The Left’s War on Science

Climatologist George Taylor is being stripped of his title as Oregon’s State Climatologist because he is not convinced that global warming is due entirely to man.

In the face of evidence agreed upon by hundreds of climate scientists, George Taylor holds firm. He does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change.

Taylor also holds a unique title: State Climatologist.

[…]

“Most of the climate changes we have seen up until now have been a result of natural variations,” Taylor asserts.

Taylor has held the title of “state climatologist” since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU The university created the job title, not the state. His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon’s policies.

So the governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint. In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor.

Because Taylor won’t sing the same tune as the Governor of the state of Oregon Taylor will be stripped of his title so that the Governor can appoint somebody who will say what he wants. I guess Ted Kulongoski didn’t get the memo that only Republicans are supposed to engage in this kind of smarmy tactic.

Update: I’ve changed the first sentence which indicated that Taylor was being removed from his position at OSU which he isn’t. He is being stripped of his title though.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, US Politics, , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Dhedd says:

    Climate change is it’s own climate. The sun heats the earth and ice melts. That’s all it really is.

  2. BrianOfAtlanta says:

    This is a good bit worse than even the underhandedness the Bush administration has engaged in. James Hansen is still the director of the Goddard Institute at NASA, after all, despite his shameless and repeated politicking in the name of science.

  3. Global warmingorers like to talk of a scientific consensus as putting an end to debate on this topic. Well, as noted previously, consensus is a word loaded with meaning in politics, but not so much in science. Similarly, debate and subjective persuasion is extremely important in politics, while science tends to rely on objective, repeatable experimentation and proof before placing faith in a theory.

    Global warmingorers are demanding fealty to dogma rather than pursuing anything that can be recognized as science. Good thing the Catholic Church ended debate when Galileo went against consensus by proposing a heliocentric universe, eh?

  4. JohnG says:

    Claims of consensus are meaningless when you eliminate all the people with an opposing view.

  5. Tano says:

    I think you are straining to make an inappropriate comparison here.

    First off, Taylor is not being removed from any post – he is merely being stripped of a title. The title “state climatologist” seems not to refer to what one would imagine such a title would refer to. It is not a position that one is appointed to and confirmed in, nor is the holder a member of the state government.

    The implication of the title is that the holder is some sort of an advisor to the government or in charge of climatological issues for the state. This seems not to be the case with Taylor, so it does seem odd that he should have the title.

    Further, one should think about the proper role of someone who would actually be an official advisor to the government, or in charge of climatological issues for the state. What kind of a person would you appoint to such a position?

    Would you appoint someone to be a chief medical officer for the state if their opinions on medical issues is outside the mainstream of the medical community?

    Any such role as this is, fundamentally, a bridge position – someone who can represent the consensus of the science to policy makers. Holding a position like this is not an endorsement of one scientific opinion over another, it is inherintly a position that goes, or shuold go, to someone in touch with the mainstream consensus of the scientific community.

    I think it quite disingenuous of you to claim that Taylor is being pushed out of this position because he doesnt sing the same tune as the governor. Although technically true, the real reason of course, is that Taylor doesnt sing the same tune as the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community. The governor does, to his credit. It is only because the governor is in tune with the science that the governor is at odds with Taylor.

  6. Sir Oolius says:

    He’s not being “removed.” Read your own quote: “The university created the job title, not the state.” In other words, Taylor never was the “state climatologist” since the state of Oregon never declared one.

    If Kulo decides on someone else, there are plenty of reasons other than Taylor’s skepticism…like the fact that he only read a small fraction of a report on the Arctic before he wrote a review on that report at TCS.

  7. Kent G. Budge says:

    Although technically true, …

    I think there may be an extra word in that sentence.

  8. Tlaloc says:

    I love this.

    The right persecutes scientists for using correct science, ignores their conclusions, and drums them out of service.

    The left persecutes scientists who use INCORRECT science.

