Monday, January 4, 2010

Debate Over 'Settled Science' May Lead to Common Sense if We Follow the Money

As I pondered what my first post of 2010 should be about, this article by Barry Cooper arrived in my inbox: "Climategate folly gives common sense a boost". A few great lines from Cooper's article:
- ClimateGate "showed them [climate scientists] to be in the business of suppressing dissent and advising the UN to engage not in evidence-based decision making, but in decision-based evidence-making".
- "Best of all, those "fossil" awards that Alberta won for the amazing oilsands are not, as Globe columnist Jeffrey Simpson said, evidence "of seeing Canada at its worst." No sir! They are badges of honour, emblems of defiance of the moral panic orchestrated by those disgraced climate scientists living in a pink-coloured dream world."

In 2009, I wrote a few posts [here, here, here and here] about ClimateGate - the scandal about scientists fitting their "findings" to the whims of political and social leaders rather than reporting research results as objectively and transparently as possible. I questioned the A-list of consultants our government invited on a tax-payer funded junket to Hopenhagen: "Top Drawer Remarkable Canadians Advise Minister on Climate: Where are the Scientists?". So, it seems fitting to start the new decade off with a new post that gathers a few recent articles about the debate over ClimateGate.

As an Albertan, it is refreshing to read Peter Foster's "common sense" defense of Canada in the Hopenhagen negotiations: "Canada's Galileo Government": "Copenhagen represents the hypocritical in pursuit of the suicidal. There could be nothing better for the citizens of the world — as opposed to power, rent and publicity seekers — than that this toxic process should collapse". And, thank goodness there was no binding agreement coming out of Denmark.

Eastern Canada likes to deflect attention away from their emissions by citing the oil sands as the primary climate villain - however, an inconvenient truth is that the Alberta oil sands are just 4% of Canada's emissions. So, it was refreshing to read Don Martin's column in which he slams Ontario and Quebec politicians-who-behave-badly, and reminds readers of the economic contribution of Alberta to the Nation, "Frosty Front Splits Canada": "The massive buildup of oil sands infrastructure has delivered a cascading series of benefits to all regions of Canada... "

An earlier article, "Global Warming and the 'Settled Science' Baloney" by Claude Sandroff, had this great line: "Settled science is dangerous science." Sandroff critiques the unscientific debate about climate by pointing out who stands to benefit most from "settled science": "Mostly liberal politicians want access to unlimited tax revenues; for scientists and pseudo-scientists, global warming victory is a path to prestige and grants; for large corporations, it's a billion-dollar market (pioneered by Enron) for trading in carbon credits; for the hard left, it's a new path to dictatorial power and control; for venture capitalists like Kleiner Perkins and green startups at the public trough, it's a path to alternative-energy-funding bonanzas; for the radical greens, it's equivalent to the unquestioned adherence to a religious faith with analogs to God (the earth), priests (Al Gore), indulgences (carbon offsets), guilt (western affluence) and penance (conservation)." Follow the money...

Thomas Sowell published this gem in his article, "The Science Mantra": "Factual data are crucial in real science. Einstein himself urged that his own theory of relativity not be accepted until it could be empirically verified... Today, politicized "science" has too big a stake in the global warming hysteria to let the facts speak for themselves and let the chips fall where they may.... " Like Sandroff, he urges readers to follow the money.

Finally, Mark Steyn says it best as he tracks the new "carbon market" in his Maclean's column, "The Emperor's New Carbon Credits": "In 2008, carbon trading worldwide reached $128 billion. That’s why Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are hot for emissions schemes. According to the writer Jo Nova, carbon is on course to become the largest traded commodity—bigger than oil or gas. As she says, it’s the subprime mortgage of the commodities market. Like Al Gore, the world’s first carbon billionaire, it’s testament mainly to a kind of globalized gullibility. In the blink of an eye, the “settled science” of a small number of ideologues was propelled upwards into a “peer-reviewed” “consensus” and then an international fait accompli."

So, one of my wishes for the New Year and New Decade is that this reasoned debate over ClimateGate continues, that we continue to question 'settled science', and that we find our way to some common sense decisions and actions about governance, the economy and climate. To start, I suggest we follow the money -- when we uncover who stands to benefit from widespread panic about climate, we will unsettle the science and therefore improve the debate.

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