Thursday, November 26, 2009

More Monbiot: Still shaken but not stirred

Monbiot has made his mark by shrieking louder than most about climate change so he can't back down now but he is smart enough to see that the hacked CRU materials cannot be ignored -- which is what most Warmists are trying to do

I have seldom felt so alone. Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial. The emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, they say, are a storm in a tea cup, no big deal, exaggerated out of all recognition. It is true that climate change deniers have made wild claims which the material can't possibly support (the end of global warming, the death of climate science). But it is also true that the emails are very damaging.

The response of the greens and most of the scientists I know is profoundly ironic, as we spend so much of our time confronting other people's denial. Pretending that this isn't a real crisis isn't going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We'll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.

It is true that much of what has been revealed could be explained as the usual cut and thrust of the peer review process, exacerbated by the extraordinary pressure the scientists were facing from a denial industry determined to crush them. One of the most damaging emails was sent by the head of the climatic research unit, Phil Jones. He wrote "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

One of these papers which was published in the journal Climate Research turned out to be so badly flawed that the scandal resulted in the resignation of the editor-in-chief. Jones knew that any incorrect papers by sceptical scientists would be picked up and amplified by climate change deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry, who often – as I documented in my book Heat – use all sorts of dirty tricks to advance their cause.

Even so, his message looks awful. It gives the impression of confirming a potent meme circulated by those who campaign against taking action on climate change: that the IPCC process is biased. However good the detailed explanations may be, most people aren't going to follow or understand them. Jones's statement, on the other hand, is stark and easy to grasp.

In this case you could argue that technically he has done nothing wrong. But a fat lot of good that will do. Think of the MPs' expenses scandal: complaints about stolen data, denials and huffy responses achieved nothing at all. Most of the MPs could demonstrate that technically they were innocent: their expenses had been approved by the Commons office. It didn't change public perceptions one jot. The only responses that have helped to restore public trust in Parliament are humility, openness and promises of reform.

When it comes to his handling of Freedom of Information requests, Professor Jones might struggle even to use a technical defence. If you take the wording literally, in one case he appears to be suggesting that emails subject to a request be deleted, which means that he seems to be advocating potentially criminal activity. Even if no other message had been hacked, this would be sufficient to ensure his resignation as head of the unit.

I feel desperately sorry for him: he must be walking through hell. But there is no helping it; he has to go, and the longer he leaves it, the worse it will get. He has a few days left in which to make an honourable exit. Otherwise, like the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, he will linger on until his remaining credibility vanishes, inflicting continuing damage to climate science.

Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the university's handling of it, which has been a total trainwreck: a textbook example of how not to respond. RealClimate reports that "We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day." In other words, the university knew what was coming three days before the story broke. As far as I can tell, it sat like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting for disaster to strike.

When the emails hit the news on Friday morning, the university appeared completely unprepared. There was no statement, no position, no one to interview. Reporters kept being fobbed off while CRU's opponents landed blow upon blow on it. When a journalist I know finally managed to track down Phil Jones, he snapped "no comment" and put down the phone. This response is generally taken by the media to mean "guilty as charged". When I got hold of him on Saturday, his answer was to send me a pdf called "WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 1999". Had I a couple of hours to spare I might have been able to work out what the heck this had to do with the current crisis, but he offered no explanation.

By then he should have been touring the TV studios for the past 36 hours, confronting his critics, making his case and apologising for his mistakes. Instead, he had disappeared off the face of the Earth. Now, far too late, he has given an interview to the Press Association, which has done nothing to change the story.

The handling of this crisis suggests that nothing has been learnt by climate scientists in this country from 20 years of assaults on their discipline. They appear to have no idea what they're up against or how to confront it. Their opponents might be scumbags, but their media strategy is exemplary.

The greatest tragedy here is that despite many years of outright fabrication, fraud and deceit on the part of the climate change denial industry, documented in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore's brilliant new book Climate Cover-up, it is now the climate scientists who look bad. By comparison to his opponents, Phil Jones is pure as the driven snow. Hoggan and Littlemore have shown how fossil fuel industries have employed "experts" to lie, cheat and manipulate on their behalf. The revelations in their book (as well as in Heat and in Ross Gelbspan's book The Heat Is On) are 100 times graver than anything contained in these emails.

