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11/26/2009
ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE SCIENCE ISN’T ‘SETTLED?’

The meltdown continues among those who sought to stifle scientific debate about man made global warming by claiming the science proving such was “settled,” or “solid,” or undeniable.”

Latest to make an ass of himself is Alan Combs who is a few days behind the curve as far as what the CRU hack has revealed:

Climate scientists who just released “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” say ice sheets are melting at an increased rate, and future sea-level rise will be higher than previously forecast. But scientific evidence means nothing to those with an anti-global warming agenda, who point to illegally hacked mails to try to prove that global warming is a hoax. Sadly for them, the anti-global-warming hysteria isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sadly for Alan, the emails constituted about 5% of the total information that has been spilling out on to the internet for nearly a week now. Charlie Martin went into the “Harry Read Me” file that was kept by a harried programmer who couldn’t replicate the “scientific” findings of Mann and Jones because the computer code they used to reach their conclusion was such a mess. Earth to Alan: If you or others can’t duplicate your experimental results - in this case, temperature data - then your theory doesn’t pass muster.

Then there’s Marc Sheppard’s piece that delves more deeply into the codes and finds enormous problems with them. Evidence of fraud? The jury is out on that. But even giving the scientists in question the benefit of the doubt any fool can see that their theory on millenial temps is in deep, deep trouble.

Except the science is settled, right? Al Gore said so back in 2007:

Even once-skeptical Republicans are coming over to Gore’s side — and it seems the debate has shifted from arguing whether there is a climate crisis to disagreement over how to fix it.

The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers. Carbon-dioxide emissions — from cars, power plants, buildings and other sources — are heating the Earth’s atmosphere.

Others agreed:

John Quiggin, economist

* “There’s no longer any serious debate among climate scientists about either the reality of global warming or about the fact that its substantially caused by human activity…” [2]

David Milliband, UK Environment Minister

* “I think that the scientific debate has now closed on global warming, and the popular debate is closing as well”[3]

Camilla Cavendish

* “The science debate is effectively over. The Stern review means that the economic debate is all but over. Only the political debate is left…”[4]

The science has never been “settled,” or “closed, or “effectively over.” There is good evidence that supports the theory and good evidence that rejects it. What is so hard about accepting that fact? What is so difficult about having an open debate without having skeptics compared to Holocaust deniers and Nazis?

Colmes and others who are seeing the ground shift under their feet as their long held beliefs are revealed as not set in stone, are dealing with this situation by saying they were for open debate all along and it is the skeptics that were for closing it!

RealClimate - a creature of the very lab where the emails and other data emerged - is now sounding a reasonable note:

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

They sound almost reasonable, don’t they? Of course, the real skeptics in the scientific community did not accuse the CRU or any other lab of being communists, or part of a global conspiracy. That’s for the nutcases who are saying today that the entire warming theory has been “disproved.” No responsible skeptic has made that claim as far as I can tell. If they have, they are as bad as Colmes and his ilk who are ignoring the probability of at least some fraud and certainly an effort to stifle dissent in the crudest way imaginable at the CRU lab.

George Monbiot blames…the skeptics!

It is true that much of what has been revealed could be explained as the usual cut and thrust of the peer review process, exacerbated by the extraordinary pressure the scientists were facing from a denial industry determined to crush them. One of the most damaging emails was sent by the head of the climatic research unit, Phil Jones. He wrote “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

One of these papers which was published in the journal Climate Research turned out to be so badly flawed that the scandal resulted in the resignation of the editor-in-chief. Jones knew that any incorrect papers by sceptical scientists would be picked up and amplified by climate change deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry, who often – as I documented in my book Heat – use all sorts of dirty tricks to advance their cause.

Yes - all that “extraordinary pressure” from fellow scientists determined to “crush them” brings out the momma in me. I just want to wrap my arms around Jones et. al. and protect them from those mean old meanies who disagree with them.

Proof that deniers are all funded by oil companies - or even prominent ones like Lindzen or McIntyre - is a little scarce from George. And how ironic is it to accuse skeptics of “dirty tricks” when the emails show that Jones and Mann used every trick in the book to keep dissenting views out of important journals?

But Monbiot sees a “crisis” for the global warming community. I don’t see it as a crisis at all. This is the absolute best thing that could have happened to the debate over climate change.

When I asked Charlie Martin on my show the other night whether I thought this would slow down cap and trade and other AGW gimmicks he thought it wouldn’t, although cap and trade may already have been dead in the US senate. But I have to disagree. The story is out there despite an amusing refusal by the major media to cover it. What makes it amusing is that they still believe they are the gatekeepers with the ability to keep a story they don’t like under wraps. But people get a lot of their news now from the internet and there is just no way this story will die anytime soon.

