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Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review

Filed under: — mike @ 20 October 2009 - (Español)

We often allude to the industry-funded attacks against climate change science, and the dubious cast of characters involved, here at RealClimate. In recent years, for example, we’ve commented on disinformation efforts by industry front groups such as the “Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and a personal favorite, The Heartland Institute, and by industry-friendly institutions such as the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and other media outlets that assist in the manufacture and distribution of climate change disinformation.


When it comes to the climate change disinformation campaign, we have chosen to focus on the intellectually bankrupt nature of the scientific arguments, rather than the political motivations and the sometimes intriguing money trail. We leave it to others, including organizations such as SourceWatch.org, the sleuths at DeSmogBlog, authors such as Ross Gelbspan (author of The Heat is On, and The Boiling Point), and edited works such as Rescuing Science from Politics to deal with such issues.

One problem with books on this topic is that they quickly grow out of date. Just over the past few years, there have been many significant events in the ‘climate wars’ as we have reported on this site. Fortunately, there is a book out now by our friends at DeSmogBlog (co-founder James Hoggan, and regular contributor Richard Littlemore) entitled Climate Cover Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming that discusses the details of the contrarian attacks on climate science up through the present, and in painstaking detail. They have done their research, and have fully documented their findings, summarized by the publisher thusly:

Talk of global warming is nearly inescapable these days — but there are some who believe the concept of climate change is an elaborate hoax. Despite the input of the world’s leading climate scientists, the urgings of politicians, and the outcry of many grassroots activists, many Americans continue to ignore the warning signs of severe climate shifts. How did this happen? Climate Cover-up seeks to answer this question, describing the pollsters and public faces who have crafted careful language to refute the findings of environmental scientists. Exploring the PR techniques, phony “think tanks,” and funding used to pervert scientific fact, this book serves as a wake-up call to those who still wish to deny the inconvenient truth.

There are interesting new details about the Revelle/Singer/Lancaster affair and other tidbits that were new to me, and will likely to be new to others who been following the history of climate change contrarianism. Ross Gelbspan who has set the standard for investigative reporting
when it comes to the climate change denial campaign, had this to say about the book:

absolutely superb-one of the best dissections of the climate information war I
have ever seen. This is one terrific piece of work!

There is an important story behind the climate change denial effort that goes well beyond the scientific issues at hand. Its not our mission at RealClimate to tell that story, but there are others who are doing it, and doing it well. Hoggan and Littlemore are clearly among them. Read this book, and equally important, make sure that others who need to do as well.


455 Responses to “Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review”

  1. 351

    Theo Hopkins #113:

    So what about climate scientists who accept AGW – and when interviewed on TV alongside a denialist, trying to get not one, but two denialists onto the program – and then try to get the two denialists to argue against each other … thus allowing a TV shot of climate scientist sipping water from his glass and observing the conflict among the opposition with a modest smirk?

    How about this for economy? I managed to get one of them to argue against himself. In December 2008, we were given to understand that sunspots give us hundreds of years of solid data proving the sun is the main influence on climate. Then October 2009 the same person tells us there is no reliable data on solar output. You should have seen the contortions his acolytes went through in follow-ups in The Australian to try to reconcile his internal contradictions. Naturally he shut up and was nowhere to be found …

  2. 352
    Dale says:

    I’ve been in a argument with a denier at who claims to be a scientist. What’s your take on his claim”

    “The one thing that sets scientists apart from the true lefties is that they are, by nature, skeptical. While they may be politically liberal, they are and have to be openminded. They cannot allow their political ideology to interfere with their view of the material universe they seek to understand. They want to see the evidence, understand the methodology by which it was obtained and then they want to test it again.

    Therefore, there can NEVER be consensus among true scientists. Only those who succumb to the lure of money can shed their skepticism and then they become technicians, i.e., they stop looking for the NEW and start just working with the OLD. They stop hypothesizing and just plod along doing cook-book science.

    I’m a scientist and I’ve lived a long time among both classes – scientists and technicians.

    True “warmers” are all technicians doing cook-book science trying to prove their their preconceived objectives rather than trying to really understand what’s really happening, ignoring the anomalies and concentrating on expected results from their work. Many who have realized that they were doing that started doing real science and then recanted their earlier warmer positions.”

