Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’ _by Professor Cliff Ollier

Infamous Soviet scientist Trofim Lysenko has become topical again after the recent WSJ “Don’t Panic (about global warming)” letter (read about it also here and here). In the interest of historical record, I am posting here the recovered text of “Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’” written some years ago by Professor Cliff Ollier and mentioned in this blog almost four years ago.

The original link does not work any longer (and the WaybackMachine hides the text for some reason). There is also a slightly different version in the Lavoisier Group website. (h/t Justin Ert)

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’
by Professor Cliff Ollier

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [Трофи́м Дени́сович Лысе́нко; pictured left] (1898 – 1976) was an insignificant agriculturalist who thought he had a new way of developing crops that would vastly increase food production in the starving Russia of Stalin. It was called ‘vernalisation’, and it included treating seeds before cultivation to affect their behaviour.

Significantly, Lysenko introduced his ideas first through politics, in which he benefited from weighty support. Some argue that his precepts had a Marxist flavour, because they asserted that biology could be modified in the way that communists wanted to control people’s behaviour. The government was anxious to increase food production and to quell disturbances among the growers, while Lysenko was an adept propagandist. He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants.

Lysenko was the head of the Soviet Lenin All Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, and he ran the nation’s research in this field. He promised to triple or to quadruple crop yields.

He demonised conventional genetics, which again suited his masters, who believed this to be the basis behind fascist eugenics.

No Opposition Tolerated

Opposition to Lysenko was not tolerated, and was labeled ‘bourgeois’ or ‘fascist’. Lysenko used his position to denounce Mendelian geneticists as “fly-lovers and people haters”, which had serious consequences. From 1934 to 1940, with Stalin’s blessing, numerous geneticists were shot, and others exiled to Siberia. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov [Николай Иванович Вавилов; pictured left] (1887 – 1943), for example, a truly great geneticist and biogeographer, was sent to Siberia, where he died of starvation in 1943, while Lysenko, in person, took over his role as Director of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Any survivor of the purge had to keep quiet. In 1948, genetics was officially labeled a ‘bourgeois pseudoscience’, and genetic research came to a halt. Krushchev also supported Lysenko, but, after his departure in 1964, the Academy of Sciences investigated the records, and a devastating critique of Lysenko was made public. The ban on genetics was finally lifted in 1965.

When Lysenko denounced Mendelian thought as reactionary and decadent, he also announced that his speech had the approval of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The parallel for the ‘Global Warming’ movement is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which works through national and international organisations. The IPCC claims its reports are written by 2500 scientists, but in reality they are drawn up by only about 35 people, and are effectively ‘controlled’ by an even smaller number.

Opposition to ‘Global Warming’ is often likened to ‘Holocaust Denial’. We are repeatedly told that there is no debate – hardly a scientific approach. The influence of the IPCC has spread, and it has become increasingly difficult to get research funding without being a ‘believer in Global Warming’.

A New Religion

Why would governments be persuaded to follow this idea before it was scientifically evaluated? One reason may be that there was a rising tide of what some have likened to a new religion – ‘Environmentalism’. Of course, no politician wants to be seen as ‘anti-environment’, or to lose the votes of the ‘Greens’. The ‘Greens’, for their part, are happy to follow the climate-change line because it gives them enormous political power. As a minor party or influence they hold the balance of power, and the major parties dare not offend them.

The propaganda machine of the IPCC is magnificent, with its greatest tool being the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth. This still has enormous impact, although the High Court in Britain did decide it could not be shown in schools without comment because it contained major errors. I suspect that this film was the reason that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Al Gore and to the IPCC.

Another propaganda hit was the infamous ‘Hockey Stick Graph’, purporting to show that temperature was rising at an ever-increasing rate. This has been totally discredited, but it still seems to be branded on the collective mind of politicians and the public. Much Government propaganda has been lent to support ‘Global Warming’, and major media outlets, such as the BBC in Britain, have chosen to join in on the ‘Global Warming’ side.

No Siberia

Climate change, like Lysenkoism, is much easier to understand than the complexities of real science. This appeals to the public, and also to politicians and other influential people, who can talk as if they understand it. If questioned about details, they simply refer back to the IPCC reports.

So-called ‘independent reports’ on climate change have been produced by Nicholas Stern in Britain and Ross Garnaut in Australia. Both Stern and Garnaut make it plain that they are not scientists and have based their conclusions on the IPCC reports. Yet, both continue to make public statements warning about the increasing dangers of climate change. This merely keeps their reports in the public eye, and echoes the flawed science of IPCC ‘Global Warming’.

At a lower level, without the need for evidence, everything can be blamed on ‘Global Warming’ – droughts, floods, malaria, hurricanes, and even global cooling! The IPCC rhetoric continues, although their predictions have failed to come true, just as Lysenkoism continued when the promised crop-yield increases never arrived. The IPCC forecast ever-increasing temperatures, but average global temperatures have become lower since 1998. They have now put off ‘Global Warming’ for 15 years because some other factors have intervened. The models did not predict this, but such details do not affect ‘the faithful’.

Some scientists sided with ‘Global Warming’ in the early days, and are so committed that they cannot now get off the bandwagon. Others worked for the IPCC, but resigned when they realised how their work was being used, or that real science did not support the claims that were being made. Luckily, we do not have the equivalent of Siberia to deal with these scientists.

‘The Global Warming Affair’ has already lasted over twenty years, and many administrative and scientific research centres have sprung up – most of the latter involving computer simulators. Computer simulation has a part to play in science, but it should not replace observation, hypothesis-testing, and falsification. There are now ‘Departments of Climate Change’, for which read ‘Departments of Global Warming Blamed on Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide’.

A Lesson From History: Parallels With Lysenkoism

We should not forget a basic fact, namely that the one villain of the piece – and the one that is costing billions of dollars – is anthropogenic carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of ‘vernalisation’ in the Lysenko era.

In summary, the comparisons between Lysenkoism and ‘Global Warming’ can be rehearsed as follows:

1. Work first through political organisations;

2. Claim that the science is settled. There is nothing to debate;

3. Disregard, or deny, all the accumulating evidence that the predictions might be wrong;

4. Demonise the opposition (Mendelian geneticists; ‘Global Warming’ Deniers);

5. Victimise the opposition (execution and exile; loss of jobs or research funds, public and media humiliation);

6. Relate to a current ideology (Stalinism; Environmentalism);

7. Support a vast propaganda machine; and,

8. Create a huge bureaucracy where many people have careers dependent upon ‘the ruling concept’.

The parallel can be seen perfectly in a work by Helena Sheehan(1), who wrote of Lysenkoism:

“What went wrong was that the proper procedures for coming to terms with such complex issues were short-circuited by grasping for easy slogans and simplistic solutions and imposing them by administrative fiat.”

Lysenkoism was eventually replaced by real science. The same will happen to ‘Global Warming’, because real science will not go away. _____________

(1) Helena Sheehan, 1993. Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History. (Humanities Press International, Inc.).

Further Reading: Paul Reiter, 2004. ‘Passion and politics cloud the climate debate.’ (Nature 431, 739, October 14, 2004|doi:10.1038/431739c).

NOTE TO ALL READERS: About Climate Or Anything Else, Don't Let Up On The Bully

NOTE TO ALL READERS

If you see strange trackbacks on websites from “Ocasapiens” in Italian after I post a comment, there is this feckless Italian journalist whose main activity appears to be following me on Google in order to post abysmal bullying attempts at her blog.

I would feel proud of being an inspiration of anything, however if a blog is measured by the quality of its content, a blog where I am the content can’t be that good.

Live Microblogging Of Launch Event For “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism”

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of the Launch Event of the RISJ publication “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” (British Council, London, November 10, 2011):

