I just came out of tonight’s GWPF event in London, chaired by Benny Peiser and with Lord Lawson in the audience. Guest speakers about Climategate were David Holland and Steve McIntyre.
(links added – most of them… I will put all the links tonight)
As usual, here my notes as published live on @mmorabito67 (my “main” Twitter account remains @omnologos):
(for clarity, my own remarks are in italic)
- Around 35 in the audience so far. Holland already seated
- Lord Lawson and McIntyre in the room
- There we go. Attendance around 50
- Peiser quotes damning article by Harrabin in December (and here’s the quote “unless the UEA inquiry is demonstrably impartial it will fail, and a new fully independent enquiry will almost certainly have to be formed“)
- Holland first, about his data requests
- Holland details how nobody could have checked the data before Kyoto’s
- Holland “no poor soldiers, only poor generals”
- Holland’s tells a tale of obfuscation by MetOffice reminding me of opening chapter of HHGTTG
- Holland: Russell report full of factual errors, no investigation of effort to delete emails
- Room almost full now
- McIntyre’s title slide “The ‘Inquiries'”
- McIntyre: 98% emails about Hockey Stick
- McIntyre: independent temp reconstructions not so – same names keep appearing
- McIntyre: Jones, Mann, Briffa prodigious writers of HS-related articles also reviewing each other
- McIntyre: CRU secretive to protect funding without investing on quality control
- FOI at stake on this but many don’t get how important it is
- McIntyre: first upload of emails was to RealClimate, as if a prank
- McIntyre makes fun of counterterrorism involvement
- McIntyre: UEA not investigating in the open – parliamentary reporters too clever compared to environmental ones?
- McIntyre: parliamentary committee left science to Oxburgh
- McIntyre: “trick” needed to “preserve the message” by IPCC
- It all sounds like propaganda reports before the Vietnam war opened eyes of journalists to the now-obvious lies
- McIntyre: independent science Oxburgh commission sent email from UEA
- McIntyre: Oxburgh left no notes or any documentation – no science examined – articles chosen by UEA
- Why would Lord Oxburgh want to associate his name to such a disaster?
- McIntyre: mention “sleight of hand” quote by UK MP
- McIntyre: Russell’s findings not based on anybody else but UEA, (slightly nutty) reference to “natural justice”
- McIntyre: mentions Harrabin referring to him as the most knowledgeable about CRU science outside UEA
- McIntyre: Muir Russell did not go to Jones’ interviews – no rigour, no due diligence
- McIntyre: odd that interviews conducted by climate activist with years of UEA work
- McIntyre: Jones’ request to delete emails a day later FOI request
- McIntyre is steadily destroying Sir Muir Russell’s credibility
- McIntyre: no accountability in the system
- McIntyre: climate science is being depreciated among public by hiding of adverse data
- McIntyre: climate sensitivity an issue. We can’t wait for absolute certainty
- First q: did MWP happen?
- I asked about consequences on democracy and why bother at all. Upbeat answers by Peiser and Holland
- Peiser speculates scientists’ jobs at stake, grandees took credibility hits as no gross misconduct apparent
- IPCC is not following most/any of the recommendations
- McIntyre: grudging consensus against preventing the release of data – would be idiotic strategy in civil lawsuit
- McIntyre: EPA has hockey stick among evidence – very unwise (I can’t find where and when that happened)
- Climategate has put the EPA in “uncomfortable position”
- Peiser: GWPF’s push for effective policies is gaining ground
- Peiser: GWPF report by Andrew Montford out end of Aug 2010
- Sunday Times enviro journalist: have scientists tried to present a clean narrative where knowledge still fuzzy?
- Holland hopeful science community understands things have to change
- McIntyre sees no change, grand statements, critics being blamed
- McIntyre: if hockey stick won’t matter, get rid of it. Plenty of PhD’s in readership, IPCC should focus more
- Peiser concludes hoping Climategate has changed Science and made it more open and transparent
A veritable goldmine of quotes, and surely the best hope for the progress of science this side of Murray Gell-Mann. Let’s celebrate this essay by Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry: “On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II: Towards Rebuilding Trust“.
I have a strong feeling that anybody else selected to carry forward the (reformed) IPCC will look far lesser capable than Prof Curry.
Losing the Public’s Trust
- In responding to climategate, the climate research establishment has appealed to its own authority and failed to understand that climategate is primarily a crisis of trust.
- expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust.
- host of concerns about the IPCC […]: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations.
- The jury is still out on the specific fallout from climategate in terms of the historical and paleo temperature records.
- concerns […] with Working Group II: has a combination of groupthink, political advocacy and a noble cause syndrome stifled scientific debate, slowed down scientific progress and corrupted the assessment process?
- when your science receives this kind of attention, it means that the science is really important to the public. Therefore scientists need to do everything possible to make sure that they effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity, and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints.
The Changing Nature of Skepticism about Global Warming
- I have come to understand that global warming skepticism is very different now than it was five years ago.
- [After the IPCC 4th Assessment Report] big oil funding for contrary views mostly dried up and the mainstream media supported the IPCC consensus. But there was a new movement in the blogosphere, which I refer to as the “climate auditors”, started by Steve McIntyre. The climate change establishment failed to understand this changing dynamic, and continued to blame skepticism on the denial machine funded by big oil.
Climate Auditors and the Blogosphere
- So who are the climate auditors? They are technically educated people, mostly outside of academia. Several individuals have developed substantial expertise in aspects of climate science, although they mainly audit rather than produce original scientific research. They tend to be watchdogs rather than deniers; many of them classify themselves as “lukewarmers”. They are independent of oil industry influence. They have found a collective voice in the blogosphere and their posts are often picked up by the mainstream media. They are demanding greater accountability and transparency of climate research and assessment reports.
- So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)? Again, trust plays a big role […] the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda, are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population.
Towards Rebuilding Trust
- People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers. At the same time, there is a large group of educated and evidence driven people (e.g. the libertarians, people that read the technical skeptic blogs, not to mention policy makers) who want to understand the risk and uncertainties associated with climate change, without being told what kinds of policies they should be supporting.
- building trust through public communication on this topic requires that uncertainty be acknowledged.
- discussing the uncertainties increases the public trust in what scientists are trying to convey and doesn’t detract from the receptivity to understanding climate change risks
- Trust can also be rebuilt by discussing broad choices rather than focusing on specific policies.
- And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research. “Dueling blogs” (e.g. climateprogress.org versus wattsupwiththat.com and realclimate.org versus climateaudit.org) can actually enhance public trust in the science as they see both sides of the arguments being discussed. Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life
- I have certainly learned a lot by participating in the blogospheric debate including how to sharpen my thinking and improve the rhetoric of my arguments.
- we need to acknowledge the emerging auditing and open source movements in the in the internet-enabled world, and put them to productive use. The openness and democratization of knowledge enabled by the internet can be a tremendous tool for building public understanding of climate science and also trust in climate research.
- No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.