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Another Climategate Post

And now for something completely different…

George Monbiot – a deserving pinata of folks ’round these parts for quite some time – has written a reflective article in the Guardian (seen on Instapundit). Admittedly, the guy deserves some credit for being one of the first of the really hardcore global warming spruikers to unreservedly concede that the CRU leak is an enormously damaging episode for the pro-AGW folks, and not something that can be high-handedly dismissed. Which has pretty much been their exclusive stock-in-trade when dealing with those who are unintelligent enough to disagree with them up until now.

Certainly, Monbiot has been a lot more contrite than I would have expected him to be under the circumstances. However, he doesn’t get down into any real soul-searching. In his article, he continues to smear the “climate change denial industry” – rather high-handedly, too (he ran out of contrition about halfway through the article and reverted to form). He could not resist having a good sneer at those who disagree with him. It would have been a much better article if he had stopped to ask himself how much of his current beliefs are predicated on the shoddy code behind the computer models that supposedly prove the theory of AGW, or if his perspective might be different without the vacuum of opposing voices that have been squelched from Reputable Science. And he certainly failed to show any sign that he’s anywhere near the point of posing that most awful of questions to himself, namely “Could I be wrong?” – even if only to reconfirm his beliefs. No, for him it is clear that the science is still settled.

Monbiot’s reaction, I suspect, will be a model for others of his ilk to follow. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt anything much will come out of this Climategate kerfuffle in the longer term. The scientists involved in the leak will take their professional cyanide capsules, and there will be a bit of public head-hanging and self reflection from the rest of the major players, after which the “science” behind AGW will be declared “pure” again. Aided and abetted by the majority of the world’s political leaders, who have invested so much in the AGW industry that it is now surely Too Big To Fail. So bail it out and back to business, already.

33 comments to Another Climategate Post

  • steve

    The scandal around Watergate began in 1972. Nixon didn’t resign until 1974. Buck up, this thing isn’t over yet.

    Politicians always expect that, “It will blow over.” So there is always a long stall for time, only sometimes it doesn’t blow over.

  • It’ll take time, but AGW is finished – the data is manipulated junk.

    The main players will be as popular as a certain Mr Glitter in their chosen field – the politicians just need time to shift their positions.

    And the scientists who have had their reputations hurt or parked by the CRU crew will now have the confidence to speak out. A great week for good science over bad practice/funding hoovering.

  • I disagree with the above commenters, and agree with your final analysis, James. I think it’ll be business as usual and this scandal will soon drop off the pages of the MSM, particularly with Copenhagen coming up.

    The media are not, for the most part, deliberately biased, in my view (with some obvious exceptions); they’re merely short-termist and woefully superficial. This story is simply too involved, too boring (they think) and too hard. In two weeks they’ll have moved onto something else and, while the polls may show that a few people have been shifted into the sceptic camp, the bandwagon will continue more or less untroubled.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  • manuel II paleologos

    The science clearly isn’t entirely junk. There’s a solid theory behind AGW and it’s unhelpful to claim otherwise.

    The important points are that this theory is only a theory, is only really proven by a computer model, this model is a very crude approximation for our climate, it is in some cases contradicted by measured evidence, and our climate over past the centuries has been surprisingly volatile. We should judge our response based on the likelihood of the AGW threat, its potential impact, and the cost-effectiveness of mitigating actions.

    The problem we have been having is that even saying that has until now been sufficient to be branded an Unbeliever and a “denier”. Very few of the people labelled deniers actually question the basic theory; they dispute the certainty of its impact and its proposed mitigations.

    The big opportunity we have with “Climategate” is to restore some sense and balance to this debate. It is not, however, simply going to disappear and it shouldn’t. However much fun it may be to heap ridicule on these morons, it doesn’t help to over-state the “denial” case either.

  • The science being junk does not necessarily mean AGW is not real.

    The science being good does not mean AGW is real, although it may mean that it is more likely to be real, depending on what the good science actually says.

