The Climate Change Soap Opera so far

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 7, 2011

There’s been a huge row in the catastrophic anthropogenic climate change community over the past week or so. Helpfully, David M. Hoffer in a comment over at Watts Up With That has helpfully summarized the story so far. [Some minor spelling mistakes have been corrected.

Some of the following is conjecture based on circumstantial evidence, but in my mind, no other logical explanation has arisen:

o Spencer and Braswell published a paper (SB11) which looked at satellite measurements of the earth’s radiative balance and concluded that the climate models were underestimating, to a significant degree, the amount of heat energy being lost to space.

o The paper was properly peer reviewed, flaws discovered in the peer review process which were corrected, and the paper was published in Remote Sensing.

o A few weeks later, the Editor-In-Chief of Remote Sensing, one Wolfgang Wagner, resigned, citing his objections to SB11 as the reason. Upon review, the reasons detailed in his resignation article on the Remote Sensing web site made little or no sense. Not one single fact presented in the SB11 paper was refuted, Wagner confirmed that the reviewers were qualified and from prestigious universities, speculating only that they “may” have held skeptical positions. The wording of the resignation, and the surrounding circumstances, suggest that Wagner attempted to have the SB11 paper retracted, failed to do so, and being unable to impose his will on Remote Sensing, resigned his position as Editor-In-Chief.

o The only portion of Wagner’s resignation that appears to be genuine is his claim that SB11 was not credible because the modeling community was not consulted about the results. While this appears to be a genuine statement on his part, the logic suggested is a fallacy. SB11 was the result of actual measurements. Models are beholden to actual measurements, not the other way around. Models are simulations of the real world, and when measurements of the real world are made, they stand on their own, because they are, in fact, measurements of the real world, not computer simulations of how some scientists think the world really works.

o Upon further investigation, it became apparent that Wagner’s position at Remote Sensing was largely that of figure head. His full time employment and day to day job is with the Vienna University of Technology, where he holds a position that stands at the cross roads of two important disciplines. These are listed on the VUoT web site as “remote sensing” and “environmental modeling and 3D modeling”. Wagner is listed as “physical modeling” and is depicted as the centre piece by which the three disciplines are integrated with each other.

o This makes the following logic chain plausible, and in the absence of any other logical explanation, likely. The SB11 paper presents actual measured data showing that the models are over estimating global warming, discrediting much of the CAGW propaganda in the process. Beholden to the modeling “camp” upon which cooperation with for his day to day job depends, Wagner was pressured into attempting to have the SB11 paper blocked or retracted. Having failed to do so, Wagner resigned, and his resignation article reads far more as an apology to the climate modeling community than as a professional resignation, and is clearly meant as an attempt to appease the climate modeling community which SB11 so clearly destroys the credibility of.

o Not long after Wagner’s resignation, Kevin Trenberth, a leading light in the climate modeling community, initiated a smear campaign against Dr. Roy Spencer. The smear campaign included any number of criticisms of Spencer, Braswell, and (for some unknown reason as he was not involved in SB11) Dr. Christie. But astoundingly, not a single word about the science itself in SB11. More astoundingly still, Trenberth was not content to simply smear Spencer, Braswell, and Christie. He went on to brag about having received a personal apology from the Editor-In-Chief and the Publisher of Remote Sensing.

o Kevin Trenberth is, amongst other things, the chair (by acclamation, which shows his clout in the modeling community) of the prestigious GEWEX initiative which seeks to model moisture levels on a global basis. Wagner in turn heads the soil moisture global modeling initiative at VUoT, which is directly beholden to GEWEX for day to day cooperation and integration of data with modeling, and without GEWEX support, Wagner’s soil moisture database would be in jeopardy from a credibility stand point, if not from a funding standpoint.

