Climatologist Dr. John Christy tells Congress: ‘Consensus Science is not Science’
Hearing – Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method
US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
March 29, 2017
Red Teams needed because Consensus Science is not Science
One way for congress to receive better (less biased) information about claims of climate science is to organize “Red Teams” as is done in other parts of government and industry when critical systems, programs or infrastructure are under consideration. I have discussed this idea is several previous congressional hearings. I will include here the section describing Red Teams from my testimony on 20 Sep 2012 before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The term “consensus science” will often be appealed to regarding arguments about climate change to bolster an assertion. This is a form of “argument from authority.” Consensus, however, is a political notion, not a scientific notion. As I testified to the
Inter-Academy Council in June 2010, wrote in Nature that same year (Christy 2010), and documented in my written House Testimony last year (House Space, Science and Technology, 31 Mar 2011) the IPCC and other similar Assessments do not represent for
me a consensus of much more than the consensus of those selected to agree with a particular consensus. The content of these climate reports is actually under the control of a relatively small number of individuals – I often refer to them as the “climate
establishment” – who through the years, in my opinion, came to act as gatekeepers of scientific opinion and information, rather than brokers. The voices of those of us who object to various statements and emphases in these assessments are by-in-large dismissed
rather than accommodated. This establishment includes the same individuals who become the “experts” called on to promote IPCC claims in government reports such as the Endangerment Finding by the Environmental Protection Agency. As outlined in my [31 Mar 2011] House Testimony, these “experts” become the authors and evaluators of their own research relative to research which challenges their work. But with the luxury of having the “last word” as “expert” authors of the reports, alternative views vanish.
I’ve often stated that climate science is a “murky” science. We do not have laboratory methods of testing our hypotheses as many other sciences do. As a result what passes for science includes, opinion, arguments-from-authority, dramatic press releases, and fuzzy
notions of consensus generated by preselected groups. This is not science. I noticed the House passed an amendment last year to de-fund the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.) We know from Climategate emails and many other sources that the IPCC has had problems with those who take different positions on climate change than what the IPCC promotes. There is another way to deal
with this however. Since the IPCC activity is funded by US taxpayers, then I propose that five to ten percent of the funds be allocated to a group of well-credentialed scientists to produce an assessment that expresses legitimate, alternative hypotheses that have been
(in their view) marginalized, misrepresented or ignored in previous IPCC reports (and thus EPA and National Climate Assessments). Such activities are often called “Red Team” reports and are widely used in government and industry. Decisions regarding
funding for “Red Teams” should not be placed in the hands of the current “establishment” but in panels populated by credentialed scientists who have experience in examining these issues. Some efforts along this line have arisen from the private
sector (i.e. The Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change at http://nipccreport.org/ and Michaels (2012) ADDENDUM:Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States). I believe policymakers, with the public’s purse, should
actively support the assembling all of the information that is vital to addressing this murky and wicked science, since the public will ultimately pay the cost of any legislation alleged to deal with climate.
Topics to be addressed in this “Red Team” assessment, for example, would include (a) evidence for a low climate sensitivity to increasing greenhouse gases, (b) the role and importance of natural, unforced variability, (c) a rigorous and independent evaluation of
climate model output, (d) a thorough discussion of uncertainty, (e) a focus on metrics that most directly relate to the rate of accumulation of heat in the climate system, (f) analysis of the many consequences, including benefits, that result from CO2 increases, and (g) the
importance that affordable and accessible energy has to human health and welfare.
What this proposal seeks is to provide to the Congress and other policymakers a parallel, scientifically-based assessment regarding the state of climate science which addresses issues which here-to-for have been un- or under-represented by previous tax-payer
funded, government-directed climate reports. In other words, our policymakers need to see the entire range of findings regarding climate change.