Skeptical Commentary on
Climate Change

By Gary P. Posner


My "One Skeptic's View . . . " essay in the Summer 2013 Skeptical Briefs*, as well as the other "Climate Change" entries (including relevant links within those listed items) on the Topic Index page of the Tampa Bay Skeptics website, account for everything (to my recollection) that I have had published regarding the issue of climate change and the alarmism that it has generated. Readers are invited to judge whether my writings represent close-minded "denial" (of which I am sometimes accused) or open-minded "skepticism."

In response to the climate-science "exchange" on pages 61-62 of the January/February 2018 issue of Skeptical Inquirer . . .
. . . I have submitted the following "letter to the editor" on 1/2/18:

Editor:

The handling of my letter as fodder for an "exchange" on climate-science criticism (January/February 2018, pages 61-62) lacked crucial context. Your introduction neglected to mention that as a CSI* scientific consultant but climate non-expert, I have repeatedly urged Skeptical Inquirer to engage with an authoritative climatologist like Judith Curry, former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who eschews bandwagoning in favor of keeping a critical eye on her own field. But rather than inviting Curry to submit an article, speak at CSICON*, or (as I have most strongly advocated) sit for a hard-hitting interview with peers such as the exchange's "two noted scientists and climate experts," they instead were fed one of my other letters like shark bait.

Michael Mann accuses me of the classic logical fallacy of "special pleading" as if my uncontested meteorological points about Sandy and Harvey justify the moniker of "denier." Rather, they were offered because those who mistakenly ascribe the catastrophic destructiveness of those storms to climate change ignore their "special" circumstances. He then asserts that record-high global oceanic temperatures are fostering additional exceptionally strong hurricanes "[as] now, with Irma, [which formed and strengthened over] the open Atlantic. . . . Perhaps Mr. (he knows I'm a medical doctor) Posner wants to explain that away as a freak chance occurrence too." Well, shark vs. bait isn't exactly a fair fight, so here is what Dr. Curry would tell him (from tinyurl.com/curry-irma): "[Irma] developed over relatively cool waters in the Atlantic—26.5 C—the rule of thumb is 28.5 C for a major hurricane. . . . So why did Irma develop into a major hurricane? We can't blame 26.5 C temperatures in the mid Atlantic on global warming. The dynamical situation for Irma was unusually favorable. In particular, the wind shear was very weak. Further, the circulation field (e.g., stretching deformation) was very favorable for spinning up this hurricane." And the same page links to the NOAA GFDL (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory) "Global Warming and Hurricanes" page, which states that despite such projections for later in the century, "It is premature to conclude that human activities—and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—have already had a detectable [i.e., clearly distinguishable from natural variability] impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity."

In lieu of occupying further valuable space dissecting Mark Boslough's ruminations, I will simply opine that participation in a moral crusade, even one as noble as saving the planet, should not require enucleation of one's critical eye. My essay in the Summer 2013 "Skeptical Briefs" (gpposner.com/skep-view-warming.pdf), as well as the other "Climate Change" entries on the Topic Index page of tampabayskeptics.com, account for everything (to my recollection) that I have had published regarding the issues at hand. Readers can judge for themselves whether my efforts represent close-minded "denial" or open-minded "skepticism."

Gary P. Posner, M.D.
Tampa, Florida

*Notes: CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) publishes the bimonthly Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Skeptical Briefs (now discontinued) was its quarterly companion newsletter. CSICON is its annual national conference. Additionally, two links in my 2013 Skeptical Briefs essay no longer function as originally. The first two paragraphs of the Scientific American article on Judith Curry can be read for free on this archived page. The article quoting the IPCC chairman can be found on this archived page.

 
Reasons for applying critical thinking toward the "scientific consensus" on climate change abound in the writings of Judith Curry. Though perusal of her entire site is certainly worthwhile, readers may be particularly interested in the following pages (the introductory page descriptions/links might not be visible in "mobile friendly" view mode):

And here is a January 2017 article/interview regarding Curry's retirement from academia ("I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science").

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