Right Opinion

If a Kindergartener Gets It, Why Do We Need Funding for 'Settled Science'?

Joe Bastardi · Nov. 25, 2015

A couple of months ago, Weatherbell.com CEO Michael Barak gave me an idea for an article when he posed this question: “If this is such a done deal with global warming, why do we need to keep researching it?” I can think of many reasons why, including the pure curiosity of men to find a cause, but after that one has to ask the question: If it’s such a done deal, except to crackpots out there like me who believe CO2 has a very tiny effect, why are we wasting so much time and money on all this?

By the way, Michael Barak graduated from Cornell with a degree in engineering — same as Bill Nye, though much later (2005). He was admitted to Cornell at the age of 16. So he certainly is smarter than a kindergartener.

But I never had an opening to address this question until now, thanks to this hit piece extraordinaire on almost every Republican presidential candidate. It’s written by Seth Borenstein. He had climate scientists, none of whom challenge the man-made global warming side, grade the candidates.

Basically, the stronger the conservative, the more they fail. For those who worry about Donald Trump, he appears to be the third target here. And knowing him, he will use it to his advantage somehow. But check out the list. It’s classic.

Here is an intriguing passage:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had the highest average score at 94. Three scientists did not assign former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley a score, saying his statements mostly were about policy, which they could not grade, instead of checkable science.

Two used similar reasoning to skip grading New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and one did the same for businesswoman Carly Fiorina. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had the lowest score, an average of 6. All eight put Cruz at the bottom of the class. “This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner,” Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, wrote of Cruz’s statements. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”

Let me be clear about something, I do not dislike Dr. Mann. People want me to because he is the face of the Penn State meteorology department, and I am a Penn State degreed meteorologist who visibly disagrees with Mann. As a matter of fact, I’ve read a lot of his work and have concluded that, if I studied just what he does, I would think the way he does too. Problem is, he hasn’t done what I do, and he understands little about how one weighs major drivers in future events in weather.

Which explains why he reconstructs and does not forecast. I am not saying I understand it perfectly, but I have proved myself on the real-time battle field since the day after I graduated from Penn State on March 4, 1978. Experience doesn’t come overnight, and looking hard and digging deep on past weather supplies the basis for my disagreement. Basically, it lies with the fact I use climate as the foundation for my forecasts.

His comment about Ted Cruz was not only shocking, but it gave me the opening to write this.

First of all, really? Ted Cruz understands less than the average kindergartener? This man has a genius IQ. He will have no problems showing everyone his grades. He has an audiographic memory (he remembers everything he hears).

His former professor, Alan Dershowitz — not exactly a bastion of conservatism — was quoted as saying (via White House Dossier):

“Off the charts brilliant,” is what legendary liberal Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz said of his former student in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer a year ago.

Dershowitz had trouble rating another former Harvard student, Barack Obama, who despite multiple attempts couldn’t get into Dershowitz’s class.

“The computer kept him out,” Dershowitz said. “It wasn’t my fault.” …

Ahh, the computer.

“One of the sharpest students I had … I’ve had 10,000 students over my 50 years at Harvard … he has to qualify among the brightest of the students.”

Surely Dr. Mann does not mean what he says. Dangerous in a doorman? Why would someone even say that? I have never lived in a place where I had a doorman, but when I do encounter them at hotels, I find them to be great people.

Do these people understand how their agenda is showing through? They openly attack three candidates — a known genius, a brilliant surgeon and a man immensely successful in business. Three known successes in fields that arguably are much more demanding than climate science. After all, it is implied a kindergartener can get it. So since a kindergarten child can understand this — and I don’t think a kindergarten child has audiographic memory, or has become a world renown pediatric surgeon, or a successful business person — we can only conclude that climate science is not that big a deal. Now isn’t that special?

