Monday, January 04, 2010

Climategate: Michael Mann's very unhappy New Year

As I said yesterday, one of our jobs this year is to wipe the complacent smiles off the smug faces of the lobbyists, “experts”, “scientists”, politicians and activists pushing AGW.

This is why I am so glad to report that Michael Mann – creator of the incredible Hockey Stick curve and one of the scientists most heavily implicated in the Climategate scandal – is about to get a very nasty shock. When he turns up to work on Monday, he’ll find that all 27 of his colleagues at the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University have received a rather tempting email inviting them to blow the whistle on anyone they know who may have been fraudulently misusing federal grant funds for climate research.

Under US law, regardless of whether or not a prosecution results, the whistleblower stands to make very large sums of money: it is based on a percentage of the total government funds which have been misused, in this case perhaps as much as $50 million. (Hat tip: John O’Sullivan of the wonderful new campaigning site

Here’s that email in full:
"After the recent whistleblower revelations of emails between climate researchers and data from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, there are on-going investigations into potential fraudulent use of grant funds in Climate Research in the US. I am assisting interested parties who may have details of fraud in climate research to make contact with the proper authorities, and to share in the rewards paid when the funds are recovered.

Whistleblower Rewards Program

The federal government has established vigorous programs to identify and prosecute fraudulent grant applications and administration. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) administers the False Claims Act. It allows rewards for those who come forward with details of grant fraud to share in the recovery of federal funds. This reward can be as much as 30% of the total amount reclaimed. The program is almost completely reliant on insiders to report their knowledge of the fraud in their institutions.

Attorney Literally “Wrote the Book” on Fraud Recovery Lawsuits

Joel Hesch, Esq., of Hesch and Associates, literally wrote the book on how to report federal fraud. He has an extensive background in representing whistleblowers in all types of federal funding fraud cases, including Educational/ Research Grant Fraud. According to Mr Hesch: “Many institutions receive grants, whether for research or educational purposes. When they lie to get the grant or keep the grant or if they use the funds for purposes outside the grant, they are liable under the DOJ program. There have been many grant cases brought by whistleblowers.”

If you know of anyone who might have details about fraudulent statements or actions by recipients of federal grant funds for climate research, please have them contact me immediately at the below email or cell phone. Alternatively, they may also contact Mr Hersch directly, and let him know that they were referred by me. All communications are completely confidential. They may want to consider using a third party email service (Yahoo, Hotmail, or other) instead of work email to communicate.

30% of $50 million is more than $12 million. Ask your friends to do the right thing, and be rewarded for doing it. Our country, and in fact, the entire world is counting on someone to stand up and tell the truth about climate research. The effects of moving forward with taxes and policies based on fraudulent science could potentially cripple the US economy and cost lives and jobs for generations. Look forward to hearing from you.


It Didn't Start With Climategate

The whistleblower at the University of East Anglia who leaked emails and other documents that reveal the fraud that is being perpetrated by the world's leading global warming alarmists did us all a great service. But it is important to realize that the deception didn't just begin: rather, the global warming hysteria movement has been shot through with fraud from the start.

The most important document in the history of the anthropogenic global warming movement was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Second Assessment Report, which was published under the auspices of the United Nations in 1996. This report was the principal basis for the Kyoto Accord which was signed in 1997, and for the nonsense that has been inflicted on the world's elementary school students ever since.

But the Second Assessment Report was hijacked by an AGW activist who re-wrote key conclusions and injected a level of alarmism that had not been present in the consensus document. You can get the whole story here, along with a great deal more information about the global warming controversy. The Science and Environmental Project summarized what happened as follows:
IPCC assessment reports, and particularly their Summaries for Policymakers (SPM), are noted for their selective use of information and their bias to support the political goal of control of fossil fuels in order to fight an alleged anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Perhaps the most blatant example is IPCC's Second Assessment Report (SAR), completed in 1995 and published in 1996. Its SPM contains the memorable phrase "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." You may recall that this 1996 IPCC report played a key role in the political deliberations that led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

This ambiguous phrase suggests a group of climate scientists, examining both human and natural influences on climate change, looking at published scientific research, and carefully weighing their decision. Nothing of the sort has ever happened. The IPCC has consistently ignored the major natural influences on climate change and has focused almost entirely on human causes, especially on GH gases and more especially on carbon dioxide, which is linked to industrial activities and therefore 'bad' almost by definition.

