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Home | 2017 | January

A basket of disreputables

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2017-01-21 12:06. Updated on UTC 2017-02-05

We dim climate-change deniers are frequently accused by CAGW fans of being 'anti-science'. For whatever reason – bovine stupidity, oil company interests, selfishness – we reject the 'settled science' of the fabled 'consensus' of '97% of [climate] scientists'.

Some denialist heroes fight CAGW 'science' with their 'science' – but it's all quite pointless, because the CAGW cult was never about science. From the moment Jim Hansen and Co. turned off the air-conditioning in that stifling Washington committee room for his alarmist presentation on global warming in 1988 to the moment last week that his successors at NASA and NOAA sent out their 'hottest year evah' charts to an unquestioning global media, it has never been about science.

The 'science' we are shown is absurd: it simply does not stand examination. The latest nonsense about 'warmest year evah' is easy to rebut, for example here or here. The more difficult question to answer is why people with lots of letters after their names, with remarkable CVs, solid incomes and holding respectable positions in renowned organizations produce or participate in this absurdity. Why does an up-and-coming young scientist like Emily Schukburgh, with a superficially impressive CV, get involved in Tony and Charlie's Ladybird tripe and spout nonsensical untruths?

You don't think that 'up-and-coming' may be the key here, do you? You don't think that if she hadn't done that she would just be an unemployed mathematician, do you?

The field of climate research has exploded since Hansen did his air-conditioning trick and Mann did his hockey-stick trick. Public money was thrown at it in huge quantities. Money corrupts and massive quantities of it corrupt massively. On the bedrock of that money, university departments were created, institutes were founded, existing organizations such as the learned societies got in on the action, youngsters – the up-and-coming ones – were hired.

We can look at human organizations as having many of the characteristics of organisms: they wish to grow, they will become self-sustaining, they will defend themselves, they will propagate and their parts will work together for the good of the whole. No one needs to set this up – it's just what seems to happen with all organizations.

The heads of institutes and faculties and departments take a line that is congenial to the existence and growth of the institutions they lead and the flow of money that nourishes it. Professors are selected accordingly, a consensus arises, youngsters do what they are told. And above these local structures we have the political structure of the IPCC that binds the consensus together. 'Science' is not absolute truth: it is a proper study for sociological investigation, as much as any cult.

Where are the young scientists, paragons of integrity, who point out the nonsense these organizations produce, that the Emperor is actually in the altogether? Unemployed.

We simpletons have to stop thinking of climate scientists as purveyors of rational truth, data-based evidence and calm fact. Some are, but many are not. They are careerists who follow the money, wherever it may lead, and come up with the conclusions necessary to that quest. We must treat what they say with great scepticism.

In the 'Climategate' scandal we found emails from senior scientists setting out with malice aforethought to corrupt the peer-review system and block publication for scientists who were uncongenial to them. What happened about that? Nothing. We are told that multiple enquiries completely exonerated them.

President Trump will end this, there can be no doubt. The money flow – the root of all evil – will be dramatically reduced. He needs that money to spend elsewhere on important things and deficit reduction. As a result, many of the climate change excrescences will wither and die. We shall not weep for them.

Update 29.01.2017

How real science works

We'd never heard of metallic hydrogen before. Interesting, possibly theoretically important, possibly practically pointless.

What is really interesting in this article, though, is the insight into the everyday world of real science in action.

In 1935, Princeton University physicists Eugene Wigner and Hillard Bell Huntington predicted that beyond 25 GPa, the nonconductive solid hydrogen would become metallic. But experimentalists passed that threshold decades ago with no sign of a solid metal.

Perhaps greater pressure would do it. Harvard University physicist Isaac Silvera and his postdoc Ranga Dias now claim that they have created a speck of metallic hydrogen at around 500 GPa. Another specialist in the field is cautiously enthusiastic: '"If it's true it would be fantastic," says Reinhard Boehler, a physicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.'

