Written Evidence Submitted by Michael Seymour
SUBMISSION ON “THE LEVEL OF REPRODUCIBILITY AND INTEGRITY IN UK UNIVERSITY RESEARCH, AND ITS CAUSES”
I am not an academic but have spent a career as a scientist in industry, having graduated with geological degrees at both Cambridge and Imperial College, London. Now in retirement, I continue to follow trends in the Earth Sciences, and have developed a particular interest in climate change and its causes. The media and politicians have appeared to convince themselves that greenhouse gas emissions are controlling climate change and that climate change is something we humans can do something about. It is clear to me however that climate is the composite result of many processes which require the study of diverse branches of science, including atmospheric physics, oceanography, glaciology, marine biology, geochemistry and several others. Scientific papers ascribing the causes of climate change to natural combinations of events other than greenhouse gases are abundant but seemingly censored out of public debate. At the same time, there is no firm proof that greenhouse gases have a quantitative effect controlling climate and yet our politicians plan to spend trillions attempting to reduce emissions. Given the uncertainty concerning the causes of climate change and the real doubt as to whether the trillions to be spent can be certain to have any effect whatsoever, can this be justified and how is it that our scientists have led us into this situation apparently without challenge ?
The problem begins with scientists being human beings. It may be easy for astronomical physicists to research outer space dispassionately, but so many aspects of research today have objectives which take the researcher out of objectivity. Since the late 1980s, research funding has been required to focus on “value for money”, a tenuous quality when applied to academia, and, with the limitation on funds available, there has tended to be a concentration of effort into the “more obviously immediate” practical problems which confront the world. The study of climate change has in particular been a huge beneficiary of research money being available and the result has been climate departments springing up in universities and other institutions everywhere. The problem is that very many of the researchers in the climate change field know the result they are determined to find. In order to attract funding, they are willing to cherry-pick the data they use to obtain it, ignoring data that inconveniently gets in the way.
I should state here and now that I am agnostic on the role of greenhouse gases having a significant effect on climate. I accept that many clever people believe that our human CO2 emissions are causing rising temperature and that, if one assumes this, rising temperatures need to be curbed (assuming this is actually possible) if a crisis is to be diverted. However, I personally have not seen good scientific evidence that emissions are the controlling factor on our climate, nor have I seen any analysis which shows that the huge sums being spent will have any effect. There are many other scientifically sound explanations that explain the changes we are seeing and which also fit the data. We desperately need proper scientific debate.
In May 2021, the Geological Society of London held a virtual conference which I attended titled “Climate Change in the Geological Record”. There had been a call for papers and I am aware of five papers which were put forward, all refuting the human influence of CO2 on current climate change and proposing more natural causes for climate change as seen in the geological past.
All were rejected from the main conference agenda. The speakers actually selected were the “great and the good” of climate science and, listening to the papers, two points struck me forcibly. First, although drawn from across the world, the speakers clearly knew each other well; indeed they called each other by their Christian names and quoted each others’ publications. None of this is perhaps unusual except, given the existence of other solutions to the climate change issue, it hit me that, not only were these other solutions ignored, but that the thoughts being expressed were inbred and were circulating round and round within the circle of a very cosy closed group. At no point was evidence presented for CO2 quantitatively causing global warming; there was just a starting assumption that human emissions were leading the world to disaster.
The second point which struck me was that, in every paper that was given, the conclusions were based upon the results of computer modelling. Computer modelling, however useful it may be, is not of course science. It may allow the examination of a large number of unknown variables and it can produce prodigious numbers of scenarios, some of which may fit the data and some of which may not. In the case of studies on Covid, there has been little data to fit to the modelling possibilities produced. However, in the case of climate change, modellers have been producing forecasts over the last 30 years and they have consistently wildly over-exaggerated what the actual data has been telling us. During the conference at the Geological Society, it was obvious that data was being pushed to levels beyond where it can be considered to be reliable. In fact, some of the speakers openly accepted that the match of their results with the data was “ambiguous”. Others did not. Can computer modelling really be used to give valuable predictions on what the future may hold ?
The limitations of modelling and the manner in which modelling needs to be interpreted are well known. It is when conclusions are taken out of context and become political that things go wrong. With Covid, ministers and the press talked endlessly about “The Science”, but any scientist worth his weight knows that computer modelling produces no such thing. Institutions up and down the country were all attempting modelling of Covid and producing different results. The government chose to put its faith in just one of these groups and then to call it “The Science”.
It is clear that the majority of climate change models start with a basic premise that human CO2 emissions are a major element for inclusion. And yet, if the Greenhouse Effect is not quantitatively significant, the models are all going to be invalid and the predictions they make for the future worth nothing at all. It is well documented that, since the turn of the century, over 90% of the major climate models have predicted global warming at rates twice what has actually been measured. Obviously, there has to be something basically wrong in the data input. Is it the basic premise of the role of human greenhouse gas emissions the element that is wrong ? Climate change may be happening but can we definitely blame the human contribution and, if not, how can our politicians commit our financial futures to a crisis which may not even exist ?
It is likely that COP26 will take place and the science behind the question of whether greenhouse gases are responsible will be assumed, with the evidence for it not even be mentioned. Similarly, with Covid research, scientists have been using their computer modelling, pushing their interpretation of how Covid works and how it is transmitted, without any firm or proven evidence for their input. Any conclusions are not “Science”.
There is almost no objectivity displayed in the work carried out by scientists in the study of climate change. Many of those involved indeed have indirect associations with activists. Given the need for researchers, and the institutions which employ them to finance their studies, how many are going to publish results which show that the money spent was for negative consequence ? Climate departments at many universities have been actually founded to research the relationship between the changes that are happening and human causes. No money is going to be provided to research units which provide negative results and cannot demonstrate the linkage. Independent assessment of data is frequently massaged with carefully chosen algorithms and the programmes re-worked until the right set of trends is produced. The work may not be deliberately dishonest; it is just bad science, even if one can say it is science at all.
COP26 will use the IPCC Climate Report as the basis of its deliberations. But, how many people attending will have read it ? Some will have read the conclusions; fewer will have read even the abstracts. There will be very few indeed who have more than a sprinkling of understanding for the “meat” of many of the chapters. With the Report amounting to hundreds (thousands) of pages, it simply is not possible to condense the report into a few summary conclusions. And yet, this is what the media and the politicians will say they rely upon in coming to their conclusions and many of the scientists who have made serious contributions will just sit back and admit “This was not what I meant”.
In conclusion, scientists need to examine their own consciences. They should not accept that other so-called scientists, the media and politicians take what they write and wilfully misuse the conclusions. There is a lot to answer for.