David Suzuki Insults, But Won't Debate

David Legates

8/16/2011 3:44:00 PM - David Legates

David Suzuki has never met, debated or even spoken with my colleague, scientist Willie Soon. But as more people dismiss Mr. Suzuki’s scare stories about global warming cataclysms, Suzuki has resorted to personal attacks against Dr. Soon and others who disagree with him.

Dr. Soon’s brilliant research into the sun’s role in climate change has helped make millions aware that carbon dioxide’s influence is far less than Suzuki wants them to think. In a recent column that was picked up by the Huffington Post and other media outlets, Suzuki attacked Dr. Soon, mostly with a recycled Greenpeace “investigation” that is itself nothing more than a rehash of tiresome (and libelous) misstatements, red herrings and outright lies. It’s time to set the record straight.

First, the alleged corporate cash. Suzuki claims Dr. Soon received “more than $1 million over the past decade” from US energy companies – and implies that Dr. Soon lied to a US Senate committee about the funding. In fact, the research grants were received in the years following the Senate hearing; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics took nearly half of the money (for “administration”), and what was left covered Dr. Soon’s salary, research, and other expenses including even toner for his printer.

By comparison, the Suzuki Foundation spends some $7 million every year on its “educational” and pressure campaigns – many of them in conjunction with various PR agencies, renewable energy companies, other foundations and environmental activist groups. They all stand to profit handsomely from Suzuki’s causes, especially “catastrophic climate change” and campaigns to replace “harmful” fossil fuels with subsidized, land-intensive, low-energy-output, “eco-friendly” wind and solar facilities.

Under another convoluted arrangement, the Suzuki Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, University of Alberta, US-based SeaWeb and other organizations provided or divvied up some $23 million, to promote an anti-fish-farming campaign. The years-long effort suddenly and inexplicably ended – and all traces of it disappeared from the Suzuki Foundation website – after Vancouver-based researcher Vivian Krause raised serious questions about its claims.

And yet Suzuki is criticizing Dr. Soon – while alarmist climate catastrophe researchers share over $6 billion annually in US and Canadian taxpayer money, and millions more in corporate cash, to link every natural phenomenon to global warming and promote renewable “alternatives” to fossil fuels.

If it is wrong to receive grants from organizations that have taken “advocacy” positions, then virtually every scientist with whom Suzuki has associated would be guilty. Even Suzuki recognizes this. “We should look at the science, and not at who is paying for the research,” he wrote recently.

But if he truly believes real science must stand or fall on its own merits, not on the source of its funding – why does he insist on double standards and continue to attack Dr. Soon over his funding sources?

Second, Suzuki repeats an absurd Greenpeace claim that Dr. Soon tried to “undermine” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “peer-reviewed” work. In reality, scientists are required to examine, review and even criticize other scientists’ research – especially when it is used to justify slashing the hydrocarbon energy on which our jobs, living standards and civilization depend. In reality, the IPCC solicits reviews of its publications but is under no obligation to address any criticisms that scientists raise – in contrast to the normal peer-review process.

Moreover, the IPCC refuses to conduct its own quality control – and repeatedly promotes scare stories about rising seas, melting Himalayan glaciers, disappearing Amazon rainforests, more severe storms and droughts, and other disasters. By now anyone familiar with the Climategate and IPCC scandals knows these headline-grabbing claims are based on nothing more than exaggerated computer model outputs, deliberate exclusion of contrary findings, questionable air temperature station locations, and even “research” by environmental activists.

Third, Suzuki’s most egregious distortion of reality involves the Climate Research journal’s handling of two papers by Drs. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, regarding solar links to climate change. The publisher concluded that the manuscript editor had “properly analyzed the evaluations and requested appropriate revisions,” and the authors “revised their manuscripts accordingly.”

However, when Dr. Hans von Storch became editor-in-chief, he circulated a hurriedly written editorial declaring that the review process had failed, and the Soon-Baliunas manuscripts should not have been published, due to alleged “methodological flaws.” He intended to publish the editorial prior to a US Senate committee hearing, thereby discrediting Dr. Soon. von Storch even asserted that Soon and Baliunas should be barred from publishing again in Climate Research – a disciplinary action usually levied only for convictions of plagiarism or fraud.

The publisher refused to publish the editorial until the editorial board could be consulted – which meant after the hearing. So von Storch and other editors and review editors resigned. Senator Jeffords highlighted the resignations during the hearing. But fortunately, I was a hearing witness and provided a correct account.

Nevertheless, after the hearing, the publisher changed his mind and said the Soon-Baliunas paper should not have been published. I resigned as review editor because I felt the journal had succumbed to pressure from activist scientists and was no longer an unbiased outlet for healthy climate change debates.

Climategate made it clear that the truth was even worse. The emails paint a vivid picture of advocacy scientists strong-arming the publisher, threatening to destroy Climate Research by boycotting the journal, and intimidating or colluding with editors and grant program officers to channel funding to alarmists, publish only their work, and reject funding requests and publications from any scientists who disagreed with them on global warming chaos. Suzuki’s increasingly strident and desperate attacks mirror their campaign, as do Al Gore’s – and no wonder.

The global warming scare has fizzled. The sun has entered a new “quiet” phase, and average global temperatures have been stable for 15 years. Climate conferences in Copenhagen and elsewhere have gone nowhere. Kyoto has become little more than a footnote in history. Countries that agreed to “climate stabilization” policies are retreating from that untenable position. The public realizes that climate science is far from “settled.” The climate-chaos religion is about to go the way of Baal-worship.

Most important, Canadians, Americans and Europeans alike are beginning to realize that the real dangers are not from global warming.

They are from potentially cooler global temperatures that could hamstring agriculture – and from government (and Suzuki-advocated) policies that are driving energy prices so high that companies are sending jobs to Asia, and millions of families can no longer afford to heat and cool their homes, drive their cars, or pay for electricity that powers all the wondrous technologies that make our lives infinitely better, safer and healthier than even kings and queens enjoyed just a century ago.