It must be terribly frustrating to him and faithful followers that, despite near-universal media, political and even industry lip service, impartial polls increasingly show that more and more Americans are no longer buying the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) mantra that has made him a very wealthy man.
Frustrating that one Arctic scientist's oft-cited report that polar bears were drowning as their habitats melted has proven bogus. "A new government investigation into the supposed science surrounding this...has revealed that it was likely nothing more than a pseudoscientific hoax propagated by faulty math and perfunctory observations," the International Business Times reported on Aug. 19. Charles Monnett of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is currently suspended and being investigated for scientific misconduct, while the polar bear population has swelled by 400 percent in the last four decades.
That a recent study by University of Alabama Huntsville research scientist Roy Spencer concludes that the Earth is more efficient at releasing energy than climate models have predicted. "The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show," Spencer says. "There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans."
About this, the Heartland Institute's James Taylor opined in a recent Forbes article: "When objective NASA Satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a 'huge discrepancy' between alarmist climate models and real-world facts," "the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice."
That Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has had the nerve to take a skeptical public position on the subject while few other politicians or business leaders dare to question AGW for fear of being vilified. "We're seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists... coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change," he said on Aug. 17. "While some want billions or trillions of taxpayer dollars spent to address the issue, I don't think... that I want to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question."
All this brought to mind a panel discussion moderated by WJR Detroit radio talk show host Frank Beckmann during the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, shortly after the "Climate-gate" scandal that caught (via hacked emails and documents from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit) leading global warming scientists doctoring data ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests and suppressing dissent among their peers. Some called it the greatest scandal in modern science, some "the final nail in the coffin" of the AGW theory.
Moderator Beckmann began by asking the panel whether increasingly stringent federal fuel economy requirements intended to reduce CO2 might be driven by flawed science.
Dr. Henry Pollack, Ph.D., geophysics professor emeritus at the University of Michigan (one of those whose e-mails had been leaked) said he was puzzled why those "off the record, locker talk" e-mails should be deemed so significant. "The notion that the science is flawed is a dangerous notion," he opined.
Patrick J. Michaels, a senior research fellow at George Mason University, countered that the e-mails "showed an absolute vitriolic attitude toward anyone who disagreed with them." He added that Antarctic ice is growing while Arctic ice is declining and sea level change is exactly what it was in the 20th century.
"There is no scientific evidence that any of the public and private actions proposed in 'Cap and Trade,' and the cost incurred, would have any effect on climate," said Michigan Congressman Fred Upton (R), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"We must keep politics out of science. We can't draw too many conclusions from inappropriate actions of this isolated group of scientists," said Dr. Kathryn Clay, director of research for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
"It's not just a few people behaving badly," said Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "It's about transparency. These people were keeping their data and methods secret. They were manipulating the data, including the [global temperature] "hockey stick." They pushed up '30s and '40s data and pushed down '60s and '70s temperatures. The world should not agree to turn the entire global economy upside down at a cost of trillions of dollars on a handful of people saying 'trust me.'"
Skip Pruss, chief energy officer under (then) Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, said, "We can't take the position that there is no risk. Nations around the world are already committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 80 percent while total energy usage doubles. It would be irrational and irresponsible to abandon green energy efforts."
"Quite the opposite," Ebell retorted. "We can't confuse agreement with actually doing something. China is building one to two coal-powered plants a week while giving lip service to wind and solar."
"We are a long way from seeing another Kyoto treaty signed," Upton added. "Other nations walked away from Secretary Clinton's $100 billion offer. We listened carefully to China at Copenhagen. They will never agree to concrete binding limits."
"In the post-glacial period, Arctic temperatures several times were warmer in late summer than they are today," Michaels said. ""Ninety-eight percent of the last 100 million years were warmer than today. Nineteen-ninety eight was a very hot year due to the El Niño effect, but the last 10 to 12 years demonstrate that temperatures have moderated.
"If we could reduce our [CO2] emissions by 83 percent as proposed in Cap and Trade, that would leave the average American with the same CO2 emissions as in 1867. How can we do that? No one knows. And if every nation did what they said they would do, you would get only a seven percent reduction in warming."
Upton: "Without China and India complying, the U.S. job loss would be enormous."
"Consumers have been sold the idea that they would get the same vehicles at the same prices with two times the fuel economy," Ebell said. "When they find that is not the case, there will be hell to pay."
An IPCC peer reviewer in the audience stood up to say that the 1995 draft report said there was no man-made contribution, but the final report contradicted that with no peer review.
"So," Beckmann asked, "are CAFE rules based on flawed science?"
"Yes," Ebell responded. "An auto industry ahead of the [demand] curve on carbon regulation will be left hanging out to dry. Those leaked e-mails are catastrophic for the anti-CO2 movement."
"No." countered Pruss. "If we are concerned about truth and accuracy, we have to be concerned with who is saying what and why."
"Ultimately, the consumer will decide," Upton concluded. "Unlike healthcare, the House passed Cap and Trade. The Senate would not."
There is an unfortunate tendency among AGW believers to demonize non-believers as bad guys with evil motives, while all who agree with them are noble heroes. But we've begun to see in the last couple years that there are noble and corrupt people on both sides. It's naive to believe that at least some of those yelling, "Save the planet" from AGW are not desperately seeking their next research or "green business" government grant. Most rational people simply want the truth, minus the name-calling, politics and greed.
Award-winning automotive writer Gary Witzenburg has been writing about automobiles, auto people and the auto industry for 21 years. A former auto engineer, race driver and advanced technology vehicle development manager, his work has appeared in a wide variety of national magazines including The Robb Report, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Autoweek and Automobile Quarterly and has authored eight automotive books. He is currently contributing regularly to Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), AutoMedia.com, Ward's Auto World and Motor Trend's Truck Trend and is a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror. The views expressed in this opinion column are his and do not reflect the views of everyone at AutoblogGreen.