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Another IPCC modeling failure – so THAT’s where the atmospheric methane went

By Anthony Watts | Watts Up With That? | October 15, 2014

IPCC_AR5_draft_fig1-7_methane
From Oregon State University – Scientists discover carbonate rocks are unrecognized methane sink

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Since the first undersea methane seep was discovered 30 years ago, scientists have meticulously analyzed and measured how microbes in the seafloor sediments consume the greenhouse gas methane as part of understanding how the Earth works.

The sediment-based microbes form an important methane “sink,” preventing much of the chemical from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to greenhouse gas accumulation. As a byproduct of this process, the microbes create a type of rock known as authigenic carbonate, which while interesting to scientists was not thought to be involved in the processing of methane.

That is no longer the case. A team of scientists has discovered that these authigenic carbonate rocks also contain vast amounts of active microbes that take up methane. The results of their study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, were reported today in the journal Nature Communications.

“No one had really examined these rocks as living habitats before,” noted Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University marine ecologist and co-author on the paper. “It was just assumed that they were inactive. In previous studies, we had seen remnants of microbes in the rocks – DNA and lipids – but we thought they were relics of past activity. We didn’t know they were active.

“This goes to show how the global methane process is still rather poorly understood,” Thurber added.

Lead author Jeffrey Marlow of the California Institute of Technology and his colleagues studied samples from authigenic compounds off the coasts of the Pacific Northwest (Hydrate Ridge), northern California (Eel River Basin) and central America (the Costa Rica margin). The rocks range in size and distribution from small pebbles to carbonate “pavement” stretching dozens of square miles.

“Methane-derived carbonates represent a large volume within many seep systems and finding active methane-consuming archaea and bacteria in the interior of these carbonate rocks extends the known habitat for methane-consuming microorganisms beyond the relatively thin layer of sediment that may overlay a carbonate mound,” said Marlow, a geobiology graduate student in the lab of Victoria Orphan of Caltech.

These assemblages are also found in the Gulf of Mexico as well as off Chile, New Zealand, Africa, Europe – “and pretty much every ocean basin in the world,” noted Thurber, an assistant professor (senior research) in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

The study is important, scientists say, because the rock-based microbes potentially may consume a huge amount of methane. The microbes were less active than those found in the sediment, but were more abundant – and the areas they inhabit are extensive, making their importance potential enormous. Studies have found that approximately 3-6 percent of the methane in the atmosphere is from marine sources – and this number is so low due to microbes in the ocean sediments consuming some 60-90 percent of the methane that would otherwise escape.

Now those ratios will have to be re-examined to determine how much of the methane sink can be attributed to microbes in rocks versus those in sediments. The distinction is important, the researchers say, because it is an unrecognized sink for a potentially very important greenhouse gas.

“We found that these carbonate rocks located in areas of active methane seeps are themselves more active,” Thurber said. “Rocks located in comparatively inactive regions had little microbial activity. However, they can quickly activate when methane becomes available.

“In some ways, these rocks are like armies waiting in the wings to be called upon when needed to absorb methane.”

The ocean contains vast amounts of methane, which has long been a concern to scientists. Marine reservoirs of methane are estimated to total more than 455 gigatons and may be as much as 10,000 gigatons carbon in methane. A gigaton is approximate 1.1 billion tons.

