The global debate over climate change entered into a new and more dangerous stage this past week. Two American corporate icons, Microsoft and BlackRock, have committed themselves to resisting what they perceive as the unacceptable risks of global warming. Microsoft has announced that it will be “carbon negative by 2030,” and that by 2050 it will have removed from the environment all of its carbon emissions dating back to its founding. It has also pledged one billion dollars to a climate innovation fund to deal with global warming—peanuts for a firm with over $125 billion in annual revenues.
Not to be outdone, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $7 trillion in assets under management, has proudly declared through its Chairman and CEO Larry Fink that it will “place sustainability at the center of our investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; existing investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. . . .”
To Fink, there is no real conflict for his company between its social responsibility and its financial performance, as he is convinced that “incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision-making. . . can provide better risk-adjusted returns for investors.” Ironically, if that point were true, he would have no need to depart from traditional investment standards, as all firms would flock to the new BlackRock standard.
These powerful initiatives are driven by the proposition that climate change poses the greatest threat to humankind society has ever faced. Without any documentation or meaningful argument, Microsoft and Blackrock accept that the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere will result in elevated global temperatures. In making these statements, both companies write as if all the “world’s climate experts” within the “scientific community” speak with one voice in concluding that the release of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the industrial revolution is the source of this alleged mortal peril.
However, a close reading of these two corporate statements shows the dangers of consensus thinking around climate change, which can lead to lazy and incomplete arguments. The first issue concerns the supposed magnitude of the risk. It is clear that carbon dioxide levels have increased over time, especially over the past seventy or so years. But it is important to remember that the increase in temperatures began before the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 350 parts per million in 1987, a level which has, without justification, been posited as the tipping point for climate catastrophe. Notably, this means that much of the temperature increase over the past five decades took place in low carbon dioxide environments.
The Microsoft statement claims that “the average temperature on the planet has risen by 1 degree Celsius during the past 50 years and that carbon dioxide emissions have been a primary driver of this.” Yet that is at odds with a report from the NASA Earth Observatory which concluded “the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8 Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming [0.53°C] has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” Indeed, the situation is even more complex because of the high degree of annual variability. As a result, much turns on the choice of the first and last year of the desirable interval. One recent study reported a decline of 0.16 Celsius between April 2018 and May 2019.
In any event, the explanation that carbon dioxide emissions are the sole driver of climate change is surely contestable, given that a complete account must also take into consideration population increases, solar flares, ocean currents and volcanic activity, among a vast array of other factors. The graphs included in Microsoft’s announcement duly record the huge increases in carbon dioxide emissions over the last 30 years, but those trends only weakly correlate to the modest temperature increases over that interval, including a sharp decline that extends as late as May 2019.
Thus the graph below for the 41 years from 1978 to May 2019 shows a net increase of just under 0.8 degrees centigrade. It is of course possible to present other data sets that might be susceptible to alternative interpretations, but either way, there is no rock-solid scientific consensus of the sort that Microsoft and BlackRock posit.
Microsoft and Blackrock’s presentations also suffer from other key defects. These corporate pledges assume that their proposed changes in carbon policy will reduce the increase in global temperatures, perhaps by as much as 1 degree Celsius. But what is missing from these projections is any estimate about either the financial costs of these innovations or their net impact on global temperature. If the sources of temperature changes are multi-causal, why should anyone believe that the ingenious efforts of companies like Microsoft to cleanse their supply chains of excess carbon dioxide will have more than a trivial effect on global temperatures, even if such actions are imitated by other firms?
And moreover, these effects could be totally undone if China or India decides to boost coal production in ways that more than offset any small reductions in carbon outputs by American firms. Thus, it is possible to spend billions of dollars on potential mitigation with little or nothing to show for it.
To make matters worse, there are better targets for intervention. The greatest causes of carbon dioxide emission in the past two years were the huge forest fires in Northern California and Australia. The recent California fires released about 68 million tons of carbon dioxide, or roughly the level of emissions needed to provide electricity for the state for an entire year. Taking effective steps to stop these consistent fires would dwarf anything that Microsoft can do through its supply chains or BlackRock through its sustainable investment policy. Nonetheless, A-list celebrities regularly champion the causes of global warming without once thinking about the dangerous management strategies adopted by the modern environmental movement that have contributed to such fires, a movement which opposes the removal of dead wood or the use of controlled burns to reduce fire risk. It would be far better for Microsoft and BlackRock to lobby for government reforms in forest management, a topic on which they remain silent.
Even supposing, however wrongly, that all the temperature increases and observed fires were exclusively attributable to carbon dioxide, the case for massive corporate intervention is still weak. BlackRock’s Larry Fink suggests with a straight face that the market for municipal bonds and home mortgages will collapse “if lenders can’t estimate the impact of climate risk over such a long timeline, and if there is no viable market for flood or fire insurance in impacted areas.”
Get real. These risks will exist whether or not Blackrock’s policies are implemented, and no matter what the carbon dioxide levels are. And the view that there should always be a viable market for flood or fire insurance ignores the huge moral hazard that is created when subsidized insurance is provided to persons who build too close to combustible forests or on coastal properties in hurricane zones.
Worse still, the fears that drive both BlackRock and Microsoft have not yet been observed over the past decade. Markets are supposed to price long-term risk into capital assets, but there is no sign that real estate, agricultural, insurance, or financial markets price this alleged climate risk in. Why is this, when our ability to forecast has never been better given the available quantitative estimates of climate-related risk?
One explanation is a recent study from climate scientists Giuseppe Formetta and Luc Feyen which concluded that: “Results show a clear decreasing trend in both human and economic vulnerability, with global average mortality and economic loss rates that have dropped by 6.5 and nearly 5 times, respectively from 1980-1989 to 2007-2016. We further show a clearly negative relationship between vulnerability and wealth, which is strongest at the lowest income levels.” The study’s abundant graphs all show the same downward projections, whether one looks at floods, heat, cold or wind related damages. In other words, the historical decline of these various risks also have to be priced into any long-term financial instrument.
A similar attack on the BlackRock-Microsoft position was also launched by Marlo Lewis, whose thesis is contained in his title: “Warmest Decade – Climate Crisis Still a No Show.” In stark contrast to the data-free presentations of both companies, Lewis tracks the key worldwide indicators of long-term global health—life expectancy, crop yields, per capita income, and climate related deaths. His data tells the same story as the study—everything is better today than it has ever been. The increases in societal wealth accumulation have inured to the benefit of all, rich and poor alike.
The cavalier attitude toward any contrary scientific evidence has led Microsoft and BlackRock to endorse proposals that will do little, if anything, to stop global warming, but which will, if widely followed, reduce the ability of societies around the world to deal with global warming or any other climate calamity, should one occur. There are real social and human costs to following BlackRock and Microsoft’s lead.
An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.
I am not a scientist. I have no scientific background beyond what I’ve picked up from reading things written by and about actual scientists. So I am, therefore, in no position to critique any scientific theory as a theory.
That said, I am a skeptic when it comes to climate change. To be clear, I don’t doubt that the climate changes — obviously it does. I don’t doubt that human activity has an effect on this change. What that effect is, and to what extent it influences the entire system, I don’t know. As a scientific concept, I have no opinion on climate change.
But it isn’t just a scientific concept. It is a political issue, and that is what I am skeptical of.
You see, I can’t judge from what I don’t know (e.g., climate science), but I can judge from what I do know. I know something of history, something of philosophy, and something of human nature. I can observe what people are doing at the moment and listen to what they actually say.
Doing so, I note that the vast majority of people, including the cause’s most vehement advocates, are no more qualified to judge it scientifically than I am. Does anyone really believe that any of those people marching in Washington have the knowledge and ability to interpret data from a global climate survey? Have they sunk the necessary hours of study and objective research into this subject to be able to say what they say with any certainty, assuming they could ever be certain?
Of course they haven’t. They are going entirely off of what certain experts have told them — namely, a specific selection of experts who have come to their attention because the media has elevated them and political groups have championed and funded them. These climate change apologists are in no position to critically examine these expert claims.
