Climategate (ctd)

Frank McDonald at last admits that all is not well in climate land, but fails to find fault with the advocates of climate policy. Anne Jolis is more strident.

71 replies on “Climategate (ctd)”

Anne Jolis is writing in the WST, a publication recognised for it’s sceptical view of the science of climate change.

It is inevitable that a report on the scale of the IPCC 4th report would have some errors. Does this debunk climate theory or the legitimacy of the argument that our policies should aim to reduce the carbon-intensity of our society and economy? No.

@Richard Tol

Just wondering do you not believe in man made climate change or is it government interrference in combatting it i.e. the market will provide the solution?


I brought up peak oil in another thread and I think it is something that could bring both camps together and with a common aim (coal being the exception) as most of the policies needed interlink.

Really, Richard, the Wall Strreet Journal? 🙂

As a famous whore, Mandy Rice-Davis, once remarked about an embarrassed client’s “denialism”:

“He would say that, wouldn’t he?”

I think MdDonald was writing about climate science and the revision of the IPCC process, not about climate policy. Personally, I think little or no credibility has been lost in climate science with the public due to “Climategate” (or “Denialgate” depending on your perspective).

Undoubtedly the episode gave spurious ammunition to the combination and media, political and industrial forces who are trying to muddy the waters to their own advantage.

For example, the US National Academy of Science released 3 reports yesterday, all of them reaffirming the IPCC message.

Frank McDonald again keeps his hands formly planted over his mouth eyes and ears.

Prime example. A less well informed reader would understand from McDonald that Pachauri came under cirticism for an error in the IPCC AR4 with respect to predictions about glacial retreat.

When the actual scandal was his verified close financial ties with the academic and organisation at the heart of that “human error”.

When will he tell it like it ease, instead of filtering the facts for his readership? In other words, start acting like a journalist.


Ah, the “prime example” which we peruse with furrowed brows and “tut tuts” galore.

In fact, the glacier example is just about the only major error in the report, if major error it was, and many consider it minor. It did not, for example, get into the policy-making part of the report.

But lets agree – the next report will be better! However, years of possible productive action will have been lost.

Why should Pachauri get subject to such scrutiny? There is a whole raft of denialist activity funded by the energy industry and right-wing think-tanks. For example, a conference just ending in Chicago with all the major denialists in attendance was funded by the politically right-wing Heartland Institute, funded in turn by Exxon Mobil.

Climate science should be held to the highest standards, but so should its critics.

The irony is the the Bush administration wanted Pachauri to head the IPCC because he is an economist, and they thought the scientists too nerdy and lefty.


I guess I’m coming at this from a different perspective to some of the others above, but it’s fairly evident that the enthusiastic coverage of climate change issues in the Irish media, as elsewhere in western media, is on the wane in recent times.

At the Magill Summer School in 2007, Environment Minister John Gormley characterised climate change as the most urgent challenge facing us. However, I doubt even one as committed as the Minister to green ideology would repeat such a claim at the present time for fear of being laughed out of it. Climate change is not as ‘hot’ an issue for the mainstream media any longer for a number of reasons, not least because it has been overtaken by the recession which presents our political class with a whole other kettle of fish to fry than long term projections of climate change impacts. Political leaders and their electorates have more to worry about than whether a climate doomsday is around the corner and will arrive tomorrow as they struggle to deal with the economic doomsday that has come upon them today. Add to that the excessively cold winter of 2009/2010, which appears from recent opinion polls – given that direct experience tends to be a major function of any belief – to have lessened public perception of the threat posed by global warming. That’s before you even get to the loss of credibility of the IPCC process due to ‘climategate’, plus the well-publicised mistakes that were included in the IPCC 2007 report, as well as the failure of the Copenhagen summit coupled with a general falling off in public confidence in public and political institutions as a direct result of our experience of the global financial crisis.

I think there’s another point that columnists like Frank McDonald may be missing out on: that we are now at the stage in the climate change debate where the cost/benefit of either proposed mitigation or adaptation strategies must be closely scrutinised before they can be imposed, or will be accepted by the public. For example, governments or political parties promoting movements to a ‘green economy’ will have to justify subsidies to green industries or energy systems if they are to maintain public support for such measures. Either they make economic sense and will generate employment etc. or they will not, in which case they’re unlikely to command support against other competing priorities of society. Citing the dangers of climate change or the moral imperative of bequeathing a better environment to our children’s children is not sufficient justification for anything any more.

