Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Climate: Making sense of the debate

To date there has been at least six enquiries spawned by the release of emails from the CRU at east Anglia. The result of a police enquiry into the release of the emails from CRU is still awaited.

Later this month an enquiry into the enquiries will be released.  Andrew Montford, author of the Hockey Stick Illusion and the Bishop Hill blog, has been commissioned by the Global Warming Policy Foundation to review the enquiries.  His report is due to be published on 15th September.

The reports themselves are part of the problem and illustrate the words of Matt Ridley which I quoted last week:
 "One of the most shocking things for those who champion science, as I do, has been the sight of the science Establishment reacting to each scandal in climate science with indifference or contempt."

Characterised by a lack of independence and a lack of accuracy they have added to the lack of credibility of climate science and the Establishment which has sought to shore up the indefensible.

Last week I made reference to Uncertain Science, a sort of documentary by Roger Harrabin, the BBC science correspondent.  The second (and concluding) part was broadcast yesterday and you can listen to it here.

Roger continues the to suggest that the uncertainties were exaggerated.  He continues to give space to some sceptics and even at one point challenges a Met Office representative for giving an 'alarmist message'.

But this is no dispassionate, neutral analysis of where the debate is.  For example, he sets up the straw man argument ('sceptics say you can't decipher anything at all' - well perhaps some do) and laments the polarisation of the debate (and is prejudicial in his quotes of the Heartland conference, blames the sceptics for the polarity, etc).

All in all there is a lack of understanding of what drives the scepticism of many sceptics.  He remains wedded to the view that big oil and sceptic lobbyists are just trying to sow confusion.  It is this misunderstanding of motives that suggest he, and many others like him just don't get it.

For my part, the inability of many climate scientists and policy makers to recognise that the science is not settled and that the alleged consensus is manufactured by gate keeping and manipulation, is myopic.

Ridley's comments above ring true. After following the (mainly perverse) progress of the six enquiries I keep wondering when we will emerge from this Alice in Wonderland.

Perhaps Montford's review of the reviews will bring some perspective.

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