  1. At The British Council for the launch of “Poles Apart:the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” by J Painter
  2. Due to start at 6pm, slightly late. No @BBCRichardBlack
  3. Benny Peiser is here. I’ve said hello to chair John Lloyd, had met him years ago in Oxford
  4. Finally it starts. Delay was all the fault of video-linked @Revkin :)
  5. Lloyd : report is unique. Climate change important. IEA says today that door is closing
  6. Video link not perfect. Painter says he’ll be brief
  7. Painter : “summoned by science” published 1 yr ago. Found difference in skepticism.
  8. Painter: people confused about different types of skepticism.
  9. Painter keeps mentioning academic research they wanted to complement
  10. “Is climate skepticism an Anglo Saxon thing”?
  11. Two newspapers per country, left and right leaning but not in China
  12. Focus on 2007 wg1 and wg2 IPCC publication time and Copenhagen time
  13. Shows increase in skeptical voices in US and UK around Copenhagen
  14. “What explains country differences? ” interviews suggest factors
  15. Media and extramedia factors (listed in report)
  16. India – CC as a nationalistic point
  17. Brazil- very large coverage. Journalists said strong science.units in newspapers
  18. Lalaland time
  19. Climategate moved some.uk newspapers away from the others
  20. Lots more analysis for the UK – skeptical voices more in right leaning newspapers
  21. Explanatory factors -.in the report again
  22. . @Revkin frozen in time. Video still imperfect.
  23. Rebecca Nadin talks about China. She’s been there for years to work on climate change
  24. Complex diagram showing interactions in China.
  25. Says mostly discussion is not about AGW vs natural
  26. Chinese government has strong position about AGW. It’s not politically contentious
  27. Over 2200 newspapers and many social media networks
  28. Very limited debate about integrity of climate scientists and no much nimbyism
  29. Pollution concerns very high.
  30. Core group at Beijing uni and academy of sciences debating speed and severity
  31. Mentions agriculture body saying production in inner Mongolia will increase
  32. Immediately adds a however
  33. Some.skeptics depicted as nationalistic nutters
  34. Sciama; starts.with Allegre and another skeptif
  35. . @Revkin alive again
  36. They’re using Webex not Skype
  37. French revolution replacing aristocracy with meritocracy and support for science
  38. Laments lack of skepticism in France?
  39. No coal lobby in France
  40. France is very centralized so importance of State intervention high
  41. He’s explaining belief in AGW in France in purely non-scientific terms!!!
  42. Ends saying opposition to.State.may.make climate policies impossible in uk and USA
  43. Revkin : report.defines skepticism others didn’t
  44. Skepticism and support are variegated
  45. Mentions Inhofe giving floor speech saying hoax is about catastrophe of global warming
  46. USA exceptional for many reasons. More fuel consumption and many climates
  47. Public discourse always degenerates in.shouting matches
  48. Policy debates are legitimate @Revkin
  49. Bob Ward laments the GWPF – skeptic voices given opinion pieces
  50. Revkin mentions Delingpole as selective and duplicitous. Liberal opinion makers in USA stretching “but”.
  51. Lloyd : ft not into entertainment. Penchant for combat eg debating societies
  52. Tom of ecologist magazine asks about treatment of skeptics in TV media
  53. Revkin talks of study about fox news. Pretty clear which way they lean.
  54. Networks fairly “progressive” on climate change
  55. Benny Peiser : report is comprehensive and balanced. Definition of skepticism but gwpf skeptical of policy
  56. Thanks Bob ward for the hits
  57. Gwpf focus not on science rather government approach so more media coverage
  58. Revkin says Peiser is.right problem is policies leftists is USA did.disservice making AGW a single sentence
  59. World will end soon
  60. Blogger mentions criticism of NYT by Romm.
  61. Another q: science cannot settle debates
  62. Phone rings at the Revkins
  63. Part of the news.process means being wrong.some of the time Joe Romm is.never wrong – laughs
  64. Painter talks of think tanks bloggers tradition of questioning the.science
  65. Revkin : even without fuel lobby there’d be not much action
  66. Difficult to.change as.fossil fuels still.cheap -.forces of.stasis.have an easy task
  67. Left.journalism to work on fostering innovation
  68. Meeting now of climate scientists about ozone.treaty
  69. . @Revkin gone.
  70. Online media amplifying skeptical coverage?
  71. Empirical evidence of coverage online depending on generating traffic
  72. Blogospheric.pressure in France? New.phenomenon
  73. People outspoken to generate traffic? Not in France
  74. Chinese blogosphere? Environment not.global warming
  75. Water pollution more meaningful to people’s life
  76. Rapley – skeptics talk of uncertainties to prevent action. Risk assessment?
  77. Painter : haven’t looked at framing. Quantitative analysis
  78. Should understand what kind of skeptics “we’re talking about”
  79. Climategate emboldened the daily express in mentioning skeptical voices
  80. More.questions showing French reaction not as in uk
  81. Elite debate in France for.years.
  82. Steve.Jones of bbc report fame. Says typical reporting strives for balance
  83. Media.don’t understand debate in.science?
  84. Due impartialityis important according to Painter
  85. Lloyd bbc criticized for having expoused. Climate change not easy for the bbc
  86. I asked.about need for academic findings so.report isn’t much good.
  87. Another q: more people.haved moved away from extremes.
  88. Another q: media lacking about political economy of climate change
  89. Not many people talk of policy?
  90. Nadin: change in degree of skepticism yes in China. Debate on adaptation.
  91. Talks of “climate change” forcing people to.relocate
  92. Sciama: science journalist talking science. (Maybe that’s problem?)
  93. Shift in position towards warming but natural
  94. More worried about disappeared climate reporting than space given to skeptical voices
  95. Datasets are academic conclusions less so

Live Microblogging Of Cardinal George Pell’s “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change” For The GWPF

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change”, the GWPF Annual Lecture by the RC Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell (Oct 26, 2011) (not exactly a staunch traditionalist, apart perhaps from his views on the family), presented on the evening by Benny Peiser with:

[...] In this week’s issue of Church Times, the weekly journal of the Church of England, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester and one of our Trustees and who, I am happy to say, is with us tonight in the audience, wrote:

The Churches have tended to follow climate alarmism with uncritical enthusiasm, but it is now time to take stock. The moral issues surrounding climate policy, as well as the underlying scientific and economic issues, are much more complex than is usually acknowledged. It is time for the Churches to recognise this, and to lead a debate which helps our society to a more sensible set of policies.

I believe that nobody has done more to raise these awkward questions within the Catholic Church than Cardinal Pell. It is an irony of our bewildering times that it is a courageous churchman who dares to question one of our society’s most entrenched dogmas – but that is exactly what he will do tonight.

  1. Reached Cardinal Pell’s lecture some 30 minutes late Will microblog whatever is left
  2. Cardinal Pell talking of English wines and warm Greenland
  3. Room quite full, more than 100 people for sure Yes, there’s a podium and a microphone
  4. Now mentioning the globality of the medieval warm period
  5. Maya civilization collapsed during MWP
  6. Conclusions: Western world unlikely to develop further of money is spent to fight global warming
  7. “Extreme weather events are to be expected but are always unexpected”
  8. “Money should be spent to prevent vulnerability”
  9. Too often people approach climate change with assumptions not questions
  10. Need a cost benefit analysis economically and morally
  11. Any benefit apart from more money to governments via taxes and to whoever works in the AGW sector?
  12. Long applause 30 minutes of questions
  13. Q: AGW nonsense is a cult or a biz opportunity or political? Q: Roman Catholic concerns on climate change? Even Pope
  14. A: no judgment on people’s motives A substitute of religion for some $10B/y for years Not much global government
  15. A: 9 years Chairman of Caritas Australia so has seen the world and third world
  16. Speaking as individual – RC is a Church with no competence on scientific claims
  17. Cardinal Pell sees his speaking as a way of telling the truth People may disagree but he’d like to see good policies
  18. Q: oil running out, new extractions make environment worse Q: Political divergence between Australian parties?
  19. A: eventually we will run out of fossil fuels Past predictions spectacularly wrong Technology will provide alternatives
  20. No apologies for the mistreatment of anybody anywhere Some commercial developments are very rough Try minimize costs
  21. Says he has not much opinion on either Australian political parties
  22. Q: why the IPCC never cares about the advantages to the world of increased CO2? Q: theology of husbanding resources
  23. A: no mention of advantages? (Talks of Bob Carter’s book) People reluctant to admit anything contrary to previous belief
  24. A: husbanding the world for the future yes
  25. My Q: do Cardinals talk about AGW when they meet up? Q: responsible for future? Pope might disagree with Pell
  26. A: never discussed AGW among Cardinals Opinions evenly divided in a conference
  27. A: pontifical academy of science also contains differing opinions Husbandry important but what are the facts?
  28. Follow Church for morality and religion not obligated to follow the PAS on science
  29. Q: Attenborough mention of changes due to climate change Will make claim that humans are partially responsible
  30. Q: (more theology)
  31. A: Attenborough’s changes? Things have always changed We can pick and choose anything for any argument
  32. A: always look at evidence Disagreement among scientists
  33. many geologists doubt catastrophesA: too many unknown unknowns No way of computing the future of climate
  34. Q: did AGW replace Marxism? What right to keep poor nations poor by preventing use of fossil fuels?
  35. Q: AGW is taught as a fact Is that moral?
  36. A: people need a religion so there’s something in people finding comfort in AGW
  37. China very polluted and would need free press We can’t impose impossible fuel standards
  38. There’s been global warming during last 100 years but we don’t know if it’s dangerous and how much humans contribute
  39. Some Christians feel uneasy about their faith so concentrate on feminism or social psychology instead
  40. Q: (inaudible) Q: important points made Opinion on Carbon tax? How can we help poor by taxing them?
  41. A: balance and trust are based on truth Worried about unscientific words uttered by scientists
  42. A: no problem when disagreeing with other people in the Church
  43. end of session with Lord Lawson

Socrates, Or Pointing The Way For The Future Of Climate Science

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system

Actually, it was December 2009 when I wrote in the pages of the Spectator (UK):

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:

"BEST global surface temperature estimates. Gray bars show what BEST says are the 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each datapoint"

And what do we understand about the future? Patrick Frank in Skeptic.com’s Reading Room:

"The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 showing the physical uncertainty of the projected temperature trend when including ±10.1% cloud error (light shading), or the uncertainty in greenhouse gas forcing (dark shading). Inset: A close-up view of the first 20 years of the A2 projection and the uncertainty limits."

In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).

For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.

=====

Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing - it isn’t.

Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:

Socrates was wise in that he knew the he knew nothing, whereas others were unaware of their own ignorance.

If and when such a realization will become widespread, only then climate science will be able to mature away from silly manipulations, towards the approach so nicely described by Professor Sir Bernard Lovell to David Whitehouse:

One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

Schechtman's Lessons

From Haaretz, from an article published a full six months before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Dan Schechtman, some climate-relevant findings. In no particular order:

  1. “Unchallengeable basic tenets” must be considered as transient in any scientific field
  2. Any scientific field that is considered “closed”, “solid”, “total” is ripe for a revolution that will still be burning decades later
  3. New discoveries are surrounded by suspicion and ridicule, accompanied by outright rationalized dismissals
  4. It doesn’t matter if you can show people your discovery. It doesn’t matter if they can replicate your discovery in their own lab. Many will still refuse to believe it. We have not moved an inch since the times of Galileo and telescope-denier Cesare Cremonini
  5. Many of them will change their mind only if the discovery is demonstrated using their old techniques
  6. Scientists-discoverers don’t keep their techniques secret
  7. Many discoveries are observed for many years, before somebody realizes there is a new discovery to be made of those observations
  8. Scientists-discoverers are worried about losing their job because of their discovery
  9. And rightly so
  10. They are even worried of being unable to find any job because of their discovery
  11. You need at least two Professors to support the article describing the discovery, before it passes so-called “peer” review
  12. The famous, influential, powerful people invited to deliver the keynote addresses at scientific conferences, they are very likely wrong on any new topic
  13. We have no idea how many Schechtman’s will forever remain unknown, because they didn’t have the luck and the guts to persevere the way Shechtman did

And now for the excerpts:

[...] Since the birth of modern crystallography in 1912, when x-rays were diffracted from a crystal for the first time, until that moment 70 years later, this branch of science had relied on an unchallengeable basic tenet [...]

