by Christopher Shuman

My family who lives in Chestnut Hill has brought to my attention Mr. Moat’s recent letter asserting that there is “no such thing as man-made climate change” [Letters, Sept. 7]

Given its misguided message and disparagement of researchers like me, I decided that a clear and unequivocal response was needed (also see D.P. Machado’s critical response on Sept. 14).

Mr. Moat’s writing suggests he is a devotee of the corporately-funded dis-information source known as the Heartland Institute. This is the same entity that tried, unsuccessfully, to confuse 25,000 science teachers across the United States.

See https://ncse.com/blog/2017/04/don-t-let-heartland-fool-teachers-0018504 and http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Heartland_Institute

A possible alternative source of Mr. Moat’s views is provided by searching for the phrase “$1.5 trillion climate change industry” that appears to trace to an Aug.8, 2015, Breitbart article that has since been repeated by outlets of similar journalistic integrity.

I’ll certainly hope that this journal’s audience is not fooled by Mr. Moat’s breezy assumptions and unsupported and incorrect statements given: (1) he provides no relevant facts from reputable sources to support what he “believes” and (2) a number of aspects are clearly biased (above) or factually wrong, for example, claiming there are “1,500 year cycles,” as that is obviously not true for our previous 10,000 years of relative temperature stability into the 20th century, much less the preceding millennia. For full disclosure, I should mention that I helped Richard Alley date the GISP2 ice core from central Greenland as documented in his very readable book “Two Mile Time Machine.”

So, while Mr. Moat’s career in business and philanthropy may be meritorious, it seems curious that he purports to speak knowledgeably on “climate issues” while disparaging both professional scientists (Dr. Mann) as well as leaders who would try to publicly discuss such issues such as Mr. Gore. One can only imagine what he thinks of Leonardo DiCaprio!

For those who would like to see what actual experts think is causing Earth’s overall rise in temperature (hint, “human factors” including all greenhouse gases, not just CO2), accessible scientific data visualizations can be found here:

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/30615

https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/139/

Further, it is quite revealing of Mr. Moat’s character that he would broadly demean academics as being corrupt (“on the take”). Does Mr. Moat think we shouldn’t bother to try to understand what the future holds, so research of importance to humans need never be funded? I truly doubt Mr. Moat forgoes investing advice from those in that profession.

Clearer thinkers can reasonably believe that Mr. Moat’s negative perceptions of “academics” are because so many research results are clearly showing the consequences of human-amplified climate change. For example, part of my research has used satellite data to document the progressive loss of ~5800 square miles of ice shelf areas along the Antarctic Peninsula since the late 1980s, leading to glacial ice mass losses particularly in the Larsen A and B embayments. It is less certain that the loss of a ~2240 square mile iceberg from the largest remaining shelf area on the peninsula in July during Antarctica’s polar winter is related to climate change, but it is clearly not a good sign for the Larsen C’s stability.

In closing, on two points I can agree with Mr. Moat. He is correct that the massive destruction due to both Harvey and Irma requires responsible rethinking as to where and how people and their life-sustaining infrastructure is built and maintained. And we can also certainly expect “it” to continue as long as we agree that serious consequences of human-amplified climate change is what “it” actually means.

Christopher Shuman is a resident of Greenbelt, Md.

  • Robert Fox

    The smug and condescending tone of columns like this are enough to make me a climate change “denier” by themselves.

    • Joe

      Of course Robert… a very “non response”. Considering I know you don’t actually disagree with the content of Mr Shumans well thought out letter… and rather your interpretation of the tone … I’ll leave it be.

      • Robert Fox

        It’s not worth responding to the zealots on the subject of climate change. They’re not interested in debate. They are interested in submission to their orthodoxy.

        • Joe

          It’s amazing to me that instead of actually responding to this well thought out, well qualified, well cited response, … you decide to not respond and say something ridiculous like “zealots”.

          Lame.

          For anyone keeping score, read this and the other recent letters regarding climate change… follow the comments.

          Point “liberals”.

          • Robert Fox

            You’re amazed. Okay, well, why don’t you try debating with someone who believes in climate change more than they believe in God, and then come crying to me about how “lame” I’m being. Can you do that?

          • Joe

            Ok. I can do that. Not sure that’s the case here. You are insinuating a lot. It’s kinda offensive… even hateful imho.

            Just to get this conversation back on track… Mr. Shuman – a scientist – posted a very thoughtful response to another point of view, which he (and I) believe was flawed. He pointed out exactly why he thought it was flawed and the responses are about religion, god etc.

            I believe that response is a non response… because there isn’t a good scientifically backed rebuttal.

  • Joe

    Mr Shuman, this is a wonderful well thought out response… backed by actual science. I’m ashamed that some interpret your view as orthodox or you as a zealot. I think they are way off base and wildly disrespectful with their word choice. Their lack of a real response is in fact, a response.

    Pete, huge fan of the local. It’s value to me specifically and the community of CH is immense. In that point (and probably only that point) Robert and I can agree.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/ Darryl Hart

    Is “suggests he is a devotee” very scientific? You try to link Moats to institutions and events that are unsavory. So you discredit by smear. No offense, but this seems to be the way the “science” of climate change has played out. Insinuation (not to mention computer models) is not science.

    • Henry R.

      “Suggests he is a devotee” is a very clear sentence. Your comment questioning if it scientific is confusing. It’s coming from a scientist, but that was just an ordinary sentence.

      Mr Moat (not “Moats” as you indicated, not sure or what “Moats” is) clearly is citing a study funded by the organizations that Mr. Shuman pointed out. That’s not smear, that’s just a fact.

      I’m a computer scientist (a phd) from Columbia. I can assure you that “computer models” are in fact, science in this context.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/ Darryl Hart

        Science doesn’t “suggest.” It proves. That’s the point of science. Certitude. “I suggest you might fall if you jump off the roof?”

        • Mike

          That’s simply not true. Was physics ‘proven’ before Einstein shook it up with relativity? The point of science is to continuously question and push our understanding of the world further. Hence, nothing is ‘proven’ nor ‘settled’

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/ Darryl Hart

            Great, then question climate change science.
            See what I did there?

          • Joe

            Darryl, the research currently suggests that humans are a great influencer on climate change.

            Here is a link from NASA that cites most all scientific authorities.

            https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

            Please just consider the waste and consumption you see around you today versus when you were a kid. Also consider that it took the course of human history for the population to reach 2 billion people (that’s millions of years) and less than 1 lifetime (75 years) to approach 8 billion.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/ Darryl Hart

            Good. at least this is science, not insinuation.
            Joe, have you considered this?

            “At the heart of the debate about climate change is a simple scientific question: can a doubling of the concentration of a normally harmless, indeed moderately beneficial, gas, from 0.03% of the atmosphere to 0.06% of the atmosphere over the course of a century change the global climate sufficiently to require drastic and painful political action today? In the end, that’s what this is all about. Most scientists close enough to the topic say: possibly. Some say: definitely. Some say: highly unlikely. The ‘consensus’ answer is that the warming could be anything from mildly beneficial to dangerously harmful: that’s what the IPCC means when it quotes a range of plausible outcomes from 1.5 to 4 degrees of warming.

            “On the basis of this unsettled scientific question, politicians and most of the pressure groups that surround them are furiously insistent that any answer to the question other than ‘definitely’ is vile heresy motivated by self-interest, and is so disgraceful as to require stamping out, prosecution as a crime against humanity, investigation under laws designed to catch racketeering by organized crime syndicates, or possibly the suspension of democracy. For yes, that is what has been repeatedly proposed by respected and senior figures in the climate debate.”
            https://www.thegwpf.org/matt-ridley-the-climate-wars-and-the-damage-to-science/

          • Joe

            Darryl,

            We must always be aware of the source of the information.

            https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/02/nigel-lawson-climate-sceptic-organisation-funders

            There are in fact a few sources, like the one you posted above, that seek to skew public opinion against the actual science. Most are funded by fossil fuel companies or very conservative right wing groups. You will be hard pressed to find the a bias on the NASA cited studies.

            That’s not to say there isn’t some truth to the politicizing of the climate change debate – that’s for sure on both sides. Ultimately, I think regardless of the politics, there are things we can do today to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels – and that will be better for the world… regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/ Darryl Hart

            Joe, that’s what you do — you tarnish by looking at the background. Imagine if I did that with you because you are a man and American — just like Donald Trump.

            You didn’t check the author’s background though.

            Matt Ridley’s books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 31 languages and won several awards. His books include The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome, Nature via Nurture, Francis Crick, The Rational Optimist and The Evolution of Everything.

            His TED talk “When Ideas Have Sex” has been viewed more than two million times.

            He writes a weekly column in The Times (London) and writes regularly for the Wall Street Journal.

            As Viscount Ridley, he was elected to the House of Lords in February 2013. He served on the science and technology select committee 2014-2017.

            With BA and DPhil degrees from Oxford University, Matt Ridley worked for the Economist for nine years as science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor, before becoming a self-employed writer and businessman.

