Response to yet another misleading Enterprise attack

John Droz Jr. wrote a Guest Commentary in the March 26 Adirondack Daily Enterprise entitled “Science or political science?” in which Mr. Droz responded to Dr. Curt Stager’s “What climate deniers get wrong,” recently published in the Adirondack Explorer/Almanack.

Mr. Droz’ commentary is yet another example of ADE publishing a guest opinion piece that misrepresents what another person has written or makes other false or misleading statements, and then attacks the prior author.

Mr. Droz: “It’s unfortunate that Curt did not publicly acknowledge that we have HUGE gaps of knowledge in our understanding of climate. How accurate can computer models be when there are substantial unknowns involved? Traditional scientists are very clear about exactly what we know and don’t know. Political scientists glaze over the unknowns.”

Discussion: Mr. Droz fundamentally misrepresented the evidence of climate change caused by humans by suggesting that the science is based only on computer models. In fact, the evidence exists primarily in the form of very large numbers of repeated and carefully documented measurements of carbon dioxide levels, air and water temperatures, and many other parameters across the globe.

To the extent that climate scientists employ computer models, the models routinely define a range of possible outcomes (with probabilities), and acknowledge the source and extent of remaining uncertainty — such as whether the U.S. will act to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The climate scientists work continuously to further refine the models on the basis of comparisons to new and old data. Unlike what Mr. Droz asserts, this work is done thoughtfully and responsibly. See https://www.climate.gov/maps-data/primer/climate-models.

Mr. Droz: “Curt makes multiple references to ‘peer review’ but fails to inform readers that there are about 2,000 peer-reviewed papers that contest his [climate change] position. A scientist objectively presents both sides of any dispute. (Note Curt’s quote about that at the beginning!) On the other hand, political scientists just promote their own agenda, pretending that there is no other reasonable conclusion than theirs. … ‘[C]onsensus’ is similarly problematic. If [Dr. Stager] has irrefutable science to support his [climate change] hypothesis, why would he talk about such unscientific matters as consensus? The scientific method says nothing about consensus.”

Discussion: Dr. Stager listed numerous sources of scientific evidence as the basis for his assertions about climate change. However, he did not present a “count” of the number of articles for and against, because that’s not how science works. Scientific conclusions are based on consideration of the magnitude, scientific rigor, and direction of the overall body of evidence. The evidence on climate change supports a “scientific consensus.”

Scientific consensus (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus) is a legitimate activity when the overall body of scientific evidence is compelling, as in this case. For Mr. Droz to attack Dr. Stager on that basis represents an illegitimate and unfair criticism.

Dr. Stager: “There is plenty for us Adirondackers to debate when it comes to the pros and cons of wind energy in the Park. But we all lose when science itself is abused in the process.”

Mr. Droz: “Despite his lengthy commentary, Curt didn’t actually address renewable energy — the topic of my article that he disliked. When politicians are asked questions that might embarrass them, they smoothly change the topic. That’s another stark difference between real science and political science.”

Discussion: Dr. Stager made clear that the focus of his critique was not renewable energy/wind energy, but he did address it — acknowledging that there are legitimate differences of opinion in that regard. For Mr. Droz to state that Dr. Stager “didn’t actually address renewable energy” constitutes another fundamental misrepresentation and unfair attack.

Mr. Droz: “It’s quite clear from all this that the [climate change] issue is not really about CO2. Instead, [climate change] is just a convenient vehicle for those who want to radically alter our American way of life — to literally convert us to an agrarian, Marxist society. Just closely examine the elements (and consequences) of the Green New Deal, which is a trial balloon for the real agenda here. The bottom line is that [climate change] activists want us: a) to accept a hypothesis that has not followed traditional science protocols, and b) to fork over about $100 trillion to implement ‘solutions’ (like industrial wind energy) that are scientifically unproven. What could go wrong?”

Discussion: Here, Mr. Droz commits the wrongful acts that he unfairly accuses Dr. Stager of — presenting unsubstantiated conclusions, as well as unsubstantiated accusations of illegitimate and harmful motivations.

It is unfortunate that public discussions of climate change are often perverted by illegitimate attacks against climate science and climate scientists, along with libertarian alarmism that any effort to address climate change will destroy our economy and our way of life.

Climate change is real, as we can see almost daily (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). Americans’ carbon emissions are very high compared to other nations on a per-capita basis (https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html), and other nations’ economies are generally doing well.

Our profligate use of fossil fuels will result in significant hardship, dislocation and death over time (https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/, https://coast.noaa.gov/states/fast-facts/climate-change.html). The U.S. will be seen as a primary contributor to cumulative global climate change (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/1/014010/pdf). Further, we will be seen as having been dishonest, self-indulgent and irresponsible in our minimal response to climate change after abundant evidence had established that the peril resulting from climate change is real.

“What could go wrong?” Indeed.

David Banks lives in Rockville, Maryland, and is a former resident of Lake Clear. 

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