There's no police tape across Michael Mann's office doorway this morning. "Always a good start," he says, juggling a cup of coffee as he slides his key into the lock.
Mann, a paleoclimatologist, wears a sport coat over a turtleneck. As he takes a seat at his desk, a narrow sunbeam angles through the window, spotlighting a jumble of books, journals and correspondence. Behind him, a framed picture of his six-year-old daughter rests near a certificate for the Nobel Peace Prize he shared in 2007. Propped into a corner is a hockey stick, a post-lecture gift from Middlebury College, which Mann jokingly says he keeps "for self-defense."
Mann directs Penn State University's Earth System Science Center. Several months ago, he arrived at his office with an armload of mail. Sitting at his desk, he tore open a hand-addressed envelope and began to pull out a letter. He watched as a small mass of white powder cascaded out of the folds and onto his fingers. Mann jerked backward, letting the letter drop and holding his breath as a tiny plume of particles wafted up, sparkling in the sunlight. He rose quickly and left the office, pulling the door shut behind him. "I went down to the restroom and washed my hands," he says. "Then I called the police."
For someone describing an anthrax scare, Mann is surprisingly nonchalant. "I guess," he says, "it's so much a part of my life that I don't even realize how weird it is."
"Weird" is perhaps the mildest way to describe the growing number of threats and acts of intimidation that climate scientists face. A climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory answered a late-night knock to find a dead rat on his doorstep and a yellow Hummer speeding away. An MIT hurricane researcher found his inbox flooded daily for two weeks last January with hate mail and threats directed at him and his wife. And in Australia last year, officials relocated several climatologists to a secure facility after climate-change skeptics unleashed a barrage of vandalism, noose brandishing and threats of sexual attacks on the scientists' children.
Those crude acts of harassment often come alongside more-sophisticated legal and political attacks. Organizations routinely file nuisance lawsuits and onerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to disrupt the work of climate scientists. In 2005, before dragging Mann and other climate researchers into congressional hearings, Texas congressman Joe Barton ordered the scientists to submit voluminous details of working procedures, computer programs and past funding—essentially demanding that they reproduce and defend their entire life's work. In a move that hearkened back to darker times, Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, released a report in 2010 that named 17 prominent climate scientists, including Mann, who, he argued, may have engaged in "potentially criminal behavior." Inhofe outlined three laws and four regulations that he said the scientists may have violated, including the Federal False Statements Act—which, the report noted, could be punishable with imprisonment of up to five years.
It's late February when I visit Mann in his office, almost two years after Inhofe issued his "list of 17." Though it's still winter in central Pennsylvania, the temperature outside hangs in the upper 60s, crocus stems poke up from flower beds, and shopkeepers have thrown open their doors along College Avenue. Mann is home for three days between conferences in Milwaukee and Hawaii and West Coast stops on a promotional tour for his new book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.
In the late 1990s, Mann developed a graph that demonstrated a recent and dramatic uptick in global mean surface temperatures. The hockey-stick-shaped curve has become emblematic to both sides of the climate debate. To the vast majority of climate scientists, it represents evidence, corroborated by decades of peer-reviewed research, of global warming. To climate-change skeptics, the hockey stick is the most grievous of many illusions fabricated by thousands of conspiring scientists to support an iniquitous political agenda.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included Mann's graph in its Third Assessment Report in 2001. Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim then included it in their 2006 climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The film galvanized both the pro- and contra-climate-science camps, propelling the issue of human-caused global warming into the culture wars—and Mann along with it. "Since then, my life has been crazy," he says. "People have stolen my e-mails and bought billboards and newspaper ads to denounce me; they've staged bogus grassroots protests; they've threatened my family. I've been through eight investigations by everyone from the National Science Foundation to the British House of Commons. Every time, they find no evidence of fraud or misuse of information. Every time, they conclude that my methods are sound, my data replicable. And every time I'm exonerated, another investigation pops up."
Mann has been called a "compulsive liar, a con man and an extraordinary psychological case." Some critics accuse him of masterminding a cabal of scientists that aims to establish a new world order. Still others compare him to Hitler, Stalin and Satan.
At the time of our meeting, Mann was juggling several FOIA requests and two lawsuits—one of which would be resolved the following week, when the Virginia Supreme Court rejected the state attorney general's demand that the University of Virginia (Mann's former employer) turn over the researcher's e-mails and other documents. The university spent nearly $600,000 to argue that releasing personal correspondence would chill academic research. "Yes, there's been a toll on me and my family," Mann says. "But it's bigger than that. Look what it's doing to science, when others see this and see what happens if they speak up about their research. These efforts to discredit science are well-organized. It's not just a bunch of crazy people."