I believe that the climate change debate would have reached this point anyway even if the global financial meltdown had not happened, but the consequences of that disaster make it all the more imperative that environment policy actions are fully debated and well thought through before they are adopted.

“The panel’s vice-chair, Prof Roseanne Diab, who is executive officer of the South African Academy of Science, made it clear that they “won’t be looking at the science, but at the processes that led to the IPCC’s findings . . . and how they can be improved, if necessary”. This is a perfectly reasonable position; otherwise, its work would be impossible.”

Its work being the non-scientific proof of what ever political objective, set by whom exactly? The whole “process” is clearly not based on scientific method. “Science” is what ever prestigious people say it is even if scientists do not agree! How weird!

“Re-establishing the IPCC’s credibility is absolutely critical to restoring public confidence – and to making progress in these highly complex negotiations, earlier rather than later. Of course, it will be impossible to satisfy the sceptics and deniers, such as “Politkeren”, who responded to my column on the Washington-based Heritage Foundation as follows: “Jerk! It’s only left-wing journalists and the IPCC who still believes (sic) in the global warming scam. Or try to make money by spreading the propaganda.” This is typical of the vulgar abuse frequently hurled nowadays by those who persist in denying there is any basis at all for the findings of so many scientists from all over the world.”

Strawman argument and still ignoring the critical need for scientific validity. There are passionate advocates on all sides. Why drag this in? Because it is better than using observations that are all under question by, yes, scientists.

@Pat Donnelly

A “passionate advocate” does not a scientist make. Scientists are often passionate, the reverse is generally not true.

McDonald is making the valid point that only side has the vast majority of climate scientists of its side. Don’t be fooled by media manipulators who foster the notion of a “debate”. Creationists have been using that one for years.

There may be a “debate” about the correct steps to take, given that climate change is generally accepted scientifically. Let’s talk about that.


Clmate change may not be “hot” in the media right now. Neither is Aids/ HIV – does that mean that the HIV virus perhaps does not lead to AIDs?
How about a “hot” piece on MMR as the cause of autism? Does that make it so?

If we are adopting a general rule that a science fact must not only be empirically verifiable, but it must also be popular with the journos, then I can see an excellent opening for a new breed of Trofim Lysenkos.

There will always be people who can be anti-science or expect certainty in evidence and there is a type who can for example be pro-science on climate change and anti-science on GM foods.

Google will always deliver some nugget of comfort to extremists.

Of course it’s very important that scientists have integrity in their research and its presentation and apart from obvious cranks, are prepared to engage serious and equally dissenters of integrity.

The National Academy of Sciences, a group termed by The Wall Street Journal as “elite American researchers that advises the U.S. government,” on Wednesday issued an 869-page report reasserting mankind’s role in altering the climate and calling for specific policy measures to help forestall undesirable effects.

The report, requested by Congress in 2008, essentially supports the main findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body whose most recent report released in 2007 was criticized for containing several errors.

“Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks,” the academy report concludes. The peer-reviewed study was done by 55 scientists from academia, industry and elsewhere vetted by the academy.

As an Anthropogenic Global Warming skeptic ( I would like to address those here who cry “denier” or “crank” to those who do not agree with the AGW theory.

Fact: AGW cannot be proven or disproved.

AGW cannot be stated as fact as we do have not the ability to prove it scientifically. We do not for example have 10 identical test-lab planet earths in which we can test 5 with man-made CO2 and 5 without and fast-track it for 5 centuries. Alas recreating our very complex climate system is not possible within a lab environment.

Likewise however, AGW cannot be disproven at this time (and of course nothing in CRUgate emails disproves AGW either). CO2 has proven limited ability to act like a greenhouse gas (in an unrealistic lab environment) and there is evidence of warming from temperature measurements over the past century as well as indicators such as glacier retreat. This could be a result of AGW (aka “man-made climate change”) or it could be a natural variation that could balance out (or not) over a longer period of time.

If you then say, well as its so complicated, lets go on the basis of what majority of climate scientists (who receive funding to research climate change) believe then that is fine – but you are going on what they believe not what they can prove – this is more akin to faith or religion than scientific fact.

Believe it or not – describing some-one as a denier or crank is unhelpful.

@Michael H

I look forward to reviewing the new science that I have heretofore missed that proves AGW is happening from this report – no really I do want to believe.

However you could also be accused of the same tactic that is so often thrown at AGW-proponents by skeptics- that is when serious issues with evidence are raised –instead of addressing them, you keep trying to move on. Forget the devious CRU emails and the (small number of) exaggerated claims in the last IPCC report – look my latest report proves it even better? This has been going on since the original hockey stick debate!


