A very convenient network?

Posted by TonyN on 13/08/2010 at 8:40 pm Politics Add comments
Aug 132010

symbiosis_full.png

(Click for larger image)

 

This diagram is concerned with the following issues: is it in the interests of any of the parties concerned to question the science of anthropogenic climate change, or to dissent from the view that global warming is without doubt a major threat that can only be averted by urgent action.


I came across this the other day when I was clearing some files. It was drafted in January 2007, shortly before the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report was published.References to a New Labour government, that at that time seemed likely to cling to power indefinitely, may be a little passé now, but I have not updated what I wrote then  because the main thesis has not changed. At that time I was beginning to wonder whether the campaign against global warming really had much to do with scientific evidence, and I think that it is still possible to make a case that it does not.

If I was revising the diagram today, and there are many minor changes that could be made, it might also be necessary to make a distinction between the mainstream media and the web-based media; particularly blogs.

Until the interrelationships between the six elements illustrated in the diagram begin to break down, it would seem unlikely that there can be any real curtailment of climate change alarmism. Although the diagram does not reveal any kind of conspiracy – but rather a symbiotic network that very effectively drives forward an agenda that benefits all concerned – it does imply a level of uncritical, perhaps even cynical, collusion.

Key to the Diagram:

A.      Government benefits from the Media.

Favourable media coverage is crucial if any democratic government is to stay in power. By appearing to lead the fight against global warming, our the New Labour administration can present a green, caring image to the electorate, promoting the idea that it is a major player on the world stage attempting to protect not just its own people, but all humans everywhere. At a time when most news coverage of the Blair administration is concerned with the debacle in Iraq, failure to deliver improvements in public services, and scandals involving ministers, global warming presents a quite irresistible opportunity to improve the government’s very tarnished image. The scope for spinning tax increases as a noble effort to combat the threat of climate change is also obvious. Whatever Tony Blair’s merits as a prime minister may be, he is undoubtedly an exceptionally skilful publicity manager who understands that the press like to be thrown some red meat from time to time. For journalists, authoritative prophecies of doom, backed by the government no less, are something that they can really make a meal of and still appear to be acting responsibly.

B.      The Media benefits from Government

If the government needs the media, there is no doubt that the media also need the government. Dramatic news stories are every editor’s stock in trade, and there is no more eye-catching headline than ‘the end of the world is nigh’. If government press departments issue press releases predicting global disaster, then the media can publish sensational stories without the risk of being accused of sensationalism. They are conscientiously reporting what our rulers are telling them, and the source of the information enhances its credibility. Even if an editor has doubts about the robustness of the underlying evidence, expressing them would only undermine a good story.

C.      Government benefits from Climate Science

A naturally sceptical public may be reluctant to believe politician’s prophecies of global catastrophe. They are used to news being manipulated. On the other hand, scientists command a high level of respect based on the assumption that they are dedicated and impartial seekers after truth. These credentials can give government policy initiatives on global warming a degree of credibility that they would not otherwise posses. Politicians who seek to save the world need the support of scientific evidence which confirms that they are doing the right things for the right reasons; they are simply acting on the basis of what responsible scientists are telling them, and scientists are not political, are they?

D.      Climate Science benefits from the Government

In order that research scientists can practice their craft, funding is required, and so far as climate science is concerned this is most likely to come from the public purse. Expenditure can best be justified if scientists are seen to be addressing a high profile problem. It would be wrong to suggest that researchers in this field routinely distort their findings to please their paymasters. On the other hand there can be no doubt that research which may confirm the wisdom and importance of government policy is more likely to receive funding than research which might challenge the orthodoxy on which that policy is based. He who pays the piper calls the tune, even in the ivory towers of academia, and every research department knows it. This must influence decisions when plans for future research projects are being considered.

E.       Government benefits from the Green Activists

Although the government may resent accusations by the green movement that they are not doing enough to prevent climate change, this is a small price to pay for the opportunity that they now have to harvest the votes of people who were formerly their opponents. The potential for gaining electoral advantage by earning the endorsement of the Green Activists is confirmed by the extraordinary prospect of the Tories risking the wrath of their core voters in an attempt to portray themselves as being green at heart.

F.       Green Activists benefit from Government

Until quite recently, the public perception of green pressure groups was that they represented earnest and well meaning relics of the hippie generation who were in thrall to their own apocalyptic visions. The emergence of global warming as a government priority has allowed the greens to move from the political fringe to become mainstream players in the development of public policy. This has not only provided them with undreamed of influence on decision making, but also with a level of public interest which will continue to increase their membership, their revenues and their credibility for as long as the government choose to keep global warming at the forefront of their agenda.

G.     Green Activists benefit from the Media

Like any proselytising movement, the greens need to maximise their exposure in the media in order to spread their message and increase donations and membership. Without high profile coverage of their campaigns, their influence would be negligible. Public concern about global warming has made the task of their highly skilled and well funded public relations departments far easier. The media has become conditioned to publishing apocalyptic headlines about climate change on their front pages. Press releases that would formerly have been discarded by editors with a yawn are now mainstream news.

H.      The Media benefits from the Green Activists

If the green activists are eager for publicity, no one can blame the media for being ready and willing to provide it at the present time. Global warming is a hot topic and organisations such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are expert at serving up topical press releases from which dramatic front page stories can quickly, cheaply and easily be made. This is a journalist’s vision of heaven, and there is little incentive for them to resist, or even question, what may be blatant attempts at manipulation.

I.        Green Activists benefit from Climate Science

In the global warming debate, scientific research is the preferred authority for all but the most outrageous claims of impending catastrophe. By selectively quoting findings which seem to confirm the green mantra that ‘humans are destroying the planet’, green activists can make claims that would otherwise be ignored as extremist ranting.  If their political objectives are to be achieved they need to be supported by scientific evidence, and it is very easy to cherrypick the most convenient research without revealing to the public, who know little about climate science, that there are massive contradictions and uncertainties as well. So many scary news stories are backed up with phrases like, ‘Recently published research shows that ……’

J.        Climate Science benefits from the Green Activists

In a perfect world, all scientist’s would approach their work with a single-minded determination to advance human knowledge through purely objective analysis of facts. Politics, religious beliefs, preconceptions, or the desire to fit in with the orthodoxy of their peers would play no part in their deliberations. We do not live in a perfect world; although there are undoubtedly many scientists who conscientiously strive to maintain the highest standards of impartiality, all are human. Anyone who surfs the websites of leading climate scientists cannot fail to notice how many of them exhibit overtly green political credentials. In some cases, it is clear that environmental concerns have led them to their chosen profession. However hard they may strive to leave political commitment at the laboratory door, the risk of unconscious bias is very real. Indeed at times it is hard not to suspect that green activists are acting as unpaid publicity officers for climate researchers who are politically sound and produce the kind of predictions that they want to hear. Such assistance can take science into the political arena and make a researchers reputation.