Here's a good read for you Greystone:
"If they were intellectually honest these folks (deniers) would say, yes this is happening, but the costs to the economy or personal freedom etc. of changing it are too high, so we shouldn’t even try. Problem is, with most people that’s a losing argument, so instead these folks try to undermine public understanding of the science and deliberately waste the time of scientists and journalists."
He didn't mention the facts outlined in the Popular Science article that deniers threaten violence too, and launch harassing lawsuits to waste people's time.
Anyway, I'm one of those who agrees we should lay down the law, eliminate carbon from our energy mix and let the economy adjust creatively to it. The point of this isn't to punish people and make life miserable as you seem to think Grey, but merely to stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, to reduce future risks. We can accomplish great things, and could probably build better systems than what we have now if we were to try. IMO, this is what laws are meant for and I hope it happens sooner rather than later, as the problem will only get worse the longer we ignore it.
To end this non-sense, is for the people who have been damaged by these Tornadoes is to start to sue the Airlines and also the oil companies for putting all this dirty filthy Cancer producing JP4 and JP8 which contains Napon Diesel fuel in the Jet Stream. 80,000 TONS PER HOUR! Over the United States, FAA Figures.
Not only this is happening, The Government is now Steering hurricanes Go to presscore, Hurricane Irene, and read about it. In fact this website was shut down for 2 weeks by Obama.
To bad there are too many people and political parties who have there heads in the SAND. You will pay now or you will really pay later, maybe with your life! If we don't get those filthy Jets out of The Jet Stream. I live in Vermont and they steered half of Irene over Vermont.
How much more can the Environmental Protection agency COVER up? Who are they protecting, you and me, or the Oil companies and Airline Industry?
WILL THERE BE A LIVABLE EARTH IN 20 YEARS?
There are over 7000 aircraft flying over the US at any given hour, FAA figures, and they are releasing from jet exhausts over 80,000 tons a hour of Co2 in the Jet Stream. Co2 creates oxygen from trees at ground level, but there are no trees at 20,000 feet, The life of Co2 can be up to 98 years. All this bad HOT weather including Tornadoes, draught, flooding, I credit to Co2 in the Jet Stream, as weather follow the Jet Stream. Why doesn’t the EPA do something? Because they are only authorized to monitor Co2 around the airports and particles that are 250cm or more, and no where else which Congress allowed due to the heavy LOBBISTS from the Air Line industry and the Oil Companies. These people don’t care if the BURN UP THE EARTH, as long as they show a profit! In 50 years or less the earth could look like their sister planet Venus. The Co2 level on Venus is about 88% and cloud cover over 95% Have you been wondering where your Blue Skies are more and more disappearing? The surface temperature on Venus is from 300-600 degrees. Nature is showing us Global Warming, are we to dumb to see it or doesn’t the Green house industries want us to see it?
The campaign issues this year should be to save the Earth, before their is no Earth that is livable. It is interesting That Texas is burning up because if the don’t know it is the Co2 that they are dumping into the skies and the Co2 that are coming out of the skies above them. If I lived in Joplin Missouri and that tornado tore my house apart, I would be one of the first people to sue the Airlines and the oil industry, and let the courts decide. That Jet Stream was smack over Joplin Missouri along with that Tornado, last spring. The same thing can happen next year only worst. As long as those Airlines are flying the jet Stream we will have those Weather disasters. In Europe they have Carbon tax per ton on the Aircraft. USA is the biggest polluter than any nation in the world for Co2 in the Sky!
Here are the figures 1 gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of Co2. 100 gallons of gas produces 1 ton of Co2 600 pounds of jet fuel(diesel) produces 1 ton of Co2. Jet fuel is 4 times more dirty than gasoline.
The law of conservation says nothing can be destroyed, it can only change form. All that oil that they are pump out of the earth, is now going up into your lovely Blue or is it Gray skies, have you notice how your puffy clouds, are now getting little Black bottoms, well if they start getting real black and a little black spout starts dropping down out of it, you better find a cellar. There is only ONE livable planet in this solar system, we destroy this, everything, and anybody and anything,becomes NOTHING!
I am not sure why you are unaware that the "threat to climate scientists" was a misquote by an Australian journalist, published as fact, and that the physical threats to climate scientists had not been made. There is no nuance here. This was just made up stuff.
Michael Mann is a climate catastrophe advocate. He published what has been termed a "Hockey Stick" with data that he knew before hand was false, which required obscuring tree ring data that showed the hockey stick was indeed wrong, and applied a statistical method which demonstrated his statistical naiveté based upon inappropriate assumptions. What did you miss on all this?
Subsequent attempts at duplicating Mann's Hockey Stick in other paleoclimate proxies have had mixed results to say the least. One can't say yea or nay. What one can say is that Mann's Hockey stick is a fraud; there was a Medieval Warming Period, there was a recent Little Ice Age, and the instrument data from 1880 to 2008 all falls within a "natural" variance. Nothing unprecedented. Indeed, recent data from Lake E in Russia says the Arctic has been 5 Celsius warmer than now, several times in the last 2.5 million years.
If you have an agenda and want to use Popular Science as a vehicle to advance that agenda, that is fine. Just realize, you are not a journalist and you have no credibility as one.
So meerkat... which category Am I? Am I a believer?... denier?... intellectually honest?... intellectually dishonest?... someone who isn't even trying?... which of these neat little stereotyped molds do I fit into?
Greystone, your comment, coming as it does within the context of this stream and within the context of the entire rhetorical mess surrounding the science, strongly implies that you think the theory of AGW is a plot to extort money from taxpayers and establish a totalitarian state.
There are quite a few libertarians who accept the science and realize that it is unethical to refuse to be part of the solution yet still take advantage of the externalization of carbon costs. Yes, billions have had their free lunch and dumped the tab on you and me. You could just shuck your responsibility and pass on the savings to the next generation, with interest.
As far as what you are goes, the answer is "someone who posts very short public posts that contain hints of paranoia but are useless for engaging in serious dialogue, strongly suggesting that this person knows all the answers but is unwilling to share them even when asked, on a public forum, point blank. In other words, a brick wall with graffiti."
Riho08, take a gander at the evidence:
As for the hockey stick, Mann did no such thing. Indeed, it's a bizarre claim. The "decline" refers to the post-1960 divergence from the temp record in NH high altitude tree rings. That divergence is well established in the literature. Global temp was flat from 1960 to the mid-1970s. Was Mann attempting to replace declining temps with a flat run? What a goofy claim.
Climategate cracks me up in general. 5000+ emails are hacked and made available to certain individuals. These individuals comb through the emails (once assumed to have been private by senders and receivers) for a couple of days, looking for text that fits their assumptions. Out of the entire email collection, they find only a couple of phrases that, if pulled from context and re-contextualized carefully, might suggest scientific fraud to anyone unfamiliar with . . . well with the scientific process in general. The individuals then used their media connections to blast the message of fraud across the internets. It worked. It's absurdly wrong, but it worked. An excellent test of critical thinking, and a depressing number of fails.
If you, RiHo08, think you have the evidence, some to skepticalscience.com and present it. If you stay away from evidence-free rants, you'll be fairly engaged. I can almost bet, though, from your tone, that you'd rather not get into the science.
"Wolf, you seem to be citing Lovelock as an argument from authority rather than presenting Lovelock's scientific work." - DSL
Thank you for your comments! I do appreciate your feedback.
I'm just citing Lovelock's recent comments on the subject in which he says this about the "science being settled": “One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”
When I first started paying attention to "climate change" in the early 70's, the scientists were certain that another ice age was around the corner. One of the computer models they cited as proof was written by NASA's James Hansen.
In a 1971 issue of The Washington Post we got this: "...On July 9, 1971, the Post published a story headlined "U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming." That was an article about a prediction of a coming ice age by NASA and Columbia University scientist S.I. Rasool. Guess who developed the computer program Rasool used? Well, per the Washington Post it was a "computer program developed by Dr. James Hansen"! What I've noticed is that whether the threat is from an ice age or global warming, James Hansen is lurking somewhere nearby! Of course it is clearly an interest of his so I guess that's not surprising...perhaps his views are "evolving"!
In observing how the average global temperare has not gone up in the last decade as predicted by computer models, Lovelock noted just weeks ago: “the problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.” We probably knew even less in 1971.
What "skeptics" can't help but notice is how the debate went from the "ice age" to "global warming" and now - once it has been shown that the climate was not acting as predicted by computer models, the term has been changed to "climate change". We've "evolved" to the point where the climate can do anything and the pro-AGW side would say "see! we were right!"
In a February 28, 2007 article in National Geographic titled :"Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says" you get this: "Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human-induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory. Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."
With simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars, how is it "controversial" to wonder why we would see such simultaneous warming given that there are no humans on Mars? Given this, why would a "majority of scientist" then say with certainty that the warming on Earth is due to human activity? Shouldn't the curious wonder "well, why is that?"
It's always warming up or cooling down at any given point on the globe. The climate has changed since the dawn of time. There was climate change before man. There is no doubt that the activities of mankind have an impact the climate, but there is legitimate debate over how much of an impact, and how much climate change is driven by the activities of mankind. THAT is the debate. As Zappa would say, that's "the crux of the biscuit".
Since CO2 is often cited as being the main "culprit", how do CO2 emissions from humans compare to CO2 emissions from nature? Even stats provided by the pro-AGW side of the debate show that nature - by far - emits far more "greenhouse gasses" than mankind. Does that mean we should act irresponsibly and pollute the planet? No, but it does mean that we can tone down the hysteria and rancor and consider the possibility that nature and the sun may be bigger contributors to climate change than mankind.
When you write "What you refer to as a "skeptic" is actually someone someone who hasn't read the literature but has latched onto an idea so tightly that they just can't let go", are we to think that people like Freeman Dyson (Professor Emeritus of the School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study; Fellow of the Royal Society), Richard Lindzen (Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology and member of the National Academy of Sciences) people who "haven't read the literature" who have latched onto an idea so tightly that they just can't let go? There are many legitimate scientsist who are skeptical of the claims made relative to climate change.
There are plenty of legitimate scientists who don't feel the sciene is settled on AGW...er, Climate Change, and they do not need to be subjected to "nuremberg trials", treated as "traitors" by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., or "decertified" by Heidi Cullen of the weather network.
I'll admit that the idea that "global warming GW is due to microwaves from satellites and ground communications" is a new one to me! I would simply suggest that it would be nice to see legitimate articles from legitimate scientists, from differing viewpoints, and less anger on the subject.
"Climate experts say we should tell villagers in developing countries to reduce the amount of cooking smoke they generate to help fix global warming. You know, it's as if these people don't hate us enough already. I mean, they live in mud huts, they have thatch roofs, their clothes are made of straw. We pull up in a bunch of Humvees and SUVs going, 'Hey, you want to cut the smoke out of here?'" --Jay Leno
Anyway, we should all at least agree to disagree, and appreciate the fact that we're all here because we all have some interest in science, and in the future. As Criswell said in Plan 9 from Outer Space: "Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives!"
Anywho, thank you for your comments, I hope you have a good day!
Live long and prosper!
Hmmm... Is the theory of AGW correct? I don't know and I'm not sure you do, either.
Is AGW a plot? Probably not, but I could be wrong. When like minded people work together for a common cause, is that a plot?
The way it is being presented certainly has the trappings of a scam. Name calling, guilt trips, accusations of intellectual dishonesty and/or ulterior motives, ridicule, attempts to silence opposition. These do nothing to lend credence to your cause and in fact just the opposite. Silencing opposing viewpoints is unscientific, don't you think?
Do politicians use science to fleece the public? You bet. It's what they do best.
A totalitarian state? Governments always seem to evolve in that direction and we are well on our way.
When popular movements switch tactics from persuasion to force, they cross over to the dark side. Persuade all you want, don't pass laws. We form governments to protect us from tyrants, not to become tyrants.
Since CO2 is often cited as being the main "culprit", how do CO2 emissions from humans compare to CO2 emissions from nature? Even stats provided by the pro-AGW side of the debate show that nature - by far - emits far more "greenhouse gasses" than mankind.
Well, it looks like yet another "skeptic" doesn't understand the difference between "gross" and "net".
It's pretty darned easy distinction -- it's something that even a business major with a C average should be able to comprehend.
06/23/12 at 10:10 pm
You claimed: '"threat to climate scientists" was a misquote by an Australian journalist, published as fact'
Well actual threats have been made to climate scientists:
Google 'somebunny FOIA abusive Valentines playmates Phil Jones'
and follow the links.
The claim that no threats have been made to climate scientists is a bare-faced lie.
06/23/12 at 10:10 pm
Results of a FOI request about threats to climate scientists.
I used to think that global warming was exaggerated or made up. I used to avidly read WattsUpWithThat, Climate Audit and many others. I thought that the science on display there was of better quality than what I understood of the IPCC reports and the fraudulent Hockey Stick, with no exaggeration, no "hidden decline" and lots of inconvenient facts.
