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“Daniel B. Botkin, a world-renowned ecologist, is Professor (Emeritus), Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara, and President of The Center for The Study of The Environment, which provides independent, science-based analyses of complex environmental issues. The New York Times said his book, *Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century* is considered by many ecologists to be the classic text of the [environmental] movement.” His Environmental Science, now in its Sixth Edition, was named 2004′s best textbook by the Textbook and Academic Authors Association.”
Indeed, and I’ve made the full written testimony available, plus a video showing Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) poses questions to the witness panel at the Full Committee hearing titled, “Examining the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Process.” where he grills Daniel B. Botkin with idiotic questions like: ‘Doctor, do you look both ways before you cross the street?’
WRITTEN TESTIMONY TO THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY. MAY 29, 2014
DANIEL B. BOTKIN
Since 1968 I have published research on theoretical global warming, its potential ecological effects, and the implications for people and biodiversity. I have spent my career trying to help conserve our environment and its great diversity of species. In doing so I have always attempted to maintain an objective, intellectually honest, scientific approach in the best tradition of scientific endeavor. I have, accordingly, been dismayed and disappointed in recent years that this subject has been converted into a political and ideological debate. I have colleagues on both sides of the debate and believe we should work together as scientists instead of arguing divisively about preconceived, emotionally based “positions.” I hope my testifying here will help lead to a calmer, more rational approach to dealing with not only climate change but also other major environmental problems. The IPCC 2014 report does not have this kind of rational discussion we should be having. I would like to tell you why.
The IPCC 2014 report is actually a series of reports, each long, complex in organization, and extensive in scope. Since it’s not possible to discuss the Summary Reports for Policymakers in detail today, I will highlight some of my thoughts for you here as they relate to the reports, hoping to bring a saner, more sober approach to this highly charged issue.
To characterize where we are with this report and this issue, I would like to quote James R. Schlesinger, the first U.S. Energy Secretary, who said: “We have only two modes — complacency and panic.”—commenting on the country’s approach to energy (1977)
Now to my major points.
1. I want to state up front that we have been living through a warming trend driven by a variety of influences. However, it is my view that this is not unusual, and contrary to the characterizations by the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment, these environmental changes are not apocalyptic nor irreversible.
2. My biggest concern is that both the reports present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports are “scientific-sounding” rather than based on clearly settled facts or admitting their lack. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen usually think.
3. HAS IT BEEN WARMING? Yes, we have been living through a warming trend, no doubt about that. The rate of change we are experiencing is also not unprecedented, and the “mystery” of the warming “plateau” simply indicates the inherent complexity of our global biosphere. Change is normal, life on Earth is inherently risky; it always has been. The two reports, however, makes it seem that environmental change is apocalyptic and irreversible. It is not.
4. IS CLIMATE CHANGE VERY UNUSUAL? No, it has always undergone changes.
5. ARE GREENHOUSE GASES INCREASING? Yes, CO2 rapidly.
6. IS THERE GOOD SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON CLIMATE CHANGE? Yes, a great deal of it.
7. ARE THERE GOOD SCIENTISTS INVOLVED IN THE IPCC 2014 REPORT? Yes, the lead author of the Terrestrial (land) Ecosystem Report is Richard Betts, a coauthor of one my scientific papers about forecasting effects of global warming on biodiversity.
8. ARE THERE SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE STATEMENTS AT PLACES IN THE REPORT? Yes, there are.
9. What I sought to learn was the overall take-away that the reports leave with a reader. I regret to say that I was left with the impression that the reports overestimate the danger from human-induced climate change and do not contribute to our ability to solve major environmental problems. I am afraid that an “agenda” permeates the reports, an implication that humans and our activity are necessarily bad and ought to be curtailed.
10. ARE THERE MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH THE REPORTS? Yes, in assumptions, use of data, and conclusions.
11. My biggest concern about the reports is that they present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports, in other words, are “scientific- sounding,” rather than clearly settled and based on indisputable facts. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen usually think.
12. The two reports assume and/or argue that the climate warming forecast by the global climate models is happening and will continue to happen and grow worse. Currently these predictions are way off the reality (Figure 1). Models, like all scientific theory, have to be tested against real-world observations. Experts in model validation say that the climate models frequently cited in the IPCC report are little if any validated. This means that as theory they are fundamentally scientifically unproven.
Figure 1: Climate model forecasts compared to real world temperature observations (From John Christy, University of Alabama and Alabama State Climatologist. Reproduced with permission from him.)