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The debate is over, let the trials begin

Nicolas Chatfort foresees the coming Holy Inquisition… albeit a rather innumerate Inquisition it must be said

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its long awaited pronouncement last Friday in Paris and I am informed by the media that this most definitive of all documents closes the debate on anthropogenic climate change. Now is the time for action, no more discussion will be allowed. I have read the document, and most assuredly it does use uncompromising language ascribing recent global warming to human activity. The science in the document, which I am told was reviewed by 300 eminent scientists, at first sight appears to be impeccable, but I must admit that was a little perturbed to find on page 5 that 0.16 + 0.077 + 0.21 + 0.21 = 0.28 rather than 0.657. I must not fully understand that esoteric form of mathematics known as addition. This level of ignorance on my part clearly shows that I am incapable of judging the merits of the science on my own and I give thanks to the IPCC for taking this burden off my shoulders.

With the debate now settled, what are we to do with those scientific heretics (deniers is a much too mild a term for these dangerous individuals) who continue in their error and refuse to accept the teachings of the UN’s ecumenical council of scientists. David Roberts has already called for climate change heretics to be put on trial, but he goes too far as he appears to want to punish people for heretical statements they made prior to the issuance of the latest UN writ. After all, as the earlier pronouncements from the UN’s ecumenical council were not as definitive as the current one and the debate not yet closed, these unfortunate souls must be given a chance to repent from their errors before they are punished.

Following enlightened historical precedence (see Galileo), I humbly suggest that the UN create an office to be known as the Permanent Tribunal of Universal Inquiry to investigate into the views of scientists on climate change. Those who publicly repent from their errors would be given leniency, but those who maintain their heretical positions should be handed over to civil authorities for proper punishment. In times past the penalty for the crime of heresy was burning at the stake but, regretfully, this would release too many greenhouse gases, so another form of punishment must be found.

Lord Monckton should be one of the first of the heretics to be brought in front of the tribunal of inquiry. I cite his recent critique of the IPCC report only as evidence with which he condemns himself. He has had the audacity to continue to publish his heretical views even after he was duly informed that the debate was officially over. His critique of the IPCC report is comprehensive and it could cause weaker minds to question the infallibility of the IPCC.

As for other scientists whose views remain suspect, helpfully Canada’s National Post has recently provided a survey of some of the more prominent scientists who have veered from the true path in the past. These individuals are particularly dangerous as they all have reached such high levels of respectability in their professions that they will most certainly pollute the minds of the impressionable if they are allowed to continue to publish their heretical views. I will cite just a few of these scientists to show how much damage these individuals can do.

The first of these is Dr. Edward Wegman, professor at the Centre for Computational Statistics at George Mason University and chairman of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. Dr. Wegman’s crime is that he verified the McIntyre and McKitrick critique of Michael Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph, and has also complained that climate change scientists have routinely made basic statistical errors and insists that climate scientists actually consult with professional statisticians when using statistics in their work. I do note that the IPCC, quietly and without comment, has dropped the use of Dr. Mann’s graph from its latest report. The IPCC’s current global temperature graph, which only starts in 1850, will hopefully stop all the embarrassing distractions on the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

Then there is Dr. Henrik Svensmark, director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute. Dr. Svensmark presents an alternate theory on climate change that involves the sun’s magnetic field, cosmic rays and cloud formation. Dr. Svensmark has even conducted experimentation to support his theory. As the IPCC report concedes that cloud formation and feedback remains a major source of uncertainty and its discussion of the role of the sun is limited to solar irradiance, it is clear that an alternative theory that attacks the weakest parts of the IPCC dogma must be silenced.

An what are we to do about Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Russian Academies of Sciences’ Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg and head of the International Space Station’s Astrometry project? He comes to the puzzling conclusion that the simultaneous global warming on Mars, where there are no man-made (or martian-made) greenhouse gases, shows shows that the sun rather than man’s industrial activity, is the main cause of warming on the Earth. The very fact that the IPCC report did not address Mars warming shows how irrelevant this argument is for global warming on the Earth. Another of his heresies is that the IPCC has the cause and effect backwards, that it is the Earth’s warming that causing the release of CO2 from the world’s oceans, rather than rising CO2 causing the warming. He also points out the surface layers of the world’s oceans are actually cooling. Allowing the dissemination of such information will only cause confusion.

