Apologies would be nice

By Ken Perrott 18/06/2010 45

Blimey! This whole climate change issue is so political – you have to be very careful what you say.

Climate scientists, especially, are being quoted out of context, or even misquoted. Remember the distortion of Phil Jones’ comment on the increase in global temperature in the last decade not being statistically significant?

I guess that’s the nature of a political mind set which wishes to find evidence (or distort evidence) to support a preconceived position. Rather than derive a conclusions from the facts. (I might start calling that the “theological” method).

Mike Hulme

The Deep Climate blog discussed a recent distortion of a quote from Mike Hulme, professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA). This was just a warning that it was counterproductive to make excessive claims of consensus. The IPCC reviews of the literature on climate change draws conclusions about the overall picture but this does not mean that every single statement in these reports is signed off by every single author of the papers reviewed, or every single reviewer. (The quote is in his review paper Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?)

Seems a quite reasonable comment to me.

But climate deniers have latched on to his comments, taken out of context, to produce headlines like The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider. This from Lawrence Solomon executive director of a right-wing, anti-science group Energy probe. He uses the out of context quote to argue that scientific claims of human caused global warming are supported by only a few dozen experts.

And the denier echo chamber took over. Twitter deniers rapidly reproduced ther claim with tweets like “The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider’ Mike Hulme; U of East Anglia”; “That’s big! A prominent IPCC member says there is no general agreement on whether global warming exists”; and “The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider.” The bloggers got onto it. For example Gateway Pundits, another Conservative US blog, declared: Top UN Scientist: There Never Was Consensus on Global Warming — Only a Few Dozen Believed It.

It even got to New Zealand. The local blog Not PC trumpeted Only a few dozen’ IPCC ’experts’ support their so-called consensus! And Richard Treadgold at the Climate Conversation Group breathlessly exclaimed:

“This is as stunning as the release of the CRU emails and I think it will prove just as disastrous to the case for dangerous AGW. We want this news spread quickly around the country, and I don’t think we can count on the MSM helping us!”

Of course, none of these twitterers or bloggers bothered to check out the article from which the quotes were taken. Bugger the context – they had their story.

Unfortunately for them Mike Hulme responded with a statement “correcting misleading newspaper and internet blog reports of the Hulme and Mahoney paper on the IPPC.” (see ). He says in this:

“I did not say the ‘IPCC misleads’ anyone — it is claims that are made by other commentators, such as the caricatured claim I offer in the paper, that have the potential to mislead.”

He also makes clear that his comments on consensus claims are relevant to situations like sea level rise where many think the IPCC reports are too conservative.

Mike has further clarified his comments with another statement. he makes clear his crticisms were not of the IPCC and states:

“for the record … I believe that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal and that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

And that is the IPCC position.

I guess it’s too much to ask that Richard Treadgold and Not PC apologise for their inaccurate reporting? Yeah, right.

See also:

The Much Maligned Mike Hulme
Mike Hulme says Lawrence Solomon story was phoney

Thanks to Deep Climate: Mike Hulme sets Solomon and Morano straight


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45 Responses to “Apologies would be nice”

  • Well, actually Ken, some bloggers did bother to check out what he said, and linked to what he said, and in fact quoted the very words that he said–and the point I was reporting was the very point he is making in passing, i.e, “Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies….”

    THat he thinks this point is uncontroversial, ie., that “consensus… is reached by only a few dozen experts,” is itself worth reporting, wouldn’t you say?

    By the way, you might note as well, that this is the only point on which I rely upon Mr Hulme’s paper. (Yes, it’s Hulme, not Hume. You might like to correct your copy.) And all I report is what he said, a point that should really be uncontroversial since it’s an accurate reflection of the IPCC process, even if most people are blithely unaware of that.

    So just to clarify, since my own report did not “mislead” anyone, except apparently yourself:

    **I did not report him saying the ‘IPCC misleads’ anyone — so his clarification on that point is irrelevant to your criticism of my reporting.

    **I did not report his views on the warming of the climate system either — so his clarification on that point is also irrelevant to your criticism of my reporting.

    **Nor did I report his views on the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid 20th century, nor yet the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations — however enlightening those vierws might be — so his clarifications on that point are equally irrelevant.

    HE said what he said, and I reported it. There’s nothing to apologise for in that. I also linked to Mr Hulme’s paper,and invited readers to study what he said for themselves, just to ensure what I reported could be checked.

