Senate Democrats' Anti-Scientific Hot-Air Marathon

Senate Democrats' Anti-Scientific Hot-Air Marathon
March 11, 2014

Tom Harris

Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech., thermofluids), is executive director of the International... (read full bio)

While this week’s Senate  Climate Action Task Force all-night marathon may seem like the ultimate  comedy, real climate scientists are crying over the event. It’s not just because  of the numerous basic science mistakes made by the senators.

Scientists are also concerned that most of the media and public will fail to  realize that many of the senators’ absolute assertions are simply science  fiction.

The senators repeatedly argued that the science of climate change is  “settled.” Scientists supposedly know with certainty that our carbon-dioxide  emissions are causing a climate crisis.

There is no further need to investigate the validity of the theory or to  consider alternative evidence, the senators asserted. Rather, we must take  action to stop the  unfolding human-caused climate catastrophe.

Like children frightening each other with ghost stories, senators seemed to  be competing for the most alarming forecasts of eco-disaster.

Sen. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts  Democrat, easily took first place with his warning: “The science proves there is  a danger  . The planet is running a fever, but there are no emergency rooms for  planets.”

Professors Chris Essex of the University of Western  Ontario and Ross McKitrick of the  University of Guelph classify this sort of remark as part of the “Doctrine of  Certainty” that has ruined the climate debate.

In their book “Taken by Storm,” they explain, “The Doctrine is a collection  of now-familiar assertions made about climate, all of which must be accepted  without question.”

If one dares question the Doctrine, the reaction from true believers is  immediate: You are a denier, an enemy of nature, a pawn of big oil — and you  must be silenced.

The senators did not even consider the possibility that, as Mr.  Essex and Mr. McKitrick say, “The  Doctrine is not true. Each assertion is either manifestly false or the claim to  know is false.”

Following Mr. Obama’s assertion in January’s State of the Union address that  “the debate is settled,” Mr. Kerry told  Indonesians last month that the science backing what he called “the greatest  threat that the planet has ever seen” is “something that we understand with  absolute assurance of the veracity of that science.”

In reality, trying to unravel the causes and consequences of climate change  is arguably the most complex science ever tackled. Mr.  Essex and Mr. McKitrick explain:  “Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists  believe that the climate problem can never be solved.”

One of the reasons the Senate Climate Action Task  Force can get away with their exaggerations is that the U.S. National  Academy of Sciences, the United Kingdom’s Royal Society and other national  science bodies are not doing their jobs.

Rather than working to help to defeat the anti-science “Doctrine of  Certainty” distorting the climate debate, these scientific bodies and others who  should know better engage in propaganda, making absolute assertions concerning  topics about which we have little knowledge

The National Academy of Sciences-Royal Society report, “Climate Change:  Evidence and Causes,” released on Feb. 27, is a prime example. In it, there  appear numerous unfounded assertions that cannot be supported by science.

For example, it says, “If the rise in [carbon dioxide] continues unchecked,  warming of the same magnitude as the increase out of the ice age [i.e., 7 to 9  degrees Fahrenheit] can be expected by the end of this century or soon  after.”

Not only does such a confident prediction undermine the careful approach  scientists normally take when addressing difficult fields of study, it is  irresponsible, since it encourages governments to prepare only for warming while  ignoring the possibility that far more dangerous cooling is on the way as the  sun weakens into a “grand minimum” over the coming decades.

Reports such as that from the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal  Society provide political cover for politicians of developed country to bring in  draconian and unnecessary carbon-dioxide regulations that are destroying their  most important source of electric power — coal.

Ontario has already closed most of its coal stations because of the  government’s blind adherence to climate-change doctrine. This has led to soaring  electricity prices, a major  cause of the province’s decline from “have” to “have not” status.

With the Senate Climate  Action Task Force’s help, the Obama  administration appears determined to do the same in the United States, ending  America’s use of coal, the least expensive and most reliable electricity  source.

The president and his allies promote wind and solar power, the least reliable  and most expensive options available, in the vain belief that this will stop the  climate from changing.

No one knows whether spending billions of dollars revamping  the U.S. energy infrastructure will finally break America’s back. Still, there  are limits to how many blunders even a great nation can commit and still  survive.

Let’s not find out if  bowing to the climate-change “Doctrine of Certainty” will be America’s final,  fatal mistake.

[Originally posted at The Washington Times]

Tom Harris

Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech., thermofluids), is executive director of the International... (read full bio)