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Notes on a climate-research scandal

What happens when the entire scientific basis for global warming is discredited?


 

The responses to the leaked emails from the climate-change research centre at the University of East Anglia typically come in two modes. First, there’s the deliberate pose of high-minded innocence (“I’m shocked that scientists would behave this way”). Second, there’s the heavy sigh of the world-weary cynic (“How could anyone be shocked that scientists would behave this way?”).  James Taranto of the WSJ is an example of the former;  Colleague Cosh’s post is an example of the latter.

I’m not super-comfortable with either pose. It strikes me (this is an ungainly analogy but you can sort of see where I’m going) as no different from the two schoolboys who find out the high school princess they worship from afar is sleeping around. “I can’t believe she’s a whore”, says one. “I always knew she was a whore,” says the other. They don’t agree on anything except that the object of their eternal frustration is, indeed, a whore.  And so it is with wondrous glee that both the innocents and the cynics have come to discover that a group of climate researchers have been revealed as nothing but scientific prostitutes, selling their brains to eco-pornographers like Al Gore and David Suzuki.

There are two main issues here, the political and sociological questions (of both the internal politics of academia, and how academia relates to politics) and the substantive question of what it all means for the facts about the climate. I’m more qualified to talk about the first set of questions than the second.

Science is shot through with cultural framing, institutional constraints, personality conflicts, status-seeking, political infighting, and every other bias you can name. That’s why there is a long-standing and respectable research tradition looking into the anthropology and sociology of science, the aim of which is to articulate the social conditions under which scientific truths are generated. The left has traditionally paid a lot more attention to this research than has the right (which has usually denigrated this research as “relativism”), and it is interesting now to see the tables turned somewhat. (Note to young academics out there: Here’s your PhD thesis.)

That said, what is coming out of the East Anglia email archives seems pretty damning, and suggests a drunk-on-Kool-Aid level of intellectual paranoia and moral self-righteousness that goes far beyond what you’d experience at the typical faculty meeting. Assuming that these scientists did not set out, at the beginning of their careers, to blacklist their colleagues, deliberately squelch the search for truth, and engage in egregious professional dishonesty, it invites the question of how things got to this point. Again (I’m thinking in pairs this morning), I can think of two main reasons.

The first, external factor is the Us-vs-Them Manicheanism that infects the climate change debate. From the moment it came to widespread public attention almost two decades ago, global warming was seized upon by radical green groups, neoMalthusians, anti-consumerist activists, and Unabomber-esque malcontents who saw it as the ideal vehicle to drive their pre-existing political and economic views into the mainstream. We’d better adopt small-scale, local, low-impact lifestyles, or the world is going to collapse and we’ll end up living small-scale, local, low-impact lifestyles. I’ve written, critically, about this phenomenon here.

This has led to a highly antagonistic public dynamic: “They” want to destroy the Earth, says one side. No, “They” want to destroy capitalism, says the other. Both sides are guilty, I think, of stridently and dishonestly exaggerating the consequences of the other side’s position. I don’t think that climate change is going to have anything close to the apocalyptic effects its most vocal proponents (if that is the right word) say it will. But nor do I think that meeting our Kyoto obligations would have bombed our economy back to the stone age (a point our own Colleague Coyne made repeatedly, to little impact).  The upshot, anyway, is that not a lot of room was left for reasonable debate, negotiation, and compromise.

A second factor underlying the East Anglia emails might be the internal dynamics of scientific research. The snarky saying about academic disagreements is that they are so vicious because the stakes are so low. That’s not true. The reason academic debates are so vicious is because the stakes are zero-sum: Academia is a status economy, and where one person gains someone else must lose.

Take highly intelligent and ambitious people, put them in a zero-sum marketplace where the potential reward is, literally, saving the world, and what do you get? A bunch of people who want to be Dennis Quaid in The Day After Tomorrow. The pernicious spiral of group polarization takes over, where a group of people talking almost entirely amongst themselves end up holding positions far more radical and extreme than the ones with which they began.

So much for academia. Where does this leave climate change research? Some see this as not a smoking gun but a smoking mushroom cloud that has left the entire global warming agenda in ruins. That is, “Climategate” discredits the entire scientific basis for the global warming thesis.

I’m not ready to go that far. I’m inclined to side with Tyler Cowen on this: the substantive issues remain more or less as they were. Not because I don’t think the emails are a scandal, but because I think that unlike a similar scandal in, say, the humanities, there is a real world out there pushing back against and constraining ideology.

What this means from a policy angle, though, is that we should probably give up on trying to solve climate change by eliminating its causes (e.g. via international emissions-reduction agreements). There is little public support in the US or Canada for a major carbon-tax or cap-and-trade regime, and this will only drain what support there is.  Instead, our best bet might be to prepare to deal with the effects of climate change (we’re an adaptable species, after all) while working very hard toward new technologies that will someday make the entire debate seem as quaint as the old concerns about manure mountains in Manhattan.


 
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Notes on a climate-research scandal

  1. Fence sitting on this issue is pointless . Copenhagen has nothing to do with reducing CO2 , it's only purpose is who gets to pay and how much .

    • I agree Bill. Potter is still making up his mind, while Trillions of dollars will be spent and transferred if Copenhagen goes forward as some want it too.

    • Yeah, Potter. Get off the fence. You're either with the bug-eyed lunatics or you're with the sweaty maniacs. Man up, stop thinking, and choose a side.

      • Potter has chosen a side. He's clearly with the climate change deniers.

        • So you think he's saying we should prepare to deal with the effects of a phenomenon he denies is happening? How curious.

          • The "…we should probably give up on trying to solve climate change by eliminating its causes…" and "prepare to deal with the effects of climate change…" argument is just another face of climate change denial. We can probably adapt to some change but without eliminating the causes those changes will simply continue until we can no longer adapt.

          • No, he thinks it's a good thing the mainstream media is dying.

        • Robert, the CRU ADMITTED THEY FAKEDTHE DATA! What part of the word fraud don't you understand? They acknowledged that thier models were a mess and took steps to hide it, attempted to discredit anyone who had the gall to questions thier assertions and conspired to delete the evidence. The only one in denial here is you.

          • Where did the CRU admit they faked the data?

          • Ever notice how most climate change deniers high tail it out of here when direct questions are put to them.

          • That didn't help one bit. But then a massive info dump never does address a direct question.

          • Robert,
            One proxy data set (tree rings by Briff et al.) diverges from other proxies, and the actual instrumental record after the 1960s. The post 1960s data was not included (deleted/hidden if you're part of group "climate change deniers", or sensibly excluded as an outlier/truncated for clarity if you're part of the "climate change is very accurate" group".

            Realistically this shows:

            1. One proxy data set, for a period of 40 years, having divergence from actual temperatures (as recorded by instruments i.e. thermometers), and therefor being ignored is not a big deal. Proxy data reaches back thousands of years and no climate scientists worth their salt would ever claim robust predictions from a single proxy (there are quite a few proxies!)

            2. Not being open about why the data wasn't included is actually indicative is, undeniably, a bad thing, and Tyler Cowe's point (Andrew's link) about the dangers of Jacksonian discourse is important.

            3. Although you may, perhaps be more willing to take my word for it that the non-inclusion of the post 1960's tree ring data is significant, negative news to the sci community if I assure that I am an enviro sci student who most definately agrees with the IPCC consensus…..I"ll point you to someone who makes the importance of science reaching for the Popperian ideal much more elegantly, and whose credentials as a fighter in the enviro trenches are impeccable: George Monbiot.
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbi

            This paragraph is fantastic writing, and serves as a useful reminder for people from both sides of the debate about what science is really about:
            "Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific."

          • Hilarious.
            Hiding something is faking it , in as much as research is concerned.

            http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/ipcc-rev
            Show the Briffa et al reconstruction through to its end; don't stop in 1960. Then comment and deal with the “divergence problem” if you need to. Don't cover up the divergence by truncating this graphic. This was done in IPCC TAR; this was misleading (comment ID #: 309-18)

            I am no ones proxy.

          • Hilarious.
            Hiding something is faking it , in as much as research is concerned.

            http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/ipcc-rev
            Show the Briffa et al reconstruction through to its end; don't stop in 1960. Then comment and deal with the “divergence problem” if you need to. Don't cover up the divergence by truncating this graphic. This was done in IPCC TAR; this was misleading (comment ID #: 309-18)

            I am no ones proxy.

          • There are numerous serious ethical shortcomings hgihlighted by the emails, but outright falsification? I haven't seen that yet. That's why the raw datasets are needed for verification, as they would be for any other scientific advance.

          • Yeah, I've read through the most of the actual text of the emails that skeptics point to as damning. Definately no outright falsification.
            Some ommisions of data that don't look good…..but anyone who doesn't think that scientists don't omit data on sometimes shaky ground should go out and do some field research of their own, and then see how sanctimonious they are.

          • All the more reason for proper fact checking by other groups and not have the original authors peer-review contrarian papers. See one of the emails below….

            Hi Keith,
            Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the
            column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. …[cont'd below]


          • It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a
            practical sense.So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
            Cheers,
            Ed

        • RM, clearly you support a new world order and STATE control. Instead of treating someone who does not believe in AGW you use an offensive label to bully and intimidate.

          Usually people who point out flaws are called “whistleblowers”, but in climate science, they're “deniers”. If the crisis-team had evidence, they would provide it. Instead they call people names. Gore's staffers were so outrageously viperous about one eminent physicist, Fred Singer, that he sued them for libel and won. But how many scientists would be willing to fight for their names against lies from the Vice Presidents' staff?
          Singer won the case, but the power of the bully-boys was made clear.
          Pat Michaels lost his job as Virginia's state climatologist, so did the chief scientist of the US Department of Energy, Will Happer. This set the scene in the early 90's.
          http://joannenova.com.au/globalwarming/skeptics-h

      • How about you man up Mr. Gardner.
        What say you?

        • See, the thing is, I'm one of those fusty people who think sensible responses to massively complex global issues can't be reasonably summarized in a blog comment. I also think that the sort of Manichean crap on display here is the enemy of rational discussion and I won't give it the time of day. Call me old fashioned.

          But for the record, and since you asked so politely, I have long advocated a big carbon tax on the grounds that it would be excellent public policy even if Al Gore, the IPCC, and all those evil scientists are perpetrating the greatest hoax in the history of forever. You can read all about it in my forthcoming book, set for publication fall, 2010, and available at fine bookstores everywhere.

          • You're a maniacal lunatic Gardner, but you still get lots of love from me. Good clean love, without sulphates.

          • "I also think that the sort of Manichean crap on display here is the enemy of rational discussion and I won't give it the time of day."

            I think the irrationals here are the enemies of rational discussion. That won't stop the MSM from facilitating it, however.

          • I hope I'm not one of the Manichaeans. If Dan is just referring to the comment threads, then nolo contendere.

          • Comment threads only, and some, not all, of the contributors therein. No enemy of rational discussion, you. Why, I'd give you a kiss on the cheek if that dead gopher weren't there.

          • I have to admit, I feel as though Colleague Potter promised to attack me for being cynical, but ended up writing something even more cynical.

          • So you can't comment on the issue itself, but you're happy to comment negatively on the people who do.

            Ho hum.

          • That's my position too, which is why I've largely stayed neutral on this whole issue. There are plenty of good reasons to move beyond fossil fuels aside from climate change.

          • So you believe in carbon taxes but as far as any opinion on the debate at hand. you choose to sit this one out.
            Fair enough.

          • I think you are going to end up on the wrong side of history — the wrong side of politics too. A carbon tax is one thing — but a punitive tax that shifts great wads of cash into the pockets of greedy "carbon traders" will be detrimental to Canada.

      • Lunatics! Lunatics!
        Oh, no, ummm
        Maniacs! Maniacs!

    • And nobody knows were the monies collected would go…okay, maybe Suz & Gore will get to dip into it. Their jets must be expensive to operate!

  2. Good article, but I don't think it really supports your conclusion

    • His article might not, but I'm becoming increasingly concerned that the science does. Natural methane release in the arctic, for instance, suggest that we're already far too late to do anything to mitigate climate change and had best start concentrating on how to survive it.

      • Currently, adaptation tends to be used as a cop-out for people who refuse to consider reduction and control. In the future, the need for both will probably become painfully apparent.

  3. All Canadians should be thankful that the Liberals under Dion failed in their coalition attempt, otherwise we would already he a victim of the global warming scam.

    • What took you so long to get here?

    • Yes, the climatologist reporting to George Soros in their wish to develop the New World Order with Al Gore as it's leader has now all been exposed in the emails..

      ..wait.. it hasn't? Well, the emails are obviously faked by the AGW supporters to put all the reasonable skeptics in a bad light then.

      • You're totally cribbing from that Monbiot satire! ;)

    • The point is every other nation will force us into some kind of position to pay something so the damage has been done!

