You can’t handle the truth!

By Brent Fewell

Or so suggests the actions of apocalyptic-leaning scientists and environmentalists who continue to seek to shape public opinion on the issue of anthropogenically-caused climate change.  As an admitted cautious skeptic – open to changing my views based on credible science and a weight of evidence approach – I have been critical of both alarmists and deniers for the way in which the facts have been distorted and, in some cases, fabricated to support a political agenda.  However, with a newly leaked draft report by the IPCC that suggests solar activity could be contributing to the warming, I’d argue that many climate scientists can’t be trusted to tell the truth.  As I’ve argued previously in this blog, the failure to pursue the truth on such a complex issue, regardless of where those facts lead us as a society, does grave damage to the credibility of science and to society at large if we are to rely upon sound science to inform our laws and policy decisions.

Here’s part of the leaked UN IPCC report that’s creating the stir:

Many emipirical relationships have been reported between GCR and cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system (e.g., Bond et al., 2001; Dengel et al., 2009; Ram and Stolz, 1999). The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link. We focus here on observed relationships between GCR and aerosol and cloud properties. Such relationships have focused on decadal variations in GCR induced by the 11-year solar cycle, shorter variations associated with the quasi-periodic oscillation in solar activity centred on 1.68 years or sudden and large variations known as Forbush decrease events. It should be noted that GCR co-vary with other solar parameters such as solar and UV irradiance, which makes any attribution of cloud changes to GCR problematic (Laken et al., 2011).

The report itself is 2,104 pages long – can you imagine having to wade through two thousand pages of that kind of mind numbing tedium.  And before you scramble for your dictionary – GCR stands for Galactic Cosmic Rays (I looked it up).   Alec Rawls is the leaker and he has some very interesting things to say.  It appears that some scientists within the IPCC agree that solar influence has contributed as much as 25 percent of recent warming.  However, others are trying to explain away that potentiality because it doesn’t fit the narrative that human-induced climate change is the most serious problem facing civilization and must be fixed post-haste.  Sort of fits the old adage, “I know the truth – don’t bother me with the facts.”  But it’s the facts we need, even those that to some may be inconvenient.

Patrick Michaels over at the Cato Institute has remained one of the most outspoken skeptics.  While many climate advocates have sought to undermine him, by pointing to the fact that he is partly funded by “big oil” (their words not mine), Michaels, a well-credentialed climate scientist, has consistently said two things (1) the earth is getting warmer, (2) but not at the rate that many climate scientists have predicted.  He acknowledges the veracity of the greenhouse gas theory, but believes that surface temperatures are less sensitive to carbon dioxide.  Is Michaels correct?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that, so far, the reality is far closer to his predictions than James Hansen’s.  Does it trouble me that Michaels’ work could potentially be influenced by “big oil” – yes, but no more so than Hansen’s work being funded by Soros.

As I’ve lamented previously, given the incredible complexity of the issue and the limits of science and our own understanding – let alone the public’s “instant gratification” challenged attention span – the topic demands and the public deserves greater credibility.  The public certainly isn’t going to wade through this IPCC report, nor should they be expected to.  What they should be able to do is trust our scientists and civic leaders to speak the inconvenient truth, regardless of the political outcome.

5 Comments
  1. […] was indeed encouraged by the vignettes.  As I’ve posted previously here, here and here, the growing concern among conservatives on topics like climate change (absent the apocalyptic […]

  2. […] I’ve lamented previously, the fact that the public is forced to take sides and either be a believer or a denier of manmade […]

  3. […] in point is the ongoing debate over climate change.  Climate science is extremely complicated and, as I’ve argued previously, the public does not have the bandwidth to sift through the […]

  4. […] climate change doesn’t really matter – because, as I’ve argued before, the science is simply too complicated for the most to figure it out on their own, so why care about the opinion of those who are largely […]

  5. […] I, like Wilkinson, am troubled by Cohn’s casual attempt to explain away the flawed consensus (even if I’m in agreement with the Cohn’s scientific explanation), without first dealing with the root of the bigger problem.  As I’ve long argued, credibility matters – once you’ve lost it, it’s a long and arduous path to reclaim it.  The failure by the science community, and in this case climate science, to communicate its research in an objective transparent fashion, failure to communicate scientific modeling and projections absent an exposition of the inherent and natural uncertainty, and, in some cases, encouraging or passively allowing certain of its prominent voices to cross a dangerous line between objectivity and advocacy remains a huge problem.  It’s no secret – most scientists are poor communicators and, rather than deal with the difficult and often obtuse public, would rather focus on their research.  Such shortcomings, unfortunately, have made it all the more possible for society’s irrational voices to seize and influence the non-critical public sentiment – see Rush Limbaugh is wrong on climate change, My new year’s wish, for less politics and more credibility, You can’t handle the truth. […]

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