But the deniers' campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists. Far from it: it means that they must distinguish themselves from their opponents in every way. No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.


Tom Yulsman of CE Journal is shaken, not stirred too

He still has not lost the faith but calls for an enquiry

George Monbiot’s post at the Guardian today is a must-read for anyone who covers climate change as a journalist — and for anyone who is concerned about our future in a warming world. “I have seldom felt so alone,” Monbiot writes. “Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial.”

Denial of the impact of the hacked emails, and particularly this statement from Phil Jones, director of the U.K.’s Climatic Research Unit: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” ....

As someone who has written about the science for decades — and trusted the peer-review process to guide me toward trustworthy information — I’m standing with George Monbiot on this. I believe the CRU should agree to an independent examination of what happened. Not a trial. Not an adversarial process. But one that is unbiased and focused on restoring public faith in the science that institution produces.

In the meantime, I’m certainly curious to know who leaked the emails. But answering that question is a sideshow compared to the main event. Journalists should do what they can to take a closer look both at the peer review process and what specifically went on in this case. We must be careful not to jump to conclusions. One instance of a possible problem with peer review does not indict the entire enterprise. But here is where the journalistic watchdog role can actually do a service by helping to preserve the overall integrity of the process — and prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.


Shock -- Et Tu, DeSmogBlog? Climate Alarmists at DeSmogBlog Call for Phil Jones to Offer his Resignation!

Comment from Richard Littlemore, who "has been trained by Al Gore as part of The Climate Project, an initiative designed to educate the public about climate change".

Monbiot turns the pointy end of his pen toward CRU Director Phil Jones, calling (for a second time) for his resignation and - well - tut-tutting at the whole inadequate reaction to the current tempest. As Monbiot says, when you have been caught making a mistake, there are two reactions: you can wear out your voice - and your credibility - arguing over the details and severity of the actual offense; or you can say you're sorry and show why we should believe that you won't do it again.

Currently, Jones and company have been leaning toward the former, and they're drawing out a tedious conversation in the process.

It's hard to watch this - galling to see the deniers having such fun in this manufactured debacle. It's worse having to listen to sage advice that goes against people whom we have come to respect enormously. I don't personally know that Jones has to be sacked, but I have to admit that it would be savvy for him to at least offer to step aside before someone in authority makes a move to give him a push.


The collapse of the global warming myth

By Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., a nuclear scientist who has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level

If this scandal of November 20, 2009 continues in the horrendous path it’s taken, it should be the end of the man-made CO2 global warming hypothesis. Beyond the warmers inability to prove their simple hypothesis after more than 20 years and $80 billion dollars, has been their collective bullying behavior patterns. This bullying has been so outrageous and out of character of honest scientists, that it is as offensive as it is noticeable. This behavior suggested to me that this group of people were being less than honorable in their conduct of their work.

In a speech last Spring in New York by John Sununu I was reminded that the climate warming leaders were high paid bullies who determined who got funded (the recipients of those $89 Billion), and who didn't, who got published and who didn't, and who got the acclaim, and who didn't. Much of this is now confirmed in the released emails from Hadley/CRU.

The release of 62 Mbytes of the climate research data from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in computer files has been momentous, almost unique in human history ( During the 24 hours following the release of these 62 Mbytes of documents, emails, letters, and reports, all became public knowledge around the world and thousands are pouring over the contents.

While still in the beginning stages of analyses, gleaned information has been showing horrendous levels of corruption, suborning subterfuge and deceptions, and controlling the science journals in limiting publications of research which do not support the AGW hypothesis. I have never ever seen anything like this, so high level, so unethical, and so evil.

I say evil since the unproven AGW hypothesis promoted by these insiders, is the basis for the trillion dollar Cap and Trade legislation and the redistribution of trillions from the US to the rest of the world. It is the basis for the Copenhagen meeting coming up in December which is designed how best to cripple the economics of the west through increased energy costs and energy rationing. It is the basis for the EU and the UN asking the US to pay trillions in reparations to all of those 3rd world nations which have been "damaged" by global warming.