By contrast, all of the planet’s gas and oil deposits are thought to total about 200-300 gigatons of carbon.

~~~

Science and Technology Illustration – Monterey Bay

image

Illustration of methane mound on seafloor near Santa Monica Bay.
Credit: Kelly Lance ©2013 MBARI

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Climate Science: Is it Currently Designed to Answer Questions?

By Prof. Richard S. Lindzen | Global Research | September 22, 2014

Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Global Research 30 November 2009

Abstract

116330For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible.

Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former.

Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding.

When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research. This paper will deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.

1. Introduction.

Although the focus of this paper is on climate science, some of the problems pertain to science more generally. Science has traditionally been held to involve the creative opposition of theory and observation wherein each tests the other in such a manner as to converge on a better understanding of the natural world. Success was rewarded by recognition, though the degree of recognition was weighted according to both the practical consequences of the success and the philosophical and aesthetic power of the success. As science undertook more ambitious problems, and the cost and scale of operations increased, the need for funds undoubtedly shifted emphasis to practical relevance though numerous examples from the past assured a strong base level of confidence in the utility of science. Moreover, the many success stories established ‘science’ as a source of authority and integrity. Thus, almost all modern movements claimed scientific foundations for their aims. Early on, this fostered a profound misuse of science, since science is primarily a successful mode of inquiry rather than a source of authority.

Until the post World War II period, little in the way of structure existed for the formal support of science by government (at least in the US which is where my own observations are most relevant). In the aftermath of the Second World War, the major contributions of science to the war effort (radar, the A-bomb), to health (penicillin), etc. were evident. Vannevar Bush (in his report, Science: The Endless Frontier, 1945) noted the many practical roles that validated the importance of science to the nation, and argued that the government need only adequately support basic science in order for further benefits to emerge. The scientific community felt this paradigm to be an entirely appropriate response by a grateful nation. The next 20 years witnessed truly impressive scientific productivity which firmly established the United States as the creative center of the scientific world.

The Bush paradigm seemed amply justified. (This period and its follow-up are also discussed by Miller, 2007, with special but not total emphasis on the NIH (National Institutes of Health).) However, something changed in the late 60’s. In a variety of fields it has been suggested that the rate of new discoveries and achievements slowed appreciably (despite increasing publications) [2], and it is being suggested that either the Bush paradigm ceased to be valid or that it may never have been valid in the first place. I believe that the former is correct. What then happened in the 1960’s to produce this change?

It is my impression that by the end of the 60’s scientists, themselves, came to feel that the real basis for support was not gratitude (and the associated trust that support would bring further benefit) but fear: fear of the Soviet Union, fear of cancer, etc. Many will conclude that this was merely an awakening of a naive scientific community to reality, and they may well be right. However, between the perceptions of gratitude and fear as the basis for support lies a world of difference in incentive structure. If one thinks the basis is gratitude, then one obviously will respond by contributions that will elicit more gratitude. The perpetuation of fear, on the other hand, militates against solving problems. This change in perception proceeded largely without comment. However, the end of the cold war, by eliminating a large part of the fear-base forced a reassessment of the situation. Most thinking has been devoted to the emphasis of other sources of fear: competitiveness, health, resource depletion and the environment.

What may have caused this change in perception is unclear, because so many separate but potentially relevant things occurred almost simultaneously. The space race reinstituted the model of large scale focused efforts such as the moon landing program. For another, the 60’s saw the first major postwar funding cuts for science in the US. The budgetary pressures of the Vietnam War may have demanded savings someplace, but the fact that science was regarded as, to some extent, dispensable, came as a shock to many scientists. So did the massive increase in management structures and bureaucracy which took control of science out of the hands of working scientists. All of this may be related to the demographic pressures resulting from the baby boomers entering the workforce and the post -sputnik emphasis on science. Sorting this out goes well beyond my present aim which is merely to consider the consequences of fear as a perceived basis of support.

Fear has several advantages over gratitude. Gratitude is intrinsically limited, if only by the finite creative capacity of the scientific community. Moreover, as pointed out by a colleague at MIT, appealing to people’s gratitude and trust is usually less effective than pulling a gun. In other words, fear can motivate greater generosity. Sputnik provided a notable example in this regard; though it did not immediately alter the perceptions of most scientists, it did lead to a great increase in the number of scientists, which contributed to the previously mentioned demographic pressure. Science since the sixties has been characterized by the large programs that this generosity encourages.

Moreover, the fact that fear provides little incentive for scientists to do anything more than perpetuate problems, significantly reduces the dependence of the scientific enterprise on unique skills and talents. The combination of increased scale and diminished emphasis on unique talent is, from a certain point of view, a devastating combination which greatly increases the potential for the political direction of science, and the creation of dependent constituencies. With these new constituencies, such obvious controls as peer review and detailed accountability, begin to fail and even serve to perpetuate the defects of the system. Miller (2007) specifically addresses how the system especially favors dogmatism and conformity.

The creation of the government bureaucracy, and the increasing body of regulations accompanying government funding, called, in turn, for a massive increase in the administrative staff at universities and research centers. The support for this staff comes from the overhead on government grants, and, in turn, produces an active pressure for the solicitation of more and larger grants [3].

One result of the above appears to have been the deemphasis of theory because of its intrinsic difficulty and small scale, the encouragement of simulation instead (with its call for large capital investment in computation), and the encouragement of large programs unconstrained by specific goals [4]. In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage.

This new paradigm for science and its dependence on fear based support may not constitute corruption per se, but it does serve to make the system particularly vulnerable to corruption. Much of the remainder of this paper will illustrate the exploitation of this vulnerability in the area of climate research. The situation is particularly acute for a small weak field like climatology. As a field, it has traditionally been a subfield within such disciplines as meteorology, oceanography, geography, geochemistry, etc. These fields, themselves are small and immature. At the same time, these fields can be trivially associated with natural disasters. Finally, climate science has been targeted by a major political movement, environmentalism, as the focus of their efforts, wherein the natural disasters of the earth system, have come to be identified with man’s activities – engendering fear as well as an agenda for societal reform and control. The remainder of this paper will briefly describe how this has been playing out with respect to the climate issue.

2. Conscious Efforts to Politicize Climate Science

The above described changes in scientific culture were both the cause and effect of the growth of ‘big science,’ and the concomitant rise in importance of large organizations. However, all such organizations, whether professional societies, research laboratories, advisory bodies (such as the national academies), government departments and agencies (including NASA, NOAA, EPA, NSF, etc.), and even universities are hierarchical structures where positions and policies are determined by small executive councils or even single individuals. This greatly facilitates any conscious effort to politicize science via influence in such bodies where a handful of individuals (often not even scientists) speak on behalf of organizations that include thousands of scientists, and even enforce specific scientific positions and agendas. The temptation to politicize science is overwhelming and longstanding. Public trust in science has always been high, and political organizations have long sought to improve their own credibility by associating their goals with ‘science’ – even if this involves misrepresenting the science.

Professional societies represent a somewhat special case. Originally created to provide a means for communication within professions – organizing meetings and publishing journals – they also provided, in some instances, professional certification, and public outreach. The central offices of such societies were scattered throughout the US, and rarely located in Washington. Increasingly, however, such societies require impressive presences in Washington where they engage in interactions with the federal government. Of course, the nominal interaction involves lobbying for special advantage, but increasingly, the interaction consists in issuing policy and scientific statements on behalf of the society. Such statements, however, hardly represent independent representation of membership positions. For example, the primary spokesman for the American Meteorological Society in Washington is Anthony Socci who is neither an elected official of the AMS nor a contributor to climate science. Rather, he is a former staffer for Al Gore.

Returning to the matter of scientific organizations, we find a variety of patterns of influence. The most obvious to recognize (though frequently kept from public view), consists in prominent individuals within the environmental movement simultaneously holding and using influential positions within the scientific organization. Thus, John Firor long served as administrative director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. This position was purely administrative, and Firor did not claim any scientific credentials in the atmospheric sciences at the time I was on the staff of NCAR. However, I noticed that beginning in the 1980′s, Firor was frequently speaking on the dangers of global warming as an expert from NCAR. When Firor died last November, his obituary noted that he had also been Board Chairman at Environmental Defense– a major environmental advocacy group – from 1975-1980 [5].

The UK Meteorological Office also has a board, and its chairman, Robert Napier, was previously the Chief Executive for World Wildlife Fund – UK. Bill Hare, a lawyer and Campaign Director for Greenpeace, frequently speaks as a ‘scientist’ representing the Potsdam Institute, Germany’s main global warming research center. John Holdren, who currently directs the Woods Hole Research Center (an environmental advocacy center not to be confused with the far better known Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a research center), is also a professor in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and has served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science among numerous other positions including serving on the board of the MacArthur Foundation from 1991 until 2005. He was also a Clinton-Gore Administration spokesman on global warming.

The making of academic appointments to global warming alarmists is hardly a unique occurrence. The case of Michael Oppenheimer is noteworthy in this regard. With few contributions to climate science (his postdoctoral research was in astro-chemistry), and none to the physics of climate, Oppenheimer became the Barbara Streisand Scientist at Environmental Defense [6]. He was subsequently appointed to a professorship at Princeton University, and is now, regularly, referred to as a prominent climate scientist by Oprah (a popular television hostess), NPR (National Public Radio), etc. To be sure, Oppenheimer did coauthor an early absurdly alarmist volume (Oppenheimer and Robert Boyle, 1990: Dead Heat, The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect), and he has served as a lead author with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) [7].

One could go on at some length with such examples, but a more common form of infiltration consists in simply getting a couple of seats on the council of an organization (or on the advisory panels of government agencies). This is sufficient to veto any statements or decisions that they are opposed to. Eventually, this enables the production of statements supporting their position – if only as a quid pro quo for permitting other business to get done. Sometimes, as in the production of the 1993 report of the NAS, Policy Implications of Global Warming, the environmental activists, having largely gotten their way in the preparation of the report where they were strongly represented as ‘stake holders,’ decided, nonetheless, to issue a minority statement suggesting that the NAS report had not gone ‘far enough.’ The influence of the environmental movement has effectively made support for global warming, not only a core element of political correctness, but also a requirement for the numerous prizes and awards given to scientists. That said, when it comes to professional societies, there is often no need at all for overt infiltration since issues like global warming have become a part of both political correctness and (in the US) partisan politics, and there will usually be council members who are committed in this manner.

The situation with America’s National Academy of Science is somewhat more complicated. The Academy is divided into many disciplinary sections whose primary task is the nomination of candidates for membership in the Academy [8]. Typically, support by more than 85% of the membership of any section is needed for nomination. However, once a candidate is elected, the candidate is free to affiliate with any section. The vetting procedure is generally rigorous, but for over 20 years, there was a Temporary Nominating Group for the Global Environment to provide a back door for the election of candidates who were environmental activists, bypassing the conventional vetting procedure. Members, so elected, proceeded to join existing sections where they hold a veto power over the election of any scientists unsympathetic to their position. Moreover, they are almost immediately appointed to positions on the executive council, and other influential bodies within the Academy. One of the members elected via the Temporary Nominating Group, Ralph Cicerone, is now president of the National Academy. Prior to that, he was on the nominating committee for the presidency. It should be added that there is generally only a single candidate for president. Others elected to the NAS via this route include Paul Ehrlich, James Hansen, Steven Schneider, John Holdren and Susan Solomon.

It is, of course, possible to corrupt science without specifically corrupting institutions. For example, the environmental movement often cloaks its propaganda in scientific garb without the aid of any existing scientific body. One technique is simply to give a name to an environmental advocacy group that will suggest to the public, that the group is a scientific rather than an environmental group. Two obvious examples are the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Woods Hole Research Center [9,10]. The former conducted an intensive advertising campaign about ten years ago in which they urged people to look to them for authoritative information on global warming.

This campaign did not get very far – if only because the Union of Concerned Scientists had little or no scientific expertise in climate. A possibly more effective attempt along these lines occurred in the wake of Michael Crichton’s best selling adventure, State of Fear, which pointed out the questionable nature of the global warming issue, as well as the dangers to society arising from the exploitation of this issue. Environmental Media Services (a project of Fenton Communications, a large public relations firm serving left wing and environmental causes; they are responsible for the alar scare as well as Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war campaign.) created a website, realclimate.org, as an ‘authoritative’ source for the ‘truth’ about climate. This time, real scientists who were also environmental activists, were recruited to organize this web site and ‘discredit’ any science or scientist that questioned catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

