It all started with a report by Roger Harrabin of all people. On Wednesday, under the headline ‘Society to review climate message’, the BBC website broke the news that the Royal Society was to review its public statements on global warming, and that this had been brought about by what appears to be an uprising within its ranks.

Disquiet led forty-three fellows of the Society to demand that the governing council should conduct a review in order to establish what is widely agreed on climate science, and what is not fully understood. At the heart of the rebel’s concerns is lack of objectivity about uncertainties and derogatory remarks about climate sceptics.

It would be hard to overestimate the importance of what is happening. The Royal Society occupies a very special place in the scientific firmament, not just in the UK, but worldwide. The impact of its very partisan outpourings about climate change is thought to have been crucial not only to the last government’s decision to put global warming at the top of the political agenda, but also in persuading national academies of science almost everywhere to throw their weight behind the warmist cause. The ructions behind the grand facade of 6-9, Carlton House Terrace will be watched closely by scientists everywhere, and there can be little doubt that if fellows of he Royal Society are prepared to stick there heads above the parapet, then others will follow their lead.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about this news is that no less than three panels at the Society are now considering the problem, and at leas two of them include a number of fellows who have doubts about the current state of climate science.  Reaching an agreement will not be easy, and one fellow told Harrabin that it is by no means certain that reaching a consensus will be possible. The message that this would send to the rest of the scientific world would be even more potent than an admission that the evidence has been exaggerated. For years, the orthodox line has been that expounded by Lord May of Oxford when he was the society’s president: the debate is over and the science is settled. It will be very difficult to explain why the fellows of the worlds oldest and most highly respected scientific institution cannot even agree what the situation is among themselves, let alone why they have been misleading other scientists, politicians and the public for several years about the degree of consensus on  this subject.

Since the BBC report appeared, the society has put out a statement on its web site claiming that the review has been planned for a long time. This reminds me of the response I received from the BBC Trust recently to a letter about their review of the impartiality of science coverage, and particularly climate change, which is taking place this year. They told me that this has nothing to do with the Climategate scandal or criticisms of the IPCC, it is a purely routine exercise that would have taken place anyway. Such claims do not enhance the credibility of institutions that make them.

Looking at the coverage of this story in the rest of the MSM, it would seem that the Royal Society has only spoken to the BBC, and other reports are based on Harrabin’s original story together with what little information is available on the Royal Society web site. This seems to have been hastily posted in response to the demands of the forty-three fellows. One, headlined, ‘Royal Society to publish new guide to the science of climate change‘ quotes the president, Lord Rees, saying:

Climate change is a hugely important issue but the public debate has all too often been clouded by exaggeration and misleading information.  We aim to provide the public with a clear indication of what is known about the climate system, what we think we know about it and, just as importantly, the aspects we still do not understand very well.

His statement raises some questions. Has he just discovered that the debate has been ‘clouded by exaggerated and misleading information?  If he has known all along, then where was he while that was happening, and why has he remained silent until now?

He also says:

Lots of people are asking questions, indeed even within the Fellowship of the Society there are differing views.  Our guide will be based on expert views backed up by sound scientific evidence.

He appears to be horrified  that:

It has been suggested that the Society holds the view that anyone challenging the consensus on climate change is malicious – this is ridiculous.

Those of us who can remember the Society’s antics when Bob Ward was its press officer, vigorously attempting to cut off funding from sceptics, will not be impressed.

In a report at The Times, Ben Webster identifies 72 year old Sir Alan Rudge as one of the leaders of the rebellion. Apparently the dissidents did not conduct a full poll of the 1400 odd  fellows, but just contacted their friends, of whom a third were unwilling to sign the petition.  Rudge told The Times:

“I think the Royal Society should be more neutral and welcome credible contributions from both sceptics and alarmists alike. There is a lot of science to be done before we can be certain about climate change and before we impose upon ourselves the huge economic burden of cutting emissions.”

He refused to name the other signatories but admitted that few of them had worked directly in climate science and many were retired.

“One of the reasons people like myself are willing to put our heads above the parapet is that our careers are not at risk from being labelled a denier or flat-Earther because we say the science is not settled. The bullying of people into silence has unfortunately been effective.”

Sir Alan is also a member of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The article ends with a quote from Bob Ward, demanding that the dissident fellows should reveal themselves, presumably so that the warmist PR machine can start the process of character assassination that is their usual response to those who do not toe the party line.

Louise Grey, in The Telegraph, tells much the same tale. She has also spoken to Bob Ward:

But Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Institute of Climate Change, feared the public could misinterpret the new guide as reflecting doubt about man made global warming.

He called on the Royal Society fellows who question the science to come forward with their doubts publicly.

“This could end in public confusion if people think as a result of this the Royal Society is somehow wrong or reassessing the evidence because there is no justification for that,” he said.

Is Mr Ward really blissfully unaware that the Royal Society actually is engaged in reassessing the evidence, and that is because a section of its membership feel strongly enough  about the  Society’s public position to confront the Governing Council? The statements on the Society’s web site makes this quite clear; it is Bob Ward who is trying to create public confusion about what is happening.

I have posted about the genesis of the Grantham Research Institute here, and it is worth taking a glance at this as it shows just where Bob Ward is coming from, and I will be coming back to this and a rather strange series of interconnections between Ward, the  Grantham Institute and the Royal Society, which bodes ill for the peace and calm of that august body in the coming months.

For a totally different perspective on the gathering storm, the obvious place to look is The Guardian, which has given Ward a whole page in which to spread confusion, but under the unintentionally ironic headline, ‘UK Royal Society revives confusion as US concludes climate change certainty’. Ward hammers home his supposedly killer argument about the sceptics within the Royal Society making themselves known:

But now, 43 of the society’s 1,489 fellows have written to complain about some of its statements about climate change published over the last few years. It is not clear exactly what the 43 have concerns about.

And because their identities have not been made public, we do not know whether any of them are climate researchers.

He is certainly on safe ground with his demand. No one in their right mind who is actively engaged in mainstream climate researche would own up to such heresy, for the moment at least. To do so would be an act of professional suicide, but if the Royal Society is forced to admit that there are vast uncertainties associated with global warming then that could change very quickly. Reputable scientists might not have to worry what the likes of Mr Ward say any more.

An editorial in Nature follows the same line of attack with the headline, ‘ Nameless fellows attack Royal Society’s climate stance’, but - another irony - the article is not signed. It concludes:

A new public document is being drawn up, but if the BBC report is right, then several sceptics are on the panel, which is making it tough to get anything done. Nevertheless, the society says the new guide will be released later this summer.

Am I alone in feeling that Nature’s reference to sceptics making it difficult to ‘get anything done’ is yet more confirmation that this once revered learned journal has left the days of objective coverage of science far behind, and strayed far into the murky realms of activism?

