Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To DVD or not to DVD

Two posts today which illustrate the 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation critics of climate change find themselves consigned to.

The first is a review and some comments on the Christopher Monkton DVD produced to counter Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. Monkton's DVD was produced in a manner that parodied the format and style of Gore but presents alternative data, ways of viewing data and reaches the opposite conclusion, that climate change is not a crisis. So far so good. But AGW zealots commenting on the DVD (or rather, reviews of the DVD) suggest that climate discussions should be left to experts and that anyone who wants to disagree with the assumed consensus should do so in an academic forum, not alternative media.

O.K. so now lets look at today's second post, which discusses Steve McIntyre's visit and presentation to an academic audience at Georgia Tech. Apparently, the professor who invited McIntyre to speak faced extensive criticism for extending an invite to a renowned climate skeptic to present at her institution. At the same time, McIntyre received few questions on the substantive aspects of his presentation and areas of expertise.

Skeptics who use the media to present their case are vilified. Skeptics wishing to present in an academic forum are vilified. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Now let's be clear: most of the invective comes from the chattering zealots of the blogosphere on these issues. But if enlightened, secure academics welcome discussion and debate, why won't those who follow the wider implications of the policy debate? Perhaps because the academics are focused on the science and value discussion, while the activists (including the many global warming activist scientists) are operating in the political arena where spin and image count far more than substance.

Here is McIntyre's own conclusion:

  • On a number of occasions, I was asked (in different ways) whether I endorsed IPCC findings. I’ve said on many occasions (including the preamble to my talk at Georgia Tech), that, if I had a senior policy making job, I would be guided by the views of major scientific institutions like IPCC and that, in such a capacity, I would not be influenced by any personal views that I might hold on any scientific issue. Many people seemed to want me to make a stronger statement, but I’m unwilling to do so. In the area that I know best - millennial climate reconstructions - I do not believe that IPCC AR4 represents a balanced or even correct exposition of the present state of knowledge. I don’t extrapolate from this to the conclusion that other areas are plagued by similar problems.