George Mason Profs: Prosecute Climate Deniers

Jadadish Shukla (right) receiving award in India.

Jagadish Shukla (right) receiving Padma Shri Award in India.

by James A. Bacon

Jagadish Shukla, a George Mason University climate scientist, thinks corporate climate deniers should be criminally prosecuted under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.

Corporations and other organizations have “knowingly deceived” the American people about the risks of climate change, wrote Shukla and nineteen other scientists (five of whom also are GMU professors) in an open letter to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done.”

Wow. Is this what science has come to in the United States today — seeking criminal prosecution of those who espouse different views? The implications of this mindset are absolutely terrifying. Thankfully, only 20 scientists signed the letter, so we can be hopeful that the thinking expressed therein is not representative of most climate scientists or even climate alarmists generally — although the missive does cite as its inspiration a proposal championed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island.

The premise is that fossil fuel companies, like the tobacco companies before them, are knowingly and fraudulently disseminating false science. Barry Klinger, also a GMU climate scientist, insists that the letter signatories aren’t trying to throw climate skeptics in jail or repress their right to free speech — just squelch the right of companies engaging in fraud to sell a product that does harm.

In a Q&A on his website, Klinger is sensitive to the charges of “ideologically based legal harassment.” That’s how he described former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s aborted investigation of Michael Mann, a former University of Virginia climate scientist whose name was prominent among those sullied in the East Anglia email scandal. “Apparently,” writes Klinger, “there are some who believe it is the return of the Inquisition to investigate a giant corporation but a good deed to investigate an individual scientist.”

In other words, while Klinger disapproves of Cuccinelli’s subpoena of Michael Mann’s emails — Cuccinelli never got the emails, by the way — he thinks ideologically based criminal prosecutions are OK if the targets aregiant corporations.” Pardon me for failing to see any meaningful differences between the two cases. If one is wrong, so is the other. Of course, the ultimate goal of the letter signatories is not to pursue justice but to de-fund and de-legitimize those with opposing views while maintaining their own sources of funding from government and foundations as sacrosanct.

Which brings us back to Mr. Shukla, Klinger’s colleague at GMU and lead signatory to the letter. Shukla is a scientist of some renown, who specializes in building computerized climate models and has served as a lead author for the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. He has done work reconstructing the climate of the Mediterranean world in the Roman era that I, as a serious amateur student of 1st-century Palestine, find fascinating.

I am not remotely qualified to judge the scientific value of Shukla’s work, but I do feel competent to comment upon his foray into public policy. It appears that climate alarmism, to riff off an old Saturday Night Live routine, has been bery, bery good to Mr. Shukla. Roger Pielke Jr., a climate scientist himself, notes that Shukla runs his government grants through a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, the Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc. The Institute raked in $3.8 million in 2014, from which Shukla paid himself $293,000 in reportable compensation and his wife Anne Shukla $146,000 as a business manager. It’s not bad money, considering that Shukla also received total compensation of $250,000 as a professor and chair of the GMU Climate Dynamics department. That would make Shukla slightly more highly compensated than GMU President Angel Cabrera — and I’m betting that Cabrera’s wife doesn’t knock down a $146,000-a-year salary for work related to his job as university president.

Shukla also has been granted numerous awards and medals, including the 2012 Padma Shri Award from the government of India. In sum, he is richly rewarded financially and with status conferred by his peers for his work building global climate-change models.

I wonder if Mr. Shukla’s climate models predicted the actual, real-world temperatures of the past 18 years. The mean temperature increase has been zero, as measured by satellite readings, and within the statistical margin of error, as measured by terrestrial readings. If after the expenditure of millions of dollars Mr. Shukla has failed to forecast those readings and yet persists in raising the cry of catastrophic climate change, could we conclude, using the logic he applies to others, that his work was not only in error but fraudulent, motivated by the desire to continue the flow of lucrative research contracts — and not only fraudulent but economically devastating because it justifies the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars to combat an exaggerated threat?

Shukla certainly knows the stakes. As he himself is quoted in 2011 as saying: “It is inconceivable that policymakers will be willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.”

Ordinarily, I would not be inclined to equate Mr. Shukla’s behavior with criminality, but it does seem reasonable to apply to him the same criteria he applies to others. Perhaps he should be more careful about what he asks for. Once the precedent of criminalizing science has been set, some future administration might decide Shukla falls on the wrong side of the ideological divide.

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61 responses to “George Mason Profs: Prosecute Climate Deniers

  1. It is one thing to prosecute people who oppose open analysis of science, but I agree if scientists are being paid to essentially look the other way or manipulate the science then it would be akin to a structural engineer who is paid by a contractor to lighten up the “required” rebar or concrete… ie it is wholly illegal and open to malpractice (both civil and criminal) if an engineer does this.

    So how is that any different Jim?

    This goes back to a new report in the New Yorker that has found evidence that Oil Execs knowingly did exactly the above … so I would say there is indeed a case to be made if it can be found that these companies are knowingly paying to cover up hazards and costs to society that it knows its products cause.

  2. “Paid to …manipulate the science” Isn’t that exactly what Jim is suggesting may have been done by the GMU professor, and certainly by Michael Mann, regardless of the prosecutorial ambitions of Cuccinelli. May we agree that man-made climate change has taken on certain aspects of a religion? Can’t prove its existence, but we believe in it anyway because it suits us.