There is some fairly predicable arm waving from Sir John Beddington in another Guardian article headed, ‘Government chief scientific adviser hits out at sceptics’, which would suggest that his political antennae are far less well tuned than Lord Rees’s. In view of some of the things he has said about his faith in climate science, particularly to the House of Commons Science and Technology inquiry into Climategate, now would not seem to be a very smart time for him attack sceptics. If the Royal Society fails to endorse the level of certainty that he has been promoting when they revise their publications, or fails even to agree an official position because of divisions of opinion among the fellows,  Sir John could find that the ground has been cut out from under him in much the same way as the chairman of the IPCC. And If the Royal Society is divided, what price the warmist’s mainstay in the climate debate: the claim that there is scientific consensus on global warming.

On Saturday, Roger Harrabin returned to the fray on his blog, but in a way that will surprise many who have become used to the BBC Environment Analyst’s usual line on climate matters. Here are a couple of excerpts:

After years of accusing the fossil fuel lobby of using anti-scientific arguments to undermine climate policy, scientists are now themselves accused of being un-scientific.

There are signs in the Royal Society’s current review of its climate communications that they are beginning to understand the seriousness of their predicament and have included some “climate agnostics” on the panels.

But it seems that message has not seeped through to all quarters. And one Fellow of the Royal Society said there’s the whiff of “end of empire” in the air as establishments strive to protect their authority as it ebbs away into the blogosphere.

Do I hear the desperate splash of oars as someone else who has become very vulnerable to changing circumstances rows desperately back towards the shore? This is not at all the kind of reporting that we have come to expect from Harrabin but then the BBC is having a ‘routine’ review of their science coverage.

Later in the post, he has something to say that is relevant to both the present crisis at the Royal Society and to the  fiasco that is known as the Oxburgh Inquiry:

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, the Royal Society’s lead on climate change, told me he wouldn’t look outside the realms of the Royal Society for input into the framing of a society review into the UEA affair.

This reveals a very interesting series of relationships. Evidently Hoskins is the Royal Society’s big hitter on climate change, and he is also Director of the Grantham Institute, Professor of Meteorology at Reading University, a leading light in the IPCC ,and a contributor to the Climategate emails. Bob Ward was the press officer for the Royal Society during Lord May’s presidency, which was marked by claims about the science of global warming that went well beyond anything that the evidence would stand and has resulted in the present crisis.

It would seem unlikely that tranquillity will return to the Society’s imposing home in Carlton House Terrace anytime soon.

So let’s give the last word to that doughty seeker after truth, and conveyor of certainty where confusion exists, Bob Ward.

In an interview on the BBC’s Friday PM news programme, Roger Harrabin asked him whether he thought that the Royal Society’s guide to climate change was a reliable guide to the science. This is how he started his reply:

I’m sorry, but the reliable guide is the fact that the projections show that the earth is going to continue to warm in the future …

I think that it is safe to say that far more than forty-three fellows of the Royal Society would be likely to find that response either stupid, ignorant, or intentionally misleading, depending on the level of knowledge of the speaker.

The Royal Society story has not received much coverage in the MSM - yet. It may be that it will not do so directly, but within academic circles it is a convulsion of seismic proportions that may severely test the foundations that the whole edifice of global warming rests on. At the moment we can only wait, and watch the shock waves spread.

59 Responses to “We should watch the Royal Society very carefully”

  1. 1
    peter geany Says:

    Tony congratulations, once more your post gets to the nub of the matter and provides much for the rest of us to mull over. I find the comments that are coming out about “authority” and “end of the empire” very interesting, and for me confirms that the Society has allowed itself to become politicised and this, and the lure of money, has critically impaired its judgement. It also ties in with how a lot of people in the UK felt about the increasing authoritarian actions of the Government over a whole range of subjects, and the Societies behaviour is symptomatic of this altitude. Democracy is something that has been eroded over the last 30 years, but more especially in the last 10

    Indeed we have had James Lovelock calling for a suspension of democracy to fix climate change. He along with many other advocates seems to have a problem with other who share a different point of view, especially when they are in the majority. I venture that it has always been a failing of the left that when a population ties of their governance, it’s because they have had to turned authoritarian to progress their views as their arguments have failed to convince.

    My first post on Harmless Sky I believe was to criticise the Royal Society, and at the time I thought that if they did not change their stance they would be treated very harshly by the public when the inevitable backlash arrived. I put much of the blame for the current malaise at their door, and the comments about bullying over jobs demands an immediate enquiry be held.

    I wrote an article for another blog some time ago now about how the huge amounts of money that sloshed around in the system during the period 2001 to 2007 coming on top of a stable period of economic growth had made the population of the West very compliant. This allowed all manner of suggestions to be put about without challenge and likewise many actions to be taken by government and other authorities without challenge. 9/11 just allowed an acceleration of this effort by providing a compelling distraction.

    Those who have dared to challenge some of these suggestions or actions have been branded as outcasts or deniers or had their reputations smeared. The one thing that has now changed is we have no money, and this is going to impact science however the cake is cut. If the current Government has any brain power turned onto the issue of who will get future scarce scientific resources then they must surely go into areas where they are likely to offer a return to industry, to help us out of the deep hole we are in. Climate science is not in that category.

    Are the likes of Bob Ward and others interested more in saving their own tattered reputations, and indeed the organisations they have setup or do they have the interests of science itself in mind. Interesting times ahead.

  2. 2
    Johana Scotten Says:

    Thanks for posting this great information :)

  3. 3
    manacker Says:

    TonyN

    Congratulations for another very timely and informational article.

    Roger Harrabin continues to baffle me.

    It will be very interesting to watch this development as it unfolds, but I would agree fully with you:

    It would seem unlikely that tranquillity will return to the Society’s imposing home in Carlton House Terrace anytime soon.

    Max

  4. 4
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Thank you Tony: this is a timely and skilled summary of these intriguing events. But I would urge caution on one point: the tone of your article is just verging on the triumphalist. Yet it may all come to nothing. We’ve been disappointed before when events seemed to be conspiring to destroy the dangerous AGW hype and bring the MSM, politicians, etc. to their senses – e.g. Climategate and IPCC revelations. What happened then was a concerted (and skilled) closing of ranks and, although confidence was dented and scepticism increased somewhat, nothing changed where it really mattered: if anything, the scare stories became shriller. And Pachauri still heads the IPCC. Unsurprisingly, there is a massive determination to protect the powerful reputations, businesses and personal fortunes that depend on keeping the scare going. The Establishment pressure (both threats and promises) on sceptical Fellows to toe (er … not “tow”, Tony) the line will be enormous. Let’s hope they are strong enough to withstand it – I suspect it will not be easy.

