CLIMATEERS CAN’T HANDLE TRUTH

Climateers Can’t Handle the Truth

Dec. 27, 2016 6:46 p.m. ET

Congrats are due for the term “climate denialist,” which in 2016 migrated from Paul Krugman’s column to the news pages of the New York Times.

On Dec. 7, the term ascended to a place of ultimate honor when it figured in the headline, “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.”

Unfortunately, never to be explained is precisely which climate propositions one must deny in order to qualify as a denialist. In zinging Mr. Pruitt, currently Oklahoma’s attorney general, the Times rests its unspoken case on a quote from an article this year in National Review, in which he and a coauthor wrote: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

But this statement is plainly true. No climate scientist would dispute it. Through all five “assessment reports” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—sharer of Al Gore’s Nobel prize—the central puzzle has been “climate sensitivity,” aka the “degree and extent” of human impact on climate.

Greenpeace adopts the same National Review article to attack Mr. Pruitt, lying that he and a coauthor “claimed the science of climate change is ‘far from settled.’”

The science is not settled (science never is), but this is not what Mr. Pruitt was referring to. His plain, unmistakable words refer to a “major policy debate” that is “far from settled”—a statement that indisputably applies even among ardent believers in climate doom. Witness the battle between wings of the environmental movement over the role of nuclear power. Witness veteran campaigner James Hansen’s dismissal of the Paris agreement, which other climate campaigners celebrate, as “worthless words.”

These lies about what Mr. Pruitt wrote in a widely available article aren’t the lies of authors carried away by enthusiasm for their cause. They are the lies of people who know their employers and audiences are beyond caring.

Which brings us a two-part article in the New York Review of Books by representatives of the Rockefeller family charity, desperately trying to make the world care about their fantasy that Exxon is somehow a decisive player in the policy debate—Exxon, not voters who oppose higher energy taxes; Exxon, not the governments that control 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves and show no tendency to forgo the money available from them.

The Rockefeller family’s charitable attachment to the climate cause is understandable, though. Their money might instead be used to bring clean water to poor villages, immunize kids against disease, or improve education. But such programs can be evaluated and found wanting due to fraud or incompetence, whereas climate change is a cause to which money can safely be devoted to no effect whatsoever without fear of criticism.
Twenty years before his successor became Mr. Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state, Exxon’s then-CEO Lee Raymond gave a much vilified speech in China—a much misrepresented speech, too.

He did not say humans were not influencing climate, but the degree was highly uncertain, and future warming was not a “rock-solid certainty,” he said.

He could not have known he was speaking near the peak of an observed warming trend, and that relatively little or no warming would be recorded over the next 20 years.

He said poor countries would and should choose economic growth over suppressing fossil fuel use. They did, and some one billion fewer people today are living in extreme poverty (as defined by the World Bank).

He said fossil energy would continue to fuel economic prosperity, though consumption growth would moderate with increased efficiency, and as poor countries devoted a share of their increasing wealth to environmental improvement. He was right.

He predicted that technology would open up new reserves to fuel the global economy, though he didn’t mention and perhaps didn’t know about fracking.

All in all, it was a performance, in many fewer words, far more cogent than the Rockefeller pieces, notable mainly for their childishness about both climate science and climate politics.

Donald Trump, our new president-elect, has been tagged for indiscriminately referring to climate change as a hoax. Here’s what he actually said at a campaign rally in South Carolina one year ago about climate advocacy: “It’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

This statement, with its clearly framed qualifications, is true and accurate in every detail. It’s a statement of basic truth that can be embraced, and increasingly should be, by exactly those people most concerned about man-made climate change.

Yet it won’t be, for reasons demonstrated by the New York Times’ adoption of the term climate denialist, whose deliberately non-discriminating function we now take care to state precisely: It enables a kind of journalism that is unable—incapacitates itself—to stumble on truths that would be inconvenient to climate religion.

By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

UNHAPPY CLIMATE HERETIC

My Unhappy Life as a Climate Heretic
My research was attacked by thought police in journalism, activist groups funded by billionaires and even the White House.