How then did the IPCC-SAR arrive at "balance of evidence"? It was the work of a then-relatively-junior scientist, Dr Benjamin D. Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), who has recently re-emerged as a major actor in ClimateGate. As a Convening Lead Author of a crucial IPCC chapter, Santer carefully removed any verbiage denying that human influences might be the major or almost exclusive cause of warming and substituted new language. There is no evidence that he ever consulted any of his fellow IPCC authors, nor do we know who instructed him to make these changes and later approved the text deletions and insertions that fundamentally transformed IPCC-SAR.

The event is described by Nature [381(1006):539] and in a 1996 WSJ article by the late Professor Frederick Seitz (See also my Science Editorial #2-09). Seitz compared the draft of IPCC Chapter 8 (Detection and Attribution) and the final printed text. He noted that, before printing, key phrases had been deleted from the draft that had earlier been approved by its several scientist-authors.

This is from Professor Seitz's 1996 Wall Street Journal article:
This IPCC report, like all others, is held in such high regard largely because it has been peer-reviewed. That is, it has been read, discussed, modified and approved by an international body of experts. These scientists have laid their reputations on the line. But this report is not what it appears to be--it is not the version that was approved by the contributing scientists listed on the title page. In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.

A comparison between the report approved by the contributing scientists and the published version reveals that key changes were made after the scientists had met and accepted what they thought was the final peer-reviewed version. The scientists were assuming that the IPCC would obey the IPCC Rules--a body of regulations that is supposed to govern the panel's actions. Nothing in the IPCC Rules permits anyone to change a scientific report after it has been accepted by the panel of scientific contributors and the full IPCC.

The participating scientists accepted "The Science of Climate Change" in Madrid last November; the full IPCC accepted it the following month in Rome. But more than 15 sections in Chapter 8 of the report--the key chapter setting out the scientific evidence for and against a human influence over climate--were changed or deleted after the scientists charged with examining this question had accepted the supposedly final text. Few of these changes were merely cosmetic; nearly all worked to remove hints of the skepticism with which many scientists regard claims that human activities are having a major impact on climate in general and on global warming in particular.

The following passages are examples of those included in the approved report but deleted from the supposedly peer-reviewed published version:

"None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases." "No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes." "Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced."

The reviewing scientists used this original language to keep themselves and the IPCC honest. I am in no position to know who made the major changes in Chapter 8; but the report's lead author, Benjamin D. Santer, must presumably take the major responsibility.

IPCC reports are often called the "consensus" view. If they lead to carbon taxes and restraints on economic growth, they will have a major and almost certainly destructive impact on the economies of the world. Whatever the intent was of those who made these significant changes, their effect is to deceive policy makers and the public into believing that the scientific evidence shows human activities are causing global warming.

Fred Singer, in the SEPP editorial quoted above, continues:
[I]n addition to these text changes there are also two key graphs that were doctored in order to convey the impression that anthropogenic influences are dominant. Again, my Hoover essay gives the details.

1. According to all climate models, [greenhouse] warming shows a characteristic 'fingerprint': a 'hot spot' in temperature trend values in the tropical upper troposphere. Michaels and Knappenberger [Nature 384 (1996):522-523] discovered that the IPCC's claimed agreement with observations was spurious and obtained by selecting a convenient segment of the radiosonde temperature data and ignoring the rest.

2. Santer also claimed that the modeled and observed patterns of geographic surface temperatures were correlated, with the correlation coefficient increasing over time (suggesting to the reader that a growing human component gradually emerged from background noise). I found, however, that Santer had obtained this result by simply deleting from a published graph all the trend lines that disagreed with his desired outcome [Eos 80 (1999):372]. In fact, the original paper had Santer himself as lead author and did not appear in print until after the IPCC report was completed - in contravention of IPCC rules.

It is interesting that these several documented falsifications went largely unreported and had little impact on scientists and politicians, who went on to support the passage of the Kyoto Protocol -- in spite of the absence of any scientific support.

So the Kyoto protocol was based on fictitious science, exaggerated or fabricated outright for political purposes. The same Professor Santer who hijacked the Second Assessment Report figures prominently in Climategate. Many of his emails were disclosed by the East Anglia whistleblower; among other things, they show Santer resisting all efforts by independent scientists to obtain information, through Freedom of Information Act requests, about the statistical manipulations that Santer applies to raw climate data to "prove" the existence of anthropogenic global warming.

Fraud: it is the one constant in the history of the global warming hysteria movement.


Global warming misses Britain

Britain faces coldest winter for 25 years as big freeze causes chaos for millions returning home after Christmas break

Families heading home after the Christmas break faced perilous driving conditions tonight as Britain faced up to the coldest winter for a quarter of a century. Police and motoring organisations warned drivers to take extreme care as a fresh wave of snow and freezing temperatures caused major disruptions on the roads and one motorist died. The scale of the big freeze will be underlined by Met Office figures due to be released on Monday which are expected to show the country is currently experiencing the coldest winter for 25 years.

Lancashire Police said the conditions could have been to blame for the death of one driver who was killed in a crash on the M55 motorway near Blackpool around 8am. The transport network also suffered as a number of rail lines were closed in Scotland and more than 45 bumps and crashes were recorded on the roads. Six vehicles crashed in Greater Manchester on the M6 near Orrell shortly after 10.30am, causing long delays. Poor driving conditions were reported on the M60, M602 and the M66 while and Snake Pass, which runs between Manchester and Sheffield, was closed. Police closed the M9 in Scotland between junctions one and two near Edinburgh Airport for three hours after the area was 'inundated' with snow flurries. Drivers were forced to abandon their cars causing further problems on the road according to Lothian and Borders Police. It was reopened at 8pm with traffic still moving slowly. Inverness Airport was closed due to snow and ice....

Forecasters say the big freeze is set to continue for the first half of the month with fresh snowfall, severe frosts and ice on the roads. A Highways Agency spokesman said: 'Our winter fleet has been working flat out and will continue to treat the network as long as the cold weather continues. 'Our advice to drivers is to drive according to the conditions, and even when roads are treated they should still be negotiated with care.'

The AA said that by 4pm today it had dealt with more than 11,000 breakdowns, with the number expected to rise to 16,000 by the end of the day. This compares with 8,000 calls for help on a average Saturday.

The biting conditions, which are expected to last for the first 10 days of the new year, follow the coldest December in more than a decade. Forecasters said temperatures could drop as low as minus 15C in some parts of Scotland and northern England over the next few days....

Much of Britain entered the New Year buried beneath several inches of snow as temperatures plummeted towards -10C (14F) and forecasters admitted there was ‘no end in sight’ to the big freeze. As millions prepared to return to work, the combination of ice and snow raised fears that the weather could once again cripple the transport network.

Up to 10in (26cm) of snow fell across the country yesterday, with the North East hardest hit, whilst the Met Office issued severe weather warnings and predicted a ‘prolonged’ cold snap. By next week temperatures running into double figures below zero are expected across the country whilst snow and rain and the subsequent threat from ice will make many roads virtually impassable. It will stay bitingly cold for the next ten days at the very least.

Met Office forecaster Dave Elliott said: ‘This cold spell is here for the foreseeable future. It will certainly stay with us right through this coming week and even then we can’t see an end to it.’

Last month was the coldest December for 13 years and the continued bitter weather could make this the hardest winter since 1979. Severe weather warnings were issued for Wales, the South West, the North East and in Scotland....

The freezing conditions are expected to continue well into next week, with severe frosts and ice on untreated surfaces. Temperatures in the South could drop to -6C (21F).

More here

It has a gigantic supercomputer, 1,500 staff and a £170m-a-year budget. So why does Britain's Met Office get it so wrong?

Could the fact that it has become a Greenie-run temple of Warmism be involved? It has been run by committed environmentalists for years now and, in typical Green/Left style, they are destroying what they control

'Cold of a variety not seen in over 25 years in a large scale is about to engulf the major energy-consuming areas of the northern hemisphere. The first 15 days of the opening of the New Year will be the coldest, population weighted, north of 30 [degrees] north worldwide in over 25 years.' That is the chilling (quite literally) verdict of Joe Bastardi, a weather forecaster on the American TV channel AccuWeather.

Yet, while many months ago he and several of his rivals correctly forecast a pre-Christmas freeze, the organisation that told us last year to prepare for a 'barbecue summer' was getting it wrong again. This is our own famous Met Office, which last September confidently predicted a warmer than average winter for Britain. Tell that to Eurostar passengers stuck in the Channel Tunnel for 18 hours before Christmas, the breakdown of their trains blamed on the coldest weather for 15 years. Not until late November did the Met Office tone down its prediction by saying that there was a '50 per cent chance' of a mild winter.

Spinning a coin could have given the same result - not one you would expect from an organisation that spends nearly £170million a year, has 1,500 staff and a team of scientists operating a £30million supercomputer capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second, with a carbon footprint the size of a small town. Yet even with this brand-new computer in action since last August, on December 10 the Met Office predicted that it was 'more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record, beating the previous record year which was 1998'. That prediction stands unchanged.

How could the Met Office be so wrong, both about its barbecue summer and the mild winter? And could the answer to that question have anything to do with its remarkable transformation in recent years? From a fuddy-duddy organisation created in 1854 to provide a service to mariners, and then aviators when the aeroplane was invented, the Met Office became an arm of the Ministry of Defence. But it has since transmuted into a powerful advocacy unit that sees its main mission to convince the world that we are prey to 'dangerous climate change'.

Much of this is down to one man - John Houghton (now Sir John) who was the director-general and later chief executive of the Met Office between 1983 and 1991. It was he, way back in 1988, who attended the first World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in Toronto and later became the first scientific chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It was Houghton who, with one of her senior advisers, Sir Crispin Tickell, convinced the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to fund a new Met Office unit called the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. Opened in 1990, it is now based in Exeter and employs more than 200 staff, having become a temple to what many regard as the climate change 'religion'.

Its pivotal role is now well-recognised as it is this centre, working with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, that produces one of the most relied-upon data sets used to track the global temperature and tell us that the planet is heating up. Crucially, it is that same CRU that has been embroiled in the so-called 'Warmergate' scandal, where leaked emails suggest that climate scientists may have manipulated the evidence when it did not give the answers that proved that global warming was continuing. The University of East Anglia has ordered an independent review into the Warmergate row and the allegations made against the CRU.

The point of this row - which is often poorly understood - is that the so-called 'global temperature' which these scientists produce, upon which rests the whole case for 'dangerous global warming', is not a matter of observed fact. The data collection system is far from perfect, designed primarily for weather recording, not long-term climate prediction. Reflecting the military origins of the Met Office, many weather stations are situated on airfields. They are there to provide real-time observations for aviators and to provide the basis for short-term forecasts. They are not climate monitoring stations and arguably should not be used as such.

Furthermore, the likes of Manchester and Aberdeen airports, which were once grass airstrips, are now vast stretches of concrete, ramping up temperatures well above the surrounding countryside. This is known as the urban heat island effect. Because of this effect, instrument changes, inbuilt errors and the huge gaps in the record, the crude data has to be 'adjusted' - sometimes several times. Then sophisticated statistical techniques have to be applied before a single global figure can be produced.

The complexity of the calculations, and the considerable element of human judgment in choosing which of the limited number of specific temperatures to use from the thousands of weather stations all over the world, leave the process wide open to error and bias. Thus, the final results may actually reflect, to one degree or another, no more than the opinions of the scientists producing them.

This is where the good faith and the impartiality of the scientists involved is so important, and why the Warmergate scandal was so damaging. Far from being impartial custodians of the truth, some scientists were shown to have feet of clay, guarding their own patch rather than the science.

This was reinforced shortly after Warmergate, when Russian analysts complained that the Hadley Centre had been 'cherry-picking' temperatures from the Russian data set, using only those that were untypically high. Similar complaints have been made of the United States' data set, where urban heat island effect and positioning errors may taint as much as 80 per cent of the weather station records. Last month the Met Office denied 'cherry-picking' and said it used data from a network of individual stations designated by the World Meteorological Organisation.

But there is an even greater reason to doubt the impartiality of the Met Office and the Hadley Centre. Having had at its helm Sir John Houghton, a conviction 'warmist', in 2006 it acquired a new and highly controversial chairman - Robert Napier. Described as a 'committed conservationist' and then a 'passionate environmentalist', before taking over the most senior position at the Met Office, Napier had for seven years been the chief executive of World Wildlife Fund-UK, one of the foremost activist groups in the climate-change business.

Up to then, WWF was primarily concerned with wildlife issues and conservation. It is widely acknowledged that Napier put climate change on the map during his tenure, using his position to 'leverage the power and experience of the whole organisation', changing its focus to the extent that campaigning on this issue became its main activity. Among other things, he was particularly effective in making alliances with big business, doing deals with the likes of the insurance giant Allianz and convincing the company that there was money to be made out of climate change.

Bizarrely, although the Met Office is still part of the MoD and its staff are civil servants (who, as the Met Office itself says, 'cannot support individual campaigns that actively lobby for policy change'), the organisation has taken its cue from its new leader. It has become a powerful and vocal climate-change lobbyist, contributing hugely to the climate-change conference in Copenhagen last month, at which it launched its prediction that this year would be the hottest on record.

That raises the question whether the Met Office can still be relied upon to give accurate forecasts. Predicting the weather - both short-term and long - is not an exact science. Computers can do the number crunching but the programs or 'models' they work to are devised by human beings. Exactly the same computer models that are used to forecast that we will fry by the year 2030, 2050 or even 2080, are also those used to produce the shorter-range forecasts. It was these models, back in September, that told us we were going to have a mild winter.

But the problems do not stop there. From a technical body, the Met Office has now become the producer and purveyor of endless propaganda on climate change. Its latest production is an expensive, glossy, 20-page pamphlet. It is packed with highly controversial and disputed assertions that are delivered with the authority of a government agency as if they were unarguable fact.

There is no room for doubt, for instance, in the assertion that humans are causing climate change. 'Human activities like burning coal, oil and gas have led to...extra warming. As a result, over the past century there has been an underlying increase in average temperatures which is continuing.' Yet no discernible warming has been recorded since 1998. Indeed, it has snowed in the UK for the past three years, famously last October as MPs were voting through the Climate Change Bill. Each winter has been harsher than the last, and many independent meteorologists, including Joe Bastardi, believe the Earth has entered a cooling cycle.

What was once a highly respected organisation risks becoming a laughing stock in the weather community and a danger to the rest of us. Farmers who rely on the Met Office risk their animals dying and their crops being destroyed. Local authorities, who ran down their grit stocks because the Met Office said it would be mild, are putting the lives of motorists and pedestrians at risk. Airlines, unprepared for the snow, have lost millions of pounds, while the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people have been disrupted.

The Met Office seems to have forgotten what it was set up for - to predict weather day by day. Instead, it is devoting it energies to the fantasy that it can predict climate decades ahead when it cannot even tell you whether it is going to snow next week, or whether we might have a barbecue summer.


Modern green romanticism is misanthropic

By John Cox -- writing from Australia

The start of the modern environmental movement is often taken as the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which described the excessive use of pesticides in the US. The first page of this book was dedicated to Albert Schweitzer and quoted his words: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." Carson was very much influenced by Schweitzer's philosophy of "reverence for life", which has been described as Jesus Christ's ethic of love and compassion between humans widened to all living beings. There is a case, therefore, in arguing that Schweitzer was the father of the modern environmental movement.

If this is so then I must be counted as one of the first environmentalists in Australia, having been influenced during the late 1950s by this reverence-for-life philosophy in my university days. I immediately gave up my sporting life of hunting kangaroos, foxes and rabbits in the mid-north of South Australia and pledged, like Schweitzer, to work in developing countries.

Schweitzer and Carson were children of the Enlightenment, which emphasised the progress of civilisation through the primacy of reason. Schweitzer's philosophy was an attempt to find a rational ethical basis to lead Western civilisation away from the tragedies of the first half of the 20th century. Carson's book was a well-argued, scientific study of the effects of pesticides on various aspects of nature, particularly birds.

Today, however, I find myself nearly always opposed to the viewpoints taken by the modern greens who seem to trace their roots back to the 19th-century romantic period, which was a reaction against the scientific rationalism of the 18th century. Emotions, nature mysticism, intuition and a sense of the whole being more important than the parts were considered more important than a clear-cut view of nature's laws that could be analysed and used for human progress. This was evident in the music, literature and lifestyles of this romantic period and can be expressed best in the words of Goethe: "All theory is grey, dear friend; Green is the golden tree of life".

This romantic view of nature has lead to the pervasive influence of an ecocentric rather than an anthropocentric life view in today's world and was manifest in the Traveston Dam decision to put the possible effects of this dam on a few species ahead of the interests of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Other decisions such as this seem to be a radical wish to return to a primitive, animistic, anti-technology, Jean-Jacques Rousseau-inspired agrarian society so as to avoid any possible harm to nature.

Having worked for more than 20 years on transport projects in Southeast Asia to help raise human beings from their poverty, I find this ecocentric view to be immoral in many ways. I consider that India and China have been morally correct in their decisions to put present economic growth and the elimination of poverty ahead of possible future environmental benefits. In my transport field I find myself coming up against environmentalists who cannot see the economic and environmental benefits of putting more traffic on freeways that have 30 per cent less fuel and greenhouse emissions, 50 per cent less particulate emissions, 70 per cent fewer crash fatalities and 30 per cent lower economic vehicle operating costs than on stop-start arterial roads.

I also find myself up against public transport advocates who cannot admit that the motor car has given people the freedom to work, travel and live where they want. They cannot admit that the car is the most equitably distributed form of transport that Australia has seen and that it was a major instrument for the promotion of gender equity in the 20th century. It has allowed women to do what they want to do because they can now make chained trips to work, shop, drop children off to school and make social visits, trips which are not possible in any other form of transport.

It is also not well known that cars are a more sustainable form of transport than public transport as the cost of a car trip, including externalities, is lower than a public transport trip including government subsidies.

The anti-motor car ideologues remind me a little of the duke of Wellington who was opposed to the development of railways because they allowed "the masses to travel needlessly".

I also find myself in the camp of the sceptics with respect to anthropogenic global warning. Not, it must be said, in the right-wing camp but in the geological scientists' camp, having researched the formation and engineering properties of the deltaic clays in Southeast Asia. The rise in temperatures of more than 6C and the rise in sea level of 130m during the past 15,000 years, without any anthropogenic emissions, show me that the forces in our solar system are much larger than our puny efforts in affecting climate change.

