Letter to 31 Scientific Societies Concerning a Letter They Sent to the US Congress on Climate PolicyAlan Carlin | October 23, 2016
In recent weeks I have described a very interesting new report using sophisticated econometric techniques to test a number of the hypotheses offered by alarmist climate scientists in a scientifically rigorous way. The findings of this new report add considerably to a developing alternative to “consensus” climate science. My book, Environmentalism Gone Mad, suggests some of the ways that the alarmists’ climate hypotheses are not supported by the scientific method. The new report provides much more evidence in this regard.
This is a generic version of a letter that has been sent personally to each of the 31 signatories of a June 28, 2016 “consensus scientific view of climate change” letter to the U.S. Congress; as noted in the letter, attached to it at the end is their original letter of June 28 since the new letter refers to it.
A somewhat similar effort to get alarmists to show a rigorous scientific basis for their faith in the climate “consensus” is being carried out by an Australian Senator, Malcolm Roberts. Although he has apparently not to date referenced the new report cited here, the new report makes the case that key basic hypotheses offered by the alarmists fail the application of the scientific method with more rigor than any other source I currently know of.
The letters primarily concentrate on the findings of the new report, which emphasize the problems with the key “lines of evidence” used in the USEPA Endangerment Finding of 2009. As discussed in an earlier post, however, the new report is equally damning for a number of the more general hypotheses contained in the alarmists’ “consensus science” and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Physical Science Reports.
This is the generic latter:
October 21, 2016
This letter is written with respect to the letter of June 28, 2016 (“June 28 Letter”), subscribed by your organization and some thirty other U.S.-based scientific societies. I attach a copy of that June 28 Letter for your reference. Besides this letter to you, we are addressing letters similar to this one to each of those other societies.
On September 21, 2016 a major new Research Report was published on the ICECAP website and at other locations. The Research Report was undertaken by its authors because they were unable to find anywhere in the literature of climate change a mathematically rigorous validation of a statistically significant, quantitative relationship between rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and surface as well as tropospheric temperatures.
The Research Report provides the methodology and findings of a definitive study designed to validate or invalidate the principal scientific hypotheses underlying the EPA’s December 2009 Endangerment Finding with respect to so-called “greenhouse gases,” including the hypothesis that rising greenhouse gas concentrations are likely to be associated with harmful or dangerous increases in surface temperatures. The results of the Research Report apply equally well to the Physical Science reports issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change over the last few decades. In accordance with the scientific method, the Research Report used the best available temperature data from multiple sources, each of them structurally independent from the others, for the validation/invalidation exercise. The data used in the Research Report are fully available via links in the Report itself, and came from sources including satellites, weather balloons, ocean buoys, and also surface thermometer records.
The principal conclusions of the Research Report are as follows:
• “These analysis results would appear to leave very, very little doubt but that EPA’s claim of a Tropical Hot Spot (THS), caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, simply does not exist in the real world.”
• Once EPA’s THS assumption is invalidated, then EPA’s climate models that rely upon the THS assumption are also invalid.
• “[T]his analysis failed to find that the steadily rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 13 critically important temperature time series data analyzed.”
• “[T]hese results clearly demonstrate – 13 times in fact – that once just the ENSO [El Nino/La Nina] impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no “record setting” warming to be concerned about. In fact, there is no ENSO-Adjusted Warming at all.”
The June 28 Letter to which you subscribed contains statements strongly implying that there had previously been some sort of empirical validation of a quantitative causal relationship between increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and increasing global average surface temperatures. For example, you state: “Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” Later in the June 28 Letter, you state: “There is strong evidence that ongoing climate change is having broad negative impacts on society, including the global economy, natural resources, and human health.”
However, as noted above, the authors of the Research Report have been unable to find in any scientific study a rigorous empirical validation of a statistically significant quantitative relationship between rising greenhouse gas concentrations and tropical, contiguous U.S. or global temperatures. Indeed we can find no paper that actually provides mathematically rigorous empirical proof that the effect of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations on world temperatures is different from zero with statistical significance.
