STATEMENT TO THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON SPACE, SCIENCE AND COMPETITIVENESS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE
Data or Dogma?
Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Climate Change
December 8th 2015
My name is Mark Steyn. I am not a scientist. I am an author. My main interest in climate science is that Michael E Mann, the inventor of one of its most notorious artifacts, is suing me for “defamation of a Nobel Prize winner” – a crime that I was not aware existed, especially in his case, as according to the Nobel Institute he is not a Nobel Prize winner. So I recently edited a book about it called “A Disgrace to the Profession”: The World’s Scientists – in Their Own Words – On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, and Their Damage to Science, Volume One – which I’m proud to say was Number One on the Climatology Hit Parade. I have been Number Four on the Amazon books chart, and Number Seven on the Amazon easy-listening chart, and earlier this very month the Number One Amazon jazz vocalist, but I had no idea there was also a climatological bestseller list. Still, I’m happy my book was credible enough to get to the top of it.
That said, at a hearing on “Data or Dogma?”, given the distinguished scientists here to address the data, I thought I should confine myself mostly to the dogma.
THE CLIMATE OF FEAR
In the three years that I have been ensnared in the dysfunctional court system of the District of Columbia, I have come to know well what I call the “climate of fear” within climate science. Professors Christy, Curry and Happer are sufficiently eminent that they can, just about, bear the assault the Big Climate enforcers mount on those who dissent from the dogma – although that assault is fierce and unrelenting. If you’re a professor emeritus, you’re told you’re senile. If you’re one of the few women in this very male field, you’re told you’re whoring for Big Oil: The aforementioned Michael Mann of Penn State, who is too cowardly to be here today and has instead sent his proxy, approvingly linked to an Internet post accusing Dr Curry of sleeping with me. This is how a supposedly distinguished climate scientist treats those who disagree with him. On May 13th last year I wrote:
It’s always fun in a legal battle to have something bigger at stake than a mere victory. In Canada, we put the ‘human rights’ system itself on trial, to the point where the disgusting and indefensible ‘hate speech’ law Section 13 was eventually repealed by Parliament. It seems to me that in this particular case the bigger issue is the climate of fear that Mann and his fellow ayatollahs of alarmism have succeeded in imposing on an important scientific field.1
The very next day the distinguished 79-year-old Swedish climatologist Lennart Bengtsson was forced to resign from a dissident climate group after the Big Climate enforcers took the hockey stick to him in the back alley. He had agreed to participate in a group headed by Nigel Lawson. Some of you may know Lord Lawson personally. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Mrs Thatcher’s ministry in the United Kingdom. He’s nobody’s idea of a fringe madman: He’s a
member of the House of Lords, a Privy Counselor; his daughter is a popular celebrity chef on America’s Food Network; his fellow trustees include a bishop of the Church of England, a former private secretary to the Queen, and an advisor to two Prime Ministers from the Labour Party. But they disagree with the tight little coterie of climate alarmists, and so Lennart Bengtsson could not be permitted to meet with them. As Professor Bengtsson wrote:
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.2
Because it’s no longer about “meteorology”, it’s about saving the planet. Bengtsson was a former director of the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, winner of the Descartes Prize and a WMO prize for groundbreaking research, and even a friend and collaborator of Mann’s at scientific conferences. But he made the mistake of, ah, seeking to expand his circle of climate acquaintances, and so Michael Mann now sneeringly dismisses him as “junk science”3. Nate Silver is the hipster statistician who correctly predicted the 2012 election and then set up his own “538” website dedicated to “data journalism” – just the data, the facts, the numbers, the analysis… But, when Mr Silver made the mistake of hiring Professor Roger Pielke Jr, then Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth were obliged to explain to him that these considerations do not apply to climate science4. So Nate Silver fired Professor Pielke – who has now withdrawn from all climate research. When Professor Willie Soon co-authored a paper earlier this year on why the turn-of-the-century climate models all turned out wrong, the Big Climate heavies did not attempt to refute the paper, but instead embarked on a campaign to get him fired from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
For every Judith Curry or Willie Soon or Lennart Bengtsson, there are a thousand lesser names who see what happens to even the most distinguished people in their field and decide to keep their heads down. Professor Ivar Gievar recently spoke out against, among other things, the recent adjustment of figures by NASA – an agency overseen by this sub-committee – at the annual meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau. Professor Gievar is a Nobel Laureate. A real Nobel Laureate, I mean, not a fake one like Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth and many other climate scientists who falsely claim to be Nobel Prize winners on the grounds that the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, and they once contributed to an IPCC report. Mann falsely claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner on his book jacket, on his website, in his court complaint about me – even though the Nobel Institute told him he wasn’t a Nobel Prize winner and he should cut it out. But this serial misrepresentation of credentials by Mann, Trenberth and others is also part of their intimidation technique. If you’re a real Nobel Laureate like Ivar Giaever, who won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, or if you’re older, tenured and sufficiently eminent, you can just about withstand the Big Climate enforcers jumping you in the parking lot and taking the hockey stick to you.
2 http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/lennart-bengtsson-leaves-advisory-board.html 3 https://twitter.com/MichaelEMann/status/467310861237760000
But, if you’re a younger scientist, you know that, if you cross Mann and the other climate mullahs, there goes tenure, there goes funding, there goes your career. I’ve been stunned to learn of the very real fear of retribution that pervades the climate world.