By ROGER PIELKE JR.
Dec. 2, 2016 7:05 p.m. ET
748 COMMENTS
Much to my surprise, I showed up in the WikiLeaks releases before the election. In a 2014 email, a staffer at the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta in 2003, took credit for a campaign to have me eliminated as a writer for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. In the email, the editor of the think tank’s climate blog bragged to one of its billionaire donors, Tom Steyer: “I think it’s fair [to] say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538.”

WikiLeaks provides a window into a world I’ve seen up close for decades: the debate over what to do about climate change, and the role of science in that argument. Although it is too soon to tell how the Trump administration will engage the scientific community, my long experience shows what can happen when politicians and media turn against inconvenient research—which we’ve seen under Republican and Democratic presidents.

I understand why Mr. Podesta—most recently Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman—wanted to drive me out of the climate-change discussion. When substantively countering an academic’s research proves difficult, other techniques are needed to banish it. That is how politics sometimes works, and professors need to understand this if we want to participate in that arena.

More troubling is the degree to which journalists and other academics joined the campaign against me. What sort of responsibility do scientists and the media have to defend the ability to share research, on any subject, that might be inconvenient to political interests—even our own?

I believe climate change is real and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax. But my research led me to a conclusion that many climate campaigners find unacceptable: There is scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought have become more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally. In fact we are in an era of good fortune when it comes to extreme weather. This is a topic I’ve studied and published on as much as anyone over two decades. My conclusion might be wrong, but I think I’ve earned the right to share this research without risk to my career.

Instead, my research was under constant attack for years by activists, journalists and politicians. In 2011 writers in the journal Foreign Policy signaled that some accused me of being a “climate-change denier.” I earned the title, the authors explained, by “questioning certain graphs presented in IPCC reports.” That an academic who raised questions about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in an area of his expertise was tarred as a denier reveals the groupthink at work.

Yet I was right to question the IPCC’s 2007 report, which included a graph purporting to show that disaster costs were rising due to global temperature increases. The graph was later revealed to have been based on invented and inaccurate information, as I documented in my book “The Climate Fix.” The insurance industry scientist Robert-Muir Wood of Risk Management Solutions had smuggled the graph into the IPCC report. He explained in a public debate with me in London in 2010 that he had included the graph and misreferenced it because he expected future research to show a relationship between increasing disaster costs and rising temperatures.

When his research was eventually published in 2008, well after the IPCC report, it concluded the opposite: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and normalized catastrophe losses.” Whoops.

The IPCC never acknowledged the snafu, but subsequent reports got the science right: There is not a strong basis for connecting weather disasters with human-caused climate change.
Yes, storms and other extremes still occur, with devastating human consequences, but history shows they could be far worse. No Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane has made landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, by far the longest such period on record. This means that cumulative economic damage from hurricanes over the past decade is some $70 billion less than the long-term average would lead us to expect, based on my research with colleagues. This is good news, and it should be OK to say so. Yet in today’s hyper-partisan climate debate, every instance of extreme weather becomes a political talking point.

For a time I called out politicians and reporters who went beyond what science can support, but some journalists won’t hear of this. In 2011 and 2012, I pointed out on my blog and social media that the lead climate reporter at the New York Times,Justin Gillis, had mischaracterized the relationship of climate change and food shortages, and the relationship of climate change and disasters. His reporting wasn’t consistent with most expert views, or the evidence. In response he promptly blocked me from his Twitter feed. Other reporters did the same.

In August this year on Twitter, I criticized poor reporting on the website Mashable about a supposed coming hurricane apocalypse—including a bad misquote of me in the cartoon role of climate skeptic. (The misquote was later removed.) The publication’s lead science editor, Andrew Freedman, helpfully explained via Twitter that this sort of behavior “is why you’re on many reporters’ ‘do not call’ lists despite your expertise.”