The web site serves primarily as a support group for believers in catastrophe, constantly reassuring them that there is no reason to reduce their worrying. Of course, even the above represent potentially unnecessary complexity compared to the longstanding technique of simply publicly claiming that all scientists agree with whatever catastrophe is being promoted. Newsweek already made such a claim in 1988. Such a claim serves at least two purposes. First, the bulk of the educated public is unable to follow scientific arguments; ‘knowing’ that all scientists agree relieves them of any need to do so. Second, such a claim serves as a warning to scientists that the topic at issue is a bit of a minefield that they would do well to avoid.

The myth of scientific consensus is also perpetuated in the web’s Wikipedia where climate articles are vetted by William Connolley, who regularly runs for office in England as a Green Party candidate. No deviation from the politically correct line is permitted.

Perhaps the most impressive exploitation of climate science for political purposes has been the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by two UN agencies, UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) and WMO (World Meteorological Organization), and the agreement of all major countries at the 1992 Rio Conference to accept the IPCC as authoritative. Formally, the IPCC summarizes the peer reviewed literature on climate every five years. On the face of it, this is an innocent and straightforward task. One might reasonably wonder why it takes 100′s of scientists five years of constant travelling throughout the world in order to perform this task. The charge to the IPCC is not simply to summarize, but rather to provide the science with which to support the negotiating process whose aim is to control greenhouse gas levels. This is a political rather than a scientific charge. That said, the participating scientists have some leeway in which to reasonably describe matters, since the primary document that the public associates with the IPCC is not the extensive report prepared by the scientists, but rather the Summary for Policymakers which is written by an assemblage of representative from governments and NGO’s, with only a small scientific representation [11, 12].

3. Science in the service of politics

Given the above, it would not be surprising if working scientists would make special efforts to support the global warming hypothesis. There is ample evidence that this is happening on a large scale. A few examples will illustrate this situation. Data that challenges the hypothesis are simply changed. In some instances, data that was thought to support the hypothesis is found not to, and is then changed. The changes are sometimes quite blatant, but more often are somewhat more subtle. The crucial point is that geophysical data is almost always at least somewhat uncertain, and methodological errors are constantly being discovered. Bias can be introduced by simply considering only those errors that change answers in the desired direction. The desired direction in the case of climate is to bring the data into agreement with models, even though the models have displayed minimal skill in explaining or predicting climate. Model projections, it should be recalled, are the basis for our greenhouse concerns. That corrections to climate data should be called for, is not at all surprising, but that such corrections should always be in the ‘needed’ direction is exceedingly unlikely. Although the situation suggests overt dishonesty, it is entirely possible, in today’s scientific environment, that many scientists feel that it is the role of science to vindicate the greenhouse paradigm for climate change as well as the credibility of models. Comparisons of models with data are, for example, referred to as model validation studies rather than model tests.

The first two examples involve paleoclimate simulations and reconstructions. Here, the purpose has been to show that both the models and the greenhouse paradigm can explain past climate regimes, thus lending confidence to the use of both to anticipate future changes. In both cases (the Eocene about 50 million years ago, and the Last Glacial Maximum about 18 thousand years ago), the original data were in conflict with the greenhouse paradigm as implemented in current models, and in both cases, lengthy efforts were made to bring the data into agreement with the models.

In the first example, the original data analysis for the Eocene (Shackleton and Boersma, 1981) showed the polar regions to have been so much warmer than the present that a type of alligator existed on Spitzbergen as did florae and fauna in Minnesota that could not have survived frosts. At the same time, however, equatorial temperatures were found to be about 4K colder than at present. The first attempts to simulate the Eocene (Barron, 1987) assumed that the warming would be due to high levels of CO2, and using a climate GCM (General Circulation Model), he obtained relatively uniform warming at all latitudes, with the meridional gradients remaining much as they are today. This behavior continues to be the case with current GCMs (Huber, 2008). As a result, paleoclimatologists have devoted much effort to ‘correcting’ their data, but, until very recently, they were unable to bring temperatures at the equator higher than today’s (Schrag, 1999, Pearson et al, 2000). However, the latest paper (Huber, 2008) suggests that the equatorial data no longer constrains equatorial temperatures at all, and any values may have existed. All of this is quite remarkable since there is now evidence that current meridional distributions of temperature depend critically on the presence of ice, and that the model behavior results from improper tuning wherein present distributions remain even when ice is absent.

The second example begins with the results of a major attempt to observationally reconstruct the global climate of the last glacial maximum (CLIMAP, 1976). Here it was found that although extratropical temperatures were much colder, equatorial temperatures were little different from today’s. There were immediate attempts to simulate this climate with GCMs and reduced levels of CO2. Once again the result was lower temperatures at all latitudes (Bush and Philander, 1998a,b), and once again, numerous efforts were made to ‘correct’ the data. After much argument, the current position appears to be that tropical temperatures may have been a couple of degrees cooler than today’s. However, papers appeared claiming far lower temperatures (Crowley, 2000). We will deal further with this issue in the next section where we describe papers that show that the climate associated with ice ages is well described by the Milankovich Hypothesis that does not call for any role for CO2.

Both of the above examples probably involved legitimate corrections, but only corrections that sought to bring observations into agreement with models were initially considered, thus avoiding the creative conflict between theory and data that has characterized the past successes of science. To be sure, however, the case of the Last Glacial Maximum shows that climate science still retains a capacity for self-correction.

The next example has achieved a much higher degree of notoriety than the previous two. In the first IPCC assessment (IPCC, 1990), the traditional picture of the climate of the past 1100 years was presented. In this picture, there was a medieval warm period that was somewhat warmer than the present as well as the little ice age that was cooler. The presence of a period warmer than the present in the absence of any anthropogenic greenhouse gases was deemed an embarrassment for those holding that present warming could only be accounted for by the activities of man. Not surprisingly, efforts were made to get rid of the medieval warm period (According to Demming, 2005, Jonathan Overpeck, in an email, remarked that one had to get rid of the medieval warm period. Overpeck is one of organizers in Appendix 1.).

The most infamous effort was that due to Mann et al (1998, 1999 [13]) which used primarily a few handfuls of tree ring records to obtain a reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperature going back eventually a thousand years that no longer showed a medieval warm period. Indeed, it showed a slight cooling for almost a thousand years culminating in a sharp warming beginning in the nineteenth century. The curve came to be known as the hockey stick, and featured prominently in the next IPCC report, where it was then suggested that the present warming was unprecedented in the past 1000 years. The study immediately encountered severe questions concerning both the proxy data and its statistical analysis (interestingly, the most penetrating critiques came from outside the field: McIntyre and McKitrick, 2003, 2005a,b). This led to two independent assessments of the hockey stick (Wegman,2006, North, 2006), both of which found the statistics inadequate for the claims. The story is given in detail in Holland (2007).

Since the existence of a medieval warm period is amply documented in historical accounts for the North Atlantic region (Soon et al, 2003), Mann et al countered that the warming had to be regional but not characteristic of the whole northern hemisphere. Given that an underlying assumption of their analysis was that the geographic pattern of warming had to have remained constant, this would have invalidated the analysis ab initio without reference to the specifics of the statistics. Indeed, the 4th IPCC (IPCC, 2007) assessment no longer featured the hockey stick, but the claim that current warming is unprecedented remains, and Mann et al’s reconstruction is still shown in Chapter 6 of the 4th IPCC assessment, buried among other reconstructions. Here too, we will return to this matter briefly in the next section.

The fourth example is perhaps the strangest. For many years, the global mean temperature record showed cooling from about 1940 until the early 70′s. This, in fact, led to the concern for global cooling during the 1970′s. The IPCC regularly, through the 4th assessment, boasted of the ability of models to simulate this cooling (while failing to emphasize that each model required a different specification of completely undetermined aerosol cooling in order to achieve this simulation (Kiehl, 2007)). Improvements in our understanding of aerosols are increasingly making such arbitrary tuning somewhat embarrassing, and, no longer surprisingly, the data has been ‘corrected’ to get rid of the mid 20th century cooling (Thompson et al, 2008). This may, in fact, be a legitimate correction (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3114). The embarrassment may lie in the continuous claims of modelers to have simulated the allegedly incorrect data.

The fifth example deals with the fingerprint of warming. It has long been noted that greenhouse warming is primarily centered in the upper troposphere (Lindzen, 1999) and, indeed, model’s show that the maximum rate of warming is found in the upper tropical troposphere (Lee, et al, 2007). Lindzen (2007) noted that temperature data from both satellites and balloons failed to show such a maximum. This, in turn, permitted one to bound the greenhouse contribution to surface warming, and led to an estimate of climate sensitivity that was appreciably less than found in current models. Once the implications of the observations were clearly identified, it was only a matter of time before the data were ‘corrected.’ The first attempt came quickly (Vinnikov et al, 2006) wherein the satellite data was reworked to show large warming in the upper troposphere, but the methodology was too blatant for the paper to be commonly cited [14]. There followed an attempt wherein the temperature data was rejected, and where temperature trends were inferred from wind data (Allen and Sherwood, 2008).

Over sufficiently long periods, there is a balance between vertical wind shear and meridional temperature gradients (the thermal wind balance), and, with various assumptions concerning boundary conditions, one can, indeed, infer temperature trends, but the process involves a more complex, indirect, and uncertain procedure than is involved in directly measuring temperature. Moreover, as Pielke et al (2008) have noted, the results display a variety of inconsistencies. They are nonetheless held to resolve the discrepancy with models. More recently, Solomon et al (2009) have claimed further “corrections” to the data

The sixth example takes us into astrophysics. Since the 1970′s, considerable attention has been given to something known as the Early Faint Sun Paradox. This paradox was first publicized by Sagan and Mullen (1972). They noted that the standard model for the sun robustly required that the sun brighten with time so that 2-3 billion years ago, it was about 30% dimmer than it is today (recall that a doubling of CO2 corresponds to only a 2% change in the radiative budget). One would have expected that the earth would have been frozen over, but the geological evidence suggested that the ocean was unfrozen. Attempts were made to account for this by an enhanced greenhouse effect. Sagan and Mullen (1972) suggested an ammonia rich atmosphere might work. Others suggested an atmosphere with as much as several bars of CO2 (recall that currently CO2 is about 380 parts per million of a 1 bar atmosphere).

Finally, Kasting and colleagues tried to resolve the paradox with large amounts of methane. For a variety of reasons, all these efforts were deemed inadequate [15] (Haqqmisra et al, 2008). There followed a remarkable attempt to get rid of the standard model of the sun (Sackman and Boothroyd, 2003). This is not exactly the same as altering the data, but the spirit is the same. The paper claimed to have gotten rid of the paradox. However, in fact, the altered model still calls for substantial brightening, and, moreover, does not seem to have gotten much acceptance among solar modelers.

My last specific example involves the social sciences. Given that it has been maintained since at least 1988 that all scientists agree about alarming global warming, it is embarrassing to have scientists objecting to the alarm. To ‘settle’ the matter, a certain Naomi Oreskes published a paper in Science (Oreskes, 2004) purporting to have surveyed the literature and not have found a single paper questioning the alarm (Al Gore offers this study as proof of his own correctness in “Inconvenient Truth.”). Both Benny Peiser (a British sociologist) and Dennis Bray (an historian of science) noted obvious methodological errors, but Science refused to publish these rebuttals with no regard for the technical merits of the criticisms presented [16]. Moreover, Oreskes was a featured speaker at the celebration of Spencer Weart’s thirty years as head of the American Institute of Physics’ Center for History of Physics. Weart, himself, had written a history of the global warming issue (Weart, 2003) where he repeated, without checking, the slander taken from a screed by Ross Gelbspan (The Heat is On) in which I was accused of being a tool of the fossil fuel industry. Weart also writes with glowing approval of Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. As far as Oreskes’ claim goes, it is clearly absurd [17]. A more carefully done study revealed a very different picture (Schulte, 2007)

The above examples do not include the most convenient means whereby nominal scientists can support global warming alarm: namely, the matter of impacts. Here, scientists who generally have no knowledge of climate physics at all, are supported to assume the worst projections of global warming and imaginatively suggest the implications of such warming for whatever field they happen to be working in. This has led to the bizarre claims that global warming will contribute to kidney stones, obesity, cockroaches, noxious weeds, sexual imbalance in fish, etc. The scientists who participate in such exercises quite naturally are supportive of the catastrophic global warming hypothesis despite their ignorance of the underlying science [18].

4. Pressures to inhibit inquiry and problem solving

It is often argued that in science the truth must eventually emerge. This may well be true, but, so far, attempts to deal with the science of climate change objectively have been largely forced to conceal such truths as may call into question global warming alarmism (even if only implicitly). The usual vehicle is peer review, and the changes imposed were often made in order to get a given paper published. Publication is, of course, essential for funding, promotion, etc. The following examples are but a few from cases that I am personally familiar with. These, almost certainly, barely scratch the surface. What is generally involved, is simply the inclusion of an irrelevant comment supporting global warming accepted wisdom. When the substance of the paper is described, it is generally claimed that the added comment represents the ‘true’ intent of the paper. In addition to the following examples, Appendix 2 offers excellent examples of ‘spin control.’.

As mentioned in the previous section, one of the reports assessing the Mann et al Hockey Stick was prepared by a committee of the US National Research Counsel (a branch of the National Academy) chaired by Gerald North (North, 2006). The report concluded that the analysis used was totally unreliable for periods longer ago than about 400 years. In point of fact, the only basis for the 400 year choice was that this brought one to the midst of the Little Ice Age, and there is essentially nothing surprising about a conclusion that we are now warmer. Still, without any basis at all, the report also concluded that despite the inadequacy of the Mann et al analysis, the conclusion might still be correct. It was this baseless conjecture that received most of the publicity surrounding the report.

In a recent paper, Roe (2006) showed that the orbital variations in high latitude summer insolation correlate excellently with changes in glaciation – once one relates the insolation properly to the rate of change of glaciation rather than to the glaciation itself. This provided excellent support for the Milankovich hypothesis. Nothing in the brief paper suggested the need for any other mechanism. Nonetheless, Roe apparently felt compelled to include an irrelevant caveat stating that the paper had no intention of ruling out a role for CO2.

Choi and Ho (2006, 2008) published interesting papers on the optical properties of high tropical cirrus that largely confirmed earlier results by Lindzen, Chou and Hou (2001) on an important negative feedback (the iris effect – something that we will describe later in this section) that would greatly reduce the sensitivity of climate to increasing greenhouse gases. A proper comparison required that the results be normalized by a measure of total convective activity, and, indeed, such a comparison was made in the original version of Choi and Ho’s paper. However, reviewers insisted that the normalization be removed from the final version of the paper which left the relationship to the earlier paper unclear.

Horvath and Soden (2008) found observational confirmation of many aspects of the iris effect, but accompanied these results with a repetition of criticisms of the iris effect that were irrelevant and even contradictory to their own paper. The point, apparently, was to suggest that despite their findings, there might be other reasons to discard the iris effect. Later in this section, I will return to these criticisms. However, the situation is far from unique. I have received preprints of papers wherein support for the iris was found, but where this was omitted in the published version of the papers

In another example, I had originally submitted a paper mentioned in the previous section (Lindzen, 2007) to American Scientist, the periodical of the scientific honorary society in the US, Sigma Xi, at the recommendation of a former officer of that society. There followed a year of discussions, with an editor, David Schneider, insisting that I find a coauthor who would illustrate why my paper was wrong. He argued that publishing something that contradicted the IPCC was equivalent to publishing a paper that claimed that ‘Einstein’s general theory of relativity is bunk.’ I suggested that it would be more appropriate for American Scientist to solicit a separate paper taking a view opposed to mine. This was unacceptable to Schneider, so I ended up publishing the paper elsewhere. Needless to add, Schneider has no background in climate physics. At the same time, a committee consisting almost entirely in environmental activists led by Peter Raven, the ubiquitous John Holdren, Richard Moss, Michael MacCracken, and Rosina Bierbaum were issuing a joint Sigma Xi – United Nations Foundation (the latter headed by former Senator and former Undersecretary of State Tim Wirth [19] and founded by Ted Turner) report endorsing global warming alarm, to a degree going far beyond the latest IPCC report. I should add that simple disagreement with conclusions of the IPCC has become a common basis for rejecting papers for publication in professional journals – as long as the disagreement suggests reduced alarm. An example will be presented later in this section.

Despite all the posturing about global warming, more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that global mean temperatures have not increased statistically significantly since 1995. One need only look at the temperature records posted on the web by the Hadley Centre. The way this is acknowledged in the literature forms a good example of the spin that is currently required to maintain global warming alarm. Recall that the major claim of the IPCC 4th Assessment was that there was a 90% certainty that most of the warming of the preceding 50 years was due to man (whatever that might mean). This required the assumption that what is known as natural internal variability (ie, the variability that exists without any external forcing and represents the fact that the climate system is never in equilibrium) is adequately handled by the existing climate models.

The absence of any net global warming over the last dozen years or so, suggests that this assumption may be wrong. Smith et al (2007) (Smith is with the Hadley Centre in the UK) acknowledged this by pointing out that initial conditions had to reflect the disequilibrium at some starting date, and when these conditions were ‘correctly’ chosen, it was possible to better replicate the period without warming. This acknowledgment of error was accompanied by the totally unjustified assertion that global warming would resume with a vengeance in 2009 [20]. As 2009 approaches and the vengeful warming seems less likely to occur, a new paper came out (this time from the Max Planck Institute: Keenlyside et al, 2008) moving the date for anticipated resumption of warming to 2015. It is indeed a remarkable step backwards for science to consider models that have failed to predict the observed behavior of the climate to nonetheless have the same validity as the data [21].

Tim Palmer, a prominent atmospheric scientist at the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, is quoted by Fred Pearce (Pearce, 2008) in the New Scientist as follows: “Politicians seem to think that the science is a done deal,” says Tim Palmer. “I don’t want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain.” Pearce, however, continues “Palmer .. does not doubt that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has done a good job alerting the world to the problem of global climate change. But he and his fellow climate scientists are acutely aware that the IPCC’s predictions of how the global change will affect local climates are little more than guesswork. They fear that if the IPCC’s predictions turn out to be wrong, it will provoke a crisis in confidence that undermines the whole climate change debate. On top of this, some climate scientists believe that even the IPCC’s global forecasts leave much to be desired. …” Normally, one would think that undermining the credibility of something that is wrong is appropriate.

Even in the present unhealthy state of science, papers that are overtly contradictory to the catastrophic warming scenario do get published (though not without generally being substantially watered down during the review process). They are then often subject to the remarkable process of ‘discreditation.’ This process consists in immediately soliciting attack papers that are published quickly as independent articles rather than comments. The importance of this procedure is as follows. Normally such criticisms are published as comments, and the original authors are able to respond immediately following the comment. Both the comment and reply are published together. By publishing the criticism as an article, the reply is published as a correspondence, which is usually delayed by several months, and the critics are permitted an immediate reply. As a rule, the reply of the original authors is ignored in subsequent references.

In 2001, I published a paper (Lindzen, Chou and Hou) that used geostationary satellite data to suggest the existence of a strong negative feedback that we referred to as the Iris Effect. The gist of the feedback is that upper level stratiform clouds in the tropics arise by detrainment from cumulonimbus towers, that the radiative impact of the stratiform clouds is primarily in the infrared where they serve as powerful greenhouse components, and that the extent of the detrainment decreases markedly with increased surface temperature. The negative feedback resulted from the fact that the greenhouse warming due to the stratiform clouds diminished as the surface temperature increased, and increased as the surface temperature decreased – thus resisting the changes in surface temperature. The impact of the observed effect was sufficient to greatly reduce the model sensitivities to increasing CO2, and it was, moreover, shown that models failed to display the observed cloud behavior. The paper received an unusually intense review from four reviewers.

Once the paper appeared, the peer review editor of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Irwin Abrams, was replaced by a new editor, Jeffrey Rosenfeld (holding the newly created position of Editor in Chief), and the new editor almost immediately accepted a paper criticizing our paper (Hartmann and Michelsen, 2002), publishing it as a separate paper rather than a response to our paper (which would have been the usual and appropriate procedure). In the usual procedure, the original authors are permitted to respond in the same issue. In the present case, the response was delayed by several months. Moreover, the new editor chose to label the criticism as follows: “Careful analysis of data reveals no shrinkage of tropical cloud anvil area with increasing SST.”

In fact, this criticism was easily dismissed. The claim of Hartmann and Michelsen was that the effect we observed was due to the intrusion of midlatitude non- convective clouds into the tropics. If this were true, then the effect should have diminished as one restricted observations more closely to the equator, but as we showed (Lindzen, Chou and Hou, 2002), exactly the opposite was found. There were also separately published papers (again violating normal protocols allowing for immediate response) by Lin et al, 2002 and Fu, Baker and Hartmann, 2002, that criticized our paper by claiming that since the instruments on the geostationary satellite could not see the thin stratiform clouds that formed the tails of the clouds we could see, that we were not entitled to assume that the tails existed. Without the tails, the radiative impact of the clouds would be primarily in the visible where the behavior we observed would lead to a positive feedback; with the tails the effect is a negative feedback. The tails had long been observed, and the notion that they abruptly disappeared when not observed by an insufficiently sensitive sensor was absurd on the face of it, and the use of better instruments by Choi and Ho (2006, 2008) confirmed the robustness of the tails and the strong dominance of the infrared impact. However, as we have already seen, virtually any mention of the iris effect tends to be accompanied with a reference to the criticisms, a claim that the theory is ‘discredited,’ and absolutely no mention of the responses. This is even required of papers that are actually supporting the iris effect.

Vincent Courtillot et al (2007) encountered a similar problem. (Courtillot, it should be noted, is the director of the Institute for the Study of the Globe at the University of Paris.) They found that time series for magnetic field variations appeared to correlate well with temperature measurements – suggesting a possible non-anthropogenic source of forcing. This was immediately criticized by Bard and Delaygue (2008), and Courtillot et al were given the conventional right to reply which they did in a reasonably convincing manner. What followed, however, was highly unusual. Raymond Pierrehumbert (a professor of meteorology at the University of Chicago and a fanatical environmentalist) posted a blog supporting Bard and Delaygue, accusing Courtillot et al of fraud, and worse. Alan Robock (a coauthor of Vinnikov et al mentioned in the preceding section) perpetuated the slander in a letter circulated to all officers of the American Geophysical Union. The matter was then taken up (in December of 2007) by major French newspapers (LeMonde, Liberation, and Le Figaro) that treated Pierrehumbert’s defamation as fact. As in the previous case, all references to the work of Courtillot et al refer to it as ‘discredited’ and no mention is made of their response. Moreover, a major argument against the position of Courtillot et al is that it contradicted the claim of the IPCC.

In 2005, I was invited by Erneso Zedillo to give a paper at a symposium he was organizing at his Center for Sustainability Studies at Yale. The stated topic of the symposium was Global Warming Policy After 2012, and the proceedings were to appear in a book to by entitled Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto. Only two papers dealing with global warming science were presented: mine and one by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute. The remaining papers all essentially assumed an alarming scenario and proceeded to discuss economics, impacts, and policy. Rahmstorf and I took opposing positions, but there was no exchange at the meeting, and Rahmstorf had to run off to another meeting. As agreed, I submitted the manuscript of my talk, but publication was interminably delayed, perhaps because of the presence of my paper. In any event, the Brookings Institute (a centrist Democratic Party think tank) agreed to publish the volume. When the volume finally appeared (Zedillo, 2008), I was somewhat shocked to see that Rahmstorf’s paper had been modified from what he presented, and had been turned into an attack not only on my paper but on me personally [22]. I had received no warning of this; nor was I given any opportunity to reply. Inquiries to the editor and the publisher went unanswered. Moreover, the Rahmstorf paper was moved so that it immediately followed my paper. The reader is welcome to get a copy of the exchange, including my response, on my web site (Lindzen-Rahmstorf Exchange, 2008), and judge the exchange for himself.

One of the more bizarre tools of global warming revisionism is the posthumous alteration of skeptical positions.

Thus, the recent deaths of two active and professionally prominent skeptics, Robert Jastrow (the founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, now headed by James Hansen), and Reid Bryson (a well known climatologist at the University of Wisconsin) were accompanied by obituaries suggesting deathbed conversions to global warming alarm.

The death of another active and prominent skeptic, William Nierenberg (former director of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute), led to the creation of a Nierenberg Prize that is annually awarded to an environmental activist. The most recent recipient was James Hansen who Nierenberg detested.

Perhaps the most extraordinary example of this phenomenon involves a paper by Singer, Starr, and Revelle (1991). In this paper, it was concluded that we knew too little about climate to implement any drastic measures. Revelle, it may be recalled, was the professor that Gore credits with introducing him to the horrors of CO2 induced warming. There followed an intense effort led by a research associate at Harvard, Justin Lancaster, in coordination with Gore staffers, to have Revelle’s name posthumously removed from the published paper. It was claimed that Singer had pressured an old and incompetent man to allow his name to be used. To be sure, everyone who knew Revelle, felt that he had been alert until his death. There followed a law suit by Singer, where the court found in Singer’s favor. The matter is described in detail in Singer (2003).

Occasionally, prominent individual scientists do publicly express skepticism. The means for silencing them are fairly straightforward.

Will Happer, director of research at the Department of Energy (and a professor of physics at Princeton University) was simply fired from his government position after expressing doubts about environmental issues in general. His case is described in Happer (2003).

Michael Griffin, NASA’s administrator, publicly expressed reservations concerning global warming alarm in 2007. This was followed by a barrage of ad hominem attacks from individuals including James Hansen and Michael Oppenheimer. Griffin has since stopped making any public statements on this matter.

Freeman Dyson, an acknowledged great in theoretical physics, managed to publish a piece in New York Review of Books (Dyson, 2008), where in the course of reviewing books by Nordhaus and Zedillo (the latter having been referred to earlier), he expressed cautious support for the existence of substantial doubt concerning global warming. This was followed by a series of angry letters as well as condemnation on the realclimate.org web site including ad hominem attacks. Given that Dyson is retired, however, there seems little more that global warming enthusiasts can do. However, we may hear of a deathbed conversion in the future.

5. Dangers for science and society

This paper has attempted to show how changes in the structure of scientific activity over the past half century have led to extreme vulnerability to political manipulation. In the case of climate change, these vulnerabilities have been exploited to a remarkable extent. The dangers that the above situation poses for both science and society are too numerous to be discussed in any sort of adequate way in this paper. It should be stressed that the climate change issue, itself, constitutes a major example of the dangers intrinsic to the structural changes in science.

As concerns the specific dangers pertaining to the climate change issue, we are already seeing that the tentative policy moves associated with ‘climate mitigation’ are contributing to deforestation, food riots, potential trade wars, inflation, energy speculation and overt corruption as in the case of ENRON (one of the leading lobbyists for Kyoto prior to its collapse). There is little question that global warming has been exploited by many governments and corporations (and not just by ENRON; Lehman Brothers, for example, was also heavily promoting global warming alarm, and relying on the advice of James Hansen, etc.) for their own purposes, but it is unclear to what extent such exploitation has played an initiating role in the issue. The developing world has come to realize that the proposed measures endanger their legitimate hopes to escape poverty, and, in the case of India, they have, encouragingly, led to an assessment of climate issues independent of the ‘official’ wisdom (Government of India, 2008 [23]).

For purposes of this paper, however, I simply want to briefly note the specific implications for science and its interaction with society. Although society is undoubtedly aware of the imperfections of science, it has rarely encountered a situation such as the current global warming hysteria where institutional science has so thoroughly committed itself to policies which call for massive sacrifices in well being world wide. Past scientific errors did not lead the public to discard the view that science on the whole was a valuable effort. However, the extraordinarily shallow basis for the commitment to climate catastrophe, and the widespread tendency of scientists to use unscientific means to arouse the public’s concerns, is becoming increasingly evident, and the result could be a reversal of the trust that arose from the triumphs of science and technology during the World War II period.

Further, the reliance by the scientific community on fear as a basis for support, may, indeed, have severely degraded the ability of science to usefully address problems that need addressing. It should also be noted that not all the lessons of the World War II period have been positive. Massive crash programs such as the Manhattan Project are not appropriate to all scientific problems. In particular, such programs are unlikely to be effective in fields where the basic science is not yet in place. Rather, they are best suited to problems where the needs are primarily in the realm of engineering.

Although the change in scientific culture has played an important role in making science more vulnerable to exploitation by politics, the resolution of specific issues may be possible without explicitly addressing the structural problems in science. In the US, where global warming has become enmeshed in partisan politics, there is a natural opposition to exploitation which is not specifically based on science itself. However, the restoration of the traditional scientific paradigm will call for more serious efforts. Such changes are unlikely to come from any fiat. Nor is it likely to be implemented by the large science bureaucracies that have helped create the problem in the first place. A potentially effective approach would be to change the incentive structure of science. The current support mechanisms for science is one where the solution of a scientific problem is rewarded by ending support.

This hardly encourages the solution of problems or the search for actual answers. Nor does it encourage meaningfully testing hypotheses. The alternative calls for a measure of societal trust, patience, and commitment to elitism that hardly seems consonant with the contemporary attitudes. It may, however, be possible to make a significant beginning by carefully reducing the funding for science. Many scientists would be willing to accept a lower level of funding in return for greater freedom and stability. Other scientists may find the trade-off unacceptable and drop out of the enterprise. The result, over a period of time, could be a gradual restoration of a better incentive structure.

One ought not underestimate the institutional resistance to such changes, but the alternatives are proving to be much worse. Some years ago, I described some of what I have discussed here at a meeting in Erice (Lindzen, 2005). Richard Garwin (who some regard as the inventor of the H-bomb) rose indignantly to state that he did not want to hear such things. Quite frankly, I also don’t want to hear such things. However, I fear that ignoring such things will hardly constitute a solution, and a solution may be necessary for the sake of the scientific enterprise.

Acknowledgments. The author wishes to thank Dennis Ambler, Willie Soon, Lubos Motl and Nigel Lawson for useful comments and assistance.

Notes

1. This paper was prepared for a meeting sponsored by Euresis (Associazone per la promozione e la diffusione della cultura e del lavoro scientifico) and the Templeton Foundation on Creativity and Creative Inspiration in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering: Developing a Vision for the Future. The meeting was held in San Marino from 29-31 August 2008. Its Proceedings are expected to be published in 2009.
2. At some level, this is obvious. Theoretical physics is still dealing with the standard model though there is an active search for something better. Molecular biology is still working off of the discovery of DNA. Many of the basic laws of physics resulted from individual efforts in the 17th-19th Centuries. The profound advances in technology should not disguise the fact that the bulk of the underlying science is more than 40 years old. This is certainly the case in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences. That said, it should not be forgotten that sometimes progress slows because the problem is difficult. Sometimes, it slows because the existing results are simply correct as is the case with DNA. Structural problems are not always the only factor involved.
3. It is sometimes thought that government involvement automatically implies large bureaucracies, and lengthy regulations. This was not exactly the case in the 20 years following the second world war. Much of the support in the physical sciences came from the armed forces for which science support remained a relatively negligible portion of their budgets. For example, meteorology at MIT was supported by the Air Force. Group grants were made for five year periods and renewed on the basis of a site visit. When the National Science Foundation was created, it functioned with a small permanent staff supplemented by ‘rotators’ who served on leave from universities for a few years. Unfortunately, during the Vietnam War, the US Senate banned the military from supporting non-military research (Mansfield Amendment). This shifted support to agencies whose sole function was to support science. That said, today all agencies supporting science have large ‘supporting’ bureaucracies.
4. In fairness, such programs should be distinguished from team efforts which are sometimes appropriate and successful: classification of groups in mathematics, human genome
project, etc.
5. A personal memoir from Al Grable sent to Sherwood Idso in 1993 is interesting in this regard. Grable served as a Department of Agriculture observer to the National Research Council’s National Climate Board. Such observers are generally posted by agencies to boards that they are funding. In any event, Grable describes a motion presented at a Board meeting in 1980 by Walter Orr Roberts, the director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and by Joseph Smagorinsky, director of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton, to censure Sherwood Idso for criticizing climate models with high sensitivities due to water vapor feedbacks (in the models), because of their inadequate handling of cooling due to surface evaporation. A member of that board, Sylvan Wittwer, noted that it was not the role of such boards to censure specific scientific positions since the appropriate procedure would be to let science decide in the fullness of time, and the matter was dropped. In point of fact, there is evidence that models do significantly understate the increase of evaporative cooling with temperature (Held and Soden, 2006). Moreover, this memoir makes clear that the water vapor feedback was considered central to the whole global warming issue from the very beginning.
6. It should be acknowledged that Oppenheimer has quite a few papers with climate in the title – especially in the last two years. However, these are largely papers concerned with policy and advocacy, assuming significant warming. Such articles probably constitute the bulk of articles on climate. It is probably also fair to say that such articles contribute little if anything to understanding the phenomenon.
7. Certain names and organizations come up repeatedly in this paper. This is hardly an accident. In 1989, following the public debut of the issue in the US in Tim Wirth’s and Al Gore’s famous Senate hearing featuring Jim Hansen associating the warm summer of 1988 with global warming, the Climate Action Network was created. This organization of over 280 ENGO’s has been at the center of the climate debates since then. The Climate Action Network, is an umbrella NGO that coordinates the advocacy efforts of its members, particularly in relation to the UN negotiations. Organized around seven regional nodes in North and Latin America, Western and Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, CAN represents the majority of environmental groups advocating on climate change, and it has embodied the voice of the environmental community in the climate negotiations since it was established.
The founding of the Climate Action Network can be traced back to the early involvement of scientists from the research ENGO community. These individuals, including Michael Oppenheimer from Environmental Defense, Gordon Goodman of the Stockholm Environmental Institute (formerly the Beijer Institute), and George Woodwell of the Woods Hole Research
Center were instrumental in organizing the scientific workshops in Villach and Bellagio on Developing Policy Responses to Climate Change’ in 1987 as well as the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in June 1988. It should be noted that the current director of the Woods Hole Research Center is John Holdren. In 1989, several months after the Toronto Conference, the emerging group of climate scientists and activists from the US, Europe, and developing countries were brought together at a meeting in Germany, with funding from Environmental Defense and the German Marshall Fund. The German Marshall Fund is still funding NGO activity in Europe: http://www.gmfus.org/event/detail.cfm?id=453&parent_type=E (Pulver, 2004).
8. The reports attributed to the National Academy are not, to any major extent, the work of Academy Members. Rather, they are the product of the National Research Council, which consists in a staff of over 1000 who are paid largely by the organizations soliciting the reports. The committees that prepare the reports are mostly scientists who are not Academy Members, and who serve without pay.
9. One might reasonably add the Pew Charitable Trust to this list. Although they advertise themselves as a neutral body, they have merged with the National Environmental Trust, whose director, Philip Clapp, became deputy managing director of the combined body. Clapp (the head of the legislative practice of a large Washington law firm, and a consultant on mergers and acquisitions to investment banking firms), according to his recent obituary, was ‘an early and vocal advocate on climate change issues and a promoter of the international agreement concluded in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. Mr. Clapp continued to attend subsequent global warming talks even after the US Congress did not ratify the Kyoto accord.’
10. John Holdren has defended the use of the phrase ‘Research Center’ since research is carried out with sponsorship by National Science Foundation, the National Oceanographic Administration, and NASA. However, it is hardly uncommon to find sponsorship of the activities of environmental NGO’s by federal funding agencies
11. Appendix 1 is the invitation to the planning session for the 5th assessment. It clearly emphasizes strengthening rather than checking the IPCC position. Appendix 2 reproduces a commentary by Stephen McIntyre on the recent OfCom findings concerning a British TV program opposing global warming alarmism. The response of the IPCC officials makes it eminently clear that the IPCC is fundamentally a political body. If further evidence were needed, one simply has to observe the fact that the IPCC Summary for Policymakers will selectively cite results to emphasize negative consequences. Thus the summary for Working Group II observes that global warming will result in “Hundreds of millions of people exposed to increased water stress.” This, however, is based on work (Arnell, 2004) which actually shows that by the 2080s the net global population at risk declines by up to 2.1 billion people (depending on which scenario one wants to emphasize)! The IPCC further ignores the capacity to build reservoirs to alleviate those areas they project as subject to drought (I am indebted to Indur Goklany for noting this example.)
12. Appendix 3 is a recent op-ed from the Boston Globe, written by the aforementioned John Holdren. What is interesting about this piece is that what little science it invokes is overtly incorrect. Rather, it points to the success of the above process of taking over scientific institutions as evidence of the correctness of global warming alarmism. The 3 atmospheric scientists who are explicitly mentioned are chemists with no particular expertise in climate, itself. While, Holdren makes much of the importance of expertise, he fails to note that he, himself, is hardly a contributor to the science of climate. Holdren and Paul Ehrlich (of Population Bomb fame; in that work he predicted famine and food riots for the US in the 1980′s) are responsible for the I=PAT formula. Holdren, somewhat disingenuously claims that this is merely a mathematical identity where I is environmental impact, P is population, A is GDP/P and T is I/GDP. However, in popular usage, A has become affluence and T has become technology (viz Schneider, 1997; see also Wikipedia).
13. The 1998 paper actually only goes back to 1400 CE, and acknowledges that there is no useful resolution of spatial patterns of variability going further back. It is the 1999 paper that then goes back 1000 years.
14. Of course, Vinnikov et al did mention it. When I gave a lecture at Rutgers University in October 2007, Alan Robock, a professor at Rutgers and a coauthor of Vinnikov et al declared that the ‘latest data’ resolved the discrepancy wherein the model fingerprint could not be found in the data.
15. Haqqmisra, a graduate student at the Pennsylvania State University, is apparently still seeking greenhouse solutions to the paradox.
16. The refusal was not altogether surprising. The editor of Science, at the time, was Donald Kennedy, a biologist (and colleague of Paul Ehrlich and Stephen Schneider, both also members of Stanford’s biology department), who had served as president of Stanford University. His term, as president, ended with his involvement in fiscal irregularities such as charging to research overhead such expenses as the maintenance of the presidential yacht and the provision of flowers for his daughter’s wedding – offering peculiar evidence for the importance of grant overhead to administrators. Kennedy had editorially declared that the debate concerning global warming was over and that skeptical articles would not be considered. More recently, he has published a relatively pure example of Orwellian double-speak (Kennedy, 2008) wherein he called for better media coverage of global warming, where by ‘better’ he meant more carefully ignoring any questions about global warming alarm. As one might expect, Kennedy made extensive use of Oreskes’ paper. He also made the remarkably dishonest claim that the IPCC Summary for Policymakers was much more conservative than the scientific text.
17. Oreskes, apart from overt errors, merely considered support to consist in agreement that there had been some warming, and that anthropogenic CO2 contributed part of the warming. Such innocent conclusions have essentially nothing to do with catastrophic projections. Moreover, most of the papers she looked at didn’t even address these issues; they simply didn’t question these conclusions.
18. Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Potsdam Institute, home of Greenpeace’s Bill Hare, now has a Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
19. Tim Wirth chaired the hearing where Jim Hansen rolled out the alleged global warming relation to the hot summer of 1988 (viz Section 2). He is noted for having arranged for the hearing room to have open windows to let in the heat so that Hansen would be seen to be sweating for the television cameras. Wirth is also frequently quoted as having said “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”
20. When I referred to the Smith et al paper at a hearing of the European Parliament, Professor Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute (which I mentioned in the previous section with respect to its connection to Greenpeace) loudly protested that I was being ‘dishonest’ by not emphasizing what he referred to as the main point in Smith et al: namely that global warming would return with a vengeance.
21. The matter of ‘spin control’ warrants a paper by itself. In connection with the absence of warming over the past 13 years, the common response is that 7 of the last 10 warmest years in the record occurred during the past decade. This is actually to be expected, given that we are in a warm period, and the temperature is always fluctuating. However, it has nothing to do with trends.
22. The strange identification of the CO2 caused global warming paradigm with general relativity theory, mentioned earlier in this section, is repeated by Rahmstorf. This repetition of odd claims may be a consequence of the networking described in footnote 7.
23. A curious aspect of the profoundly unalarming Indian report is the prominent involvement in the preparation of the report by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri (an economist and long term UN bureaucrat) who heads the IPCC. Dr. Pachauri has recently been urging westerners to reduce meat consumption in order to save the earth from destruction by global warming.

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October 5, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

A rare debate on the “settled science” of climate change

October 2, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | 7 Comments

Media hyped walrus climate scare stories debunked

By Marc Morano | Climate Depot | October 1, 2014

