The Greek word for “one tone” is monotonia, which is the root for both monotone and the closely-related word monotonous, which means “dull and tedious.” Monotone is a droning, unchanging tone. A continuous sound, especially someone’s voice, that doesn’t rise and fall in pitch, is a monotone. Nothing can put you to sleep quite as effectively as a teacher talking in a monotone.
Monotonic climate science was on full display this week as journalists, pundits and tweeters freaked out over a comment by the new US ambassador to Canada. Her offense: saying there were two sides on the climate issue and she respects them both.
The story from CBC: The new U.S. ambassador to Canada said Monday that she believes “both sides” of climate change science.
In an interview with Canada’s CBC News, Kelly Knight Craft said that she believes there is “accurate” science on “both sides” but did not specify what sides she was referring to.
“I believe there are sciences on both sides that are accurate,” Craft said. “Both sides have their own results from their studies, and I appreciate and respect both sides of the science.”
President Trump appointed Craft, a prominent GOP fundraiser, to the ambassadorship earlier this year.
Craft told CBC that even though Trump has pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, she thinks the U.S. can “absolutely” fight climate climate change.
“We all have the same goal, and that is to better our environment and to maintain the environment,” she said. “I feel like our administration has been on top of this regardless of whether or not they’d be pulling out.”
It is true Ambassador Craft had the look of a deer in the headlights. She is from Kentucky where one doesn’t encounter sanctimonious warmists as frequently as in Ottawa, and especially not ones determined to get a “gotcha” quote from her.
All the comments at alarmist websites are dissing her for thinking the issue could have two differing points of view. Going further, they repeatedly claim “science” does not have two sides, not now, not ever. And, of course, she offends them by saying she respects people on both sides of the matter. As an Ambassador, she sought common ground without going into the specifics of how the US is actually reducing its CO2 emissions while Canada has not.
The damage here goes beyond climate science to the degradation of all scientific disciplines. These smug journalists and their audiences know that on all kinds of issues reasonable people can disagree. But somehow they have been brainwashed with the notion that science is a catechism with only one right answer. That idea is false and a threat to modern civilization.
They hear only about Jim Hansen, Al Gore, Mike Mann and their ilk, and think their pronouncements are universally and eternally true. Many, many scientists see things differently. Hard as it is to go from simplicity to complexity, let us enlighten these folks to some of the other sides of climate science . First, meet Richard Muller who shares some concerns and not others. Below in italics is his answer to a question raised on Quora: What are some widely cited studies in the news that are false?
Answer by Richard Muller, Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley.
That 97% of all climate scientists accept that climate change is real, large, and a threat to the future of humanity. That 97% basically concur with the vast majority of claims made by Vice President Al Gore in his Nobel Peace Prize winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.
The question asked in typical surveys is neither of those. It is this: “Do you believe that humans are affecting climate?” My answer would be yes. Humans are responsible for about a 1 degree Celsius rise in the average temperature in the last 100 years. So I would be included as one of the 97% who believe.
Yet the observed changes that are scientifically established, in my vast survey of the science, are confined to temperature rise and the resulting small (4-inch) rise in sea level. (The huge “sea level rise” seen in Florida is actually subsidence of the land mass, and is not related to global warming.) There is no significant change in the rate of storms, or of violent storms, including hurricanes and volcanoes. The temperature variability is not increasing. There is no scientifically significant increase in floods or droughts. Even the widely reported warming of Alaska (“the canary in the mine”) doesn’t match the pattern of carbon dioxide increase–it may have an explanation in terms of changes in the northern Pacific and Atlantic currents. Moreover, the standard climate models have done a very poor job of predicting the temperature rise in Antarctica, so we must be cautious about the danger of confirmation bias.
My friend Will Happer believes that humans do affect the climate, particularly in cities where concrete and energy use cause what is called the “urban heat island effect.” So he would be included in the 97% who believe that humans affect climate, even though he is usually included among the more intense skeptics of the IPCC. He also feels that humans cause a small amount of global warming (he isn’t convinced it is as large as 1 degree), but he does not think it is heading towards a disaster; he has concluded that the increase in carbon dioxide is good for food production, and has helped mitigate global hunger. Yet he would be included in the 97%.
The problem is not with the survey, which asked a very general question. The problem is that many writers (and scientists!) look at that number and mischaracterize it. The 97% number is typically interpreted to mean that 97% accept the conclusions presented in An Inconvenient Truth by former Vice President Al Gore. That’s certainly not true; even many scientists who are deeply concerned by the small global warming (such as me) reject over 70% of the claims made by Mr. Gore in that movie (as did a judge in the UK; see the following link: Gore climate film’s nine ‘errors‘).
The pollsters aren’t to blame. Well, some of them are; they too can do a good poll and then misrepresent what it means. The real problem is that many people who fear global warming (include me) feel that it is necessary to exaggerate the meaning of the polls in order to get action from the public (don’t include me).
There is another way to misrepresent the results of the polls. Yes, 97% of those polled believe that there is human caused climate change. How did they reach that decision? Was it based on a careful reading of the IPCC report? Was it based on their knowledge of the potential systematic uncertainties inherent in the data? Or was it based on their fear that opponents to action are anti-science, so we scientists have to get together and support each other. There is a real danger in people with Ph.D.s joining a consensus that they haven’t vetted professionally.
I like to ask scientists who “believe” in global warming what they think of the data. Do they believe hurricanes are increasing? Almost never do I get the answer “Yes, I looked at that, and they are.” Of course they don’t say that, because if they did I would show them the actual data! Do they say, “I’ve looked at the temperature record, and I agree that the variability is going up”? No. Sometimes they will say, “There was a paper by Jim Hansen that showed the variability was increasing.” To which I reply, “I’ve written to Jim Hansen about that paper, and he agrees with me that it shows no such thing. He even expressed surprise that his paper has been so misinterpreted.”
A really good question would be: “Have you studied climate change enough that you would put your scientific credentials on the line that most of what is said in An Inconvenient Truth is based on accurate scientific results? My guess is that a large majority of the climate scientists would answer no to that question, and the true percentage of scientists who support the statement I made in the opening paragraph of this comment, that true percentage would be under 30%. That is an unscientific guestimate, based on my experience in asking many scientists about the claims of Al Gore.
Then esteemed climate scientist Richard Lindzen, in a short video introduces you to more sides to the climate change issue:
Science in general, and climate science in particular is not monotonic, but polyphonic. There are and have always been differing voices and tones in the search for objective truth. Only the illiterate think otherwise.