Brian Warren’s recent letter on the “facts” of climate change is replete with errors. First, the claim that 97 percent of scientists affirm man-made disastrous climate change is a myth, not a fact. Read “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97 percent,’ ” page A13 of the May 27, 2014, Wall Street Journal for a thorough debunking of this claim. An example of misinterpretation of studies: In 2013, a group of scientists reported in Environmental Research Letters of a study of 11,944 scientific papers dealing with global warming and climate change. Sixty-four percent of the abstracts of these studies expressed no opinion whatsoever on human-caused global warming. Of the 36 percent abstracts that did express an opinion, 97.1 percent endorsed the idea that it was human-caused. That means less than 36 percent of scientists believe it is human-caused, not 97 percent.
Warren suggests that anyone who is a “denier” is a shill of the petroleum industry. One should certainly “follow the money” when evaluating a report. But this applies equally to those who promote the climate change myth who rely on President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies for their financial support. Is it OK to call them “shills” as well?
I taught forecasting techniques to MBAs and executive MBAs for 30 years. It is a statistical and scientific principle that the more variable something is over time, the more difficult it is to project into the future. One can project food consumption in the U.S. fairly accurately because it has a nice upward-sloping trend line. Oil prices, in my opinion are the second-most difficult to project, because they vary so wildly. Who would suggest we make major tax/legislation/lifestyle changes on the basis of our ability to forecast oil prices accurately into the future? It would be scientifically stupid. And oil prices are the second-most difficult thing to forecast. The hardest is the climate. It is the most variable and unpredictable of them all. To make major changes to our culture on the basis of 30-year climate forecasts is absurd, especially in view of the remarkably inaccurate climate forecasts so far (see testimony before Congress of distinguished professor John Christy on Feb. 2, 2016, pages 12-13).
In North Korea, if one proposes an idea that is opposed to that of the government, that person is criminally charged and thrown in jail. The Obama Justice Department and several Democratic attorneys general propose exactly that for oil companies and other “deniers” that do not toe the government’s line on climate change. Is that the kind of society you want, Mr. Warren?
LSU professor emeritus of economics