As you might realize, we are concerned that prestigious scientific societies, including your own, have subscribed to a letter to Members of Congress purporting to convey scientific propositions as having been definitively established, when in fact there has never been a mathematically rigorous empirical validation of the propositions stated, and indeed there now appears to be a definitive scientific invalidation of those propositions.
Obviously, the June 28 Letter preceded the September 21 Research Report. We therefore ask you to reconsider your June 28 Letter in light of the Research Report. Alternatively, could you kindly:
• Refer us to the research study or studies that, in a mathematically proper and rigorous fashion, empirically validate a quantitative relationship between rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and global temperatures as reflected in all thirteen major data sets as used in the Research Report. Such a study must be very clear as to the analysis process and data utilized and must be able to be replicated.
• Refer us to the research study or studies that definitively empirically validate the so-called Tropical Hot Spot that is a critical underpinning of the “lines of evidence” on which EPA says it relies for its Endangerment Finding. (The term “Tropical Hot Spot” refers to the hypothesized warming pattern whereby increasing greenhouse gas concentrations cause the tropical mid-troposphere to warm more rapidly than the lower troposphere, which in turn warms more rapidly than the surface.)
• Refer us to the research study or studies that definitively empirically demonstrates that there is statistically significant warming to account for in the global troposphere after controlling for ENSO [El Nino/La Nina] effects.
In closing, we wish to remind you of the well-known quote from noted physicist Richard Feynman: “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” As a leader of a major scientific society, you of course realize that Feynman’s aphorism captures the essence of the scientific method that underlies the entire project of science, including all of the work of your organization and its members. If you as a scientific society are going to use your authority to advocate for a government policy agenda, the American people are entitled to know the specific empirical work that validates your scientific hypothesis that greenhouse gases are warming the planet. Also, if there is apparently definitive empirical research, such as the Research Report, that would seem to invalidate the principal hypotheses that underlie your policy advocacy, the American people are entitled to your definitive refutation of that work before you continue your policy advocacy.
In short, if you have mathematically rigorous empirical validation of the hypotheses that underlie your advocacy, kindly provide it. If you do not, kindly say so.
Very truly yours,
Law Office of Francis Menton
85 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, New York 10004
Mr. Menton is a lawyer in New York. He has represented numerous scientists, among them the authors and many of the reviewers of the Research Report cited in this letter, in making submissions as amici curiae to courts including the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court on issues related to energy and climate matters. Mr. Menton has a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Yale.
Dr. Carlin is a retired senior analyst and manager at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, 1971-2010; previously he was an economist at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. He is the author of Environmentalism Gone Mad, Stairway Press, and the author or coauthor of about 40 other professional publications including many on climate science and economics. He has a PhD in economics from MIT and a BS in physics from Caltech.
Attached Letter of June 28:
Dear Members of Congress,
We, as leaders of major scientific organizations, write to remind you of the consensus scientific view of climate change.
Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast
body of peer-reviewed science.
There is strong evidence that ongoing climate change is having broad negative impacts on society, including the global economy, natural resources, and human health. For the United States, climate change impacts include greater threats of extreme weather events, sea level rise, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems. The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades.
To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced. In addition, adaptation is necessary to address unavoidable consequences for human health and safety, food security, water availability, and national security, among others. We, in the scientific community, are prepared to work with you on the scientific issues important
to your deliberations as you seek to address the challenges of our changing climate.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Chemical Society
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Meteorological Society
American Public Health Association
American Society of Agronomy
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
American Society of Naturalists
American Society of Plant Biologists
American Statistical Association
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
Botanical Society of America
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Crop Science Society of America
Ecological Society of America
Entomological Society of America
Geological Society of America
National Association of Marine Laboratories
Natural Science Collections Alliance
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Society for Mathematical Biology
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Society of Nematologists
Society of Systematic Biologists
Soil Science Society of America
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
1The conclusions in this and the preceding paragraph reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the U.S. National Academies, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Many scientific societies have endorsed these findings in their own statements, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Statistical Association, Ecological Society of America, and Geological Society of America.