Climate Change and the Corruption of Science: Where did it all go wrong?

Guest post by Bernie Lewin

Climate Change Fashion Spread, The Age

Last year it seemed the Climate Change excitement knew no bounds: Above is part of a ‘Climate Change’ themed newspaper fashion spread during the (cold & wet) early southern spring of 2009 (Source: The Age)

As it is the time of year for reflection, let us consider for a moment the Climate Change scare in the bigger picture.

One thing that became more evident as the year progressed was that Copenhagen 2009 might have been the peak of this scare. It is difficult now to see how we could have a resurgence of the campaign that would push beyond the hype of 2009. This is not to say it is all over just yet. And even because it is not over, and because of its resilience even in retreat, it is useful to gain an understanding of what is still happening in this scare before we consider the questions of whether it will happen again, and how much it has damaged the cause of environmentalism and the reputation of science.

Social panic and millenarian movements are well known, not only from medieval times, but also as continuing in different forms during modern times — as panics and as bubbles, the madness of crowds and so forth. What surprised many of us at the first realisation of the phoney nature of the science was that this could happen so comprehensively and convincingly within modern science. Where such panics are usually associated with ignorance and irrationality, this one has the authority of modern science at its very core. Yet we can find precedents to this science-base scare in many health scares of recent decades, and also in environmental scares since the DDT cancer scare triggered by Silent Spring, politicised by the EDF and legalized by the newly formed EPA. (See Scared to Death which finds a repeating pattern to these science-based scares.)

The AGW scare is similar to these in that it was instigated by scientists, but with one undoubted difference being its monumental scale. What is new in AGW is how it became so much more powerful and pervasive across so many disciplines and domains of science. While some previous scares were moderated and dampened by state-instituted scientific organisations, AGW was almost universal promoted. The involvement of state-sanctioned scientific institutions is of special historically interest when we consider the history of the Royal Society, the first successful state-sanctioned scientific institution upon which so many others were cloned. The Royal Society first promoted itself 350 years ago as a sober and reasonable remedy for such apocalyptic enthusiasm rife in the English Restoration. It is only in very recent times, and mostly with AGW, that the Royal Society and its clones have taken on apocalyptic scenarios as a principle tool of science promotion, and as a way to asserting their power, i.e., by drumming up panic, and so directing public policy (more here).

Climate for Change Aging into the Future conference flyer

Scientific association, funding bodies, journals, and conferences all wanted to be in on the Climate Change act, no matter how tenuous or obscure the link to their field of science (click for source).

Apocalyptic public policy to appease social panic is not at all new. Sometimes (and often with the help of scientific reasoning) it was to quieten the panic. But often, and powerfully, it was to inflame it. Fear campaigns have long been used to drum up support for war. That the AGW campaign did often reach the pitch of war propaganda is evident in much of the political rhetoric of 2008-9, not the least example of which was the newly elected Australian prime minister’s declaration that AGW is the greatest moral issue of our time. And the public policy push was not just about windmills and carbon taxes. Nor was policy success always driven by an unconscious coalition of Baptists and Bootleggers. In my state (Victoria, Australia), during the 2008-10 peak, we were throwing public funding at a water pipeline and a desalination plant while introducing planning rules against new constructions on formerly expensive low-lying coastal properties.

These two major projects, the desal plant and the pipeline, were instigated upon scientific advice eschewing the historical evidence of climate cycles and promoting the idea of a climate shift to a warmer-dryer future for South-Eastern Australia. Beyond the construction contractors it is hard to find the ‘bootleggers’ here. The new planning rule was instituted upon the advice of state-funded science of an imminent 0.8 metre sea level rise. It does indeed seem that to some extent the decision makers really believed this advice and acted upon it to their perceived benefit in the face of embarrassing and widespread public protest. That they were victims of the bad advice of AGW proponents seemed to became evident when the government was defeated on a stormy weekend following the wettest spring in this corner of the continent since the drought began — during which the press was depicting farmers standing on their flood farms shouting ‘climate cycles’ and ‘told you so.’

While the political extremes of AGW are astounding, what is for me most interesting about the AGW scare is not so much the public panic – we have seen that all before – but the pervasive infiltration of this scare into the scientific establishment, into its associations, its journals and its funding bodies. Why so successful, so rapid, so pervasive this corruption?

When we turn for answers to academic historians of climate science, we find them mostly on-side and on message, and seemingly unaware of the profound significance of this turn in the history of science. (While Fleming is better than Weart, Oreskes & Conway mainline the propaganda and spits it out, whereas Kellow is the notable exception among the academics – see below). Looking elsewhere, we do find others starting to develop useful ways of presenting an historical understand of what is going on here. Some of these that I find the most interesting, I present briefly below for WUWT readers’ consideration and comment:

1. Now that modern science has usurped religion as the new principle validation of public knowledge, such corruptions should be expected.

In pre-modern times there were two prevailing validations of contentious public knowledge, one was the dogma of the state or religious authority and the other was direct communications from God. The authority of the prophet is upon such direct communication, while the religious dogma often defers to the authority of prophetic testimonials. But since the end of World War II, and especially through the compulsory secular education programs of affluent nations, the principle authority for public knowledge has been modern science. Except in the context of a Church, if you want to persuade folks to act according to the knowledge you profess, the best way is to make your claims upon the authority of science. Only recently has science commanded such enormous power. And power corrupts. And so when we look back on the corruption of the Church and the abuse of its dogmas to serve the interests of the unscrupulous, where we see scary scenarios causing panic in religious knowledge systems, now that modern science has usurped religion, should we be surprised that similar phenomena emerge within science also?

2. The public fear –> public funding cycle generated explosive growth of the pseudo-science of Climate Change.

In 1988 James Hansen won extraordinary attention from the press when he proclaimed his ‘99% certainty’ that the forecasted self-imposed global warming catastrophe was now in train. Schneider was not so certain, but he did recognise that scary scenarios were required in order to gain attention and to prompt folks to act (Haughton later admitted much the same). The IPCC was founded, and it reported twice without certainty and without alarm…and without much attention. At the end of 1995 it nearly did the same again…until late changes were made…and so headlines in the papers again…and the rest is history. Climate science, an under-paid stagehand was propelled into the glory of the footlights. (more here)

Scary scenarios generate public fear, public fear generates funding for more research, and if the new research generates more public fear then the science will continue to expand. The environmental sciences had hit upon a funding mechanism rarely exploited outside the arms industry (i.e., the fabled ‘military-industrial complex’), and this caused almost irresistible and explosive expansion.

3. The social and environmental sciences legitimated activist-science.

The Marxist social sciences of the post-war period (neo-Marxism) promoted activist science under the slogan ‘Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world…the point is to change it’ and this legitimated the validation of academic research and teaching, not according to some ground in truth, but by the extent to which it promoted social change for the good. This politicised approach to scholarship pervaded left thinking to such an extent that old-fashion liberal scientists were vilified on campus as ‘bourgeois.’ Such an approach to research is evident in social science discourses with no apparent Marxism affinities, including Feminism and more recently Post-Normal Science. (more here)

Science-as-activism came into the natural sciences through geography and the other environmental sciences. At the time universities were using funding incentives to promote such things as ‘community partnering’, ‘knowledge transfer’ and science-for-policy – and all this against an idea of the old paradigm of the academy as an ivory tower full of irrelevant boffins wasting public money pursuing science for science’s sake. The distinction between science and policy, and between science and political interest became blurred. In this atmosphere, the involvement of advocacy groups (WWF, Greenpeace etc) in the scientific process was condoned and encouraged. The work of Mike Hulme, the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, exemplifies the corruption of conventional natural science practices by this new activist approach to science (more here).

4. Noble Cause or ‘Virtuous’ Corruption

The legitimation of activist-science helps to promote what is called ‘noble cause corruption’. This is the term used in the context of criminal investigations, where, for example, evidence might be planted in order to convict a criminal of a crime that the investigator has no doubt he committed. (Such corruption is portrayed famously by Orson Welles in A Touch of Evil.) As this sort of corruption manifests in the sciences, Aynsley Kellow has labelled it ‘virtuous corruption.’ This is where we would have scientists genuinely believing in the truth of AGW quite prepared to manipulate, distort and misrepresent their research in order to promote this truth in the face of formidable opposition from powerful vested interests (read: ‘Big Oil’ etc) attempting to obscure the truth with their own distortions, misrepresentations and lies.

-BL

******

134 thoughts on “Climate Change and the Corruption of Science: Where did it all go wrong?

  1. It all went wrong when we gave government power to fund science. Government steals money from the people at the point of a gun, and elected officials use all that money to advance their own agendas. Bureaucrats dutifully carry out that mission, and bureaucrats never want to solve problems because if they do, they’ll lose their jobs and have to get real jobs which earn money in the private sector, and that’s hard. This corruption, layered on corruption, layered on corruption so government money corrupts everything it touches.

    Also, because government is funded by armed robbery instead of voluntary exchange, government has no prices and no profits to guide it. So even if everybody in government was an angel instead of a self-interested, flawed human being, it couldn’t intelligently figure out how to spend money.

    The corruption of science, and everything else, by government money was inevitable, and the more money government spends funding science, the more corrupt it becomes. The solution is as easy as understanding the problem: take away the government’s power to fund science, and everything else.

  2. A warmer planet has always been better for humanity. Historically a colder planet has been catastrophic and brought nothing but misery for humanity. For the past 15 years science, politics and the MSM have been lamenting our good fortune of living in a warming period. Those pursuing the filthy lucre of CAGW and its weird science may get some nasty personal surprises.

    I suspect the good times are over and we are going to have to actually start using our intelligence to adapt to the coming cooling period. I never thought I would be witness to such an example of global delusion as CAGW, incredible.

  3. Science-as-activism came into the natural sciences through geography and the other environmental sciences.

    From page 133 of the book ‘RIO: Reshaping the International Order- A Report to the Club of Rome”

    “In the past, specialist have often been reluctant to engage in political debate or to share their knowledge and fears with the general public. Given social dilemmas, they have often preferred to adopt neutral rather than value positions, to tacitly advise rather than openly advocate. This generalization no longer holds true. In many branches of science there are radical movements. Increasingly, both in the rich and poor worlds, scientists are involved in active advocacy which they see as an intellectual and ethical duty. “

  4. Science has been used for political purpose for some time. It’s just now the world social justice crowd has overreached and crashed, the pursuit of money is the flaw. Lots of money, for silly purposes. Like windmills and solar panels, which will never produce real returns for the money invested.

    Hey did you think gnomes in the black forest built and maintained these devices, and then supplied free batteries for life. Renewable energy, doesn’t anybody do science anymore? Energy does not renew. At best it needs to be regrown.

    Science for money, the flawed government grant system of tell us what we want to hear, and you get your grant money. I saw this shaping up way back in the 1970s. Government always distorts the science product to tell their desired political tales, which more often than not, are directed at controlling people… Once government realized you could rig the science by the grant system, it was Katy bar the door, let the junk roll.

  5. As universities and other institutions become dominated by socialists, everything becomes a tool for political change. Politics is more important than truth and knowledge. Although there are the useful idiots who blindly tag along and honestly believe what they are spouting, the leadership know exactly what they are doing. AGW is all about securing total control over the economy for the collective good.

    Free thinkers need to organize and resist. The difficulty is free thinkers are individualistic. The don’t work as effectively as the collective does. They get orders and march forward in any direction the leadership tell them to go. They fundamentally do not trust anyone not connected to a group; essentially, individuals are dangerous and out of control.

    The advantage free thinkers have is in creativity to maintain and innovate to keep our civilization thriving. Collectivists do not reward individuals, thus they threaten the foundation of a highly technical civilization. The best they can hope for is an agrarian society. You see the direction they want to take us in Agenda 21, Yukon-to-Yellowstone, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In all cases, people are bad (too many people are alive), they need to be limited to cities, and the state needs to control the upbringing of children.

    It is important to debunk the tools the socialists use. I don’t know how you organize free thinkers to counter collectivist ant-like behavior (the old ‘herding cats’ metaphor comes to mind). It is imporant to target the leaders of the left, but they are decentralized and pervasive. Their first step was to gain control over education. Perhaps the most important thing we can do is fight for local control over school curricula, taking that power back from the state and feds. Next, we need to promote political diversity in universities. The tenure system is broken and used to maintain an iron curtain around higher education. It’s time to tear down that wall.

  6. A very good and enlightening essay, but will it make sense to the masses that have swallowed the AGW nonsense?

    BTW: Does anyone here know if the Royal Society was involved in the “scientific research” over a hundred years ago in which the effort was made to prove women should not have the right to vote because their craniums (hence, brain size) were smaller on average than men’s? It was somewhat akin to eugenics.

