Monday, March 19, 2007

Faith in science?

Last week, two British scientists warned of the danger from overplaying the global warming message.

Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier, both Royal Meteorological Society figures, [were] voicing their concern at a conference in Oxford.

[T]hey think catastrophism and the "Hollywoodisation" of weather and climate only work to create confusion in the public mind.

I wonder what they mean by "Hollywoodisation"?

As an example, they point to a recent statement from one of the foremost US science bodies - the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The association released a strongly worded statement at its last annual meeting in San Francisco in February which said: "As expected, intensification of droughts, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies.

"These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible."

The above statement is, of course, unfounded in science, but it has become the accepted technique of AGW supporters to blame every possible weather event or indicator on "man-made global warming". Too warm? That's global warming. Too cold? That's down to global warming, too. Too wet? All caused by global warming. Too dry. That'd be the old global warming making an impact.

Why do they do this? Because there is no scientific basis to assume that a) the earth is on a long term trend of warming or b) any evidence that climate change is driven by man's activities. So the scientists have devised this system whereby, whatever happens, they can say they were right.

The trouble is, they may not be. In fact, there is increasing evidence that they have gotten it completely and spectacularly wrong. So what is it that these two scientists are concerned about in particular? Is it that they are worried that spending billions of dollars on trying to prevent something which it is not in our power to affect is a waste of money? No. Are they concerned that the impact of the anti-global warming measures may have a detrimental affect on the developing world? Not exactly. Are they worried that government action may cause long term problems for our national economy and seriously hamper our ability to compete globally? Not as such.

They're worried about their credibility.

Professor Collier is concerned that the serious message about the real risks posed by global warming could be undermined by making premature claims.

"I think there is a good chance of that," he said. "We must guard against that - it would be very damaging.

Damaging for whom? professor Collier is cited as saying these risks posed by global warming are "real". If they are real, what is he worrying about? He says the "message" could be undermined by "premature claims". Why would they be premature? If he believes global warming is man-made and that all the "evidence" points to calamity, then why is he saying it is premature to make these claims?

"I've no doubt that global warming is occurring, but we don't want to undermine that case by crying wolf."

If he has "no doubt" that it is occurring than how can this be "crying wolf". He is supposed to be a scientist. Either he is certain - i.e. has NO doubt - or he isn't. Which is it Professor?

His colleague in this, Professor Hardaker is a little more circumspect.

"There's no evidence to show we're all due for very short-term devastating impacts as a result of global warming; so I think these statements can be dangerous where you mix in the science with unscientific assumptions."

No evidence? What - none whatsoever? So how come Professor Collier has "no doubt" that it is happening and yet Professor Hardaker says there is "no evidence" it's going to cause a problem? Not much of a double act these two, are they. Profs. Moregloom and Woes aren't going to knock Eric and Ernie off their perch just yet.

The truth is that there is increasing evidence that our climate is far more complicated than was thought even quite recently - and this has got the scientists worried. But not about the damage their scaremongering has done to the environment or world economies, not about the deaths that their "premature" claims have caused and will cause in the developing world. No - they are worried about their precious credibility.

What these two are really saying is "sorry - we're not really sure what is going on, we don't know what causes it and we don't know what will happen". They are saying this because there are signs that the tide is turning against their AGW "message" and that people are starting to question whether it is really as cut and dried as people like these have been suggesting. The danger they are concerned about is the now very real danger that people will stop trusting scientists for a very long time to come.

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