    • Weak . The documents are where the most damning information is coming from . I can't wait until the rest of the info gets leaked .

    • well then Robert, to use an argument that I'm sure you must have parrotted this week in the detainee debate, why not show everyone thier data (records) and let the scientific community decide on the veracity of thier claims. I'll tell you why, 1) they know it's worthless. 2) they know that it would mean the end of thier gravy train, you know big government, big green etc.

        • What drugs are you on?

        • Hello… RM is that comment for you?

          • That would be someone rightly pointing out that Robert is an insane antisemite (based on my understanding of what he's previously written on the internet). During the missile attacks that preceded the attacks in Lebanon Robert wrote things that would have you tarred and feathered in a civil society.

            Hey is just rightly pointing out that just because Robert can post everywhere doesn't mean he has any cred, at all, whatsoever, and should be ignored like a troll.

            Have you noticed that despite his previous and extreme racism, he rarely differs from the NDP line?

        • the data that they can't by their own admission make heads or tails of, read the purloined emails, their frustration is obvious.

          "ARGH. Just went back to check on synthetic production. Apparently – I have no memory of this at all – we're not doing observed rain days! It's all synthetic from 1990 onwards. So I'm going to need conditionals in the update program to handle that. And separate gridding before 1989. And what TF happens to station counts?"

          "OH F*CK THIS. It's Sunday evening, I've worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I'm hitting yet another problem that's based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it's just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they're found."

          straight from the horses mouth Robert, if you have the courage to read more there is a ton of it. This is just the tip of the not melting iceberg. Do you need a link or can you find it yourself?

          • Hey DPT,
            Apparently, you have just recently, upon reading the above quote, discovered that science is hard, researchers complain about their datasets, and get frustrated after working all weekend.

            Since this is news to you, you obviously have NO backgroiund in science. I highly reccomend you get some, and then see if your analysis changes.

            Actually, I reccomend a good sci undergrad degree to everyone…..

          • Kyle, that kind of obfuscation will get you nowhere. They fudged some 'real' data and made up the rest – there is no hiding from that crystal clear fact. The above-noted 'frustration' was related to the writer's (Harry's) inability to make head or tails of the utter non-sense that the lads at the CRU cooked up.

            The undeniable fact is that there simply is no data – none whatsoever – to indicate any warming, much less AGW. The jig is up, plain and simple. I've written the PMO to suggest a public inquiry – surely you wouldn't object to that… would you?

        • I think it is Mann et al.
          They refused to give their data to M & M at Climate audit, because they felt (with some justificaiton) that M & M would do nothing with the data but present flawed analysis for their own agenda. The fact that M & M don't publish their analysis in the relevant journals (i.e. high impact climate journals) was a major justification for them not releasing the data. M & M don't publsih in theose journals because they have niether the credentials nor the ability to do correct analysis.

          Of course, the highest standards of science (and science should always be of the highest standard!) should be to release all data as public access. However, given that the data as significant economic value (e.g. publishing either good or bad papers from it), science rarely reaches this peak.

        • we are all living in this world. we dont want it to end.
          the problem is that they guard all the data
          (example like the world temperature in last 150 years
          and how the adjustments) are made.
          all we want is the independent verification of the result
          so that we can take the right action to save the planet.

          they just stonewall the request and claim that they are the
          authority and we can just trust them.

    • Well then, it seems that the emails could have been leaked by someone with a conscience on the INSIDE.

      They've been trying to get this information for 13 years. Just they got sick of waiting.

      From personal experience, these Scientists involved have been practicing deception for some time. Also, personally attacking Scientists with opposing views, etc. Doesn't seem to be honesty, morals, and/or principles they dear MOST.

    • Poor Robert must be one of the intellectual groupies who slobber all over the boots of Gore, Suzuki et al. Else, Robert is GOD since only God can really speak to the truth of our humanity.

    • So we continue to dither, while the smoke rises, if not from Rome then from Australia? The Northern Icecap is shrinking and that has photographic evidence. Global warming might actually be good for Canada – perhaps four growing seasons – but not so good for the rest of the world.

    • Actually, the emails are a smoking gun in much the same way that the discovery of dozens of buried jet aircraft in Iraq were a smoking gun in the WMD debate. Robert and his ilk don't like being reminded of them and refuse to acknowledge any possible relevence to related issues on the file.

  4. I think Potter got most of this right and he provides a good rationale for the behavior of the scientists in question. He is at least grappling with the issues in a serious way. I think Potter underestimates how deeply this shakes the whole argument for climate change; Jones and Mann's management and presentation of the data is central to the IPCC reports. Take it out and you have pretty thin gruel on which to work.

    • Good thing there is so much of their own evidence that supports the claim and so many other independent studies and analysis that shows, quite clearly, the world is warming up. That some have gotten caught up in the politics of it – either the politics within the academic community as Potter discusses or more broadly – hardly turns facts into fraud.

      • …but then again, the world has been on a warming trend since the 17th century. And before that, it was on a cooling trend. And before that it was on a warming trend. And before that it was on a cooling trend. Etc.

        • …. with its consequences. Populations have been wiped out because of prior heating and cooling. And we are in many ways much more vulnerable now because we are much less adaptable, but also in many ways much more capable because we have a better grasp on how the earth works and have technological capabilities we never had before.

          And that to me is the significant issue. Which probably puts me in line with Potter's thought.

          If you listen to some of the rhetoric, it's already too late or we'd have to stop burning all fossil fuels in the next 12 months or we're "doomed", there's no turning back. Well, if that is the case, if there is no turning back then let's look forward.

          At least you aren't denying the earth is warming.

      • Ted,

        Did you not see that these scientists would not publicly show the observed "Lack of Warming"?

        Didn't we just have this discussion?

        You're not still denying the written contradictions of and censorship by these Scientists, are you?

        I showed you a prime example of this from my personal experiences……..

        • I'm a little puzzled by your comment.

          All I've stated up above is that there is, beyond these IPCC scientists, evidence that the world is warming up. I sought clarification from you and you confirmed that that was your view as well. I got the impression that you were confirming my impression that the real battle lines among scientists was not whether or not the earth was warming up but why – human or natural.

          I've also stated quite unequivocably elsewhere in these comments threads that what these scientists have done appears highly unethical – at best – and quite reprehensible if they are in fact deliberately ignoring data because it contradicts the main thrust of the rest of their data, if they are suppressing and censoring contrary thought.

          So I'm not really quite sure where you are coming from with this comment in light of prior discussion.

        • I'm a little puzzled by your comment.

          All I've stated up above is that there is, beyond these IPCC scientists, evidence that the world is warming up. I sought clarification from you and you confirmed that that was your view as well. I got the impression that you were confirming my impression that the real battle lines among scientists was not whether or not the earth was warming up but why – human or natural.

          I've also stated quite unequivocably elsewhere in these comments threads that what these scientists have done appears highly unethical – at best – and quite reprehensible if they are in fact deliberately ignoring data because it contradicts the main thrust of the rest of their data, if they are suppressing and censoring contrary thought.

          So I'm not really quite sure where you are coming from with this comment in light of prior discussion.

    • I call ballocks!
      If you think that a 50 year period of a single proxy data set not being included in the IPCC when the actual instrumental record was available forthat period 'deeply shakes' the IPCC arguments, and leaves nothing but thin gruel, you should start counting just how many different proxy data set there are, when you're done counting (and it should take you a while), start examing the empirics of atmospheric chemistry, physics and radiation forcing. Work from Arrhenius towards the present…..if you still think there is nothing but thin gruel left, you've got some serious cognitive dissonance going on.

  5. I am curious to see how this debate progresses over the next months/years. If it becomes apparent that CRU code/models are not remotely reliable – which well might happen – will people cling to global warming or will they move on to something else.

    I am convinced many people who believe in agw want global government and global warming hysteria was one way to achieve their ends. I wonder if Bjorn Lomborg's arguments might become more appealing now – fighting agw is costly and little to be gained. Money appropriated for agw should be diverted to fighting other global problems, like malaria, drinking water, malnutrition … etc. The issues are still global in scope, so they will need global solutions, but the problems are real and not created out of whole cloth like agw.

    And I think there is a whole bunch of PhD thesis waiting to be written around agw. I am particularly interested in how people have been telling pollsters for years that agw is real and needs to be stopped but when asked to actually do something about agw – other than talk about it – the hoi polloi balk. Do people believe in agw or not?

    And here's a Taranto joke that I found via your link:

    Q: How many climate scientists does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: None. There's a consensus that it's going to change, so they've decided to keep us in the dark.

    • will people cling to global warming or will they move on to something else

      I've assumed for a while now that the current hysteria will some day look as quaint as past environmental panics like overpopulation or the oncoming ice age; the only surprise turns out to be that "some day" might be in a year or two, rather than 2020. In that vein, the declinists Potter describes have found quasi-scientific bases for their beliefs They'll surely find new ones when "anthropogenic global warming," as a ground for policy, is as ridiculous a punchline as "eugenics" or "phrenology."

    • It's because believing in something is easy. Making personal sacrifice for it is more difficult. A lot of people say they believe in democracy, but don't make the personal sacrifice of voting. And that's such a small sacrifice in comparison to what's been asked of us to deal with AGW — and asked of us personally, even though our governments continue to run legislation that actually works counter to the efforts.

      • "It's because believing in something is easy. Making personal sacrifice for it is more difficult."

        I agree with that. I am an agw denier but I truly don't understand people who say agw is happening but refuse to pay up to fix it. If you believe agw is happening and the world is going to radically change if we don't do something soon, surely an increase in taxes and reduction in your electricity/gas consumption is not too much to ask.

        • Yeah, I'm one of those who is trying to make my lifestyle more sustainable. It's not easy, it's not cheap, and there's precious little out there to actually help a person achieve it. The incentives government provides to do this are so miniscule and the regulations so byzantine that when I've mentioned eco-incentives to certain contractors, they offer to drop my price by about what I'd save just to avoid the paperwork involved. And it isn't much in the first place. How is that encouraging anybody?

          Meanwhile, on the other side, government is bending over backwards to grease the wheels for the fossil-fuel industry, with fire-sale royalty rates here in Alberta and bemoaning any change that might make it more difficult for us to strip all of our mineral wealth from this country before they're out of office,

          • I find this kind of thinking hilarious. If you want to make your world "more sustainable" then go ahaead and do it. Why do you need the government to provide you with incentives to do what you claim you already want to do?

            Can't you incentivize yourself?

          • And I find the complete lack of awareness of how commenting without reading makes you look like an idiot hilarious. Because if you had, you'd note that I *am* doing these things myself, working basically against the government in this respect. However, to answer your more general point, I believe I already wrote "It's not cheap".

            Anyway, since you apparantly had trouble understanding the big words there (although they were all single syllable, so I'm not sure what the problem is) just because someone wants to do something doesn't mean that they can afford it. Many people aren't in my financial situation so can't afford to do these kind of things no matter how much they'd like to, and no matter how much it would end up benefitting them personally in the long run. They don't have the capital to make the upgrades that would save them money in the future. This is not only why incentives are needed for this stuff, but the very reason behind incentives. To make things affordable for people who want to do them but can't. If you don't understand basic word usage, I'm afraid I'm out of my depth trying to teach you anything.

          • Many people aren't in my financial situation so can't afford to do these kind of things…

            Aaaah! So what I took as a personal complaint about the government not rewarding you for your virtue was actually a complaint about the government not rewarding your poor neighbour for his virtue. Well, you're right. I certainly did mistake your meaning.

          • I am leery of government getting too involved in technology but I do agree that it has role. I am agw denier but quite 'green' in other ways. In fact, I am more 'green' then some people who I know that believe in agw.

            Anyways, I think the government could help drive technology development by setting up incentives, like you say, or good markets. I would also like it if government offered massive rewards – $50 million for person who invents light bulb that uses 2% of electricity that bulbs use now (as an example).

            I don't want government to get too involved though because I find government often manages a problem instead of fixing it. I though Dion's Green Shift was a like this – reduce taxes in one area, increase another and use the money to finance climate changing initiatives but also use money to pay for national daycare. Once government starts collecting revenues from something, it is loathe to give them up. Government would not want it's policies to be too effective our else they would stop collecting money.

          • Valid point, and I do like the idea of properly sponsoring technology. (Although for your specific example, look into LED lighting. It's still bloody expensive and what I've found is more limited to spot type lighting, so lousy for an open bulb type of lamp, but the energy consumption — specifically lack thereof — is already beyond that 2%, I think.)

            I wasn't that thrilled with the daycare aspect of Dion's plan either, but I don't know that restricting spending to green areas would have done him much better anyway. I've always thought that the solution for revenue lowering under a green tax (which is the point of any incentive tax) is to progressively raise the rates as we go along, with the lowest levels encouraging people and companies to go for the lowest hanging fruit first (such as switching fron incandescent to CFL) and the higher rates prompting them to go further (CFL to LED, for example)

          • Just saw the multi-LED bulb for standard incandescent-type bulb holders at Costco. Pretty expensive at the moment, $10 a pop. But this will come down quickly as producers increase. Look at the LED Christmas lights, they've dropped in price significantly in last couple years…without government input (I think).

