March 5, 2010
Bride Mistress Tawdry One-Night Stand of Climategate
The "Climategate" scandal began last November, when several thousand e-mails and other documents hacked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (the CRU at the UEA, for you alphabet-soup lovers) were dumped at a separate website, RealClimate (which, by the way, supports the "consensus opinion" of the IPCC, vigorously defends predictions of carbon-driven climate catastrophism, and evinces little but contempt for global-warming skeptics).
The hacked documents stunned the world, as they appear to demonstrate that the "consensus opinion" of climate research was not driven by strong and uncontroverted science -- as we'd been told ad nauseam since the 1990s -- but by political calculation and activism, sloppy research techniques, malfunctioning or mis-sited measuring equipment, predetermined outcomes and the "desk drawer" fallacy, bullying of peer-reviewed literature to exclude dissent, hounding and character assassination of "deniers" (skeptics), and above all, driven by the lure of hundreds of billions of dollars in "carbon credits," with all the anti-scientific pressures such massive monetary manipulation inevitably entails.
And it all began with such promise... the promise of a world cleansed of the contagion of religion, technology, Capitalism, and conservatives!
Anthropogenic ("man caused") global climate change (AGCC) was promoted by a portion of the scientific community which consistently identified itself as representing the whole, quivering with eagerness to (a) join the bandwagon, (b) not be seen as unhip, (c) not be seen as (even worse!) non-liberal, (d) get their hands on the literally hundreds of millions of dollars available in government-sponsored research grants, issued only to those scientists whose research arrived at the "correct" conclusion.
It's important not to make the same mistake in reverse; the motives above do not prove that the "consensus opinion" is wrong. But the degree of cross-citation in the AGCC echo chamber does call into question the independence of the data that supposedly corroborate each other. (I have the mental image of a great circle of true believers, each pointing at the fellow behind him, with the last pointing at the first... rather like the world-girdling serpent that swallows its own tail.)
Climate modeling replaced more traditional scientific research as the source of "evidence;" that is, a general circulation model predicts a temperature increase over the next hundred years... and that prediction is itself used as "evidence" that global warming is ongoing and civilization-threatening. Papers were published with peer review conducted entirely by guaranteed true believers; contrary evidence was suppressed, while supportive evidence was generated through poor methodology by researchers who already knew what they were going to find; surprise, surprise, they found it.
Climatological papers began to read like pronunciamentos, manifestos, or at times, theocratic fatwas. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was not simply seeking the truth, it was saving the world!
Alternative explanations that didn't start from human industrial activity and end in Armageddon were rejected out of hand, without investigation but with an unhealthy dollop of ridicule; alternative responses to the "crisis" that didn't require stunning deindustrialization -- accompanied by a ruinous transfer of wealth from developed to developing countries -- were dismissed as "too little, too late." Global warming became a political battle cry and a shibboleth separating Left from Right (with the "consensus" establishment firmly ensconced on the Left, of course)
This is not an environment conducive to unbiased, persuasive scientific research.
Simply put, if a someone was not an IPCC cheerleader and New Luddite, if he didn't call for "smashing the looms" -- crippling reductions in energy use coupled with draconian deindustrialization and global transfer taxes -- then regardless of his scientific credentials, he was a knuckle-dragging, slack-jawed, slope-browed, Bible-thumping, drooling, ignorant, uneducated, right-wing member of the "booboisie," who shouldn't even be allowed to mouth such uninformed and foolish opinions and offend his betters. And obviously in the pay of Big Oil, to boot.
When Climategate broke, it was swiftly followed by Glaciergate and a couple other scandals that forced retractions from science journals and even the IPCC itself. It was "hack heard 'round the world."
America and the rest of the world jerked awake, stared at the crumbling edifice of the AGCC "consensus opinion," and collectively breathed, "what the hell?" Those thoughtful souls who were not climate scientists, who had nervously followed (and believed) the hype of the last two decades -- that the entire climatological scientific community was on board with the IPCC's predictions of calamity and the scientific urgency of communalism -- abruptly discovered that the "consensus" was ginned up the old-fashioned way... by strategems, threats, and bribes. To quote Robert Anton Wilson on quite a different subject, as I have done several times before and will persist doing, world without end --
To unbiased (if appalled) observers, the release of the Climategate "papers" and the ensuing retractions, backing and filling, admissions against interest, recriminations, resignations, and regrets, is occasion to step back from the Globaloney hysteria and refocus our research efforts on putting the basic science of climatology on a sounder footing.
