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Tell the one about the fiery bogeyman again

13 Mar 2019 | Science Notes

Biologist Jim Steele denounces “scary campfire story” climate alarmism from the perspective of someone who spent a lifetime protecting ecosystems from bad land use, over-hunting, invasive species and other genuine man-made harm. As an expert in “micro-climates” where temperatures can vary by 20 degrees over a few hundred feet, he tackles claims of actual or looming extinction from the California Checkerspot butterfly to polar bears, penguins and pikas and finds that, as so often, the facts don’t fit the hype.

One genuinely alarming feature of climate “science” is the way it behaves toward scientific norms. For instance, Steele says that to investigate Camille Parmesan’s claims about the impact of warming on the Checkerspot butterfly that made her a heroine and an IPCC biologist, “I tried to replicate Parmesan’s iconic study. But she never published her data. In a gross violation of scientific process, she refused to share her data. We battled, but it was finally admitted many populations that she had claimed had been extirpated by climate change, were now thriving.” Not good… as a result or a method.

As for polar bears, who were meant to be down by two-thirds by 2050, he observes that “Basic biology argues less sea ice allows more photosynthesis which increases plankton abundance. More plankton support more fish and seals, which in turn feed more polar bears. Like the Inuit who steadfastly claim it is the ‘time of the most polar bears’, my 2012 analyses found polar bear populations were increasing.”

The Adelie and Emperor penguins are also flourishing. As for the pikas, “a few scientists argued global warming was pushing adorable rabbit-like pikas off mountain tops into extinction throughout the western USA. Instead, further research proved pikas are actually expanding into lower and warmer elevations.” Really. Warmth benefits life. Who knew? Other than just about everybody before this scare hit, we mean.

What is really worrying here is that people who repeated these claims became famous and influential and now that they have been shown to be at best ignorant and at worst falsified, those people are still famous and influential. There ought to be some penalty for being wildly wrong and unrepentant, if the debate is to advance in a desirable direction.

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