Andy Skuce just told me that:
Nobody sane wants man-made climate change to be true.
What he means, of course, is: if the Earth’s climate is just a “hoax,” why do the world’s top scientists keep finding evidence they’d rather not find? Why does it keep piling up against their will? Explain that, Brad.
Andy Andy Andy.
That geriatric meme? Really?
It’s not as if I haven’t tried to warn these people. Like most comical tragedies in history, this gaffe could have been avoided if they’d just read Climate Nuremberg, where they would have found this quiz:
‘The Fear is Palpable‘
It’s often said the best reason to accept the reality of dangerous climate change is that nobody in the science community wants it to be real. Scientists would like nothing better than to find out that whole lifetimes of research have been wasted in needless panic.
Well, that’s what our intuition tells us. But let’s be scientific about this; let’s be falsifiable. Compute the consequences of our guess, and see if nature agrees.
Let’s go back to 1996—to a time when “climate science” still involved a certain degree of speculation, and the future state of the planet’s fluid envelope wasn’t known with quite the precision and accuracy we take for granted from today’s climate forecasts.
The Guardian reporter Fred Pearce describes some Scientists at work. Does he report:
A. Tim Barnett, then of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California, San Diego, joined Jones to form a small group within the IPCC to mine this data for signs of changes in temperature, ready to report in the next assessment due in 2001.
“What worries us is that the current patterns of temperature change might prove distinctive, quite different from the patterns of natural variability in the past,” Barnett told me in 1996. Even then they were afraid they might find a hockey stick.
B. Tim Barnett, then of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California, San Diego, joined Jones to form a small group within the IPCC to mine this data for signs of global warming, ready to report in the next assessment due in 2001.
“What we hope is that the current patterns of temperature change prove distinctive, quite different from the patterns of natural variability in the past,” Barnett told me in 1996. Even then they were looking for a hockey stick.
As global warming increases geometrically, so too does the jackpot of fame and glory awaiting any scientist who can announce all of modern science is wrong.
Did Professor Phil Jones confide, in an illegally-stolen private email in 2005, that:
A. This quote is from an Australian at [the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre] (not Neville Nicholls)… What an idiot. The scientific community would shower me with gratitude if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has, but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.
As you know, I’m not political. If anything, I would like to see climate change stop, so the science could be proved wrong, because of its consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.
B. The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK, it has, but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.
As you know, I’m not political. If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.
But existential threats don’t go away just because we’d like them to. As the apparent pause continued, did Professor Jones write, in May 2009:
A. Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we breathe a sigh of relief.
B. Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.
Fake skeptics are especially prone to wishful thinking. One such “skeptic,” Professor Richard Muller, at least has the self-awareness to acknowledge it. Does he write:
A. Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.
I would love to believe that the results of Mann et al. are wrong, and that the last few years haven’t been the warmest in a millennium.
Love to believe? My own words make me shudder. They trigger my scientist’s instinct for caution. When a conclusion [like Mann’s] is threatening, I am tempted to increase the burden of proof, to demand an unattainable level of certainty. But that is not the way to truth. When the conclusions are threatening, we must be all the more willing to consider them as possibilities.
B. I would love to believe that the results of Mann et al. are correct, and that the last few years have been the warmest in a millennium.
Love to believe? My own words make me shudder. They trigger my scientist’s instinct for caution. When a conclusion [like Mann’s] is attractive, I am tempted to lower my standards, to do shoddy work. But that is not the way to truth. When the conclusions are attractive, we must be extra cautious.
It’s not just within the scientific world that “skeptics” are afraid of the truth, of course.
Does the climate writer Paul Caruso, an admitted denier, admit that:
A. I genuinely would hate to be persuaded again that CO2 is causing, or even could cause, us a problem.
To be honest I’m not really worried, because I have searched for years for the evidence that would convince me that man-made CO2-induced global warming is happening.
B. I genuinely would like to be persuaded again that CO2 is causing, or even could cause, us a problem.
To be honest I don’t really hold out much hope because I have searched for years for the evidence that would convince me that man-made CO2-induced global warming is happening.
Bravo, you’re a 20:20 climate visionary! Now subtract 5 points for every A.
The yearning for a climate crisis is undeniable (so don’t even deny it—please; have some dignity).
Even as early as 2004, even Andy Revkin—Their Man at the New York Times—had figured out what The Scientists™ really desired, as he wrote to Tim Osborn:
I look forward to talking a bit shortly. A key question, to me, is whether this new analysis implies that there has been wishful (or at lest selective) thinking in the paleo analyses done so far (mann and others)? In other words, is there any evidence in all of this that their bias against past variability is intentional? We’re all always looking for what we want to find, to some extent, no?
Then again, Revkin’s curiosity (“is there any evidence in all this…”) would have made him a bad Scientist™. He’d have been better off in a field like science.
So when believalists tell you they’d love to find out that the infidels are right, they’re not being honest. They’re just being—what’s the word?—effective.
I’m not suggesting, of course, that they don’t fear for the future. Of course they do. Their fear is palpable.
And this is what they’re afraid of:
What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably …
I do hope Andy Skuce is up to date with his tetanus shots. Because the former scientist (now reduced to warming seats as a ninth-tier opinionologist) stepped on a bit of a rake when he wrote,
Nobody sane wants man-made climate change to be true.
Slapstick is like any other comedy: it’s hit-and-miss. (Just ask Chris Rock.)
But in this case the thwack of wood vs nasal cartilage was definitely amusing, at least to me. I can only think of eight maxillofaces more deserving of a bit o’ the ol’ Sideshow Bob action.
Technically, Skuce made his beginner’s blunder months ago. But no one voluntarily reads his blog, and it was pure luck that I noticed it at all. If a fake scientist steps on a gardening implement in a forest and nobody is there to hear him swear, does it make a blah blah blah… a koan for the ages.*
After regaining my composure and wiping the incredulity from my monitor, I dropped Andy a friendly clue-bomb in the comments thread.
I quoted the words—the actual words (B)—of Phil Jones. I quoted Richard Muller. I quoted Paul Caruso. I quoted Tim Barnett.
Finally, this Parthian one-liner was the sum total of my own words on the subject (and I won’t pretend it was especially imaginative):
[There must be] a lot of insane people in climate science then, by your reckoning.
Having just sodomized a component of Andy’s belief system with a chainsaw—if I may say so myself—I now left him with only two reasonable choices. Reader, just for laughs, would you care to guess whether he opted to:
1) concede that he was wrong,
2) or argue that my argument was wrong?
Take your time.
Hehehe. That was a trick question, obviously. Sorry!
If you’ve ever tried to correct a believalist—climate or otherwise—you’ll have spotted the false dichotomy. I tacitly assumed that our interlocutor was more-or-less psychologically normal, whereas we all know cult members are nothing of the sort, don’t we? When a person Believes, Truly Believes, they suddenly have rhetorical options that aren’t open to the general public.
And so it was that Andy Skuce chose what the sages call The Third Way:
3) whine and flee
Now I don’t know about you, but I’d be a little embarrassed to put my name to this combination of rudeness, laziness and cowardice:
* How many other gems lie undiscovered in the dross of Andy’s blog? We’ll probably never know.
Scratch that: we’ll definitely never know, because Critical Angle is so boring even the title makes you want to cut yourself.