K.      Climate Research benefits from the Media

Climate scientists are no different to any other professionals who work in a highly competitive environment. In order to progress in the hierarchy of their profession they must not only shine, but must also be seen to shine. Although consistently reliable findings published in peer reviewed journals may slowly create a reputation that leads to ever more exalted posts, there is also a short cut to fame, and some degree of fortune too. With the media eager to publish sensational global warming stories, it only requires one well placed press release for a formerly unknown scientist to become famous within his or her discipline and far beyond. World-wide publicity may not confer any increased credibility on findings, but it is certainly a shrewd career move that may attract more funding and better chances of promotion. Then there is the ever present problem of finance. In general terms, the more publicity that global warming receives, the greater the pressure on governments to fund climate research. Securing funding is the priority of all researchers; without it they cannot work. And what journalist is going to spoil a good story by asking too many questions if a dramatic press release seems to ‘sex up’ new research?

L.       The Media benefits from Climate Research

The media has good reason to be enthusiastic about publishing global warming stories as we have seen already. If stories arrive ready made in the form of press releases from scientists at the cutting edge of the global warming debate, so much the better; surely these people must know what they are talking about. So scientists get the publicity that they crave and journalists get eye catching stories. All would be well with this cosy arrangement except that there is a tendency for climate scientists to underplay uncertainties in their research, let alone mention contradictory findings by others in their field. A research department that alerts the media to their latest work is under no obligation to do journalists’ work for them by giving a balanced account of what it means. At the same time, editors may feel that there is no need, and certainly no incentive, no  to question what they are being told by acknowledged experts when it makes a good story anyway.

M.    Administrators benefit from Climate Science

In order to implement government policy on climate change, administrative structures must be put in place. For the the civil service this means bigger budgets, more jobs, new departments and the extension of their authority into new areas. Quangos and task forces must be set up and supervised, action plans drafted and reports commissioned, published, and sometimes even acted on. Administrators do not complain about their empires being expanded. The fight against climate change must be implemented and co-ordinated;  they are just the people for the job.

N.     Industry benefits from Climate Science

Until quite recently, proponents for anthropogenic climate change saw big business as the enemy; ruthless and irresponsible exploiters of the earth’s precious resources who uncaringly pollute the atmosphere. This is now changing. The opportunity to build highly subsidises wind farms, use exhausted oil wells for carbon sequestration and sell the public expensive mini-generation equipment improves corporate balance sheets. If you fly somewhere sunny and warm for your holiday, there is even a man in Wales who will, for a consideration, plant a tree to soak up the Co2 released into the atmosphere by your aircraft. And this is just the tip of one iceberg that definitely is not melting. According to Environment Minister David Milliband, measures to combat global warming will be worth £40 billion to the UK economy over the next decade. Industry can and will benefit from the fight against climate change.

O.     Industry benefits from the Media

Power generation company advertisements now show wind turbines rather than the coal and gas fired plants that actually provide most of the nation’s electricity. The chairman of Shell has headed a delegation of business leaders at a well publicised climate change ‘summit’ in Downing Street and has addressed the Royal Society about what his company can do to help. Wind turbines are even appearing on the rooves of supermarkets. Climate change provides endless opportunities to polish up tarnished images and the press welcomes stories about climate change. Even a small investment in the fight against global warming can yield a vast return in the form of good publicity.

P.      Government benefits from Industry

Any left-of-centre government has an image problem when it comes to dealing with industry; funding from the trade unions movement together with ingrained hostility to big business makes this inevitable. New Labour has shown itself to be obsessed with its image, and it is acutely aware of longstanding public scepticism about its ability to run the economy successfully. Opportunities to show ministers working hand in had with industry to combat the threat of global warming, even when this involves more regulation and increased taxes, are hardly likely to be neglected by the spin doctors.

Q.     Industry benefits from Government

What chief executive could resist the opportunity of selling a profitable commodity in a rigged market? Renewable energy allows multinationals to build hopelessly inefficient generators with the aid of government grants and then sell all the electricity they produce at a price fixed by the Renewables Obligation. This is roughly twice the going rate of conventionally generated power. The electricity distributors are bound by government regulation to buy all the renewable energy that is produced, at a price that is not determined by market forces, and the consumer has no alternative but to pay. So long as the government chooses to whip up fear of global warming, any company that has a product that can be portrayed as green, however hare-brained and expensive it may be, can rely on a ready made market.

R.      Administrators benefit from the Media

Bureaucracy has an image problem; no one likes faceless officials in offices telling them what to do. Governments that increase the size, and the cost, of bureaucracy are not likely to find that this makes them popular with the voters. Any media coverage that shows these despised and undervalued toilers at the administrative coalface in a better light has to be a comfort for them. Fortunately, the struggle against a warming climate allows at least some administrators to appear to be dedicated eco-warriors who are doing something useful, rather than frowzy pen pushers. A constant stream of press releases drawing the public’s attention to the importance and urgency of fighting climate change can certainly work wonders for the administration’s image. It also helps the government justify the expense of keeping them in public employment.

S.       Administrators benefit from Government

Government pays the administrators, directly or indirectly. New policies, such as curbing Co2 emissions, require more personnel, larger departments, more regulations and more. This is music to the ear of any civil servant.

 

50 Responses to “A very convenient network?”

  1. 1
    TonyB Says:

    very perceptive post TonyN

    I think this sums it up nicely;

    ‘….but rather a symbiotic network that very effectively drives forward an agenda that benefits all concerned – it does imply a level of uncritical, perhaps even cynical, collusion..’

    i think Peter Taylor came to a similar conclusion in ‘Chill.’

    tonyb

  2. 2
    Alex Cull Says:

    Well put, and it is surprising (or maybe not!) how little has changed at the top.

    It would be just as accurate to state that our new Tory/LibDem Coalition administration (the “greenest government ever”) “can present a green, caring image to the electorate…” etc. It’s the same old.

    “According to Environment Minister David Milliband, measures to combat global warming will be worth £40 billion to the UK economy over the next decade.” This hasn’t changed a bit, either; all that’s happened is that the torch has been passed to Chris Huhne (by the way, has Caroline Spelman, our Environment Secretary, said much of note, so far?)