By the way, Dr. Will Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, gives Ted Cruz an A. So that means a prominent PhD in physics would not even rate a kindergartener’s knowledge to Dr. Mann on this. Of course, Dr. Happer and others who don’t see it Seth Borenstein’s way, since he apparently picked this ad hoc panel, were not included in the grading process.

Then there is President Obama in the State of the Union: “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”

First of all, no one has ever denied that climate changes. This is a straw man. The argument is over the effect an increase of one molecule of CO2 out of 10,000 molecules of air over a 100-year period is having on the planetary climate system. There have been glaciers and dinosaurs in Wisconsin, so the climate of Wisconsin, given a long enough interval, has changed on its own enough to support glaciers. The first chart further below shows that in the geological history of the earth there is no linkage between temperatures and CO2. There has never been a debate on “climate change.” It is a redundant term! It came to the forefront once the pause in temperatures, also clearly seen in charts below, had to replace global warming. The very nature of climate is constant change because the sun, oceans, stochastic events and design of the system far outweigh the effects of .04% of the atmosphere. So my question is, do you really believe a one molecule increase in CO2 out of 10,000 molecules of air over a 100-year period is now the control knob of climate in the face of these massive known drivers?

Secondly, are we spending $200 billion over 20 years to determine if the earth is the center of the universe? Or water freezing at 32 degrees? Or that gravity exists? All this is settled science. So why are we funding the studying of “climate change” unless it’s part of another agenda?

It gets back to Michael Barak’s question. If it’s such a done deal — apparently so much so that a kindergarten child can understand it — why do we need to pursue it further?

Which raises another question. Why all the obsession with something the general public cares little about, unless there is a motive that the general public is not capable of understanding? Money, power, grand ideas of saving the planet, control of energy, more control over the population reliant on that energy, etc. Rep. Maxine Walters let the cat out of the bag several years ago, and it’s now become apparent her words were prophetic:

“And guess what this member would be all about? This member would be all about socializing — er, uh. [Pauses for several moments] …. would be about … [pause] … basically … taking over, and the government running all of your companies.”

The offshoot of that, for instance: an EPA that would gladly enact draconian measures to prevent .01 degrees Celsius of warming over 30 years simply to serve as an “example” for the rest of the planet.

Translation: more expensive energy, limiting people’s freedoms, not to mention the jobs lost.

And why the obsession with destroying what is portrayed as a fringe bunch of kooks who dare to disagree? If it’s all so settled, these toxic deniers will fade away, as disproven ideas always do.

And if a kindergartener understands all this, then I wonder what a preschooler would think of even simpler charts.

For example, the geological time scale of CO2 vs. temperatures, which, as mentioned above, shows no apparent linkage.

Or the NCEP CFSv2 temperatures, tracking nicely with the warming from 1988-2005. (Second graph is since 2005. Notice it’s catching the El Niño warming very nicely now!)

Or models that have busted on their projections.

Or the fact that, since the age of fossil fuels, the human condition has sky rocketed, ironically, with hockey stick trajectories.

I think as smart as preschoolers are today — and a lot of that is due to the benefits of fossil fuels — they would be able to do this.

So perhaps it’s not such a done deal. Perhaps there are reasons why a man with a genius level IQ is demeaned so viciously by people that are very smart also but seem to have little tolerance for anyone who may challenge them.

Perhaps the better question is, why, if you are truly pursuing a complex infinite system like the climate, would you say that it’s so easy a kindergartener would understand it, even though you then turn around and say a genius doesn’t?

Like Michael Barak said, if it’s such a done deal, why are we spending so much time and money on it? We could put it to better use, after all. Perhaps Dr. Mann and others who are labeling Republicans as dimwits should reconsider. If it’s so easy to understand, what becomes of their own careers?

Perhaps such attacks are useful to a cause now, but who knows — you may feel like something else later. I believe Lenin had a term for it, and it wasn’t thoughtful geniuses. After all, if it’s so easy a kindergarten child can understand it, there can’t be much more reason to continue to fund “settled science.”


Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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