Oh, puhlease (as denialist Anthony Watts would say) we have many, many theories of the earth and of life on earth from geology to meteorology to zoology. How many of them have been “proved” in a laboratory? Evolution was accepted many, many years before it was demonstrated with bacteria, and even now Creationists argue it is applicable to simple lifeforms only.

Show me the lab which could demonstrate Plate Tectonics, once known as Continental Drift.

Roughly, sciences advances by conjecture, prediction, criticism and refutation. If I make a conjecture about CO2 in the atmosphere and prediction of temperature rise inside a short future timeframe, then we will soon see if my theory fits the observed facts. And the observations do agree with the theory of APW, they do indeed.

I do not know where you got your scientific “facts” from, but they are not facts. Richard will hardly let us have it out here, so if want to join the rough-and-tumble on, where they have a climate change thread, be my guest.

“Denialists” are conjecturing a contrary theory of a cycical increase which will cause temperatures to drop back soon. We are just ending the warmest decade since records began. One has even predicted the drop next November. We can wait a see.

You can see the scientific squabbling would be over long ago if there was not so much riding on it i.e. money and power, real and generated. BTW, the “grants” that climate scientists receive are peanuts compared to what Exxon Mobil has at stake.

It is beyond me why AGW skepticism-lite posts continue to defile this otherwise excellent and useful blog.


Speaking as a dyed-in-the-wool “denialist/denier/devil-worshipper”, we do not need to conjecture any rival theory on global warming or the lack thereof. The simple facts are that CO2 and temperature are uncorrelated. No correlation means no causation. Why is this so hard to understand? The burden of proof is firmly on the side of the catastrophic AGW alarmists, and their hypothesis remains unproved. CO2 has increased relentlessly over the past century and yet the temperature record clearly just wobbles up and down. Case closed. Download temperature time series from met eireann if you don’t believe me.
The whole AGW movement must be politically driven because the science is junk. The only reason we are still talking about it is because useful idiots like Frank McDonald and John Gibbons keep banging on about it.

@toby – well said! As Stephen Jay Gould said:

“In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.’ I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.”

@Alan – I’m afraid there is little that is based on fact in your post. In fact, I can’t relate any of it back to the surface temperature records of NASA’s GISS department. The science isn’t junk and until you do better than that post full of claims that are not backed up by one iota of evidence, I’ll stick to the clear science of AGW.

Believe it or not – describing some-one as a denier or crank is unhelpful.

Well, I can happily live with terming you and your compatriots ‘fools’, ‘ideologues’ and ‘professional shills working for the conservative welfare gravy-train’.

And – oh, Veronica. Clearly too much time as a professional apologist for BNFL does leave indelible marks. And by the way, who are you working for these days?


CO2 rise and temperature rise are correlated – both have been rising steadily during the 20th century and into this one.

That in itself proves nothing. My age and the price of petrol have been steadily rising also. Correlation does not mean causation at David Hume pointed out two centuries ago.

But we know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas since the 19th century. The models of how the sun’s energetic short wave radiation is absorbed and reflected as long waves by the earth’s surface, and in turn absorbed and re-radiated by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is will understood.

As I said above, we are just ending the hottest decade since records were kept, and 2010 is shaping up as the warmest year ever (at least the hottest Jan-April ever!). What’s your explanation? This is not the right blog for climate science details – but there are plenty where we can discuss your views e.g.


Come on, you know the GISS datasets are hopelessly compromised because of the poor positioning of the measuring equipment. See

You would think that you’d all be happy that AGW is false! I used to believe it too, you know. It’s quite liberating, being a “denier”!

WTF? “professional shills working for the conservative welfare gravy-train’.” What does that even mean??

What does that even mean??

I suggest that you look up “think tank” in the dictionary.

Good lord, will we have pro-creationist articles on irisheconomy to keep the half baked libertarian ones company next? The economic advantages of the young earth “theory”, and don’t mess with Texas…

@Ronan Burke

Agreed. Hopefully Richard will ask faux-science friends (e.g. Alan) to take it elsewhere. If anyone wants the latest in denialist pseudo-science, they can go to or

Excellent overviews of the science of climate change can be found at or
The moderators of these two sites come down sternly on overwrought accusations.

