In a speech at Georgetown University, President Obama said that he has no patience for people who deny that human-produced global warming is a real problem. He added:
We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society…Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.
About a year ago, I pointed out that the president of the Flat Earth Society actually agrees with President Obama on global warming. However, some serious scientists strongly disagree with the both the president of the Flat Earth Society and the President of the United States. In fact, one Nobel-Prize-winning scientist says that President Obama is “dead wrong” when it comes to climate change.
Who is this Nobel laureate? His name is Dr. Ivar Giaever, and I have written about him before. He is professor emeritus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a professor-at-large at the University of Oslo, and the Chief Technology Officer at Applied Biophysics. At a recent gathering of Nobel laureates, he gave a talk entitled, “Global Warming Revisited.” Among the notable things he said was:
I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong…When you have a theory and the theory does not agree with the experiment then you have to cut out the theory.
What could explain Dr. Giaever’s opposition to the Presidents of the United States and the Flat Earth Society? Is he one of those right-wing radicals who refuses to look at the facts? Probably not. After all, in 2008 he signed a letter endorsing Obama for president. Interestingly enough, the electronic version of the letter that appears on Obama/Biden stationary has his name scrubbed from it. Dr. Giaever disagrees with the Presidents of the United States and the Flat Earth Society because he looked at the data with an unbiased eye, and when he did, he saw that the theory was not supported by the data.
Dr. Caleb Rossiter is another example of such a person. In his own words:
I’ve spent my life on the foreign-policy left. I opposed the Vietnam War, U.S. intervention in Central America in the 1980s and our invasion of Iraq. I have headed a group trying to block U.S. arms and training for “friendly” dictators, and I have written books about how U.S. policy in the developing world is neocolonial.
However, he says that as he looked at the “science” behind global warming, he realized that it was quite shaky from a statistical point of view. Since statistics is his speciality (he is an adjunct professor in the department of mathematics and statistics and the school of international service at American University), this concerned him. He says:
I started to suspect that the climate-change data were dubious a decade ago while teaching statistics. Computer models used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to determine the cause of the six-tenths of one degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperature from 1980 to 2000 could not statistically separate fossil-fueled and natural trends.
Now please understand what he is saying. He thinks that the globe is warming, but he says that we simply don’t know the cause. It might be human-produced carbon dioxide, but it also might be part of the earth’s natural variation. His concern is that development in third-world countries is being curtailed by worries based on what he calls “unproven science.” In the end, he understands that curtailing such development will kill people, and he doesn’t think we should be killing people based on unproven science. As a result of this incredibly reasonable view, he was fired from his position at a “progressive” Washington think tank. That’s the price he had to pay for disagreeing with the Presidents of the United States and the Flat Earth Society.
Dr. Steven E. Koonin is another on the list of Obama supporters who disagree with the idea that we have to “act now” when it comes to “climate change.” He served as the Energy Department undersecretary for science in the Obama administration. More importantly, however, he is a computational physicist. He was a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute for Technology for 29 years and co-wrote a classic text on computational physics. He says:
My training as a computational physicist—together with a 40-year career of scientific research, advising and management in academia, government and the private sector—has afforded me an extended, up-close perspective on climate science. Detailed technical discussions during the past year with leading climate scientists have given me an even better sense of what we know, and don’t know, about climate.
In the end, he thinks that uncertainties associated with climate modeling simply don’t allow us to accurately predict what effect increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will have on global climate. As a result, he says:
Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.
I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, President Obama and many, many others do not. As Dr. Koonin says, this is a great disservice to climate science. I don’t think the disservice will end anytime soon.