Saturday, January 24, 2009

Horse Hockey Climate Scientology: “Getting Rid” of the Medieval Warming Period

Just a quick post today (while I continue to recover from back surgery), to recommend this recent summation of hockey stick "Scientology" and the influence the hockey stick played as a political icon to register AGW with the public and the importance that its complete and utter refutation has played in stimulating a questioning of the provenance of the scientific basis for AGW in general.

The continued importance of the hockey stick as an example of scientific mis-representation is well illustrated by the ongoing cases of climate newspeak revealed here, here and here.

If it is all about the science, then the hockey stick matters because it reveals how poorly understood and/or vetted some of the science is. If its not all about the science, the hockey stick matters because it shows the shallowness of the politics of ideological environmentalism: the political case relies on the certitude of its science -- if that science is not compelling, then the logic of the dogma collapses.

As this timely reminder summarizes:
  • science is a last-resort of vacuous politics: it fails to make a persuasive case on its own terms, and so borrows authority from ’science’.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Protecting The IPCC Turf

There are some who are dismissive of non-alarmists on climate. Their allegiance to AGW theory often causes them to be imperious and derogatory in their remarks, with any questioning of the alarmist dogma derided as lacking in credibility or the product of ideological paranoia (a theme developed more fully here).

The latest post from Roger Pielke Sr. is difficult to dismiss because of the accepted expertise of its author and the facts he documents.

A recent participant at a planning meeting convened by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council to discuss The detection and attribution of the solar influence on climate change, Pielke Sr. details the meeting agenda, its participants and those presentation that were made public.

He comments:
  • The proposal for a formal NRC Panel was rejected..., unless it was very narrowly focused, such as on "decadal forecasts". The agency representatives (from NASA and the NSF) were similarly not willing to support such a study.
  • The reason, undoubtedly preordained before we even met on that Monday, is that a significant number of the members of the Committee were (and presumably still are) active participants of the IPCC assessment, as documented above.
  • Thus, the intensity of the dismissive and negative comments by a number of the committee members, and from even several of the agency representatives, with respect to any view that differed from the IPCC orthodoxy, made abundantly clear, that there was no interest in vesting an assessment of climate to anyone but the IPCC.
  • The IPCC is actually a relatively small group of individuals who are using the IPCC process to control what policymakers and the public learn about climate on multi-decadal time scales. This NRC planning process further demonstrates the intent of the IPCC members to manipulate the science, so that their viewpoints are the only ones that reach the policymakers.
His post is a serious indictment of the supposed neutrality of scientific enquiry into climate and a confirmation of many of the allegations of bureaucratic politicization within the IPCC world of modeled climate behaviors.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Plan 9 from AGW

The latest post from QandO on climate change is a must read because it has such a varied range of humor within it.

My favorite was this comment by guest docjim505, which deserves to be re-produced in its entirety:
  • I mentioned this to my fiancee, who isn't a scientist (commercial real estate lawyer). Because she isn't a scientist, she didn't stop to sensibly place her trust in people who ARE scientists but instead asked a question that a REAL scientist - who understands the science behind the scientific consensus of the science of global warming - would NEVER ask because REAL scientists don't question the science of global warming, which is a scientifically settled question:
  • If we put lots of iron in the oceans, won't that have some negative effect?
  • Now, I AM a scientist, so I quickly quashed her impertinent, uninformed, unscientific question. After informing her that scientists don't ask questions about matters that have been settled by consensus in science, I told her that questioning scientists and their ideas is just plain silly. Why, people who are scientists are SMART. We go to scientist school and have lots of letters behind our names to show people that we are scientists and therefore shouldn't be questioned. Especially by people who AREN'T scientists. Real scientists, that is: her BA is Political Science, which isn't really science (she got angry when I said that). That's not to say that political scientists can't AGREE with real scientists on global warming. Every intelligent person knows that it is real because scientists say so. And scientists tell us that we've got to put iron in the water to save us from global warming, so I say:
  • Go for it.
  • Everybody, go get a file and a chunk of iron and start filing. When you get a pile of iron filings, drive to the nearest ocean and start dumping. Better still, WALK. But don't breathe out while you're walking, because scientists tell us that the CO2 you exhale causes global warming. So, if you breathe out, it will cancel out the effects of dumping the iron into the sea. See? And if you REALLY want to follow the scientific method to stop global warming (which scientists agree is going to destroy the earth within ten years... or some other time in the future), use that file on your SUV. But only the iron parts. Because if you dump other stuff into the ocean, you would be POLLUTING it. And that would be bad. Scientists say so.
  • And we all know that scientists are NEVER wrong.
  • Except political scientists. Sometimes. / sarc
  • I have to wonder what credentials one has to have to be a journalist these days. Is a very low IQ sufficient, or have you actually got to have a lobotomy or genuine brain damage?
And for those not wanting to indulge their humerus, the latest summation by Christopher Monkton sticks to the facts, is written with unerring clarity and is resplendent with fine graphics as usual (also, it is available in pdf format for download).