Attacking denialist arguments are like playing “whackamoley” – an argument refuted five years ago pops up again as if it was fresh. Rather than indulging in long-winded arguments, just go there. Sceptical Science has an excellent list of denialist arguments + refutations.


You should be aware that all the data sets – ground, air, sea & satellite all agree about the trend in global warming. Your specious arguments are being tossed about in myriad websites and we do not need a rehearsal of them here.


Hottest year ever? I must be losing my mind. I could have sworn there was about 100 frosty nights in the period Jan-April. Is it 1984, or do my lying eyes deceive me?

As for “absorbed and re-radiated by the greenhouse gases” – this contradicts the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The small amount of infrared radiation absorbed by CO2 can do no useful work. See the paper for more details.

If Richard keeps posting stuff on Climategate, then why shouldn’t we comment? Last time I looked, it was a free country.

@Ronan Burke

Good point: if you believe in rational markets etc. then you’re going to have problems with scientific process and evidence in general.

Historically, ‘Climategate’ achieved it’s purpose in helping to scupper agreement at Copenhagen. The interested parties have eased off somewhat as a result, but they still have to earn their funding.


Jeez, man, when we talk climate change we are talking about global temperature averages, not about how frosty it was wherever you live. has global temperatures measured by satellite.

Again, if you want a physics lesson, go the Science of Doom site, where the poster/ moderator has an excellent series of posts on greenhouse gases and the rediative transfer equations. I have not taught physics for thirty years, and I am not a physicist, so I am not going to bother continuing a discussion on that topic. The moderator of the site will respond patiently to any of your discussion points.

I notice you refer me to a paper by two scientists whose work on “falsifying” the greenhouse effect has become somewhat of a joke. See

This site is for economic matters. I read it to update myself on matters of climate change and energy policy with regard to Europe and the Irish economy. I think if you want a discussion on the science of climate change, you should go elsewhere.

@Pope Epopt

I think agreement or lack thereof at Copenhagen had little to do with Climategate/ Denialgate. One happened after the other, but that is all.

I have not noticed climate scientists “easing off” in their research and publications. Politicians running scared of the media? Of course, but what’s new about that?

@ Toby

Are you even aware of the financial links between the the highly erroneous glacier “research” included in AR4, Pachauri’s research orgnaisation, TERI and substantial public monies that flowed in that direction on the back of the highly erroneous glacier research

This was more than an error. There is every appearance of financial conlfict or even impropriety. But not in Frank McDonald’s world apparently.

@ toby

I was referring to the funding of the climate change deniers and the ‘sure it’s happening, but it would cost too much to do anything about it’ merchants (there wouldn’t be any of those in this parish, would there? ;-)).

Climate scientists also get funded, but to do science rather than propaganda.


Even if Pachauri was rampantly corrupt, it would not dent the validity of climate science, or of the series of IPCC reports, which do not consist of research but of a review and report of the scientific literature.

The Himalayan fiasco was a typo but reported by media megaphone as if it was 9/11. Other alleged “errors” have been debunked, but no media outlet has published a retraction. Similarly, the clearing of Michael Mann and Phil Jones by investigative committees was not reported at all, was misreported, or dismissed as “whitewash”.

Pachauri’s “conflict of interest” has been widely reported on denialist blogs. It seems to me it was Pacauri’s work that got him the IPCC job in the first place. Fine, let him step down. does that mean the thousands of other climate scientists are wrong or corrupt? Of course not!

I’m always surprised how ideologically charged these debates are.

Then there’s people who say, “let’s not look at this from an ideological point of view. Let’s be scientific about it.” as if science provided us with some greater truth.

But of course, the belief in science is itself an ideology, a dogma if you will, stemming from two distinct axioms

1) The axiom of probability – that stochastic relationships exist in a universe, even if these cannot be observed or fabricated

2) The axiom of observation – that truth is something which can be observed.

Fascinatingly, these two axioms – without both of which science would be meaningless if not impossible – are contradictory. This reveals the logical inconsistency in the scientific approach.

@ Pope Epopt

I think you hae little notion of how science is funded. Climate science (or any funded academic) do not pocket grants or stick them in Swiss bank accounts.

They usually go to the institutions for which the scientists work, and go on laboratories, postdocs, postgrads, lab staff, travel and myriad other areas. The scientists get paid a salary by the institution. They do not use grant money to speculate on Wall Street – in fact, I am sure the institutions they served are audited quite thoroughly. The story of billions of moolah pouring in the pockets of climate scientists is pure fiction and black propaganda. You are free to disagee – but where is your evidence?

