There’s a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Steve Koonin that echoes Judith Curry’s recent congressional testimony suggesting that the government fund a “red team” to challenge conventional climate science (characterized as the “blue team”). So while Trump guts science budgets, keep an eye out for funding for an effort like this, unless it’s purely coincidence that Curry and Koonin both happen to present the same idea in Congress and the Journal at the same time.
The gist of the red team/blue team idea is that if there were a group of scientists who set out to challenge mainstream thinking and what they describe as assumptions, it might bring new ideas to light, and perhaps call the consensus into question. Or if the blue team of mainstream scientists were to effectively rebut the red team’s report, then that would strengthen the public’s understanding.
Except this has happened, multiple times in multiple venues for multiple decades. For example, in the social cost of carbon court cases at the state and federal level, one side argued against climate change having a cost, and the other argued the established science. And impartial third parties, judges, ruled against the red team.
And who could forget when Heartland mailed its report on climate, functionally the exact sort of thing Koonin suggests, to K-12 science teachers. Those teachers, who are certainly educated but likely not with PhDs in climate science, could easily debunk the report, and in some cases used it to teach kids how to debunk these sorts of things. So the consensus position doesn’t even need scientists to win, the red team’s science is so shoddy it fails at the grade school level! (Perhaps the name “red team” comes from all the red ink correcting their work?)
Which of course we already know, because we know that there has been a red team all along. Heartland, CEI, CFACT, Cato, Heritage, and whoever else the Kochs and Mercers and Exxons have funded over the last thirty years to fight the blue team have given everything they’ve got to sway the public and scientific community. And for their efforts? All of 3% of the climate science community takes their position.
Not that any of this should come as a surprise. The debate over whether human activity causes climate changes happened in the pages of peer reviewed journals and government reports throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. That debate effectively ended in 1995, when the second IPCC report found “the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.”
At that point, the red team lost. Deniers had their chance, and they blue it.
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