I will stop my indictment of prominent climate change heretics at this point, the reader can follow the link to the National Post if more information is desired. Furthermore, I do not want to leave the reader with the mis-impression that these are the only heretics within the scientific community, there are many more. Although the media is doing their best to keep these unsound views from the public, they can not do the job alone. Now that the debate is over, I urge the UN take immediate steps to set up the tribunal of inquiry so we can rest easy at night and not worry that we may have to weigh the merits of these arguments for ourselves, knowing that superior minds are taking on this awesome responsibility on our behalf.

We cannot but be astonished at the ease with which men resign themselves to ignorance about what is most important for them to know; and we may be certain that they are determined to remain invincibly ignorant if they once come to consider it as axiomatic that there are no absolute principles
- Frédéric Bastiat

37 comments to The debate is over, let the trials begin

  • I must admit that was a little perturbed to find on page 5 that 0.16 + 0.077 + 0.21 + 0.21 = 0.28

    0.16 + 0.077 + 0.021 + 0.021 = 0.279…

    It is a typo, but then again missing out two zeros can make a hell of a lot of difference, as is missing out the word “not” in “not responsible”…

    oh, and isn’t it anthropocentric, not anthropomorphic?

    Oh dear, am I subjecting someone to too many corrections on one day? Sorry.

  • SEAN MORRIS

    The sad thing about all this is that the Marxist Thomas Kuhn’s Post-Modernist view of science,(that Science is puzzle solving within belief systems, thus just a social science) seems to have won thru.

    If Adolf Hitler had come up with relativity as well as being one of the worst despots in history, would relativity still be true? under the Pope’s falsification view of science, if a given argument does not have merit, then that argument fails. Surely vested interests are irrelevant in science, except it seems if you are a moral relativists, post-modernist, neo-Marxist prick.

    When told of publication of the book One Hundred Authors Against Einstein, he (Einstein) replied, Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.

    -s-

  • J

    but I must admit that was a little perturbed to find on page 5 that 0.16 + 0.077 + 0.21 + 0.21 = 0.28 rather than 0.657.

    I’m *fairly* sure that page 5 is not in fact attempting to add the numbers you quote, but is rather attempting to add a series of ranges. My statistics are poor, but when it comes to careful checking of figures, on average I’ll trust the faceless members of the IPCC over the faceless members of Samizdata :-)

    J

  • Brad

    What Libertarians fear most is the take over of the State by radicals. The old “if your not doing anything wrong, what do you care if there’s a camera in your toilet?” doesn’t fly anymore.

    In my opinion we are on the doorstep of having quasi-theocrats having the keys to the car. All the surveillance, databases, cameras, ID cards, transaction records etc etc etc. are going to used for purposes they were never intended to. But there they are. What we’ve complained about for years, only to be poo-pooed by the more “reasonable” folk among us, is about to come to pass. The individual, numbered and recorded, will be seen as a “carbon-footprint” to be monitored and harrassed. One’s very existence will be licensed as a carbon waste unit. The new currency will be trading carbon chits in back alleys.

    It really is beautiful really. You almost have to tip your cap. Such folk have been trying for a few centuries to put a stranglehold on their fellow man, with varying degrees of success. Now with one cause, industry AND individuals are harrassable at the same time for the same thing. Each mouse fart will be tallied for its contribution to bring the Hellfire down upon us.

    Hhmmmmm……where did I leave my torch and pitchfork again……?

  • Pa Annoyed

    J, It’s been confirmed as a typo by Prof. Stefan Rahmsdorf of the IPCC, according to the internet.

    Typos and flubbed lines are a rich source of humour, sure, but if that was all that was wrong with the report we wouldn’t be worried. This is what is know in debating circles as ‘a cheap shot’.

    I wouldn’t want the strength of the skeptic case to be misunderestimated as a result of us making jokes about such trivial mistakes.

