Climate activists continue to sound the alarm over carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. Caleb Rossiter, the executive director of CO2 Coalition, an organization of climate scientists and experts who research and report the facts of climate change, joins the show to explain just how worried we really should or should not be about the planet’s warming.
Rossiter also explains “a long campaign to … cancel climate voices in the mainstream media,” including his own.
Virginia Allen: I am joined by Caleb Rossiter, the executive director of CO2 Coalition. Caleb, thanks so much for being on the show.
Rossiter: Virginia, it’s a real pleasure to be talking to you from lovely upstate New York where I’m on a bit of a vacation.
Allen: Oh, that’s good. Good for you. Well, I’m sorry to make you work on your vacation, but I’m glad that you’re allowing us to pull you in and speak with you today.
I want to start by just hearing a little bit about your organization. You all have come under some fire recently from the left and we’re going to get into that in just a moment. But first, can you just tell us a little bit about what CO2 Coalition does?
Rossiter: Sure. The CO2 Coalition was founded in 2015 by Dr. Will Happer of Princeton University, a physicist, a very noteworthy American physicist who recently served as President [Donald] Trump’s science adviser on the National Security Council, which explains how I ended up being the director for a couple of years.
There are 55 climate scientists and energy economists, experts in their field who over the years noticed with alarm that climate science and energy economics had become very politicized.
And there were claims that it was all settled and because of the terrible changes in atmospheric warmth leading to hurricanes and sea level rise and glaciers melting, we had to get rid of the fossil fuels that power over 80% of the world economy.
These climate scientists and energy economists felt that was incorrect based on the data and their understanding of physics and economics and came together.
So, they’ve been a prominent source in Congress of sort of scientific and economic expertise. We publish reports, we comment on other people’s reports, and we do a lot of public speaking and congressional education.
Allen: We hear so much about climate change and, like you say, it has become so politicized. How did we get to that point? Where, for one, it seems like often the facts are overlooked for the sake of just kind of pushing an agenda. And then to what extent is climate change something that we actually need to be concerned about?
Rossiter: One of the first things we always ask people, particularly members of Congress who say, “Is climate change real?” And we ask them to tell us, “What do you mean by climate change?”
As academics, we want to know what it is we’re supposed to be looking at. The climate of the world, meaning the temperature and the weather that it experiences, changes dramatically over the course of fairly regular course.
Let’s just take a short-term period in sort of geological history. Every 100,000 years, there’s a terribly powerful cycle that drives temperature up and down about 8 degrees Celsius, about 15 degrees Fahrenheit over the entire world on average.
That’s when you get, for example, where I’m sitting right today in Ithaca, New York, 18,000 years ago or so it was under a mile of ice. That’s the last glacial maximum.
Those occur every 100,000 years in some very powerful cycle going up and going down those 15 degrees based on, you might call it the geometry of the Earth’s movement around the sun.
The ellipse we travel in changes its shape slightly and regularly and that brings more sunlight to bear. So there are these powerful climate changes over long periods.
In short periods, temperature goes up and down a degree or two all the time. So at the moment, because of that powerful elliptical 100,000-year cycle, we happen to be at this stage of humanity at the top of the temperature range.
And that temperature wobbles up there a bit every few 100 years in some chaotic, some regular ways. And it’s about to, I’m sorry to say, go down for the next glacial maximum. But don’t worry, it’ll take 80,000 years to get us cool.
So, in that period that we are in now, there has been a slight natural warming since about the year 1800 as the world came out of something called the Little Ice Age.
Now, none of this is controversial or outside any sort of scientific consensus. It’s just the way that the temperatures work when they wobble around a little bit.
At about 1950—when about half of the warming from 1900 till today of about 1 degree average around the world—in 1950, there was enough carbon dioxide pumped out by industrialization after World War II to finally make a difference to temperature.
Because carbon dioxide is a warming gas and the U.N. claims that at least half of that, which is a reasonable estimate, has come because of the addition of carbon dioxide, a very minor trace warming gas to the big warming gases like water vapor that is naturally causing about 97% of our greenhouse effect.