    If you’re going to mention those dirty Oil Execs (I didn’t know it was a proper noun requiring capitalization, thanks for the info) and some New Yorker report (now there’s a reliably neutral media outlet), at least summarize what you think is their supposed badness.

    Let’s see… a Tyson’s engineer. i wonder if that has anything to do with working for the government and getting grants from same. That would explain a lot about the post.

    • For the record, I don’t want to suggest that Shukla has manipulated evidence or done anything wrong. I have no basis for making such a claim. I AM suggesting that, if his climate models don’t match up with reality, politically motivated prosecutors could turn his political logic against him.

      • Incorrect, because in his case you would have to prove that he knowingly manipulated said data to get a conclusion he wanted AND that it caused some damages either financial, environmental, or lethal.

        If he manipulated data to say climate change was more serious than it is (and believe me every oil company in the world attempts to find the smallest grain of evidence to do this) then there might be a case. But the sheer fact that at any instantaneous moment a future projections doesn’t align exactly with a model of what was anticipated is not sole cause for prosecution.

        Now if there was a paper trail of evidence showing that a wind company or government official told him to fudge the numbers to make it look that way, that’s different.

        Now you will argue the whole UVA climate study event… I’ll let you go ahead and do that now however flawed it is.

    • I don’t work in the petroleum industry, but funny enough I have plenty of friends and relatives who are petrol engineers who work for oil companies. It is one thing to be given research money to look into something. It is a wholly other thing to be given money from a company to say something does the opposite of what you told them it does; which is what the allegations against Exxon are at this time.

      I concur however, if money is influencing the outcome of scientific research in terms of what the researchers say; then any such scenario in which the public is defrauded of money, due damages, or that has lethal implications should be prosecuted just like is the case when engineers knowingly do the same.

      Funny case that just popped up about this would be the VW/Audi who knowingly short circuited test methodology in their cars to avoid having to put in the same regulatory requirements other companies have to. Those executives and engineers who knowingly did so should be held accountable.

      Same thing with a mining company who circumvents safety precautions or takes short cuts on structural stabilization etc.

      If you are putting your license or company liability on the line, knowingly going against ethical standards, then you should be criminally charged if the consequences of those decisions can cause criminal consequences.

  3. there’s some confusion here and some conflating.

    The cigarette companies were not convicted of exercising their free speech rights nor conducting bad science.

    they were actually convicted of materially misrepresenting facts that, in turn, misled people with respect to understanding things that could harm them. We have a tobacco settlement that is proof positive that they were actually guilty of far worse than “free speech”.

    Don’t tell me Michael Mann was guilty of doing that.

    When you can show that Mr. Mann materially misrepresented known facts that, in turn, actually caused health impacts to people – then you can make that claim.

    where in the world is the logic in this argument?

    • I’m not conflating the tobacco companies with Michael Mann. I’m conflating the fossil fuel companies with Michael Mann.

      • Lol well atleast he admits there’s conflating happening. Read the New Yorker piece, and keep in mind there are further reports coming out from whistleblowers evidently, but I will hold my opinion until seeing all the facts on whether or not criminal prosecution is valid.

        The threshold should be what I outlined above however, a purposeful cover up of true damages, ie malicious intent.

  4. A corporation that violates EPA regulations is subject to fine and corporate employees who conspire to knowingly violate EPA regulations are subject to fine and imprisonment. That is not enough for people? They want to imprison people for arguing over the research and doing their best to tear holes in the other guy’s conclusions? I am embarrassed for GMU and for Virginia and I want all 20 of those so called professors to go read a biography of Galileo and write book reports…

    Hey, maybe this Pope will throw people in prison for failing to toe the line of his new orthodoxy on climate alarmism. Who needs EPA when we can have a new Inquisition? Clearly my thinking is just as dangerous to his world view as Galileo’s was to the Pope of his day.

    I’ve been saying for more than a decade, this is a religion. Watch the news this coming week and prove me wrong.

  5. If W&M and VA Tech profs start espousing such inflammatory rhetoric this alumnus will surely rethink his annual support.

  6. Science can and does make mistakes.

    Even bad, fraudulent science – as far as I know is not illegal.

    anyone is free to publish anything they want …. until – they are using it to sell a product.

    Then if a product they sell is claimed to not cause harm – and it does – then there is a right – by those who were harmed to seek redress.

    If a lot of people were harmed then a class action can be filed.

    That’s exactly what happened to the Cigarette Companies.

    It happened to the asbestos companies also.

    Banks have been sued for fraud on Mortgage securities.

    Drug companies have been sued for claiming their product was safe when it was not.

    Can fossil fuel companies be sued for fraudulently claims?

    you bet they can.

    Can you sue a person for making fraudulent scientific claims?

    nope. not unless they are using it to defraud others to enrich themselves.

    what in the world would you charge them with?

    • As I’ve written many times, I’m an agnostic as to the claims of man-made global warming. It could be true, but there are many other unanswered questions in my mind to accept it as absolutely true. I’ve also noted that I serve on a metro-wide committee looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions. Much of our committee focus is on finding solutions that provide other measurable benefits, such a traffic congestion reduction and reduction in noxious gases. Even the strongest supporters of carbon reduction on the committee recognize that, standing alone, most strategies are not cost effective. And the most skeptical seem to see value in strategies that can produce multiple benefits. We are actually finding common ground and without the need to argue about divisive issues. And all the committee participants receive is a free meal once a month, plus lots of paper.

