About the corruption of climate science

by fabiusmaximus

Summary: Today’s post tells about the corruption of yet another vital American institution – climate science. See how RCP8.5, a valuable worst-case scenario, has been misrepresented to incite fear in the American public. This is the first of my posts implementing my new view of America.

Hand holding dry tree in front of a catastrophic background
ID 9523824 © Noahgolan | Dreamstime.

“There are some 20,000 research papers listed on Google Scholar, a search engine for academics, that mention the worst-case scenario for climate change, one where an overpopulated, technology-poor world digs up all the coal it can find. Basically, it’s the most cataclysmic estimate of global warming.”
— Bloomberg News, 9 February 2018. There are 182 thousand hits for climate change “worst case” and 82 thousand for climate change temperature “worst case.

RCP8.5 is the most severe of the four scenarios used in the IPCC’s AR5. A well-designed worst-case scenario, it has been misrepresented to become the basis for one of the most successful propaganda campaigns in modern US history. How this happened reveals much about our difficulty grappling with vital public policy issues.

A few of the many articles using RCP8.5 to terrify the public

National Geographic
September 2013 issue.

America has been bombarded for a decade with terrifying articles, many using projections based on RCP8.5 (others misrepresent different aspects of climate science). Few of those mention RCP8.5’s implausible assumptions. That would ruin the narrative. Here are a few, showing almost certain doom facing us.

  1. Surge In ‘Danger Days’ Just Around The Corner” by Brian Kahn at ClimateCentral, 12 August 2015.
  2. What Your Favorite Cities Will Look Like if We Do Nothing About Climate Change. Fancy a swim?” by Jack Holmes, Esquire, 10 December 2015.
  3. The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future” at Demos, 22 August 2016.
  4. This Melting Glacier in Antarctica Could Raise Sea Levels By 11 Feet” by Frennan Milliken in Motherboard, 17 December 2016. No mention that centuries or millennia are required, or the many qualifications the scientists give to their conclusions.
  5. Typical “reporting” by the Guardian, exaggerating a good study to create alarmist propaganda: “Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people.”
  6. VOX: “Watch how the climate could change in these US cities by 2050” by Umair Irfan and Kavya Sukumar – “In some cities, it’ll be like moving two states south.”
  7. Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation” in ScienceDaily, 12 February 2019.

See more of these here.

fearful woman

The results warm activists’ hearts

“I think looking at grief is quite appropriate, as I believe we are facing human extinction”
— Comment by a reader on the FM website.

Fear of the future rules in the minds of many – or most – on the Left. Their leaders take the most extreme predictions of activists and exaggerate those beyond anything said by the IPCC or major climate agencies. Sentiments such as “carbon emissions may destroy the planet and everyone on it” frequently appear in articles and comment threads (often stated as fact rather than possibilities).

“We’re going to become extinct. Whatever we do now is too late.”
— Frank Fenner (Prof emeritus in microbiology at the Australian National U); Wikipedia describes his great accomplishments), an interview in The Australian, 10 June 2010.

With business as usual life on earth is largely doomed.
— John Davies (geophysicist, senior research at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center), 22 February 2014.

“Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’”
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to interviewer Ta-Nehisi Coates at an “MLK Now” event in New York. Video here.

“There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: ‘Is it OK to still have children?”
— Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram, reported by The Hill, 25 February 2019Business Insider Poll: “More than a third of millennials share Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s worry about having kids while the threat of climate change looms”

After a decade of such propaganda, it takes little to stampede Leftists like frightened deer. Here is a reply in the comments at Naked Capitalism by Lidia to one of my posts: “The North Pole is a frickin’ LAKE, you ass. You are either being paid well for these posts, or you are off your meds.” This was part of the hysteria about a photo of the Arctic Sea with the headline “The North Pole is now a lake.” It was a typical melt pond, not at the North Pole. It got 82 thousand hits on Google.

Here is a step-by-step trail showing how legitimate climate science is exaggerated into propaganda. That is business as usual for papers about RCP8.5.

Activists terrify children for their cause.

This is a low but typical tactic of the Left: terrorizing children with propaganda and using them as shills for their political program.

Political effects.

Three decades of propaganda, since Hansen’s senate testimony, have laid the foundation for activists to win. The propaganda about RCP8.5 is the core of the campaign.

News articles have become climate activists’ agitprop. Increasing numbers of peer-reviewed papers are activist screeds. The universities and non-governmental organizations are strongholds of climate activists, putting their imprimatur on activists’ work. A large fraction of Democrats are prepared to take extreme steps to “fight climate change” (or implement standard Leftist policies under that banner). They may succeed if they gain control of Congress and the White House in 2020. A burst of serious extreme weather, of course blamed on CO2, would make this easier.

Extreme Weather - dreamstime_27423027
ID 27423027 © Tom Wang | Dreamstime.