I think my eyes opened when Richard Lindzen encouraged Anthony Watts to start questioning the trend since 1995 as the longest period for which no statisitically significant trend could be established. I knew what that meant and so did Lindzen - not that there was no trend, but that the available data was insufficient to establish one with 95% certainty. The best response from a scientist is to include extra data if it is available NOT to whittle down the data until the significance test fails! It was a massive cherry-pick and used as a kind of "gotcha" for Phil Jones, which what I knew to be an accurate representation of the data turned into a warped headline admission. Suddenly I felt sympahthy for someone I'd previously understood to be a villain, and everybody proclaiming that temperatures had flatlined (or were even declining) was simply deluded. I saw for the first time how the "party line" of the skeptics was repeated like a mmantra, in contravention of all efforts at persuasion or evidence to the contrary. Once I saw these tactics applied to something I knew myself to be wrong, I started revisiting old discussions with a more genuiinely skeptical eye and - harsha as it was to admit - I realised I'd been on the wrong side of reason for a long time. I witnessed first hand revisionism and censorship at WattsUpWithThat, in stark contrast to my own previousl crowing that there was none, and that it was a haven for open scientific debate. I checked and found wanting the arguments presented, and it is sad to see so many of those same arguments appear in these comments, recycled again and again and impervious to rational argument. For those commenters, I feel sympathy and recognition - having once been there - but also frustration at the rote and unquestioning repetition of false lines of argument.
Wolf, see Peterson (2008). That study found that of the 68 studies on global cooling published from 1968 to 1979, 62% predicted warming, 28% made no prediction, and 10% predicted global cooling. To the extent that Hansen is a scientist, his views are evolving.
Surface temp shows a positive trend on all major surface and lower trop records from 2001 to 2011, the last full decade. That's the simple analysis. Remove the signal from the decline in insolation over the 2000s, and the trend becomes significant. Remove aerosol cooling, and the trend is even more significant. Read Foster & Rahmstorf (2011).
Why would Mars be warming when solar forcing is clearly not causing recent Earth warming? Mysterious psychic connection or differences in Mars' orbit/tilt/wobble?
Actually, the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.
You write: "There is no doubt that the activities of mankind have an impact the climate, but there is legitimate debate over how much of an impact, and how much climate change is driven by the activities of mankind. THAT is the debate."
Yes, that is the debate, but the bulk of that debate has been concluded. Human CO2 emissions and land use changes are the direct cause of rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2, and I haven't seen any debate on that one in ages. Climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is an ongoing debate but within a narrow range. There remain few outliers above and below that narrow range.
The simple form of the mass balance argument: we know, with pretty high confidence, that the Earth has been in carbon equilibrium since interglacial temps stabilized about 10k years ago. Atmospheric CO2 has been at 270ppm +/-10ppm for most of that time span. No long-term trend. Sources = sinks. Relatively suddenly, we begin dumping fossil CO2 into the atmosphere. Coincidentally, atmospheric CO2 begins to rise at an increasing rate. Conclusion? Natural sinks can't handle the increase in CO2. If they could, why didn't they over the last 10k years?
There are no alternative theories that cover the data and physics. There are few scientists even willing to try to find an alternative (and probably only willing to do so for the glory factor -- because it would be glorious). Consensus occurs when scientists decide to move on to the finer details (i.e., when it becomes a waste of time to establish an idea just. one. more. time.).
Freeman Dyson hasn't read the literature (or hadn't when he opened his mouth on that one). Assuming really smart people know everything is usually a mistake. Lindzen simply argues a low sensitivity, except when he's in the "right" crowd. Then he's liable to say anything. That's something a lot of non-experts don't seem to understand. I can't think of any working scientist in the general area of climate who rejects the basic theory. Not Lindzen, not Spencer, not Pielke, not Michaels. Most of those scientists get press time and seem "important" because they've been used by opinion-makers to make opinions via mass media and congressional trottings out.
Leno's argument that those who benefit the most should take most responsibility is spot on.
As for the future, you and I and my 18-month twins.
I was very excited to read your article on Climate Change, expecting to get a balanced viewpoint of the debate. I can't tell you how dissappointed I was to read such a one sided bias. Science is about skepticism and questioning the prevailing wisdom, especially when the prevailing wisdom you are questioning is coming from the likes of Al Gore. Shame on you Popular Science, in the future, I will not be renewing my subscription with your politically correct "science" propaganda machine.
