NOTE FROM THE EDITORS. 13 December 2008.

This post is linked to from other sites more than any other. This has lead to criticism that we have been dishonest in ignoring the scientists in IPCC WGI, which is where the bulk of the scientific analysis is done. It is true that this post does focus on the work of WGII, but it is not true that we do not look at WGI. We do it here. We also look at WGIII, here.

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Back at Gristmill, Andrew Dessler stands by his cancer/doctor analogy in the in-whom-do-we-trust war, after some comments on his blog:

The complexity of climate change does not suddenly make a sociologist, economist, computer programmer, etc. a credible skeptic. In fact, the weakness of Inhofe’s list is readily apparent by the very fact that he had to include such people on his list.

The crown jewels of skeptics are Lindzen, Christy, Singer, etc., but as I’ve said before, there are only a small number of them. In order to bulk up the list, Inhofe lowered his criteria to basically include anyone who doesn’t believe in climate change — regardless of their technical background in the subject.

As far as my analogy being unsuitable, I stand by it. If your child is sick, you take him/her to the experts. Ditto if your planet is sick. You don’t take either your child or a planet to a sociologist or economist.

For the uninitiated, here is the lowdown: Andrew Dessler is a professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University. He is complaining about a US senate report which listed hundreds of individuals who have been reported in the media during 2007 as speaking against the “scientific consensus” on climate change, claiming that they are scientists. The report naturally challenges the very principle of the consensus, which has given climate policies the authority they have needed to be carried forward. The global warming camp have sought to undermine the value of this new list, by claiming that the scientists lack scientific qualifications, expertise, or moral integrity.

But Dessler has made a significant concession here. He is visibly shifting from the idea that the power of the consensus comes from the weight of scientific opinion – numbers. An “overwhelming number” of scientist’s opinions might indicate that the “science” had been tested. Now, you have to be qualified to have an opinion on climate change. But Dessler doesn’t tell us exactly how we are to measure the qualifications, we just have to take his word for it that the 400 sceptics aren’t qualified, but the IPCC scientists are. So it’s not simply a consensus, it’s a qualified consensus, and he gets to call the qualification. So much for science. So, apparently, the IPCC scientists who represent the consensus are more qualified than their counterparts. They are akin to the experts you would trust your desperately ill child to, not the ragbag of mavericks you would avoid. Worse still, many of the sceptics are in fact mere computer programmers or – gasp – sociologists!

We decided to test Dessler’s claim. So we downloaded IPCC WGII’s latest report on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”. There were 380 contributors to the report [PDF of contributors]. A thorough and exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of these experts (or were they?) was too ambitious (it’s Christmas, and we have wine to drink, and mince pies to eat, too). So, we focused on the contributors who operate in the UK. Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren’t clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists. This gives the lie to Dessler’s claim that IPCC contributors are analogous to medical doctors. There are economists working on saving that dying child!!! That’s got to be wrong, by Dessler’s own standards.

Nonetheless, were these contributors the “experts” that Dessler claims they are? There were a few professors, but few of them had the profile Dessler gives them. Many of them were in fact, hard to locate to establish just how much better than their counterparts they were. One professor (Abigail Bristow) wasn’t what you’d call a climate scientist, but a professor of Transport Studies at Newcastle University. How is she going to cure the sick child? Will she be driving the ambulance? Another Professor – Diana Liverman at Oxford University – specialises in “human dimensions of global environmental change” – Geography is a social science too. Another – John Morton of the University of Greenwich, specialises in “development Anthropology”. Professor of Geography, and Co-Chair of IPCC WGII, Martin Parry’s profile merely tells us that he is “a specialist on the effects of climate change”. But what does that actually mean?

Among the remainder – most of whom are not professors, but research associates at best, are an assorted bunch, many of whom are better known for their alarmist statements in the mainstream press than they are for their contributions to scientific knowledge – activists in other words, with their own political motivation. And in spite of being reported as “climate scientists”, involved in scientific research, also seem to be working within the social sciences, albeit for “climate research” institutions, such as Tyndall. Johanna Wolf, for example, is an IPCC contributor from the University of East Anglia, who works in the department for “development studies”. Does that make her a climate scientist? Anna Taylor, of the Stockholm Environment Institute in Oxford has no PhD at all, her research focuses on “stakeholder engagement in adapting to multiple stresses, including climate variability and change, water scarcity, food insecurity and health concerns” – not climate science, and has simply not been alive long enough to join the ranks of the specialists of specialisms that Dessler demands of sceptics. Similarly, Susanne Rupp-Armstrong, listed as a member of Southampton University only appears to have ever contributed to one academic paper. Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, Maureen Agnew does not focus her research on climate science, but on such things as “Public perceptions of unusually warm weather in the UK: impacts, responses and adaptations”, and “Potential impacts of climate change on international tourism.” Katherine Vincent specialising in “Social Capital and Climate change” at the UEA, only began her PhD thesis in October 2003. How can she be cited as a specialist in climate science?

Then there are the contributors whose involvement we cannot explain. Farhana Yamin is an international lawyer, based at the University of Sussex. Rachel Warren and Paul Watkiss are merely listed as “environmental consultants” at the latter’s consultancy firm, and clearly have a commercial interest in climate change policies being developed. Kate Studd is listed as a contributor, but she works for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, and doesn’t appear to be an academic at all. What are these people doing on this list of the most expert climate specialists in the world?

We were surprised by the results. Was the prevalence of social scientists from the UK representative of the whole group? We decided to repeat the test for the contributors based in the USA.

Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modellers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in eart
h/atmospheric sciences. Again, we gave the benefit of the doubt to geographers where it wasn’t clear whether their specialism was physical, or human geography.

In a follow-up post, Dessler has set about ‘Busting the ‘consensus busters” by ridiculing the qualifications of Inhofe’s 400 experts, starting with a certain Thomas Ring. In the comments section he justifies this approach:

I agree it would be quicker to simply note the qualified skeptics on the list (there are probably a few dozen), but, from a rhetorical point of view, I think pointing out these immensely unqualified members of the list is more effective.

Well, we can all play that game… Included as contributors to WGII are Patricia Craig, Judith Cranage, Susan Mann, and Christopher Pfeiffer, all from Pennsylvania State University. It’s not that these people aren’t experts in their field – they probably are. Our problem with their inclusion on the list of Contributors to the IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment report is that their jobs are (in order) website-designer, administrative assistant (x2), and network administrator.

Also on the list is Peter Neofotis who appears to be a 2003 graduate of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia. Are there many experts in anything who graduated in 2003? Would Dessler take his sick child to a doctor, who, according to our understanding of medical training, would have not yet qualified? Also at Columbia is Marta Vicarelli, who is a PhD candidate in ‘sustainable development’. Can she be the amongst the world’s leading experts on sustainability? It seems hard to take the claim seriously. Or what about Gianna Palmer at Wesleyan University, who, as far as we can tell, will not graduate from university until 2010?

And yet Dessler insists that

Inhofe’s list is chock full of people without any recent, relevant research on the problem. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why they’re skeptics: people with the relevant experience are immediately persuaded by the evidence. This should be compared to the IPCC, which includes exclusively people with recent, relevant expertise on the problem.

Anything which can be thrown at the sceptics can be thrown at IPCC contributors.

That is not to say that social scientists and computer programmers have nothing to offer the world, or the IPCC process. They are crucial in fact. What it is to say, however, is that, when social scientists, computer programmers and administrative assistants comprise a significant proportion of IPCC contributors, the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world’s top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.

Dessler’s wish to maintain that the IPCC comprises unimpeachable experts in their field mirrors the common desire to create an unassailable scientific consensus that political changes in the world are a necessity. This is driven less from the data generated by these experts – they aren’t as expert as is claimed, and the consensus is not unassailable – and more to do with the desire to drive politics by creating scientific orthodoxy. This would be scientism, if there was any matter of science about it. The only claim to authority that the IPCC has is not tested, scientific expertise, but just the fact of being established as an authority. There is obviously no substantial attempt to select the best in the field to contribute, as there is no objective measure of such expertise. If we do not take the view that IPCC’s authority rests on its contributors’ expertise, then the consensus it generates is meaningless. It is merely a ‘ministry of truth‘ – the existence of which is only designed to reduce inconvenient challenges to political, not scientific, orthodoxy.

Dessler says :

The problem is not the several dozen credible skeptics on Inhofe’s list, some of whom you’ve named, it’s the 350 others. Overall, There are nowhere near 400 credible skeptics on his list, or on the planet.

Even if it were possible to draw together the best scientific minds (and perhaps even the best sociologists and programmers too), would it even be desirable? Science has never ‘worked’ by measuring opinion, but by testing hypotheses. It doesn’t work by generating orthodoxy, but by challenging it. The IPCC doesn’t represent the best available understanding, but the paucity of understanding of the factors governing climate. If the ‘truth’ really is ‘out there’ then it doesn’t need to be decided by committee.

83 Responses to Physician, Heal Thyself.

  • Your post deserves wider dissemination. Great job.

    Have you been over to climateprogress.org? They would benefit from hearing from a few more clear thinkers.

  • This very thoughtful message exposes one of the biggest hoaxes of the “disastrous anthropogenic global warming” activists: that of “consensus among the world’s experts”.

    This elitist viewpoint is exemplified by Andrew Dessler’s “sick child” analogy.

    Dessler’s argument is not only extremely arrogant, it is flawed in many ways.

    First, recent publications have shown that there are, indeed, many scientists who do not support Dessler’s viewpoint that the IPCC is the only “gold standard” scientific body on the planet concerned with climate change, and is therefore infallible. As the predictions of the activists, such as James Hansen with his “tipping point”, become increasingly shrill, there are growing numbers of scientists that distance themselves from the hysteria.

    Second, the “child” has been pronounced by this elitist group, based on questionable computer simulations, as more likely than not to become ill during the 21st century unless draconian and very costly political measures are taken immediately to stop this. No scientific evidence or diagnosis is provided for the imminent illness, just computer model studies.

    Third, Dessler’s argument falls back into the employment of “ad hominem” attacks on individuals, by questioning either the competency or the “hidden agenda” of the dissenting scientist (in the pay of Exxon-Mobil, etc.).

    Fourth, as the author points out, the purported overwhelming scientific credentials of the IPCC writers is hollow; sure, there are some climate experts, like Dr. Dessler, in the crowd, but there are also many “fellow travelers”. We are not talking about “thousands of world experts on climate”.

    Fifth, the “numbers game” is irrelevant in any case; the author shows that the scientific process, unlike political processes, is not based on consensus, but on constant challenge and verification by experimentation, so Dessler’s “consensus theory” has no place in true science.

    Finally, the argument implies that only highly specialized scientists are qualified to have a relevant opinion on something as basic as what needs to be done today to (maybe) avert a possible, computer-generated problem in the distant future; this is obviously not how things work in a democratic society.

    Bravo for this excellent rebuttal to Andrew Dessler’s elitist argumentation.

    Max

  • I was wondering when someone was going to get around to putting together a list like this. Thanks for being the one.

  • The sad part of all of this is when this scam finally comes to the forefront – all scientist and all expert opinion will be painted with the same brush.

    I am at the point where I believe only half what I read and nearly nothing that I hear.

  • Attach the man not the science seems to be the way to go not discuss the science which was normal. This is like the two forces fighting over Plate Tectonics during the 50’s and 60’s. Luckily then truth won, but will it now?

  • Takes about 30 seconds to find out that you’re being disingenuous. Ms. Bristow is listed as a contrubuting author to the 12th chapter of working group II’s report, with deals with adaption and mitigation, and specifically the effects on Europe, including the effects on transportation. Presumably you would want an expert in transportation (like Ms. Bristow) to help write this portion of the study, would you not? In fact, she would be far more useful in this capacity than a climate modeller, would she not?

    I imagine the rest of your examples are crap as well.

  • Susan Mann from Penn State? I can assure you that her credentials are not derived via “Administrative” assistance.

  • Your post echoes similar complaints about the IPCC misrepresentation of the creditials of their contributing authors, including this by Professor Paul Reiter, Pasteur Institute (Lead Author of the Health Section of the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, and a contributory author of the IPCC Third Assessment).
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/12we21.htm

    Among his many examples:

    13. Among the contributing authors there was one professional entomologist, and a person who had written an obscure article on dengue and El Niño, but whose principal interest was the effectiveness of motor cycle crash helmets (plus one paper on the health effects of cell phones).

    24. The third assessment report listed more than 65 lead authors, only one of which—a colleague of mine—was an established authority on vector-borne disease.

    31. It will be interesting to see how the health chapter of the fourth report is written. Only one of the lead authors has ever been a lead author, and neither has ever published on mosquito-borne disease. Only one of the contributing authors has an extensive bibliography in the field of human health. He is a specialist in industrial health, and all his publications are in Russian. Several of the others have never published any articles at all.

  • bigcitylib said:
    “Takes about 30 seconds to find out that you’re being disingenuous. Ms. Bristow is listed as a contrubuting author to the 12th chapter of working group II’s report, with deals with adaption and mitigation, and specifically the effects on Europe, including the effects on transportation. Presumably you would want an expert in transportation (like Ms. Bristow) to help write this portion of the study, would you not?”

    BCL, you’re missing the point. Yes, a transportation expert would be helpful to assess the effects of a particular level of global warming on transport systems. But that does not make her qualified to assess how likely that assumed global warming is to actually occur, nor how best to prevent it (or whether you even can).

    Dessler wants to move his goalposts and have it both ways: he wants to include non-climate specialists when their input supports or assumes *his* consensus, but discount them when their input undermines it. That’s not science, that’s politics. Whatever the truth is, nobody is served by this.

  • BCL often misses points, it’s an intelligence thing. But I would like to ask a simple question of him: Does the transportation specialist count towards the total number of experts who agree that AGW is happening? If so, how does the opinion of said scientist really matter?

    BCL can’t seem to distinguish between those climate experts who agree that AGW is happening and the other “experts” who contribute to sections of the IPCC consensus dealing with effects of AGW. It’s kinda like the Steve Martin comedy routine:

    “You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes. First, get a million dollars”.

    These experts first assume AGW is happening, and then work on the problems it may cause. But first, get AGW . . .

  • Stephen J,

    She was not asked to assess the reality of AGW, she was asked to contribute as per her specialty. She was asked, that is, to speak where she was qualified. Which aspect of the science is Alan Titchmarsh, the TV garderner on Inhofe’s list, qualifed to assess?

  • Which aspect of the science is Alan Titchmarsh, the TV garderner on Inhofe’s list, qualifed to assess?

    The growth rate of lupins?

  • BigCityLib and others linking to this post seem to be very angry. They should take more care to read what they are criticising.

    We are quite clear about the value of non-climate-scientists to the world, BCL.

    We say it here:

    That is not to say that social scientists and computer programmers have nothing to offer the world, or the IPCC process. They are crucial in fact. What it is to say, however, is that, when social scientists, computer programmers and administrative assistants comprise a significant proportion of IPCC contributors, the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world’s top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.

    On his blog, BCL says:

    “Over At Climate Resistance they’re playing a game of “my scientist is better than your scientist”, with the contributors to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report versus the Inhofe 400.”

    Yet our final paragraph in this very post challenges the principal of getting committees to determine scientific truth:

    Even if it were possible to draw together the best scientific minds (and perhaps even the best sociologists and programmers too), would it even be desirable? Science has never ‘worked’ by measuring opinion, but by testing hypotheses. It doesn’t work by generating orthodoxy, but by challenging it. The IPCC doesn’t represent the best available understanding, but the paucity of understanding of the factors governing climate. If the ‘truth’ really is ‘out there’ then it doesn’t need to be decided by committee.

    In our previous post on the same subject [Dessler's answer to the 400], we said:

    What is conspicuously absent from all of this debate about which scientists to believe? Science. It’s the science, Stupid. Yet Dessler asks us not to consider the science, but who we would trust a dying child to. Yet it is not the case that even “most” scientists at the IPCC are climate scientists, but exactly the “large number of social scientists, computer programmers, engineers, etc., without any specialist knowledge on this problem” about whom Dressler complains. Dressler is wrong about the expertise of the IPCC. Neither is it the case that the IPCC scientists represent the “best in the field”.

    BCL couldn’t be more wrong in his (mis)characterisation of our argument.

  • Yes, Dessler is a charlatan and political hack who is left wing and wants total government control of all things, this fits his agenda politically.

  • The “Editers” wrote:

    “…the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world’s top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.”

    If the IPCC had actually maintained something this narrow I would be worried. The consensus, however, does not merely establish that GW is happening and that it is AGW. It also involves a consensus around possible economic etc. effects,possibilities for mitigation, and so on, including the effects on transportation in Europe, which is one of Ms. Bristow specialties. Which means, of course, that claiming as you do that she is “without any specialist knowledge on this problem” is simply false.

  • If the IPCC had actually maintained something this narrow I would be worried.

    We believe you.

    The consensus, however, does not merely establish that GW is happening

    Only if we take the view that opinion and material truth are identical, and that truth can be determined by committee.

    We have covered this:

    Science has never ‘worked’ by measuring opinion, but by testing hypotheses. It doesn’t work by generating orthodoxy, but by challenging it. The IPCC doesn’t represent the best available understanding, but the paucity of understanding of the factors governing climate. If the ‘truth’ really is ‘out there’ then it doesn’t need to be decided by committee.

    What you are describing is not science, but faith.

    You are wasting your time here, and are picking holes in arguments that have not been made, or have been taken out of context. We’re more than willing to enter into a conversation with you, but it seems pointless if you’re not willing to take the time to understand the argument being made.

  • BCL seems to be missing the point.

    First, the claim of the much-ballyhooed “overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that potentially disastrous global warming is occurring due to anthropogenic greenhouse emissions” is false. There are significant numbers of scientists that do not support this hypothesis.

    To discredit those scientists that do not support the DAGW hypothesis as unqualified and therefore irrelevant requires more than just a statement; it requires some evidence that this is really true.

    So far, this evidence has not been presented.

    Second (and even more important), a “consensus” is irrelevant in any case, since that is not how science works.

    If, for example, Svensmark’s work at CERN confirms what he found in his small laboratory experiments, you will have a true paradigm shift and can throw out all the IPCC computer simulations linking global warming primarily to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    And the IPCC’s admitted low “level of scientific understanding” of solar forcing will have been enhanced for the benefit of one and all.

    Max

  • Marvelous to see the band of qualification of those who contribute to climate science, wondering why the discipline: METEOROLOGY is not mentioned ones. Is it because there is no useful definition for CLIMATE? At least the UNFCCC has none, see: http://www.whatisclimate.com

  • Trolls get deleted.

  • Great Job! Thanks to the editors. Since I am new in this blog, I don´t know wether you have also mentioned the counting work of the Hollands(http://homepages.tesco.net/~kate-and-david/2007/Holland(2007).pdf) and John Mclean(http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/ipcc_review_updated_analysis.pdf). Dealing with the same subject. The IPCC´s credibility and the desparate trials of some of its activists of counterstrikes. Cite (p15 McLean): “The IPCC gives the impression of a very substantial number of reviewers agreeing with chapter 9’s claim of a significant human influence on climate. That is a false impression because just 5 reviewers gave explicit support to the notion (of AGW).” The rest as Paul Reiter pointed out here (http://youtube.com/watch?v=uO9laiUXS1o&feature=related) do either other jobs than research in climate matters, ore are merely activists, named by NGO´s like Greenpeace

  • Algil,
    Yes, marvellous to note that perhaps the scorned (by Dessler et al) meteorologists, (a branch of atmospheric science, entailing university degrees), are among the best suited to understand the limitations of COMPUTER MODELING as touted by the IPCC. They know their own efforts using far fewer assumptions (or guessed input) over much shorter time spans, are demonstrably unreliable beyond a few DAYS. They understand that s**t in = s**t out, and that they put less s**t in over a shorter chaotic time period than the IPCC lot, but still can only go a few DAYS with confidence.

    Meteoroligists even those sitting in front of TV cameras, are amongst the highest qualified to refute the IPCC

  • Meteoroligists even those sitting in front of TV cameras, are amongst the highest qualified to refute the IPCC.

    What a preposterous assertion.

  • By the way, all of your names come from the Working group II report. Most of the actual climate scientists would have been in working group I, which directly treats of the science behind AGW.

    You guys aren’t even looking in the right document!

  • Has it occurred to anyone that any scientific finding that concludes that climate change is most likely a natural phenomenon or that some of its effects are not bad at all is either never mentioned in the media, or if it is, will be immediately attacked and the credibility and credentials of the scientist in question doubted. Wouldn’t you expect that concerned environmentalists (like myself) breathe a sigh of relieve when they hear that global warming may not always be bad or may not necessary be our fault?
    Similarly, I am surprised by the negative reactions of most if not all global warming believers when they hear of the “400 prominent scientists” who bring the good news that humans are not to blame or (for example) that malaria (Paul Reiter) will not spread by global warming. Why is good news not welcome?

  • BCL is very tiresome. The reason for starting with WGII is very clear – we wanted to show that the IPCC is not, as is widely reported, a)comprised entirely of climate scientsts and b)comprised of people that can be described as “the best in the field”.

    Yes, WGI is the more scientific group, but WGII and III influence policymakers, arguably more.

    We will get round to WGI, I promise. The reasons we haven’t yet are influenza and tonsilitis.

  • The only place I have heard a) reported is by you guys on this website. The first pages of the IPCC home pages state pretty clearly that their contributers include sociological and economic specialists. Learn to Google!

    And b) you have not proven because, frankly, I bet you don’t have a clue as to who the “best” experts on, for example, climate and change and transportation are if not the ones the IPCC lists.

  • bigcitylib: Judge your words: ” the “best” experts on, for example, climate and change and transportation are if not the ones the IPCC lists” yourself, by asking: Why have WMO and IPCC permitted that the UNFCCC has no definition on CLIMATE. Good academics know that good research work needs good definitions, see: http://www.whatisclimate.com

  • Chris Schoneveld concluded with
    ”Similarly, I am surprised by the negative reactions of most if not all global warming believers when they hear of the “400 prominent scientists” who bring the good news that humans are not to blame or (for example) that malaria (Paul Reiter) will not spread by global warming. Why is good news not welcome?”

    Yes, well we all know that the media prefers bad or sensational news, bad even worse, it all starts at the IPCC. For instance, they allege unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice-sheet in recent times, but nowhere is there any mention by the IPCC that instrumental records show that it was warmer in Greenland in the early 1900’s. True, there are no records of the extent of melting back in those days, but the IPCC does state clearly that ice melt is related to temperature. So why did they ignore the 1900’s data of higher temperatures?

    If Max is around, he might chip-in with his investigations that the NASA-centric IPCC authorship touted their own vested “Greenland papers” but ignored (or discredited) an ESA (European) 11-year continuous satellite survey which was arguably superior in many ways. The ESA also showed ice growth, not shrinkage, per the IPCC, so it was obviously bad news for the authors, even if it was actually good news for the World.

  • Sorry…..I forgot….

    Here is one reference to higher Greenland temperatures, before there was much CO2 around

    http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Chylek/greenland_warming.html

    Peer reviewed in GRL

  • Anonymous wrote on 30 Dec. @ 12:57
    “Meteoroligists even those sitting in front of TV cameras, are amongst the highest qualified to refute the IPCC. What a preposterous assertion.”

    Well well well anonymous; it did not take you long to come to that wisdom did it?

    Are you aware that climatology and meteorology are two of the branches within atmospheric science, and that it is necessary to go to university to become qualified?

    Are you aware that there is no direct evidence that the current warming is caused by human activity? Consequently, the IPCC club RELY ON COMPUTER MODELS to calculate what might happen, based on an array of ASSUMPTIONS, some of which the IPCC admits to having a low level of understanding? Do you understand that the IPCC says that there is a high probability that human activity is part of the current warming, based on these computer models? (= we THINK so)

    Are you aware that meteorologists also use computer models to predict the weather, but that their models are very much simpler and less assumptive than the AGW models? Have you noticed that meteorologists experience failures with these simpler models over quite short time spans? Consequently, they are amongst the best qualified to understand that it is risible to believe that the IPCC’s modelling is meaningful.

    Are you aware that some TV weather presenters, (not all) are qualified meteorologists, that is to say, that they are scientists.

    Do you remember that famous scientist Carl Sagan? He used to sit in front of TV cameras too.

    You were saying, anonymous?

  • Here’s another great article that talks about the numbers for WGII, and it really breaks it down.
    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/968

  • Black Wallaby wrote: “If Max is around, he might chip-in with his investigations that the NASA-centric IPCC authorship touted their own vested “Greenland papers” but ignored (or discredited) an ESA (European) 11-year continuous satellite survey which was arguably superior in many ways. The ESA also showed ice growth, not shrinkage, per the IPCC, so it was obviously bad news for the authors, even if it was actually good news for the World.”

    I’ll repeat what I posted on gristmill on this topic below.

    Here is an example of duplicity by IPCC (and its parent, UN) to sell its message of disastrous AGW.

    The IPCC is currently looking for funding for new research on the Greenland Ice Sheet, in order to determine whether there is a danger that large portions of the ice sheet could suddenly break off and plunge into the sea, thereby abruptly raising sea levels, according to a recent statement to the media by Bert Metz, one of the lead IPCC scientists gone public (and political).
    http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/26733

    The Reuters press release says: “Dutch scientist Bert Metz, said that the risk of an accelerated melt of Greenland’s ice sheet was among the unsolved issues in the U.N. reports this year that blame mankind for causing global warming and urge quick action to avert the worst impacts.”

    His statement also indicated they would study whether or not this could cause a sudden slowdown of the Gulf Stream, thereby causing temperatures in Europe to drop significantly.

    The Greenland story actually has an interesting history, which may explain why IPCC wants to initiate new studies.

    Using 11 years of 24/7 data from ESA satellites, researchers find that the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is actually GROWING overall, rather than losing mass, due to massive snowfall in the vast interior of the island. The period studied was 1992-2003.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-11/esa-eas110405.php
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1115356v1

    Ignoring these reports based on actual measurements, which showed an overall gain of mass, IPCC states in its 2007 ‘Summary for Policymakers’ report (pp. 5,7) that GIS lost mass at a rate that was equivalent to a rise in sea level of 0.21 mm/year over the period 1993-2003.
    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_SPM.pdf

    This is still not very scary.

    At 0.21 mm/year sea level rise, Al Gore is going to have to wait 28,571 years for his 6-meter waves to swallow New York City, as he depicted in his sci-fi horror film, “An Inconvenient Truth”. The UN Secretary General will also have to wait much longer than his predicted 10 to 100 years for an “almost overnight” 6-meter rise (International Herald Tribune, November 17-18, 2007).

    Essentially all of the very minor sea level rise that did actually occur over the past century can be attributed to thermal expansion of warming oceans (as IPCC also confirms), not from melting ice.

    This is also not very scary, since there is no 6-meter potential rise there, and most folks don’t really understand the concept of thermal expansion anyway.

    So the UN has a dilemma: it has to find a way to hide the not so scary facts on what is truly happening and replace these with predictions of horrible things that are (maybe) going to happen fairly soon, if they cannot get their money-shuffling hundred+ billion dollar carbon taxes and cap and trade schemes implemented.

    Voila! The perfect solution. Let’s have a new study, paid by taxpayer dollars, to show that the GIS could “drop off into the ocean” and raise sea levels by several meters almost overnight.

    Then, for folks who live away from the coasts in Europe (and really wouldn’t mind at all if it got a bit warmer where they live), let’s throw in the “slowing down of the Gulf Stream” and a much colder Europe, in order to really put a scare into them.

    Unfortunately, this is not “science”. It is scare mongering at its worst in order to gain support for a political agenda.

    Max

  • The information you have just exposed is disastrous for those who believe (based on blind faith, because it certainly isn’t science). The problem isn’t a matter of credentials, it is that the whole IPCC house of cards relies on assumptions that are now being show to be invalid. To wit:

    All of the socialogists, economists, etc. STARTED with the assumption that global warming WILL occur or is occuring. Their conclusions tend to prove that AGW /would be/ disastrous but NOT that it is happening.

    The climate modellers STARTED with the assumption that greenhouse gasses would DOUBLE, and that greenhouse gasses were causing global warming.

    The IPCC STARTED with the assumption that CO2 increase was caused by human activity. The entire IPCC case, therefore, is based on assumptions which have never been proven and, in fact, have been disproven.

    The reason “skeptics” like Cristi, et al are so dangerous to the Warmie religion is because they have done the actual science, and proven that: 1) CO2 does not cause global warming, global warming causes CO2, 2) the current warming cycle is natural, NOT caused by greenhouse gasses, 3) human contributions to greenhouse gasses are quite small compared to the natural output, 4) recent temperatures defy the computer models by being steady, and the computer models do not properly predict the known historical record, and 5) the computer models do not take proper account of clouds and do not predict the proper amount of cloud cover nor cloud type.

  • Hi BCL and Tri-Guy @29 DECEMBER 2007 17:45 &17:52
    BCL wrote: “…Which aspect of the science is Alan Titchmarsh, the TV garderner on Inhofe’s list, qualifed to assess?
    Tri-Guy Responded: “The growth rate of lupinss?”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Intrigued, I did a digital search (in MS WORD) for Alan Titchmarsh in the 88,000 word Inhofe report, and it was not found, up or down.

    I pasted the same spelling into Google, and it turns out that he is the author of three books, and a personality in TV and newsprint, and probably quite a smart guy.

    Could you please identify what part of the Inhofe report he is in, or if the spelling is different whatever?
    Thankyou for your enlightenment, Black Wallaby

  • Getting back to the lead article, Dr. Dessler has his own very elitist opinion on who may or may not be qualified to comment on the IPCC’s 2007 report.
    However, let’s consider the simplest basics in that report:

    1) A small subgroup of the IPCC authors summarised to policymakers, that THEY THINK there is a 90% probability that there is significant human influence within the current global warming. (This amounts to an admission that they could be wrong in their estimation….in the other arbitrary 10%.)

    2) Detailed reading of the IPCC report with its many contributions from the many sciences such as glaciology, mixed paeleo-sciences, oceanography, etc, indicate a wide scope of regional warmings, past and present, but there is no direct indicator as to the cause in each case. (There is BTW, a dearth of historians and archaeologists)

    3) Computer models are employed to try and pin-it on CO2, based on an array of assumptions, some of which the IPCC admits to carrying a low level of understanding. Against this it is useful to remember that meteorologists use much simpler and less assumptive computer models which are not famous for being reliable beyond days. Thus a useful and worrying comparison can be made to the IPCC ambitions.

    So here are just three points, but dozens more could be made.

    Surely! It only takes a modicum of analytical ability from say a chemist, chess player or engineer, whomever, to see that there is rather doubtful reliability in the IPCC claims? Anyone technically capable: such as geologist and economist; Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick who looked at the finer detail, soon proved discrepancies, and even apparent fraud in the IPCC.

    No Dr. Dessler, you are wrong to emphasise elitism. You should be encouraging cross fertilization of ideas. That way you might be able to understand all of the IPCC report rather than just your chosen very narrow speciality!

    Black Wallaby

  • To the Editors,

    May I suggest that if BCL cannot verify his reference to Titchmarsh, (The gardener), that you get technical support to remove his access to this site, on his computer IP. (And hope he wont reappear with a new Email and different name on a different computer IP)
    Some diverse opinions can be stimulating, and entertaining, but I have found most of his to be an utter waste of time and web-page space! (Putting it politely) There! I didn’t use the F-word once!

  • Excellent detective work, gentlemen. Keep kicking against the pricks.

  • Inhofe spells it “Alan Titchmarch”. “Titmarsh”, as I spelled it, is correct. Try searching Inhofe with the incorrect spelling and you will find it.

  • If the only experts Dessler and his fellow dupes will accept is the IPCC, so be it.

    The IPCC says that a “drastic” reduction in CO2 would reduce future warming (2100) by 10%, or 0.2 degrees. Two degrees hardly constitutes a catastrophe, even were it a certainty. A 10% reduction in that “catastrophe” is barely noticeable and probably not worth doing anything about.

    The IPCC cites the ice core data as evidence that CO2 and global temperatures are correlated. The problem is that the causation is the OPPOSITE of their interpretation. That is, CO2 does NOT cause global warming, but rather the reverse. They’ve drawng an erroneous and bacwards conclusion from their own data.

    Of course, we have conclusive scientific evidence that everything the IPCC says is pure hokum, conclusions based on totally false assumptions. So you can believe the IPCC or you can believe the experts, but they both lead you to the same conclusion.
    The debate SHOULD be over.

  • Sorry, “Titchmarsh”.

  • Message to bigcitylib

    You wrote: “Inhofe spells it “Alan Titchmarch”. “Titmarsh”, as I spelled it, is correct. Try searching Inhofe with the incorrect spelling and you will find it.”

    Sorry, BCL, couldn’t find this happy gardener on Inhofe’s report, no matter how I spelled or misspelled it, because he is apparently not on the list.

    But no problem. There are a lot of real climate experts on the list.

    As there were on the December 13 letter to the UN Secretary General (around 100), or last year’s letter to the Canadian Prime Minister (around 60).

    And maybe a few that do not meet Andrew Dessler’s rigorous criteria.

    But Inhofe made his point successfully.

    There is no “overall consensus in the scientific community” on climate change, regardless of what some politicians and media reports would have us believe.

    Regards,

    Max

  • BCL is correct: I found comments by “Alan Titchmarch” in the Senate report at

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport#report

    So basically Sen. Inhofe is citing experts from a variety of fields, just as the IPCC does.

    BTW, when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy debated John Stossel, he referred to the “2500 experts” of the IPCC. So it’s certainly worth pointing out that not all–and in fact only a few–of the IPCC “experts” are actually climate scientists.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ezn8zEdMzU

  • Hi hunpecked,

    Thanks for link to Stossel/Kennedy debate.

    Very interesting.

    Regards,

    Max

  • Hi Hunpecked,

    Found the happy gardener on Inhofe’s link.

    Thanks.

    Besides this guy there are also others, who may fit Andrew Dessler’s criteria more closely.

    At any rate, Inhofe made his point, with or without the happy gardner.

    Regards,

    Max

  • For those interested in knowing more about Alan Titchmarsh, para. 1) is from Inhofe’s list, and Para 2) is PART of his bio

    1) Horticulturalist Alan Titchmar[s]h, a prominent naturalist who hosts the popular “The Nature of Britain” program on the BBC, joined the climate skeptics in 2007. “Our climate has always changed,” Titchmar[s]h said according to an October 6, 2007 article in the UK Telegraph. “I wish we could grow up about it,” he explained, “I’m sure we are contributing to global warming, and we must do all we can to reduce that, but our climate has always changed. The Romans had vineyards in Yorkshire. We’re all on this bandwagon of ‘Ban the 4×4 in Fulham’. Why didn’t we have global warming during the Industrial Revolution? In those days you couldn’t have seen across the street for all the carbon emissions and the crap coming out of the chimneys,” he said. Titchmar[s]h also rejected fears of warming induced species loss. “We’ll lose some, we’ll gain others. Wildlife is remarkably tenacious. Nature always copes,” he said

    2) “…Alan Titchmarsh is a Freeman of the City of London, he has received the award of Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Bradford, and Honorary Doctor of the University from the University of Essex and from Leeds Metropolitan University. In 1997 he was named ‘Yorkshireman of the Year’. He was appointed MBE in the 2000 New Year Honours list, for services to horticulture and broadcasting, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Hampshire in 2001. In 2004 he was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s highest accolade – the Victoria Medal of Honour – for outstanding services to horticulture. The VMH is held by no more than 63 recipients at any one time. He has also been immortalized in Madame Tussaud’s. He is a trustee of the National Maritime Museum, and patron or president of more than 40 charities…”

    He is obviously a smart guy whom among other things is aware of the Middle Age Warm Period in history, a thing that the IPCC tried to falsely “cancel” in their 2001 report, in order to make recent warming seem unprecedented.
    Thus, he is highly qualified to comment on the IPCC report

  • Sounds like Black Wallaby may have a valid point.

    While Titchmarsh may not fit Andrew Dessler’s narrow, elitist definition of a “climate expert”, he apparently does have something relevant to say in this debate.

    His historical knowledge of the MWP certainly puts him ahead of “climate experts” such as the discredited Michael Mann, now a lead author for IPCC.

    Good point, Black Wallaby.

    Max

  • The lead article here features Dr. Andrew Dessler’s attack on the Inhofe 400. Over at Gristmill, I have been in debate with him over his elitism in science, and how his rejection of cross fertilization of ideas is harmful to science. Below, is my third post to him, on which he seems to be stuck for an answer. It points out that Fig.1 in the IPCC report, which he says is well understood, is seriously contradicted by an equivalent diagram from NASA, and by a very highly credentialed scientist. He responded immediately to the first two posts, but not this one, yet has had time to raise several new blogs at Gristmill continuing his personal attack on individuals listed by Inhofe, which he describes as fun. It is interesting to contemplate why he is delaying a response this time!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hi Andrew, reur 11:07 AM on 29 Dec 2007, taking your last point: (Abbreviated for new context here)
    Re; the two different “Earth’s Energy Budget” diagrams; a) Trenberth’s Fig 1 in IPCC Report, and b) NASA’s equivalent: You assume that a) is correct because it has been peer reviewed, appears in the “gold standard” IPCC report, and that therefore EVERYONE else agrees with it. You then immediately contradict this by asserting that b) which does not agree, despite it being from a respectable source (NASA), is not correct. Nevertheless you agree that peer reviewed publications can indeed be wrong. I’ll come back to this later but meanwhile, let’s seek advice from a respected atmospheric scientist; Andrew Lacis from GISS. He was an expert reviewer in the 2007 IPCC report (WG1), and here below are a couple of his expert comments, which PASSED PEER REVIEW by the arbitrating IPCC authors:

    He commented in part:
    `…obvious that any gas that absorbs thermal radiation is a greenhouse gas, and that its ability to contribute to the greenhouse effect depends on the strength of its absorption bands, its atmospheric concentration, and its local temperature difference with the ground surface. [Andrew Lacis]”

    “… In terms of its practical impact, the atmospheric greenhouse effect works the same way that thermal insulation around a hot steam pipe reduces the rate of heat energy escape from the+G20 steam pipe. The only significant difference is that thermal insulation restricts energy transport carried by conduction, while absorbing gases in the atmosphere restrict energy transport by radiation… [Andrew Lacis]”

    I put to you that Andrew Lacis is correct and that contrarily diagram a) contains but a convenient construct used to visualize the greenhouse effect. However, the actual thermodynamics and interactions are different and very complicated. What is more, the EMR (Infra Red Light in this case) depicted in a) with the endless loop has several sillies in it. 1) EMR is not HEAT. 2) The infinite number of directions that EMR radiates other than normal down is impossible to illustrate on flat paper and is not contemplated. 3) The downward 324 w/m2 should sensibly carry a negative sign, but it does not, and if it were shown thus it would expose that it is not HEAT, since there is no such thing as negative HEAT.

    In fact diagram b) from NASA has the same values for the Earth’s Energy Budget, but OMITS Trenberth’s simplistic construct of Greenhouse EMR feedback from cold to hot. Could it be that some parts of NASA have their feet firmly on the ground?

    Cheers, Black Wallaby @ 9:42 AM on 31 Dec 2007
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • “if Max is tuned in, could you please assist with this proposal:

    RE: My post above, starting: ”Getting back to the lead article, Dr. Dessler has his own very elitist opinion on who may or may not be qualified to comment on the IPCC’s 2007 report.
    However, let’s consider the simplest basics in that report:”
    Of 02 JANUARY 2008 07:11 Is equally suitable at Gristmill, but I’m unable to post there.

    Could you please forward it the attention of Andrew Dessler across at his blog, with your Intro why: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/12/21/112933/48

  • In January 2007 the UK Meteorological Office predicted that 2007 would be “the hottest year on record”.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/04/phew_what_a_scorcher/

    Met office scientist Katie Hopkins said: “This new information represents another warning that climate change is happening around the world.”

    The article went on to say, “The long-term prognosis is alarming. As Reuters puts it: ‘Most scientists agree that temperatures will rise by between two and six degrees Celsius this century due mainly to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport.’”

    It’s great to be able to predict a whole year’s average temperature, and even to predict that it will be a “record hot year”.

    Let’s see how well the UK’s Meteorological Office really did.

    Under the eye-catching headline, “2007 ‘second warmest year’ in UK”, BBC tells us what really happened on a global scale.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7169690.stm

    Turns out the top 10 were (from hottest to coolest): 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2001, 1997 and 1995.

    OOPS! So, despite the eye-catching headline, 2007 was number seven out of ten and not the “record hot year” at all. If you only take the years in the 21st century, 2007 ranked only number five out of seven, so it was kind of a “blooper”.

    So much for predicting temperature for a whole YEAR in advance.

    But cheer up, folks, as the article said IPCC’s scientists can predict (or project, as they prefer to call it) that “temperatures will rise by between two and six degrees Celsius” a whole CENTURY in advance.

    Too bad none of us will be around in 2100 to see how well (or poorly) they actually did.

    Max

  • To the editors,

    well, I think you are missing the point here on all the three crucial elemnets:

    a) a scientific consensus does not arise out of mere opinion, but out of evidence in peer-reviewed papers. Even if we skip all the arguments about whether IPCC or Inhofe´s skeptics are equally qualified or not, Inhofes list still remains deeply unconvincing because most of the people appearing on this list have no science to back up their claims (which BTW are very often internally contradictory). It is not very interesting to point out e.g. that there is a consensus between Ernst-Georg Beck, Nils-Axel Mörner and Zbigniew Jaworowski that anthropogenic climate change is a “hoax” and that the co2 rise isn´t really anthropogenic (a claim which can fairly be characterised as “ridiculous”), when the only evidence these people can point to is a nonscientific article by Jaworowski from a magazine published by Lyndon LaRouche. Your argument about “science does not work by consensus” is either a straw man or a deliberate misunderstanding of what is meant by a consensus.

    b) As others have pointed out here, it is quite telling that you chose to criticise IPCC´s working group II instead of WG-I, which by far contained the most qualified climate scientists – and honestly, even a very friendly comparison of expertise with respect to qualifications in climate science makes the very few true climate scientists on Inhofe´s list look quite bleak in comparison to the IPCC, e.g. Tim Ball to Richard Somerville or Zbigniew Jaworowski to the late founder of IPCC, Hans Oeschger.

    c) Desslers argument clearly is not that economist´s or other social scientists expertise is wothless in regards to climate change, but only that it should be applied to the relevant field. IPCC is not claiming that experts in tropical diseaes or human geographers have something clever to say about radiative physics. On the other hand, Inhofe is clearly trying with his wording to give a misleading impression that all his 400 quoted “experts” are somehow skeptical to the existence of anthropogenic global warming.

    E.g. Richard Tol, an environmental economist whom you undoubtedly know, is listed as one of Inhofes 400 because of a critique he published on the Stern review In my view, his criticism of Stern´s review was quite valid and compelling, but to count him in as a skeptic to AGW or IPCC more generally in something he himself would vehemently protest to. Actually, as far as I have heard, Tol has indeed objected to Inhofe´s listing as being an arbitrary assembly of anyone and everyone with an academically sounding title who have uttered something not completely appreciative about any little part of IPCC´s argumentation.

    So, to sum up, I think that everybody basically agree to your argument 6. “How society should proceed in the face of a changing climate is the business of politics”;

    but if you are truly concerned about your point 8:

    “Political arguments about climate change are routinely mistaken for scientific ones”.

    and not just using this as a debate ploy to denounce the major scientific conclusions of IPCC as merely political, then you would really do yourself a favour by apllying your own standards to Inhofe´s list. So, are you really interested in the truth, or is this just another standard septic page?

    Regards, CBH

  • For the benefit of CBH, I will repeat a post I made earlier, and ask him to comment on it

    Getting back to the lead article, Dr. Dessler has his own very elitist opinion on who may or may not be qualified to comment on the IPCC’s 2007 report.
    However, let’s consider the simplest basics in that report:

    1) A small subgroup of the IPCC authors summarised to policymakers, that THEY THINK there is a 90% probability that there is significant human influence within the current global warming. (This amounts to an admission that they could be wrong in their estimation….in the other arbitrary 10%.)

    2) Detailed reading of the IPCC report with its many contributions from the many sciences such as glaciology, mixed paeleo-sciences, oceanography, etc, indicate a wide scope of regional warmings, past and present, but there is no direct indicator as to the cause in each case. (There is BTW, a dearth of historians and archaeologists)

    3) Computer models are employed to try and pin-it on CO2, based on an array of assumptions, some of which the IPCC admits to carrying a low level of understanding. Against this it is useful to remember that meteorologists use much simpler and less assumptive computer models which are not famous for being reliable beyond days. Thus a useful and worrying comparison can be made to the IPCC ambitions.

    So here are just three points, but dozens more could be made.

    Surely! It only takes a modicum of analytical ability from say a chemist, chess player or engineer, whomever, to see that there is rather doubtful reliability in the IPCC claims? Anyone technically capable: such as geologist and economist; Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick who looked at the finer detail, soon proved discrepancies, and even apparent fraud in the IPCC.

    No Dr. Dessler, you are wrong to emphasise elitism. You should be encouraging cross fertilization of ideas. That way you might be able to understand all of the IPCC report rather than just your chosen very narrow speciality!

    Black Wallaby

  • Hi CBH,
    This is also to help you understand, that despite what is claimed by the IPCC, if you actually go looking for “the evidence”, it cannot be found!

    Over at Gristmill, (Dr Dessler’s blog-world), one Jabailo asked the wise doctor if he could recommend some papers that provide such evidence. Guess what! He got the “brush-off”, which prompted me to post the following:

    For Dr Dessler,
    Reur response to Jabailo, who was seeking your expertise to recommend the three best papers linking CO2 to the current warming:
    Because this is “your area”, you should have such info right at your fingertips. Thus it is arrogant and/or disingenuous to retort; go read the 1,600 page IPCC report. (WG1). I would have thought you would be pleased to roll-off the evidence to him.
    I have previously read most of WG1 and cannot find the answer to Jabailo’s question either; “where is the evidence?” There are some correlations, intuitive statements, and assumptive models etc, but so what? Where is the actual evidence? Muana Loa CO2 data shows a crude correlation with T, but probably the consumption of hamburgers or some other consumable shows a correlation too. So what? Why be so arrogant about it?

  • CBH claims we are missing three crucial points.

    a1) CBH says that “scientific consensus does not arise out of mere opinion, but out of evidence in peer-reviewed papers”. But the point of our post was to respond to the argument that the consensus is represented by 2500 IPCC scientists. For example, we quote Andrew Dessler:

    Inhofe’s list is chock full of people without any recent, relevant research on the problem. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why they’re skeptics: people with the relevant experience are immediately persuaded by the evidence. This should be compared to the IPCC, which includes exclusively people with recent, relevant expertise on the problem.

    a2) CBH continues “Your argument about “science does not work by consensus” is either a straw man or a deliberate misunderstanding of what is meant by a consensus.”

    To reiterate the point in a1, we were responding to the argument made by Dessler, and many others about the consensus being represented by the IPCC. CBH should therefore direct his comments about the misconception of “consensus” to those individuals who are making the argument that the IPCC represent the consensus. We make no such claim. We could turn the point around to say that CBH’s comments are both a “straw man” and “a deliberate misunderstanding”. It might equally be the case that CBH simply doesn’t understand, however.

    It remains to be shown that a consensus has been achieved by “evidence in peer-reviewed papers”. CBH is reinventing the term ‘consensus’ to reanimate broken arguments which have used the word in a very different sense.

    b1) CBH says “it is quite telling that you chose to criticise IPCC´s working group II instead of WG-I, which by far contained the most qualified climate scientists”

    We do the same for WGI at http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/01/people-in-greenhouses-throwing-stones.html and WGIII at http://www.climate-resistance.org/2007/12/wgiii-but-is-it-science.html . CBH simply hasn’t looked. Perhaps it is “telling” that he or she has “chosen” not to?

    WGI is indeed made up of a much larger number of climate scientists. But the point remains that WGII and WGIII, which create the significant part of the IPCC’s output, is not created by “the worlds best climate scientists” – as is widely claimed, yet goes on to influence policy decisions and the wider debate – in the name of science – and fuels alarmism.

    c) CBH tells us “Desslers argument clearly is not that economist´s or other social scientists expertise is worthless in regards to climate change, but only that it should be applied to the relevant field.”

    CBH is quite wrong. Dessler says: The complexity of climate change does not suddenly make a sociologist, economist, computer programmer, etc. a credible skeptic. In fact, the weakness of Inhofe’s list is readily apparent by the very fact that he had to include such people on his list. And This should be compared to the IPCC, which includes exclusively people with recent, relevant expertise on the problem. And You don’t take either your child or a planet to a sociologist or economist.

    CBH has read Dessler’s argument far more loosely than is reasonable.

    Finally, CBH says “do yourself a favour by apllying your own standards to Inhofe´s list. So, are you really interested in the truth, or is this just another standard septic page?”

    We are quite clear about the value of lists and consensuses which present either a false “pro” and “anti” . Our final paragraph:

    Even if it were possible to draw together the best scientific minds (and perhaps even the best sociologists and programmers too), would it even be desirable? Science has never ‘worked’ by measuring opinion, but by testing hypotheses. It doesn’t work by generating orthodoxy, but by challenging it. The IPCC doesn’t represent the best available understanding, but the paucity of understanding of the factors governing climate. If the ‘truth’ really is ‘out there’ then it doesn’t need to be decided by committee.

    CBH can be assured that we do not believe that the truth is determined by the composition of lists – either generated by “septics” or their counterparts. Nowhere have we defended Inhofe’s list. We haven’t found it necessary to “apply our own standards” to Inhofe’s list because 1) we don’t make any arguments which rely on it – unlike characters like Dessler with the IPCC. 2) It is not being used as a framework for social, economic, development, energy and transport (and so on) policies. 3) Inhofe’s list is not being used to close down debate. 4) however bogus it is, we haven’t seen any compelling argument that it is any worse than the IPCC. 5) We really are quite busy.

  • Qualification and Concensus

    On this site, as well as the two others cited here by the author, he covers in some detail the level of qualification of the IPCC’s WGI, WGII and WGIII, concluding that somewhere over 50% of those sampled meet Andrew Dessler’s qualifications.

    He concludes that most of these are in WGI, as could be expected, since this group is charged with assessing “the scientific impacts of climate change”, while WGII and WGIII are charged with assessing the less scientific and more socio-political aspects of “impacts” and “mitigation” of climate change, respectively.

    A review of the list on the Inhofe report to the US Senate comes up with about the same percentage, although Andrew might be more critical of the qualifications of these individuals than the author has been of the IPCC WG members, when he accepted those without listed qualifications working at Hadley and NOAA..

    But how about the very top of the IPCC?

    Here we have as Chair: Rajendra K. Pachauri, PhD in Industrial Engineering and Economics.

    We also have 3 Vice-Chairs:
    Richard Odingo (Kenya), graduate degree in Geography
    Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka), Engineering, PhD in Physics, Economics
    Yuri A.Izrael (Russia), PhD in Physics, Climate Science

    So it appears that of the top 4 people in IPCC we also have a 50% ratio of those (the latter two) that would meet Andrew Dessler’s qualifications to have a relevant opinion on the science and the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse warming.

    Now, of this 50% we have one-half that clearly does not support the IPCC claim that: “Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” Nor does he support IPCC predictions of potentially alarming negative impacts of global warming.

    In dissenting with the[IPCC] scientific opinion on climate change, , Izrael has stated, “climate change is obvious, but science has not yet been able to identify the causes of it,” and, “there is no proven link between human activity and global warming.” “I think the panic over global warming is totally unjustified. There is no serious threat to the climate,” and, “There is no need to dramatize the anthropogenic impact, because the climate has always been subject to change under Nature’s influence, even when humanity did not even exist.” “Additionally, he does not believe the 0.6 C rise in temperature observed in the last 100 years is a threat, stating, “there is no scientifically sound evidence of the negative processes that allegedly begin to take place at such temperatures.” (Quotes from Wikipedia).

    So we have one-half of the individuals at the top of IPCC that meet Andrew’s requirements in order to be qualified to have an opinion on the science or impact of climate change, and, of this half, we have half that does not agree with (a) the science behind the IPCC claims linking human activity to current warming or (b) the potentially serious negative impact of global warming.

    So much for “scientific consensus”.

    Max

  • The AR4-WG2 report is interesting on several other fronts as well. It is the one place where (in its chapter 1) there is an analysis of hard data about the present-day world, instead of predictions about the future or discussions about models. I hope you will find the time to read it in detail, and comment it here.

    For now I point out to an evident bias in what is reported: “Global Warming May Be Just European”

  • Hi Maurizio,
    Very interesting! Something the alsrmists do not seem to understand is that there have always been regional variations in climate, drought being fairly common, but not so in the case of the Vikings in Greenland collapse. With Angkor it was a change in monsoonal patterns, around 500 years ago that forced abandonment. Sure, in some cases there may have been other influences like local tree clearing, but the message is that in additon to general change, there is a history of regional variation.

  • WGII is on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” so what would you expect the fields covered to be? Picking the non-climate portion of the report to attack for not being dominated by climatologists seems completely disingenuous.

    So why didn’t you look at WGI (the climate science where the consensus may arguably be important)? An analysis there didn’t support your faux drama, did it?

    How does your attack on WGII authors justify in any way mathematicians, sociologists or economists who fancy themselves as climate scientists (rather then sticking to subjects like “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” where they might have some expertise and credibility)?

    Does anyone really fall for your drivel?

  • Sorry folks,

    I’ve just re-read the posts above, and realize I must have had a temporary lapse into insanity and lack of comprehension.

    Please ignore everything I said, and I will try and think of something useful to contribute to the debate next time, when I have fully recovered….anon

  • You can debate who is qualified to argue the matter of climate change all day long and it doesn’t mean anything.

    The whole deal is an assault on capitalism and the western world specifically.

    What must be done is to pressure politicians at all levels to let them know that if they go along this extortion of public and private funds in the for of carbon tax and other redirection of public money that you will campaign against them in the next election.

    They are concerned with their gig, not what’s right, wrong or in the best interest of anyone, but them selves. Know that!

    They are the one’s who making the decisions to rob us, so we must rob them of their power to do so.

    Any questions?

  • The premise of this article is flawed. Inhofe’s list of AGW denialists is the best he could do. On the other hand, the list of those who accept the theory includes not just the IPCC contributors, but every reputable scientific organization and national government on the planet.

    Do-overs for you. =)

  • Marco repeats a number of mistakes that are often made in arguments about ‘the consensus’.

    Firstly, the ‘reputable scientific organisations’ only ‘accept’ the ‘consensus’, but do not seem to have subjected it to any scrutiny. That’s interesting in itself, because the ‘bearers of the facts’ seem more interested in defending orthodoxy than they are interested in advancing scientific understanding.

    Secondly, Governments’ ‘acceptance’ of the IPCC process is somewhat controversial. Many a commentator has complained that final reports have been ‘watered down’ by governmental objection to various passages. What does that really say about government’s ‘acceptance’, let alone the ‘scientific organistaions’ seal of approval?

    Thirdly, it is not a case of ‘one hand wrong, therefore, the other hand right’, as Marco seems to believe. The point of our post was not ‘defend’ the Inhofe list, but to examine Dessler’s claim about what the IPCC represented. Those claims – all too common – were shown to be seriously flawed. Dessler, the professor of atmospheric science, didn’t even understand what kind of institution the IPCC was, nor how it functioned, nor what kind of people it was made up from. Exactly the kind of people he rejects on the Inhofe list are in abundance in the IPCC chapters.

    Given Dessler’s senior role as a scientific advisor to the Clinton administration, his misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) of the IPCC in spite of his academic prowess, it isn’t difficult to see how scientific academies and governments are fallible.

    It’s a case of the emperor’s new clothes.

  • At one point in time, the “whole list of the consensus” included 18,000 supposed “experts.” That list is flawed as you point out. Now, with the release of a new list of 31,000 “experts,” similarly flawed, who do NOT believe the consensus, the whole notion of consensus is shown to be false. The important point here is that these lists do not matter because science does not work by consensus. Every great discovery proceeds by one scientist challenging the generally accepted theory and proving it wrong. The generally accepted theory is generally accepted only until it is not.

    Science proceeds, at best, by rigorous application of the scientific method. In this case, the skeptics have done so and the supporters have not. The skeptics’ case is simple, straightforward, and irrefutable, and can be understood by the average 5th-grader, no PhD required. In short, rather than debate who is qualified to pronounce on the subject, we should go back to considering the FACTS. The Theory of Catastrophic Manmade Global Warming is not catastrophic, it’s not manmade, it’s not global, and it’s not warming. Other than that, the Theory is pretty solid.

  • To the guys putting stock in that list of “scientists” who signed the petition, I hate to burst your bubble.

    90% of the “scientists” on there are not even in a field related to climatology or any complementary studies. Most of them are in completely unrelated subjects, and do not have experience or recent education in the subject of climate change/global warming.

    I don’t go to a Mathemetician to try my case in court. I go to an Attorney.
    I don’t go to an Economist to remove my tumor. I go to a Surgeon.
    I don’t go to an Anthropologist to manage my stock portfolio. I go to a licensed Financial Advisor.
    And I don’t go to a Mechanical Engineer who designs air conditioning systems for my house, to educate me about climate change.

    There may be some climatologists or related scientists who have signed this bogus petition, but who would know because the list has been so fluffed up with air, to make it look bigger than it is.

    If these guys were truly credible, they wouldn’t take just any old person who has a degree. It makes the whole thing look shady.

    Not to mention the organizers include people like Ian Clark, Lindzen, and Tim Patterson. Anyone who has spent hours and hours reading about this very complicated topic has already come across tons of material that discredits these quacks.

    PS – meteorologists are weathermen.

  • In your analysis of the IPCC’s working group 2 assessment report titled “Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” did you consider that sociologists, development experts, resource management experts, ecologists (a slightly more accurate summation of their expertise) etc. might be the people you’d want to look at the Impacts of climate, human and ecological adaption to climate and human and ecological vulnerability to climate.

    Likewise, for the “Physical Science Basis” you’d want physical scientists. If you repeat your analysis of this part of the IPCC report you will see that it is indeed written by physical scientists who are suitably well qualified i.e climate modellers, experts on greenhouse gases, radiative transfer etc. etc. I couldn’t help notice this the first time you carried out this analysis. Carrying out an analysis on the section of the report that you’d want social scientists to author, and is indeed authored by social scientists, and then showing surprise and dismay at the lack of physical scientist authors which then leads to mockery of Dessler is ridiculous. Somehow missing or ignoring the section of the report you’d expect to be written by physical scientists, and indeed is, whilst bashing the WGII for not being written by scientists is possibly, I hope, down to too many brandies and whiskies at xmas.

    Inhofe’s list is not meant to counteract the findings of the WGII report. He’s challenging the consensus on man made global warming. There’s no mention of adaption, vulnerability or impacts, so can we assume he’s talking about the science. Therefore, you need to compare apples to apples, doctors to doctors, and climate science expert to climate science expert. You need to compare the WGI physical scientists to the Inhofe list.

    Anyhow, I believe big city lib already brought up the main point of my post a long time ago:

    http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/2007/12/climate-resistance-folds-tent-slithers.html

    How many on Inhofe’s list have or are publishing articles on climate science in peer reviewed journals?

  • “nimble Jim” asks us – did you consider that sociologists, development experts, resource management experts, ecologists (a slightly more accurate summation of their expertise) etc. might be the people you’d want to look at the Impacts of climate…

    Yes, Jim, we did. Did you read the post properly? It was Andrew Dessler’s argument that “You don’t take either your child or a planet to a sociologist or economist” – we merely applied the same standard to the IPCC that Dessler applied to the Inhoffe list.

    Maybe that’s just too abstract for you?

  • The list presented by Inhofe is a list of sociologists, economists computer scientists, about 4 or 5 actual climate scientists, and Alan Titchmarsh. That is Inhofe’s work not Desslers’s. Dessler should be allowed to clearly express the expertise of the people in the Inhofe list purporting to stand against the consensus on man-made global warming. Why then, do you have to selectively pick the WGII report as an example of expertise standing behind the consensus of science on man made global warming knowing full well that document refers to the adaption, impact and vulnerability and not the scientific question of are human activities causing warming of our planet?

    Look at the WGI report. Its authors are scientists with expertise in the areas required to answer the question “are humans causing global warming?”. They are far better placed to tackle the this question than Inhofe’s list or the WGII bods based purely on an analysis of their apparent expertise.

  • Nimble Jim –

    “Why then, do you have to selectively pick the WGII report as an example of expertise standing behind the consensus of science on man made global warming knowing full well…”

    This is a test:

    Can you read?