  3. 353
    Mark says:

    “People on both sides of the debate are very passionate in their beliefs. ”

    However, EL, the denial of AGW are passionate about AGW being wrong. The AGW science is passionate about science.

    It’s hardly a 50-50 split here.

  4. 354

    EL, to be sure “the global warming problem will eventually hit an extrema and decline.”

    But do we really care about millenial timescales? That’s what we are looking at for atmospheric recovery–see, for example, The Long Thaw.

    And I’m really not that crazy about CO2 “recovery” scenarios involving massive economic dislocation, serious degradation of the quality of life for many millions, loss of life, ablation of cherished cultural values, or even the collapse of civilization altogether. (Just to be clear, I’m not convinced that any of these are inevitable, but I do think all are possible. And the first part of the statement is true only because I’m qualifying the word “massive”–I don’t think there is any way around “significant” economic disruption.)

    You see, oil is not the biggest part of the problem–there’s this stuff called “coal.” There’s enough of it to supply current consumption for over a century; a proven total of more than 800 gigatons, with new discoveries still continuing. (A total which, with a specific consumption factor of ca. 1-1.5, would produce 800-1200 gigatons of CO2. I don’t have an exact figure, but I believe that this would push CO2 concentrations to something like 560 ppm.)

    And there’s considerable pressure to burn more of that coal.

    Believe it or not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#Environmental_effects

    You might like to play with this carbon calculator to look at possible scenarios.

    http://geodoc.uchicago.edu/Projects/kaya.html

  5. 355
    Fred Magyar says:

    [Response: It was a metaphorical car. -gavin]

    Perhaps its time to ditch the metaphor as well ;-)

  6. 356

    Oops–typed “consumption factor” when I meant “emission factor” in the preceding post.

    Here’s a quick & dirty link supporting the 560 ppm for 1000 gig of CO2 figure.

    http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/how-to-cut-the-carbon-pie.html

  7. 357
    Jim Eager says:

    EL @350, in your thinking you are overlooking natural reservoirs of sequestered carbon large enough to on their own more than double the current atmospheric CO2 level, namely organic material currently frozen in permafrost and bogs, and methane clathrates within that permafrost and beneath the seabed.

    Humans don’t need to burn all existing reserves of fossil fuels, all we need to do is burn enough to increase temperature sufficiently to cause those natural reservoirs to thaw, which they already are.

    You also overlook the fact that we have not just increased atmospheric CO2 by ~38%, we have increased the amount of carbon in the active carbon cycle. Because within that cycle carbon is continuously exchanged between the biosphere, the ocean and the atmosphere, this means that atmospheric CO2 levels will remain elevated long after we stop burning fossil carbon fuels.

    Long as in hundreds, if not thousands of years, unless we can devise a practical means to draw down and permanently sequester carbon from the atmosphere and the active carbon cycle.

  8. 358
    Ray Ladbury says:

    EL,
    Ever hear of coal? Tar sands? Oil shale? Do you know that CO2 persists in the air for centuries? Maybe you might want to learn something about the issue before forming an opinion. Try the START HERE button upper right on this webpage–and feel free to ask sincere questions.

  9. 359
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 348

    “Actually, we need to ditch the car. Is anybody here willing to do that?”

    Lots of people. I’m nearly 60 and use a bicycle for my daily commute. I eat far less meat than I used to. We’ve turned the thermostat far down in the winter, and use electric fans far more in the summer. I’m sure it’s insufficient, though. This isn’t an issue amenable to solution by private virtue

  10. 360
    Mark says:

    “Actually, we need to ditch the car. Is anybody here willing to do that?”

    Do we?

    1) Cars with non-polluting emissions
    2) Less use of a car

    BOTH are better than what we have now.

    What we need to do is better.

  11. 361
    Mark says:

    “Just to be clear, I’m not convinced that any of these are inevitable, but I do think all are possible. ”

    They ARE inevitable if we keep to BAU.

    Just like an economic collapse is inevitable if it is insisted that we maintain a consistently increasing growth of the economy.

  12. 362
    Mark says:

    “The one thing that sets scientists apart from the true lefties is that they are, by nature, skeptical.”

    A statement made to prove their point.

    By nature, science (NOT SCIENTISTS) are skeptical. And it is skeptical of skepticism too.

    “Therefore, there can NEVER be consensus among true scientists.”

    Citation needed.