          • It's like old-fashioned sumptuary laws: everyone has to be forced to submit to the same limits on their happiness, or else rational self-interest starts to kick in over altruism, and you start wondering why the neighbours should be allowed to live more comfortably than you do.

          • It's great that you are trying to reduce you energy consumption, but why do you need help? And why do you think that your government needs to pay for it?

          • Already explaing that, "It's not cheap". Pretty simple concept.

            As it turns out I don't *need* help, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate it, and it certainly doesn't mean that others might not need help because not everybody is as fortunate in their financial situation as I am. A large capital expense to put improvements into place is not within a lot of people's means, even if they would end up saving money with it in the long run.

            And I think the government should help pay for it because this is something that benefits all of us in so many ways. Which will be detailed in the next message, because Intense Debate is being stingy with the number of letters it allows. Wouldn't want to spend too much on those electrons, eh, Macleans?

          • Silly me, I invested a lot of money into my home – including new windows, doors and insulation – and all I get back is the savings of lower energy bills and the enhanced comfort of my own home. What a schnook, eh?

          • Good for you. Now if there were incentives that encouraged more people to do the same, economies of scale would have lowered your initial price for your investment. Or are you saying you'd rather that didn't happen?

          • Or are you saying you'd rather that didn't happen?

            Yes, I am. Any miniscule reduction in my cost would be vastly outweighed by the cost of the incentives. Governments are always inefficient, always wasteful and prone to corruption, always unfair in their distribution of benefits. That's why I prefer to see smaller government. I don't like bigger government even when I might benefit from it personally. Friends encouraged me to get Energy Audits before and after my renos so that I could claim a rebate. I refused on general principles. It's my home and my money and I don't need or want the governments "help."

          • Igarvin,
            Take a look at how green gov't incentives in Sweden have worked. Once you've actually looked at their economic track record, you might find empirical facts which alter your pre-conceived notions.

          • You say "pre-conceived notions," I say hard-earned experience. Since you're offering Sweden as your counter-argument, I'd expect you to – you know – actually offer the information to go along with the assertion.

            If you're suggesting that large-scale uptake of incentives is itself a sign of success then I'd disagree. People will do all sorts of irrational things if you offer them sufficent incentives to do irrational things. I don't need to provide examples, do I?

          • Igarvin,
            Swedes vote for political parties which campaign on incentives. So you can't handwave and claim that the incentives are 'irratoinal' they are exactly what they do want.
            I mean, 'large scale uptake of incentives' can't considered unsuccessful when that is what everyone voted for.

            For Sweden, the specific informaiton is gini coefficient of income, which shows that despite the large incentive programs in place, the distribution of benifits in Swedish society is actually quite even- much much more even than North America.

            Another would be GDP/capita, which is also high (again, higher than the US).

          • I'm sure that's all very interesting, but it doesn't have much to do with what we were talking about. The fact that the Swedes like incentives doesn't change my opinion of incentiives and even I am not so doctrinaire that I condemn all incentives as equally worthless.

            But the particular incentives under discussion – targetted rebates for "green" purchases that one would not otherwise make – are badly planned, badly implemented and bad policy even if the planning and implementation were exemplary.

          • So do you think Sweden would be better off, if say, the government hadn't created incentives for heat pumps?

          • I understand, Thwim, that getting government subsidies would help put specific technologies into wider usage, but where do you suppose the governments funds are coming from? From taxpayers such as yourself.

            Rather than have government make your choice for you, the optimal solution is really to let consumers decide which option is appropriate for them. One way to may cost incentives apparent is by introducing a carbon tax that replaces another consumption tax, such as the GST. Energy inputs would add up along the production to the final product. The most efficiently made products would have a competitive advantage. And you would save money by choosing right technology for your house, which may differ considerably from the needs of your neighbors.

          • And I'm fine with that too, but if you go back to my posting, I wasn't saying what would be good. Hell, I wasn't even saying there needs to be incentives. I was saying that there's currently precious little to move a person in that direction, and what little there is sucks. It was Igarvin and yourself that went from that to the assumption that I need subsidies to go forward.

            What we need is some sort of incentives that either make it possible for people to move to more energy efficient technology, or some sort of disincentive that make it irrational not to. Carbon Tax fits into the latter category, and I'm good with that. I think incentives could work well also, if implemented properly, and would fit into the former category.

            But.. and this was the point that I guess you guys missed.. what's there now is completely inadequate and ineffective.

    • "I am particularly interested in how people have been telling pollsters for years that agw is real and needs to be stopped but when asked to actually do something about agw – other than talk about it – the hoi polloi balk. Do people believe in agw or not?"
      I guess you don't have any knowledge of how the Kiwis, Deutsch, Danish, Japanese, Brits and Scandinivians have all demonstrated, though actual action, that they are more than willing to to 'do something about agw"?

      Perhaps when you speak of 'people' you should try looking beyond this continent?

    • Very good response Jolyon – if only we could be certain that we should all be "Jolly " about the exposure of the lies and myths that were hiding the real truth about "global warming " ! I see that most countries that will be attending the up- coming Copenhagen conference organized by the UN , still seem to be going along with the proposed scheme to have all our major industries adhere to government legislated "cap and trade" measures – under a carbon reduction plan . That will set dictated levels for Co 2 levels – all on the basis that the World is fast approaching crisis levels for this "polluting " green house gas . About the only thing that is polluting the World right now – is the polluting hypocrsy of all those politicians that will be attending this conference . and in continuing the lies and myths that the likes of Mr Al Gore has been spreading around the World – since dismissed as the ramblings of a self promoting wind bag . Nobel committee – you should be absolutely ashamed of your selection of the UN and Mr Gore to receive an award for their joint promotion of this ridiculous scheme . It was not deserved nor earned – as the recent release of those "scientific " e mail correspondence from the originators of this non problem , clearly has shown – the single, largest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind!

  6. I've worked in academic scientific research and you're right that it can be antagonistic because it is partly a zero sum game. I think you're also right that what elevates the antagonism here is that, in this relatively rare circumstance, the stakes ARE so high.
    That said, your conclusion really has nothing to do with your other insights.

    Because we must accept on good faith the arguments of scientific researchers when we have no recourse to our own research/understanding, this has the potential to be a long term disaster. However, because it is being so underreported, I think the only people paying attention are those that already have hardened positions. So it may just serve to make the partisans MORE antagonistic while having no effect on the greater public perception.

    • FAITH!

      Isn't that the same thing Religions use to believe and get demonized for? Thought Science eliminated the purpose and need for FAITH; with all those undisputed FACTS and equations and stuff?

    • I also think that classifying academic debates as a a zero-sum game is flat-out wrong.
      The typical acadamic debate occurs in this format:
      A. Paper #1
      B. Letter to Editor debating paper #1 Citing paper #1
      B. Paper #2 Citing Letter #1, Paper #1
      A. Letter to editor citing Paper #1, letter #1, Paper#3
      A. Paper #3, citing citing Paper #1, letter #1, Paper#3, letter #2
      etc.

      The result: both scientists (or teamsn of scientists) increase their citation rate, get valuable feedback that will make their future papers more robust (and therefore more likely to be cited). They also both increase their publication rate.

      Since debates are sexy issues, and easy for other authors to reference, the entire exchange (and the series has been known to last for much longer than the five publication I explictly layed out) is referenced by future papers. Since the debate, by definition, opens a contentious issue, it will likely be taken up as a core research focus for at least one lowly grad student (and is sometimes taken up by big teams, publishing in high impact journals).

      So their citations/impact/future publications again goes up, as other researchers jump on the bandwagon (hell, what I've described is pretty much the definition of your standard lit review)

      Enormous positive payoffs for both parties to the debate.

      In fact, a large proportion of these debates, which may appear acrimonius in the stilted prose of academia…..are actaully conducted between close friends who party with each other at conferences (On the other hand, any historian of science can also point out some hilariously entertaining feuds too).

      • This is a lie! I am an academic and I write and present many papers in my field from the point of view that I want to correct gross errors in my field when I see them. I go to a conference every year that hosts 8000 scholars. I have lots of scholarly friends who I meet with at such conferences. We get along and are nice to one another, even sharing a drink now and then. But not all of us are prepared to sacrifice the truth for the sake of friendship. Its all about faithfulness to the method and in my field there are an increasing number of "scholars" who are less than faithful to a method and in it for the money. These people are known and shunned by those of us who want to protect our well earned reputations as a careful scholar!

    • So then why should I give my money and attention to a bunch of cry babies who cannot agree long enough to be self critical of their own procedures. This is not a reason to pass over this scandal!

    • When you write, "Because we must accept on good faith the arguments of scientific researchers when we have no recourse to our own research/understanding…", I am compelled to respond thus; 1) Why? Why should we take "on good faith" anything the scienitific community foists on us? Much of what science has accomplished over history is indeed great, but much more of what science has "manipulated" for its own agenda gives any reasonable thinking person the right to question the findings of science. Global warming is likely modern history's greatest scientific hoax, created out of an agenda of money and power. 2) Sounds like the typical atheist argument against God; athesists have made it a mantra to NOT accept "on good faith" the arguments for God despite millenia of proofs. Read any decent book on Christian apologetics and "accept on good faith" that maybe God even created the scientists!

  7. I'm actually in agreement with Potter's conclusions. I don't see sufficient political will to implement a binding, effective carbon tax or cap-and-trade agreement (certainly not a multilateral one) so we're better off planning on how we'll adapt to climate change.

    I also think this whole debate highlights why it was a bad idea to make emissions reduction all about climate change. Understanding climate change is extremely complex and laypersons are not qualified to do so. Therefore they'll either engage in denial or pick and choose the scientific experts whose views correspond with their preferred course of action (or non-action).

    A better startegy would be to focus opn the fact that fossil fuels are non-renewable (and hence will become increasingly scarce and expensive over time); and that, sooner or later, humans will have to switch to other forms of energy. Obviously the smarter countries and industries will get ahead of this issue instead of waiting for it to catch up with them.

    • "I don't see sufficient political will to implement a binding, effective carbon tax or cap-and-trade agreement (certainly not a multilateral one) so we're better off planning on how we'll adapt to climate change. "
      What time horizion are you talking about here? With the US being the last domino of the developed nations, and the BRIC countries getting closer every year, I think your point may only be valid in the short term ~<5 years.

      "A better startegy would be to focus opn the fact that fossil fuels are non-renewable (and hence will become increasingly scarce and expensive over time)"
      The problem with this approach is that although hydrocarbons aren't renewable on human time scales……they're not running out soon either.
      Coal reserves, which form the lion's share of high quality energy, won't be running out for centuries.

  8. not a lot of room was left for reasonable debate, negotiation, and compromise

    What really matters is the truth.

    Science is not supposed to be about compromise. In the eartl days of AIDs research, there was no compromise between those who believe it was a virus and those who believed it was a statement from God. There was not statement "let's meet halfway and just call it the result of bad habits", neither a lightning bolt from God nor an infectious disease.

    Either AGW exists or it doesn't. I don't believe the scientists who claim it exists, because their evidence is weak and their methods are flawed. The only reason AGW got this far is because of one heck of a PR campaign spearheaded by a movie. If it had not been hijacked, the scientists today would be admitting all the open questions that exist. They would be admitting that their climate models are failing, and that the historical record is not even the slightest bit conclusive about the matter. They would admit there is no experimental or observable evidence.

    • Oh Christ. That takes some chutzpah to say "What really matters is the truth" in the same post as "there is no experimental or observable evidence" because that's just a balls-out lie and fabrication. And it gets me so frustrated seeing people do this kind of thing because I know most folks won't stop to question it. They'll just think, "Oh, he sounds so sure, it must be true" without ever going to look up whether it actually is.

      Here's a recent link just to keep you amused:
      http://climate.weather.com/articles/Statisticians

      • It does not take chutzpah. I don't see how your link applies. I never claimed there was global cooling. Almost all scientists agree, however, that temperatures globally have been flat since 1998. Frankly, climate is always changing, it always has and it always will. Whether the world is warming or cooling is only a small part of the issue – it's whether CO2 is the driving or a negligible force, and what the effect is, that is most of the debate.

        I don't want to repeat all the arguments in this comment, but frankly, the science is very inconclusive. Even the data is being falsified these days, here's a link for you: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcommen

        • s_c_f
          By data 'being falsified' you mean…….that a temperature reading at a low elevation site is treated differently than one at a hgih elevation site? Why don't you try reading the rebuttal http://www.niwa.co.nz/news-and-publications/news/… before you conclude that anything was falsified?
          ….because than maybe you'll discover that since temperatures are colder when you increase elevation……you need to adjust your temperature records.