    If yes, scroll to the top of the page, to the first paragraph of the post, and read what you missed the first time.

    If no, carry on, as you are.

  • Yes, I can read, thank you. I take back my earlier points regarding this being ridiculous. I’m glad to see that you followed up on this.

    Can you explain why then you didn’t modify your criticism of Dessler in the post above in light of your findings that qualified scientists really did write the WGI report? Given that it’s fairly obvious that Dessler would have been referring to WGI on a question of “did humans cause climate change?”. You’re also still attacking Dessler in your most recent post regarding his citation of the IPCC versus the Inhofe list. If Dessler’s guilty of anything it’s of not being specific enough i.e given that Inhofe’s list attacks the scientific consensus you’d want to look at the WGI report to compare experts. But isn’t it obvious that you’d want to look at the WGI report given that Inhofe talks very specifically about the science of man made climate change. I therefore still don’t understand how you initially ignored that part of the report and why you continue to bash Dessler with this. It’s a thoroughly unconvincing point. I simply don’t buy your point in response to CBH above. Physical scientists with an expertise in climate are not as well placed to look a the effects of changing climate the bulk of the WGII bods on humans and ecology. Nor are they as well placed to formulate mitigation strategies as the WGIII folks. At least that would appear to be the case looking at their expertise.

    Just a note on your WGI analysis. One of you is currently at a UK university, correct? You can use ISI/Web of Science (in the library) to look at the publication records of these folks.

  • Jim… throw enough mud, and hope it sticks, why don’t you?

    Can you explain why then you didn’t modify your criticism of Dessler in the post above in light of your findings that qualified scientists really did write the WGI report? Given that it’s fairly obvious that Dessler would have been referring to WGI on a question of “did humans cause climate change?”

    There is nothing to explain, and there is no reason to modify anything – Dessler’s comment was not about WGI, and nor is it obvious that Dessler’s comment’s were about WGI – and are you really happy to rest your specious argument on a mater of interpretation of what ‘might have been’? He said that sociologists, computer scientists, and economists are not qualified to talk about climate change. We pointed out that there are a large number of them involved in producing the IPCC reports. It’s up to Dessler to refine his argument. We point out in the above post that, in fact, sociologists, computer scientists, and economists are valuable to the debate. Go and have a look.

    Curiously, you then argue, contrary to Dessler, that sociologists, computer scientists, and economists are important:

    Physical scientists with an expertise in climate are not as well placed to look a the effects of changing climate the bulk of the WGII bods on humans and ecology. Nor are they as well placed to formulate mitigation strategies as the WGIII folks. At least that would appear to be the case looking at their expertise.

    So you must agree that those social / non-climate scientists on the Inhofe list are, at face value, as valuable as the social/non-climate scientists listed as authors of the IPCC.

    The point we make above and in the related posts – we suggest you read them more carefully – is about making arguments in terms of weight of numbers, consensus, and lists of people with qualifications, rather than engaging with actual arguments – i.e. appeals to authority, etc – being made by people. Dessler effectively says, “my list is bigger than your list”, and then that “the people on my list are more qualified than the people on your list”. But neither of these claims resolves anything, and all he does is demonstrate a misunderstanding of the way the IPCC actually operates, and what is made of. That’s a big problem for someone with his profile.

    We can’t help what you can’t comprehend – which does seem to be the reason for your comments here. What we suggest is that you just try reading a little bit more closely. Try and understand the argument before you criticise it.

  • This quote should put to rest Jim’s concerns that Dessler might have been talking about just WGI – he wasn’t.

    [The inhoffe list] should be compared to the IPCC, which includes exclusively people with recent, relevant expertise on the problem. And You don’t take either your child or a planet to a sociologist or economist.

  • Jim,

    We posted the details of our post to Grist. Dessler had this to say –

    In case you didn’t know, working group II is on “adaptation and impacts,” and therefore requires the expertise of social scientists. The examples you give above are all the appropriate use of expertise to produce a consensus document.

    As I’ll detail in a future post, it is entirely appropriate for an economist to act as an expert on questions of economics, or a social scientist to act as an expert on questions of social science. The IPCC uses their experts in that way.

    The “Inhofe 400″ use economists to comment on climate physics. Everyone with a grain of common sense should object to that. You’ll be seeing an example of that in a few days.

    We replied:

    Andrew, I agree that social scientists have a part to play. As we say on our blog:

    “That is not to say that social scientists and computer programmers have nothing to offer the world, or the IPCC process. They are crucial in fact. What it is to say, however, is that, when social scientists, computer programmers and administrative assistants comprise a significant proportion of IPCC contributors, the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world’s top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.” http://www.climate-resistance.org/2007/12/physician-heal-

    What is emerging is that (if the US/UK contributors are representative samples) climate scientists in WGII and WGIII are only a minority.

    Furthermore, as well you know, there are some contributors to WGII who lack the expertise you demand of sceptics, even in the social sciences.

    Lastly, you worry that “The “Inhofe 400″ use economists to comment on climate physics.” Well, do you complain when physical scientists make shrill, alarmist noises about the future that society faces? If it takes social scientists to make that kind of prediction, climate scientists are speaking outside their area of expertise.

    And so who are you – as a climate scientist – to be passing comment on how policymakers use science? On your own terms, Andrew, you should be keeping your mouth shut.

    Of course, it’s better that you don’t, because there is a debate to be had. It’s just that you seem keener to shut the debate down by making statements about the 400 than actually have it by answering their criticisms. Shame on you.

    Prof. Dessler, who wants to help the world understand climate change, didn’t feel able to continue the discussion.

  • “This quote should put to rest Jim’s concerns that Dessler might have been talking about just WGI – he wasn’t. ”

    Actually, that’s not what I specifically said. I said “Given that it’s fairly obvious that Dessler would have been referring to WGI on a question of “did humans cause climate change?”.”

    Given that Inhofe defines the terms for the debate by stating his list disagrees with the consensus on man made climate change it is obvious that this boils down to a scientific question i.e. one of attribution of the cause. Inhofe uses his list to attack the consensus on this issue. The WGI shows via multiple lines of evidence that GHGs caused the bulk of the warming in the late 20th C. The WGI authors are well placed to write that report given their expertise. Even taking your position that Dessler meant all aspects of the IPCC, that still includes the WGI which clearly provides enough expertise to beat Inhofe.

    “So you must agree that those social / non-climate scientists on the Inhofe list are, at face value, as valuable as the social/non-climate scientists listed as authors of the IPCC.”

    At face value, yes, but with access to web of science I can see that Inhofe’s list aren’t publishing on topics relevant to assessing the impacts etc. of climate change. Why would I listen to them about that, which by the way they aren’t being used for, according to Inhofe’s website.

    I also see these appeals to authority to be ultimately unconvincing. The real acid test is can any of these experts provide a convincing reason as to why the accumulated evidence fingering GHGs as the cause of warming is bogus. Let’s review that evidence:

    1. A cooling stratosphere.

    2. Nights warming faster relative to the days.

    3. Winters warming faster relative to the days.

    This evidence as outlined in the WGI report debunks Inhofe’s bogus list.

  • Way late to party on this post – it was mentioned in a dust up over at http://www.cejournal.net/?p=923&cpage=1 , where Marc Morano literally wiped the floor with a few of the commenters.

    Your analysis is great, and one I will point to often. For anyone to even attempt to continually claim the IPCC is made up of the best & brightest, when it’s really a political organ, is truly wearing the “denier” jacket.

    I maintain a list of skeptic (sceptic) quotes and always adding to them, here:

    http://www.c3headlines.com/quotes-from-global-warming-critics-skeptics-sceptics.html

    I also maintain a list of quotes from pro-global warming activists here:

    http://www.c3headlines.com/global-warming-quotes-climate-change-quotes.html

    Keep up the great work.

    C3H Editor

  • C3H Editor: It’s interesting to note that you think the purpose of discussing important issues is to “party” and “wipe the floor” with people who you disagree with. As an outsider who is curious about your positions on the issues, I can tell you that the commentary on this site is strongest when it sticks to substance. You should take your own advice and steer clear of ad hominem attacks and childish labels.

    BTW: At CEJournal I devoted an entire post to why I believe labeling people who are skeptical about anthropogenic climate change as the equivalent of Holcaust deniers is offensive. Yet you use the “denier” label for me. What a shame that you don’t live up to some of your own rhetoric at this site.

  • Hi Tom Yulsman,

    I think you might want to chill a bit. Your tone would suggest you’re maybe a wee bit too thin-skinned. I do like the publicity, though. And, it certainly would benefit a lot of people if your exchange with Marc had more attention.

    C3H Editor

  • BCL is a public relations guy in Toronto and a fiercely partisan member of the Liberal (read Democratic) party. Thus, he is only a politician in this debate and yes he would seem to qualify to be on the IPCC panel.

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