Things Get Heated at Senate Hearing on Climate Science

Author Mark Steyn and Georgia Tech atmospheric scientist Judith Curry mixed it up with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) this week at a Senate hearing on data vs. dogma in climate science. Video excerpts of the heated exchanges are available here and here

Steyn, focusing on climate dogma, spotlighted the inherent conflict between centrally-planned global energy transformation and freedom of inquiry. No such plan is possible without almost universal consent, so proponents inevitably try to crush dissent.

University of Alabama in Huntsville atmospheric scientist John Christy explained that in science the test of whether we understand something is whether we are able to predict its behavior. The computer simulations underpinning U.S., EU, and U.N. climate policies, however, increasingly fail to hind-cast what has already happened.

You may already be familiar with data showing no long-term increase in the strength and frequency of hurricanes. Christy also presented data showing that despite global warming, the average number of daily temperatures exceeding 100°F at U.S. weather stations was larger in the 1930s than in recent decades. Counter-intuitive, yes, but science often is.

Curry challenged the IPCC’s “extremely likely” (>95%) assessment that more than half the observed warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Correlation does not prove causation but there is no causation without correlation. There is no correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the warming pause (or slowdown) of the past 18 years, the “grand hiatus” of 1945-1975, the warming of 1910-1945, or the “secular warming trend” that began in 1800 or earlier.

Physicist Will Happer discussed the CO2 fertilization effect. He noted that plant life evolved in atmospheres averaging many thousand parts per million of CO2, and that the pre-industrial concentration of 280 ppm, romanticized by some as the good old days, is “not that far above the minimum level, around 150 ppm, when many plants die from CO starvation.”

Rear Admiral David Titley, the sole minority witness, summarized findings of the IPCC, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and President Obama’s science advisor John Holdren.