The Inquisition of Climate Science

“…in the denial of global warming, we are witnessing the most vicious, and so far most successful, attack on science in history.” Those strong words are from James Lawrence Powell in his recent book The Inquisition of Climate Science. The book chronicles the campaign of denial which has resulted in the widespread failure of public understanding of climate science and the long delay in addressing what is now an urgent and pressing threat to the human future.

Powell, a former geology professor, college president and museum director who also served as a member of the US National Science Board for twelve years, is rightly disturbed at the treatment meted out to climate science. The evidence of global warming has accumulated over the past twenty years until it has become overwhelming. Yet climate scientists have been denounced and ridiculed, their ethics and honesty have been questioned, and Congressional committees have subjected them to Kafkaesque interrogation. A sustained attempt has been made to attempt to neutralise a whole field of science. Science denial is so widespread that “reason itself is threatened”. Continue reading “The Inquisition of Climate Science”

Gathering nuts in May: The Business Roundtable and the Toxic Avenger

Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report this morning suggested that ousted ACT party leader and climate denialist Rodney Hide may be given some bauble of office at the Business Roundtable. But is he qualified? Can Rodney be the auctioneer to sell off Christchurch? Can Rodney’s ‘toxic’ brand fit with that of the BRT when it comes to climate change? You might very well think it does.

Submissions have just closed for the 2011 Review of the Emissions Trading Scheme. (This review was built into the 2002 Act to prepare for the 2012 end of the Kyoto commitment period). Counting the 2008 Select Committee , the 2009 Review Select Committee , and the 2009 Review of the review Select Committee , this is the 4th time in 3 years that the overall ETS has been looked at (plus a couple of Select Committees looking at components of the ETS: eg Forestry ). If they keep asking the question again and again maybe they will get the answer they want.

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Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the SandJohn Cook’s website Skeptical Science is held in high regard for its patient examination of the arguments put up by climate change deniers and its marshalling of the answers mainstream climate science provides. The result is quietly devastating as the scientific inadequacy of the deniers’ arguments becomes apparent.

Cook has now collaborated with environmental scientist Haydn Washington in a book which puts denial in all its forms under the spotlight of reason and challenges readers to recognise it for the delusion it is. Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand not only focuses on the deniers who claim that the science is wrong but also, as the subtitle indicates, conducts a telling examination of the full range of societal denial. Some denial is active and aggressive, but the persistent refusal of society to adequately face up to the reality of climate change is also a form of denial, one which the book addresses with urgency.

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Return of the Climate Clueless™: there’s none so blind…

Sir Peter Gluckman, scientific adviser to NZ prime minister John Key, recently published a discussion paper entitled Towards better use of evidence in policy formation (pdf). It’s an interesting read for anyone who has ever noted the sometimes large discrepancy between political dogma and policy outcomes. Sciblogger Peter Griffin went so far as to describe it as “possibly one of the most important [papers] he has released thus far”.

Over in the land of the Climate Clueless™ however, Richard “Climate Conversation” Treadgold has taken Gluckman’s paper as a cue to demand evidence of climate change. Treadgold appears to have forgotten that one of Sir Peter’s first acts following his appointment was to review the evidence and issue a statement on the subject, and is perhaps still smarting from Gluckman’s comments on climate denial last year. He therefore issues this stern challenge:

I would remind Sir Peter that evidence is required to establish the following key factors in the global warming debate — evidence that has not surfaced so far. We have been looking for evidence to show:

  1. The existence of a current unprecedented global warming trend.
  2. That the greenhouse effect is powerful enough to endanger the environment.
  3. A causal link between human activities and dangerously high global temperatures.
  4. That climate models have a high level of skill in predicting the climate.
  5. A causal link between atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and global temperatures.
  6. A causal link between global warming and the gentle rise in sea level.

Time to play some whack-a-mole…

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Why dealing with climate change is difficult (spinach tarts and ice cream)

Let’s be clear about this: the failure to take adequate action to reduce emissions is not because of any weakness in our understanding of the science of climate. It has its roots instead in human psychology and sociology, as George Marshall explains in this series of three videos — The Ingenious Ways We Avoid Believing In Climate Change — a recording of a keynote address he gave to a conference in 2009. Marshall is a good presenter — he illustrates his points well (spinach tarts and ice cream feature prominently) — and provides a very good and concise overview of why many people prefer to ignore the climate problem. Whatever your views on the seriousness of the climate problem or how we should act to deal with it, you’ll find something in his talk to challenge your preconceptions. Parts two and three are below the fold…

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