I didn’t know reporters had such lists. But I get it. No one likes being told that he misreported scientific research, especially on climate change. Some believe that connecting extreme weather with greenhouse gases helps to advance the cause of climate policy. Plus, bad news gets clicks.

Yet more is going on here than thin-skinned reporters responding petulantly to a vocal professor. In 2015 I was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Paige St. John, making the rather obvious point that politicians use the weather-of-the-moment to make the case for action on climate change, even if the scientific basis is thin or contested.

Ms. St. John was pilloried by her peers in the media. Shortly thereafter, she emailed me what she had learned: “You should come with a warning label: Quoting Roger Pielke will bring a hailstorm down on your work from the London Guardian, Mother Jones, and Media Matters.”

Or look at the journalists who helped push me out of FiveThirtyEight. My first article there, in 2014, was based on the consensus of the IPCC and peer-reviewed research. I pointed out that the global cost of disasters was increasing at a rate slower than GDP growth, which is very good news. Disasters still occur, but their economic and human effect is smaller than in the past. It’s not terribly complicated.

That article prompted an intense media campaign to have me fired. Writers at Slate, Salon, the New Republic, the New York Times, the Guardian and others piled on.

In March of 2014, FiveThirtyEight editor Mike Wilson demoted me from staff writer to freelancer. A few months later I chose to leave the site after it became clear it wouldn’t publish me. The mob celebrated. ClimateTruth.org, founded by former Center for American Progress staffer Brad Johnson, and advised by Penn State’s Michael Mann, called my departure a “victory for climate truth.” The Center for American Progress promised its donor Mr. Steyer more of the same.

Yet the climate thought police still weren’t done. In 2013 committees in the House and Senate invited me to a several hearings to summarize the science on disasters and climate change. As a professor at a public university, I was happy to do so. My testimony was strong, and it was well aligned with the conclusions of the IPCC and the U.S. government’s climate-science program. Those conclusions indicate no overall increasing trend in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or droughts—in the U.S. or globally.

In early 2014, not long after I appeared before Congress, President Obama’s science adviser John Holdren testified before the same Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He was asked about his public statements that appeared to contradict the scientific consensus on extreme weather events that I had earlier presented. Mr. Holdren responded with the all-too-common approach of attacking the messenger, telling the senators incorrectly that my views were “not representative of the mainstream scientific opinion.” Mr. Holdren followed up by posting a strange essay, of nearly 3,000 words, on the White House website under the heading, “An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr.,” where it remains today.

I suppose it is a distinction of a sort to be singled out in this manner by the president’s science adviser. Yet Mr. Holdren’s screed reads more like a dashed-off blog post from the nutty wings of the online climate debate, chock-full of errors and misstatements.

But when the White House puts a target on your back on its website, people notice. Almost a year later Mr. Holdren’s missive was the basis for an investigation of me by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Grijalva explained in a letter to my university’s president that I was being investigated because Mr. Holdren had “highlighted what he believes were serious misstatements by Prof. Pielke of the scientific consensus on climate change.” He made the letter public.

The “investigation” turned out to be a farce. In the letter, Rep. Grijalva suggested that I—and six other academics with apparently heretical views—might be on the payroll of Exxon Mobil (or perhaps the Illuminati, I forget). He asked for records detailing my research funding, emails and so on. After some well-deserved criticism from the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union, Rep. Grijalva deleted the letter from his website. The University of Colorado complied with Rep. Grijalva’s request and responded that I have never received funding from fossil-fuel companies. My heretical views can be traced to research support from the U.S. government.

But the damage to my reputation had been done, and perhaps that was the point. Studying and engaging on climate change had become decidedly less fun. So I started researching and teaching other topics and have found the change in direction refreshing. Don’t worry about me: I have tenure and supportive campus leaders and regents. No one is trying to get me fired for my new scholarly pursuits.

But the lesson is that a lone academic is no match for billionaires, well-funded advocacy groups, the media, Congress and the White House. If academics—in any subject—are to play a meaningful role in public debate, the country will have to do a better job supporting good-faith researchers, even when their results are unwelcome. This goes for Republicans and Democrats alike, and to the administration of President-elect Trump.

