A review by Patrice Poyet
Abstract of the Review
This book is a must-have for any person interested in the history of what is called climate science and of the people who contributed to shaping the dominant ideas of our time. It also describes how the power struggles of various influential groups determined where we stand today.
Though the book is focused on people who made things happen, it never misses on reminding us, whenever necessary, of the underlying scientific knowledge and reasoning that prevails, or rather should prevail, in making rational analyses and decisions in climate matters. Andy May also demonstrates the considerable level of incertitude that remains after 40 years of intensive research and acknowledges that some key variables in the understanding of the climate system are unfortunately not better known today than they were 40 years ago.
Science is important, but history is about people who make things happen, and this is what this excellent book is all about. The role of all those who made important contributions is told, the scientists of course, but perhaps more importantly how many other players entered the game. The book ends reflecting on the prescient analysis of Dwight D. Eisenhower who foretold how public policies have become the captive of a scientific-technological elite who are controlled by funding from bureaucrats and politicians. Andy May gives a fascinating account of this important part of human history, that will undoubtedly shape the future of our civilizations, and not necessarily for the greater good that is assumed.
Even though the book focuses on the people, the preface makes a good job reminding us what science is all about: not proving anything but a method of disproving ideas. We know this from K. Popper, who showed how an idea moves from its original status, to a hypothesis and if unchallenged, to the theory level, which is still at the mercy of a rebuttal. It’s a good introduction to remind the reader that a theory is never definitely established, that science is never settled. It should also be noticed, that though perfectly correct that May’s book is around the people who shaped this disingenuous “climate scare” deception, his work also addresses in detail the scientific issues required to give the reader the proper context, as e.g., for the Holocene natural climate variability discussion (starting p. 25), or the not overly technical but clear presentation of the “greenhouse” effect (p. 32)
Chapter 1: Politicians and Climate Change
Andy May starts giving an account of the stark differences of appreciation from scientists and politicians using the exemplary case of the close relationship that existed between the authors of the article written by Singer, Revelle, & Starr, (1991), and the problem that this paper created for Al Gore and also illustrates all the deceptive maneuvers that politicians can engage in to rewrite stories according to their will to make them appropriate for their agenda, going as far as insinuating that Revelle had dementia when he collaborated in writing the article.
The telling of this event is very well documented and insightful and documents the ominous retraction of the retraction of Dr. Justin Lancaster, a truly unbelievable story unless all evidence is provided as Andy May rightfully does. Then Andy May addresses some of the classic deceptions uttered by the climate-alarmists by looking at Al Gore’s web site, such as the fabricated and baseless consensus, several arguments of authority that appeal to politicians but certainly not to scientists and covers in detail the complexity of dealing with a mixture of proxy and measured data sets with different time-resolutions and to figure out from them relevant information so as to separate natural short term variability from longer term trends, and to assess whether the modern warming presents an exceptional rate of change or not, which it does not.
As Al Gore played such an important role in promoting the baseless scare and raised the CO2 detestation cult to an unimaginable level in the US, the author attended personally a lecture given by Gore at Houston’s Rice University on October 23rd, 2017. This enabled Andy May to make a firsthand recount of all the miscues and unsubstantiated claims presented as evidence to a favorable crowd, only up to a certain point, as 25% of the seats were empty at the end of the conference. Nearly all mankind’s misery is, according to Al Gore, related to CO2 induced global warming, though he did not add to the list tsunamis and earthquakes as some head of states did for the COP conferences! He blames fossil fuels for all the troubles on Earth when they have dug billions out of poverty.
The ominous selective inquiry request sent by U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva, who is also connected to Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center, and a host of other liberal senators that have specifically targeted AGW skeptic scientists, sets an obnoxious precedent. This is perfectly documented by Andy May. Perhaps even more importantly, by drawing attention to where some of the scientists’ funding may come, thus infringing their most fundamental rights in a witch hunt which is simply grossly irrelevant to their work. This invites the question of the funding of many environmental activist organizations that benefit from massive support from the “The Billionaires Club”, including the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Sea Change Foundation, the Park Foundation and the Marisla Foundation.