    So, yes, apologies would be nice–but I guess it’s too much to ask that you apologise for your own inaccurate reporting, eh?

    No matter. I’ll just take it as read.

  • Come off it Peter. You just copied Solomon’s article The The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider word for word.

    You didn’t bother checking. Come on – tell us. Did you read the draft paper? If you had you would have realised that Hulme’s paper did not warrant such a headline.

    However, uncritically lifting Solomon’s purple prose enabled you to produce “evidence” for your preconceived conclusion that the IPCC conclusions don’t actually have plenty of scientific support. (Scientific consensus does not require every single scientist or reviewer signing off on every single statement as Mike Hulme points out).

    And really there are very few climate scientists who refuse to accept the basic conclusions:
    1: That global temperatures are currently rising
    2: That this is most probably due largely to human activity.

    There is just too much of this sort of dishonest attack on climate science going on at the moment.

    No – I didn’t really expect an apology – there was no mistake on your part. It was intentional.

    But at least I have given readers a chance to read exactly what Mike has said in his attempt to clear this up.

  • How do you know “there are very few climate scientists who refuse to accept the basic conclusions: … That this [rise in the supposed average temperature of the planet (really just a temperature statistic with questionable meaning)] is most probably due largely to human activity.”

    We, at the ICSC, just happen to be in the process of determining if your assertion is true.

    For anyone reading this who professionally researches the causes (not just the effects) of climate change, then we invite you to endorse The Climate Scientists’ Register (http://tinyurl.com/2es3rqx), a listing of scientists in the field who endorse the following apolitical, pure science statement:

    “We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.”

    ICSC has created an on-line form at http://tinyurl.com/2g26yyk for climate experts to complete to indicate their support of The Climate Scientists’ Register.


    Tom Harris
    Executive Director
    International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)


  • Tom – read my review of Ian Wishart’s book Air Con – Alarmist con.

    I deal with the issue of petitions and support there.

    If you are familiar with the survey reported in Examining the scientific Consensus on Climate Change you will be aware that this showed in the US 97% of those actively involved in researching climate change accept that conclusion.

    Your register is of course along the lines of the Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwinism petition. A brief glance shows that it suffers from similar weaknesses in terms of professional relevance and other beliefs.

    However, I found the ID petition useful as it enabled me to do an analysis of the signatories and reveal their real motives for signing it. You can see my conclusion in Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”?

    Perhaps we can now go through your list and analyse the signatories in the same manner. For example in New Zealand:

    Gerrit J. van der Lingen,
    Chris R. de Freitas,
    Willem de Lange,
    Vincent Gray,
    Peter Oliver.

    Five people (better than the ID one – they had 3). But we know these people. We know their reputations and foibles. And we now know that you have not been able to get reputable New Zealand climate scientists to sign up.

    I expect this is reflected for other countries too.

    Thanks for the information.

  • Ken:

    Ignoring your attempt to make a parallel with evolution deniers, which is nonsense – there are valid scientific reasons to doubt the CO2/dangerous global warming theory – could you explain where the Register suffers from “weaknesses in terms of professional relevance and other beliefs.” All endorsers have been carefully screened to have significant professional experience in understanding the causes of climate change.

    What are the “reputations and foibles”, as you put it, that invalidates the opinions about whether or not CO2 is leading to dangerous global warming for the following:

    Gerrit J. van der Lingen,
    Chris R. de Freitas,
    Willem de Lange,
    Vincent Gray,
    Peter Oliver.

    Tom Harris

  • Tom – have a read through these emails. Vincent gray is involved in only a few cases but it is clear that he behaved unethically in approving the report from the Climate science coalition which was defamatory to our scientists.

    (They also show how dishonest these denier groups are in that they refuse to make their data or methods available. They refuse even to name the scientists involved!)

    It is clear that you have no been able to get a single reputable NZ climate scientists on to your petition so we can make out judgments on its worth.

    No doubt someone will in future will write something on your petition analysing the nature of the people who have signed up.

    I might do something myself – so watch this space!

  • Ken: I looked up your reference on the so-called consensus in the climate science community and found the following critique of the study: http://climate-change.suite101.com/article.cfm/no-scientific-consensus-on-human-climate-chan .