    But somehow the two are the same.

    No they aren’t.

    Any geologist who denies the earth is round should be stripped of any scientific accredations and scientific positions on the basis that they are incompetent. The same is absolutely true of global warming deniers who are just as deluded.

    The debate is over. The planet is round. The earth goes around the sun. Modern life forms evolved from earlier life forms. Anthopic Global Warming is real. Inability to accept any of these propositions is an indication of not of valid criticism but of asinine idiocy.

    We don’t need any more asinine idiots on the state payroll, thanks. I don’t think much of Kulongoski (and I’m an oregonian) but he’s not wrong here.

  9. Steve Verdon says:

    The left persecutes scientists who use INCORRECT science.

    But somehow the two are the same.

    No they aren’t.

    And Tlaloc points out exactly why this is a problem. Who decides what is and is not correct science? If Taylor has been doing shoddy work, lying, falsifying data, etc. that would be one thing. But because his conclusions are not in agreement with the “party line” he is ipso facto wrong.

    Oh and Kent, don’t worry about Tano, every now and then he crawls out form under his rock and posts.

  10. Steven Plunk says:

    It’s not just the revocation of the title but the governor wants to create an official state climatologist position that he will appoint. This way politicians will have more control over the debate.

    We call him “Sleepy Ted” here in Oregon because of his inattentive nature to what’s going on. In this case I’m sure one of his staffers instructed him to get this done.

    The thing about Taylor is his caution and his understanding that politics have overtaken science in the debate.

    It’s sad we place so must trust in climate scientists when their track record is so dismal. From this weekend’s weather to long term forecasts they are consistently not much better at predicting what will happen than a roll of the dice. They fail to recognize the nature of chaotic systems like weather and look to computers as their new crystal balls.

    James Gleick pointed out the false promise of computer modeling the weather years ago yet climate scientists still peddle the idea of computers replicating the earth’s atmosphere. Even the most minor input errors can result in projections that vary by large magnitudes.

    This is all turning into a drama that about money and politics. Grant money and book money for scientists while Sleepy Ted is showing us the political side.

  11. Wayne says:

    Tano , Tlaloc
    Anyone who agrees with me is right and should have the freedom to speak and not worry about reprisal.

    Anyone who disagrees with me is wrong and should shut up and be punish.

    Everyone agrees with me because I say so. Everyone I hang out with repeat the same words so it must be true and I’ll keep repeating over and over until everyone agrees with my group.

    Nice logic!!!

  12. Tano says:

    “Who decides what is and is not correct science?”

    Ok Verdon, so you get to the heart of the question.

    There are people, some even with MDs, who think that homoepathic remedies work. There are others, also with MDs, who question whether there is a causal link between the HIV virus and AIDS. There are people, some with PhDs, who think that all extant species did not have a common ancestor. IOW, there is “controversy” on every imaginable scientific question – if you define “controversy” as the existance of at least one, or at least a handful of people, even with credentials, who hold a different view than the “mainstream”.

    We all understand that science is reality-based, that scientific disputes must ultimatly be adjudicated with references to facts, not through a polling of scientists. Nonetheless, it is also simply a fact of life that on no issue will you ever find 100% agreement from any set of human beings, even credentialed ones.

    So – answer your own question: “who decides what is and is not correct science”?

    To me, there are a few clear answers. The ultimate answer is that the real world facts will decide. But we can also say that every free individual has the right to decide their own reality too. But the relevant answer on this particular issue must address the following qualified question – who gets to decide what should be the accepted science that underlies public policy decisions?

    Now please explain to me why the answer to this question should deviate in any significant way from the answer put forth by the overwhelming majority of active scientists in the given field.

  13. Tano says:

    Wayne,

    What kind of a foolish comment is that? The “logic” you outline is simply your own strawman fantasy, and bears no relation to the logic I or anyone else uses. Why do your waste our time?