Then Andy May goes on to exposing the infamous attempts at criminalizing scientific dissent by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, an ignorant crank who boasts that he understands climate science when he hasn’t got the slightest credential in that respect. What Chapter 1 exposes is that beyond a few reckless politicians who do not have any other understanding of the climate, other than parroting that more CO2 will be a major threat to mankind, deep and powerful underlying forces are driving “The Billionaires Club” to work, not for the greater good of the populace, but to pursue an ideology, i.e. suppressing the usage of fossil fuels to those who need it the most, we the people.
Chapter 2: The News Media and Climate Change
After reminding the reader of the political leaning of the news media in America, who are more interested in pushing their agenda than in presenting balanced views to their readers, something more and more widely acknowledged by the public, Andy May addresses the fate of “Willie” Soon, a great American astrophysicist, born in Malaysia. He came under an attack by Kert Davies’ so-called Climate Investigations Center, who made a list of skeptics to target and later joined Greenpeace as a Research Director. Imagine that? A list of people to harass because they dissent with the sacred consensus. As Andy May notices, the only positive thing for Soon is to be in good company, together with thirteen of the top climate scientists of the day that are also on Davies’ hit list.
Shameful practices unveiled, indeed. Soon and his co-authors published two influential 2003 papers, that re-established the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA) as global climatic events and the ordinary nature of the current Modern Warming (MW). The papers led to attacks on Soon, as this remarkable work also de-facto established the fake character of Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick based propaganda. May’s book provides extensive evidence and references for the global nature of these secular anomalies MWP and LIA that of course considerably undermine the purportedly exceptional nature of the MW. He stresses that Soon’s work was funded by several bodies, i.e. NASA, the Air Force, and the American Petroleum Institute, but at least NASA, represented by Dr. Drew Shindell, was not happy with these outstanding findings. As amazing as it may seem, the NASA representative, a prominent scientist himself, was not interested in science at all or in the relevance of Soon et al. findings but stressed that one paper should not undermine “the thousands of papers that go into a document like the IPCC report”.
From what Andy May exposes, the obvious connections of Shindell with Mann and other IPCC involved authors makes it clear that an urgent need for a rebuttal of such an inconvenient truth was to be published, which was done. But history tells us, the Hockey Stick story ended, rebuttal or not, with an ominous attack on the “Climate Journal” that had published Soon’s et al. paper. The attack failed and the Hockey Stick is now in the dustbin of science.
Andy May does a good job documenting all the deficiencies Mann’s et al. papers suffered and the demise of the flawed concept despite the support of all the press and the NYT. They even accused White House officials – appointed to review the situation – of trying to suppress climate science. How ridiculous in hindsight especially as it is well shown now, by May in 2020, who actually tried to suppress and distort science: Mann’s Hockey Team, a compliant news media, and Congressional Democrats. In fact, the humiliation of the climategate revelations shows how far the misconduct went. It did not lead to better scientific practices but to the contrary, to renewed attacks perpetrated by Greenpeace on Soon. They requested from his employer, the Smithsonian Institution, access to his personal correspondence! And they repeated that disgrace every few years or so in a sign of harassment that the Smithsonian did not condemn but allowed. Fortunately, this obnoxious request led to a flurry of supporting letters, written by world-renowned scientists who took sides with Dr. Soon, in a more general defense of science against the shenanigans of activists and the threats they uttered.
Andy May does an excellent job in telling the intricacies of these ugly wrongdoings and the sad outcomes they had on Dr. Soon’s scientific standing, personal life and even health, all in the most unjustified way. Most unfortunate is that the harassment redoubled from Greenpeace and the NYT after he published a new scientific paper published in 2015 with Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley as the lead author. This new article embarrassed the IPCC, showing their inability to establish any better, in AR5, the climate sensibility to CO2. This criticism led to more ad-hominem attacks on Dr. Soon and the funding his employer received from the oil & gas industry, which is grossly irrelevant to the soundness of the science presented in the contentious papers. Andy May is right in insisting on reproducible science and explaining the way it works. The entire Wikipedia article dealing with Dr. Soon, is a litany of irrelevant smears trying to hide the relevance and merits of the scientific hypothesis developed during his career. In completely losing its balance and being so politically tainted, the on-line encyclopedia also shows that it has lost its credibility.
