‘I, as a scientist, expect to have people question orthodoxy…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was the last of 12 human beings to have ever walked on the moon. He’s also among a handful of people to boldly challenge climate change theory from within the elite scientific community.
For that, he’s unpopular. But there was no way to avoid inviting Schmitt to the recent 2018 ScienceWriters conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
The event, dubbed “Apollo Plus 50,” coincided with the 50-year anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 7 mission—the first to carry an American crew into space.
Schmitt participated in a live audience panel discussion with the executive secretary of the National Space Council and a curator from the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum, and at one point went off-script and questioned the climate change consensus.
New York Times reporter Nicholas St. Fleur promptly confronted Schmitt during the question-answer portion of the discussion.
St. Fleur referred to a past Times story about conspiracy theorists claiming the Apollo moon landing was fake, insinuating that Schmitt is climate conspiracy theorist.
“I’m wondering if you see any irony in your remarks there and your views on climate change,” he said.
The 83-year-old former astronaut, who was the first legitimate scientist to go into space by virtue of his doctorate in geology, didn’t hold back.
“I see no irony at all. I’m a geologist. I know the Earth is not nearly as fragile as we tend to think it is. It has gone through climate change, it is going through climate change at the present time,” Schmitt said.
He then asked the audience, “Is there any evidence that human beings are causing that change?”
The reply was a resounding, “yes.”
Wrong again, Schmitt said.
“Right now, in my profession, there is no evidence. There are models. But models of very, very complex natural systems are often wrong. The observations that we make as geologists, and observational climatologists, do not show any evidence that human beings are causing this,” he explained.
One of the leading climate models is produced by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and last week the IPCC released a new report predicting an oncoming irreversible climate doomsday.
St. Fleur pounced on the IPCC report when challenging Schmitt: “There was a huge report that just came out last week [talking about] the risk and what is going to happen … as soon as 2040.”
The report calls for “urgent and unprecedented changes” at the high-end of the Paris Climate Agreement “to keep temperatures between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius.” If not, the authors predict a climate catastrophe.
But the IPCC is hardly infallible, as Canadian climate experts Tim Ball and Tom Harris point out in a recent Washington Times analysis.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate forecasts were wrong from their earliest reports in 1990. They were so inaccurate that they stopped calling them forecasts and made three ‘projections’: low, medium, and high. Since then, even their ‘low’ scenario projections were wrong,” they wrote on Monday.
They further explained that the IPCC creates an illusion of certainty about their reports and forecasts by giving the impression that they are studying all causes of climate change, rather than just man-made pollution.
“It allow(s) them to ignore all non-human causes of change, including the Sun,” they said.
Schmitt, who’s also an adjunct professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a member of the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group, voiced a similar observation at the ScienceWriters conference.
“We don’t know how much CO2, for example, is being released by the Southern Oceans as the result of natural climate change that’s been going on now since the last ice age,” he said.
“Normally, we have always assumed up until the Industrial Revolution that climate change is a function of the solar cycles—and indeed, there is still very strong evidence that’s the case,” he continued.
Schmitt also took aim at how political interests have infected the sciences, a message that no doubt implicates many the Washington, D.C. event’s attendees.
“I, as a scientist, expect to have people question orthodoxy. And we always used to do that. Now, unfortunately, funding by governments, particularly the United States government, is biasing science toward what the government wants to hear. That’s a very dangerous thing that’s happening in science today, and it’s not just in climate,” Schmitt said.
“I hope the science writers in this room will start to dig deeply into whether or not science has been corrupted by the source of funds that are now driving what people are doing in research, and what their conclusions are,” he said.