  • Naman

    Here are suggestions for appropriate punishments for these ‘heretics’

    If American, they should be forced to reliquish their CO2 emmitting automobile and forced to use local public transportation or **gasp** walk(!).

    If European or Canadian, they should be forcibly relocated to a location in the American Bible Belt, given a full-sized truck and gun, and forced to attend meetings of the local Republican Party.

    If Russian or Asian, they should be forced to live in France in a Paris suburb with refugee status (If they were sent to the US, they’d become successful and where’s the punishment in that).

    I forgot the South Americans, but isn’t living near Hugo Chavez punishment enough.

  • guy herbert

    Following the links turns up an interesting statement by Richard Lindzen from 2001:

    Almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by representatives from governments, NGOs and business; the full reports, written by participating scientists, are largely ignored.

    I haven’t found the original source, allegedly a statement tyo a US Senate committee in 2001, but I can believe it. That’s usually the way reports are treated: put a juicy tendentious soundbite in the executive summary, and it will be repeated for ever as gospel. (My own bête noire being the entirely spurious figure for “identity fraud in the UK” produced first by the Cabinet Office and then, with frank invention, by the Home Office.)

    What he implies is the full reports tell a different story. If that is so, it is of enormous importance in this case.

  • I wouldn’t want the strength of the skeptic case to be misunderestimated as a result of us making jokes about such trivial mistakes.

    That was one paragraph in Nick’s article so it hardly the main subject being discussed.

  • Nicholas

    An inadvertent typographical error or not, I find it an interesting example that some are willing to assume that the IPCC couldn’t possibly have made such a mistake. ; )

  • Nicholas

    Guy: We won’t know what differences there between the full report and the Summary for Policy Makers for another three months. In the wisdom of the IPCC, it was decided to publish the summary before the full report was completed. Do you believe that the full report will get anywhere near as much media coverage when it comes out as the summary did? By that time it will be “old news”, so the media will have no reason to look into the details. It’s almost as if they had planned it that way, n’est-ce pas?

  • Pa Annoyed

    ES, Harsh criticism of the article was not intended – I raised a smile myself when I first saw the addition error commented on. I was simply being courteous to a debating opponent by acknowledging that it was an easy joke. It came out a bit more critical-sounding than I intended. If you don’t anticipate and acknowledge your opponent’s valid points, why should they acknowledge yours?

  • Pa Annoyed

    Nicholas,

    You’re right, but you can get a good idea by having a look at the leaked draft of the report over at JunkScience. Apparently, they’re now only allowed to correct typos and make changes to ensure consistency with the summary, so if it agrees with the summary it’s probably staying.

  • Chatfort

    TimC: It looks as if we both are going to have to back to school on this. The word is neither “anthropomorphic” nor “anthropocentric”, the proper word is actually “anthropogenic”, but then again I never claimed that my views weren’t open to debate or correction. ; )

    Thank you for you kind input, I will ask Perry to correct the text.

  • JEM

    … I must admit that was a little perturbed to find on page 5 that 0.16 + 0.077 + 0.21 + 0.21 = 0.28 rather than 0.657 …

    Was this just a typo, or (Heaven forfend) an accident-on-purpose?

    This typo is to be found in the section on Sea Level Rise. What has happened is that the two ‘+0.21′ s should have been ‘+0.021′ s–the decimal point is in the wrong place.

    There is also another interesting non-arithmetical error in this same table: thermal expansion. This is said to be 0.16 compared with the recent historical rate of 0.42. However, there is little or no basis for this. For one thing, if the oceans warm up, the rate of evaporation will also grow but this is ignored. For another, if (as is implied) most of the ocean temperature rise is due to ice melting, this will cause a thermal shrinkage as water shrinks rather than expands until it reaches 4C.

    Bu these errors are carried right through and the (clearly wrong) result is used to justfy the IPCC claim that sea levels are rising at an accelerating pace. Corrected, it turns out that sea levels are not rising ever faster; the rate remains where it has ben fot thounsands of years–or if there is a lot of meltwater, sea levels might actually fall.

