Joe Bast: Scientific Critique of USGCRP’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report

A Joe Bast-authored summary critique of the June draft of the USGCRP report that hit the streets today. Nothing of significance that we have noticed has changed between June and now.

Scientific Critique of USGCRP’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report
By Joe Bast, Heartland Institute
July 2017

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a joint program of 13 U.S. national government agencies charged with developing a program to “understand, assess, predict, and respond to” global climate change. It produces reports to Congress every four years titled “National Climate Assessment.” The three reports released to date have all exaggerated the amount of global warming, the human role in that warming, the negative impacts of the same, and the certainty of the science surrounding the causes and consequences of climate change. For example, a team of climate scientists led by Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute said of the Third National Climate Assessment:

This National Assessment is much closer to pseudoscience than it is to science. It is as explanatory as Sigmund Freud. It clearly believes that virtually everything in our society is tremendously dependent the surface temperature, and, because of that, we are headed towards certain and inescapable destruction, unless we take its advice and decarbonize our economy, pronto. Unfortunately, the Assessment can’t quite tell us how to accomplish that, because no one knows how.

The latest (June 28) draft of the Fourth National Climate Assessment is similarly flawed. This brief critique makes ten points which track the content and organization of the assessment:

1. The report is a legacy product of a political regime that captured and “weaponized” this government agency to advance its agenda, much as it did to the IRS, Justice Department, and other departments. The report was written by hold-overs from the Obama administration, and represents only the very biased and politicized perspective of a small clique of government scientists on a complex issue.

2. The report fails to provide an objective and comprehensive review of the available literature. Contrary to media reports, the report was not made available to respected climate scientists for peer reviewed. Several scientists report that their requests for drafts were rejected. [Soon and Happer, others?] The final draft shows no evidence of being informed by the efforts of critics of the Obama administration’s legislative agenda or even a single reference to the multiple reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

3. The report relies on past reports by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which the Trump administration properly rejects. The report refers to the IPCC’s 2013 report as “rigorously-reviewed international assessments,” when in fact the IPCC is controversial, scandal-ridden, and its procedures fall far short of the requirements of the Data Quality Act. [Why Scientists Disagree, pp. 38-44]

4. The report’s most frequently quoted conclusion, “that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” is only a restatement of the opinions of activists and advocates in the field of global warming, and not a statement about the underlying science, which remains incomplete and uncertain. This is the same flawed reasoning and semantic games as used by the IPCC to make the same statement. It is not a statement of scientific fact, but rather of “some experts’ opinions” without any basis in probability analysis or scientific forecasting. [InterAcademy Council Audit, p. 61ff]

5. The report denies the existence of the “pause” in global warming during the past 18 years or longer, something even the IPCC admits. It cites manipulated and unreliable databases when superior databases are readily available, apparently in an effort to once again “hide the decline.”

6. The report ignores at least 27 peer-reviewed articles saying climate sensitivity is lower than the amount assumed by IPCCC and EPA. Climate sensitivity is the amount of temperature change likely to result from a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere from pre-industrial times. If the climate is less sensitive to CO2 than we thought four years ago, this report ought to reflect that fact. [Cited in Monckton, Soon, Legates, and Briggs 2015; reproduced inWhy Scientists Disagree, pp 66-69]

7. The report denies extensive evidence that weather is not becoming more extreme over time and physical evidence explaining why it will be less extreme in a warmer world. It recites Al Gore’s litany of extreme weather predictions even though IPCC and independent scholars have thoroughly debunked it. [Chapter 7 of CCR-II: Physical Science]

8. The report repeats false claims about the loss of arctic sea ice – falsifying trends and causes and making false forecasts – in order to support its narrative of catastrophic man-made global warming. Artic sea ice is not at historic low levels, it varies naturally due to known and unknown external forcings and internal variability, and it is not evidence of a human impact on climate. [Chapter 5 of CCR II: Physical Science]

9. The report misrepresents scenarios and computer-based simulations of future climate conditions as scientific forecasts of future climate conditions, when in fact it is well known among scientists that future climates cannot be predicted. Prof. Scott Armstrong, the world’s leading authority on scientific forecasting, and coauthors have shown conclusively that the predictions made by the IPCC, EPA, and other government agencies are merely the opinions of some experts, not scientific forecasts, and cannot provide a reliable basis for public policy.

10. The report misrepresents sea-level rise and changes in ocean pH levels, portraying both as dire catastrophes resulting from man-made global warming, when in fact there is considerable evidence that sea level has not accelerated from its historic rates and considerable evidence that lower pH levels have positive as well as adverse effects on ocean life. [Chapter 6 of CCR-II: Physical Science]