Unabashed Scientific Bias

Scientific American, which is supposed to be a well respected journal, has published an open letter to President-Elect Trump on climate change. The first sentence of the introduction to the letter shows blatant editorial bias with the following, “and appointed climate deniers with ties to the fossil fuel industry to his transition team and Cabinet.”   The word “denier” is clearly pejorative and completely wrong. Scientific American also implies that the “fossil fuel industry” is a monolith that denies the existence of climate change.

No one who has been involved in first the global warming debate that morphed into climate change denies that climate change is real and is happening and always had. Scientific American is supporting a political agenda that makes its name an oxymoron. It is neither being scientific nor American.

The 800 signatories to the letter urge the President-Elect to take a set of climate related actions. In doing so, they reveal a breathtaking level of ignorance and an addiction to feeding at the federal trough.

They want to make America “ a clean energy leader” by increasing subsidies for wind and solar, ignoring the fact that these subsidies simply breed crony capitalism. EU nations that have bet heavily on wind and solar have paid a heavy economic penalty and still have to rely on coal or natural gas when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

They want to reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels. They are blinded by the fact that carbon intensity has been declining for decades and will continue to do so. While Americans might dream of perpetual motion automobiles, their interest in electric vehicles is tied to subsidies, which Elon Musk champions to further enrich himself. As for “pollution”, they just ignore that air quality continues to improve year in and year out.

They call for a public acknowledgement that ‘climate change is real. human caused, and urgent threat.” Human causality and urgency are artifacts of complex computer models that have been built to support a preconceived conclusion. Going back to the late 80s, Al Gore and Jim Hansen predicted a climate apocalypse caused by rapidly rising temperatures. The apocalypse keeps receding as dooms day approaches. And, the temperature increases over recent decades are not much different than those that took place early in the 2oth century. Satellite measurements continue to show that global temperatures are not rapidly rising.

In a display of bold hubris they ask for protection of “scientific integrity in policymaking.” The abuse of the scientific process over the past eight years by the Obama Administration, especially EPA makes it clear that these 800 individuals either don’t know what they are talking about or hold a perverted view of what the scientific process is.

They want to see an enhancement of “America’s climate preparedness and resilience, which clearly makes sense but their justification is the false narrative about increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Improved preparedness and resilience come from investments in science and engineering that lead to innovation. Investment in basic research trumps deductive research.

Over the course of this year, a great deal of attention has been given to the proliferation of fake news. The publication of this letter adds to the inventory of fake news. There is nothing in the Scientific American article or the letter from scientists that can withstand close scrutiny. It is another example of what the late historian Daniel Boorstin documented over 50 years ago in his book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America.

Author: billo38@icloud.com

Founder and president of Solutions Consulting which focuses on public policy issues, strategic planning, and strategic communications.

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