    What has changed, of course, is that public scepticism has steadily grown, Copenhagen was a washout and the dream of a prosperous low-carbon economy looks increasingly hollow.

  3. 3
    TonyN Says:

    Perhaps it should be worrying that Climategate and the other ‘gates’ of the New Year have done little if anything to weaken the robust structure of the diagram.

  4. 4
    geoffchambers Says:

    Wow. With all those positive feedback loops, no wonder the planet is frying.
    I can’t think of any other political issue which would fit into the diagram and give the same results, suggesting that it is a genuine “working model” with explanatory value. You should show it to the lads at Climate Resistance. They are always going on about the politics being prior to the science, which is what this diagram suggests most graphically.
    Alex notes that what has changed is public scepticism, and it’s precisely the public which is missing from the diagram. They might register a positive feedback with the media, (we like sensationalism and the media like to deliver) but their relation with the other players would not be so clear and constant. Truly the voters are the sand in the wheels of democracy.
    Alex, I do like the quote from David Milliband, that “measures to combat global warming will be worth £40 billion to the UK economy over the next decade”. And my plans to celebrate Christmas will be worth thousands to the economy. I must try out that argument on my bank manager.

  5. 5
    TonyN Says:

    Geoff:

    Including public opinion in that diagram presents an interesting conundrum. When I drew it three years ago it seemed irrelevant as there was no real ‘forcing’ from that source in either direction; just acquiescence. I don’t think that there has been much change since then. Although scepticism has grown steadily there is no widespread pressure for a moratorium on climate change alarmism. On the other hand, if that pressure develops, then a great many of the links would collapse.

  6. 6
    geoffchambers Says:

    I don’t see how you could incorporate the Public in your diagram, since it is not a “player” like the others, with clearly defined interests. We, the people, are consumers, voters, taxpayers, etc of all kinds, neither homogenous nor fixed in our attitudes. The static nature of the positive feedbacks revealed by your model defy the normal logic of social interaction models. One would expect the presence of negative feedbacks, and a change in the flow of causality over time, with changing circumstances.
    The fact that the model holds good post-Climategate, post-Pachauri, and after a change of government demonstrates that there is something peculiar (and peculiarly resilient) about the politics of climate change. I suspect (it’s only a hunch) that this is due to the position environmentalism has carved out for itself as an absolute good, like religion or patriotism in former times.

  7. 7
    TonyB Says:

    Geoff Chambers

    Don’t you think that environmentalism has also become ‘fashionable’ In that respect it has become the norm to follow it in certain circles, just as following Labour became fashionable around 1996.

    tonyb

  8. 8
    tempterrain Says:

    TonyN,

    I was just wondering how your comment ‘Government benefits from Climate Science’ fits in to the American experience? The administrations concerned have been Reagan, Bush Snr, Clinton, Bush Jnr, and now Obama.

    So which of these would you say has benefited most and in what way?

  9. 9
    geoffchambers Says:

    tempterrain#8
    TonyN’s diagram doesn’t fit the USA because they have something Britain apparently hasn’t – democracy. Opinions divide, pressure groups form around the divergent interests of different parts of the population. In Britain a political consensus about CO2 reduction mirrors the scientific consensus about using catastrophism to keep the funds flowing. Hence the positive feedbacks. These will continue until one of the poles of Tony’s diagram fissures and starts behaving in the way considered “normal” in a complex open society.

  10. 10
    geoffchambers Says:

    TonyB #7
    Certainly environmentalism has become fashionable, which makes it all the more surprising that it doesn’t attract more criticism in the media. While it’s ok to poke gentle fun at rope-sandalled tree-huggers, batty tree-ring-counters are apparently off limits.
    I once saw a photo of a strip bark bristlecone pine on ClimateAudit which made me laugh out loud. Of course, to get the joke, you’d have to know that our futures are being planned for us on the basis of the innards of these weatherbeaten creatures, so you’d have to be informed about the science by decent science correspondents in unbiassed newspapers, which means you’d have to live on another planet. Which I do (or so I’m told by my family).

  11. 11
    tempterrain Says:

    Geoffchambers,

    Yes it has been said that the USA has the best democracy money can buy! 4 paid lobbyists to every elected politician in Washington apparently.

    But the USA has done more than anyone else to alert the world of the potential problem. Do you think that was just an oversight on the part of the US government? Incidentally, I’d say it was. And, if AGW is all a government beat-up to justify higher taxes why was Jim Hansen gagged? Governments in the USA need the revenue as much as, if not more than , any other government, so they should have been cheering on Jim Hansen according to your theory.

    How about this for a theory? No politician is going to do anything other than wish the problem would just go away. The associated time constants are just too long for any action to be meaningful on the scale of the electoral cycle. The political risks of offending people like yourselves, the fossil fuel companies, mining interests, people like Rupert Murdoch and the right wing press generally, greatly outweigh the benefits of keeping people like myself onside. The best we can hope for is that the Greenwash turns out to have slightly more substance to it than may be likely.

  12. 12
    tempterrain Says:

    Geoffchambers,

    Your anti-science slip is showing. “batty tree-ring-counters”?? Maybe you have some better and different ideas for determining palaeological climates? Or maybe you don’t care? Its all just part of a plot by the evil capitalist classes to increase the burden on the international working classes?

    Aren’t Socialists supposed to embrace science? Didn’t Marx write about “Socialism: Utopian or Scientific” ? Wasn’t he one of the first to speak out in favour of Darwin’s ideas?

  13. 13
    TonyN Says:

    The diagram in this post is clearly based on the situation in the UK three years ago. This thread is not concerned with general views on US politics and I don’t want that kind of discussion here.

  14. 14
    geoffchambers Says:

    tempterrain #11, 12
    4 lobbyists to every elected politician = 100,000 voters to every lobbyist, by my very rough calculation. We’re still winning.
    Jim Hansen gagged? I wonder if its really worth arguing with you. I’m glad the NS thread exists, as a sort of testament to something or other (the incredible patience of Max, TonyB et al. maybe) but can we keep your amazing, courageous lone Samurai epic to just the one thread?
    You say: “’batty tree-ring-counters’? Maybe you have some better and different ideas for determining palaeological climates?” In two words: Hubert Lamb. I’ve only read a paragraph or two, but I can tell the difference between academic research of the highest standard and footling around with data on a computer. The excellent statistical Emperor-debagging performed by McIntyre, Montford and others is only part of the job. The part performed by the likes of TonyB and Anthony Watts is just as important; placing climate research back in the mainstream of human activity by linking it to everything else we humans do, from whaling and exploration to honest data analysis.
    What you say here is really interesting:

    No politician is going to do anything other than wish the problem would just go away. The associated time constants are just too long for any action to be meaningful on the scale of the electoral cycle. The political risks of offending people like yourselves … greatly outweigh the benefits of keeping people like myself onside.