  7. “…the involvement of advocacy groups (WWF, Greenpeace etc) in the scientific process was condoned and encouraged…”

    And, further complicating matters, these advocacy groups, or at least one in particular, carried their crusade into major church organizations. Please see my article from Dec 18, where church-going AGW believers are prompted to equate basic Christian values with saving the planet – while failing to consider how one of their own may have committed a greater sin against skeptic scientists: “The Case of the Curious Climate Covenant” http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/the_case_of_the_curious_climat.html

  8. This is a nonsensical statement. You seem to regard the entire issue as PR problem, which can be eliminated with well-chosen words. Western civilization has been transformed by science and now, the rest of the world is achieving the same beneficial change. But science is also showing us that these changes are not without consequences. Science is clearly describing effects which are potentially catastrophic, if not mediated. Forestalling this mediation runs risks which are outrageously unacceptable.

  9. Ok, I promise to edit better before I hit the post button next time.

    1) Free thinkers don’t work as effectively as the collective does. The collectivists get orders….

    2) Essentially, individualists are considered by collectivists as dangerous and out of control.

  10. I generally agree with most of what is said, except for point 2. Public fear has NOT generated more government funding for the simple reason that public fear does not exist, not now nor in the past. You have simply assumed that fear exists because that is what scary scenarios are meant to engender.

    I think I have rarely overheard anyone expressing even a passing interest in ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Global warming’ as it is more commonly known. And I have never heard anyone expressing anything resembling concern. Even though I occupied a desk next to a regular ‘Independent’ reader for two years, and even when this carried an apocalyptic front page (which was often), this was never commented on. Never, not even once, in all the social interactions spanning years and years have I ever heard anyone say anything along the lines of ‘I’m a bit worried about global warming.’ Never.

    How can there be such a disconnect between the meme that ‘alarmed public are clamouring for government to act’ and my actual experience where AGW registers zero on the public awareness scale? Either I am a hermit or the meme does not reflect reality.

    What has happened, is that pundits have deduced that the logical effect of alarmist’s propaganda is – alarm. At best it invokes a yawn, but more likely the newspaper reader just flips the page to the sports, or the tv viewer flicks the channel to X-Factor.

    Yet the myth persists that an alarmed public are forcing governments to act. Governments believe these myths, so they play to an audience that went home at the start of the second act. Of course, the PR consultants tell them the audience is still there and cheering them on.

  11. Once someone is convinced of something to fear, it’s really hard to convince them otherwise.
    Like monsters under the bed.
    Human nature seems to like that thrill also….

    Now what will we do with all the hysterical bed wetters?

  12. I see you quote Charles Mackay’s book on “Madness of the Crowds” but unfortunately he got it all wrong. If he were writing on climate then he’s the kind of guy who would be pinning amphibian population levels on CO2.

    The source of economic bubbles and panics has been well known for over a century by Austrian economic scientists. Unfortunately government funding in the economics profession distorted that scientific endevor long ago and it is the Keynesians and Monetarists in control.

    Tulip mania, the Mississippi bubble, and other manias were not precipitated by a general “madness of crowds”. In fact they were caused by a central bank exacerbating the natural tendency of fractional reserve banking to inflate the money supply. It’s the inflating money supply that sends bad economic signals to the actors making them all thing they can retire rich based on the effects of the resulting rising asset prices.

    Sound familiar. It should since it is the same thing that happened in the tech and housing bubbles thanks to Alan Greenspan, Barney Frank, and a host of other actors opening the monetary spigots via government sponsored entities like the Fed, Fannie Mae, and Freddy Mac. That along with changes in regulations that let fractional reserve banks count checking deposits as part of their reserves, etc.

    The business cycle is a natural feature of fractional reserve banking, and can be explained in purely mechanical terms. It boils down to the inability to borrow from Peter short term to lend to Paul long term. You can’t do this with a single person because the minute he comes collect your IOU in the short term the fraud is exposed. However, if you get more Peters, the depositors, you can continue the scam for quite a while before it collapses in a bank run. However, the temporal pyramid scheme eventually collapses as you run out of new deposits.

    Adding a central bank, fiat currency, or FDIC insurance does not fix the problem. It just allows the scam to be run for a longer period, and to higher heights. This is why the Great Depression was great, and the current mess is going to be a doozy. Yep, it’s not over yet, they merely reflated the bubble now into bonds, and government debt.

    They pushed the bank losses in the pyramid scheme onto the taxpayers tab but it isn’t going to work. It’s only accumulating more losses as government and banks continue to waste resources on uneconomic projects.

    Yes Tulip mania was an effect of monetary policy and yes a central bank was established prior to the mania that pumped up the money supply. No, it is not because the free markets cannot be trusted.

  13. “This is where we would have scientists genuinely believing in the truth of AGW quite prepared to manipulate, distort and misrepresent their research in order to promote this truth in the face of formidable opposition from powerful vested interests (read: ‘Big Oil’ etc) attempting to obscure the truth with their own distortions, misrepresentations and lies.”

    This statement is brilliant; definitely a ‘cut-out-and-keep’ !

  14. The activists, the red-green opposition, have been turned into stooges of the central European government here in Germany, and the vehicle for that was climate change. All that the EU had to do was enshrine the goal of fighting climate change in the Lissabon treaty and push this treaty through – now all our little communists, socialists and greens serve the purpose of the eurocrats when they protest our national government. They haven’t noticed this by now, and i doubt they ever will.

    And as fighting climate change is now one of the highest goals of the EU, it serves to push wind turbines and solar panels on the peripheral states, which is in the interest of German industry. It will become a problem for our banks, though, as the peripheral nations will become exceedingly unable to pay back credits.

    So everyone here in the EU does his little Hegelian dialectic play with climate change. In a way, it’s so profitable it’s GOT to break down. And soon now.

    The scientists like Schellnhuber and Rahmstorf at the PIK have been willing stooges to set up the scenario.

  15. Hugh Pepper,

    “But science is also showing us that these changes are not without consequences. Science is clearly describing effects which are potentially catastrophic, if not mediated. Forestalling this mediation runs risks which are outrageously unacceptable.”

    Wrong. Science does not show us anything of the sort. The idea that there is a consensus of the overwhelming majority of scientists who agree that man made CO2 emissions will change the climate in catastrophic ways is simply the outpourings from the ignorant. Scientists are deeply divided over the magnitude of co2 sensitivity. If you ask what the majority of scientists agree on, it is that co2 is a greenhouse gas that without feedbacks has a temperature sensitivity of about 1c per doubling.

    Catastrophism comes out of computer models that are based on a range of unproven assumptions, such as strongly positive water vapour feedbacks, and cloud dynamics on which there is very little scientific understanding. Many scientists have shown evidence that net feedbacks are negative and that cloud cover drives temperature rather than the other way round.

    Now empirical data is begining to cast doubt on the whole AGW conjecture. Data such as missing ocean heat and missing mid troposphere hot spots. In short, whilst in the past there has been no credible evidence that co2 will cause serious problems, new data goes even further and refutes the whole AGW conjecture.

  16. One issue which is not covered here is the curious involvement of energy companies in the various AGW mechanism’s, almost from their creation (even though most AGW proponents claim “big oil” is their opponent). What were/are their motives?

  17. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 27, 2010 at 8:42 am
    “This is a nonsensical statement. You seem to regard the entire issue as PR problem, which can be eliminated with well-chosen words. Western civilization has been transformed by science and now, the rest of the world is achieving the same beneficial change. But science is also showing us that these changes are not without consequences. ”

    You make the mistake of looking at science as a monolithical block. Computer science is, for example, not one that states have ever controlled. The driving forces have always been companies.

    Climate change science has no practical use as it doesn’t predict anything that we can use. (See Petoukhov, PIK climatologist who just ‘found out’ that cold European winters are thrice as likely as usual under Global Warming conditions, now, how helpful is that? Not at all, as it is a retroactive fit of the Global warming science to make it match reality, and delivers no predictive value). It’s only use was political.

  18. Vince Causey says:
    December 27, 2010 at 8:45 am
    “I think I have rarely overheard anyone expressing even a passing interest in ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Global warming’ as it is more commonly known. And I have never heard anyone expressing anything resembling concern.”

    You obviously do not live in Europe.

  19. In response to the post’s query “Why so successful, so rapid, so pervasive this corruption?”– My experience going back to the 70s is that it was not rapid. What we see now is simply the degree of organized power attained by this self organizing system. The selection algorithm was evident in the philosophies of Marcuse, Commoner etc and championed by the first Earth Day organizers. A philosophy that espoused -Capitalism and its resultant “excess economic activity” fueled by access to cheap energy sources were incapable of being bounded by the natural limits to growth. Environmental harm and social injustice were the consequences. Only by changing the system could environmental improvement and social (environmental) justice be attained. This became the sensitive organizing culture of the resulting environmental bureaucracies and movement. Conservation and Preservation philosophies became “dead men walking”.

    Everything else was iteration.

  20. It went wrong when folks started to pursue the greatest number of hits on their blogs, rather than pursue the facts.

    [Reply: Yes, and links to blogs that don’t have the courtesy to link to WUWT on their own blog-roll may start getting snipped, if it appears that those links are being attached to direct more hits to their thinly trafficked blogs. If commentators can’t explain their position in their own words, they should not complain if gratuitous links are removed from their posts. ~dbs, mod.]

  21. Rather than consider we are all easily-led morons, I prefer to think that the leaders of the agw scam (some scientists, greenies and some politicians) are just in it for the power and money.
    At the end of the day, it all comes down to money.
    After all, in a very few years all of us will be dead, so make hay while the sun shines ?

  22. Hoser says:
    December 27, 2010 at 8:31 am
    It all began in the French Revolution “Illustration”, along with its 400 degrees circle and 100 degrees right angle. :-) having the purpose of secularizing the world, to reach a human society absolutely detached from any superior norm or “canon”, thus suppressing any scientific knowledge/law which could reveal a superior order, replacing it with the so called “principles” of uncertainty, randomness and chaos, and, last but not least, ethical values by “democratic “values.

  23. The ‘climate issue’ gave those countries heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels a reason to act on ‘energy security’ that the various green groups would support.

  24. Excellent post.

    I am a historian of science, and I know several historians of science who are at the very least open-minded on the question of man-made global warming, if not downright skeptical. Back in 2003 I commented to a couple of trusted colleagues that the history of global warming ‘science’ will fuel the careers of many future historians of science. He agreed enthusiastically.

    However, I am an outlier in being a skeptical historian of environmental science. Amongst my immediate peer group I remain closeted (although I suspect and respectable researcher here could figure out who I am from past comments) as I cherish my association with these individuals. It says something, of course, about the sorry state of academia and the frailty of regard for opposing views that I feel the need to hide my identity here. Perhaps I am being overcautious. Am I the only historian of science — other than Tallbloke, I believe — who frequents WUWT?

    I am not a fan of navel-gazing academic exercises, but it would be interesting to survey historians of science and technology, and environmental historians, and find out whether skepticism also tends to be the domain of the historians of hard science. Perhaps the noble-cause error also pervades the thinking of environmental historians?

  25. I would add a fifth:

    The demise of hierarchy within universities and research institutes by the centralized funding.

    Before WWII and the Manhattan project, science was funded by the universities and/or the states, and the funding was mainly salaries and laboratories for the education of students. On top, there were grants from private individuals or foundations that allowed research to be carried out. Within each institution the hierarchy was the first peer review, and brash young associate professors could not get their hands on the grants without paying long dues in the trenches.

    Once funding was centralized and grants could be obtained by anybody with a university post, universities started coddling the grant bringers, because of the cut they took on the grant. This eventually emasculated the internal hierarchy and made research subservient to bureaucrats who were mostly researchers manque. These bureaucrats hold a lot of decision power because they decide on the committees which decide on the grants. Since their decisions are central, they can move the direction of research wherever their opinion leads them.

    It used to be that independent schools of thought in science could flourish and would fight out the differences in the conferences and publications. Climate science polarization is the monoculture that happens when funding decisions and power are centralized instead of being distributed to the universities to use with internal decisions.

    In addition when the “best in science” is the one who gets the most grants, then a vicious circle between peer review and funding is established, peers being the ones with parity on funds and not on knowledge and experience .

  26. I am afraid I see more megalomania than religious fervour in the attitude of many scientists and politicians in their position on AGW. These people see an opportunity to save the world and to be known as the saviours.Not since the threat of global nuclear war some decades ago have individuals had this opportunity

    They are not looking for canonisation, they are seeking deification.

  27. Typo “As it is the time of year for refection, let us

    Should be “As it is the time of year for reflection, let us”

    [Fixed, thanks. ~dbs]

  28. DirkH –

    I live in Europe and can confirm that on a social basis no-one is talking about climate change.

    There is, however, a curious disconnect between what the MSM want to talk about and what are pressing concerns for “ordinary people”, if I can put it like that. Politicians seem to speak to the press, who speak back to the politicians, whilst the rest of us look on with increasing disbelief (and increasing detachment) from the unedifying spectacle.

    This has been going on for some time, it’s not restricted to climate change and is one reason, I would postulate, for the growth of the Tea Party movement in the USA. When no-one seems to represent you, what happens next?

  29. vigilantfish says:
    December 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Am I the only historian of science — other than Tallbloke, I believe — who frequents WUWT?

    I am not a fan of navel-gazing academic exercises, but it would be interesting to survey historians of science and technology, and environmental historians, and find out whether skepticism also tends to be the domain of the historians of hard science. Perhaps the noble-cause error also pervades the thinking of environmental historians?

    I visited my old department a few months ago to ask who was specialising in the global warming debate. I was astonished to discover the answer was….

    No-one

    I pointed out to the prof that this subject was clearly the clearest opportunity to witness in real-time the interaction of interests which determine the direction of science, and that it was *the* hot potato issue of our time.

    He agreed about that last bit, and it dawned on me that this was precisely why no-one had picked it up. He asked me if I wanted the job. I told him I wanted to write in an unconstrained way unbecoming of an academic historian.

    He understood.

  30. Jeff says: December 27, 2010 at 9:01 am “One issue which is not covered here is the curious involvement of energy companies in the various AGW mechanism’s, almost from their creation (even though most AGW proponents claim “big oil” is their opponent). What were/are their motives?”

    Perhaps it is a bit like playing both sides of a major issue so one is on the “right side” when it’s all over. For example, American companies, the Catholic Church, and the Swiss banks’ links to the National Socialists in Germany leading into and during World War II. Consider also that Maurice Strong (creator of the IPCC) was an energy guy in Canada.

  31. Bernie Lewin,

    I enjoyed your article. Thank you.

    I would add to it that when all the authoritarian social engineering experiments concocted by academic socialists are exposed to the real world, it is always economic principles that exterminate them inevitably. : )

    John

  32. No disinterested, sentient observer since 1988 could view Green Gangsters such as Briffa, Hansen, Jones, Mann, Trenberth et al. as anything but mourners at the Death of Little Nell. No excuse, prevarication, far-fetched rationale whatever suffices to exonerate an entire generation of megalmaniacal poseurs acting in bad faith, under false pretenses, to promote a depraved Statist agenda celebrating human mega-deaths worldwide.

    Self-delusion is one thing, willful obstruction and sabotage of scientific philosophy, methodology, and practice are quite another. Call it faith, ideology, religion, alarmist catastrophism for decades has been Thanatists’ stock-in-trade– those like Paul Ehrlich, John Holder, latterly Keith Farnish and his ilk, who like murderous Islamic jihadists “love death more than life,” despise post-Enlightenment industrial/technological civilization and libertarian ideals. Nihilistic elitists scheme to destroy global coal, oil, nuclear-energy economies preparatory to exterminating Earth’s “teeming maggots” (Holder, 1974) on behalf of “environmental” fantasies which in fact are no such thing.

    Now as Earth enters a 40-year “dead sun” Dalton if not a 70-year Maunder Minimum, likely presaging an overdue end to our current Holocene Interglacial Epoch on the threshold of a cyclically resurgent 102,000-year Pleistocene Ice Time, driveling Warmists represent a clear-and-present danger to survival of entire human populations. In this sense, AGW catastrophists’ much-bruited “precautionary principle” should knock these braying asses off their crumbling pedestals post-haste.

  33. beesaman says:
    December 27, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Scared based science.

    From “Sacred” they turned it to “Scared”, just by changing letters: v.tr.
    To strike with sudden fear; alarm. See Synonyms at frighten.
    v.intr.
    To become frightened: a child who scares easily.
    n.
    1. A condition or sensation of sudden fear.
    2. A general state of alarm; a panic: a bomb scare that necessitated evacuating the building.
    adj.
    Serving or intended to frighten people: scare stories; scare tactics.

  34. Vince Causey says:

    “How can there be such a disconnect between the meme that ‘alarmed public are clamouring for government to act’ and my actual experience where AGW registers zero on the public awareness scale? ”

    Even though the public hasn’t been inflamed, they have “gone along” with the crowd, and opinion leaders, such as editorialists, have also been convinced. Ditto the leadership groups of many pillars of society, like unions, charitable groups, churches, scientific societies, etc. (The extent to which this conversion has been accomplished bespeaks the professionalism of the Cult’s strategic-advisory groups, as well as their high level of funding.)

    Thus, any politician who disputes the CACA Cult will be condemned and mocked as a flat-earther by all right-thinking people and opinion leaders, and besieged by negative attacks by alarmists, which the media will give prominence to. In addition, a significant slice of the voting public considers this a litmus test issue, outweighing their traditional political-party allegiance.

    This cultivation of opinion leaders and the amplification-factor of single-issue voters, were the means by which the Drys were able to get Prohibition instituted in the US, despite an absence of majority support. Our electoral system is not just a reflection of public opinion, but also of manipulated elite opinion + the leveraged power of pressure groups.

  35. tallbloke says:
    December 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

    vigilantfish says:
    December 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

    tallbloke/vigilantfish,

    It saddens me that historians of science such as yourselves feel the need for anonymous commenting. I have enjoyed your frequent energetic activities on blogs for a long time.

    It is hard to meet fellow commenters socially that way. : )

    Happy Holidays.

    John

  36. Excellent article.
    AGW somehow became a universal tool for everyone from the other side: for politicians to rise taxes, for bureaucrats to develop new regulation, for lefties to fight capitalism, for empty minds as an “ersatz” religion, for corrupt scientists as opportunity to play attention whores and saviors of the planet.
    Still, it is a good fight.

  37. Hugh Pepper says: December 27, 2010 at 8:42 am

    This is a nonsensical statement. You seem to regard the entire issue as PR problem, which can be eliminated with well-chosen words. Western civilization has been transformed by science and now, the rest of the world is achieving the same beneficial change. But science is also showing us that these changes are not without consequences. Science is clearly describing effects which are potentially catastrophic, if not mediated. Forestalling this mediation runs risks which are outrageously unacceptable.

    Dear Hugh

    Whereas most everyone here agrees profoundly that “civilization has been transformed by science”, what is now calling itself Climate Science is NOT science. People come to WUWT when, one by one, they realize the true practice of Science has been usurped in Climate Science, and start asking “what on earth has happened? what on earth can I do to remedy this?” They recognize the difference between real science and the current pretence, because they practice and apply the Scientific Method. They check the evidence on ALL sides.

    Do likewise. Click my name, for starters.

  38. Tony says:
    December 27, 2010 at 8:56 am
    “This is where we would have scientists genuinely believing in the truth of AGW quite prepared to manipulate, distort and misrepresent their research in order to promote this truth in the face of formidable opposition from powerful vested interests (read: ‘Big Oil’ etc) attempting to obscure the truth with their own distortions, misrepresentations and lies.”

    This statement is brilliant; definitely a ‘cut-out-and-keep’ !

    And as Jeff above points out, Big Oil and Energy has largely jumped on the bandwagon. In my opinion for no other reason but to make more money.

  39. anna v says:
    December 27, 2010 at 9:54 am
    “. . . universities started coddling the grant bringers, because of the cut they took on the grant.

    That “cut” is called overhead. Some of the current academics could provide a few numbers and the “explanation” for those readers not familiar with the process.
    A second but related issue is that as academic institutions have taken on roles other than “teaching” (for example, promoting diversity) the entire concept of education, its outcomes, and costs have gotten increasingly fuzzy.

  40. Jeff says:
    December 27, 2010 at 9:01 am
    “One issue which is not covered here is the curious involvement of energy companies in the various AGW mechanism’s, almost from their creation (even though most AGW proponents claim “big oil” is their opponent). What were/are their motives?”

    One important motive for the oil and gas companies was to drive coal out of the business. Oil as automotive fuel is not easily replaced, and nearly never used for electricity generation, so sales would not be affected. Gas on the other hand increases sales when coal is no more in favour.

  41. The following article starts with the non sequitur “THE earth continues to get warmer, yet it’s feeling a lot colder outside. ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/opinion/26cohen.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

    Does anybody else believe this isn’t the only “snow job” we’re getting about weather/climate interaction? I’d say they’re backing away from any firm commitment they’ve been telling us for the past 20 years! Or it could be they’re just obfuscating the bluff.

  42. You should run a spell checker on this. There are several instances in which a word is used incorrectly and at least one word that does not exist (quieten is not a word that I know of.)
    Mark

  43. When the Feds went from perhaps 3% of scientific research funding to 90%, commencing with Nixon’s war on cancer, scientific multitudinous research was supplanted by monolithic research. Hence in medical research, 100s of approaches to cancer treatment are allowed to languish, while the bureaucrats allow funding only to the echo chamber, regardless of results. Of all the scientific dead ends, surely climate science takes the cake as the largest waste of money. We have people absolutely without credentials in the field, such as Hansen, Mann, Jones, etc. establishing a policy based upon “models” which are designed to always predict a runaway warming trend. (Remember the Met model that was predicated on a 4C per century rise in temperature?) In any other field, these people would be considered crackpots on the order of Cold (palladium) Fusion by virtue of the simple fact that the modeled result has never come true. However in the case of the climate charlatans the governments do not care if it is true or not. Because it achieves 3 highly desirable results: the elimination of the free market, the possibility of a huge amount of revenue, and the total control of every aspect of human life via environmental ‘needs’.
    The various States must take back the allocation of research dollars and get the Feds off their backs . Interestingly enough, there is actually little the Feds can do under the Constitution if a State refuses to be bullied. Businesses must fund their own needs. Let nut cases like California and Spain destroy themselves while the sane walk away from this silly and obviously politically motivated suicide pact.

  44. LOL Science Disruption.

    If Big Snow “proves” Global Warming, what did all the big snows of my youth prove?

    We used to just call it “winter”.

  45. tallbloke says:
    December 27, 2010 at 10:10 am
    I visited my old department a few months . . .

    In Dec ’08 or Jan ’09 prior to the Heartland Conf. in NYC, I sent information to and visited on campus with earth-science types at our local university. I encouraged them to send someone to the conference and tried to convince them that what they were seeing and reading (about the IPPC, Al Gore, and so on) was highly politicized and, as scientists, they should investigate the skeptical arguments. I was politely ignored.

    I wrote a letter to the local newspaper and one of the local academics responded with an appeal to authority (yes, the IPPC) to explain why I was deluded.

    Again, to quote tallbloke, “I was astonished.

  46. Great article and some of the most insightful comments I’ve seen anywhere. I particularly enjoyed seeing Brian Macker’s mini-description of Austrian economics. The Austrian school specifically rejects mathematical models as being key to economic understanding, instead relying principally on “praxeology”, which is the study of human action. In other words, they look at how the world really works as opposed to how somebody’s models say it should work.

    Aside from the obvious “models vs real world” parallel to climate science, what’s relevant here is that praxeology (hate that word) attempts to explain how various actors will respond to different incentives. So, Austrians had no difficulty predicting that rational people may respond to low interest rates, government guarantees, tax breaks on mortgage interest, and an implicit promise that real estate prices would always go up by burying themselves in houses they couldn’t afford, leading to a housing bubble and (arguably) a world-wide depression. Likewise, many here have pointed out the inevitable results of combining socialist ideology with the current government-centric system of science funding.

  47. Bernie

    Excellent article. Lots of good points. But there are lots more factors, I suspect, that swarmed at the same time to produce a “flying ant day”.

    There’s one factor I never tire of describing – because I think it’s highly significant. Comparing with the bank/money origins of tulipmania, the South Sea Bubble, the French Mississippi scheme, the Crusades, and sub-prime mortgages, it might even be the most significant.

    Maggie Thatcher was on the warpath against the miners. She was also on the make, determined to leave a name in the history books. So she played to her strengths: an Oxford degree in Science – a rarity amongst politicians. At that time there was a genuine concern about our potential effects on climate, nobody knew for sure, but if our CO2 emissions were having an effect, that was a stick with which to beat the miners. So Maggie established the Hadley Centre and CRU. At first, under Hubert Lamb, CRU was a good place.

    Now Maggie also acted out the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, starting something small that grew and grew. She cut back on research grants across all disciplines except those that researched – Manmade Global Warming. Note: a strategy leading to Divide And Rule. Everyone finds little in their own department, but hey, others are finding proof in their disciplines and they can’t all be wrong and anyway it is where the money can be found.

    When this setup was once established, its scare factor enabled it to grow and grow. Maggie Thatcher herself saw through the illusion of AGW. But as a politician she was not about to say, hey I got it wrong, we don’t need CRU after all.

    Am I right, historians? Is this the point at which genuflection to AGW started in research?

    Of course, the climate coincidentally started to oblige.

  48. Hugh Pepper says: @ 8:42 am
    This is a nonsensical statement. —-Science is clearly describing effects which are potentially catastrophic, if not mediated. Forestalling this mediation runs risks which are outrageously unacceptable.
    ————————————————————————
    Hugh Pepper. I don’t see any proof of what (some) scientists are describing as potentially catastrophic. But the mediation that is proposed is outrageously unacceptable. The medicine (mediation) will likely kill the patient first.

    Douglas

  49. Hugh Pepper says:

    “Western civilization has been transformed by science and now, the rest of the world is achieving the same beneficial change. But science is also showing us that these changes are not without consequences. Science is clearly describing effects which are potentially catastrophic, if not mediated.”

    I’m calling your bluff: show us those “effects.” Produce your evidence that CO2 has caused harm.

    On the other hand, there is plenty of solid evidence showing that the rise in this harmless trace gas is beneficial.

  50. PF; Over the last hundred years, the Royal Society has adopted and defended several such ‘interesting’, and now discredited, theories. At one point they also promoted Eugenics and still support the view – which they claim is supported by their supposed Christian belief in man’s ‘dominance’ of the natural world – that animals are simply tools for research. In fact Christian dogma and theology don’t support any such thing – exactly the opposite. The dear old Royal Society has long been involved in supporting a lot of dubious ‘research’ including vivisection.

    This corruption of science actually stretches back to the rise of ‘social sciences’ which have their foundations in Huxley’s promotion of Darwin’s work. Arising from that Darwinian Evolutionary theory took some strange turns, and is embedded in some of Marx’s thinking, it also became the rationale for exploitation of ‘uncivilised’ or ‘under developed’ cultures. Starting from there, the corruption has spread steadily, one of the worst examples must be the manner in which education has been undermined and distorted with all sorts of left wing theories being introduced to teaching methods, the slewing of curriclii and the entrenching of some decidedly dodgy characters within the upper eschelons of the education establishments. All the most damaging spies of the 1930 – 60’s period in the UK were senior acedemics in some of our most prestigeous universities…

    Vast amounts of money have now been invested in super computers at second and third rate establishments in the education system and now churn out garbage which is fed to the civil service and the press and thence into the government. It is not helped by the status accorded eco terrorist organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Earth First and even the World Wildlife Fund which I used to support.

    It may already be to late to counter this propaganda – at least while ‘social scientists’ control our schools, universities and the media.

  51. Not entirely OT: Here’s my email to our free global newspaper called Positive News.

    Hello Positive News.

    About two years ago I did a U-turn from believer in manmade global warming to sceptic. It meant I could not continue my work with Transition Towns, much to my sorrow – though I am still friends with Transition folk here in Glastonbury.

    How would you like an article on the positive side of doing a U-turn that was difficult and cut me off from former friends? An article on the positive side of standing up as a loner? An article on the positive side of saying “sorry, I was wrong” (a la 12-steps programme)? An article on the positive side of checking the science for oneself? An article on the positive side of caring about truth?

    You can check our website for both committment to green values, positive attitude, and depth of research of Climate Science. I do hope you respond positively!!!

  52. The Gray Monk,

    You write: “This corruption of science actually stretches back to the rise of ‘social sciences’ which have their foundations in Huxley’s promotion of Darwin’s work.”

    You are a crack pot.

  53. “Mediation” means: raise the price of EVERYTHING by 40% overnight via bogus “carbon taxes” and send the money to the UN for redistribution to Robert Mugabe and other money-grubbing dictators. The chances that any really poor people will get the $$ or that any AGW will be stopped or mitigated are zippo.

  54. pat says:
    December 27, 2010 at 11:09 am
    (…)

    In any other field, these people would be considered crackpots on the order of Cold (palladium) Fusion by virtue of the simple fact that the modeled result has never come true.

    Pat, you don’t make a valid comparison if you use cold fusion as an example of “crackpot science”. They’ve changed the name to LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) and the phenomenon is real. Indeed, there’s even a second-generation medical device based on the principles of LENR–feel free to look up the science and become familiar with it. BTW, almost all LENR research is done outside the US now–the most notable locations being Israel and Japan where they’ve obtained numerous patents. The hot-fusion people have pretty much blocked any funding of cold-fusion research here in the US, which is very unfortunate; we’re way behind now and no closer to hot-fusion energy production than we were 50 years ago; indeed, some critics say the research has pretty much demonstrated hot fusion isn’t viable. The tide may be turning regarding LENR, however, with the recent preliminary research by the US Navy.

  55. I just had an epiphany. Time and again I read AGW “science” articles and notice the carefull wording that doesn’t quite say what you think it does if you just skim it, sometimes when you read it carefully it says nothing at all. I wonder how anyone can be taken in by the meaningless wording and see through logic, but the majority of people, even highly intelligent ones with science backgrounds, seem to be.

    So I am curious if there are any psychologists on this blog. It has been 20 years since I studied Neuro Linguistic Programming, I have no idea how it has progressed since then, but I think I smell a really big NLP rat. Take a look at interviews like the recent one with Trenberth that Anthony ran here on WUWT. I read it wondering how anyone of intelligence with a modicum of background in the issues could be taken in by the vague and misleading wording. Then I read it again with NLP in mind and…yikes!. Hope I’m dead wrong, hope that NLP never fulfilled the promise the researchers felt it had for manipulating people, and if I’m right… well that’s just sick.

  56. @Mark T says:
    December 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

    “You should run a spell checker on this. There are several instances in which a word is used incorrectly and at least one word that does not exist (quieten is not a word that I know of.)”

    Mark: Who cares about spelling in an article of such a high quality?
    The use of the word “quieten”

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/quieten

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quieten

    suggests that Bernie’s vocabulary is above average.

  57. Very interesting article. We need many years to figure out what went wrong. Perhaps this should be done by an international group of scientists, philosophers and historians on the internet. Because of the scale of corruption, the subject is too important not to be documented and analysed for future generations. How do we organise this and how do we get money for this project?

  58. Vince Causey says: @ 8:45 am
    Public fear has NOT generated more government funding for the simple reason that public fear does not exist, not now nor in the past. You have simply assumed that fear exists because that is what scary scenarios are meant to engender .— “I think I have rarely overheard anyone expressing even a passing interest in ‘Climate Change’ And I have never heard anyone expressing anything resembling concern.”

    DirkH says: @ 9:06 am

    You obviously do not live in Europe.

    woodentop says: @ 10:00 am

    There is, however, a curious disconnect between what the MSM want to talk about and what are pressing concerns for “ordinary people” —–This has been going on for some time, it’s not restricted to climate change and is one reason, I would postulate, for the growth of the Tea Party movement in the USA.. When no-one seems to represent you, what happens next?
    —————————————————————————–
    Well, this is an interesting conversation. For my 2 cents worth, you are all right –IMO the ‘fear’ of the public is there right enough – but pretty well submerged – too much else of immediate concern to occupy their minds. But if you read the comments in the newspapers on this and related subjects – especially ‘energy’ ‘transport’ ‘the economy’ ‘property’, ‘the performance of banks’ the EC (if you are in the UK) there is a lot of unsuppressed anger expressed by many and conversely fear expressed by others. All these matters are related and it seems that the politicians of all stripes and the MSM are oblivious to this ‘simmering’ going on below the surface. All are linked. The public (collectively) sees the link to taxes to provide inappropriate energy replacement, bailing out the profligate banks, and assistance to the so called 3rd world to allow them to compete against them.

    Sooner or later there will be resistance from the masses. This present cold snap will concentrate their minds. Tea Party anyone? Tumbrels perhaps? Can’t wait!

    Douglas

  59. Brian Macker on December 27, 2010 at 8:50 am says:
    “The source of economic bubbles and panics has been well known for over a century by Austrian economic scientists. Unfortunately government funding in the economics profession distorted that scientific endevor long ago and it is the Keynesians and Monetarists in control.”

    Yes! Top down control of research funding distorts science in the same way that top down control of markets distorts the pricing function for assigning value. Good insight, brilliant point!

  60. Warmistas, (the ones who haven’t already defected, that is) of course, have a completely different take on where things went wrong. For them, they are still trying to figure out why things don’t seem to be going their way, and seem to have settled upon the idiotic notion that they “just need to communicate” to the public more effectively. Hilariously, they see themselves as the poor, downtrodden victims of a well-funded, well-organized “anti-science campaign”, aided and abetted by a fickle MSM, only too willing to give “both sides” of the story. Oh, it’s a travesty, I tell you.

  61. If the alternsatives to incandescent light bulbs are better in terms of
    1- Energy efficiency
    2- Luminosity and perceived quality of light
    3- Cost of operation over their service life
    then people will adapt to them as the incandescent light bulb overtook gaslight and candles.
    Why then the need for governments to legislate against them?

  62. london247 says:
    December 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    If the alternsatives to incandescent light bulbs are better in terms of
    1- Energy efficiency
    2- Luminosity and perceived quality of light
    3- Cost of operation over their service life
    then people will adapt to them as the incandescent light bulb overtook gaslight and candles.
    Why then the need for governments to legislate against them?

    Well said, as someone who grew up in a house without electricity, lit by gas and paraffin lamps, given the choice I’d take gas over the modern “energy saving” alternative. A Veritas gas mantle gave a warm light with the added benefit of heat output. Maintenance was a bit of an issue though.

  63. The question that one should ask is not why is some science irrational, but why we assume any science is rational? After all science is just another belief system, it is be blunt:

    totally unscientific to believe in science

    There is no experimental test that has ever proven science to be a system of “truth”, science as a theoretical philosophical concept is totally rejects the basis of “truth” in science.

    Any real scientist must reject science because science is unscientific because science as a whole is not subject to the rules set down by science

    … which begs the question why anyone believes in science!

  64. Jason Calley says @ December 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    The best comparison of past science manias to the current CAGW mania is the example of Lysenkoism in the old USSR.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

    Thank you Jason for pointing this out to people. This wiki article is just a start. There are several good books detailing the political mechanisms that enaled this disaster int eh USSR. The same $hit is going down now with the AGW and scientific and academic institutions.

  65. History has been rewritten to denigrate Roger Bacon and the scientific method, and rehabilitate the Official Church Science of the Inquisition.

    In the new version of history, Roger Bacon was put under “a form of house arrest” for practicing or advocating astrology, whereas in the old version, he was put in solitary
    confinement on bread and water for advocating the scientific method.

    In the new version of history, the inquisition in 1277 encouraged and sponsored science by telling scientists what to think.

    This rewrite of history indicates that the elite is at some level consciously aware that they are a theocracy, just as Mao’s rewrite of Chinese history in favor of the murderous right wing totalitarianism called by Chinese “legalism”, shows a recognition that communism is pretty much the same system as fascism.

  66. Lucy Skywalker: Using the Lord Monckton as a guide to anything is a huge error. He is a propagandist who does not deserve a moment of reasonable attention. I will believe the Academies of Science, and the data supplied by the thousands of scientists who have contributed to the IPCC process and the many others who have been engaged in research all of which may be challenged in the acceptable peer review process. You need much more than rhetoric to challenge the mass of data which is already available to you and others. If you are predisposed to disbelieve anything which does not fit your preconceptions, however, this entire exercise will be futile.

  67. Federico: actually, it means Bernie’s vocabulary is British, which explains why I did not know of the word (American.)

    At any rate, if you want something to be taken as profound or meaningful, you should always have it proof-read and spell/grammar-checked. One of these days we’ll also get apostrophe usage up to par but I’m not holding my breath. ;)

    Mark

  68. Hugh Pepper,

    There is not one bit of substance to your ad hominem character assassination. You will be set straight pretty quick. If I had time at the moment I’d educate you.

    And regarding your laughable allusion to the thoroughly corrupt climate peer review system, start here.

  69. Okay Smokey: The evidence regarding “effects” is overwhelming and easily located, if you are predisposed to finding “truth” in legitimate, peer reviewed research. Try Realscience.org for starters. The IPCC, supported by all the worlds large Academies of Science, is a composite of research which accurately describes “effects”. If you are going to challenge this work, you should engage in research yourself (or cite peer reviewed research)and let your efforts be used to prove or disprove these findings. This is how the process works, unless, of course, you would prefer magic and irrationality.

  70. Hugh: the “thousands of people” did not author the IPCC’s conclusions. A few (52 or something like that) did all the work. The data itself is hard to challenge in peer review (do you understand what science is? Peer review?) But the conclusions of the few have been, challenged, repeatedly, and in many cases, refuted.

    Your precious IPCC is no more than the very same propaganda generator you accuse Monckton of being.

    Mark

  71. davidmhoffer says: December 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I just had an epiphany. Time and again I read AGW “science” articles and notice the carefull wording that doesn’t quite say what you think it does if you just skim it, sometimes when you read it carefully it says nothing at all.

    So I am curious if there are any psychologists on this blog. It has been 20 years since I studied Neuro Linguistic Programming, I have no idea how it has progressed since then, but I think I smell a really big NLP rat.

