Climategate hits Westminster: MPs spring a surprise
'Don't panic, carry on' isn't working
Parliament isn’t the place where climate sceptics go to make friends. Just over a year ago, just three MPs voted against the Climate Act, with 463 supporting it. But events took a surprising turn at Parliament’s first Climategate hearing yesterday.
MPs who began by roasting sceptics in a bath of warm sarcasm for half an hour were, a mere two hours later, asking why the University of East Anglia’s enquiry into the climate scandal wasn’t broader, and wasn’t questioning “the science” of climate change. That’s further than any sceptic witness had gone.
In between, they’d wrought an admission from CRU director Phil Jones that he’d written some awful emails, and that during peer review nobody had ever asked to see his raw data or methods.
Perhaps the Honourable Members had noticed an incongruity. The Vice Chancellor of East Anglia, with Jones seated next to him, had said CRU had made a significant contribution to the human scientific understanding of climate change. Yet the practices of CRU looked more tatty and indefensible as the hearing went on. How could CRU be crucial to the science, but the science could not be discussed? Something was not quite right.
The final report, expected before the election, may not reflect the events of the day. But it’s worth recording. The shift was down to Graham Stringer BSc, an analytical chemist and the only scientist on the MPs' committee.
Lugubrious might be a word invented especially for Stringer, who had run Manchester for 12 years before becoming an MP in 1997. He’d shunned the glamour of high office, and become a local hero back home by campaigning against the Manchester congestion charge.
But Stringer had done his homework, and through patience and dogged persistence, he began to swing the chairman behind him. Mirroring the collapse in public sympathy for climate science since the scandal broke, the stalwarts so vocal at 3pm were silent by the close.
The last half hour, in which three of the biggest global warming advocates assured the Committee to keep calm, don’t panic, and carry on - had a slightly surreal air to it.
Enter Dr Jones
Science Select Committee chair Phil Willis, who’s stepping down at the election, acknowledged the phenomenal global interest in the hearing. Sceptics had feared that with the two critics on first it would be a whitewash. It didn’t go according to script.
Phil Jones appeared drawn and nervous, with the University Vice Chancellor Edward Acton at his side. A succession of sympathetic questions from MP Ian Stewart (Lab, Wigan) allowed Jones to state his prepared defence.
If temperature code and data wasn’t available from CRU, Jones said, it was available from NASA and NOAA in the United States. The “hide the decline” statement, where the team had replaced wayward proxy temperature data with instrumented data, was immaterial: all temperature series showed similar increases since the 19th Century. And the softest of softballs from Stewart – are the last three decades the highest since modern instrumentation? – gave Jones the chance to agree. Yes, the last three decades are the highest since the Thames ice fairs of the Regency era. (“Since records began” sounds so much better.)
Graham Stringer (Lab) opened up with a “it's nice to meet you having read all your emails over the past few days”.
Next page: 'It's not rocket science'
These are not "very confident statements unsupported by evidence", but rather are statements that various scientists, Universities and other scientific bodies have made in peer-reviewed papers who are not tainted or corrupted by the IPCC, and even noticed but not mentioned by CRU. Remember the "hide the decline" email. Not, I fancy, a badly worded email by the good Professor as he now states, but rather an admission that in fact the world has not increased in temperature in the last 15 years and he would rather not have the fact in the public view.
Also, if you read on I am not cutting my analysis off at the last 15 years. The MWP was a little longer than 15 years ago, I think. Hint - check "Medieval" in the dictionary. As for sea ice extent, it has been shown that there has been no decline by satellite analysis and other studies from Universities and the like. None of my statements are by my own judgement as I readily admit I am not a climate scientist, but as already mentioned are views made by people with the relavent letters after their names who ARE in a better position to make such statements.
And since such people who are making these statements are finally being heard without being shouted down as heretics or deniers, one would have to argue that, in fact, the science is not settled. And, as such, I would prefer that my Government would take an objective view to these issues and establish whether or not climate change is in fact caused by man, and not, say, affected by sunspots and solar flares. It's quite powerful, that big yellow thing in the sky. Notice there again I did not say Climate Change is not happening. Climate Change has been happening way, way before Mankind was a shit-smear upon this planets surface.
I am all for recyling and generally living better with the environment. Can't argue with that. I would just like not to have Gordon Brown spunk away yet more billions that we as a country can ill afford, taken from us by force and threat of incarceration, based on inconclusive evidence from corrupt institutions. So, yes, when people point blank say "the science is settled" without even acknowleding any other point of view, and call people "flat-earthers" for even daring to entertain other such points of view, it makes me angry.
You remember Brown shrieking "Fifty days to save the world!!!"? Well, the sun is still rising in my little corner of the planet.
This man is no scientist.
> "Why should I make the data available when your aim is to find something wrong with it"
Because that's exactly how science works. You publish your conclusions along with everything that led you to reach them, and you are scupulously honest about any weaknesses in your data or your argument. If someone doubts your judgement, he can publish his different conclusions, citing your data. Dispassionate onlookers can judge between the opposing viewpoints and the data on which they are based. Other researchers will contribute new data and analyses. And so on. Eventually, the data will be good enough that the argument subsides. The chance of an erroneous conclusion becoming accepted as scientific "fact" is minimized by this process.
If you say "this is what I think" without providing your evidence, you are showing yourself to be an opinionated bigot rather than a scientist!
For the record, my take on the global warming argument. I remain unconvinced by the observational data. On the other hand I am a physicist. The physical mechanism for greenhouse warming is proved beyond all reasonable doubt, so an atmosphere with more CO2 in it will trap more solar energy. This cannot but have some effect on climate. The argument and the skepticism is about precisely what effect and on what timescale.
Also we only have one Earth on which to experiment, and we have to live with the consequences of the atmospheric CO2 enhancement experiment. It's therefore safest to do as much as possible to avoid raising CO2 levels any further.
"Our high-consumption lifestyle is non-negotiable. Only eco-fascist losers would suggest otherwise."
I'm sure you think your're being sarcastic (and terribly witty to boot, how terrible to be wrong on both counts), but what you say is half correct
Our lifestyle IS non negotiable. We have clean water, heating, electricity, transport, hospitals. We live in comfort. We aren't going to give that up, and those countries who are not yet fortunate enough to enjoy such conditions are not going to give up aspiring to them.
Those facts are non negotiable, and any framework for discussion of climate change which fails to recognise that is plain stupid. There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to drive my SUV down the motorway on the school run if I can engineer a solution that means doing so has a minimal impact on AGW or one of many more immediately serious and well understood environmental issues.
But you don't just hate the impact, you hate the SUV. Just like the fox hunting ban had nothing to do with the fox and everything to do with the hunters, so the Eco facists and hippies have adopted AGW as a stick with which to beat those they feel are making unnaceptable lifestyle choices.
In the process they are drowning out the discourse of scientifically informed debate (as neatly illustrated by this story) and making the chap on the clapham omnibussuspect that anyone who feels strongly about AGW is probably a bit of a twat.
But do carry on.