    I don’t agree, and no doubt we’ll have the occasion to debate it elsewhere. But I do agree with you about socialists embracing science. Why they prefer to embrace trees is one of the great mysteries of our time.

  15. 15
    manacker Says:

    TonyN

    Your lead post is spot on. It may have been originally intended to describe in more detail the diagram, which was based on the specific situation in the UK three years ago, but it still applies in a broader sense today.

    You depicted the symbiosis and interdependence between the key power players on AGW very accurately. In his later book, Peter Taylor described this as a “collusion of interests”, and pointed out why calling it a “conspiracy” misses the point.

    To use a physical analogy: Three years ago it certainly appeared that the multi-billion dollar “dangerous AGW” juggernaut had become an unstoppable, self-sustaining perpetual motion machine.

    But with these machines there is always the problem of friction, represented by reality (or truth).

    In the case of the AGW machine, the recent revelations of impropriety, gross exaggerations and flawed science have, in effect, been the sand in the gearbox to magnify this friction.

    Will the juggernaut now grind to a halt?

    In democratic societies it is the voting public, which eventually decides on major issues. This may be a more direct process in Switzerland than it is in the UK, but I would argue with you that it exists in all democratic countries.

    This public can be bamboozled only so long by media headlines, pseudo-scientific disaster predictions cloaked as science, political smooth-talk and PR, but Abraham Lincoln’s saying will eventually apply and truth will prevail over hype.

    The polls all over the world are showing that this process has already begun. And it is my firm belief that this process is truly unstoppable.

    Max

  16. 16
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    To come back to your statement (already challenged by geoffchambers) that James E. Hansen has been “gagged”:

    Playing the “victim card” here does not wash. This guy is publishing his disaster predictions at an alarming rate (largely at US taxpayer expense).

    Just check all the garbage by Hansen that’s out there.

    “Gagged”, indeed!

    Max

  17. 17
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    Well if the American public is paying Dr Hansen’s salary it only seems right that they should have the full benefit of his research!

    I’m not sure how effective the Bush administration’s efforts were in their attempts to keep him quiet, probably not very, but, to my knowledge, they never bothered to deny these sort of accusations:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/nasas-climate-scientists-gagged-by-white-house-440962.html

    Geoff Chambers

    Dendrochronology; dendrology

    Ever heard of these branches of science?

  18. 18
    tempterrain Says:

    TonyN,

    Looking from far away it does strike me that the English do have a tendency be over concerned with the “situation in the UK” as you put it. Not just on Climate change but, for example, the GFC and other issues too. The UK is country of 60 million people in a world of 7 billion. – The UK’s policy on climate change doesn’t just happen in isolation.

    You’ve really got to look at the bigger picture.

  19. 19
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You opined:

    Well if the American public is paying Dr Hansen’s salary it only seems right that they should have the full benefit of his research!

    The US taxpayer is paying Hansen for unbiased factual data on weather and climate.

    Unfortunately, that is not what he has been dispensing.

    Instead, he is publishing his personal views on “disastrous (imminent) climate change”: “tipping points” occurring at CO2 levels of “at most 450 ppmv (wait! maybe even only 350ppmv!)” leading to “irreversible deleterious climate changes” resulting in “sea level changes in this century that can be measured in meters” and “extinction of many species”, all caused by (you guessed it) evil “coal death trains” (comparable to the human death trains in Nazi Germany) as determined by his climate model simulations.

    Is this “the full benefit of his research” or plain scaremongering by an AGW-activist?

    What do you think, Peter? I’d call it the latter, pure and simple.

    Max

  20. 20
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    I’d agree with you that whatever the UK does on “climate change mitigation” (including a direct or indirect carbon tax) it will not have one iota of impact on our planet’s future climate.

    Glad you see it that way, too.

    I’d even go a step further and say that whatever any nation or all nations in this world do on “climate change mitigation” it will not have one iota of impact on our planet’s future climate.

    Would you agree with this statement as well?

    Max

  21. 21
    manacker Says:

    TonyN

    A minor “addition” to the masterful “symbiosis chart”, which you put into words:

    “Industry benefits from Government” (Q) should include the money-shufflers, hedge fund operators and carbon traders who hope to get a slice of the carbon trading pie once governments pass “cap and trade” legislation.

    Max

  22. 22
    TonyN Says:

    Max @ 21#:

    At the time that I constructed the diagram those things were no more than a twinkle in the warmist eye. But you are certainly right; they should be included now.

    Peter @ #18:

    The UK is still, so far as I am aware, the only nation with legislation enacted with specific targets for Co2 reduction through to 2010 2050. For at least three years we have been told that we are world-leaders in this field and, for once, there is probably some truth in this claim. We are, arguably, at the centre of the big picture, and what happens in his field, if none other, has global significance. Particularly the inability or unwillingness of others to follow our lead.

    From my far away perspective, it would be interesting to hear from the coalface how similar legislation is playing in the Australian election.

  23. 23
    geoffchambers Says:

    The Guardian has an exclusive today, reporting that the Government has put CO2 emission criteria for new power stations “on hold”, permitting the construction of new coal-fired stations.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/15/coal-fired-power-stations-coalition
    The change of government had already falsified the “government – industry” relationship on your diagram. It looks as if reality may break up your depressing pattern of positive feedback loops, leading to the more normal situation of a clash of interests. With the need to keep the lights on pulling one way, and Chris Huhne and a bunch of Kingsnorth protesters pulling the other, it should be no contest.
    I suspect this is where the battle will be lost or won, on the grounds of hard-headed political expediency. Climategate, the hockeystick, and the IPCC will fade into obscurity. It would be a shame from my point of view (and I expect PeterM will agree with me) if faith in the UN, NGOs, and respect for the environment go into the recycling bin of history as well.

  24. 24
    tempterrain Says:

    Max,

    You ask “I’d even go a step further and say that whatever any nation or all nations in this world do on ‘climate change mitigation’ it will not have one iota of impact on our planet’s future climate.

    Would you agree with this statement as well?”

    Well no I wouldn’t. You don’t even need to ask that!
    But what is curious is that you don’t even agree with yourself! You have previously presented arguments to show that the Earth will warm with increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations, less than the IPCC would say, but still more than “one iota”. Maybe you need to define what an “iota” is?