On the other hand, Koch Industries, run by David Koch one of the richest men in the world, has poured $50million into anti-science denialism and anti-environmental causes over the last 12 years. $4million per year is good going! Much of this money went to right-wing “Institutes” and think tanks, whose main function is to spead the no-taxation faus-libertarian message.


“$4million per year is good going!”

how does $4 million per year compare with Greenpeace’s annual budget?

Its hard to tell who is outspending whom, with so many silly vested interests on both sides.


It is fascinating – the two sides to science! Generally speaking though, ‘data always trumps theory’. The second axiom overrides the first. And of course, we know from Godel, that certain truths can never be proved to be true. I think saying that all of science is logically inconsistent is a bit strong. It may be inconsistent, but it still works (most of the time!).


$4million per year is one from ONE single organisation .. match that with Exxon Mobil, BP … you are talking about far more per capita per year to denialists than is funded to climate scientists, especially as there are far less denialists.

I am trying to defend climate science, not Greenpeace, which I believe is an organisation of “environmental activists” without any standing as climate scientists. You chose a poor comparison.


I am a bit dubious about science as an “ideology”. Certainly science has a close affinity with liberalism, and science can best flourish in a liberal society with a free flow of ideas and discussion. Ideologies are pretty rigid, science must be the most flexible ideology ever invented.

Changing “facts” to suit the ideology happens all the time (just Google Lysenko), but that is ruled out of science. Or, if it happens, what is happening ceases to be science.


You’ve got the wrong target there. Read what I say. Climate scientists are rightly funded by the state to do essential climate science. I have personal experience of how science works and is funded.

Professional denialists (as opposed to the legions who do it for free!) are funded by the likes of Koch Industries as you rightly point out.

The new wave is not to deny the conclusions of contemporary climate science but to admit them while conducting a more subtle program of FUD and then claim there’s little we can or should affordably do about it. Or even that we in the global North will somehow benefit from all that hot weather while the poor saps in the South will fry.

This is Tol and Lomborg’s line.

Can I make make myself clearer?

@Pope Epopt,

Nope, you clear that up pretty well.

FUD = Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt, I presume.


A reason perhaps, why the freezing winter has increased skepticism of AGW is because it is a timely reminder of the cost of colder temperatures to most of the developed world.

Maybe the warming may not be as bad as predicted.

Maybe the warming may not be as bad as predicted.

Basing your views on AGW on the weather in Ireland doesn’t really get us anywhere. Leaving aside weather vs. climate, consider that at our latitude, we should have Dublin harbour ice-bound for much of the winter – but this clearly doesn’t happen. Science can and has accounted for this, where the layman may be ignorant of complexity.

lets agree to disagree. I fully respect your considered view – but it would be nice if you respected mine as well. By the way, I have some vague recollection that you stated in a previous blog post that you worked with a company in the renewable or green sector? If I am mistaken or have confused you with another toby then I apologise, but perhaps you could clarify for the weary eyes who are wading through our posts…


I did feel your views on science were a bit simplistic, and I may have come across too sharply. There are four major indicators of AGW:

CO2 levels
Global Average Temperature
Arctic Sea Ice
Sea Level Rise

Each indicator is inexorably offering confirmatory evidence for anthropogenic global warming year after year. None are laboratory-based indicators. Even if global cooling suddenly kicked in about 2015 and every indicator went into reverse, we would be foolish not to start making preparations now for the likelihood that global warming is happening and will increase.

I work for a telecommunications company researching smart-grids and energy reduction in telecommunications networks. My own work is more development than research, and not in those areas. And, no, I am not heavily invested in green technology. :))


The early assessments of the cost of AGW were higher than today because the benefits of warming had not been properly accounted for. I don’t know, but I wonder have the freezing conditions of last winter led to some reviews of the costs of the cold – globally obviously.

In Ireland’s case the lack of salt will likely not be repeated but what about our approach to building, to roads, agriculture, heating and our general health to reduce the cost of future cold spells?

Aside from the third world, warming to 2050 will result in fewer temperature related deaths and lost life years and is likely to hold to 2200 (This was Lomborg quoting a 2006 study by Tol that was THE FIRST complete global survey of the issue). And deaths from warming is not the biggest problem facing developing countries. This was 2006. Will more studies emerge showing – unaccounted for – benefits of warming?