  14. But we can also say that every free individual has the right to decide their own reality too.

    Nothing encapsulates Tano’s position better than this.

  15. legion says:

    Tano,
    A friend of mine was involved some years back in the “he said-she said” stage of a rather unpleasant divorce. When confronted with some statements that were completely incredulous by his soon-to-be-ex-wife, he replied:
    “Yeah, but my version of reality has witnesses.”

    The generally-accepted view of global warming is “generally accepted” because a large number of the scientists studying the subject have looked at the data come to similar conclusions. they’ve discussed, debated, and argued it. Repeatedly. They can explain why the data leads to a particular conclusion. And when test observations are made, the evidence supports their hypotheses. That’s how Bad Science gets rooted out.

  16. Steve Verdon says:

    To me, there are a few clear answers. The ultimate answer is that the real world facts will decide.

    Funny Tano we were just discussing this on another board, and your problem is with regards to global warming we don’t have the facts we need to adjudicate the efficacy of GCMs. We need to wait a few decades to see if their predicitons pan out.

    Sure, sure, we can look at in-sample-errors for GCMs, but as anybody who has studied things like exchange rates and inflation (to use two from my area of knowledge) carefully designed models with good in-sample-errors can have bad out-of-sample-errors–i.e. they don’t make good predicitons, or predictions no better or even worse than random walk processes.

    So…my feeling is at best, right now, you can’t say what is and is not “correct” science because we have little to no way to judge the predictive value of GCMs.

    Remember the ulitmate test of any model is the accuracy of its predicitions. Everything else is just fluff.

    Legion,

    And when test observations are made, the evidence supports their hypotheses. That’s how Bad Science gets rooted out.

    Really? Where? What tests. So far we have a bundle of predictions, some for 100 years in the future. Exactly what tests have been done on those predictions and how? With a time machine?

    Natural variability as a contributing factor cannot be discounted. There have been time periods when there were no polar ice caps on this planet. When glaciers recede farms and plant life have been found–i.e. the planet has been warmer and colder in the past.

    Now perhaps the largest contributor is mankind. I’m willing to believe it, but predictions are not evidence and the evidence we do have, the temperature record isn’t so clear cut. CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising sharply since the end 1945 and yet from 1945 to the early 1960s there was cooling going on. Why? If the scientists are so sure of their models and what is going on there should be a really good, elegant and ironclad explanation for this. Seems to me that if CO2 is going up, and it is the green house gase claimed to be there shouldn’t have been cooling during the above noted time frame…unless there is something else going on. Tell me what?

  17. Tlaloc says:

    And Tlaloc points out exactly why this is a problem. Who decides what is and is not correct science?

    It is decided by the scientific community as a whole. Notice that there are no grants for people claiming the earth is flat? There’s a reason for that. The question has been settled. No less so for the question of climate change.

    Really? Where? What tests. So far we have a bundle of predictions, some for 100 years in the future. Exactly what tests have been done on those predictions and how? With a time machine?

    There have been hosts of predictions. Things like the thinning of various ice sheets. Even the thickening of other ice sheets. Not all of the predictions are about 100 years in the future.

  18. Tlaloc says:

    Natural variability as a contributing factor cannot be discounted.

    Of course not, and it hasn’t been discounted. No climate model in existence says that humans are the only source of climate change. We have ample evidence of climate changes going back throughout the history of life on earth.

    The difference is that in this case we DO seem to be a factor and we do seem to be an important factor. And honestly it doesn’t take much.

    Look at the history of major climate changes and you find that there is typically about a 80-90% total die off of all life on earth because of the changes. A near total collapse of ecological webs and life pretty much has to build itself back up from close to scratch. Imagine how hideous such an event would be for us (even discounting how much it’ll suck for all the other animals).

    We have to accept that we have developed, spread, and created our entire infrastructure based on a single climactic period. A significant change and we too will be starting from near scratch.