One thing I can say about the climate scientific community is that it lacks sufficient skeptics. Remember that use to be one of the pillars of science.
Long story short they were wrong about "the coming ice age" in the 70's and they can't produce a climate model that validates their theory of global warming. That in itself should create a planet full of skeptics.
At this point it appears that most of ther "evidence" is political correctness and a firm belief that they (the alarmist) are right.
I will be the first to become a believer when a properly peer reviewed climate model shows that AWG exists. Until then I remain with the growing legion of skeptics.
One thing I can say about the climate scientific community is that it lacks sufficient skeptics...
In a way, that is quite true. The skeptics really aren't "sufficient".
If the best that skeptics can do is repeat the myth that scientists were predicting a coming ice-age back in 70's (journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1) or repeat claims that climate models can't validate global warming when in fact the opposite is true (model backcasts can even reproduce the glacial/interglacial transitions initiated by Milankovitch orbital forcings -- www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-6-1.html), then yes, one can make a solid case that the skeptics aren't sufficient.
When that's the best that skeptics can do, it's a good indication that global-warming theory is on a very solid scientific footing.
When the creator of the Gaia Theory turns on global climate change, you know you've got a few holes in your argument. I'll believe it in 30 years if we haven't gone back to people claiming we're heading for a new ice age.
Do I "know" anything? I accept what the evidence tells me, always understanding that as new evidence arrives my fundamental understanding may be completely changed. Right now, the evidence is overwhelmingly supportive of the theory of AGW, and no other comprehensive theory has been offered.
The way it is being presented certainly has the trappings of a scam.
Name calling - since when is name calling a feature of scams? In any case, the name calling is a feature of the general rhetorical snafu: denialist, "skeptic," alarmist, fraud, hoaxer, etc. (I'll resist posting the labeling drawn from hate mail sent to Jones and Mann). As for myself, I've tried to refrain from labeling even when the potential target does everything possible to self-categorize.
Guilt trips - a rhetorical strategy present on both sides of the snafu. Responsibility is a part of the equation, though.
Accusations of intellectual dishonesty - come now: you're not that naive, are you? What does WUWT exist for if not to provide a forum for unevidenced claims of intellectual dishonesty directed at scientists? Meanwhile, the intellectual dishonesty of the large majority of attacks on the theory of AGW is legendary. Using 1998 as a starting point of surface temp analysis with full understanding that it was an El Nino spike? Read through 15-20 of tamino's posts at Open Mind, and make sure to read the comment streams where the authors attempt to defend their intellectual dishonesty (at worst) or incompetency (at best). And where is intellectual dishonesty on the side of science? Climategate? What a joke, as I've pointed out above, and another example of dishonesty on the part of whoever crafted the misinterpretation of the few snippets from that large collection of emails.
Ulterior motives - what do scientists have to gain by pushing a failed theory? Failed theories do not last very long, especially in areas where there is intense scrutiny and a huge payoff for discovery of failure. On the other hand, what do those attacking the science have to gain? Whenever I argue with people about this, the robustness of the science is almost never an issue. The issue is economic reward/risk. In other words, the science is irrelevant. People don't want to be held responsible for the external costs of atmospheric carbon, and so as long as there is a sufficient level of doubt, they can claim that it's not settled enough to act responsibly. Then there's Heartland and the organizations that serve as opinion-shapers for industrial interests. What ulterior motives could there be for the large majority of scientists who don't go on speaking tours, don't write books, would have jobs regardless of climate crisis, and would probably do what they do for half the money because they love it? Scientists also are not uniformly left in politics. Richard Alley, for instance.
Attempts to silence opposition - show me the evidence. Did Jones make a mistake in letting his feelings be known in a semi-private email? Yes. Did he prevent publication? Should bad science be published? Tough call for you, because you don't know the difference. You're forced to place all claims in a box and then come up with a method of determining good and bad that doesn't rely on logic, appropriate statistical methodology, and knowledge of the historical development of the science. Where, then, is your opinion formed, and why not trust scientists? Of course, there are forums in which to publish. Even if Jones somehow had control over all the major climate-related journals (including Science and Nature), the scientists who felt suppressed could publish in Energy & Environment (lovely journal) or other journals. Of course, if the science is actually bad, it doesn't reflect well on the journal, as we saw in the Soon and Baliunas affair. If S & B were the standard for scientific work, I would take a huge grain of salt with anything a scientist had to say on anything. Why people rip into Mann's work and give S & B a free pass is beyond me . . . unless there are ulterior motives.
