Of course, a keynote address to any gathering of importance is normally a speech that covers a wide ground, ranging from past findings to future (not necessarily futuristic) ideas, fields that ought to receive more research interest, potential developments, and so forth.
The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
This year’s meeting was attended by only 28 laureates while in the recent past their number was mostly greater than 60. Of those 28, only 11 were awarded a Nobel Prize in the last 10 years. One may rightly conclude that the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, held for 67 years now, appear to be in decline. From my perspective, there is a valid reason for the declining interest in these “expenses-paid-vacations”—especially for Nobel Prize Laureates. This became already quite apparent in 2015, when nearly half of the attending laureates did not sign that year’s final communique, the Mainau 2015 Declaration.
As I surmise, the reason for their disinterest or refusal to sign was that the meetings have become “hijacked” by political interests. And this year’s keynote address by Dr. Chu proves my point. His presentation was relishing in past accomplishments with a guidance dedicated to (former) political expediency on the subject of “climate change.” There are not just numerous factual errors in Chu’s address, to me it sounds like something that might have been written about ten years ago. Needless to say, I felt compelled to send a message to Dr. Chu, outlining my misgivings. It is reproduced (minus salutations) below:
July 12, 2017
I read with interest your recent keynote address to the 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, as available at http://www.lindau-nobel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Keynote-Steven-Chu-LiNo17-25-June-2017.pdf .
Please let me begin with wishing your wife a speedy recovery from her unfortunate fall.
In terms of the guidance to the world that many people expect from a keynote address to dozens of Nobel Laureates, with many guests and students attending, permit me to express some concerns and questions to you.
Already the title/subject of your presentation “Science as an Insurance Policy to the Risks of Climate Change” is misleading. The “climate” is a construct that is arrived at after multi-decadal observations for a particular region on earth. Due to the inclination of the earth on the ecliptic, it also varies strongly with the latitude. Then, there are many natural forces that influence this “climate,” including the sun’s radiation, volcanic events on earth, etc. None of these can be influenced or controlled by mankind. All the 100+ current “climate models” do not—and likely never will—be able to incorporate the phenomenal quantities of water that are being precipitated and re-evaporated from the earth’s surface each year.
However, even if I were wrong in that, climate change is nothing new and you have correctly mentioned the six ice ages over the last 600,000 years. What you have NOT mentioned though is, that the great North American and Eurasian ice shields of 20,000 years ago melted away without mankind’s influence and without any great change in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
That alone makes your idea of “science as an insurance policy” worthless, at least in the traditional sense of a fire insurance (your example). The premiums paid for such insurance policies are not to prevent fires, nor to dowse any fires (firefighting is paid for with property taxes and the like), but to cover any material losses.
Then you claim that “the Arctic and Antarctic polar ice caps and the Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting much faster than was predicted 10 years ago.” I sure wonder where you got that information. The facts are substantially different:
The Antarctic ice cap has been increasing in recent years, both in mass and extent ( https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses ).
The ice cap of Greenland has seen rapid growth in mass, for example see the latest graph by the Danish Met. Inst. (http://media.breitbart.com/media/2017/07/Image1408_shadow.png ).The “polar” sea-ice in the Arctic (there is no true “ice cap” in the Arctic as there is no land mass above the sea level anywhere near the North Pole) has been quite stable. Of course the latter fluctuates tremendously with the seasons, roughly between 4 and 14 million square kilometres in extent alone, and in terms of ice volume, the seasonal fluctuation is approximately fivefold, between 5,000 and 25,000 km^3 ice. Clearly then, your statements about the disappearing polar ice masses are wrong.
Therefore, also your next paragraph where you say “Even if we stopped all greenhouse gas emissions, the full extent of the damage we have already done will not be seen for 100 years” is equally hogwash. Apart from the fact that the whole “carbon-pollution” [past U.S. President Obama’s preferred phrase for CO2] = “greenhouse gas” theory is based on misunderstandings and false models. However, even if it were not, what exactly is the “damage we have done?” Are you referring to many formerly arid areas now greening due to higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere and irrigation? Both have helped to feed the rapidly growing world population that rose since the year 1900 from ~1.6 billion to the current ~7.5 billion, a factor of ~5. In contrast, the CO2 levels only increased by approximately 1/3rd during that period.
Your presentation to the 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting contains a number of other highly questionable statements. For example, you say that “There is a real danger that rising seas or collapsing agriculture due to heat and drought will lead to massive climate-induced migrations.” Perhaps you ought to read my recent post on “Turtles and Reality,” published at several sites (e.g., https://www.iceagenow.info/turtles-and-reality/) and also translated and published in Italian. This claimed “one meter sea level rise is possible by the end of this century, and 4-5 m rise by 2200” is another figment of imagination.
The same holds true for “the specter of non-linear ‘tipping points’ that cause more severe changes.” The theory of climatic “tipping points” has been strongly pushed by Dr. S. Rahmstorf, PIK, in the past. As I wrote in 2015, “… the entire climate tipping point theory is pure bunk” ( http://canadafreepress.com/article/the-myth-of-climate-tipping-points ).
Just one more point that I consider totally unscientific: You state “There are numerous people and politicians who enjoy the benefits of scientific discovery, but do not accept the compelling scientific evidence and overwhelming scientific consensus [my emphasis] that humans are changing our climate.” I find this statement of yours deplorable. Science has never been and will never be something where “consensus” is relevant. In fact, there were times when the “consensus” was that the sun moved around the earth and other ideas that have been proven false since.
One can only hope that you reconsider your statement and amend your keynote speech text accordingly. Otherwise, you are doing science a great disfavour and besmirch the reputation of your esteemed colleagues.
As of this date, Dr. Chu has neither acknowledged nor replied to my letter. I’ll certainly let you know if or when I have the honor of receiving any such—more likely than not NEVER.
Of course, I could only conclude that this keynote is not worth “the paper it’s written on.”