          • I think we can conclude that the science is inconclusive. That's not was IPCC and warmers have been saying. To that extent, they have been less than candid. The IPCC reports are political and the original report involved hundreds of changes to the text AFTER the scientists had signed off on it. Regardless of — global warming or not (probably not AGW) — there has been an attempt to use this issue for political purposes and to manipulate public opinion.

          • Rose21,
            When you talk about 'hundreds of changes' to the IPCC report after the scientists had signed off…..which portion of which report are you talking about?

            The only one that is really relevant here is the AR4 WGI report.

            If you're talking about how the report was summed up in the SPM- yeah sure, the summary wasn't the same as the full report….because it was a summary, and a summary, by definition, won't include have all the details. If you're making the point that the Summary for Policymakers is a political football…..you're pointing out a truism- scientific summaries, as soon as they become fodder for politicoes, always become footballs.

            However, the actual technical report has the confidence of an overwhelming majority of scientists. Included in this is the view, shared by the vast majority of scientists, that Homo Sapiens have caused a significant radiative forcing.

      • Not sure I understand your point Thwim. Reproducibility is an essential element of peer-reviewed science. The article you link to suggests that observation-report-rebuttal model serves us fairly well. Science is ultimately self-correcting. The longer a model cannot be disproved, the more likely it is to be true.

        To test the validity of existing models (climate or otherwise), we depend on scientists to challenge the assumptions that the models are fundamentally sound. Collaboration and competition is not mutually exclusive in science.

        By blocking information sharing the scientists at the CRU and elsewhere appear to have put the rebuttals on hold, but only temporarily. They may yet turn out to be correct, but it seems likely that their efforts have been undone, at least in part, by paranoid and unethical behaviour, and will now get the benefit of being put under a very public microscope to verify the basis of their claims.

        • So why don't the denialists, who've apparantly been putting FOI requests through for quite some time now, go to the people who actually produce the data rather than to the CRU, who gets the data under certain agreements, some of which restrict providing it elsewhere?

          After all, that might not only enable them to get the raw data, but would allow the CRU to continue their work without having to stop to constantly repackage old information that somebody who can't be arsed to get their own primary research wants? Or have I missed the point?

          • Slightly, yes. The raw data is kind of irrelevant if CRU and their colleagues elsewhere have to beat that data into submission before it produces the outcomes they want, and are actually inputting severely cooked numbers. Constantly publicizing the data set (and code) they're working with would have shown some time ago how much of their results are somewhere between hopeful and entirely fraudulent.

          • There is no accusation of them beating data into submission or fraudulent data.

            The only thing that I have read actually based on the emails is that they chose to ignore some raw data that did not fit and therefore would either need explaining or weaken the strength of their statements (though not necessarily undermine the statements or make them "fraudulent").

          • Actually, there has been evidence in some emails that the existing data post 1960 (the data from their tree ring and other studies) was altered to match the temperature records (the data from climate /weather stations). This is fraudulent.

          • False; if you ever read the scientific publications you would see that they talked openly about this and explained the good reasons for it. But since you know nothing about science, you wouldn't understand it anyway.

          • I know more about this than you will ever know. I also know from your comment history that you contribute nothing but invective and insults. I'm surprised you know how to read.

          • s_c_f

            The post '60s tree ring data wasn't altered by Mann et al…..because the post '60s tree ring data is Briffe's.
            From ClimateAudit:
            "While the decline was shown in Briffa et al 1998 and Briffa 2000, it was not shown in the IPCC 2001 graph, one that Mann, Jones, Briffa, Folland and Karl were working in"

            If your knowledge of whether or not the tree ring data was 'fraudelent' is so extensive…..then how come you don't even know the above? I mean, it is a direct quote from the premiere climate skeptic site……but you appear to be completely unaware of the fact that the tree ring data was published by Briffa in '98 and '2000 (10 years ago)…..

          • You cannot see the forest through the trees. Why are you picking at straws? And why are you responding to a comment directed entirely towards Holly Stick?

            Who cares which individual altered the data? It was used by everyone. It became part of the scientific literature. The altered data was included in the computer models that are used and owned by the entire East Anglia organization, the IPCC, and the worldwide research commmunity.

          • You are not correct, on several levels.

            Firstly, selectively choosing your data is a common statistical error called selection bias. You cannot selectively choose the data who use after the fact. If you look at the data, and then you decide what will be used, you are making an error, and your results are useless. It's no different that doing a medical study, finding 50 of 100 people suit your hypothesis, then looking afterwards for some commonality to allow you to throw out the other 50, then asserting that 50 out of 50 suit the hypothesis.

            Secondly, there has been evidence in some emails that the existing data post 1960 (the data from their tree ring and other studies) was altered to match the temperature records (the data from climate /weather stations). This is fraudulent.

            This presented two falsehoods:
            1- the temperature graphs that combined the modern temperature data from measurements with the temperature data obtained by research into tree rings, bristle cones and other artifacts should not have been combined, because they in fact diverged, but the divergence was hidden in order to combine them both. The combination enabled them to produce fraudulent graphs that show large temperature increases.

            2 – the drop in temperatures being exhibited by the post-1960 research figures (into tree rings and so on) were hidden completely and never made available.

            Since the data itself that was used as well as the methodology was not made available to the public, none of this fraud could have been uncovered until now.

          • "The data itself that was used as well as the methodology was not made available to the public,"
            The data was published in '98 by Briffa. Since you are apparently so knowledgeable on this subject, I guess it just slipped your mind that the data was published in this little obscure journal known as 'Nature.'

            "The combination enabled them to produce fraudulent graphs that show large temperature increases. "
            At this point, it is useful to point out that we know the post '60s temperature increases, because we had thermometers! So it is actually impossible to massage proxy data to 'show' large temperature increases- neither you, tree rings, or anything else that claims to show the temperature trend can argue with the observed instrumental record.

            In fact, in a sweet twist of irony, the post 1960's data, if interpreted correctly (by Briffa himself)…..shows exactly the opposite to what you are claiming. I.e. Briffa points out that the post '60s divergence means that climate sensitivity, and agw is more, not less likely.

            I will once agian point you towards the Nature paper, which has an illuminating abstract:
            'During the second half of the twentieth century, the decadal-scale trends in wood density and summer temperatures have increasingly diverged as wood density has progressively fallen. The cause of this increasing insensitivity of wood density to temperature changes is not known, but if it is not taken into account in dendroclimatic reconstructions, past temperatures could be overestimated. Moreover, the recent reduction in the response of trees to air-temperature changes would mean that estimates of future atmospheric CO2 concentrations, based on carbon-cycle models that are uniformly sensitive to high-latitude warming, could be too low.'

          • Kyle,

            I think you should read the general comments about the behaviour of Mann, Biffra, Jones et al in excluding dissenting views (even scientifically correct ones -> read the emails) from journals like Nature.

            I shutter to think there are kids like you around the country that don't see why using intimidation and threat is probably contrary to science.

          • Jon,
            For the record, I think that Mann et al.'s attitude towards dissenting views is disgusting.
            I've read a good portion of the emails, and most of the juicy sound bites.
            I completely agree with Monbiot that ther is no other description for refusing to release data other than 'unscientific', and that it reflects poorly on the culture of science.

            However…..just because someone is an Ahole…..doesn't mean they're wrong.

          • JOn, I would be interestested to read anything about Mann et al's poor responses to dissent in nature? What issue(s)?

          • Your comments make little sense. You are not arguing objectively. If two data sets diverge, that means you cannot combine them. You cannot throw out the data you don't like and then claim that climate sensitivity is higher afterwards.

            Secondly, anyone who has been following this scandal knows that Briffa refused to release his data until only recently, 10 years after the paper was published.

            The 98 paper is fraudulent, and reprinting it here doesn't change that.

          • s_c_f
            -The comments re: increased climate sensitivity weren't mine….they were Briffa et al.'s 1998.

            -Briffa's methods were published in the same place as his data……in his letter to the editor- I'm not sure what you are talking about when you say his data/methods weren't released- can you provide a reference please? It sounds like you are agian confusing Mann et al's intermediate data with the actual data.

            What in the 1998 paper is fraudulent???????
            It clearly shows the divergence, and spends time discussing it. See the bottom left part of Fig 2.

            Discussion of the divergence and possible causes starts on pg. 681.

            Takehome message from the discussion – "Our results imply that this might
            increasingly result in systematic overestimation of past temperatures,
            particularly in regions where the loss of low-frequency temperature
            sensitivity in tree growth is greatest (eastern Siberia and
            easternNorth America: see Fig. 1), where tree-ring ‘standardization'
            is designed to preserve maximum long-timescale chronology
            variability4, and where transfer functions are calibrated over the
            most recent decades."

            If you are seriuosly asserting fraud in the '98 paper (rather than using the bucket defence), than I dould like to hear it.

            The whole point of reprinting the paper is to show that the post 60's Briffa data indicates increased climate sensitivity…..so arguing that excluding it from the AR4 is ironic.

          • As AVR says, the raw data is useless if CRU keeps the computer code under wraps. This makes the results unreproducible, therefore the conclusions cannot be trusted or intelligently commented on by other climatologists. This means that these results should be discounted, and since this cadre of climatologists (note I do not say scientists as they are not properly following the scientific method) form the core of the AGW backers this casts a long shadow over the whole body of research.

            It doesn't help if you have a clown like Al running around saying the core of the earth is millions of degrees and having a mansion with the energy use of a small space station.

          • I'm afraid you have. The CRU declined to specify exactly which data points they used and how. Responding that the data was generally available was of no help to those attempting to replicate their results since they could not be certain they were using the same inputs. Similarly with the analysis.

            Regardless of the wider arguments for and against AGW, this was wrong.

          • Yeah, it would have been helpful for the CRU to have been more open about the intermediate steps.

            However, given that the other climate research teams (e.g. Hadley) reproduced the same results from the same data, the point isn't too strong.

          • not helpful.

            correct.

            "It would have been correct for the CRU to have been open about the intermediate steps."
            Fixed it for you.

            Anything else is obscene.

            Ever stop to think that Hadley also massaged the data to fit the hypothesis?
            They started out wanting to be correct and now they're only 'the consensus view'. Bravo Kyle… in the future I will vote for increased spending for science at public schools.

          • Several points:

            1) Because the CRU scientists (and elsewhere) won't release the specific datasets that allowed them to reach their conclusions. This includes data from specific monitoring stations for specific periods of time. Also the code used for the algorithms has to be verified for bias. This can only come from the authors themselves and Science, Nature, and other journals require such sharing as a condition of publication.

            2) Nobody gets points for verification of publication results except the original authors, who's credibility is enhancement by showing the wider community that their research is sound. Do not underestimate the importance of "Me Too" science.

            3) It's really not all that difficult for the authors to make the original data available. Many research laboratories and journals provide supplementary material on-line to help readers make an informed judgment if they wish. This material is also allows "me too" scientists to repeat the relevant analyses using either different model systems to test the bounds of the original hypothesis or to report a modified version. Often, if the original authors are helpful, they are included in the resulting publication. This is all necessary for the science to advance.

          • On point 2)

            It's not "Me Too" science when Biffra reviews Mann who reviews Jones who reviews Hadley who reviews Biffra. That would be conspiracy.

        • "The longer a model cannot be disproved, the more likely it is to be true. "
          Go tell that on to Copernicus/Galileo!

          • Kyle, was there a point to this comment? I really don't understand it.

    • Excellent point. Until the truth is known there might be many possible opinions. once the truth is known there is only one. while science evolves and changes and our understanding of the truths change and grow the fundamental facts rarely change. Temperatures in the past are facts, If you have to fudge their numbers to fit your theory, it is called fraud. The greatest discoveries often come from facts not fitting theory; then when you figure out why, you gain incredible new insights. When you force the facts to conform, you get stuck in a box.

    • You say that "Either AGW exists or it doesn't".

      Of course it does, EG if I light a cigarette I am adding to global warming but the significant thing is that there is no valid, tangible evidence whatsoever, that AGW is of any significance.
      All we have to do is ask- Why has the current 'interglacial' period been driven by AGW when all previous ones were not?,Obviously when there were few if any mankind present to cause 'man-made' global warming, to the extent that the one or the other global ice caps would have significant reductions in the amount of ice present., thus man made global warming did not cause any of the previous interglacial periods and some other forces came into effecct or we would still have a mile of ice over our thick skulls. Duh- just maybe there are now and there have been also in the past, other reasons for the warming that cuased the interglacial periods, even Al Gore should understand this??.

      Oth, and the polar bears did not perish and the seas did not become so acidic that all of the corals were dissolved and the world did not come to an end blah, blah, blah.

    • Actually, there was a lot of controversy about the science. Cancer researchers, who had failed to find a link between retro-viruses and cancer, were looking for funding. AIDS provided a new mystery, and the funding sluice gate was opened. After all these years has a systemic link been found between retro-viruses and AIDS? Not that I have heard, and the funding continues.

      Science is not absolute. It is as flawed as any human endeavour.

  9. Finally a reasoned response from someone.

    The cost of mitigation will be far less than this carbon tax anyway and on a positive note we can finally look a treal solutions to the land use problems in Africa. IE a continental power grid.

    This would do more to help deforestation then any other major project.

  10. "Some see this as not a smoking gun but a smoking mushroom cloud that has left the entire global warming agenda in ruins. That is, “Climategate” discredits the entire scientific basis for the global warming thesis."

    Grandiose much?

    Baby steps, Potter, baby steps. Delve into why the deniers seem so indifferent to accuracy. Not just about climate science either.

    • "Deniers"? I think Potter was trying to get us past such stuff. If there is one word that represents all this irrational about the AGW campaign, "deniers" is it.

      • I'm thinking about the larger demographic of people who, as I said, are not interested in accuracy. Irrational is the best way to describe them, but "denier" is also common. Like I said, it's not restricted to the issue of climate science; these people tend to be indifferent to accuracy when it comes to practically everything. Curiously, they tend to be the same people as the so-called climate change skeptics.

        • I don't think you should be ascribing irrationality to one side or the other. I also don't think that it is the least bit ridiculous to question the value of predictive algorithms if the code is not reviewed by others.

          For example, would you invest your life saving in a particular stock because someones computer model says it will skyrocket tomorrow. At the very minimum, the danger of the leaked emails is that they reduce confidence is past assumptions and observations which are the underlying basis for the climate models.

          Those assumptions and observations will now need to be re-examined thoroughly. I can't see how any for the scientists involved to avoid this.

          • "I don't think you should be ascribing irrationality to one side or the other."

            It's not a choice I made. It was made for me. Just look around. Why does one side appear so indifferent to accuracy?

          • I think you have the definitions of precision and accuracy wrong.

            Precision is how many times you can get the same result. If I get 1+1=6 100 times out of a hundred, my method is precise.
            Accuracy is how close you are to the actual result.

            I can understand why all of this science may seem daunting to you, but keep at it.

          • The problem is that one side is irrational, ignorant, and dishonest. Even if the emails showed one or two scientists in one institution behaving dishonestly, which is not definitely established; it has NO EFFECT WHATEVER upon the science because the proof of AGW is coming from all sorts of scientific institutions, and is endorsed by every professional scientific group.

          • Even when the emails imply that opposing views exists and were kept out of the IPCC intentionally? Now who's being irrational?

            If the IPCC starts with the premise that only pro-AGW scientists are respectable, it is not much of a surprise when only pro-AGW science is reflected in IPCC results.

          • AT1,

            The emails don't imply that any imposing views should be kept out of the IPCC….just the ones that are based on really flawed reasoning.

  11. If one's standard of living was not perceived to be threatened by constraining/controlling emissions, would one care about the minutiae of the science? Probably not.

    And although you state: "But nor do I think that meeting our Kyoto obligations would have bombed our economy back to the stone age (a point our own Colleague Coyne made repeatedly, to little impact)", I hope neither you nor AC is prepared to give up this line of argument. There is plenty of merit to it.

    • I agree. That was a nast stab at Colby. I wonder how it's become so acceptable to people, the notion of taxing CO2, when the same people would go bonkers over the notion of taxing O2 or H2O.

      • Not sure you should be agreeing with me – I'm not one of the doomsayers, and I believe in a carbon tax – principally to shift economics and drive technological development and innovation.

        Here's a "conversation" I had with Jarrid on Colby's blogalong these lines (dfeel free to add negative scores if you haven't done so already)
        http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/11/25/norwich-we-hav

        • A lot of the crazy talk are figures like reducing emissions by 80% by 2030. That is crazy talk. That would impoverish a large protion of the world.

      • I also think that a carbon tax is the simplest way to increase energy efficiency and advance innovation. Both are laudable goals with or without climate change in mind. Energy diversity is also a fundamental good that doesn't rely on doomsday predictions to be acceptable.

        • I don' t think innovation is achieved by taxation or government fiat. Even if energy alternatives are a good argument, a tax is by no means the way to get there. A tax is a market distortion and a government money grab, and nothing less.

          • What say you to the government fiat that the oil sands miners have to clean up their tailings ponds as outlined in this story – Suncor, I know, has applied to use some sort of a flocculant and other companies are developing "dry" techniques (though I'm not familiar with the technology, or if that is the correct term)

            http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Tailings+

            For years, oil sands companies have operated without such requirements – is a tax subsidy.

          • A regulation is different from a tax, even if the regulation costs money to the company. Secondly, I was talking about innovation, not environmental protection.

            I am in favour of environmental regulations, although I think the AGW/carbon is a giant fraud and scam. I prefer environmental solutions for real problems, such as the threats to biodiversity and animal extinctions, or the threats to water and air quality.

          • A regulation that imposes costs on an entity is no different than a tax to the company's bottom line. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and soaks up tailings pond bitumen like a duck, it's a duck.

            Even these controversial regulations are in effect taxes:
            http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714

            I was talking about innovation resulting from having a new economic order imposed upon industry, bet it directed at water, air pollution, or energy consumption/efficiency (ie CO2 production)

          • The obvious difference is that with a regulation there is at least some connection between the imposed cost and the business activity.

            In the case of a tax, there is usually no connection – not with most taxes anyway (sales, income, business, corporate). However, when you talk about carbon taxes or gas taxes or similar targeted taxes, then yes, they are similar to regulations, because they target a specific activity.

            I really dislike these types of taxes because they distort market activity in the same way that subsidies do. You have government deciding what is best for the rest of us, and government is frequently wrong, while government is simply not knowledgeable about the many details and circumstances involved with each and every business transaction, so they should butt out. Better to have a blanket tax that affects everyone equally.

          • Actually, finding ways to save money is as good a motivator as making money!

          • Broad based taxes or tax reductions are the least distortion-inducing tools the government has at its disposal. Far better than incentives to renovate homes, pick specific industries etc.

            Since we are not likely to see an end to taxation any time soon, why shouldn't it be based on things we'd like to see reduced. Surely, you can agree that reducing dependence on fossil fuels is a good thing, whether you care about AGW or not.

    • So you think that developing a computer model for environmental global temps, that is encoded in such a way to get the results you want to support an otherwise questionable science, is "minutiae of the science". You sire are an idiot if you think we are that stupid!

      • If I was your "sire" I'd know I was an idiot.

  12. This is going to be fun. It's 12 degrees outside and it should be 10 degrees for the Grey Cup come Sunday. Awesome.

  13. Perhaps we should all chip in and buy Mr. Potter a globe or direct him to Google Earth.

    Sporadic reports indicate that there's a world out there beyond the US and Canada where
    stuff is actually being done and some forms of progress are being made. Maybe we are smarter
    than they are. Or maybe by force of history and resources they are less in thrall to the hydrocarbon
    industry than we are. Who knows.

    • Well, we are richer than they are, and we are fortunate to have made better decisions than they have, this being one of them.

      Interesting how you love the lemming mentality.

      If you want to be a lemming, move to China, oops, not I mean India, oops, no I mean South America, oops, no I mean Africa, oops, no I mean somwhere there is a carbon tax, yes, that would have to be to one of only a few places in the world, such as Europe.

        • For what it's worth to you:
          GDP per capita (PPP) from CIA factbook in $US:
          Canada: 39,100
          USA::46,900
          European Union: 33,700

          Check your own link.

          There are 192 countries in the world. There are 50 countires in Europe. About 25 countries, almost all European, have cap and trade or a carbon tax. Of the five largest emitters in the world (China, US, India, Russia, Japan), none have a carbon tax or cap and trade. The only countries in that list that have considered such a scheme are Japan and USA, and in both cases it is unlikely to happen anytime soon because of lack of political support.

          • s_c_f
            GDP per capita:
            1 Luxembourg 113,044
            2 Norway 94,387
            3 Qatar 93,204
            4 Switzerland 68,433
            5 Denmark 62,097
            6 Ireland 60,510
            7 United Arab Emirates 55,028
            8 Iceland 53,058
            9 Netherlands 52,500
            10 Sweden 52,181
            11 Finland 51,588
            12 Austria 50,039
            13 United States 47,440

            Notice how the Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden and Norway, have higher GDP/capita than the US of A? Even though they have carbon taxes, government subsidies for clean energy and infrastructure development, have already reduced emissions, and have very ambitoous goals for 2020?

            Kind of blows your whole GDP growth depends on not cutting emissions argument out of the water doesn't it?

          • Kind of blows your whole GDP growth depends on not cutting emissions argument out of the water doesn't it?

            Who made that argument?

            I'm pretty sure we can grow GDP when cutting emissions. In fact, if you understand what GDP is, it's obvious. Secondly, it's obvious our growth in living standards will decline with regulation of CO2.

            As for you other talk about various countries, what's your point? You've managed to find a few rich countries that have in recent years instituted carbon taxes or cap and trade. Congratulations!

          • East Anglia was not the only research institution. Fraudulent research produces fraudulent results but it does not change the theory behind the research. This scandal reflects more poorly on East Anglia than on the AGW theory. Their research is a drop in the ocean of evidence for the AGW theory… to the dismay nay-sayers.

          • The scandal involves researchers around the world, not just East Anglia. East Anglia is where the emails were obtained, but the emails span the globe. A central figure in the scandal is Michael Mann from Penn State.

      • Yes… the world outside happens to include places where they're building a new coal plant a week. It's interesting to me that there seems to be almost total radio silence when it comes to doing anything about that which in the AGW framework is like 52 asteroids a year slamming into the sustainability of the planet.

        I consider it "the" tell. As long as people are more concerned about putting corn into our gas tanks and not at all interested in, say, funding nuclear power to replace coal plants in India, I'm pretty comfortable concluding that it has nothing to do with what people say it's about – even if they don't realize that themselves.

    • Nah, we're not smarter than they are. We just got lucky. Deniers will have our day in the sun and probably think we're quite clever. But we just happened to reject the BS a little sooner than the rest of the crowd. No big deal really. Somebody had to be right.

      • We are smarter in this case. We made choices and they made choices. They made the wrong choices.

  14. "…while working very hard toward new technologies that will someday make the entire debate seem as quaint as the old concerns about manure mountains in Manhattan."

    You mean wish really hard for a magic pony?

    • Constructive response. A tad anti-technology, are we ? Nothing unreasonable about suggesting that technological innovation, for which solid incentives are emerging, can't greatly mitigate the problem at hand. After all, the core of the problem is one of inefficent technology, so in a rather large way we're already solidly within the technological realm, and it isn't remotely fantasist to suggest that improvements in the same won't be of enormous benefit. The example Potter cites is a pertinent historic example of this. I'm sure that from your perspective, it is far less fantastical to propose that the entire world come to an immediate agreement to massively de-industrialize, and for China and India to voluntarily halt their economic progress? You're shovelling hard from a conceputal manure mountain of your own, it would seem.

      • This is an excellent point- it is unfortunate that so few environmentalists support cutting edge energy research (e.g. Nuclear).

        It is one of the main reasons why Lovelock is a huge personal favourite of mine.

  15. I think several of the commenters in Tyler Cowen's thread have supplied comments more insightful than Cowen's. But there is a question of Bayesian priors here, without doubt.

  16. Perhaps Ignatieff will buy a puppy and name it "Norwich" to distinguish himself from his predecessor.

  17. "What this means from a policy angle, though, is that we should probably give up on trying to solve climate change by eliminating its causes (e.g. via international emissions-reduction agreements). There is little public support in the US or Canada for a major carbon-tax or cap-and-trade regime, and this will only drain what support there is. "

    This story is being pretty effectively buried on both the CBC and CTV news sites. Most Canadians will never find out about it. I expect that Canadian environmental policy will remain unchanged.

    • There's some mention in the comments sections . Not enough though , sigh .

  18. “Instead, our best bet might be to prepare to deal with the effects of climate change (we’re an adaptable species, after all) while working very hard toward new technologies that will someday make the entire debate seem as quaint as the old concerns about manure mountains in Manhattan.”

    This conclusion is frankly a bit nuts. It’s cheaper and easier to just jack NYC, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. etc. up 6 ft than to put a price on carbon, used to reduce other taxes?

    Carbon taxes really aren’t that bad. All we need is for most of the emitters to agree to set a price within their borders for carbon, collect that revenue and use it for tax cuts. No need to transfer wealth between countries. Just incentivize energy efficiency and lower-carbon sources of energy.

    • I agree. The only problem is that the people who will be worst affected are middle class consumers living in the suburbs. However, most of our economic problems are caused by their unsustainable benefits anyways, so we should implement these reforms now while they will be less harmful than if they came a generation later. Also, this is more fair: the babyboomers should have to pay for the consequences of the ridiculous debt and unsustainable suburban lifestyles that they have inflicted on North America with the collusion of out political class.