This Chapter 2 is legitimately also critical of the discriminatory nature of the conflict of interest and disclosure policies used against skeptics to silence them. It shows how, e.g., Michael Mann, occupying various positions that could require clarification, has never been asked any questions. This part also further covers the infamous “climategate” and the many emails exchanges revealing, tricks, data fudging, peer-review obstruction, etc. and finally how the only “evidence” that IPCC could provide was manufactured by pasting a Stick made of instrumental measures at the end of a flawed flattened Blade based on reconstructed proxies. Shoddy science if science at all, indeed. Andy May also exposes how organizations like Factcheck.org or Politifact.com miss the point. Their circular defense of preconceptions, i.e. the warming could only be man-made, at all costs have damaged climate science beyond repair. He shows how far-left leaning ideas, rather than rational facts and analysis shapes their reasoning. These bodies are confirmation bias organizations disguised as fact-checkers, using deceptive techniques that fact check nothing. This is well demonstrated by May using several examples of manufactured lies to make it appear the people are utterly incompetent, when their original statements were viciously distorted from true statements to false statements.
Chapter 3: Non-profits and Climate Change
This chapter starts with an enlightening presentation of the business model of Greenpeace, that most people would consider an NGO and which operates instead as a very centralized company from The Netherlands, with the ultimate objective of generating cash. Deceiving people by means of very elaborate campaigning methods are their bread and butter. Andy May goes into the details of how that works, and this is well worth it. In short, Greenpeace has found that the less educated the public is about the subject and the more emotional their response is, the better for Greenpeace’s finances. There’s always a scenario with a victim, a villain, a great cause and only one solution, the one they impose. Greenpeace is an evil organization as it uses the ignorance of the people to fulfill its agenda, does not wish to educate them on the matter to the contrary, and does not care about the outcomes for society or mankind but only worries about the financial effectiveness of the propaganda action, all that is well evidenced by Andy May. Their preference is to propose unrealistic “solutions”, given the fact that no implementation can be considered, which ensures a lasting stream of campaign donations.
One of the true conundrums brought about by this Chapter is the case of Tom Steyer, clearly a clever guy who demonstrated his abilities to make well thought out decisions in his extremely successful investment career, but who seems to be mesmerized by the “climate change and urgency” issue. This reminds of some cult developments of the 1960s – Scientology, Hari Krishna, Rev. Moon, the Bagwhan (“love guru”), etc. that led previously intelligent and thoughtful people get sucked into such groups and turned into zombies with whom reasoning was no longer possible, though Andy May does not make a parallel, one can hardly find any rational explanation to Steyer’s position.
Even more amazingly, Andy May recounts that some people, like a Professor Shukla, had sought to use the RICO legislation, i.e. the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, to go after climate skeptics but ended up being caught themselves for improper use of federal monies and funding, including for Shukla a personal enrichment of 4 million dollars in grants that led to just one paper. Politics or science? Then Andy May goes on describing the extremely nefarious actions that took place under the ExxonKnew plot mainly supported by the Rockefeller Family Fund and a host of activist academics that wrote some peer-reviewed, but baseless, published papers to support the case for prosecuting ExxonMobil. The papers were meant to destroy the company with the assistance of a cadre of politically tainted state AGs. This dismal association of class action lawyers, political activists, corrupt academics, and state AGs failed miserably when federal judges requested the full release of all documents based on several FOIA requests.
But it did not stop there. Michael Bloomberg, involved in these loathsome shenanigans, orchestrated by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Harvard Law School, the Climate Accountability Institute, and the various Rockefeller Foundations went even further, in a totally bewildering way. The reader of Andy May’s book will discover, in a very detailed manner, the intricacies of the legal processes and constitutional rights violations that were threatened. This lurid setup was framed by class-action lawyers with the same sneaky reasoning that was used against the tobacco industry, namely that the oil & gas executives knew about the dangers of man-made emissions and did not disclosed it. This was a well-orchestrated plot supported by a bunch of activist AGs, noteworthy that all of them but one, were Democrats, the remaining attorney general was Claude Walker of the US Virgin Islands, a Green Party leaning Independent. But this baseless conspiracy crashed on the wall of reality: not only had no investor ever complained about being misled by ExxonMobil, but the essence of the complaint remained unsubstantiated. It could not be demonstrated that man-made emissions alone have a substantial impact on climate beyond natural variability, which remains mostly unknown. Hopefully, so far, a happy ending has been brought to this dismal case.
