By Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.
October 31, 2007

Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.
Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.

The complexities of global warming, (aka “climate change”) should be the domain of scientific discussions. Such discussions should be held within the constraints of the scientific method, focusing on the careful collection, management, and analyses of the climate data. There should be careful resolutions and explanations of conflicting data, replication, and passing the essential demands of explaining the observations of the climate data.

I have never been in discussions of science and engineering issues where these values weren’t highly respected and determinant. Even competing designs, processes, and theories were lightly defended since the common understanding was that the data would determine which was superior. In contrast, falsely representing the data supporting a particular theory or design, would have been severely dealt with and career limiting.

We have been told by Al Gore and others that there should be a grand debate about global warming. Yet there has been precious little debate worthy of the name. In fact, the alarmists have spent much of their time hurling insults and ad hominem attacks, suppressing speech, terminating miniscule funding, calling for Nuremburg-style trials of dissidents, treating opponents as traitors, etc.

The professionals in this group remain silent about these insults in apparent silent support of the nastiness and unprofessional conduct. This is not a debate, this is not science. It is bullying. These tactics suggests there are weaknesses in the global warming theory which can’t stand scrutiny.

One explanation of this may be described by John Ray, M.A., Ph.D., writing from Brisbane, Australia: “The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?”

There are too many people, some with Ph.D.s, hardwired into the $5 billion annually spent in the US on global warming issues. This amount of government money available each year is enough to alter human behavior and personal ethics for some people, mostly for the worst.

Consider the fate of Dr. William Happer, who was dismissed from his position at the Department of Energy. At the time of his firing he was the Director of Energy Research at the DOE, and a past professor of physics at Princeton University with impressive scientific credentials.

As described in the June 1993 issue of Physics Today, Happer was fired for his attempt to perform some excellent physics and resolve major uncertainties in national “ozone hole scare” of those days.

Major discrepancies existed between the estimated levels of UV-B radiation and actual measured levels of UV-B. Happer had proposed a network of UV monitors around the nation to perform the actual measurements and resolve the differences.

Such a program to minimize ozone uncertainties posed a threat to the environmentalists who promoted ozone hole scare stories about skin cancers, cataracts in animals, and other musings.

This proved to be too great a threat to the environmental myths, and Happer was fired. The guy behind the firing was the powerful (and unscientific) vice-president Al Gore.

For the readers of the article in Physics Today, it was a shock to see the firing of a resourceful scientist, the political suppression of sound science, and the irrelevance of science in environmental policies.

There were many more examples of hostility to skeptical scientists. For example, Dr. Fred Singer was forced to sue the Gore team for defamation of character, a suit  which he subsequently won.

Singer and colleague Roger Revelle had written a mild admonition about global warming, stating that “The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time.” This contradicted statements in Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance, and as a result, Singer (Revelle had died by then) came under attack by the Gore machine.

Mr. Gore even contacted Ted Koppel in 1994 to look into the skeptics of global warming. It backfired when Koppel concluded, “There is some irony in the fact that Vice President Gore—one of the most scientifically literate men to sit in the White House in this century–[is] resorting to political means to achieve what should ultimately be resolved on a purely scientific basis.” The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientist nor the people with whom the scientist associates. It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth. That’s the hard way to do it, but it’s the only way that works.

The calls for a debate on global warming are empty. Instead of debate there has been threats and vitriol. This isn’t science and it never was. It is naked power politics and very destructive and dangerous in the potential impact on U.S. energy policy.

Michael R. Fox, Ph.D. is a science and energy reporter for HawaiiReporter and a science analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He has taught chemistry and energy at the university level. A slightly different version of this article originally appeared in Hawaii Reporter.