    • ANY taxes are bad except income tax. There should be only one tax. Everything else is simply a crime (theft). This is a general truth which applies to all taxes, including any form of carbon tax (both carbon tax and cap-and-trade).

  19. Why would you want Harper's do nothing environmental policy to change if you think global warming is nothing more than a hoax?

    • Did I say what I want to happen? I'm just pointing out the fallacy in Potter's expectation that this story will have any effect on Canada's environmental policy.

    • Because it mollifies those that imagine they 'ought' to care due to media sensationally pushing the AGW scaremongering, and are thus satisfied by any visible effort, no matter how pointless or unsatisfactory to you. If that steals away the votes of people who might vote Liberal otherwise (if there was not just an ineffective policy but none at all), then it's a sound policy from that perspective.

        • No, but please do feel free to do your usual childish tantrum thing, if it makes you feel any better.

        • Robert, why do your comments always leave me feeling like you are a 12 year old with too much time on his hands in his mother's basement?

      • Maybe some of us Canadians are more directly affected by climate change and spend less time glued to the the feeding tube then say someone living in a climate controlled office in Downtown Big Smoke.

        It never fails. AGW deniers always end up using the frantic arm flailing of the extreme left as an argument against climate change.

  20. Andrew Potter, who is not a climate scientist and does not know what his is punditing about, writes"…I don't think that climate change is going to have anything close to the apocalyptic effects its most vocal proponents (if that is the right word) say it will…"

    Climate scientists who know what they are doing write:
    "…Delay in action risks irreversible damage: Several vulnerable elements in the climate system (e.g. continental ice-sheets. Amazon rainforest, West African monsoon and others) could be pushed towards abrupt or irreversible change if warming continues in a business-as-usual way throughout this century. The risk of transgressing critical thresholds (“tipping points”) increase strongly with ongoing climate change. Thus waiting for higher levels of scientific certainty could mean that some tipping points will be crossed before they are recognized…"

    http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.org/executive_summ

    • Yes, of course they know what they are doing: they say what they are told to say by the ones who pay them.

      • Another ignoramus. You have no idea about what scientists do or how they work.

    • Sorry, I'm not convinced. The "science" has been debunked and each of you who foist this crap upon the world should cozy up in a room and play spin-the-bottle. Yours is like the far-left media, the far-left pols and the far-left academic elite who feel soooo superior to the rest of the world that you won't see the truth, let alone allow it to circulate in a free press. Time and again, contrary views, scientifically supported, get withheld by the mainstream media in favor of breathless support for all this GW.

  21. Here's an exercise for a real journalist:

    See if any of these authors wrote any of those CRU emails. Notice how many different institutions they belong to.
    http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.org/authors.html

    So some ignorant people think a few emails fromn CRU implicate ALL of these other institutions. What fools. Shame on Andrew Potter for catering to fools.

  22. The Aussies definitely get it . Heh , as someone else put it , doubling down on stupid .

  23. Those Saskatchewan tailgate parties can do that. Surprised they've started so early…well, maybe not.

    • Awesome

  24. First, it reduces our own reliance on fossil-fuels, leaving us more to export and saving us money. Second it provides more consumers for the technology, which in turn spurs: A) development of better technologies, and B) more competition between providers thus lowering prices (and thus the need for further subsidies). Third, the benefits in reduction of pollution as well as GHGs will benefit everyone, so the government getting involved to encourage people to do this makes sense from a societal point of view. Fourth, it would put competing technologies more on par with the massive subsidies that the fossil-fuel industry receives, thus working more to levelling the market so consumers can actually choose fairly.

  25. In other words, my personal impression is that the real battle lines in the scientific community is not over whether the planet is warming but why and how you answer the why has huge political and social implications and therefore a huge power behind it. That impression seems quite consistent with what I am reading from these leaked emails and your own experience.

    Wondered if you could comment, as a scientist in this area. Also, would be interested in a link to any of your work (and since I am at work, in summary form preferably).

    Appreciate your attention.

      • Thanks.

        I don't want to put words in your mouth so correct me if I am wrong, but you hold the view that the earth is indeed warming but that it is likely (or is? do you go so far as to conclude or hypothesize) natural although we don't really know why exactly.

        That's a pretty quick scan. (Google didn't help much. There are lots of "Moran" names out there and initials don't help much in a google search.)

        • Google "ehmoran" with QUOTES.

          Correct on Natural processes. But Earth's magnetic intensity recently has been decreasing along with reported temperature decreases. That's why the "So called" Climate experts couldn't explain their observed "Lack of Recent Warming" period and didn't report what they were observing.

          I have many other facts to support my research but I didn't talk about them. WHY? they weren't listening anyways, so why wast my time after the personal abuse I took form these "SO CALLED" Experts (Elitists).

          • Are you the fellow who was posting at RealClimate under more than one name in June 2007? known as ehmoran and sometimes as Ted?

            What's your shtick: that volcanoes are causing global warming even though industry spews much more CO2 than volcanoes do.

          • One is my nickname, you ought to get that straight first. And no, I'm not saying volcanoes are causing GW, never was, never have.

            You see, you can't even discuss the issues, science and facts without making preconceived assumptions and accusations. You must be from RealClimate.org. Likely, you were well involved with that whole "nutjob" thing. Let's talk Science. But you'd better get the rest of your CLAN and Fiefdom here first. Cause it'll take all of you……

            Well, your GIG is up now….

            Fact is, Scientists measuring CO2 at Mt Redoudt in Alaska saw 10,000 Tons/day produced and CO2 levels indicate the state of Volcanic Activity. Bet you didn't know that tidbit? But no "CO2 Climate
            Scientist" will ever admit THAT FACT.

            Oh, by the Way, my publication was presented at AGU.

          • No, I'm not with RealClimate; I just know how to do research on the Internet.

            For instance, I just learned that Mount Pinatubo produced 10Gt (10 billion tonnes) of material including CO2, which caused a slight blip in atmospheric CO2. So sorry, 10,000 Tons for how many days? just isn't that much.

            http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/co2-and-th

          • No, I'm not with RealClimate; I just know how to do research on the Internet.

            For instance, I just learned that Mount Pinatubo produced 10Gt (10 billion tonnes) of material including CO2, which caused a slight blip in atmospheric CO2. So sorry, 10,000 Tons for how many days? just isn't that much.

            http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/co2-and-th

          • Holly Stick,

            But that was during the life time of it's recent eruption and it was big. But Redoudt is only one of many active volcanoes. Remember, CO2 production indicates the activity stage of a Volcano. Just that there there are other unaccounted sources of CO2 and nobody is reporting those facts.

            I'm glad to know you're not part of them, so I don't need to go on the defensive. THANKS. And if you searched deeply, you saw what those Elitists tried to do to me?

            But, don't believe all the Internet links associated with my name, ask me first, I have nothing to hide. Put it this way, I've lost and quit jobs because I refused to be dishonest and/or slightly biased…….

          • However, If Al Gore is right about the Earth's Mantle being Millions of Degrees, I'd say he's agreeing with me and now we're in a whole lot of trouble and CO2 is quite the least of our concerns along with every other problem we might think we've got.

            How the heck are we going to fight that little phenomenon. Probably with Concrete, right….. Hope Al's got money invested in Cement Companies.

            I mean that's a whole lot hotter than the Sun, and look at what those kinds of temperatures di to Sun's Surface?

  26. climate-research scandal.. its called Climategate.. Where fraud and deciet were used to push a political agenda.. i see that most of you liberal type people really dont care that its fiction.. Well we dont care that you dont care.. its beyound you or I and in the hands of people who's job it is to keep things above the board.. We tried for years to appeal to your good sense but you wouldn't listen.. Now its your junior high hero's getting pulled into high court with nothing but deleted files and some mumbo jumbo about moral duty to back them up.. You did it to yourselves..

  27. its never ones moral duty to commit fraud.. Our leaders in position of policy must maintain their professional integrity.. To turn the UN IPCC into a left wing creative writing organization is to be so far off base that jail time is in order.. Hundered of billions of dollars.. Millions of intellectual man hours.. A whole generation of kids.. Twisted and turned to the will of the far left.. For what? So many of you are so far gone you cant even grasp whats going on.. Right over your heads.. The Public Inquiry will open your minds.. to say the least..

    • In another Ten Years the World Leaders will confirm that A DECADE FROM NOW THE WORLD WILL REDUCE Carbon Dioxide emissions Ten years hence,By then CO2, still remain at 0.032% of our atmosphere!Believe me.Kaboomer

  28. it was not a smash and grab hack.. The damage is total and complete.. it was a inside job.. The emails as bad as they are.. are just the opening shot.. The data thats been poured over for the last 4 days is going to crush the movement to the ground.. its coming and it will be peer reviewed crystal clear dead in the water fraud.. The silence from the MSM is them being catatonic at their massive blunder supporting these con men.. They have no creditability beyond what shade of lipstick is in season..

  29. FYI, I am not a denier just an agnostic.

  30. This is science tearing down its Berlin wall.. Its a historic moment where the good scientists are taking back their trade from the imposters.. The hacker (if you can call them that) cleaned them out and was a scientists as well.. They hold the key in their hands and are enjoying every sweet moment of their demise.. This is so beyound politics.. Its a civil war.. and its not over yet..

    • The longer this goes on I'm getting the feeling that what you say will not be too far from the truth!

  31. E H Moran,

    My sympathies. There used to be a time, and that time is certainly now with respect to real science disciplines, where a phenomenon was examined by a number of competing theories and from a number of different paradigms (sun, magnatism, cloud study etc), each contributing to the store of knowlege in an attempt to understand. Theories were proposed, tested and findings subject to peer review and, most importantly, replication.

    AGW theory has turned all that on its head. The politically driven predetermined "answer" came first and all else followed.

    This notion of the lack of replication, openness and objective peer review isn't some technicality. It goes to the heart of the scientific process, without which true science cannot advance.

    Thus we know with certainty that since the scientific model was not followed, the core of AGW research cannot be true science.

    • biff,

      I think that's why alot of people have turned to Science as a Religion. These people leave their FAITH in so-called human determined Facts and Equations. But I wonder what they'll do now that this Faith has been SHATTERED. Likely. they'll continue believing in their Godless Religion (however, they do believe they're GODS). THEY HAVE TO continue believing or all will be lost for them, and it will be if they leave their faith in man's hands……..

  32. It has been well known for some some years that hockey-stick graph the notorious Mann et al "hockey-stick graph" was fatally flawed. McIntyre and McKitrick showed it in their paper published in 2003. But the "hockey-stick graph" was a main prop in the IPCC's "Third Assessment Report" – they reproduced it six times, in very large scale, and in full color.

    The hockey-stick graph played a key part in convincing people that global warming was real and urgent. But Mann and his co-authors knew that it misrepresented the temperature curve for the northern hemisphere because the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age are completely omitted.

    I discuss this in my post today at Lux et Veritas.
    http://luxeveritas.blogspot.com/2009/11/climatega

  33. It has been well known for some years that hockey-stick graph the notorious Mann et al "hockey-stick graph" was fatally flawed. McIntyre and McKitrick showed it in their paper published in 2003. But the "hockey-stick graph" was a main prop in the IPCC's "Third Assessment Report" – they reproduced it six times, in very large scale, and in full color.

    The hockey-stick graph played a key part in convincing people that global warming was real and urgent.

    Mann et al knew that their work was flawed because it completely omitted the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, in fact it was deliberately designed to do this

    I discuss this in more detail in my post today at LUX et VERITAS

    http://luxeveritas.blogspot.com/2009/11/climatega

    Gurth Whitaker

    • Ya but where do you stand! Sounds like more eco justification to me. The science is all wrong period!

  34. Ideological whores, couldn't say it better,

    and true

  35. There's what we should do, and there's what we will do. The former I leave to scientists. What we will do is react with too little too late after a series of titanic natural disasters, circa 2060. By which time everybody who nay-said in 2009 will be completely forgotten.

    • which scientists? the ones who fake their data and suppress opposition or the ones who champion debate an free constructive criticism of their theory? And as for you, go see 2012 if you want to feed your lust for the destruction of humanity. A** hole.

      • I heard it kind of sucked, actually.

        No, all the other scientists who don't live in Norfolk. There were still some out there, last time I checked.

    • I think anti-carbon policies will reach international trading long before that. I'm sure that the EU will impose a carbon-tax on imports before 2020.

      AGW's impact is much like Ozone depleting substances; the consequences are long-term, large-scale, and slow.

      Nay-sayers are quick to forget that the hole in the ozone layer debate was just as vivacious, but very little are debating it now. Change was slow, but it did happen. As changes for AGW are happening now.

      btw, congrats on your 100p!

      • Thanks, Andre. I hope you're right that the West will keep moving forward, hopefully setting some kind of protocol that India and China can buy into. You're right, the ozone is a good omen!

