Basing all government climate research funding on one narrow theory was never a smart policy.
Prominent scientists operating outside the scientific consensus on climate change urged Congress on Wednesday to fund “red teams” to investigate “natural” causes of global warming and challenge the findings of the United Nations’ climate science panel.
The suggestion for a counter-investigative science force – or red team approach – was presented in prepared testimony by scientists known for questioning the influence of human activity on global warming.
It comes at a time when President Donald Trump and other members of the administration have expressed doubt about the accepted science of climate change, and are considering drastic cuts to federal funding for scientific research.
A main mission of red teams would be to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change, including the work of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose reports are widely considered the authority on climate science.
“One way to aid Congress in understanding more of the climate issue than what is produced by biased ‘official’ panels of the climate establishment is to organize and fund credible ‘red teams’ that look at issues such as natural variability, the failure of climate models and the huge benefits to society from affordable energy, carbon-based and otherwise,” said witness John Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, in his prepared testimony. “I would expect such a team would offer to Congress some very different conclusions regarding the human impacts on climate.”
Wednesday’s hearing, which focused on “the scientific method and process as it relates to climate change” is the latest in a series of recent House science committee hearings to challenge the existence or seriousness of climate change.
In their prepared testimonies Wednesday, witnesses called by the committee’s Republican majority suggested that organizations such as the IPCC present a biased view of climate change, and do not represent the views of the entire scientific community. They argued that policymakers would benefit from assembling groups of experts to conduct assessments that challenge the accepted climate narrative.
“A scientist’s job is to continually challenge his/her own biases and ask ‘How could I be wrong?’” Judith Curry, professor emeritus at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, said in her own testimony.
“Playing ‘devil’s advocate’ helps a scientist examine how their conclusions might be misguided and how they might be wrong. Overcoming one’s own biases is difficult; an external devil’s advocate can play a useful role in questioning and criticizing the logic of the argument.” Curry also suggested that red teams or similar panels presenting diverse opinions on climate change could take on this role.
Red teams are special groups designed to improve an organization’s performance by assuming the role of a rival, challenger or devil’s advocate. They have sometimes been used by agencies such as the CIA and the Defense Department to help test out security operations or military tactics by assuming the role of enemies, hackers or foreign governments.