The big cutoff
Feb 5, 2011
Bishop Hill in Climate: Sceptics

Fred Pearce is on the receiving end of the full fury of the warmosphere for his article about the Lisbon conference in New Scientist. Pearce, discussing who had agreed to turn up, said this:

But the leaders of mainstream climate science turned down the gig, including NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who said the science was settled so there was nothing to discuss.

Schmidt has now said that this is not true and that his decision not to attend was rooted in the premises of the conference:

This is completely made up. My decision not to accept the invitation to this meeting was based entirely on the organiser’s initial diagnosis of the cause of the ‘conflict’ in the climate change debate. I quote from their introductory letter:

“At this stage we are planning to have a workshop where the main scientific issues can be discussed, so that some clarity on points of agreement and disagreement might be reached. We would try to stay off the policy issues, and will also exclude personal arguments.

The issues we have in mind are Medieval Warm Period, ice, climate sensitivity, and temperature data. We would hope to have smaller groups discussing these in some detail, hopefully with scientists who are very familiar with the technical issues to lead the discussion.”

Since, in my opinion, the causes of conflict in the climate change debate relate almost entirely to politics and not the MWP, climate sensitivity or ‘ice’, dismissing this from any discussion did not seem likely to be to help foster any reconciliation.

A letter complaining to New Scientist has duly been issued, with all the usual suspects in the warmosphere flinging brickbats at Pearce. No doubt the big cutoff awaits.

Meanwhile, conference participant and blogger Tallbloke has revealed himself as Fred Pearce's source, and he has some interesting things to say on the subject of Gavin Schmidt's objection.

To set the record straight:

Because I was an ad hoc member of the invite committee I got an email asking my advice on who to invite in lieu of Gavin Schmidt and some other prominent people who had declined. The organisers inadvertantly included Gavin’s response on that email, and when I was asked one evening in Lisbon why certain people weren’t there I gave a quick [precis], including a brief reference to Gavin’s response. This made it’s way to Fred, hence the reference in his blog piece reporting on the conference.

I would just stress at this point that what I said constitutes my opinion and not what Gavin said verbatim. However I would also like to say that Gavin’s complaint to the New Scientist does not include any [precis] of the passage in his original response which gave rise to my brief summary. I therefore reject Gavin’s claim that I ‘made stuff up’, and respectfully suggest that we can lay this one to rest if in a spirit of openness Gavin simply reproduces his response so people can see for themselves what he said.

If I am assailed by accusations that I have wrongfully maligned Gavin with my brief summary comment I may feel obliged to defend myself with a closer paraphrase.

Further down the thread, Gavin invited Tallbloke to publish his email explaining why he didn't want to attend, and Tallbloke has now published it at his own site. Gavin's response was as follows:

I’m a little confused at what conflict you feel you are going to be addressing? The fundamental conflict is of what (if anything) we should do about greenhouse gas emissions (and other assorted pollutants), not what the weather was like 1000 years ago. Your proposed restriction against policy discussion removes the whole point. None of the seemingly important ‘conflicts’ that are *perceived* in the science are ‘conflicts’ in any real sense within the scientific community, rather they are proxy arguments for political positions. No ‘conflict resolution’ is possible between the science community who are focussed on increasing understanding, and people who are picking through the scientific evidence for cherries they can pick to support a pre-defined policy position.

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