            He was founding chairman of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle. He was non-executive chairman of Northern Rock plc and Northern 2 VCT plc.

            He also commissioned the Northumberlandia landform sculpture and country park.

            He founded the Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal in 2010.

            He won the Hayek Prize in 2011, the Julian Simon award in 2012 and the Free Enterprise Award from the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2014.

            He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is honorary president of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle.

            He has honorary doctorates from Buckingham University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and University Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala.
            http://www.mattridley.co.uk/biography/

            But because Ridley disagrees, he’s like the Koch brothers. Yeah, that’s scientific.

          • Joe

            Darryl, nice Wikipedia cut and paste job.

            Matt Ridley is by far in the minority when it comes to his view on climate change. I don’t discount his opinions, he is just wildly outnumbered amongst his peers.

            My point regarding his political leanings is valid imho. Ever wonder why so many people in the scientific community lean left? Mr. Ridley clearly has an agenda and has even funded coal and fracking operations. However, he is a super smart guy – no doubt. To say his view is science and mr Shumans (or the vast majority of scientists) is not science is off base imho.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/ Darryl Hart

            Joe, what about http://www.mattridley.co.uk don’t you understand? Wikipedia?

            No one said that Shuman is unscientific about climate change. I bet neither you nor I have the scientific chops to determine whether climate change (or eggs are good for you) is valid scientifically. My point was that Shuman was not scientific in “suggesting” Moates is a “devotee the corporately-funded dis-information source known as the Heartland Institute.” Let’s see, this guy is skeptical about climate change. So he must have political motives. Wow! That’s as scientific as
            McCarthy.

          • Joe

            I agree with Mr Shumans assessment. Moats is clearly biased imho. You have the right to a different opinion, I have the right to think your opinion is wrong.

            Again, not exactly sure where you stand… I get the impression you are a conservative who thinks (or would like to think) that climate change is not real and or not influenced by humans. You find the few scientific voices that disagree with the vast consensus and ignore their biases and ties to conservative institutions.

            To be clear. I think climate change is real, and heavily influenced by human behavior.

            As far as not being qualified, I have a phd in computer science… your comment about computer models not being scientific is flat out wrong… which is why I chimed in. Just wrong, so wrong.

          • Statistician (seriously)

            I think his point about computer models is more that they’re far from conclusive (even if statistically they can be predictive), and if that’s the primary source of ‘proof’ for the idea of anthropogenic climate change, then there should likely be some degree of skepticism because there are plenty of times when models aren’t correct, or at least as predictive as they were statistically supposed to be.

            Also, since models are only as good as their inputs, those can be influenced pretty significantly when introducing degrees of discretion in altering, smoothing, or otherwise massaging the data…both for rightful statistical reasons, but unfortunately also to try to use a model to prove something (i.e., the ‘climate gate’ scandal, as well as other instances where groups such as NOAA have been found to have done a lot of questionable adjustments). Its not just scientists who can be guilty of this but also investors and other financial professionals – they do this all the time to help rationalize questionable investment opportunities they’ve fallen in love with. That’s just human nature.

            Re consensus, just because the vast majority of scientists believe one theory doesn’t make it settled. Like someone here said, Einstein bucked all ‘settled’ elements of physics and convention to make a breakthrough, so did poor Gallileo. Relative consensus may make for a compelling statement, but unfortunately its likely that only time will tell who was right in this argument.

          • Joe

            Great assessment. Given that time will tell who was right… I will choose the path that will likely not end in certain doom. Seems like the only logical path.

          • Climatologist (seriously)

            Both Galileo and Einstein proposed well thought out and mathematically sound theories that eventually were proven (and some disproven) by scientific experimentation and observation. Climate science (unfortunately) doesn’t work the same way as physics or astronomy. Experimentation and observation have proven that green house gases contribute to global warming. Science has also proven that man made activities, farming, burning of fossil fuels etc. emit large amounts of these green house gases into the atmosphere.

            There are other contributing factors, yes. However, humans are a factor.

          • Meteorological Scientist

            That’s ridiculous. It doesn’t work the same way? Science is science and ‘it is because I say so’ doesn’t hold water. To me that insinuates either climatology isn’t a real science or you’re just jumping to conclusions…possibly both.

          • Climatologist (Seriously)

            Your statements are confusing and disjointed. Different fields of science work differently, for sure. Quantum physics works differently than something like (for example) geology.

            Experimentation and observation have proven that green house gases contribute to global warming. Science has also proven that man made activities, farming, burning of fossil fuels etc. emit large amounts of these green house gases into the atmosphere.

...