I’ve always been amused by the bumper sticker that warns:
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons — because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
Sage advice, that. I never dreamed it actually meant anything.
Even better advice is this: don’t wander unprepared into the dragon’s lair, especially after you’ve royally pissed off the dragon.
One day I’ll learn to take my own advice.
But since I just made that rule up, I can’t get too upset.
In my own defense, I had no idea I was walking into an ambush.
A mutual friend suggested the meeting with an air of innocence that I now doubt. I should have been alerted by the fact she wanted to watch the carnage using GoToMeeting.
I could get upset with Wendy, but it was good to be humbled. I needed to weather a few blows to my ego, pun intended.
It might better prepare me for what may happen in my debate with Ed Buckner scheduled for Saturday, February 4th if I’m not ready.
I should have known better than agree to blindly meet with someone I knew nothing about, but my own arrogance made me ripe for the kill.
Now I realize I should have investigated my host before agreeing to my visit.
Mostly due to his mercy, I remain alive tonight. My ego is battered and bloodied, but I’m still well enough to recount the event.
And who was this masked man who verbally thrashed me, you may ask?
His name is Chuck Watson, founder of Kinetic Analysis Corporation and a geophysicist consultant with Watson Technical Consulting.
Mr. Watson is a world-renowned expert who specializes in computer models of climate systems related both to hurricane tracking and the predicted effects of global warming. He shared in the Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC.
His curriculum vitae is seven freaking pages long, most of it peer reviewed publications, lectures, and other honors that validate his credentials as a Master of Science.
After seeing his resume, I asked Chuck to obtain his PhD so I could call him my “dear Dr. Watson” in order to finally realize my Sherlock Holmes fantasy.
I’m still not sure he appreciates my sense of humor.
I have mentioned before that I write detective novels, haven’t I? My media kit says so, therefore it must be true….
Now if I’d done my homework before the meeting, I’d have known Chuck once said in an interview:
I’m one of the scientific peer reviewers for the IPCC reports, so I’ve reviewed most of the publications in this area (as well as published a couple of papers in the field – just finished a book in a chapter on climate change and disasters that Cambridge University is publishing). As you indicate, any one or two year’s doesn’t tell you much. The state of the science is this: the impact of global warming (which itself is fairly well established at this point) on hurricanes is still open, although there are some very interesting results published recently. The modeling is getting better, as are the analyses of the historical record. In the next 5-10 years we should have better answers. My personal view is that in the short run we may see storms be slightly stronger, and last slightly longer, although the total numbers may not change much from historical. In the long run, increased stability in the tropics may even push the numbers down (sort of like what happens in El Nino years), or just relocate activity north 5 or 10 degrees in latitude. For what it’s worth, our models tend to show the slight increase and northward shift. The simple fact is that we are doing a vast experiment with the earth – changing both the composition of the atmosphere and the characteristics of the surface. It’s a subtle system, and we really don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
Danger, danger, Will Robinson!
Now as readers familiar with my writing know, on many occasions I’ve expressed a healthy skepticism about the science behind “global warming”, more accurately known as anthropogenic climate change.
I’ve taken Al Gore to task, essentially calling him a fraud (and worse, a bad poet).
I’ve lambasted Phil Jones of East Anglia University for colluding with his small clique of colleagues to use altered data in their computer models and blackball dissenting scientists.
I’ve criticized Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC for making bogus claims to collect grant money.
I’ve argued that C02 emissions from cars are not causing the problem. I can’t say that I’ve written an article saying that deforestation is a bigger problem that carbon emissions, but I said it aloud to Chuck.
He didn’t dispute any of those examples, and even went so far to agree that the UK Climate Unit has serious problems.
However, Mr. Watson vehemently stressed (and I’m glad he slapped the table rather than me) that the potential misconduct of a few researchers pushing an agenda did not invalidate the independent research of many other honest scientists, including himself.
These scientists have concluded that humans impact both weather and climate.
The conclusions developed by IPCC work group 2 and policies advocated by IPCC work group 3 (mitigation) are not supported by the science produced by IPCC work group 1 (scientists).
It seems the logical solution dictated by the science is increased production of nuclear power, not new carbon taxes that would absolutely kill world economies.
However, when I asserted that Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph was a farce, Chuck almost went ballistic.
In a very nice way, of course.
But I started to worry he’d begin looking for his bottle of ketchup if I pressed the point.
Though Chuck smiled when I first mentioned Piers Corbin by name, he definitely took umbrage with my declaration that the earth hasn’t warmed in the last decade.
Chuck was kind enough to show me a graph of the impact of various forcings on the environment and made the convincing argument that because solar flare activity has decreased, we should expect temperatures to drop but they’ve remained flat.
He explained that warming continues due to other causes such as deforestation, burning coal for electricity and urban sprawl.
This authentic, world class scientist took several hours of his time to painstakingly explain that the science produced by years of hard work by he and his colleagues and the policy advocated by James Hansen and Al Gore were two different things.
That thought finally penetrated my thick skull and stuck, so we quit on a high note.
Interestingly, Chuck proposed nuclear power as a solution that would help alleviate the impact of seven billion people using resources, though not a politically correct one.
In truth, it seemed we agreed more than we disagreed and he declared victory in any dispute based on his scientific expertise, which I couldn’t really question.
I have to admit, Chuck has a lot more than “street cred” going for him. Even a slice of a Nobel Prize makes him a Nobel Prize (sliver) winner.
Probably the most difficult question to answer that Chuck asked me was: why do you care whether global warming is real or not?
I tried to explain that it bothered me when people tried to dismiss my criticisms under the premise that I was too stupid to understand the science.
I’ve also been critical of consensus, academic fraud and peer review.
Again, I should have read his biography before we met and been more prepared.
I believe Chuck had some hope for me before we ended our conversation, some three hours later. I offered that I only want to know the truth.
I conceded to his scientific expertise the belief that man does have some impact on the environment, but I sort of knew that already. I may have said “deforestation” before he did.
I will definitely take care not to impugn the integrity of all IPCC researchers by painting them with the same broad brush ever again.
There was something of a mischievous glint in his eye when Chuck casually mentioned his wife was an evolutionary biologist.
I’m pretty sure it’s safe to guess that she’d hate just about everything I’ve written about evolution theory. Thank God they didn’t tag-team.
I have a great deal of respect for the fact Chuck graciously spent so much of his time with me to help me better understand human impact on global climate.
Hopefully, I left him with the realization that there are some skeptics of scientific consensus who ponder the existential questions with intellectual honesty.
I try to keep an open mind.