    The scientific method relies on consensus. Special and general relativity DEMAND that there is a consensus: that the speed of light is constant for any observer in an inertial frame and that an observer in a non-inertial frame cannot tell whether the forces are due to gravity or acceleration.

    I.e. a consensus MUST be possible.

    “True “warmers” are all technicians doing cook-book science trying to prove their their preconceived objectives”

    And the previous two incorrect but presented as “self evident truths” are entirely made up to allow this unsupported statement to be said.

    That they don’t support it is irrelevant.

    Does a consensus of scientists supporting AGW mean AGW is wrong merely because there’s a consensus that this barnpot thinks is impossible? If so, where’s the causal link?

    I take it that because Physical Geography (a BSc) has a consensus that the earth is round the world MUST be flat?

  13. 363

    Dale wrote:

    I’ve been in a argument with a denier at who claims to be a scientist. What’s your take on his claim,

    “The one thing that sets scientists apart from the true lefties is that they are, by nature, skeptical….

    “Therefore, there can NEVER be consensus among true scientists. Only those who succumb to the lure of money can shed their skepticism and then they become technicians, …

    You might ask him whether there is a consensus on the second law of thermodynamics, Planck radiation law, the accuracy of quantum mechanics, or that in accordance with their absorption spectra, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane are greenhouse gases. If there is, then there can certainly be such a thing as a consensus in science — certainly with respect to well-established facts, principles, and theories.

    And yes, a theory can be well-established — at least as an approximation, e.g., Newton’s gravitational theory, which according to the correspondence principle used to derive solutions to general relativity (e.g., the final constant that must be solved for in the Schwarzchild solution for a point mass with zero charge and zero angular momentum), must be equivilent to general relativity in weak gravitational fields. Correspondence principles are likewise used in the derivation of special relativity and quantum mechanics.

    For more on the necessity of the well-established in science and specifically a criticism of Karl Popper’s principle of falsifiability, please see:

    Do Scientific Theories Ever Receive Justification?
    A Critique of the Principle of Falsifiability
    http://axismundi.hostzi.com/0/006.php

    For more on the nature of scientific consensus, please see:

    On “Scientific Consensus”
    http://axismundi.hostzi.com/0/007.php

    For an extended critique of early 20th century empiricism — where this individual appears to be stuck, please see:

    A Question of Meaning
    http://axismundi.hostzi.com/0/024.php

    Incidentally, your “scientist” acquaintance is probably just a lying ideologue.

  14. 364
    David Norwood says:

    Second para, first sentence:
    You should have “chosen to focus :)

    [Response:Arghh. How come it took a week for someone to catch that? Fixed. Thanks! -mike]

  15. 365
    Mark says:

    Heck, modern metallurgy is poorly understood, but we still don’t have people running around saying that amalgams, alloys and doped structures are impossible because we don’t know how they work.

    And the work that IS done is done almost entirely from computer models, the empirical work being used to decide what to put in next.

    Where are all the skeptics decrying the dangerous use of unscientific alloys in modern aircraft?!?

  16. 366
    Nick O. says:

    “Oh woe, Oh woe, oh thrice woe … ”

    Well, actually, it’s more a severe annoyance, and perhaps something of a set back to those of us following the science, rather than a cause for genuine woe, but the Sunday Telegraph (U.K.) was at it again yesterday, publicising Christopher Booker, his new book and his views. They had a two page spread publicising the book: no link to this, I’m afraid, but I did pick up the following from this site:

    http://books.telegraph.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9781441110527

    … ” Focuses on the mother of all environmental scares: global warming. This book interweaves the science of global warming with that of its growing political consequences, showing how when the politicians are threatening to change our Western way of life beyond recognition, the scientific evidence behind the global warming theory is being challenged. ”

    ISBN: 9781441110527″

    Someone else having a go over the weekend – and whereas I expcept scepticism from Booker, I was surprised by this person’s talk – was Clive James, who basically was saying that much more scepticism was necessary on the topic of anthropogenic global climate change, and that more had to be heard of the counter arguments blah blah blah … you get the picture. The talk can be heard again on the Beeb’s ‘Listen Again’ service, viz.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00n9lm3/A_Point_of_View_23_10_2009/

    Not sure what to think, really; very annoyed with Booker and very disappointed with James; plus ca change, I suppose …

  17. 367
    David B. Benson says:

    Chris Dudley (349) — I state that as about 300 ppm CO2e since there was some methane then as well and I don’t know its exact contribution. As for starting there, I strongly recommend reading W.F. Ruddiman’s hypothesis in his popular “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” to contemplate further the “starting” bit.

