Climate Science: Only True Believers Need Apply?

Almost 10 years ago one of the major figures in the “mainstream” climate science world confided off the record to me that the biggest problem at his prestige graduate department of physics was convincing first-rate students to take up climate science as their specialty field.  The best students were avoiding the subject precisely because it had become too politicized and too conformist—a career dead end.  And so the field is left to a lot of second-raters, and people from tangential scientific disciplines. An entirely typical example is the recently resigned head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, typically described in the media as the UN’s “top climate scientist.” He is a railroad engineer.  If you look at a lot of the technical literature about climate change, it becomes apparent that it is dominated by second-raters, or first-rate ranters like Michael Mann.

This came back to mind this week with this story from the Economic Times of India lamenting the shortage of good climate scientists:

The facts should speak for themselves. The Divecha Centre for Climate Change, at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, is organising a national conference on climate change in July. The deadline for submitting abstracts is just two weeks away, and the organisers have received too few quality abstracts of papers for the conference.  The message is quite clear: not enough people work on climate change in India.

Till recently, Govindasamy Bala, a professor at the centre involved in organising the conference, thought this was uniquely an Indian problem. But a news story in the journal Nature early this month told him that it was not the case. The story talked about the shortage of good climate scientists in the world, and the efforts of some climatologists to attract more physicists and mathematicians to their field.  “I was surprised to learn that shortage of good climate scientists is a global problem,” says Bala.

Most talented physicists generally get attracted to particle physics or cosmology or condensed matter physics, high profile areas that generate Nobel Prizes with regularity.

Eric Worrall comments over at WattsUpWthThat:

The issue, in my opinion, makes perfect sense if you think about it. If you are a talented graduate, bursting with intellectual potential, would you like to work in an intolerant field of research, where new ideas are punished by name calling, ostracism and financial hardship, or would you prefer to apply your talents to a field where new ideas are welcome, and innovation is rewarded?

And so the field of climate science has become a ghetto that is the scientific equivalent of gender studies: the sensible questions that deserve independent and open-minded inquiry are drowned out in a stifling orthodoxy.

Give Obama the Hook

I made the horrid mistake of channel-surfing to C-SPAN Senate coverage a couple days ago just in time to catch Sen. Babs “Don’t-Call-Me-Ma’am” Boxer bloviating about some public letter by “very smart people” backing up Obama’s Iran negotiations. Just then the batteries on my remote conked out, and I had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel, just like our great grandparents had to do before they trudged off five miles through the snow to school. It was that traumatic.

By coincidence, I just happened to be re-reading an old essay by Sidney Hook, who had this to say about the “very smart people” in his mid-century world of philosophers:

The plain truth of the matter is that philosophers who have concerned themselves with public affairs in the past have not distinguished themselves by the cogency of their analysis or the accuracy of their predictions. For example, every one of the philosophers who ventured a judgment on the Munich settlement of 1938—Whitehead, Russell, Dewey, Santayana according to report—hailed it and urged its approval as the best insurance of peace. It turned out to be the worst.

I’m still not totally sold on some aspect of Sidney Hook, but he was right on the central questions of the Cold War, and we could certainly use him around today.

A signing bonus for Iran?

One gets the impression that President Obama would be open to throwing in a couple of nuclear devices of the Supreme Leader’s choice to be named later if only Iran will sign a nuclear agreement with him on the dotted line. Consider Omri Ceren’s latest email update:

This Wall Street Journal article by Carol Lee and Jay Solomon went live yesterday [evening] just as everyone was going home, but it’s everywhere this morning so I wanted to pass it along. It reports out the President’s comments from yesterday [discussed here], in which he moved to placate Khamenei’s new demand for immediate sanctions relief upon signing a deal.

The White House is trying to spin the new concession, which contradicts the factsheet they distributed the evening of the Lausanne announcement, in two ways.

1st — they’re telling journalists that the new concession doesn’t matter because the snapback mechanism is more important than the sequencing of sanctions relief. That’s a difficult position to defend politically, because it’s obvious the White House caved again, and even more difficult to defend substantively, because snapback only works in theory if the Iranian economy is sufficiently fragile for pressure to matter – and immediate relief would stabilize that economy. Beyond the optics and the theory, very few people believe the administration’s Rube Goldberg mechanism for restoring sanctions would even work (FDD’s Mark Dubowitz has been saying so for months – http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/content/hill-briefing-wrap-iran-p51-and-congress – and David Rothkopf was brutal on the question last week – https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/09/hillary-clinton-is-the-real-iran-snap-back-obama-china-russia-sanctions/). It’s just not a great position to defend.

But this is what the administration has left, so this is what they’re going with. You’ll see more of it – ‘snapback more important than sanctions’ – over the weekend and into Monday as White House officials do damage control.

2nd — they’re trying to borderline-gaslight journalists by insisting that there was no new concession, that the President didn’t signal any new flexibility, and that sanctions relief will still be phased out. That line is falling a bit flat – Obama said what he said – but now the question is how they intend to square the circle. How do they make sanctions relief phased in principle, so they can keep saying they didn’t cave, but instantaneous in practice, so that the Iranians will take the concession? On that point there’s a suggestive little scooplet buried in the WSJ article:

“The Obama administration estimates Iran has between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenue frozen in offshore accounts as a result of sanctions. U.S. officials said they expect Tehran to gain access to these funds in phases as part of a final deal. Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion upon signing the agreement, said congressional officials briefed by the administration. Complicating negotiations, U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia has repeatedly charged in recent weeks that Iran has provided significant funding, arms and training to Shiite insurgents in Yemen who gained control of the country’s capital, San’a, and forced the country’s president to flee. Iran has denied these allegations. Iran also is a major supporter of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria and a group of Shiite militias fighting in Iraq.”

An immediate and irreversible infusion of $50 billion would boost Iran’s GDP by more than 10% overnight and signal the end of meaningful financial pressure. But it would also allow the White House to continue insisting that sanctions relief was being phased out in principle: all the sanctions that matter would get removed immediately, but there would still be a few sanctions left as a legal matter.

The trick could still prove politically toxic on the Hill. It would provide the Iranians with an infusion of $50 billion for their terror infrastructure and their march across the Middle East, which would panic our Arab allies. who are at war with Iran because of those campaigns. It’s also $50 billion to a regime that is dedicated to America’s destruction and that killed over a thousand American soldiers. That spins itself.

Omri seeks to maintain our fighting spirit and keep hope alive as Obama seeks to sell us out, but the Democrats will fall into line with Obama as necessary to support the consummation he devoutly wishes with the Supreme Leader. Otherwise, you know, war. War is coming too, but it will arrive down the road, under circumstances less advantageous to us than those that prevail now.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

The Democrats were able to elect Barack Obama president strictly on the basis of his race, and they hope to duplicate the trick with Hillary Clinton. For a number of reasons, I have been skeptical that gender politics can put Hillary in the White House. Most fundamentally, she lacks the superficial attractiveness that many saw in Obama. But this video by Caleb Bonham and a group called Campus Reform is a reminder that, however silly it may seem, there are plenty of people for whom the fact that Mrs. Clinton is a woman is a decisive argument:

God help us.

A fine “mess”

Having lived through the Sturm and Drang over the precisely accurate “16 words” regarding Saddam Hussein in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, I am struck by the media’s — how to put it? — lack of interest in the absurd falsehoods retailed by President Obama et al. in the service of equally consequential causes.

President Obama and Secretary Kerry, for example, have both cited the fatwa allegedly promulgated by Iran’s Supreme Leader prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons in support of their arrangement in process with Iran. MEMRI has demonstrated over and over the nonexistence of the fatwa. Most recently, MEMRI has put it this way (footnotes omitted):

In President Obama’s announcement of the joint statement following the conclusion of the negotiations in Lausanne, he again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa, stating as fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. This assertion by the president is not true. Such a fatwa has never been issued, and to this day no one has been able to show it, as MEMRI has detailed in five reports so far.

Where is the Sturm? Where is the Drang? They having gone missing along with the fatuous fatwa.

In his recent interview with the worshipful New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said this:

“I have to respect the fears that the Israeli people have, and I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expressing the deep-rooted concerns that a lot of the Israeli population feel about this, but what I can say to them is: Number one, this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, and number two, what we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”

Elliott Abrams seeks to explicate Obama’s use of the term “messes with” in this passage:

What does “messes with Israel” mean? No one has the slightest idea. The President unfortunately uses this kind of diction too often, dumbing down his rhetoric for some reason and leaving listeners confused. Today, Iran is sending arms and money to Hamas in Gaza, and has done so for years. Is that “messing with Israel?” Iran has tried to blow up several Israeli embassies, repeating the successful attack it made on Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Fortunately Israel has foiled the more recent plots, but is attempting to bomb Israeli embassies “messing with Israel?” Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with Hezbollah troops, are in southern Syria now near the Golan. Is that “messing with Israel?” And what does the President mean by “America will be there?’ With arms? With bandages? With the diplomatic protection his administration is now considering removing at the United Nations?

If Iran “messes with Israel” via a nuclear weapon, is Obama promising retaliation by the United States? The context seems to me to suggest something like this, yet it is an absurd form of reassurance. If Iran were to “mess with Israel” via a nuclear weapon, Israel would retaliate on its own behalf, but otherwise wouldn’t be around to enjoy the show. Abrams takes this up in connection with another of Obama’s statements to Friedman, commenting:

What Israel worries about today is a nuclear attack by Iran or a terrorist group like Hezbollah to which Iran has given the bomb. No doubt that qualifies as “messing with Israel,” but were that to occur what exactly would “America will be there” and “stand by them” mean? Take in refugees from the destroyed State of Israel after the nuclear attack on it? The President’s language about “commitments” suggests that he may envision a formal defense commitment by the United States to Israel. Israel has not wanted such a treaty because it has always said it wants to defend itself, not have Americans dying to defend it. That position has served the US-Israel relationship well for 67 years. Should it really be changed now, and would that really help Israel? What would the value of such a commitment be? To ask the question another way, are not Poles and Estonians wondering right now about the value of their membership in NATO, if Mr. Putin “messes” with them?

The conclusion that I draw is not a new one; it is an old one. Obama and his minions repeatedly prove themselves willing to say anything in a bad cause. Beyond that, Obama’s words signify nothing. It is best not to put to much effort into trying to construe their precise meaning other than as instruments to promote the sale. One would think that this development might be newsworthy, but in Obama’s case, the news has become the preserve of an obscure institute specializing in Middle East research, or an out of the way blog maintained by a former Reagan/Bush administration official.

Abrams has more, all of it worth reading, in “‘Messing’ with Israel.”

The Week in Pictures: Hillarypalooza Edition

Has there ever been a more bizarre and more feckless presidential campaign launch than Hillary 2016? The nation might—might—be “Ready for Hillary,” but Hillary doesn’t look ready for us. Democratic elders must be privately in a state of panic: at least when Howard Dean melted down (or Ed Muskie in 1972—recall that he had the nomination locked up too, according to all the experts), there was a bench of other plausible candidates ready to step in the breach. What happens when Hillary botches something completely, or has a health problem?  Meanwhile, if GOP operatives had any sense of humor, they’d resurrect the 1980s A-Team van to chase after Hillary’s “Scoobie” van.

D'oh copy

Bill and Hill copy

Gives a whole new meaning to "Ready for Hillary," doesn't it?

Gives a whole new meaning to “Ready for Hillary,” doesn’t it?

Hillary with Horns copy

Hillary Kooll Aid copy

Hillary Nostalgia copy

Scooby Van copy Hillary Scoobue Van copy

Hillary Bemused copy

Caption Contest!

Hillary Small copy

And that’s how much latitude Bill will have with interns. . .

Hillary Accomplishments copy

UPDATE: Apparently fake, but you can understand why it catches on.

Hllary Choice copy Hillary Alzheimers copy Hillary Recycles copy Hillary Fiberty copy Hillary Speech copy Hillary Reset copy Hillary-The Sequel copy Hillary You-Me copy Hillary Baggage 2 copy Hillary Blimp copy Hillary Confusion copy Hillary Evidence Marker copy Hillary Wink copy Hillary Nope copy Hillary Dark Matter copy Hillary Exorcist copy Bush Clinton copy Hill Civil War copy Hill Headroom copy Delete Key? copy Unclaimed Baggage copy Elle Cover Hillary copy Chelsea Cover copy

Bill! Dude! Time to quit your gluten-free diet. Go back to McDonalds.

Bill! Dude! Time to quit your gluten-free diet. Go back to McDonalds.

Copter copy Gyrocopter 2 copy Copter 3 copy

Islamic Mona Lisa copyObama JV copy

Reid Eye copy

Democrat Duck copy

Tax Day copy

Push UYps copy Thesaurus copy

Han Solo Home copy

And finally. . .

Hot 271 copy

The Power Line Show, Episode 14: The Presidential Race

Last night, three of the PL crew (John, Paul and Steve) got together for a review of the presidential race as it currently stands. A principal topic was Hillary Clinton’s bizarre rollout, complete with her incognito Chipotle appearance, “common man” meetings with Democratic Party officials, parking the “Scooby” van in a handicapped space, and more. Compared to that, Marco Rubio’s launch was seamless. We talked about a number of the GOP candidates and debated their relative merits and prospects. It’s a fun 30 or 40 minutes that you won’t want to miss.

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Our podcast is produced in collaboration with our friends at Ricochet, and you can go here to listen on the Ricochet site.

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