    And this assumes we avoid starting a positive feedback loop (runaway greenhouse effect) which results in our total extinction.

    Now perhaps the largest contributor is mankind. I’m willing to believe it, but predictions are not evidence and the evidence we do have, the temperature record isn’t so clear cut. CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising sharply since the end 1945 and yet from 1945 to the early 1960s there was cooling going on. Why?

    Because of those same natural variations you mention above.

  19. Steve Verdon says:

    It is decided by the scientific community as a whole.

    No it isn’t. It is basically decided by real world observations. If all the scientists in the world say Gravity is a load of Bravo Sierra gravity wont stop working. Science isn’t done by concensus.

    No less so for the question of climate change.

    So you do have a time machine. Cool, can I borrow it? Is it a DeLorean?

    Look at the history of major climate changes and you find that there is typically about a 80-90% total die off of all life on earth because of the changes.

    I’m sorry that sounds a bit high, more like something we’d expect from a major meteor impact.

    Because of those same natural variations you mention above.

    Really? I’m still not convinced on this. If it is as well known as you say, you should be able to explain much greater detail than this kind of hand-waving.

  20. Steven Plunk says:

    Tlaloc,

    The earth is not round. It is not flat either. It bulges in the middle. So I guess you can disagree with the round earth camp without being wrong.

    The point is there are slight differences in measurements, predictions, and computer models but those differences can make a huge difference when projected a hundred years out. So we are essentially being asked to change the way we live and doom millions to poverty based upon those shaky predictions.

    The other thing that bothers me is that those making the predictions have no responsibility if they are wrong while those being asked to make sacrifices will have no way to make up for lost opportunities. The climate scientists have no money in the game so to speak.

    The recent dud hurricane season should have enlightened many about the dangers of climate predicting. Not only were the scientists dead wrong but there were no consequences for failure in science field but also there were no consequences for the harm done to the public by hyping up the threat.

    Hypothesis, experimentation to confirm and replication of results. We haven’t had that with AGW. Until we see it think of cold fusion and how it took the world by storm, for a while. Not to mention cold fusion didn’t have this kind of money tied up in it.

  21. Wayne says:

    Tano
    Read the past post.
    Tlaloc stated
    “The right persecutes scientists for using correct science, ignores their conclusions, and drums them out of service.
    The left persecutes scientists who use INCORRECT science.”

    You stated
    “I think it quite disingenuous of you to claim that Taylor is being pushed out of this position because he doesnt sing the same tune as the governor. Although technically true, the real reason of course, is that Taylor doesnt sing the same tune as the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community.”

    The first is straight out confirms the first part of my previous post that and the second confirms the desire to punish any who disagree. You keep saying that there is a consensus of the scientific community that global warming is man-made. You and the MSM can repeat that as many time as you want but it is not true. Most of the scientists of whom the MSM refer to for this supposedly consensus are not even climatologist. Many of the climatologist that do speak out against man-made GW are ridiculed and are silence by MSM or liberals. I saw this happen in one of those round table discussions on c-span. One of the scientists the only climatololigist there disagreed and they ignore him for the rest of the show and kept saying that there weren’t anyone who disagreed even when they had one on stage.

    As for thinking an expert who disagrees with one accepted theory (which man-made GW is not) as incompetent is really falling back to the flat world days. New theories and finding would almost cease to come about with this type of philosophy.

    At least Tano you tried to further the thought process instead of just calling

  22. RJN says:
  23. RJN says:

    A worthwhile read:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv15n2/reg15n2g.html

    “Why, one might wonder, is there such insistence on scientific unanimity on the warming issue? After all, unanimity in science is virtually nonexistent on far less complex matters. Unanimity on an issue as uncertain as “global warming’’ would be surprising and suspicious. Moreover, why are the opinions of scientists sought regardless of their field of expertise? Biologists and physicians are rarely asked to endorse some theory in high energy physics. Apparently, when one comes to “global warming,’’ any scientist’s agreement will do…..”

