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The Economist continues to waver

The Economist's coverage of the climate sensitivity issue was the start of a huge change in the attitude of the mainstream media to the idea that maybe climate change was not quite the problem it was cracked up to be. So it will be interesting to see what the dailies make of the latest offering from that august journal:

The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not dramatic climate-policy interventions remain advisable, they will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.

...if the consensus climate models turn out to be falsified just a few years later, average temperature having remained at levels not even admitted to be have been physically possible, the authority of consensus will have been exposed as rather weak.

This isn't a crisis for climate science. This is just the way science goes. But it is a crisis for climate-policy advocates who based their arguments on the authority of scientific consensus.

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Reader Comments (46)

Is this a guest article? There's no name on the web site, but it is very unusual for an article in The Economist to be written in the first person e.g. "I have favoured waiting a decade or two in order to test and improve the empirical reliability of our climate"

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL


It does though give authorship to 'W.W' from Houston

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:29 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Should observations finally determine that a proportion of the scientific community and the media had indeed cried wolf, and crisis envelopes the climate policy advocates, be assured that a new 'crisis' that just happens to require governmental action will emerge. A 'crisis' that necessitates people to change behaviours nudged by ever more expensive taxation policy, legislation that bans or mandates certain goods or services, 'solutions' provided by large corporates attracting vast taxpayer funded subsidies, governance of the whole thing at supranational level by unaccountable bodies, and redistribution of wealth to developing nations to fund their purchase of said 'solutions'.

We will never be free of this abuse of power by the political classes around the world whose dual objectives are control of the people and cashing in on their power.

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAutonomous Mind

"This isn't a crisis for climate science"
Yes it damned well is! It'll be less believable than astrology, phrenology & homeopathy!
As a dinner party conversation killer, it'll be on par with..
"What job do you do?"
"I'm a banker/traffic warden"

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

"Yes it damned well is! It'll be less believable than astrology, phrenology & homeopathy!"
Difference is that there are still millions around the world seeking assistance from homeopathy based on word of mouth despite den continued berating from the consensus of the medical establishment.
The climate change consensus is still to demonstrate that they have got anything right.

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

The Economist goes where the UK government goes. Chicken, meet egg

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:56 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Is any language capable of crafting a more empty and misguided phrase than "authority of climate consensus"? I have an awful feeling it was written intentionally and not just a momentary lapse of intellect.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterdp

Wow, just WOW.

Is any language capable of crafting a more empty and misguided phrase than "authority of climate consensus"? I have an awful feeling it was written intentionally and not just a momentary lapse of intellect.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterdp

I find it a very telling phrase, personally. He is saying that the call to authority that has been the mainstay of global warming advocacy will no longer be valid.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

'the authority of consensus will have been exposed as rather weak'

I prefer the term ' a crock of sh*t' to 'rather weak'.

And the intellectual and scientific credibility of those who have relied upon the fallacy of the consensus will also have been exposed as being worthless.

Bring it on!

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I'm beginning to regret that I dismissed Screaming Lord Sutch and his Monster Raving Loony Party without due diligence. They would never have taken AGW, or anything else, seriously. And we would be the better for it now.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:50 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Cried wolf? More like Tyrannosaurus Rex.

And they succeeded in their cries. To their great shame. In some cases to unforgiveable levels of destructive, malevolent, unjustifiable by any yardstick known to science or to common decency, scaremongering.

Let us hope this piece in The Economist is a sign that that publication is leaving the politically-convenient, for some, penumbra of pseudo-science and its associated dupes and charlatans, and moving towards the harsh light of real science and reality-based analysis.

A single swallow does not a summer make, but it does bring hope that one is coming.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

A single swallow does not a Saumur make...although notwithstanding the pun, I much prefer good Bordeaux

Jun 20, 2013 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

John Peter on Jun 20, 2013 at 8:56 PM "The climate change consensus is still to demonstrate that they have got anything right"

So true!

When climate science was confined to academic institutions, it was like any area of other research, mostly ignored by the public and MSM. They would only hear about developments AFTER their musings had developed into something that was able to be self sustaining and on its way to be proven, with individually handing over money, after making their own judgement.

Sadly this has not been the case in this instance. The 2008 Climate Change Act saw to that!

The big question is how long will the Law and current policies, based around the old consensus, continue and will the contracts based on these old policies be enforceable after they have been shown to be ludicrous by existing evidence that will eventually be allowed to be presented as well as the new evidence.