      At the same time, I recognize there is strong incentive for those making money from climate change to cheat, just as there is a strong motive for those who don’t want to look at carbon emissions to cheat. The National Weather Service was found to be cheating by refusing to correct 19 months of false data obtained from a malfunctioning weather sensor at Reagan National Airport.

      As far as Jagadish Shukla is concerned, if he has so much time to make big bucks from grant research, is he really providing $250 K of benefits to GMU? He’s likely part of the problem why college education is unaffordable for many.

      • re: “At the same time, I recognize there is strong incentive for those making money from climate change to cheat, just as there is a strong motive for those who don’t want to look at carbon emissions to cheat. ”

        TMT – can you really compare what the cigarette and fossil fuel companies make in profits to what research scientists make when they they’re not benefiting by selling a product for profit?

        “The National Weather Service was found to be cheating by refusing to correct 19 months of false data obtained from a malfunctioning weather sensor at Reagan National Airport.

        TMT – this is a blog editorial by a known Climate skeptic – it’s an unproven accusation at best. And you’re talking about ONE station – over a period of months as opposed to thousands of stations over decades… what does that prove at all?

        • And Shukla is getting paid to maintain a pro-warming position. Do you really think he’d get any grants if his research challenged the belief of man-made climate change?

          Any expert should be subject to public questioning of his/her theories.

          • @TMT –

            ” On July 27, 2006 ABC News reported that a Colorado energy cooperative, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, had given Michaels $100,000.[37] An Associated Press report said that the donations had been made after Michaels had “told Western business leaders … that he was running out of money for his analyses of other scientists’ global warming research” and noted that the cooperative had a vested interest in opposing mandatory carbon dioxide caps, a situation that raised conflict of interest concerns.[38]
            Michaels acknowledged on CNN that 40 per cent of his funding came from the oil industry.[39] According to Fred Pearce, fossil fuel companies have helped fund Michaels’ projects, including his World Climate Report, published every year since 1994, and his “advocacy science consulting firm”, New Hope Environmental Services.[40]
            A 2005 article published by the Seattle Times reported that Michaels had received more than $165,000 in fuel-industry funding, including money from the coal industry to publish his own climate journal.[8]”

            Anyone who gets money from 3rd parties to speak in support of their for-profit business – has an essential conflict that ought to be clearly disclosed in front of each and every article they write and if they did that we’d know clearly who they are and what their role is.

            People who are researchers only – and do not represent for-profit companies – should also disclose their linkages.

            I’m always amused when someone says that the researches are also “funded” and produce research designed to get more funding…

            who would they get more funding from? the govt?

            so the Govt is funding bogus science? .. not just the US – but countries around the world… ??? govt around the world, including the US is engaging is a massive conspiracy to promote lies about global warming?

        • Larry, explain why the planet has warmed and cooled over the millennia without major carbon emissions. Especially, explain the recent very warm period of the Middle Ages and the very cold period that followed thereafter in terms of carbon emissions or the lack thereof. Explain why scientific consensus conclusions that global cooling was occurring from the 1970s is consistent with current scientific consensus about global warming.

          The idea that taking money from a for-profit entity is different than taking money from a government agency or nonprofit is absurd. Any expert witness’s funding is subject to probing.

          And the great federal government you trust is the same one that funded state eugenics programs to sterilize poor and disabled women. Would the Obama administration fund research that would support its political goals to regulate more of the economy in the name of climate change? Of course not!!! Neither did FDR inter Japanese Americans, who he viewed as potential traitors even though many Japanese Americans were serving in the Army in Europe.

          • @tmt – I don’t know all the answers but I do largely trust science .

            I trust them when they say Mercury and Kepone are bad for humans and critters though I cannot explain the exact mechanisms and I know there is not absolute universal concurrence…but especially I cannot buy globa conspiracies all to get more research dollars.. it’s a bridge too far.

            Can you tell me why the Ozone Hole were not equally bogus with science? what was different? Do you realize Fred Singer also said the Ozone Holes were a conspiracy?

            Can you tell me what happened with the Cigarette Industry issue? How did the industry act and how were the Scientists who said cigarettes caused cancer treated? Did the Cigarette industry pay other scientists to accuse the others of bad science?

            How about the folks who made Kepone, Dioxin, PCBs, asbestos and hundreds/thousands of other products that claimed their products were safe, that science was wrong and that the EPA was a dastardly out of control govt agency?

            How has all of this now reversed itself?

          • Larry, I too believe in the scientific method, where old beliefs are challenged until the results are verified or proven wrong. I don’t believe we are anywhere close to knowing all the scientific truths or that all of what we know and proclaim as truth really is correct. If we did, why are “scientists” always being challenged in court? There is a lot of “science” that courts have rejected as “junk science.” Why are some scientists challenging other scientists in most fields of science?

            My problem with climate science is that few are challenging the status quo? When everyone agrees, there is probably something wrong. Climate science is a religion based on access to government funding. This does not mean that reducing carbon emissions is wrong.

