By Albert Jacobs, Geol.Drs, P.Geo.
Albert Jacobs is one of the co-founders of Friends of Science Society.
Albert Jacobs is one of the co-founders of Friends of Science Society. Until very recently he was editor/publisher of Friends of Science Society’s very popular “Cli=Sci” climate science bi-weekly round-up of recent academic papers offered to members.
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as our new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has been in the news. Politicians like that, as long as the news is good. But the Minister has been under fire on the social networks. Two items drew our attention in the past weeks. In one Twitter encounter, she reportedly called someone a climate “denier” and advised them to get another hobby.
I know of no scientist who “denies” that the earth climate varies; it also does not behove a Minister of the Crown to use expressions related to the Holocaust. By her using the expression, I must also conclude that social justice lawyer McKenna has no idea of how science works. However, if she does, then it is she who is the denier.
In addition, she advertised a job opening for a “climate change communication Special Assistant”, bilingual, with an English or journalism degree and experience in writing communication material on public policy matters. Those qualifications are exactly what she does not need.
(See full text of ad below)
As a Professional Geologist and – consequently – a student of climates past, present and future, I can claim some knowledge of the science related to changes in climate, which have been happening on all time scales during the existence of our planet. Yes, in essence, climatology is part of the earth sciences, a fact the IPCC has barely acknowledged. In fact, astronomy and solar physics are also playing a dominant role in those changes, a fact recognised in the science literature by researchers as much as a century ago.
IPCC has been created by the UN and its meteorological body (WMO) to focus on the perceived influence of increasing human-contributed carbon-dioxide (CO2 or “carbon” as they call it because that is conveniently dirty and black) and the effect of industry and power usage on warming of the atmosphere. CO2 occurs in the atmosphere as four molecules in ten thousand. It is being exhaled by homo sapiens and his vertebrate friends at a rate of a hundred times as much. Seven billion human beings and untold numbers of animals do this day and night. Talk about anthropogenic causes.
Well, it’s of course part of the life cycle of CO2, one of the most useful non-polluting gases in our atmosphere. Life depends on it.
We are told we have to cut down on CO2 because of a perceived relationship between CO2 levels in the atmosphere and increasing Global Mean Temperature (GMT). I will not go into the never-ending discussions about the minutiae of happenings in our atmosphere, except for a few main points:
- The actual GMT is an elusive beast. Density of observation stations and accuracy of measurements vary wildly and 70% of the surface is ocean. Its assumed values are the result of multiple, rather subjective statistical adjustments and manipulations as brought to light by the published evidence from ClimateGate.
- In this aspect ,the variations of decimal portions of a degree Celsius are near irrelevant. They’re in the error band of statistics.
- Accuracy of sea levels and water temperatures measurements are equally low and there is a great discrepancy between satellite readings and coastal gauges, probably due mostly due water movement.
- A causal basis of the relationship between CO2 and Temperature only exists in that CO2 follows changes in global temperature on all scales of geologic time. Not the other way around.
- The earth’ climate changes over time, due to multiple natural forces in the planet itself and in the solar system. While this has been recognised by scientists for a long time, the IPCC deliberately ignores or trivialises these forces and depends only on atmospheric physics to prove its political point.
- Those forces are orbital and magnetic in character and mostly cyclic in nature; they influence each other and set up a near-chaotic dynamic system that the linear equations of the IPCC’s computer programs cannot deal with.
- The result has been a wide divergence between the IPCC’s projected temperature increase and the reality of empirical data, the observed temperatures of the last twenty years. The computer simulations don’t come close to reality.
This goes to prove that climate science is not an open and shut case.
Obviously, “The Science Is [Not] Settled”. But the computer projections are taken as “proof” and we are now building a worldwide trillion dollar carbon tax/subsidy scheme on what is an unproven hypothesis.
Scientists are educated to reason and to question. The research scientist posts a hypothesis or a theory and expects critique. He discusses with his critics. The critics try to falsify his theory. If they succeed, the theory is no more. The word denier is absent from this process.
The IPCC does not even engage in such a process. It does not accept criticism and it does not discuss.
However, there is ample material to draw from. While the IPCC has been accused of having the main science periodicals in its pocket, there are dozens of other journals (not to speak of internet blogs) that have published critical papers, “peer-reviewed” and all.
Even the IPCC’s own publications are a fertile ground for doubt. In the thousands of pages of the Working Group I (“The Physical Science”) reports one can find many expressions of doubt and uncertainty by the actual scientists it depends on for its work. Their doubt and uncertainties never make it into the “Summary for Policy Makers”, which publications are distributed to politicians and media. Scientists have been known to resign because of the distortions.
Now to Minister McKenna.
She is a lawyer and an economist, specialised in social justice, human rights and international trade. She has had a great career so far and is undoubtedly a clever lady. But why is she so terribly miscast in her cabinet position?
She has no science in her background to speak of. She has lived her life on one side of C.P. Snow’s dividing line in his “The Two Cultures”.
Has she read any of the critical summaries on her assigned file? The independent NIPCC reports come to mind. Does she understand that this is still a politics-burdened, scientifically uncertain project that she is on? Very uncertain? With billions of citizen’s dollars at stake?
Does she feel comfortable having to depend solely on the advice of her own civil servants for decisions of this magnitude in a field with which she is unfamiliar?
If she labels scientists-opponents to her pre-conceived ideas about climate change with the obnoxious label “deniers”, it’s high time she gets herself educated on this file from the other side of Snow’s cultural divide. I know a few professors in Ottawa who may be pleased to put her straight.
That brings me to the other item mentioned above: Her job opening for a Special Communication Assistant. I can’t see that the requirements for such a job should be anything less than that of a B.Sc. who can write well. With the slump in the resources industry, there must be many candidates to choose from.
What we do not need is more pablum for the masses.
Full text of ad from Minister McKenna’s facebook page:
Job Posting for The Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Position: Special Assistant, Communications
Are you passionate about our environment and tackling climate change?
Are you a talented writer that is able to communicate complex issues to a broad audience? Can you write compelling speeches and other communications products?
Do you thrive in a vibrant work environment, juggling many competing priorities?
Do you want to join a talented and committed team?
My office at Environment and Climate Change Canada is seeking a talented individual with demonstrated writing skills for a broad public audience. This is a full time position with an annual salary in the range of $50,000 to $55,000 plus benefits.
If you are interested (or know someone who might be perfect for the job), please send us your resume as well as a compelling sample of your writing skills: a thousand word speech written in my plain-spoken voice, intended to convince a group of senior citizens concerned about the costs associated with climate change of the need to take action on climate change and turn the challenge into an opportunity to grow Canada’s economy and create new jobs.
The ideal candidate will have a degree in English or journalism, be bilingual, and have experience writing communication materials – including speeches – on public policy issues.
Please submit your application to Chris Moraes at firstname.lastname@example.org (with “Job posting” in the subject line). Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Only successful applicants will be contacted.