About RCP8.5

RCP8.5 describes a horrific future for the world, as a worst-case scenario should. Fortunately, scenarios showing paths to RCP8.5 require implausible assumptions about key factors. For example, the world probably lacks enough economically recoverable fossil fuels (esp coal, see below). Even more importantly, RCP8.5 assumes radical and unlikely changes in long-standing trends in fertility and technological progress – making it the opposite of a “business as usual” scenario. See this post for details about RCP8.5. See this post with links to articles showing misuse of RCP8.5 in both peer-reviewed research and the popular media.

RCP8.5 makes assumptions about factors that are poorly understood. For example, about the warming from a doubling of CO2 levels. The IPCC’s AR5 estimated this {at 12.5.4.2] with a wide range – relying on “expert judgement” (not hard research) – that they considered only likely (defined as having a probability of 66%+).

“Expert judgement based on the available evidence therefore suggests that the TCRE {transient climate response to cumulative carbon emissions} is likely between 0.8°C to 2.5°C per 1000 PgC, for cumulative CO2 emissions less than about 2000 PgC until the time at which temperature peaks.” {1000 PgC = 1000 GtC.}

Portraying RCP8.5 as our likely future is the Big Lie at work. It was successful, as usual.

“All this was inspired by the principle …that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

“It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. …

“But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.”

— From Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (1925).

Responsibility written on a blackboard -dreamstime_50714069
ID 50714069 © Filipe Frazao | Dreamstime.

Who should we hold responsible for this travesty?

Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.
– Roman adage: silence means assent when he ought to have spoken and was able to.

Since I began writing about climate change eleven years ago, I have distinguished between activists and legitimate scientists. I have said that we should trust the IPCC and major climate agencies. After my epiphany (see A new, dark picture of America’s future), I see the situation differently – and I hope more clearly.

Climate scientists, and their institutions, quickly condemn “skeptics” for challenging their conclusions. When their conclusions might be used by skeptics, they often warn against such “misuse.” The misuse of RCP8.5 by activists is obvious, serious, and long-standing. Yet climate scientists continue to churn out papers predicting the effects of this worst-case scenario, usually without mention of its unlikely assumptions, without comparison of it with other (more likely) RCPs – and without condemning activists’ misrepresentation of their projections. Silence means assent.

We have long past the point where this has become implicit support of activists’ propaganda, or even collaboration. Climate institutions such as the IPCC and NOAA have failed in their responsibility to accurately communicate to the public in this matter. The peer-review system has systematically failed to make authors accurately describe RCP8.5 and put it in a larger context.

The effects of this could be far-reaching. Not just in the distorting of public policy, making rational debate about climate change almost impossible, but perhaps discrediting climate science and science itself as institutions.

For more about RCP 8.5

  1. Details about RCP8.5: Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No! Links to the papers describing RCP8.5.
  2. Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions – how RCP8.5 became misrepresented as a “business as usual” scenario, and its misuse. With links to many papers and general media articles about the RCPs.
  3. Coal and the IPCC” by Dave Rutledge at Climate Etc, 2014 – RCP8.5 assumes a late 21st C shift to coal, assuming unrealistic levels of production.
  4. Risk assessment: What is the plausible ‘worst scenario’ for climate change?” by Judith Curry at Climate Etc, 2015.
  5. The Politics of Inconceivable Scenarios” by Roger Pielke Jr. at The Climate Fix, November 2017.
  6. Is RCP8.5 an impossible scenario?” by Judith Curry at Climate Etc, November 2018.
  7. Reassessing the RCPs” by by Kevin Murphy at Climate Etc, January 2019.

Does the world have enough economically recoverable coal to burn for RCP8.5? These papers suggest the answer is “no.”

  1. One of the first major studies questioning the actual extent of coal reserves: “The Peak in U.S. Coal Production“ by Gregson Vaux (of the National Energy Technology Laboratory), 27 May 2004.
  2. More evidence that reserves are overstated: “Coal Of The Future (Supply Prospects for Thermal Coal by 2030-2050)“ by Energy Edge Limited, Prepared for the Institute for Energy of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, February 2007.
  3. More evidence that reserves are overstated: “Coal: Resources and Future Production“ by Energy Watch Group, March 2007 (47 pages).
  4. The major study showing that coal reserves are overstated: “Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy“ by the National Academies, June 2007.
  5. Depletion of fossil fuels and anthropogenic climate change – a review” by Mikael Höök and Xu Tang in Energy Policy, January 2013. Gated. Open copy here.
  6. The implications of fossil fuel supply constraints on climate change projections: a supply-side analysis” by Jianliang Wang et al. in Futures, February 2017. Gated. Open copy here.
  7. Why do climate change scenarios return to coal?” by Justin Ritchie and Hadi Dowlatabadi in Energy, 1 December 2017.

 

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