            I noticed you ignored my questions. 😉

          • re: ” Climate science is a religion based on access to government funding.”

            I acknowledge you believe this and you’re not alone, in fact a lot of company but when you take this and say it’s worldwide with dozens of governments and hundreds of scientists, the vast majority of climate scientists – and includes NOAA and NASA, it’s essentially a belief in a massive global conspiracy and I cannot go there… ,

            I do not think they are saying with any real precision what the outcome will be – what they are saying is that there are troubling signs that we’d be foolish to ignore and I just find it preposterous that as a group, 90+% are purposely lying so they can continue to get govt funding and govt knows they are lying and also part of the conspiracy.

            I simply do not understand how rational folks get to this position.

  7. The news today has Volkswagen admitting it cheated on EPA emissions testing, and facing major consequences. My earlier comment was flippant but it had a serious side – the criminal code has no role in this but if and when there are actual regulations, then companies have to comply with them. The allegation in the New Yorker piece, if I understood it, was that an oil company paid for research which supported the claim that fossil fuels were the culprit, but then chose not to voluntarily put itself out of business but rather engaged in political and public relations activities to challenge those conclusions. So what? That’s not a crime.

    The political Powers That Be have imposed some new EPA regs on the electric power industry. As noted, VW broke existing regs on auto emissions and will pay a penalty. But the first amendment – something I really wonder if anybody understands anymore – protects speech, including by corporations. If one day a court of law determines that any corporation that sold a ton of coal or a gallon of gas or a tank of propane needs to be punished because somebody’s beach house lost a foot of shoreline, well, that will be the Mother of All Class Actions. Anybody can sue but the idea of putting people in jail really says more about the people proposing it than about anybody else. They really are the intellectual descendants of people who burned heretics at the stake. The only way to interpret this madness is to know the history of cults and heretics and the dangers of orthodoxy.

    • re: ” But the first amendment – something I really wonder if anybody understands anymore – protects speech, including corporations.”

      I agree with you but fraud is not free speech.

      • Yea I’m sorry but this argument is complete crap IF that free speech causes damages. IE, back to my example; one could then argue that a structural engineer has the free speech rights to design an undersized structure. If it collapses he can’t then go on to say, well I am free to say that was my design, if it was wrong its ok because it was covered by the 1st amendment.

        The question becomes have the studies funded by the petroleum companies specifically been in an attempt to avoid what would otherwise be damages determined by other studies.

        If company A is pumping out lead into the local air, but it’s plant managers keep using their 1st amendment rights to say, our studies show the lead is not affecting the air around the plant… is that free speech?

        • Free speech means you can say what you want.

          but when you render a service or sell a product then you cannot materially misrepresent the potential harm..

          Standards guide engineering. If you design a sub-standard structure – free speech will be the least of your worries.

          If you sell a product that can harm people and don’t warn them or worse, tell them it won’t harm them – then your “speech” is not protected. That speech will, in fact, be used to convict you …

          of what? Fraud – and it’s a high bar – but many companies (and people) have been convicted of it despite their free speech protections:

          Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements:

          (1) a false statement of a material fact,
          (2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim,
          (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and
          (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

    • wait.. I thought the EPA was a corrupt and wasteful bureaucracy killing the American economy that should be shut down!

  8. Forget fines that are write offs on the next financial report.

    The simple way to fix corporations from doing illegal stuff is to start putting shareholders in jail. I bet those companies would get some morals pretty damn quick.

  9. Just some historic perspective. It was in the 1890’s when Arrhenius first sounded the alarm bells that man-made CO2 might well lead to global warming. By 1960, the CO2 trends at Mauna Loa clearly showed the now famous yearly increase trend (now 400 ppm CO2). By 1971 I personally wrote a high school term paper basically saying we could all be flooded out by Year 2000 unless we switched to nuclear fuel. And of course I did not make that stuff up, I was just copying encyclopedia and reference book statements.

    What’s going on in America right now is a partisan war over fossil fuels and renewables. Should be a very interesting debate topic in upcoming dem/repub presidential debates.

    • What is going on is a partisan war over wealth creation. Energy = Wealth. In the past century fossil fuels and nuclear power have created unprecedented economic wealth, world wide. Mauna Loa largely tracks the economic growth of the emerging countries, especially China and India. The question now, and it’s a fair one, is can we keep the engine running with non-polluting sources of electricity. And I submit that there are many who would sacrifice that economic growth in the process, which I am not willing to do. Nor am I willing to hobble our economy and our citizens in an effort that will be in vain if the Chinas and Indias of the world keep building coal fired plants.

      I doubt the discussion will follow that line in any upcoming debate. Not until the Stooge leaves the stage.

      • Interesting Steve. I would say any path that keeps our Country strong is a valid path, I tend to agree that path is probably not the path of a total ban fossil fuels. I don’t really view climate change as a wealth debate in the USA. I view it as a hatred of fossil fuels (NIMBY) debate, or religion as some would say. Climate change is not really the true issue, in the US, in my opinion.

        • If you believe that fossil fuels do represent a threat then the US must show leadership – as it has always done to eventually get the other countries to follow.

          we should not destroy our economy – even harm it in the process.

          energy efficiency, conservation and the use of natural gas should allow us to make progress without causing harm…

          and if we want to deal with China – then put a carbon tax on their imports

          If you think it is a problem but the economic price is too high – then you need to move from denier/skeptic to how to lower the price by adopting low hanging fruit changes instead of making it an all or nothing proposition.

          If you truly think it’s a 100% hoax, then so be it.

  10. Jim, thanks for writing this piece. We are beset by totalitarians and opportunists who seek to shut down all discussion on crucial topics.

  11. Well as a former Environmental Engineering Professor I do believe that the world is getting warmer as it has been for the past 12,000 years when the sea level was 600 feet lower than today. And it most likely is a combination of Mother Nature and us humans. But the question is which is which when it comes to what or whom is dominating.
    And it is not a closed scientific question as you can see from the list of scientists shown below who are not as certain as some professors are.
    Scientists questioning the accuracy of IPCC climate projections
    These scientists have said that it is not possible to project global climate accurately enough to justify the ranges projected for temperature and sea-level rise over the next century. They may not conclude specifically that the current IPCC projections are either too high or too low, but that the projections are likely to be inaccurate due to inadequacies of current global climate modeling.
    • David Bellamy, botanist.[14][15][16][17]
    • Judith Curry, Professor and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.[18][19][20][21]
    • Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of the School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study; Fellow of the Royal Society [22][23]
    • Steven E. Koonin, theoretical physicist and director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University[24][25]
    • Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan emeritus professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the National Academy of Sciences[26][27][28][29]
    • Craig Loehle, ecologist and chief scientist at the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement.[30][31][32][33][34][35]
    • Nils-Axel Mörner, retired head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University, former chairman of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution (1999–2003)[36][37]
    • Garth Paltridge, retired chief research scientist, CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research and retired director of the Institute of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre, visiting fellow Australian National University[38][39]
    • Denis Rancourt, former professor of physics at University of Ottawa, research scientist in condensed matter physics, and in environmental and soil science[40][41][42][43]
    • Peter Stilbs, professor of physical chemistry at Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm[44][45]
    • Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London[46][47]
    • Hendrik Tennekes, retired director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute [48][49]
    • Anastasios Tsonis, distinguished professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee[50][51]
    • Fritz Vahrenholt, German politician and energy executive with a doctorate in chemistry[52][53]
    Scientists arguing that global warming is primarily caused by natural processes

    Graph showing the ability with which a global climate model is able to reconstruct the historical temperature record, and the degree to which those temperature changes can be decomposed into various forcing factors. It shows the effects of five forcing factors: greenhouse gases, man-made sulfate emissions, solar variability, ozone changes, andvolcanic emissions.[54]
    These scientists have said that the observed warming is more likely to be attributable to natural causes than to human activities. Their views on climate change are usually described in more detail in their biographical articles.
    • Khabibullo Abdusamatov, astrophysicist at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences[55][56]
    • Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics[57][58][59]
    • Timothy Ball, professor emeritus of geography at the University of Winnipeg[60][61]
    • Robert M. Carter, former head of the school of earth sciences at James Cook University[62][63]
    • Ian Clark, hydrogeologist, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa[64][65]
    • Chris de Freitas, associate professor, School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of Auckland[66][67]
    • David Douglass, solid-state physicist, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester[68][69]
    • Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology, Western Washington University[70][71]
    • William M. Gray, professor emeritus and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University[72][73]
    • William Happer, physicist specializing in optics and spectroscopy, Princeton University[74][75]
    • Ole Humlum, professor of geology at the University of Oslo[76][77]
    • Wibjörn Karlén, professor emeritus of geography and geology at the University of Stockholm.[78][79]
    • William Kininmonth, meteorologist, former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology[80][81]
    • David Legates, associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware[82][83]
    • Anthony Lupo, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri[84][85]
    • Tad Murty, oceanographer; adjunct professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa[86][87]
    • Tim Patterson, paleoclimatologist and professor of geology at Carleton University in Canada.[88][89][90]
    • Ian Plimer, professor emeritus of mining geology, the University of Adelaide.[91][92]
    • Arthur B. Robinson, American politician, biochemist and former faculty member at the University of California, San Diego[93][94]
    • Murry Salby, atmospheric scientist, former professor at Macquarie University[95][96]
    • Nicola Scafetta, research scientist in the physics department at Duke University[97][98][99]
    • Tom Segalstad, geologist; associate professor at University of Oslo[100][101]
    • Nir Shaviv, professor of physics focusing on astrophysics and climate science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem[102][103]
    • Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia[104][105][106][107]
    • Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics[108][109]
    • Roy Spencer, meteorologist; principal research scientist, University of Alabama in Huntsville[110][111]
    • Henrik Svensmark, physicist, Danish National Space Center[112][113]
    • George H. Taylor, retired director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University[114][115]
    • Jan Veizer, environmental geochemist, professor emeritus from University of Ottawa[116][117]
    Scientists arguing that the cause of global warming is unknown
    These scientists have said that no principal cause can be ascribed to the observed rising temperatures, whether man-made or natural.
    • Syun-Ichi Akasofu, retired professor of geophysics and founding director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.[118][119]
    • Claude Allègre, French politician; geochemist, emeritus professor at Institute of Geophysics (Paris).[120][121]
    • Robert Balling, a professor of geography at Arizona State University.[122][123]
    • John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, contributor to several IPCC reports.[124][125][126]
    • Petr Chylek, space and remote sensing sciences researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory.[127][128]
    • David Deming, geology professor at the University of Oklahoma.[129][130]
    • Ivar Giaever, professor emeritus of physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Nobel laureate.[131][132]
    • Vincent R. Gray, New Zealand physical chemist with expertise in coal ashes[133][134]
    • Keith E. Idso, botanist, former adjunct professor of biology at Maricopa County Community College District and the vice president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change[135][136]
    • Antonino Zichichi, emeritus professor of nuclear physics at the University of Bologna and president of the World Federation of Scientists.[137][138]

    • Thank you. I was just looking at these lists last night, every once in a while I need to see what Judith Curry is saying, to keep my sanity.

