Thursday, November 18, 2010

Common sense is neither skepticism, nor denial

  • Perhaps we should stop accepting the term, ‘skeptic.’ Skepticism implies doubts about a plausible proposition. Current global warming alarm hardly represents a plausible proposition. Twenty years of repetition and escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary, the failure to improve the case over 20 years makes the case even less plausible as does the evidence from climategate and other instances of overt cheating.
  • In the meantime, while I avoid making forecasts for tenths of a degree change in globally averaged temperature anomaly, I am quite willing to state that unprecedented climate catastrophes are not on the horizon though in several thousand years we may return to an ice age.
This is the conclusion to Richard Lindzen's Congressional Testimony this week.  Earlier he states:

  • The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak –and commonly acknowledged as such.
  • Our present approach of dealing with climate as completely specified by a single number, globally averaged surface temperature anomaly, that is forced by another single number, atmospheric CO2levels, for example, clearly limits real understanding; so does the replacement of theory by model simulation.
  • We see that all the models are characterized by positive feedback factors (associated with amplifying the effect of changes in CO2), while the satellite data implies that the feedback should be negative. 
One would think such testimony, based on hard science would suffice: politically we would re-frame the discussion of climate towards a proper goal of understanding and comprehending the earth's basic systems, free of ideologically driven political agendas.

O.K. so that's just way too naive. But at least one would hope the basic narrative would begin to be adjusted to better reflect scientific reality.

Even that it seems may be beyond the reach of too many committed environmental activists.  

As James Delingpole commented on the mainstream media's (lack of) response to the Climategate revelations:
  • Like the Bourbons, the watermelons of the global green movement have learned nothing and forgotten nothing from Climategate. For them, AGW has never been about science or objective truth. It has always been just a pretext. 
Many academics are scrambling to re-frame climate into a "new" broader meta-narrative of environmental politics in the hopes that it will somehow confirm and continue to justify their ongoing research unhindered by consideration of such pesky aspects as:
  • axiomatic presumptions
  • verifiable data
  • empirical measurement
  • open dialogue
  • data disclosure 
  • appropriate methodology
  • good scientific practice
Sadly, what many of these academic scientists do not realize nor accept is that the opposition they have faced has never been to the science: it has always been to the excessive, unwarranted and unaccountable use of their science within an assertive and oppressive political meme.

Good climate science is not at issue.  The politicization of science, the assertion of ideology as scientific pretext and biased academic practices are at issue.  Sadly, they remain so.

From my perspective, the responsibility for addressing this issue rests with academics, not with the politicians, bloggers or the mainstream media.  It is only when the academy determines that poor conduct and expertise politics debase the science and ceases to condone such manipulation, that it will cease.  

This does not imply censorship: rather it requires academics to do what they supposedly already are doing, but do it properly.  For example:
  • a review of a paper should not be cursory glance at the citations to see if they are "approved" but should be an audit of methodology, data and findings 
  • more dialogue of ideas should occur in real time using blogs, and
  • fraudulent behaviour and intimidation should not be sanctioned and excused by passive acceptance, academic doublespeak and an obsessive obsequiousness towards research funding.
Sadly, reading various comments this week, suggests that both the mainstream media and the majority of academics appear to be taking completely the opposite tack, seeking to re-rehabilitate those exposed by Climategate in a full-court press to re-assert the mantra of AGW dogma. 

There is no attainment of learning for the lazy. Kauthilya.