The scientists concluded that there can be no pentagonal symmetry in crystals, since they cannot create periodic order – as anyone who has tried to cover a bathroom floor with five-sided tiles knows. In countless observations over many decades, crystallographers indeed saw only geometric crystals, all of them possessing rotational symmetry.

But on that April day in 1982, when Shechtman looked at the pattern of points created by the crystal of the alloy he had prepared in the lab from aluminum and manganese, he saw a structure that contradicted both rules: the 10 points that appeared through the microscope attested to the existence of pentagonal symmetry; and the immediate conclusion was that the crystal did not possess a periodic structure. Shechtman had discovered a new world, in which there are solid crystals, but the known order was gone. [...]

Within days, his peculiar ideas generated suspicion and ridicule, to which he would be subjected for some time [...]

“I told everyone who was ready to listen that I had material with pentagonal symmetry. People just laughed at me,” [...]

In the months that followed, he tried to persuade his colleagues in the lab that what they were looking at was a previously unknown crystal. But in vain. “I knew my observations were in order. I couldn’t explain the phenomenon, but I knew it was material that no one had seen before me, impossible material according to the laws of crystallography,” he says [...]

One day, the administrative director of his research group approached him. “He gave a sheepish smile, placed a textbook on my desk and said, ‘Please read what’s written here.’ I told him that I taught my students from the book, but that I also knew that we’re dealing with something that exceeded the book’s understanding,” Shechtman says. The director returned 24 hours later and asked him to leave the research group, because he was “bringing disgrace” on the members. [...]

the researchers at the institute were not able to check the discovery for themselves. Many of them did not know how to work with an electron microscope, which is the most appropriate tool for identifying rotational symmetries in small crystals. Moreover, he notes, “They were not really interested in dealing with it.”

Shechtman also forwarded the findings to a friend, who was about to go on a scientific tour. When the friend returned, Shechtman relates, he brought an array of off-the-wall explanations for the 10 microscopic points, gleaned from colleagues. None of them took seriously the possibility that it was a case of pentagonal symmetry. [...]

only one person was ready to listen in earnest: Prof. Ilan Blech [...] Shechtman now felt sufficiently confident to publish an article on the subject. Until then, he says, “I was afraid to publish alone, in case it turned out to be nonsense.” [...]

Shechtman turned to the senior scientist John Cahn, who had invited him to work in the institute. Cahn initially had reservations, but afterward worked with Shechtman and proposed that they co-author an article. For the mathematical aspects he added a French crystallographer, Denis Gratias, and the three wrote an article that was a concise, refined version of the first article. They added Ilan Blech’s name as a fourth author and sent the article to Physical Review Letters, which also deals with physics. The addition of Cahn’s name turned out to be a winning move: the article appeared in November 1984, within a few weeks of its submission [...]

To get researchers to believe him, Shechtman described exactly how to prepare the alloy. “There are people who keep the mode of preparation secret, but I wanted every researcher who had an appropriate laboratory to be able to prepare the material and examine it under an electron microscope within a few days,” [...]

despite the success in repeating the experiment in several labs, only a few scientists accepted the thesis of pentagonal symmetry. Leading scientists rejected Shechtman’s conclusions, and towering above all of them was Linus Pauling [...]

“There are tens of thousands of chemists in the United States, and Pauling was their star,” Shechtman notes. “He would open the conferences of the American Chemical Society, and quasiperiodic crystals were always his topic. I attended one of the conferences, at Stanford. Thousands of people were there, and he attacked me. He would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.’ [...]

In the first years following the discovery, Shechtman’s support came primarily from physicists and mathematicians. But crystallographers had a serious problem with the findings: Shechtman had used an electron microscope, whereas their main tool was the x-ray. “It’s as though a mechanical engineer were to explain to a heart surgeon how to perform an operation,” Shechtman says. “From their point of view, I was not a crystallographer, because I had used a tool they considered imprecise and illegitimate.” [...]

in 1987, friends of Shechtman’s from France and Japan succeeded in growing quasi-periodic crystals large enough for x-rays to repeat and verify what he had discovered with the electron microscope: the existence of pentagonal symmetry. [...]

“In the forefront of science there is not much difference between religion and science,” Shechtman says. “People harbor beliefs. That’s what happens when people believe something religiously. The argument with Linus Pauling was almost theological.” [...]

As his fear of not finding employment faded, Pauling’s assaults became a compliment for Shechtman. “I realized that if it’s Pauling against Shechtman, then at some level we are equals. [...]

Prof. Shlomo Ben-Abraham, one of the first Israeli scientists to support the discovery, says, “Until Danny’s discovery, we thought the subject of crystal structure was completely closed. Today, nearly 30 years later, we know we have not even scratched the surface. [...]

Prof. Ron Lifshitz, a physicist from Tel Aviv University, describes Shechtman’s discovery as “a scientific revolution that is still in going on.” Science, he says, must now answer questions that were once thought to be basic and closed, such as what a crystal is, alongside new questions, such as how the nonperiodic structure influences the qualities of those materials. [...]

For decades, crystallography clung to a mistaken description of the physical world, which was presented as a solid, total truth. On the other hand, that same science was able to acknowledge its mistake and refute long-held basic assumptions within a relatively short time, once the theory was shown to be inconsistent with reality. Still, it was necessary to have someone who is capable of shouldering the revolution.

Prof. Ben-Abraham explains Shechtman’s strength: “The greatness of a discoverer lies in knowing what he has discovered. People encounter things and ignore them for one reason or another. I know of four documented cases in which people found this before Danny.” However, he notes, because all the books state that pentagonal symmetry is inconsistent with periodicity of crystals, the researchers ignored what they saw. [...]

Klima Süß

(comment just left at WUWT)

From the [Crownies] show’s website (my emphasis):

Richard is prosecuting a case in court, this time with a good chance of winning. But he is not happy. He has to prosecute his climate scientist hero Tim Coghburn for assault, after Coghburn punched a persistent climate denialist, James Watt. Watt is an annoying gadfly and Richard detests all he stands for. And the fiasco is made worse when Richard sees Coghburn is being represented by Richard’s old, much admired law lecturer. Richard makes a stuttering start in court, and the defence QC makes Watt look unreliable and a bit of a goose. Part of Richard wants to lose because of his environmental concerns, but part of him needs a win. Richard finally cross examines Tim Coghburn and gets to reconcile his needs. He leads Tim through a series of questions as put by James Watt and his ilk, stirring Coghburn’s anger as he airs the simple rebuttals. Eventually Tim blurts out that yes, he did hit James Watt, and it felt great. Richard has his win, Tim is fined, and Watt still comes out of it looking like an idiot.

If it were England, a trip to the defamation court would have been in order.

Anyway…a filmed story that has no connection with reality and portrays the “villain” using basic, demeaning stereotypes? Where did we see that already

Wolfgang! Wolfgang! What Have You Done?!

Here’s some commented text from paper 1 at pages 1 and 2 of issue 1 of Remote Sensing, Feb 20, 2009…yes, of course an editorial by brown-nosed Professor-with-little-to-teach Doctor-with-nowhere-to-guide-to Wolfgang Wagner, introducing the new journal with “A Better Understanding of Our Earth through Remote Sensing” (PDF):

We are so accustomed to seeing satellite pictures of the earth that it seems as if there is nothing left to be discovered. [...] Yet, does this truly mean that all the secrets of the earth have now been disclosed? Can we extract all the information we need from existing earth observation data?

No we can’t. Why? Because of people like you, Wolfgang, trying to remove credibility from those that do use “existing earth observation data” and spending their time sending apologies to the ones who pretend “there is nothing left to be discovered“.

[...] we have now more open questions and needs for environmental monitoring capabilities than ever before [...]

No we don’t. See above. How did you dare mention “open questions” a few months before Copenhagen?

[...] What is the mass balance of glaciers and how strongly does their melting contribute to sea level rise? Are sea surface temperatures rising and will we experience more hurricanes and tropical storms as a result of that? Can we measure subtle changes in sea surface salinity and how do they affect ocean circulation?[...]

Say what? So, in 2009 you did ask questions like a climate skeptic. Wow. Impressive.

[...] These and many more question can only be answered by combining remote sensing and geophysical modeling capabilities in a process-oriented framework.

Process-oriented, uh? As in, by establishing processes that do not depend on the whims and egos of the people involved. What a dream. Too bad it died around 30 months later, when your “framework” stopped caring about the “process“.

The scope of the new journal Remote Sensing is to publish regular research papers, reviews, letters and communications covering all aspects of the remote sensing process, from instrument design and signal processing to the retrieval of geophysical parameters and their application in geosciences. Remote sensing is understood in broad terms, encompassing a wide range of sensors that acquire data about the Earth and its environment, and other physical objects and processes [...]

Now this is important. You know, following your resignation people have started saying the nastiest things about Remote Sensing, a minor journal of no interest for climate science. People who? People like the person you apologised to, dear Wolfgang.

[...] Remote sensing is a highly interdisciplinary field where electrical engineers, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and surveyors meet with their colleagues from photogrammetry, GIS, and the various geosciences[...]

They meet, alright, then what? You try to ostracize some of them, uh? Do they have to listen to a recording of all RealClimate posts in Vogon language?

Is that what a meeting of minds should be about?

[...] Due to the confounding influence of other natural parameters it may for example not be possible to achieve an unambiguous interpretation of the remotely sensed data. The limited number of independent measurements may also mean that an exact solution is unattainable or at least impracticable [...]

So if you KNEW all of this in Feb 2009, what made you throw it away in Sep 2011? On which date exactly did your mind lose coherence (or you evil cousin took over)?