  5. 5
    geoffchambers Says:

    Great article. I’d do my usual Doubting Thomas number, except I see Robin Guenier #4 got there first.
    I got in a reference to this article on a Guardian thread, and it came up as a link, so you may get some warmist traffic, who knows?
    It’s interesting to compare your approach to that at Bishop Hill. His Grace tends to just mention a news item which catches his eye, and leave it up to commenters to flesh it out, which allows him to react quickly to events, whereas your more structured articles take more time to write, obviously, but also to absorb.
    I know Climate-Resistance has done some excellent articles on May, Ward and the RS in the past, and I’ll post some links if they seem useful.
    I’ve long thought that there’s a need for some kind of centralised source for information on the climate change movement in the British establishment, with a kind of Who’s Who and in particular a Who Said What? Remember the fuss recently about the misquoting of Sir John Houghton by, I think, Benny Peiser?. It was used against the sceptics, until it turned out that Houghton had said something similar to the misquote. I have difficulty remembering who among the Green and the Good said what, and this article will spur me to trawl through past articles and try to sort them out.
    The British attitude is so different from the American. Americans can get seriously excited about the question of whether Gavin Schmidt writes RealClimate in office time, presumably because it’s a federal crime and could lead to him being put away for 20 years. We don’t have laws like that, but we do (I hope) still have an idea of certain standards which should be upheld by prestigious organisations. Parliament is obviously a lost cause, but we can still hope that there are people within the civil service, the BBC, the offices of serious newspapers, and of course the Royal Society, who care more for the reputation of their organisations than for promoting the fad of the moment

  6. 6
    peter geany Says:

    Robin & Geoff. The difference between now and all the other false dawns is that now the Government has no money. I still get the feeling that most people don’t have any appreciation just how dire the situation with the Euro is and just how deep the cuts in public spending in the UK will be. If as has been promised the Government publishes all spending, then when it come to allocating funds things such as schools, the NHS and other front line services will take precedence, and any spending on climate change will come under server scrutiny like never before.

    The whole global warming / climate-change mantra has only been possible due to our perceived wealth in the West. This has allowed politicians to indulge themselves, a luxury they no longer have, despite any recent rhetoric about green government by our new PM.

  7. 7
    geoffchambers Says:

    Peter Geany #6
    But isn’t the financial emergency just the excuse the government needs to impose unpopular taxes (on air travel, for example) in the name of saving the planet? (I agree about the situation with the euro being dire, and Europe may get the kind of nasty shock Britain had over Northern Rock, Woolworths, etc. when the abstraction of financial crisis suddenly changed the face of the High Street.)
    Robin’s warning about false dawns is more to do with the nature of the RS and the British Establishment in general. They really are superb at closing ranks and shrugging off attacks when their closest interests are at stake, as Robin details at #4.
    On any other subject (the MPs expenses scandal, Iraq etc) their ability to close ranks and protect their own is limited by a critical press. But with the media on-side, and little interest among the public at large in the obscure questions of scientific procedure, I don’t see what will stop the RS and similar organisations from repositioning themselves and never saying sorry. You can’t “bring down” a Sir Martin Rees or Phil Jones in the way you can bring down a Richard Nixon, simply because no-one knows they’re up in the first place.
    I hope TonyN is right, that the shock waves will spread and bring down the edifice of global warming. But I’m not laying any bets.

  8. 8
    Alex Cull Says:

    Great article and comments. My own take on the situation is that it is like observing erosion at work (well, maybe a little more exciting than that) – no sweeping immediate changes but a little piece here and a fragment there. If we were to fast forward to this time next year or in 2012, we might be astounded at some of the differences we’d find.

  9. 9
    peter geany Says:

    geoff #7 Up until this May and the problems with the Euro, your comments about excuses for raising Taxes would have carried much weight, and found most agreeing with you. In fact AGW has been a perfect excuse for Gordon to raise taxes so that he could continue to borrow uncontrollably. However our new government is going to make cuts to Government spending and therefore has little scope to raise taxes as this will hit the less well-off and not affect the rich. There may be a shift in the tax burden from income to expenditure and I expect an increase in VAT. But any direct green taxes will hit the wrong people.

    I agree with Robin about the establishment closing ranks, but the whole AGW industry relies on government hand-outs, and with the Spanish already cutting back its subsidies to electricity companies we are already seeing a sense of reality return in the Mediterranean counties in the Euro zone. This again will stop our government doing anything unilaterally as it will have an adverse effect on the markets

    Northern Rock was totally predictable, and I can still recall having a beer with a mate from a hedge fund (we both work in IT and are not bankers) in August of 2007 and wondering which would be the first bank to go pop. Much of the rocks silly lending in 2006/2007 was as a direct result of Lehman Bros needing more and more mortgages to securitise. They Lehman’s underwrote the lending and did not care about the normal lending criteria as the money was in selling the security.

    So I believe that it doesn’t particularly matter now what the establishment or the Royal Society say or do on the matter of AGW. It is too late now as time will demonstrate that the science was wrong, and it will be a very long time before we have the money to be so indulgent again. The Royal Society is now in a battle to save the reputation of science. For many of the individuals it’s already too late.

  10. 10
    tempterrain Says:

    Its always worth having a look at what the Royal Society themselves are say rather than what the Guardian or the Times say the Royal Society are saying.

    See http://royalsociety.org/Royal-Society-to-publish-new-guide-to-the-science-of-climate-change/

    The Royal Society well tidy up a few details which certainly should be tidied up. However, if anyone seriously thinks they are going to come out with anything substantially different to what the rest of the scientific world are saying they are living in dreamland!

    PS Peter Geany,

    Did you ever give me that reference I asked for?

  11. 11
    Alex Cull Says:

    Peter M, I’m not sure it would be reasonable to expect the Royal Society to radically change their official stance right away. To use Peter Geany’s example of the ailing Northern Rock bank, it would be a bit like walking into a branch of the bank, on the eve of the sub-prime crisis, and expecting to find their brochures and customer literature suddenly reflecting the uncertainty of the times and telling potential customers to think twice before opening an account.

    And talking of uncertainty, my guess (no more than a guess) is that the Royal Society’s new guide to climate change will hedge a bit and emphasise the uncertainties of climate science (not so much of the settled science, maybe!) but also adopt the line that the public should support carbon emission reduction anyway, as a sensible precaution. It will be interesting to read, at any rate, and see what tone they take.

  12. 12
    tempterrain Says:

    Alex Cull,

    The RS position is not fixed. Certainly 25 years ago they were not saying the same thing about climate change and if the evidence changes they too will change with it. What would you say was the most significant new, and recent, piece of scientific information which should cause the Royal Society to change their line?

  13. 13
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    I would agree with you that he RS position is very likely “not fixed”, now that there has been a “change of management” away from the previous rigid “the debate is over and the science is settled” position of Lord May when he was the society’s president.

    People change. And so does knowledge.

    You ask Alex what would be the most significant new, and recent, scientific information which should cause the Royal Society to change their line.

    In addition to the many recent revelations of data fiddling and manipulation by IPCC and some scientists cited by IPCC, here are a few recent scientific studies and new information, which came out after IPCC published its AR4 WG1 report.

    Spencer et al. (on cloud feedbacks, based on CERES observations)

    Lindzen and Choi (on climate sensitivity, based on ERBE observations).