"Silencing opposing viewpoints is unscientific, don't you think?" Yes. And the broad attempt to put the chill on climate science is unethical. Views that oppose the dominant theory are routinely addressed in journals and certainly in the blogosphere. If you have what you think is an legitimate problem with the theory, let's hear it. As I requested of you initially, "tell me where the theory fails."
"Do politicians use science to fleece the public? You bet. It's what they do best." Is it? If you think so, then you do not accept science as an epistemology and/or your haven't benefited from scientific progress.
"A totalitarian state? Governments always seem to evolve in that direction and we are well on our way." If so, then the current mode of production is leading the way. Governmental expression of power is a candle in the wind of economic interests.
"When popular movements switch tactics from persuasion to force, they cross over to the dark side. Persuade all you want, don't pass laws. We form governments to protect us from tyrants, not to become tyrants."
What do you mean by "force"? If I allow you to pick and choose the information you find acceptable, with no basis for the decision other than what you think "should be" right, then I kick the legs out from under whatever remains of the legitimacy of the democracy. I demand that you hold yourself to a higher standard of engagement for high-stakes issues. I demand that you yourself consider all the evidence, and during that period in which you don't yet understand it, don't mislead people by publicly assuming that you do, through absolute statements and insinuations about the integrity of the people who have dedicated their lives to studying the issue. Instead, be open about what you do accept and what you haven't really looked at yet. If I don't demand these things, then my own integrity is in question.
pop777, you came in expecting to get a balanced view of the debate? What led you to believe that such balance was pre-existing?
The title of the article is very true and the article itself says it all although not how the author intended it to.
The debate is brutal because anyone who has an opposing (to AGW theory) view is immediately labelled as uneducated, corrupt or both. The global warming has become a church; existence of the messiah cannot be questioned no matter what and facts matter little. Those who do question any element of the church official standing are heretics, evil and destined to be burned at stake on a pile of public opinion.
If this site wants to claim anything in common with science it should examine the authors posting here.
This article is oozing with bias clearly in favor of the pro global-warming side. The author doesn't even make an attempt at objective reporting or at least hiding his own opinion on the matter. Every skeptic mentioned is introduced neck deep in innuendo alluding to some nefarious connections or intent, while the pro-warming characters are all presented pure as the driven snow. No mention is made at all of all the harassment that the anti-warming skeptics endure, which occurs on a massive scale. The arguments of skeptics, what few are even mentioned, are downplayed and dismissed. This is not what REAL scientific debate looks like. Using the author’s stated litmus test for the validity of information, his own article should be dismissed because it wasn't written by a scientist. That unsavory personal attacks occur on both sides of this war is a sign of our declining culture, but this article is also a classic example of the decline of journalism. I can remember when Popular Science used to have very professionally written articles. They might as well change their name to Popular Culture now.
Back in the 1980's the environmentalists approached the refrigeration industry with a proposal to phase out CFC refrigerants at the manufacturing level, based on the theory that they would cause an increase in ground level UV, thus an increase in skin cancers. There was virtually zero opposition from the refrigeration industry, including the manufacturers, everyone considering this to be a reasonable precaution... just in case the theory might be true. End of problem, right? Wrong.
Not satisfied with the reasonable solution and encountering no opposition, the environmentalists/politicians proceeded to implement the unreasonable solution. They descended upon the refrigeration industry like a school of sharks sensing blood in the water.
The refrigeration industry was heavily regulated, not just at the manufacturing level, but at every level, right down to the person repairing your fridge.
Taxes upon outrageous taxes, licencing, fees, fines, bounties, step by step mandating of precisely how everyone in the industry was to perform their job, right down to the finest detail... and endless paperwork. The word "micromanagement" doesn't begin to describe the government involvement in the refrigeration industry.
Fleecing the public? Totalitarian government? You tell me.
BTW, where is the expected increase in ground level UV?... much less the Mad Max, scorched earth, end of civilization as we know it scenarios predicted by the media?
One of the major problems with the Global Warming debate is the bad journalism involved. It's either the far left of the far right trying to distort and mis-characterize the facts, to justify their views.
This article is no different. It focuses on the persecution of one side while completely ignoring the other side. There is no end to attacks on anyone that doesn't agree with the findings of Climate Change. A professor at Oregon State was just fired for his skepticism of climate change and Forbes columnist Steve Zwick has called for the burning down of skeptics houses. (I wonder how that would affect his carbon footprint.)
