demonstrates that a majority of them support the DAGW hypothesis.” If Mr. Freed thinks there are polls that demonstrate the contrary, then he should show us them.

    Mr. Freed says: “The climate change deniers, to put it simply, are those with a vested interest in preserving the status quo.”

    ICSC responds: They may be, but then again, we do not number among “The climate change deniers” so, as I have explained to Mr. Freed many times, this comment is a red herring when it comes to ICSC.

    Mr. Freed says: “If our planet switches to renewable energy sources, the fossil fuel industry may then become as extinct as the dinosaur once used as a gasoline brand logo.”

    ICSC responds: Agreed. And, at least for the foreseeable future, that would be a tragedy for everyone who relies on plentiful, inexpensive energy, which would be essentially everyone except some monks living high in the mountains in warm climates.

  3. Sharon Rondeau   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 10:19 PM

    The following response has been received from Judah Freed:

    My position in 2015 and now is that Harris and his fellow climate change deniers act as paid fronts for the fossil fuel industry. They are free to say whatever they want in the world, but they ethically need to disclose their bias and their funding. I hope fair-minded people think clearly for themselves about climate change and the skeptical Harris editorials. I support reasoning from valid evidence rather than from what I believe is misleading propaganda from the fossil fuels industry.

    Further, I argue that almost every respected independent atmospheric or geophysical scientists (and Harris is neither, I gather) today believes that climate change is mainly caused by human activity. The climate change deniers, to put it simply, are those with a vested interest in preserving the status quo. If our planet switches to renewable energy sources, the fossil fuel industry may then become as extinct as the dinosaur once used as a gasoline brand logo.
    —————–

    Judah Freed is author of the pending book, Making Global Sense. He blogs at Daily Kos and The Huffington Post.

  4. Sharon Rondeau   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 4:18 PM

    Thank you for your responses. I have received confirmation that my comment request was sent to Mr. Freed via his website: http://www.judahfreed.com/

  5. Tom Harris   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 4:12 PM

    Here is one example of where we contested Freed properly, in this case in response to his 2015 smear:

    http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=900.

    This is a point by point dissection of Freed attack points in his 2015 article.

    It made no difference and he continued the attacks anyways, just with other media who had not seen this yet. And of course his allies never bring up the fact that we clearly showed that essentially every point Freed brought up are either bogus or irrelevant.

  6. Sharon Rondeau   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 3:40 PM

    Mr. Harris’s response to Freed’s claims is above. I have also contacted Freed for comment.

    Sharon Rondeau, Editor
    The Post & Email
    http://www.thepostemail.com

  7. Tom Harris   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    judah freed is a climate activist who often makes derogatory and fabricated comments about ICSC (here, for example, he makes many of the same charges as in the above: http://hokuhouse.com/2014/climate-change-deniers-facts-fictions/?utm_source=rss#038;utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-deniers-facts-fictions).

    Freed has been roundly debunked in the past so I won’t take the time to go through all his attack points. Many, such as his statement above that “Dr. Ball today is a paid science policy advisor to oil companies,” are completely fabricated and amount to nothing more than total lies (one wonders why he attacks Dr. Ball when I am the only author in the above and I do not reference Dr. Ball by name).

    I do not know if freed himself is a liar or simply copies material from people who lie about us, but his tactics never change no matter what I say. His ad hominem arguments apparently have one over arching purpose, namely to frighten editors into not publishing a point of view different to his own. I am sure the Post & E-mail will not fall for this, although others, such as The Garden Island in Freed’s home state of Hawaii, have.

    It is certainly ironic that, of all people, freed says that WE smack of McCarthyism in the 1950s, when we do nothing to attack and suppress people we disagree with, while freed does this regularly with ICSC. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

  8. Sharon Rondeau   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 11:13 AM

    Is there a source for this quotation? Who is “judah freed?”

  9. David Pickhardt   Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 9:24 AM

    from judah freed:

    According to geochemist and U.S. National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science (Columbia University Press, 2011), rather than supporting open-minded scientific inquiry, closed-minded “denier organizations like the ICSC know the answers and seek only confirmation that they are right.”

    For example, Harris and the ICSC have promoted a skeptical climate change report produced by the Heartland Institute, identified by SourceWatch and others as a front for the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers, the primary backers of the Tea Party. Turns out that at least part of ICSC’s funding and most of its key staff members come directly from the Heartland Institute.

    The July 2011 edition of Nature magazine reported that the Heartland Institute “makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading” with the goal is “muddying the waters” about the reality and importance of climate change, second-hand smoke hazards, and other ecology or health issues that invite government regulation.

    At the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by the Heartland Institute, Harris disclosed among like-minded allies the ICSC public relations strategy of saturating newspapers with articles casting doubt on the ample scientific research showing that modern climate change is mostly caused by human activity. (See the May 19 wire service article that increasing western U.S. wildfires are driven by man-made global warming.)

    The clever ploy in this PR strategy is a claim that climate change deniers are being frightened into silence. Reflecting this plan in his editorial commentaries (submitted to many newspapers), Harris alleges death threats by environmentalists against Dr. Tim Ball, described as a “former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg.” Harris does not reveal that Dr. Ball today is a paid science policy advisor to oil companies along with being the past chairman of the NRSP, which Harris managed.

    Contending that environmentalists are dangerous, climate change deniers often label peaceful citizen activists as “eco-terrorists.” Among the tactics too often deployed to suppress evidence-based logic and critical thinking, the misleading irrationality and fear-mongering by Harris and ICSC smacks of the McCarthyism in the 1950s that repressed progressive post-war urges for social justice and open democracy.

    In the eyes of the climate change deniers, apparently, yesterday’s scary reds are today’s greens.

  10. Tom Harris   Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 6:30 PM

    Here is a link to the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change: http://climatechangereconsidered.org/

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