    Loehle (observed upper ocean warming since 2003, based on Argo measurements)

    HadCRUT surface temperature record 2001-2009

    UAH and RSS satellite (tropospheric) temperature record 2001-2009

    Wyant et al. (on cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity, based on superparameterization model studies).

    There have been others, of course, but these are some of the more recent new papers casting doubt on the outdated IPCC position on AGW, which RS should consider before revising its stand.

    Max

    Max

  14. 14
    manacker Says:

    Correction

    Loehle’s paper is on observed upper ocean cooling since 2003 (not warming).

  15. 15
    Alex Cull Says:

    Max, you’ve put it better and a lot more succinctly than I could. Peter M, while I think it unlikely that the Royal Society will start to do anything as radical as address the shortcomings of IPCC AR4 just yet, what I would expect to see is a change of tone and shift of emphasis.

    For instance, their “Climate change controversies” page (here) has: “This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of global warming.”

    I’m not a betting man (and have too little money anyway!) but what are the odds that the new introduction to their replacement document for “Climate change controversies: a simple guide” will have language that is somewhat less combative, more circumspect and – how shall I say – more “future-proof”?

  16. 16
    tempterrain Says:

    I was wondering why Alex Cull thought that there was enough new science but I see Max jumped in!

    Is that because Max thought that Alex Cull really had no idea why the scientific evidence had changed and no idea why he was suggesting that the RS should change their line?

    But anyway do you, Max, have the references for these ‘papers’? You can forget about the temperature records. You know very well that just one decade is nowhere near long enough to provide any indication one way or the other.

  17. 17
    James P Says:

    I overheard a news item this morning about a cutback in grants affecting solar panels. Could this be a row of dominoes about to fall over..?

  18. 18
    manacker Says:


    PeterM

    You ask for “references to the papers”, which were published after IPCC AR4 and raise questions concerning the “mainstream party line” contained there of “strongly positive net feedbacks” primarily from water (vapor, liquid droplets, ice crystals and precipitation changes) expected with increased surface temperature.

    These have all been cited earlier on this (and the previous) thread, but I will post them again for you:

    Spencer et al. (on cloud feedbacks, based on CERES observations)
    http://www.weatherquestions.com/Spencer_07GRL.pdf

    Lindzen and Choi (on climate sensitivity, based on ERBE observations)
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/Lindzen-and-Choi-GRL-2009.pdf

    Loehle (observed upper ocean cooling since 2003, based on Argo measurements)
    http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3152

    HadCRUT surface temperature record 2001-2009
    UAH and RSS satellite (tropospheric) temperature record 2001-2009
    (you wrote that you have access to this information)

    Wyant et al. (on cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity, based on superparameterization model studies)
    ftp://eos.atmos.washington.edu/pub/breth/papers/2006/SPGRL.pdf

    Hope this helps.

    Max

    PS Alex could have provided you this info as well, but (since I had it at my fingertips) I thought I would save him the trouble and help you out, at the same time. Hope you don’t mind.

  19. 19
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You wrote (about “global” temperature records):

    one decade is nowhere near long enough to provide any indication one way or the other.

    We probably have a point of agreement here.

    I would agree that 9 years or 30 years of data is simply a “blip”. More important is a record of 160 years, which shows a gradual rise of temperature (since 1850) with several multi-decadal warming and slight cooling oscillations of around 30 years each.

    We need to be sure we know what caused these cycles. It was obviously not CO2 which does not correlate at all with the temperature record.

    How were changing ocean currents involved?

    How about changes in solar activity (and how could this be related to the ocean currents)?

    What role did CO2 (or other GHGs) really play?

    What role did water (vapor, liquid droplets, ice crystals) plus precipitation changes play?

    How was this related to other factors?

    Lots of open questions, Peter. Lots of hypothetical deliberations and outputs of model simulations but too few (real) answers, unfortunately.

    Max

  20. 20
    Alex Cull Says:

    Max, Peter M, I was aware of the Craig Loehle paper, and a couple of the others rang bells too, but it would have taken far longer for me to track these down (especially while I’m meant to be working!) For a while now, have been meaning to build up a personal library of climate notes and references, but just haven’t had the time.

    Which has some bearing on Geoff’s #5 – it would be great to have some sort of central online climate resource, with links to published material, summaries, a who’s who, etc., and everything laid out and cross-referenced – ideal for occasions like this (and for disorganised folks like myself.) Too many times I’ve read something very interesting and useful but have been unable to find it easily again.

  21. 21
    peter geany Says:

    James #17 James you are on the money there. There will be a whole series of small announcements such as this and before we know it 5 years will pass and AGW will be dead. If this doesn’t happen it will be because the west has imploded and decided to embrace the third world.

  22. 22
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    References 1,2 and 4 are “letters”. A letter doesn’t have the same weight as a paper. Its more of a discussion document – more latitude is allowed – and should be followed up subsequently to establish the credibility of the work.

    Reference 3 is from “Energy and Environment” which I doubt would be even allowed into the RS library!

    Reference 4 is from 2006, before the last IPCC report, and in any case, it is not immediately apparent just how it supports your case.

    So any new scientific evidence, in your direction, is somewhat thin to say the least. The RS is obviously being pressed to change its line for political rather than scientific reasons.

  23. 23
    tempterrain Says:

    Alex Cull,

    So you “just haven’t had the time” to make a proper scientific assessment of the evidence, but you’ve obviously made time to come to the conclusion that mainstream science is all wrong!”

    Don’t worry. You aren’t the only one!

  24. 24
    geoffchambers Says:

    Alex Cull#15 suggests the RS rewrite may be more circumspect and “future-proof”. Now that’s an expression that’s going straight into my “best of” compilation. It takes an SF fan to think like that!
    On compiling a list of most-used expressions, “the science is settled” is attributed to Bob Watson at Kyoto, by Tagel, a commenter on a Guardian thread. I’ve seen several commenters wrongly attribute “we’ve got to get rid of the MWP” and “why should I give you my data…?” to the CRU emails. The latter is Phil Jones to Warwick Hughes, I believe. The former, anyone?

    On my pessimism about the government cutting back on warming expenditure, here’s an interesting comment from a recent Delingpole thread:
    “The major political parties are agreed that spending money on combating AGW is a form of insurance, a bit like spending money on a nuclear deterrent. If they are right, they will have saved the world from Armageddon in one form or another. If they are wrong, Joe Public isn’t going to be much fussed”.

  25. 25
    Alex Cull Says:

    Peter M, I’ve had the time to read plenty of climate-related material (and continue to do so), enough to form my own opinions on the subject. No, what I meant is that having read the material, the problem is keeping track of it all for quick reference. I’d be interested to know what you and others do to stay on top of climate developments, i.e., do you build up a library of documents in PDF format, or do you create a reference document containing hyperlinks, do you use web-based systems like delicious.com to organise all this stuff? That’s what I’ve been having trouble finding the time to do!