  18. 368
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re:366

    “and very disappointed with James”

    I imagine on Rapa Nui that there were plenty of well-paid muckety-mucks asserting that the island needed more stone heads.

  19. 369

    Mark, I agree with much of what you said, but I would like to address a few points.

    Mark wrote in 362:

    The scientific method relies on consensus.

    The scientific method relies on consensus because in order to test/falsify a given theory in modern science one must almost invariably presuppose the truth of some more basic or well-established theory in order to test the more advanced theory. For example, one must presuppose a wave-like, corpuscular or quantum theory of light that says that locally light travels in a straight line if one is to test how it is “bent” by the gravitational field of the sun. This is an instance of Duhem’s Thesis proposed back in the 1890s and it is the reason why strictly speaking Karl Popper’s principle of falsiability is untenable.
    *
    Mark wrote in 362:

    Special and general relativity DEMAND that there is a consensus: that the speed of light is constant for any observer…

    Special relativity states that the speed of light is constant in all frames of reference. It states nothing regarding any sort of consensus, scientific or otherwise. It would have been true independently of any consensus prior to being proposed. It would still be true if no one had ever proposed it. Likewise, it was true after having been proposed prior to the formation of a consensus. However, if the photon had a small but negligible mass, the actual speed of light (even in a vacuum) would differ from one frame of reference to another. However, there would still be a speed that is constant (the speed at which massless particles travel — assuming such particles exist) in all frames of reference if the special theory of relativity is true. And this in itself is an instance of Duhem’s thesis insofar as we normally presuppose light is a massless particle in order to test special relativity.
    *
    Mark wrote in 362:

    for any observer in an inertial frame and that an observer in a non-inertial frame cannot tell whether the forces are due to gravity or acceleration.

    The same would apply to general relativity: its truth is independent of any consensus. Now I agree in part with your statement regarding the equivilence of acceleration and gravitational fields, but this equivilence is a weak equivilence. In the absence of additional forces, all objects will fall at the same rate, and in this sense there is a weak equivilence between a frame of reference that is accelerating and a stationary frame of reference in a gravitational field. However, this is only a weak equivilence insofar as all elements of the Riemann curvature tensor (essentially a four dimensional tensor formed from the metric tensor and the Christoffel symbols) will be zero only in the absence of a gravitational field and all will necessarily be zero in the absence of a gravitational field — in both inertial and non-inertial frames of reference.

  20. 370
    Chris Dudley says:

    David (#367),

    Not too worried about the CO2e number, my point is that we don’t need to invoke climate models for one particular number so the uncertainty is really in “what is safe above 280?” not “what is safe?” There is an iron clad (cast iron?) case to be made that a safe number exists and that it is 280 ppm. I listened to Ruddiman give a talk about six years ago. I was not too persuaded at the time but perhaps I’ll look at the book. But, I don’t think the question of whether the Nile still floods is the real worry. A 450 ppm stabilization target now looks dangerous, not the agricultural activity of a much smaller number of humans than exist today. The scales are completely different.

  21. 371

    CORRECTION

    Where I state parenthetically:

    (essentially a four dimensional tensor formed from the metric tensor and the Christoffel symbols)

    … it should have read, “(essentially a four dimensional matrix…” as this was intended to communicate what a four dimensional tensor is in terms that are more familiar. People are typically familiar with what a matrix is, but tensors are a bit more esoteric.

    PS I am not a “scientist,” but I am somewhat familiar with special and general relativity.

  22. 372
    CM says:

    Linda (#343) said: “Mark York’s WARM FRONT … not only … explain[s] climate science … it has the hottest erotic scenes I’ve ever read”

    Contrary to the so-called “consensus” touted by the liberal media, literary sex has not got hotter. What they’re not telling you is that the recent six-year trend did not top 1928-1934 (when they published sizzlers like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and “Tropic of Cancer”). The models fail to explain the dull sex scenes in mid-20th century lit. Any new steaminess in the past century is just a natural recovery from the frigid writing of the Victorian Age, and anyway not nearly as ribald as in the Medieval Bawdy Period (“Decameron”). To get rid of the MBP they manufactured the naughtily named “hockey stick” suggesting readers only got it up in the past century, but I have thoroughly debunked these claims with a turnkey R script that graphs a dirty picture from any data — and disturbingly, in spite of our patient FOI requests, they suspiciously refuse to make all their fantasies and phone numbers public for us to audit. The recent observational record is unreliable and suffers from “bikini bias” as a shocking number of readers are not sited in proper libraries but take their books to beaches (painstakingly photo-documented by our volunteer surveyers at http://www.surferstations.org). And so on.

    :) Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  23. 373
    David B. Benson says:

    Chris Dudley (370) — Methane concentrations are very much higher now than then. Sincee it seems most likely that methane levels can be substantially reduced so long as agriculture is practiced, I resort to using CO2e. I suppose around 300 ppm CO2e was what it was then. So to get there, it might well be necessary to reduce actual carbon dioxide concentrations to a substantially lower figure than 280 ppm.

  24. 374
    Donald Oats says:

    Dale #352:

    My take on your friend’s claim is that it is a good idea to read widely about both philosophy and science, and historical accounts of the development of any number of theories we now accept as facts. All scientists I have met or worked with are people. Each and every one of them has to grapple with what to accept as correct and what to treat as incorrect, and what to treat as unkown. The ultimate skeptic has nothing left to work with, for by their standard everything is up for grabs all of the time. Scientists that are too skeptical spend too much time in an unfocussed haze of uncertainty to forge ahead.

    If you want to make progress on a scientific problem, some mixture of theory and evidence has to be taken as (provisionally) correct, in order to furnish a starting point. Now, over time it may become clear that something doesn’t mesh with what has been taken as correct, and then the search is on to figure out the what and why. After working through the details a scientist may decide to re-examine some of the evidence originally assumed to be correct (provisionally), and may even devise some independent lines of inquiry into the evidence (and/or theory) that seems incongruous.

    Science is the best method of inquiry we have, but it doesn’t reside in any one scientist. It is the cumulative effect of scientific communities working upon many independent and interdependent ideas that eventually settles on a web of stable knowledge. The robustness of science and its progress rely on the aggregate efforts.

    To say that there is no such thing as consensus in science is to take such a narrow and simplistic view of the enterprise as to reduce it to a cartoon model of what really happens.

    Perhaps your friend could read a modern philosophy book like “Defending Science – within reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism” by Susan Haack, read a book on the historical development of pertinent geological theories in “Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery” by John Imbrie and K.P. Imbrie; and then, think again about what being a scientist is really all about.

  25. 375
    Ron Mexico says:

    Mark 365: You said “Where are all the skeptics decrying the dangerous use of unscientific alloys in modern aircraft?!?”

    You may want to use a different field other than metallurgy to make your point. As a materials scientist I agree that there are many parameters in metallurgy that need further research in order for a better understanding of how they work & contribute in different alloys. There are models in use and you are correct, they drive the direction of R&D in the quest for stronger/lighter/harder materials.

    However, a huge part of materials engineering is testing; the ASTM library is full of test procedures to determine property responses, and often these tests are specific to a particular metalworking technology (e.g. forging vs casting).

    The way new materials get on airplanes is predictable and successful results from very rigorous testing, not so much through their projected performance in software models.

  26. 376

    Most amusingly adroit, CM!

  27. 377

    Donald (374),

    My wife just asked me, “Why do you have that smirk?” I told her, “I’m reading something — its only a few paragraphs, but it is really quite beautifully said. I’m envious…” However, at this point I wouldn’t hold out much hope for his “friend.”

  28. 378
    EL says:

    354 Kevin

    Coal reserves are estimated at 130 years at current production (http://www.worldcoal.org/coal/where-is-coal-found/); however, the calculation for the supplies does not factor in growth (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/ieoreftab_6.pdf). If we take the 2.5% number of expected increases in growth, our supplies does not last 130 years. The number looks more like 44 years. Obviously, we’ll reach peak production long before the 44 year number.

    If these estimates are accurate, do we have enough supplies to push global warming into the worse case? I think supplies may put a limit on the damage that can be done.

  29. 379

    Dale #352: this “consensus isn’t science” line is garbage. In any well-established area of science, if thousands of scientists tend to converge on similar results from different directions, it is not unreasonable to declare “consensus”. In physics, we’ve had the concept of the correspondence principle since early in the 20th century: new theories should explain as much as the old, plus more – rather than contradict them. It’s very seldom that the scientific consensus is truly overturned, and certainly not by one paper or one data point. Einstein for example explained well-established anomalies in Newtonian physics, but his relativity collapses to Newtonian physics for most practical purposes. Newtonian physics is a classic example of scientific consensus. We all agree it’s a great theory because it fits everything we can observe (minus a few exceptions that are mostly hard to measure) pretty well. Yet no one has actually proved Newton’s theory is correct. Someone could come up with a counter-example tomorrow, exceedingly unlikely though that is. Anyone who demands proof before accepting AGW doesn’t understand applied science, and certainly should never cross a bridge or travel in a plane. You only get proofs in theoretical mathematical disciplines. A related bunch of misconceptions is around the notion that “real science has exact results”, but that’s bunk too. Even as precisely known a formula as Newton’s Law of Gravitation can’t be applied exactly in many real situations.

    While one refereed paper is not necessarily correct (we have had good examples on this site of egregious errors in peer review), many people using different data sets, different measurement strategies and different analyses are extremely likely to arrive at the same wrong answer unless they all subscribe to the same systematic bias. It is very rare that such a bias exists; you are well into the terrain of conspiracy theory when you allege such bias exists without evidence.

    On the other hand, two news outlets that are usually reviled by right wing bloggers make a mistake and interpret a major climate scientist as saying global warming is pausing for 20 years (he didn’t say that), and suddenly counting the number of people agreeing with this misinterpretation is a valid argument. Same with counting signatures on a petition. More along these lines in my comments on recent letters in The Australian.

  30. 380
    Jose Duarte says:

    This is a very disappointing blog post, and I really wish RealClimate would be more sober in its perspective. You can’t smear every non-leftist think tank as a “front”. The Cato Institute in particular is a broadly arrayed libertarian think tank dealing with all sorts of issues from that perspective, climate being only one of them. It’s as though you’re unaware that reasonable and smart people can also be libertarian, or conservative, or whatever.

    I’m always disappointed by how snidely you talk about scientists getting money from industry sources, as though that refutes their science or should otherwise silence them. If you want to talk about conflicts of interest, please note the 800 pound primate in the room — government science. Not really the science per se, but the massive conflict of interest governments have in interpreting and disseminating scientific findings that impact government power. AGW is a sizeable window for governments to expand their power, which is the one thing governments are most motivated to do. I’d say this is a much more serious conflict than that of private industry.

    RealClimate is a good resource for climate science, but it’s obvious that you pair the science with leftist leanings. You jump the gun and blindly support any and all mitigation policies, with no cost-benefit analyses or consideration of trade-offs. I wish you would just focus on the science, and stop smearing Lindzen, non-leftists, and anyone who might draw different policy implications from the science.

    [Response: Oh please. Provide citations for any of your claims about our supposed 'blind support' for any and all mitigation policies? Or one scintilla of evidence for the supposed corruption of 'government science'? (Remember your opinion is not evidence). If we criticise people - and we certainly have criticised Lindzen, Monckton, etc. - we do it based on the invalidity of their scientific claims and this is not a 'smear'. If there is someone who agrees with the science but still thinks no action is warranted, we have yet to meet them - but that would be their prerogative. People who however base their opinions about science on what their preferred policy option is are (and deserve to be) criticised. - gavin]

  31. 381
    Mark says:

    “As a materials scientist I agree that there are many parameters in metallurgy that need further research in order for a better understanding of how they work & contribute in different alloys.”

    No, the example is perfect.

    There are many parameters that need further research in climate science too. But climate science gets all the “we don’t know nothing, so it’s all wrong”. Metallurgy doesn’t.

    If the symmetry were any more perfect, I feel I would cry.

    (note: when I was doing a careers talk metallurgy was put forward as a career path for me.).

  32. 382
    Bob Clipperton says:

    I haven’t had time to go thro’ all of the posts in this thread so I apologise if anybody else has linked it, but …. the UK’s premier industry-paid, anti-AGW ‘journalist’ Christopher Booker has written another book against AGW.

    (his first book probably bombed so he’s desperate for income).

    However, last Sunday’s Telegraph published a piece by him advertising said book :-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6425269/The-real-climate-change-catastrophe.html

    I wrote a critical letter to the Telegraph about Booker’s claims but they haven’t published it.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  33. 383

    EL: global warming will eventually self correct

    BPL: Unfortunately, before that happens, human civilization will be destroyed.

  34. 384

    Dale,

    [edit] No actual scientist would reject the concept of scientific consensus, since that and peer review is how modern science is done. Only scientific illiterates with an axe to grind take that line.

  35. 385
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ron Mexico,
    Climate models are also tested–rigorously–and they have amassed a formidable list of accomplishments. ASTM test methods are–hopefully, at least–based on science, and that means that underlying all those methods is a scientific theory.

  36. 386
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Donald Oats says, “Science is the best method of inquiry we have, but it doesn’t reside in any one scientist. It is the cumulative effect of scientific communities working upon many independent and interdependent ideas that eventually settles on a web of stable knowledge. The robustness of science and its progress rely on the aggregate efforts.”

    Precisely! Merely because one does science does not mean one understands how the process works–any more than an ant understands its role in the colony.

  37. 387
    Dale says:

    Timothy Chase #363
    Thank you for your information. The person who claimed to be a scientist seems to find little fault in you message.

    Is there a consensus on the second law of thermodynamics, Planck radiation law , the accuracy of quantum mechanics, or that in accordance with their absorption spectra, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane are greenhouse gases. If there is, then there can certainly be such a thing as a consensus in science — certainly with respect to well-established facts, principles, and theories
    Posted by Stranger1548

    I stand corrected. There is concensus with regard to proven “Laws of Nature”. None the less, even these are subject to repeated testing.

    With is assertion that AGW “Technicians have a pre conceived idea I responded:
    Preconceived idea? That’s interesting. When I first read anything about AGW it was, if I remember correctly, a December 1988 issue of Time magazine. The article was quite long and it pointed out that only about 20% of scientists related to the field bought into it. That means the overwhelming body was Skeptical. Over the years little by little that number has grown so that today nearly all of the scientists whose research is related to climate science embrace the AGW theory. From my experience it’s those whose religion is unfettered capitalism that have preconceived ideas. The theory is so pure and true that anything that presents an inconvenient truth will not be considered. Please justify this absurd assertion with some reliable reference to recent data. Thenk you.
    If anybody else has a link for me I’d appreciate it.

  38. 388
    Dale says:

    Sorry, the last part may be a little confusing. His final statement to me was, “Please justify this absurd assertion with some reliable reference to recent data. Thank you.

  39. 389
    Ray Ladbury says:

    EL, burning a ton of coal releases about 2 tons of CO2. With perhaps a trillion tons of global coal reserves, we could just about double CO2 from its current value–or roughly triple it from its pre-industrial value. This would probably trigger melting of polar regions, release of methane trapped in parmafrost and perhaps releae of methane in clathrates.

    What is more, you assume that human population would be sustainable at ~9 billion people without an amazingly advanced energy infrastructure. You might want to reconsider that.

  40. 390
    Ron Mexico says:

    Mark 381 & Ray 385,

    My comment was not so much about how accurate either metallurgical or climate models are; it was to point out that new materials, or even known materials processed in a different manner, are not approved for critical aerospace applications unless they pass whatever tests are required to provide designers confidence that they will withstand the fatigue/impact/loading/corrosion/thermal expansion etc requirements needed for a given component. No matter what the models say, if they do not get that proof from the testing of the fabricated materials, then those materials will not fly.

  41. 391
    Corey says:

    384Barton Paul Levenson says:
    27 October 2009 at 5:01 AM
    Dale,

    [edit] No actual scientist would reject the concept of scientific consensus, since that and peer review is how modern science is done.

    From RealClimate:

    Just what is this Consensus anyway?

    Filed under: Climate Science FAQ— william @ 22 December 2004 –

    We’ve used the term “consensus” here a bit recently (see our earlier post on the subject), without ever really defining what we mean by it. In normal practice, there is no great need to define it – no science depends on it.

    The consensus, as RealClimate sees it, is related to policy and media. Or am I wrong in this assertion?

