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My reply to Paul Bain: The name-caller is hurt by the names they throw

Posted By Joanne Nova On July 13, 2012 @ 1:49 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Dear Paul,

Thank you most sincerely for writing to reply to my email. Thank you for taking the time to contact Nature, and thank you for the recognition that the term “denier” causes offense.

Do we also agree that the term denier fails basic English, and cannot be defined as a scientific label because you still are unable to say what deniers deny?

“I think if you understood where skeptics were coming from it would help you design surveys that produced useful results. Basic research, like reading what leading skeptics were saying, would seem a bare minimum requirement before designing a study.”

As far as I can tell, I suspect what you feel deniers deny (though you appear reluctant to actually state it) is not any scientific observation, but the pronouncements of the highest authority of climate science (which you deem to be the IPCC).

“I do believe that the technical aspects of this debate should be between climate scientists, as with complex multi-disciplinary issues it is very easy for findings to be misconstrued by non-experts. Whether you like it or not, the majority of climate scientists agree that there is a high likelihood that anthropogenic climate change exists and is likely to be a problem”

Since the IPCC, and all climate scientists are government funded, “deniers” then are the people who doubt the propaganda, the dictat, and in other times you would call people like these “dissidents”, or “heretics”, or indeed, the true scientists — since they keep asking for evidence. You are essentially asking us to believe in authority, a fallacy known since Aristotelian times, and a concept deeply anti-scientific.

You say it’s definitely valid to debate climate science, but then say that only “climate scientists”TM can do it. Which means, you do think it’s invalid for us to debate climate science, or to ask questions of the registered approved government appointed hierarchy. We should all be obedient citizens right? — even if those experts broke the law by hiding their data, lost entire global record sets and make “skill free” predictions too?

Is Jo Nova inconsistent? She “talks about politics and funding too”.

Should I chastise myself for delving into social issues? Dearest Paul, here’s the brutal truth. I’ve been utterly consistent in my 850 articles — when I  make conclusion about the climate, I use observations from the planet. When I make conclusions about socio-political matters, I talk money, politics, and people.

There are dual separate strain of topics of which evidence from one stream never crosses into the other:

Planetary Temperature (measured in C) -- > depends on Sun, moon, types of gases, orbits, dust, cosmic rays from the centre of the universe etc etc —> Uses observations from thermometers, proxies, coral slices, ice cores, stalagmites, tree rings, mud layers –> predicts (not much yet) … more cycles like the last ones.

Consensus  (a “Yes-No” thing) –> depends on opinions, research, fashion, money, best estimates, personal motivations, political parties, demographics of peer group surveyed, and decade  —> measured in dollars usually, and occasionally votes. (Subject to change rapidly)

I have never said: The IPCC are wrong because the government funds them (which would be an ad hom). The IPCC are wrong because 28 million weather balloons, 6,000 boreholes, 3,000 ocean buoys, and hundreds of thousands of original raw surface stations suggest the IPCC are exaggerating the future temperature increases by around 6 – 7 fold.

The reason why a science institution could be so wrong, when so much evidence points against them, is a socio-political discussion, and I go there, but I don’t mix up the reasoning. (Will it stretch the friendship if I say that you do?). You ask me to believe the world will warm by 3.3 degrees because a government appointed agency (the IPCC) says so, and to corroborate that, you mentioned that the IPCC has “even” convinced governments to act on its’ policies? Is there a more circular form of argument-from-authority that this?

I always know which point I’m making. But when you say the future temperature of the planet is measured in consensuses, I wonder what the standard deviation is, and I suspect it’s not normal.

Here’s Denial: The real socio-political evidence that many won’t “see”

Since we are talking socio-political evidence (and I note you don’t want to talk about the empirical climate kind)  dig deep and ask yourself if you really believe that 1/ all fields of science are incorruptible, 2/ that peer review works when scientists are paid to ask one type of question, and none are paid to ask the opposite, 3/ if skeptics are influenced by big-oil, can’t believers be influenced by big-government, or big banking?  Then once you admit that, like any human endeavor, it’s possible that even science can theoretically be corrupted, you might argue that it’s only in the face of massive monetary forces. To which I would say, “Yes, Exactly”.

Big oil (Exxon) at most, paid $23 million over ten years towards skeptics. Between 1989 and 2009 the US government paid $79 billion dollars towards climate change science and technology. Climate science is a monopsony – virtually entirely funded by one source: western governments. There are no jobs advertised for skeptics of climate change. There are no grants a skeptic can apply for. Skeptics like Will Happer, Hank Tennekes, Pat Michaels, and recently Nic Drapela have also been sacked.

(In some ways governments paid to find a crisis, and … got what they paid for.)

And you are no doubt unconvinced at this point, to which I ask, again — so where is the evidence that CO2 causes major, rather than minor warming? (Still can’t name any?)

In any case, the government grants are the small dollars. It is apparently new information to you that the large monetary forces come not from an oil rig, but from the Carbon Markets ($176 bn turnover in 2011), the renewables investment market ($243 bn in 2010) and the potential financial rewards of brokering the once promising future Global Carbon Market valued at $2 Trillion per annum. Deutsche Bank doesn’t want a “tax” to save the planet, they want a “market” (which they can broker). I don’t need to spell out why, right?

Does any of this financial information tell us anything about the climate? Of course not. (Where is the climatic evidence? That question just won’t go away.)

You claim the IPCC evidence was strong enough to convince governments to act, but we find that unconvincing (and unscientific). Think “Adam Smith” and the incentives.

  • What Minister of Climate Change wants to find a reason to make his or her department smaller and of lower status?
  • What UN official thinks the UN should shrink, and be less well funded?
  • Which politician would knock back a chance to regulate nearly every aspect of energy and say “No thanks” to extra trips to Bali, Copenhagen and Rio?
  • Who doesn’t want to “save the Earth?”

The incentives are so skewed in favour of finding crises, that the IPCC could produce predictions that were outrageously wrong (where the actual temperatures for two decades fell below their lowest baseline) and western governments would still say “we’re convinced in the IPCC’s ability to predict global Armageddon”. (How do I know? It happened already.)

What can skeptics do?

You suggested skeptics ought produce an alternate expert report — some thing like an ISPCCE – Inter-Scientist Panel on Climate Change Errors”. But it is such a good idea, that it’s already been done. See NIPCC (Nongovernmental-International-Panel-on-Climate-Change): literally more than a thousand dense pages of peer reviewed references, purely scientific, non-politicized discussion of all the evidence. Unlike the IPCC, it doesn’t quote activists, magazines, or ignore important papers. As I said, I think if you understood where skeptics were coming from it would help you design surveys that produced useful results. Basic research, like reading what leading skeptics were saying, would seem a bare minimum requirement before designing a study.

Climate Change Reconsidered 2011 NIPCC Interim report: More than 1,000 source citations.

 Climate Change Reconsidered 2009 NIPCC report: 4,235 source citations.

Naturally the sheer  number of citations does not mean anything scientifically. But it does tell you it was a comprehensive effort.

You said: ” I expect you could find a source of funding for it (ISPCCE)” — to which we say? Where? Do tell? Heartland have produced extraordinary results with far less than the IPCC, but most of us work for nothing, unlike you. Do you think the ARC will help us?

The bias in the IPCC proves nothing about planetary atmospherics. I have never made that mistake. I did not say you should not research social and policy perspectives, I said your results are meaningless if you ignore the underlying driver. The underlying driver is the evidence, not the hopes of policymakers. If skeptics are right about the science, instead of being “deniers”, they are the scientists, and you are researching why the propaganda machine is failing to convince people of a false message. In a moral debate, there is no winning exit with this approach.

As for manipulative deception?

There is no need to defend the survey — it was not the problem, it was your conclusions. The aim of the results was to find ways to change behaviour without changing people’s minds. That is manipulative. It was to achieve one end while packaging it as something else. That’s deception.

Whose views are illegitimate?

I’m not the one making out that some views are illegitimate (I’m saying some are illogical). In your world, my science views are illegitimate (I’m not a climate scientist — remember — I’m not allowed to question the experts). In your opinion, my views are so worthless they are not worth 10 minutes of research before silencing them with the label “denier”. And even if you never use the term again, how much respect does it show not to understand the main arguments of the group you study?

The name-caller is hurt by the names they throw

In this case, when you call us deniers, you put up mental barriers in your own mind that appear to have stopped you asking the most basic obvious research questions, like:

  1. Who are the “deniers” (If they are so stupid, why do some have PhD’s in atmospheric physics, or Nobel Prizes  in tunneling electrons?)
  2. What do the leading deniers say?
  3. What do deniers, deny?
  4. Can I talk to one, do they bite, and are they infectious? ;-)

Using incorrect and insulting names runs the risk of producing meaningless results, based on untested base assumptions, and a paper (with luck) that could disappear into the vacuum of time. Without luck, it might be mocked in the history of science for years to come in PhD theses with titles like: The detrimental multivaried effects of monopolistic funding on science: How would-be scientists broke laws of reason and derided real scientists as “Deniers”.

How Dr Paul Bain can deliver a knock out blow:

There is a way you can break new ground, prove all your research is valid, and not only that, but you can save the planet too. All you have to do, is send that email I talked about in the last letter, send it out to friends and colleagues, who very much want you to be right, and ask them what the empirical evidence is. (See this page again for the details).

Then forward the evidence to the “Deniers”. Find the long term observations that show the models assumptions of net positive feedback are right, and you become the hero of the day.

Remember, the evidence is overwhelming. The science is settled. The experts and science associations of the world agree. Someone, somewhere among all of those people must be able to find some evidence.

Sincerely,

Jo

 

 

 

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