The New York Supreme Court dismissed the case “with prejudice” at the end of 2019. Perhaps less noticed but equally important and well accounted for by Andy May, is the fact that the peer-reviewed literature conspired in this deception, notably by Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran. Their supposed “evidence” was dismissed and trashed by the expert nominated in one of the court’s cases, Kimberly Neuendorf, which is not much of a surprise as the aforementioned authors simply have no understanding at all of what science is about; thus, how could they produce a study respecting proper standards? One of the most obnoxious attempts by Naomi Oreskes has been her lasting efforts to try to establish “science by consensus” which is an oxymoron and demonstrates how being a historian of science does not necessarily mean you understand anything about it.
Chapter 4: Bureaucrats and Climate Change
The chapter starts with a good account of the insanity of the Lysenko Soviet experience and of the millions who suffered, starved, and died of this “genius”, Lenin-appointed impostor and of those who thought that science can be imposed by government fiat. From that worthwhile reminder, Andy May moves on to the way the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has slowly drifted from contributing to the understanding of various environmental problems at its creation, to enacting regulation, and finally to resorting to “external research” delivered by activist groups such as Greenpeace or the Sierra Club without checking it, to produce government regulations.
This explains how such stupid ideas as the social cost of carbon dioxide have been introduced, and how adding virtual costs would enable the implementation of new rules that have real costs, because these inept regulations would “save” the fantasy costs. A world without fossil fuels is well known to mankind, it is the world before the industrial revolution, a time of suffering and misery and a world with less CO2 is also well known, as during the last glacial maximum when plants were starved CO2 and life. Overall life was on the verge of extinction because when the autotrophs die due lack of CO2, the end is nigh.
Andy May analyses the sort of ideological ramblings and external sources, including IPCC documentation, that were used without any further internal investigation in order to lead the EPA to declare that CO2 is a pollutant (i.e. the CO2 endangerment finding), one of the most absurd ideas humans ever had. He also explains how the legislative power in these matters was taken from Congress by the Supreme Court to be dubiously transferred to the EPA. Those who opposed were simply told to work on other matters. But this does not stop there, as Andy May reports that when the new EPA secretary tried to resort to proper science, with public data, algorithms, etc. that could be checked for reproducibility – the basics of science – he was intimidated for menial reasons and the anti-science “Scientific American” defended this in a dismal article that said this would prevent the EPA from implementing proper regulations to protect the American public!
Chapter 5: Lawsuits and Climate Change
This chapter addresses why the courts are not the right place to debate science and reports that it has become, for some, a means of systematic intimidation to try to silence opposing views. In one of these many judicial actions, it must be observed, and this is just a matter of fact, that Michael Mann failed to produce the data and the code that were requested by the Canadian tribunal where he filed his complaint, until the judge dismissed the case, and granted Tim Ball all costs associated with his defense.
How come? Is it so difficult for a scientist to comply with the most elementary scientific practice, enabling reproducibility? Then Andy May goes to expose seven more lawsuits filed by Michael Mann who seems to have more resources for the lawsuits, than for properly disclosing how his work was done. Then going on, Andy May balances very much each of his words, probably fearing that he might line up as one more target of the nefarious Mann, becoming the 9th lawsuit in a row. The reader will certainly be interested in getting the full account that May provides, but it would be giving far too much exposure to Mann’s deeds to keep publicizing them in this review. I hesitate between contempt for the intentional delay and bad faith in not contributing to solve the issue and wise indifference.