    Maybe being an AGW denier is a bit like being in the scouts? You get badges for certain achievements. If so, you must get a high ranking one for self contradiction!

  25. 25
    geoffchambers Says:

    PeterM
    An iota is a very small amount, normally defined as the size of a pinhead on which one angel can dance. Now what about answering TonyN’s interesting question about how his diagram applies (or not) in Australia?
    (TonyN: shouldn’t 2010 read 2040 or some such?) [Thanks - fixed, TonyN]
    The diagram is clearly not a map of reality for all times or all places. However, it seems to be a pretty good description of the structure of the AGW debate in Britain under Labour (though not of the situation in the USA, where the normal two-party system introduces turbulence into the relation between government and the other players).
    The change of policy I mention in #23 above is probably due to the changed relation between government and industry (conservatives are more willing to listen to industry’s demand for a sane energy policy). So the Cameron promise to be greener than Labour comes to nothing when it opposed to the reality of longterm political relationships. This fact alone makes the diagram an interesting tool for analysing the developing AGW story.
    PeterM, you are not the only one who is going to be discomfited by the unravelling of the warming myth. It gives me no pleasure to see the leftwing press and parties made fools of by their blind faith in what passes for science. The media, the academic world, and the establishment in general are going to have a lot of explaining to do for decades to come.

  26. 26
    manacker Says:


    PeterM

    Read what I wrote again:

    I’d even go a step further and say that whatever any nation or all nations in this world do on ‘climate change mitigation’ it will not have one iota of impact on our planet’s future climate.

    Then ask yourself: what specific actionable proposals can you recommend for “all nations to do”?

    We all know that a direct or indirect carbon tax will not result in any change in our planet’s temperature – no tax ever did.

    So lets look at a very ambitious actionable proposal made by your favorite AGW hypster, James E. Hansen:

    1. Stop all new construction of coal-fired power plants in USA (the second largest CO2 producer with number one coal reserves) after 2010.

    2. Shut down half of all existing coal-fired plants by 2050.

    Hansen’s “proposal 1” would end up reducing the increase in global atmospheric CO2 by around 3 ppmv. Using IPCC’s exaggerated climate sensitivity assumption, this reduction in atmospheric CO2 would result in a temperature reduction of 0.03°C. This proposal would involve an investment of roughly $430 billion over the next 40 years, assuming the replacement plants would be conventional nuclear plants (the added investment would be considerably higher if the replacement plants were wind or solar plants).

    Hansen’s “proposal 2” would end up reducing the increase in global atmospheric CO2 by around 2 ppmv. Using IPCC’s exaggerated climate sensitivity assumption, this reduction in atmospheric CO2 would result in a temperature reduction of 0.02°C. This proposal would involve an investment of roughly $630 billion over the next 40 years, assuming the replacement plants would be conventional nuclear plants (the added investment would be considerably higher if the replacement plants were wind or solar plants).

    So we have an investment of $1 trillion to reduce the temperature by 0.05C.

    This is a major and very costly “actionable proposal” that has no measurable impact on our climate, so is a complete waste of money, as I am sure you would agree.

    I have posted the calculations and references involved earlier on the NS thread, but will be glad to repeat, if you have forgotten

    Bring specific actionable proposals, Peter, and we’ll see if my statement is correct or not.

    By “actionable proposals” I do not mean vague goals for reduction of CO2 emissions to X% of year Y (these are meaningless, because they are not “actionable”).

    I also do not mean levying direct or indirect carbon taxes: these have no impact on our climate as you, as a scientist, must know.

    Awaiting your specific actionable proposals with an estimate of resulting reduction in atmospheric CO2 plus future temperature by a defined year, plus an estimate of the investment cost involved.

    The ball is in your court, Peter.

    Max

  27. 27
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    Not to get too deeply buried in the vagaries of English semantics, but geoff has given one good philosophical “definition” of an “iota”.

    The online dictionary defines it as “a tiny or undetectable amount”.

    I’d say that a temperature reduction of 0.05C (as would result from Hansen’s $1 trillion proposal on coal-fired power plants) is “a tiny or undetectable amount”.

    Now let’s hear those specific actionable proposals that “all nations” should take in order to have a detectable impact on our planet’s climate.

    Awaiting your specific reply as requested in 26.

    Max

  28. 28
    TonyN Says:

    The diagram was constructed at a time when I was trying to work out what was driving AGW alarmism in the UK, and it was never really intended for publication. I posted it now more as a historic curiosity than anything else.

    It would be a mistake to try and apply all the relationships it suggests too rigorously to present day circumstances. However, supposing that the diagram still holds good in a general way, then it shows, as Geoff suggests, that interfering with one of the relationships could have a catastrophic knock-on effect for the robust nature of the structure as a whole. And one of the things that impressed me when I drew it was that in graphic terms it is a very robust structure indeed.

    What I think it shows fairly well is that research findings are only significant as a driver after they have been assessed, filtered and interpreted by other players and that none of those players can be entirely disinterested about the outcome. This relegates scientific research, in the true sense of trying to discover how the climate system works, to a secondary role or worse.

  29. 29
    manacker Says:

    TonyN

    This is all getting a bit philosophical, but I do not believe you have to apologize at all for your 3-year old analysis of the interrelations and symbiosis between the powerful interest groups, which created climate change hysteria.

    It is still very valid today.

    It shows the static picture as it was in 2007 (and essentially still is today, although we all see that the hysteria is starting to crumble).

    What cannot be shown in such a diagram are the internal and external factors, which are leading to the “crumbling” of the hysteria today: the dynamic impact of revelations of fudging and other impropriety in the “climate science”, the increasing number of “scientists” who are speaking out against the hysteria, the resulting loss of confidence in the “science” supporting hysteria, the increasing public awareness of the potential costs and futility of proposed policy actions, the effect on public opinion and the ensuing pressure on politicians, etc.

    I would suggest that these are factors, which will effect the future static picture.

    Maybe someone will draw a similar diagram (including “the public” as a separate “power group”) a few years from now entitled:

    “Was This Network Instrumental in Ending Climate Change Hysteria?”

    But, as part of “the public”, we all have to understand how and why the hysteria was even created, before we can (1) proactively fight against this hysteria by insisting on clarity, openness and unbiased reporting and (2) finally analyze how the hysteria was destroyed.

    Max

  30. 30
    tempterrain Says:

    Geoffchambers,

    You ask “Now what about answering TonyN’s interesting question about how his diagram applies (or not) in Australia?”