      • here’s a couple of questions

        If you were going to build a new piece of infrastructure in Norfolk/Hampton and it needed to last a hundred years – how much higher should you build it given the precision issue in projections?

        If we are going to draw flood zone maps which effectively change the way we do subsidized flood insurance for both residential and businesses – should the govt get out of the subsidized flood insurance for the coasts – all together and let the free market determine if sea level change is real or not?

    • This is what we should expect from science – disagreement, research and debate. Of course, it’s not politically correct or in line with what Hollywood thinks. Does this make the “dissenters” correct? No. But the ability to get federal funding doesn’t make the “believers” right either.

      The Earth has been around for some 4.5 billion years, or so they say. The idea that we have it figured out is arrogant and absurd. We need to continue to study our home. I’ll stick to the effort to find cost-effective methods of reducing carbon emissions that also provide other significant benefits.

      • If one thinks that Global Warming is a hoax – why would one support reduction of carbon emissions?

        If one thinks the scientists are engaged in a massive global conspiracy to defraud people and they recommend reducing carbon emissions – why would you say the science is a scam but you support reducing carbon emissions?

        I do not believe each and every warning coming from various scientists but I do tend to think concurrence of many of them is legitimate and not a conspiracy.

        My take away is that oceans rise for a reason and the only reason I know of is heat – which expands water and melts glaciers. I don’t see how we get rising oceans otherwise but I’m willing to listen to other explanations.

        but seriously – if one thinks the science is a scam.. why work to reduce carbon emissions? why not have a consistent position of rejecting the science and rejecting their advice to reduce carbon emissions?

        • Larry, no one active on this blog thinks that global warming alarmist are engaging in a “massive global conspiracy.” The word “conspiracy” implies a conscious intent to defraud. I have no doubt that global warmists are absolutely sincere in their beliefs. So, when you’re referring to the views of others who participate in this blog, please stop using the term, because it’s really a conversation stopper.

          The argument that I make, and I think that other GW alarmist skeptics would make, is that there is a huge amount of confirmation bias going on. Climate scientists have built their careers on GW alarmism and pursue research that confirms their biases. Young scholars can’t break into the game with contradictory ideas because there is likewise a massive ideological bias in government and the foundation world to confirm the global warming orthodoxy. Contradictory ideas don’t get funded. This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s human nature.

          Where this bias gets truly disturbing is when people seek to use the coercive power of the state, as opposed to the persuasive power of ideas, to purge antithetical points of view. Believe me, such authoritarian tactics convert no one — they come across as a sign of intellectual weakness.

          • when you use the words “alarmists” and “warmists” and phrases like “massive ideological bias in government” and ” global warming orthodoxy” – are you also engaging in similar?

            when you say ” Contradictory ideas don’t get funded. This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s human nature.”

            are you saying this is going on – worldwide – and are you saying that science can only be funded by government or else it does not get funded?

          • ” The word “conspiracy” implies a conscious intent to defraud. I have no doubt that global warmists are absolutely sincere in their beliefs. So, when you’re referring to the views of others who participate in this blog, please stop using the term, because it’s really a conversation stopper.”

            Okay so, you’re saying there is no INTENT to deceive.

            Well I agree – that’s totally different. So the fact that 90+% of the scientists around the world agree – just shows that they are misguided as a group?

        • Larry, as I noted, the committee is looking for affordable strategies that provide multiple benefits, including reducing carbon emissions. A solution that, for example, will move traffic more efficiently and reduce carbon emissions and nitrous oxide can be a win-win. Finding alternative, cost-efficient sources of reliable energy can also be a win-win. Increasing economic growth that enables consumers to purchase more fuel-efficient cars is a win-win.

          On the other hand, barring the use of cars in the center of D.C. or imposing draconian taxes that increase home heating costs by 200% makes no sense. Finding middle ground that finds cost-effective solutions that provide multiple benefits makes sense, even though I think there is rampant fraud in climate science and in the Obama administration.

          • TMT – my question still stands. If you and others do not believe that there is legitimacy in the science that assets global warming is real – why do you support reduction of carbon emissions?

            why not explicitly state that you are opposed to reducing carbon emissions because it’s wasted money on a false issue?

            you can still support energy efficiency and pollution reduction but make it clear you’re not on board with wasting money on bogus science?

          • I’ve beat this one to death. Time to move on.

  12. Certainly in the shorter term we need to protect the infrastructure we have in place but longer term planning should take into account the potential rising sea levels which are coming. Virginia’s governor has appointed a commission to review this and that is a good idea as long as they have a plan for the future rather than looking for someone to blame.