  26. 26
    Alex Cull Says:

    Geoff, thanks – yes, I do like my SF! Re the “get rid of the MWP” quote, I think this has been attributed to geoscience professor Jonathan Overpeck, but he appears not to have used those words in the way some people have been assuming – here’s a thread on Climate Audit which goes into what he did and didn’t say, might have said, could have meant etc., … It might be a case of reading between the lines, and “cave lector”, as it were.

  27. 27
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    Yawn!

    The papers I cited are being rejected by expert, Peter Martin, because the journals publishing them do not meet his personal approval or are not among those controlled by the so-called “mainstream” scientists.

    Get serious, Peter. If you have something substantial to say about these studies, please do so. But leave out the silly rambling and side-stepping.

    BTW the Wyant et al. paper came out after the “IPCC deadline”. It shows that by incorporating an improved modeling technique (superparameterization) a more accurate estimate of the cloud feedback with warming can be obtained than with the more crude models cited by IPCC. This improved method shows that the net cloud feedback is negative (rather than positive, as assumed by the more crude IPCC models), thereby agreeing with the physical observations made by Spencer et al.

    So your statement

    it is not immediately apparent just how it supports your case

    is false. You have to read the paper, Peter; then it will become “immediately apparent just how it supports” my case.

    Max

  28. 28
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You wrote (and possibly actually believed what you wrote):

    The RS is obviously being pressed to change its line for political rather than scientific reasons.

    What basis do you have for your belief?

    Please try to be specific.

    Max

  29. 29
    manacker Says:

    geoffchambers

    You asked who said:

    “we’ve got to get rid of the MWP”

    Ask Professor Deming who (like “Deep Throat” of Nixon days) is keeping mum on the source.

    But Steve McIntyre over at CA has written recently:
    http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/

    There has been a considerable amount of speculation over the past few years about which “leading” climate scientist told David Deming that we have to “get rid of” the Medieval Warm Period, including speculation (e.g. ukweatherworld) that it was Jonathan Overpeck (recently one of two Coordinating Lead Authors of AR4 chapter 6).

    While the identity of Deming’s correspondent remains uncertain, a Climategate letter from January 13. 2005, written as an instruction from Overpeck as Coordinating Lead Author to IPCC Lead Authors Briffa and Osborn (cc Jansen, Masson-Delmotte), states that Overpeck wants to “deal a mortal blow” to the MWP (and Holocene Optimum) “myths” (480. 1105670738.txt).

    According to the report:

    Overpeck says that he is reluctant to publish a statement on the matter for fear that Deming would “then produce a fake email”.

    Those “fake emails” are almost as incriminating as those “fake tapes” were back in Nixon’s day.

    Max

  30. 30
    manacker Says:

    Alex Cull

    Looks like our posts (Overpeck, Climate Audit) crossed.

    Two great minds…?

    Max

  31. 31
    geoffchambers Says:

    Thanks Alex and Max for your prompt answers. Clearly, I’m the only one who needs to organise his quote arsenal. As to “cave lector”, can I borrow that Alex? The perfect name for a troll’s blog, if I ever get round to creating a website.

  32. 32
    Alex Cull Says:

    Max: agreed! Geoff: you’re welcome!

  33. 33
    manacker Says:

    Another recent take on the Royal Society’s “about face”.

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/05/31/and-then-there-were-three-britain%E2%80%99s-royal-society-rejects-alarmism/

    Max

  34. 34
    tempterrain Says:

    Tony N,

    You say “For years, the orthodox line has been that expounded by Lord May of Oxford when he was the society’s president: the debate is over and the science is settled.”

    The guys at Realclimate are pretty orthodox and they question this line too saying that the science isn’t settled.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/

    I’m not sure about Lord May but certainly this phrase has been commonly used. The problem for us honest folk is that our words get twisted and spun by PR types. If we say that the science isn’t totally settled but is sufficiently settled to know that we should be cutting back on CO2 emissions, this will be reported as “scientists express doubts on the science of global warming!”

    The public are being presented with a false dichotomy. Either science knows everything or it knows nothing. Of course when we say that of course we don’t know everything the inference is that therefore we …..

  35. 35
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You bring up a good point (34) when you write:

    The problem for us honest folk is that our words get twisted and spun by PR types.

    This is what happened to the words of the “scientists” (from IPCC A4) when the IPCC political “PR types” started their spinning and twisting to produce SPM 2007.

    And then the media (in this case the New York Times on 2 February 2007) carried it a step further, changing the sentence:

    “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations…”

    to

    In a bleak and powerful assessment of the future of the planet, the leading international network of climate change scientists concluded for the first time Friday that global warming was “unequivocal” and that human activity was “very likely” to blame. The warming will continue for hundreds of years, they predicted.

    So you are 100% right about words getting “twisted and spun by PR types”.

    Max

  36. 36
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    It is true (as you wrote) that “not knowing everything” does not equal “knowing nothing”.

    For example, we “know” that it has gotten warmer over the past 150 year record (in 30-year “spurts”, with 30-year slight cooling “spurts” in between),

    BUT

    we “don’t know” WHY.

    Max

  37. 37
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    What kind of knowledge are you seeking? If its absolute, then you are effectively asking for proof which we have all agreed isn’t possible. The knowledge which we do have points to human emissions of GH gases as being the likely cause of the warming.

    You say that you ‘know’ that the world has warmed. However, as you say on the other thread, all scientists are a bunch of crooks who will do anything, say anything, write anything to squeeze an extra dollar out of the taxpayer so you can’t know that or anything else they tell us either! You have , by your own argument, pretty much nothing else to say on the subject!

  38. 38
    James P Says:

    I was reminded at the weekend, by one of my son’s aircraft books, that the RS has form. Lord Kelvin, then its president, asserted that “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible”, suggesting that (as now) the RS wasn’t very outward-looking, since various pioneers, such as George Cayley and Otto Lilienthal, had already made functional gliders.

    More famously, Lord K also went on to say that “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.”

    Plus ça change…

  39. 39
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You ask what kind of knowledge I am seeking that would provide scientific support for the dangerous AGW premise.

    I am not looking for “absolute proof” as you seem to think despite the fact that I have told you this repeatedly.

    I am simply looking for empirical data based on physical observations which provide scientific validation for the dangerous AGW hypothesis.

    To get back on topic here, the RS should obviously be looking for the same if they want to claim the mantle of an objective scientific body, rather than that of a politically motivated AGW activist organization.

    All scientists are certainly not a “bunch of crooks”, as you have written. Just a few bad ones and some overzealous political IPCC editors, authors and officers have given IPCC (and “climate science”) a bad name.

    RS does not have this “bad name”; it’s just that some of its membership wants to ensure that its official stand on AGW meets the organization’s stated requirement of scientific objectivity.

    Hope this clears it up for you.