  24. Get Real says:

    I see that a basic presumption here is incorrect. Anyone who would make a prediction of the the next one hundred years is a psychic perhaps, but almost by definition, is not a scientist. Most scientists do not believe in psychics. Most successful people do not believe in psychics. Then again if you believe Tom Cruse is the new Jesus, you might as well pile on the PC GW bandwagon with all the other fools.

  25. Tano says:

    Wayne,

    By what type of thinking do you conclude that Taylor is being “punished” for what he believes? Is he losing his job? No. Is food being taken out of the mouths of his children? No. Is he losing his property or liberty? No. He is simply being stripped of the title of “state climatologist”, a title that he objectivly does not have any right to hold, given that his views are not in accordance with the accepted views of the state, nor with the generally accepted scientific consensus.

    This is entirely different from an attempt by the state to suppress his work, or to modify it, or to forbid him from communicating it to the public, all of which are things that the Bush administration has done.

    Your statements regarding the existence or the non-existence of a consensus in the scientific community are simply false. GW skeptics are sometimes ridiculed, but that is not some sort of prima face evidence that they dont deserve ridicule, or at least opposition.

    You are correct that people who disagree with a consensus are, in fact, sometimes right, while everyone else is wrong. I call this the “starving artist” syndrome. There have always been millions of starving artists working away in obscure attics convinced in their own minds that they are the truly great artist of their time. The fact that occasionally one of them emerges to be recognized as such, often after their death, keeps the hope alive. But the percentage is infintisimally small.

    What is truly an absurd logical step is to claim that BECAUSE someone is a starving artist, or a fringe scientist, then therefore they MUST be right. Which is the driving logic behind most of the defense of the GW skeptics.

    If the GW skeptics want to be taken a bit more seriously, the first task would be to develop a climate model which better explains the data, but makes no reference to human inputs. Yelling about the fact that the sun has variable output is not a model – that merely points to a particular variable which has already been incorporated into every climate model ever made.

  26. Wayne says:

    I agree the starving artist argument doesn’t make one right anymore then the consensus argument make one right. I have found many “consensus scientific truth” from my childhood days do not hold up any longer. Granted, we have to start somewhere in science pursuit but should keep in mine we can are often wrong or at least incomplete.

    Also my main contention is that there is not a consensus on MM GW.

    Taking someone’s title from them is a form of punishment. Maybe it won’t starve the person children but it is punishment non-the less. Bill Clinton having his law license token away was a punishment. It didn’t hurt him financially but it was punishment.

    MM GW skeptics have shown data, models and predictions. There have been papers and books detailing their arguments. However, the MSM mostly ignore them and promote the other side including Gores movie. That is one form of silencing your opposition. Not that every side of every argument has to get equal airtime but to state it is not there is dishonest.

    Also there was a story in recent past that some of the MM GW crowd including a person in power who wanted to take away meteorologists certification away from them if they disagree with MM GW. That is monetary punishment and attempt to silence debate.

  27. Tano says:

    Verdon,

    If you would like some actual data relevant to your questions about natural variance and 20th century climate change, then study the graphs on this page, especially the lower two.

  28. RJN says:

    There has never been a “consensus” of scientists on so called man made global warming. What there has been is a publicity campaign claiming consensus, coupled with a vicious campaign of intimidation against scientists who speak the truth, as they see it, regarding the effects of man made CO2 on the warming of the earth.

    The witness marks of propaganda attend all of the blaring, and false, claims made by the proponents of man made warming. I have yet to read any article, or news item, fostered by the CO2 heads that did not contain propaganda as part of the substance of the article.

  29. M1EK says:

    “There has never been a “consensus” of scientists on so called man made global warming.”

    That’s a lie, son. Ref: Oreskes’ study which has held up despite paid attempts by the AEIs of the world to desperately prove otherwise.