When I look at what has happened to those who speak out, I recall the wise words of Stephen McIntyre:
As a general point, it seems to me that, if climate change is as serious a problem as the climate ‘community’ believes, then it will require large measures that need broadly based commitment from all walks of our society.5
Mr McIntyre is exactly right: If we take Big Climate at their word that the entire global economy needs massive re-orientation on a scale never before contemplated, it will require the largest societal consensus – left and right and center, in America, in Canada, in Britain, in Europe… Yet all Big Climate does is retreat ever deeper into its shrinking echo chamber and compile ever longer lists of people who are beyond the pale – Professor Curry, Professor Christy, Professor Bengtsson, Professor Pielke, Professor Soon, Lord Lawson, the Bishop of Chester, the winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics… It might be quicker for Mann, Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt and the other climate enforcers to make a short list of those to whom they are prepared to grant a say in the future of the planet.
In shoring up this cartoon climatology, the alarmism industry is now calling on courts and legislatures to torment their opponents. I shall outline my own particular experience, and then the general climate.
MANN vs STEYN et al
On July 12th 2012 former FBI Director and special investigative counsel Louis Freeh issued a devastating report regarding the behavior of Pennsylvania State University and its most senior figures, as they ignored, abetted and covered up the systemic and brutal child sexual abuse conducted by Gerald A Sandusky, longtime football coach at the university.
The following day Rand Simberg posted an article on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s website entitled “The Other Scandal in Happy Valley”, which suggested that, in light of the revelations regarding the “rotten and corrupt culture” at Penn State under the presidency of Graham Spanier, it might be worth revisiting the other sham “investigation” on Spanier’s watch – of Dr Michael E Mann, creator of the famous global-warming “hockey stick”.
The very same day The Chronicle of Higher Education also tied together the sham
Sandusky and Mann investigations in a piece titled “Culture of Evasion”6. As you know, after the Freeh Report was published, criminal charges were filed against Penn State President Graham Spanier and other senior administrators. Spanier is currently under indictment for grand- jury perjury, obstruction of justice, child endangerment, conspiracy and failure to report child abuse.
Two days later, I wrote a 270-word blog post for the opinion page of National Review Online7 referencing the Freeh Report and Mr Simberg’s piece. That post appears below in its entirety:
In the wake of Louis Freeh’s report on Penn State’s complicity in serial rape, Rand Simberg writes of Unhappy Valley’s other scandal:
‘I’m referring to another cover up and whitewash that occurred there two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps it’s time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we’ve also learned about his and others’ hockey- stick deceptions since. Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.’
Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does, but he has a point. Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change ‘hockey-stick’ graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann. Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing. If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s ‘the Jerry Sandusky of climate change’, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his ‘investigation’ by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.
I asked what I thought was quite an obvous question: If an institution is prepared to cover up the systemic ongoing rape of minors, what won’t it cover up?
It’s a legitimate question for an institution that receives taxpayer funding, a certain portion of which falls under the oversight of this committee. Penn State has a representative here today, and perhaps he will address some of these questions about his institution and its integrity.
Graham Spanier, the now disgraced president of Penn State who presided over the joke investigations of both Sandusky and Mann, remains the President Emeritus of Penn State, and a professor of family studies. His absolution of Michael Mann was widely regarded at the time as a total joke even by many who are by no means “climate deniers” – for example, the venerable American institution The Atlantic Monthly:
The Penn State inquiry exonerating Michael Mann — the paleoclimatologist who came up with ’the hockey stick’ — would be difficult to parody.
Professor Harold Lewis, one of the most distinguished members of the American Physical Society, resigned from the organization over the whitewashing of Mann, writing:
When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.
In other words, Spanier’s depraved regime at Penn State turned a blind eye to Mann for the same reason it turned a blind eye to the Sandusky rape epidemic: they couldn’t afford to take the financial hit.
Kelsey Harkness writes:
…Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
In April, a judge for the agency recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000.
Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state…(read more)
The Irrelevance of Renewables and the Virtues of Fossil Fuels
Matt Ridley writes: The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.
These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress.
“Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.”
In 2013, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.
Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonizing the energy system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.
“Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule.”
On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)
The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology. The U.S.—the country with the oldest and most developed hydrocarbon fields—has found itself once again, surprisingly, at the top of the energy-producing league, rivaling Saudi Arabia in oil and Russia in gas.
“The second argument for giving up fossil fuels is that new rivals will shortly price them out of the market. But it is not happening. The great hope has long been nuclear energy, but even if there is a rush to build new nuclear power stations over the next few years, most will simply replace old ones due to close.”
The shale genie is now out of the bottle. Even if the current low price drives out some high-cost oil producers—in the North Sea, Canada, Russia, Iran and offshore, as well as in America—shale drillers can step back in whenever the price rebounds. As Mark Hill of Allegro Development Corporation argued last week, the frackers are currently experiencing their own version of Moore’s law: a rapid fall in the cost and time it takes to drill a well, along with a rapid rise in the volume of hydrocarbons they are able to extract.
And the shale revolution has yet to go global. When it does, oil and gas in tight rock formations will give the world ample supplies of hydrocarbons for decades, if not centuries. Lurking in the wings for later technological breakthroughs is methane hydrate, a seafloor source of gas that exceeds in quantity all the world’s coal, oil and gas put together.
“The world’s nuclear output is down from 6% of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4% today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7% by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.”
So those who predict the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels are merely repeating the mistakes of the U.S. presidential commission that opined in 1922 that “already the output of gas has begun to wane. Production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate.” Or President Jimmy Carter when he announced on television in 1977 that “we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”
That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so. Read the rest of this entry »