by Judith Curry
Some interesting action in the ‘climate wars’ this past week.
Pierre Gosselin has translated two extensive interview with Hans von Storch, see these posts:
- Unminced words by climate scientist Hans von Storch
- Leading IPCC scientists warns: Climate science will lose its credibility if it keeps spreading panic
Quotes from the summary provided by Gosselin:
Some scientists, he says, have tended to accept dramatic scenarios and consequences even when there’s little evidence behind them. He also talks of a group of scientists who fancy themselves as the ultimate authority and who have the last word. All the exaggerations and projections of doom, gloom and disaster have led to an overall discrediting of the field.
I was surprised to hear him call both Science and Nature “pretty bad journals” when it comes to the quality of their articles. He says that science journals must remain sufficiently critical and not let themselves get caught up with the zeitgeist.
Overall von Storch doesn’t blame the media much for the hysteria, implying that the hysteria stems more from scientists communicating poorly.
von Storch believes some scientists succumbed to drama in order to get attention and prestige, and says that the such are only damaging the credibility of climate science.
He finds climate models too CO2-centric in general. Here he appeals for more patience to let the science unfold.
On the hockey stick chart:
I believe it was something dumb by scientists who wanted to steer politics.”
Scientists, von Storch reminds us, should not be so quick to claim absolute truth.
Also, von Storch believes that the oceans could be warming up, but that there is very little data out there to confirm it.
Mann vs Muller
Muller, who lacks any training or expertise in atmospheric science, is more than happy to promote with great confidence the unsupportable claim that global warming will actually decrease tornado activity. His evidence for this? The false claim that the historical data demonstrate a decreasing trend in past decades.
Actual atmospheric scientists know that the historical observations are too sketchy and unreliable to decide one way or another as to whether tornadoes are increasing or not (see this excellent discussion by weather expert Jeff Masters of The Weather Underground).
So one is essentially left with the physical reasoning I outlined above. You would think that a physicist would know how to do some physical reasoning. And sadly, in Muller’s case, you would apparently be wrong…
- Smear and misrepresent other scientists.
- Misrepresent key details of climate science, inevitably to downplay the seriousness of climate change, whether it is the impacts on extreme weather and heat, drought, Arctic melting, or the threat to Polar Bears.
- Shill for fossil fuel energy, arguing that the true solution to global warming isn’t renewable or clean energy. No, not at all! Muller is bullish on fracking and natural gas as the true solution.
To (a) pretend to accept the science, but attack the scientists and misrepresent so many important aspect of the science, downplaying the impacts and threat of climate change, while (b) acting as a spokesman for natural gas, one imagines that the petrochemical tycoon Koch Brothers indeed were probably quite pleased with their investment. As I put it in an interview last year:
It would seem that Richard Muller has served as a useful foil for the Koch Brothers, allowing them to claim they have funded a real scientist looking into the basic science, while that scientist– Muller—props himself up by using the “Berkeley” imprimatur (UC Berkeley has not in any way sanctioned this effort) and appearing to accept the basic science, and goes out on the talk circuit, writing op-eds, etc. systematically downplaying the actual state of the science, dismissing key climate change impacts and denying the degree of risk that climate change actually represents. I would suspect that the Koch Brothers are quite happy with Muller right now, and I would have been very surprised had he stepped even lightly on their toes during his various interviews, which he of course has not. He has instead heaped great praise on them, as in this latest interview.
The New York Times does a disservice to its readers when it buys into the contrived narrative of the “honest broker”–Muller as the self-styled white knight who must ride in to rescue scientific truth from a corrupt and misguided community of scientists. Especially when that white knight is in fact sitting atop a Trojan Horse–a vehicle for the delivery of disinformation, denial, and systematic downplaying of what might very well be the greatest threat we have yet faced as a civilization, the threat of human-caused climate change.
I bow to Richard Muller: not only does he have access to the NYTimes, but he has been the subject of numerous lengthy hatchet jobs by Mann, whereas I can only claim a few tweets and the ‘serial climate misinformer’ thing. While I don’t agree with everything he says, clearly Muller is ‘da man’ in terms of of a scientist trying to put some rationality into the climate change debate, and as such is perceived to be a major threat by the wacko alarmist wing of climate science. Next up on the Mann hit list might be Roger Pielke Jr, as indicated by Mann’s twitter feed and also by his post Daniel Greenberg meets the climate scientists). Although von Storch might be in contention; that was some pretty serious trash talking about the Hockey Stick (although since it was in german, maybe it doesn’t ‘count’).
The most amusing thing to me was that in the midst of trashing Muller as not being an atmospheric scientist or understanding climate science, that Mann touts the foreword for the paperback edition of his book The Hockey Stick Wars by Bill Nye – Science Guy (recently seen on Dancing with the Stars)
JC message to Michael Mann: Up the level of your scientific game when discussing climate change with the public. Most importantly, stop trashing other scientists that disagree with you. It reminds the public of Climategate and all of the irresponsible and unethical practices that are the root source of why they don’t trust climate scientists. You continue to damage the credibility of climate science in ways that you apparently can’t imagine.
You should read the entire posts, and the comments are interesting as well. A taste:
Because sceptics are culturally resistant to seeing themselves as victims.
Sceptics are loners … not social loners but intellectual loners. We do not need our views endorsed by our peers. We are resilient, self-reliant we have often worked in time-critical high-risk industries where the pressure of work means that tempers can fly and so we are pragmatic and tolerant of others.
Non-sceptics value group identity. Unlike sceptics they see loners as being weak and needing to be brought into line within the social consensus. As such non-sceptics feel it is legitimate to attack those who reject their social consensus.
But sceptics don’t value their group identity and instead argue the facts.
Such behaviour is extremely frustrating to the non-sceptic. They cannot understand how sceptics can reject their group, but neither can they attack our arguments because we state the facts which cannot be attacked. So non-sceptics find themselves having to attack the people for not arguing in a way that allows us to be attacked.
But, the fundamental reason for this cyber bullying is that in a culture where this bullying has been legitimised by every authority figure from government ministers to the BBC to the moderators of the Independent and Guardian as well as every University in the land
Quote of the day
From Nassim Taleb, via Twitter:
Be polite, but ignore comments, praise, and criticism from people you woudn’t hire.
If you you are on twitter, be sure to follow Taleb, he comes up with these amazingly insightful one-liners.
I spotted this one as I was writing Mann vs Muller. I would hire Richard Muller in a heartbeat. I will be polite and stop there.