Limbaugh’s ‘official climatologist’ admits: Bible is the basis for his views on climate
The explicitly Christian magazine World has an interview with Rush Limbaugh’s favorite climatologist, Roy Spencer:
The interview and article is apparently to sell Spencer’s new book (The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists), published by Encounter Books, whose head editor and publisher is Roger Kimball, who also writes for many right wing outlets, including Pajamas Media. Encounter Books publishes quite a few right-wing and Christian books, including several anti-Darwin, anti-evolution, and indeed anti-science books. They’ve published Spencer before, and his creationism views fit in quite well with Encounter Books’ overall philosophy.
Back to the World article…
Spencer and the article writer work hard to confuse Spencer’s science work (which he publishes with his colleagues), with his non-peer reviewed opinions.
Spencer became particularly interested in clouds when he learned about a key assumption climate modelers make when predicting future global warming: Warmer average temperatures will result in reduced cloud cover. What if that assumption had it backwards? What if reduced cloud cover were causing the warmer temperatures? “If you get that wrong,” Spencer told me when I met him at a conference this summer, “then you get a totally wrong answer in terms of how much warming there will be as a result of us putting more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Spencer’s outspokenness is grounded in peer-reviewed research showing that prevailing climate models could be confusing cause and effect when it comes to clouds and temperature. By only looking at the effect temperature has on clouds, the models can overlook the effect clouds have on temperature by blocking sunlight. These climate models, Spencer said, “reduce cloud cover when the climate warms, when they should be increasing cloud cover when the climate warms. And the difference between those two gives the difference between man-made global warming being barely measurable versus it becoming Al Gore’s Armageddon.”
This is one of the AGW-denialists favorite talking points - clouds. First of all Spencer ought to give credit to other scientists, even AGW minimizers, like Prof. Lindzen at MIT who has done quite a bit of work on this. More importantly, Spencer doesn’t admit that climatologists have looked at, and continue to look at, the effects of warming on clouds. And, unlike implied by Spencer, there are plenty of reasons to believe that his claim about clouds and models are not as important as what he is trying to sell. If you want to get a quick read one can go to Wikipedia’s entry on Lindzen’s iris effect which has a section immediately following on more conjectures by Spencer. And if you’re really interested in clouds and climate then simply search RealClimate for “clouds” and you will get many hits for many, many hours of reading.
The takeaway from this point is simply that Spencer is hardly the only person to investigate clouds and climate and he should give credit to others, and that he’s made his objections in the press and in his books but has not been able to back them up in the peer reviewed science journals.
But onto the real meat of the World interview:
With research into natural agents of temperature change so incomplete, why have so many scientists taken sides to blame CO2? Spencer has several answers. […] Second, the UN body pushing the global effort to regulate greenhouse gases, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was originally created to build a case for man-made global warming: “In other words, the organization was not going to go out and look for alternative explanations. They were building the case for man-made global warming so that certain policy initiatives could be put into place— primarily the restriction or taxation of carbon-based fuels.”
Facts: The IPCC was created in 1988. Yet global warming due to human emitted CO2 was cogently proposed as a theory in the 1930’s, spurred interest and research in the 1950’s, first came to US political attention in the late 1960’s, was studied in the 1970’s, and came to prominence again during the Reagan administration, which peaked in summer of 1988 when Hansen appeared before a Senate hearing.
Spencer is doing the slight of hand by trying to change the issue to the big, bad, UN when in truth the research into AGW had been going on for 50 years prior to the creation of the IPCC, whose job it is not to do primary research but rather to summarize what scientists around the world have discovered, and present it policy makers.
So what is at the heart of Spencer’s activism on behalf of the anti-AGW forces? Spencer goes on to explain:
Yet another motive, Spencer believes, is religious conviction: “I find that virtually all scientists that work in earth science or in climate research have the impression that the climate system is fragile, that it’s delicately balanced. This is a belief that has no scientific basis. In fact, ‘delicate’ doesn’t mean anything scientifically. Yet those beliefs on the part of a research scientist can alter the direction that they go.”
Even so, the meteorologist-turned-climatologist acknowledges that his own evangelical beliefs have predisposed him to follow an opposite path. “An advantage of having a biblical basis for the way I look at nature is that I consider the possibility that nature is actually pretty resilient,” he said. […]
So there it is. The problem, according to Spencer, is all those materialists who are worrying about nature, while his Biblical view assures him everything will be all right.
This is the heart of the matter around so much AGW science-denialism, including why so many tea partiers have latched onto the AGW as a hoax meme.
AGW-science denial positions are part of the culture war of fundamentalist Christians against modernity.
Yes, there are strictly atheist ideologues who also are science deniers, and there are also the monied interests who only care about money, but those groups know that in the US they have to market themselves to the very religious American public to gain political power, and they have found allies in the anti-science fundamentalists.
Spencer then goes on to accuse those who are his colleagues who trying to discover the truth of Earth’s climate as being, as it is commonly phrased, in it for the gold and hogging all the money:
Spencer continues to pursue that truth by sifting through technical data—right now he’s investigating how much of 20th-century warming could be due to regional weather oscillations. But one hurdle for scientists like him is funding: “Out of the billions of dollars we put into climate change research, all of it goes into supporting the view that climate change is man-made, or assumes that climate change is man-made.” […]
Yeah, right. This is just deception on the part of Spencer and it is not the first time it has been raised. Billions? Hardly. What Spencer is not telling you is that the only way to get to “billions” of dollars is to add up all the NOAA and NASA satellite costs for their various projects that have (or had) something to do with the atmosphere or the oceans!
Then Spencer adds at the end, to top it all off, that there is a conspiracy against his efforts to find the real reason behind climate changes:
Even after scientists like Spencer do research, it’s another matter to publish it in mainstream science journals, where gatekeepers are sometimes unfriendly to alternative views on warming. “We’ve had a lot of peer reviewers over the years who have wanted to reject our papers when it was clear they did not even read the papers,” he said. Once a reviewer didn’t like his paper because it conflicted with the conclusions of the IPCC: “Even though I had been asked to write a paper looking at the other side of the issue—the view that the IPCC could be wrong—one of the reviewers of the paper said that I needed to change the paper to align it with the IPCC.” Peer review is prone to bias, said Spencer, but it’s the best system we have for now. “Scientists ignore what I do,” he muses, which is often better than attacking it. […]
Spencer is an ideologue (of the religious sort) who is crying that his pet theories fall of deaf ears when he can’t back them up. Note that he has had his name on several articles published in peer-reviewed journals over the years, but this interview in World misleads the reader into thinking otherwise.
Spencer has, for some time now, played this game. He plays the victim (common with creationists) when before his sympathetic religious audience, and never acknowledges that the world of science and peer-journals has no problem publishing his real work ( as opposed to his own pet beliefs.)
Spencer has done us a favor here, just like he did a few years ago when he published his defense of creationism. We now know for sure his motives in AGW-science denialism are motivated by his religious beliefs.