[...] The scientific challenge is to develop retrieval algorithms that describe the physical measurement process in sufficient detail, yet be simple enough in order to allow a robust inversion of the remotely sensed signals [...]

Are you sure your newly-found friend Gleick would agree? Actually, do YOU agree with that statement and if so how can you, now?

[...] My personal wish is that Remote Sensing will stimulate the exchange of scientists from around the world [...]

And yet, when you have seen your wish granted you ran away. What have you done, Wolfgang? Do you realize, from yesterday onwards, each and every paper published on Remote Sensing will be greeted by a question: “What does Kevin Trenberth think about it?”.

It’ll be better and more sincere for MDPI to add a little note to every contribution: “I’m Kevin Trenberth and I approve this paper“.

——

ps in his introductory editorial, Wolfgang mentions “climate change” twice, “global carbon balance” once. Of the seven rhetorical questions he poses, six can be traced to climate change. I don’t know what one should think, but the importance of “climate change” for Wolfgang and Remote Sensing is self-evident.

Policy Lass (And The Climate Bullies) Didn't Get It

I knew I was asking for a miracle even bigger than catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, still for a few short hours my optimist side took over and kept waiting for any signal that Policy Lass would “get it”.

“It” being the rather obvious fact that by antagonizing anybody that doesn’t adhere to their particular aspect of climate faith, by focusing on exclusivity nobody will ever be able to see approved and then implemented any policy, climate or otherwise. That applies to democracy, but also to pretty much all dictatorships apart from Burma and North Korea perhaps.

Now, considering also the fact that 19 years of international climate efforts have been even less effective than 40 years of international illegal drugs efforts, one starts to wonder

does Susan/Policy Lass/Shewonk actually care about the environment, climate change and the planet, to the point of being willing to participate to the building of effective, practical, realistic, implementable environment and climate change policies…or is she just interested to participate to a good fight?

The end result of my probing? Susan “Shewonk” didn’t get it, actually launched into a tirade of extreme pessimism regarding policy of any kind. That still doesn’t explain what she would find worthwhile in berating people that don’t totally agree with her. Also somebody (Friedman?) said pessimists are right, but it’s the optimists that can change the world. So Susan can’t change the world, and doesn’t even want to.

Another commenter “sharper00″ went a step further, and appeared to justify the aforementioned berating by the desire to tell people when their attitudes and decisions are not based on science, where “science” is whatever “sharper00″ means it is. It’s the famous strip, why don’t you come to sleep, wait, somebody’s wrong on the internet. This doesn’t strike as a particularly effective way of saving the planet either.

In a few short hours things degenerated, as usual, with the all-too-predictable actions of a pair of bullies, the aforementioned sharper00 and the notorious Dhogaza, transformed in the Climate Torquemadas, spending their Saturday by reading my contributions to Steven Goddard’s blog in the insane attempt of finding a mistake for me to admit. I’m feeling honored already.

What they found, was instead a collection of sarcastic remarks. Alas, they didn’t get that either. How many people really equate sarcasm to “joke”, I wonder. Apart from climate believers that is.

Anyway…what I find ridiculous in the extreme, beyond sarcasm even, is that those that scour the web in search of a “denier” to bully, are the same people that claim the world is going to experience a series of disasters unless something’s done pretty quickly.

It makes absolutely no sense.

Reposting anyhere my complete blog presence since January 2003 will do nothing, nothing, nothing at all wrt preventing the AGW disasters they fill their mouths and keyboard with. So why would anybody do that?

Why do they do that?

There has to be somebody out there capable of explaining themselves.

Peer Review (And Fraud) Ain't The Only Things To Fix In Modern Science

Worried about Editors of scientific publications overeager to publish only what confirms and conforms to their prejudices? Of peer reviewers too friendly to their omerta-based ilk and too ideological to accept what may contradict their work?

And now there is something else to worry about, in the realm of scientific publishing: foul play in citation (aka “bibliographic negligence” and “citation amnesia“).  That is, the malpractice to “forget” the citation of a rival’s article, or of previous research that would detract from the allegedly unprecedented, ground-breaking nature (and therefore, importance) of one’s article.

As suggested by Richard Gallagher in the same article, the solution may be straightforward:

We need a code of practice for citation, which journals should adopt explicitly. Gene Garfield called for this many years ago, suggesting that authors sign a pledge or oath that they have done a minimal search of the literature and that to the best of their knowledge there is no other relevant work. This is, in fact, the oath one signs when filing for a US patent.

But can the above be used to poo-poo modern science? Au contraire. Listen to Gallagher again:

Judging by the amount of publicity for fraud and greed in science, standards appear to be in freefall. I am not sure that I buy it. I think that the openness gifted us by the Internet is revealing the lax standards that have been in place all the time. The purifying glare of publicity may actually help us [the scientists] get our house in order—I wish that the editors of research journals would get this.

On Climate Change, Hands off Phil Plait!

I find them silly in the extreme, those global warming skeptics taking it upon themselves to send insults to people like Phil Plait for the one reason that the author of “Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing ‘Hoax’” and “Death from the Skies!” is not exactly a passionate campaigner against that extremely poorly thought-out of scientific theories, anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

For one thing, Plait (whom I met personally in London a few months ago) has studied and debunked many, many kinds of hoaxes, so it is all very natural for him to consider AGW skepticism as “denial” if he sees in climate change skeptics the same pattern of behavior as in those believing in UFOs and a global conspiracy around the “Apollo Moon hoax” (first and foremost, a barrage of insults).

Secondly, from his very words it is clear that Plait is not interested in the study of weather and climate really, and his stance on AGW is what most persons will have: that is, follow the experts (emphasis in the original)

[experts have] been studying [greenhouse warming] a long, long time. It’s a very difficult field of research, fraught with hidden variables, difficult measurements, and political landmines. But chances are they know more about this than you and I do. There’s a reason they’re called experts, folks.

It must be noted that Phil Plait is a very active representative of a large community of Skeptics, alongside the likes of Michael Shermer and James “The Amazing” Randi. Their collective motto is well described by the following words by the Skeptics Society:

the key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between “know nothing” skepticism and “anything goes” credulity“

Interestingly, plenty of time is devoted by Skeptics to debunk silly astrological and creationist claims.

For some reason though, even if Plait may still think otherwise, “global warming skepticism” is considered as belonging to a whole different category than pseudoscience. For example, the Skeptics Society’s “Skeptic” magazine has recently provided plenty of space to Patrick Frank to state the following (“A Climate of Belief“, Vol.14, no.1, May 2008):

the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the current warming of Earth climate is scientifically insupportable because climate models are unreliable

I recommend Phil Plait and all to read Frank’s article, if only as evidence that it is illogical to call “global warming skeptics” as “deniers”: because rational skepticism is the informed reader’s proper response to AGW claims.

In the words of Patrick Frank:

[...] The proper response to adamant certainty in the face of complete ignorance is rational skepticism [...] It is critical to keep a firm grip on reason and rationality, most especially when social invitations to frenzy are so pervasive. General Circulation Models are so terribly unreliable that there is no objectively falsifiable reason to suppose any of the current warming trend is due to human-produced CO2, or that this CO2 will detectably warm the climate at all. Therefore, even if extreme events do develop because of a warming climate, there is no scientifically valid reason to attribute the cause to human-produced CO2. In the chaos of Earth’s climate, there may be no discernible cause for warming.

Who knows? Perhaps one day Phil Plait will make the final connection between the flimsiness of AGW theory and the Mark Twain quote below, from his old website’s homepage.

“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore … in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long… seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long… There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

In the meanwhile, it’d sure help if nobody’d insult him.

Global Warming Joke

(inspired by “How to Be Right About the Climate: Always!“)

An atmospheric physicist, a metereologist and a famous climatologist are interviewed for a position as climatologist. The atmospheric physicist is asked: “What do you predict for the climate next year?” and proceeds to answer:

I am not sure, but give me a supercomputer and I will set up the calculations for a rough forecast“.

It’s now the metereologist’s turn, and the answer is:

I am not sure, but provide me with the seasonal charts and the observations from previous years, I will set up the calculations in order for a rough forecast“.

The famous climatologist is finally asked “What do you predict for the climate next year?“. To that, the answer is:

Whatever you want me to predict…“.

The Tragedy of The Conformist Scientist

Sadly, great comments are lost in millions of blogs, simply because they can only be found by scrolling down (=wasting time) through giant lists of other comments. Here’s an example of something that I am not sure many people will spot.

It’s from Willis Eschenbach, posted in Climate Audit, and it’s an appeal to all scientists that have seen their work twisted in the name of Climate Change, and still cannot be bothered to make the point clear.

Perhaps believing that it is right to the say the wrong thing for the right reason.

[...] IF you feel that Mann is mis-using your datasets, you have a scientific obligation to make that fact known. [...] science is not built upon agreement. It is built upon falsification, and for science to work, somebody has to be the bearer of the bad news. Somebody has to speak up, to post notice each and every time the Emperor is more than threadbare, to point out when in fact he’s buck naked.

This, to me, is the most discouraging part of climate science in general, and dendroclimatology in particular. You guys rarely seem to find a single fault in even the most egregious examples of your compatriots’ work. Observing the silence of all of you lambs, I’m left with two choices for an explanation of the pervading stillness:

1) Climate science is in such an advanced state that nobody is making any mistakes, or

2) Climate science is in such a pathetic state because nobody is making any waves.

Don’t you guys care that your chosen scientific field is becoming the butt of jokes? Don’t you care when someone makes unsustainable claims based on the data you worked so hard to acquire and analyze? Don’t any of you folks care that Michael Mann is dragging the good name of paleoclimatology through the mud?

I keep waiting for someone in the field, anyone, to have the balls stand up and publicly say something like “Linah Abaneh’s thesis reveals a deep problem with the Graybill proxies, and possibly with proxy data collection in general,” or “Mann is using the Brown proxies upside down”, or anything but the deafening silence [...]

science is a blood sport, it is built on proving that the other guy is wrong. If you don’t have the stomach to stand up for your principles, if you don’t have the balls to name names and dissect fraudulent claims, then go be an auto mechanic or something.