    • So the current science fraud should be just overlooked because your prophecies will come true. You see the scientific basis for your so-called predicted disasters is now highly questionable so you sound no less like a religious zealot that any conservative preacher from the deep south.

      • It does not follow that because some scientists were manipulating their model that all scientists are frauds.

        My point is that you and I will be dead by the time we find out what the actual consequences are of dumping an unlimited amount of carbon into the atmosphere, so there won't be an opportunity to gloat about how right or wrong the AGW-skeptics now are.

  36. I think this article correctly frames the "meta issues". The ultimate questions here are sociological, generational, cultural. However, you make the following statement which is misleading:

    "The left has traditionally paid a lot more attention to this research than has the right (which has usually denigrated this research as “relativism”), and it is interesting now to see the tables turned somewhat."

    The right has paid a great deal of attention to the dominance of the political left in academia and the media and what the right regards as the pernicious effect of post-modernism and relativism in those institutions (see eg, David Horowitz), and these insights are directly applicable to the Climategate matter. You are confused if you are suggesting, as it seems, that that these criticisms of relativism are themselves a form of relativism.

  37. Amazing!

    The data (e-mails) are right in your face and you still refuse to see the evidence.

    These same scientists threatened my job as a scientist with the US Geological Survey because I tried to publish a study showing with higher confidence that global temperature changes were completely natural caused solely by Earth's physical processes. Additionally, these same scientists would not even discuss or refute the science and facts presented. Instead, they took two days to personally attack me and my family.

    I always knew that when man-made global climate change was showed to be insignificant that people would lose faith, note the word "FAITH", in science. But this event and exposure is way worse for the science community as a whole. Remember: "Truth is the daughter of Time (Francis Bacon)".

    Several USGS scientists got fired for the same thing when discussing data manipulation for models developed for the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. But no outcry and defense for those scientists?

    IF you can't see any problem with this and you don't wonder if there's been some misleading of the public by these scientists, then you definitely are not scientists, you're in denial and would buy any bill of goods sold, and you have no moral principles to stand on.

    On 25 November 2009 at 12:15 PM, I tried to post comments on RealClimate.org concerning this matter. That website obviously refused to post my comments because they know me, which is another attempt to silence objective parties on this subject and since they were the ones that threatened my job…..

    Now, think about this. Al Gore PUBLICLY states that the Earth's Mantle temperatures are MILLIONS of DEGREES. The man doesn't even have the morality, decency, and/or courage to publicly admit he was WRONG. WHY SHOULD these scientists admit they are wrong? They can't, because if they do, the gig is up…….

    • Just to step back a bit. At the top you of your comment (BTW, how come your long comment goes through but whenever I put more than two paragraphs together mine get blocked, like this response? Nevermind. Must be those google techies censoring things again.), you said "I tried to publish a study showing with higher confidence that global temperature changes were completely natural caused solely by Earth's physical processes."

      My personal impression – I can't even call it an opinion because it's is not a strong enough tested view and because there is so much argument out there – is that it seems quite clear that global temperatures are rising, and there is a genuine consensus on this in the scientific community because of the sheer number of studies and reports and tests, but that there is far less agreed upon evidence that points to the cause or causes of this rise in temperature and therefore far less consensus… and therefore far far less consensus on what if anything should be done about it (which is entering the political side of things).

    • ehmoran,
      I was distressed to see that you and your family had been subjected to personal attacks, but not totally surprised,

      "These same scientists threatened my job as a scientist with the US Geological Survey because I tried to publish a study showing with higher confidence that global temperature changes were completely natural caused solely by Earth's physical processes. Additionally, these same scientists would not even discuss or refute the science and facts presented. Instead, they took two days to personally attack me and my family. "

      Is there something I can read on your story? I would like to post it on Lux et Veritas with your permission.

      http://luxeveritas.blogspot.com/

  38. Well, if this is not about science, and just about who looks good or bad in their private discussions, I suppose the oil execs and all the scientists paid by them (read: all the scientists who dispute agw) will be more than happy to disclose the records of all their internal discussions on these issues.

    It is still beyond me that, to the extent there is a conspiracy on this issue (and I'm not even saying there is), some people imagine that the conspiracy would be more likely perpetrated in order to annoy people with additional government regulation than to protect immense profits.

  39. Gentle Reader's base smear against those who have the nerve to question the inherently questionable,

    seems well placed among the AGW crowd.

    Indeed, far from being in "big oil's pocket", those scientists who questioned Mann et al appear far more concerned with the integrity ot the scientific process.

    And while the AGW crowd basked in international glory and funding by government institutions far greater in power than any oil company, those who sought to fight for integrity saw their careers destroyed and the reputations smeared.

    To continue the attack on those brave dissenting scientists, in light of all we now know, shows a peculiarly vindictive form of depravity.

  40. Biff,

    These guys weren't caught because of vengeance, it was the RECKONING……

  41. Still quite, quite Amazing!

    The data are in the faces of Man-Made Climate Change supporters and they still refuse to acknowledge the evidence.

    They won't stop til their pockets have been picked clean by all involved. Taking all disposable income……..

  42. Odd, didn't the CPC try that with the Clean Air Act? Wasn't it shot down by the Opposition parties because it didn't mention the "pollutant" CO2?

  43. Tim,

    I also have been SAYING for a long, long time exactly what you propose. Maybe now I and others like me will no longer get dismissed and ridiculed knowing someone like you would be behind us……..

    However, I could by no means have taken such time to produce such a concise and much needed statement as you have done!

    KUDOS Tim

  44. I just saw an article on http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=2266896 about having pity on these scientists because they were just trying to make a living.

    What about when they tried to get me fired for presenting a different opinion? No pity there!!!!!

    Amazing how fast the tide turns when it turns on them? What a bunch of hypocrites and worthless humans…..

    I'll forgive them, but I won't forget……

  45. While I agree with your points in general, this is being blown way out of proportion if those excerpts are the most damning things that any media outlet can pull out.

    If one cannot identify precisely the source of any data points, then it is essentially noise that confounds data analysis. Making decisions on what is derived from precise instrumentation and what is not is part and parcel of the scientific process. If you are obtaining numbers on temperature using a thermometer, but don't know if it is in Celsius or Fahrenheit, or if the markings are not legible, then what use is this information? And what would be the point of including it into any data analysis or model?

    If there is clear evidence of tampering with data (say removing data obtained from instrumentation which satisfy all performance metrics and which are accurately assignable), then that is something else. However, there is little evidence to date that this was indeed the case, only sensationalist media reports that is searching for a scandal where there is none.

    • These emails show Scientific impropriety, bias, and censorship (Which I have personally experience from the same type of Scientists). There is no place for this activity in Science. Science is not determined by Policy. It's the other way around, RIGHT?

      Remember, the same kind of Scientific behavior led to the incineration of nearly 3 million people in NAZI Germany. But the Germans remained in denial that this was the case. Quite Dangerous thinking and behavior, you think?

    • You are wrong. The very model developed by CRU was used on a grand scale by most E scientist and it has a code that manipulates the data for results desired. Check out wattsupwiththat.com for the truth.

  46. All I want to know is why not a public inquiry? Why not take this to the legal system to be debated?

    How are we preparing to spend billions of dollars on something we do not fuly understand. It is very concerning. Call me a skeptic but if this was my own money, I would be a little more careful. Spend the millions on an open public review with the full release of all the data, the collection of more information for inputs, to possibly save billions in the future regardless if it is fact or fiction.

  47. After a series of psychological shocks, kidnap victims sometimes develop a sudden strong loyalty to their captors, often to the point where they will risk their lives defending them. It's called Stockholm Syndrome. I propose a new medical term to label the slavish devotion exhibited by many AGW catastophists toward their now-discredited climate masters: Copenhagen Syndrome.

    Discuss.

  48. More damning information out today.
    Scientists truncated the data in order to show global warming.
    http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/new-the-
    http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/the-tric

    The most prudent path is always to do nothing.
    That is how a control system work, changing things only puts the system out of balance.
    The only time the system should be touched is when it is out if balance.

    Now the question that environmentalists should ask is what are the most serious short term problems and correct these first.

    A short list would be deforestation in Africa and Asia, water quality problems in Asia and Africa.
    Desertification Globally. Mitigate these and many of the problems that environmentalists associate with global warming, but really are another problem, like land and energy use will go away.

  49. You sir are a gutless wonder. This is a clear cut case of science fraud on a grand scale. Governments are planning to spend hundreds of Billions on this and you think its not bad enough to throw the whole thing into question. In supporting this you are also culpable! Climate change science is a fraud. For final evidence follow this story at wattsupwiththat.com. You'll not get the truth here. Honestly the Canadian media and their blogging hacks make me sick! Where is the NEWS!

  50. Let's substitute "climate change" with a word most people will accept ~ "pollution."

  51. "What happens when the entire scientific basis for global warming is discredited?"

    Good tagline. It would be better if it had any basis whatsoever. Through all this, the science hasn't been touched, only a few scientists and even then, most of the e-mails are being judged entirely without context. I've gone through the science aspect in Cosh's post.

    Here, I'll (against my better judgement) wade into what the e-mails actually mean. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/200… gives a good rundown, with the overall message being that scientists are people, people aren't perfect, and all science – for better or worse – is conducted much like what's revealed by the e-mails.

    Richard Feynman, a brilliant physicist, after making one of his many major discoveries (I believe on particle physics), was told by a reporter that another physicist, one with a decent reputation, had devised an experiment which falsified Feynman's discovery. Feynman declared the experiment to be wrong (knowing nothing about the experiment itself). Turns out, Feynman was right. The point here is not that scientists are infallible – Feynman could just as easily been wrong. The point is that the arrogance, combativeness and open denial of competing theories shown in the e-mails isn't unique, new, or limited to climatology. Scientists in all field, especially the brilliant ones, suffer from these character flaws – but no one's suggesting that we throw out modern particle physics.

    This scandal is a PR scandal for supporters of the AGW theory. The science is still sound.

    • I am annoyed that you would bring Feynman into this argument – he is one of my heroes – but amused that you should use RealClimate as evidence to defend this mess. There is a little discussion in the emails about how the RealClimate site would be manipulated to suppress negative comments about AGW and to manage the debate in way that always favored AGW supporters.

      It's a closed loop, Craig, and now that people can see this, no-one trusts the science except the true believers.

      • It's only a closed loop when you only consider the people, not the arguments. I know RealClimate is mentioned in the e-mails, that doesn't make the points made on the website any less valid. The comments from both this article and Cosh's all seem very interested in people but not points – respond to the points, stop attacking the person.

  52. "The science is still sound"

    That couldn't be further from the truth.

    This isn't merely form, its substance. Two reasons:
    1) the form does lead to substance – no real debate was allowed, no real scrutiny was allowed, and so bad science festered and
    2) the data was actually manipulated. The first leads to the ability of the second to continue

    As for the handful of scientists, were talking about the foundational studies from which other studies assumed were correct.

    Further, as has become painfully obvious, there were only really a handful of cooperative ones allowed on the inside.

    Just out now are studies refuting much of the basis of AGW .

    It was a house built on a sand foundation – not surprising that it crumbled so quickly when weight was applied.

    • And your sources for this are… what? No, the data was not actually manipulated. And there is real debate, but that debate is focused on information and good science – what's being proposed is that there should be a debate that includes claims with little evidence or theoretical underpinning. Again, many studies have come out that are not at all supportive of AGW – the rise in Antarctic Ice, for example, has not been supressed in the least.

      I'll ask again for some sort of source – show me a study in a peer-reviewed journal that refutes the basis of AGW. Not just something that indicates short-term or localized cooling, but something that fundamentally refutes either the evidence of rising surface temperatures, the rise in CO2 concentrations or the link between them.

      • Do you mean the "peer reviewed journals" that these folks were working to subvert?

        Mann and his buddies do not even know what data was manipulated or how it was manipulated, that is plain from the comments in the code and the read me file from Harry.

        Analyze the data that was included in the doc dump, there is a lot more there than emails… code, data and programmer's diaries.

      • Craig, the jig is up. The game isn't over yet, but the outcome is hardly in doubt. No warming, no data, no crisis – no more funding!

        The sources are (I wish I had a drum roll!) … the CRU! They've been outed – YES, the data were actually manipulated, a fact that they openly discussed. The information is all about the bad science – what's being proposed is that there should be a debate about what do to with the criminals responsible for this mess. Again, many studies have come out that were based on the falsified data from the CRU, which is why they are supportive of the *theory* of AGW. There's no suppressing what's going to come next.

        Now that we all have the sources – after years of stonewalling by the CRU et al – I can't wait to see what the next round of studies in all those 'peer reviewed' journals say. Not positive, but pretty sure that we'll see some fundamental refuting goin' on!