    From where I’m sitting (as an “outsider”, whose interest in this matter was relatively nill until a week or so BC [Before Climategate] as opposed to those who’ve been aware of the problems for several years), I doubt that NLP has anything to do with the current state of affairs.

    My guess would be that it’s probably a combination of “trusting” too much in the claims of the “scientists” (after all, why would they lie to us?!) – and the constant “on message” bombardment from the so-called science mavens in the MSM, reinforced by BIG Enviro-Advocacy.

    But I think the key part of your observation is: “carefull wording that doesn’t quite say what you think it does if you just skim it, sometimes when you read it carefully it says nothing at all.”

    Perhaps it’s the case that there’s simply far too much for far too many to read in far too little time … so we’ve become a species of skimmers! Not to mention that it’s probably easier to buy into a slogan or mantra than to examine that which might lie behind it.

    For example, the IPCC’s Assessment Reports. The sheer volume makes them almost inaccessible to the average reader; the Summary for Policymakers at a mere 22 pages is no less daunting (particularly if one is not inclined to partake of the wild goose chases inherent in verifying any conclusions).

    But all of the above was perhaps best summarized by Phillip Bratby in early October, when he asked:

    Why is it everything to do with the effect of human emissions of CO2 is given a false label?

    “For example “climate change” is a false label taken to mean only man made global warming. Thus all climate change is falsely attributed by politicians and advocates to human causes, even though we know climate change is natural.
    […]
    “Could it be that politicians and environmental advocates are trying to scare the ignorant general public by use of false labels?[…]“

  72. Hugh Pepper says: December 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm
    Lucy Skywalker: Using the Lord Monckton as a guide to anything is a huge error. He is a propagandist who does not deserve a moment of reasonable attention. If you are predisposed to disbelieve anything which does not fit your preconceptions, however, this entire exercise will be futile.
    ——————————————————————————
    Hugh Pepper If you are predisposed to using ad hominem as well as disbelieve anything which does not fit your preconceptions you are despicable for the first, while participation in this blogg will be futile for you.

    Douglas

  73. The housing and mortgage bubble worked because its arcane science and “government” support (read Federal and NY Reserve tolerance for excess) made it legitimate.

    The carbon credit was the next speculative bubble that was in line to absorb financial resources and generate copious fees and commissions for the financial sector.

    These things cannot flourish unless money is involved and people are coerced and corrupted by the love of same. What will be next? Hopefully we will get through this one better than the last.

    The next we must be ready for.

  74. Mark Twang says:
    December 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm
    Neuro-linguistic programming is bullshit. Find another bogeyman, David.>>

    I made no accusation, I simply asked if there were any psychologists up to date on the topic who could have a look. Doesn’t matter if NLP is bullarky or not. The core tenets of NLP are evident in Trenberth’s obfuscation and misleading answers. If by coincidence, so be it. If by purpose, then it is purpose to deceive.

    I’m not interested in debating if NLP is bullarky or not. Proponents make any number of wild claims about NLP as a tool to deceive, and the “patterns” on which it relies are visible in Trenberth’s answers. Does is not make sense to ask if that is deliberate or not?

  75. How did it happen? One reads every comment.

    It occurs to me that our politicians, from the local council upwards should read this thread. So, I will recommend it to those I know.

    Of all the follies it’s hard to top this one:

    “Adding a central bank, fiat currency, or FDIC insurance does not fix the problem. It just allows the scam to be run for a longer period, and to higher heights. This is why the Great Depression was great, and the current mess is going to be a doozy. Yep, it’s not over yet, they merely reflated the bubble now into bonds, and government debt. ”

    And this in the country that prints the currency that oils the wheels of international commerce. What a privilege! What a danger! And that currency is currently appreciating! Spectacular.

  76. Nice piece, Bernie.

    Another factor worth considering is pre-emptive mission creep by the conservation movement. The original conservationists were often conservatives, who used their own efforts and their own money – and that of their supporters – to preserve habitat and species. In the 1960s and 1970s this morphed into the environmental movement, which increasingly concerned itself with urban issues and human behaviour, and began to seek and attain support from taxpayer funds. In the 1990s their claim extended even further, to the entire globe, via global warming, with the lamentable results that are all around us. Indeed, many conservationists of the old stripe are very uncomfortable with their current bedfellows and their focus on climate issues and social control.

    Scientists are not immune from powerful social trends and the concomitant rewards of riding the crest of those waves. Why would they be?

    There have always been fashions in science, and scientists of the highest reputation who have been at the forefront. The eugenics movement mentioned above is a good example. A lot of the history of eugenics was rewritten for obvious reasons after WWII, but is was a perfectly respectable branch of science for several decades before its extension into the political world led to a rapid decline in its fortunes. This was not related to the quality of the science (which was never very good), but to the political and moral climate after WWII.

    As to the question of why business got on board, I have done quite a bit of consulting work on the impacts of various proposed mitigation measures with the business community, and my observation is that the motives are mixed. Some senior business figures genuinely believe in AGW, and if they are senior enough that carries a lot of weight. Many are agnostic, but take a pragmatic view – they have seen what happens to industries that openly defy the ideology du jour (governments score cheap points by trashing their reputations and regulating them to destruction). In the energy industry, many see participation in the AGW cult as a sensible survival and diversification strategy in and uncertain political environment.

    The merchant bankers simply see a potential bonanza as intermediaries of billions, even trillions of dollars washing around in whatever regulatory structures are devised ‘to fight climate change’. The same goes for many entrepreneurs, especially in industries such as solar power and wind farms.

  77. Where did it all go wrong?

    There was this powerful meme of interdependency on the public mind long before climate science got a kick-start. It was an aftershock of WWII and also a consequence of regular doomsday projections during the Cold War. At that time interdependency looked like a good thing that may prevent independent actions of rough states that can lead to just another all-out war, a truly detrimental one this time. Détente (разрядка) in the 70s was about increasing commerce (and all kind of traffic in general) between communist states and the rest of the world, making them interested in maintaining status quo.

    Then the Cold War was won unexpectedly in 1989-92 by the West, with Europe & the US not nuked at all (an exploit unprecedented in human history).

    However, the idea of interdependency got entrenched (and miserably misunderstood) by this time, leading to abrupt globalization by demodularization. People in power somehow got a mistaken drive to remove as many traditional module boundaries from the world system as possible and as soon as practicable as a vehicle to promote interdependency.

    The Great Climate Scare (Cold War gone) provided a perfect emotional support for this movement, as there is nothing that could permeate module boundaries more freely than air (loaded with human generated whatever, of course).

    This is why the environmental movement was made all but abandon local action and went global in a blink of an eye, while climate science was transformed to serve an agenda in a (computer aided) rush instead of the usual painstaking & meticulous ways of natural sciences.

  78. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Sorry, and this really isn’t your fault, but we have requested a quality Alarmist troll from AlarmtrollsRus© for weeks now; one who is at least somewhat schooled in the usual Alarmist drivel, yet able to hold their own, not just fling ad hominems and use Arguments from authority and/or Consensus arguments. Please return to their headquarters and have them send someone with the qualifications we have requested. Thanks.

  79. Please, do not confuse Big Business presently being led by the nose by Learned Societies and Institutions and the MSM, with ex-Big Business employees old enough to have seen a better system in operation. The latter comprise a large part of the authorship of blogs like this.

    The immediate task id to educate Big Business to follow tangible opportunities, rather than investment in offshoots of the Precautionary Principle.

  80. The AGW scare always reminds me of the indulgences scare of the 15th C, which was a prelude to the Reformation. AGW even has its own indulgences in the form of carbon credits. Established science these days is very like the Catholic Church, with sceptics much like Protestants sects.

    I expect to see a collapse of ‘faith’ in big science over the next few decades, and ever-deepening scepticism about all science, and not just climate science. It will cease to be accepted on trust. On the plus side, this new reformation will mean that relatively few fields of study will be granted the title of ‘science’, and plenty of them (e.g. “lifestyle medicine”) will be expelled. With luck that will mean that currently bloated universities will have far fewer departments. On the minus side, the associated rise of (Protestant) citizen science will mean that a great many more ideas – good and bad – will circulate, and there will be no authoritative guidance on which are right and which are wrong, because there will no longer be one Church teaching.

  81. When I was warned of a flood by an entity called NOAA
    and told that I was being watched over by angelic twin satellites called GRACE
    little alarm bells went off.

  82. The corruption of science can be traced back a long way. Economics was first at the end of the 19th century when entrenched money bought academics to refute a threat to their luxury from Henry George. This is documented the Neo-classical Stratagem against Henry George (pdf — free download) by Professor Mason Gaffney. Now we have “economix” from the Chicago School (“how would you like your economics? Well done? Medium or Rare?”) with the results all too obvious from Chile.

    After the New Right Revolution of the late 1980s, governments around the world introduced new methods of funding for research: Performance Based Research Funding, where those who had published more papers received more money. What an opportunity for corruption … or at the least “expressions of self interest.” The Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University is wholly funded by research grants. The lesson is: the more you can scare the politicians, the more money they will throw your way. But it’s a double-edged sword: the holder of the purse strings also calls the tune.

    In 1995 the UN bureaucracy woke up and re-invigorated the IPCC. There is an undercover movement going on here which reached its penultimate expression at Cancun. The phrase ““transparent impenetrability” should scare everyone. The outline of the bureaucratic plot is here.

  83. Hugh Pepper says:

    “The evidence regarding ‘effects’ is overwhelming and easily located, if you are predisposed to finding ‘truth’ in legitimate, peer reviewed research. Try Realscience.org for starters.”

    I feel like I’m holding the hand of a toddler when someone comes to this “Best Science” site from a propaganda blog like realclimate — which allows no dissenting views, like many if not most alarmist blogs.

    The fact that they censor different opinions should tell you something: they want you to spread their narrative, and not be aware of other views. Are you a toddler? Or do you want to hear the truth — which is arrived at by back-and-forth open debate, and not through censorship of differing views.

    You still have given nothing of substance to support your true belief that there is testable, replicable evidence showing that human emitted CO2 causes measurable global warming.

    In fact, there is zero testable, real world evidence showing a quantifiable global temperature increase per unit of anthropogenic CO2 emitted. And without testable evidence, there is no scientific method. It is only conjecture.

    The grant-driven pontifications of Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann and the rest of the climate charlatans pushing CAGW have no empirical basis in the real world. Realclimate is simply an echo chamber of like-minded true believers, which deletes any uncomfortable argument that refutes their narrative. It is pure anti-science; they wouldn’t know the scientific method if it bit ‘em on the ankle.

    Since you’ve been in that insular environment, all you’ve been exposed to are what Mann and Schmidt have allowed you to read. I’ll bet you didn’t even read the link I provided above, showing what a rigged sham climate peer review is. There is not an honest one in the bunch, because the honest scientists have been driven out, and the journals are corrupted. Click the “Climategate” tab to learn more about how Mann and his cronies subvert journal boards, and connive with the IPCC to get the result they’re being paid to get.

    Unlike at realclimate, climate progress, etc., all points of view are welcome here on the internet’s “Best Science” site. But you will have to produce facts, not hand-waving speculation about some nebulous ‘peer review’ in your Appeals to Authority.

    Keep in mind that about 80% of peer reviewed papers are eventually falsified, and that the odious little pipsqueak Michael Mann controls the climate peer review process for his own personal benefit, to the extent that he knowingly used an upside-down proxy to get the Hokey Stick shape he wanted — and that his paper sailed through climate peer review.

    Do a search at Climate Audit for “Tiljander,” or read A.W. Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion [available along the right side-bar], and you will see how thoroughly dishonest Michael Mann and his clique are.

    Or, you can throw out vague generalities like you’ve been doing. But if you want to be convincing here, you will have to produce testable evidence showing that CO2 is harming the planet. Keep the climate null hypothesis in mind, because that is what you will have to try and falsify. Finally, remember that climate models are not evidence.

    The ball is in your court. Produce your evidence that CO2 is harming the planet.

  84. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone is not entitled to their own facts. I don’t know who said this but it is a truism.

  85. In my experience, the alternatives to incandescent light bulbs are:
    1- Perhaps Energy Efficient, but not noticably so (unless you take too much notice of the numbers on the labels)
    2- Have worse Luminosity and diminished quality of light
    3- Last little longer than the old ones and Cost far more

    So in time, people will reject them and demand that the old incandescent light bulbs be brought back.

  86. Now to the main question of this post.
    My informal opinion is that most members of the public lack a basic understanding of economics, statistics and climate science.

    When told by a once loved former prime minister that climate change was the most important moral challange of our times – they believed him.
    When told major changes were needed – they believed him.
    When told that this could be accomplished without undue disruption to their lifestyles – they believed him.
    When told that they, as members of the great deserving poor, would be fully compensated with grants financed from taxes levied on the “polluters” – they believed him.

    But when he told them that on due reflection, it was all rather too hard and that he had given up on the idea to pursue othere objectives, like saving the WHOLE world from the great financial crisis – they believed him and went on with their lives without worry about whatever that was (see I’ve even forgotten already) that was the greatest moral threat or whatever.

  87. The only thing puzzling me is why the cost of electricity keeps going up and up when there are, at least as yet, no taxes levied on so called “polluters”, at least in Australia.

  88. Oh and another thing.

    I understand that it is very cold in North America and Europe at present, both because it’s approaching mid winter and because the very hot artic circular railay system is sucking all the heat up from the populated parts of the northern hemisphere, so the rail carriages running under the ice don’t get too cold for the polar bears to sit in them.
    (There, I think I’ve got that straight at last).

    But here in Australia, in the depths of the lower hemisphere, it’s almost mid summer when it’s always very hot and very dry, with bush fires raging and so fort, that neatly fills the TV news programs during the silly season holiday slots.

    SO- (at last I come to my important question) – just why am sitting in front of my CO2 producing electric radiator because it’s so darn cold when it should be so very hot, hot, hot.

    Is that but another result of global warming?
    I can see now why it is so much to be feared
    And why the uneducated masses cannot understand it too well.

  89. The post title: : “Climate Change and the Corruption of Science: Where did it all go wrong?”

    We need to fix this SOON! I’ve now seen “Scientific Integrity is an OxyMoron” on a few web sites. How long before we scientists lose all respect among the regular people?

  90. John Whitman says:
    December 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

    tallbloke says:
    December 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

    vigilantfish says:
    December 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

    tallbloke/vigilantfish,

    It saddens me that historians of science such as yourselves feel the need for anonymous commenting. I have enjoyed your frequent energetic activities on blogs for a long time.

    It is hard to meet fellow commenters socially that way. : )

    Happy Holidays.

    John

    —————

    Come this summer, should you chance to meet a moderately attractive, somewhat plump middle-age woman with long blond hair wearing a Josh-inspired WUWT tee, that will probably be me. My husband assures me that it is indecipherable to the uninitiated – hence I will have no problem wearing it. My haunts are Toronto and Virginia Beach. I’d be really happy to meet other denizens of WUWT.

  91. I just spent the last 45 minutes reading the post and going through all the comments, so I guess I’ve earned the right to comment.

    I hate to the the one to toss cold water on what is to a large extent a celebration of the demise of CAGW theory, but I suspect that the situation with CAGW is a lot like what Mark Twain said of his death, rumors of it are greatly overstated. I believe that what we are experiencing is merely one phase of a battle in a war whose end is a long way off, and which in fact may never end, just morph into other forms.

    I would caution all WUWT readers and posters to exercise caution. There are many battles yet to come, and with them will come inevitable advances and setbacks. There will be more times of desperation as well as more times of triumph, before we know how this this is going to come out.

    Perhaps we should take advice from Clausewitz, who warned commanders sternly of the “fog of war.” By that, he meant that however sure we believe our knowledge and capacities to be, the rapid churning of events can turn things upside down in short order.

    Another good analogy might be running a marathon. Very often marathoners (particularly first timers) experience a series of ups and downs during the event. At some points they feel they could sprint forever, and at others it seems that they can hardly put one foot in front of another.

    I’m nearly fifty years old. I do expect that within my lifetime I will see a satisfactory shattering of the CAGW dogma. But I am not ready just now to place any bets on it.

    Ken in North Dakota

  92. Bernie,
    Thanks for the post.

    Let me clarify noble cause or virtuous corruption. As I describe it includes more than just the deliberate misbehaviour of scientists – though that might occur. (Not including in a a paper submitted for publication the fact that a result depends entirely upon the inclusion of bristlecone pine proxies is at least that). It also includes the ability to explain away contrary evidence because it might undermine the consensus or the political case for action, using various fallacies, such as the genetic fallacy (McKitrick is a Fellow at Fraser Institute, Exxon gave $10,000 to Fraser, therefore we can ignore his findings). But it also includes building in subjective assumptions (particularly in models) that are dubious or include value assumptions and affect results. This can be at least subconscious, and is the reason why in disciplines like psychology and drug testing, interpretations are routinely made by people NOT involved in the outcome – least they interpret results to suit the theory. In drug testing, doses and placebos are made up by one team, administration is undertaken by another independent group, diagnosis by a third and statistical analysis by another.

    In climate science, one team can handle everything, which was less of a problems before billions were riding on it. Data is collected, manipulated, interpreted and modelled, and forecasts given, reports for the IPCC and governments – all by the same team. To make matters worse, their funding depends on certain results (leaving room for venal corruption), and they control the peer review process (as Climategate showed). Spencer Weart put it that climate science is a collective undertaken, and the assumptions that must be made are made collectively – by processes that we would see as political (in a small group sense). As a result, he said that climate science is inevitably socially constructed, though that does not mean it is only socially constructed.

    It does mean that we need to be extra cautious about how climate scientists behave, subjecting them to rigourous peer review and insisting in on transparency, disclosure and replication. The absence of these factors in climate science means that the process is corrupted – in the same sense that a computer disc could be corrupted.

    We must collectively insist that climate science lifts its game before we regard it as science.

  93. The Gray Monk says:
    December 27, 2010 at 11:57 am

    In fact Huxley must be exonerated from any accusations of corrupting science for the purposes of social manipulation. He in fact warned that Darwinism would not make a good foundation for a new morality and cautioned against those who were tempted to use Darwinism as a basis for social experimentation or manipulation. The real culprits were the joint fathers of sociology: August Compte and Herbert Spencer. The latter was the f0under of conservative Social Darwinism, which taught that the poor were poor because they were not capable of being anything else, and hence educating the poor was a waste of resources. It is ironic that a discipline that has tended to be extremely left-wing originated with one who would today be labelled right-wing (although Spencer was a social progressive with respect to women and no moral conservative). Compte decided the science of human behaviour and society should trump the hard sciences, as human beings were the most complex phenomenon in the natural world – and ever since then sociologists have had a distorted understanding of their own importance.

    The other distorter of Darwinism was the German biologist Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel, who unlike Huxley was uncritical of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, deliberately generated propaganda (i.e. embryology recapitulates phylogeny -e.g. the developing fetus goes through all the evolutionary stages that human beings passed through before becoming human) to support Darwin’s theory. He founded the Monist philosophy, that taught the spirit and matter were one. This proved to be enormously influential in Germany, to the point of fostering the national socialist movement. Today Darwinian apologists point out that the inherent Aryan racism predated Darwinism, but overlook the fact that in modern times, science is the ultimate justification for any social program. EugenicS, seen then as a science, was used by Hitler to justify the eradication of the Jews during the holocaust, but he also called on the support of Darwinism and the Social Darwin ideal of the survival of the fittest, rather than Christianity – the religion of the weak. Science functions as the source of truth in modern society just as religion did in past ages. Distortions of science underlay Pol Pot and the Great Leap forward, as well as Lysenko’s science induced famines in the Soviet Union.

    Jason Calley says:
    December 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I agree with you, Jason – Lysenkoism is the closest analogy to the CAGW mania, not least because like Lysenko, those who dominate today’s climate science meme do not tolerate alternative opinions and actively persecute them, through shutting down routes to publication, ad hominem attacks, and shunning, not to mention making it impossible to get grants to undertake skeptical science.

    ———–
    Lucy Skywalker says:
    December 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Lucy, I am a long-time admirer of your trenchant and perspicacious comments here. I wish as a historian that I could offer an answer to your question about Maggie Thatcher. I think a nice critique of a right-wing politician who unleashed part of this CAGW dragon will help to open the dialogue on this scientific fiasco in the future, but I think the Paul Ehrlich, Hensen etc. leadership, coupled with environmental activism, were actually more important: they saw an opportunity, especially after the Montreal Protocol to ban freon showed the way, and hijacked the science completely. The New Age-environmental religion was already well developed, and eager to replace the old Christian sins with new environmental ones, by the time Thatcher helped to create the Hadley Centre and CRU, and I think she had no idea what she was stepping into.

    On the other hand, I am firmly of the opinion that the only way that most academics today will begin to acknowledge the distortion of science involved in the global warming scare is if it is presented as ultimately a right-wing, underhanded capitalist manoeuvre to manipulate markets and concentrate power in the hands of the energy and other industries. Those pure and self-righteous environmentalists, alack, were too innocent and politically naive to realize how they were being manipulated. I have not yet written my lectures on this, but they are coming this term (in an environmental history course I teach) and that is the tack I will employ in an attempt to open minds.

  94. Lucy,
    You are about right on Thatcher, but there is a wider context as well. Closing the uneconomic coal pits was one driving factor. Steaming coal in Europe as a whole was four times the cost of coal from Australia, the US, South Africa and Colombia in the early 1990s, and Thatcher saw in global warming a reason to finish what she had started in the mid-1960s with the miners.

    Another factor was the disbandment of the CEGB and privatisation of electricity generation in 1990. This mean that investment decisions were made on the basis of commercial discount rates (8%) rather than public investments (4-5%), which favoured less capital-intensive generating plant (eg gas over coal).

    Also in 1990, the EU relaxed a prohibition on the burning of gas for electricity generation.

    Over then next 5 years, there followed the so-called ‘dash to gas’ with 20% of generation shifting to gas (mostly CCGT) from coal – reducing emissions by 12%. This is why the UK was very happy in 1997 to ask everyone to reduce emissions against a 1990 base year, because they’d already done so with no effort.

    The other factor was Germany. Helmut Kohl used the climate change issue in the 1987 elections to wedge the SPD and Greens, both of which campaigned for a phase-out of nuclear power, to be replaced by coal-fired generation. Then in 1990, Germany was reunified in October, and the Eastern economy (and emissions – based on dirty brown coal) collapsed by 30% over the next year.

    These windfall reductions were allowed to be shared with the rest of Europe under the Burden Sharing Agreement (or ‘European Bubble’), which allowed the PIGS and Sweden (also wishing to phase out nuclear) increases. The political alliance was the Third World (in G77) promised wealth transfers in the name of adaptation and exemption from targets, coupled with EU advantage relative to the US and others.

    The other part of the equation was the model for a climate treaty, where Mustafa Tolba, UNEP Director, choosing to follow the model of the Montreal Protocol – well before the first IPCC report – by placing reliance on a ‘scientific consensus’. The IPCC was established to produce such a consensus – but also to forestall the actions of activist scientists in the (unofficial) Advisory Committee on Greenhouse Gases. The Montreal model was inappropriate: there was not committee to find a consensus; the science of climate change was inherently uncertain; the successful conclusion of Montreal depended on support form the US, whose chemical industry had strongly favourable interests because they had developed (and owned patents on) substitutes; the costs of action were not great for any country; the issue did not go to the very core of developed economies (energy).

    Always look for multiple factors. Hansen, Gore et al were already talking up the problem of course, with Hansen’s infamous 1988 Congressional testimony – but that’s another story!

  95. vigilantfish said:

    ” … The other distorter of Darwinism was the German biologist Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel, who unlike Huxley was uncritical of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, deliberately generated propaganda (i.e. embryology recapitulates phylogeny -e.g. the developing fetus goes through all the evolutionary stages that human beings passed through before becoming human) to support Darwin’s theory. He founded the Monist philosophy, that taught the spirit and matter were one. This proved to be enormously influential in Germany, to the point of fostering the national socialist movement. Today Darwinian apologists point out that the inherent Aryan racism predated Darwinism, but overlook the fact that in modern times, science is the ultimate justification for any social program. EugenicS, seen then as a science, was used by Hitler to justify the eradication of the Jews during the holocaust, but he also called on the support of Darwinism and the Social Darwin ideal of the survival of the fittest, rather than Christianity – the religion of the weak …”

    ——————————————————————————

    Social Darwinism and eugenics have a complex history, which is not quite as linear as your post implies (of course I acknowledge that we are limited in space to discuss these things here). Nor were (or are) their proponents clearly divided along ideological lines. During the late Victorian period and up to the end of WWII, many people who regarded themselves as good Christians, social reformers and those who cared about poverty followed these lines of ‘scientific’ enquiry. There were strains of Malthusianism in there, as well as a still strong tradition of people who bred animals for particular traits. And, you only have to read contemporary English writing of the time to know that the notion of a master race was not confined to the Germans. It was by no means out of the mainstream to talk about the superiority of the English race – sorry you Celts out there! :)

    The lesson of all this is that science is in no way immune from broader social, political and economic currents. When these achieve a critical mass, all kinds of dodgy stuff, like eugenics and its sibling, social Darwinism, come about. The quality of the science is secondary and only exposed in hindsight.

    It is naive for anyone to believe that these mistakes of the past were mainly due to lack of the high tech or more evolved methods we use today. The same will be said of many of our firmly held views on various things in 100 years.