    Besides the fact that the question asked by the poll yo cite is not the same as the issue we are addressing (in that they lump all human causes together – land use change, and pollution along with GHG (only one of which we are dealing with – CO2)), most damning is “Kendall Zimmerman [2008] sought to vindicate Oreskes by surveying 10,257 American Earth scientists using a database built from Keane and Martinez [2007]. However, only 30.7 per cent of scientists replied. Zimmerman conceded only five per cent of respondents were climate scientists. In it’s conclusion the study identified a mere 75 climatologists who agreed human emissions were a ‘significant’ contribution to 20th century global warming out of the 10,000 plus earth scientists first approached. In fact, in none of Zimmerman’s questions was the issue of ‘catastrophic’ warming even raised. For context, a question that deserves answering is, how many qualified climate scientists are there? Records of qualified climatologists are scant, but according to an esteemed climate alarmist blog, ‘Rabett Run’ it appears that: “the answer in the US is 13,746. However, there is no international register of climatologists so it’s very hard to provide a specific number… but if we look at foreign members we get a total of 19,340”

  • Ken: please pull out the relevant parts of the e-mails you cite (BTW, do you have authorization to make these e-mails public?) – no one wants to read through 27 pages of e-mails to try to figure out what you are speaking about.

  • Tom – that brief note quoted does not critique at all the Zinnermann survey.

    I think you are getting desperate. In fact your argument here is very similar to Wishart’s.

    The fact remains you have not been able to get a single reputable NZ climate scientists on to your petition.

    And what about my post? Do you support the incredible way that Mike Hulme’s comments have been distorted?

    Seems to be so common for deniers.

    Re emails. They are worth reading in their entirety – there is a trail of deception revealed.

    If you want to refer to Vincent’s – just do a search for the name.

  • BTW, attempts at “analysing the nature of the people who have signed up” is a logical falacy. Their “nature” is irrelevent. To attack that instead of what they are saying is simply ad hominem, and of no use to any rational person.

  • Of the five NZ based scientists we have listed, you trashed one, and I have no idea if that trashing is valid. Yet you say all five are not reputable. You have some explaining to do.

  • Ken: you say, “that brief note quoted does not critique at all the Zinnermann survey.”

    Why then is the study cited in the reference you direct people to “Kendall Zimmerman, M. (2008), The consensuson the consensus: An opinion survey of Earth scientists on global climate change, 250 pp., Univ. of Ill. at Chicago.”

    and the critique I direct people to dealing with that exact study. No comprendo.

  • Tom – you guys are so incestuous.

    This from Desmoblog:
    Tom Harris and the International Climate Science Coalition

    Currently, Harris is the executive director of the think tank, the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). The Coalition is an organization scientists, economists, and policy experts who have united to promote a better public understanding of climate science. In particular the International Climate Science Coalition offers an alternative to science projections and policy recommendation of the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change.

    The ICSC is publishes information which denies the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Its science and policy advisory boards are filled with climate change skeptics, including: Tim Ball, David Bellamy, Scott Armstrong, Vincent Gray, Kesten Green, Chris de Freitas, and Nils-Axel Morner.

    The ICSC promotes the Manhattan Declaration, which openly states that “global warming is not a global crisis.” The Declaration goes on further to state, “there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.”

    In 2008 and 2009 the ICSC sponsored the Heartland Instiute’s annual International Conference on Climate Change. The sponsors of the 2009 International Confernce on Climate Change has received over $47 million USD from organizations connected to the oil and gas industry.

    Finally, the ICSC is affiliated with several high-profile climate skeptic organizations and websites including the Science and Public Policy Institute, Climate Audit, Climate Audit, and Friends of Science. Like the ICSC, these groups claim to be founded in science which proves climate change is not happening. However, despite this rhetoric the reality appears to be different. For example, Friends of Science has been exposed as an oil and gas front group.
    Tom Harris and the Natural Resource Stewardship Project

    Harris was formerly the Executive Director for a Canadian group called the “Natural Resource Stewardship Project,” (NRSP) a lobby organization that refuses to disclose its funding sources.

    An October 16, 2006 CanWest Global news article on who funds the NRSP, it states that “a confidentiality agreement doesn’t allow him [Tom Harris] to say whether energy companies are funding his group.”

    DeSmog has uncovered information that two of the three directors on the board of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project are senior executives of the High Park Advocacy Group, a Toronto-based lobby firm that specializes in “energy, environment and ethics.” Prior to forming the NRSP, Harris was employed by the High Park Group.

    The NRSP is also home to a prolific climate change “skeptic” named Dr. Tim Ball.”

    Now what about my question?

    Do you support the distortion of Mike Hulme’s comments to get:
    “The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider.”

  • Thanks for this Ken,

    You have just given the readers a perfect example of the ad hominem logical fallacy, attacking the man, instead of what the man is saying. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem gives a good description of why what you are doing is a logical fallacy.

    I don’t respond to anything DeSmogBlog posts, or what people cut and paste from their Web site, since much of it is simply made up, as is much of the above. We have not taken action against them because:

    1 – they are loaded with lawyers and we are not;
    2 – they obviously have the time, money and resources for these sorts of battles and we do not. Note that we do not slam DeSmogBlog (or anyone else, including you) for where they get their financial support as it is irrelevant to the science of the issue and that is what we focus on.

    However, I will say I got a good laugh out of the quote “The sponsors of the 2009 International Confernce [sic] on Climate Change has received over $47 million USD from organizations connected to the oil and gas industry.” Since ICSC funders are confidential, DeSmogBlog have no idea where our funding comes from. I suppose one could add that unknown to the ones that are known and arrive at the conclusion they list – it doesn’t mean anything about ICSC though.

    Concerning your question about people exaggerating what Hulme said, or using it to their own purposes, I think Peter answered the question well, citing directly from the Hulme report, which anyone can read.

  • Far from being ad hominem I am letting people have a bit of context for your comments. Surely you aren’t ashamed of your professional record and contacts, or your CV, are you?

    You have not really said anything of substance to attack.

    So, Tom, you support the distortion of Mike’s comments – despite two clarifications of his rejecting that interpretation.

    Why am I not surprised?

    It is this sort of behaviour which discredits you guys.

  • Clarification on the above – “they are loaded with Lawyers” may be an exaggeration. The head of the PR firm who runs DeSmogBlog is a lawyer, as is the funder of DeSmogBlog. Anyways, readers can read all about the group at http://www.desmogblog.com/about and judge their impartiality themselves. Nuff said about DeSmogBlog. If that is your reference source on ICSC, I can’t take what you say seriously.

    How about answering my questions about the flawed poll you cite and the reasons for your trashing of all five of the NZ-based scientists we include in the endorser list. That is a pretty bold trashing to do without evidence, Ken.

  • Hmm, Ken seems to be going ad hominem and personal in his responses so, unless he has something to say that isn’t laced with sarcasm and insults, I’ll leave this discussion, having done what I came on here to do, alert people to The Climate Scientists’ Register:

    See http://tinyurl.com/2es3rqx .

  • As I said, Tom – watch this space.

    I will probably be writing something on your little petition in the future. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Otherwise you could search through my blog (and its original Open Parachute) for comments I have made on local members of your list.

    I do not believe the Zimmerman survey is flawed. You have not presented information to suggest otherwise. You don’t seriously suggest that the overwhelming majority of researching climate scientists disagree with the IPCC conclusions (re warming and the human role), do you!? If so you are going to have to produce some pretty substantial evidence for your claim. After all the conclusions are derived from a review of the scientific literature – for the research papers. But have a look at my review of Wishart’s books for comments on this survey and on the Oregon Petition he uses.

    But it is weird that you support an interpretation of Hulme’s comments which he has clearly pointed out to be false. Hardly objective.

  • It’s no wonder that people are losing interest in climate change when they see exchanges such as that above. It’s largely personal attacks and repetition of mis-truths and very little science.
    Ken, I accept the scientific evidence is pointing very strongly at AGW, but when you name five scientists and basically claim they are not reputable, then don’t back it up it is a really bad look. I’m not saying that you are wrong, because I know some people in NZ have badly misrepresented themselves, but naming them in the way you did is a really bad look, in my opinion.

    Tom, the majority of scientists in NZ can see right through the weak arguments of those challenging AGW ( a recent survey showed a majority of NZ scientists accept AGW is happening). Some of your arguments may work on the general public but some of us are working to counteract that – not through personal attacks but by discussing the science.

  • “drmike”: I know it is looked on as ‘fair’ by some to blame both sides in a dispute, but it is often not a reflection of reality. Mike has made personal attacks against me. I have not against him, or anyone else for that mater – as you can see from http://tinyurl.com/yefbvo6 , I criticize those who you may conclude are on ‘our side’ (they aren’t) for doing that, .

    Could you give us some examples that give evidence for the following please (otherwise you are doing the same as Mike, albeit far more politely):

    1 – “the majority of scientists in NZ can see right through the weak arguments of those challenging AGW ”
    2 – “a recent survey showed a majority of NZ scientists accept AGW is happening”
    3 – “Some of your arguments may work on the general public but some of us are working to counteract that”.


    Tom Harris
    ED – ICSC

  • Mike – I probably owe you a bit more detail than Tom deserved. After all he is the one supporting the distortion of Mike Hulme’s article (The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider) despite two clarifications by Hulme.

    I had only just had the opportunity of scanning through Tom’s petition. I will write something on it later (there are some interesting points to make) but a first response was to identify the NZ signatories (easy as they are identified and separated by country on the list). My comment on them was: “We know their reputations and foibles. And we now know that you have not been able to get reputable New Zealand climate scientists to sign up.”

    Well yes we do know them. Most of them (probably all – I have to check one) are members of/scientific advisers to The NZ Climate Science Coalition. This is a political group campaigning against climate science and climate scientists in NZ.

    Perhaps I should have just left it at that – we expected these to be on the list. (And perhaps Chris R. de Freitas & Willem de Lange can be considered climate scientists). However, they are well known for their parts in the campaigns so it is hardly a breach in the so-called “scientific consensus.” Tom has not got anyone outside of this group (and not all within the group) to sign up.

    Still, I do think there is a question of reputation – apart from their membership of the group and their involvement in the campaign.

    And that relates to scientific ethics.

    In Vincent’s case I have discussed the situation directly with him. He acknowledged that the NZCSC’s report attacking NIWA scientists had basic mistakes. He said he should have picked up the incorrect claim that there was no need to adjust data from stations. He admits that he “missed it.” He says he was asked by the group to review the report (Treadgold had originally denied any scientific review had taken place)

    OK, that may be a reflection of his separation from research (common in retirement), his age or the fact that he was only interested in it as a political document. But I put it to him that it was scientifically unethical for him to continue to promote this report (which he does) knowing its faults (and the fact that it makes unwarranted attacks on the honesty of fellow NZ scientists). He broke off our discussion at this stage.

    One other scientific member of the group has refused to reply to my inquiries on this issue (telling, as I known him personally and think he probably feels very guilty about the whole issue).

    But I am unaware of any in this group of five who have dissociated themselves from this slanderous attack on NIWA scientists. That really does tempt me to question their ethical stance.

    However, perhaps I am being unfair. I have been in situations where my employer has prevented me (and other members of our research group) from making public statements (even publishing papers) on scientific claims (using our work) which we knew to be wrong. I can imagine the restrictions that are being placed on NIWA scientists. The situation was similar with the climategate emails where members of the unit were prevented from defending themselves publicly.

    I can imagine that the NZCSC has insisted that their members and “advisers” follow the party line. In fact Richard Treadgold assures me that their “science group” “wishes to remain anonymous.”

    So I do see their behaviour as raising ethical questions. I can appreciate these people may be in somewhat of a cleft stick and are therefore not prepared to speak against their political group. However, I think the fact that they allow their names to be added to Tom’s petition, knowing how that will be used, suggests that perhaps their political commitment has overridden their scientific ethics.

    Anyway, Mike, you surely are aware of the intensity and emotion involved in blogosphere discussions on climate change. This is minor by comparison. And it is hardly going to influence the public in general. However, I agree that the public is being turned off by the way this discussion proceeds and perhaps there is therefore some logic in the bureaucratic stance of preventing scientists from speaking out (as for NIWA). Unfortunately this does mean that the contrarians and deniers do get a bit of a free reign. And the really bad aspect is that they have been able to use the old “when are you going to stop beating your wife” tactic quite effectively.

    Perhaps the answer is that we should keep working to get our information out in a way that doesn’t engage with these people and give them platforms.

  • Lots of text but Ken has not answered Mike’s question, which was (as was mine):

    “when you name five scientists and basically claim they are not reputable, then don’t back it up it is a really bad look. … naming them in the way you did is a really bad look, in my opinion.”

    Ken employs another logical fallacy in his answers, especially the latest above and that is guilt by associate – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilt_by_association

  • Tom, I don’t expect any satisfaction from you. My comments were for Mike’s benefit.

    Perhaps you could apply your considerable knowledge of Wikipedia linking to naming the fallacy that Solomon uses. To misrepresent Mike Hulme to claim that he was alleging, as an insider, that the IPCC was making “phoney” claims. other sources talk about the IPCC lying – relying simply on Solomon’s headline.

    And what is the fallacy of continuing to support such a distortion after Mike Hulme has made two statements pointing out they were distortions.

