Monday, February 05, 2007

Climate change attack dogs

A new visitor to my blog posted a comment on my post about the view on climate change from former IPCC panelist, Richard Lindzen. Angela, from desmogblog, made a point about "corporate consensus" - but was keen to point out that the corporations she was on about are the oil and gas companies who try to "discredit" the IPCC reports rather than the UN which the IPCC works for. To be honest, discrediting the IPCC doesn't take much effort, but when I looked into DeSmogBlog I couldn't help thinking that there was a tinge of hypocrisy being demonstrated by Angela.

DeSmogBlog is owned and managed by a PR company - James Hoggan & Associates Inc

An "Inc", eh? Is that Inc as in incorporated? Well, I guess they'd know about corporate consensus, then. Far from being a conventional blog, the Desmogblog is a corporate site - with all the flashy bells and whistles one would expect from corporate backing.

I also find it a little hypocritical for her to claim that the gas and oil companies are trying to "discredit" the IPCC report. The gas and oil companies challenge the IPCC findings and put forward evidence from their own tame scientists to do so. Discrediting is when you actively seek to damage someones reputation by causing doubt or distrust - like saying that because a scientist works for an oil company their findings can not be trusted. Quite why a scientist with an undeclared vested interest working for an oil company should be less trustworthy than a scientist with an undeclared vested interest working for the UN is beyond me.

I had a quick look around for examples of "discrediting" and, lo and behold, came across a classic of the genre from Angela's colleague on the very same desmogblog from a chap called Richard Littlemore.

Lawrence Solomon, in a National Post-sponsored series lionizing climate change deniers, has ferretted out a new name, Israeli astrophysicist Nir Shaviv .

Nice start, Richard. Note the use of "climate change deniers" deliberately used to invoke equation with "holocaust deniers". No suggestion of an attempt to "discredit" there, then? What Mr Littlemore forgets to mention is that those challenging the political consensus of the IPCC are not denying climate change - we all know climate changes, Richard. The challenge is against the assertion that climate change is anthropogenic.

You have to admire Mr Littlemore, though. That first sentence with "lionizing", "denier" and "ferretted" (sic) is a masterpiece of mud-flinging. before we even get to the scientist's name we are convinced that Mr Shaviv is a Nazi sympathising celebrity seeker who refuses to concede the bleedin' obvious and lives in a dark hole somewhere from which he has to be ferreted out of (rather odd that someone so keen to be a celebrity should need to be "ferretted (sic) out". This is just the start, though.

In response to a reader query, we at the DeSmogBlog have to admit that we have no insight into Dr. Shaviv, other than to observe that he seems to be commenting outside his field of study (and that the National Post has trouble spelling his name correctly).

"Commenting outside his field of study". Mr Littlemore is a former journalist who works for a PR company - and he has the nerve to criticise an astrophysicist for commenting outside of his field! He even criticises the Post for spelling the name wrong. This from a man who thinks ferreted has two t's! Don't they teach journo's to use spell checkers in Canada?

According to Wikipedia, Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties (luminosity, density, temperature, and chemical composition) of celestial objects such as stars, galaxies, and the interstellar medium, as well as their interactions. The study of cosmology is theoretical astrophysics at the largest scales where Einstein's general theory of relativity plays a major role.

I'm no expert, but I don't think you get to be an astrophysicist studying part-time at night school. And as the cosmos plays at least some part (some even suggest it is the major part) in changing our climate, I'd say he'd have a pretty good understanding of both the science and the evidence from the science. I'd certainly take Mr Shaviv's opinion over that of some PR hack any day of the week.

So having established that Mr Shaviv is not commenting outside of his field and knows a bit about science and evidence, what is it that Mr Shaviv said, that so upset our eminent journeyman journo.

Astrophysicist Nir Shariv, one of Israel's top young scientists, describes the logic that led him -- and most everyone else -- to conclude that SUVs, coal plants and other things man-made cause global warming.

Hmmm. Seems Mr Shaviv is actually agreeing with Mr Littlemore.

Step One Scientists for decades have postulated that increases in carbon dioxide and other gases could lead to a greenhouse effect.

Step Two As if on cue, the temperature rose over the course of the 20th century while greenhouse gases proliferated due to human activities.

Yep. That's about the size of it - step one, hypothesize. Step two, add two plus two and make five.

Dr. Shariv, a prolific researcher who has made a name for himself assessing the movements of two-billion-year-old meteorites, no longer accepts this logic, or subscribes to these views.

I wonder why not.

"Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media.

So he was an AGW supporter until he, a skilled and competent scientist, decided to "dig" at the evidence. What did he find?

Dr. Shariv's digging led him to the surprising discovery that there is no concrete evidence -- only speculation -- that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming. Even research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-- the United Nations agency that heads the worldwide effort to combat global warming -- is bereft of anything here inspiring confidence. In fact, according to the IPCC's own findings, man's role is so uncertain that there is a strong possibility that we have been cooling, not warming, the Earth. (my emphasis).

Got that, Mr Littlemore? No evidence - just speculation. Mr Shaviv understands the correlation between science and evidence. He knows how to review and analyse the data. The so-called "evidence" that we so often hear about comes from computer model based simulation. The latest IPCC report downgrades it's estimates from the previous report. In other words, they acknowledge that their very own models were WRONG.

DeSmogblog spends it's entire time trying to dig dirt on any scientist that challenges the AGW view. They are the attack dogs of the AGW bloc. When they can't find anything they use deliberately defamatory phrases to "discredit" them. They don't want a debate. They don't want to argue their points. They don't want to hear dissent. They just want to shut down any voice that challenges their hegemony. Why? What are they afraid of?


Justin said...

Hey!That was a pretty good blog .. Good goin

Brian Lemon said...

You are the winner of the Golden Lemon Award for Feb 2007.
Congratulations for outstanding blogism.