Humor, facts: add chocolate and you have the perfect prescription for overcoming ecomyths!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New year, old theme

The fatal conceit of most bureaucrats is the belief that because they enjoy administration, they are good at it. Far from being facilitators of change, many bureaucrats are petty tyrants and dictators, using a title or uniform to enforce the letter of the law, rather than adhering to its spirit. Often this inclination stems from a lack of vision and courage to support the success of others. More often, it reflects a messianic obsequience to prevailing dogma, and a deference to authority, which, perversely, is the only source to them of the opportunity to exercise power.

Stasism prevails because rule-enforcement appeals to the small-minded, too fearful or lazy to create anything original.
  • What is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves. Goethe

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The latest summaries from CO2 Science

For those not wanting to read Climate Audit, nor acknowledge the contributions made by McIntyre and McKittrick to our improved understanding of paleoclimatology (most notably the breaking of the Mann hockey stick), additional support regarding the existence and importance of the medieval warm period (MWP) comes from two studies summarized by CO2Science (here and here).  Together,
  • ...they greatly advance the thesis that the MWP was indeed a global phenomenon, and that there is thus nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about earth's current warmth...
  • ...the two records closely mimic each other, with both of them indicating greater peak warmth during the Medieval Warm Period than during the Current Warm Period.
Alarmism about climate is predicated upon the assertion that contemporary temperature changes are both unprecedented and unnatural.  Using the Little Ice Age as a base point for today's temperatures is a contrivance designed to promote alarmism.  The existence and world-wide distribution of the Medieval Warm Period, greatly devalues the credence of any assertion of climate alarmism, which is why paleoclimatology has become a discipline of great policy import over the past decade.
The science of climate change is multi-faceted and extensive because climate is a dynamic, multi-variate entity.  Left to themselves, the various disciplines may eventually have resolved many of the disputes over data and their meaning that have emerged.  I say may, because the point is mute.  Once the IPCC was formed, the science ceased to exist in an objective, value-free, apolitical vacuum and all climate science became enmeshed in an increasingly polarized and ideological politicization that persists today. 
Is science ever truly objective and non-ideological?  That's a good undergraduate philosophy question.  The reality for climate change is that the science has become massively politicized.  Until this is explicitly acknowledged within the various disciplines themselves, the overall result will remain as disputed and contested as the politics it mimics.

Attempting to Intimidate a Skeptic?

One of the best sources of all that is new and newsworthy relating to environment is Tom Nelson. He recently had this link to an interesting exchange between an Australian climate realist and a Canadian climate alarmist. What made this particular exchange noteworthy is that it illustrated a broader phenomenon: the put down by the arrogant academic (and, in this instance, the smackdown that came back!)

Arrogance in academia is a common disease characterized by condescension, presumed intellectual superiority and sweeping referrals to axiomatic assertion. All departments in all institutions have at least one arrogant academic amongst their fold and within the realm of climate change they are revealed by their need to parade their IPCC affiliation (author, Nobel-prize winner -- although most fail to add the Peace prize bit, preferring their audience to think the Nobel was for science -- attendee at some recent international conference their audience was not, etc.) as a badge of their intellectual authority and presumed superiority.

Arrogant academics are utterly self-convinced in the righteousness of their mission, their place in saving the world, their importance. Which is why they suffer questions so poorly and with such condescension. Their answers tend to be sweeping indictments of the questioner's supposed ignorance, they refer to large bodies of literature, rather than provide precise answers to questions and, if all else fails, use large doses of exasperated ad hominem smears and snide comments to vilify the usurper of their brilliance.

The only thing unusual about this exchange, is that ordinary readers are surprised by the arrogance of the academic concerned. Yes, even Canadians are capable of boorish behaviour.

Are all alarmists arrogant? Yes: they are alarmists precisely because they are closed minded to any other explanation and closed-mindedness is a necessary precursor to arrogance.

Are all academics arrogant? No, but arrogance is systemic to academia, its reliance upon peer-review and the publish or perish model of rewards and tenure: understandable but not inevitable. The more intellectually gifted the person, the less academically arrogant they are: as per the maxim, the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn.

Well then, what about all these realists? The fact that realists are variously dismissed as skeptics by some, and castigated as deniers by others, tends to work against any sense of arrogance -- some may exhibit signs of paranoia, but rare is the skeptic who is arrogant. By virtue of expressing independent thought, most skeptics are accepting and tolerant of their own fallacies and frailties: it is the arrogance of the alarmists, the authoritarian and the academics that impassions them, not a sense of self-righteousness.
  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction. Einstein.