The phrase “fighting climate change” has taken on new meaning, with the Department of Defense factoring consensus-based forecasts of a warmer planet into its military preparedness models. Writes NBC News’ Bill Briggs:
US military and intelligence agencies are increasingly monitoring and preparing for how, when and where the consequences of a warmer planet will collide with national security, requiring the eventual need to deploy American troops to weather-torn lands.
…“For DoD, this is a mission reality, not a political debate,” said Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesman. “The scientific forecast is for more Arctic ice melt, more sea-level rise, more intense storms, more flooding from storm surge, and more drought.[”]
“Those changes shape the future operating environment, help us predict missions we'll have to undertake, and create challenges and constraints on how we operate on our bases,” Wright said. “We're taking sensible measured steps to mitigate the mission risk posed by climate change.”
The problem, many critics would say, is that the DoD’s “mission reality” is based on the outcome of a “political debate” — not on sound science. Climate models that had predicted rising temperatures for the past couple of decades have proved faulty, as there has been no warming now for almost 18 years. Moreover, writes James Taylor at Human Events, “This year has been the coldest year in history through May 6,” and when summer officially arrives, “it better be a warm one if the United States is to avoid setting a new record for its coldest year ever.”
Perhaps this is why what was once billed as “global warming” morphed into “climate change” and now, in deference to marketing imperatives, has been rebranded “global climate disruption.” And this recent label’s implication, of course, is that man is the “disruptor.” It also allows for flexible interpretation: If the climate becomes warmer, colder, or more volatile, it can all be said to accord with predictions of “disruption.”
Of course, it’s a given that the climate will change, naturally, and it certainly can have dire consequences for life on Earth. Whether gradual or resulting from an asteroid strike, climate change caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and other life forms 65 million years ago; and it most likely caused the extinction of 12,000 years past that claimed the Wooly Mammoth and 34 other animal species, as well as the prehistoric Clovis Indian culture of North America. And outlining the theory that climate change contributed to the Roman Empire’s fall, The Daily Need wrote in 2011, “[C]limate variability, with other factors, brought about a period of agricultural instability that affected both the Romans and militant migrant populations to the northeast — the “barbarians.” These migrants then fought their way south, toward the warmer Mediterranean weather — and toward an already weakened Rome.”
So it certainly is legitimate for the DoD to prepare for climate-change contingencies. But are the Pentagon’s “mission realities” based on scientific reality? Note that all the climate-induced disasters outlined above — and this appears to hold true for virtually all if not all problems of climate change — involved colder weather, not warmer. For during ice ages it’s more difficult to grow food and survive; in fact, higher CO2 levels greatly increase crop yields because they enhance plant growth. This is why botanists pump this life-giving gas into their greenhouses.
As for CO2, there’s also evidence that it isn’t the cause of warmer weather, but the result of it. As Scientific American pointed out in its 2007 article “In Hot Water: Ice Age Defrosted by Warming Ocean, Not Rise in CO2,” as temperatures increase and oceans heat up, they release more of the gas into the atmosphere. This phenomenon is one reason why soda is kept cold, mind you: Warmer pop releases its CO2 bubbles more quickly and goes flat sooner.
Moreover, conventional wisdom has held that the Earth experiences 100,000-year glacial periods followed by warmer 12,000-year interglacials. Thus, given that we’ve been in an interglacial period for approximately 12,500 years now, we could be due for another ice age.
So what are the DoD’s assessments of a warmer planet based on? “Scientific consensus,” as Briggs puts it in his NBC article. He also mentions “pundits who assert the [consensus]…is overblown or concocted.” But it isn’t just pundits. As I wrote in “Blinding Me with Science: Fraud and Folly for Fame and Funding” (The New American, March 2014):
[T]he Canada-based group Friends of Science just released (Feb. 3) a review of much-touted 97-percent consensus surveys and concluded, the organization wrote in a press release, “Contrary to claims of these most-cited 97% consensus surveys, there is only 1-3% explicitly stated agreement with the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] declarations on global warming, and no agreement with a catastrophic view. ‘These ‘consensus’ surveys appear to be used as a ‘social proof,’ says Ken Gregory, research director of Friends of Science. … ‘The 97% claim is contrived in all cases.’”
But more significant than whether consensus claims are based on falsehoods, say many critics, is that they certainly are based on a fallacy. As late author Michael Crichton explained in a 2003 Caltech Michelin Lecture:
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.
In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.
The writer then cited numerous examples of consensus opinion among scientists being wrong, such as with puerperal fever, pellagra, continental-drift theory, “Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur and germ theory. Saccharine, margarine, repressed memory, fiber and colon cancer, [and] hormone replacement therapy.” Crichton concluded his critique of consensus by saying, “Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”
Translation: If you have the facts, you present them. Leaning on “consensus” is tacit admission that you don’t have the facts.
Because claims of consensus are all climate alarmists do have perhaps explains why they’ve often suppressed facts, such as in the Climategate scandal. It perhaps explains why they zealously ostracize those saying the consensus has no clothes, such as climate-change skeptic Professor Lennart Bengtsson, who recently was forced to resign from the Global Warming Policy Foundation after only three weeks in his position due to “virtually unbearable” threats. It is perhaps why some alarmists have even suggested that skeptics be arrested. Climate consensus may not really be consensus, say critics, but it sure has become dogma.