Climategate Update: Science Hasn’t Failed, Government Has
What a fascinating week. The leaked e-mails and computer code from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit have become the greatest scientific scandal of our age. The head of the CRU has been forced to step down. Scientists who cooperated with the CRU in other locations, including the United States and New Zealand, are now under investigation.
I’ve been warned, incidentally, that any discussion of global warming will elicit complaints from one side or the other, so I would be better off not bringing it up. The notion that climatology is unacceptable in polite conversation is a huge problem. I’ve been following this debate for over 15 years and have worked with some of the important scientists who have advocated openness and more debate in climate research. Real scientists consider this a legitimate scientific issue, not a partisan one.
Moreover, the CRU scandal is enormously relevant to many investor issues. I’d rather lose readers who are offended than fail to keep the rest of you informed. If you’re getting your news from the mainstream media, you may not know yet how damaging this event has been to the credibility of the U.N. and those in the administration who support CO2 controls. (The Canadian press, however, is doing a far better job of covering the story.)
I told subscribers to my newsletter Breakthrough Technology Alert about a year ago, by the way, not to invest in so-called green technologies that rely on subsidies and regulatory interventions. That advice stands now more than ever. Polls show that about three-quarters of Americans consider the scientific theory of anthropogenic global warming false or even fraudulent. Given growing anger over deficits and terrible unemployment statistics, harmful environmental measures passed now are likely to be overturned or blocked after the 2010 election cycle.
I saw this coming for several reasons. One is that the lack of scientific ethics exposed by the CRU whistle-blower is not really news. It has been obvious to those of us who were paying attention for a very long time. The leaked documents make it clear, however, to those who don’t understand the mathematical subtleties of regression analysis or program in Fortran.
For the first time, the general public is learning that the CRU climate model, which the U.N. relies on, purposely hid the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). This obfuscation was necessary because the MWP was not just warmer than it is now; it had a generally positive impact on humans. The University of East Anglia now admits, in fact, that the CRU has no real evidence that the climate is warming and says it will take at least three years to recompile and analyze the data.
The climatological-industrial complex, however, is forging ahead as if nothing has happened. Supporters of an incredibly expensive cap-and-trade scheme, in the middle of the worst economic downturn in modern history, are undeterred. Even without the invention of Enron, cap and trade, the EPA is dead set on treating and regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
You know that stuff you exhale in high concentrations: CO2? The EPA apparently thinks pollution results even with miniscule increases in the 0.038% trace levels of CO2 found in the atmosphere. Obviously, slightly elevated CO2 levels have never resulted in cataclysm before. So why does it say so now?
Its theory is that the planet’s ability to absorb CO2 is maxed out. Additional CO2, it says, will therefore result in skyrocketing CO2 levels. This theory, however, is completely unsupported by evidence. Dr. Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol just published as study in Geophysical Research Letters showing that the portion of the atmospheric CO2 absorbed by plant life, mostly in the oceans, has remained stable since 1850.
In fact, it is the failure of the CRU model to properly address the role of the oceans that convinced me long ago that it’s fundamentally missed the boat. Only about 10% of the Earth’s heat storage is atmospheric. About 90% of the Earth’s energy storage takes place in the waters of the oceans. Water, after all, stores far more energy than air.
Furthermore, ocean temperatures are far easier to measure accurately. Many land-based temperature stations have been compromised due to changes in local conditions, mostly increased urbanization. This is not the case with oceans. NASA has more than 3,000 robotic buoys that dive and surface continually all over the world collecting ocean temperature data at different depths. This information has been transmitted via satellite to NASA since 2003. Compiled, it shows clearly that ocean temperatures are falling.
If the oceans were bleeding heat into the atmosphere, we would see higher air temperatures. The Climategate e-mail leak shows, however, that even CRU knows that atmospheric temperatures have fallen since the late ‘90s. This means, I believe, that we are in an extended period of global cooling, not a temporary turnaround. University of Rochester physicists have published recently data showing the historic and central role ocean temperatures play in climate and climate change.
The fact that the U.N.’s climate gurus have destroyed data, hid inconvenient truths and subverted the peer-review process is not, by the way, proof that anthropogenic global warming could not possibly occur. Nor does it prove we are not in a natural period of cooling caused by solar cycles. The only thing it does prove is that models are junk and that the most powerful government-anointed climate scientists have no idea what’s going on — as the leaked e-mails stated over and over again.
This is the big lesson. It isn’t science that has failed. Science isn’t dying, as Daniel Henninger said recently in The Wall Street Journal. Real science is a process of discovering the truth through transparency, experimentation and verification. Look around you. You can see the fruits of real science in the increased length and quality of life that we all enjoy. Science is alive and well in the private sector.
Climategate is a failure of politicians and bureaucrats involving over $90 billion in tax-funded research grants. It is complicated by passionately cheerleading environmentalists who have turned their movement into a kind of religion.
The corruption of scientists by government monies is by no means new. It won’t be the last time, either. Nevertheless, the courage of the CRU whistle-blower demonstrates the robustness of science. The truth has come out.
It remains to be seen if the political drive to control human activities and profit from political wealth transfers will prove more powerful, in the short run, than the truth contained in the leaked e-mails and computer code. In the long run, however, I have no doubt that those who embrace fraud will be outed, if not punished.
My focus is on identifying those transformational technologies with the greatest potential for profit and growth. Those opportunities will not go away even if the fraud inherent in the CRU’s sham models are used to hobble the American economy with destructive cap-and-trade taxation or onerous EPA regulation of CO2. India, Russia, China and many other countries have made it clear they will never adopt such economy-killing measures — especially during a period of economic downturn and high unemployment. They stand more than willing to host the revolutionary disruptive industries that are coming onto the scene today. Many of our top scientists and small caps are already being wooed to relocate elsewhere.
Fortunately, polls show that nearly three-quarters of the American people are extremely angry with the government right now. The old media, which are lobbying for some sort of bailout, will continue trying to cover it up. Having not only endorsed the concept of anthropogenic global warming, but attacked skeptics as subhuman, it is impossible for many to admit they were wrong. Science and technology, though, have already provided alternate avenues of information dissemination. The unwillingness of the old media to report one of the most important stories of this young century is evidence they deserve to fail.
The reversal on cap and trade by Australia, along with a likely change in the government, in large part because of Climategate, ought to act as a warning to the administration. If not, then the people will grow angrier yet and we’ll see another iteration of the revolution next year at the ballot boxes. Science cannot be stopped or even perverted for long.
Patrick Cox is a transformative technologies expert associated with the Whiskey and Gunpowder investment newsletter.