Now, if there is, for instance, a genuine international crisis (e.g., Venezuela), then people have resources to verify it. They can read testimonies and see photos and video of the event, and in the last resort, they can go there to see for themselves. If it is a question of domestic policy, people can consider their own experience and knowledge to judge which approach to, say, taxation seems to be the best.
People cannot do this with climate change. The signs of the crisis come down to weather and to intensely complex reams of data that require specialized knowledge to interpret. The latter is out of reach for almost everyone. The former could be used to justify just about any theory since it is a proverb for unpredictability and changeableness.
If you tell people the earth is getting warmer, they will remember all those hot summer days and snowless winters they experienced and say that warming is very likely. If you tell them it is getting cooler, they will remember the mild summer days and bitter winter nights and say cooling is also very likely.
The fact is, the average voter has no way to adequately judge the question of climate change. Yet he is assured that it is an existential crisis that must be dealt with immediately and by any means necessary. Politicians and media activists are thus urging him to favor certain actions to combat a crisis that he has no way to verify. Worse, this message tends to be directed toward impressionable young people — that is, those with the highest emotions and the least ability to examine these claims.
That is an extremely dangerous state of affairs for a representative government.
This ties in with the fact that climate change activists and experts do not act like they are talking about science. As I say, I am no expert, but I do know enough of the subject to know that in science you have to take everything into account, especially anything that seems to tell against your theory. Science is never exactly “settled” because new instruments or new techniques could always present new observations that don’t fit with the common view. This is what happened with the heliocentric theory, Newtonian physics, genetics, and with every other major scientific breakthrough.
So when I see scientists and media personalities talking about “climate change denial,” as if it were a mental illness, accusing those who are skeptical of their theories of being in the pay of oil companies or otherwise arguing in bad faith (overlooking their own government grants and celebrity status in the process, I might add), and inflatingthe numbers of those who agree with them, it looks highly suspicious. This is not how responsible scientists or politicians behave.
Then there is the proposed solution. There never seems to be a technical solution — for instance, if the Earth’s atmosphere is being flooded with carbon dioxide, perhaps we could find a way to release quantities of a gas that might dilute the greenhouse effect. Much less is there a question of whether a warmer climate might have a net-positive effect, or at least be a manageable problem. No, it’s all certain doom within our lifetime unless we adopt tighter state control. More recently, climate change advocates have been openly calling for socialism as the panacea to the Earth’s ills.
In other words, the proposed solution to what we are told is an existential crisis is, conveniently, to give more power to the very same people who are informing us that this crisis exists.
Finally, since the average voter cannot verify that the crisis exists, he also could never say when the crisis was over. The same people who tell you it exists, who assure you that everyone who denies it is simply ignorant or evil, are also the only ones who could tell you when or if the crisis were ever solved and what must be done to solve it. An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.
So, simply put, I am a climate change skeptic because the people advocating it do not act as if it were a verified scientific conclusion. They act as if it were a political expedient at best and a pseudo religion at worst. They tarnish and dismiss anyone who opposes them, fill impressionable young people with images of immanent doom caused by their political and social enemies, and use this cause to justify grabbing more and more power.
While I may not be able to say what the climate is doing, I can say what climate activists are doing, and from that, I can judge that they should be kept as far away from positions of power as humanly possible. We haven’t seen what happens when the ice caps melt, but we have seen what happens when demagogues claiming to protect against an endless and ambiguous crisis get into positions of power, and it never ends well.
By Michael Bastasch • The Daily Caller
One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) longest and most successful air pollution standards is based on a taxpayer-funded study plagued by “data fabrication and falsification,” according to a veteran toxicologist.
Toxicologist Albert Donnay says he’s found evidence a 1989 study commissioned by EPA on the health effects of carbon monoxide, which, if true, could call into question 25 years of regulations and billions of dollars on catalytic converters for automobiles.
