Sturm: The Archie Bunkers of settled science
October 12, 2014
Archie Bunker-like in frustration, Schendler wants me to stifle myself. If I don't "dummy up" like Archie's wife, Edith, he suggests Aspen Times editors Think Again before publishing my commentary without peer reviews or risk "being complicit in promoting falsehoods."
Schendler calls this "ground-truthing of scientific claims," noting that the Los Angeles Times doesn't publish pieces that "deny established climate science." Like Robert Kennedy Jr., who recently called for the jailing of treasonous nonconformists who break with "settled-science" orthodoxy, Schendler insists it's not censorship when there's no argument.
My crime — tantamount to "yelling 'fire' in a movie theater" — is considering climate change as "a naturally reoccurring phenomenon to which mankind has always adapted, and still can." Apparently, I can't acknowledge Earth's warming and ice-age cycles without embracing political agendas that require living-standard cuts — lifestyle sacrifices that activists won't acknowledge and elites like Kennedy, Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio won't obey.
Resisting cataclysmic theorizers and their "starve the peasants to save the pheasants" thinking, I criticized alarmists who "invoke the moral equivalent of Holocaust denial to reject those deeming climate change less dangerous than other threats." I did so believing an economically robust and energy-secure America is the ultimate threat-deterrent.
Today, I'd add to my threat list the failure of public institutions to protect and serve Americans, considering recent incompetence, corruption and unaccountability in government agencies — those Schendler wants to grant unprecedented powers to centrally plan and control economic life.
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Though denounced by climate "groupthinkers," dissidents like I am are troubled by "the stunning failure of … doomsday-predicting models to forecast warming's nearly 18-year pause (confirmed by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) or Al Gore's 2007 prediction that polar bears' Arctic habitat would be ice-free by 2013."
These irrefutable observations riled Schendler. Accusing me of "cherry-picking data," he contends I'm "willfully blind or statistically illiterate to claim warming has stopped." Citing a Politifact article to support his contention, he apparently overlooked the fact-checker's concession that "over roughly the past 15 years, global surface temperatures have plateaued."
So who's the "meathead" — considering widespread acceptance of unexpected global temperature stability and the existence of more Arctic ice than in 2007, never mind record Antarctic ice levels?
As if answering this question, President Obama's former undersecretary of energy, Steve Koonin, wrote a consensus-disrupting op-ed, "Climate science is not settled." Lamenting how the settled-science claim "demeans and chills the scientific enterprise" and distorts "policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment," Koonin argues, "We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy."
Noting warming's pause amid rising carbon dioxide emissions, Koonin posits, "natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity." Despite "different explanations for this (prediction) failure … the whole episode continues to highlight the limits of our modeling," he said.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author Kevin Trenberth admitted this in one of the embarrassing emails leaked in the "Climategate" scandal of 2009. "The fact is," he wrote, "we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty."
Probing the disconnect between observed temperatures and predictions, The Economist asked, "Who pressed the pause button?" in a March global-warming article. Because "the models embody the state of climate knowledge," they concluded, "if they are wrong, the knowledge is probably faulty, too."
Even the Los Angeles Times broke with the climate consensus, reporting last month: "Naturally occurring changes in winds, not human-caused climate change, are responsible for most of the warming on land and in the sea along the West Coast of North America over the last century."
Meanwhile, amid calls to stifle climate debates, technological breakthroughs have made America the world's most energy-endowed nation, possessing more oil than Saudi Arabia and more natural gas than Russia (according to an International Energy Agency report in June).
In substituting lower-carbon resources for coal, we've hit the energy jackpot: cheaper energy (a rebate for the poor and an offset of foreign manufacturers' cheap labor advantages), cleaner air, new jobs, increased governmental revenues, greater energy independence and carbon dioxide emissions at a 20-year low, outpacing Europe, whose expensive renewable-energy strategies have failed.
Despite these advantages, activists refusing to moderate their climate conclusions — no matter the evidence — rally to curb the development of our cheapest energy resources, denying citizens who can't afford Whole Foods environmentalism the benefits of our energy bounty.
Unfortunately, except for the rich, Americans are suffering crisis levels of income stagnation, underemployment, economic immobility and poverty. These truths — not doomsday predictions — preoccupy Americans.
Think Again — Climate-mongers intent on squashing free inquiry and expression insist that dissenters are "dead from the neck up," Archie Bunker-style. But being "meatheads" is not our destiny if we refuse to stifle ourselves.
Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. She welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.