Because a man who won’t speak out to keep his own scientific backyard clean, a man who is unwilling to point out both scientific mistakes and scientific malfeasance in a clear loud voice, is only pretending to be a scientist. [...]

You do not gain points by silence in the position that you are in. You do not gain points by ignoring the errors of your fellow scientists. [...]

Climate science is sick, and dendroclimatology is moribund. That’s the problem, and no amount of golden silence will be enough to cover that up. It’s time for you guys [...] to take on the task of cleaning out the Augean Stables that have sprung up in your very own backyard.

Response to Zombie Blog (Greenfyre’s)

Hello Greenfyre

I certainly support letting everybody perfectly free to use their own definitions. As long as it is clear what they are talking about.

That 1961 New York meeting I have blogged about, was sponsored by the American Metereological Association and The New York Academy of Sciences. That should be enough to consider it an important conference. And it was co-chaired by Rhodes W. Fairbridge, not a minor figure in the last 40/50 years of climatology. Furthermore, it was followed by another meeting in Rome, organized by UNESCO and again with major climatologists in attendance (J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. C. C. Wallén , E. Kraus).

Once again in Rome, they all agreed that the world was cooling. The full proceedings are available and I extracted some interesting snippets.

If scientific experts meet once, and then meet again, and there is general agreement among them that the world is cooling, I’d say most people will agree that THAT is evidence for “global cooling scientific consensus”.

I am just using perfectly common and sensible definitions for “cooling”, “global” and “consensus”.

If instead you decide e.g. that “global cooling” has to mean “predicting future cooling”, feel free to do so: but please do yourself a favor and provide reasons for your choice.

Because of course the more we restrict a definition, the less the chance that anything will fall into that category.

This “restricting the definition until there is nothing left” is after all what Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck have done in their largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus”.

You say "Climate", I say "Energy"

Which one is true? (a) Energy Production is one of the issues around Climate Change, or (b) Climate Change is one of the issue around Energy Production…

That is not an idle question, because we are usually presented with (a), whilst there is some strong indication that the underlying situation is (b): in other words, that the panicking about Climate Change is one of the strongest levers in an overall strategy to shift economies away from their reliance on fossil fuels.

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We can start from the recent curious decision by the UK Government to bring together Climate and Energy in a single “Department” (=Ministry). The new Department is being sold as the best way to handle the often-opposing forces towards a “cleaner” country, and the provision of the necessary amounts of energy.

Following the same logic, what’s next? A ”Department of Land Use” taking care of transportation and rural affairs at the same time? Why have all those departments then, since everything can be concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister?

The BBC itself noticed how peculiar the whole arrangement looks, but did not examine it fully in too-short an article by Roger Harrabin. In any case, the marriage of “Energy” and “Climate Change” (usually in the shape of “Environment”) is taking place elsewhere as well.

On The New York Times, a “new blog on energy and the environment” has just been inaugurated. The European Climate Foundation has recently launched a survey on “Energy and Climate Change”. The IPCC has just decided to publish its own study on “Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation” (at this rate, by the way, there will soon be an omnicomprehensive IPCC-pedia with the Panel’s view on everything…).

But in truth, “mitigating, preventing and/or adapting to Climate Change” (just as “protecting the Environment”) is much more than just switching from one energy source to another. And energy policy cannot simply be dictated by climate change concerns.

So if Energy and Climate Change are forced together, which one gives?

Consider Thomas L Friedman sudden summer interest in everything Climate Change:

  1. On May 28, 2008: “Truth or Consequences“, decrying the lack of a good “energy policy for the long-term economic health and security of our country” and advocating high prices for gasoline, forever. “We need to make a structural shift in our energy economy“.
  2. On July 20: “9/11 and 4/11“, denouncing President Bush’s decision to “lift the executive orders banning drilling for oil and natural gas off the country’s shoreline“. Once again we are told the energy crisis should be used “to summon the country to a great nation-building project focused on clean energy” to solve a “multifaceted, multigenerational energy/environment/geopolitical problem“.
  3. On Aug 3: “The Iceman Cometh“, about flying to a remote scientific outpost in Greenland researching climate history in ice cores. Results seem to indicate that “our climate system has the ability to make very abrupt changes all by itself“, hence “the last thing that mankind should be doing is adding its own forcing actions
  4. On Aug 5: “Learning to Speak Climate“, talking about his “very strong opinion” that “our kids are likely going to spend a good part of their adulthood, maybe all of it, just dealing with the climate implications of our profligacy“. Cue stories about a warming Greenland.
  5. On Aug 10: “Flush With Energy“, applauding bicycles in Denmark and the notion that the 1973 oil crisis made that country become energy-independent. Local Prime Minister confirms: “The cure is not to reduce the price, but, on the contrary, to raise it even higher to break our addiction to oil“.
  6. On Aug 12: “Eight Strikes and You’re Out“, denouncing Sen. John McCain absence from every vote on renewable energy legislation. Without public financing, there cannot be “investments by many players in solar and wind so these technologies can quickly move down the learning curve and become competitive with coal and oil“.

What is Friedman’s overall concern? I think it is not climate change, rather moving energy production away from oil and all other fossil fuels.

“Climate Change” plays a secondary role, because the thrust is all concentrated on “breaking the addiction to oil”.

Friedman of course has a new book just coming out now: “Hot, Flat, and Crowded“, where he talks of being not in the year 2008, but in ““1 E.C.E.,” the first year of the “Energy-Climate Era””. Friedman makes the case that everybody wants to reach American levels of consumerism, and that is unsustainable: because of the excessive demands in energy, bring about Climate Change and other environmental bad news (such as the loss of biodiversity). And the solution? From the NYT review of the book:

What’s needed is the presidential leadership of an Abraham Lincoln or a Franklin Roosevelt to command enough authority to face down the fossil fuel lobbies and create a single, national system that would instantly release the pent-up innovation and creativity that is ready to get to work, cleaning up America’s energy supply and reducing its demand. Once the United States has done that, and shown that there’s money to be made from the new industry of “greening,” the rest of the world will, as a matter of self-interest, follow suit. In the process, America will have discovered a national mission for itself once more.

The central point is energy production, not changes to the climate. And therefore: when we hear commentators and politicans mention “Climate Change”, it’s “Energy” what they mean but cannot confirm in public.

Climate Change is “just” a tool in the quest to “improve” Energy supply.

Warm Weather Does Not Concern The UK Met Office

An entire article about the unfavourable effects of the weather on people’s health, and not a single mention of anything relating to warmer conditions…

Does anybody know why the BBC and the UK Met Office are unable to logically follow the above, and proclaim a very, very good side of the expected warming in the next years?

Royal Diminishing Society

A slightly off-topic post…

I am talking about the Royal Society, once based on nobody’s words, but where today keeping up the appearances is the only thing that matters.

They’ve just sacked somebody everybody agrees with, including…the Royal Society!

Trouble appears to have been, the RS fears some words could be “open to misinterpretation”. The shock! The horror!

The end result is that they’re diminished, in the words of Lord Robert Winston. This most curious story may be useful to understand recent RS attitudes about people doubting AGW…

ps just to be clear, I do not think creationism can be taken as a viable alternative to evolution, and I consider Intelligent Design as bordering on the blasphemous

Introducing John P. Holdren, Harvard Authoritarian

In supreme case of Irony with capital “I”, and as a fitting tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s courage as a free thinker, the following articles have appeared almost at the same time:

First, selected quotes from Holdren’s raging philippic on the dangers of “unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate” (Holdren is “professor at the Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard and the director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts”):

The few climate-change “skeptics” with any sort of scientific credentials [...] muddying of the waters of public discourse [...] parroting of these arguments by [...] amateur skeptics [...] climate-change skeptics [...] infest talk shows, Internet blogs, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and cocktail-party conversations [...] the denier fringe [...]

The extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable, it is dangerous. It has delayed – and continues to delay – the development of the political consensus that will be needed if society is to embrace remedies commensurate with the challenge. The science of climate change is telling us that we need to get going. Those who still think this is all a mistake or a hoax need to think again.

Presumably, Holdren means climate change skeptics need a good bit of re-education until they change their minds. After all, the danger they cause is because for Holdren, the only way to tackle “the challenge” is by developing an all-encompassing, literally unanimous ”political consensus”.

People should just defer to the experts, and just shut up if any one of those “dangerous ideas” pop up in their heads.

======

Compare the above with what The Economist has to say about Democracy, and the one aspect about which Solzhenitsyn “was wrong”:

Democracies produce a cacophony, in which each voice complains that its own urgent message is being drowned in a sea of pap. [...] The cacophony is the lesser evil. Ideas should not be suppressed, but nor should they be worshipped. [...] There is no sure defence against bad ideas, but one place to start is with a well-educated and sceptical citizenry that is free to listen to the notions of the intellectuals but is not in thrall to them—and, yes, may prefer the sports channel instead. The patrician in Solzhenitsyn hated this lack of deference in the West. That is one respect in which the great man was wrong

======

Holdren’s “unanimous political consensus” is not a solution for climate change. It is an evil, a much larger evil than Democracy, and skepticism, will ever be: because it would mean having no defence against what could potentially be very bad ideas indeed (such as giving climate control precedence over development or fighting disease).

About Debate-Challenged Climate Scientists

A truly awful and extremely funny remark from the recent “Trip Report” by Goddard’s Climate Supremo Jim Hansen:

My guess is that scientists may not fare very well in”…”you-tube “debates” between scientists and contrarians

Why is it funny? Because what Hansen is likely trying to do is rationalize the failure of people like Gavin Schmidt to “win” any debate they are invited to.