Academics and the media in particular should support viewpoint diversity instead of serving as the handmaidens of political expediency by trying to exclude voices or damage reputations and careers. If academics and the media won’t support open debate, who will?

Mr. Pielke is a professor and director of the Sports Governance Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His most recent book is “The Edge: The Wars Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports” (Roaring Forties Press, 2016).

OBAMA’S CLIMATE POLICY

Obama’s Climate Policy Is a Hot Mess

The president hails the Paris Agreement again—even though it will solve nothing and cost trillions.

ENLARGE
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
By

BJORN LOMBORG

June 30, 2016 7:06 p.m. ET

When President Obama flew to Ottawa, Canada, on Wednesday to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, promoting their climate-change policies was near the top of the agenda. “The Paris Agreement was a turning point for our planet,” the leaders’ joint statement said, referring to the climate pact signed with fanfare in April by nearly 200 nations. “North America has the capacity, resources and the moral imperative to show strong leadership building on the Paris Agreement and promoting its early entry into force.”

Attracting rather less attention than the Ottawa meeting was a June 22 hearing on Capitol Hill. Testifying before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthyextolled the Paris Agreement as an “incredible achievement.” But when repeatedly asked, she wouldn’t explain exactly how much this treaty would actually cut global temperatures.

The Paris Agreement will cost a fortune but do little to reduce global warming. In a peer-reviewed article published in Global Policy this year, I looked at the widely hailed major policies that Paris Agreement signatories pledged to undertake and found that they will have a negligible temperature impact. I used the same climate-prediction model that the United Nations uses.

First, consider the Obama administration’s signature climate policy, the Clean Power Plan. The U.N.’s model shows that it will accomplish almost nothing. Even if the policy withstands current legal challenges and its cuts are totally implemented—not for the 14 years that the Paris agreement lasts, but for the rest of the century—the Clean Power Plan would reduce temperatures by 0.023 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

President Obama has made grander promises of future carbon cuts, beyond the plan’s sweeping restrictions on the power industry, but these are only vaguely outlined now. In the unlikely event that all of these extra cuts also happen, and are adhered to throughout the rest of the century, the combined reduction in temperatures would be 0.057 degrees. In other words, if the U.S. delivers for the whole century on the very ambitious Obama rhetoric, it would postpone global warming by about eight months at the end of the century.

Or consider the Paris Agreement promises from the entire world using the reduction estimate from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the organization responsible for the Paris summit. The U.N.’s model reveals a temperature reduction by the end of the century of only 0.08 degrees Fahrenheit. If we generously assume that the promised cuts for 2030 are not only met (which itself would be a U.N. first), but sustained throughout the rest of the century, temperatures in 2100 would drop by 0.3 degrees—the equivalent of postponing warming by less than four years at the end of the century. A cut of 0.3 degrees matches the finding of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis of the Paris Agreement last year.

The costs of the Paris climate pact are likely to run to $1 trillion to $2 trillion annually throughout the rest of the century, using the best estimates from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum and the Asia Modeling Exercise. Spending more than $100 trillion for such a feeble temperature reduction by the end of the century does not make sense.

Some Paris Agreement supporters defend it by claiming that its real impact on temperatures will be much more significant than the U.N. model predicts. This requires some mental gymnastics and heroic assumptions. The group doing climate modeling for the U.S. State Department assumes that without the Paris Agreement emissions would be much higher than under any realistic scenario. With such an unrealistically pessimistic baseline, they can then magically show that the agreement will cut temperatures by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit—with about 1.5 degrees of the drop coming from a reduction of these fantasy carbon emissions.

The Climate Action Tracker, widely cited by Paris Agreement fans, predicts a temperature reduction of 1.6 degrees by the end of the century. But that model is based heavily on the assumption that even stronger climate policies will be adopted in the future—98% of the assumed reductions come after the current Paris Agreement promises to expire in 2030.

Even this wishful thinking won’t achieve anything close to the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) reduction that has become the arbitrary but widely adopted benchmark for what will be essential to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

The Paris Agreement is the wrong solution to a real problem. We should focus more on green-energy research and development, like that promoted by Bill Gates and the Breakthrough Coalition. Mr. Gates has announced that private investors are committing $7 billion for clean energy R&D, while the White House will double its annual $5 billion green innovation fund. Sadly, this sorely needed investment is a fraction of the cost of the same administration’s misguided carbon-cut policies.

Instead of rhetoric and ever-larger subsidies of today’s inefficient green technologies, those who want to combat climate change should focus on dramatically boosting innovation to drive down the cost of future green energy.

The U.S. has already shown the way. With its relentless pursuit of fracking driving down the cost of natural gas, America has made a momentous switch from coal to gas that has done more to drive down carbon-dioxide emissions than any recent climate policy. Turns out that those who gathered in Paris, France, could learn a little from Paris, Texas.

Mr. Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, is the author of “Cool It” (Knopf, 2007) and “Smartest Targets for the World” (Copenhagen Consensus, 2015).

TRUMP MAKES SENSE ON ENERGY

Trump Makes Sense on Energy

From the mouth of The Donald comes wisdom on America’s climate dissonance.

After delivering an energy-policy speech in Bismarck, N.D., May 26. ENLARGE
After delivering an energy-policy speech in Bismarck, N.D., May 26. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
By

HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

May 31, 2016 6:33 p.m. ET

Political markets are weird: They cry out for something and yet politicians, with their enslavement to conventional wisdom and careerist caution, are unwilling to supply it.

Then along comes Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump, in his set-piece energy speech on Thursday, did something that might outlast his presidential hopes. In his anti-intellectual way, he made an intellectual contribution. For decades, poorly justified scientific fears of future warming have hovered as an incubus over U.S. energy development. These fears, you’ll notice, have not actually blocked much of anything: Fracking happened. The U.S. continues to export coal to China. But these fears fill America’s leadership class with guilt and cognitive dissonance.

Give Mr. Trump credit for trying to break the spell.

Opinion Journal Video

Business World Columnist Holman Jenkins Jr. on the presumptive Republican nominee’s plan to unleash American energy markets. Photo credit: Getty Images.

In a speech the media has done its best to ignore or debunk, he said, “From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are very simple: clean air and clean water.” With these words, he relegated back to the land of abstraction the abstraction known as climate change.

His was a model political speech, one that Hillary Clinton might learn from. It set an agenda, with a minimum of windy rationalization, that voters can assess. Mr. Trump, as all politicians do, offered a prayer to the false deity of energy independence but he also offered a perfectly serviceable vision of Americans freely competing in global energy markets based on our own natural and (note) renewable resources and technology.

Mr. Trump hit the climate moment squarely.

By now, it should be obvious that a succession of “fraudulent” (to borrow a word used by out-of-school climate activist James Hansen) agreements like Kyoto, Copenhagen and Paris are not paving the way for a non-fraudulent agreement to impose costly climate actions the public would never support.

The climate policy that actually gets enacted by now has a track record: It consists of ludicrous gestures and policies of cost-without-benefit like Tesla subsidies, whose driving force is the desire of influential pre-Trumpian elites for handouts.

As for the $100 billion spent on climate research, it has yielded one certainty: A human impact is hard to disentangle from a welter of natural variables.

What’s more, science can’t deny its nature forever. New information, based on actually measuring and understanding things like temperatures, emissions and cloud formation, is increasingly rewriting our hazy understanding of atmospheric processes. This data suggests our computer models have overstated the warming risk.

Also ripe to be revisited are the “business as usual” scenarios presumed by the climate alarmists, in which patterns of energy production and consumption don’t change in the absence of heroic government central planning efforts.

The emergence of fracking, which has played the major role in upending the U.S. coal industry, was not the product of climate policy.

