by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
Global warming and winter weather
Science has published a letter from Mike Wallace, Isaac Held, David Thompson, Kevin Trenberth and John Walsh titled Global warming and winter weather. Punchline:
The research linking summertime Arctic sea ice with wintertime climate over temperate latitudes deserves a fair hearing. But to make it the centerpiece of the public discourse on global warming is inappropriate and a distraction. Even in a warming climate, we could experience an extraordinary run of cold winters, but harsher winters in future decades are not among the most likely nor the most serious consequences of global warming.
Thank you Mike Wallace et al.
Andy Revkin has an article on this Global warming, winter weather and the Olympics – five leading climate scientists weigh in that includes additional comments from the authors.
NBC news on climate models
John Roach of NBC news has a good article Global Warming Pause? The Answer Is Blowin’ Into the Ocean. Read the article for the main gist, these statements in particular caught my eye:
Consensus and trust(?)
Graham Wayne has written a post Climate change science, consensus, and the matter of trust. Excerpt:
Attacks on the consensus among climate scientists are designed to destroy trust – in the scientists and their claims of cohesive support for the theory of climate change, and in those who champion both the consensual opinions of scientists, but also – and more importantly – the consensual nature of the research, for nobody is bothering to research ‘alternative’ theories except the 3% working out of the deep trench they’ve dug for themselves and don’t have the courage or integrity to climb out of.
While the article is thoughtful and well written, I think it stems from a flawed premise. The greatest source of trust destruction in climate science has been the premature manufacture of consensus on the magnitude of anthropogenic climate change, and the linking of this consensus with mitigation policies.
Mark twain on the climate debate
Paul Matthews has an entertaining post The Shakespeare debate as an analogy for climate? Excerpt:
The so-called Shakespeare authorship question has some similarities to the climate debate. The vast majority (97%?) of academics working in the field have no doubt that the author of the plays was the actor from Stratford, though there are some exceptions. But many people, including prominent Shakespearean actors such as Mark Rylance, are doubtful.
Familiar tactics are employed by the two sides. The mainstream side has difficulty deciding whether to ignore the sceptics, or to criticise them at the risk of giving them publicity. When they do respond, they tend to characterise the doubters as nutters. Some of the sceptics oblige by coming up with bonkers theories. The mainstream refuses to accept that the sceptics have simply looked at the facts and found them unconvincing, but ascribes to them unusual personality traits or flaws that cause them to think this way. The sceptics argue that the mainstream academics have a lot to lose, and are therefore biased. Sounds familiar?
Trial of the century?
Mark Steyn continues to hammer Michael Mann with the following posts:
RealClearPolitics (one of the major news aggregators in the U.S.) has picked up on this with an article Mann vs Steyn: The trial of the century. Excerpts:
In other words, Steyn’s evaluation of Mann’s scientific claims can be legally suppressed because Steyn dares to question the conclusions of established scientific institutions connected to the government. On this basis, the DC Superior Court arrives at the preposterous conclusion that it is a violation of Mann’s rights to “question his intellect and reasoning.” That’s an awfully nice prerogative to be granted by government: an exemption against any challenge to your reasoning.
I said before that I don’t know how the rest of us skeptics escaped being sued along with Steyn. Now we know. Mann is attempting to establish a precedent for climate censorship. If he wins this suit, then we’re all targets.
Mann has made a lot of noise about setting himself as some kind of modern Galileo, a persecuted scientist. This analogy was all wrong from the beginning. Galileo was not the enforcer of the prevailing scientific “consensus” but its caustic critic. And now it is Mann who is trying to dictate what others can and cannot say about scientific facts and reasoning. So no, he’s not a modern Galileo. He’s a modern Cardinal Bellarmine.
Or perhaps there is a better historical analogy. Mann is attempting to install himself as a kind of American Lysenko. Trofim Lysenko was the Soviet scientist who ingratiated himself to Joseph Stalin and got his crackpot theories on genetics installed as official dogma, effectively killing the study of biology in the Soviet Union. Under Lysenko, the state had an established and official scientific doctrine, and you risked persecution if you questioned it. Mann’s libel suit is an attempt to establish that same principle here.
Mann has recently declared himself to be both a scientist and a political activist. But in attempting to intimidate his critics and suppress free debate on global warming, he is violating the fundamental rules of both science and politics. If it is a sin to doubt, then there is no science. If it is a crime to dissent, then there is no politics.
Mann vs. Steyn may be the trial of the century. It may determine, not merely whether the environmentalists can shut down industrial civilization, but whether they can shut down the independent thinking of skeptical dissidents.
Barry Bickmore takes issue with the RealClearPolitics article in a piece entitled The Free Speech Brigade Suppresses Free Speech. Concluding statements from this lengthy article:
What will the result of all this be? Mann will very likely win in court, and it’s even more likely that the defendants will settle out of court. The Steyns and Tracinskis, and even the Prof. Carters, of the world will convince some of their readers that this case is really some Free Speech “Trial of the Century,” and so when Mann wins, these people might be afraid to voice their ignorant opinions about climate change or climate scientists. Ok, maybe that’s not all bad, but for people who actually do care about preserving free speech and unhampered debate, this is not a good outcome. What’s certain is that it won’t be Mike Mann’s fault. The fault will lie squarely on the shoulders of the Free Speech Brigade.
And finally James Delingpole envies Mark Steyn for getting sued by Mann.