I remain very unhappy with AGW and the political organizations’ rush to judgement.
That Koch, one of the richest families in the world, funds opposition is typical of the US where all such families have foundations for tax purposes. One allowable aim of a charity, necessary for the tax deductions!, is Science. It would not surprize me to know that Koch also funded studies into global warming, natural and “man made”. First access to such science would have commercial advantage. It suggests technologies that can be manufactured in China based on patents managed in Ireland, for Shock: tax purposes!, making them even richer!
How shocking is this capitalism. They get richer, while all of us get to use their filthy technology! Perfidy! In the meantime we waste time debating what is going to happen, at the behest of the MSM.

Look to the Sun, Aten, Apollo and see what is truly powerful. There is fusion, but on the surface and more in the corona, as the power of the galaxy flows through every star. Science can propogate lies very effectively for almost as long as false economic theories, but in the end history decides. If we learn we earn.

@Pat Donnelly,

Given that the first US President to mention climate change in a message to Congress was Lyndon Johnson, and the first confirmatory paper was written in 1988 by James Hansen, some of us might conclude that the “judgement” of political organizations has been positively glacial!
Jimmy Cater tried to wean the US away from Middle Eastern oil 30 years ago – how different might the world be if Reagan had adopted the same policy?

BTW, Koch Industries have their own PR. I don’t think they need you as well. Koch’s focus on right-wing causes is too well known.

@ Neil S

Extrapolating from the weather conditions of one winter in only a part of the Earth has fallacies which should be obvious.

As to your question as to whether we will see more ‘contributions’ by sideshow authors along the lines of Tol/Lomborg (Tolborg?), I’m sure the funding is out there.

I see the right-wing thinktanks in the US already pursuing the line, for example, that higher efficiency standards in cars will kill people (by questionable extrapolations from the likely decrease in car size and weight). This is the kind of FUD that these characters specialise in as a lucrative career choice.

@Alan, no doubt it is liberating in the same way that believing the ship you’re on isn’t liberating for a short time until you realise the ship is actually sinking and that you would have been better off facing reality than sticking your fingers in your ear and saying “lalalala” until everyone stopped bothering you.

@Sarah – as Jerome says above, we’ll just have to agree to differ on this one. To me its just a perfect example of the big lie, and has turned into a kind of religion. But each to their own.


Funny how those who demonstrably misunderstand the scientific method are the quickest to chuck the accusation of ‘religion’ at anything approaching a scientific consensus.

You *want* to believe it’s a ‘big lie’. That want is why denialists think their research by Google is somehow valid. That want is why denialists pick their cherries. That want is why you just don’t get science.

the poster, richard tol, wrote an academic paper explaining that the costs of climate change mitigation would be higher than the benefits to be gained by an increasing average temperature.
To’s paper was liberally supported by references to other academic papers, written by ….. richard tol.


Science is : “a technique of not kidding yourself”.

Climate change issues are risk-management issues.

Some people refuse to accept that there will be serious consequences in any timescale they care about, or think anybody should care about, which might be a century or less.

Others worry there might eventually be very serious consequences.

@ Alan, shall we also agree to disagree about gravity? The decision to just “disagree” with the scientific consensus is just bizarre. And it is a consensus: scientists are 90% certain that climate change is being caused by human activities. And before you jump on the 90%, let me say two things:

1) 100% is never achieved in science
2) If a plane had a 90% chance of crashing, would you get on it?

No, saying that there is some sort of linear relationship between a trace gas and temperature in a chaotic system is nonsense. It simply can’t happen. From a purely system theoretic viewpoint AGW is way too simplistic. I’m sorry if this offends your scientific sensibilities.

Also, there might be a scientific consensus among the hockey team (who also wrote the IPCC reports), but there is widespread disagreement among the wider scientific community. Are you just going to discount the views of Richard Lindzen, Bob Carter etc etc as cranks and deniers? Because that won’t get us anywhere. They are as interested in the truth as I am, but they have reached different conclusions. It also doesn’t help the AGW cause that members of the hockey team have been so reluctant to release their data and methods. Phil Jones said why would he release his data when people just want to pick holes in it. Is that not what science is all about? Michael Mann, who produced that infamous hockey stick curve has been utterly discredited thanks to the tireless voluntary work of Steve McIntyre from As for Michael Mann’s website, they pointedly delete posts that disagree with them. Is that scientific?

Another thing Sarah – you say that scientists are 90% certain that climate change is being caused by human activities. Does this mean that there was no climate change before humans? No it doesn’t. How can you separate natural climate change out from supposed human induced CC? You can’t.