    Max

  40. 40
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    Robin seems to think that the sort of evidence which you are “simply looking for” is actually impossible to provide. And for once I do agree with him.

    If its not proof which you are asking for, then the impossible standard of evidence is so close to it as to make no difference.

    Maybe you’d like to explain the rationale of asking the scientific community a question on AGW and demanding an impossible standard for one of two possible answers. Suppose it was the other way around. For example, it has often been suggested that water is a more potent GHG than any other. However, science isn’t suggesting that fountains and humidifiers should be banned. The water vapour just doesn’t stay long enough in the atmosphere for it to be a problem. So, suppose we demanded the same impossible standard to justify that decision too. It just wouldn’t make any sense would it?

  41. 41
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    Robin may believe it is impossible for YOU to provide (i.e. empirical evidence based on actual physical observations to support the dangerous AGW hypothesis), because IT DOES NOT EXIST.

    That is what I think (because otherwise you, or someone else, would have provided it in order to provide scientific support for the hypothesis).

    Ask Robin exactly what he means rather than simply guessing.

    Max

  42. 42
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    (As a physicist you know all this already, but maybe you forgot).

    Galileo provided “empirical data based on actual physical observations” (the “leaning tower of Pisa experiment”) to provide scientific support for his hypothesis that objects of different weight (mass) fell at the same rate of acceleration.

    With this empirical data his hypothesis was validated.

    Very simple, right?

    Max

  43. 43
    James P Says:

    In “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” (which Mrs P was watching this afternoon), a frustrated Sherlock Holmes is asked for his theory on the subject. He declares “I don’t have enough facts to form a theory!”

    If only the warmists could learn similar restraint.

  44. 44
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM/Max:

    I see the matter of my view on empirical evidence and impossibility has been referred to here as well as on the Hockey Stick thread. I think it may help to put the matter into context, quoting what I actually said. In March of this year (on the NS thread), we were, yet again (yawn), discussing AGW and empirical evidence. In his post 54 (25 March), Max outlined what he meant when he asked for empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis, concluding by saying, “any empirical data that meets the definition will do”. Then, in post 55, I added a postscript that contained the words being mentioned. It may help to quote that post in full:

    Max:

    I hope you don’t mind if I add a postscript to your excellent overview of what constitutes empirical evidence. I believe it’s pathetic that Peter has asked you (and, in an earlier post, me) to tell him what might constitute empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis. Doesn’t his beloved “mainstream science” know? Perhaps he hasn’t he asked them – or tried to find out? Seems not.

    Let’s take two examples: one from history and one contemporary:

    First, William Herschel and his early 1780s postulation that nebulae (many of which he had identified) were huge independent star clusters existing outside our own Milky Way. This was extremely controversial at the time and difficult to establish empirically – most scientists thought it impossible. But Herschel persisted. Did he challenge his critics by asking them to tell him how they thought he should substantiate his hypothesis? Er, no – he built his own huge, expensive, unwieldy telescopes and carried out painstaking observation and calculation. As we know, he succeeded.

    Next, the current controversy about the existence of the subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Its existence would be critical to scientists’ understanding of the nature of matter – but it’s extraordinarily difficult to get. Did researchers say to sceptics – look this too difficult, our computer models and indirect evidence show it should exist so, unless you can define a way of solving this, you’ll just have to take our word for it. Er, no – at vast expense, they designed and built the Large Hadron Collider at Geneva and set about the extraordinarily difficult task of identifying the particle. They have yet to succeed.

    I suspect Peter’s difficulty may stem from a single awkward fact: it’s impossible to define, let alone set up, a means of obtaining empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis. And, unfortunately for Peter, a hypothesis that’s unsupported by empirical evidence continues to be no more than a hypothesis.

    So you see, I didn’t say that it was impossible for empirical evidence for dangerous AGW ever to be identified. No, I said that I suspected that (unlike Herschel’s theory in the eighteenth century and unlike particle physicists’ expectation re their Higgs boson theory today) that may be the case now. That is still my view.

    What is significant, however, is that Peter goes further stating that such evidence “is actually impossible to provide”. In so doing, he has completely undermined his own position: as I say above, “a hypothesis that’s unsupported by empirical evidence continues to be no more than a hypothesis”. That was true re the nature of nebulae, it’s true re the Higgs boson and it’s true re dangerous AGW.

    An interesting development.

  45. 45
    tempterrain Says:

    Robin,

    Yes there is evidence that is impossible to provide, unless we test the earth to destruction to obtain it that is. I’ve said that many times. Nothing new there.

    No amount of waffle can hide the simple truth that , by your own admission, you’ve been repeatedly insisting that science should provide something you consider to be impossible!

    Where is the sense in that? On any rational basis there can’t be any. Your earlier comment that my request for clarification was “pathetic” shows you aren’t interested in rational discussion. No scientist would ever reply in such terms.

  46. 46
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM:

    As promised, this my comment on your #45 (above) and your #169 and #172 on the Hockey Stick thread. (Where Max has done an excellent job at #173.)

    For a long time, Max and I have been asking you to refer us to empirical evidence verifying the dangerous AGW hypothesis. That is standard practice for all scientific disciplines and has been since the Enlightenment: #44 gives two examples. There is no reason why climate science should be any different.

    Essentially, empirical evidence is needed to substantiate two key claims: (i) that man’s GHG emissions, and not natural influences, were the principal cause of late twentieth century warming; and (ii) that, if such emissions are not reduced, the consequence will be dangerous climate change. The first relates to something that happened very recently and has been measured, examined and recorded in great detail. So, if the evidence exists, it should be possible to identify it. Yet you say that the production of such evidence is “impossible”. If that’s true, that must be for one of two reasons: (1) it isn’t possible to determine a method of identifying whether it exists or not; or (2) the evidence doesn’t exist.

    Whichever it is, the evidence cannot be produced and dangerous AGW continues, therefore, to be no more than an interesting, but unverified, hypothesis – as we’ve been saying all along.

    But you try to go further. As well as the expected (and pathetic) name calling, you seem to be saying that, despite your total failure to produce any relevant empirical evidence, you’re nonetheless sure that such evidence exists and (bizarrely) assert that it could be identified if we tested the earth to destruction. But (you go on), as that’s impossible (quelle surprise!), we must take it on trust.

    That sounds like religion to me, Peter.

  47. 47
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    Further to Robin’s 46, here is a link to a book, which describes the visit from “a distant star” of super-intelligent extraterrestrials to our planet in prehistorical times.
    http://www.trafford.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=178383

    It castigates the human race as non-civilized beings who are destroying their planet:

    The humans should learn from history, so not to repeat the same shameful mistakes, but do they?! Instead of creating wonders, the human mind is capable of, they savagely kill each other for money, oil, power, or land, which gets destroyed day by day, polluting the air, flattening the rain forests, contaminating the water etc… And after all this, they call themselves civilized. The human species have yet far to go to earn this title, and then maybe they will be ready for acceptance by an intergalactic community. Yes, the humans are still a primitive species, but one can’t be too hard on them, as they are only in their infancy; some only a few hours in life, some weeks or months, in a cosmic scale. The advanced ones don’t get burned at the stake anymore, but they suffer for the truth, by being ridiculed and sometimes even silenced. Who knows how long it will take for the human species to face the truth, decades, centuries, millennia, that is, if they don’t destroy one other in the mean time.