    I don’t agree with James. I think that the “Climate Change” industry has taken a huge blow. At this point we need to very thoroughly detail everything that is wrong or questionable about the data and models from the UEA, and ask everybody else with a climate change model to demonstrate that their models do not have the same problems. If they refuse to do so for intellectual reasons or other observations that it is their proprietary work, they are going to be given far less benefit of the doubt as to why they are doing so than in the past.

    We do have a major climate change conference in Copenhagen very soon. I think it is fairly obvious that the UEA leak came when it did because of this. I would love to hear what is said at the conference, particularly behind the scenes at the coffee sessions and lunches.

  • A -gate scandal is one in which the media will relentlessly pursue the (conservative) guilty party until he or she is publicly ruined and driven out of town, as it were.

    A -quiddick scandal is one which the media will pointedly ignore until the (leftist) central party dies in high public office, which he holds all his life. No mention of the scandal will be permitted in the eulogy either.

    Hence “Climaquiddick”.

  • John B

    This has been my fear, which has not really been accepted as likely by you guys.
    The establishment does not give up and they will do their best to wriggle this one into some acceptable shape or form. And the scenario presented by James Waterton sounds all too likely.
    I have taken on the media and establishment before and I know it takes a lot more than facts to turn it around. Especially now with “post-modern” imaging being the dominant way, rather than truth.
    However, as these facts seemed relatively incontrovertible (?!) I had hoped it might be otherwise.
    If these lies are going to be discredited to average Joe, CNN, Sky News, CNBC, Euro News, BBC, etc it is going to take effort.
    Whoever has the infrastructure needs to be pushing out press releases, planning demos at Copenhagen, scaling Nelson’s Column, blockading Rainbow Warrior, whatever, you do to effect publicity.

  • Edward Turner

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” This is normally attributed to Gandhi – did he actually say this?

    We have just moved from the laughing stage to the fighting stage.

  • John B

    Gandhi had the might of British “enlightened intelligensia” behind him. And, if the truth were known, probably the elite of the day and the Foreign Office as well. EM Forster, Passage to India, was Foreign Office I think.
    I sincerely hope Edward is right but I think unless one pushes it (as a few folk are indeed doing) it will sink for reasons stated previously.
    So push!

  • Tedd

    Billll:

    Thanks for clarifying the -gate versus -quiddick lexicon. If you’re right, I’ve been misinterpreting it all along, which probably explains why I’ve found some usages confusing.

    I always thought a -gate scandal is about some act that was deliberately performed, whereas a -quiddick scandal is about someone reacting badly when confronted with some unexpected circumstance.

    Of course, climate-gate/quiddick has elements of both.

  • Alice

    There is another model for how things might proceed — the Great Heterosexual AIDS Epidemic of the 1990s.

    You don’t remember that one — when Clinton’s Surgeon General was telling Congress that we were going to lose an entire generation? Nor does anyone else. And when was the last time an AIDS activist stopped you in the street seeking a donation?

    Left-wing nonsense is allowed to die in peace. That may be what happens here.

    The US is facing a dreadful situation, with un- & under-employment reaching European levels, an unsustainable budget deficit, and an unsustainable trade deficit. The answer seems simple — re-industrialize, cutting imports and creating jobs and tax revenue. Faced with an angry population, politicians may simply ignore the associated increased CO2 emissions — and cut off the funding source for climate whiners. No errors will ever be admitted. The topic will simply disappear from polite conversation.

    Maybe!

  • Can someone please tell me what ‘quiddick’ is?

  • Kim du Toit

    Moonbat’s response is typical of the AGW supporters, now that they’ve been found out: never mind the science, on with the agenda.

    And Mr. Paleologos (if that is your real name), the plain fact of the matters is that some proportion of planetary heat IS anthropomorphic — given global emissions from both develped and developing countries, how could it not be? — but what we know is that this proportion is nevertheless tiny compared to solar- and oceanic influences (to name but two).

    What is becoming increasingly clear is that AGW is NOT the primary engine of climate change that AGW cheerleaders claim it is.

