Friday, February 12, 2010

It is Time to Take Global Warming Seriously: Hell Freezes Over!

Just before the Copenhagen summit a few short months ago the Toronto Star published a Saturday edition with the entire front page devoted to announcing that the Star had joined with 75 other papers around the world in a "crusade" to stop climate change. Today, the Star actually took note of the fact that there has been just the tiniest, little bit of open controversy about the whole global warming thing. Which raises the question: "If hell is freezing over, does that mean global warming is even worse than we thought?"

I never thought I would see the day when such heresy was tolerated in the august pages of the leading trendy, lefty rag in Canada. But right there on the right hand side of the op ed page this morning was Richard Gwyn's shocking column entitled "Scientists should stick to science." He begins:
"Over the past several weeks, a great foofaraw has developed over the discovery that the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the global authority on the subject, have contained a series of mistakes.

Compared to all the data contained in these massive reports, issued every five years and encompassing the work of thousands of scientists, the number of mistakes are far fewer than newspaper accounts suggest."

OK, this sounds like another dismissal of the skeptics, just another "move along, nothing to see here piece." But then comes this:

"It's nevertheless deeply troubling that they should have been made at all. The IPCC reports have always been presented to the public as if carved onto tablets of stone; any who questioned the findings were dismissed as "deniers," a very nasty way of implying they were comparable to Holocaust deniers.

In parallel, there's the so-called ClimateGate scandal of leaked emails from the influential Climate Research Unit at Britain's University of East Anglia. A special panel of five experts is due to begin its inquiry next week.

In fact, most of these emails can be explained. One set is different: it's pretty clear that scientists at the university refused wholly legitimate requests from skeptical researchers for the background data from which various claims of climate change were derived.

This apparent breach of scientific rules and ethics is amplified by another one. In all the mistakes in IPCC reports – the best-known being the forecast that the Himalayan glaciers will vanish by 2035, based almost literally upon no evidence at all – there is one clear and deeply disturbing characteristic.

They all convey the clear impression that global warming will happen far sooner and far more destructively than the actual evidence justifies.

This isn't science; it's outright propaganda. In these instances (one claim is based on random interviews of mountain climbers by an MA student), science, always so impressive to non-experts, is being used not to determine the truth but to sell a predetermined bias."

Whoa! Condescension, sarcasm, mockery, accusations of propoganda. Pinch me - he is still talking about the AGW alarmists, isn't he? Indeed he is. And he is not finished yet. Here goes Al Gore under the bus. (He won't be the last.)

"It's one thing for a former politician, Al Gore, to include in his film An Inconvenient Truth, a graph – the so-called "hockey stick" graph – showing, quite inaccurately, constant global temperatures for millennia and then a sudden upward tick from the Industrial Revolution on. It's quite another for scientists to allow themselves to be used in the same way."

Ouch! There goes the hockey stick graph. And Gore's scare-mongering film. And Gore too.

"This doesn't mean this is a conspiracy in which climate change scientists have taken part. It is important to remember that the mistakes really are very few in number. At least as is known so far."

Right. It is not a conspiracy. It is worse. It is the corruption of science by political advocacy. (And did you get that little zinger "At least as is known so far"?)

"It means, rather, that scientists are humans. Some, once committed to a cause, plunge on to do all they can to try to realize it. Some are careerists, partial to the promotions, research grants, invitations to all-star conferences, that go to those on the "right" side of the issue. Some sometimes get out on the wrong side of the bed.

Here, another important qualification must be made. A number of distinguished scientists are on the opposite side, among the climate change skeptics. Professionalism, this is to say, always wins out.

What needs to happen now is for all climate scientists to go back to being just that, scientists. This will rob IPCC reports of a good deal of drama – and political effectiveness. There will be fewer apocalyptic projections and many more, "It is likely that ..." and "trends suggest ..."

Another important change would be if the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, who has refused to apologize for the mistakes he let through, were to be moved, quietly, back to whichever laboratory he emerged from."

Oh, there goes Pachauri under the bus too. What is the count now? Oh yes, two Nobel Peace Prize winners under the bus in one column. When the Star decides to break its silence it does so in style.

I'd say that this is a very fair and balanced column - far better than one could ever have expected from Canada's Liberal paper. I have to say that I'm blown away; if hell hasn't actually frozen over yet, I'm sure the C02 levels are going through the roof and it's just a matter of time!

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