It seems like the official climate change talking point for the Trump era has been established: President Trump and his environmental team are "anti-science." For a few examples, consider the Daily Beast on December 8 ("No one has ever headed the EPA with [Scott Pruitt's] level of anti-science, anti-environmental record. . . ."); Scientific American, January 18 ("Trump's 5 Most 'Anti-Science' Moves," which include naming Pruitt to head EPA; the New Yorker, December 13 ("taken as a whole [Trump's cabinet appointments] can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science. . . .").
Now, as far as I know, science is not a body of knowledge, but rather a method -- a method whereby hypotheses are constantly tested by data and experiments; and when hypotheses are inconsistent with data or experiment, they are invalidated, no matter how many people may believe them. The scientific method is most famously and briefly articulated in the well-known quote from Richard Feynman:
It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
I also understand that you don't need to be a scientist to understand what the scientific method is. Indeed, it was taught to me (and all my schoolmates) in junior high school.
So then, consider which of the following qualifies as "science" and which as "non-science" or, indeed, "anti-science."
- At the EPA web page, there is a section on "Causes of Climate Change." (There have been press reports for several days that this section is about to be taken down, but as of today, it's still there.) EPA confidently asserts that "it is extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause of recent warming." And how do they know that? Readers here know that in the massive tomes of the Federal Register EPA has come up with something called its "Endangerment Finding," purporting to attribute atmospheric warming to human emissions of greenhouse gases. Here at the website they present an abbreviated version of the logic of the Endangerment Finding, brought to life by this seemingly dramatic chart:
Aha! Natural factors alone can't explain the recent warming! Or at least the chart makes it look that way. But read on and you find out that their conclusion has been reached completely without resort to testing by data or experiment. Accompanying the chart is text indicating that the purple band of "natural and human factors" and the green band of "natural factors only" both come entirely from "models." But what testing by data or experiment have these models undergone? You won't find anything about that here, or anywhere else in EPA land that I have ever been able to find. EPA's assertion that recent warming has been caused by "human factors" is entirely derived from models. But aren't models just "hypotheses" in scientific terminology, really just "guesses" as Feynman calls them, pure speculation until validated (or invalidated) by data or experiment? Exactly how does declaring your hypothesis valid without subjecting it to testing against data qualify as "science"? Got me.
- Or alternatively you can consider the Research Report of Wallace, et al., discussed in my post on September 19 titled "The 'Science' Underlying Global Warming Alarmism Turns Up Missing." That Research Report subjected the EPA's Endangerment Finding (including the determination that recent rising temperatures could be attributed to human emissions of "greenhouse gases") to rigorous testing in accordance with the scientific method using the best available data. All of the data and methods that went into the Report and led to its conclusions are fully available via links in the Report itself. The conclusion (as stated in my post): "EPA's 'lines of evidence,' and thus its Endangerment Finding, have been scientifically invalidated."
It has now been about four months since that Research Report came out. In that time, every so-called "scientist" comprising the alleged "97% consensus" of climate scientists has fully had the chance to examine the Report, to attempt to replicate the Report, to attempt to find any other or better data that would lead to a different result, to attempt to critique anything and everything about the methods and analysis used in the Report, and to publicize any error or flaw, major or minor, that can be found or identified. But it hasn't happened. The Report stands unscathed.
Now, which of these two is the "science" and which of these two is the "anti-science"? It's not a trick question. Right now, it is seeming like literally every writer for every mainstream media outlet somehow skipped over junior high school and is intellectually incapable of comprehending the three lines of the classic Feynman quote. There is going to be some very serious embarrassment to get spread around very shortly.