This isn't a crisis for climate science. It is a crisis for the climate industry.

At least the public will have one less opportunity to be conned out of their money.

Jun 20, 2013 at 10:08 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Have parts of the MSM finally woken up to the fact that they have been sold- and have been selling a pup?

This is going to hurt.

Really badly.

I hope.

Jun 20, 2013 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Meanwhile Robert Brown has added to his post over at WUWT which I repeat below as it i well worth a read

rgbatduke says:
June 20, 2013 at 10:04 am
Sorry, I missed the reposting of my comment. First of all, let me apologize for the typos and so on. Second, to address Nick Stokes in particular (again) and put it on the record in this discussion as well, the AR4 Summary for Policy Makers does exactly what I discuss above. Figure 1.4 in the unpublished AR5 appears poised to do exactly the same thing once again, turn an average of ensemble results, and standard deviations of the ensemble average into explicit predictions for policy makers regarding probable ranges of warming under various emission scenarios.

This is not a matter of discussion about whether it is Monckton who is at fault for computing an R-value or p-value from the mish-mosh of climate results and comparing the result to the actual climate — this is, actually, wrong and yes, it is wrong for the same reasons I discuss above, because there is no reason to think that the central limit theorem and by inheritance the error function or other normal-derived estimates of probability will have the slightest relevance to any of the climate models, let alone all of them together. One can at best take any given GCM run and compare it to the actual data, or take an ensemble of Monte Carlo inputs and develop many runs and look at the spread of results and compare THAT to the actual data.

In the latter case one is already stuck making a Bayesian analysis of the model results compared to the observational data (PER model, not collectively) because when one determines e.g. the permitted range of random variation of any given input one is basically inserting a Bayesian prior (the probability distribution of the variations) on TOP of the rest of the statistical analysis. Indeed, there are many Bayesian priors underlying the physics, the implementation, the approximations in the physics, the initial conditions, the values of the input parameters. Without wishing to address whether or not this sort of Bayesian analysis is the rule rather than the exception in climate science, one can derive a simple inequality that suggests that the uncertainty in each Bayesian prior on average increases the uncertainty in the predictions of the underlying model. I don’t want to say proves because the climate is nonlinear and chaotic, and chaotic systems can be surprising, but the intuitive order of things is that if the inputs are less certain and the outputs depend nontrivially on the inputs, so are the outputs less certain.

I will also note that one of the beauties of Bayes’ theorem is that one can actually start from an arbitrary (and incorrect) prior and by using incoming data correct the prior to improve the quality of the predictions of any given model with the actual data. A classic example of this is Polya’s Urn, determining the unbiased probability of drawing a red ball from an urn containing red and green balls (with replacement and shuffling of the urn between trials). Initially, we might use maximum entropy and use a prior of 50-50 — equal probability of drawing red or green balls. Or we might think to ourselves that the preparer of the urn is sneaky and likely to have filled the urn only with green balls and start with a prior estimate of zero. After one draws a single ball from the urn, however, we now have additional information — the prior plus the knowledge that we’ve drawn a (say) red ball. This instantly increases our estimate of the probability of getting red balls from a prior of 0, and actually very slightly increases the probability of getting a red ball from 0.5 as well. The more trials you make (with replacement) the better your successive approximations of the probability are regardless of where you begin with your priors. Certain priors will, of course, do a lot better than others!

I therefore repeat to Nick the question I made on other threads. Is the near-neutral variation in global temperature for at least 1/8 of a century (since 2000, to avoid the issue of 13, 15, or 17 years of “no significant warming” given the 1997/1999 El Nino/La Nina one-two punch since we have no real idea of what “signficant” means given observed natural variability in the global climate record that is almost indistinguishable from the variability of the last 50 years) strong evidence for warming of 2.5 C by the end of the century? Is it even weak evidence for? Or is it in fact evidence that ought to at least some extent decrease our degree of belief in aggressive warming over the rest of the century, just as drawing red balls from the urn ought to cause us to alter our prior beliefs about the probable fraction of red balls in Polya’s urn, completely independent of the priors used as the basis of the belief?

