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Replacing Scientific Method with Dogma, Pt. 1: Attacking Museum Donors

February 23, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #278

So-called consensus climate science reaches new lows nearly every day, with many researchers resembling dogmatic, religious zealots, the kind of people who burned heretics at the stake during the middle ages and suppressed scientific discovery, rather than scientists engaged in the free pursuit of knowledge.

Recently, an intolerant rump of scientists who believe humans are definitely causing dangerous climate change, proponents of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), wrote an open letter to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) urging the organization to remove philanthropist Rebekah Mercer from its board of trustees. This despite the fact Mercer and her family’s foundation have donated generously to the museum over the years, and I suspect she has convinced friends and business relations to give as well.

Mercer’s supposed crime is not that she interfered with the AMNH’s policies or dictated exhibits. She didn’t. Nor did Mercer tamper with the museum’s management or influence its displays or purchases. According to these AGW fanatics, the reason Mercer should be booted unceremoniously from AMNH’s board after years of helping it thrive is because she “and her family were important backers of President Trump … and the family foundation has contributed millions of dollars to climate-change-denying politicians and organizations like the Heartland Institute, which says, ‘Global warming is not a crisis… .’”

Mercer has to go because she disputes AGW dogma. Hypocritically, the authors of the letter claim the call to remove Mercer from the board is not a partisan issue, yet they list her family’s support of Trump as one reason to remove her. It doesn’t get much more partisan than that.

Full disclosure: Though, like all Heartland researchers and writers, I do not have access to donor information, it is possible Mercer or her family has given as much to The Heartland Institute, my employer, as their letter claims.

So what? Working with the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, The Heartland Institute is actively engaged in the scientific debate over the causes and consequences of climate change, having published volumes of peer-reviewed climate research and hosted 12 international climate change conferences. We are also involved in an educational effort to get accurate, balanced portrayals of the state of climate science into our nation’s schools. As with her support of the AMNH, Mercer’s donations to The Heartland Institute and other groups improve and advance the dissemination of knowledge. The Heartland Institute is part of the climate debate, but for the AGW crowd there is no room for debate. No dissent will be tolerated.

The letter says:

“We are concerned that the vital role of science education institutions will be eroded by a loss of public trust if museums are associated with individuals and organizations [in this case, Mercer] known for rejecting climate science, opposing environmental regulation and clean energy initiatives, and blocking efforts to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

To my knowledge, Mercer does not reject climate science, and based on her support for a variety of high-quality organizations, she appears to have a more complete and honest view of what we can say about climate change than the letter’s signatories do. They assume all environmental regulations are worthwhile, even though many clearly are not and many violate the Constitution and existing law and impose huge costs for little or no benefit. One should expect anybody—other than a radical, partisan, environmentalist, of course—to reject such foolish regulations.

Concerning clean energy initiatives: They harm the poor by raising energy prices and often impose greater environmental harms than the fossil fuels they are meant to replace.

Finally, while I don’t know whether Mercer and her family have fought against rational efforts to restrict legitimate pollutants, carbon dioxide is in fact not a pollutant. It is a naturally occurring gas necessary to all life on Earth. Historically, when it has been more abundant, life has thrived. Fighting against restrictions on carbon dioxide is literally fighting for human well-being and environmental flourishing.

Ironically, if anyone is putting AMNH’s credibility at risk, it is the AGW true believers demanding the museum drop Mercer from its board. Before their letter and the op-ed The New York Times published calling for Mercer’s removal, few people if any who visited the museum or admired its work could have named a single member of the museum’s board of trustees. That’s probably still true, as the average museum goer attends simply to be amazed and learn and doesn’t care a whit about the politics of its trustees. If the museum caves to the anti-Mercer crowd, however, it will indeed spark mistrust: from those who recognize the AGW crowd is further polarizing society and bringing partisanship into yet another area of life that should be beyond politics.

If Mercer is shown the door, who else on the board or among the museum’s list of donors might be targeted for ostracism next because of their political beliefs?