As I have already stated, the inherent inability of Mr Schmidt and others in putting forward a cogent argument when publicly challenged, may be the reason why the RealClimate blog’s comment policy leans so much towards censorship.

Why is that statement awful? Because as a skeptic of the Carl Sagan/James Randi/Michael Shermer/Isaac Asimov variety I have followed debating scientists for more than two decades, and have seen them not just “fare very well”, but “win” hundreds of debates against believers in all sorts of fallacies, including the fakery of the Moon landings, UFOs, astrology, the paranormal, etc etc.

Why would climate scientists, and only climate scientists, be unable to survive a public challenge, whilst scientists studying evolution for example win all their debates hands down?

What is the difference? What is special about AGW?

Could the underlying problem be that, as Hansen inadvertently admits, nothing truly important has happened in terms of climate as yet, and the evidence for AGW if not for an upcoming disaster is flimsy? Direct quote from Hansen himself:

It is extremely dangerous to wait for real-world events to be so large that they overwhelm special interests and their contrarian lawyers

In other words, “real-world events” have not been large enough to justify AGW.

ps The “danger of waiting”, by the way, is exactly what some people have been claiming for many years…those people, that is, fond of carrying “The End of the World is Nigh” plaquards.

Hansenspeak: Will Everyone Else Please Shut Up?

Is Jim Hansen evolving to become the worst enemy of AGW policies?

His “Trip Report” published on Aug 4 (from Accuweather’s Global Warming blog) shows the guy is so full of himself, if more people heard him and his style no AGW policy would ever see the light of the day.

Forget pages 1 to 13. Go to page 14 where a “pipe-dream” statement opens up a long foray into paternalism.

Notice how Richard Feynman is described as “leader” and “physics giant” (no prize to understand who should we compare Feynman to).

Grand finale on page 16, with a shameful tirade against “contrarians” (“befogged“, “keeping the public confused“, “were once scientists but now…lawyers“, “special interests“). And of course, ordinary people criticizing Hansen are just “parroting” the “contrarians“.

Who can talk then? Why, the “people who know what they are talking about“. The Pravda editors would have approved.

ps does Dr Hansen realize that the “people who know what they are talking about” statement disqualifies the first 10 pages of his “Trip Report”?

Why Climate Change is Unbearably Naked

What do I find so impossibly sloppy to bear, about Climate Change in its contemporary definition, as the result of human activities (also known as “Anthopogenic Global Warming” or AGW, and usually associated to CO2 emissions caused by humans)?

Yesterday’s incredible (counter-)discovery by Anthony Watts on CO2 measurements getting corrected upwards after having gone downwards “for the first time in history” provides an opportunity for a non-exhaustive list (I may add links to each point next week) of all that depaupers Climate Change of actual meaning:

  • Climate models are all based on forcings, something that cannot be measured. The tool has become the cause.
  • Those same models are demonstrably “right” whatever happens, either warming or cooling (once again, as all they show is that forcings are supposed to do)
  • Proponents are fixated on negativities (not just the newsmedia and the Stern Report…I have some interesting findings about a recent book on Climate Change, and I will publish them this week or next)
  • Climate change is improbably comprehensive in its effects, and yet “Attribution”, the ability to pinpoint a particular change as having something to do with Climate Change, is still up in the air
  • The IPCC itself cannot see much evidence for change in 2/3 (two-thirds!) of the planet
  • The “truth” is that temperatures are going up but if one looks at actual measurements, they are continuously adapted and adjusted. Measurement stations are not increasing in the number, and locations are far from perfect.
  • And now of course, on-the-fly upward adjustments of CO2 data appear just as values begin to go “the wrong way”.

I personally agree with Watts when he writes: “While nefarious motives may not be there, its just damn sloppy IMHO, and given this is the crown jewel for CO2 data I expect far better“.

And please don’t get me wrong…I am perfectly aware that such generalized sloppiness is part-and-parcel of modern Science, with genetists looking for Mendelian transmission of what is not Mendelian and a whole generation of Cosmologists trained on calling 96% of the Universe as “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”, two names for the same thing (“Total Ignorance”).

“Institutionalized Science” is of course 80% rubbish, as per the famous 80/20 rule.

But the whole Climate debate is much more than Science. And for that, there is still so much it needs to be dressed with, before it can be shown as properly thought of, and ready for being a solid basis for a revolution in societal mores.

If I read about “scientists demonstrating that train travel is impossible” I may get a laugh, as people at the time surely did. But when I see all the massive propaganda machine put in place to convince people to turn carbon-free by way of guilt, there isn’t much to be amused of.

If the keys to absolute gullibility are ever found, we may as well all turn back to live up the trees.

Whither a Climate Debate?

Gavin Schmidt writes at RealClimate

“The obvious ineptitude of this contribution underlines quite effectively how little debate there is on the fundamentals if this is the best counter-argument that can be offered.”

But it has been my impression that the main story, Monckton’s press releases notwithstanding, has been (and still is) the FPS Editor remarking that there is a considerable number of scientists skeptical of the IPCC conclusions.

The FPS Executive Committee now states on the FPS July 2008 page that they do not agree with the previous remark, suggesting it is all a matter of opinion.

However, with the APS jumping in against Monckton’s paper with red inks (thankfully now turned to black), and more than one call for the FPS Editor to be “fired” from his volunteer position for the mere reason that he made that remark, I wonder what kind of “debate” could at all be possible?

Actually, I’d rather the APS had replied with Gavin’s words “The obvious ineptitude of this contribution etc etc” challenging any of its readers to come up with something better than Monckton’s.

That would have given debate a chance. As things stand, I pretty much doubt any against-consensus contribution would appear on the FPS in the future, even were such a contribution to surface (and am sure, it won’t: otherwise yet more people’s bosses will receive e-mails asking to “fire the heretics”, an ominous metaphore it there’s ever been one)

"Global" Warming Consensus Forgets Two-Thirds of the Landmass

More figures to understand how awfully incomplete is the current knowledge of global climate.

And it’s very clear for all to see in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report – Working Group 2 (AR4-WG2), in Chapter 1 and in the Summary for Policymakers.

A bumper 96% of reported changes are from Europe and Europe alone. And what does that mean?

It means that for the whole of Australia/New Zealand, the IPCC could find only 6 significant changes (SC). For the whole of Africa, 7 SCs. For the whole of Latin America, 58 SCs. For the whole of Asia, 114SCs.

In terms of SC per square kilometer, Europe has:

1- 11,978 more than Africa
2- 85 more than North America
3- 853 more than South America
4- 1066 more than Asia
5- 3,702 more than Australia/New Zealand
6- 270 more than Antarctica

But one may reply to that, I am putting too much emphasis on the 28,000+ European biological SCs.

Let’s recompute the above with reference to North America then. In terms of SC per square kilometer, North America has:

1- 142 more than Africa
2- 10 more than South America
3- 12 more than Asia
4- 43 more than Australia/New Zealand
5- 3 more than Antarctica

It is blazingly blatant that before we can speak of global warming, more data has to be collected at least about Africa/Asia/Australia-New Zealand/South America .

We are talking 67% of the total land area of the planet.

Is anybody in the IPCC/Al Gore/James Hansen/Tim Flannery crowd pushing hard to get a complete picture of what is changing where and how?

Review, Peer Review and the APS Debacle

With their over-the-top reaction to the publication on one of their newsletter of Monckton’s ideas on climate sensitivity, the APS leaders have shown themselves not stupid…

…because a “stupid” is somebody that damages others without a gain for himself: whilst the APS has only damaged itself.

Look at the “peer-reviewed” issue. Monckton is likely to be behind a wildly-exaggerated press release by the SPPI

Mathematical proof that there is no “climate crisis” appears today in a major, peer-reviewed paper in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 46,000-strong American Physical Society, SPPI reports.

Should have been child’s play to issue a counter-release explaining that there cannot be any mathematical proof in a scientific field (outside of mathematics, that is); that “Physics and Society” is a newsletter, and not a “learned journal”; and that Monckton’s invited article was only part of the beginning of a debate.

Look what’s happened instead: Monckton is now perfectly in the right to state that he’s been unfairly, and uncourteously treated. He’s been invited to write an article that has been published, that then caused APS to undergo all sorts of fits, including a series of unwarranted put-downs plastered all over the place in apparent panic.

In fact: at this very moment both Monckton’s article and the IPCC-consensus piece by Hafemeister and Schwarz sport on top the following statement in black ink (my emphasis) (this is similar to what appeared in red ink on Monckton’s article alone):

The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review, since that is not normal procedure for American Physical Society newsletters. The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

Something similar has materialized at the beginning of the FPS July 2008 issue’s web page:

The Forum on Physics and Society is a place for discussion and disagreement on scientific and policy matters. Our newsletter publishes a combination of non- peer- reviewed technical articles, policy analyses, and opinion. All articles and editorials published in the newsletter solely represent the views of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Forum Executive Committee 

But that is not the way the FPS is presented:

Physics and Society is the quarterly of the Forum on Physics and Society, a division of the American Physical Society. It presents letters, commentary, book reviews and reviewed articles on the relations of physics and the physics community to government and society.

Now..what is the difference between peer-reviewed and reviewed?

Is there such a thing in scientific circles as an article reviewed but not by peers?

Has anybody ever heard of an inferior-reviewed article? Or of a superior-reviewed article? Who knows?

Looks like at the APS they have been cavalier with the issue of reviewing, until now. But if they need to sort out their own house, it should be for the future, and not for the past (unless they want to go against the principle of cause and effect).

And so Monckton on one thing is certainly right: for all intents and purposes, maybe the wrong way, maybe without thinking at the consequence, but Monckton’s article has been peer-reviewed indeed.

Why the NASA Planetary Atmospheres Website Doesn’t Mention Greenhouse Gases

Discussions with people holding a different view are obviously quite likely to help bring one’s reasoning forward (as long as there is no name-calling or other infantilism).