In the end, though, the reason I posted the original comment on Monckton’s list is that everybody commits this statistical sin when working with the GCMs. They have to. The only way to convince anyone that the GCMs might be correct in their egregious predictions of catastrophic warming is by establishing that the current flat spell is somehow within their permitted/expected range of variation. So no matter how the spaghetti of GCM predictions is computed and presented — and in figure 11.33b — not 11.33a — they are presented as an opaque range, BTW, — presenting their collective variance in any way whatsoever is an obvious visual sham, one intended to show that the lower edge of that variance barely contains the actual observational data.

Personally, I would consider that evidence that, collectively or singly, the models are not terribly good and should not be taken seriously because I think that reality is probably following the most likely dynamical evolution, not the least likely, and so I judge the models on the basis of reality and not the other way around. But whether or not one wishes to accept that argument, two very simple conclusions one has little choice but to accept are that using statistics correctly is better than using it incorrectly, and that the only correct way to statistically analyze and compare the predictions of the GCMs one at a time to nature is to use Bayesian analysis, because we lack an ensemble of identical worlds.

I make this point to put the writers of the Summary for Policy Makers for AR5 that if they repeat the egregious error made in AR4 and make any claims whatsoever for the predictive power of the spaghetti snarl of GCM computations, if they use the terms “mean and standard deviation” of an ensemble of GCM predictions, if they attempt to transform those terms into some sort of statement of probability of various future outcomes for the climate based on the collective behavior of the GCMs, there will be hell to pay, because GCM results are not iid samples drawn from a fixed distribution, thereby fail to satisfy the elementary axioms of statistics and render both mean behavior and standard deviation of mean behavior over the “space” of perturbations of model types and input data utterly meaningless as far as having any sort of theory-supported predictive force in the real world. Literally meaningless. Without meaning.

The probability ranges published in AR4′s summary for policy makers are utterly indefensible by means of the correct application of statistics to the output from the GCMs collectively or singly. When one assigns a probability such as “67%” to some outcome, in science one had better be able to defend that assignment from the correct application of axiomatic statistics right down to the number itself. Otherwise, one is indeed making a Ouija board prediction, which as Greg pointed out on the original thread, is an example deliberately chosen because we all know how Ouija boards work! They spell out whatever the sneakiest, strongest person playing the game wants them to spell.

If any of the individuals who helped to actually write this summary would like to come forward and explain in detail how they derived the probability ranges that make it so easy for the policy makers to understand how likely to certain it is that we are en route to catastrophe, they should feel free to do so. And if they in fact did form the mean of many GCM predictions as if GCMs are some sort of random variate, form the standard deviation of the GCM predictions around the mean, and then determine the probability ranges on the basis of the central limit theorem and standard error function of the normal distribution (as it is almost certain they did, from the figure caption and following text) then they should be ashamed of themselves and indeed, should go back to school and perhaps even take a course or two in statistics before writing a summary for policy makers that presents information influencing the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars based on statistical nonsense.

And for the sake of all of us who have to pay for those sins in the form of misdirected resources, please, please do not repeat the mistake in AR5. Stop using phrases like “67% likely” or “95% certain” in reference to GCM predictions unless you can back them up within the confines of properly done statistical analysis and mere common wisdom in the field of predictive modeling — a field where I am moderately expert — where if anybody, ever claims that a predictive model of a chaotic nonlinear stochastic system with strong feedbacks is 95% certain to do anything I will indeed bitch slap them the minute they reach for my wallet as a consequence.

Predictive modeling is difficult. Using the normal distribution in predictive modeling of complex multivariate system is (as Taleb points out at great length in The Black Swan) easy but dumb. Using it in predictive modeling of the most complex system of nominally deterministic equations — a double set of coupled Navier Stokes equations with imperfectly known parameters on a rotating inhomogeneous ball in an erratic orbit around a variable star with an almost complete lack of predictive skill in any of the inputs (say, the probable state of the sun in fifteen years), let alone the output — is beyond dumb. Dumber than dumb. Dumb cubed. The exponential of dumb. The phase space filling exponential growth of probable error to the physically permitted boundaries dumb.