    No empirical evidence is provided to support this hypothesis, but we should take it on trust and “change our destructive ways” before we “destroy one other”.

    Sound familiar?

    Max

  48. 48
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Max:

    Of course – you’ve put your finger on something I foolishly missed. I see it now: Peter is one of those super-intelligent extraterrestrials. That explains everything.

  49. 49
    tempterrain Says:

    Max, Robin

    You display all the characteristics of deniers. So to call you that isn’t name calling. Yes of course it is possible to obtain empirical evidence. There is plenty of it. The only question that matters is how much more CO2, and other GH gases, it is safe to add to the atmosphere.

    Like the engineers at Chernobyl whose safety checks, ironically, caused the meltdown, one way to obtain even more evidence is to push the system further and further into the potential danger zone. I, for one, would rather do without this sort of evidence!

    Can you now answer my question of why you think it is “impossible to define ” a means of obtaining the evidence you say we should have?

  50. 50
    tempterrain Says:

    “super-intelligent extraterrestrial(s)” ??

    I was going to say that yes I am from your planet! But on second thoughts, I must admit I’m not sure. Maybe I should be asking which planet you are on?

    But two out of three isn’t bad :-)

  51. 51
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You ask:

    Maybe I should be asking which planet you are on?

    Earth, Peter. The one that has warmed less than 0.7C over the past 150 years, but is now miraculously supposed to warm between 2 and 6C over the next 90 years (according to some GIGO computer models, that are apparently from another planet).

    How about you? Last time I checked, Oz was also (barely) on earth, as well. Or are you from “never-never-land”, that same planet as the GIGO computer gurus?

    You then added:

    Can you now answer my question of why you think it is “impossible to define ” a means of obtaining the evidence you say we should have?

    As I said before, I do not think it is “impossible” to obtain the empirical data to provide scientific evidence for your dangerous AGW hypothesis.

    But, since you have been unable to do so after all these many months of discussion, it is beginning to look “highly improbable” that you will be able to do so.

    Keep trying, though. As a physicist, it should be easy.

    But, while you’re at it, how about reacting to the observed data I cited (173 on the “hockey stick” thread), which tends to invalidate your hypothesis?

    Max

  52. 52
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM:

    I pointed out yesterday how your views on dangerous AGW sound like those of a religious believer. Your #49 confirms it.

    A religious believer asserts that God exists.

    “Look around you (he says), His works and wonders are everywhere. Moreover, the Holy Scriptures tell us he exists – as do the priesthood and, in particular, the College of Cardinals. No, I cannot now produce empirical evidence verifying His existence. That’s obviously impossible, and your insisting on it simply demonstrates your arrogant foolishness. But, of course, the evidence exists, and there’s one way of finding it: all you have to do is die. Then it’ll be clear enough! But that’s not a step you’re willing to take now. So, in the meantime, you’ll have to take my word for it.

    But, as you refuse to do that, you’re a heretic.”

    You assert that dangerous AGW is a fact.

    “Look around you (you say), the effects (retreating icecaps, species extinction etc.) are everywhere. Moreover, the IPCC Report tells us it’s a fact – as do the climate scientists and, in particular, the governing bodies of the scientific institutions. No, I cannot produce now empirical evidence verifying dangerous AGW. That’s obviously impossible, and your insisting on it simply demonstrates your arrogant foolishness. But, of course, the evidence exists, and there’s one way of finding it: all you have to do is pump huge amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere. Then it’ll be clear enough! But that’s not a step you’re willing to take. So, in the meantime, you’ll have to take my word for it.

    But, as you refuse to do that, you’re a denier.”

    Get it now?

  53. 53
    tempterrain Says:

    Robin,

    Can you now answer my question of why you think it is “impossible to define ” a means of obtaining the evidence you say we should have?

    later on I’ll ask about the ‘implementation’ part of your question.

  54. 54
    tempterrain Says:

    Robin,

    Maybe I should just clarify my previous question. You have already said you don’t think it is “impossible” to obtain the empirical data, at least to a standard which you feel meets your criteria, but that it hasn’t yet been produced. OK I don’t necessarily agree with but at least I understand what you are saying.

    What I can’t understand, is how this statement is at all consistent with your statement that it is “impossible to define ” a means of obtaining the evidence you say we should have.

    Please explain!

  55. 55
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    I’ll let Robin answer your 54 (seems to me he already has, but maybe he can repeat his answer so you can understand).

    Let me give you my take on this.

    1. It is not “impossible” to come up with empirical data to support your dangerous AGW hypothesis.

    2. Therefore, it is also not “impossible” to define the “means of obtaining” this postulated empirical data prior to obtaining it.

    This would actually be step 1 in your process of validating your hypothesis with “empirical data”.

    Let me give you specific examples (see my 173 on the “Hockeystick – Martin Luther” thread).

    Actual physical observation of CERES satellite data (as used by Spencer to determine that cloud feedbacks are negative) is a good example of such “means of obtaining” empirical data.

    The comprehensive Argo float system for comprehensively measuring upper ocean temperature is another “means of obtaining” empirical data.

    In both of the above cases, the empirical data have falsified the dangerous AGW hypothesis, rather than validating it (as pointed out in my 173).

    Referring to the physical observations on “global temperature” (Hadley) and atmospheric CO2 (Mauna Loa and ice core data) in order to check the statistical robustness of the observed long-term correlation between CO2 and temperature is another “means of obtaining” empirical data. In this case statistical analyses have shown that the correlation is a “random walk” rather than a robust statistical correlation between CO2 and long-term temperature change, raising serious doubts concerning the case for causation.

    In addition to the few examples I have just listed, there are all sorts of satellite observations on net SW and LW radiation from our planet, which could be used to demonstrate whether or not net feedbacks with surface warming are positive (as assumed by the climate model simulations cited by IPCC) or neutral to negative (as assumed by other climate scientists). Is there, for example, an observed “natural thermostat” that keeps our climate near equilibrium conditions (as postulated by some climate scientists) or is our planet’s climate being “whiplashed” from one extreme “tipping point” to another by strongly positive feedbacks (as postulated by some other climate scientists)?

    So, Peter, you see that there are “means of obtaining” empirical data. The problem for you, so far, is that the empirical data obtained to date do not support the dangerous AGW hypothesis, which you embrace.

    Unlike in (what I will call) the “softer sciences”, such as psychology or sociology,
    the scientific method in the physical sciences is rigorous and uncompromising. It may be difficult, but it is not “impossible” to come up with (or, thereby, to “define the means of obtaining”) empirical data to support a valid hypothesis.