  53. The emails are pretty shocking, but then emails can be ambiguous and can be interpreted in numerous ways. Yes, scientists can be competitive jerks, and even talk of physical violence should be taken as hyperbole. That being said, I am surprised at the number of people who go to the blog Real Climate for the last word. That is like going to the police department PR guy for information about allegations of corruption. They are research partners.

    However, as the emails are eamined and brought into context (often by outsiders who have been corresponding) the plain meaning of the emails is more likely to be true than the explanations by the warmists.

    Remember that it is not just emails, there are thousands of other documents, data and code, and they just in the initial stages of examination. What has come out so far has confirmed that these guys weren't just talking smack but deliberately fudging the data

    Here's only one example: Remember the comments on the "trick" used to "hide the decline"? well it has been found in the code and numerous other documents. The trick is in fact to truncate the temperature reconstruction at 1960 because the post 1960 shows a decline. That would be fine if they were up front about it. But they weren't. They actually faked the reconstruction post 1960 to match their pre-conceived belief about post 1960 warming.

    The trick was to fake it, and not disclose what they did. Just as many suspected from the email and and confirmed in the other documents.

    So is this relevant? Absolutely. These guys are not simply a few researchers, but the gate-keepers. It is on their temperature reconstructions and work that the climate models are based. It is their work that has convinced the world that global warming is real and their results that are considered the standard. The whoel thing is built on a lie.

    • Just a note – my use of Real Climate is not for the last word, but rather to present the other side. Right now, this comment board has a lot to do with people discussing the charges against the institution in question, but not bothering with the response from those being charged. It's like having a trial with a prosecutor and no defense lawyer.

      Innocent until proven guilty and all that… believe what you'd like, but please, everyone, take a second and at least hear the other side.

  54. Having read nothing but the question in the subtitle:

    The answer is that the vast majority of scientists who study the issue will then no longer support currently held scientific theories about climate change. If what replaces them is benign or helpful, it will be excellent good news indeed.

    If it ever happens, you should write an article about it.

  55. You know, the causes of global warming don't really matter – what matters is the long term impact, which is quite serious.
    Even if we were not the cause through our fossil fuel usage, we would still have the chance to reduce the impact, and create some jobs in other than the Middle East in the process. Jobs at home would benefit our economy, as would increased efficiency in our use of fuels. So what's the problem? Oil company profits? Hmmmm.

  56. "Instead, our best bet might be to prepare to deal with the effects of climate change (we're an adaptable species, after all)…" – Potter

    Well for me, it will mean abandoning my house and town since we are not that much above sea level in my coastal town. Rather disruptive I say, I rather the world go whole hog and reduce the climate warming emmissions.

  57. Has anyone heard anything from the CBC?. Other the climatechange propaganda

  58. this problem is well known among relevant scientists,many of whom are afraid to admit it publicly.

  59. Nobody has proven Co2 causes global warming, there is just as much evidence to say Co2 is a result of global warming

  60. The email are not the issue… in a file named HARRY_README.TXT a programmer brought in to replicate lost data and to clean up the code (the computer program used to create the AGW temperature graphs) documents hios multiyear struggle to make any sense of that program.

    That program performs arbitrary modifications to the underlying data to produce the desired results.

    Please, do not accept what I am saying. Read that document for yourself and decide for yourself.

  61. I see a *slight* problem with the article: Mr Potter refers to 'climate change'. Unless he means 'climate change' in the sense of 'the sun rises in the east' (i.e. a normal, natural and unstoppable thing), then he is having a conversation inside the now discredited bubble of 'global warming'.

    The fact is that *the* main 'climate experts' fudged some real data and made up the rest – there is no hiding from that crystal clear fact. The widely quoted 'frustration' of coder 'Harry's' inability to make head or tails of the utter non-sense that the lads at the CRU cooked up proves that beyond a doubt.

    The undeniable fact is that there simply is no data – none whatsoever – to indicate any warming, much less AGW. The jig is up, plain and simple. I've written the PMO to suggest a public inquiry, and recommend that others do, too: pm@pm.gc.ca.

  62. Dear Sir, I would like to respond to the article “Notes on a climate-research scandal”
    by Andrew Potter on Thursday, November 26, 2009

    “Climategate” does not discredits the factual basis of human driven climate change. I am professor of biology (Université de Montréal) and I do not fit well in the domain of global science research, a domain typically reserved for people with training in climatology but I do my best to stay abreast of findings, and I feel very comfortable making the following claim: If we completely discard the scientific contributions of Michael Mann (though I don’t think it’s warranted), there remains overwhelming scientific evidence for humans driven climate change.

    Perhaps the most important issues, what is the future of climate change and what can be done about it are also the most difficult for scientists to address. The first issue, what is the future of climate change, is the primary issue of skeptics of climate change for the simple reason that it is by necessity predictive and based on models that are calibrated on past observations. But before I get to that here’s some background on climatology and climate change.

    What I have learned is that the science of past climate change is quite good. The main source of global temp. warming and regulation are the oceans. They hold about 1000 times the heat and 50 times the CO2 as the atmosphere. They are an important reservoir of CO2 and exert a fundamental force on the atmosphere. The ocean is 300 times more massive than the atmosphere and changes much slower and therefore is an important regulator of climate and climate change. Injecting CO2 into the ocean over the past century will be felt for decades from now because the ocean paces and buffers the changes in the climate. This is the so-called ‘committed warming’ that the scientists talk about when they say the climate will continue to warm even if we stop emitting CO2. The other major source of heat in the atmosphere is infrared emitted by the earth. This IR radiation is reflected by the high atmosphere CO2 back into the lower atmosphere. CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas; others include methane, ozone, halocarbons, and water vapor. It is water (not CO2) that feedbacks heat. CO2 causes more reflected heat, consequently water vapor goes up, causing more heating. It is important to note that it is extremely difficult to separate the effects of CO2 from other green house gasses (but it is the most abundantly emitted human gas) but the gasses as a whole can be separated from natural drivers.

    Temp has been going up for the past century (averaging for seasonal changes: With the onset of winter things cool and organisms die releasing CO2 into the atmosphere and visa-versa; as things grow the CO2 content goes down). The Greenland and Antarctic ice core record go back 650,000 and 800,000 years. Over this period CO2 in the atmosphere has always been in the 100-370 parts per million range (changing over interglacial changes), today it is about 387 (it may have been higher in the millions of years time scale – especially the Cambrian). We don’t have any idea what today’s elevated CO2 levels will do because they are unprecedented.

    Global mean average temp. rose rapidly from 1910 to the 1940’s, then cooled through to the 70’s, then rose rapidly again despite a steady increase in CO2 emissions. This observed cooling trend is a second platform for the skeptics. The dynamics of this observed temperature change is not well understood but it was probably due to the injection of aerosols (dust, particles) into the atmosphere following WWII. It’s hard to know the total effects of aerosols because many cool, but some cause nucleation of water resulting in warming.

    The reasons the Arctic is heating more than the rest of the globe is not clear but melting ice causes a feedback. Melted ice opens dark water that absorbs more heat.

    When we talk about global warming we are talking about a global mean over decades. Year to year variations are meaningless because weather systems and other natural forces are dynamic. Troposphere changes due to El Nino by heat being transferred from oceans to atmosphere, for example.

    Also volcanic eruptions complicate the temp means. El Chichón, Mexico (1985) and Pinatubo, Philippines (1993) injected allot of sulfur dioxide into atmosphere, turning to sulpheric acid, causing a cooling of the earth’s surface and a warming of the stratosphere.

    That recent warming is based on human CO2 buildup is a hypothesis. It is based on basic physics, atmospheric chemistry and observations of CO2 gas buildup causing warming. It is important to note that modeling supports the warming trend but the science of global warming is fundamentally based on observations.

    Observations supporting that green house gas buildup causes warming:

    i) That the stratosphere is cooling, not warming, contradicts ideas that the warming is due to solar forcing. It is cooling because IR is being reflected back to the earth. If solar forcing were the main driver then we would expect the stratosphere to be warming with the lower atmosphere.

    ii) El Nino’s and ocean oscillations cause changes in the troposphere (reflecting the multi-year dynamic) by moving allot of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. If El Nino ‘s and Oceanic Oscillations (natural variations) were the primary driver of recent warming we would expect a heterogenity among global ocean temps (one ocean heats while another cools) but instead what we see is a warming of all oceans across the globe.

    iii) The third point that supports human driven heating is that we are seeing that nights are effected more than the day – fewer cold nights than cold days, and more warm nights than warm days (nights are effected more than the day). This is an expected consequence of green house gas because at night the only thing keeping the surface warm is the atmosphere. In the daytime there are clouds, sunlight etc. that contribute to warming.

    A very important point here is that we do not know what the future holds with continued global warming. These predictions are by necessity based on calibrating models on past observations. They are problematic for reasons of parameterizations and because we have no experience present elevated levels of atmospheric CO2. Pertinent issues include:

    Ocean level rising (melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and thermal expansion). We are not sure how this is happening. The best data comes from the Larsen A ice shelf disintegrated in 1995 and the Larsen B (3200 sq. km) ice shelf disintegrated in 2002. The B ice shelf acted as a buttress to glaciers flowing into the ocean and its disappearance has caused further ice to enter the ocean (another observed feedback). 2 problems. We don’t understand well the loss of ice (but we observe the loss) and so it is hard to know how much and how rapidly the ice will continue to melt (which releases more CO2). A 1-meter rise in the next century seems probable, eroding shorelines, causing more extensive storm surges, displacing about 2/3 of the world’s population.

    Drought. What appears to happen as sea level temps change it consequential changes the moisture content available to the terrestrial system. Most susceptible are places like the western states and the region from Senegal to Ethiopia. Warming causes climate zones to shift north and so dryer latitudes are expected to move north to where we presently produce most of our food. Drought conditions are expected to expand with warming. But as I said, we don’t know what will happen.

    As a conclusion climate change is something we need to think about as a risk. We only have one climate and therefore, even due to the uncertainties, we run an enormous risk by doing nothing.

    On the Skeptics: It is true that the vast majority of scientists have agreed on the issue of human driver of climate change. Allot of the skepticism (including University of Guelph’s Ross McKitrick) are not valid or oversimplified. Credible sources of climate change skeptics come primarily from the disciplines of physics (this seems to be an especially vocal and over simplifying group) and engineering. I have found no skeptics that are credible climatologists or oceanographers – i.e. people that specialize in climate. The primary skepticism is of the models (feedbacks of k, f, etc) and is not of observed data and trends. These people simply do not understand how climate functions and they simply need to mature their scientific understanding. Another shrinking source of critics come from the general public. These people are confused largely by misinformation coming from authors who pose as authorities, the energy sector, or they are individuals that have a mind-set based more on wished-belief rather that on facts. This final group by-and-large overlaps with the people that do not have an ethic of conservation and simply do not believe in being responsible for one’s own actions.

    Your sincerely,
    Chris Cameron

  63. That Andrew Potter can disregard the findings of the IPPC report, which was written by some 620 scientist from 40 countries, reviewed by over 400 more scientists from 113 countries is not a statement on the poor efficacy of science in academia. It’s a statement of Andrews Potter lack of journalistic professionalism.

    Chris Cameron

  64. I find it very interesting that virtually all the data supporting this climate change debate is less than 50 years old. If a person were to seriously look at human history, one would find that climate change is constant, and just that — change. Why is it, one wonders, that we're worried about the earth warming up (and its subsequently imagined disasters) when history from Europe's middle ages tells of thriving settlements in Greenland (which would be hard-pressed, even today), and of citrus being grown in Britain, of all places. If this is indeed documented history, what's the hype all about, today? We're nowhere near that, and likely won't be. If the ecologists and other "ists" want to debate something, why don't they debate why it was so warm so long ago?

  65. What I find dismaying, but not surprising, is the focus on Global Warming. There is a bigger question, which is whether science – in particular "big science" deserves the pedestal on which society has placed it. The funding model is not specific to environmental research, nor are the human characteristics of the scientists who chose to pursue funding at the cost of scientific integrity (there's a word you don't hear often enough).

    By definition, science ponders the great questions of the universe and existence. Science is a long term endeavour simply because it takes time to develop the wisdom to understand what is opportunistic and what may hold a lasting glimmer of truth. Everything else is technology. And technology without the wisdom of mature science is at best, self serving speculation and at worse, self destructive. Cold Fusion? Thalidomide? Manageable Pollution? Global Warming?

  66. AP, how about a blog or OC column on last night's Munk Debate? Elizabeth May and George Monbiot got beaten by Bjorn Lomberg and Sir Nigel Watson (61 pct for resolution before debate, 55% after)

    Debate here: http://www.munkdebates.com/

    The spin from the GPC and their bloggers is well underway – conspiracy by audience in gaming votes; bias by debate hosts according to May etc.
    http://greenparty.ca/blogs/7/2009-12-02/rebuttal-

  67. Carbonhagen is just days away – just imagine all the hot air generated!

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