Science will prevail, each will deserve his / her own legacy. In any case, one will notice that Mann’s reconstructions using dubious proxies and statistical techniques (PCA) in an inappropriate manner, all contributed to erasing over 900 years and more of natural variability. He further did the unacceptable, pasting measured temperatures at the end of the reconstruction, to show a maximum and mono-directional variability in order to assert, in a baseless manner, but to the great content of IPCC, that human imprint of climate was proven. Since then and the debunking of these flawed reconstructions, never ever IPCC has tried again to provide for a direct evidence of man-made influence on climate and has resorted to much debatable computer models.
Chapter 6: Facts and Theories
Starting this chapter, Andy May reminds the reader how versatile the opinion can be and how irrelevant the consensus is by establishing that, whatever misdemeanors the climate-alarmists have done to desperately try to wipe out the cooling scare of the mid 1970s, the cooling scare existed, and quickly turned into a warming scare in the 80s. The consensus is in harmony with the current climate, a true weathervane, and offers no predictive value, something we expect of sound science. Furthermore, May rightfully points to Popper (1962) in stressing that any hypothesis that cannot be refuted simply is not scientific and that theories should provide predictions (positive or negative) clear enough that they can be checked. Whenever and as long as the observations confirm the predictions, the theory survives, otherwise it is invalidated.
One will, in that respect, think of the story of the N-Rays of the unfortunate René Blondlot. May continues stressing the difference between facts, theories, laws, hypotheses and ideas. And finally, Andy May considers the computer models, as these are the only remaining supposed evidence put forward by IPCC who oppose comparing their speculative scenarios to strong empirical evidence accumulated by skeptics, including low CO2 climate sensitivities.
He concludes that as far as science is concerned, nothing is ever settled and certainly not in climate science today given the high uncertainty that cripples most of the important factors and for which the ranges of values have remained stubbornly large despite massive research funding lavishly given to so many laboratories these last decades. May concludes this chapter on the fake 97% consensus and the observation that the climate-alarmists prefer not to discuss the facts and generally avoid engaging in debate.
Chapter 7: The Beginning
This chapter starts from the beginning, i.e. the precursors who originated the idea that some gases could contribute to some radiative infrared absorption, then goes on to the birth of modern climate science, the launch of the IPCC followed by the first two key summits and reports, the third assessment report which was a milestone, and continues with the AR4 and AR5. Various aspects of the solar hypothesis are discussed and of course such a book would not be complete without addressing the political benefits that politicians expect by pushing the climate issue beyond what most scientists consider reasonable, given the extreme level of uncertainty remaining after 40 years.
Andy May decides to start the chapter with John Tyndall, perhaps the first of the “moderns” as he was not yet born when Horace Bénédict de Saussure built his first heliothermometer in 1774, which in fact is a real mini-greenhouse designed for physical measures. But the account that Tyndall gives of his experiments qualifies him without a doubt as the first to formulate in an accurate manner what most today would call the “greenhouse” effect, even if the term is badly chosen. The Stefan-Boltzmann law is traced back to Tyndall’s measurements, at least as far as Stefan’s work is concerned. Andy May covers of course the contribution of Svante Arrhenius, an acclaimed scientist and Nobel laureate, and that of Guy Stewart Callendar a British engineer who tried to link global temperature to CO2 concentration. The cooling from 1944 to 1977 dealt a blow to Callendar’s ideas, who was also a successful inventor, but were resurrected after his death (1968) when the world started warming again in the early 1980s.
Andy May moves on to cover “modern science” and shows how the AR5 fails to provide better estimates of the impact of CO2 (i.e. the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, ECS), 34 years after the first “Charney Report”, or how the AR5 rather awkwardly tries to downplay the fact that all studies show that this ECS has moved in one and only one direction, i.e. downwards with a more restricted range.
The role that James Hansen played on June 23, 1988 during a Senate committee meeting, hosted by Senator Tim Wirth, on catastrophic climate change is recalled. It could be a pivotal point in how politicians were duped into thinking of an urgency to act. Andy May reminds us of how the very political UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) has kept putting pressure on IPCC and scientists since the release in 1990 of the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR), to come to conclusions that would justify their very existence, which depends entirely on showing that climate change is man-made. This is a very vicious circle that prevents any proper scientific work from being done in a serene and independent way.
