Esteemed Prof may regret citing College drop-out
In his written submission to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works earlier this week, John Christy (PhD) describes himself as the “Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama’s State Climatologist and Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.”
However, if he is so distinguished, why does he feel it necessary to rely upon Watts et al (2012), which the esteemed Professor apparently co-authored? Whatever the extent of Christy’s actual involvement, this unpublished paper is now receiving significant constructive (but very damaging) criticism; and being disavowed by one of the other high-profile co-authors – Steve McIntyre.
In the meantime, Watts et al (2012) has somewhat-predictably been applauded as yet another “final nail in the coffin of the ‘warmist’ myth of CAGW” (i.e. catastrophic anthropogenic global warming). To the authors, it seems, this whole climate change thing is a false alarm… It is a nice idea – and I truly wish I could believe it but – it is just a shame that, in order to come anywhere remotely close to validating their wishful thinking, Watts et al (2012) had to mangle the facts so comprehensively (see criticism linked-to above)…
A similar thing appears to be happening with Christy’s testimony to the US Senate Committee: WUWT have already uploaded video footage of it; and Dr Judith Curry (editor of the infamous Climate etc. blog) has even had her views aired on the website of the Global Wonky Policy Foundation. If Curry is to be believed, Christy has supposedly told the World the truth that very few other scientists (i.e. apart from her, Pat Michaels, Roy Spencer, and Richard Lindzen) are willing to tell.
So then, what exactly did Christy say? Well, for those of you without the time or inclination to read through the 22-page document – or maybe even the 1-page summary – he makes five very familiar points: All of them being part of the creed of those who have an ideologically-prejudiced need to dispute that human activity is the primary cause of the climate disruption we are now seeing (and so far we have not even raised global average temperatures by as much as 1 Celsius).
If you are familiar with my six pillars of climate denial by now, you may not be surprised by them as by the willingness of someone like Christy to keep repeating the same old myths (listed here with mainly pre-existing rebuttals on the Skeptical Science website in brackets):
(1) Global warming is not happening (The recent ‘extremes’ were exceeded in previous decades).
(2) Computer models are unreliable (Not as much warming as models predict).
(3) Global warming is an artefact of the measurement locations (Temperature record is unreliable).
(4) Sceptics are like Galileo (Consensus reports misrepresentative of climate science).
(5) Global warming is not bad (CO2 is plant food, and CO2 limits will hurt the poor).
Steven McIntyre may have disavowed his co-authorship of Watts et al (2012) but, clearly, Christy has done the complete opposite – This is what happens when a scientist is blinded by ideology.
I was so concerned by the way in which the online release of Watts et al (2012) appeared to be a deliberate attempt to distract attention from Richard Muller’s op-ed in the New York Times that I sent an email to a few of my key contacts in the blogosphere encouraging them to debunk it. Without claiming any responsibility for it, I am therefore very glad to see that this has now happened.
I was also very concerned to read Christy’s testimony and – despite seeing that it was completely (and correctly) ignored by Suzanne Goldenberg on the website of the Guardian newspaper – am left wondering how much damage was done? Given all the other evidence the Committee heard, will Christy now be dismissed as a charlatan (or will some Republicans continue to idolise him)?
It has been suggested to me in the past that people like Lindzen and Christy should not be given “the oxygen of publicity”; but publicity is not the problem. The problem is the ease with which they are able to play mind games with our politicians… As I said to a fellow-blogger recently:
“Many of those who profess to be sceptical are, in fact, ideologically opposed to anything or anyone who seems to be telling them what they ought to do or think. This is why humanity is now in such a bind. We lack the will to change (in fact we actively resist it). This means that the most effective solution is that which is least likely ever to materialise => prescriptive legislation. McKibbin’s analogy of gay-rights needing to be promoted by evangelical preachers is therefore spot-on: We will not change voluntarily and, without a demand for change, our politicians will not impose it upon us (until the stability of our democracy is itself imperilled by the social costs of failing to prevent significant environmental deterioration).”
However, must we really wait that long? I suspect we do not have the luxury of time to wait for everyone to agree that our climate is changing. But does that mean we must adopt a laissez-faire attitude to those who peddle misinformation? Can we afford to let them make a mockery of the concept of representative democracy like this?
Bill McKibbin certainly doesn’t think so (but you need to watch to the end of this short video to find out why):