Archive for the ‘climate hack’ Category

ClimateGate (My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception)

December 4th, 2009 4 comments

[I note that Jeffrey Tucker has kindly put a post linking to this from the main Mises Economics Blog pages: A Libertarian Green Responds to Climategate.  Readers are invited to note the comments over there, and to comment where their fancy may suit them.]

Aaah, the Great Climate Hack!

I`m flattered by a back-handed request to weigh in – with something “public,
humble and honest” – with my thoughts on the ramifications of the mass
of emails hacked from the UK East Anglia University Climate Research Unit.

Well, I`ll try, despite the fact that, in the case of this Rorschach blot, people are not only starting with their own predilections and views, but given the reams of commentary already written by others, people aren`t really even commenting on the same Rorshach blot.

[May my readers try to be honest with themselves as well. I`ve been
holding back, in part because the parameters of the story are quite
large, but also simply not to spoil the fun as calm, reasoning climate
scientists at LvMI enjoy a “delicious” bout of self-congratulatory -“see, we knew all along that `climate change` exists only in the hearts of perfidious, conspiring men!” I mean, what`s the point of weighing in where minds are already made up?]

My take?  A few basic points, and maybe a few links at the end:

  • Whatever GCH may reveal about certain climate scientists or their behavior, it does not, of course, alter the climate itself. Nor does it have any significant  impact on the enormous array of data across the world that points to ongoing climate change, a human role in it, and concerns about the possible climate impacts as we proceed to double and triple the atmospheric levels of CO2 by combusting the world`s accessible fossil fuels.
  • The Climate Hack is certainly egg on the face of some climate scientists – although this has been spun ridiculously out of context (much criticism is clearly simply wrong, though those who find the whole thing “delicious” have a tough time looking past the sources they prefer to read) – but the
    implication that the science is nothing but a conspiracy is an obvious
    . The political amateurisness of the scientists alone tells us that. (If any readers honestly need help in finding their way through the fog – self-deluded or deliberate – of the “skeptics” here, please let me know.)
  • Austrians/libertarians already knew that much of the climate science is politicized,
    especially here
    , not simply because of public funding, but chiefly because all
    parties – fossil fuel investors seeking to protect a generous
    status quo, enviros, politicians & bureaucrats, and those seeking
    greater advantage or more investment climate certainty – are seeking to
    steer government in particular directions
    , in ways that will significantly affect all of us. A further factor in such politicization is the simple difficulty that laymen (and scientists) have in wrapping their own heads around the climate science, and for which personal confirmation may take a lifetime. Personal predilections to hate “environazis”and the like, on the one hand, or to disdain evil capitalists, on the other, has nearly everyone looking for whatever scrap of science confirms their existing views and/or suits their political preferences.
  • The discord among scientists and attempts at gate-keeping are part
    and parcel of science – publicly-funded or not – but because of the
    political importance of climate science, we need greater, not less,
    The apparent efforts at gate-keeping (seeking to influence what gets published in peer-reviewed journals and what appears in IPCC reports) is what seems most objectionable, but there has been plenty of disagreement and change in views even in the dominant view; the science is and will always remain unsettled. All dissenters have found ways to make their views known, most of which have been examined and found wanting, and few dissenters have mutually coherent views.What has happened is that scientists who are extremely concerned about climate change have felt that political action is needed, and that dissenting views are dangerous distractions, and have made efforts to limit “distractions”. Such a belief appears to have been well-founded, but acting on it in this way a strategic mistake. Greater openness is required for publicly-funded research, particularly here where there is a strong, established and resistant rent-seeking class that seeks to minimize the science and to distract public discussion. While the efforts of climate scientists to provide data to and to address the arguments of “skeptics” would necessarily entail a distracting amount of attention, it is apparent that they simply need to grin and bear it.
  • Much – though not all – of the “skepticism” is clearly
    revealed as an extended, deliberate campaign by fossil fuel interests
    , dressed up
    in part by scientists who are non-experts in the field they criticize, with support by “conservatives” and “libertarians” who prefer a massive unmanaged meddling with global ecosystems (and defense of a government-entangled, pro-fossil fuel firms status quo) over a likely expansion of government.
  • The controversy – and the hurdles it raises in the
    legislative/policy agenda – presents an opportunity for those who 
    prefer market-friendly policies to shift the discussion away from the
    current porky, bureaucrat-friendly cap and trade package
    that even climate scientists
    like NASA`s James Hansen and enviros widely disdain. 
  • International cooperation will continue, because informed citizens, corporations and leaders worldwide all desire such action. Efforts at cooperation will continue to be bedevilled by gamesmanship issues common with open-access resources – over fairness, efficiency, good will and verifiability.
  • Domestic climate legislation
    and regulation remain in the cards and will eventually pass, in one form or another
    – not simply because science is
    persuasive and the risks of inaction high, but also because a
    coalition of firms and gate-keepers want such legislation. We are witnessing a fight over government between certain powerful fossil fuel interests and a coalition of other interests (and the politicians that cater to them all); the fossil fuel interests are fated to lose their long predominance.

Humbly and honestly,


PS:  Here are a few pieces of commentary/reporting that I consider worth a read (this is by no means complete or organized) :

Gavin Schmidt, Unsettled Science, RealClimate, December 3 2009

Andrew Freedman, Expert: E-mails show perils of ‘activist’ science, Washington Post, December 4, 2009

John Fleck, The Climate Emails, The Albuquerque Journal Wednesday, 02 December 2009

BBC, UN body wants probe of climate e-mail row Friday, 4 December 2009

ANDREW C. REVKIN, A Climate Scientist on ‘Data Mining’ for Dirt, December 2, 2009 New York Times

ANDREW C. REVKIN, Critic of ‘Climate Oligarchy’ Defends Case for CO2-Driven Warming, December 2, 2009,

Katherine Goldstein, ClimateGate: The 6 Most Dubious Claims About The Supposed “Global Warming Hoax”, Huffington Post, 12- 2-09

ANDREW C. REVKIN, After Emergence of Climate Files, an Uncertain Forecast, December 1, 2009, 10:56 am

Andrew Freedman, Scientist: Consensus withstands climate e-mail flap, Capital Hill Weather Gang, Washington Post, December 1, 2009

Roger Harrabin, Harrabin’s Notes: Debating the IPCC, BBC, Monday, 30 November 2009

ANDREW C. REVKIN,  A Climate Scientist Who Engages Skeptics, November 27, 2009, New York Times

Andrew Freedman Climate scientist criticizes skeptics, press, November 24, 2009

Andrew Freedman, Science historian reacts to hacked climate e-mails, November 23, 2009

Bud Ward, Climate Scientists’ E-mails Hacked, Posted; So What Does it All Mean for the Climate? The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, November 22, 2009

More later; I didn`t really bookmark the best of these.