    Now that would never do, would it? People would be left with one thing less to panic over.

  • ben

    I think portraying Thomas Kuhn as a marxist stooge is extremely unfair. Although his theory has been used to prop up a subjective theory of science, his ideas about scientific paradigms described the process of science as it actually happens. The consensus surrounding the global warming community is probably one of the best examples of this- the dominant scientific paradigm is sidelining the “heretical” skeptics who don’t toe the party line. The primary concept to draw from Kuhn is not that science is subjective, but that when the scientific community engages in the “bad science” social behaviours he describes, science as an institution suffers. Kuhn’s theory doesn’t offend Poppers definition of science, except to the degree that bad scientists fail to do their job and fall prey to social influence.

  • JEM writes:

    Bu these errors are carried right through and the (clearly wrong) result is used to justfy the IPCC claim that sea levels are rising at an accelerating pace. Corrected, it turns out that sea levels are not rising ever faster; the rate remains where it has ben fot thounsands of years–or if there is a lot of meltwater, sea levels might actually fall.

    Well, having looked at Table SPM-0 I cannot make “add” up any of the 4 columns (two estimates plus two error ranges there-on) in the row entitles “Sum of individual climate …”

    [Note: "add" for the error ranges looks, from the calculation of the row entitled "Difference", to be adding the variances and printing the standard deviations (a square root relationship that makes statistical sense), but there is no way this works (quite obviously given the numbers) for the "addition" above in the row entitled "Sum of individual ..."]

    I see that these sums and differences are used to justify a claim of accuracy of at least one modelling processes and of detailed measurements with the measurement of overall sea-level rise (row entitled “Difference”). Consistency would be a good thing, perhaps even an important part of validation of some bit of computer modelling (such as the ocean temperature model). Model validation is a tricky business: care and knowledge of accuracy is essential. Do the correct figures justify that claim of consistency?

    The paper has 33 authors, leading the IPCC on this particular section of the work. These authors are, presumably, an important part of that consensus of world-leading scientists that are trying to save the world from the effects of global warming. Good aren’t they!

    Also, on the front cover, we find:

    This Summary for Policymakers …

    and also:

    Text, Tables and Figures given here are final but subject to checking and copy-editing and editorial adjustment of figures.

    So, it’s fine to inform our policymakers with a table on sea-level rise that has 4 columns, with 100% of them in error in one row, in a way that it is difficult to see the typographical/copy error that some are claiming, though easy to see that something is grossly wrong.

    Does it not give you a sick feeling in the pit of the stomach?

    Has a correction appeared yet on the IPCC website? I haven’t found it.

    Best regards

  • Chatfort – ah and I too am duly corrected. Thanks for the courtesy to share. Oddly, I have used anthropogenic in the past on this topic, but my CO2-saturated ape-brain failed me. ;-)

  • Alan Peakall

    Although I have not read Kuhn myself, I suspect that Sean and Ben are jointly affirming Alan Sokal’s verdict that “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” reads as though a “moderate Kuhn” and an “immoderate Kuhn” had been constantly jostling elbows in the course of its authorship.

  • Nick M

    I liked Kuhn’s SSR and thought he described science pretty accurately. I didn’t detect anything Marxist in it. It’s mildly post-modern and that’s kind of the opposite. Kuhn’s thesis is that paradigm shifts are essentially unpredictable and that is hardly the same as the balls-out teleology of Marx.

    Of course his theory doesn’t in the final analysis work. But then neither does naive inductionism, Instrumentalism, Falsificationism or the ravings of Feyerabend.

  • sean

    I think one of Popper former students gets it very right
    HERE(Link)

    Khun tried to resurect Marx, in the face of the truth of Popper. end of.

  • Nick M

    It’s Kuhn, sean.

    So Popper was saw the truth? On stone tablets? A burning bush?

    I’ve stated before here that Popper’s Falsificationism is a very handy heuristic. But it’s just a useful addition to the tool-box of reason, right there next to Occam’s Razor.