    What’s even more clear is that the “science” underpinning the AGW thesis would not pass muster in a first-year university statistics class, let alone the rigorous review which should have accompanied the original proposition.

    For many years, I was involved with data modeling design (albeit in a different field), but what we always used as a primary test of a model was to see if, using historical data, that we could predict the past (i.e. using “history minus yesterday” to predict “yesterday”) with any degree of statistical confidence. If the model failed in that regard, we would tear it apart and look at, among other things, the basic premises, the various weightings given to all the factors, and always, the methodology (i.e. the mathematics and coding) which drove the model’s data to produce the results it did.

    To date, NOT ONe climatological model has ever been able to pass the “predicting yesterday” test without serious tinkering (what these charlatans refer to as “tricking” in their emails to each other) with the data.

    In fact, so much tinkering had to occur that what they ended up with was a model which predicted yesterday with any data.

    In other words, the answer remained “we’re all gonna diiiieeee!” regardless of the data.

    Now the fakery has been exposed, and now we can start doing the serious reviews of their earlier work which should have occurred right at the beginning, before Al Gore and his acolytes ran with a “ready, fire, aim” agenda.

    My prediction is that the entire AGW house of cards will collapse — but that does not mean, as many here have sagely suggested, that the enviro-nazis won’t push on with their agenda regardless.

  • Valerie

    Alisa, “quiddick” as in Chappaquidick, where Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and left his female passenger, Mary-Jo Kopechne to die by drowning. He took a few hours before he called the police.

  • virgil xenophon

    AGW has passed into the world of Religion by now. Do not think that mere “facts” will deter all who worship at the alter of Mother Gaia from continuing to do so. The entire weight of the vast majority of the MSM, academia, “intellectuals” in general, Hollywood and governments in the Western-world are vested in AGW because it perfectly fits the post-modern meme/theme of the penance that evil white European males and the societies they created must do for their destruction/degradation of the Earth’s ecology.

    As that student of the philosophy of the development of scientific theories Thomas Kuhn has observed: “Paradigms cannot be supplanted by mere facts, they can only be supplanted by a more powerful alternate paradigm.” Unfortunately, the “pictures in our heads”(V.O. Key) that key decision makers have concerning the validity of AGW–even fence-sitters not “on the take” as it were–are unlikely to be altered without the support of the MSM–which ain’t gonna happen. I fear great–perhaps irreparable-damage will be done before the facts as demonstrated by reality “on the ground” so-to-speak will become impossible to ignore. The true believers and the cynical opportunists have too much psychic and financial investment in AGW to stop now. Indeed, they will probably redouble their efforts before reality sinks in with publics at large. By that time, it is hoped, the cynics will have made their billions, cashed out and be living in luxerious seclusion; the true believers will see that evil western civilization will have paid its penance and hopefully been irrevocably altered to their totalitarian statist
    likings, and those politicians who went along for the ride of short-term ego gratifying power and control long retired and on the links.

  • RAB

    Comes from Chappaquiddick a place in New England where the Kennedy’s and the movers and the shakers spend their summer.

    Uncle Ted was driving his aide/secretary home from a pissup, missed the bridge, the car went into a river, he got out, she didn’t.

    He took until 9.30am the next morning to report the “Incident”

    Meanwhile the lady in question did not drown, as originally reported at the time, but suffocated trapped in a dwindling air pocket.

    The only thing that makes me even slightly inclined to believe in a God and Heaven an Hell, is the thought of the very very cuntish Ted Kennedy burning in hell for evermore!

  • Valerie: thank you – a bell was ringing, but I could not locate it…:-)

  • manuel II paleologos

    Kim

    I agree with all your points, and I’m in a similar field myself.

    I think that trying to disprove the basic tenets of “the greenhouse effect” is a hiding to nothing. Far more useful is to demonstrate the vast uncertainty of these theories, of their consequences and of proposed mitigations. This turns it from a name-calling confrontation to a no-brainer. Lomborg and Lawson, for example, don’t really bother to try to disprove the science, aside from a few amusing remarks; it’s far more effective to demonstrate that EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE the policies and methods used to counter it are still nonsense.

