I have a very short (even by my standards) piece up on Spiked about the claims that the missing heat has been found:
A mainstay of environmentalists’ arguments for climate policies is that science can explain the past and present temperature of the planet, and, using computer models, project its likely future temperature. But, since the late 1990s, observations of temperature have deviated from models. The Earth is not as warm as it was expected to be. For many years, this deviation was denied, but it has recently been accepted by mainstream science. This is progress. But it has proven to be inconvenient to the political agendas attached to the climate-change narrative. In response, many theories have been proposed to explain where the ‘missing heat’ may be hiding out.
Read more at Spiked.
I remain mostly agnostic about climate change science. But it seems obvious that this new research is, to use the climate change communicator’s vernacular, ‘motivated’ by political need. That’s not to say that Matthew England is wrong. He might be right. But it does show in fact, that climate scepticism — even if it is ‘motivated’ (and only motivated to the same extent as its counterpart) — does contribute to the production of good climate science. This is a point I made, but which didn’t make it to the final article…
After all, if sceptics hadn’t made such an issue of the lack of warming, perhaps England would not have been moved to find a way to wrong-foot them. Maybe climate science needs climate sceptics, and climate researchers, like England, should welcome their criticisms.
Alarmists make much of motivated reasoning. Everyone’s research is tinged by motivation. Young scientists are motivated to find something new (rather than to find the 7th decimal place of a physical constant). Someone with theory x is motivated to disprove theory y and to defend his own theory. Truth is not guaranteed to the individual scientist nor to any individual study (even if published). Truth comes out in the clash of different individuals trying to prove each other wrong.
The motivation toward “new” and sexy results is indeed a problem, and the fact that journal editors are motivated to not be interested in refutations of published work is also a problem. The ubiquity of motivation causes all sorts of problems. But it does not make those who are so motivated by something necessarily wrong. This is where alarmists go off the rails: 1) they assert that they are immediately right and infallible, 2) they assert that if you disagree with them you are evil, whereas disagreements have always existed in science (people bickered bitterly about the foundations of calculus, for example, and continue to bicker about human origins, how genes govern behavior, the causes of criminality etc etc ad nauseum), and 3) they want to prevent those who disagree from even being allowed to speak in public or publish papers.
The AGW community grasping on to the idea of “motivated reasoning” as a way to dismiss skeptics is one of the many low points in that community’s culture. All reasoning is motivated. The question is about integrity, ethics, rationality, etc. of the motivation. The AGW community demonstrates few of those attributes. As a whole the AGW community is unable to rationally defend their positions. They are intolerant of ideas that differ. Frequently they cannot specifically defend their ideas in a civil or rational fashion.
‘Irrationality’ is what scares me – for, seemingly, obvious reasons. (in such a world I would fail to exist). The ‘anti-psychiatrists’ had a problem with all those stupid pseudo-scientific ‘diagnoses’ that ‘institutionalised’ us, so they decided, if the so called ‘patients’ weren’t mad, then the ‘world’ must be. Both sides were wrong, of course. For, what is always very difficult, when you see how ‘self-serving’, dishonest and down-right chip-on-their-shoulder nasty some ‘must’ be, is not to bite off ones tongue and never be able to speak! For calmness, rationality, a ‘cool tongue’ is what we need. A still voice. But also a Shelley, a means to be, also, rational and passionate. A rational anger.
I know this is silly, Ben, but I can’t help posting what I wrote in 1990 – or was it 1989?
It is not for this that I waited alone,
Listless afore a feeble fire,
The sun impatient to have done.
All the lighting bad no matter its source,
The coarse street shoppers shouting excitement
In fears oblivion: I was patient,
Reading horrid Milton, sipping cheap tea,
Smoking a haze of desire in troubled Pandamonia.
And those ‘after thoughts’ circling a vortex
In the blackened hole of incurable want.
To long and a chair to comfortable
Excusing the silence of passive desistance:
I claimed ignorance, then corruption,
Then the impossible greatness of the task
And so destiny: fated thus
To the eternal Ovidian whine,
Claiming sanctuary in exile.
The dark obliged, the nocturnal vigil,
The lack of vitamin D:
Cold, an empty gullet, the night.
One Sunday I ventured out:
The street was the same shabby bin
Of flowering tin and copulent flies.
I discovered the polluted sea
As I had discovered her before:
From the strand and at a distance,
Reflecting a sapien backside,
Resigned, as passive as a slave,
To complexions blare. And so,
Seeing the mutual indifference
Of man and water, I did not protest,
I certainly was not shocked,
I retreated back to my door:
Another forty days vigil
In the barrel of my bed,
With a preprepared, laconic tongue
So to list instructions
Confused but tolerable.
Next the eye saw around
The hostility of the times,
The self sacrifice requisite to repair
Deep holes in the fabric
Torn in an uncaring glance.
This was She who held the power to maim,
Taking what accident had gathered
In a forceful hands fine brutality.
Pain of a posterior enervation
Left the relics of charred anatomy
Scattered as an after burn
Whether the death, the caput mortuum
Of an alchemical change
Or the autograph of a miracle –
Who dances in the Elysian fields
Or laughs in the alley of posterity?
No songs past memories rest: all, all a ball
Of billowing winds wrapping chaos
In the cries of vulgar sentience;
Or the mechanics of bombardment
And the assorted atom contending
For upper air in feverish necessities,
Scratched epitaphs of void.
Death is a place past illusion
Where permanents and eternity
Are finally confounded
As dust across a plain
When a plain has gone.
Just to be counterpoised by a poem of 2005 (same place!):
Precise terms, correctly said
Might point a moral to be had:
The eviscerate beast will be fed
With the inane, the hapless or the sad,
The little joke become universal
Till cosmic gizzards grin,
A gods fading, pathetic appal
Irking some tummy ache of sin,
But we, who ‘know’ exactly when
The anti-Christ and Christ shall meet,
Bitterly say ‘I love’, again,
Hanker for the canker of defeat,
Leathery, inept, miss hued,
Burnt, blathered but staring at the sun
Our being brave merely crude,
Our families broken before they’ve begun:
A wino whine like Ovid-On-The-Sea,
We must be exiles, perpetually.
Sweet It Is To Die
Sweet it is to die without cause or reason,
Having no undone for a conspicuous tail:
No defeat in memory, no love in mourning –
Sweet and also just: For these heavy deaths
And unaccomplished frauds, the farcical offbeat
Of the drum, the untuned pipes, the illusory,
Marauding gang of hearse musicians, these are
Only the pompous accidents the Master Actor finds
Useful in his conjuration’s ‘for the unruly crowd.
Let Death come when he has talked with friends
Who wait to bewail us first: It is charity
To deprive us of those who will be deprived the most.
Or better one turns ones head, modest in silence,
Patient of the scythes decapitations.
I served Proserpina with a distant awe
Nor did I batter the tympanum of Dis
With deprecations: I expect the shade
Of fruit and wine, insubstantial but better taste,
On that table where I have reserved my place.