“They claimed to find an effect when there wasn’t one,” Donnay told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They even fabricated the methods they used to get their results.” Continue reading
by Chris White • The Daily Caller
House Republican Trey Gowdy wants to know why a scientist with the National Cancer Institute withheld evidence from a government agency showing that a widely used herbicide does not cause cancer.
Gowdy, a South Carolina congressman who chairs the House Oversight Committee, noted in a letter Tuesday to the National Institute of Health (NIH) that NCI scientist Aaron Blair was the researcher who reviewed a separate study showing no evidence glyphosate causes cancer.
“The committee is concerned about these new revelations, especially given Dr. Blair’s apparent admission that the AHS study was ‘powerful,’ and would alter IARC’s analysis of glyphosate,” Gowdy wrote, referring to Blair’s decision to omit the research, which resulted in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluding in 2015 that the herbicide probably was a carcinogen. Continue reading
The science is settled, people. Didn’t you know?
by Oren Cass • City-Journal
Thirty-nine percent of Americans give at least 50-50 odds that “global warming will cause humans to become extinct,” according to a poll released last week by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. This extreme view, unsupported by mainstream climate science, is more widely held than the belief that climate change either is “caused mostly by natural changes in the environment” rather than human activity (30 percent), or else “isn’t happening” at all (6 percent). As if on cue, New York published a cover story on Monday entitled, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” with this grim subtitle: “Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak—sooner than you think.” David Wallace-Wells’s 7,000-word article is so disconnected from reality that debunking loses its thrill within a few paragraphs. Even Michael Mann, among the most strident climate scientists, wrote on Facebook that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The article fails to produce it.”
Mann notes that, in his first section alone, Wallace-Wells “exaggerates” the threat of melting permafrost, while his claim about satellite data is “just not true.” The story next intones ominously about “a crack in an ice shelf [that] grew 11 miles in six days, then kept going.” But the Guardian (no climate-change denier), covering the ice-shelf crack last month, explained it differently: “What looks like an enormous loss is just ordinary housekeeping for this part of Antarctica.” Continue reading
On Earth Day, thousands of scientists and activists converged on Washington, D.C., for the March for Science. Organizers billed the march as an opportunity for a broader discussion on science’s role in civic life.
The March’s website claims that “the march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics.” But nobody is suggesting scientists shouldn’t be involved in politics. And everyone believes fact-based, evidence-backed decision-making is a good thing. The real argument lies elsewhere. Many liberals seem to believe that science should be the primary guide in public policy debates and excoriate those who they claim “politicize” science.
But that’s what politicians are supposed to do. Science should inform public policy, but the scientific perspective on an issue must be balanced with other important considerations such as justice, personal liberty, cost and risk. Continue reading
By the way, “denier” was a religious term used to describe heretics.
By Brandon Morse • RedState
Bishop of the Church of Climate Change, Bill Nye, has been preaching the fire and brimstone theology of global cooling – I mean global warming – I mean climate change for a while. Not only is he a diehard in the faith, but he’s lashed out against those who don’t quite see it his way.
His latest sermon has him stating that “climate deniers,” maybe should go to jail.
YouTube channel, cfact, sat down with Nye and at some point Marc Morano asked the celebrity in a lab coat if the idea being passed around by climate change activists to throw skeptics in jail isn’t too extreme. Continue reading
by Hans von Spakovsky • The Daily Signal
In news that should shock and anger Americans, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that not only has she discussed internally the possibility of pursuing civil actions against so-called “climate change deniers,” but she has “referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action.”
Lynch was responding to a question from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who urged Lynch to prosecute those who “pretend that the science of carbon emissions’ dangers is unsettled,” particularly those in the “fossil fuel industry” who supposedly have constructed a “climate denial apparatus.”
Lynch is apparently following in the footsteps of California Attorney General Kamala Harris and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both of whom have opened up investigations of ExxonMobil for allegedly lying to the public and their shareholders about climate change. Continue reading
Fraud in pursuit of politics undermines trust in government everywhere
Pure science undertaken for science’s own sake is as rare as a rainbow. It’s certainly scarce in Washington, where the quest for knowledge is vulnerable to the bias of politics. Skeptics of President Obama’s climate change agenda say they see new evidence of fraud. If administration officials are colluding with scientists to cook the evidence, such as it might be, to demonstrate that the planet is warming, the skeptics deserve everyone’s thanks.