    Kuhn’s work has been taken to support any quantity of crack-pottery but it doesn’t mean that SSR isn’t an interesting book. I don’t buy a lot of it but I do find it interesting.

    And yes, sometimes paradigms are incommensurable. And not just in science. The Motoons of Doom Intifada is a prime example of what happens when two totally incommensurable paradigms collide.

    And I’m no relativist or Marxist. I’m a sceptic and strongly pro-science. This isn’t because I believe it to be The Truth but because I think it’s better.

  • I’m a sceptic and strongly pro-science. This isn’t because I believe it to be The Truth but because I think it’s better.

    The scientific method itself is Popperian precisely because Popper did not believe in The Revealed Truth but rather in forming theories that better explain reality and making a critical preference for what seems to be the best theory at the current state of knowledge.

  • Nick M writes:

    I’ve stated before here that Popper’s Falsificationism is a very handy heuristic. But it’s just a useful addition to the tool-box of reason, right there next to Occam’s Razor.

    I think I’d like to disagree.

    Popper’s Theory of Falsification is on the grounds that acceptable scientific explanations must be time-invariant. Thus, if some experiment or occurrence is not in accord with a theory (having taken due account of measurement accuracy, probabilistic effects etc), then the theory cannot be true (or cannot be sufficiently complete).

    Occam’s Razor, on the other hand, is concerned with efficiency. If one has two theories that accurately explain all relevant seen phenomema, why use the more complicated one when the simpler one is just as good. This does not stop both theories from being correct. [An example might be use of special relativity in circumstances adequately explained by Newton's Laws.]

    Best regards

  • SEAN MORRIS

    When science becomes just a social construct, then thats the end of science. This is what Kuhn argues. He brings it down to the level of subjectivity.

    Poppers argues (rightly in my opinion) that science is the pursuit of objective knowledge, Not revealed truth or absolute knowledge (as this is either false or unknowable) We don’t know if the sun will rise in the morning, but we can objectively believe that it will.

    So when UN scientists or politicos or anyone else for that matter say the “debate is over” or come up with stupid “denial” laws…tell them to go and get stuffed.

  • Nick M

    My position on all this is that I find philosophy of science interesting and I found it a useful too in my scientific studies at times. Kuhn was actually very conflicted as to the “science is a social construct” idea. Well, so am I because there is a difference from what science is and what science should be. Science is groping in the dark it is not the highway to objective truth. It is difficult. It is valuable and I think it is the most important thing in the world but… There is a real tension between truth and usefulness. These are two very different things and easy to conflate. Science provides narratives and explanations. Are these the whole truth? Who knows but they are useful and provide a better level of understanding than someone just saying “it was the will of the Gods”.

    Popper provided a nice indicator for pseudo-science but he didn’t either provide a totally compelling view as to how science proceeds practically or historically and in absolute philosophical terms the need for auxilliary hypotheses does invalidate falsifiabilty as an absolute criterion.

    The principle of induction is the absolute foundation of science but it is not provable as Hume demonstrated. Belief in science as a process is a faith. Belief in certain scientific theories or conclusions isn’t. The atomic theory is by any reasonable standard provide beyond reasonable doubt. Scientific discourse has much in common with legal discourse. The only difference is that in science it wasn’t humans who wrote the laws.

  • SEAN MORRIS

    Your criticism of falsification is a common one. Its good at explaining the small and medium size stuff but not the big stuff. BUT the world does not work like that, for example the laws of the small (quantum theory) does not seem to sit well with the laws of the big (relativity)

    The best way to think about it IMO, is the maxim that pennies make pounds. we get the big picture on my plasma screen by understanding how to manipulate (understand) all the smaller pixels within the screen.

    Falsification does not really have an end result or a big picture, the future is open :0)

    Popper also made the point (which is very much missed) that just because something is not science, does not mean that it does not have merit. He was not a fundamentalist.

  • Nick M

    SEAN,

    I don’t think science builds up. Science builds out.

    The point about something not being with out merit just because it isn’t science is also one made by Feynman in his lectures on physics.

  • Avaaz.org has just launched a new international campaign called “Climate Wake Up Call” and it features a TV ad that will airing this month in key world capitals.