    • right – but how much increased sea level should be incorporated into building if projections are considered unreliable?

      Do we go with beliefs that the lower ones are okay or do we go with the higher projections?

  13. “Once the precedent of criminalizing science has been set…”

    Since this isn’t what Shukla is advocating, I don’t think he has much to worry about in terms of the shoe being on the other foot.

    “The mean temperature increase has been zero, as measured by satellite readings, and within the statistical margin of error, as measured by terrestrial readings.”

    Aaaaaaaannnnnd again you refuse to accept that Earth’s oceans are part of the globe. I guess you think all of our salt water is on the moon.

    • This novel heat-hiding-in-the-ocean hypothesis is an interesting and potentially fruitful one. I don’t dismiss it. But I still consider it a hypothesis. Does it yield any predictions as to when the heat in the ocean will transfer to the atmosphere?

      If nothing else, the theory should call into question the idea that the “science is settled” — obviously, we still have a lot to learn about how climate works — and should call into question the validity of climate models that do not incorporate this crucial climate mechanism into their algorithms.

      • betting the farm on the premise that the science is not settled seems foolish.

        We banned CFCs on far less than settled science.. right?

        ” temps in the ocean are a novel idea”. How about oceans rising? Is that a novel idea not yet proven also?

        • Progressives are calling for immediate and unilateral U.S. termination of all fossil fuel use, which to me is a disruptive and harmful extremist position. However, no one has tried harder than me to reduce dependence coal fired power plants ( well maybe Gina McCarthy tried harder). As far as buying a shore house in Va. Beach, I have half a mind to do so. But if I do, I will need to realize the land is sinking for 3 reasons and maybe 4, subsidence from the glaciers, ground water pump-out, normal sea level rise over last 200 years, and yes we should assume global warming may add further to those.

          • “all progressives”… oh come on….

            My impression is that they 1. believe GW is real and 2. believe we have to START cutting emissions… and especially so the low hanging fruit variety.

            Not even the Sierra Club, EDF and NRDC are calling for immediate and unilateral…

            Pointing to the most extreme folks as a reason to do nothing…. well..

            but advocating reducing carbon emissions or reducing coal powerplants without being clear as to why that is supported especially if one thinks it is in response to global warming – vice just being in favor of less pollution in general….

            So I do ask for clarification… because it sort of comes across as “I do not believe in GW but I do believe in reducing pollution”.

            If that’s the position – then fine…

            if the actual position is that ” I’m worried about GW but I can’t say it outright or else I’ll be perceived as an “alarmist” –

            If I truly thought GW was a complete hoax – wouldn’t supporting carbon emission reductions be a little inconsistent?

            So I would wonder how many folks want to reduce pollution but do not believe in GW… I always thought they were the same group and had not considered that there would be some who want to further reduce pollution but totally don’t buy GW.

          • LarryG, you said somewhat flippantly but I will take as a serious comment, “I would wonder how many folks want to reduce pollution but do not believe in GW… I always thought they were the same group and had not considered that there would be some who want to further reduce pollution but totally don’t buy GW.” I certainly consider myself UNSURE that human production of CO2 is causing GW; while at the same time, I certainly want to reduce air and water pollution. And I am hardly the only one who feels this way. Sea levels have changed too much since the last ice age (but pre-industrial-revolution), evidently from natural causes alone, causes that we cannot explain or model, for me to feel we understand what’s going on with regard to GW — at least, to understand it well enough to bet the US economy on a potentially crippling carbon tax, especially if the rest of the world refuses to join us.

            That does not mean that I think “GW [i]s a complete hoax” — I want to get to the bottom of this as much as you do. If carbon emissions are the sole cause of GW and preventable through human intervention, the skepticism of people like me will only delay a solution and make things worse and that will be a serious issue for my children if not for me. On the other hand, if the US handicaps our economy unilaterally, that will force an even worse outcome upon my children.

            Can we buy a little time going after the low-hanging-fruit of measures that reduce pollution and carbon emissions at the same time? Well, as TMT observes, both sides of the GW debate can agree on it; it gives us some practice with the technologies involved; it beats doing nothing.

            By the way, you say, “Not even the Sierra Club, EDF and NRDC are calling for immediate and unilateral…” That’s not my understanding. At most they would hold back US participation just in the short run as a tactical lever to help build support for international carbon limits.

          • wasn’t totally a flip comment but generally people who care about pollution do see a nexus between pollution and harm and don’t have such trouble believing the connection even if they don’t completely understand the mechanism. Even today – folks may not understand why – for instance, CFCs are harmful but the substances that replaced them are not.

            or why some substances are deadly in higher concentrations but not so in low concentrations, etc.

            but carbon emissions as far as I know are specific to global warming so I do find someone who is a skeptic on GW who supports reductions in carbon – a little inconsistent because at that point – does one believe in how much needs to be removed or are they just in favor of any arbitrary amount to “help”?

