Climate alarmists have always been a strange lot, closely adhering to the prevailing story-line, when they surely know that it is nonsense or, at the very best, impressively weak. When I have asked Oregon’s premier climate alarmist, Oregon State University Professor Phil Mote, a question and he has not attempted to run away, he will pull out the latest volume from the UN IPCC and quote chapter and verse. When I have asked one of his assistants, Associate Professor Andreas Schmittner, if he will distance himself from the worst of the excesses on the alarmist side, he emphatically will not. It is this mentality that says to their fellow scientists that they are a breed apart.
Normal scientists will be happy to tell you about the prevailing science and how they may differ with all or part of it. Their candor signals to everyone and especially to their colleagues that they are behaving like real scientists and not merely protecting an extensive financial empire.
Skeptics are constantly giving their own analysis, perhaps differing with others as to how much warming we can expect from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide over centuries. Some give the theoretical value in the absence of feedbacks of one degree Celsius. Others say less or none, depending on how they view the importance of the various feedbacks and how they interpret the slight warming we have observed. The big debate is between those who think that our oceans and atmosphere are sufficiently chaotic to cause all the observed climate variations and those who feel that the Sun plays a substantial or even dominant role. This debate will continue until it is sufficiently obvious who is correct. Carbon dioxide does not even enter into the real debate.
Breaking with the pack
While we have come to view alarmists as automatons, incapable of original thoughts, a few are trying to break away from the cabal by distancing themselves from the worst of the behavior on their side. In one recent case, a respected professor from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington (Cliff Mass) characterized Michel Mann and Sarah Myhre as “the most rabid extremists:”
“Chuck…you can not consider those folks [Michael Mann and Sarah Myhre] as representing climate scientists…they are the most rabid extremists. Mann has gone over completely to the dark side and Sarah Myhre has real emotional problems…and yes is a complete opportunist. What is more serious is that the media is happy to communicate incessant hype and exaggeration that is patently untrue…cliff”
That is something that I might have said, but it comes from a prominent alarmist who has broken with the pack over their continued extremism. What finally got to him was the outrageous behavior of a young woman biologist at UW who attacked him in front of the Washington State legislature and followed up that attack with a thinly veiled charge of sexual harassment in an article published by The Stranger, under the headline “The Culture of Harassing and Demeaning Women Scientists.”
Mass did not mince words in responding to her, also in The Stranger:
“Her efforts to paint me as an extremist was both wrong and unnecessary, particularly as I not only am concerned about climate change, but was a major supporter of the carbon tax initiative. Now instead of calling her on her unprofessional name-calling in public, I asked her to have coffee with me. I asked her whether she could point out any technical errors in my published research, blogs, or public communication. She could not. Then she starting revving up on how I was aiding “deniers” by admitting uncertainty in climate projections and in interpreting current extreme events. She told me it was ok to exaggerate and deceive the public, to get them to do the right thing. Stunningly, she said she was willing to admit I was ok if I agreed to do an op-ed piece with her for the Seattle Times. I could not believe it. I believe Sarah Myhre is doing a substantial disservice to the effort to deal with climate change, reducing the chance of bipartisan action, and calling folks names she does not agree with.” [bold added]
More than just a public dust up
This was more than a public dust up in Seattle between a senior scientist and an emotional young woman who views herself as a climate science crusader but is not even a physical scientist. This is the first instance I have seen where a major proponent of the paradigm is willing to publicly call out bad behavior on his own side. Cliff Mass has been willing to question specifics of the most extreme alarmism presented by Oregon State University and even been willing to expose the ‘Ocean Acidification’ nonsense at UW, but never to disown “the most rabid extremists” or criticize the mainstream media that has been vital to the climate scam. He is, however, mercurial and likes to play both sides.
Mann and Myhre were lumped together in this explosion, because they appeared together on an American Geophysical Union panel in mid-December in New Orleans with other climate extremists. OSU-trained meteorologist Chuck Wiese asked “Cliff, Really? Is this the caliber of “climate scientists” we have in the United States? It would be embarrassing to me if I was in faculty anywhere and I can’t imagine it isn’t to you. I know you are knowledgeable in atmospheric science so to hear this sort of nonsense has to be a bit frustrating.” That triggered Cliff’s remarkable comments disowning “rabid extremists.” Thank you Professor Mass. Your frank comments help to isolate the most extreme.
Here is a link to the AGU panel video, featuring “the most rabid extremists”:
While Michael Mann of ‘Hockey Stick’ fame was the most notorious of the group, Sarah Myhre was the most outrageous and actually should be complimented for so well illustrating how far alarmists have moved away from even the pretense of science. Myhre was introduced as someone ‘making a wonderful brilliant name for herself with climate awareness.’ She introduced herself as a feminist and cultural leader who is advocating for massive cultural changes. She then launched into a plea for scientists to stand up for human rights, saying they must become advocates for people and ecosystems. ‘Equity, Inclusivity, and Justice!’ were her ideas for science. Presumably with Cliff Mass and other male scientists in mind, Myhre encouraged her audience to fight misogyny.
Everything Myhre said was so out of line for a scientific meeting that it was bizarre. She made the fatal mistake of so many climate alarmists, by trying to combine her burning personal and societal crusades with science.
Competent science is never about fashionable social trends and especially about Myhre’s demands that it be subservient to her politics. Science has nothing to do with popular notions of “social justice” and “fairness.” It seeks only the truth.
What the extremists never understand is that the absolute truth probably benefits the greater good far more than anything else (if they are even interested in the greater good). But it only works in that order. Arguing that you have to put their politics ahead of the truth is infinitely destructive. Sarah Myhre and her fellow panelist Mann support a social storm that has no regard for the objective reality so fundamental to science. Or perhaps they never learned to respect Richard Feynman’s calls for “utter honesty” in the first place.
But even among the radicals on the dark side at the conference, there were signs that they are no longer hanging together. No one seconded Sarah Myhre’s strident calls for climate alarm to melt into feminist alarm. And Cliff Mass did not cower in the face of false accusations of misconduct. Even more remarkable, the most rabid Associated Press reporter at the conference, Seth Borenstein, asked Michael Mann if he thought he could continue to maintain that we are very near a tipping point with our climate, when he has been saying the same thing for many years!
Gordon J. Fulks lives in Corbett and can be reached at email@example.com. He holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago’s Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Northwest Connection.)