Mailbag pits Modeller vs Modeller

Although questioning the commonly accepted ideas about climate change is necessary, and such articles are interesting to read, the coverage on The Register in the past year or so has become so hopelessly one-sided that it really begins to detract from the credibility of the site as a whole. Every article seems to start with the preconceived notion that man-made climate change is nonsense and that anyone who suggests otherwise must be dishonest.

This bias is further highlighted by the fact that you don't allow comments on climate change articles. Worried, perhaps, that your theories may be debunked?

I still enjoy the IT articles, but please either try to approach climate change from a neutral position, or just dump the coverage altogether.

omgror [He didn't want to leave his real name.]

An excellent article.  You really get to the nub of the matter.

"The scandal is that science has advanced through anecdote and poorly founded conjecture"

I would take issue with the idea of science having been advanced.  I think this has been a huge setback for science in general.  It sees there is hard science, soft science, pseudo science and climate "science".

I wish that the Climategate epithet was ditched, as this scandal extends well beyond the sphere of climate.  There is politics, big business and economics implicated in all of this.

Grant Alexander

What a great summary!  I have already sent a link to a couple of people who are not scientists and just didn't know where to start looking into the subject.  I particularly liked the reference to BHS (Before the Hockey Stick) when we still knew why Greenland was called Greenland.....  Amazing that the IPCC et. al. have managed to completely erase this from our collective memories!

I've been following this for years so it isn't as though the evidence is a surprise, but to finally see it all laid bare... it actually makes my blood boil!

I just want us to get away from ridiculous mitigation efforts and get back to development and adaptation: regardless of what happens the climate, the richer we are the better we will survive it.  Two years ago cyclone Sidr smashed into Bangladesh and caused about 5,000 casualties.  Pretty horrible, but the previous time a cyclone of similar magnitude hit (1991, I think) the casualty numbers were over 100,000.  That's development.  That's adaptation.  That's humanity at its best.

Impoverishing people in the name of some kind of arrogant belief that we can control the climate....  sorry, time to calm down and send this.

Thanks again.

Rob Potter

Awesome article about climategate. The more press this subject can get, the better. Amazing how all the big media has quietly swept this huge story under the rug.


Very nice piece of writing on the climate data scandal. The core issue of 'dirty' data is a difficult one to explain (and even to comprehend sometimes) and you laid it out very nicely. A very entertaining read.

Garbage in, global warming out....

Mark Phillips

You are too nice! But that is a well written assessment of how and why things went terribly off the rails. The big question is ... where are things going to go from here? This thing is a giant mile-long freight train hauling heavy metals. It's going to take a lot to slow and stop it, or even to change its direction. We can only hope ....   Glenn Hunt

Good article and good summary of what we know so far. Thanks.

The real damage which has been done, it seems to me, is that we no longer know whether we are having an effect or not. How much did the massaging of the evidence effect the forecasts? No-one knows.

I am a Linux user, and therefore used to the open source model. It always seemed odd to me that climate scientists would not release their data and models in an open source-like way. I tried not to be suspicious, but some things didn't add up. If AGW is really the greatest threat we face, as they maintain, then surely that 'fact' would trump any parochial need for secrecy among 'competing' scientists. Again, if it is really so necessary that we change our entire economy to address it, why not at least try building lots of nuclear power stations? Surely, the minor dangers of even a few Chernobyls are outweighed by the 'end of life as we know it'  alarm? Well, apparently not.

Now, it seems, all of our money has been spent on the science and none has actually been done to a sufficient quality that any conclusions at all can be drawn.

Really pathetic stuff.


Mike Street

Interesting article.  But, "we will be rewriting people's perceived wisdom about the course of temperature change over the past millennium," is only unambiguous when taken out of context.  As every good journalist knows, you can prove anything you like in this way.  But anyone with the wit to Google the quote can see the context, and reveal just how disingenuous you are being here.  I see now why you don't allow comments on your essays.

Here's the context:

We can show why we believe we are correct with independent data from glacial advances and even slower responding proxies, however, what are the chances of putting together a group of a very few borhole series that are deep enough to get the last 1000 years. Basically trying to head off criticisms of the IPCC chapter, but good science in that we will be rewriting people's perceived wisdom about the course of temperature change over the past millennium.

It should be clear to anyone with a 2nd-grade science education that he is proposing an experiment to demonstrate what they already believe - which is that the medieval warm period is a myth.  This is exactly what science is all about.

Science moves on.  Many other things you learned at school are now known to be incorrect.  This is because we have more data now.

There is no scandal here, and Jones is certainly not confirming what amounts to nothing more than a conspiracy theory on your part.  "Good science in that ..." should preface your quote, rather nullifying your claim that it unambiguously refers to some kind of wrong-doing.  Apparently "Climategate" is only a scandal if people are too lazy to go back to the source, or too ignorant to read it properly.

Don't get me wrong.  I think it's great that laypeople now feel qualified to be "sceptical" about scientific discoveries.  Science is all about scepticism.  But I feel many of these people are trying to run before they can walk.  Criticism of science that misunderstands science's basic methods is not criticism at all.


There is no ambiguity, Eddie. Jones was accurately explaining the team's work. His new temperature record would rewrite people's "perceived wisdom" about the past 1,000 years - because it added uncertainty to the MWP, and made recent warming anomalous.

What matters is whether Jones revised record is accurate or not. If not, then to what ends did he seek to introduce an inaccurate version?

So far in this Mailbag, two readers have complained about us writing about a conspiracy. The strange thing is, the article didn't suggest there was one. Both exist as rhetorical devices.

Let me digress by inviting you to compare two statements. Compare:

Critics say Tony Blair manufactured evidence to justify the invasion of a country that was no threat to Britain


Critics say Tony Blair conspired to manufacture evidence to justify the invasion of a country that was no threat to Britain

The second statement obviously changes the burden of proof, by raising it. The logic of introducing "conspiracy" seems to be, that if you can't show a conspiracy, then I am right.

Yet more mail, over the page.

Sponsored: Minds Mastering Machines - Call for papers now open

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018