    The skeptic attitude to consensus usually starts with “there is no consensus”. That’s wrong, and they usually retreat from it to “but consensus science is meaningless”, and/or “consensus has nothing to do with science”. The latter is largely true but irrelevant. The existence of the consensus doesn’t do a lot to determine what science is done; it doesn’t prevent contrary lines being explored. But the consensus view does come into the tricky interface between science and policy, and science and the media.

    From here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/just-what-is-this-consensus-anyway/

    379Philip Machanick says:
    It’s very seldom that the scientific consensus is truly overturned, and certainly not by one paper or one data point.

    I refer you to Einstein:

    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins100017.html

  42. 392
    Tom Dayton says:

    Often someone who is (correctly) arguing that science (correctly) uses consensus, contrasts science with mathematics, as in “You only get proofs in theoretical mathematical disciplines.” (No disrespect intended, Philip; your comment merely reminded me that I see this often.)

    But in fact, consensus is just as important in math, because you need human judgment of whether a purported proof is correct. Just as in science, you need judgment not only of whether the purported proof is correct given its assumptions, but also of whether the assumptions are correct and sufficiently broad.

    This whole topic reminds me of the classic The Fallacy of the Null-Hypothesis Significance Test, in that much hinges on the degree to which an individual scientist can think of reasons their conclusion might be wrong. More scientists are more likely to think of reasons that conclusion might be wrong.

  43. 393
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Corey,
    God you guys love to quote Einstein. The problem is that the denialists don’t do experiments and they certainly don’t publish. I would love it if they would start doing experiments designed to falsify climate change. It would mean they’d quit pretending science can be done on a blog.

  44. 394
    Mark says:

    “no science depends on it.”

    Indeed. Reality does whatever it does whether we agree it does it or not.

    But repeatability requires that all observers see the same results from the same input. It’s one reason why ESP tests are not scientific in the main: they are not repeatable and when they are repeatable, the effect disappears.

    And when enough people repeat it, they all agree.

    And that, my friend, is consensus.

    After all, does anyone here think that if you drop an apple, it will fall UP?

    That is consensus.

    And just because you don’t think it exists doesn’t then mean an apple will fall up.

  45. 395
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ron Mexico,
    What you are talking about is validation. What we are saying is that the models and conclusions of climate research are also validated. Any validation procedure presumes a model of what the important factors (e.g. for materials, aging, stress, environmental degradation…) and what factors can be left out (e.g. phase of the moon). Validation is always model driven.

  46. 396
    Mark says:

    “I refer you to Einstein:

    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.””

    So produce a single experiment that proves AGW science wrong.

    Plimer hasn’t managed it. Nor Spencer. Nor Pielke. Nor any of the score or more “big hitters” of the denialosphere.

    Occasionally they’ve noted something that could do with more rigour, but they then overplay it as “proof” that AGW is wrong.

    Rather like pointing out that 3.142 isn’t the value of pi therefore pi MUST be 3.0.

  47. 397
    Mark says:

    Ron, you fail to notice that likewise new climate model science isn’t accepted into climate models until they’ve been proven to improve hindcasts where they are tested against the known history without training to repeat that history.

    Genuinely, you are not seeing how close the match is.

    It is pretty damn exact.

    And the point still stands: where are the skeptics when it comes to this dangerous non-science of metallurgy?

    PS I do believe that metallurgists do the right thing. Then again, so are the climate scientists. At least to the same degree as each other.

  48. 398
    Richard Steckis says:

    384
    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    27 October 2009 at 5:01 AM

    “Dale,

    [edit] No actual scientist would reject the concept of scientific consensus, since that and peer review is how modern science is done. Only scientific illiterates with an axe to grind take that line.”

    BPL. There is a big difference between scientific consensus and a consensus of scientists. It is the latter that is the problem.

  49. 399
    Mark says:

    “There is concensus with regard to proven “Laws of Nature”. None the less, even these are subject to repeated testing.”

    So consensus does exist.

    Now, please show that the CO2 effect isn’t under repeated testing?

    Oh. It is.

    Please, ask your friend: Where’s the beef?

    He’s manifacturing a problem to then point to the problem and say “this problem PROVES that AGW is wrong!”

    Horse –> Cart –>>>> travel

  50. 400
    Mark says:

    “You only get proofs in theoretical mathematical disciplines.”

    And quite often the proof is only proof that you can’t HAVE proof.

    E.g. the halting problem.


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