Climatologist Dr. John Christy tells Congress: ‘Consensus Science is not Science’

Hearing – Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method
US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
March 29, 2017

Full Congressional Statement here:

Red Teams needed because Consensus Science is not ScienceOne way for congress to receive better (less biased) information about claims of climate science is to organize “Red Teams” as is done in other parts of government and industry when critical systems, programs or infrastructure are under consideration.

I have discussed this idea is several previous congressional hearings. I will include here the section describing Red Teams from my testimony on 20 Sep 2012 before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

One way for congress to receive better (less biased) information about claims of climate science is to organize “Red Teams” as is done in other parts of government and industry when critical systems, programs or infrastructure are under consideration. I have discussed this idea is several previous congressional hearings. I will include here the section describing Red Teams from my testimony on 20 Sep 2012 before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The term “consensus science” will often be appealed to regarding arguments about climate change to bolster an assertion. This is a form of “argument from authority.” Consensus, however, is a political notion, not a scientific notion. As I testified to the Inter-Academy Council in June 2010, wrote in Nature that same year (Christy 2010), and documented in my written House Testimony last year (House Space, Science and Technology, 31 Mar 2011) the IPCC and other similar Assessments do not represent for me a consensus of much more than the consensus of those selected to agree with a particular consensus. The content of these climate reports is actually under the control of a relatively small number of individuals ‚Äì I often refer to them as the “climate establishment” ‚Äì who through the years, in my opinion, came to act as gatekeepers of scientific opinion and information, rather than brokers. The voices of those of us who object to various statements and emphases in these assessments are by-in-large dismissed
rather than accommodated. This establishment includes the same individuals who become the “experts” called on to promote IPCC claims in government reports such as the Endangerment Finding by the Environmental Protection Agency. As outlined in my [31 Mar 2011] House Testimony, these “experts” become the authors and evaluators of their own research relative to research which challenges their work. But with the luxury of having the “last word” as “expert” authors of the reports, alternative views vanish.

I’ve often stated that climate science is a “murky” science. We do not have laboratory methods of testing our hypotheses as many other sciences do. As a result what passes for science includes, opinion, arguments-from-authority, dramatic press releases, and fuzzy notions of consensus generated by preselected groups. This is not science. I noticed the House passed an amendment last year to de-fund the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.) We know from Climategate emails and many other sources that the IPCC has had problems with those who take different positions on climate change than what the IPCC promotes.

There is another way to deal with this however. Since the IPCC activity is funded by US taxpayers, then I propose that five to ten percent of the funds be allocated to a group of well-credentialed scientists to produce an assessment that expresses legitimate, alternative hypotheses that have been (in their view) marginalized, misrepresented or ignored in previous IPCC reports (and thus EPA and National Climate Assessments). Such activities are often called “Red Team” reports and are widely used in government and industry. Decisions regarding funding for “Red Teams” should not be placed in the hands of the current “establishment” but in panels populated by credentialed scientists who have experience in examining these issues.

Some efforts along this line have arisen from the private
sector (i.e. The Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change at http://nipccreport.org/ and Michaels (2012) ADDENDUM:Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States). I believe policymakers, with the public’s purse, should actively support the assembling all of the information that is vital to addressing this murky and wicked science, since the public will ultimately pay the cost of any legislation alleged to deal with climate.

Topics to be addressed in this “Red Team” assessment, for example, would include (a) evidence for a low climate sensitivity to increasing greenhouse gases, (b) the role and importance of natural, unforced variability, (c) a rigorous and independent evaluation of climate model output, (d) a thorough discussion of uncertainty, (e) a focus on metrics that most directly relate to the rate of accumulation of heat in the climate system, (f) analysis of the many consequences, including benefits, that result from CO2 increases, and (g) the importance that affordable and accessible energy has to human health and welfare.

What this proposal seeks is to provide to the Congress and other policymakers a parallel, scientifically-based assessment regarding the state of climate science which addresses issues which here-to-for have been un- or under-represented by previous tax-payer funded, government-directed climate reports. In other words, our policymakers need to see the entire range of findings regarding climate change.

Comments (5)

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    G

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    The late Dr. Michael Crichton was on to this consensus-in-science scam long before most. Here is an excerpt from a January 17, 2003 speech at the California Institute of Technology:

    “I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
    “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”
    [Crichton gave a number of examples where the scientific consensus was completely wrong for many years.]
    “… Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E = mc². Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”

    -Dr Michael Crichton (1942–2008): Educated at Harvard University A.B. (summa cum laude) 1964 (Phi Beta Kappa). Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellow, 1964–65. Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University, England, 1965. Graduated Harvard Medical School, M.D. 1969; post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, La Jolla, California 1969–1970. Visiting Writer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988. The books he has authored have sold over 200 million copies.

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    Sonnyhill

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    I’m reading Dr. Christy’s testimony and watching Bloomberg business channel’s attack of Trump ‘s climate concensus denial, or trying to. I just read a Guardian article stating that by trying to straddle the argument you become a radical (denier). I’ve said that Trump was elected because he’s not a politician. Dr. Crichton says concensus is political, not scientific. Things are moving along apace, like Foggy Mountain Breakdown. I wish that Global Whining would die with a bang, but I’d settle for a whimper.

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    DMA

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    Having followed this controversy for several years I am beginning to think the claimed consensus exists only in a small group and a true analysis of scientific opinions would show them to be in a distinct minority. If the question to each scientist was ” Can you show clear evidence that human emissions of CO2 are causing damaging climate change?” I think the yeses would be very sparse. If another question was “Do you expect the mean of the climate models to accurately predict global temperature within .2 deg C.?” you would get more “that depends” than “definitely”. So My conclusion is the consensus is about as much contrived as the eminent danger their side is promoting.

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    G

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    The Crichton speech I cited is now 14 years old. As time passed, this portion stands out:

    ‚Äú‚Ķ Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E = mc¬≤. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”

    Indeed, if the case for man-made global warming (since re-branded as “climate change”) were proven and compelling over that additional period, there would be no need whatsoever to continue banging the gong of scientific consensus. The science would stand for itself.

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    Sonnyhill

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    Climate concensus reminds me of something I read a long time ago : Be wary of anyone who says “trust me” . Trust is not something you ask for, you have to earn it.

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