    Where has he asked that? I don’t think TonyN is talking to me these days! :-)

    But I’d say that the Australian situation parallels pretty closely the US situation. Prior to the Nov 2007 the Australian government adopted a denialist position. Any Govt pressure on organisations like the CSIRO would have been to oppose rather than support the international consensus.

    The idea that World science has been pushed into its present position on AGW by governments eager to find ever more ways of imposing taxation just doesn’t stack up.

  31. 31
    geoffchambers Says:

    PeterM#30
    see TonyN#22, and thanks for the information about Australia.
    You say: “The idea that World science has been pushed into its present position on AGW by governments eager to find ever more ways of imposing taxation just doesn’t stack up”.
    Fair enough. TonyN’s diagram shows that there are mutually reinforcing pressures coming from a variety of directions. It’s usefulness lies in the fact that it counters the common accusation that we sceptics believe in a conspiracy, and it demonstrates how pressures from different players in the complex social scheme can sometimes reinforce each other in surprising ways.
    To take your point about world science being pushed by governments: of course, it would be ridiculous to suggest that the great mass of scientists can be persuaded to falsify data by simply dangling fat government contracts in front of them. But a very slight unconscious tendency to please their paymasters, reinforced by a number of other slight pressures coming from peers, the media, their own political and social beliefs – any number of sources – may produce the results we’re talking about – a gentle boffin in a beige pullover exulting over the death of a colleague and rival. It’s terrible, but at the same time normal.
    The fact that TonyN’s diagram “works” – i.e. demonstrates the peculiar stability of the AGW edifice – is due I think to the absence of the normal “checks and balances” present in a complex society. If you think of the diagram as a chart of ocean currents, you’d expect areas of turbulence, sudden changes of direction, a chaotic system, in other words. Just as, in the case in question, you’d expect to have to factor in government and opposition, left and right wing media, etc.
    We sceptics have an unfortunate tendency to compare the AGW movement with other far more perverse movements in history, referring to religious fundamentalism, eco-fascism etc. There may be some justification in this, in that a totalitarian society typically exhibits the tendencies manifested in TonyN’s diagram. Possibly totalitarian tendencies arise when the different players exhibit the kind of convergence of interests we see here. Which is not to say that environmentalism is ecofascism, simply that we critics perceive vaguely the similar roots of “one-way thinking” present in the two cases.

  32. 32
    tempterrain Says:

    Geoffchambers,

    You say “it would be ridiculous to suggest that the great mass of scientists can be persuaded to falsify data by simply dangling fat government contracts in front of them.”

    You should be saying “It is ridiculous to…” Whenever that line of argument is put forward as it often is on this blog too.

    Furthermore have you any evidence that “fat government contracts have ever been dangled”?

    Its not the defence industry. Fat government contracts? You’ve got to be joking.

    Incidentally, it is worth comparing the justification for the many billions of dollars which are spent on “defence” on the off-chance that someone might actually invade, with the costs of doing something serious about AGW when all the scientific evidence is that the risks are orders of magnitudes higher.

  33. 33
    manacker Says:

    geoffchambers

    In your excellent post to PeterM, you mention:

    The fact that TonyN’s diagram “works” – i.e. demonstrates the peculiar stability of the AGW edifice – is due I think to the absence of the normal “checks and balances” present in a complex society

    This is correct, as it shows in a static snapshot how the “network was able to create climate change hysteria” (as seen from the UK standpoint in 2007).

    And the “AGW edifice” has been remarkably “stable”, so far.

    But I would argue that, on a longer-term dynamic basis, the “checks and balances” do exist in our “complex society”.

    These result from the “pubic” (a separate, slow-moving, but extremely powerful force, not shown in the diagram).

    Initially, the “public” is influenced by the “media” (disaster predictions), with input coming from “climate science” (model projections, etc.) , “green activists” (imminent extinctions and inundations, etc.), “industry” (“green” opportunities) and “government” (PR for “policy changes”, “immediate action”).

    But (all of the) “public” cannot be “fooled all of the time”, and this is where the “checks and balances” slowly come in.

    Some “scientists” do not go along with the wave of “climate hysteria”, and these bring scientific arguments that counter the “mainstream message” (of hysteria) and, in particular the more absurd predictions by opportunistic “politicians” turned “environmentalists” (Gore) or “scientists” turned “environmentalists” on the hysterical fringe (such as Hansen).

    The past predictions made do not occur as projected and this is pointed out to the “public”.

    Examples of data manipulation and exaggeration, collusion and other malfeasance by “scientists” are exposed, further eroding the “public” confidence in (and blind acceptance of) “climate science”.

    The “public” also slowly becomes aware of the costs it must bear if the mitigation steps proposed by the “government” are really undertaken; at the same time the “public” becomes skeptical that these mitigation steps will have any real impact on our climate, as no one can show the “public” what this specific impact will be.

    And then comes the fact that our climate has not really warmed for almost a full decade now, despite record CO2 levels, as has been pointed out in reports, which the “public” has seen.

    This fact is only corroborated by the record cold winters over the past few years in the populated areas of North America and northern Europe (and most recently South America, as well), which the “public” has witnessed directly.

    As the polls show an ever increasing “public” skepticism of the “climate change hysteria”, a backlash of pressure on the politicians (“government”) is starting.

    In a democratic society it is this pressure that can gradually change the picture and provide the “checks and balances” needed for the pendulum to swing back on “climate hysteria”.

    This may take longer this time than it has with earlier “doomsday hysterias” due to the obscene amounts of taxpayer money involved, the stubborn and elitist “we know better what’s good for you” attitude among many of those in government power and the symbiosis between the powerful, entrenched interest groups (Tony’s diagram), but it will inevitably come.

    And the world will have a new “fad”, with all of Tony’s powerful interest groups scrambling to become part of the action.

    Plus ça change…

    Max

  34. 34
    tempterrain Says:

    Geoffchambers,

    I’m sure that I could draw a diagram with green elipses and lines joining them up to each other which would “work”, as you put it, just as well.

    But it’s hardly necessary. What about the simplest explanation of all? That climate scientists have identified a problem and people like yourself are having a hard time accepting it at face value.

  35. 35
    manacker Says:

    PeterM

    You tend to oversimplify (and, in so doing, miss the point) when you write:

    What about the simplest explanation of all? That climate scientists have identified a problem and people like yourself are having a hard time accepting it at face value.