This will give new impetus to skeptics who may find the atmosphere to publish their findings a little friendlier. And if their papers are bogus, or flawed, they will be handled the way all science should be handled; their peers will vet their findings ruthlessly and thoroughly. If they can’t stand up to scrutiny then they will be rejected. And the same goes for the other side in the debate.

It won’t be perfect. One thing those emails honestly show is that the scientists are human. They are as susceptible to human emotions like jealousy, anger, and envy as non-scientists. They are not robots and therefore, the process will not be without problems.

But it is a process that has served us well for 500 years and has led to astonishing breakthroughs in knowledge despite the problems. Eventually, the observed phenomenon and measured data will give us enough facts to honestly reach conclusions about AGW - hopefully without much political pressure. That last may be a pipe dream but if anything can teach the scientific community to leave politics to the side, it is this scientific scandal that is as much about the politics of global warming as anything else.

By: Rick Moran at 10:28 am
7 Responses to “ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE SCIENCE ISN’T ‘SETTLED?’”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:00 pm 

    I am always skeptical of modeling future events for which there are even a few variables, let alone hundreds. It’s why I take economic forecasts with a grain of salt.

    I think the obvious thing to do is to continue the research and take only those actions which make sense in and of themselves, either because they are inherently good or profitable, or because they might be of some use and are cheap and harmless.

    It’s certainly a good idea to continue researching alternative energy, certainly a good idea to improve gas mileage, probably with hybrids and electric vehicles, and where possible without Draconian measures cut smokestack emissions. Those all are seen as improving the global warming picture and even if they don’t then they’re good ideas all by themselves.

    If we can push the emerging economies to put at least some thought into environmental consequences, that’s a good thing regardless of global warming. Even without climate change it’s not a great idea to throw billions of pounds of crap into the air and water.

  2. 2
    Arcadian Said:
    1:50 pm 

    Pushing alternative energy in order to get us off of foreign oil is commendable. Pushing U.S. oil exploration would be much, much better.

    Suddenly “Drill, Baby, Drill!” looks a whole lot more prescient than “The science is settled.”

    It’s a matter of trust. If the Dems are wrong about climate change, then they are wrong on a whole host of other issues. Less than a year after taking office, this President has gone from 70% of independents approving to 33%, and I’m one of those 37% he has lost.

    The Dems have no clue what’s coming. I honestly believe there will be a primary challenge to Obama. And hopefully we can get our country back from these liars.

  3. 3
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:15 pm 

    The Dems have no clue what’s coming. I honestly believe there will be a primary challenge to Obama. And hopefully we can get our country back from these liars.

    I hear you. But, I’ve heard the Easter Bunny lives on the Island of Misfit Toys as well, but I doubt that’s true either.

    Primary challenge to a sitting president who brought the party back from the wilderness?

    Yeah right.

    How’s the search for that birth certificate going?

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

  4. 4
    HyperIon Said:
    4:47 pm 

    RM wrote: Then there’s Marc Sheppard’s piece that delves more deeply into the codes and finds enormous problems with them.

    linky?

    and again i’m having a hard time deciding if you are serious or snarking or alternating between the two.

  5. 5
    Hivlon Said:
    7:29 pm 

    I like how the first poster expresses his antipathy toward “forcasts” yet the next commenter immediately dives in to the proverbial prognostication.

  6. 6
    funny man Said:
    10:16 am 

    some of the scientists clearly crossed the line. You should not talk about confidential peer reviewed evaluations, you shouldn’t ’stack’ reviewers sympathetic to your case to shoot down a manuscript you don’t like. It’s kind of like insider trading on Wall Street. All those rules primarily function to ensure fairness. Humans like little kids always want to try out how far they can go. That’s why we have the rules and that’s why they need to be enforced once in a while.

  7. 7
    Mark_0454 Said:
    6:38 am 

    Mr. Moran. I don’t like your essay here (and I usually find your stuff worth thinking about). I think you make a big mistake in saying the Real Climate people “sound reasonable.” Their arguments are meant to distract from the actual problems. In order of difficulty: 1. There is direct evidence these people intended to circumvent FOI requests and destroy or hide evidence. 2. There is evidence these people biased the peer review process in their favor. 3 There are at least suggestions the data is manipulated or fudged. 4. There is a pettiness that would not be expected of professionals.

    I don’t care about George Soros. They need to answer the problems listed above.

    I agree. The reason it sounded “reasonable” is that I haven’t a clue as to how to judge whether it IS reasonable. Nor am I necessarily giving them the benefit of the doubt based on the other docs that were released.

    ed.

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