The October 1, 2014 Associated Press article linking the walrus gathering to melting sea ice, lacks historical perspective and contains serious spin that would lead readers to erroneous conclusions about walruses and the climate.

Zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford weighs in:

Mass haulouts of Pacific walrus and stampede deaths are not new, not due to low ice cover

‘The attempts by WWF and others to link this event to global warming is self-serving nonsense that has nothing to do with science…this is blatant nonsense and those who support or encourage this interpretation are misinforming the public.’

First off, walruses are not endangered. According to the New York Times, “the Pacific walrus remains abundant, numbering at least 200,000 by some accounts, double the number in the 1950s.”

The AP article titled, “35,000 walrus come ashore in northwest Alaska”, claims “the gathering of walrus on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed.” The AP even includes the environmental group World Wildlife Fund, to ramp up climate hype. “It’s another remarkable sign of the dramatic environmental conditions changing as the result of sea ice loss,” said Margaret Williams, managing director of the group’s Arctic program, by phone from Washington, D.C.

Pacific Walrus_Davi

But the AP is recycling its own climate stories on walruses. See: 2009: AP : Walruses Gather as Ice Melts in the Arctic Sea (Sept. 17, 2009) Also see fact check on “melting” Arctic sea ice. See: Paper: ‘Myth of arctic meltdown’ : Stunning satellite images show ice cap has grown by an area twice the size of Alaska in two years – Despite Al Gore’s prediction it would be ICE-FREE by now

The media and green groups are implying that walrus hanging out by the tens of thousands is a new phenomenon and due to melting Arctic ice. But dating back to at least the 1604, there have been reports of large walrus gatherings or haulouts.

Excerpt:

“Walruses became only really known in Europe after the 1604 expedition to the Kola Peninsula of the ship “Speed” of Muscovy Company, commanded by Stephen Bennet. On the way back to England the Speed reached what some years before a Dutch expedition had named “Bear Island”. The crew of the Speed discovered a haulout numbering about a thousand walruses on the island’s northern coast.”

According to a National Geographic article in 2007, walrus populations were not endangered. See: “While scientists lack a firm population estimate for the species, researchers have encountered herds as large as 100,000 in recent years

Even the green activist group, the WWF, admits walrus ‘hangouts’ of tens of thousands are not unprecedented.

A 2009 WWF blog report noted: “WWF Polar Bear coordinator Geoff York returned on 17 September from a trip along the Russian coast and saw a haul out there with an estimated 20,000 walruses near Ryrkaipiy (on the Chukchi Peninsula).”

AP’s own reporting debunks walrus claims

Are 35,000 walruses gathering in “haulouts” on the shoreline with many be stampeded to death really that unusual? The answer is No!

The AP reported on 40,000 walruses in a haulout just 7 years ago in a single location. See: AP 12/14/2007: “40,000 in one spot” – “As a result, walruses came ashore earlier and stayed longer, congregating in extremely high numbers, with herds as big as 40,000 at Point Shmidt, a spot that had not been used by walruses as a “haulout” place for a century, scientists said.”

As climate blogger Tom Nelson noted in a December 28 2007 analysis:  “Are you saying that that spot *was* used as a haulout in earlier years?” Nelson wrote.

Nelson noted the media reported that “Walruses are vulnerable to stampedes when they gather in such large numbers. The appearance of a polar bear, a hunter or a low-flying airplane can send them rushing to the water.”

Nelson then asked: “Are stampedes ever caused by the appearance of researchers or low-flying research planes?”

Walrus stampede deaths drop dramatically from 3,000 to 50?

The October 1, 2014 AP article notes with obvious concern for the walrus species: “Observers last week saw about 50 carcasses on the beach from animals that may have been killed in a stampede…”

Fifty walrus carcasses? That number is a significant improvement from 2007 when there were a reported 3000 dead walruses discovered from the late summer and fall on the Russian side of the Arctic, according to the AP’s own earlier reporting. See: 2007: ‘3,000 walruses die in stampedes tied to Climate

Are walrus stampede deaths declining in recent years? It is difficult to say based on reports, but a high of 3,000 deaths in 2007 (for a whole season) to a low of 50 deaths in 2014 for a single location, but it does not  appear to be an alarming trend. Why does the AP fail to put any historical perspective on their climate scare stories, especially when the AP’s own reporting from 7 years ago calls into question their claims?

The next issue is whether or not sea ice extent is critical to walruses in late summer and fall. According to this report, ice extent is not critical. As Nelson noted in 2007:

“When I read this in the (2007) ‘walrus’ Wikipedia entry, I’m also not convinced that lack of summer ice is necessarily a big deal.”

2007 Wikipedia entry:

“In the non-reproductive season (late summer and fall) walruses tend to migrate away from the ice and form massive aggregations of tens of thousands of individuals on rocky beaches or outcrops.” [Note: This line has been omitted from the Wikipedia entry in 2014]

Walrus stampede deaths benefit polar bears

In addition, a 2007 WWF post inadvertently noted that the carcasses of stampeded walruses may actually be a great benefit to polar bears.

“Last fall some 20,000-30,000 animals were piled up there. No one has actually counted them all, but the Vankarem residents are certain the number is growing…In early winter, when the ice is re-forming and walruses leave the beach, up to 100 carcasses remain behind. These blubbery animals offer a perfect meal for wandering and hungry polar bears… In mid-November, a truck driver alerted the patrol to bear tracks on the beach. The wave had begun. For the next three weeks, bears making their way along the coast stopped to graze on the carcasses at this so-called “feeding point” instead of proceeding to the village. At one time alone, Sergey and his team counted 96 bears feeding on the walrus. In total they estimated that 185 bears had been circulating with a six mile radius around the village.”

The stampeded remains of 100 walruses fed up to 185 polar bears!

But despite the easily accessible historical data on walruses, the WWF and the AP and other media in 2014, continue to spin the haulouts as evidence of “climate change.”

Margaret Williams, WWF’s managing director of the Arctic program said in a September 18, 2014 article:

“The massive concentration of walruses onshore—when they should be scattered broadly in ice-covered waters—is just one example of the impacts of climate change on the distribution of marine species in the Arctic.”

Is the WWF correct? Should walruses be “scattered broadly in ice-covered waters”? Not exactly. As Tom Nelson noted on Twitter, (Tom Nelson‏@tan123) “If walrus haulouts are a new thing, why was this walrus haulout sanctuary established in 1960”

According to the Alaskan government, walrus haulouts are not unusual and have long been recognized and islands have been set aside for such gatherings.

Excerpt:

“The Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary (WISGS), protects a group of seven small craggy islands and their adjacent waters in northern Bristol Bay, approximately 65 miles southwest of Dillingham. The WISGS includes Round Island, Summit Island, Crooked Island, High Island, Black Rock and The Twins. The WISGS was established in 1960 to protect one of the largest terrestrial haulout sites in North America for Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens).”

The Alaskan government report noted that numbers of 14,000 walrus haulouts in a single day were not unusual.

“Each summer large numbers of male walruses haul out on exposed, rocky beaches. Round Island is one of four major terrestrial haulouts in Alaska; the others are Capes Peirce (Togiak NWR), Newenham (Togiak NWR), and Seniavin (near Port Moller). Male walrus return to these haulouts every spring as the ice pack recedes northward, remaining in Bristol Bay to feed they haul out at these beach sites for several days between each feeding foray. The number of walrus using the island fluctuates significantly from year to year. However, up to 14,000 walrus have been counted on Round Island in a single day.”

Hunters have relied on large hangouts of walruses. This report details how walruses were “predictably present” and made for “clean and efficient butchering.”

Expert:

“Qayassiq was especially important for walrus hunting because it was accessible in good weather; walruses were predictably present on the beach during the preferred fall hunt; and the beach is rocky, not sandy, promoting clean and efficient butchering. Hunting on haulouts was a highly organized activity.”

###

Zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford:

‘The attempts by WWF and others to link this event to global warming is self-serving nonsense that has nothing to do with science… this is blatant nonsense and those who support or encourage this interpretation are misinforming the public.’ – Large haulouts of walruses — such as the one making news at Point Lay, Alaska on the Chukchi Sea (and which happened before back in 2009) — are not a new phenomenon for this region over the last 45 years and thus cannot be due to low sea ice levels. Nor are deaths by stampede within these herds (composed primarily of females and their young) unusual, as a brief search of the literature reveals. At least two documented incidents like this have occurred in the recent past: one in 1978, on St. Lawrence Island and the associated Punuk Islands and the other in 1972, on Wrangell Island (Fay and Kelly 1980, excerpts below)… Here is how the WWF is spinning this recent gathering at Point Lay:

We are witnessing a slow-motion catastrophe in the Arctic,” said Lou Leonard, WWF’s vice president for climate change.

Crockford Summed it up: “this is blatant nonsense and those who support or encourage this interpretation are misinforming the public.”

Related Link:

Tom Nelson’s 2007 report: About those walrus stampedes – FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2007

Google currently shows about 14,000 hits for “walruses stampedes”.

Excerpts from a typical scare story, along with my comments:

The giant, tusked mammals typically clamber onto the sea ice to rest, or haul themselves onto land for just a few weeks at a time.

Ok, so it’s not unusual for them to haul up on land. Google shows a lot of pictures of them on land.

As a result, walruses came ashore earlier and stayed longer, congregating in extremely high numbers, with herds as big as 40,000 at Point Shmidt, a spot that had not been used by walruses as a “haulout” for a century, scientists said.

Are you saying that that spot *was* used as a haulout in earlier years?

Walruses are vulnerable to stampedes when they gather in such large numbers. The appearance of a polar bear, a hunter or a low-flying airplane can send them rushing to the water.

Are stampedes ever caused by the appearance of researchers or low-flying research planes?

Sure enough, scientists received reports of hundreds and hundreds of walruses dead of internal injuries suffered in stampedes. Many of the youngest and weakest animals, mostly calves born in the spring, were crushed.

Biologist Anatoly Kochnev of Russia’s Pacific Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography estimated 3,000 to 4,000 walruses out of population of perhaps 200,000 died, or two or three times the usual number on shoreline haulouts.

Were anecdotal reports of “hundreds and hundreds” used to come up with the estimate of 3,000 to 4,000? How much actual counting was done? What’s the baseline number of annual stampede deaths? Is anyone checking that any animals found dead were killed in stampedes, rather than dying from some other cause?

No large-scale walrus die-offs were seen in Alaska during the same period, apparently because the animals congregated in smaller groups on the American side of the Bering Strait, with the biggest known herd at about 2,500.

So when a walrus herd of 2,500 is panicked, stampede deaths are not a big deal, but when the herd reaches tens of thousands, we can expect lots of stampede deaths?
—–
It seems to me that more walruses worldwide may die from hunting than from stampedes. Note an excerpt from this Sea World link:

As the Pacific walrus population grew, annual subsistence catches by indigenous Arctic peoples ranged from about 3,000 to 16,000 walruses per year until about 1990, and then decreased to an average of 5,789 animals per year from 1996 to 2000.

A related paragraph is here:

Pacific walrus meat has been used for the past 40 years to feed foxes which are kept on government – subsidised fur farms in Chukotka. One estimate made by natives was of an annual kill of 10,000 – 12,000 walruses per year, but this may have been overstated. Recent investigations have found that much of the meat is left to waste and that there are no markets for the resultant fox furs. Fox farming operations in Chukotka are currently in decline due to economic recession. Local unemployment caused by the general economic situation and the closure of the farms has however led to a recent increase in illegal head-hunting.

Some more background information is in this 2007 WWF post:

Last fall some 20,000-30,000 animals were piled up there. No one has actually counted them all, but the Vankarem residents are certain the number is growing.

In early winter, when the ice is re-forming and walruses leave the beach, up to 100 carcasses remain behind. These blubbery animals offer a perfect meal for wandering and hungry polar bears.

As soon as the walruses departed, the polar bear patrol spent several days working to collect the remains of walruses killed in the stampedes. Using a tractor, they carted the carcasses six miles west of the village, anticipating that the bears would come from the west in the fall. In the end, they scattered some 80 walruses around selected sites — and then they waited.

In mid-November, a truck driver alerted the patrol to bear tracks on the beach. The wave had begun. For the next three weeks, bears making their way along the coast stopped to graze on the carcasses at this so-called “feeding point” instead of proceeding to the village. At one time alone, Sergey and his team counted 96 bears feeding on the walrus. In total they estimated that 185 bears had been circulating with a six mile radius around the village.

My comments: Eighty-100 dead walruses out of 20,000-30,000 hauled out on land seems quite low, if Kochnev’s estimate of 3,000-4,000 total stampede deaths is correct (remember, his estimate is based on a population of maybe 200,000, many of which are not hauled out in huge herds).

Also, if polar bear numbers are so threatened by global warming, what are 185 of them doing within six miles of the village?

When I read stuff like this, I’m also not completely convinced that walruses are threatened with extinction:

… researchers have encountered herds as large as 100,000 in recent years…

When I read this in the “walrus” Wikipedia entry, I’m also not convinced that lack of summer ice is necessarily a big deal:

“In the non-reproductive season (late summer and fall) walruses tend to migrate away from the ice and form massive aggregations of tens of thousands of individuals on rocky beaches or outcrops.”

In the same entry, when I read this, I’m not convinced that polar bears really need year-round sea ice in order to feed successfully.”

Polar bears hunt walruses by rushing at beached aggregations and consuming those individuals that are crushed or wounded in the sudden mass exodus, typically younger or infirm animals.

Some video of polar bears successfully hunting walruses is here and here. I don’t see any ice in that first hunting scene.

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 4 Comments

You Have Depression

By Martha Rosenberg | CounterPunch | September 26, 2014

Are you depressed? Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy? Are you eating or sleeping too much? Big Pharma hopes so! The push to convince people who are dealing with job, family, relationship and money problems that they actually have “depression” has resulted in almost one in four American women in their 40s and 50s taking antidepressants. Ka-ching.

Psychiatry is often accused of not being “real medicine” because the diseases it diagnoses cannot be proved on blood tests and brain scans. That’s why this month’s announcement of the “first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults” is good news for psychiatrists and Big Pharma. Developed by Northwestern Medicine® scientists, the test, announced this month, “provides the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression,” says Northwestern.

“The blood test can also predict which therapies would be most successful for patients, and lays the groundwork for one day identifying people who are especially vulnerable to depression — even before they’ve gone through a depressive episode,” gushes a Huffington Post article. No kidding. Treating people “at risk” of heart disease, asthma, osteoporosis, GERD and other conditions is Pharma’s marketing plan. Patients never know if they would have gotten the disorders and will stay on the drugs for decades.

Another Pharma plan to sell antidepressants is “pimping suicide.” Groups like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention present our national suicide rate as an “antidepressant deficiency” and cite a “stigma” that keeps people away from depression medication–like the 25 percent of older women who are on them right now.