Fortunately, not all scientists have abandoned their fealty to the scientific method in favor of authoritarian climate dogma. More than 300 researchers, scientists, and scholars responded to the AGW letter with their own letter advising AMNH not to cave in and accede  to AGW agitators’ demands to ouster Mercer. They write, “the agitators are not defending science from quackery—quite the contrary! They demand that the Museum support a party line, thinly disguised as science.” In addition, the signatories of the letter defending Mercer’s continued association with the museum add the original letter “is itself anti-science and ideologically-driven.” A succinct, accurate assessment.

The public loses when science and its institutions of learning are politicized. The anti-Mercer campaign is just one more instance of AGW true believers demeaning the institution—science in the pursuit of knowledge—they claim to be defending. Shame on them, and shame on AMNH if it caves in to this pressure.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: The Natural History Museum; The New York Times; Breitbart; Watts Up With That; Natural History Museum Petition


Contra climate alarm, Tuvalu growingChina cuts electric car subsidies Canadian researcher triumphs in court


Climate alarmists have hyped the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu as a prime example of the dangers posed by rising sea levels caused by anthropogenic climate change. They warn Tuvalu’s islands will soon be underwater, creating thousands of climate refugees. Science is once again confounding the alarming climate projections: new research published in the journal Nature Communications shows Tuvalu is actually growing as sea levels rise.

Researchers from the University of Auckland used aerial photographs and satellite imagery to examine changes in Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014. They found eight of the nine atolls and 75 percent of the islands grew during the time period, increasing Tuvalu’s land area by 2.9 percent. Among other factors, the researchers found wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms seem to be more than offsetting the rising sea levels, adding to Tuvalu’s land base.

According to coauthor Paul Kench, Ph.D., a coastal geomorphologist, the researchers’ findings indicate Tuvaluans should be planning for a long-term future on the islands instead of preparing to migrate in flight from rising seas.

“We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” Kench said. “The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion. … [As a result,] loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu.”

SOURCE: The Daily Mail


If China is to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, as it agreed to due in the Paris climate agreement, many more drivers will have to use electric cars to replace existing gasoline-powered vehicles and avoid having millions of new gasoline-powered vehicles joining them as growing numbers of China’s burgeoning middle class purchase their first personal automobiles. To encourage this, China has provided subsidies to electric car purchasers.

However, China’s electric car push has hit a bump in the road. After discovering many businesses cheated under the program in 2016 and 2017, claiming credits for vehicles that didn’t actually qualify for the subsidies, the government announced it was cutting the subsidies for all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by more than 30 percent, and it raised the minimum number of miles the vehicle can go before running out of energy between required charges to qualify for subsidies.

Under the new program which took effect February 12, automakers would receive “24,000 yuan ($3,780) for each electric car with the typical range of 200km to 250km per charge, down from 36,000 yuan. The minimum range to qualify for subsidies rose to 150km per charge from 100km.”

Nikkei Asian Review reports local governments will likely follow the national government’s lead and lower subsidies they had previously offered to electric vehicle manufacturers.

SOURCE: Nikkei Asian Review


Climate researcher Timothy Ball, Ph.D., prevailed in a court battle over his criticism of climate research by Andrew Weaver, a climate modeler at the University of Victoria. Weaver was a lead author for the 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In an article in the Canada Free Press, Ball said Weaver lacked a basic understanding of climate science and he said this should disqualify Weaver from participation in future IPCC reports. Weaver sued Ball for libel, arguing his article made false and malicious claims that would harm his reputation. Weaver pointed out he was still working with the IPCC.

Rather than retracting his article, Ball stood by his piece and fought in court.

After seven years, the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed all claims against Ball, upholding free speech in important matters meriting public debate.

The Court wrote:

The law of defamation provides an important tool for protecting an individual’s reputation from unjustified attack. However, it is not intended to stifle debate on matters of public interest nor to compensate for every perceived slight or to quash contrary view points, no matter how ill-conceived. Public debate on matters of importance is an essential element of a free and democratic society and lies at the heart of the Charter guarantee of freedom of expression. It is only when the words used reach the level of genuinely threatening a person’s actual reputation that resort to the law of defamation is available. Such is not the case here.

SOURCES: Watts Up With That; The New York Times; Supreme Court of British Columbia

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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