For an example of what can happen, look no further than this exchange with Ed Darrell at his Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. The topic is, what is the relevance of the fact that the NASA Planetary Atmospheres website (PDS-A) doesn’t mention greenhouse gases.

To which my answer has been:

if the experts in the field don’t take it into consideration, I surely want to know why!!

Ed has replied with an interesting suggestion:

The site doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive resource for all studies of all atmospheres everywhere. It’s a site to get a line into work NASA has actually done.

But if that’s true, it means that in all these years, NASA has seldom if ever looked at ways to investigate the same greenhouse effect that keeps Earth’s average temperature above freezing, and Venus with a surface temperature higher than an oven. And furthermore, there is a dearth of data in this most practical of planetary atmospheric fields!!

========

Let’s try to figure out if Ed’s interpretation is right. In its About page, the PDS-A site says “As an additional service, the Atmospheres Node provides information on relevant planetary atmospheres topics for educational purposes”.

There are links for Educators, including to the NASA Planetary Data System College Student Investigators (CSI) webpage that states

The objective of this activity is to involve undergraduate students in research and development projects related to the holdings of NASA.s Planetary Data System (PDS). Through the PDS College Student Investigators activity, the PDS strives to prepare the next generation of PDS science investigators.

A recent proposal is about investigating the role of dust in the thermodynamics of the Martian atmosphere. Neither there nor elsewhere there is any mention of greenhouse gases, a topic that evidently and mysteriously does not interest “next generation of PDS science investigators”.

Going back to PDS-A, there are educational links also to “Broker Forums“. One of them is the web site for the “Sun-Earth Connection” at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, curiously linking to another website “Space Weather” containing a few unorthodox remarks on the Sun and Earth’s climate.

Another link for the Broker Forums goes to NASA’s Solary System Educational website where (finally!) there is some serious content about the greenhouse effect (GH).

And what does that refer to? Step forward ESA’s Venus Express, that lists among its scientific objectives the investigation of

what is the role of the radiative balance and greenhouse effect in the past present and future evolution of the planet?

==============

Chapeau to Ed Darrel, then…for all intents and purposes, NASA has dedicated no mission to the study of the greenhouse effect. That’s why there is no mention of it in the PDS-A site, the Planetary Data System for Atmosphere: simply, there is no data to report. Because nobody ever looked for those.

Is the current state of Climatology on this planet and everywhere else sad or what? If Goddard’s Director and climate worrier James Hansen is unable to gather funds for a terrestrial or planetary mission on the greenhouse effect; or worse, if even he is not interested enough to put one together: then how solid will the science of the climate ever be?

ps Still, the PDS-A Encyclopedia could have had a page on the GH effect. Its equations albeit simplified, still are possible

A Glass Half Full: UK Ofcom's Global Swindle Ruling

Is the glass half-empty or half-full? About the UK media regulator Ofcom’s ruling on the broadcasting by Channel 4 of the documentary “Great Global Warming Swindle”, the BBC writes in the new home page, under “Latest”:

LATEST: A Channel 4 film on global warming broke Ofcom rules on impartiality and fairness, the regulator says.

The link goes to an article by Richard Black, titled “Climate documentary ‘broke rules’” summarised as “A controversial Channel 4 film on global warming broke Ofcom rules, the media regulator says.” Still, it “did not mislead audiences”.

It depends on what rules, one imagines. Much better then, to try to understand what the Ofcom actually says, is to go to their website: “Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin issue number 114” dated July 21, 2008, where one can learn:

  • Channel 4 breached Rule 7.1: “Broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes”, specifically regarding Sir David King and Professor Carl Wunsch
  • In part 5 (final) of the documentary, Channel 4 breached Rule 5.11 about “due impartiality” and Rule 5.12 about including an “appropriately wide range of significant views“; those rules apply because the topic can be included among the “matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy
  • Parts 1 to 4 (final) of the documentary were exempt from Rules 5.11 and 5.12
  • Channel 4 did not breach Rule 2.2 of the Broadcasting Code, about materially misleading the public

Looks like all they would have had to do to pass with full marks, was to provide an opportunity of comment for King and Wunsch, and to mention the full gamut of climate-change-related political opinions…

Enough for now, apart from a link to the 86-page bulletin, 17 of which dedicated to Channel 4 and the Swindle documentary.

ADDENDUM

Quotes from the Ofcom bulletin…there are several interesting points. And lots of meaty stuff hidden behind the statement about “not materially misleading the public”:

[...] Ofcom received 265 complaints about the programme from members of the public. Ofcom also received a substantial complaint 176 pages long from a group of complainants, some of whom were scientists (“the Group Complaint”).

[...] Ofcom is not a fact-finding tribunal and its obligation in this case was to reach a fair and reasonable decision on whether The Great Global Warming Swindle breached the requirements of the Code. Given the ambit of Ofcom’s obligation as regards adjudicating on the complaints, however it was in Ofcom’s opinion impractical and inappropriate for it to examine in detail all of the multifarious alleged examples of factual inaccuracy set out in the complaints

[...] Ofcom therefore chose four particular aspects of the programme to examine as part of its overall assessment of whether the programme materially misled the audience. These were:

the use of graphs;
the alleged “distortion” of the science of climate modelling;
presentation of the argument that the theory of man-made global warming is promoted as a means to limit economic growth;
and, not giving an accurate and fair presentation of the expertise and credibility of various contributors.

These particular areas were selected because they featured in a large number of the complaints, and in Ofcom’s opinion were reasonably illustrative of the key issues and different types of alleged factual
inaccuracy in the programme

[...] (regarding due impartiality) Channel 4 said the programme must be considered within the context of the ubiquitous media coverage of the global warming issue and so, in addressing the question of due impartiality, Channel 4 presented an extensive list of programmes over recent years across all the main channels, including Channel 4, which accepted the view that the principal cause of global warming is man-made emissions of carbon dioxide. [...] Programmes referred to included, on Channel 4: Channel 4 Year of the Environment, 2007; A World Without Water; and The Year the Earth Went Wild. On ITV, Climate Change – Make A Difference and on Discovery Channel Global Warming: What You Need to Know

[...] Ofcom considers it of paramount importance that broadcasters, such as Channel 4, continue to explore controversial subject matter. While such programmes can polarise opinion, they are essential to our understanding of the world around us and are amongst the most important content that broadcasters produce. It is inevitable such programmes will have a high profile and may lead to a large number of complaints.

[...] In dealing with an issue such as the theory of anthropogenic global warming, which is the subject of scientific controversy, those involved in the debate will – by definition – disagree over the factual accuracy of each others’ claims. Therefore, it is to some extent inevitable that in a polemical programme such as The Great Global Warming both sides of the argument will violently disagree about the ‘facts’.

[...] The anthropogenic global warming theory is extremely well represented in the
mainstream media. [...] it is reasonable for the programme makers to assume that the likely audience would have a basic understanding of the mainstream man-made global warming theory [...] the programme was clearly trailed and its authorship was clearly identified [...] At no point did the programme state that the theories it contained were the mainstream or majority view

[...] Ofcom is of the view that the audience of this programme was not materially misled in a manner that would have led to actual or potential harm. [...] Regardless of whether viewers were in fact persuaded by the arguments contained in the programme, Ofcom does not believe that they could have been materially misled as to the existence and substance of these alternative theories and
opinions, or misled as to the weight which is given to these opinions in the scientific community

[...] Ofcom considered it highly unlikely that the programme could have caused actual harm. As to potential harm some complainants had considered that the programme’s questioning of the theory of man-made global warming would create doubt and confusion in viewers’ minds about the need to take action against global warming. Ofcom considers that, although the programme may have caused
viewers to challenge the consensus view that human activity is the main cause of global warming, there is no evidence that the programme in itself did, or would, cause appreciable potential harm to members of the public

[...] (regarding the graphs) Ofcom did not consider the inaccuracy to be of such significance as to have been materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence in breach of Rule 2.2

[...] (regarding the reliability of climate models) Ofcom noted that, although the complainants disagreed with the points made by the contributors in the programme, they did not suggest that the overall statements about climate models were factually inaccurate [...] Overall however Ofcom’s view was that the passages complained of were not materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence.

[...] (regarding the suggestion that some environmentalists are trying to reverse economic growth) In line with the right to freedom of expression, Ofcom considers that the broadcaster has the right to transmit such views and the audience would understand the context in which such comments were made. The content was therefore not misleading

[...] (regarding the contributors to the programme) The decisions by the programme makers not to include all the qualifications of contributors, and not to include more background on them (some of which is strongly disputed), were editorial decisions which overall did not in Ofcom’s view result in the audience being materially misled.

[...] Although this programme was intentionally designed as a polemic, [some of the] comments were so sweeping and intemperate that they risked to some degree undermining the fact that overall the programme very aggressively challenged the mainstream scientific consensus on man’s contribution to global warming, without concluding that the mainstream scientific theory was completely without merit

[...] Ofcom considers there is a difference between presenting an opinion which attacks an established, mainstream and well understood view, such as in this programme, and criticising a view which is much more widely disputed and contentious [...] In the context of this particular programme, given the number of scientific theories and politico-economic arguments dealt with in The Great Global Warming Swindle, it was not materially misleading overall to have omitted certain opposing views or represented them only in commentary

[...] while unfairness to participants has been found (failures to give an adequate opportunity to respond and the unfair presentation of views), Ofcom does not consider that, overall, these failures led to material being transmitted which was so misleading that harm would have been caused to viewers.

[...] for most of its 90 minute duration the requirements of due impartiality did not apply to The Great Global Warming Swindle. This is because for the first four of its five parts the programme did not deal with a matter of political or industrial controversy or matter relating to current public policy. However, in Part Five of the programme Ofcom noted that the discussion moved away from the scientific debate about the causes of global warming, to consider the policies alleged to result from the mainstream scientific theory being adopted by UN and Western governments and their consequences

[...] Ofcom also had regard to the fact that, both domestically and on a worldwide level, the political debate had largely moved on from questioning the causes of climate change to attempting to find solutions to deal with it. Therefore, in the political arena at least, there was a very broad consensus of opinion which accepted the scientific theory of man-made global warming. In this respect it could be said that the discussion about the causes of global warming was to a very great extent settled by the date of broadcast (8 March 2007).

