An Open Letter To Lawrence Krauss
The following is in reference to a recent article in Slate penned by Lawrence Krauss, “If You Don’t Accept That Climate Change Is Real, You’re Not a Skeptic. You’re a Denier“.
Unfortunately, Dr. Krauss, we are all, even prominent and respected scientists like yourself, subject to bias. And in this case you are either ignorant of contrary data, or bias leads you to discount it to maintain your position. Even the IPCC WG1 AR5 report, in evaluation of climate models (Chapter 9, Box 9.2, page 769) states that what they call the “hiatus” in warming can’t be explained, and 111/114 models, or 97%, overstate warming compared to real world observation. This gives the appearance of a systemic bias in the models in favor of an AGW/co2 hypothesis.
As Richard Feynman said, “If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your guess is. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong”.
Well, the IPCC… hardly an impartial organization… admits it “disagrees with experiment”. 31,000+ scientists have disputed the AGW/co2 hypothesis in The Oregon Petition. Prominent NASA astronauts, scientists, program directors, etc, have decried the politicization of NASA and their positions on climate change. Even the “97% of scientists” claim quoted ad nauseum in the media has no scientific basis, wrongly classified papers, and has been discredited as marketing. Indeed, peer-reviewed studies suggest a majority of scientists may also dispute what is constantly called the ‘consensus’ position. No, that does NOT mean these studies should be taken at face value and exclude those that are contrary. That would be cherry-picking. What it does is introduce DOUBT about what we are told is “settled” or “consensus”.
Further, there seems to be a deliberate attempt by you to conflate skepticism of AGW/co2 hypothesis with climate change denial, and to deride any opposition to your one sided view as unscientific. By these standards many eminent, credentialed and respected scientists that accept climate change and that man has a role, but are unconvinced of the claims that man is almost solely responsible, would be declared ‘deniers’. Among them are contributors to IPCC reports such as Judith Curry and John Christy. These are not ideologues. They are pragmatists that accept much of the AGW/co2 climate change narrative, but draw the line at politics and deliberate deceit in the name of self interest directing the narrative away from science and into bias and extremism.
Many accept climate does change (we are only 12,000 years out of an ice age after all) but aren’t convinced we can say with any certainty what is man’s role. And for the record, not ONCE have I ever heard a skeptic claim climate does not change. I have never heard a skeptic claim certainty in this area at all. In fact, it is the proponents of the AGW/co2 hypothesis that say we can stop looking, we already have the answers, and suggest we can stabilize the climate by reducing co2 emissions… in effect outing themselves as both closed minded, and climate change deniers.
Add to this the never ending stream of apocalyptic warnings that have yet to materialize, the shrill and repeated claims that defy any cursory scientific examination (deep ocean heating, ocean acidification, polar bear extinction, more common and catastrophic storms, 50% decline in wildlife since 1970, rapidly melting Antarctic ice, etc…) and there is an ever expanding portfolio of reasons to be not just skeptical (ALWAYS a reasonable position), but wary, and even cynical. And this is a tragedy. Polarization has taken the place of data and analysis. It means we are NOT directing resources according to need, and are setting policy based on at best a wet-finger-in-the-wind guess, and at worst, deliberately misrepresented or outright fraudulent claims.
This is not to say man doesn’t have a role in climate change, or that co2 plays no part. But you can’t say that either of these things are true, or quantify them with any degree of certainty when the models used to make the assertions can’t accurately predict experiment… in this case real world temperature readings. What you CAN say when experiment doesn’t match the prediction is that the hypothesis is flawed, incomplete, or wrong.
I’m not a scientist, but I AM a skeptic, and I understand something of the scientific method. And making assertions that are based on models that are shown to overstate warming at a 97% rate is in direct opposition to the scientific method. Unless, of course, you can show why Feynman was wrong all along and models override experiment. In short, when considering the weight of ALL evidence, to assert that questioning your position is unscientific is itself unscientific, and unbecoming a scientist of your reputation and stature.