Time to Clear Out the Obama Holdovers and the Climate Propaganda They Spread
Climate Change Weekly #309
We’re nearly two years into the Trump era and holdovers from President Barack Obama’s administration are still spreading on executive agency websites alarmist climate propaganda as if it were factual and the official position of the administration, a new study by my colleagues at The Heartland Institute reveals.
The report, titled Executive Branch Websites Promoting Global Warming Alarmism and Propaganda, audits the websites of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Global Change Research Program, and the Departments of Agriculture (DOA), Defense, and Energy (DOE). The audit reveals federal agencies are continuing to push false claims about climate and environmental issues, including that humans are verifiably causing dangerous climate change.
Not only are these agencies failing to accurately describe the active debate concerning the causes and consequences of climate change, they are making normative claims about the past that reflect progressive and liberal value judgments concerning America’s development, rather than objective scientific facts about various technological innovations and the contributions they have made toward extending human life and economic development.
For example, NASA, an agency that was created to explore space and is supposed to be devoted to encouraging our knowledge of the universe, has a section dedicated to teaching children a socialist version of revisionist history. NASA indicates the industrial revolution, including the creation of numerous important inventions, made human life worse. For example, NASA’s website explicitly states, “Things got worse when the steam engine was invented.”
This argument should never have been made on a government website for a variety of reasons. First, this is a value judgement, not a fact. Second, only a misanthrope who thinks people dying of preventable diseases and being unable to travel or live where they wish are good things could believe this is true. The steam engine and the huge technological leaps that came after it contributed to a more than doubling of human lifespans and led to an enormous decline in poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. After the Industrial Revolution, there was a sharp fall in premature deaths and infant mortality and a gigantic increase in individual and societal wealth. Those are facts, and from a normative point of view, I would argue they are unquestionably good.
To the extent NASA has a role at all in teaching children, it is supposed to be teaching children about space and the wonders of the technologies making space exploration and the expansion of knowledge about our universe possible. NASA should be encouraging young minds to reach for the stars, not to revert back to living in caves or mud huts and depending upon horses to get around. Rockets are not powered by moonbeams, solar panels, or wind turbines—they launch into space using carbon-based jet fuel. Further, the computers making space launches possible are powered by coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants—not solar or wind industrial facilities. NASA’s website is regularly and reliably powered by fossil-fuel generated electricity, and so are the computers, iPhones, and smart devices kids use to access its site. These are the very same fuels NASA’s website decries.
On its website, NASA also continues to push the false assertion 97 percent of scientists agree humans are causing dangerous climate change. This claim is based on only a few studies, all of which have been thoroughly debunked. The research most often cited as backing this argument was conducted by Australian researcher John Cook and a team he worked with. After audits of Cook’s work found numerous errors, Cook himself admitted his team did not follow proper protocols in compiling the survey of the literature they conducted. Indeed, audits of Cook’s work found rather than 97 percent of the studies they analyzed indicating “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” Cook’s research actually found just 32.6 percent of the papers his group reviewed explicitly linked global warming to human activity. Approximately 66 percent of academic papers reviewed took no stance on the issue. Many of the scientists who Cook’s team claimed supported the view humans were behind the recent modest warming subsequently explicitly stated that is not what their research found.
Heartland’s audit of federal government websites also found DOE promotes wind and solar power, both of which are more expensive and less reliable than other forms of power, including fossil fuels, nuclear power, and even renewable hydropower. DOE’s website also ignores the fact when more money, resources, or manpower are spent on or devoted to energy production than is necessary, fewer dollars, resources, and people are available for producing other goods and services that satisfy human needs and desires.
Further, DOE’s description of fossil fuels as non-renewable is technically accurate, but it is an unimportant factoid that makes it appear as if the world must find other sources of energy because fossil fuels are in short supply and will soon run out. With current supplies, the world has hundreds of years’ worth of conventional fossil fuels, and we are discovering more reserves and new ways to efficiently use them all the time. That’s why even through humans’ use of fossil fuels has grown in recent decades, there are more fossil fuels available now than we have used to this point in history.
Among the most egregious falsehoods spread by holdovers from the Obama administration comes in a portion of DOA’s website discussing the threats human-caused climate change supposedly poses to agriculture. DOA writes, “Climate change is likely to diminish continued progress on global food security through production disruptions that lead to local availability limitations and price increases, interrupted transport conduits, and diminished food safety, among other causes.”
The truth, however, is the use of fossil fuels in agriculture and the recent increase in carbon-dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels has contributed to substantial increases in crop yields and a measurable greening of the earth. Crop yields—including, but not limited to, basic cereal grains—continue to set records year over year, and they have been helped, not harmed by, increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and modestly warmer nighttime temperatures, which have resulted in fewer frosty nights and longer growing seasons. In fact, thousands of controlled experiments show plants consistently mature faster, produce greater yields, and use water more efficiently under conditions of higher carbon dioxide than we are experiencing at present or are likely to experience at any time in the future.