[...] by simple virtue of the fact that one small group of people may disagree with a strongly prevailing
consensus on an issue does not automatically make that issue a matter of controversy as defined in legislation and the Code and therefore a matter requiring due impartiality to be preserved

[...] (in part five) These issues are matters of major political controversy and are major matters relating to current public policy as defined by the Code. During this section no alternative views on this issue were presented [...] Part Five of the programme therefore breached Rules 5.11 and 5.12.

[...] (regarding Sir David King) The (Fairness) Committee found that the views attributed to him and the manner in which they were expressed, amounted to a significant allegation about his scientific views and credibility. The Committee found that Sir David had not been offered an opportunity to respond to the contributor’s criticism. In the circumstances the Committee concluded that the broadcast of the comments, without an offer being made to Sir David to respond, resulted in unfairness to him in the programme as broadcast

[...] The Committee acknowledged that while there is a broad consensus amongst scientists, governments and the public that global warming is directly related to anthropogenic causes, this is still a topic of debate. There continues to be discussion about the different methods of measuring change in the climate, the best way these changes should be analysed, and what predictions, if any, can be made from the data. Indeed such discussion and debate are essential for the formulation of robust,
scientifically sound theories, projections and conclusions. Global warming is clearly a legitimate and important subject for programme makers and it is not Ofcom’s role to adjudicate on whether global warming is a man-made phenomenon or on the validity of particular scientific views

[...] (regarding the IPCC) The Committee found that the programme broadcast a number of comments by contributors that amounted to serious allegations about the IPCC [...] The Committee found that the IPCC had not been provided with a proper opportunity to respond to these allegations. Therefore, the broadcast of the allegations had been unfair.

[...] Channel 4 maintained that the IPCC had been offered an appropriate opportunity to respond. Channel 4 said the right to reply letter had been sent to the IPCC press officer nine days before the programme was broadcast, excluding the weekend which fell in between. Channel 4 said nine days was an appropriate and acceptable time period in which right of reply requests are sent and responses are expected to be received. Channel 4 said that no response was received whatsoever, not even to request more time for the IPCC’s response.

[...] the Committee considered that it was unreasonable for the programme makers to have expected the IPCC to understand that its response was required in a matter of days, and that it was not reasonable to expect the IPCC to be able to provide a response within the one day of being advised of the deadline. The Committee therefore found that the opportunity to respond had not been offered in a timely way.

[...] In the Committee’s opinion, it was not unreasonable to describe the consequences of the changes predicted in the FAR (1990) report as being disastrous, especially for those most likely to be directly affected [...] The Committee did not uphold this part of the IPCC’s complaint

[...] the Committee considered that the programme maker’s had provided sufficient information for the
IPCC to understand the nature of Professor Reiter’s criticisms in relation to malaria [...] the Committee concluded that the IPCC was not afforded a timely opportunity to respond to the allegation that the statements by the IPCC in relation to the spread of malaria were alarmist, untrue and based on poor scientific literature.

[...] the Committee concluded that the IPCC was not afforded an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the allegation regarding the statements by the IPCC in relation to the IPCC’s handling of Professor Reiter’s resignation or the compilation of its author’s lists

[...] the Committee found that the IPCC had not been provided with an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the re-broadcast of Professor Seitz’s reported criticisms

[...] the Committee considered that Professor Wunsch was not provided with adequate information to enable him to give informed consent for his participation. The Committee found this caused unfairness to Professor Wunsch in the programme as broadcast in that his contribution had been used in a programme

[...] In the Committee’s view Professor Wunsch made clear in his full unedited interview that he largely accepted this consensus and the seriousness of the threat of global warming (albeit with caveats about proof) and therefore found that the presentation of Professor Wunsch’s views, within the wider context of the programme, resulted in unfairness to him.

[...] the Committee therefore found that the programme maker’s editing of Professor Wunsch’s comments about the presence of CO2 in the ocean did not result in unfairness in the programme as broadcast. Accordingly the Committee did not uphold this part of Professor Wunsch’s complaint

Is Monckton the Wrong Target?

It didn’t take long for critiques to Monckton’s article at the FPS to appear. But I am inclined to believe that they are pretty much irrelevant.

what is the point of shooting against Monckton when the real offending statement for AGWers, the one that elicited all the “blogosphere brouhaha”, was written by FPS editor Jeffrey Marque?

There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution

Without the above, there would have been no NewsBusters article, no DailyTech comment, etc etc…

Monckton is one, a “considerable presence” is MANY

Why Rational Skepticism is Proper Response to AGW Claims

Many thanks to Ed Darrel at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for pointing once again to the extraordinarily compelling case put together by Patrick Frank in “A Climate of Belief“, an article for the Skeptic society’s online magazine, Vol.14, no.1, May 2008, that:

the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the current warming of Earth climate is scientifically insupportable because climate models are unreliable

I had mentioned it at the time but had not had the time or memory to read it again. For those in need of a quick, heavily emphasized (by me) quote:

The proper response to adamant certainty in the face of complete ignorance is rational skepticism. And aren’t we much better off accumulating resources to meet urgent needs than expending resources to service ignorant fears?

Here a longer extract, from the final remarks (my emphasis):

It’s not that we, “lack … full scientific certainty,” it’s that we lack any scientific certainty. We literally don’t know whether doubling atmospheric CO2 will have any discernible effect on climate at all.

If our knowledge of future climates is zero then for all we know either suppressing CO2 emissions or increasing them may make climate better, or worse, or just have a neutral effect. The alternatives are incommensurate but in our state of ignorance either choice equally has two chances in three of causing the least harm. Complete ignorance makes the Precautionary Principle completely useless. There are good reasons to reduce burning fossil fuels, but climate warming isn’t one of them.

Some may decide to believe anyway. “We can’t prove it,” they might say, “but the correlation of CO2 with temperature is there (they’re both rising, after all), and so the causality is there, too, even if we can’t prove it yet.” But correlation is not causation, and cause can’t be assigned by an insistent ignorance. The proper response to adamant certainty in the face of complete ignorance is rational skepticism. And aren’t we much better off accumulating resources to meet urgent needs than expending resources to service ignorant fears?

So, then, what about melting ice-sheets, rising sea levels, the extinction of polar bears, and more extreme weather events? What if unusually intense hurricane seasons really do cause widespread disaster? It is critical to keep a firm grip on reason and rationality, most especially when social invitations to frenzy are so pervasive. General Circulation Models are so terribly unreliable that there is no objectively falsifiable reason to suppose any of the current warming trend is due to human-produced CO2, or that this CO2 will detectably warm the climate at all. Therefore, even if extreme events do develop because of a warming climate, there is no scientifically valid reason to attribute the cause to human-produced CO2. In the chaos of Earth’s climate, there may be no discernible cause for warming. Many excellent scientists have explained all this in powerful works written to defuse the CO2 panic, but the choir sings seductively and few righteous believers seem willing to entertain disproofs

Against-AGW-Consensus Article on the FPS Before Monckton's

I can’t help but laugh at the incredible somersaults being performed by the Council of the American Physical Society (APS) to reaffirm thieir unshakeable belief in AGW, after allowing the publication in their “Forum on Physics & Society” (FPS) of an article by Christopher Monckton, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered“.

Note: there is one thing I agree with the APS. Monckton’s paper has not undergone any scientific peer review. You see, he’s a Lord (a Viscount, no less) whilst on the ”Council of the APS”‘s side there is obviously no trace of nobility. They have been “discorteous” indeed.

Time will tell about the position (and nobility) of Jeffrey Marque, the Editor of the FPS that has seen his July 2008 comments severely rebuked by the Executive Committee of the FPS. Who’s going to choose what will be published in the October 2008 issue, is anybody’s guess.

Interestingly, the FPS and the APS did not make too much of a fuss in the past, when publishing “heretical” climate-related opinions. For an example, see Gerald E. Marsh’s “Climate Stability and Policy” in April 2008.

Mr Marsh is not exactly your average AGW proponent: he argues that current CO2 levels are too low and contributing to climate instability, suggests that even 750ppmv could still be not enough to stop an upcoming, catastrophic Ice Age. and recommends that the IPCC switch its focus towards “determining the optimal range of carbon dioxide concentrations that will stabilize the climate, and extend the current interglacial period indefinitely”.

For some reason, the above did not cause any digestive pain at the FPS, either with its Editor, with its Executive Committee, or with the Council of the APS itself.

Is Monckton’s paper simply too hot to handle? Plenty of nutrients for conspiracy theorists there, no doubt.

NASA Planetary Atmospheres Website Doesn't Mention Greenhouse Gases

Looks like there is at least one NASA website dedicated to planetary atmospheres, that cares not a zilch about the greenhouse effect.

The Planetary Atmospheres Node (Atmospheres Node, or Atmos) of the Planetary Data System (PDS) is responsible for the acquisition, preservation, and distribution of all non-imaging atmospheric data from all planetary missions (excluding Earth observations). The primary goal of the node is to make available to the research community the highest quality data possible. To this end, data are reviewed and re-formatted where necessary in order to meet the documentation and quality standards established by the PDS

The Education/Outreach section at least, says nothing at all about the greenhouse effect, whilst going into the details of lots of other things, such as how to compute the adiabatic lapse rate (dry).

CO2 and “greenhouse” are vaguely mentioned in few of the Abstracts but for some reason haven’t made it to the Education pages.

ADDENDUM: I am discussing the above with Ed Darrell at his Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

ADDENDUM (2): It seems that we have an answer. That site doesn’t mention the GH effect because no interplanetary probe has bothered yet to study it. Things may be a-changing with ESA’s Venus Express.