    The ad shows major world leaders sleeping through our impending climate crisis and urges people around the world to “wake them up”. You can watch the ad here:

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/climate_action/(Link)

    As part of the campaign we are also asking people around the world to sign a petition demanding world leaders get to work on negotiating post-2012 Kyoto arrangement ASAP. The TV ad and petition are the beginning of a campaign to pressure G8 leaders to make tackling climate change the top of their agenda at their June summit.

  • Thanks Lee-Sean, another bit of green propaganda for us to pour scorn on! Gee, I sure hope your petition is not just a front for a spamhaus harvesting the e-mail addresses of the gullible.

  • sean

    I would say it was evolutionary, we start with little evidence and come up with a theory, get more evidence and make a better theory or add to the exisiting one. But this only happens when there is open debate. The trial and error process works much quicker in open societies, thats why they are richer.

    Its an interesting question as to if superstring theory is science, many think not, including me, but I think it has a good chance of becoming so in time.

    But back to the GW debate my problem is if the models are not complete, or near complete then regardless of whatever stastical technique you use, they are very proberbly wrong, and without cloud formations then we are just making guesses, but i concede at the moment CO2 is the best explaination of what is going on, BUT later this year when we have data back from the 2 missions to the sun and CERNs results on Svensmarks work, we should have more of the fuller picture.

    In the meantime im not conviced a warmer world would be a bad thing, and I think Humans can adapt anyway, so I suppose im in the Lomberg camp and think the cure is worse than the disease.

    But once again if we shut down the debate, we might miss something important. which is the biggest danger.

  • We aren’t shutting down the debate. It’s people using phrases like `climate change denier’ and `the debate is over’ who are doing it.

    BTW why is CO2 `the best explanation of what is going on’? I would have said that the best explanation was `men love apocalyptic visions: cooling failed, so now it’s warming’.

  • roger dueck

    Re: Anthropogenic
    The terms anthropomorphic and anthropocentric also have valid context in this discussion:
    Al Gore says

    the earth has a fever

    (anthropomorphic)
    Anthropocentric is the religion of the AGW

    believers

    who believe that man is responsible and that man can actually DO something about it.

  • Ian Castles

    Nicholas finds it “an interesting example that some are willing to assume that the IPCC couldn’t possibly have made such a mistake [as to produce a table on sea-level rise 'that has 4 columns, with 100% of them in error in one row'].

    For the IPCC, this is just par for the course. In its Third Assessment Report, published in 2001, all of the figures for the maximum and minimum model results for sea level rise for the A1T and A1FI scenarios were wrongly reported in Appendix II of the Working Group I Report: the column headings for these two scenarios were transposed. That was six years ago, but if anyone has noticed, the IPCC has apparently decided not to admit these obvious errors.

  • If you are a researcher today in any natural science, then a good step to take is to add the word global warming to your research paper and in your academic thesis. It will make sure you get your paper published in peer review publication. You can then advance in your academic career, get a higher salary and other goodies.

    At a Danish TV show about Henrik Svensmark’s works which I saw, he was interviewed. He told that when he presented his theory about 10 years ago at a conference it created a very strong emotional reaction from climatologists and the head of IPCC even told him that the work he was doing was irresponsible.

    The leading climate scientists use misleading and deceptive methods when they analyze climate data.
    I show this on my website more.

  • Per, that is a very interesting site that you have!

  • John

    Whenever politicians get ”hot” about a subject, then the world needs to look very carefully at the issue and of course GW is no exception. I have no way of independently verifying the UN data or any other data, however it is a very convenient truth that just as the oil rich (and carbon rich) middle-east falls apart because of aggressive US politics, the very product that they produce becomes the next big problem for the world… And how do you get 300 million oil hungry Americans, 400 million Europeans off the addiction? Scare them into it.. GW is simply a political tool to scare, confuse, tax to free the US and Europe from middle east oil.

  • buck wilder

    so i guess the only people who have ever caused problems in the entire history of mankind are white and european. you are all a bunch of losers.