The rise of the lithium-ion battery and explosion of battery-powered devices in our lives, of which even Tesla is but a flamboyant and overrated derivative, was not the product of climate policy.

Climate movement types, meanwhile, have increasingly turned to vilifying nonbelievers as a substitute for dealing sensibly with a possible human impact on climate. A minority movement is on its way to becoming a cult, increasingly anti-science. Know them by their talk of “saving” the planet: Even under the worst scenarios, global warming does not endanger the planet. It poses an inconvenience to human communities that have become accustomed to stacking their wealth at the water’s edge.

Perhaps it took Donald Trump fully to exploit the fish-in-a-barrel vulnerability of Democrats on climate. Democrats love citing a pending climate catastrophe but want to live in the land of the real politically, never taking ownership of policies actually commensurate with the alleged crisis. Al Gore, when he was running for president in 2000, wanted Bill Clinton to open the strategic reserve to keep gas prices low.

In his speech, Mr. Trump tweaked Hillary Clinton for promoting U.S fracking technology to China as secretary of state, then proposing to regulate fracking out of existence at home. He tweaked President Obama for seeking to block Canada’s energy exports by killing the Keystone pipeline even while enabling Iran to open its spigots.

Mr. Obama, proving again that he makes a better representative of the countries he visits than the one he comes from, said from Japan on Thursday that foreign leaders are “rattled” by the rise of Donald Trump.

Good grief. What endorsement could carry less weight with the American people? These are the same foreign leaders who’ve been marching America’s major allies into permanent decline, not least with massive renewable-energy subsidies that have produced no benefit for their societies. If anything survives as a monument to the great Trump boom of 2016, let’s hope it’s a turn toward realism on energy and climate.

CLIMATE NAZIS

Plenty of Political Climate Change

Sen. Whitehouse used to pretend he opposed jailing dissenters.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in March 2015.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in March 2015. PHOTO: MARK WILSON/GETTY
March 15, 2016 7:13 p.m. ET

Sheldon Whitehouse took to the Senate floor last fall to assail our coverage of his climate agenda. We had criticized his plan to use the RICO law, created to prosecute mobsters, against people who disagree with him about global warming. We also criticized George Mason University’s Jagadish Shukla, who wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other federal officials urging them to follow the Senator’s advice. New developments aren’t helping the credibility of Messrs. Shukla and Whitehouse.

In October Mr. Whitehouse denied that the RICO litigation threat—with its potential for treble damages—was intended to shut down scientific debate. The Rhode Island Democrat claimed he wants civil rather than criminal prosecutions of climate dissenters. As if bringing financial ruin on defendants accused of independent thought isn’t bad enough.

But now it looks like the campaign to silence climate dissidents could move beyond a potential civil case—and we’re not hearing a peep from Mr. Whitehouse. Attorney General Lynch told the Senate last week that her department had referred a request to prosecute climate dissent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Specifically, it was referred to the FBI’s criminal investigative division. A Justice official says on background that this is “not an indication or recommendation of whether a matter merits investigation, but is simply a referral to an appropriate investigative authority at the Department.”

Even as Sen. Whitehouse questioned Ms. Lynch on this very matter at the hearing, he uttered no criticism. His spokesman says the Senator still doesn’t favor criminal investigations and that Mr. Whitehouse thought the FBI referral “appeared unusual for the pursuit of a civil investigation.” But if Justice does throw people in jail for scientific skepticism, the message seems to be: Don’t count on Mr. Whitehouse to defend your liberty.

While the FBI ponders whether to slap the cuffs on people who don’t believe in U.N. climate models, scientists who agree with Mr. Whitehouse are thriving beyond the dreams of most academic researchers.

Check out Mr. Shukla, who egged on Ms. Lynch in the pursuit of climate skeptics. We noted recently the House Science Committee report that the George Mason professor had appeared to violate university policy in raking in more than $511,000 in combined compensation in 2014 from the school and his tax-exempt outfit, the Institute of Global Environment and Society. His wife collected another $166,000 that year to serve as the IGES business manager, and their daughter has been listed as an employee.