These nation members walk the halls of the UN promoting "justifications” for reparations for their "damages" and their need for our wealth. It is the basis for demanding green energy sources to be installed with trillions of our dollars all over the 3rd world. Green energy sources already installed in the 3rd world, are not working well either. This debate has profound global implications and I find it contemptible that adults, Ph.D.s or not, would works so fanatically to achieve these destructive goals.

I also point out the thousands of media, academics, environmentalists, legislators, and movie elites who have taken strong and powerful positions in this debate, as if the AGW hypothesis has been validated. It hasn't. All of them have failed to ask the simple question "Show us the evidence that man-made CO2 causes global warming." That such people, presumed to be Americans, could promote and defend such a dangerous policy for our nation, is stunning.

Many of the global warming supporters seem to think that a photo of a polar bear on an ice floe is evidence that man-made CO2 is the cause!! The implied message is that this has never happened before, that man is causing it, that it is dangerous, which is all nonsense. They also seem to think that a photo-shopped video of a tidal wave roaring through downtown Manhattan is evidence of sea level rise, or that an iceberg calving from a glacier is evidence. We might also add that consensus is not evidence either, nor are appeals from high authority, nor are computer model predictions. If it weren’t for faulty computer models there would be no controversy at all, since real world measured evidence is still unreported.

Too few seem to have the wits to ask for a thermometer or ask for real Temp data, or sea level data, or hurricane data, or polar ice data. Also missing from the discussions is the large program needed to achieve high quality of all of the data, and how that is sustained. I have never seen a word of a Quality Assessment/Quality Control programs being used within the climate science realm. Then there is the entire issue of pathetically poor quality of the climate computer modeling programs. Anthony Watts at has undertaken to examine the low quality of the temperature stations and the low grade erratic temperature data they produce. His findings also show low grade station and data management as practiced by our climate agencies.

The British seem now to have realized the damage to all of science which has been done by the AGW crowd at the Climate Research Unit (CRU). In response to recent revelations contained in leaked e-mails originating from the CRU at the University of East Anglia, Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has called for a rigorous and independent inquiry into the matter. While reserving judgment on the contents of the e-mails, Lord Lawson said these are very serious issues and allegations that reach to the heart of scientific integrity and credibility:

"Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals."

"There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay."

People in the media, academics, legislators, movie elites, and environmentalist group have been quite sympathetic to the AGW promoters, and with apologies to Sherlock Holmes they have been the “The Dogs Which Didn't Bark”. They knew or should have known that these climate crimes were being committed and they knew or should have known who was committing them. They not only did nothing to stop them, they attacked, insulted, and dismissed those who objected. These are actions of dangerous people, too, and are unforgivable.


Disagreeable truth about the coming Copenhagen charade

We are about to see an advanced case of "agreementism" between world leaders at the Copenhagen climate change meeting. It is a painful and embarrassing disorder with familiar results. Every case begins the same way. Leaders gather in summits. They confer. They reach earnest consensus that they need to solve a common problem. They commission studies and agree to meet again. Next time, they tell reporters, they will make real decisions.

This looks terrifically statesmanlike and carries lots of photo opportunities. But then they realise it will be unpopular and difficult to implement necessary reforms. Troubled, the weaker among the leaders gaze into their quivering souls and choose self-preservation over problem-solving. At this instant, the fire of activism departs.

But their huffing and puffing self-promotion has built a peak of expectation. They can't just walk away and admit failure. The conditions are now ripe - the next time the leaders gather, agreementism sets in. In a mild case, leaders simply draw up high-sounding communiques. In numbered paragraphs, they give a strong impression of firm agreement and resolute action, but without actually binding themselves to any. But in an advanced case, leaders know that this simple ruse is unconvincing. The problem is too big, and the leaders have talked too much, to hope that they can get away this easily. They need more than a mere communique. In this stage of the disease, the symptoms deteriorate markedly. Leaders display a disturbing symptom known as "concerted unilateralism".

This is a sophisticated way of saying that countries can do whatever the hell they like, but they will write something pompous about it first. And they will all do it together. This is precisely the symptom that world leaders are now displaying ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit - the so-called COP15 - in two weeks.