What Andy May exposes, is that the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 will probably remain a watershed moment, if only for the delirious rantings of Maurice Strong, who had no better vision to propose than the collapse of our industrialized societies to save the human species. You cannot believe that? Read Andy May’s accurate account. This also explains why, evidence of man-made global warming or not, science was settled as soon as the The Second Assessment Report (SAR) published in 1996 and it was added on the basis of unpublished, controversial and dubious papers that “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. That was the tipping point marked by a clear onslaught of politically tainted decisions leading to the ominous “Chapter 8” story that the reader will discover, with its shocking practices that result in shoddy science.
Once decisions only come from political motivations, the wheels come off, and this is what made the Kyoto Protocol a “conceptual disaster” as per William Nordhaus, the famous Yale economist and Nobel laureate. All is said by Andy May in this single sentence “What the climate warriors really want is a worldwide socialist government”. Adding insult to injury, as if “Chapter 8” was not enough, the third page of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001, contained the infamous Hockey Stick. This flawed graph, resulting from poor scientific practice and little to no understanding of the statistical analysis methods used, including the PCA technique, caused the climate community to assert that was it, no discussions permitted, the anthropogenic signal was clear. How shameful indeed. Andy May goes into the details of this incredible story, including how peer-reviewed evidence was discarded to fit the agenda.
In AR4 (2007) a contorted admission of the TAR Hockey Stick failure was included. But most importantly the idea of resorting to any material evidence to demonstrate an abnormal 20th century warming was abandoned and they rather only resorted to model-based attempts to prove that humans were indeed changing climate, most of the time using circular arguments! As Andy May reports, the “proof” was just running models with and without what the IPCC decided the response of the Earth’s system was to man-made CO2 emissions. This was supposed to be more than enough “proof”. No need for observations, how convenient, but very unconvincing. The Fifth Report, AR5 (2014) is a redo of the same exercise, with the same spurious and unconvincing models. Then Andy May discusses how the solar variability is taken into account by the IPCC simulations, or rather is not, and concludes that it is simply an order of magnitude under what it should be given, according to various recent studies of similar G0 stars, that are comparable to the Sun. Of course, such a decision is highly political and what is clear is that so much is at stake and depends on so little. The IPCC-based policies will crash western prosperity for not properly considering the right solar variability in their models; does that sound reasonable?
Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) which makes the assumption that Earth’s climate takes time to adjust to changes in CO2 concentration and estimates the amount of warming that will occur once all processes have reached equilibrium
Chapter 8: How much government involvement in research?
This chapter closes the book on the unfortunately prescient vision of Dwight D. Eisenhower who clearly saw, long before it happened, how a vicious circle could develop whereby bureaucrats would control academia and favor a political agenda, along with compliant news organizations. Then they will suppress dissenting views, be they scientific of political. Private research and input is marginalized and demonized as supposedly tainted by special interests and the abstract “greater good” is always put forward as justifying global solutions under the auspices and control of supra-national bodies, thus making any action always more remote from those that could eventually need adaptation to changing conditions.
Andy May also addresses virtuous cycles when the private sector and universities cooperate to improve the employability of those getting a degree as opposed to the vicious circle that appears when the academic sector, mainly funded by the government, pursue some avenue having little value for the private sector, leading to devalued degrees. The Earth science research is emblematic of the malaise, focusing on doom and gloom models and forecasts, mostly arbitrary and unsubstantiated, and of no value either for the private sector or for society at large. The book concludes with the need to thoroughly check, validate, and assess the reproducibility of software model results and the soundness of their underlying assumptions. Fundamental constitutional rights are at risk, and computer abstractions are irrelevant to justify political coercion. Andy May gives a brilliant account of what is at stake and it gives a chill in the back. This book is a must-read.
“Politics & Climate Science – A HISTORY” by Andy May
Published by American Freedom Publications LLC, First Edition – October 31, 2020, respectively 978-1-63625-261-2
Hardback, 978-1-63625-262-9 Paperback, 978-1-63625-263-6 eBook Version, 342 pp.
Author of “The Rational Climate e-Book