We’ve reviewed a 2012 memo from Mr. Shukla’s lawyer to IGES trustees saying that in some cases he would be entitled to fly business class and to bring his wife on trips, and also to have a leased car with a monthly payment not to exceed $600. IGES has been funded almost entirely by taxpayers. Many young scientists would be thrilled to win a federal grant even a fraction of the Shukla family haul. Mr. Shukla did not respond to requests for comment.

We understand why Messrs. Whitehouse and Shukla want to use the power of government to stifle their scientific and political opponents. But it’s harder to understand why George Mason wants to be associated with this sort of taxpayer fleecing and the silencing of academic dissent.

PSEUDO SCIENCE ON CLIMATE

WASHINGTON POST

How climate change makes the world more violent

By Alex Bollfrass and Andrew Shaver May 21, 2015

Dry cracked earth is visible on what used to be the bottom of Hensley Lake on April 23, 2015 in Raymond, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The following is a guest post from Princeton University political science Ph.D. candidates Alex Bollfrass and Andrew Shaver.

*****

Natural scientists agree that the climate is changing and that humans bear some of the blame. Social scientists are now attempting to assess the economic and political price societies are likely to pay for turning up our planet’s thermostat. The security policy community is especially eager for an answer.

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In the academy, the debate over climate change and its security implications gained momentum after researchers from Stanford, the University of California Berkeley, New York University, and Harvard observed that civil wars were more prevalent during years that experience hotter temperatures. The chief explanation for this relationship is that higher temperatures affect crop yields. Diminished agricultural output, in turn, as economist Ted Miguel and co-authors explain in a separate study, affects young men who are “more likely to take up arms when income opportunities are worse for them in agriculture [. . . ] relative to their expected income as [fighters].”

The “farmhands-to-fighters” argument linking reduced economic opportunity in agriculture to increased violent activity is consistent with other research results. Scholars at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Columbia University argue that recent drought in Syria produced “widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families,” resulting in in political unrest that ultimately contributed to the outbreak of civil war in the country. Research on modern-day piracyviolence in Colombia, and contemporary conflict throughout Africa is similarly consistent with this theory.

It is possible to extrapolate from this research and imagine how conflict resulting from decreased agricultural employment could threaten U.S. national security interests. But changing climate trends can produce security risks in other ways.

In research published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, we raise further questions about the relationship between conflict and variation in meteorological variables. Our first major finding is that warmer ambient temperatures indeed promote violent conflict in all parts of the world.

The second main discovery is that heat drives violence by something more than turning farmhands into fighters. Our clearest evidence that there is more to the temperature-conflict link than disaffected farm workers is that heat and violence are correlated even in areas of the world that do not produce crops (see the two figures below). Without farms, there are no farmers who would beat their plowshares into swords.

Predicted Probability of Conflict and Yearly Average Temperature, with 95% Confidence Intervals – Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Provinces Compared
Data: European Space Agency; Peace Research Institute Oslo; Figure: Alex Bollfrass; Andrew Shaver

Predicted Probability of Conflict and Yearly Average Temperature, with 95% Confidence Intervals – Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Provinces Compared (Sub-Saharan/Sahelian African countries excluded)
Data: European Space Agency; Peace Research Institute Oslo; Figure: Alex Bollfrass; Andrew Shaver

The implication is that the debate has been missing a scholarly foundation for other avenues through which climate change may threaten states’ security. One leading possibility is the well-established patterns of humans behaving more violently at higher temperatures. Another way for climate change to link to violent instability is through macroeconomic transmitters like food prices in years of lower farm production. The list of plausible alternatives is long and has received little scrutiny.

To date, there is enough preliminary evidence to suggest that a real security problem may be developing. Focusing research on the drivers of this temperature-violence should be a priority for academic and government researchers.