This was supposed to be the meeting that sealed a legally binding treaty on all 191 nations of the world. Successor to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, it would be the pact to save the planet from the devastating effects of global warming. But you could pick the acute onset of advanced agreementism the moment the meeting's chairman, Lars Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, uttered the following words at a breakfast meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Singapore on November 15: "The Copenhagen Agreement should be global, comprehensive and substantial, yet flexible enough to accommodate countries with very different national circumstances."

Allow me to interpret: "To frightened leaders everywhere, do not panic! Each of you will write down on a piece of paper what you want to do about global warming. There is nothing compulsory. Make it sound impressive. We are supposed to be saving the entire planet, remember? Whatever. "Next, we will collect your papers. We will staple them together. We will call it the Copenhagen Agreement. We will declare victory. We will all have our pictures taken. And we will tell reporters that, next time, we will make real decisions. You know the drill."

How can we be so certain of this outcome? We have two ways to be sure. First, Rasmussen went on to spell it out in unmistakeable terms. "Will it be binding? Yes, it will be binding. Even if we may not hammer out the last dots of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a political binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come."

Take special note of the all-important distinction between a "legally binding instrument" and a "political binding agreement". A politician's binding agreement? That's in the same category as a campaign promise. And celebrate the wonderful non-sequitur of "immediate action in the years to come".

In a masterstroke, Rasmussen called the format "one agreement - two purposes". The first purpose, he says, is to state political intent, and the second is to keep talking about a legal treaty for later. The media shorthand for this has become a "two-step" agreement.

Second, we know how this will end because we've seen it twice before in recent history. We've seen precisely the same format of "concerted unilateralism" on different continents and in different fields, and each time with the same result.

One was the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum's "Bogor Declaration" of 1994. In that much-ballyhooed agreement, the APEC leaders at their summit in Indonesia said "we announce our commitment to complete the achievement of our goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific". For developed countries this would be "no later than the year 2010 and developing economies no later than the year 2020". But there was no binding agreement. It was a political deal which allowed each country to do what it pleased. What happened?' "The Bogor commitments have been all but ignored," summarised the Lowy Institute's Allan Gyngell and Malcolm Cook in a 2005 paper. Some APEC leaders still fantasise about a free-trade zone.

The other was the European Union's "Lisbon Strategy" of 2000. This was supposed to make Europe the world's most dynamic economy by 2010. But individual governments ignored the deal and continued to pander to unions and bureaucracies. The director of the International Centre for Money and Banking Studies in Geneva, Charles Wyplosz, wrote: "The strategy rests on peer pressure - the naming and shaming of governments that fail to make progress. In practice, however, peer pressure has become peer collusion." The result, in the words of the director of the European Policy Centre, Antonio Missiroli, was "shameful". The European economy remains sclerotic.

Bogor and Lisbon are clear precedents for Copenhagen's "concerted unilateralism". Nothing in any such agreement carries any real force. Only the countries that already wanted to act will act, and the rest will just sit around and watch. But there will certainly be agreement.


Token ETS the best idea for Australia

By Greg Sheridan

THE battle of expectations over the Copenhagen climate change conference next month has been fascinating to watch. At first, everything had to be done by Copenhagen, which would produce a binding agreement: targets, offsets, compensation for low-income countries and all the rest. Now everyone knows that nothing real will be achieved at Copenhagen. Of course, whatever happens there will be hailed as a great success. But nothing much will happen.

Watching the debate, I am afraid I have become a climate change agnostic. I am not a denier, nor really a sceptic. I am agnostic. I do not know whether the science that says we're all doomed if we don't de-carbonise the economy is true. Neither does anyone else.

But I am more than half convinced by the argument that we should give the planet the benefit of the doubt. It would be good if we polluted less. I'd like to end the dependence of Western societies on Middle Eastern oil. And one day, even if climate change is not a killer, the world will run out of fossil fuel. So by all means let's diversify our energy sources and clean up our environments. But I don't want us to go broke in the process.

And given that what we physically do in Australia will have almost no effect on the global climate, whatever the scientific faith you choose to believe in, we would be much better off facing the future, whatever it is, as a rich nation rather than a poor one.