    The climate ‘science’ apocalyptic view of the world that we now endure is just the latest of a long line of similar phenomena. I hope that people like Bernie and Tallbloke continue to track and analyse this latest version as it is happening. Like a car crash, it is awful, but you just can’t stop watching.

  96. I think the clue is right there in the title “Global Warming”. Global problems call for global solutions and there is really only one global organization. The UN.

    It has been the UN that has pushed this particular “problem” and their advocacy is designed to bring about a global response through the UN organization. Many of the climate scientists on the AGW side support this global approach for political and ideological reasons. The UN is way left of center and is driven by the ideology of redistribution from developed to developing countries so as to accumulate power in it’s own hands. A continuation of the old adage that if you promise to rob Peter to pay Paul you can rely on the support of Paul and there are many Pauls in the world.

    The battle against the UN is like that against the multi headed Hydra. We may have chopped off this head but there are many more heads on the way.

  97. There is a direct parallel to AGW and an earlier scandal among professional historians. Distortion, fraud, or incompetent research (depending on how you evaluate the evidence – I go with fraud since some of the data did not, could not, exist) was perpetuated by a historian named Michael Bellesiles.

    The similarities are very strong. A concensus of historians (initially) back Bellesiles research and theories because it agreed with their biases; non-historians questioned the research and were subject to ad hominem attacks; requested data was ‘lost'; a failure of the peer review process; errors were admitted but “didn’t change the final results”; finally, open postings on the Internet to the “errors” forced historians to repudiate Bellesiles.

    I don’t like wikipedia, but they seem to have treated this story fairly:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arming_America:_The_Origins_of_a_National_Gun_Culture

    Please read it and you will understand how these things can happen – and how the combination of hard-working, fact-checking non-professionals and the Internet can make a difference.

  98. vigilantfish says:
    December 27, 2010 at 7:38 pm
    “On the other hand, I am firmly of the opinion that the only way that most academics today will begin to acknowledge the distortion of science involved in the global warming scare is if it is presented as ultimately a right-wing, underhanded capitalist manoeuvre to manipulate markets and concentrate power in the hands of the energy and other industries. Those pure and self-righteous environmentalists, alack, were too innocent and politically naive to realize how they were being manipulated. I have not yet written my lectures on this, but they are coming this term (in an environmental history course I teach) and that is the tack I will employ in an attempt to open minds.”

    Please take care that you are not creating greater demons then you are slaying. Those underhanded capitalists are just trying to survive the storm. There are others that want complete power over all. You should remember what Lenin said about students.

    Teach them to be sceptics, to search out the truth for them selves. pg

  99. P.F. says:
    December 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

    “A very good and enlightening essay, but will it make sense to the masses that have swallowed the AGW nonsense?

    BTW: Does anyone here know if the Royal Society was involved in the “scientific research” over a hundred years ago in which the effort was made to prove women should not have the right to vote because their craniums (hence, brain size) were smaller on average than men’s? It was somewhat akin to eugenics.”

    Yes, back in the 19th century you did have RS members walking around espousing ‘phrenology’ and even ‘miasma’. It is arguable that the RS are simply upholding a proud tradition, of believing the mainstream view — whether it is scientifically correct or not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miasma_theory_of_disease

  100. Mods – think my latest post may be lost in the spam filter – tks – j

    [I opened the can, found no spam. Hence, I plated the contents for public digestion. …. bl57~mod]

  101. Darn, I love spam!
    Seriously, there was a comment, and it was posted about 5 hours ago. Of course, it was a long one, with references. Where do they go? Is it near the place where odd socks end up?

    This is a much more pressing question than the number of models that can dance on the head of a pin.

    [Reply] WordPress occasionally loses things. If it was your comment, please resubmit. RT-mod

  102. Interesting article, thanks. It would be great if the semi-resident history-of-science commenters (vigilantfish, tallbloke) could involve themselves by helping to expand this into a published article. They could author under pseudonyms (‘Student’, maybe?).

    I think we should consider the role of ‘moral hazard’ in all of this. It’s pretty clear to me that none of the players – scientists, politicians, NGOs, etc. – believe that they will be answerable for the ill effects of unwarranted alarm about AGW. They’ll be retired, or out of power by the time the truth/falsity of the proposition is established, and enough time will have elapsed that they can rely on obfuscation to diminish their responsibility (c/f the global cooling ‘consensus’ – or was it? – of the 1970s). By promoting AGW you can expand your base of supporters (if you’re, say Greenpeace or WWF) or voters (mainstream politicians) or funding (scientists) without any risk or cost to yourself in the short or long term. What’s not to like?

    There’s also a clear ‘Western’ bias in the way the argument is usually expounded: the precautionary principle says that we should do something rather than nothing, a stitch in time, etc. But clearly any effective action will delay or reduce development in the Third World (are we still allowed to call it that?). So the ‘better safe than sorry’ course has a deleterious effect on billions of people; but hey, they’re not here to make their case, so we don’t need to think about them, do we? Poverty is a much, much bigger and more pressing issue than AGW, and alleviation of it will be delayed by the policies we are being urged/forced to adopt to reduce AGW. But so long as it’s only invisible black/brown/yellow babies who are dying (of malaria or indoor smoke or just plain hunger) to make us feel better about the way we’re treating the planet, that’s OK.

    I think it’s impossible for the average layperson (I include politicians and most of those running/working for NGOs in this) to understand the level of moral bankruptcy surrounding science funding. I’d like to be able to tone down that sentence, but I really can’t. I’ve spent over 11 years as post-grad and post-doc in Engineering and Marine Science faculties (UK and US), and my experience is that research proposals are exquisitely tuned to attract funding, pretty much regardless of the worth of the science. Research proposals are also more likely to be funded if the results are known before the research starts. (And if you think that makes no sense, you’re right). It is no surprise to me at all, that once the notion of the importance of AGW had become established, a bandwagon effect amplified it – that’s just the grim reality of how science funding works.

    The only comfort is that science is ultimately self-correcting. Of course, that’s no help when current policies are made based on incompetent, biased and preliminary science. (Not just AGW – ‘heart healthy’ food would be another example, plus the ‘obesity epidemic’ and probably passive smoking and lead in petrol – worth reading the background of all of these). Unfortunately, although science itself is not arrogant and hubristic, individual scientists all too often are. This is not new and not surprising (Kelvin, Rutherford and Einstein all made some pretty dumb, arrogant and ultimately wrong statements); what is surprising is the extent to which the media is taken in by ‘authorities’ and allows them to shape the discourse. (OK, the media’s a pretty crapulous collection of arts graduates, so it’s not surprising at all, really, is it?).

    Anyway… Hugh P, if you’re still monitoring the thread: I don’t know if you’re a ‘dial-a-troll’, or what. But the thing you don’t seem to understand is that 99.99% of the people writing and reading about AGW are not experts. You’re not, I’m not. Therefore we are required to base our beliefs to a greater or lesser extent on arguments from authority. Have you read even 1% of peer-reviewed literature in this area? Of course not. Neither have I. Hardly anyone, anywhere has. And fewer still have the skills to evaluate and criticize it. You have to realize that the vast majority of published science is, well, shit. (Yes, especially including my rather sparse publications). So citing that a lot of (recent) peer-reviewed science says ‘x’ doesn’t actually lend much weight to your argument, as far as I’m concerned. Tell me what the beliefs of climate scientists will be in 50 years and we can have a discussion … but of course, neither of us knows that.

    So we’re left with arguments from authority, and skepticism. Now, you probably believe whatever Jim Hansen says, but I don’t. I believe that he would tell us that black was white if he felt it would further the adoption of AGW belief. For me, at the point where he became an advocate (1988) he surrendered all right to be taken as a scientific authority (and, incidentally, he should have been fired at roughly that time for abusing his publicly funded position to promote his personal agenda). The same goes for the vast majority of Western establishment scientists who comment in this area. Multiply my skepticism by a factor of – say – 100 for economists, NGOs, and politicians.

    That leaves little meat on the AGW bone. I’ve read enough about Mann’s work and the huge effort that it took to get data out of him to smell a huge rat (and he’s clearly incompetent, at best, at PCA). Science is only science if you can show your working – just like at school. And the surface temperature records are archived and adjusted by people whose funding depends on there being a ‘problem’. [Upton Sinclair: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it’]. And so on and so on. You can either conclude that the case looks shaky and feel that we should wait for some decent science to confirm the dire predictions of advocates, or you can accept it all uncritically and castigate those of us who are exercising our right (and obligation) to be skeptical of newly-emerging science.

    I do think that in the long term, the current mode of ‘big science’ funding will be broken (partly as a result of the AGW scare) and that citizen scientists (without the magic ‘PhD’) will be able to get more involved. That would be a return to the way science was conducted pre-WWII. I hope that’s the direction things go, anyway…

  103. A physical geographer, I like your blog Bernie, and if I get around it, I’d like to research and contribute to the history of climatology a nuts-and-bolts organisational bit about whether Geography’s quantitative-revolution program at some stage could have been better invoked to impact events. It may not be too late by the way.

  104. We were warned!

    Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation – January 17, 1961
    “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. ”

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5407.htm

  105. Vince Causey says:
    December 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I generally agree with most of what is said, except for point 2. Public fear has NOT generated more government funding for the simple reason that public fear does not exist, not now nor in the past. You have simply assumed that fear exists because that is what scary scenarios are meant to engender.

    I agree. I remember reading recently that TV audiences plummet when the news reports on global warming. Public fear is just an illusion drummed up by the media. No doubt there are a few crazed activists who are scared.

  106. Hugh Pepper says:
    “Lucy Skywalker: Using the Lord Monckton as a guide to anything is a huge error. He is a propagandist who does not deserve a moment of reasonable attention. I will believe the Academies of Science, and the data supplied by the thousands of scientists who have contributed to the IPCC process and the many others who have been engaged in research all of which may be challenged in the acceptable peer review process. You need much more than rhetoric to challenge the mass of data which is already available to you and others. If you are predisposed to disbelieve anything which does not fit your preconceptions, however, this entire exercise will be futile.”

    Mr. Pepper, Why do you believe that a ‘propogandist’ for the sceptic viewpoint is any less to be listened to than the whole of the worlds media and broadcasters who are propogandists for the warmists cause? And why do you feel that scientific papers can only be reviewed or criticised by the peers of the scientists who have produced them? Your assumption is that science should only be challenged by scientists, I can only say that without the views of so many non-scientists like Lord Monkton who. like many of us, can read a scientific paper and make a judgement on them and challenge the findings and forecasts we would all have been taken for a very expensive ride. Thank god for the non-scientists who have so far proved that polar bears are not dying out, that snow disappearing on mountains is not caused by warming, that seas are not rising, that record snow levels are not caused by AGW. that average temperatures are not rising each year, that animal species are not dying out through AGW, that snow would be a thing of the past in Europe and north America has proved laughable, that rain forests will be killed off or that mass starvation will not occur in Africa etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., False statements that in the main have come from peer reviewed scientific papers, some of which have sbsequently been proven to be based on falsified data and manipulation, and which you offer as the only authority on these matters, I know who I would prefer to listen to.

  107. What Trembling Fools They Are

    A silent spring, I’ve never heard,
    it did not kill my favorite bird.
    The population bomb’s a dud,
    it’s just not so, my favorites bud.
    Where’s that swarm of killer bees,
    that forest with depleted trees,
    That ice age that didn’t freeze,
    the Ozone Hole or PCBs.
    Skies were blue – they still are,
    peak oil – I use it in my car.
    Polar icecaps just won’t melt,
    that’s a lie that Al Gore dealt.
    Y2K was a fake,
    COBOL pros got that take.
    My skivvies in disarray,
    I’ve been fingered by mo-TSA.
    As a child beneath my desk,
    escaping that Atomic death,
    A white-hot flash that never came,
    I’m pining for that cleansing flame,
    for fear of something real,
    not a panic-driven zeal.
    Oh, what trembling fools they are,
    they’ve sold my freedoms to the safety czar.

  108. P.G. Sharrow says:
    December 27, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Please take care that you are not creating greater demons then you are slaying. Those underhanded capitalists are just trying to survive the storm. There are others that want complete power over all. You should remember what Lenin said about students.

    Teach them to be sceptics, to search out the truth for them selves. pg

    —————

    PG – point taken. My natural slant is right wing, which I do not hide, so I will try to be fairly even handed, but I am not going to whitewash the role of Shell or other oil companies … they discovered a way to increase profits with the sanction of the left, and were happy to do so. I am pro-capitalist, but within reason. The behaviour of fishing companies in pursuing dwindling stocks reveals that in capitalism, as in all things, there needs to be checks and balances. What destroys this system is if the corporations become too cosy with governments, rather than governments offering some conservative oversight – as happened with some of the main fisheries corporations; and there are numerous other examples.

  109. Sal Minella,

    Very good! [And I think I know what “mo”-TSA means.]

    On the corruption of science, Climate Audit has an interesting comment on James Hansen’s self-serving, endless “adjustments” to the temperature record.

