More honesty and less hubris, more evidence and less dogmatism, would do a world of good
Dr. Jeffrey Foss
“What can I do to correct these crazy, super wrong errors?” Willie Soon asked plaintively in a recent e-chat. “What errors, Willie?” I asked.
“Errors in Total Solar Irradiance,” he replied. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps using the wrong numbers! It’s making me feel sick to keep seeing this error. I keep telling them – but they keep ignoring their mistake.”
Astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon really does get sick when he sees scientists veering off their mission: to discover the truth. I’ve seen his face flush with shock and shame for science when scientists cherry-pick data. It ruins his appetite – a real downer for someone who loves his food as much as Willie does.
You have got to love a guy like that, if you love science – and I do. I’m a philosopher of science, not a scientist, but my love for science runs deep – as does my faith. So I cannot help but admire Willie and his good old-fashioned passion for science.
Willie Soon may one day be a household name. More and more he appears at the pointy end of scientific criticism of Climate Apocalypse. In two recent lawsuits against Big Oil, one by New York City and the other by San Francisco and Oakland, Dr. Soon is named as the “paid agent” of “climate change denialism.” As the man who – Gasp! – singlehandedly convinced Big Oil to continue business as usual.
Can you even imagine that? I can’t: Big Oil couldn’t turn off its taps in big cities even if it wanted to.
Putting such silly lawsuits aside, it is a big honor, historically speaking, for Dr. Soon to be the face of scientific rebuttal of Climate Apocalypse, since feeding the developed world’s apocalypse addiction is the main tool of a powerful global political agenda.
The IPCC – along with the United Nations and many environmentalist organizations, politicians, bureaucrats and their followers – desperately want to halt and even roll back development in the industrialized world, and keep Africa and other poor countries permanently undeveloped, while China races ahead. They want Willie silenced. We the people need to make sure he is heard.
Dr. Soon never sought the job of defending us against the slick, computer model-driven, anti-fossil fuel certainties of Climate Apocalypse. Willie just happened to choose solar science as a career and, like many solar scientists, after nearly three decades of scientific research in his case, came to believe that changes in the sun’s brightness, sunspots and energy output, changes in the orbital position of the Earth relative to the sun, and other powerful natural forces drive climate change. In brief, our sun controls our climate.
Even the IPCC initially indicated agreement with him, citing his work approvingly in its second (1996) and third (2001) Assessment Reports. That later changed, significantly. Sure, everyone agrees that the sun caused the waxing and waning of the ice ages, just as solar scientists say. However, the sun had to be played down if carbon dioxide (CO2) was to be played up – an abuse of science that makes Willie sick.
Unfortunately for the IPCC, solar scientists think solar changes also explain Earth’s most recent warming period which, they point out, began way back in the 1830s – long before we burned enough fossil fuels to make any difference. They also observed the shrinking of the Martian ice-caps in the 1990s, and their return in the last few years – in perfect time with the waning and waxing of Arctic ice caps here on Earth.
Only the sun – not the CO2 from our fires – could cause that Earth-Mars synchronicity. And surely it is no mere coincidence that a grand maximum in solar brightness (Total Solar Irradiance or TSI) took place in the 1990s as both planets’ ice caps shrank, or that the sun cooled (TSI decreased) as both planets’ ice caps grew once again. All that brings us back to Dr. Soon’s disagreements with the IPCC.
The IPCC now insists that solar variability is so tiny that they can just ignore it, and proclaim CO2 emissions as the driving force behind climate change. But solar researchers long ago discovered unexpected variability in the sun’s brightness – variability that is confirmed in other stars of the sun’s type. Why does the IPCC ignore these facts? Why does it insist on spoiling Willie’s appetite?
It sure looks like the IPCC is hiding the best findings of solar science so that it can trumpet the decreases in planetary warming (the so-called “greenhouse effect”) that they embed in the “scenarios” (as they call them) emanating from their computer models. Ignoring the increase in solar brightness over the 80s and 90s, they instead enthusiastically blame the warmth of the 1990s on human production of CO2.
In just such ways they sell us their Climate Apocalypse – along with the roll-back of human energy use, comfort, living standards and progress: sacrifices that the great green gods of Gaia demand of us if we are to avoid existential cataclysms. Thankfully, virgins are still safe – for now.
Surely Willie and solar scientists are right about the primacy of the sun. Why? Because the observable real world is the final test of science. And the data – actual evidence – shows that global temperatures follow changes in solar brightness on all time-scales, from decades to millions of years. On the other hand, CO2 and temperature have generally gone their own separate ways on these time scales.
Global temperatures stopped going up in the first two decades of this century, even though CO2 has steadily risen. The IPCC blames this global warming “hiatus” on “natural climate variability,” meaning something random, something not included in their models, something the IPCC didn’t see coming.
This confirms the fact that their models do not add up to a real theory of climate. Otherwise the theory would be falsified by their incorrect predictions. They predicted a continuous increase in temperature, locked to a continuous increase in CO2. But instead, temperature has remained steady over the last two decades, while CO2 climbed even faster than before.
IPCC modelers still insist that the models are nevertheless correct, somehow – that the world would be even colder now if it weren’t for this pesky hiatus in CO2-driven warming. Of course, they have to say that – even though they previously insisted the Earth would not be as cool as it is right now.
Still, their politically correct commands stridently persist: stay colder in winter, stay hotter in summer, take cold showers, drive less, make fewer trips, fly less, don’t eat foods that aren’t “local,” bury your loved ones in cardboard boxes, turn off the lights. Their list of diktats is big and continuously growing.
Unlike the IPCC, Willie and I cannot simply ignore the fact that there were multiple ice ages millions of years ago, when CO2 levels were four times higher than now. And even when CO2 and temperature do trend in tandem, as in the famous gigantic graph in Al Gore’s movie, the CO2 rises followed temperature increases by a few centuries. That means rising CO2 could not possibly have caused the temperature increases – an inconvenient truth that Gore doesn’t care about and studiously ignores.
Unfortunately, through their powerful political and media cadres, the IPCC has created a highly effective propaganda and war-on-fossil-fuels vehicle, to herd public opinion – and marginalize or silence any scientist who dares to disagree with it. For better or worse, richer or poorer, my dear, passionate Dr. Soon is one scientist who is always ready to stand in the path of that tank and face it down: anytime, anywhere.
I’m frightened by the dangers to Willie, his family and his career, due to his daily battles with the Climate Apocalypse industry. I can’t get it out of my mind that the university office building of climatologist John Christy – who shares Willie’s skepticism of Climate Apocalypse – was shot full of bullet holes last year. But let’s not let a spattering of gunfire spoil a friendly scientific debate. Right?
Willie’s courage makes me proud to know him, and to be an aficionado of science like he is. When it comes to the long game, my money is on Dr. Willie Soon. We the people hunger for truth, as does science itself. And that hunger will inevitably eclipse our romantic dalliance with the Climate Apocalypse.
Dr. Jeffrey Foss is a philosopher of science and Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada