It can’t be easy being a climate change alarmist just at the moment. In its desperation to keep the ragged flag flying, the Guardian has run a couple of very strange stories today. First up, in What happened when scientists photoshopped climate sceptics, they’ve rehashed an old story from last November about this image

Peterson Collage

which was sent as an attachment in an email to Phil Jones by Tom Peterson of NOAA. As you can imagine, Roger Pielke Sr wasn’t too happy with the suggestion that he believes that ‘global warming is a hoax’.

Here’s journalist Jenny Ridley’s intro to her Guardian story:

This collage of ‘marooned’ climate sceptics was one of the leaked documents.It was originally sent as a joke to Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia2007 by the US scientist Thomas Peterson at the National Climatic Data Centre (Noaa) in North Carolina. An editorial from Nature was attached. It read: ‘The IPCC report has served a useful purpose in removing the last ground from under the sceptics’ feet, leaving them looking marooned and ridiculous’

That the Guardian is re-using the image now to cast cheap aspersions on the credentials of sceptics smacks not only of rank desperation, but of straightforward projection. The Guardian looks even sillier for apparently muddling Pielke Sr with his son Roger Pielke Jr. Hover over the image of the former and you get a caption that better describes the latter:

Long-time critic of the IPCC’s stance on the links between climate change and natural disasters. Professor in the environmental studies programmeat the University of Colorado and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

The Guardian’s confusion is confirmed by the link provided to an article written by Pielke Jr.

Also strange is the way that Ridley has chosen to describe Pat Michaels:

The eight of spades in George Monbiot’s top 10 climate deniers, Michaels is a senior fellow at the rightwing Cato Institute. He played a starring role in Channel 4’s The Great Global Warming Swindle and is regularly used by the US media, largely because he is one of the very few deniers who has any relevant scientific credentials.

It’s strange, first, because each of the men depicted in the montage has ‘relevant scientific credentials’, with the exception of Inhofe, who is a politician. It’s stranger still because Michaels does not, and has not ever ‘denied’ anthropogenic climate change. He has instead argued, in his scientific research and in – shock, horror, how dare he – the ‘US media’, that the IPCC overestimates the likely warming and its consequences. Again, it seems, Guardian journalists are unable to make a distinction between criticism of the ideas they have embraced, and ‘denial’. Monbiot got it wrong. And Ridley reproduces the error. Have Guardian journalists not learned anything about copying and pasting?

It seems that learning from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others is still beyond them.

In another Guardian article today, we see another sign of the desperation of climate alarmists. Environment correspondent David Adam tells us that scientists from IPCC Working Group I have secretly confided in him:

Climate scientists who worked on the UN panel on global warming have hit out at “sloppy” colleagues from other disciplines who introduced a mistake about melting glaciers into the landmark 2007 report.

The experts, who worked on the section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that considered the physical science of global warming, say the error by “social and biological scientists” has unfairly maligned their work [...]

Speaking on condition of anonymity, several lead authors of the working group one (WG1) report, which produced the high-profile scientific conclusions that global warming was unequivocal and very likely down to human activity, told the Guardian they were dismayed by the actions of their colleagues.

But less than a year ago, following the first Copenhagen meeting, Adam could be found speaking for all science in quite a different tone:

The message might sound familiar is that we have to act, and that we have to act now. But I think the scientists, they have been saying it for a while, and we’ve been saying it in the media for a while… but I think the scientists have lost a little bit of patience almost. I mean one said to me here that we’re sick of having our carefully constructed messages lost in the political noise. You know this is the scientific community standing up and saying enough is enough, we’ve lost patience, get your act together.

We took issue with Adam’s alarmism, contrasting his comments with those of Professor Mike Hulme: ‘we should let politics decide without being ambushed by a chimera of political prescriptiveness dressed up as (false) scientific unanimity.’ Adam was not amused, and dropped by to let us know:

I can’t follow your argument. I can barely make one out through the rhetorical fog and linguistic gymnastics.

We had suggested – as we always do – that the kind of alarmism he was promulgating had a very political antecedent, and was rooted in his own confusion and his own prejudices. But how could this be? Science had personally told him that climate change is happening and that the orthodox political response followed inescapably. As he put it:

If your argument is only that politicians will exploit and even exaggerate the threat when it suits them then I agree with you. Such is life. Politicians do politics.

But, as I think you do, you want anyone to take seriously the argument that tackling climate change has somehow been constructed as a trojan horse through which politicians achieve goals or promote agendas by proxy, then you’re going to have to come up with some stronger examples that some critiques of newspaper articles on climate science. That’s just standard climate change denial.

You betray your true motives when you argue that you wish to prevent the “seamless flow” from scientific evidence to evidence-based policy making [...]

Either climate change is a serious problem that requires a serious political response, with all of its failings, to address or it’s not. I think it is. You seem to think not, fair enough. Like I said at the start, good luck.

Politicians do politics, you see, but Adam is above that sort of thing. The scientists he spoke for, too, were immune to any politics.

But now we see that WGII has – much as Adam has – credulously taken ‘the science’ from wherever it could be found to support the presupposition of catastrophe. The WGII report had taken it from Fred Pearce’s New Scientist article, via a WWF report. Adam had taken his headlines from the scariest of the hundreds of posters presented at the Copenhagen meeting that had worked from assumptions about ‘emissions scenarios’ – projections – towards catastrophic stories about possible outcomes. And he had used it to make a political argument for ‘action’, seemingly in the voice of ‘science’. Science spoke with one voice to Adam last March. This February it is fractured, and Adam cannot make sense of it.

Even more bizarrely, it is Fred Pearce – whose credulousness led to the ‘Glaciergate’ affair in the first place – who is now the Guardian’s star reporter of climate scandal. The latest is the Guardian’s attempt to capture the fallout from the disintegration of climate alarmism:

In a unique experiment, The Guardian has published online the full manuscript of its major investigation into the climate science emails stolen from the University of East Anglia, which revealed apparent attempts to cover up flawed data; moves to prevent access to climate data; and to keep research from climate sceptics out of the scientific literature.

As well as including new information about the emails, we will allow web users to annotate the manuscript to help us in our aim of creating the definitive account of the controversy. This is an attempt at a collaborative route to getting at the truth.

There is nothing ‘unique’ about this ‘experiment’, of course. The Guardian is simply doing what has been happening on blogs for months, if not years. Blogs of one form or another have produced most of the material challenging the establishment view – the orthodoxy reproduced in the Guardian by journalists such as Fred Pearce, James Randerson, and David Adam. It was precisely because journalists such as Pearce, Randerson, and Adam were unable to reflect critically on the climate debate and its terms – framing the debate instead in terms of ‘the science’ versus ‘climate creationism‘, ‘denial’, and ‘corporate funding’ – that the blogosphere is where criticism happened. The Guardian’s experiment reflects what we have been saying for a long time: its journalists’ perspectives are tired reflections of the establishment’s own tired perspective. Just a while ago, the line in the Guardian was that ‘climate change denial’ was confined to the blogosphere, and funded by oil interests. Now, the Guardian are synthesising the very object of their journalists’ scorn.

Pearce oscillates wildly between headlines that proclaim ‘How the ‘climategate’ scandal is bogus and based on climate sceptics’ lies‘ and ‘Climate change emails between scientists reveal flaws in peer review‘. First, he appears to be suggesting that those behind the climate emails are the victims of ‘lies’, and then he ‘reveals how [the same] researchers tried to hide flaws in a key study’. On the one hand, it seems, the Guardian and its journalists want to hold with the political arguments they have long been making. Yet they are having to work doubletime with doublethink to explain what happened to the science that was only yesterday incontrovertible.

Adam’s own Guardian piece is far more revealing than he can imagine. The standard line from alarmists following the various IPCC-gate revelations is that, while it is clear that mistakes have been made, none of those undermine the basic science of climate change that says the world has been warming and that CO2 probably has a lot to do with it. Which might well be true. But it is also a misunderstanding of the real damage that the scandals have inflicted – a mistake that many sceptics have also made in claiming it as evidence that the basic science is wrong. The real casualty is not climate science, but climate alarmism. And in retreating to the firm scientific ground of WGI, Adam demonstrates it clearly. Without WGII and WGIII, there is no grounds for alarm. All the promises, projections and prophecies are contained in WGII and III. And without a scientific basis for alarm, all you have left at your disposal is precaution, as Ed Miliband has discovered.

It’s a bed the alarmists have made for themselves, of course. They wanted a catastrophe, and now they’ve got one.

17 Responses to Precaution, Projection & Parthian Shots

  • Spot on, as usual.
    It’s odd that Adam should be interviewing climate scientists under conditions of anonymity. It’s normal for cabinet ministers and members of the Mafia to want to remain anonymous, but why scientists?
    Fred Pearce’s twenty plus contributions have obviously been prepared long before. Presumably they are the draft of a book cut up into article-size chunks to fill the gap while the numerous Guardian science and environment correspondents recover from a collective attack of the vapours.
    Even Monbiot’s contributions have been less frequent and slightly less weird. Expect more about saving the Welsh badger and less about saving the world. If you click on “most-read articles” at Guardian Environment, you find that Green Guardian readers are the same as Green readers of other papers, more interested in hints on mending biciycles and photos of unusual tropical frogs then in articles about the end of civilisation.

  • We’re beginning to get a clearer picture of what’s been going on at the Guardian. It seems a reader (let’s call him Ed Miliband) phoned the editor to complain that Climategate was messing up his career plan, and what was the Guardian going to do about it?
    The editor started poking about on the river bank where the environmental editors hang out, but Mole Ratty, Moonbat and the rest were in deep hibernation, brought on by an Extreme Weather Event.
    So the editor imported an exospecies, and Fred Pearce, the thinking man’s coypu, was released into the wild, breeding articles like a mink on “Heat”, and wreaking havoc in the fragile ecosystem of Guardian Environment.
    The logical next step will be for the cash-strapped Guardian to undertake a cull of its numerous eco-reporters. It’s possible that photos of Leo, Bibi, Fran, and other cuddly creatures being cudgelled to death on the bloodstained ice of North London may do more to awaken the public to the horrors of Climategate than all Fred’s articles.

  • Fred Pearce has reportedly written over 26,000 words for the Guardian on Climategate, but he will be remembered not for words but for one number 2035.

    2035 is Fred Pearce’s personal nemesis because by all accounts it was he who came up with that particular year for when Himalaya’s would lose all their glaciers.

    2035 sunk the IPCC and gave further substance to Climategate emails.

    2035 made certain that there would be no UN climate deal on emissions.

    2035 made certain there would no carbon taxes nor future carbon markets.

    2035 has crippled science, not just climate science.

    2035 saw the end to climate alarmism.

  • An interesting guest post at WUWT:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/09/climategate-plausibility-and-the-blogosphere-in-the-post-normal-age/#more-16262

    Since it was all post-normal science all along, there is no real science to be settled?

  • “Fred Pearce, the thinking man’s coypu”

    :-)

  • BTW, I’d keep an eye on this prediction:

    http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=144&c=1

    Where’s the Met Office when you need it?

  • The real casualty is not climate science, but climate alarmism.

    I wonder if the public will make the distinction. Alarmists have been freely mixing “the narrative” and science for so long that they can no longer separate the two. If they can’t – will the public?

    It’s a bed the alarmists have made for themselves, of course. They wanted a catastrophe, and now they’ve got one.

    Unfortunate that they will take some good scientists (and work) with them as the house of cards comes down.

  • Fred Pearce was apparently snubbed by Pachauri and Hasnain – after the New Scientist article acrimoniously questioned the IPCC for taking its own claim seriously.

    He’s been on his tirade ever since.

  • When I read what scientists, engineers, physicists, and mathematicians in fields other than Climate Science (AJ Strata, the Chiefio, Steve McIntrye, and many others) are saying about these Climatologists’ science, I can only conclude that hiding behind mathematical complexity and weasel words and terms (“might”, “probably”, “can, “most likely”) are the only ways present day climatology can keep pulling the wool over the eyes of a trusting but (expectedly) ignorant public This is in addition to their biggest hammer: intimidation via ad hominem attacks. Alarmists live in a bubble of socially reinforced fear talk and then try to suck the rest of us into their pseudo-educated nuttiness.

  • @mbabbitt – reading what paid hacks for the oil industry write is hardly getting perspective from scientists in other fields think. They are only “scientists that agree with you” and hardly represent scientific orthodoxy outside the climate science realm. Also, please apply your weasel words analysis to the folks you cite. See? Get it? They hedge fucking everything they write. Sweet Jesus, are you that fucking stupid? AJ Strata? Someone who cites Powerline (“The blog for the severely retarded”) as a reliable source is predictably fucked when it comes to facts, and certifiably insane when it comes to accusations.

    Than again, this blog apparently takes Lord Monckton seriously, so heads might be too far up asses to ever correct. You people are hideously stupid.

  • Eddy….Eddy…..Eddy….look in the mirror, you are talking to yourself! Wake up and smell the coffee! Stop denying reality and come in from the cold, all is forgiven. Oh, and watch your language, eh! Think of the children!

  • It’s strange, first, because each of the men depicted in the montage has ‘relevant scientific credentials’, with the exception of Inhofe, who is a politician. It’s stranger still because Michaels does not, and has not ever ‘denied’ anthropogenic climate change. He has instead argued, in his scientific research and in – shock, horror, how dare he – the ‘US media’, that the IPCC overestimates the likely warming and its consequences. Again, it seems, Guardian journalists are unable to make a distinction between criticism of the ideas they have embraced, and ‘denial’.

    Seems like it’s not enough to believe—you have to scream from on high to the peons below that Disaster Is Nigh! Repent Now! or you’re a “denier”.

    Monbiot got it wrong. And Ridley reproduces the error. Have Guardian journalists not learned anything about copying and pasting?

    Sure they did—the same lesson the IPCC did. Hur hur hur…

    It’s a bed the alarmists have made for themselves, of course. They wanted a catastrophe, and now they’ve got one.

    I don’t think it’s possible to describe what a thunderous understatement this is.

    The old maxim about being careful with what you wish for because you might very well get it applies here. Perfectly.

    Possible item of interest, perhaps for the readers here:

    “Regardless, there seems to be a pattern, and it’s the same pattern religious people follow to get people to believe in their faith much of the time. Hyperbole is immaterial to people who are evangelizing their ideological position because what matters is that people are scared into some kind of action. It doesn’t matter if the basis for that action is true or false, it only matters that people just get on board and do what the evangelicals want. I have a ton of “skeptic” (as in Michael Shermer, not related to global warming) friends who I’m regularly disappointed by purely because in reality they aren’t consistent skeptics at all!

    [...]

    But almost never do they even acknowledge, much less deal with the wide-spread reality, that even scientists and fans of science… Even people who are self-described skeptics, can have major blind spots when the ridiculous belief is something they are emotionally attached to.”

    Over-simplifying things a bit [possibly with unnecessary psychoanalysing], but the core premise still stands, IMHO.

  • @Ed Muntle
    Than again, this blog apparently takes Lord Monckton seriously, so heads might be too far up asses to ever correct. You people are hideously stupid.

    This blog described Monckton as being another conspiracy-monger.
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/tag/monckton

    paid hacks for the oil industry

    Sheesh, who’s peddling conspiracy theories now?
    You know it’s possible to be sceptical of the solutions proposed to AGW without being sceptical of the science itself. But I suppose in your world there are only the righteous and the deniers.

  • Love that last line: “They wanted a catastrophe, and now they’ve got one.”

    Those that sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  • You know it’s possible to be sceptical of the solutions proposed to AGW without being sceptical of the science itself. But I suppose in your world there are only the righteous and the deniers.

    Indeed, that’s my reason for being a sceptic. If the threat of catastrophic AGW is real, why aren’t the anti-nuclear protesters in Belmarsh or Gitmo, or shot dead? Seems like energy rather than CO2 is the real issue as far as the climate change activists are concerned/

  • hello again guys

    i think i may have worked out why we disagree on this

    you say:

    “Without WGII and WGIII, there is no grounds for alarm. All the promises, projections and prophecies are contained in WGII and III.”

    Have you read WG1? Please take a look at chapter 10 (not the SPM). There’s no politics in there just science. If you find the non-mitigation scenario contains no grounds for alarm then as I said last year, good luck.

    David

  • David Adam really doesn’t get it if he thinks the criticisms of Guardian Environment (and most of the rest of the media) can be answered by a reference to WGI.
    Of course, the fact that WGII and III are based on selective quotes from old Rupert Annuals wouldn’t matter if WGI contained authoritative predictions of dangerous anthropogenic global warming. But it doesn’t. We have lead author Kevin Trenberth’s word for it that WGI contains no predictions at all – just “projections”. And these projections are the assumptions for all the rest. There is nothing in Chapter 10, to which Adam refers, to justify any of the catastrophism to be found in any of the current articles on Guardian Environment / Climate Change. Population growth; the role of the artist in a warming world; the prime ministers of Britain and Ethiopia holding a joint begging bowl and demanding billions of dollars from us flat-earthers: these are just some of the subjects up today in Guardian fantasyland. And there is nothing in WGI chapter 10, or anywhere else, which can render them intelligent, rational or sensible.

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