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Climategate: Why it Matters

November 24, 2009
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James Delingpole
November 24, 2009

Climategate: still an astonishing lack of coverage in the MSM, the only major UK exception being the Mail which, after years of agnosticism now seems to have decided to come down firmly in the climate sceptics’ camp – here, here and in this article today by the mighty Booker. (Nigel Lawson is able to slip in a mention, too, in today’s Times).

But is that because – as some of the commenters below my post are so eager to tell me – it’s a complete non-story which deserves to get me the sack for being such a rubbish journalist (with innumerable websites dedicated to telling the world just how crap I am, apparently)?

Or does it have legs? (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)

This interview with retired climatalogist Dr Tim Ball offers quite a useful perspective.

There’s no point in anyone from the AGW camp watching it: they’ve made up their minds and no quantity of contrary evidence, however devastating, is going to shake their considered position of “Nyah nyah nyah. Got my fingers in my ears. Not listening. The world IS warming and it’s man’s fault. Must tax carbon now….”

But the type of people I would dearly love to watch it are those like my friends Dan Hannan, Danny Finkelstein, Ed West and Michael Gove. This particular rogues’ gallery has long been a source of frustration and disappointment to me. They are intelligent and wise, eloquent and funny. They are on the side of wisdom and commonsense. They correctly anatomise so many of the ills of the modern world, from the perils of rampant Islamism to the evils of the EU. I like and admire them all hugely. Yet on perhaps the biggest and most important issue of our age – because it’s going to cost so much money and do so much harm to our landscape – they all have a curious blind spot.

What seems to have lulled these four – and many other clever people like them, I fear – into their dangerous complacency is the belief that given the majority of world scientific opinion is backing AGW theory, it would be irresponsible for us non-scientists to disagree.

What the Climategate scandal does is prove just how murky and unreliable this supposed scientific “consensus” really is.

Dr Ball is particularly trenchant on the phrase “peer-reviewed.” You’ll have heard it being brandished an awful lot over the last decade or so, invariably by scientists in the climate-fear-promotion lobby trying to show how all scientists who disagree with them are just ignorant cranks who need not be taken seriously. It’s a virus that has spread to non-scientists. Read George Monbiot; skim through the comments by AGW-believers below any blog on the subject of climate change. “Peer-reviewed”: it’s the magic phrase which – in their eyes – guarantees the reliability and credibility of their favoured scientists, and which completely pulls the rug from under that of the dissenters.

But what if that vaunted “peered-review” stamp of authenticity is about as valuable as a fake Rolex? It would mean, would it not, that the supposedly authoritative community of disinterested scientists who inform the IPCC’s reports are in fact  to be trusted about as much as a frog would a scorpion it was ferrying on its back across a river…

This is the key point made by Dr Ball.

“It confirms suspicions that I’ve had working in my thirty years of climate science. I saw the hijacking of climate science particularly by computer modelers and then by a small group associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change….”

“What you’ve got here is confirmation of the small group of scientists who, by the way, Professor Wegman who was asked to arbitrate in the debate about the hockey stick, he identified 42 people who were publishing together and also peer-reviewing each other’s literature. So there’s a classic example of the kind of thing that bothered me. About twenty years ago, I started saying ‘Well why are they pushing the peer review?’..And now of course we realise it’s because they had control of their own process. That’s clearly exposed in these emails.”

“On a global scale it’s frightening because this group of people not only control the Hadley Centre, which controls the data on global temperature through the Hadley Climate Research Unit but they also control the IPCC and they’ve manipulated that. And of course the IPCC has become the basis in all governments for the Kyoto protocol, the Copenhagen accord and so on….”

Dr Ball describes the scandal as not just a “smoking gun” but “a battery of machine guns.” How much more evidence, I wonder, do the likes of Messrs Hannan, Gove, Finkelstein and West need, I wonder, before they feel as strongly about this issue as I do?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. you can call me Roy permalink
    December 11, 2009 12:19 pm

    Climategate and the Sellout of America
    If you haven’t read or heard about the “Climategate” scandal, you should have. The Climate
    Research Unit (CRU) in East Anglia, England had their email server hacked and several hundred of their emails have been released publicly. None of these bode well for the CRU and their “manipulation” of the data used to prove “Climate Change” is being caused by “man-made sources”. They also reveal a very unscientific manner in refusing Freedom of Information requests, deleting data, forging and “tricking” data, and overtaking peer review journals that have dissenting editors reviewing their work. No one in the CRU is denying their authenticity.To take raw data, “trick” it into making it support your hypothesis isn’t science. Refusing peer review of your data sets (raw), analysis of your computer programs that generate the models, and refusing FOI requests is simply very bad science and obtuse at best. To expect any government body, specifically the IPCC arm of the United Nations, to rely on your “research” in developing legislation or policy is absurd in light of these emails.
    Here are the facts regarding the CRU:
    American taxpayers have been funding the CRU in England for years through various grants
    directly and through the NOAA.
    The U.N.’s IPCC has been relying heavily on their “research” to develop the Kyoto and
    Copenhagen Climate Change treaties.
    The House and Senate version of the Cap and Trade bills are heavily relying on the CRU’s
    “science” in assuming man-made global warming exists.
    Under the Kyoto and the Copenhagen accords, highly industrial nations are going to be
    required to literally TAX energy. Our scheme in Congress requires the purchase of carbon
    credits to offset excessive emissions of CO2 over and above the “Cap” you are allotted.
    These “credits” are going to be a new form of “security” that will be sold like stocks and
    bonds and will be available to the highest bidder if a companies initial allotment of these
    carbon credits exceeds their needs. Alternative and renewable energy sources are
    exempt, but any carbon based fuels used to generate electricity, fuels to run our vehicles,
    or industries that use carbon based fuels to manufacture products (ie. Steel) will be forced
    to buy credits over and above their “cap” of CO2. Because these “credits” are traded on
    the open market, the Goldman-Sachs, the G.E.’s, and others engaged in the trading of
    Carbon Credits will generate unbelievable profits. YOUR energy costs will rise as well.
    Electricity and gasoline prices will skyrocket. Prices for ALL goods transported by any
    means will rise as well due to increase in transportation costs. It is estimated that 1.9
    million jobs will be shed as well as many factories and industries will simply shut down
    due to these increased energy costs. The Copenhagen Treaty will assure that our nation,
    with our existing industries, will pay into the IMF (through initial carbon-credit allocation
    purchases) and will finance the growth of third world economies by assuring them they
    can have industries and factories that will allow them to “catch up” to the rest of the world.
    These low to no interest “loans” will come from the IMF as well as from investments by the
    Investment Bankers (Goldman-Sachs to name one), the G.E.’s, and any OTHER companies
    who are now located in the United States and need a good “excuse” to move even more
    American jobs to developing nations.
    ALL of this is being done with YOUR tax dollars. Consider that these utilities, manufacturers,
    and oil companies that will pay for these “carbon credits”, will pass their costs directly to YOU in the form of higher prices. As more and more of our energy consuming industries move to these “developing nations”, our economic growth base declines. Energy needs WILL be reduced in America and production of energy sources in developing nations explodes- economically and in quantity. Since they are NOT subject to “cap and trade” schemes, the cost of doing business in these countries is so much less, it means OUR industries are moved overseas and we are left with virtually none. Simply look at the number of factories moved to China, Mexico, and Indonesia since the NAFTA treaty and you get the idea of what America is going to look like in a few short years.
    Why, you ask is this information not being seen on our tv’s every evening so we Americans canbe informed about what is the best avenue for our government to take? Oh, I guess you don’t
    know yet? CNN, NBS, CBS, ABC, and MSNBC apparently have decided that they know
    what is better for America than the people do. So they will feed you the news that is best for
    you.
    As the walls of Rome are smoking, the circus presents more subjects to the crowd.

  2. December 12, 2009 2:36 pm

    “Climategate” started out when there appeared on the Internet a collection of e-mails of a group of climatologists who work in the University of East Anglia in England. These documents reveal that some climatologists of international preeminence have manipulated the data of their investigations and have strongly tried to discredit climatologists who are not convinced that the increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are the cause of global warming.

    It is true that a majority of the scientists who study climatic tendencies in our atmosphere have arrived at the conclusion that the world’s climate is changing, and they have convinced a group of politicians, some of whom are politically powerful, of the truth of their conclusions.

    A minority, however, is skeptical. Some believe that recent data that suggest that the average temperature of the atmosphere is going up can be explained by natural variations in solar radiation and that global warming is a temporary phenomenon. Others believe that the historical evidence indicating that the temperature of the atmosphere is going up at a dangerous rate is simply not reliable.

    Such lacks of agreement are common in the sciences. They are reduced and eventually eliminated with the accumulation of new evidence and of more refined theories or even by completely new ones. Such debates can persist for a period of decades. Academics often throw invective at one another in these debates. But typically this does not mean much.

    But the case of climate change is different. If the evidence indicates that global warming is progressive, is caused principally by our industrial processes, and will probably cause disastrous changes in our atmosphere before the end of the twenty-first century, then we do not have the time to verify precisely if this evidence is reliable. Such a process would be a question of many years of new investigations. And if the alarmist climatologists are right, such a delay would be tragic for all humanity.

    The difficulty is that economic and climatologic systems are very complicated. They are not like celestial mechanics, which involves only the interaction of gravity and centrifugal force, and efforts to construct computerized models to describe these complicated systems simply cannot include all the factors that are influential in the evolution of these complicated systems.

    All this does not necessarily indicate that the alarmist climatologists are not right. But it really means that if global warming is occurring, we cannot know exactly what will be the average temperature of our atmosphere in the year 2100 and what will be the average sea level of the world’s ocean in that year.

    It also means that we cannot be confident that efforts by the industrialized countries to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will have a significant influence on the evolution of the world’s climate.

    Alas, the reduction of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would be very costly and would greatly change the lives of all the inhabitants of our planet–with the possibility (perhaps even the probability!) that all these efforts will be completely useless.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

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