Free Markets, Free People

Mike Hulme

About That Climate Change Consensus …

What was always suspected, yet never proved, has now been exposed:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming, according to Mike Hulme, a prominent climate scientist and IPCC insider. The actual number of scientists who backed that claim was “only a few dozen experts,” he states in a paper for Progress in Physical Geography, co-authored with student Martin Mahony.

“Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous,” the paper states unambiguously, adding that they rendered “the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism.”

You’re shocked I’m sure. But just who is Mike Hulme that he’d have any credibility to make such a bold claim? As it turns out, he’s not only a professor at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (yes, that one), and the founding Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, he also was a co-ordinating lead author on a portion of the IPCC

Not exactly a climate-denialist. But you do have to wonder why he’s making this claim now? Why didn’t he expose the consensus fraud while in the middle of his work on the IPCC?

Actually, if you read the paper (pdf) in which his statement appears, it seems that Hulme wasn’t so much making an accusation as he was simply making an offhand comment:

Since its origins, the IPCC has been open and explicit about seeking to generate a ‘scientific consensus’ around climate change and especially about the role of humans in climate change. Yet this has been a source of both strength and vulnerability for the IPCC. Understanding consensus as a process of ‘truth creation’ (or the more nuanced ‘knowledge production’) which marginalises dissenting voices – as has frequently been portrayed by some of the IPCC’s critics (see Edwards & Schneider, 2001; Petersen, 2010) – does not do justice to the process.

Consensus-building in fact serves several different goals. As Horst and Irwin (2010) have explained, seeking consensus can be as much about building a community identity – what Haas (1992) refers to as an epistemic community – as it is about seeking the ‘truth’. Equally, as Yearley (2009) explains, IPCC consensus-making is an exercise in collective judgement about subjective (or Bayesian) likelihoods in areas of uncertain knowledge. Consensus-making in the IPCC has been largely driven by the desire to communicate climate science coherently to a wide spectrum of policy users – ‘to construct knowledge’ (Weingart, 1999) – but in so doing communicating uncertainties have been down-played (van der Sluijs, 1998). As Oppenheimer et al. (2007: 1506) remark: “The establishment of consensus by the IPCC is no longer as critical to governments as [is] a full exploration of uncertainty.”

Without a careful explanation about what it means, this drive for consensus can leave the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism. Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields. But consensus-making can also lead to criticism for being too conservative, as Hansen (2007) has most visibly argued. Was the IPCC AR4 too conservative in reaching its consensus about future sea-level rise? Many glaciologists and oceanographers think they were (Kerr, 2007; Rahmstorf, 2010), leading to what Hansen attacks as ‘scientific reticence’. Solomon et al. (2008) offer a robust defence, stating that far from reaching a premature consensus, the AR4 report stated that in fact no consensus could be reached on the magnitude of the possible fast ice-sheet melt processes that some fear could lead to 1 or 2 metres of sea-level rise this century. Hence these processes were not included in the quantitative estimates.

Incredibly, Hulme’s point here is that making completely false claims, such as that a consensus on AGW has been reached by “2,500 of the world’s leading scientists” (or maybe it’s 4,000!), is merely the aggressive flip-side to being too conservative in failing to make unsupported claims on which no one agrees. At least, he compares these two “criticisms” of the IPCC efforts to build consensus as if they were two ends of a spectrum. Sadly, when it comes to climate “science” this is exactly where the problem lies.

Instead of dealing in actual science (where hypotheses are proposed, experiments and data-collection ensue, and actual results inform us as to what is happening), we instead are offered catastrophic theories unsupported by little if any actual data but that, by golly gee, sure do have a whole lot of “consensus” behind them. After all, who are we peons to doubt the “experts”? It’s not as if a group of people has ever been persuaded to … ahem, “adjust” their arguments in order to acquire sweeping political power. One wonders if the word “cabal” exists in any dictionaries in the University of East Anglia’s libraries.

If anyone working on the IPCC wants to know why their reputation is in the tank, perhaps they’d better take a look at what the public “consensus” is regarding fraudulent claims designed to increase the fraudsters’ power. And then maybe they should reacquaint themselves with actual science.

Climaquiddick – Who Are The “Deniers” Now?

What an interesting week. The wheels on the AGW bus aren’t going “round and round” any more, they seem to be coming off. Unless you listen to a good portion of the alarmists who are in the middle of denying the significance of the CRU emails, that is.