So the worry is that either this 1 degree rise that’s at least a quarter natural in the last 100 years or 50% natural if all the warming since 1950 is natural is going to cause rapid increases in the rate of sea level rise, the melting of glaciers, and droughts, hurricanes, floods, things that harm people. That is climate change.
Now, the data to date that the U.N. has put out and analyzed do not support that. The rates of all those variables per decade, the rate of sea level rise that was always coming up from the Little Ice Age is the same as it was 1920 to 1950, droughts, floods, and all that.
So the climate change debate has strangely morphed into a debate over my topic. I used to teach mathematical modeling and climate statistics at American University.
The debate today really is driven by, do you believe the computer models, mathematical models that project, if we keep producing carbon dioxide, temperature will rise dramatically and will cause increased floods, storms, and hurricanes?
That’s where this whole debate that you and I are talking about comes in because our coalition has experts in these matters who write on these matters and Facebook has started to censor them on these matters.
Allen: Let’s touch on that a little bit. You mentioned Facebook, what role is Facebook playing in actually censoring information about CO2 emissions and climate change, and specifically your organization?
Rossiter: Because the mainstream media—from about USA Today and Washington Post to CNN on over to the left—have been sort of cancel cultured over the last 15 years with tremendous pressure from advertisers and groups to eliminate critical voices about the wildest climate change claims from their airwaves and from their newspapers, we have relied not only on direct publication and meeting with members of Congress and holding briefings, but also social media.
It’s our samizdat, as dissidence in the Soviet Union called their underground method of transmitting information during the communist era where people can pass information.
Social media is fantastic. We use Facebook and Twitter to broadcast and publicize and advertise to reach people directly with our arguments and our studies that we can’t get written about in anything to the left of Fox News and The Washington Times.
Allen: I want to touch on this letter that was written. You all recently came under some attack from the left and a couple of weeks ago, a group of 19 left-wing leaders and climate activists, including Stacey Abrams, sent a letter to Fox asking that they remove the CO2 Coalition Facebook page.
And I quote from their letter, “Facebook is allowing the spread of climate misinformation to flourish unchecked across the globe. Instead of heeding the advice of independent scientists and approved fact-checkers from climate Facebook, Facebook sided with fossil fuel lobbyists, by allowing the CO2 Coalition to take advantage of a giant loophole for opinion content.”
Were you surprised by this letter?
Rossiter: Well, there’s virtually not one word in that sentence that’s accurate, but I’m not going to have time to explain that, but I’ll tell you what happened.
There’s a long campaign to, as I said, cancel climate voices in the mainstream media. A leader of that campaign was named Eric Michelman. He’s a tech millionaire, billionaire, whatever, he would be who helped invent the mouse. And he has been on this tear for at least 15 years of funding organizations that try to silence dissent on climate.
And Mr. Michelman founded something in 2015 or 16 called Climate Feedback, which Facebook accepted as an independent fact-checker through a sort of left-leaning international fact-checking network run by the group that runs PolitiFact and somehow put them in charge of deciding what was false and misleading on this issue.
Last September, the former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, Patrick Michaels, and I, a climate math statistician, wrote an article in the Washington Examiner just describing what climate models are and how they work.
And they’re really just tools, not oracles, as we know from the COVID modeling escapades. And people have elevated climate models of far over what mathematicians would tell you is worth listening to in terms of policy. So, we make those points.
We were censored on Facebook by the Science Feedback group that Facebook had given the power to, labeled false, which means you can’t repost it, send it around, advertise it, and boost it, all the ways that we reach our audiences.
Dr. Michaels and I immediately responded with a detailed scientific letter citing all sorts of peer-reviewed research to indicate that the models were running hot and were quite poor guides for policy and Facebook removed it.
I think they were a little scared of Sen. [Ted] Cruz who had been jumping on them the day before because Climate Feedback … is part of a passel called Science Feedback that includes Health Feedback, and they’ve been going after abortion activists on Facebook for making claims about the medical aspects of abortion and Sen. Cruz had intervened.
So, we fortunately were left alone for a while. And then Dr. Michaels had a very successful video appearance on “Life, Liberty & Levin” maybe three years ago that had 3 million views. Well, about a month ago, Climate Feedback went back and unearthed that and decided to censor that.