It may be that humans are rebelling against a purely intellectual approach to life and are cleaving to a more emotional, romantic view of an organic, holistic world. Rationalism does not, however, have to kill what it dissects, and there are many of us who still cling to the concepts of rationalism, a web of being and reverence for life that still leave human beings as important members of this world.


Scepticism stems from a worthy spirit of inquiry

By Greg Melleuish -- writing from Australia

WE are truly living in a strange world when the word sceptic, as in the term climate sceptic, has come to be used as an insult. It used to be the case that there was something honourable about being a sceptic. It meant one did not merely take things on trust; that one insisted on a rigorous examination of both evidence and argument before exercising one's judgment on a particular matter.

Even then a good sceptic would recognise that this judgment was only provisional, as more evidence or a better explanation could emerge. Human beings are fallible creatures; none of us can claim to have a monopoly on truth. Be it physics, history or even climate science, there will always be competing explanations.

Attempts to impose a single model or explanation will always be doomed to failure. I recently read Ross Honeywell's Lamarck's Evolution, in which he discusses the career of Australian biologist Ted Steele. Steele has defied the Darwinian consensus and argues for a more Lamarckian view of evolution. Despite much opposition from within the scientific community, the evidence has emerged to support Steele's position.

A democratic society can only flourish if it allows a range of ideas and views to thrive. Some of these ideas will turn out to be wrong; the price of openness is to allow both the sensible and the ratbags to have their say. Open societies work. Failed ideas can be discarded and replaced by better ones rather than congealing into dogmas and ideologies. Scientific ideas, like historical interpretations, are never settled. There will always be challenges as new data comes to light.

What does it mean then when supporters of one interpretation of climate change claim that those who do not support them are deniers, not really scientists and therefore not worthy of a hearing? It can only mean one thing. One group of people has attempted to turn its particular interpretation into a dogma that is beyond challenge. It has become a form of absolute truth. This is not a form of scientific activity but a political act.

It can be quite difficult to move from the messy world of science, its provisional explanations and need for revisions, to that of public policy in which governments take action. Definite action requires certainty. The science cannot be open to question. There is a real conflict here between the provisional nature of scientific and academic activity and the need for governments to take clear-cut and definite action. They cannot be reconciled because those engaged in the world of ideas and science will always find qualifications and possible objections to any theory.

However, we now have a generation of scientists and academics with a desire to have an impact on the world. They are willing to create dogmas so governments will act according to their wishes. This represents the triumph of political over academic and scientific values.

I was struck recently by the similarity between the present debate on climate change and the referendum on the republic held in 1999. On that occasion I asked some of my academic colleagues their views on the effect of changing the wording of sections of the commonwealth Constitution. They told me they had not looked at the proposed changes. They would simply support the case for a republic on trust.

It seems to me that we are now in an analogous situation. Many people are supporting the case for climate change simply on trust. The scientists have spoken and they are happy to accept what they have said.

What is odd is that many of those who are willing to accept climate change dogma are well educated. They have been educated at universities that are supposedly devoted to encouraging rigorous analysis and respect for a diversity of intellectual views.

Why are climate change advocates so willing to accept so much on authority and not use their critical faculties? There is an obvious answer. Their education has taught them that the political is more important than the intellectual. Political action trumps rigorous intellectual investigation. This attitude is no longer confined to the humanities and the social sciences; as climate change dogma indicates, it has also infected the so-called hard sciences.

It is a sad state of affairs. For a democracy to flourish, it needs also to be an open society in which a variety of viewpoints can jostle for public attention. When the term sceptic becomes a term of abuse, and there is willingness by many to demonise those who do not agree with them, then one must be concerned about the future of our democracy.

What is particularly worrying is that those who are leading this drive away from discussion and debate towards a passive acceptance of climate change dogma are often very well educated. What has happened to their spirit of open inquiry?



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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