But like President Obama, who infamously insists upon sticking with his predetermined narrative on ObamaCare with only cheap and cosmetic changes, the IPCC and its acolytes take quite a different lesson from the the last four months' imbroglio:
Undaunted by a rash of scandals over the science underpinning climate change, top climate researchers are plotting to respond with what one scientist involved said needs to be "an outlandishly aggressively partisan approach" to gut the credibility of skeptics.
In private e-mails [!] obtained by The Washington Times, climate scientists at the National Academy of Sciences say they are tired of "being treated like political pawns" and need to fight back in kind. Their strategy includes forming a nonprofit group to organize researchers and use their donations to challenge critics by running a back-page ad in the New York Times.
"Most of our colleagues don't seem to grasp that we're not in a gentlepersons' debate, we're in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules," Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.
There you go! Taking a page from the Progressivist playbook, when caught red-handed in biased conclusions, confabulations, skulduggery, and corruption, the best tactic is always to lash out at the accusers, blaming them for stirring up trouble and raking muck. Go on the offensive and charge opponents with everything one's own team has done, hoping that the confusion will induce a "he said, she said" unresolvable "paralysis by analysis" that (one hopes) leads to a scientific civil war. Or perhaps a brain aneurysm... anything to prevent, or at least delay, the dread necessity of an honest re-evaluation of the basic premises of AGCC.
Waverers must be reborn in the faith; or failing that, lumped with the accusers and destroyed alongside them:
Some scientists question the tactic and say they should focus instead on perfecting their science, but the researchers who are organizing the effort say the political battle is eroding confidence in their work....
George Woodwell, founder of the Woods Hole Research Center, said in one e-mail that researchers have been ceding too much ground. He blasted Pennsylvania State University for pursuing an academic investigation against professor Michael E. Mann, who wrote many of the e-mails leaked from the British climate research facility.
Woodwell concludes by committing an epigram, with malice aforethought: "We are dealing with an opposition that is not going to yield to facts or appeals from people who hold themselves in high regard and think their assertions and data are obvious truths" ...working himself into such a lather that he mixes subject and predicate, inadvertently implying that it is he and his compadres who "hold themselves in high regard" and think their every utterance is "obvious truth."
But there are still a few sane scientists left in the world, thank goodness, who recognize that climatology's situation is of the climatologists' own making, because -- like contemporary journalists -- they started seeing themselves as saviors, not seekers:
"Sounds like this group wants to step up the warfare, continue to circle the wagons, continue to appeal to their own authority, etc.," said Judith A. Curry, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "Surprising, since these strategies haven't worked well for them at all so far."
She said scientists should downplay their catastrophic predictions, which she said are premature, and instead shore up and defend their research. She said scientists and institutions that have been pushing for policy changes "need to push the disconnect button for now," because it will be difficult to take action until public confidence in the science is restored.
"Hinging all of these policies on global climate change with its substantial element of uncertainty is unnecessary and is bad politics, not to mention having created a toxic environment for climate research," she said.
We wait with bated breath to see whether the scientific community remembers that it is supposed to be a community, not a Lysenko-like dictatorship cum grant-grabbing bureaucracy; and that its first allegiance is to the truth... even if that truth doesn't comport with political correctness or the messianic zeal of individual scientists, eager to spread the dire news -- and enforce a "solution" that, funnily enough, is just the political regime they've always wanted to impose anyway. If climate science can shake itself from dreams of empire and recover its real purpose -- to learn, not lead -- then we may yet come out of this dark night with our civilization intact.
But if the delusions of grandeur and martyrdom run too deep, if the high of political clout and grant money overwhelm the day to day grind of real science, then we may be headed for yet another theocratic attack on our liberal, democratic society... this time under siege by the First Church of Fundamentalist Anthropogenicism.
I have high hopes that this too shall pass, and science will return to its own yard and stop tarting up to play in the geopolitics yard. To paraphrase another great sage, I keep my optimism, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really wise when they need to be.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 5, 2010, at the time of 3:38 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/4306
The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael
Paul Ehrlich? THE Paul "Population Bomb" EHRLICH? Really?
The following hissed in response by: LarryD
Michael, yes, that Paul Ehrlich.
Mitch Berg, over at Hot Air, reviews his CV
Considering that the US MSM has, so far, managed to keep the lid on about all of the succeeding scandals that have broken after Climategate, a full page add in The New York Times strikes me as a singularly bad idea.
Post a comment
Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)
© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved