How many times have we heard “all the scientists agree” and “the science is in?”
“Debating Global Warming is like debating gravity?”
If scientists, economists and astronomers had stopped researching because the initial results were a certainty then we’d still believe:
- The sun rotates around the earth.
- The earth is flat.
- Trickle down economics works
- Smoking cigarettes with a FILTER is safe.
In fact, research is never complete. Data is always coming in. As long as one scientist exists who questions the norm, debate should continue.
There are some who argue that the skeptics of Global Warming are shills who are paid for by the oil companies.
One could also argue that the scientists who support the theory of Global Warming depend on research grants in order to continue earning a living in their chosen field.
Then again, as we discovered recently, some scientists attempt to ‘trick’ the data presumably to support a desired conclusion.
The Economist (a believer of the global warming threat) published an article supporting the voice of the skeptic.
A majority of the world’s climate scientists have convinced themselves, and also a lot of laymen, some of whom have political power, that the Earth’s climate is changing; that the change, from humanity’s point of view, is for the worse; and that the cause is human activity, in the form of excessive emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. A minority, though, are sceptical. [sic] Some think that recent, well-grounded data suggesting the Earth’s average temperature is rising are explained by natural variations in solar radiation, and that this trend may be coming to an end. Others argue that longer-term evidence that modern temperatures are higher than they have been for hundreds or thousands of years is actually too flaky to be meaningful.
Such disagreements are commonplace in science. They are eventually settled by the collection of more data and the invention of more refined (or entirely new) theories. Arguments may persist for decades; academics may—and often do—sling insults at each other; but it does not matter a great deal because the stakes are normally rather low.
What is stunning is that the pro-Global Warming side vehemently denies the skeptics the right to weigh in on the debate.
As we have all heard by now, a new word has entered the vocabulary – Climategate. This, of course, refers to the approximately one thousand emails that have made its way into the public forum which implies that Global Warming is a hoax. Though most of the messages are benign, a few embarrassingly appear to indicate that things are not as they appear.
Scientists have claimed that the emails have been taken out of context. Let’s see them in context.
From: Phil Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
To: ray bradley <email@example.com>,firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
Thanks for the comments, Ray.
Professor Phil Jones has temporarily stepped down from his post as the CRU conducts an investigation into the hacked emails.
Jones had been awarded 50 separate research grants valued at $22.6 million. The grants were awarded largely for research into the effects of Global Warming. (And they call the skeptics shills!)
The Telegraph contains more information regarding the research grants [Climategate professor Phil Jones awarded 13 million in research grants]
Professor Ross McKitrick, visiting professor of environmental economics at the University of Buckingham and an arch sceptic who was subject of some of the leaked emails, said: “Climate sceptics are always accused of taking money from industry but it is now clear the money is on the other side.
“There is a huge amount of money on the global warming side. Institutions like the CRU have a very large budget but that would disappear if global warming ceased to exist.
“Scientists are enjoying a funding gravy train; there is so much money in climate research. Lots of areas of science are short of money but not climate change.”
Now the debate begins – not so much over the content of the email but of how the messages were leaked.
One would think that this would have been all over the MSM. It did receive some press, but nothing near what is required of something so potentially harming.
“This is a crime,” Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said.
“We may well have a hearing on this, we may not. We may have a briefing for senators, we may not,” Boxer said. “Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated.”
Of course, Boxer is referring to the criminal activity of . . . hacking the emails – not defrauding scientific data for financial gain (research grants).
“You call it ‘Climategate’; I call it ‘E-mail-theft-gate,'” she said during a committee meeting. “Whatever it is, the main issue is, Are we facing global warming or are we not? I’m looking at these e-mails, that, even though they were stolen, are now out in the public.”
Instead of focusing on how the emails were released (there is time for that later), it is critical that we examine the content of the email and determine whether or not scientists actually cherry-picked the data to support their incorrect hypothesis.
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that there should be an investigation into whether the Climategate e-mails indicate that the scientists had manipulated data on global warming.
For years, those who disagreed with these scientists were called ‘deniers’, ‘flat-earthers’ and ‘shills’. What they were doing, in essence, was shutting out dissent – discussion – open debate. They worked to ensure that the opposing viewpoint and supporting evidence was excluded from the conversation.
From The Economist:
The danger of dissent
Some would argue that, in matters of great public import, scientific dissent should be silenced. It can, it is true, do harm. When AIDS first reared its ugly head, no one knew what caused it. Gradually, the virus responsible was isolated, identified and then attacked successfully with drugs designed specifically to inhibit its reproduction. A few scientists, though, refused to accept the evidence, and some politicians used their arguments to justify inaction. Since one of those politicians was Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa, hundreds of thousands who might have been saved by an anti-AIDS policy grounded in scientific reality died as a result of his policies.
Yet the damage in that case was done by the politicians. A leader who is determined to pursue a wrong-headed course will always find some scientist to support him. A world in which that were not true would be one in which a dangerously narrow consensus had taken hold.
This newspaper (The Economist) believes that global warming is a serious threat, and that the world needs to take steps to try to avert it. That is the job of the politicians. But we do not believe that climate change is a certainty. There are no certainties in science. Prevailing theories must be constantly tested against evidence, and refined, and more evidence collected, and the theories tested again. That is the job of the scientists. When they stop questioning orthodoxy, mankind will have given up the search for truth. The sceptics should not be silenced.
Dissent should not be silenced.
Climate change: A heated debate – Why political orthodoxy must not silence scientific argument – The Economist (26-NOV-2009)