Yet, despite a huge chunk of the population being on antidepressants, suicide is up not down. And in the military, where antidepressant use is rife, suicide is way up, including among those who never deployed. Left out of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s marketing materials is mention of the “black box” warnings on antidepressants that say “Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults…Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.”

Antidepressants have other risks besides suicide. They can cause weight gain, sexual dysfunction, passivity and general complacency about life. When antidepressants quit working or don’t work to begin with the “depression” is called “treatment resistant” and more drugs are added. Their side effects–and symptoms if a patient tries to discontinue–are often taken as “proof” of the initial depression. The result is people who were never depressed being on the drugs for years.

The truth is antidepressants can increase or diminish the risk of suicide, though both suicide and meds are way up. Another truth is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention received $100,000 from Eli Lilly in 2011 and $50,000 in 2010 and was led for a time by psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff who was found by Congress to have failed to disclose at least $1.2 million in Pharma income to Emory University.

So, yes, the pills do treat depression–depression of Big Pharma profits.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

An unsettled climate

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | September 21, 2014

In a press conference last week, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon stated: “Action on climate change is urgent. The more we delay, the more we will pay in lives and in money.” The recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio stated “The debate is over. Climate change is happening now.”

These statements reflect a misunderstanding of the state of climate science and the extent to which we can blame adverse consequences such as extreme weather events on human caused climate change. The climate has always changed and will continue to change. Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have a warming effect on the climate. However, there is enduring uncertainty beyond these basic issues, and the most consequential aspects of climate science are the subject of vigorous scientific debate: whether the warming since 1950 has been dominated by human causes, and how the climate will evolve in the 21st century due to both natural and human causes. Societal uncertainties further cloud the issues as to whether warming is ‘dangerous’ and whether we can afford to radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

At the heart of the recent scientific debate on climate change is the ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming – the period since 1998 during which global average surface temperatures have not increased. This observed warming hiatus contrasts with the expectation from the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report that warming would proceed at a rate of 0.2oC/per decade in the early decades of the 21st century. The warming hiatus raises serious questions as to whether the climate model projections of 21st century have much utility for decision making, given uncertainties in climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide, future volcanic eruptions and solar activity, and the multidecadal and century scale oscillations in ocean circulation patterns.

A key argument in favor of emission reductions is concern over the accelerating cost of weather disasters. The accelerating cost is associated with increasing population and wealth in vulnerable regions, and not with any increase in extreme weather events, let alone any increase that can be attributed to human caused climate change. The IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation found little evidence that supports an increase in extreme weather events that can be attributed to humans. There seems to be a collective ‘weather amnesia’, where the more extreme weather of the 1930’s and 1950’s seems to have been forgotten.

Climate science is no more ‘settled’ than anthropogenic global warming is a ‘hoax’. I am concerned that the climate change problem and its solution have been vastly oversimplified. Deep uncertainty beyond the basics is endemic to the climate change problem, which is arguably characterized as a ‘wicked mess.’ A ‘wicked’ problem is complex with dimensions that are difficult to define and changing with time. A ‘mess’ is characterized by the complexity of interrelated issues, with suboptimal solutions that create additional problems.

Nevertheless, the premise of dangerous anthropogenic climate change is the foundation for a far-reaching plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Elements of this plan may be argued as important for associated energy policy reasons, economics, and/or public health and safety. However, claiming an overwhelming scientific justification for the plan based upon anthropogenic global warming does a disservice both to climate science and to the policy process. Science doesn’t dictate to society what choices to make, but science can assess which policies won’t work and can provide information about uncertainty that is critical for the decision making process.

Can we make good decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty about climate change? Uncertainty in itself is not a reason for inaction. Research to develop low-emission energy technologies and energy efficiency measures are examples of ‘robust’ policies that have little downside, while at the same time have ancillary benefits beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, attempts to modify the climate through reducing CO2 emissions may turn out to be futile. The hiatus in warming observed over the past 16 years demonstrates that CO2 is not a control knob on climate variability on decadal time scales. Even if CO2 mitigation strategies are successful and climate model projections are correct, an impact on the climate would not be expected until the latter part of the 21st century. Solar variability, volcanic eruptions and long-term ocean oscillations will continue to be sources of unpredictable climate surprises.

Whether or not anthropogenic climate change is exacerbating extreme weather events, vulnerability to extreme weather events will continue owing to increasing population and wealth in vulnerable regions. Climate change (regardless of whether the primary cause is natural or anthropogenic) may be less important in driving vulnerability in most regions than increasing population, land use practices, and ecosystem degradation. Regions that find solutions to current problems of climate variability and extreme weather events and address challenges associated with an increasing population are likely to be well prepared to cope with any additional stresses from climate change.

Oversimplification, claiming ‘settled science’ and ignoring uncertainties not only undercuts the political process and dialogue necessary for real solutions in a highly complex world, but acts to retard scientific progress. It’s time to recognize the complexity and wicked nature of the climate problem, so that we can have a more meaningful dialogue on how to address the complex challenges of climate variability and change.

Related essays

In the midst of preparing my essay, Steve Koonin’s WSJ op-ed was published Climate Science is Not Settled.  Most of Koonin’s points are very similar to what I have been saying, I would say the main difference is related to decision making under deep uncertainty. Koonin states “We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy.” I argue that there are strategies for decision making under deep uncertainty that can be useful for the climate change problem, particularly if you are not trying to solve the problem of extreme weather events by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But overall I am thrilled by Koonin’s op-ed — since he operates higher in the scientific and policy food chain than I do, his voice adds much gravitas to the message that I think needs to get out regarding climate science and policy. I would also like to add that Koonin chairs the APS Subcommittee that is reviewing the APS climate change policy statement (see my previous post on the APS Workshop, where I met Koonin).

In the midst of the ‘mad crowd’ in New York City attending the People’s Climate March, sober people are trying to figure out ways to broaden the policy debate on climate change and do a better job of characterizing the uncertainty of climate change (both the science itself and the media portrayal of the science). There is concern that the institutions of science are so mired in advocacy on the topic of dangerous anthropogenic climate change that the checks and balances in science, particularly with regard to minority perspectives, are broken.

Richard Lindzen’s CATO essay Reflections on Rapid Response to Unjustified Climate Alarm discusses the kickoff of CATO’s new center on rapid response to climate alarmism. Anthony Watts has announced the formation of a new professional society The Open Atmospheric Society for meteorologists and climatologists, with a new open access journal.  Both of these efforts emphasize public communication. I’m not sure what kind of impact either of these efforts will have, but I wish them well.

My thinking is that we need more voices from influential scientists like Steve Koonin, along with a more mature framing of the climate science problem and decision making framework that allows for dissent and examines a broader spectrum of solutions and approaches.

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

10 Climate Myths Busted (in 60 seconds!)

By James Corbett | corbettreport.com | December 9, 2013

Myth #1. The earth is warming!

On what time scale? 16 years? 2000 years? 10000 years? 420000 years? 65 million years? (Answer: None of the above)

Myth #2. This year was the hottest year ever!

Was that before or after NASA and the NOAA altered the temperature record to make recent years warmer?

Myth #3. 97% of scientists agree on global warming!

You mean 97% of 77 scientists in an unscientific online poll?

Myth #4. Sea levels are rising!

Yes…at a rate of 7 inches per century.

Myth #5. Hurricanes are increasing!

US landfalling hurricanes are at their lowest intensity in a century. (Bonus fact: Accumulated Cyclone Energy is at a 30 year low!)

Myth #6. But…polar bears!

The polar bear population has quintupled in six decades and the USGS admits their numbers are near “historic highs.”

Myth #7. Climategate was hype and it’s been debunked.

The UK Information Commissioner found the climategate scientists guilty of breaking the law by hiding data from the public.

Myth #8. Models project a temperature increase of over 2 degrees in this century.

And these same models overestimated warming over the past 15 years by 400%.

Myth #9. Weather is not climate.

Actually, yes. And this is true when it’s hot outside, too.

Myth #10. Climate denial is a well-funded conspiracy.

Actually, the reverse. The global warming industry has generated over $140 billion in government grants, a $315 billion carbon market and is expected to generate 10s of trillions more in government-sponsored investment in the coming decades.

September 20, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | 2 Comments

Obama’s Lonely Climate Summit – world leaders are staying home

Watts Up With That? | September 16, 2014

obama-fallsEric Worrall writes: The imminent climate summit in New York is rapidly turning into an utter embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon, in addition to becoming a bit of a punishment round for national deputy leaders.

Aussie PM Tony Abbott today defended his decision not to hop on an earlier flight to America, so he could attend the UN climate conference in New York, because he has more important matters to attend to, such as running the country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they likely won’t attend the summit.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he will not be attending.

Even Angela Merkel, President of über green Germany, will not be attending the UN climate summit.

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | 2 Comments

John Kerry: Scriptures command America to respond to global warming

“Our faiths are inextricably linked on any number of things that we must confront and deal with in policy concepts today. Our faiths are inextricably linked on the environment. For many of us, respect for God’s creation also translates into a duty to protect and sustain his first creation, Earth, the planet,”

“Confronting climate change is, in the long run, one of the greatest challenges that we face, and you can see this duty or responsibility laid out in Scriptures clearly, beginning in Genesis. And Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable. Our response to this challenge ought to be rooted in a sense of stewardship of Earth, and for me and for many of us here today, that responsibility comes from God.”

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 4 Comments

Hey U.N. – show us your tipping points!

Pathetic handwaving double down from the UN

By Anthony Watts | Watts Up With That? | August 27, 2014

Eric Worrall writes: A number of MSM outlets are carrying news of a “leaked” UN document, which claims that global warming may be causing irreversible damage.

According to the Bloomberg version of the leak story;

“Global warming already is affecting “all continents and across the oceans,” and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,”

The problem with this vapid handwaving nonsense is that it is so vague. I mean, in the good old days, alarmists made interesting predictions;

Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past

Al Gore’s ice free arctic (in 5 years!)

Rain will never fill Australian reservoirs again

The great thing about bold predictions is they are easily falsified – all you have to do is wait a few years, then point and laugh.

The survivors of that golden age of bold stupidity are far too timid – they issue vague predictions of calamity which won’t occur until long after we are all safely dead, and promises that if we wait a few decades we might see something worrying.

I mean, seriously folks, is this the best you can do? Can even the most rabid alarmists get enthused by such a pathetic effort?

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 3 Comments

Robin Williams, Mental Health, and Social Insanity

By Michael Smith | Legalienate | August 17, 2014

“We are made miserable . . . not just by the strength of our beliefs, but by the weight of hard and all-too real situations, as they bear downward, robbing us of control . . . unhappiness treated by clinicians has much more to do with the sufferer’s situation than with anything about themselves, and for those with few privileges, this unhappiness is pretty well beyond the reach of therapeutic or any other conversation.” – Paul Moloney “The Therapy Industry”

Robin Williams’s body was scarcely cold when liberal commentators began using the tragedy of his death as publicity for suicide hotlines and professional mental health intervention in general. He had long-standing depression, we were told, and his “mental illness” was manifest in his decision to take his own life. Depression sufferers were urged to “be honest” and avail themselves of the services of professional therapists and counselors.

Days later Williams’s widow informed the world that her husband had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that even people with no prior history of depression can find impossible to face. Parkinson’s is chronic, and its symptoms worsen over time, leading to body tremors, muscle stiffness, and the loss of coordinated movement. No one knows why the disease develops, and it is incurable.

We do not know what went through Williams’s mind, of course, but it is not difficult to entertain the idea that the lifelong actor made an understandable decision to take an early exit from life’s stage rather than suffer the appalling loss of body control that the disease entails for its sufferers. Surely there is something more than “mental illness” involved in the desire to avoid such a fate.

Even if Williams’s well-known depression, which long-predated his Parkinson’s diagnosis, was involved in his decision to end his life, the liberal notion that we can and ought to rely on mental health professionals to guide us to health and sanity is more than a little suspect. There is no evidence that this group suffers lower rates of depression than the rest of the population, nor any that any kind of therapy has a cure for it. In fact, the evidence suggests that the mental health profession plays a crucial role in perpetuating a status quo within which depression is said to be growing by leaps and bounds.

Psychoanalyst Joel Kovel demonstrated in the early 1980s that psychotherapy and counseling had become indispensable parts of the capitalist economy, especially in the United States, where turning socially induced misery into false questions of self-improvement long ago reached the status of a quasi-religious movement. Subsequent to Kovel’s published insights came the “diseasing” and drugging of hyper-active American schoolchildren due to what eventually came to be known as “ADHD.” In more recent years, we have seen how “happiness psychology,” particularly the work of conservative academic and writer Martin Seligman, a former chairman of the American Psychological Association and adviser to the U.S. military, informed the Bush Administration’s torture program at Guantanamo Bay. All of this should make us quite skeptical about claims that therapy and counseling have the answer to our mental woes.