@ Alan,

So your argument is based on a rejection of the basic mechanism of the greenhouse effect? Not sure what to say to that one really, it’s been part of the mainstream scientific consensus for more than a few decades at this stage. And it’s all perfectly within the theoretical realms of possibility.

As for the “wider scientific community” – I’m not really that bothered about the opinion of someone with a PhD psychology thanks very much. It’s ironic that you accuse me of discounting the views of Lindzen because even he accepts that humans are having an impact through increasing atmospheric CO2 emissions!

The rest of what you talk of is bad scientific attitude but it does nothing to negate the science of AGW. NASA’s GISS temperatures for example are transparent and available for all to access.

Sorry? I missed the part where I said that climate change didn’t happen before humans. What’s different about today is the RATE at which it’s happening and the lack of alternative explanations. As Sherlock himself said, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”. So yes you can separate out climate change as caused by solar activity etc from that caused by humans.

@Sarah – we’ll be arguing all night!

The rate at which what is happening? Temperatures have not risen in Ireland, sea-levels haven’t risen. The glaciers, as we have seen, aren’t melting either. None of the predictions of catastrophic climate change have happened. Any changes we have seen in average temperature globally (another poorly defined variable) fall well within normal rates of change.

As for the bad scientific attitude – if the scientists who wrote the IPCC report were involved in fraud / adjusting of data / sexing up data, then I would say that is a pretty damning indictment of the state of that field.

I don’t deny that CO2 absorbs infra-red radiation – so do lots of gases, including water vapour. But that is only a tiny part of the picture. You have this unbelievably complex highly nonlinear system that transports heat around the earth. There are all sorts of poorly understood feedbacks within that system, and yet somehow it has all remained fairly stable for 4 billion years. We know that CO2 levels have been much higher in the past, and much lower. And then Al Gore / James Hansen / Michael Mann come along and say if CO2 exceeds 350ppm, we are all phuqqed? But if you buy these indulgences, I mean carbon credits, then everything will be ok? I’m sorry Sarah, but I just think it’s all bollocks! Thanks for taking the trouble to debate the issues though 🙂

there is widespread disagreement among the wider scientific community.

I’m afraid that weathergirls and economists aren’t generally recognised as “scientists”, mate, at least not as you’re attempting to pass them off here.

Are you just going to discount the views of Richard Lindzen, Bob Carter etc etc as cranks and deniers?

Well, yes. Because they, um, are, y’know.

They are as interested in the truth as I am

Never a truer word was said!

the tireless voluntary work of Steve McIntyre

This would be the same “tireless” Steve McIntyre who was pulling the very same tricks in the service of the tobacco industry in decades past, before hopping on the anti-AGW bandwagon.

FYI, Richard Lindzen is one of the most accomplished meteorologists in the world.

@Nicholas Mycroft
Ireland has one of the strictest emission reduction targets in the world; if we were to try and meet those targets, the economic repercussions would be serious. That’s why climate is discussed here.

As you can see from the “discussion” above, the debate has yet to move on.


Richard Lindzen may be accomplished, but at 70 years old, one can hardly count him as being at the spearhead of a vital new science. It strikes me he is a fit subject for the Max Planck quotation:

“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

Nor does “accomplished” = “right”. There was hardly a physicist more accomplished than Einstein, but he was wrong about a few things – quantum mechanics and the cosmological constant being just two.

At least you did not try to count Steven McIntyre as a scientist. Small mercies.

“There was hardly a physicist more accomplished than Einstein, but he was wrong about a few things – quantum mechanics and the cosmological constant being just two.”
Wrong that the cosmological constant was a “blunder” rather than a stroke of genius?

Accomplished does not mean wrong, either; neither does old.

@Richard, yogamahew,

I do think R. Lindzen is wrong – rightness is not a quality which attachs itself naturally to young or old, nor am I any spring chicken myself. If you re-read what I said, I went out of my way to be respectful by comparing him another old fart & old genius Max Planck. Planck had his key insights at age 40, old for a physicist.

@ RTol

Better attribution, please. I have said nothing about Lindzen’s age (a common characteristic though it may be of he and his cohorts).

“Distinguished” meteorologist, says you? I think that that notion died a death when he brought out his “Iris” theory. And his rather pathetic misleading remarks on the scientific basis of AGW in recent years has undone any remaining reputation he may have had. Great company that you keep in your GWPF.

Ireland has one of the strictest emission reduction targets in the world; if we were to try and meet those targets, the economic repercussions would be serious. That’s why climate is discussed here.