    No, not my real name. Will start posting with my real one, even if it’s not quite as exotic.

  • Stonyground

    I recently read an internet post, and I am afraid that I can’t now remember where, about the greenhouse effect. I can’t say how reliable this information is, as all I have to go on is that it appeared that the writer knew what he was talking about.

    The first part was that the greenhouse effect stated that heat passed through the glass at a wavelength that allowed it to do so, then heated up the contents of the greenhouse causing them to radiate heat at a lower wavelength which could not pass through glass and so was unable to escape. This theory was disproved by building a greenhouse from an alternative material which allowed the lower wavelength radiation through and recording no difference in temperature between that greenhouse and the glass one. The conclusion was that greenhouses heat up by limiting convection.

    The second part was about the nature of the earth’s atmosphere and that it does not in any way resemble a greenhouse.

    If this guy is right, then the basic tenets of the greenhouse effect do not need disproving as they were never proven in the first place.

    As for the climategate thing, if these people really were falsifying their evidence to cover up the fact that the predicted warming just was not happening, the media will not be able to ignore this for ever. We have had a series of hot summers and mild winters but if this does not continue then there is going to be some explaining to do. Only time will tell.

  • Keith

    Regardless of whether the mainstream media runs with this or buries it, AGW is dead, and if we play our cards right, so is a lot more pseudo science.

    Why?

    Well, which of us is going to willingly pay yet more tax or submit to yet more restriction of our freedom thanks to a fudge coated hockey stick?

  • lucklucky

    Monbiot is…well i can only call him an idiot. He spends 1/3 the text saying the right things and 2/3 reinforcing all the things that made possible East Anglia University CRU !!

    Concerning the death of Global Warming i just have to warn: Communism still lives.

    One thing you should do:stop buying Mainstream Media.

  • Ed Snack

    Some balance, the “greenhouse effect” is only called that, it isn’t supposed to act like a real greenhouse. Additional CO2 in the atmosphere basically absorbs additional longwave (Eg IR) radiation emitted by the earth, and the effect is most noticeable by night. This a real effect and can be measured and should not be in dispute, sorry Stoneyground.

    However, the “raw” effect of, say, doubling the CO2 concentration is around 1 degree, what really matters is if there is feedback and if it is positive or negative. All climate models and most theorists assume a degree of positive feedback, hence the 2 to 6 degrees increases that are forecast. The feedback is very uncertain and very difficult to measure, most “validation” is done by hindcasting using models, unfortunately, at least in my opinion, this is essentially worthless due to the uncertainties and the often outright fudges (for example around aerosols) and hand tuning of various model parameters that goes on.

    So we have it fairly well proven that humans are adding CO2 to the atmosphere, that the extra CO2 will have an effect, and then a great deal of arm waving about how much effect this will be.

    What this current release of emails shows fairly conclusively is that the degree of certainty being projected about the potential effects is grossly exaggerated. The science has been positively polluted by a small group of self appointed gatekeepers who have produced much of the underlying “data” such as temperature records, and who have dominated the preparation of significant section sof the IPCC reports. What has been called into question is the accuracy and veracity of the temperature data and of papers that purport to reconstruct past temperatures. Various of those involved have been shown to be actively blocking access to data and methods that could be used to validate (or otherwise) their findings. This should be a huge scandal that leads to numerous job losses, criminal charges, and a thorough re-evaluation of some of the most basic parts of the science, starting with the world wide temperature data.

    However, despite all of the above, I fully expect this “scandal” to have almost no impact in the longer term. The Copenhagen talkfest will go ahead, foolish targets will be agreed to, and many mendacious words will be spoken. There is far too much ego and power tied up in the whole business to be upset by something as trivial as real data, and none of those desperately trying to publicize the scandal has sufficient political weight or influence to in any way on the progress of this whole schtick.

