Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
The most recent aberration of climate science is the apparent cherry picking of ocean temperature data by government scientists, Richard Feely and Christopher Sabine. The objective is not to determine what is happening, but why it is happening, and then link it to a human cause. This, cart before the horse approach, was the raison d’etre of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from the start. In order to emphasize why it is happening, it helps to detail, for politicians, the damaging effects. In this case, it is the deleterious impact of human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere that is not only causing warming, but, they claim, also changing the acidity level of the oceans (ocean acidification). All this challenges the claim that humans are distinctive as the “moral ape” a concept explored over 2000 years ago in Aesop’s fable of, “The Apes and Two Travellers”.
Kudos goes to Marita Noon for bringing this story to our attention. Disturbing, beyond what they did, is that they see nothing wrong with their actions. Worse, they reject the explanation. This behavior in climate science appears to reflect the mentality developed in western society, and is summarized beautifully in the cartoon.
These aberrations are part of a wider trend, ironically identified by Osama Bin Laden when he said the west has lost its moral direction. The fact we don’t want his moral direction either, doesn’t make it any less true.
The problem is multiple in its forms, but simple in its trend and essentially summarized by two modern dictums.
· You only broke the law, or the rules, if you got caught. Even if you get caught, you brazen it out with the help of a lawyer and/or a public relations person.
· If you are not with me, you must be against me. Only listening to or associating with like-minded people reinforces this. A recent WUWT article underlined the degree to which this occurs, when the author opened by saying he did something unusual, he read the “alarmists” web site RealClimate.
As usual, the response by Sabine was more an attempted cover-up. It, and the original article, reveals another example of the climate scientist’s art of cherry picking and believing that the end justifies the means. Roseanne D’Arrigo was the first to put this on the public record as reported by Steve McIntyre.
“D’Arrigo put up a slide about “cherry picking” and then she explained to the panel that that’s what you have to do if you want to make cherry pie.”
D’Arrigo was preceded by the first major exposure of cherry picking in the IPCC climate science by Benjamin Santer in the 1995 Report. Only a few, including Fred Singer, Fredrick Seitz and John Daly, knew what was done. The cover-up was relatively easy, especially when the big guns of the New York Times and the Guardian were fired.
Santer’s changes were spotted early, but Nature, a journal that was freindly to the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) gang, didn’t publish the rebuttals until 5 months later (12 Dec 1996). One identified the cherry picking, the other a natural explanation for the pattern. By then the PR cover up was under way. On July 25, 1996 the American Meteorological Society (AMS) sent a letter of defense to Santer. The letter is evidence of CRU influence and a PR masterpiece. It narrowed the focus to two questions, the science, and society’s reaction. They said the only relevant science was in “peer-reviewed scientific publications – not the media. This challenged who controlled information. The Internet is the final stage of democracy, because it took information out of the hands of a few and into the hands of everybody. The AMS argued for their retention of control of information and thereby the debate.
“What is important scientific information and how it is interpreted in the policy debates is an important part of our jobs.” “That is, after all, the very reasons for the mix of science and policy in the IPCC.”
John Daly correctly called this “Scientism”.
Exposure of Santer’s cherry picking by Singer and Seitz, led to the public relations inspired use of the link with tobacco. Singer had published a well-documented analysis of an article on second-hand smoke. It was, as he identified, a terrible piece of scientific research; a fact since confirmed by others, but explained to me by a doctor, who specialized in lung cancer, when the article was first released. This paper was used to say the tobacco lobby paid Singer and then, by inference, that all “deniers” since are akin to those who deny the link between smoking and cancer. In fact, Singer has long and actively opposed smoking. He simply pointed out that bad research, when exposed, would likely give more credibility to the tobacco lobby.
I understand the dilemma that incorrect science creates, because for years I was charged with “comforting polluters”. I was not deterred, because I realized that the greater problem was in deceiving people with falsified science. When the deception is exposed, the polluters are more comforted, because they can say they lied to you. Aesop also identified this “cry wolf” problem. My greater concern over the last several years is the lost momentum and misdirection on environmental issues and declining scientific credibility.
A classic example of the climate science mentality at the CRU was exposed in a leaked email from February 2, 2005.
Mike (Mann), I presume congratulations are in order – so congrats etc !
Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !
This is important because people at the CRU were effectively the IPCC, beginning with Tom Wigley, the Director who preceded Jones. They controlled critical chapters. All along, Wigley was the person they went to for direction as this email reveals. Wigley is revealed in the 1990 documentary, “The Greenhouse Conspiracy”, which is remarkably relevant today. The email appears to manifest a person who has lost a moral direction.
The other “go to person” from the start was the late Stephen Schneider. He set the tone and actively influenced the direction of the climate science and the IPCC with his 1989 infamous quote in Discovery magazine.
On the one hand we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but& which means that we must include all the doubts, caveats, ifs and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people, we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This double ethical bind which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
Many people only quote the underlined portion, but the entire passage is revealing, especially the penultimate sentence. Schneider didn’t realize that there is no balance between being effective and being honest. Anything less is a deception. You can leave things out but you must explain why. Schneider is apparently trying to rationalize and thus justify immoral actions. It is a feeble attempt to say, the end justifies the means. When they were in trouble after the CRU email leak, they called on Schneider to help with the Summary for Policymakers (SPM).
The active pursuit of data and use of methods to create the desired scientific, and thereby political outcome was morally and scientifically wrong. This was bolstered by what was left out, the cherry picking. It variously involved,
· Leaving out data, as in Sabine and Feely,
· Selecting start and stop points on graphs, to provide a desired trend, as in Santer,
· Omitting entire sectors of causes of climate change, such as omission of the Milankovitch Effect, or the Cosmic Theory.
· Omission began with the deliberately narrow definition of climate change that restricted the IPCC to only human causes.
· Omitting all the severe limitations of the science and computer models identified in the Working Group I Report, The Physical Science Basis from the SPM.
There are lies of commission and omission, and both fit the political and PR practices of IPCC climate science. Humans learn both types of lies as children. In fact, one of the classifications chosen by anthropologists to distinguish humans from all other animals is the ability to lie. The designation, Homo sapiens, supposedly separated us because we could think conceptually, that is we could take disparate information and link it. Then we discovered other animals making similar conceptual connections, so they decided that we were different because we could lie. This requires a double conceptual understanding. You have to know the truth and then figure out how to circumvent it, hence the current designation of humans as, Homo sapiens sapiens. How is that for a moral distinction to be proud of? Of course, the recent support of IPCC climate science by Pope Francis puts the cat amongst the moral pigeons.
Sins of omission are an important part of advertising and public relations. They justify the sin as emphasizing the positive, but it is really avoiding the negative. It is manifest in various forms in the environmental and global warming war. Identifying only benefits, instead of a balanced and realistic cost/benefit study, was used to promote alternate energy. Proponents of the human production of CO2 (AGW) hypothesis only examined what they claimed were the negative impacts. The IPCC did not look at the benefits of global warming. Equally effective in their deception was avoidance of positive benefits of CO2, not least the sustenance of all life through the production of oxygen. A measure of the inanity that results from the IPCC deceptions is the push, by activists like Al Gore and Bill McKibben, to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. This, despite the scientific research and empirical evidence, that plants function best between 1000 -1200 parts per million (ppm), so are malnourished at the current levels of 400 ppm. All this is a result of the aberrations created by the IPCC and manifest in Sabine and Feely’s latest example. It is time to establish power of attorney for the plants and vote on their behalf against any immoral measure to reduce CO2 levels.