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Climate sceptics and scientists attempt peace deal? As if.

Posted By Joanne Nova On February 4, 2011 @ 2:08 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Photo: Guardian

Fred Pearce from New Scientist thinks that there was a real meeting between climate skeptics and “scientists” last week in Lisbon, but therein lies the problem right from the start. The climate skeptics are the scientists, and in the end, hardly anyone else turned up. The unskeptical “scientists” who lose data, hide results, and break laws of reason, not surprisingly, ran a mile from a face to face meeting with the likes of  Steve McIntyre, Ross McKitrickSteve Mosher,  Georgia Tech’s Judy Curry and Peter Webster. Gavin Schmidt is not stupid, he knows he can’t win, and that there is no middle ground. He has little to gain from attending a meeting like the one held in Lisbon Portugal last week.

The meeting was the brainchild of University of Oxford science philosopher Jerry Ravetz, an 81-year-old Greenpeace member who fears Al Gore may have done as much damage to environmentalism as Joseph Stalin did to socialism. Post-Climategate, he found climate science characterised by “a poisoned atmosphere” in which “each side accuses the other of being corrupt”. Mainstream researchers were labelled “ideologues on the gravy train”, while sceptics were denigrated as “prostitutes and cranks”.

As I keep saying, Climategate is a virus that will not go away. It shocked environmental journalists, earned them dark looks from editors and everyone else in the office, and now we see that a greenpeace member obviously didn’t find all the whitewash committee declarations convincing. But note how far we have come, what a turnaround for Pearce — here’s a former petty-name-caller, now calling skeptics, “skeptics” instead of the usual insult and suggesting they were denigrated. Not long back, he was one of the ones leading the denigrating. Did he think no one would notice?

Here’s Pearce — mid 2008:

In any case, we can expect the deniers to make the most of this opportunity to pour cold water on the whole climate change narrative.

And back then we can see “Pearce-the-journo” knew more about the climate than say, Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT. It was all so simple eh?

Physicists have known for 200 years about greenhouse gases. They first calculated the likely global effect 100 years ago. They have been measuring the accumulation of these gases for 60 years. The world has been warming strongly for 30 years, and nobody has come up with a half-way plausible explanation other than the most obvious. It’s the greenhouse gases, stupid.

Pearce still sees the world through his “greenhouse” mirror–and so he reports things back-to-front:

His [Ravetz] dream of an instant rapprochement in Lisbon didn’t come off. The eventual make-up of the workshop, paid for by the European Commission, was too lopsided in favour of the sceptical camp.

Lopsided in “favour” of skeptics?  That’s a funny way to describe a meeting where the other team was invited, but was too scared to turn up. Nothing is more important than climate change, right, but for the most part, the volunteers made the time to come unpaid, and the paid hacks found excuses to stay away.

One day Pearce will realize that the skeptics almost universally have little financial vested interest, and that this is the largest whistleblowing groundswell of scientists ever, and he’s not only missed the biggest science communication news in decades, but he’s been actively working against science for years.

Leaving out the cranks, what’s to be resolved? Few at the meeting doubted that climate change was a real issue that the world had to address, but they said the science had been corrupted.

Try figuring out what that means. Pearce still thinks of real skeptics as “cranks”, but then somehow also thinks that they would say something as meaningless as” climate change is a real issue”… Now most of those present were skeptics, and either skeptics are cranks, or they are “sensible” (but “sensible” according to Pearce also makes them not so skeptical) so which is it?

Poor Freds very un-impartial observer status colours his view at every step. Skeptics could raise points that cut to the core of how modern science works, but Pearce sees it all through the eyes of someone who “knows” he’s right…for him this was never a meeting of two sides of a story, but merely a chance to appease some people who disagree with “his truth”.

Much time at the meeting was taken up bitching rather than conciliating. Several complained about how hard it was to get papers published if they ran counter to climate-change orthodoxy. They agreed with von Storch that peer review was riven with conflicts of interest.

Now if Schmidt had complained he was having trouble being published, would Pearce call that “bitching”, or would that be a (!) Headline Event About Corruption in the Peer Review Process?

While his writing doesn’t tell us much about the current science of the climate, he makes a useful barometer of the current Groupthink Pressure Index, which thankfully is a lot lower than it was in 2008.

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