King Canute, attempting to teach his people a lesson regarding his abilities, supposedly went to the sea and commanded the tide to stop. Twelfth-century English historian Henry of Huntington wrote that Canute took his throne to the seashore, but the tide, “continuing to rise as usual dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person.”

President Barack Obama’s naïve and error-riddled speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday clearly demonstrated that he is serious about trying to stop global climate change. However, like the tide, climate change is a natural event of such proportions that it is largely unaffected by human activities. Obama ignores that the “official climate science” on which he bases America’s climate and energy policies has been washed away by 17 years without global warming, despite atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) — the gas Obama blames for rising temperatures — continuing to increase primarily due to the emissions of China and India.

Unlike America’s hopelessly misguided president, the reasons behind Canute’s action were sensible. He wanted to reduce unrealistically elevated expectations of him. Canute’s goal was to show fawning courtiers that there were things over which he had no control. He knew the facts about tides. Sadly for our American friends, and indeed for the whole free world — which depends on a strong America — Obama lacks Canute’s humility and knowledge about nature. The president’s misunderstanding and his apparent disinterest in real climate science is leading the United States into an economic black hole from which it may take generations to recover.

Obama also seems oblivious to real-world economic evidence that the policy path on which he is setting the U.S. has already been tried and has failed in other countries. It is not surprising that when he launched his most recent climate change initiative last week in Berlin, the German public response was less than enthusiastic — they are already suffering the economic and energy consequences of “going green” in a hopeless attempt to stop climate change. Many Germans are also aware of the implications of the Climategate scandal, through which the corrupted science of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was exposed through leaked emails.

In foisting many of the same policies on America that have already failed in Europe, the president appears to be counting on U.S. media to continue to hide the significance of Climategate and the recent halt in planetary warming.

In telling Georgetown students on Tuesday that he doesn’t “have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real,” Obama reveals his ignorance. Nobody is denying that climate change is “real” and that coping with such changes can be challenging. What skeptical scientists do question, however, is the degree to which human activity causes those changes. Saying that “ninety-seven percent of scientists” “acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it,” as Obama did in his speech, is both wrong and meaningless.

As ICSC policy advisor Lord Christopher Monckton just showed, the study that backs this claim is fatally flawed. First, science is never determined by a show of hands. If it were, the Earth would still be considered flat and the center of the universe and space travel impossible. Second, the only statistic that could be interesting would be the fraction of scientists who study the causes of climate change and support the idea that our CO2 emissions are causing serious climate problems. There has never been a reputable survey that asked experts this question.

As we have come to expect from this president on global warming and energy, yesterday’s presentation included many basic science mistakes and inappropriate cherry picking of data. For example, Obama’s assertions about abnormally high temperatures and the extent of Arctic sea ice melt are either meaningless or simply wrong. Last July, new average U.S. temperature records were set by one-fifth of a degree Fahrenheit. This is meaningless since the measurement uncertainty in most of the record is one-half degree Fahrenheit. Similarly, last July’s record temperature was not based on the highs of the day. A record was set merely because the nights were slightly less cool in July 2012 than those experienced in the 1930s. So, when the high and lows of the day were averaged, a record average was established. Nevertheless, the highs of the day in the 1930s still exceeded anything experienced in July 2012.

Obama also neglected to mention that Arctic sea ice coverage records began only three decades ago, when we first started to monitor the Arctic by satellite. Land-based measurements indicate that it was warmer in the Arctic in the 1930s and so ice melt was likely greater then as well, although no one knows for sure.