So, again, we complained, we cited the science, and it’s been written about. And I think because we’re successful in … challenging the underpinnings of climate alarm, which are the models that are quite weak, Climate Feedback came after us. And so did this group led by Stacey Abrams and Tom Steyer and all the environmental groups, frankly, who have always refused to debate us and just spread alarm on their webpage.
It’s like the Union of Concerned Scientists or the Sierra Club. These are huge organizations and they’re picking on us and we’re very proud of that.
But I would add one thing. Recently, Michael Shellenberger, a noted environmentalist, and Roger Pielke Jr., a very prominent climate statistician, who are not part of our coalition at all, have published articles that have been equally critical of the climate consensus of alarm.
And Michael Moore’s new film, although he believes in climate catastrophe, he said, “The new renewables aren’t ready for prime time and will not make any difference in carbon emissions.”
All of these have been censored on Facebook by Climate Feedback. So maybe we were the warm-up act for them to learn how to do it. And they come after anything that is popular and makes people say, “Huh, maybe we don’t have such a climate emergency going on that would justify getting rid of our affordable, reliable energy.”
Allen: To me, this just so underscores truly how political this issue is that at CO2 Coalition, you have all of these well, well-educated experts in this field. And then you have this Facebook group that is essentially saying, “No, we know better than these experts.”
This is your world. This is where you study. You know the facts, you know the science. I would like to say it’s shocking, I guess, unfortunately though, we’ve seen this trend so frequently that maybe now it really isn’t that surprising.
Rossiter: Well, it is politicized. You have to remember, I mean, I’m a Democrat. I was a Democratic candidate for Congress, a Democratic staffer for many years on Capitol Hill.
I come to this completely from the mathematics and the statistics of having been a professor in this area and learned by my work I had to do to teach it that, of course, it’s a very complex area. And the so-called science is not settled in these thousands of areas that relate to climate, let alone is the economic settled. You have a longtime effort to suppress that point of view.
Many of our members—professor Dick Lindzen, for example; Roy Spencer, the atmospheric physicist who keeps the satellite record for the United States government—these folks were on the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], the U.N. body, and around 2001 they’d been appointed by the United States, began to see that it was being politically exaggerated from its very fine, peer-reviewed studies up through its report language, up to its press release.
By the time the secretary-general talks about something that says, “We see the same rate of sea level rise since before the carbon era,” it’s become climate change caused by carbon dioxide is wiping out our cities.
So, there’s just been systematic exaggeration of the science. We point that out and that is very threatening to people who are trying to create the consensus to pass the Green New Deal, which, as someone who’s worked in African Energy, I can tell you is the “Green New Death” because Africa needs cheap, reliable energy to raise its life expectancy. And that’s not going to get there with wind farms and solar panels.
Allen: I want to circle back and ask you, one of the issues that we are hearing a lot of policy debate around is a carbon tax. And you kind of hear both sides of the debate on this in the news. Essentially, this would be a tax on companies that produce high levels of greenhouse gases. Can you explain what a carbon tax would accomplish and whether or not it actually makes sense?
Rossiter: The purpose of a carbon tax is to raise the price of using their resources for your heating in your house, from a natural gas-powered electrical generating plant or in your automobile with gasoline. Raise it so high that you will be willing to pay a higher price and buy the renewable so-called energy coming out of a solar-powered electrical plant or a wind-powered grid that you can plug your vehicle into.
The reason is those so-called renewables, which are not at all. They have to be mined in Africa, transformed, shipped, set up, and then recycled when they fall apart every 10 years—the wind turbines and the solar panels and all of that uses fossil fuel, of course.
They’re very expensive because they’re intermittent. You can’t really get rid of your fossil fuel plant if you have wind-powered electricity because when the wind dies down or the sun goes down for solar, you got to have the fossil fuel grid there to keep it going.
It’s very expensive. It doesn’t work yet. They don’t have the batteries to save the energy for when the power is intermittent, which would be wonderful. So you have to raise the price of carbon dioxide-fueled and since fossil-fueled power very high to get people to change their behavior and instead buy the renewable. That’s essentially what the purpose of the tax is, is to make it as expensive as the renewable so you stop using it.