  • You have trashed five scientists – are you going to defend that or continue with sarcasm.

    On Hulme, people can read what he said themselves and draw their own conclusions. He said what he said. I am not claiming anything else.

  • I don’t expect any different from you, Tom. That’s the business you are in.

    However, I do expect higher ethical standards from scientists.

  • Ken, no civilized person accept trashing others without a very good reason (and even then discretion is called for in damning others). I suggest that if you are not prepared to give good reasons for your slurs against these people, that you withdraw your attack on their scientists and apologize. That is what civilized people do when they make a mistake, or do not have the evidence to support a rather nasty approach, something that was not called for in the first place. You can disagree with people without attacking them personally, you know. In all this, I have not attacked you or stooped to trying to find something someone said somewhere about you or your background to try to discredit what you are saying, as you have with me.

    Your slash and burn approach does however serve one useful purpose, namely that it demonstrates what those who question political correctness on the climate file have to endure all the time. That people like Ken feel that they need engage in such an approach should make any thinking person suspicious of the whole issue. And that is healthy. Skepticism of what anyone says and the consequent examination of evidence, is what science is all about.

    In the final analysis, the ‘witty’ sarcasm and ad hominems that Ken is dishing out helps no one, except as a demonstration of how not to engage in useful discourse.

  • I consider charges of phoney, lying, falsification of data, etc. to be slurs. Yet you support this with Solomon (and presumably promote similar falsifications in your organisational role).

    Of these 5 people you claim I have trashed – get a hold of yourself and look at what I said:

    “We know their reputations and foibles.”

    Stop your whining.

    These are scientific issues. Leave personalities out of it. But I guess a petition is one way of diverting to personalities, isn’t it.

  • YOU are the one who attack the reputation of the five scientists and me. YOU are the one who uses sarcasm in practically every post to try to belittle me and the scientists. No one is doing at to you, Ken.

    “We know their reputations and foibles.” is no an answer to why these scientists deserve your uncivilized attacks.

    So far, you have only proven my point about the sort of nasty nonsense we are often subjected to.

  • The survey I mentioned can be found at:

    I am deeply frustrated by the fact the the debate over climate change has devolved into name calling, misrepresentation of peoples words and views. Arguments are political (designed to help one “win”) rather than scientific (designed to get to the truth).
    For example when arguments such as “but plants need carbon dioxide” are used all it indicates to me is that someone is either scientifically naive or being purposely misleading. This is an argument that I have seen used by one of the people on Ken’s list, which makes me wonder as to the scientific rigour of his arguments. However, I wouldn’t be inclined to make such a list myself- I’m just not comfortable with that approach.
    Tom, the only reason I query the behaviour on both sides of the debate, isn’t because I think it is “looked on as fair” but because I think everyone should be accountable for their arguments.
    As far as I’m concerned the scientific evidence is strong for AGW. People on both sides have made the mistake of engaging in political and not scientific arguments, and as such, in my view have clouded the issue. Some scientists are doing experiments that might challenge AGW, and I applaud that, so long as it is good science.
    Although both sides have used less than scientific arguments, from my point of view, those pushing against AGW have used them more often and more aggressively, probably to counterbalance their lack of scientific support.
    It is my view that if people started letting go of the political arguments and focusing more on science we would get closer to a full understanding of climate change sooner.

  • drmike writes: “It is my view that if people started letting go of the political arguments and focusing more on science we would get closer to a full understanding of climate change sooner.”

    We, at ICSC, agree. That is precisely why we have stripped out all of the economics, politics and morality from The Register statement to make it a purely physical science statement, one which scientists may agree with or disagree with based only on the merit of the applicable science as they know it. We have made an effort to only allow endorsers who have professional experience in trying to truly understand the CAUSES of climate change, which is why you don’t see any polar bear biologist on the list. If anyone sees anyone on the list who does not appear to have the professional background and experience to be on the list, please let me know. Nothing is cast in stone here and people can be removed from the list if appropriate.

    We, at ICSC, are not responsible for the non-functional approach of others in the debate, no matter who’s side they are on. Aside from the occasional ‘Ken’, our most agressive attackers have actually been from the right – I’ll leave ot to readers to imagine the reaction I got from the producers of Not Evil, Just wrong when I met them in Copenhagen – ha!

  • Mike – I think this issue is now a political one. The fact of global warming is established. And the role of humans is pretty certain. Scientists can continue working in various areas, improving models, improving measurements, investigating issues like aerosols and ice cap melting, etc. But governments and the international community have to decide what to do about the issue science has revealed. That is a job for politicians and policy makers – not climate scientists.

    Unfortunately, some people in the political/social debate have taken a denial approach, or attacking science approach, rather than dealing with the political problems. Debates on things like the ETS should be handled at that level. Really climate science isn’t involved at that stage.

    Political and ideological groups like Heartland, ACT, etc., have really reneged on their political role. They are opting out of the political process by attacking the science and scientists – often in a very dishonest way. In the end they can’t change reality and their ideological/political interests would be better served by accepting the science and getting stuck into the political/economic/social discussions – which don’t involve climate science at all.

    Personally, I don’t have the political/economic expertise to really take sides in debates on things like the ETS (although I admit to being intuitively sceptical and think Hansen’s approach may be better).

    Nor am I particularly interested in climate change itself. It is not my professional area or current interest.

    My interest is in the integrity of science. I think this is fundamental That is why I have blogged about issues like “intelligent design”, scientific philosophy, theological intrusions into science, etc. Maybe it’s also a stage of life thing.

    The integrity issue is what got me into following the attacks on our NIWA scientists and blog in their defense.

    By the way Mike – it is not my list – it is Tom’s. I have just pointed out that the 5 NZers on his list are associated with the NZCSC. And I believe that presents them with ethical questions.

  • We have made an effort to only allow endorsers who have professional experience in trying to truly understand the CAUSES of climate change, which is why you don’t see any polar bear biologist on the list.

    But it does include Don Easterbrook, a proven liar and manipulator of data.

  • Tom

    A couple of questions regarding your list.
    Do you have any idea what the total number of scientists is that would be eligible to be on your list? It would be useful to know to give some idea of what % of the total pool of scientists your list makes up?
    David Bellamy (botanist) is on your list. Can you explain how you decide who is eligible to be on the list?

    Survey/registers can be such a challenge to get the wording right. I must admit yours seems quite carefully worded, though I would point out that someone can still sign up to your register if they believe in AGW so long as they don’t believe it is or will be dangerous.
    It will be interesting to see how many scientists you eventually get signing up to your register.

    Ken, I agree that it is now a political issue, but when attacks are made on the science and scientists, I believe the best counter is to keep showing people the validity of the science. And I don’t think anyone is served by some of the political arguments.
    I agree that scientific integrity is important to preserve, and those who try and do this are doing an important job.

    I wonder if all of you have come across arguments used by “your side” of the debate which you refuse to use because of their lack of substance?

  • Too late to say much now, it being 1:40 am, but drmike is quite right to say, “I would point out that someone can still sign up to your register if they believe in AGW so long as they don’t believe it is or will be dangerous.” A number of scientists on the list, such as Pat Michaels, would fall into that catagory. Actually, I don’t know of any on the list who deny AGW entirely. Some feel it is minor, some feel it is more major but not dangerous.

    We have scientists on the list now who simply believe that “the issue is so murky”, which is why, while they would not sign a statement that asserts CO2 is not causing dangerous global warming, WILL sign one that says “having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis …”. In other words, one can be a total agnostic on the issue and still agree with our statement.

  • Tom, reminds me very much of the Disco. Inst. Darwin dissent petition. People asked to sign up to a sentence which was rather mild and few would disagree with. Then the petition gets used to claim that large numbers of scientists oppose evolution. Disingenuous. We know what use your petitition will be put to by deniers and politicians. Just like the Oregon petition.

    Mike, people are human. They will make wild statements in debate. I think you are unrealistic in thinking sticking with the science is actually possible or effective in debate situations. Put 2 scientists with strong disagreements on a platform, get them to argue about the details and most of the audience will give up.

    Sometimes we have the luxury of sticking with the science as Abrahams did in his analysis of Monckton’s speech. Very
    effective but Monckton is stIll getting stuck in to him with personal attacks.

    In my review of Wishart’s book I chose not to do this because the detail would have made the review excessively long. I considered it more important to reveal his political agenda as oulined in his book as it was really his starting point. Then I chose just a few examples relating to scientific issues. I think that was the right approach.

    Your question. I don’t really consider I am on a “side” except that of scientific integrity. Also I am not an activist so am not really aware of the arguments. However the “science is settled” claim has always appeared silly to me. I have really only heard that charge from deniers.

