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14 December 2009

Climate change: the three latest challenges for the “sceptics“

My attempt at reasoning with the anti-reason brigade

By Mehdi Hasan

OK. Deep breath. Here we go. This is my latest attempt to engage with the climate change “sceptics” (see, I didn’t even call you “deniers” this time round. I want to keep this civil. I promise!).

Can the — ahem — sceptics on global warming respond to three recent revelations?

 

1) SCIENTISTS STILL BACK MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE, SAYS MET OFFICE

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From the Press Association:

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More than 1,700 scientists have signed a statement to defend global warming research.

The petition has been organised by the Met Office in the wake of the stolen emails row.

The experts became concerned after climate change sceptics seized on material taken from servers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit to claim researchers have been manipulating evidence to support a theory of man-made global warming.

The statement signed by the scientists said: “We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities.”

This, incidentally, is a real list of real scientists. It thankfully bears no resemblance to the strange list of “dissenting scientists”, pushed by the likes of Fraser Nelson and Melanie Phillips, four-fifths of whom, it seems, have no refereed publication record on climate science at all and some of whom turn out, on closer inspection, to be mere weather forecasters! So much for the intellectual firepower behind climate change denial (sorry, scepticism).

Update: Dave Cole has an interesting list of prestigious and mainstream organisations and institutions around the globe that continue to back the theory of man-made climate change.

 

2) THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “CLIMATEGATE”, SAYS ASSOCIATED PRESS

From the Associated Press:

Emails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled sceptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don’t support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by the Associated Press.

The 1,073 emails examined by the AP show that scientists harboured private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don’t undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse-gas emissions.

The scientists were keenly aware of how their work would be viewed and used, and, just like politicians, went to great pains to shape their message. Sometimes, they sounded more like schoolyard taunts than scientific tenets.

The scientists were so convinced by their own science and so driven by a cause “that unless you’re with them, you’re against them”, said Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also reviewed the communications.

Frankel saw “no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very ‘generous interpretations’ “.

Some emails expressed doubts about the quality of individual temperature records or why models and data didn’t quite match. Part of this is the normal give-and-take of research, but sceptics challenged how reliable certain data was.

The emails were stolen from the computer network server of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in south-east England, an influential source of climate science, and were posted online last month. The university shut down the server and contacted the police.

The AP studied all the emails for context, with five reporters reading and rereading them — about one million words in total.

Here’s a question: how many people who claim to be shocked (shocked!) by the University of East Anglia emails have actually read them? By “read them”, I mean, from start to finish? Not cherry-picked, out-of-context, misunderstood, easily explainable quotes (“Mike’s Nature trick” blah blah blah), but the actual emails? In order? And all “one million words”? How many bloggers have bothered to do what the Associated Press has done? Hats off to the dead tree media, eh?

 

3) SUNSPOTS DON’T CAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE, SAY SOLAR EXPERTS

From the Independent:

Leading scientists, including a Nobel Prize-winner, have rounded on studies used by climate sceptics to show that global warming is a natural phenomenon connected with sunspots, rather than the result of the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide.

The researchers — all experts in climate or solar science — have told the Independent that the scientific evidence continually cited by sceptics to promote the idea of sunspots being the cause of global warming is deeply flawed.

Ha! Another climate myth bites the dust.

So come on then, critics/sceptics/deniers/loons/nutjobs (I know, I know, I couldn’t help it!) — hit me with whatever you’ve got!