‘Follow the Science’

The next time you hear an appeal to “follow the science,” be very careful about whose version of science you’re going to follow.
‘Follow the Science’
Climate change activists hold signs while taking part in a climate protest in Los Angeles on May 24, 2019. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Mark Hendrickson

Proponents of net-zero, a Green New Deal, and a radical restructuring of society in the name of averting a climate catastrophe allegedly being precipitated by human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) repeatedly say, “Follow the science.”

On the surface, that sounds eminently common-sensical. Upon closer examination, that simple request is scandalously simplistic.

A more correct way of expressing the idea would be to say, “Follow the sciences” (plural). There’s no “climate science.” Instead, to even begin to understand how Earth’s incredibly complex climate works involves challenging problems in physics, chemistry, atmospheric science, oceanography, hydrology, volcanology, meteorology, etc. Contrary to the narrative drilled into children in public schools and by lazy or ideologically motivated journalists, understanding the climate is magnitudes more complicated than simply keeping track of the atmospheric concentration of CO2.

There are many, many scientists who don’t agree with the alarmist narrative. Those scientists are overwhelmingly individuals who don’t receive government funding for their scientific work. They’re generally older and happily independent of government control.

One famous example is Richard Lindzen, who has held major scientific appointments at Harvard and MIT. Mr. Lindzen talked freely in a recent podcast about the corrupting influence of money in science. (If you don’t have time to listen to the entire podcast, go to time signatures 0:20:33, 1:12:00, and 1:30:00.)
Another famous example: William Happer, an expert in atomic physics and optics and an emeritus professor at Princeton University. In a recent public speech in Australia, Mr. Happer returned several times to the topic of government money corrupting the integrity of scientific research. (If you go to a YouTube video of the speech, see especially time signatures 23:50, 35:55, and 44:15.)
Then there’s John Clauser, who recently had his invitation to address the International Monetary Fund on the subject of climate change revoked. He had previously publicly stated, “In my opinion, there is no real climate crisis.” Mr. Clauser won the Nobel Prize in Physics last year. Are there Nobel winners on the alarmist side of the issue? Undoubtedly. But which brilliant scientists are right? The science is far from settled, despite what government propagandists claim.
Judith Curry, who has published over 100 scientific papers, and whose research over decades includes polar climates, air-sea interactions, hurricanes, atmospheric modeling, and more, avers that the alleged “'overwhelming consensus’ has been fueled by scientists who pursue ‘fame and fortune.’ Scientists who study man-made global warming are more likely to be quoted in popular culture while receiving celebrity-like status and lucrative grants from the federal government.”
Earlier this year, 1,609 scientists, professors, and other experts signed a public declaration titled “There Is No Climate Emergency.” Their six primary points are: (1) natural forces, not just human activity, cause warming; (2) warming has been far slower than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions; (3) computer climate models “are not remotely plausible as global policy tools”; (4) “CO2 is plant food ... not a pollutant”; (5) there has been no discernible increase in natural disasters; (6) “Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities,” and a net-zero policy is harmful and unrealistic.
Another problem with science today is the badly broken peer review process. Almost two decades ago, a prominent climate change alarmist, professor Phil Jones, emailed fellow alarmist, professor Michael Mann, about his intention to keep two dissenting papers out of an IPCC report. His exact words: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow—even if we have to re-define what peer-review literature is!”
Fast-forward to 2023, and peer review seems more problematic than ever. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) hosted a talk in July on the subject “Is Science Broken?” In announcing the event, NAS set the stage thusly: “Retractions [of published scientific papers] are ramping up. Outright fraud bubbles up more frequently. Politics, not reason, is firmly in the driver’s seat. ... More and more, science seems to be something like a very expensive version of Head Start: a money sink that has no aim but self-preservation.”
Recently, Patrick T. Brown, co-director of the Climate and Energy Team at The Breakthrough Institute and adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, stated that he deliberately “left out the full truth to get [his] climate change paper published.” Clearly, scientists feel pressured to edit or omit points to get their work past climate alarmist censors.
The very structure of the U.N.’s IPCC manufactures a political consensus that obscures actual scientific disagreements. Page nine of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC work states, “Changes ... made after acceptance by the Working Group of the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.” In other words, when scientists say something that disagrees with what the political authors of the summaries want to say, the scientist’s words will be kept out of those summaries.
For those of you still clinging to the belief that President Joe Biden and the other net-zero zealots are sticklers for “true science,” consider a 2022 memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It directed federal agencies to “include Indigenous Knowledge [capitalization in the original] as an aspect of the best available science.” With all due respect to the traditional beliefs of indigenous peoples, if those principles were written down, any high school student would be able to see a vast difference between those beliefs and what’s contained in a science textbook.

The next time you hear an appeal to “follow the science,” be very careful about whose version of science you’re going to follow. In fact, you should be suspicious of anyone who asks you to “follow the science.” They want you to follow their political agenda as blindly as the mice followed the pied piper. True science doesn’t ask you to take a leap of faith.

Finally, before you accept some scientist’s pronouncements as the final, irrefutable word on climate science, you should know the answer to this question: Does the scientist, either directly or through an organization for which he works, receive government funding for climate-related research? If the answer is yes, be very, very wary.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Mark Hendrickson is an economist who retired from the faculty of Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he remains fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He is the author of several books on topics as varied as American economic history, anonymous characters in the Bible, the wealth inequality issue, and climate change, among others.
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