On Thursday, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box," and made a statement that has gotten a lot of attention. The statement was: "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
I would have said that that statement was just a rather obvious truism. I mean, we have an enormously complex climate system, affected by literally dozens of factors, many of them hugely larger than us puny little humans -- things like the sun, solar wind, oceans, clouds, volcanoes, aerosols, multiple atmospheric "greenhouse gases" of which water vapor is the dominant one, tilt of the earth's axis, position of the solar system in the galaxy, and plenty of other things that we don't even know about. And in the era of reasonably good measurements, world average temperatures (a poorly defined concept to begin with) have varied within a range of around one to two degrees, with the accuracy of measurement not much less than the amplitude of the variation. With all that going on, does somebody claim to have the method to know precisely how much of the variation in temperatures derives from human activities? To what level of accuracy? Tenths -- or hundredths -- of one degree? Really? Where's the proof? The whole concept is inherently implausible. I don't even understand how Pruitt's statement is remotely controversial.
Well, needless to say, Pruitt's statement has caused a total freakout in the progressive press and media. Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters has a roundup under the headline "Nets Freak Out Over EPA Chief Questioning Climate Change Dogma." The roundup includes what Drennen describes as "hyperventilating" from the likes of Gayle King and Chip Reid of CBS, Michael Brune of the Sierra Club (“[Pruitt] should not be serving as head of the EPA and he should resign immediately”), Hallie Jackson of NBC, George Stephanopolous (Pruitt is “drawing some real fire for taking on the scientific consensus about climate change”) and Jon Karl of ABC, and so on.
But as usual, I turn to my favorite, Coral Davenport of the New York Times. Somehow, this young lady with an English literature degree from Smith College has been given the job by the premier news outlet of progressivism to instruct you as to what you are and are not allowed to believe in the field of science. In yesterday's edition, she has a long front-page feature on Pruitt's statement and the reaction to it, under the headline "E.P.A. Chief Doubts Consensus View of Climate Change." As usual, it's the litany of blustery unsubstantiated statements from the regular enforcers of the official orthodoxy. Excerpt:
A January report by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded, “The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.” . . . “The scientific community has studied this issue for decades,” [said Benjamin D.] Santer, [a climate researcher at the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory]. “The consensus message from many national and international assessments of the science is pretty simple: Natural factors can’t explain the size or patterns of observed warming. A large human influence on global climate is the best explanation for the warming we’ve measured and monitored.”
We've studied this for decades! It's the consensus! Well, OK, where is the empirical study that quantitatively establishes that "natural factors can't explain" the observed warming, and that empirically validates the hypothesis that humans have caused x degrees of the warming (whatever x may be)? Have you ever seen such a study, or even a reference to such a study? I sure haven't. And I've been looking.
What I have seen is the September 2016 Research Report by Wallace, et al. that demonstrates conclusively and empirically that just a few natural factors -- to wit, oceans, the sun, and volcanoes -- are completely sufficient to explain all warming that has been observed, leaving nothing to be explained by human emissions of "greenhouse gases." The Research Report has been extensively peer reviewed and widely disseminated, including at this website. No one has refuted it, or even made a serious attempt at refutation.
In the face of the Research Report, it is just an insult to everyone's intelligence to keep on asserting that human greenhouse gases must be causing dangerous warming because there is a "consensus" and "natural factors can't explain it." Either you can refute the Research Report, or you have nothing. Needless to say, despite the wide dissemination of the Research Report, you will not find any mention of it in Ms. Davenport's article, nor at CBS, NBC, ABC, etc. They just prefer to insult your intelligence.
Granted, the Research Report has some serious "heavy lifting" math, and is not for the [faint] of heart. However, really, this is not that complicated. For example, consider this chart of global lower troposphere temperatures from the 1979-to-date UAH satellite record:
Looking at this chart, here is something completely obvious and undeniable: the recorded average temperature has seen several very substantial drops during this period, including a drop of almost a full degree C from early 1998 to early 1999, a drop of about 0.7 deg C from early 2010 to early 2011, and a drop of about 0.6 deg C from early 2016 to early 2017. During this entire record, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has had a slow and steady increase. So, does there exist some natural factor or factors that is capable of overwhelming the "greenhouse" effect of CO2 (if any) and causing temperatures to decline even in the face of increasing CO2? Obviously, there is. If so, how can we possibly know that human CO2 emissions are somehow the "dominant" cause of global warming?
Now consider the following two graphs. Both have been published by the people at NASA who are somehow the official guardians of our surface (land-based thermometer) temperature records. The first is their 1999 graph of U.S. temperatures from about 1880 to 1999:
Here is the link to find this graph at the NASA website: https://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1999/1999_Hansen_ha03200f.pdf The graph above is Figure 6 at the end of Hansen's paper found at the link. Now here is NASA's current graph of U.S. temperatures, starting at the same date and going through 2017:
And here is the link to find this second graph on NASA's website: https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/graph_data/U.S._Temperature/graph.png
Now look at those two graphs closely. How is it that in the graph published in 1999, the years 1998 and 1999 were noticeably cooler than the 1930s, but by the time 2017 had come around, somehow 1998-99 had become noticeably warmer than the 1930s? If you look closely, you will see that I am not making this up. The 1930s to the late 1990s is 60 years of increasing CO2 emissions. If temperatures went down, and for that long a time, how could it possibly be that CO2 emissions are the principal driving force in global climate? It's completely obvious that there has to be some other natural factor or factors that overwhelm the effects of the CO2, if any.
So they "adjusted" the temperatures. But the record of the temperatures prior to the adjustments still exists. Hat tip to the great Tony Heller for doing the detective work to catch these people red-handed.
Thus you do not have to be a math whiz to understand that other natural factors, known or unknown, overwhelm the influence, whatever it may be, of CO2 on climate. Just look at the charts above -- or dozens of others at Heller's website. And when you read the output of the likes of Coral Davenport, know that she is treating you like an uninformed idiot.
Don't pay any attention to these people, Mr. Pruitt!