    This could just as easily have been worded (another oversimplification):

    Politicians have used taxpayer money to purchase a scientific opinion to gain popular support for their agenda of levying a carbon tax to increase tax revenues

    Neither oversimplification tells the real story of the interrelated symbiosis between the various power groups in creating the hysteria surrounding climate change nearly as well as Tony’s chart.

    You say you could draw a better chart: please do so.

    Max

  36. 36
    jorgekafkazar Says:

    These entities range from symbiotic to parasitic in relation to society at large. The network has passed a tipping point and is now capable of killing the host.

  37. 37
    manacker Says:

    jorgekafkazar

    Great post (36)!

    Can you explain exactly what you were talking about? (It’s not too clear.)

    Thanks!

    Max

  38. 38
    geoffchambers Says:

    jorgekafkazar #36
    I agree with Manacker, your post is intriguing, if confusing. The “entities” in the diagram are simply the active agents in a society. I don’t see how they can be described as “parasitic”, even if I may personally be critical of some of their actions.
    I agree, however, that the diagram gives the impression of a “tipping point” because the multiple positive feedback loops suggest a snowball effect which is unsustainable and must break down. The question is – which part of the diagram willl give way? Which agent will fail in its effort to increase its own importance? Will the public lose faith in what they read in the media? Will the media drop their fascination with Green activism? Or will the government reduce funding to scientists because of their perceived failings?
    In normal circumstances, the diagram should be dynamic, due to the internal tensions within each entity (government v opposition, economic considerations v environmental, leftwing v rightwing media etc). It’s the consensus promulgated by scientists, politicians and environmental editors whiich leads to the positive feedbacks, and a diagram which suggests cancerous growth of some malignant entity, rather than simple treatment of a possible problem.
    I realise my meanderings rest at the level of analogy. I was hoping someone could give this fascinating diagram a more concrete, scientific treatment.

  39. 39
    TonyN Says:

    Geoff:

    You are right, it would be very interesting to know what a social anthropologist would make of all those interactions.

    I think it was you who posed the question some time ago; where are the social scientists when such an obviously fascinating field of research (AGW alarm) has developed over the last few years?

    Perhaps it’s a combination of peer pressure and getting funding from bodies that would find the ‘wrong’ answer very embarrassing. Or is it that scientific curiosity is now confined to ‘safe’ subjects?

  40. 40
    Alex Cull Says:

    TonyN, Geoff, I too have been very interested for a while now about the role that the social scientists should be playing in all this, but clearly aren’t. I read Scared to Death by Booker and North earlier this month; the book has its flaws, I think, but the authors are right to address the phenomenon of scares, and why and how they occur. Where, though, are the comparable books written by anthropologists, sociologists and social psychologists – Leon Festinger’s heirs, as it were?

    Google “social scientists” together with “climate change”, and the results are illuminating. From SciDev Net (“Natural and social scientists must work together to build public support for action against climate change”) to Seed Magazine (“If natural scientists know what we should be doing, only social scientists can determine how we’ll get it done.” – I recommend reading this article, by the way), to Nature.com (“Climate change is the ultimate collective-action problem,” says Steven Brechin, a sociologist at Syracuse University in New York. “How do you get people to agree in the short term to solutions for a long-term problem?”)

    There appears to be an almost total lack of doubt as to whether a) science has determined that significant man-made global warming has been occurring (the default assumption is that it has) or whether b) the worst-case scenarios offered by IPCC and the media are likely (the default assumption is that they are very likely indeed, probably inevitable) or c) what should be done about it (the default proposition is that everyone should cut their energy use to the bone in the shortest time possible, reduce consumption to a minimum, and in all ways comply with the voice of authority, said authority being the State with the support of its scientific institutions.)

    Why this absolute certainty, though? One theory I’m playing with at the moment is that it could be a result of the inferiority complex suffered by many social scientists where their work is viewed in the context of their natural-science colleagues (which is misplaced, I think – human beings are as much “things in the world” as electrons or oak trees, ergo are legitimate subjects for scientific enquiry). Refusal to defer to the natural-science “consensus”, in other words, would be to challenge their relatively low position in the pecking order, and would mark them out for professional criticism, ridicule even. Thus the confining of their scientific curiosity, Tony as you say, to “safe” subjects.

    This theory still probably has quite a few holes – it’s a work in progress, let’s say.

  41. 41
    geoffchambers Says:

    Alex
    I’m sure you’re right about the inferiority complex of social scientists (and – I’d add – almost everyone else) with respect to “real” scientists. The eagerness of social scientists to do authority’s bidding figured largely in Chomsky’s criticism of American imperialism, I seem to remember. So it’s not a question of left versus right.
    To the question: where are the social scientists? I’d add: Where are the comedians, the novelists, the performance artists? All the social commentators you’d expect to stand out against the “pensée unique”, the one-way thinking, are as rigidly “on-side” as Soviet intellectuals under Stalin. It’s baffling.

  42. 42
    Stuart Huggett Says:

    The social science angle is very interesting. It has occurred to me that in a rational world any of the people in the nodes on this network would be very grateful if they were told that new data showed that AGW was not as catastrophic as they first thought – as sceptics do to them constantly. In fact, though the opposite happens, they get annoyed – to say the least. I think that this says something about the strength of the ties that bind those nodes together but I suspect it says a lot of other things as well. Is there some clue here as to how this network might be broken into to make it more dynamic and creative?

  43. 43
    TonyN Says:

    Stuart Huggett:

    You’ve obviously given this some thought and it would be interesting to hear more. The same thing puzzles me.

  44. 44
    manacker Says:

    Stuart Huggett

    You ask:

    Is there some clue here as to how this network might be broken into to make it more dynamic and creative?

    I believe this process is occurring before our very eyes.

    The network still exists, and the powerful economic and political forces binding it are still strong, but they are beginning to weaken.

    How is this occurring? And why?

    It is being threatened by a process of rational skepticism, by the democratic participation of another un-mentioned “power group” (i.e. the “public”) and by the free and open flow of information.

    As Judith Curry has acknowledged, the blogosphere has been instrumental in allowing this free flow.

    And the blogosphere is slowly gaining importance vis-à-vis the mainstream media, which has, in general, elected to present the politically correct “mainstream view” on AGW unskeptically.

    The blogosphere, on the other hand, has, in general, allowed the free exchange of alternate ideas, in debates between proponents of different viewpoints, where each is free to present his own logic and rational conclusions. (Note: some blogs have been specifically set up to promote the “mainstream” message; these often simply censor out “non-mainstream” views; but I would suggest that these sites are “the exception that proves the rule” of a generally open blogosphere.)

