Saturday, December 5, 2009
Judging from the events, it's looking to me like the ClimateGate scandal has reached and gone over a sort of tipping point: scientists and policy makers now appear to be taking it quite seriously. It hasn't yet dented the true warmenists religious fervor, but...when that happens, I think it's pretty much time to declare victory and go home.
Some interesting bits from my reading today:
Some interesting bits from my reading today:
- The UK Meterology Office (their equivalent of our NOAA) is going to re-examine all 160 years of their temperature data. They are no longer confident of their own data, because of the ClimateGate revelations. This is quite significant, as the UK Met's data is one of the three primary sources of data used in the IPCC report that is in turn driving much of the policy movement toward AGW mitigation. What heartens me about this development is that I'm pretty sure the result will be greatly increased transparency on the data collection and analysis, which means some wonderful sunlight on the foundations of the AGW claims.
- The London Globe and Mail has a nice summary of the current ClimateGate situation, with this bit that I quite liked:
Unusually, even sympathetic scientists and some activists have concluded that the credibility of climate science has been seriously harmed.The whole piece is nicely even-handed, and not so credulous of the AGW proponents claims as we've seen in the past. It's very refreshing to see this sort of reporting in the mainstream media – even thought it's only in the British media so far, and not in the U.S...
“We should not underestimate the damage caused by what has happened, either for the science or for the politics of climate change, and potentially it could have some very far-reaching consequences,” said Mike Hulme, a climate scientist at East Anglia whose e-mails were among those included in the pirated files and who has been critical of the secrecy and lack of impartiality in his colleagues' work.
- Speaking of sunshine... Here's a great example – a fellow blogging under the pseudonym of AJStrata has done some nice, independent analysis on the raw data revealed in ClimateGate. Unlike the CRU folks, he's placed his methods and results out in public view for the sun to shine on them. He's an amateur, but he's looking far more professional than CRU. I have no idea how correct his analysis is, and that's not the point. The point is that this is how science ought to work.
- Finally, there's this quite well-done summary of ClimateGate by Steven Hayward in the Weekly Standard. The entire piece is balanced and sober; a good example of the kind of journalism I wish we had been seeing for the past few years regarding AGW. And, alas, while the Weekly Standard is an American webzine, by no means can I call it “mainstream” – they're a struggling little site that truthfully isn't far removed from a blog, except that the often well-known writers (presumably) are paid. Read the whole thing...but here's the conclusion:
The distinction between utterly politicized scientists such as Jones, Mann, and NASA's James Hansen, and other more sober scientists has been lost on the media and climate campaigners for a long time now, and as a result, the CRUtape letters will cast a shadow on the entire field. There is no doubt plenty more of this kind of corruption in other hotbeds of climate science, but there are also a lot of unbiased scientists trying to do important and valuable work. Climate alarmists and their media cheerleaders are fond of warning about "tipping points" to disaster, but ironically this episode may represent a tipping point against the alarmists. The biggest hazard to serious climate science all along was not so much contrarian arguments from skeptics, but rather the damage that the hyperbole of the environmental community would inflict on their own cause.
Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s--as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil (such as the forced sterilizations of thousands of Indian men in the 1970s, much of it funded by the Ford Foundation). Today the climate campaigners want to forcibly sterilize the world's energy supply, and until recently they looked to be within an ace of doing so. But even before Climategate, the campaign was beginning to resemble a Broadway musical that had run too long, with sagging box office and declining enthusiasm from a dwindling audience. Someone needs to break the bad news to the players that it's closing time for the climate horror show.