In my opinion — as admittedly at best a well-educated climate hobbyist, not as a climate professional, so weight that opinion as you will — we do not know how to construct a predictive climate model, and will never succeed in doing so as long as we focus on trying to explain “anomalies” instead of the gross nonlinear behavior of the climate on geological timescales. An example I recently gave for this is understanding the tides. Tidal “forces” can easily be understood and derived as the pseudoforces that arise in an accelerating frame of reference relative to Newton’s Law of Gravitation. Given the latter, one can very simply compute the actual gravitational force on an object at an actual distance from (say) the moon, compare it to the actual mass times the acceleration of the object as it moves at rest relative to the center of mass of the Earth (accelerating relative to the moon) and compute the change in e.g. the normal force that makes up the difference and hence the change in apparent weight. The result is a pseudoforce that varies like (R_e/R_lo)^3 (compared to the force of gravity that varies like 1/R_lo^2 , R_e radius of the earth, R_lo radius of the lunar orbit). This is a good enough explanation that first year college physics students can, with the binomial expansion, both compute the lunar tidal force and compute the nonlinear tidal force stressing e.g. a solid bar falling into a neutron star if they are a first year physics major.

It is not possible to come up with a meaningful heuristic for the tides lacking a knowledge of both Newton’s Law of Gravitation and Newton’s Second Law. One can make tide tables, sure, but one cannot tell how the tables would CHANGE if the moon was closer, and one couldn’t begin to compute e.g. Roche’s Limit or tidal forces outside of the narrow Taylor series expansion regime where e.g. R_e/R_lo << 1. And then there is the sun and solar tides making even the construction of an heuristic tide table an art form.

The reason we cannot make sense of it is that the actual interaction and acceleration are nonlinear functions of multiple coordinates. Note well, simple and nonlinear, and we are still a long way from solving anything like an actual equation of motion for the sloshing of oceans or the atmosphere due to tidal pseudoforces even though the pseudoforces themselves are comparatively simple in the expansion regime. This is still way simpler than any climate problem.

Trying to explain the nonlinear climate by linearizing around some set of imagined “natural values” of input parameters and then attempting to predict an anomaly is just like trying to compute the tides without being able to compute the actual orbit due to gravitation first. It is building a Ptolemaic theory of tidal epicycles instead of observing the sky first, determining Kepler’s Laws from the data second, and discovering the laws of motion and gravitation that explain the data third, finding that they explain more observations than the original data (e.g. cometary orbits) fourth, and then deriving the correct theory of the tidal pseudoforces as a direct consequence of the working theory and observing agreement there fifth.

In this process we are still at the stage of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, patiently accumulating reliable, precise observational data and trying to organize it into crude rules. We are only decades into it — we have accurate knowledge of the Ocean (70% of the Earth’s surface) that is at most decades long, and the reliable satellite record is little longer. Before that we have a handful of decades of spotty observation — before World War II there was little appreciation of global weather at all and little means of observing it — and at most a century or so of thermometric data at all, of indifferent quality and precision and sampling only an increasingly small fraction of the Earth’s surface. Before that, everything is known at best by proxies — which isn’t to say that there is not knowledge there but the error bars jump profoundly, as the proxies don’t do very well at predicting the current temperature outside of any narrow fit range because most of the proxies are multivariate and hence easily confounded or merely blurred out by the passage of time. They are Pre-Ptolemaic data — enough to see that the planets are wandering with respect to the fixed stars, and perhaps even enough to discern epicyclic patterns, but not enough to build a proper predictive model and certainly not enough to discern the underlying true dynamics.

I assert — as a modest proposal indeed — that we do not know enough to build a good, working climate model. We will not know enough until we can build a working climate model that predicts the past — explains in some detail the last 2000 years of proxy derived data, including the Little Ice Age and Dalton Minimum, the Roman and Medieval warm periods, and all of the other significant decadal and century scale variations in the climate clearly visible in the proxies. Such a theory would constitute the moral equivalent of Newton’s Law of Gravitation — sufficient to predict gross motion and even secondary gross phenomena like the tides, although difficult to use to compute a tide table from first principles. Once we can predict and understand the gross motion of the climate, perhaps we can discern and measure the actual “warming signal”, if any, from CO_2. In the meantime, as the GCMs continue their extensive divergence from observation, they make it difficult to take their predictions seriously enough to condemn a substantial fraction of the world’s population to a life of continuing poverty on their unsupported basis.

Let me make this perfectly clear. WHO has been publishing absurdities such as the “number of people killed every year by global warming” (subject to a dizzying tower of Bayesian priors I will not attempt to deconstruct but that render the number utterly meaningless). We can easily add to this number the number of people a year who have died whose lives would have been saved if some of the half-trillion or so dollars spent to ameliorate a predicted disaster in 2100 had instead been spent to raise them up from poverty and build a truly global civilization.

