Saturday, December 12, 2009

Distortion and Defamation - not what Science should be about

I was planning on writing a little about the way in which carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean today, but a couple of things continue to niggle in my mind. To begin, of you go back and look at the comment that Stuart posted to my post last week on the Popular Mechanics article you might note that it begins with “You are spouting obvious nonsense.” It is, I suppose this immediate, derogatory and insulting approach that I have found so prevalent among those who advocate the case that the world is warming due to greenhouse gas effects. As has been clear these distorters of the true data and their supporters have a problem with defending the actual data that is out there, and the tales that it tells, and so resort to derogation, distraction and the consistent lack of discussion of the actual data.

Immediately after the Climate-gate literature hit the internet, George Mombiot wrote a piece in the Guardian recognizing the damage that the release had done to science. And yet, having done that, and rather than go on to investigate some of the implications from that release, he has gone back to attacking those who are skeptical of some of the data and conclusions by those who, for this article, I will continue to refer to as the “distorters.”

However rather than an investigation, he has turned to praise of the book “Climate Cover-up” by James Hoggan. Having read it just recently I had debated whether to review it and decided initially not to. (Oh, and if you are wondering why George Monbiot might have reviewed it – well it does say some very nice things about him on page 162 – 164. (And to digress a minute that is about Monbiot’s research to discredit a statement made by David Bellamy that 555 of the 625 glaciers monitored by the World Glacier Monitoring service were growing, which was wrong, but – as a side consequence I am not expecting there to be much reporting in the Guardian of the Indian Government report that glaciers in the Himalayas are growing, and why. It is in an area where the WGMS admits to having insufficient data).

The reason I decided initially not to write about the book is that it is some 235 pages of what are really ad hominem attacks against those who have spoken up against the Global Warming machine. Oh, and lest you think it is a disinterested report, it is written by a PR firm president, who is the chair of Al Gore’s The Climate Project in Canada. Much of the information in the book apparently comes from the blogsite Desmogblog. whose major reason for being is apparently to trash those who would dispute our distorters message. As innumerable folks have said over this whole discussion, “If you can’t attack the science, attack those who tell it.” There is virtually no fact in the book, and, naturally, the judgment of the British Court in allowing Al Gore’s movie to be shown in British classrooms is distorted.

Which gets me to my big disappointment of the week. There are two science journals, Science and Nature which are considered by most to be prestigious, and of sterling reputation. The original paper by Mann, Bradley and Hughes describing “The Hockey Stick” was published in Nature in 1998. One of the clear stories from the release of the Climate-gate e-mails was the way in which the cabal of scientists at its heart worked to restrict the publication of views other than their own. It is this corruption of science that George Monbiot found inexcusable.

But here is the sad thing. Given the opportunity to recognize that there might have been problems in the peer-review process for papers dealing with climate change, did the management of these two journals recognize the issue. Did they acknowledge a problem, open the problem to public purview and comment, and promise to ensure the journal integrity?

Well, no, actually neither of them did. Nature had an editorial supporting those caught up in the scandal, and the executive publisher of Science wrote a supportive opinion for the Washington Post. So if you have some data that argues against the continued warming of the Earth, or the disastrous consequences that might occur if that warming should accelerate, don’t bother sending it to a prestigious journal for publication. The distorters have them clearly under their control and you might as well quit and go grow cabbages.

The “sale” of the AGW argument has required a very significant public relations campaign. Part of the strategy has continuously been to downplay the credentials and credibility of those who would question (often with facts) the message that had to convince the public. The amount of money now being spent in grants on this topic around the world is staggering. The degree of orchestration that it has required to achieve this is similarly large, and has been dramatically helped by the Internet.

This became clear this week in the comments to the EPA ruling on GHG emissions. As was noted in my earlier review, the 380,000-dd comments that the EPA had received on the proposed ruling, were described.
A majority of the comments (approximately 370,000) were the result of mass mail campaigns, which are defined as groups of comments that are identical or very similar in form and content. Overall, about two-thirds of the mass mail comments received are supportive of the Findings and generally encouraged the Administrator both to make a positive endangerment determination and implement greenhouse gas emission regulations.

Of the mass mail campaigns in disagreement with the Proposed Findings most either oppose the proposal on economic grounds (e.g., due to concern for regulatory measures following an endangerment finding) or take issue with the proposed finding that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations endanger public health and welfare.
So roughly 2/3 of the 380,000 comments were from supportive organizations with co-ordinated mass mail campaigns. When folk complain that those who are skeptical of the AGW arguments that are being used, are the only ones engaged in trying to manipulate public opinion, those numbers clearly show that the record is being distorted and that it is they, themselves, who are the most active. Tsk!


  1. It was interesting to hear a US rep in Copenhagen say that moving away from burning fossil fuel is just good energy policy. You start to suspect that some of the AGW folk have other agendas. And it has worked! Anti-nuclear sentiment is dropping fast for AGW and energy security reasons. Maybe the next step in this saga is that anti-nuclear greens will suddenly decide they've been conned on AGW...

  2. You have to remember that the original purpose of this site is to help explain to folk that we are a lot closer to running out of fossil fuels than is currently broadly understood.

    Those of us who believe that also believe that we will need as much alternate energy as can practically be made available to make up for the coming shortfall. Unfortunately there are, as you note. a lot of different agendas out there, and sadly, in many cases, not enough vision.