"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" ClimateGate (My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception) - TT's Lost in Tokyo

ClimateGate (My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception)

[I note that Jeffrey Tucker has kindly put a post linking to this from the main Mises Economics Blog pages: A Libertarian Green Responds to Climategate.  Readers are invited to note the comments over there, and to comment where their fancy may suit them.]

Aaah, the Great Climate Hack!

I`m flattered by a back-handed request to weigh in - with something "public, humble and honest" - with my thoughts on the ramifications of the mass of emails hacked from the UK East Anglia University Climate Research Unit.

Well, I`ll try, despite the fact that, in the case of this Rorschach blot, people are not only starting with their own predilections and views, but given the reams of commentary already written by others, people aren`t really even commenting on the same Rorshach blot.

[May my readers try to be honest with themselves as well. I`ve been holding back, in part because the parameters of the story are quite large, but also simply not to spoil the fun as calm, reasoning climate scientists at LvMI enjoy a "delicious" bout of self-congratulatory -"see, we knew all along that `climate change` exists only in the hearts of perfidious, conspiring men!" I mean, what`s the point of weighing in where minds are already made up?]

My take?  A few basic points, and maybe a few links at the end:

  • Whatever GCH may reveal about certain climate scientists or their behavior, it does not, of course, alter the climate itself. Nor does it have any significant  impact on the enormous array of data across the world that points to ongoing climate change, a human role in it, and concerns about the possible climate impacts as we proceed to double and triple the atmospheric levels of CO2 by combusting the world`s accessible fossil fuels.
  • The Climate Hack is certainly egg on the face of some climate scientists - although this has been spun ridiculously out of context (much criticism is clearly simply wrong, though those who find the whole thing "delicious" have a tough time looking past the sources they prefer to read) - but the implication that the science is nothing but a conspiracy is an obvious fantasy. The political amateurisness of the scientists alone tells us that. (If any readers honestly need help in finding their way through the fog - self-deluded or deliberate - of the "skeptics" here, please let me know.)
  • Austrians/libertarians already knew that much of the climate science is politicized, especially here, not simply because of public funding, but chiefly because all parties - fossil fuel investors seeking to protect a generous status quo, enviros, politicians & bureaucrats, and those seeking greater advantage or more investment climate certainty - are seeking to steer government in particular directions, in ways that will significantly affect all of us. A further factor in such politicization is the simple difficulty that laymen (and scientists) have in wrapping their own heads around the climate science, and for which personal confirmation may take a lifetime. Personal predilections to hate "environazis"and the like, on the one hand, or to disdain evil capitalists, on the other, has nearly everyone looking for whatever scrap of science confirms their existing views and/or suits their political preferences.
  • The discord among scientists and attempts at gate-keeping are part and parcel of science - publicly-funded or not - but because of the political importance of climate science, we need greater, not less, transparency. The apparent efforts at gate-keeping (seeking to influence what gets published in peer-reviewed journals and what appears in IPCC reports) is what seems most objectionable, but there has been plenty of disagreement and change in views even in the dominant view; the science is and will always remain unsettled. All dissenters have found ways to make their views known, most of which have been examined and found wanting, and few dissenters have mutually coherent views.What has happened is that scientists who are extremely concerned about climate change have felt that political action is needed, and that dissenting views are dangerous distractions, and have made efforts to limit "distractions". Such a belief appears to have been well-founded, but acting on it in this way a strategic mistake. Greater openness is required for publicly-funded research, particularly here where there is a strong, established and resistant rent-seeking class that seeks to minimize the science and to distract public discussion. While the efforts of climate scientists to provide data to and to address the arguments of "skeptics" would necessarily entail a distracting amount of attention, it is apparent that they simply need to grin and bear it.
  • Much - though not all - of the "skepticism" is clearly revealed as an extended, deliberate campaign by fossil fuel interests, dressed up in part by scientists who are non-experts in the field they criticize, with support by "conservatives" and "libertarians" who prefer a massive unmanaged meddling with global ecosystems (and defense of a government-entangled, pro-fossil fuel firms status quo) over a likely expansion of government.
  • The controversy - and the hurdles it raises in the legislative/policy agenda - presents an opportunity for those who  prefer market-friendly policies to shift the discussion away from the current porky, bureaucrat-friendly cap and trade package that even climate scientists like NASA`s James Hansen and enviros widely disdain. 
  • International cooperation will continue, because informed citizens, corporations and leaders worldwide all desire such action. Efforts at cooperation will continue to be bedevilled by gamesmanship issues common with open-access resources - over fairness, efficiency, good will and verifiability.
  • Domestic climate legislation and regulation remain in the cards and will eventually pass, in one form or another - not simply because science is persuasive and the risks of inaction high, but also because a coalition of firms and gate-keepers want such legislation. We are witnessing a fight over government between certain powerful fossil fuel interests and a coalition of other interests (and the politicians that cater to them all); the fossil fuel interests are fated to lose their long predominance.