Does anyone doubt that the ratio of the latter to the former — even granting the accuracy of the former — is at least a thousand to one? Think of what a billion dollars would do in the hands of Unicef, or Care. Think of the schools, the power plants, the business another billion dollars would pay for in India, in central Africa. Go ahead, think about spending 498 more billions of dollars to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people, to build up its weakest economies. Think of the difference not spending money building inefficient energy resources in Europe would have made in the European economy — more than enough to have completely prevented the fiscal crisis that almost brought down the Euro and might yet do so.

That is why presenting numbers like “67% likely” on the basis of gaussian estimates of the variance of averaged GCM numbers as if it has some defensible predictive force to those who are utterly incapable of knowing better is not just incompetently dumb, it is at best incompetently dumb. The nicest interpretation of it is incompetence. The harshest is criminal malfeasance — deliberately misleading the entire world in such a way that millions have died unnecessarily, whole economies have been driven to the wall, and worldwide suffering is vastly greater than it might have been if we had spent the last twenty years building global civilization instead of trying to tear it down!

Even if the predictions of catastrophe in 2100 are true — and so far there is little reason to think that they will be based on observation as opposed to extrapolation of models that rather appear to be failing — it is still not clear that we shouldn’t have opted for civilization building first as the lesser of the two evils.

I will conclude with my last standard “challenge” for the warmists, those who continue to firmly believe in an oncoming disaster in spite of no particular discernible warming (at anything like a “catastrophic” rate” for somewhere between 13 and 17 years), in spite of an utterly insignificant rate of SLR, in spite of the growing divergence between the models and reality. If you truly wish to save civilization, and truly believe that carbon burning might bring it down, then campaign for nuclear power instead of solar or wind power. Nuclear power would replace carbon burning now, and do so in such a way that the all-important electrical supply is secure and reliable. Campaign for research at levels not seen since the development of the nuclear bomb into thorium burning fission plants, as the US has a thorium supply in North Carolina alone that would supply its total energy needs for a period longer than the Holocene, and so does India and China — collectively a huge chunk of the world’s population right there (and thorium is minded with rare earth metals needed in batteries, high efficiency electrical motors, and more, reducing prices of all of these key metals in the world marketplace). Stop advocating the subsidy of alternative energy sources where those sources cannot pay for themselves. Stop opposing the burning of carbon for fuel while it is needed to sustain civilization, and recognize that if the world economy crashes, if civilization falls, it will be a disaster that easily rivals the worst of your fears from a warmer climate.

Otherwise, while “deniers” might have the blood of future innocents on their hands if your future beliefs turn out to be correct, you’ll continue to have the blood of many avoidable deaths in the present on your own.


Jun 20, 2013 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenternoTrohpywins

According to Leo, the author is Will Wilkinson. Never heard of him, but there is a wiki page.
(which links him to John Rawls, philosopher father of Alec the AR5 leaker)

Jun 20, 2013 at 10:43 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

This isn't a crisis for climate science. This is just the way science goes.
Oh, bullshit!

Jun 20, 2013 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

"— is beyond dumb. Dumber than dumb. Dumb cubed. The exponential of dumb. The phase space filling exponential growth of probable error to the physically permitted boundaries dumb."

Love it. Beautifully expressed. I'd steal it if I thought I could memorize it.

Jun 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

A single fly makes a summer.

H/t P. Wilson.

Jun 20, 2013 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

This has nothing to do with climate science.

When the global economy crashed, did The Economist run articles on global economic models ? No. It would be daft to imagine computers are capable of forecasting the future of the global economy and it is equally daft to believe they can forecast the future of climate.

My answer is 42 - take it or leave it.

Jun 20, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

rgbatduke says:
June 20, 2013 at 10:04 amI think that reality is probably following the most likely dynamical evolution, not the least likely, and so I judge the models on the basis of reality and not the other way around.

There are only two ways to reconcile GCMs with observation:

1) that the observation correlates with a previously identified solution within CAGW, but with a 5% likelihood of this pattern happening, and
2) regardless of what the initial pattern starts like, there is/are ways GCMs recognize for the temps to go from here (ho-hum) to there (>3C) by 2100, i.e. start like Scenario C and end as Scenario A.

