In case people missed this link in a recent Roundup, and the reference to Carlin’s book that went with it, I read most of the book on the train to Melbourne and it is a stunning contribution to the climate science debate. He retired a few years ago and this book is the first fruits of that time spent out of the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Think about getting the book from the publisher because it comes with some extra stuff on a data stick.
He has a bundle of credentials that make him very hard to sideline. He took on first rate academic training in physical science (Caltech) and training in economics to PhD (MIT) with publications in both economics and climate/energy science. As a lifelong environmentalist (and active camper, hiker and white water rafter) he was in the Sierra Club in the 1960s as an activist and Chapter Chairman. He always thought that there could be win/win outcomes for the environment and economic development if scientific and economic analysis and good will came together at the negotiating table. He applied those principles in 39 years as a manager and senior analyst at EPA.
After the turn of the century (and the millennium) he began serious investigation of the idea that the release of carbon dioxide by modern civilization will lead to catastrophic global warming. He brought to bear his scientific knowledge, his skills in economic analysis and his decades of experience in the bureaucratic procedures of the EPA. In recent times he observed how the EPA (loaded with environmental activists) took up President Obama’s agenda to decarbonize (and impoverish) the US with an impending tsunami of regulations on CO2, ozone and any other emissions that might be controlled to hamstring energy intensive industries.
This is his account of his personal journey of discovery that concluded that the claims are based on invalid science and are being pushed by a far left wing conspiracy that tolerates no skepticism, that their solution will result in disastrous price increases and reduced reliability for electricity in the US, as it already has in Western Europe, and reductions in economic growth and living standards around the world, particularly for the less affluent.
One of his most telling criticisms of the alarmists is the way they do not practice the scientific method of rigorous testing (attempted falsification) of their hypothesis. As Richard Feynman explained, channeling Karl Popper, science works by guessing at a law, then deducing what you should be able to observe, then checking to see whether the expected actually happens. And if it does not happen, the guess is problematic or suspect and you need to rethink, refine, revise and re-test. In contrast, the climate alarmists practice “confirmation bias”, taking account of anything that appears to support their position but refusing to take seriously evidence that points the other way. That is most apparent in the response to the 18 year halt to warming and the way that the dozens of models used to predict ongoing warming have been clearly falsified but are still used to frighten the horses and the politicians and the gullible mass media.
The book has many strengths: his clear commitment to protecting the environment (in reasonable ways), his combination of qualifications in hard science and economics, his experienced at the sharp end of analysis and his intimate exposure to the ever-increasing unreality of the warming fundamentalists. Plus his wide-ranging knowledge of the full range of possible explanations of climate change, notably solar activity and several other influences apart from CO2 which much more adequately account for the modest variations in global temperature of recent times.
As he looks at the way the climate debate has gone, driven by tens of billions of dollars of government funds, fed to “normal” (opportunistic but docile and uncritical) climate scientists and passed on to the public by scientifically illiterate journalists in the mass media, he wonders whether this should be seen as a false alarm, a hoax or an outright scam of epic dimensions. Maybe a bit of all three.
What the world needs is not decreased fossil fuel use but increased use with careful control of conventional pollutants using conventional controls where needed and justified. Conventional controls are much less expensive and much more certain to be effective than attempting to reduce fossil fuel use in order to reduce conventional pollution.
The much maligned carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as EPA and Obama claim, but rather a basic input to plant photosynthesis and growth, which is the basis of life on Earth. Decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels would decrease plant productivity and therefore the food supply for the rest of the ecosystem and humans, and vice versa. Further, attempts to reduce it will prove enormously expensive, futile, harmful to human welfare, and in the longer run, to environmental improvement. It is now increasingly evident that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by governmental coercion will have important non-environmental adverse effects in terms of loss of freedom of scientific inquiry, economic growth and development, and the rule of law.