Many of the proponents of global warming theory claim their view is settled science. But not all scientists agree, including some world-renowned ones, such as Freeman Dyson, Ivar Giaever and James Lovelock — the father of the Gaia hypothesis of earth ecology. Some, like Lovelock, have changed their view 180 degrees in the last decade, as field data has failed to support projections based on computer models.
Other scientists, like John Christy, have been finding the models flawed and reporting their findings for two decades.
Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the largest research center at UAH, employing about 80 workers. Since November 2000 he has been Alabama’s state climatologist.
Christy has testified in Congressional hearings on the issue several times, most recently in April, before the House Science Committee.
Roy Spencer and I were the first to use satellite data to monitor temperatures, and we found that the changes were not that remarkable and not anywhere near what the models were saying. We published our first paper on the subject in 1990, so it’s been over 20 years that the information has been out there that demonstrates the theory is not working too well. There are the claims of climate change based on models and there is the data, and the two are very different.
The data looks like the natural world, where carbon builds up — which it does, although not anywhere like it did 100 years ago. It is rising owing to energy production, for which humans are very grateful. But the carbon is being released in other ways that the models do not take into account. The earth has a natural thermostatic impulse that keeps it from warming up dramatically. The heat goes out into space. It comes in through sunlight, and it is not being retained in the system. It escapes back to space.
I have downloaded 102 models and compared them with several sets of data, and the results make the models look bad. I found that all 102 model runs overshot the actual temperature change on average by a factor of three.
Scientists have such a vested interest in funding their projects, and they have been out in front of the media for a couple of decades, so it’s hard for them to backtrack and say they are wrong. Scientists are people, too, and people can’t get hold of that idea.
Judy Curry is a really remarkable example of a scientist who has changed her mind. She was the head atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech and involved in the global warming scenarios, and when she saw the climategate email — email from a group of climate alarmists — saw how they were trying to fiddle with the data and block dissenting publications and trying to get editors fired, saw all these things going on, she saw this was a political movement and not a scientific movement, and she testified, alongside me, to the house Science Committee examining climate change.
In February 2015, one of the Congressional hearings led to investigations of me and six other scientists that tried to discredit us by looking for special interest funding behind us. One of the six just gave up. My university went through with the investigation — although I wish that they had ignored it — and found no wrongdoing.
Modeling and simulation is absolutely a valid and essential tool when it follows the scientific method. It is a tremendous tool in building bridges and rockets, provided there is a reality to test against. You don’t build a bridge based only on a model. But in climate science, some feel it is a special case when climate models do not work.
What I have been talking about for the last 10 years is that there needs to be a “red team” analysis. You set aside funding for red teams to analyze the proposition to see if it’s true. It’s done in industry and in the military and intelligence communities all the time. You don’t want to build something at enormous cost, especially a weapons system, if it can be objectively shown to be easily defeated.
My fundamental law of sustainability is that if it’s not economically sustainable, it’s not sustainable. What you see are huge subsidies, which you and I are paying for. If it’s affordable, it can stand on its own. Solar can’t supply the energy needs at an affordable cost, and windmills can’t either. Neither are they reliable: You can’t anticipate when they will be available. Affordable and available on demand: Those two criteria make an energy source valuable. Carbon, nuclear or hydro are the sources that meet those criteria, measured in a per-unit cost.
If you’re an industry that builds windmills, you want government to require portfolio standards for renewable energy that require the purchase of 25 percent renewable. You promote that and you pay Congressmen as much as it takes to get it done. If they are a utility, they have a certain markup, 8 or 10 percent. If their power costs are more, their profits are more. Their incentive is to get the price up. What goes against these policies are people. We can’t continue to pay higher and higher bills for electricity. That’s why, in part, the nation’s manufacturing base is in decline — it’s the penalty we pay. It comes down to money.
I think the Trump administration is trying to roll back some of the burdensome regulations the Obama administration established, and they can on some things, if it’s a matter of an executive order. But for endangerment findings by the EPA for clean power plants that courts have now established, they will have to go back to the root endangerment finding.
I have testified in federal court, 10 years ago, pro bono, for the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, when the rules were coming down on mileage standards. They lost that case, but the judge had to say that my testimony was true, that the regulations would not affect climate change. But he allowed the law to go through.
I am a realist. Things need to be done environmentally — to clean up water, for example. And we know how to clean up water. Why are people not clamoring to provide clean water for African kids? That is not the issue. Worldwide, a lot needs to be done in both water quality and air quality, but there is very little being done, in developing countries especially.
Chris McFadyen is the editorial director of Business Alabama.