Humbly and honestly,

Tom

PS:  Here are a few pieces of commentary/reporting that I consider worth a read (this is by no means complete or organized) :

Gavin Schmidt, Unsettled Science, RealClimate, December 3 2009

Andrew Freedman, Expert: E-mails show perils of 'activist' science, Washington Post, December 4, 2009

John Fleck, The Climate Emails, The Albuquerque Journal Wednesday, 02 December 2009

BBC, UN body wants probe of climate e-mail row Friday, 4 December 2009

ANDREW C. REVKIN, A Climate Scientist on ‘Data Mining’ for Dirt, December 2, 2009 New York Times

ANDREW C. REVKIN, Critic of ‘Climate Oligarchy’ Defends Case for CO2-Driven Warming, December 2, 2009,

Katherine Goldstein, ClimateGate: The 6 Most Dubious Claims About The Supposed "Global Warming Hoax", Huffington Post, 12- 2-09

ANDREW C. REVKIN, After Emergence of Climate Files, an Uncertain Forecast, December 1, 2009, 10:56 am

Andrew Freedman, Scientist: Consensus withstands climate e-mail flap, Capital Hill Weather Gang, Washington Post, December 1, 2009

Roger Harrabin, Harrabin's Notes: Debating the IPCC, BBC, Monday, 30 November 2009

ANDREW C. REVKIN,  A Climate Scientist Who Engages Skeptics, November 27, 2009, New York Times

Andrew Freedman Climate scientist criticizes skeptics, press, November 24, 2009

Andrew Freedman, Science historian reacts to hacked climate e-mails, November 23, 2009

Bud Ward, Climate Scientists’ E-mails Hacked, Posted; So What Does it All Mean for the Climate? The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, November 22, 2009

More later; I didn`t really bookmark the best of these.

 

 

 

Published Fri, Dec 4 2009 6:32 PM by TokyoTom

Comments

# "The Climes, They Are A-Changin`"; Or, Dylan Does Copenhagen

Sunday, December 6, 2009 2:51 AM by TT`s Lost in Tokyo

Apologies, but I can`t resist: I saw a news item earlier today - "Copenhagen climate summit borrows

# re: My Climate Confession; or, Do "Climate Change Emails Stop Glaciers From Melting"?

Sunday, December 6, 2009 8:24 AM by nskinsella

Tom--heroic! Keep on "evolving"! I suggest you watch the NGC The Earth channel.nationalgeographic.com/.../earth-the-biography special. Shows big trends. makes them look silly.

# re: My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception

Monday, December 7, 2009 3:32 AM by TokyoTom

Stephan: Heroic? Surely you jest; I`ve said little here that I haven`t said previously.

# More lunacy? James Murdoch/News Corp. argues for "Clean energy conservatives can embrace"

Monday, December 7, 2009 7:39 AM by TT`s Lost in Tokyo

Readers might also want to take note of this December 4 recent WaPo op-ed by James Murdoch , chairman

# A Libertarian Green Responds to Climategate

Monday, December 7, 2009 9:24 AM by Economics

Ever since "climategate" broke, I've wondered how our own climate gadfly, Tokyo Tom, would

# re: My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception

Monday, December 7, 2009 12:57 PM by liberty student

This seems to be a case of, if you want to believe it badly enough, and point the finger at others, you might be able to avoid genuine introspection.

This post was mostly empty rhetoric (not unique on this blog), appeals to populism and authority.  I want to know, does TT trust the work of Jones and Mann prior to these emails, and does he still trust this work after?  If not, then can we toss out all of the derivative work?

TT, you didn't address anything substantive in the emails, simply glossing over them, and assuming they are an outlier.

But if Mann, Jones and the other climategate emailers are outliers, who is the IPCC leaning on?

And if these men have been blocking genuine scientific inquiry, and fighting against transparency and open debate, then how can you trust any of the other data provided to the IPCC, which is not wholly and completely in the public domain, including complete raw data sets?

It seems to me, that every time raw data is released (which is what Jones was deliberately obstructing), the science is not settled, as the genuine debate can start, and the error checking becomes sincere.

The difference between an alarmist and a skeptic, is that science is inherently based on skepticism and inquiry.  That is very hard to do, when the alarmists are monopolizing the data, funding and reporting, then destroying or altering data that does not agree with their preconceptions.

Sorta like what you have done in this blog post.  Deride and ignore anything which could challenge your position, instead of thoughtfully and honestly checking both your premises, and the premises of your critics.

A courageous position, pro-environment, pro-liberty, pro-science, would be for you to demand absolute transparency from each and every climate researcher, and every iota of data.  When it is all on the table, for everyone to scrutinize, then we can start forming meaningful conclusions, not before.

FYI, the appeals to big oil and who is getting paid is nonsense, particularly from a so-called Austrian.  You know full well, as a matter of methodological individualism, that the economic incentive is there for everyone.  It is blatantly dishonest to point it out only in the skeptic camp as I and others have noted in your ad hominem attacks on Bob Murphy.  Your attack on other Austrians, and then this wrist slap post for the proven liars and scoundrels only continues to undermine any seriousness people might have for your writing.

Climategate is a big deal.  Now, everyone sees these little emperors have no clothes, and thoughtful citizens want to know if their science is bad, then where is the good science that the climate agenda is based on, and how soon can we check and scrutinize that work?

If you're sincere about science and facts, you will be asking this question as well.

# re: My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 2:32 AM by TokyoTom

ls, thanks for the engagement. No time to respond now, other than to note that you ignore the opportunities presented by the behavior and preferences of others.

# More PR-novice scientists bring BB guns to the war over climate policy; fossil-fuel interests and "skeptics" tremble

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 10:58 AM by TT's Lost in Tokyo

My pal Stephan Kinsella has pestered me about the recent letter in Science by a bunch of the world's