Whistleblowers within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) complained last year that a major study by agency researcher Thomas Karl, refuting evidence of a pause in global warming, had been rushed to publication. The implication was that the study was coordinated with Obama administration officials to add to the urgency of the president’s climate change agenda in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology issued a subpoena of records of NOAA communications dealing with the study.
The inquiry began afresh last month when Rep. Lamar Smith, wrote to NOAA expressing disappointment “with the slow pace and limited scope of the agency’s production [of such records],” which had yielded only 301 pages. Mr. Smith directed officials to broaden their search for relevant documents. He said the committee had received a letter signed by 325 scientists, engineers, economists and other scholars questioning whether the agency had properly peer-reviewed the “quality, objectivity, utility and integrity” of the data used in the Karl study. Continue reading
By S. Fred Singer • American Thinker
This article is based on a Heartland Panel talk [Dec7, 2015, at Hotel California, Paris].
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has to provide proof for significant human-caused climate change; yet their climate models have never been validated and are rapidly diverging from actual observations. The real threat to humanity comes not from any (trivial) greenhouse warming but from cooling periods creating food shortages and famines.
Burden of proof
Climate change has been going on for millions of years — long before humans existed on this planet. Obviously, the causes were all of natural origin and not anthropogenic. There is no reason to think that these natural causes have suddenly stopped. For example, volcanic eruptions, various types of solar influences, and atmosphere-ocean oscillations all continue today. We cannot model these natural climate-forcings precisely and therefore cannot anticipate what they will be in the future.
But let’s call this the “Null hypothesis.” Logically therefore, the burden of proof falls upon alarmists to demonstrate that this null hypothesis is not adequate to account for empirical climate data. In other words, alarmists must provide convincing observational evidence for anthropogenic climate change (ACC). They must do this by detailed comparison of the data with climate models. This is of course extremely difficult and virtually impossible since one cannot specify these natural influences precisely.
We’re not aware of such detailed comparisons, only of anecdotal evidence — although we must admit that ACC is plausible; after all, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and its level has been rising mainly because of the burning of fossil fuels. Continue reading
by Michael Bastasch • The Daily Caller
In face of intense criticism from alarmist scientists, Dr. John Christy went to great lengths in a Tuesday congressional hearing to detail why satellite-derived temperatures are much more reliable indicators of warming than surface thermometers.
“That’s where the real mass of the climate system exists in terms of the atmosphere,” Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama and Alabama’s state climatologist, said in a Wednesday hearing before the House science committee.
“When a theory contradicts the facts” you need to change the theory, Christy said. “The real world is not going along with rapid warming. The models need to go back to the drawing board.” Continue reading
by Andrew Follett • The Daily Caller
Hundreds of scientists sent a letter to lawmakers Thursday warning National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists may have violated federal laws when they published a 2015 study purporting to eliminate the 15-year “hiatus” in global warming from the temperature record. Continue reading
by Thomas Richard • Examiner
The number of excuses for the global warming pause or hiatus had grown to more than 66 when the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) added yet another one to the list in a just-published study in Science. In their argument that came out yesterday, NOAA said that long-existing instrument bases have masked rising sea surface temperatures. Once they “readjusted” the data, the warming hiatus disappeared. By cooling the past, they were able to make the most recent years even warmer.
This assessment has drawn heavy criticism from both sides of the bitter climate debate, but one thing no one disputes: NOAA may have overstepped its authority in rewriting climate history and relying on faulty data sets. By making the early 1900s colder, and using only land-based temperature stations and less-reliable ocean temperatures, NOAA can now readjust the past to chart a new future.
This new study also comes at a time when President Obama has shifted his focus to climate change, not to mention the EPA’s proposed plans to completely revamp the country’s power plant system through new regulations. Continue reading