o Logic dictates that this chain of events supports still more conclusions for which there is no alternative explanation that reasonably fits the facts and sequence of events. For starters, the wording of Trenberth’s smear campaign suggests that the Editor-In-Chief and the Publisher are two different people, when in fact, they are one and the same. Only a single apology was received, and it was from Wagner and only Wagner. The editorial board of Remote Sensing has clearly decided to stand behind their publication in general, and SB11 in particular. Trenberth in the meanwhile gloats that he has received and apology from Wagner, implies that it is from more than just Wagner when it clearly isn’t, and through his various comments, seems to be taking pride in destroying both SB11 and Wagner without raising a single solitary scientific fact in the process. Wagner’s resignation and apology are both panic stricken attempts to appease someone with more power than himself and regain that person’s favour.

o Trenberth’s one and only sop to actual science is to claim that the forthcoming paper from Dessler would eviscerate SB11. So now, here in this thread, we have excerpts from the paper, and the weight of many extremely qualified researchers to rely upon for analysis. The short version? Dessler’s paper makes a mockery of science, the scientific process, and flies in the face of the facts themselves.

o The Dessler paper is founded upon criticism of statements and claims never made by SB11. In some places it actually refutes itself. The analysis is restricted to a time period in which almost no measurable change in temperature has occurred, and concludes that SB11 is wrong as a result, and the models right. the simplest of persons should be able to see straight through this concoction of misrepresented facts and logic. The models have all predicted massive temperature increases over that exact time period, and have ALL BEEN WRONG. To suggest that measurements showing WHY they are wrong can be negated by the fact that the time period in question exhibited no significant change IN DIRECT OPPOSITION TO WHAT THE MODELS PREDICTED is repugnant beyond words. They may as well have told a man dying of thirst in the middle of the Sahara that it is pouring rain, and when he gasps that he sees no rain, just blue sky and sand, respond back that his perception of the real world must be wrong, and had he bothered to consult with the models, he would be able to understand, silly fool that he is, that it is in fact pouring rain.

o WaterGate was a cover up which lent its name to many cover ups since then, possibly the most notable being the ClimateGate emails. But this entire affair goes well beyond a cover up. Wagner’s resignation and his apology to Trenberth are clearly the results of a cowardly attempt to appease the climate modeling community in general, and Trenberth in particular. In doing so, Wagner has destroyed his own credibility as a scientist, and exposed the power that Trenberth and his allies are prepared to wield in order that their climate models be accepted as reality, while reality itself is discredited. In neither WaterGate nor ClimateGate
however, did the authors of the dirty deeds gloat, in fact brag, publicly, about what they did. Trenberth’s smear campaign, and Dessler’s idiotic attack on things that SB11 never said, while strictly avoiding what SB11 DID say, are not a cover up. They are a demand that the man dying of thirst in the Sahara believe that it is raining because their computer models say it is, and that he should apologise to them for both dying and being thirsty.

o Trenberth has publicly admitted that his models cannot account for “the missing heat”, a matter which he dubbed a “travesty”. Faced with clear measurements of exactly where the missing heat is going, the one option that Trenberth refuses to consider, that the heat is escaping to space instead of being retained as his models claim, Trenberth has stooped low enough to scratch the belly of a snake. He, along with Dessler, have proclaimed the very lack of warming that disproves their dearly beloved models is at the same time proof that their models are right in the face of actual measurements showing not only that they are wrong, but where the “missing heat” they themselves admit has gone. Nixon had the guts to proclaim on national television that he wasn’t a crook. Not even Nixon would have had the guts to proclaim himself a crook, and innocent as a consequence of being a crook.

o This is no “gate” nor “travesty”. Stronger words than that are needed.

You can read more about this at Watts Up With That’s page linking to a series of posts regarding this issue. Steve McIntyre of Hockey Stick fame also weighs in on some of the alarmists’ problems over at Climate Audit.

All of this, of course is inside baseball stuff. The media has accepted the evils of the burning of “fossil fuels” as holy writ and there is absolutely no amount of proof that will dissuade them from it. (Remember “The Day After Tomorrow?” Even another Ice Age would be evidence of global warming.) Despite the “science is settled” mantra, climate science hasn’t been science for quite some time. It’s not falsifiable. It’s a religion.

G.K. Chesterton famously said: “When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything.”

Despite the fact that an increasing number of people around the world have tired of the incessant cries of wolf from the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming community—largely due to the Climategate e-mails which included such hits as “hide the decline” and “The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't“—the media continues to insist that anyone who fails to acknowledge their truth is somehow unfit for office.

I caught the very tail end of the MSNBC broadcast of the GOP candidates debate and afterwards the first words out of Chris “Tingles” Matthews mouth were feigned shock that Texas Gov. Rick Perry was “hostile” to science because he’s not convinced by the climate models.

Over at tech site Ars Technica (the tech stuff is good, the climate stuff is indistinguishable from “real climate”), their climate change water carrier, John Timmer, posted an article lamenting the fact that politicians are anti-science. By this, of course, he means failing to bow at the altar of human-caused climate change.

Let me pass this anti-science claim off to Jonah Goldberg:

Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for “science”? Why can’t the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain? Or the distribution of cognitive abilities among the sexes at the extreme right tail of the bell curve? Or if that’s too upsetting, how about dividing the line between those who are pro- and anti-science along the lines of support for geoengineering? Or — coming soon — the role cosmic rays play in cloud formation? Why not make it about support for nuclear power? Or Yucca Mountain? Why not deride the idiots who oppose genetically modified crops, even when they might prevent blindness in children?

Some of these examples are controversial, others tendentious, but all are just as fair as the way the Left framed embryonic stem cell research and all are more relevant than questions about evolution. (Quick: If Obama changed his mind about evolution tomorrow and became a creationist, what policies would change? I’ll wait.)

The point is that the Left considers itself the undisputed champion of “science,” but there are scads of issues where they take un-scientific points of view.

Sure they can cite dissidents scientists — just as conservatives can — on this or that issue. But everyone knows that when the science directly threatens the Left’s pieties, it’s the science that must bend — or break. During the Larry Summers fiasco at Harvard, comments delivered in the classic spirit of open inquiry and debate cost Summers his job. Actual scientists got the vapors because he violated the principles not of science but of liberalism. During the Gulf oil spill, the Obama administration dishonestly claimed that its independent experts supported a drilling moratorium. They emphatically did not. The president who campaigned on basing his policies on “sound science” ignored his own hand picked experts. According to the GAO, he did something very similar when he shut down Yucca Mountain. His support for wind and solar energy, as you suggest,  isn’t based on science but on faith. And that faith has failed him dramatically.

The idea that conservatives are anti-science is self-evident and self-pleasing liberal hogwash. I see no reason why conservatives should even argue the issue on their terms when it’s so clearly offered in bad faith in the first place.

Frankly, I’m sick of this argument. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Humans are evil (and Republicans especially so). We destroy the environment. We put all sorts of bad things in the air. Let’s do everything they wanted to do under Kyoto with CO2 emissions, but cut them twice as much.

According to the all powerful models, we would lower the average global temperature by how much? 1 degree C? 1.5 degrees C?

And it would cost how many trillions of dollars and plunge how many people in third world nations how much deeper into poverty?

Back to Goldberg’s rant here for a moment. Just as Goldberg references a hypothetical change of Obama’s beliefs from evolutionist to creationist and asks what policy changes would flow out of that, if you disconnected the “science” of human caused global warming from the associated policy changes that
its proponents are seeking, then what does the belief matter?

If Gov. Rick Perry said he believed in human-caused, catastrophic global warming, but insisted that he was still going to burn more coal, support fracking for natural gas and more oil drilling, would that then be OK in the eyes of Timmer and Matthews?

If the answer is no, then it becomes obvious that it’s really not about the science at all.


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