I became skeptical of the Global Warming hysteria after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, and being disturbed by the propaganda aspects of it. While watching it I was astounded by how there was much more scare than there was science.
And the sad thing is, I'm still scared and concerned about Climate Change and the damage being done to the environment. But I'm also scared of the direction and tactics of politicians and media when it comes to the issue. Science is about questions, so anytime someone says "Debate Over" I immediately become skeptical. And any scientist that doesn't also become skeptical, is probably just hearing what they want to hear.
professor at Oregon State was just fired for his skepticism of climate change and Forbes columnist Steve Zwick has called for the burning down of skeptics houses.
Let's see -- an adjunct professor, funded by "soft money" at a university that has suffered multi-year 10+ percent cuts in funding, does not have his contract renewed. That's happening all across the country; are the many thousands of other junior, untenured faculty who have lost their jobs due to budget cuts victims of repression as well?
As for Zwick -- he said no such thing -- you've taken him completely out of context and twisted his words.
The scientific community lost a great deal of it's credibility when they climbed into bed with the politicians, as did the media. Politics taints everything it touches. Much of the opposition stems not from the science, but from the fact that oppressive laws will be enacted as a result of the science. Reasonable solutions play no part in the environmental movement. Kiss your freedom goodbye... and say hello to knee jerk mob rule aka unfettered democracy.
"Persuade all you want, don't pass laws."
Passing laws is the whole point though. Laws are meant to demarcate those things we should not do and then enforce those demarcations in a fair and impartial way. Oil and coal companies don't like this idea at all, but they don't boss us, and they can't force us to destroy.
The only way to stop global warming and acidifying our oceans is to stop polluting our atmosphere with carbon, and of course we should do this-- it's just common sense.
In the NW, oysters are already getting wiped out because seawater is getting to acidic, caused by fossil fuel combustion/pollution. This is the start of a collapse that we would be wise to avoid.
Peter Gray: "The debate is brutal because anyone who has an opposing (to AGW theory) view is immediately labelled as uneducated, corrupt or both."
I and others have repeatedly asked that the "debate" be moved where it belongs: to the science. Instead, all that pops up are arguments from authority or arguments from ignorance. Is that "opposition"? If I say, "vaccines cause autism. Vaccines are just a fear-based big government scam," would you say, "good argument!"? Maybe you would if you felt the same way, but a good critical thinker would say, "I don't know. If you could give me the evidence that led you to this conclusion, I'll consider it." (and maybe, "by the way, what led you to post such an absolute and damning claim without pointing to any evidence?")
To the extent that you can't argue from the science, you are uneducated regarding this issue. I am uneducated on this issue when it comes to a number of the finer points (cloud feedbacks, permafrost dynamics, ocean acidification chemistry, et al.). Everyone should have access to the discussion, but a little integrity would be nice: openly admit your level of knowledge, and engage others without assumptions about "ulterior motives."
Start from the science, unless you openly admit to the rejection of science as an epistemology. The best way to avoid being taken for a ride is to start with the fundamentals, ask questions, and let your reason do the work. Engage the science.
"Laws are meant to demarcate those things we should not do and then enforce those demarcations in a fair and impartial way."
Really? You make it sound so benevolent. We are not talking about friendly guidelines reflecting current public opinion. We are talking about real laws with real punishments. We are talking about one group forcing it's will upon another group, based upon theoretical projections of future events. We are talking about the forcible marginalization of opposing viewpoints. We are talking about might makes right.
There is a huge difference between persuasion and coercion. Persuasion creates allies, coercion creates enemies. The legitimate purpose of laws is to help defend us against those who would force their will upon us. We form governments to protect us from tyrants, not to become tyrants. Legitimate laws are defensive.
Greystone, even though I lived through the CFC-reduction situation, I was oblivious. I haven't studied the history, and I don't know what people were told, nor am I much up on what actually happened. My word of caution would be to not lump every scientific warning into the same category of fraud, or, if you do, at least ask yourself why you're doing it.
Science has been wrong about many ideas, but it has been right orders of magnitude more often. It is the most successful epistemology humans have ever developed, by a long shot. The process can be temporarily corrupted by politics, and the interpretation can certainly be corrupted by politics (hello "climategate"). The truth will out, though, eventually. Yet just because a theory is dominant, that doesn't mean it's destined to be replaced. And just because people claim the science is flawed, it doesn't mean it is. Most successful theories eventually become part of the landscape, and we tend to forget how we used to think something different.
If somehow science could be separated from politics, it would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Science should influence, not dictate.