    These exchanges, in turn, give bystanders (“lurkers”) the chance to hear different viewpoints, to do some checking on their own of the data out there and to come to their own rational conclusions.

    The argument has been made (almost exclusively by those supporting the so-called “mainstream” view on AGW) that only qualified climate scientists should be allowed to enter this debate.

    This argument misses the point entirely, for several reasons.

    The debate surrounding AGW is not only a purely scientific one, it also involves major political and economic issues affecting everyone. The “science” itself is not so abstract and complicated that it can only be understood by highly trained theoreticians. And finally, “climate science” is still in its infancy and the “unknowns” surrounding our planet’s climate are still much greater than the “knowns”.

    Most of us here live in democratic societies with representative governments. It is the public, which will eventually decide on major policy issues through the election processes in their nations, with the vote of a climate scientist counting no more than anyone else’s vote. The notion that the politicians in power “know better what is good for their electorates” than the voters themselves do is a self-serving myth of the politicians, and those politicians who fail to listen to their electorates will eventually lose political office.

    As to the question of how this process can be accelerated, I think the answer is by active participation in the debate and by letting your elected representatives know your wishes.

    Max

  45. 45
    Nathan Felt Says:

    The argument goes that will Obama wants to contact a demographic that wouldn’t ordinarily vote in midterm elections with regard to the candidates performed screeching, off-key handles of Whitney Houston sounds. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the media appeared to be slamming Obama for “demeaning” the office with the President of north america by appearing on that Daily Show? I can’t wait to hear what the pearl-clutchers inside media have to say using this latest GOTV effort by the President.

  46. 46
    TonyN Says:

    There is a post by Judith Curry that no one should miss here:

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/03/reversing-the-direction-of-the-positive-feedback-loop/#more-930

    This is a carefully argued and thoughtful account of how climate hysteria took over from climate science by someone on the inside who was in a position to watch it happening.

    Much of what Curry says confirms parts at least of the diagram at the head of this post and views that have been expressed elsewhere on this blog. Let’s hope that there are some people other than climate sceptics who will listen.

  47. 47
    geoffchambers Says:

    TonyN #46
    I thought of your diagram and this thread as soon as I read the Curry article, wich was recommended at Bishop Hill, so I’ve posted a comment at Curry’s site linking to here.

  48. 48
    manacker Says:

    TonyN

    The blog article by Dr. Curry you cited (46) is very much to the point in describing the process that led to the current credibility gap of the IPCC in particular and “climate science” in general. It is receiving a good number of comments, a good portion of which seem to agree with Curry.

    Interestingly I just read an article by Michael Lemonick in the November Scientific American entitled “Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues”. The on-line version is here:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-heretic.

    The author is a member of Climate Central Inc., an environmental policy activist group; we read from its website:

    Climate Central is a nonprofit, collaborative group of scientists and communicators. Our mission is to create a bridge between the scientific community and the public, providing clear, honest, nonpartisan, and up-to-date information to help people make sound decisions about climate and energy.

    and

    our communications professionals work hand-in-hand with Climate Central’s Ph.D.-level experts in the sciences, technology and public policy, and with an extended network that includes the world’s leading thinkers on climate science and policy.

    Scientific American has previously endorsed the IPCC position on climate change, so there is little surprise that this article does not directly question its validity.

    In his article Lemonick questions whether or not Dr. Curry has acted as a “peacemaker” (between the “mainstream” group and those who are skeptical of this group’s conclusions) or rather as a “dupe” (of the vested interests behind the skeptics). He leaves little doubt that, while Curry may have intended to be the former, it is likely that she became the latter.

    He expresses concern that Curry has made statements about IPCC such as that it is “torquing the science” and has been guilty of “corruption”. He also believes that it has been a mistake for her to express such views on ClimateAudit, a climate skeptic site.

    Interestingly Lemonick states on one hand

    So it is important to emphasize that nothing she encountered led her to question the science.

    Yet further down he makes the contradictory statements:

    Curry asserts that scientists haven’t adequately dealt with the uncertainty in their calculations and don’t even know with precision what’s arguably the most basic number in the field: the climate forcing from CO2 – that is, the amount of warming a doubling of CO2 alone would cause without any amplifying or mitigating effects from melting ice, increased water vapor or any of a dozen other factors.

    Things get worse, she argues, when you try to add in those feedbacks to project likely temperature increases over the next century, because the feedbacks are rife with uncertainty as well: “There’s a whole host of unknown unknowns that we don’t even know how to quantify but that should be factored into our confidence level.”

    Contrary to what Lemonick has written, it appears to me that Curry is directly questioning the very basics of the “science” supporting the premise that AGW is a potential serious threat, namely the 2xCO2 temperature impact , both with and without feedbacks.

    Lemonick states

    What scientists worry is that …Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus that has been building for the past 20 years.

    The concept of “consensus” is a “political” one, not one of “science” (where it has no meaning and only empirical scientific evidence counts)..

    Lemonick continues:

    They see little point in trying to win over skeptics, even if they could be won over. Says Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and proprietor of the RealClimate blog: “Science is not a political campaign. We’re not trying to be everybody’s best friend, kiss everyone’s baby.”

    But wait: “consensus” is “political”, not “science”, and that’s what the concerned scientists are worrying that Curry is damaging – so their objection to Curry is clearly political and not scientific, after all, despite the word parsing of the author.

    Lemonick concludes:

    it is crucial to focus on the science itself and not the noise

    I would fully agree with this statement. It’s just too bad that Lemonick (plus the scientists worrying about Curry) are not following this advice.

    Max

  49. 49
    TonyN Says:

    geoffchambers, #47:

    Many thanks. By coincidence, I think, Barry Woods has just asked for permission to use the diagram in a post at WUWT, so perhaps it’s beginning to get some mor traction.

    Max, #48:

    I’ll come back to you when I have had a chance to look at your refs.

  50. 50
    TonyN Says:

    Max, #48:

    I was actually quite pleased to see Lemonick’s hatchet job in Scientific American; the worst fate a whistle blower like Curry can face is being ignored. I have great admiration for the courage and integrity that she is displaying, and those who are attacking her seem like pygmies by comparison.

    What kind of scientist makes a statement like this one from Lemonick’s article, where a conclusion is built into the proposition?

    The public at large wants to know whether or not climate is warming, by how much and when, and they want to know how bad the effects are going to be.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-heretic&print=true

    Lemonick seems not to have understood anything that Curry is saying, and this is not the kind of fatuous mistake that she would make.

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