  110. Response to George Lawson: Scientists abide by a protocol for a reason, namely: to ensure that their work complies with accepted methodology and is focussed on achieving reasonable results. Their tools are observation and measurement and they extrapolate from observed data to larger cases. The peer review process is simply a way to optimize the chance that these methods and standards have provided by the researchers. Typically, the reviewers are not chosen by the researchers, but rather by the publishers, to avoid the possibility of a biased review.

    The IPCC publications are a review of ALL peer reviewed publications. The reviewers monitor thousands of papers published worldwide. There are hundreds of reviewers and , once completed the initial publication is presented to the Academies of Science throughout the world for further review. But before publication, the final report is edited by the major countries of the world. Clearly, this is a profoundly conservative process.

    The body of your post, George, is simply wrong. “Non-scientists” have not proven that polar bears “are surviving.” In fact their is ample evidence showing that Arctic habitat is fast diminishing creating conditions which dramatically threaten bear populations. Do a Google search, or check the work of Henry Pollack, Sylvia Earle, and many others. Glaciers are melting all over the world, ( I look out my front window and see this happening.) Check the work of Wallace Broecker, one of the world’s most celebrated Earth Scientists, for an elaboration of this crucial issue. Climate change and diminishing groundwater availability, together with atmospheric warming are NOW impacting agricultural production all over the world catastrophically affecting millions (It has been estimated that 50,000 die of starvation every day.)

    The claim is not that climate change alone is causing these conditions, but it is evident that we are in the midst of a perfect storm, losing ecological function and biodiversity as a result of over consumptive patterns and over population. Weather patterns are changing rapidly in places like Europe as a direct result of warming which results in increased melting of the on land glaciers in Greenland and the consequent desalinization of the northern oceans. The outcome of this phenomenon, which is well documented in the literature, (see Earle and Pollack, amongst many others) is that the currents which bring warmth from the south to the north are diminishing rapidly. WE should expect that there will be increased storm events in Europe and along the US eastern coast.

    It is simply incorrect to be talking about “false statements” coming from “peer reviewed” publications. I’m sure that mistakes are made by scientists, and the rest of us, but the peer review is designed to catch these errors before publication. In the main, however, I think we can be confident in the integrity of the process and the accuracy of the findings. When the conversation stops in the scientific community concerning the main tenets of the global warming issue, you can be sure that the scientists are reasonably certain of their conclusions.

  111. Hugh Pepper says:

    “Climate change and diminishing groundwater availability, together with atmospheric warming are NOW impacting agricultural production all over the world catastrophically affecting millions (It has been estimated that 50,000 die of starvation every day.)”

    That is just one example out of many that you posted, which are provably wrong. You have been repeatedly asked to give verifiable facts. Instead, you continue to repeat debunked talking points from your realclimate echo chamber, and stray incoherent and scatterbrained from one thought to another.

    Let’s take your nutty statement from above, and give you some much-needed education:

    First off, the central question is whether the rise in human emitted CO2 is the cause of any harm. Whether ground water is being depleted has nothing to do with that central question, which is based in turn on the central CO2=CAGW conjecture — the basis for reducing everyone’s standard of living and giveing supra-national entities control over every aspect of your life. So quit wandering off into unrelated subjects.

    Increased CO2 has been conclusively shown to be beneficial, and there is no verifiable evidence that it is harmful.

    Next, atmospheric warming must be defined. How do we do that? By taking the instrumental record over the past three decades? Where is the scary warming?

    Or do we take the CET record, going back to the 17th century?

    Or do we look at the Holocene, where temperatures were several degrees warmer and colder many times?

    Cherry-picking your time frame will give you the results you want, and that is exactly what you are doing.

    Likewise, every claim you made above can be just as easily debunked. If it were not for your impotent fixation on Lord Monckton, you could learn some very good climate science from him — as the students and faculty at Oxford did when they voted him the clear winner of the recent climate debate.

    Finally, the IPCC may look at peer reviewed papers, but they also waste an inordinate amount of time on WWF and other self-serving NGO propaganda. If you believe AR-4, you will believe anything. Even realclimate.

  112. Thanks Smokey, the final line is a bit clumsy but I’m satisfied with it overall.

    BTW some folks are beyond education, especially those who see their politics as religion.

  113. Bernie makes stuff up
    ——————–
    These two major projects, the desal plant and the pipeline, were instigated upon scientific advice eschewing the historical evidence of climate cycles and promoting the idea of a climate shift to a warmer-dryer future for South-Eastern Australia.
    ————–
    Err, it was actually instigated because the dams were running out of water with no end in sight. And well past the times of normal drought/flood cycles. And no holes in the ground to turn into new dams.

    Bernie thinks he is full of wisdom. There are a lot of people like Bernie in Australia. Australians can recognize them and even have a term for them: Story tellers aka “BS artists.”

  114. LazyTeenager
    Here are the official reasons given to the public for the desalination plant and pipeline:

    quote:
    =====
    Our oceans hold 97 per cent of the water on this planet. Because of changing climate, our growing population (n.b., rapidly imported against the wishes of the people) and drought, we need to use some of it to make sure we have water for the future.

    http://www.ourwater.vic.gov.au/programs/desalination

    =====

    This is what “changing climate” looks like here in Melbourne:
    =====
    Hose ban soon in Melbourne to help storages
    Argus, February 1939
    =====

    Here are the current levels for Melbourne water storage: 53.7 percent — up from an all time low of around 32 percent last year.
    Here is the accumulated Melbourne rainfall for 2010.

    Here is the cost of the Brisbane desalination plant:
    ========
    October 2010:
    RESIDENTS are losing at least $1 million a week operating desalination and water recycling plants in Queensland’s flooded southeast.
    ========
    Brisbane water levels, currently at around 100 percent:

    http://www.seqwater.com.au/public/dam-levels

    LazyTeenager: “And well past the times of normal drought/flood cycles.”

    Do you have any data on the length of a “normal” cycle in Australia?

    “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of droughts and flooding ranges….” Dorothea MacKellar – circa 1901

  115. There are a lot of people like “Lazy Teenager” in Australia.
    Australians can recognize them and even have a term for them: “Figjam”
    F*** I’m Good, Just Ask Me.

    :D

  116. The responses here are spot on. I especially like the ones that query Australian spelling, as if they know how to write the Queen’s English let alone American English.

    And facts are certainly needed. If it’s hot it’s climate change. If it rains buckets it’s climate change. What do they think – heat causes more evaporation and when it cools it dumps more water? What a joke. Just look at Queensland floods. Do they honestly think that just because it’s getting more rain dumped up there across a broader area than ever before and because they are getting 100 year floods every couple of years now it’s all because of more water in the air because of global warming? Or climate change? Of course not. It floods in Queensland. Just because there have been more and bigger floods up northern Australia doesn’t mean it’s because of global warming. And the longest and hottest drought in Victoria followed by the worst downpours ever doesn’t mean climate change, it’s just weather. But the scientists keep telling us to expect more rain up north of Australia and more hot and dry down south. And they tell us the rain will be heavier when it comes. Just because they were right this time around doesn’t mean they are right all the time. Right?

    Next they’ll be telling us that the melting ice in the Arctic and the lack of ice in Hudson Bay and the unseasonal warmth in Canada and Greenland is due to global warming. Yeah, right! You can’t fool us, silly scientists. We all know that any day now it’s going to turn into an ice age. Just wait till the solar activity starts up again. That’ll cool things down.

  117. Some comment replies for later passing readers:

    Pat Moffitt says:
    In response to the post’s query “Why so successful, so rapid, so pervasive this corruption?”– My experience going back to the 70s is that it was not rapid.

    – Pat, you are right it was not so rapid, and I regret saying so.

    Russell C:
    Church-going AGW believers are prompted to equate basic Christian values with saving the planet.
    – But not the Australian Cardinal Pell:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/heat-on-pell-for-cool-air-on-climate-change/story-e6frg6nx-1111114719258

    Vince Causey:
    Public fear has NOT generated more government funding for the simple reason that public fear does not exist, not now nor in the past. You have simply assumed that fear exists because that is what scary scenarios are meant to engender…What has happened, is that pundits have deduced that the logical effect of alarmist’s propaganda is – alarm[…]Yet the myth persists that an alarmed public are forcing governments to act. Governments believe these myths, so they play to an audience that went home at the start of the second act.

    – This point of discussion well deserves the attention it got above. While I do indeed see something like public fear, perhaps it is not fear but the expression of a moral crisis; or a symptom finding a convenient expression (in the Freudian sense). I know people who seem to be searching for an apocalyptic scenario…like, with the problem of oil reserve depletion is not all the usual boring problems of scarcity but it has to be ‘peak oil’ and ‘the end of suburbia,’ and so forth. And I do agree with Causey that there is some evidence that the politicians have over estimated the level of public fear/concern.

    Woodentop follows on this discussion:
    There is, however, a curious disconnect between what the MSM want to talk about and what are pressing concerns for “ordinary people”, if I can put it like that. Politicians seem to speak to the press, who speak back to the politicians, whilst the rest of us look on with increasing disbelief (and increasing detachment) from the unedifying spectacle.
    This has been going on for some time, it’s not restricted to climate change and is one reason, I would postulate, for the growth of the Tea Party movement in the USA. When no-one seems to represent you, what happens next?

    – Nice postulation!

    Brian Macker:
    Tulip mania, the Mississippi bubble, and other manias were not precipitated by a general “madness of crowds”. In fact they were caused by a central bank exacerbating the natural tendency of fractional reserve banking to inflate the money supply.

    – The Economic analysis of history is always very sobering. When it is right, it is yet another way we put the lie to history shaped by willful intent. H. Trevor Roper first taught me this sobering lesson.

    Pat Moffitt says:
    A philosophy that espoused -Capitalism and its resultant “excess economic activity” fueled by access to cheap energy sources were incapable of being bounded by the natural limits to growth. Environmental harm and social injustice were the consequences. Only by changing the system could environmental improvement and social (environmental) justice be attained.

    – Right! And CO2 became the convenient vehicle.

    Anne v:
    [A 5th way of understanding what is going on here is] The demise of hierarchy within universities and research institutes by the centralized funding.
    – Interesting. I wonder how we distinguish the effect of the astronomical increase in gov research funding from the way it is distributed.

    Peter Plail
    I am afraid I see more megalomania than religious fervour in the attitude of many scientists and politicians in their position on AGW…
    – This suggests the question: Were the likes of Savonarola megalomaniacs?

    Tall bloke:
    …I pointed out to the prof that this subject was clearly the clearest opportunity to witness in real-time the interaction of interests which determine the direction of science, and that it was *the* hot potato issue of our time.

    – When I started a year ago my blog on hist & philos implications of Climate Change, I mused about how “in Hearts of Darkness I recall Francis Ford Coppola explaining how he first thought of making a movie about the Vietnam War in Vietnam during the war. Running this blog during the AGW controversy feels as crazy and exciting as that — but without the danger to life and limb.”

    Lucy Skywalker:
    Maggie Thatcher was on the warpath against the miners…So Maggie established the Hadley Centre and CRU. At first, under Hubert Lamb, CRU was a good place.

    – You seem right about Hadley, Thatcher, AGW climate modelling etc, but I am not so sure about CRU. Under Hubert Lamb (’71-’78) it CRU did not have an AGW agenda. It was under Wigley (’78-’93) that this changed. But I would love to know more of this history!

    Jason Calley:
    The best comparison of past science manias to the current CAGW mania is the example of Lysenkoism in the old USSR.
    – I would like to here your case elaborated – could you write it up somewhere?

    johanna:
    Another factor worth considering is pre-emptive mission creep by the conservation movement…Indeed, many conservationists of the old stripe are very uncomfortable with their current bedfellows and their focus on climate issues and social control.

    – Yep, that’s me!

    Aynsley Kellow:
    the process is corrupted – in the same sense that a computer disc could be corrupted.
    – Yes, perhaps I erred by not emphasising this enough. The corruption is not so much about individuals deliberate wrong-doing, but also (mostly?) a corruption that is made up of lots of folks dutifully doing their bit for the good of science and society. As Jesus said, we ‘know not what we do.’

    Ceri Reid,
    I think we should consider the role of ‘moral hazard’ in all of this. It’s pretty clear to me that none of the players – scientists, politicians, NGOs, etc. – believe that they will be answerable for the ill effects of unwarranted alarm about AGW. They’ll be retired…
    – Yes, its much as has always been for politicians

    Ceri Reid,
    Research proposals are also more likely to be funded if the results are known before the research starts. (And if you think that makes no sense, you’re right). It is no surprise to me at all, that once the notion of the importance of AGW had become established, a bandwagon effect amplified it – that’s just the grim reality of how science funding works.
    – Yes, I have even heard how big grant-getters have learnt to stay ahead financially by apply for grants for research already completed.

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