Last week we discussed the outburst of sanity from Stuart Kirk of HSBC, an employer that first approved his talk then attempted to throw it under the solar-powered bus. But we believe the attempt will fail because there’s more dissent from orthodoxy, and from a very different angle. Specifically, Harvard psychology professor and pop science star Steven Pinker, he of The Better Angels of our Nature and Enlightenment Now (also Canadian born hip hip hooray) has come out firmly and bluntly against what he expressly called “wokeism” in scientific reporting and publications generally. And his wide-ranging manifesto targets the wrong kind of climate “consensus”, slamming the American Association for the Advancement of Science for leaving out nuclear power in its “resource for journalists on climate change”, an omission he said was “deeply irresponsible and can only be explained by the fact that nuclear power fell out of fashion among left-wing and Green political factions more than 40 years ago.” And the hits just keep on coming. Science magazine promptly ran a piece on climate computer models admitting that “many of these [climate] models have a glaring problem: predicting a future that gets too hot too fast.” Now there’s a cool, refreshing breeze in a stale overheated environment.
Pinker’s heresy is especially important because he really is mainstream trendy, for better or worse; Wikipedia notes that
“In 2004, Pinker was named in Time’s ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today’, and in the years 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2011 in Foreign Policy’s list of ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’. Pinker was also included in Prospect Magazine’s top 10 ‘World Thinkers’ in 2013. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Humanist Association.”
The list goes on. And what’s more, he’s an atheist who lists Noam Chomsky as a key intellectual influence. In short, a classic “blue tick”. And his Twitter account carrying that cherished verified badge, despite just 10,756 tweets, has 765,757 followers. So he’s like totally A-list, not some honking deplorable. And yet early this May he indignantly tweeted: “The American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of Science magazine, asked me for money to improve acceptance of science by policymakers & the public & to spur action on climate change, causes I support. Here’s why I turned them down.” The tweet in turn linked to a longer online piece that included his direct response to the appeal (scroll down to “Pinker’s response to the solicitation”) that included “Science magazine appears to have adopted wokeism as its official editorial policy and the only kind of opinion that may be expressed in the magazine.”
He then proceeded to give the magazine what-for over critical race theory applied to higher education in physics in the U.S. And with that broadside delivered, including “Though Science is ordinarily committed to open debate on scientific controversies, no disagreements with this conspiracy theory were expressed”, he went on to excoriate them for their refusal to discuss the role of nuclear in the future US energy system.
“Is it possible the magazine’s editors are beginning to take the professor’s critique to heart? Today the publication is acknowledging something that passionate global warmists on the left would prefer that it didn’t. ‘Use of “too hot” climate models exaggerates impacts of global warming,’ is the headline on a new story in Science from Paul Voosen, who writes: ‘One study suggests Arctic rainfall will become dominant in the 2060s, decades earlier than expected. Another claims air pollution from forest fires in the western United States could triple by 2100. A third says a mass ocean extinction could arrive in just a few centuries. All three studies, published in the past year, rely on projections of the future produced by some of the world’s next-generation climate models. But even the modelmakers acknowledge that many of these models have a glaring problem: predicting a future that gets too hot too fast. Although modelmakers are adapting to this reality, researchers who use the model projections to gauge the impacts of climate change have yet to follow suit. That has resulted in a parade of “faster than expected” results that threatens to undermine the credibility of climate science, some researchers fear.’”
Wow. And the quote from Voosen’s piece continues
“Scientists need to get much choosier in how they use model results, a group of climate scientists argues in a commentary published today in Nature. Researchers should no longer simply use the average of all the climate model projections, which can result in global temperatures by 2100 up to 0.7°C warmer than an estimate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
The surprises continue. Because who might this “group of climate scientists” be? No, not Koonin, Happer, Soon and that crowd. Instead it’s “Zeke Hausfather, Kate Marvel, Gavin Schmidt, John Nielsen-Gammon and Mark Zelinka”. As usual they pull no punches. But this time they throw them in an unaccustomed direction:
“Users beware: a subset of the newest generation of models are ‘too hot’ and project climate warming in response to carbon dioxide emissions that might be larger than that supported by other evidence. Earth is a complicated system of interconnected oceans, land, ice and atmosphere, and no computer model could ever simulate every aspect of it exactly.”
Colour us surprised. Not about the model biases but about the willingness of scientists and journals to finally admit them. The Journal rightly calls this warning
“additional vindication for Roger Pielke Jr. and Justin Ritchie, who wrote last year in Issues in Science and Technology that ‘The integrity of science depends on its capacity to provide an ever more reliable picture of how the world works. Over the past decade or so, serious threats to this integrity have come to light.’ They talked about a 2015 ‘literature review’ that ‘found that almost 900 peer-reviewed publications reporting studies of a supposed breast cancer cell line were in fact based on a misidentified skin cancer line. Worse still, nearly 250 of these studies were published even after the mistaken cell line was conclusively identified in 2007.’ And then Pielke and Ritchie said ‘In 2021, climate research finds itself in a situation similar to breast cancer research in 2007. Our research (and that of several colleagues) indicates that the scenarios of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the end of the twenty-first century are grounded in outdated portrayals of the recent past…. The continuing misuse of scenarios in climate research has become pervasive and consequential – so much so that we view it as one of the most significant failures of scientific integrity in the twenty-first century thus far. We need a course correction.’”
Godspeed friends. But it will not be easy to get climate researchers to stop cavorting with hot models, let alone to inject some cool common sense into the world of activism and politics, particularly in the smug small town known as official Canada. But when people like Pinker and, credit where due, Hausfather, Marvel and Schmidt find the courage to speak out, it may well herald the coming of a genuine intellectual spring in the world of climate science long frozen in a blazing mess.
If you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor. We’re a bit giddy.