by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
The climate wars have continued this week, aided and abetted by the Gleick affair.
An op-ed in Physics Today: Climate Scientists Not Cowed by Relentless Climate Deniers. Read the whole thing. Some excerpts:
Fossil-fuel interests, says Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher at NASA, “have adopted a shoot-the-messenger approach. It’s been a very successful strategy. They have created a chilling effect, so other [scientists] won’t say what they think and the conversation in public stays bereft of anyone who knows what they are talking about.” Schmidt cofounded RealClimate.org, a forum for climate scientists to “provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary.” Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a vocal opponent to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, is suing NASA for the release of Schmidt’s personal emails.
The LA Times has a lengthy article on Michael Mann’s new book: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Has anyone read this yet? I read the 2+ chapters available for free at amazon.com. The LA Times review reads like it could have been written by Michael Mann himself. Until you get to the last few paragraphs, which I reproduce here:
Mann ends his book on a prophetic note with a chapter titled “Fighting Back.” He expresses hopefulness that he and his fellow scientists can turn the tide of public opinion not by remaining unbiased observers on the sidelines, as they have done traditionally, but by taking a more active role in the debate. After many of his colleagues stood up for him during a witch hunt by Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli, who was demanding every email, record or document related to Mann during his time as a professor at the University of Virginia, Mann was inspired to believe that scientists working as a team could make a difference. “Something is different now,” Mann concludes. “The forces of climate change denial have, I believe, awakened a ‘sleeping bear.’ My fellow scientists will be fighting back, and I look forward to joining them in this battle.”
That’s something Mann might want to rethink. Peter Gleick, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient for his work on global freshwater challenges and president of the Pacific Institute, admitted earlier this month to borrowing a page directly from the denialists’ playbook. Posing as someone else, he obtained internal documents from the Heartland Institute and distributed them to journalists, a tactic little different from the hack attack at the University of East Anglia that has been decried by environmentalists. Gleick’s activism has ravaged his own reputation and given further ammunition to climate deniers, who won’t have to look far to find a climate scientist whose political opinions have seemingly overcome his better judgment.
That’s why Mann’s conclusion is the only sour note in an otherwise highly readable and intelligent book, and why his own growing profile as an activist might come back to haunt him. Scientists, like journalists, really are more credible when they stick to the evidence, report the facts and let society come to its own conclusions. You handle the science, professor Mann; we’ll handle the punditry.
JC comment: Bravo for the last paragraph.
Climate Science Watch has a post entitled Climate Science Legal Defense Fund: Support Michael Mann. Excerpts:
Funds are needed to:
1. Fend-off the American Tradition Institute’s demand to take Dr. Mann’s deposition, which is a blatant attempt to harass and intimidate him for exercising his constitutional rights by petitioning to intervene in the case.
2. Defeat ATI’s attempt to obtain Dr. Mann’s email correspondence through the civil discovery process, which essentially is an “end-run” around the scholarly research exemption under the Virginia FOIA law.
3. Prepare for summary judgment on the issue of the exempt status of his email correspondence under the Virginia FOIA law
JC comment: The date of this post is Feb 28. Only Michael Mann is mentioned. Looks like Gleick is being thrown under the bus by this group? I don’t envy Gleick’s lawyer bills.
The (dis)loyal opposition
Check out this WSJ video interview of Joseph Bast, President of Heartland Institute. Its about 8 minutes long, but well worth a watch. His statements about climate science sound pretty lukewarm.
Ben Pile has a hard hitting article with subtitle ” the inconvenient truth for greens is that there is no denialist conspiracy blocking climate change action.” His closing paragraph:
The environmental movement is as promiscuous with its ‘ethics’ as it is with ‘The Science’. You can make stuff up, apparently, just so long as you do so in order to ‘save the planet’. And this is why sums as paltry and insignificant as $1,000 are so important to their perspective. It is only by amplifying the trivial that the myth of ‘networks’ of ‘well-funded deniers’ can be sustained. It’s only when you lose a sense of proportion that a few million dollars can stop global action on climate change. Trivia, vanity and mythology allows environmentalists to turn ordinary facts of politics – funding, associations of people, and campaigning organisations – into secret conspiracies to explain their own failure to create a popular movement.
Keeping score from the sidelines
The Columbia Journalism Review has an article Heartland, Gleick and Media Law. A very interesting but long article. The punchline:
It’s hard to imagine, then, that after answering the three big questions about deception—Is it legal? Questionable. Is it worth it? Questionable. Is there another way? Probably.—that a news outlet would have acted as Gleick did.
Donna LaFramboise asks the following question: Where do Gleick’s apologists draw the line? Excerpts:
Climate change is a strange beast. When it enters the room, even ethicists lose the ability to think straight.
It will be fascinating to see how this story develops. In the meantime here is a question for all of the above apologists. Where do you draw the line?
I get it. Lying and stealing and misleading are OK so long as they help advance a good cause. What else is acceptable? Old fashioned burglary? Arson? Car bombs?
Where is the line?
Megan McArdle has an interesting article in the Atlantic entitled Why we should act to stop global warming and why we won’t. Read this paragraph and be amazed: