Features Australia

Silencing climate change dissenters

Two Australian universities have ostracised eminent scientists for straying from the ‘consensus’

3 August 2013

3 August 2013

Something is rotten in the state of climate science. The atmosphere is so poisonous it’s like a throwback to the days when the Nazis tried to discredit the ‘Jewish physics’ of Albert Einstein by commissioning a book called ‘100 Authors Against Einstein’. Einstein was unimpressed by this appeal to authority: ‘If I were wrong, then one would be enough.’

But see — already I am in breach of Godwin’s Law, the nebulous code so tirelessly invoked by those on the green-tinged liberal-left whenever their dodgy antics are compared to those of the Nazi Germany regime. Apparently, the moment you mention Hitler you’ve lost the argument.

So maybe they’d feel more comfortable if I invoked Stalin, for that comparison works just as well. I’m thinking in particular of Trofim Lysenko, the morally and intellectually corrupt junk scientist who flourished in the Soviet Union by telling the regime exactly what it wanted to hear, even as his more honest colleagues were carted off to the Gulag.

The point I am making is this: suppressing open scientific inquiry in order to promulgate a heavily politicised ‘official’ version of the truth is the behaviour of totalitarian dictatorships, not Western liberal democracies like Australia. Or so you might have imagined if you weren’t familiar with the recent treatment by two Australian universities — Macquarie and James Cook — of two eminent scientists working in the field of ‘climate change’. Both have been ostracised by their institutions for reaching conclusions unsatisfactory to the controlling regime.

Murry Salby, an American astrophysicist was appointed professor by Macquarie in 2008 but fell out of favour when his research into greenhouse gases contradicted the so-called ‘consensus’. Salby’s discovery that — contra the Alarmists — there is nothing unprecedented about modern changes in atmospheric CO2 went down like a lead balloon with his politically correct colleagues. First, Macquarie made its displeasure known by giving him increasingly menial tasks unbecoming to his professorial status; then, when that didn’t do the trick, it accused him of misconduct and terminated his contract.

Bob Carter, the other recent Green purge victim, will be familiar to many readers as one of Australia’s most articulate, brave and outspoken resident climate sceptics. A marine geologist, Carter was for many years professor and head of James Cook University’s School of Earth Sciences. On his retirement, he kept his adjunct professor status which, though unpaid, enabled him to supervise the occasional graduate student while continuing to have a university email account and access to the library. Last month, however, these privileges were withdrawn. Staff at the School of Earth and Environmental Studies had decided that Carter’s ‘views on climate change did not fit well within the School’s own teaching and research activities’.

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Still, at least in one respect, the timing of this humiliation — and the resulting media furore — could not have been better for Carter. It coincides with the publication of his latest book Taxing Air: Facts And Fallacies About Climate Change (Kelpie) which he has written with cartoonist (and fellow sceptic) John Spooner from (of all places) the Age. There are many excellent works I could recommend on climate change written from a sceptical perspective — by Ian Plimer, by Christopher Booker, by that skinny, swivel-eyed pom with the funny glasses whatever his name is — but this is the most useful of the bunch because it keeps things so very simple.

Each chapter comprises a series of commonly asked questions — to each of which it gives two answers: a pithy one in italics, then a longer, more detailed one. Its short answer to ‘Is today’s temperature unusually warm?’ is ‘No — and no ifs and no buts.’ Then it goes on to note all those periods — from the Pliocene to the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods — when temperatures were higher than they are now, despite the fact that not a single person back then was driving around in 4x4s or flying in CO2-belching airliners.

This, you could argue, represents the biggest flaw in the Warmist argument. If the planet’s temperatures have fluctuated so dramatically before without man’s intervention, how can we be so sure that late 20th century warming wasn’t largely natural too? The answer, as this book makes painstakingly and unarguably clear, is that we can’t. Eyewateringly vast sums of taxpayer’s money are being squandered, rent-seeking corporatists are being grotesquely enriched, corrupt science is being promoted, energy bills are being inflated, jobs are being killed, and the economy is being spavined with unnecessary carbon taxes — all to deal with a ‘problem’ which remains, at best, unproven. And at worst, the biggest and most expensive scientific fraud in history. Anyone reading Taxing Air with an open mind will inescapably be drawn to the latter conclusion. Its argument doesn’t rest on emotion, after all, but on basic and verifiable facts.

Is the science really settled? No. Scientific knowledge is always a moving feast.

But don’t 97 per cent of all scientists say that dangerous warming is occurring? No. A majority of scientists have expressed public scepticism about dangerous warming.

But isn’t there supposed to be a consensus about global warming? ‘If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.’ [It says, quoting the late Michael Crichton.]

Has Australia recently had more droughts than usual? No.

Has Australia recently had more ‘flooding rains’ than usual? No.

Is climate change destroying the Great Barrier Reef? No.

What was Climategate and why was it important? Scientists behaving badly.

Not all scientists, of course. Just those scientists who for whatever reason — ‘noble cause corruption’; ideology; self-preservation; pure, naked greed — have a vested interest in propping up the man-made climate change ‘consensus.’ Scientists, perhaps, like the ones who treated Professor Salby and Professor Carter so badly for the crime of ‘incorrect’ thinking. At the risk of breaching Godwin’s Law twice in one article, both Hitler and Stalin would have been proud of them.

James Delingpole is the author of Watermelons, which is published in Australia as Killing The Earth To Save It: How Environmentalists Are Ruining The Planet, Destroying The Economy And Stealing Your Jobs (Connor Court).


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Show comments
  • rtj1211

    Actually, I think feminism right now is more pernicious than climate science.

    The reason for that??

    There is no website anywhere in the world where a community of downtrodden men courageously examine all the nonsense of the wimmin and, a la WUWT with climatology, dissect clinically the truth from the lies, the misdirections and the distortions.

  • Michael Brown

    A few key facts are not reported by Delingpole.

    Salby was sacked by Macquarie University for allegedly misusing a corporate credit card and refusing to teach. Most professors do not view teaching as menial tasks unbecoming of professorial status, but as a central of what universities are for. Perhaps Delingpole has a different view.

    Salby previously left the University of Colorado, where it is alleged companies Salby controlled improperly collected at least $117,565 (perhaps as much as $303,281) from taxpayer funded grants. Statements by Macquarie University, US court documents, and the US NSF investigation “closeout memorandum” are all readily available online.

    • maltesertoo

      Many scientists have been stonewalled (Galileoed) for exposing their skepticism. The others are just a bunch of
      1.cowards and/or
      2.troughers

      • Michael Brown

        Trougher: “a person who uses public coffers for personal, political, or monetary gain”.

        2009 NSF Closeout Memo on Salby (the Subject): “Company 1 improperly collected indirect costs on the subcontract issued to Company 2. These improperly collected indirect costs were derived from two NSF awards and one NASA award to Company 1. The total estimate of improperly collected indirect costs is $117,565. Since the Subject’s compensation through Company 2 was based on fabricated time and effort reports, the charges based on the reports may also be an unallowable cost in the total amount of $303,281.”

        More details at http://www.nsf.gov/oig/search/I06090025.pdf‎

        • NotThatStupidYet

          It would appear this link does not work. As far as troughers go I would say that all AWG funding is there for the troughers, and I would go as far to say that the farther universities run down this path the sooner they will become virtually useless, or at least the paper they print, for they have lost the ability to think.

          • NotThatStupidYet

            Sorry AGW

          • Michael Brown

            I’ve modified my post and you can google search for the document.

            Surely universities would be useless if they kept professors who refused to teach?

          • NotThatStupidYet

            Wouldn’t that depend on what they were required to teach? For I would rather learn nothing from a professor than be taught a lie.

    • juandos

      Sadly for you the facts are reported by Delingpole and not just once either…

      Man made global climate change is a fraud by the progress-0-tards in hopes of grabbing more money they didn’t work for to spend on programs that are abysmally stupid any standard that one can apply to them…

    • Leigh Dayton

      Michael Brown is correct and the documents are readily available online. Here is the link to the NSF report:

      http://www.nsf.gov/oig/search/I06090025.pdf

      and Macquarie:

      http://www.announcements.mq.edu.au/vc/professor_murry_salby_and_his_dismissal_from_macquarie_university

    • Bart

      So, if they were in the wrong, you’d expect Macquarie just to own up to it, and not have a cover story at the ready?

      The Colorado dispute was apparently settled without criminal charges which, given the moneys involved, would surely have been in the offing if the alleged behavior were true.

      This is all an attack to tear down Salby via ad hominem and innuendo. His science is solid.

      • Michael Brown

        Ad hom? Delingpole has claimed Macquarie University administrators had Salby because of his beliefs (e.g., there are no leaked documents). However, Delingpole has not provided any evidence to counter Macquarie’s statements that Salby was fired for other reasons, including unauthorised use of a corporate card and refusal to teach.

        Given this article is (in part) about Salby’s departure from Macquarie, and given Macquarie’s claims, it is relevant that when Salby left his previous employer there were also allegations of financial misconduct and unauthorised activites. The NSF barred Salby from receiving further grants for a period of time, and I do not know if the NSF has undertaken or plans any other action.

        • Bart

          It is not relevant. It is a red herring.

          • Cretin SetDeity

            Unauthorised use of a corporate card is irrelevant? I wonder if you’d cling to the same ridiculous claim if he were your employee. Clearly your Salby-worship overrides even basic logic.

    • GrumpyDenier

      Peanuts then compared to Hansen. See, we can all play the man, not the ball, in this game.

      Shame the alarmists play without shin-guards; they are a more fruitful target.

      • Michael Brown

        How is Hansen relevant here? Does GrumpyDenier have evidence that Hansen has misused grant funds, refused to teach, or made unauthorised use of a corporate credit card? If not, then GrumpyDenier is diverting attention from more serious matters.

        • Bart

          “…GrumpyDenier is diverting attention from more serious matters.”
          That is rich.

          • Michael Brown

            How is Hansen relevant here, especially if GrumpyDenier cannot provide any evidence to back his claims?

          • Bart

            He isn’t relevant. Your entire input on this page isn’t relevant. That tingling sensation you felt in your scalp was the passing of my point right over your head.

          • Cretin SetDeity

            To the contrary – he has a point; you display nothing more than hubris and contempt for anyone who dares question Salby’s integrity. That tingling sensation you felt in your scalp was its expanding as a result of your self-espoused greatness.

  • http://orach24463.wordpress.com/ CJ

    When future historians write about the war against Climate Change they will conclude that it has never been anything but a genocidal fraud started by Sven Aarhenius, president of the Swedish Eugenics Society. Doubling CO2 will do nothing to the temperature since the CO2 band already totally absorbs radiation in the 10 micron band. The so-called “climate scientists” are nothing but paid stooges. Anyone still pushing the AGW fraud is little more than a criminal and needs to be brought to justice. That include politicians, yellow journalists and Green activists who still push the B.S. that Obama can control the Climate by “skyrocketing” the price of fuel for the poor.

    • Michael Brown

      A conspiracy by thousands of scientists over a century? Really? To look at how the atmosphere absorbs different wavelengths (types) of light, check out https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atmospheric_Transmission.png for an introduction.

    • Nullius in Verba

      “Doubling CO2 will do nothing to the temperature since the CO2 band already totally absorbs radiation in the 10 micron band.”

      Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

      The Earth absorbs a certain amount of energy, and has to radiate roughly the same amount of energy to outer space. The warmer a body is, the more energy it radiates, so if it is too cool to emit enough energy, there will be more coming in than going out, and it will warm up. If it is too warm and is emitting too much energy, it will cool down for the same reason. This process holds the visible surface of the planet very close to a temperature able to emit as much energy as the Earth receives, and is easily calculated to be -18 C.

      However, the visible surface of the Earth (as seen by infrared eyes) emitting to space is not the solid surface, but about 5 km up in the fuzzy-opaque atmosphere, because of IR-opaque greenhouse gases. It is this layer that settles at -18 C.

      When air is pushed above or below that level by convection, it is compressed or allowed to expand by changes in air pressure. Compression causes the temperature to rise, and decompression causes it to fall. (This is how a refrigerator works.) The air warms about 6.5 C for every kilometre you descend. So air descending to the surface is warmed by about 6.5 C/km * 5 km = 33 C (roughly), which means instead of being -18 C, it is at +15 C.

      Adding extra greenhouse gases makes the atmosphere more opaque and visually thicker. Doubling CO2 raises the average altitude of emission to space by about 150 m, so the separation between the solid surface and the -18 C surface is 150 m wider, and 6.5 C/km * 0.15 km = 1 C warmer (roughly).

      This much, even sceptical scientists agree with.

      Then it is claimed that the warmer surface evaporates more water from the oceans, melts ice, alters cloud patterns, and so on, and that these effects magnify the warming. The mainstream claims they triple or more the CO2-only effect. However these effects are poorly understood and poorly quantified. We don’t know how much magnification – if any – actually occurs, or even if its a sensible question. This is where the sceptical scientists dispute the mainstream story.

      • Bart

        As a matter of fact, this is just one of many explanations which have been offered for how the greenhouse effect “actually” works. The problem is, there is no genuine empirical evidence for any of them.

        Laboratory experiments have been performed, but there is no basis to extend these experiments under simple and controlled conditions to the Earth’s chaotic atmosphere at large. It depends on far more than the amount of CO2. It also depends on the distribution, on the local climate state, and on countervailing (negative feedback) effects.

        That the greenhouse effect generally heats the planet beyond what it would be without greenhouse gases is almost surely true. However, there is no guarantee that the heating function, if you will, is monotonic, and that the partial derivative, or sensitivity, to additional greenhouse gases is positive at every point.

        Due to negative feedback, in the form of natural sinks which expand due to forcing, there is not even any guarantee that atmospheric CO2 concentration is sensitive at all to human inputs. In fact, this is the focus of Salby’s work. He has found convincing evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere is driven by global temperatures, and not the reverse.

        You can’t have qualified scientists like Salby, who wrote THE BOOK on Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate, running around knocking out the very foundation of the AGW panic. He had to be dealt with.

        • Nullius in Verba

          It depends what you would count as “empirical evidence”. The theory is based on two physical phenomena: a heated grey body reaching radiative equilibrium in a vacuum, and the adiabatic lapse rate that results from temperature changes when gases are compressed or decompressed. There’s plenty of empirical evidence for both. And IR cameras can *see* the opacity of the atmosphere.

          You are, however, perfectly correct that this is not the only thing going on in the atmosphere, and negative feedbacks could indeed change the outcome. That wasn’t my point, though. I was only indicating that given the way the greenhouse effect is claimed to work, the total absorption in the 10 micron band is not a forceful objection to it. I’m not a supporter of the consensus – but I do think successful attacks on the consensus require that we understand what their claims and arguments actually are, just as they need to understand ours.

          I’m fully supportive of scientists like Salby offering challenges to the foundations, even if I don’t entirely agree with his arguments. However, I’ve no interest in either his qualifications or what books he’s written. You should save those sort of irrelevancies for people who believe in argument ad verecundiam. The only question is whether the arguments themselves are valid.

          And an assertion that he’s found “convincing evidence” without saying what that evidence is is not convincing. :-) Pursuing that would take us even further off-topic, though.

          We have to be just as sceptical of scientific claims we like as those we don’t. Or we’d be no better than they are.

          And we are better, aren’t we? :-)

          • Bart

            “There’s plenty of empirical evidence for both. And IR cameras can *see* the opacity of the atmosphere.”

            No, no, no. There is plenty of evidence that the functional dependence is positive, such as what IR cameras “see”. But, that does not mean that it is everywhere locally increscent. The question is not whether greenhouse gases increase the temperatures above what they would otherwise be without them – they do. The question is whether an incremental increase in greenhouse gas concentration in the present climate state necessarily results in an incremental increase in surface temperature.

            As far as that sensitivity is concerned, there is no evidence at all establishing that it is locally positive. In fact, the current decade+ hiatus in global temperature rise suggests that it is, at best, insignificant. In the past 15 years, global atmospheric CO2 has increased an additional 30% above what is assumed to be the pre-industrial level of 280 ppmv, yet global temperatures have utterly failed to rise significantly. This is occurring at a time when, according to the doomsayers, CO2 should be fixed firmly in the driver’s seat, overwhelming all other influences.

            Despite all the desperate handwaving of the AGW crowd, the hypothesis is in a crisis. In order to regain its footing, global temperatures would not only have to resume their previous rise, but they would have to make up all the lost ground of the past 15 or so years – according to the hypothesis, the energy had to be intercepted, and it has to manifest itself. That is extremely unlikely to happen. Any honest evaluator would have to admit that, no matter what comes, the initial hypothesis is broken.

            “However, I’ve no interest in either his qualifications or what books he’s written.”

            You may not. But that is the tactic the AGW advocates use to sway the untutored, and so it is very germane when they are trying to impeach his authority. See Michael Brown’s M.O. below.

            “We have to be just as sceptical of scientific claims we like as those we don’t.”

            Who’s “we”? I and many others had noticed the undeniable linkage between temperatures and the rate of change of CO2 long before Salby put it on a firmer footing by explaining how the relationship extends into the distant proxy past, as well as in the modern record of direct measurements. It is almost trivial. To deny the relationship takes a very special kind of struthio camelus temperament.

          • Nullius in Verba

            “The question is not whether greenhouse gases increase the temperatures above what they would otherwise be without them – they do. The question is whether an incremental increase in greenhouse gas concentration in the present climate state necessarily results in an incremental increase in surface temperature.”

            There are two questions you may be referring to here: the one I was actually answering, which is whether total absorption in the 10 micron band implies that doubling CO2 will have no effect, and the question in the larger debate as to whether increases in greenhouse gases necessarily increase surface temperature.

            The latter is certainly not my position, since as you say recent history shows that a rise in greenhouse gases has not led to a concomitant rise in surface temperature (for whatever reason). I’m not disputing the latter point.

            My answer was intended to address only the former question – and from some of your side remarks I get the impression you would agree with me. Please don’t ascribe to me positions or arguments that I am not making.

            “I and many others had noticed the undeniable linkage between temperatures and the rate of change of CO2
            long before Salby put it on a firmer footing […] To deny the relationship takes a very special kind of struthio camelus temperament.”

            I’m not denying it. Nor is the mainstream – I’ve seen discussion of the phenomenon in atmospheric physics textbooks that are years old. Again, you seem to be trying to deduce what my reasons for scepticism are from incomplete information.

            Incidentally, it is imprecise wording to say that rate of change of CO2 is proportional to “temperature”, as Salby has said in his talks and you have alluded to. Temperature in scientific terms is measured in Kelvin, and is always a large and positive number around 288 K. The rate of change of CO2 level changes sign. They cannot be proportional.

            I’ve no doubt it’s fixable and using ‘temperature’ is just a simplification for the purposes of easy explanation, but on such minor details have many theories foundered. If you’re going to challenge scientific foundations, the utmost rigour is essential. Constants of integration cannot be ignored.

          • Bart

            “…from some of your side remarks I get the impression you would agree with me.”

            More or less, yes, I think. I do not believe the argument that the band is already saturated holds water. But, I do not believe it is a given nevertheless that increasing concentration necessarily leads to additional warming.

            “Incidentally, it is imprecise wording to say that rate of change of CO2 is proportional to “temperature”, as Salby has said in his talks and you have alluded to.”

            You are correct. Temperature anomaly, with respect to a particular baseline. There are many details to go into, but this is not the proper venue, so I will simply address your comment that constants of integration cannot be ignored. No, they cannot. But, the only free constant is the baseline temperature and, since the rate of human emissions has not been constant, we cannot attribute it to them.

            Please do not make the mistake of taking what I have said personally, or that I am suggesting that there are matters of which you are unaware. There is a wider audience here, and I am assuming they are not generally as familiar with the topic as you.

          • Nullius in Verba

            “But, I do not believe it is a given nevertheless that increasing concentration necessarily leads to additional warming.”

            Agreed.

            “You are correct. Temperature anomaly, with respect to a particular baseline.”

            It’s the difference from the temperature corresponding to equilibrium with the mean mixed-layer concentration of CO2 (and carbonate/bicarbonate) in seawater. You can’t use a seasonal anomaly (i.e. anomaly with respect to average temperature for the time of year), the anomaly baseline can’t be picked arbitrarily, and the baseline is not necessarily a constant (for example, the mixing depth to consider depends on timescale).

            But I know what you mean. :-)

            “There are many details to go into, but this is not the proper venue”

            Agreed! That’s why I was trying to avoid discussing it. :-)

            “Please do not make the mistake of taking what I have said personally, or that I am suggesting that there are matters of which you are unaware.”

            Oh, I never take offence! (But I do appreciate the consideration.) And I never mind people telling me things I know, because sometimes I don’t.

            “There is a wider audience here, and I am assuming they are not as familiar with the topic as you.”

            Understood. It’s well worth phrasing such clarifications as an expansion on the point, rather than a correction or rebuttal, since miscommunication and misunderstanding are rife in this debate.

            I’m less than perfect in that regard myself, so likewise, please don’t take it personally. It’s just general good advice.

          • Bart

            “…and the baseline is not necessarily a constant…”

            That is true, it isn’t. However, an assumed constant value fits the data remarkably well since 1958. We could certainly have extended discussions on that, but it all leads back to the conclusion that human inputs are rapidly sequestered by natural regulation, and temperature dependent (note that I did not say “temperature induced”) natural processes dominate.

            If you wish to express your continued withholding of judgment, please feel free to do so, and we will consider this thread concluded.

    • Brian_R_Allen

      Well said!

  • http://www.lewrockwell.com/ Tuci78

    But see — already I am in breach of Godwin’s Law, the nebulous code so tirelessly invoked by those on the green-tinged liberal-left whenever their dodgy antics are compared to those of the Nazi Germany regime. Apparently, the moment you mention Hitler you’ve lost the argument.

    Tsk. That last sentence needs amendment. Thus:

    “Apparently, the moment you mention Hitler, [the ‘Liberal’ fascists speciously claim that] you’ve lost the argument.”

    There. All better.

  • Graham_Coghill

    Ah. The interpreter of interpretations has interpreted incomprehensibly again! “A majority of scientists have expressed public scepticism about dangerous warming.” Evidence for this “interpretation” please.

    • KeithLevet

      The Oregon Petition. There is no comparable list of warmist scientists who have actually put their name to the claims of the AGW industry.

      Not surprising really. When the truth gets out, as it is currently doing, there will be a lot of careers ruined by association with New Lysenkoism and a lot of people scurrying for cover.

      • Graham_Coghill

        You can’t be serious! The Oregon Petition! I’m astounded that you’d even mention it. Even if it were not full of holes, do you really think it measures the views of “a majority of scientists”?

        • Nullius in Verba

          The skeptical science piece doesn’t present any holes.

          They say they disagree with the statement (not a surprise), they don’t know the response rate, and the number on the list is a small fraction of the total population. They seem to be under the false impression that it is a survey rather than a petition. They then list a number of other studies that cover an even smaller fraction of the population, are not surveying scientists generally but specific subsets of climate scientists, and don’t say what they claim they say, only referring to ‘anthropogenic climate change’ rather than ‘catastrophic climate change’.

          None of these points constitute ‘holes’.

          But it would be fair to say that the Oregon petition only shows that a majority of scientists who have expressed a public opinion have expressed public scepticism about catastrophic warming.

          • Graham_Coghill

            Looks like we’ll have to disagree on what constitutes a hole. Admittedly, the SS article doesn’t mention the false names and the imitation of NAS style.

            I can’t agree with your last sentence. How can you possibly quantify any connection between scientists who signed this petition and scientists who have expressed a public opinion?

          • Nullius in Verba

            The fake names in the Oregon petition were removed. At least some of them turned out on investigation not to be fake.

            Scientists who signed the petition expressed a public opinion by doing so. Unless you have a corresponding list of 31,000 scientists who have affirmed a belief in dangerous climate change, the point stands.

            It is, incidentally, more or less the same methodology as Anderegg used, in the paper which SS cites approvingly. (Anderegg’s list contained 1,372 climate researchers of who 472 were judged to be sceptical. That’s 66% for the consensus, although for a different question and not for scientists generally. Doran, who they also cite, got around 85% before they whittled the sample down to the last 79 to get the answer they wanted, again for a different question and a different population. The Cook survey didn’t even pretend to survey scientists, but paper abstracts, and even then, 66% of them were neutral on the (wrong) question.

            So far as I know, nobody has done any systematic survey of the opinions of scientists generally, particularly on the question of dangerous climate change, so the question of whether a majority believe or disbelieve it is unknown. But a majority of those who have felt moved to make a public statement have come out against it.

            Not that argument ad populam isn’t a fallacy that any real scientist would be ashamed to be caught using, anyway. Science is not determined by a vote.

          • Bart

            “Science is not determined by a vote.”
             
            I would go even further than that and suggest that, on matters of contention, there is not in general a strong correlation between what “most” scientists believe and what is eventually determined to be the truth.

            This is the fundamental problem with all the appeals to consensus. At the root of them is the assumption that most scientists, in general, are well-informed and likely to be correct in their judgments. But, in fact, it is normal for most scientists to be wrong, dead wrong, at the cusp of a paradigm shift.

          • Graham_Coghill

            This time I totally agree with your final sentence. You’ll no doubt agree that there is no supporting evidence for the claim that “A majority of scientists have expressed public scepticism about dangerous warming” and that bringing up the Oregon Petition (or any other petition) as purported evidence is absurd.

          • Nullius in Verba

            If it’s brought up out of the blue, as an argument in itself, then I agree. As an answer to someone claiming something daft like: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous”, it’s a reasonable rebuttal. The one is no more absurd than the other.

            It depends how precise/pedantic one wants to be, and what standards you choose to set.

          • Graham_Coghill

            Of course the typical claim regarding the Cook et al paper you refer to (e.g. by the Consensus Project) is that “97% of published papers with a position on human-caused global warming agree global warming is real and we are the cause.” A much more precise and meaningful statement, don’t you agree, than a claim based on a dubious petition of non-experts.

          • Bart

            Actually, no, if you read up on the astoundingly shoddy methodology of that study. But, as you now agree, it is meaningless in any case anyway.

  • pointman

    A great piece James.
    Pointman

  • http://orach24463.wordpress.com/ CJ

    The Belief That CO2 Can Regulate Climate Is “Sheer Absurdity” Says Prominent German Meteorologist
    http://notrickszone.com/2012/05/09/the-belief-that-co2-can-regulate-climate-is-sheer-absurdity-says-prominent-german-meteorologist/
    By P Gosselin on 9. Mai 2012

    Physicist and meteorologist Klaus-Eckart Puls was interviewed by Bettina Hahne-Waldscheck of the Swiss magazine “factum“.I’ve translated and summarized the interview, paraphrasing for brevity.

    factum: You’ve been criticising the theory of man-made global warming for years. How did you become skeptical?

    Puls: Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data – first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it. The CO2-climate hysteria in Germany is propagated by people who are in it for lots of money, attention and power.

    factum: Is there really climate change?

    Puls: Climate change is normal. There have always been phases of climate warming, many that even far exceeded the extent we see today. But there hasn’t been any warming since 1998. In fact the IPCC suppliers of data even show a slight cooling.

    factum: The IPCC is projecting 0.2°C warming per decade, i.e. 2 to 4°C by the year 2100. What’s your view?

    Puls: These are speculative model projections, so-called scenarios – and not prognoses. Because of climate’s high complexity, reliable prognoses just aren’t possible. Nature does what it wants, and not what the models present as prophesy. The entire CO2-debate is nonsense. Even if CO2 were doubled, the temperature would rise only 1°C. The remainder of the IPCC’s assumed warming is based purely on speculative amplification mechanisms. Even though CO2 has risen, there has been no warming in 13 years.

  • Brian_R_Allen

    …. Apparently, the moment you mention Hitler you’ve lost the argument.

    …. So maybe they’d feel more comfortable if I invoked Stalin ….

    And, given they’re ideologically-co-joined totalitarian fascissocialists, why not?

    That econazis don’t get it that fascists (definitively ‘”modified” Marxists’) are “socialists,” too, does not entitle them to alternative “facts.”

  • Robert Holmes

    These disgusting episodes are a stain on our Universities.
    The horrific treatment and then sacking of Professor Murry Salby (one of the most brilliant climate scientists on the planet), by the now infamous Macquarie University, will go down in history as more resembling Lysenkoism in Stalin’s Russia of the 1930’s than ‘free’ Australia in the 21st century.
    1000frolly on YouTube

  • neilcraig

    The alarmist use of the word “denier” is designed to falsely imply a link with Holocaust deniers, ie Nazis. As such, if Godwin is to be introduced the entire alarmist movement lost long before I ever called them wholly corrupt, lying, thieving, murdering eco-Nazi scum with less human decency than rabid dogs”, even though I normally avoid all questionable language by saying “wholly corrupt, lying, thieving, murdering ecofascist scum with less human decency than rabid dogs”.

  • modomocabro

    “Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insects as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust – we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” Einstein

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