Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tenth International Climate Change Conference / Heartland Institute -- Washington, D.C.: June 11-12, 2015

On Thursday, June 11 and Friday June 12, a conference on climate change was held in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the libertarian think tank, The Heartland Institute.  It brought together most of the world's luminaries of a community of people known as "climate change skeptics" or "climate change deniers."  Given the place of the Heartland Institute in the skeptic/denier community and the people in attendance, the claims and arguments presented at the conference can be understood fairly as the current leading opinions among skeptics/deniers.   Below is my attempt to encapsulate the most important claims expressed at the conference.

By my estimate, there were approximately 800 people in attendance.  So one should not assume that everyone there accepted all of the claims below, but disagreement with these claims was not in evidence and many of these claims received enthusiastic applause.  I have attempted to present these claims in as fair and dispassionate language as possible, though many of the speakers employed ad hominem and what I suspect would have been admitted to be hyperbolic rhetoric -- often for the purpose of entertaining the audience.  It is, however, important to understand the conference's claims in as charitable way as possible to ensure that any analysis or critique of its claims are valid.

I categorize the claims into four categories: denialism, skepticism, energy policy, and imputed motivations.  In future posts, I will discuss the plausibility of these claims and the cogency of the arguments made in their favor.  A few deserve serious attention.  Many others are frivolous.

Denialism:  There has been no significant warming of the planet due to human causes.
  • There was a "little ice age" and a "medieval warming period" evident in Europe and Greenland that prove a natural fluctuation of temperature independent of CO2 concentrations.
  • There has been no warming of the planet for the past 15 or more years.
  • There has been no increase of extreme weather, particularly, storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires, for the past decade.
  • Actions to reduce CO2 emissions will have no significant effect on global temperatures.
  • Coal is the cleanest energy source we have.
Skepticism:  Climate science worldwide has degenerated into a condition that is similar to Soviet agricultural science under the sway of Trofim Lysenko.
  • Climate scientist routinely "fiddle"with data to produce desired results.
  • Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph is a product of falsified data.  This has been demonstrated by the hacked East Anglia University, Climate Research Unit emails.
  • NOAA's recent adjustment to sea surface temperatures, eliminating what had been thought of as a "pause" in temperature increase, was a cynical act of falsifying data.
  • The U.S. surface temperature record is artificially high due to poorly sited thermometers (the urban heat island effect).
  • Apparent increases in rainfall in the Northeast U.S. and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the U.S. are a product of a change in rain gauge technology.
  • Projections from computer models have been incorrect and are fatally subject to assumption biases.
  • The satellite record of temperatures coming out of Alabama University a Huntsville is the best (perhaps the only reliable) record of global temperatures.
  • Serious-minded scientists are professionally punished for raising doubts about climate change and suffer public ridicule.
Energy Policy:  Economic growth driven by fossil fuel development will enrich the planet and provide the resources necessary to adapt to any changes to the climate in the unlikely event that changes take place.
  • Raising the price of energy will damage the economy and further impoverish the world's poor.
  • Commonly, benefit-cost analyses of CO2 emissions inflate the costs and neglect the benefits.
  • Increased CO2 levels are good for life (particularly plant life) on the planet.
  • The EPA should be abolished and replaced with state regulatory agencies.
  • The court ruling that CO2 is a pollutant must be overturned or the legislation must be amended to have this effect.
  • Renewable energy will never become economically competitive without government subsidies.
Imputed Motivations:  There is an alliance of various groups with various motives behind the warnings about dangerous climate change.
  • The motive of environmentalists is religious.
  • The motive of politicians and bureaucrats is political control.
  • The motive of green businesses is to ensure government subsidies to enrich green investors.
  • The motive of government and academic scientists is careerism.

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