Allen: And right now, for you all at CO2 Coalition, where are you all really focused and zeroed in on right now as it relates to within the climate change debate and research and discussion around this issue?
Rossiter: Sure. We focus on two things. Our climate scientists write about the reasons to revisit the 2009 endangerment finding that found that the greenhouse gases were endangering our society’s health by creating storms, floods, droughts, things of that nature. Nothing could be further than the truth.
The carbon dioxide by chance happens to be a strong plant food that is boosted in the carbon dioxide era of fossil fuels, plant productivity about 30% around the world and with more to come.
And we’d like to see that that finding—which is the basis of all these federal laws to consider carbon dioxide dangerous and raise prices on energy fourfold—we’d like to see that reversed scientifically, meaning have the [Environmental Protection Agency] look at it again.
On the economic side, we write about the cost of renewable energy. We published something last year called “The Social Cost of Carbon” that shows that it’s four times as expensive to use so-called renewables when you have the true cost with the mandates that all cities and states buy a certain amount of this expensive energy.
And we’re about to publish something on the so-called fossil fuel subsidies, which proponents of renewable say are so big that it reduces the price of fossil fuel unfairly. And it turns out, of course, with all the taxes we put on fossil fuels, there’s a net negative subsidy to fossil fuels.
For renewables, who are having trouble for prime time, it’s not because fossil fuels are unfairly subsidized. Natural gas, because of horizontal fracturing starting about 2010, is pouring out of the ground essentially free to utilities that want to provide electricity and heat from it.
It’s saving up to 11,000 lives a year, according to the National Institutes of Health, by keeping the price of heating down in places like Ohio and Wisconsin and New England.
The natural gas fracking miracle for our economy is having tremendously positive health effects and yet it’s considered an endangering gas as if it were sulfur dioxide out of a coal plant and carbon monoxide out of your pipe, all of which are being treated in modern science with catalytic converters that virtually eliminate the pollution.
So, as real pollution has gone down, Virginia, ironically, concern about so-called carbon pollution, which is not a pollutant—it doesn’t hurt you to breathe in and out carbon dioxide—concern about carbon pollution, which is a propaganda term, has gone up.
Allen: So interesting. Where can our listeners find these pieces as they come out and follow your work?
Rossiter: We have a website called co2coalition.org. And on it, you will see articles of the day, interesting, sort of scientifically-based, but readable articles we find. And right below them, you’ll see all our publications. So all the publications I mentioned both short and long will be listed there.
They can always contact me at the CO2 Coalition. I love to talk. I miss being a professor. I love to talk with people about the complex and interesting science and economics of what I’d call the great carbon dioxide experiment, which is the massive increase in use of fossil fuels since about 1950.
It’s increased the percentage of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from three one-hundredths of 1% to four one-hundredths of 1%. And it’s having effects on the oceans, the land, and the air. And we were happy to provide the latest research and talk about it in a manner that the average citizen can understand.
Allen: That’s wonderful. Well, and of course, we also encourage everyone to follow you on Facebook. The Facebook is still there.
Rossiter: Now that is for sure. I think Facebook’s in a very tough spot. It’s a private company that can do whatever it wants, but … it turns this censoring function over that was supposed to be used just to stop hate speech and incitement of violence and horrible things like that, which I support. Now, it’s being used as a tool to go after climate scientists and energy economists who publish studies and have comments on other people’s studies.
It’s really a mania to cancel a debate on what is probably the most important public policy issue of the coming election. Are you in favor of raising energy prices or reducing them because of your fears or lack of fears about carbon dioxide?
Allen: Absolutely. Well, we will be sure to put those links both for the website and the Facebook page, so we can continue to support you and show that support in today’s show notes. So Caleb, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
Rossiter: Thank you so much, but you could have saved time by going over and interviewing Kevin Dayaratna of your wonderful organization. He too has labored in these fields, particularly the carbon tax and economic issues, and I’ve found him open and brilliant, and you ought to interview him next time.
Allen: Yeah. No, we are very, very grateful and very thankful to have him at [The Heritage Foundation], but also very much so appreciate your perspective.
Rossiter: OK. Thank you.
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