    The person who compared this to MDs re: homeopathy has it right on. The difference here is that there’s no large vested political and economic interest groups pushing the false controversy about homeopathy.

  30. Anderson says:

    RJN doesn’t think there’s a consensus on the Holocaust’s being real, either, so bear in mind that he’s not using the word in any sense you and I are likely to recognize.

  31. Steven Plunk says:

    Bringing in the Holocaust follows the playbook of those claiming “consensus”. Label those scientists not completely on board as “deniers” likening them to Holocaust deniers and you effectively paint them as kooks. It’s dirty pool.

    Real scientific debate does not depend on defaming those with competing views. Obviously there is not a consensus or we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    The issue with Dr. Taylor is not him losing his title but the Governor taking it away so he can appoint someone with the same views. He states clearly in his press release he wants a scientist with the same position on global warming so the state can present one unified voice.

  32. Steve Verdon says:

    Tano,

    I’ve been familiar with the GISS data for quite sometime. I’ve downloaded quite a few of their time series and looked at graphs, done statistical analysis, etc.

  33. Tano says:

    OK Steve, if you are familiar with this stuff, then how is it that you can write stuff like this”

    “Natural variability as a contributing factor cannot be discounted.”

    Who discounts it as a contributing factor? As you are apparently quite aware, it is accounted for in the models, and its effect has been measured and it has an identifiable, though relatively small warming effect. Your rhetoric seems to imply that this is some sort of a blind spot in the models, when in fact it is fully accounted for. Unless, of course, you have some specific critiques of the how the natural effects have been measured. But that is not what you offer, nor what your words imply. So what gives?

    Also: “CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising sharply since the end 1945 and yet from 1945 to the early 1960s there was cooling going on. Why?”

    Once again your words imply that you have stumbled on some great unanswered mystery in the data, when in fact, the model parameters, when parsed out, show precisely how the additive effects of the various warming and cooling drivers combine to yield the net warming effect on the time scale that they do.

    The question you raise is not a controversy in climate science – once again, if you have some specific critque about how the various drivers have been measured or combined, then spit it out, but it just seems that you are asking these questions for the purpose of pretending that there is some unaddressed issue, when that is not the case.

    “If the scientists are so sure of their models and what is going on there should be a really good, elegant and ironclad explanation for this”

    And I dont know how to interpret this statement other than as evidence that you are not, in fact, familiar with the science in this area.

  34. M1EK says:

    “Obviously there is not a consensus or we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

    We’re having this discussion because some people with economic interests at stake PAID SCIENTISTS TO MISREPRESENT THE STATE OF THE SCIENCE to make it appear that there was a real controversy. Just like the tobacco companies did before them.

  35. Steven Plunk says:

    M1EK,

    Would those paid scientist be the ones receiving grant money to push AGW? Those receiving money from oil companies? Those receiving money from book publishers for doomsday predictions?

    Money is involved on both sides of the argument.

    The comparison to tobacco may seem convenient but this is a different kind of debate and carries a much higher cost for societies. With so much at stake a good long discussion would seem appropriate and calling the opposition “deniers” exposes the impatience of one side not getting it’s way immediately.

  36. Steve Verdon says:

    Once again your words imply that you have stumbled on some great unanswered mystery in the data, when in fact, the model parameters, when parsed out, show precisely how the additive effects of the various warming and cooling drivers combine to yield the net warming effect on the time scale that they do.

    Really Tano? Please provide a link or reference to this explanation.

  37. RJN says:

    Richard Feynman on science.

    “Scientists… are used to dealing with doubt and uncertainty. All scientific knowledge is uncertain. This experience with doubt and uncertainty is important. I believe that it is of very great value, and one that extends beyond the sciences. I believe that to solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar. You have to permit the possibility that you do not have it exactly right. Otherwise, if you have made up your mind already, you might not solve it.”

    Maybe the globaloney twerps should pay attention to a real scientist.