    Also the characterisation Mike Hulme referred to claiming all the names on papers reviewed by the IPCC had signed up to a consensus is also silly. Again, apart from Mike’s use (and I think he may have attributed it to Greenpeace or similar) I have only ever heard that from deniers. They do have a thing about petitions and tend to interpret scientific consensus in that way.

    I don’t think scientists make either of those claims in their contributions.

    By the way – have a search for Tom’s organisation. Claims he made in press release are being promoted in the Twitter echo chamber at the moment. An article refers to his organisation as being at the cutting edge of climate research.

    An example of how these petitions get used to support false claims.

  • “I think you are unrealistic in thinking sticking with the science is actually possible or effective in debate situations”
    I suspect you may be right. I put a high premium on the factual content and logic in a debate but that is probably not a typical approach. However, I think if it is done carefully science can be used in debates. But instead of boring people with details – using science to communicate key concepts as well as employing strategies such as good analogies, etc seems like a good idea to me.
    With regards to petitions, I think it is always important to discuss them in terms of what percentage of the total pool they are representative of.
    The mudslinging that can now be found on both sides of the debate frustrates me. I’m not sure what the solution is. But I don’t think anyone could honestly tell me that insults actually add anything to the debate??
    Idealistically, if one side stopped with the taunts and the insults etc, I think the public would be swayed in their direction, however I won’t hold my breath :-)

  • I note Ken Perrott is silent on drmike’s challenge that he substantiate his attack on the five NZ scientists. “Very telling.”, as Gareth Renowden says.

    The title of this article “Apologies would be nice Ken Perrott” is now a perfect sum up.

  • Tom, that us a childish reaction to a legitimate question if Gareth’s. An attempt at diversion perhaps?

  • No, it isn’t. You started this approach to discussion by attacking the five NZ scientists in an ad hominem fashion, a tactic even drmike said was bad form without strong substatiation. Either retract your accusations or substantiate them. Don’t try to simply change the topic.

    Your ad hominem attack strategy suggests that your point of view is so weak it cannot withstand rational debate and merely depends on obvious logical fallacies and simply wearing out your opponents by first, making deplorable personal attacks and then changing the topic when people challenge your ‘facts’. Now THAT is ‘childish’, at least in Canada it is.

  • Tom – Gareth has said of Don Easterbrook, “a proven <a href="proven liar and manipulator of data“>liar and manipulator of data.”

    Your avoidance of this indicates your acknowledgment of the shifty nature of your petition. Really you should remove Easterbrook’s name if you want it to have any integrity.

    How can you go around telling conservative newspapers that “For the past 2 years the ICSC has been on the cutting edge of climate science research” when you have people like this on your list. (And what the hell “research” has the ICSC done anyway?)

    If you have any integrity you will be contacting Conservative Examiner and asking them to print a correction of this story.

    As we say in NZ – Yeah, right!

  • I rest my case. Ken not only apparently thinks he can abuse people and get away without substantiating it (i.e. his trashing of the 5 NZ scientists and me), but he also thinks he can put words in others’ mouths, such as putting quote marks around things I never said. He tops it off with more ad hominem, “If you have any integrity”, which is just insulting and more trash talk.

    I am disconnecting from this discussion as a waste of time, disappointed to yet again find your side represented by a Ken, “I’ll attack, using sarcasm and personal attacks and change the topic when challenged”, Perrott”. As drmike explained well, this is not constructive and turns people off even discussing the topic. As Dr. Ball always says, and Ken would do well to practice, “we can disagree without being disagreeable”

  • Well, Tom – I have quoted from the Conservative Examiner – in an article based on your press release. If you think they have got it wrong – get them to correct it. You could also ask them to correct the implication that Hulme’s paper is part of the research coming out of your cutting edge of climate science research ICSC.

    You might also suggest that their headline “Scientists–carbon dioxide is not causing climate change “ is misleading. But then again that is the impression your little petition is aimed to achieve, isn’t it?

  • He huffs, and he puffs, and…

    Easterbrook remains on his list. That means the ICSC is quite happy to support and endorse proven liars. It demonstrates beyond all possible doubt that they are not interested in science, or truth, simply pursuing a political goal.

    And that, Tom, is not as hominem. Nor was Ken’s original comment.

  • PS: Tom, if you would like a detailed breakdown of the — how shalk I put it — lack of probity of the five NZ names on your list (or for that matter, Bob Carter, who is a Fellow of the RSNZ, but who recently claimed that modern temperatures were about the same as the 1940s), then I’ll be happy to supply one.

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