But I prefer to start my examination of what has been found with a couple of quotes from Eric S. Raymond (via Reboot Congress), software engineer, open source advocate and author of the book “The Cathedral & the Bazaar“.  The first:

For those of you who have been stigmatizing AGW skeptics as “deniers” and dismissing their charges that the whole enterprise is fraudulent? Hope you like the taste of crow, because I do believe there’s a buttload of it coming at you. Piping hot.

Pretty strong, no? So why do you suppose Raymond feels confident enough to make such a pronouncement? Because his review has found blatant and undeniable fraud within the programing used to “predict” the warming supposedly taking place. Or as he says:

All you apologists weakly protesting that this is research business as usual and there are plausible explanations for everything in the emails? Sackcloth and ashes time for you. This isn’t just a smoking gun, it’s a siege cannon with the barrel still hot.

Even stronger – and here’s why:

From the CRU code file osborn-tree6/ , used to prepare a graph purported to be of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and reconstructions.

From the CRU code file osborn-tree6/ , used to prepare a graph purported to be of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and reconstructions.

Raymond, in reaction to this bit of code, says:

This, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise. It flattens a period of warm temperatures in the 1940s 1930s — see those negative coefficients? Then, later on, it applies a positive multiplier so you get a nice dramatic hockey stick at the end of the century.

You have to love it, in a sick sort of way – the routine is called “a VERY ARTIFICIAL correction for the decline” and the correction is named a “fudge factor”. Blatant? Unbelievable. Again, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, or a scientist at all to see through this garbage.

What does it all yield? Raymond plots it:


How very convenient – the “hockey stick” which began “Mann-made Global Warming”. Raymond adds an update:

Now the data is 0.75 scaled. I think I interpreted the yrloc entry incorrectly last time, introducing an off-by-one. The 1400 point (same as the 1904) is omitted as it confuses gmuplot. These are details; the basic hockey-stick shape is unaltered.

As is the basic point – “data-cooking”. Blatant data-cooking.

And yet the Alarmists want to wave it all away saying it doesn’t matter. At least those who have a political agenda which are most. But even some scientists who believe the AGW case to be valid are having difficulties reconciling what happened at CRU with what they consider to be the role of science and how science must work:

What has been noticeably absent so far in the ClimateGate discussion is a public reaffirmation by climate researchers of our basic research values: the rigors of the scientific method (including reproducibility), research integrity and ethics, open minds, and critical thinking. Under no circumstances should we ever sacrifice any of these values; the CRU emails, however, appear to violate them.

Those aren’t the words of a skeptic or a skeptical pundit. They’re the words of Dr. Judith Curry, Chair, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology. Her main message, the same message that Raymond sends, is that this should all be open source and available to other scientists. What happened at the CRU is, in Dr. Curry’s words, indicative of “circle the wagons/point guns outward” mentality which uses “ad hominem/appeal to motive attacks; appeal to authority; isolate the enemy through lack of access to data; peer review process”. That precisely describes the emails and occurrences over the last few years as skeptics tried to get the CRU data.

Speaking of transparency, Mike Hulme, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia has this to say about the scandal:

The key lesson to be learned is that not only must scientific knowledge about climate change be publicly owned — the I.P.C.C. does a fairly good job of this according to its own terms — but the very practices of scientific enquiry must also be publicly owned, in the sense of being open and trusted. From outside, and even to the neutral, the attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good.

There are two reasons I completely agree with his assessment: 1) the research is mostly publicly funded and 2) obviously public policy is being derived from their findings and conclusions. When science is used in that sort of a way, it must be doubly open and rigorous as far as I’m concerned. And, if scientists don’t like that, they can seek their funding elsewhere (which, btw, I’d prefer as this is a wonderful example of “advocacy science” if ever I’ve seen one).

Hulme goes on to say this about Copenhagen, again something I agree with completely:

This will blow its course soon in the conventional media without making too much difference to Copenhagen — after all, COP15 is about raw politics, not about the politics of science. But in the Internet worlds of deliberation and in the ‘mood’ of public debate about the trustworthiness of climate science, the reverberations of this episode will live on long beyond COP15. Climate scientists will have to work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public – and maybe that is no bad thing.

Copenhagen’s politics aren’t really about “climate change” and its dangers. Climate change is the only the excuse for an exercise in power as it relates to governments. That and a redistribution scheme to assuage the guilt of the liberal industrial states and the greed of the third world.

But Hulme’s point about “climate scientists” having to “work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public” is a sure thing given these emails.

So while the pundits using climate change and man’s contribution as a means to more power try to wave this off and given the fact that real scientists are recognizing the huge damage these emails do to the validity of the science of climate change, the pundits are now in the “denier” category, not the skeptics.

I, for one, find the irony delicious.