    Hope this clears it all up for you.

    Max

    PS Robin and Peter: This whole discussion probably belongs more appropriately on the main thread, rather than here or on the “hockeystick” thread. Our exchange is getting a bit scattered around. Can we carry on on the main thread?

  56. 56
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    Robin points out that I have “admitted” that it is impossible, in Climatology, to provide the same sort of evidence that is, say, used in Physics to justify the existence of sub-atomic particles such as Hadrons, quarks, and neutrinos. Yes that is true. It is equally true with other scientific theories also. Such as Evolution, the Movement of Tectonic Plates, and pretty much the whole of Astronomy. In some branches of science experimentation is possible, in others it is just not possible!

    Whenever was the Big Bang theory put to the test?

    I know that Robin knows this. And he knows that I know he knows! That’s why he couldn’t resist taunting me with the statement below!

    “I suspect Peter’s difficulty may stem from a single awkward fact: it’s impossible to define, let alone set up, a means of obtaining empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis.”

    But he should have perhaps resisted the urge with a little more resolution. He’s effectively showed that he’s erected what he considers to be the barrier of of an impossible burden of proof to protect him from the arguments of the so-called ‘warmists.’

    But you have to ask yourself: what is the mentality of anyone who thinks in this way?

  57. 57
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    Yes sorry I meant to post this to the main thread. I’ve no problem with continuing there.

  58. 58
    TonyN Says:

    Peter G, #1:

    I think that you are right: over the last decade or so, relative economic stability (and low interest rates) in the developed world has led to a period of complacency during which there has been little incentive for close scrutiny of how public funds are spent. In Europe and N. America all that has changed now, with almost daily additions to the list of countries introducing emergency spending cuts. It is highly questionable whether the present arguments for action on AGW can survive this, but unfortunately that does not mean that policy makers who have invested huge amounts of political capital in the crusade will be prepared to back down any time soon. On the other hand, the longer that it takes for the new dispensation to be accepted, the more vulnerable their worn-out arguments for immediately action are likely to become.

    Max,#3:

    I suspect that the BBC Trust’s review of impartiality in science reporting will be concentrating quite a few minds within the organisation. There is likely to be much more to say about this here within the next week or two as there are ongoing behind-the-scenes developments on this front.

    Robin, #4:

    I certainly did not intend to sound triumphalist, but I do think that the time has come when sceptics no longer need, or should, behave as though they are on the back foot all the time. The big battalions may still be on the side of the warmists, but they are no longer gaining ground, and we are.

    Spelling mistake gratefully noted and corrected.

    Geoff C, #5,

    Your ‘Doubting Thomas number’ is very welcome and much appreciated here. I started this blog to test my opinions in public and wall-to-wall agreement makes me uneasy.

    Thanks for the Guardian link. When I go away I usually try to schedule fairly anodyne posts, and I didn’t expect this one to attract much attention as the subject had already been dealt with elsewhere. In fact quite a lot of other blogs picked it up and Benny Peiser reprinted it at GWPF, so I was horrified, when I returned, to see how busy the blog had been. Warmists do come here, but they seldom comment. I suspect that is because you lot scare the pants off them!

    I think that Andrew M has done a superb job at Bishop Hill since Climategate by providing a real-time UK based news service, in some ways similar to WUWT. It is the first site I look at each morning, but there is no point in us both doing the same thing. I prefer to wait a bit and then try to put developments in context, for what its worth.

    Sceptics are now often described by warmists as being ‘well funded and coordinated’. This is so far from the truth that the only response can be laughter. Just before I went away, David Holland obtained over three hundred emails from Reading University, under the FOIA, which were delivered in the latest Outlook Express format. Only Steve M had the software to open it and the rest of us spent many futile hours (days?) trying to find a way to view the data without making Microsoft richer. In the end the redoubtable KevinUK rode to the rescue out of the kindness of his heart. Your suggestion that there should be some kind of centralised coordination is timely, and it is being talked about.

    If you have time, links to the May/RS/Ward posts you mentioned would be very useful I think. I understand that someone is working on a book about how the RS got caught up in the warmist hysteria and there is every reason to think that what is happening among the fellows now will remain topical for months to come.

    Alex C, #8:

    I think that your analogy with erosion is spot on. Just compare what the blogs, on both sides of the debate, were saying last June, and the state of morale on the sceptical side, with the situation now. There is no question of going back to those days, but before the walls come tumbling down the foundations must be undermined, and that is not likely to be a quick process.

    Peter M, #10:

    I used that link that you give in the header post. The question is not whether they will come up with something ‘radically different’, but whether they can persuade outsiders that there is consensus position at all. They are certainly not going to be able to say that the science is settled, or even overwhelmingly persuasive, unless they are prepared to risk ridicule.

    Generally:

    I’m having to do a huge amount of reading just trying to catch up after a relatively short break, and I still haven’t caught up on all the blogs yet. One of the things that I have noticed so far is that there now seems to be some evidence of a shift in the way that government is briefing the press on AGW related topics, and particularly energy. It certainly isn’t a radical change of direction yet, but it is far more cautious. My feeling is that preparations are being made for some radical cuts to the funding of sacred cows of environmentalism in the spending review.

    So far as my header post is concerned, I stick to what I said. There is general agreement among commentators on both sides of the debate that the RS under Lord May led the charge when national academies of science worldwide were persuaded to back AGW regardless of the uncertainty of the science. Governments thereafter relied on this spurious authority to make policy.

    Looking back, May’s pronouncements during that period were demonstrably ridiculous. There is good reason to suppose that, if the RS have difficulty in coming up with a consensus position on AGW during the next few months, they will be equally influential in leading the retreat, even if this role is inadvertent.

  59. 59
    clivere Says:

    I have been having a further look around the web in case any new “get rid of the MWP” info had turned up and spotted this thread.

    Jonathan Overpeck has denied sending an email to David Deming both in climategate email

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=868&filename=1206628118.txt

    and in the Arizona Daily Star in December 2009

    http://azstarnet.com/news/science/environment/article_e5078cae-6655-5139-aa6c-3f7f33a670a8.html?mode=story

    In my opinion the attribution to Jonathan Overpeck is an internet myth started by speculation by a poster called Andre in 2005, promoted by Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit and converted into a “fact” by Steve Milloy in Dec 2007 and by Tim Ball and Richard Lindzen in 2008.

    My own speculation is that in June 2009 David Deming had all but named the real author of the email but the widespread preoccupation with Jonathan Overpeck had diverted attention in the wrong direction.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig9/deming3.html

    For reference purposes it should be pointed out that David Deming had his paper cited in Chapter 3 of the 1995 SAR wg_I_full_report now available for viewing

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sar/wg_I/ipcc_sar_wg_I_full_report.pdf

    Jonathan Overpeck is listed as a contributer to chapter 9 but did not achieve lead author status until later IPCC reports.

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