In trying to evaluate this issue I have tried to gauge the seriousness of the key players. I'm not convinced that anybody in power anywhere really thinks this is an end-of-the-world issue. Certainly no one is behaving as if it is.

Kevin Rudd said this week that climate change is an "existential, fundamental" issue, then came up with an emissions trading scheme package so recondite and larded with giveaways that it seems unlikely to have any great effect on greenhouse gas emissions. I don't want to misrepresent our beloved PM, but this is really Rudd adopting the agnostic attitude, with his usual rhetoric of moral grandeur attached: sensibly do as little as necessary and see what comes up.

It would be folly for Australia to get out in front. In the end I suspect we'll do more or less whatever the Americans do, plus or minus half a per cent. Copenhagen will not produce anything like the binding deal originally envisaged, but will produce some movement to lower carbon emissions. Australia needs to shelter in the mainstream of developed but resource-rich countries (which really means the US), doing our bit but not overdoing it.

Washington under Barack Obama certainly doesn't appear to regard climate change as an existential question. Obama has clearly given health care a higher priority. He may well announce some sort of target before the Copenhagen meeting but no real economic action will be taken before next year and my guess is the economic action ultimately will be pretty equivocal.

The Europeans look, at times, as though they believe their own rhetoric. But most of their ostensible greenhouse reductions come from switching from coal to gas, decommissioning East German industry, exporting factory jobs to China and creative accounting.

As for China and the other developing nations, there is not the slightest chance they will sign up to any binding targets. To get them on board at Copenhagen, the world has to accept the most spectacularly rubbery figures. China, and all the countries I love such as India and Indonesia, will commit to actions only on the basis of what the boffins call counterfactuals: facts that don't exist.

A couple of years ago Indonesia's environment minister told me his country would cut emissions by 19 per cent. This sounded impressive until I realised he meant 19 per cent of what would have happened had there been no change. That kind of calculation is infinitely malleable.

A couple of weeks ago in New Delhi, India's Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor told me India had 17.5 per cent of the world's population but produced only 4 per cent of emissions. He said: "Per capita we are about 120th in the world. We're not part of the cause of the problem, but we do see the moral need to be part of the solution." He said quite a lot of nice things about the environment, but concluded: "We are still a country that cannot take 24 hours of electricity for granted. Six hundred million Indians are still not connected to electricity. If we approach development as consciously green minded, can we get help for the technology that works? (We also) have a duty to our people's development."

Two things strike me about Tharoor's elegant words. First, where is the technology that works, at anything like a reasonable price, in generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions? Second, no Indian politician is going to tell 600 million fellow Indians they can't have electricity, but everyone in the West can. I describe this not to condemn it or to praise it but simply to register it as reality. The vast majority of new electricity generation in India, as in China and most of the developing world, comes from coal-fired power stations, and still there is no clean coal technology that works.

You cannot give electricity to 600 million people in India, and similar numbers in China, without massively increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The only technology that could possibly generate electricity on a big scale other than coal is nuclear. The Rudd government shows all its fine words on climate change are not to be taken too seriously by refusing to export uranium to India. No one in the world really takes this issue as seriously as they pretend to. Neither should we.



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Anonymous said...

Argh!!! Don't you even bloody well realize that it's not CO2 that heats the atmosphere so much but the positive feedbacks in the system that do so? CO2 is indeed a trace gas but we have increased it by a whopping 25% already! Soon we will have almost doubled it! Why are you so stubborn that you can't read about how it's right there in the peer-reviewed literature that the sensitivity of the OVERALL SYSTEM to CO2 is much higher than merely CO2 acting alone as a greenhouse gas. *Any* warming is highly amplified by evaporation of water. Get it, knuckle dragger? And because *any* warming is so amplified we know full well that there could never have been this warm in human history before or we would have died out since you can't HAVE just slight warming but only catastrophic warming. If the so-called Medieval Warm Period was hotter than today then these feedbacks would have fried the earth and killed the Polar Bears. But Polar Bears are still around, right? See any in movies lately? That means it was never hotter than today. Now go home and read some textbooks.­.something I'm sure you've never done in your adult life.


JR said...

A touch of satire above, I think

Magnus said...

:-) Yes, funny comment.

I wonder when the guys in the header will be put on trial and face jail?