Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Richard Tol in the Irish Times on the IPCC

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0118/1224262564923.html:

Damaged credibility doesn't alter climate facts

15 comments:

plazamoyua said...

This may be related:

Why Hasn’t Earth Warmed as Much as Expected?

P Gosselin said...

Well, just what are the climate facts?
Scientists have failed to ascertain them.
Do you know what the facts are?
One side says that CO2 is a minor climate driver, and thus not worth the billions and trillions to cap. Another side claims that unless we drastically curb CO2 emmissions, the global temperature will spiral out of control.
Who's right?
Well, lately some beliefs have been confirmed: 1) The data and publication of science have been manipulated, 2) the temperature measurement system on the surface of the planet is lousy and cannot be relied on and 3) temperature reconstructions have been extremely dubious and thus not credible. There's a million tons of evidence to support this. There's no need to get back into that.

This all leads me to believe that CO2 is indeed a minor driver and it's not worth billions and trillions to try and cap. Facts cannot be asserted by political authority and bullying. They have to be asserted by a convincing body of evidence, and not tricks and threats.

Myself, I reject calls demanding I change my lifestyle. What for? Where's the data?
Up to now I've only seen tricks and a lot of dishonest science...almost exclusively from the alarmist side. In my view the whole climate reaearch industry needs to be shut down. It has wasted far more money than any research in history. $100 billion could have educated the entire continent of Africa. Too many crooks in climate research. Yes that's right - CROOKS.
If I seem upset, it is because I am. Look at Africa and look at the climate science industry. As a taxpayer, I do not like what I've seen.

P Gosselin said...

I'm not saying that no good science is being done in climate study.
Actually most of the best science is coming from shoestring operations...without all those extravagant billions and prestigious panels. It's like the Pareto principle turned on its head.

Anonymous said...

" These scientists had made only minor contributions to the science of climate change. "

Does Richard Tol not know that Phil 'hide the decline' Jones was lead author of IPCC chapter 3, the chapter about temperature changes?

Also, Tol's article does not seem to address the question in the title.

Richard Tol said...

@Anonymous
Phil Jones was a central figure in communicating the science to the general public, rather than in the science itself.

My title was "A bad winter for environmentalists". The editor put this title on, which covers the second paragraph only.

Stan said...

Damaged credibility doesn't change the facts, but of course, nothing any human says or writes changes reality.

As for our UNDERSTANDING of what that climate reality is, the damaged credibility means that we will never, ever again listen to the charlatans who tell us that the science is settled, that the IPCC assessments represent quality science, or that peer review does anything to insure accuracy (at least in climate science).

Anonymous said...

@6 - First - did the communistic manifesto change reality? Second: who is "we"? Third: How do you determine if a "charlatan" is speaking?

Richard Tol said...

@Stan
Fully agreed. The average voter has little patience for the subtleties of climate research. All they see is a broken hockey stick and a gentleman with his fingers in the cookie jar.

Anonymous said...

P. Gosselin. I do not like what I see, either. I see people like you calling "crooks" to the whole community of climatologists. I do not like to hear that there are tons of evidence of dishonest science. You might not know that, but at least the vast majority of climatologists I know are not crooks. They do science. They don't fabricate facts. The simply use evidence, observed facts, scientific theories and derive sensible inferences from that information. You don't like what you see, neither do I. Just think a little bit before calling crooks to a whole community of persons, because perhaps the real crook-ers are just people like you.

Best regards.

Anonymous said...

Phil Jones was lead author of an IPCC section. It's good to see that recognized as being minor.

Richard Tol said...

@Anonymous
IPCC authors are nominated by their government and appointed by civil servants.

While some governments take care to put their best brains forward, other governments sponsor academics because of their political colour.

An IPCC authorship does not bestow any credibility until you know the reasons for nomination and appointment. Those decisions are made behind closed doors.

Generally speaking, an IPCC authorship can mean anything.

Dennis Bray said...

There is a small book called Bad Science which some readers might appreciate. The focus is ona broader scope than climate science.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Science-Ben-Goldacre/dp/000728487X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264062913&sr=1-1

Stan said...

Anonymous (re: communist manifesto),

Try to stay on topic. The discussion is about the reality of the earth's climate and man's quest to ascertain the scientific principles that can accurately describe it. The science of climate is not affected by what anyone writes. The words of some scientist do not change the physical realities. This is the point that Tol is making when he says that damaged credibility of certain scientists does nothing to change the facts of climate.

My point is that Tol's truism re: credibility applies more broadly to all of science. Nothing anyone says changes the scientific reality.

The communist manifesto never changed the physical reality of science (despite Stalin's efforts).

As for the course of governmental policymaking, however, credibility is critical --the credibility of those who rigged the science and the credibility of those who failed to 'police' their bad behavior.

As for your other questions, 'we' is the public. And charlatan in this context is defined in my comments -- anyone who says the science is settled.

Stan said...

Richard Tol,

That may well be all the average voter sees. But the problems in climate science go far deeper and far wider. Mann's work is a mess, but the more important issue is the failure of anyone in the field to check his mess. Briffa's reliance on a single mighty tree to reconstruct temperatures is bad science, but the failure (for ten years!) to require transparency is a much bigger problem.

Anthony Watts' discoveries of the grossly incompetent siting of our thermometers is an enormous black eye for climate science, but the genuinely shocking issues are the failure of any scientist even to think to inquire and the lack of interest in fixing the problems after they were revealed.

Climate science suffers from a near terminal failure of transparency or replication. The stats and code are often an amateurish nightmare, but no one seems interested in cleaning it up. For years, the failure to abide by the scientific method has been documented, but no one seems interested in restoring the field to competence.

You've just touched on a small part of the surface. The rot goes all the way to the core.

Stan said...

A suggestion for a topic you may want to discuss --

I am getting the sense that a lot of climate scientists "don't get it" when it comes to the problems in the science that the general public is upset about. [I understand that generalizing about what the 'public' is upset about is fraught with problems.] I'm not saying that everyone can articulate all that is bothersome, but at the core of the unease is a sense that the scientists don't recognize the seriousness of the issues.

The failure to require transparency and the absence of any meaningful audits or replication (of studies, or dataset adjustments, or anything else) is a huge problem. Climate science has serious deficiencies in overall quality control. Some scientists, in comments at various web sites, have dismissed the issue by simply saying, "that's just how science is done." We get a flavor of that attitude in the CRU e-mails.

Wrong. So wrong. Apparently they don't understand that climate science is completely different from digging dinosaurs or investigating butterfly mating. The taxpayers are spending tens of billions of dollars a year. Laws and regulations are being debated whose costs range into the trillions of dollars and whose impact will drastically alter the lives, liberty and property of billions of people. When those are the stakes, it's reasonable for the voters to expect that someone might consider doing a little quality control. It really doesn't seem too much to ask.

If I were a climate scientist, I wouldn't be worried that more members of the general public would become familiar with the details of the hockey stick and the CRU scandal. I'd be worried that the public will find out that quality control has been completely absent from the development of the field. And just how shoddy and sloppy a lot of the work has been.

If that happens, science in general and climate science in particular are going to suffer dramatically.