Having said that, the challenge of effectively treating mental disorders is surely formidable. According to surveys and clinical data, rates of depression in the U.S. have increased ten-fold since the 1950s, although it must be admitted that individuals of quite divergent symptoms are routinely classified under this broad umbrella, calling into question the validity of the category itself. However, even if some of the increase is due to an increased tendency to define common dissatisfaction as illness, it seems likely that at least some of the increase is genuine, given soaring inequality and an attendant increase in chronic illness, social isolation and reported loneliness, and suicide, especially during the periods of economic crisis that have become a nearly constant feature of U.S. capitalism in recent years.

Contrary to therapeutic claims that a “positive” attitude is the key to mental health, a growing body of evidence supports the claim that the principal influence on people’s mental health is their circumstances, both past and present. We can now say with some assurance that the larger and more obvious the gaps between rich and poor in developed societies – and the more exploitive the relations required to maintain and expand them – the greater the likelihood of violent conflict, mutual distrust, and degraded health, both mental and physical. Features of a particular location in the social hierarchy such as prestige, conditions of work, material circumstances, and wealth largely determine one’s likelihood of enjoying mental and physical health or illness. And to the extent that one belongs to a stigmatized, exploited group, and especially if one is poor, the more likely one is to experience life’s hardest blows – more often, more painfully, and with fewer joyful experiences to compensate for them.

Conventional counseling and therapy isn’t even focused on this problem, much less is it offering a solution to it. Because of its conviction that attitude is everything, conventional approaches put the onus of responsibility on the poor for their poverty. Thus they are given parenting training and other judgmental interventions when what they really need is decent housing, food, recreation, medical care, and above all, money. The assumption is that the poor deserve to be poor owing to their allegedly deficient character, made manifest in poor impulse control, hypersexuality, and a general lack of integrity. If it weren’t for these defects, the theory goes, the poor would be contented members of the middle class. This is one of the most damaging features of therapy, because it teaches exploited people that they are deficient or substandard instead of abused. Unfortunately, the crude stereotypes blaming the poor for their plight are promoted by a wide spectrum of members of the so-called “helping” profession: community leaders, social work educators, and quite a few academic researchers. If this is “help,” what might hindrance be?

Therapists and counselors with a genuine interest in finding a cure for mental illness would do well to investigate the income inequalities hypothesis of population health. Based on the common sense assumption that high levels of inequality are unhealthy (directly for the poor, indirectly for the rich), the thesis is that for modern industrialized countries, the average health, well-being, and longevity of the population depends not on the level of absolute poverty that exists, but on the spread of wealth, and especially on the gap between rich and poor.

As income differentials widen, the theory goes, people start to feel more competitive, and begin to look on others with increasing suspicion and distrust. Wariness, envy, shame, fear, and anger become more pronounced and take on a self-perpetuating thrust, undermining the basis for affectionate and caring relationships. A life of perpetual insecurity (which former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan declared in Congressional testimony was the principal reason for the 1990s boom years) and perceived threat triggers the release of cortisol and other “stress” hormones into the bloodstream, lowering our capacity to fight infection and ward off heart disease and other degenerative conditions. It should be emphasized that the theory maintains that this harms even the rich, who, amidst increasingly unjust conditions, have less and less opportunity to enjoy their wealth in ease. The public health implications are substantial: an increase of 7% in the share of income going to the bottom half of the population allegedly yields two additional years of life expectancy. [Note: The U.S. has the most unequal distribution of wealth in the developed world. According to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve, the top decile own 71% of the country's wealth, while the bottom half claims just one percent.]

One of the more intriguing mental health research findings undermines the “positive attitude” theorists. It shows that moderately depressed people have a more accurate perception of their abilities and their capacity to control events than do “healthy” people. A 2002 study found that mildly depressed women were more likely to live longer than non-depressed or severely depressed women. A longitudinal study of more than 1000 California schoolchildren concluded that optimism was more likely to lead to premature death – possibly because the optimists took more risks. Another study among pre-teenagers found that kids who were more realistic about their standing among their peers were less likely to get depressed than those who had illusions about their popularity. And a 2001 study co-authored by the guru of happiness psychology himself – Martin Seligman – found that among older people pessimists were less likely to fall into depression following a negative life event such as the death of a family member than were optimists.

These findings should provoke a complete reorientation of, not just the helping professions, but the entire society. After all, psychologists have long convinced us that we are all “CEOs” of self, rationally testing our ideas against reality, and that we become disturbed to the extent that we cannot accept the verdict that reality delivers. In short, to the extent that our ideas are unrealistic we are mentally ill, which should mean that President Obama, the Supreme Court, top executives on Wall Street, and virtually the entire Congress are certifiable lunatics.

But of course it doesn’t mean that. WE who cannot make our peace with a social order dedicated to plunder and destruction are mentally suspect, because responsible adulthood entails setting aside the childish notion that the world can be transformed into something within which a decent person would want to live, in order to concentrate on the supremely important matter of reproducing an increasingly imperiled social order dedicated to getting and spending. This is the reigning definition of sanity in our times. God help anyone who insists that social and political reality, not personal attitudes and reactions, is what needs to be adjusted.

Sources:

Barbara Ehrenreich, “Bright-Sided – How The Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” (Metropolitan Books, 2009)

Paul Moloney, “The Therapy Industry – The Irresistible Rise of the Talking Cure, and Why It Doesn’t Work,” (Pluto Press, 2013)

Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” (Harvard University Press, 2014)

August 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

The 97% ‘consensus’: Part II

By Judith Curry | July 27, 2013

My, the Cook et al. 97% consensus paper is a gift to the climate blogosphere that keeps on giving.  Some insightful new posts provide fodder for additional discussion on this.

Ben Pile

Ben Pile has a new post Tom Curtis doesn’t understand the 97% paper.  Here are a few excerpts that raise some interesting points:

We see now why many environmentalists are so hostile to debate. Permitting debate — even giving the possibility of debate a moment’s thought — shatters the binary opposing categories that have been established in lieu of an actual debate of substance on climate change and what to do about it. The division of the debate into scientists versus deniers is a strategy, but one which has worn thin, as Davey’s performance on The Sunday Politics show revealed, and which Hulme alludes to.

It has been somewhat gratifying that almost all of the criticism of my post I have seen so far is from angry trolls, mostly on twitter, but one or two popped up to comment on the post. From what I can tell their argument is circular: it is irresponsible to give air/blog time to sceptics because there’s a strong scientific consensus that says they’re wrong.

Tom Curtis (who is, as far as I can tell, a partner in the Skeptical Science blog enterprise) obliges, with archetypal green invective.

There is a large measure of idiocy in Ben Pile’s post, and in Mike Hulme’s endorsement of it.

The architects of the new consensus — Cook et al and their pals — really ought to understand the dynamics of a consensus. If you begin your defence of a consensus by calling those who might belong to it ‘idiots’, the only possible outcome is that the consensus will diminish.

I certainly do know for a fact that some people’s estimates of climate sensitivity are so low as to at least imply, contrary to the IPCC statement, natural variability might account for more than 50% of the warming in the second half of the C20th. My argument, however, was that the Consensus Project is too clumsy to capture such a position.

It’s all about endorsing with these guys, isn’t it… Endorsement and rejection. Hulme should have rejected Pile and endorsed Cook et al, because Pile rejects the consensus, whereas Cook et al endorse it, as do most climate scientists. They want agreements and disagreements to be black and white, yes and no, true and false, science and denier.

But as I explain in the post, in the case of Davey, the science is being ignored by a politician, it having been displaced from the debate by the 97% figure.

JC comment:  This is an important point.  In my No consensus paper, I argue “the consensus building process employed by the IPCC does not lend intellectual substance to their conclusions. “

Moreover, as we have seen in Davey, his predecessors, and his superiors, you can say anything you like about climate change, as long as it doesn’t contradict this view of sides. You could say, for instance, that there will be 10 metres of sea level rise by 2100 and that therefore climate policies are necessary. This claim would exist far away from ‘The Science’. But it would seem to be correct according to the tests applied to it by the Consensus Project. This is disappointing, because Curtis is nearly on to something…

Further, he appears to have picked up that strange censorial attitude noteworthy also in von Storch which presumes that because they do not believe that AGW will lead to catastrophe (which is a respectable position inside the consensus), that therefore scientists who do believe that it will (also a respectable position inside the consensus) must not state that belief in public.

Surely this is a frank admission that there is no consensus on catastrophic climate change? If so, then Curtis is now in a real bind, because this deprives the ‘warmist’ crowd of their moral imperatives. Moreover, most complaints from sceptics are that the catastrophism we are all too familiar with is undue — not that there is no such thing as climate change.

Dan Kahan

Dan Kahan has chimed in with a post The distracting counterproductive 97% consensus debate drags on.   Some points that caught my eye:

But it is demonstrably the case (I’m talking real-world evidence here) that the regular issuance of these studies, and the steady drum beat of “climate skeptics are ignoring scientific consensus!” that accompany them, have had no—zero, zilch—net effect on professions of public “belief” in human-caused climate change in the U.S.

On the contrary, there’s good reason to believe that the self-righteous and contemptuous tone with which the “scientific consensus” point is typically advanced (“assault on reason,” “the debate is over” etc.) deepens polarization.  That’s because “scientific consensus,” when used as a rhetorical bludgeon, predictably excites reciprocally contemptuous and recriminatory responses by those who are being beaten about the head and neck with it.

Such a mode of discourse doesn’t help the public to figure out what scientists believe. But it makes it as clear as day to them that climate change is an “us-vs.-them” cultural conflict, in which those who stray from the position that dominates in their group will be stigmatized as traitors within their communities.

Nevertheless, the authors of the most recent study announced (in a press release issued by the lead author’s university) that “when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they’re more likely support politics that take action on it,” a conclusion from which the authors inferred that “making the results of our paper widely-known is an important step toward closing the consensus gap and increasing public support for meaningful climate change.”

Unsurprisingly, the study has in the months since its publication supplied a focal target for climate skeptics, who have challenged the methods the authors employ.

The debate over the latest “97%” paper multiplies the stock of cues that climate change is an issue that defines people as members of opposing cultural groups. It thus deepens the wellsprings of motivation that they have to engage evidence in a way that reinforces what they already believe. The recklessness  that the authors displayed in fanning the flames of unreason that fuels this dynamic is what motivated me to express dismay over the new study.

Members of the public are not experts on scientific matters. Rather they are experts in figuring out who the experts are, and in discerning what the practical importance of expert opinion is for the decisions they have to make as individuals and citizens.

JC comment:  In my post Climategate essay  On the credibility of climate research Part II rebuilding trust,  I wrote:  Credibility is a combination of expertise and trust.  While scientists persist in thinking that they should be trusted because of their expertise, climategate has made it clear that expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust. Recent disclosures about the IPCC have brought up a host of concerns about the IPCC that had been festering in the background: 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 experts do their science and ’cause’ a disservice by engaging in these behaviors.

Ordinary citizens are amazingly good at this.  Their use of this ability, moreover, is not a substitute for rational thought; it is an exercise rational thought of the most impressive sort. But in a science communication environment polluted with toxic partisan meanings, the faculties they use to discern what most scientists believe are impaired.

JC comment: In my paper No consensus on consensus, I wrote: While the public may not understand the complexity of the science or be predisposed culturally to accept the consensus, they can certainly understand the vociferous debates over the science portrayed by the media.   Further, they can judge the social facts surrounding the consensus building process, including those revealed by the so-called “Climategate” episode, and decide whether to trust the experts whose opinion comprises the consensus.  Beck argues that “in a public debate, the social practices of knowledge-making matter as much as the substance of the knowledge itself.”

The problem with the suggestion of the authors’ of the latest “97%” study that the key is to “mak[e] the results of [their] paper widely-known” is that it diverts serious, well-intentioned people from efforts to clear the air of the toxic meanings that impede the processes that usually result in public convergence on the best available (and of course always revisable!) scientific conclusions about people can protect themselves from serious risks.

Indeed, as I indicated, the particular manner in which the “scientific consensus” trope is used by partisan advocates tends only to deepen the toxic fog of cultural conflict that makes it impossible for ordinary citizens to figure out what the best scientific evidence is.

JC comment:  with the advent of the ‘pause’ in dominating the public debate on climate change,  deepening of the fog may be the objective of the  shriller perveyors of consensus.

But from what I see, it is becoming clearer and clearer that those who have dedicated themselves to promoting public engagement with the best available scientific evidence on climate change are not dealing with the admittedly sensitive and challenging task of explaining why it is normal, in this sort of process, to encounter discrepancies between forecasting models and subsequent observations and to adjust the models based on them.  And why such adjustment in the context of climate change is cause for concluding neither that “the science was flawed” nor that “there is in fact nothing for anyone to be concerned about.”

 JC comment:  Too many defenders of the consensus have become either ‘pause’ deniers or ‘pause’ dismissers.  A while back, I recommended that they ‘own’ the pause, and work on explaining it. Belatedly, we see a little bit of this happening, but of course it does not lead them to challenge the main IPCC conclusion on 20th century attribution.

JC summary:  It is really good to see this discussion about the role of consensus in the public debate on climate change and the problems this has caused for the science, the policy, and increasingly for the proponents of consensus.  It is however dismaying to see that continued influence that the existence of a ‘consensus’ has on the politics (especially President Obama’s citing of the Cook et al. study).

July 27, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

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