Other experts are sceptical or worse:

"From our point of view it's not convincing," says Mikhail Eremets, who is pursuing solid metallic hydrogen at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. Others in the contentious field are downright hostile to the result. "The word garbage cannot really describe it," says Eugene Gregoryanz, a high-pressure physicist at the University of Edinburgh, who objects to several of the experiment's procedures.

Compare this healthy scepticism with the settled science of climate change, in which one research group in NASA/NOAA megaphones its supposedly incontrovertible 'results' into the alarmist echo-chamber of the world's media. Sceptical viewpoints, however well-founded, are dismissed as 'denialist'.

Update 03.02.2017

On 30 January 2017 Myron Ebell, the head of Donald Trump's transition team for the EPA, took part in a press briefing held by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the Foreign Press Association (FPA).

It's worth spending and hour listening to the entire press briefing, but the readers of this blog are busy people and so for them here are transcriptions of the two stand-out moments in Ebell's talk.


The climate science community is a very small one and yet everybody now wants to be a climate scientist because there's glamour, fame, funding, all kinds of academic promotion for being a climate scientist. But the climate science community is actually quite small and yet I'm amazed by how many people nowadays speak authoritatively about climate science and how many people have become public policy experts on the basis of being scientists. So the expert class, it seems to me, is full of arrogance or hubris and that the people – at least in this election – have said: we've had enough of that.

And if you think that the science is settled – well, I agree to this extent. There is a consensus and I am sure that everyone familiar with climate science agrees with it: there are greenhouse gases; the amount, the level, the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is increasing as a result of human activity and all things being equal there will be some warming in the climate. That's the consensus. But the people who promote the alarmist agenda have claimed that the entire consensus goes much further.

Well, let's look at the science. I'm sure many of you have seen this graph that John Christy prepared where he took all of the model predictions – and these are all these lines up here – and then he took the radiosonde dataset and the satellite datasets. And you see that there is an increasing gap between the facts, the reality of global temperature and the model predictions. So if there is a claim that the climate is in imminent crisis it's based on model predictions which the facts are proving to be untrue.

And I think if you look at the impact chapters in the various IPCC assessment reports you will see that the possible impacts of climate change are not supported by most of the science. There is a pretty strong consensus that the impacts are modest and [that] so far the impacts have been beneficial. World food production continues to go up every year.

And let me just finish with one final fact: for those people who say there hasn't been much warming for the last 20 years – well, really, statistically no warming for the last 20 years – but it's going to happen because we keep pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; since 1996, that is the year before the Kyoto protocol was negotiated, over 30% of the greenhouse gases that have been emitted since the era of fossil fuels began around 1750 have been emitted. Now, if we were going to have some warming, we should… it should have started. I mean… the fact is that the sensitivity to carbon dioxide – to greenhouse gas emissions – the sensitivity of the climate has been vastly exaggerated.

And the final point I'd make is, that in all these discussions of the impacts of global warming, the benefits of carbon dioxide and of warming – there are direct benefits of carbon dioxide and there are indirect benefits – are completely minimised by the alarmist community.

0:39:45-40:35 [Q: ...why would people do that?]

Everybody looked at from some perspective is a special interest and the climate-industrial complex is a gigantic special interest that involves everyone from the producers of higher-priced energy to the academics who benefit from advancement in their careers and large government grants. There's a large range of people who belong to the climate-industrial complex and they constitute to my mind a very dangerous special interest.

Update 05.02.2017

The pure in heart who still, despite all our warnings, think that climate scientists are equally pure in heart, fighting us deniers with the sword of truth and the armour of scientific fact to ensure the survival of the world should probably not read David Rose's piece in the Mail on Sunday. It would also be wise for them to stay away from the less populist version on Judith Curry's website.

It is true: the fish rots from the head down. Did any of the brave, truth-loving young scientists working on these teams rebel? No.

It is tempting to say that the malfeasance described therein is just as appalling as the shenanigans revealed in the Climategate emails, if not worse. Unfortunately, nothing happened then, there were no consequences at all. Let's see if the Trump effect has changed things this time round.