    Fight it we will, but face it, we’re almost certainly going to get royally shafted. It won’t be that long before “climate denialism” will be a crime.

  • “…don’t really bother to try to disprove the science…it’s far more effective to demonstrate that EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE the policies and methods used to counter it are still nonsense.”

    If I understand you right, then I’m not sure that your suggestion is more effective; Bjorn Lomborg took up that road about ten years ago and yet the Copenhagen conference is next week.

    It seems to me that, for some (but certainly not all) believers of AGW, their commitment to state-centric methods of CO2 emissions reduction is not a consequence of their belief in the economic value of doing so, or of the science behind it, but rather that both the state-directed economics and the climate science is for them, a consequence of their desire to use the hallowed force of democratically elected government to politically extinguish other people’s values – producing gas and oil, driving a Hummer, flying as much as a Michael Jennings and so on.

    What this is about is essentially the psychology of power – the science and economics are just the blankets the monster hides under which few people dare lift.

    Certainly I think that getting criticism of the science into the public is valuable – as is public criticism of the economics of cap and trade schemes, carbon allowances and so on. Yet I think the criticism that could in the end be decisive, were it to achieve sufficient exposure, would be the accusation that this is all essentially a mere symptom of a psychology of power to which most of us succumb in different ways at different times – but which in this instance has been monstrously amplified by both the attention of scientists and economists (whatever their faults) but primarily by its’ use as fuel in the engine of democratic politics.

  • “It won’t be that long before “climate denialism” will be a crime.”

    Agreed – unless we somehow inexplicably succeed.

  • Stoneyground, Ed Snack,

    For the basic greenhouse physics, see http://www.countingcats.com/?p=4745

    There is a double problem with the feedbacks. First, as noted, there is very little empirical evidence for the 2x or 3x amplification proposed for high levels of warming. But the other big problem is the need to explain why these amplifiers seemingly had no effect on the 20th century.

    You see, you can plot CO2 against temperature anomaly for the 20th century, and fit the data to the logarithmic relationship expected (per the IPCC). The problem is, we had about 0.8 C warming over the 20th century (which is thought to be partly natural effects) due to a 40% rise in CO2, so another 40% rise (to give an overall 2xCO2 rise) ought to lead to 1.6 C at most. Not 3 C, not 6 C, not 10 C.

    So they not only have to postulate a bunch of unproven magnifying feedbacks to boost the temperature, they also have to postulate a bunch of delays and masking mechanisms to bring it back down. And then explain why the second set of mechanisms are only temporary (and will stop having any effect during the 21st century) but not the first.

    This is a debate that most of the public is not even aware of. They present simplistic primary-school “explanations” that get even the basic physics wrong. Sceptics point out that they’re wrong, and that even when corrected the basic effect is trivial. The believers start with argument from authority – “experts have said CO2 trapping IR will heat the world 10 degrees, it’s really basic physics of which there is no doubt” – and then if it starts to look like the sceptic knows what they’re talking about, they use the classic bait-and-switch.

    You started off arguing with a pignorant journalist in the context of the primary-school level they usually operate at, and you suddenly find yourself being challenged to address the peer-reviewed literature on its own terms. The arguments you wrote at the Joe Public level are compared against the learned climatology papers, and you are asked why, if you’re so smart, you have not got your assertions published in peer-reviewed journals. Many of the technical details they glossed over will come out then, and your failure to have mentioned them held against you, but the same doesn’t apply to their side.

    You can be a divinity school drop-out who thinks the centre of the Earth is millions of degrees hot so long as you are arguing for AGW, but you have to be a recognised top climatologist with a total command of the subject and a perfectly clean background to argue against it.

    Rhetorically, it’s a weakness of the sceptic position – because they respect the science rather than the authority, that naturally requires them to understand the science, and they consider it fair to be challenged on it. Ideally, it would be fair, but in practice it isn’t because of the above double standard. You have to be ten times as good as them to be able to even compete.

    I think it’s good, because it forces sceptics to put in the effort necessary to become that much better, and I think that eventually the investment will pay off. But in the short term politically it’s a problem, and we’re running out of time.

    It’s a race. Will they be able to lock in the legislation before their credibility collapses? (They do not, of course, believe it themselves, as their own behaviour vis-a-vis energy usage shows. But do they think they can they plausibly claim to have believed it later on?) I think they’re still in the lead, but we’re coming up very fast now. There’s a slim chance, and they’re getting nervous.

  • Stonyground

    Many thanks for that explanation Ed Snack. From what you say it would appear that “Greenhouse Effect” is a misnomer but that does not mean that we do not have an effect.

  • Brian Swisher

    Manuel:

    “…only a theory.”

    You’ve made the common error in usage in scientific terminology pertaining to the difference between hypothesis and theory.

    As I had drummed into my head by a science teacher who cared about such things:

    An hypothesis is an educated guess.

    A theory predicts.

    One starts with an hypothesis and gathers data to determine if the hypothesis is correct. Once it can be shown that the hypothesis can reliably predict future instances of the data, it can be upgraded to a theory.

    It’s been pretty clear for years that AGW hasn’t made it past the hypothesis level, as it has not been able to predict actual events.

  • From today’s Telegraph:

    Headline:

    British winter ‘to be milder’ says Met

    Subtitle:

    Britain is set to experience a milder than average winter, the Met Office has said.

    First paragraph:

    Despite the much derided predictions of a “barbeque summer” not being fulfilled earlier this year, the Met said there was a 50 per cent chance of a mild winter this year.

    And later:

    “From the projections… we think this winter will be milder than average,” said a Met Office spokesman.

    So is that (the normal) 50% chance of it being milder than average?

    Well not quite, as ‘mild’ and ‘average’, as well as being the normal English for most of us, are special meteorological terms, at least for the Met Office.

    Read on and you’ll see we have average average average temperatures; is that just to make sure we can never check up on them? [That's average over places, average over the season and average over the day. Well, I'm actually making a bit of an assumption on the last one: it could equally well be maximum of minimum.]

    Talk about hiding the raw data: Climategate’s got nothing on the weather forecast.

    Best regards

  • Paul Marks

    The “mainstream” broadcast media are not covering this story.

    ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, – not covering it.

    For all the talk of the “death of the mainstream media” for about half the United States (perhaps more than half) the MSM are the source of what little “news” they watch or listen to.

    It is not just this story – most people do not even know that the Health Bill will cost a fortune (all the msm tell them is that it will be “deficit neutral” and then switch to sports news or the latest Hollywood stuff) or even that the Senate Bill got its votes by bribes (we may snigger over the “Louisiana Purchace” but most people do not know anything about it).

    Most people do not even know that Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama were big supporters of the Housing Bubble (and were PAID lots and lots of money to support it).

    How would they know? Most people still get what little news they get from either free sources (the broadcasters) or from newspapers and magazines (if one the stuff they read in dentist waiting rooms).

    You are not going to see any of this on the networks and you are not goint to read it in Time and Newsweek – so for about half the country it does not exist (after all it certainly will not be on the entertainment shows).

    The msm may be dying (I hope to God that they are dying), but for now they are still a big wall between tens of millions of voters and the truth – about this issue or any other.

  • While Climategate does not bring the whole AGW monster down, what it does is give us the garlic and silver cross to wave at the Science Is Settled vampire. We wont be able to get rid of that monster with these tools alone, but it does cause the creature to slink back to the fetid crypt it came from, for a bit.

  • Bob

    It’s true that the mainstream media seem to be part of the AGW propaganda machine. I have just watched the national CTV evening news here in Canada, and I learned all about the hopes for “success” in Copenhagen. But I have heard not one mention of climategate since the Internet first broke the story. The TV news did have one interesting item tonight, though. It seems that global warming is now forcing polar bears to eat their cute little cubs. I suppose stories like that will take the proletariat’s minds off of the real story. I prefer to laugh at the warmists – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnkCa5-Zc8Q