The examples above are just a few of the false or misleading claims deep-state operatives burrowed into the bowels of executive agencies continue to promote on government websites. Not only are they deceptive, they undermine the climate realism promoted by President Donald Trump and his leadership team in the White House.
Please educate yourself about the climate alarmism in the executive branch by reading the full report, and then work to encourage the administration to either pull these websites down or, at the very least, have them rewritten to accurately portray the state of the climate change debate and the relative benefits and costs of fossil fuels.
- H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
Delegates to COP24 failed to adopt IPCC’s September 2018 report purportedly describing the pending dangers from human caused climate change.
The 2015 Paris climate agreement was predicated on the belief that global greenhouse gas emissions needed to be reduced 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050, to keep global temperatures from rising as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as possible in order to prevent all manner of disastrous consequences. IPCC’s most recent report, however, claimed those cuts would be too little, too late, arguing the world must reduce emissions 80 percent by 2030 and that emissions of greenhouse gases must be net-zero by 2050 in order to hit the temperature targets.
Historically, each new IPCC report has been “welcomed” at the COP meeting following its release indicating the countries participating in the climate negotiations accepted the report as establishing the scientific background for negotiations. However, at COP24, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States objected to the word “welcoming.”
“The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report.”
As an alternative to the word welcoming, the four countries offered the phrase “take note,” of the report. Other countries objected to this because it specifically failed to endorse the IPCC’s findings. Because COP meetings operate on consensus, with no agreement, all references to the report in the UNFCC’s rules and negotiations document had to be dropped.
New research published in Nature Sustainability shows, normalizing for economic losses from hurricanes making landfall over time, there has been no trend in either increased or decreased economic losses from hurricanes from 1900 to 2017.
From 1900 to 2017, the 197 hurricanes making landfall in the continental United States 206 times caused approximately $2 trillion worth of economic damages (in 2018 dollars), just under $17 billion annually. Decadal losses were larger in the earlier part of the twentieth century, lower in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, then rising again in the first decades of the twenty-first century, though still not exceeding the losses from the early part of the twentieth century.
“The greatest annual normalized damage occurred in 1926 (US $244 billion), exceeding the next greatest loss year (2005) by about US $74 billion,” according to the report.
Interestingly, the rise in damage in the early decades of the twenty-first century are largely attributable almost entirely to two severe hurricane years in 2005 and 2017. Between those years, the continental United States “experienced a long period of good fortune with respect to landfalling hurricanes, notably the 11-year stretch of no major CONUS hurricane landfalls that ended in 2017.” However, a single hurricane, the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, exceeded losses from all the hurricanes making landfall in 2005 or in 2017 combined. Indeed, the two most costly in terms of economic damage, and three of the five most costly hurricanes, hit the United States before 1927, and four of the five costliest hurricanes occurred before 1993.
The data shows that neither hurricane losses, hurricane formation, hurricanes making landfall, nor major hurricanes striking the United States have increased during the recent growth in greenhouse gas emissions and modest rise in global average temperatures.
Improved infrastructure including better mitigation policies, planning, construction materials, and building codes may account for the fact normalized losses have not increased despite an increase in population and an associated increase in the number of homes, businesses, and infrastructure on or near the coasts of the United States.
A new study by three mathematicians published in the journal Nature reinforces the fact that climate models fail to accurately portray the earth’s climate. The research shows climate models have been unable to reproduce multi-decadal large and small scale climate processes internal to the system, accounting for the discrepancy between model projections and actual climate changes.
The researchers write, the “climate system is an inherently multi-scale system, which makes global climate models highly susceptible to errors associated with their necessarily imperfect representation of small-scale processes … [with] decadal mismatches between model-simulated and observed climate trends [being] common throughout the twentieth century ….”
Using a mathematical filtering technique, this research shows the discrepancies between the observed climate changes and variability, and those changes reported by models are due in part to a coherent, relatively regular, “pronounced Global Multidecadal Oscillation … originat[ing] in the North Atlantic and spread out to the Pacific and Southern oceans and Antarctica, with Arctic following suit in about 25–35 years.” None of the general circulation models capture the magnitude, spatial patterns, or sequential periodicity of these large scale oscillations. As a result, models have failed to reproduce the recent “hiatus” in the near-surface global warming of the Earth among other significant climate trends.
The researchers found the current generation of climate models has also been unable to simulate many of the small climatic changes that have outsized impacts, changes which happen too quickly or are too localized to be accurately modeled in the current generation of models. As a result of these discrepancies, the value of climate models predictions of future climate changes is highly questionable, at best.