I hope that you’ll clarify that remark. It seems to imply that you think that if you throw enough mud at the (genuine) scientists who agree with AGW, then you can avoid the “economic repercussions” as you phrase them. Economists, eh?

Indeed. The ageist remark was by Toby.

You, however, called Lindzen a crank.

We’ve had this discussion before, so you know that I subscribe to the theory that environmentalists treat science as a religion and scientists as priests. As a corollary, Lindzen is causing emotional distress. As a world-leading meteorologist, he should be one of your high priests — but he is not. Instead, he is doing what a scientist should do: try and shoot holes in the prevailing paradigm. While I think that he fails to do so, that does not lower my respect for the man and his work.


I stand over my remarks about Lindzen as not being ageist. But you are far too kind to the man. If he was “trying to help” climate science, he had plenty of scope to make his criticisms from within the paradigm. Instead, he made common cause with shills and fakes like Steve Milloy and “Lord” Monckton.

It is also not unusual for scientific disputes to become bitter and personal. The two founders of quantum mechanics, Heisenberg and Schrodinger, despised each other. Newton vs. Leibniz reached high levels of fury. James Watson’s “The Double Helix” revealed just how human scientists are in their personal dealings. So Lindzen the Martyr does not wash. If he became an outsider, it was firstly by choice, and secondly, by his choice of allies.

I see you have your own case of cognitive dissonance in the description of climate science as a “religion”. You have been challenged about this before and failed to produce a scintilla of a tither of evidence.

As far as I can see, a new science has been born in the last 30 years – scientists who were geophysicists, geologists, or oceanographers are now united in a science of “climatology”. I think history will see it as exciting and interesting a period as the start of atomic physics, roughly 1900-1930.
Is this a science can can be refuted? Of course it is. Unlike denialism, which keeps recycling the same tried objections no matter how often they get shot down – and Lindzen is as guilty of that as anyone.

Obviously, finding yourself somehow “left out” of this exciting new discipline has left you with your own cognitive distress.

Monckton is a real lord.

While you hide behind anonymity, I do not. So, you can have a look at my CV to check your claim about me being “left out”. It is certainly news to me.

Monckon is a Viscount, which is a “lord” to some who are impressed by such fripperies. Once he was a flunkey at the court of Queen Margaret (Thatcher), which impresses the yokels no end.

I’ll justr refer to the excellent set of videos by Peter Sinclair “Climate Crock of the Week”, which are amusing even if you do not agree with them.

I have frequently commented on your own ambiguous stance on climate change, where you state you believe AGW is happening, yet do your best to belittle or disparage the science behind it (“religious believers” etc.), without actually highlighting any data or factual evidence.

“Willing to wound/ yet afraid to strike/ just hint a fault/ and hesitate dislike” (Alexander Pope). I have long since abandoned any hope you will come clean on the issue.

I did not write that science is a religion. I wrote that many environmentalists treat science as if it were a religion. You should not believe me on that, but do your own research. Google “is science the new religion” is a good start. The notion goes back to the very beginning of modern science. A more recent account is Harris (1959).


I distinguish between “environmentalists” and “climate scientists”, though there may be overlap. I judge scientists by the science they produce, and I have seen little religious fervour among climate scientists, though a lot of enthusiasm and a tendency to be rambunctious, not surprising in what is a new field of science. However, I do not think there are any who would not be relieved if AGW was falsified. In the past, I have avoided environmentalists like the plague, and I have never made their religious views my concern. Maybe that will change!

@ RTol

I did not write that science is a religion. I wrote that many environmentalists treat science as if it were a religion.

Back this up with some original thoughts of your own, please, or admit that it’s just a lazy phrase that you’ve picked up off the folks that you clearly like to mix with.

As a corollary, Lindzen is causing emotional distress. As a world-leading meteorologist, he should be one of your high priests — but he is not.

Causing distress to you in having to defend him (as a co-denialist), maybe, but not to anyone else.

Monckton is a real lord

Funny that (and who couldn’t tell that this was coming?):

“Although he has asserted that as an hereditary peer he is “a member of the House of Lords, though without the right to sit or vote”, the House of Lords has stated that “Christopher Monckton is not and has never been a Member of the House of Lords. There is no such thing as a ‘non-voting’ or ‘honorary’ member.””,_3rd_Viscount_Monckton_of_Brenchley

The above, I believe, arises from Monckton having been claiming on his tours of the US to be a member of the British House of Lords (not the worst of the fibs he tells, admittedly).

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