            I can put the positions of the EDF, NRDC, and Sierra folks here if you want but none of them are calling for immediate, 100% discontinuance of all fossil fuels.

            here’s EDF: ” What we know — and what we don’t — about global warming”



            ” Global Warming / Climate Change: What we can do about it ” (google)

        • Larry re: CFC’s and ozone, as far as I am concerned, Rowland and Molina and the others deserve the Nobel prize for saving the ozone layer. I do not really understand Singer and others “skeptic” argument on that discovery. I would argue the reason why CO2 is not being treated with the same urgency globally, is that CO2 is a natural part of the Earth’s eco-system. There is not as much consensus that the consequences will be as immediately devastating for life as loss of the ozone layer due to exotic man-made chemicals. Also it is harder to address CO2, whereas CFC’s are a minor man-made chemical that can be eliminated or substituted for.

          • @TBILL – re “exotic”.. I recall fairly vividly that the “skeptics” openly questioned how something like a can of spray paint could be a threat to mankind.

            I recall there were open challenges to the modelling and the scientists doing the work.

            I recall folks saying that civilization itself was at stake if we could not use air conditioners in our cars and homes and skyscrapers.

            surely you remember this…

            and indeed the modern day skeptics are now going back and claiming the Ozone Holes were a hoax – also.

            Ozone Hole Science Revisited


            which leads me to believe that if the Ozone Hole issue surfaced today – that it too would be attacked as phony science promoted by “alarmists” and the difference – nothing done…

  14. @Acbar:

    re: ” I certainly consider myself UNSURE that human production of CO2 is causing GW;

    …. we cannot explain or model, for me to feel we understand what’s going on with regard to GW — at least, to understand it well enough to bet the US economy on a potentially crippling carbon tax,…”

    well this is where I ask if you are not sure then what level of carbon reduction would you support and what would be “crippling”?

    it’s sorta like Carbon Tax LITE – where we basically have no idea of how much is needed so we basically give it lip service as long as it does not impose real costs…

    “That does not mean that I think “GW [i]s a complete hoax” — I want to get to the bottom of this as much as you do. If carbon emissions are the sole cause of GW and preventable through human intervention, the skepticism of people like me will only delay a solution and make things worse and that will be a serious issue for my children if not for me. On the other hand, if the US handicaps our economy unilaterally, that will force an even worse outcome upon my children.”

    the question is – if it’s true – and time is running out – do you know that or will you know it, in time ?

    we’re not fear mongering here… it’s an honest question. We’re never going to get the kind of “proof” the skeptics are demanding if the skeptics disavow and distrust the current science.

    what changes – to convince the skeptics if Science does not?

    what makes you a believer if you do not believe the science now?

  15. Ok Larry. Not every lefty enviro group wants to ban fossil fuels and return us to the stone age, but their positions on global warming are pollyannaish and radical enough, and have infected the Democratic Party.

    Enter Hillary Clinton and her opposition to Keystone XL… because it “distracts from our fight against GW”. Does she actually believe that all of that tar sands oil is going to stay in the ground up there in Canada, and won’t be diverted west (and sent to China) if this pipeline is denied?

    The chinese and russians are not going to suffocate their economies for the sake of the planet as Hillary would have us do.

    • re: ” Enter Hillary Clinton and her opposition to Keystone XL… because it “distracts from our fight against GW”. Does she actually believe that all of that tar sands oil is going to stay in the ground up there in Canada, and won’t be diverted west (and sent to China) if this pipeline is denied?”

      Not sure what she thinks – but it’s a side issue to GW and it ought not be THE central issue as to why others would deny doing anything at all about GW. You can disagree and still seek middle ground without making any one issue an all or nothing litmus test.

      “The chinese and russians are not going to suffocate their economies for the sake of the planet as Hillary would have us do.”

      This takes leadership to take the first steps and gradually get others on board.

      If we took this “we don’t move until they do” approach with regard to CFCs and Ozone holes – what would have happened ?? what would have happened on most of the efforts to get other countries to reduce or eliminate the deadlier pollutants?

      If we can reduce carbon with conservation and energy efficiency – that also saves money – so why not?

      that part will catch on… simply by economics..

  16. Look at Bernie Sander’s and Martin O’Malley’s positions. O’Malley asking for total elimination of fossil fuels and Sander’s is not far off from that. I guess that’s why Warren Buffet says he’s afraid that any dem candidate other than Hillary might kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. I can at least have some comfort Hillary will not kill the goose in Buffet’s lifetime.

    • Haven’t seen Sanders and O’Malley’s positions but if they are indeed advocating immediate elimination of fossil fuels – then they’re dead and ought to be – because not even EDF and NRDC are advocating that.

      we make this an all or nothing partisan issue – as an excuse for those who are opposed to elimination of fossil fuels – to then do nothing – to take a position that it’s a hoax and/or we cannot act …

      that’s not a conscientious position. basically saying that you support doing nothing because you’re opposed to what the other side wants.

  17. well ..just checked on Bernie Sanders position on fossil fuels:

    ” Transform to sustainable system & away from fossil fuels

    The US must lead the world in tackling climate change and make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient and we need to greatly accelerate the progress we are already seeing in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other forms of sustainable energy. Transforming our energy system will not only protect the environment, it will create good paying jobs.
    Unless we take bold action to address climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they? Why didn’t the US lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come? ”

    that does not sound like an extreme position to me…

    and I’m not sure of those that would disagree with it – taking a position of doing nothing – instead.

    somewhere – there has to be folks who actually have a position of what they’d do beyond opposition to what they won’t do…

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