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Dec 8, 2009

Climate Science; Yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre.

Cartoon by Ramirez.

One of the things that has consistently concerned me in the climate change debate since it started was the unscientific attitude adopted by alarmist scientists, who have tended to be arrogant, overbearing, elitist, and have in the main ignored anything which disagreed with their aims. In short they have tended to research towards an already decided conclusion. No true scientific mind would ever come to the conclusion that the debate was settled while facts were still in dispute.

Science, if it is to be of any benefit to mankind has to be above reproach. Sure there will be mistakes made from time to time, but if intellectual honesty is applied these will be fewer and should be quickly corrected. Climategate is a warning to all of us that science is not all that it should be in this regard, to the point where there is a serious danger that future threats will be ignored, as scientific evidence may be held in disrepute. Something like the boy who cried wolf.

One of the best reads I get is “Quadrant Online,” Which this time has an excellent article dealing with this, “Sceptics in Wonderland.” The item referres to a posting in the Wall St Journal “Climategate: Science Is Dying:”
Surely there must have been serious men and women in the hard sciences who at some point worried that their colleagues in the global warming movement were putting at risk the credibility of everyone in science. The nature of that risk has been twofold:

First, that the claims of the climate scientists might buckle beneath the weight of their breathtaking complexity. Second, that the crudeness of modern politics, once in motion, would trample the traditions and culture of science to achieve its own policy goals. With the scandal at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, both have happened at once. ….

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom. Even a doubter as eminent as Princeton's Freeman Dyson was dismissed as an aging crank. ….
The Quadrant article includes a letter written to the author from Christopher Essex, a leading Canadian applied mathematician and award-winning author, who gives his views:
My friend Willie Soon passed on an article from your “Wonder Land” column. It’s very good. It is an angle that I have anticipated for a very long time.
Wonderland is certainly where I have been trapped for more than twenty years. But it is not nearly as nice as Alice’s version. Thoughts of the inquisition come to mind instead.

Many of we scientists have been ringing the alarm bells from the beginning on this. We have been telling everyone who would listen about who we were dealing with. We have known all along.

Climategate is no surprise at all to us. Evidence for this is in my book with Ross McKitrick from 2002, Taken by Storm. It won a $10,000 prize, and is now in a second edition. But few were listening. If my book had a title like Oh, my God, we are all going to die, I am sure that it would have been on the NYT bestseller list at once.

Science is alive and well in the individual scientists who are not caught up in gaming the system for bigger grants. I call it small science. Many of them are doing very unfashionable things, and are happy to get no recognition for it.

That is where you can find the real scientists. That is where the future will be.

A milestone in this mess can be said to be when John Houghton of the IPCC said it was the IPCC’s job to “orchestrate” the views of science. Everything that has happened flows as an inevitable consequence of that.
Some important research fields have been “orchestrated” out of existence. Even before Climategate, I have been saying that we have set ourselves back a generation by taking the money from governments with so many strings attached.

Governments leaders wanted something where they could absolve themselves of the responsibility for making informed decisions. They would have to read science stuff otherwise. They ordered up a kind of unnatural scientist that would tell them precisely what they wanted to hear. 
Both items deserve to be read in full. One of the great ironies of this whole thing has been the attempts to smear privately employed scientists as working for vested interests, by those hacks working for the greatest vested interest of all; the state.

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