Saturday, May 27, 2017

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming???

The Heartland Institute published a book (pamphlet) called "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming".  They are sending this pamphlet to all of the science teachers in the US.  They have also sent it to elected officials and other groups.  One of the teachers who received the pamphlet from Heartland decided to have her students do a little bit of research on Heartland and the NIPPC which provided the content.  Unknowingly,  Heartland provided a great opportunity for students to learn about how to research propaganda.  I have summarized some of the their findings below.  I would encourage other science teachers to have their students do a similar study.  It is very easy to do for most students who know how to use google and their computers.  Heartland has provided teachers with a great opportunity to participate in the debunking of propaganda on global warming.

The Heartland Institute is a non-profit "think tank" it is designated by the IRS as a 501(c)3 entity.  Donors to Heartland are not required to be identified and donations are tax deductible.  Heartland describes itself as a promoter of freedom.  It promotes free market solutions to social and economic problems.  Its goal is to limit government in order to promote personal liberty.  Exxon has provided several million dollars to Heartland over a number of years.  It is not surprising that Heartland has taken the position that government intervention into the energy industry, in order to mitigate global warming,  violates the freedom of energy producers and consumers of energy.  It sponsored an organization called the Non-government International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) to produce the pamphlet which argues that there is no scientific consensus about human contribution global warming.

The NIPCC consists of a around 23 authors from 15 nations.  They are not all scientists.  It opposes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  The IPCC consists of several hundred scientists from around the world who produce research that is published in peer reviewed scientific journals.  IPCC research has led to the conclusion that global warming is real, and that the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is responsible for global warming.  NIPCC claims that there is no consensus among scientists about human contributions to climate change.  It produced the pamphlet funded by Heartland to attack the consensus of climate scientists.

The forward to the NIPPC pamphlet was written by Marita Noon.  She started her career as a Christian motivational speaker under the name of Marita Littnauer.  She is now the director for Energy Makes America Great Again and a companion organization called Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE).  CARE receives its funding from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Industry.  It claims that it promotes freedom and the American way of life by educating the public and policy makers regarding energy.  Noon has been a columnist for Breitbart and other far right organizations.

Marita Noon's forward in the pamphlet starts out with an attack on President Obama for placing a priority on mitigating global warming.  She argues that this was done instead of dealing the threats from ISIS which is engaged in global acts of terror.  That sets the tone for a forward produced by a motivational speaker and not a scientist.  She goes on to argue, among other things, that the alarmist view of global warming is at the core of renewable energy subsidies that transfer wealth from the general public to a "small politically connected cabal of climate profiteers.  That sets the stage for her to thank the producers of the pamphlet which proves that there is no scientific consensus on climate change.

The pamphlet published by the Heartland institute was written by three authors who have been critical of human contributions to climate change for many years.  Craig Idso has a PhD in geography and like his father Sherwood Idso he has argued that carbon dioxide provides more good than it does harm.  He has received an $11,000 per month stipend from Heartland.  He is an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, which like Heartland, is a think tank that promotes limited government, free markets and personal liberty.

S. Fred Singer is a 93 year old physicist from Austria who has been a critic of global warming for many years.  He has received $5,000 monthly stipend from Heartland for his contributions.  Robert Carter, who recently passed away, is the third author of the NIPPC pamphlet.  He is a marine geologist  from Australia.  He served on the Institute for Public Affairs in Australia.  All of its directors serve on the boards of fossil fuel businesses.  He once claimed that coral reefs are in no danger from global warming.  It is common knowledge today that coral reefs are in serious danger from climate change.  Some the damage may be irreversible.

The name given to the organization that produced the pamphlet is similar to that of IPPC in only one respect.  It calls itself the Non-Governmental IPPC.  The implication is that IPPC is a government organization and that NIPPC is free from government imposed requirements on its operation.  That is absurd to begin with.  The hundreds of scientists that participate in IPPC research and its conclusions do not work for government.  On the other hand,  the Heartland Institute receives much of its funding from Exxon and other organizations that are affected financially by government sponsored efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Heartland, and a number of other right wing think tanks such as Cato, The American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, etc. etc. claim to be defenders of freedom.  Their defense of freedom is also a defense of fossil fuel industry financial performance.  Heartland's critique of the IPCC is that it is motivated by the incentive to promote government funding for research on climate change.  No evidence is provided to support the conclusion that hundreds of dedicated scientists are willing to fudge their data in order to maintain government funding.  There are lots of reasons why firms in the energy industry fund organizations like Heartland and other think tanks that are devoted to promoting the freedom of businesses and less interference from government in the market system.

The producers of the pamphlet are correct when they argue it is very difficult to reach consensus in science.  There will always be debates about research findings.  Its also true that new studies will provide better answers to important questions.  The IPPC process for reaching conclusions among hundreds of scientists is not easy.  It has taken many years of research and debate to get agreement about the conclusions that have been reached.  The NIPPC starts out with the premise that climate change is a function of natural phenomena and that human contribution is not important.  They have not proved that point in their pamphlet. Instead they have tried to discredit the efforts of hundreds of scientists that came to a conclusion that Heartland and its funding organizations dislike.

No comments:

Post a Comment