Like R, I think the world or anything as large as a world responds pretty much down the middle of the possible groupings, responding not to accidental combinations of many small variables but to the combination of only a small number of large variables - the gross predictive, causitive agents.

It is only in fantasy that a butterfly flapping its wings in China causes a hurricane off the west coast of Africa. There are many reasons for this, not the least is the Threshold Phenomena, meaning that nothing happens if something big enough doesn't get it going. There are too many countervailing influences for all the tiny influences to line up perfectly.

It is a remarkable aspect of the warmists' belief that their times (and themselves, as they are in it and of it) are "special", that a position that the world has warmed along the lesser 5% probability path, not near the actual 80% probability path of REAL world activities.

Perhaps the CAGW refusal to accept that the recent past and the present are "normal" just shows that the warmists are, in fact, as special as they think the current times of Earth are. These eco-green preservationists display the anomalous characteristics of the lowest 5% of understanding, expectations and overall behaviour one would expect from a study of our well-educated, well-fed, well-connected western citizenry.

Al Gore: the Harold Camping of Climatology.

Jun 20, 2013 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

Said W.W. :-

Given the so-far unfathomed complexity of global climate and the tenuousness of our grasp on the full set of relevant physical mechanisms,[...]

Er, Yup and yup again - cubed.

Jun 21, 2013 at 12:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I'm not renewing my subscription (which lapsed years ago) just yet.

The strong investment in alarmism, which ran counter to everything The Economist used to stand for, has deep roots.

I reckon they still want to believe, and are desperately hoping for a sign, any sign.

If and when they get rid of the resident hippies and get back to proper journalism, my credit card awaits. But, we are still a good way from that point.

Jun 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Further to Don Keiller's comment above (10:27pm June 20):

This article in The Economist contains the phrase "strident moralising" as a criticism of the MSM

Yet, The Economist has been in the very forefront of such stridency but is now finger-pointing at other "meeja" outlets

Such are the wages of egotism: deeply entrenched hypocrisy, impervious to, unaware of, fact

The only effective recourse we have to this is satirical laughter. John Cleese, where are you ?

Jun 21, 2013 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

"John Cleese, where are you ?"

John Cleese, he went native years ago, he joined the establishment - he probably believes vehemently in CAGW - like all the other 'comedians' in the Londonistan intelligentsia.

Jun 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

We have it on the authority of no less than the saintly sage Gordon Brown that both WW and RGB are flat earthers. To which Bob Ward would add that they aren't peer reviewed.

So 97% (TM) of politicians in the developed world can take a huge sigh of relief and carry on feathering their nests whilst bragging that they are saving the planet.

Bring on the pitchforks and flaming torches.

Jun 21, 2013 at 3:42 AM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

This is naive.

You think politicians ever take the hit for anything?

"It woz them Mi Lord".

Science will be the biggest loser in this.

You do not get paid all that money, without there being some caveats. One of them being in place to take the fall.

Sceince has a contract with the Devil.

Jun 21, 2013 at 4:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

RG Brown's comment here (thanks, noTrohpywins) and his original one back at WUWT are essential reading, as are all of his infrequent but hugely valuable contributions. (See for example

Another one to put on the hard drive.

As an old Chartered Civil Engineer, the physics and statistics are above my head. I can just follow what he's on about but that's about it. But the sheer logic and humanity of his comments on scientific and energy policy are as inspiring on the one hand as they are as unlikely to be adopted, on the other.

Sure, ten years from now, there will be loads and loads of scientists and politicians telling everyone that, "Of Course! I realised straight away what a crock cAGW was & how absurd wind farms were and fearlessly tried to expose it ..."
Just as, by 1955, 97% (TM) of the French had been active in the Resistance.

But, I really don't see how we get from where we are now, to that point, without the UK plc going down the tube. Sorry to be glum, but there you are.

And in the mean time, RG Brown is far more likely to get the bitch-slap than any support from his peer group.

Jun 21, 2013 at 4:30 AM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

who buys the economist anyway? deluded academics who think they know something about how reality works? do me a favour. no half way sensilble man buys this crap.

Jun 21, 2013 at 5:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterkevin king

RGBrown is a great man. I hope he reads this poor comment and keeps it by his side when he is subjected to the enviable slings and arrows given to a heretic of the global warming religion. I rarely call any man great, but the climate wars have already produced many: RGBrowm, Bishop Hill, Anthony Watts, JoNova, (hey I'm not a sexist, she's female), and last but not least You (yes YOU there reading this), who have read the blogs and considered the evidence and realized that the CO2 mantra is nonsense.

Jun 21, 2013 at 6:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterstan stendera


'The only effective recourse we have to this is satirical laughter'

And what a rich lode of material we have to mine!

We've moved on from the days when 'Trust Us, We're Climate Scientists' was thought to be the ultimate closedown line for any argument. Instead its widely seen as a contradiction in terms

Then - for a few years - it was 'peer-review'. And that has been shown to be as much of a busted flush as the 'Trust Us.....' meme. Peer-review = pal-review = 'they've never asked'. (*)

And so we moved to the utterly meaningless 'Climate models predict'. And the tower of insanities built upon that unstable foundation. Model building upon model upon model. Until the 'scientists' can publish a peer- reviewed paper with absolutely no experimental/observational data involved anywhere along the chain of 'evidence'...and still claim (I imagine with a straight face) to be trustworthy scientists.

The pity is that during the mid noughties the public and the politicians were so mesmerised by this house of illusions that they suspended their critical faculties and fell for the trick.

And now we are a lot wiser but an awful lot poorer for our past gullibility. Countless amounts of blood and treasure have been expended on this ill-founded scare.

But for comedic purposes, what a wonderful cast of totally inept characters have been given to us to play with.

The global data custodian who loses his paperwork in an office move within the same campus. Who makes confidentiality agreements and then can't find them. Who finds EXCEL beyond him, but publishes 200 papers without any independent checking whatsoever

The Super Egotist who demands utter unquestioning loyalty and acceptance of his work but won't debate his methods or results.

His fawning toady who can't be in the same TV studio as a 'denier' lest he be soiled by association. So flounces out like a hormonal teenager.

The failed politician who charges $1200 for breakfast with himself but gets no takers. And jets around the world lecturing us all on why we must cut our carbon footprint

The saviour of the world film-maker who finds kiddie murder amusing. But the public didn't.

The document forger so incompetent that it took only a few hours for his work to be detected and traced back to him.

The arrogant 'climatologists' who announce their latest results with huge fanfare and hubris..only to find that their nemesis is waiting in the blogosphere...and for their magnum opus to disappear without trace. Humiliated by better science and better brains and better integrity...and by a bunch of amateurs to boot.

The list is seemingly endless...

We are lucky right now that we have the wonderful Josh to expose and ridicule these strange creatures in cartoon form. But we also need our contemporary Jonathan Swift or Dickens to show them in print..or to take on the stand-up satirical mantle from the masterful George Carlin.

Any takers?


Jun 21, 2013 at 7:54 AM | Registered CommenterLatimer Alder

Thank you, noTrohpywins, for the article(?) from Robert Brown; he displays an unearthly knowledge of the mathematics, yet can explain it in wholly understandable terms, and in a calm rational, non-confrontational way. He also reveals that he has read as widely as the barking-mad Richard “This’ll make me a Saint” Parncutt, so has an understanding of both sides of the argument. With intellects like his directed against them, how can the AGWists win?

(I, too, liked his “Dumb cubed…” How about extrapolating it to, “Dumb to the power of dumb”?)

Jun 21, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Martin brumby – you missed out the decimal point; as in “.97%™ of politicians…”

Oh, and don’t forget the 99 preceding the point!

Jun 21, 2013 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

OT but media related

There is still this nasty Hospital scandal going on in Cumbria at the moment.


How much are NHS Trusts spending on Climate Change Reduction Coordinators / Consultants Etc.

And why isnt the NHS exempt from the Climate Change Act.

Got to be worth a few FOI requests.

So starting with this link .

How much Budget are this NHS cowboy Quango crew getting paid off with taxpayers money.

Another good PC Orientated Public Sector Waste Richard Littejohn Daily Mail headline me thinks.

Jun 21, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

OT but media related

There is still this nasty Hospital scandal going on in Cumbria at the moment.


How much are NHS Trusts spending on Climate Change Reduction Coordinators / Consultants Etc.

And why isnt the NHS exempt from the Climate Change Act.

Got to be worth a few FOI requests.

So starting with this link .

How much Budget are this NHS cowboy Quango crew getting paid off with taxpayers money.

Another good PC Orientated Public Sector Waste Richard Littejohn Daily Mail headline me thinks.

Jun 21, 2013 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Take a look at what Paul Hudson is saying on his BBC Website !

'The return to much colder winters discussed at the conference has coincided with another natural phenomena – that of low solar activity - which has been shown to be associated with weather patterns that encourage cold winters across the UK and Europe. '

Sounds like he could team up with Piers !

Worth reading the whole thing.

Jun 21, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJazznick

Coming back to literary matters (as in ‘Yes, yes, apart from all that Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?’):

The cliché, plus a modest extension of it:

A single swallow does not a summer make, but it does bring hope that one is coming.
Jun 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM | John Shade

A jeux-de-mot that would surely work well with wine in attendance:

A single swallow does not a Saumur make...although notwithstanding the pun, I much prefer good Bordeaux
Jun 20, 2013 at 10:00 PM | ThinkingScientist

A startling one to drive you crazy via the Mistress of the Cryptic:

A single fly makes a summer.
H/t P. Wilson.
Jun 20, 2013 at 11:47 PM | kim

Jun 21, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Jun 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM | Athelstan. "John Cleese, where are you ?"

John Cleese might be part of the Londonistan intelligentsia, but he has left London because "London's no longer an English city".

"The Monty Python star says people in the capital now feel like foreigners in a city where the “parent culture has dissipated”"

So, it's a foreign land.

For someone who knocked "everything that was British" and became rich and famous from it, he can hardly complain, but he did!

And, for me, "I know my place!"

Jun 21, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

The very sensible article from Paul Hudson brings to mind the emails found in ClimateGate I where the team were asking why Richard Black had not had PH neutered.

Nice to see Paul continuing his level-headed climate assesment as usual. Apparently he was aware of the AMO years ago, whereas some of the more senior climatologists apparently were not.

Jun 21, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

Still no mea culpa from that rag though. The quote sentence is a ludicrous statement to make

This isn't a crisis for climate science. This is just the way science goes. But it is a crisis for climate-policy advocates who based their arguments on the authority of scientific consensus.

The article in which that statement appears completely contradicts their conclusion, considering:

The scientists, including some of the most academically lauded and widely published, have been among the most vocal and published climate-policy advocate [Hansen and Mann for example].

The scientists, including some of the most academically lauded and widely published, have bolstered or even based their advocacy on the existance of a "consensus".

The scientists have singularly failed, in the first instance to construct a theory that as been validate by subsequent observations [a forgivable failing in science] and in the second instance, to even acknowledge that failure in the theory or reconsider either their level of certainty or the fundamental basis of their theory [an unforgiveable failing in science]

And thridly, the entire rag bag of data maniplualtion, data hording/hiding, obfuscation, journal rigging, pal review, soft "enquiries", invictive, and even criminal fraud [think Gleick], ad hominem etc. perpetrated by scientists and tolerated, nay supported, by climate scientif establishment - ad even the wider scientific establishment.

In fact having written this comment, I have convinced myself that not only is this now a crisis for climate science, it is a crisis for science - brought on by behaviour of sceintists themselves.

And The Economist remains in looloo land.

Jun 21, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Robert Christopher, Sir, honestly, no criticism was implied and I do hope that, there was no criticism inferred.


Jun 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I can't wait for the rewrite of the Economist article about the five dollar oil prediction "Goofs: We was wrong" from Christmas edition 1999. Perhaps they need to reexamine why it is so difficult to make forecasts.

Jun 21, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterfrank jak

Jun 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM | Athelstan 'no criticism was implied'

And none was noticed!

Jun 21, 2013 at 9:18 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

"And none was noticed!"


Jun 21, 2013 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Geckko indeed its a real house of cards situation, having kept quite while people like Mann where spouting what they knew to be poor science , and in some cases jumped on board to 'open up funding ' even if they knew the idea was rubbish . Many working in science are aware that there all going to get it in the neck if AGW falls , the people and therefore the politicians , will not easily forgive nor forget the claims of 'settled ' science and the way 'the cause ' has been used to purse ideas which made their lives more costly .

Although the causes leaders have no choice but to double down now , has their professional careers and much of their personal standing rest on AGW , but others are more than a little worried about what happens when that house comes down.

Jun 22, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

KNR on Jun 22, 2013 at 9:59 AM 'when the house comes down'

Who was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when the 2008 Climate Change Act received Royal Assent?

Do you think that 'when the house comes down' he could ever become the PM?

Jun 23, 2013 at 12:13 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

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