HUNGRY SEA LION OF CLIMATE CHANGE

By CHRISTINE HAUSERFEB. 5, 2016

Continue reading the main storyVideo

Sea Lion Found in California Restaurant

A starving sea lion pup was rescued on Thursday after it wandered into a booth in a San Diego restaurant.

By SeaWORLD on  Publish Date February 5, 2016. Photo by Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld, via Associated Press.Watch in Times Video »

 A hungry sea lion pup wandered off the beach and into a fancy seaside San Diego restaurant Thursday morning, took one of the best seats in the house and peered out the window at the waves as if preparing to order a big plate of sardines.

Alas, it was too early to be served. The restaurant, the Marine Room, does not open for dinner until 5:30 p.m. — unless it is offering one of its special “high-tide breakfasts.”

Bernard Guillas, the executive chef at the restaurant, posted photos of the pup, curled up or looking out the window, on his Facebook page Thursday. “We found this little guy in The Marine Room restaurant this morning,” he wrote. “He was a little bit early for his high tide breakfast reservation.

The pup was eventually rescued and taken to San Diego’s SeaWorld. But it was the latest reported sighting of a stranded sea lion in California, where the mammals are increasingly being found on land in places they were never meant to be, partly because of changing weather conditions driving them ashore.

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A sea lion wandered into La Jolla’s Cave Store, a souvenir shop, last month. An employee said she lured it outside with salmon.

“It was very, very gentle,” Jim Allen, the store owner, told a local TV station.

Experts are seeing a higher number of reports of stranded sea lions, particularly in San Diego through Santa Barbara Counties, according to data published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many of the stranded mammals have been emaciated pups.

In the first five months of 2015, there were 3,340 young sea lions found stranded, compared with 862 in the same period in 2014 and 1,262 in 2013, the agency said.

El Niño, the weather condition that causes temperatures in the Pacific Ocean to become unusually warm, is believed to be a reason behind the increased strandings because of its impact on the food supply web, according to the oceanic group. It can also generate algal blooms and infectious disease outbreaks.

The Marine Room, a high-end restaurant belonging to the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in the wealthy San Diego enclave of La Jolla, has for 75 years offered diners a view of crashing waves from its dining room built straight into the ocean.

About 8 a.m. Thursday, Leslie Tovar, a manager for the Shores Restaurant, another of the club’s restaurants, was on the grounds when she got a call from a custodian at the Marine who was “vacuuming up the floor and happened to come across a baby sea lion that matched the interior very well.”

Photo

The sea lion pup looking out the window at the Marine Room restaurant in San Diego. He also curled up in a booth and took a nap. CreditBernard Guillas 

“He said there was a sea lion in the dining room,” Ms. Tovar said in a telephone interview Friday. “Booth 65. Which happens to be one of the best seats in the house, on the waterfront next to the window.”

Ms. Tovar went to the room and saw the pup napping. It was not clear how it got into the dining room, leaving the china and cutlery undisrupted in table settings, and nestled into the booth. But the staff suspects it went through a back door that the cleaner had propped open to take in equipment at 6 a.m.

Ms. Tovar called SeaWorld, which sent a team with a net and roused it from sleep. The team identified it as female, about 8 months old and weighing about 20 pounds — about half the weight it should be at that age.

“It was also a little bit shocking to see how small the pup was,” said Jody Westberg, one of SeaWorld’s animal coordinators, who went to the rescue.

“A micro-pup. Very small in body length, and very malnourished.”

On Friday morning, the pup was getting rehydration fluids in a critical care unit in “guarded” condition. She was spending days at a pool with other pups, and the plan was to get her back to the water, Ms. Westberg said.

Thursday night, after the pup left the Marine Room, dinner went on as usual in the restaurant after a thorough cleaning, Mr. Guillas, the chef, said in a telephone interview.

At one point, he said, the sea lion pup looked out the window toward the ocean, as if to say, “Can I go back now?”

Correction: February 5, 2016
An earlier version of this article misidentified one of the California counties where experts have noticed a rise in the number of stranded sea lions. It is Santa Barbara, not San Bernardino.