Method without Science,
The article alleges to highlight failures of climate change science, and in an obviously unintended way both it and Curry’s discussion of it does.
To give credit where credit is due, the exercise led me to rethinking how we frame the question of our current impasse. How it is possible for drivel like Nicol’s to somehow be taken seriously by anyone, never mind winding up actually influencing policies of countries.
First let’s get some context. In his paper Nicol said:
“Yet in contemporary research on matters to do with climate change, and despite enormous expenditure, not one serious attempt has been made to check the veracity of the numerous assumptions involved in greenhouse theory by actual experimentation.“
“greenhouse theory“, seriously? Has he not read any scientific literature post-1860?
That aside, this is just idiotically wrong as a general statement. Can he cite any specifics? Loaded as it is with qualifiers he would no doubt cite all of the relevant reserach (which he is clearly not familiar with, or simply doesn’t understand) as not “serious” attempt(s) (ie No True Scotsman fallacy).
“The one modern, definitive experiment, the search for the signature of the green house effect has failed totally.“
This is such outright nonsense that even Curry calls it out “Oops. The signature of the Earth’s greenhouse effect is well known and demonstrated by the infrared spectra at the surface and measured by satellites.”
” … the IPCC dogma, it is the religious importance that the IPCC holds for this cadre of scientists; they will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC. Who are these priests of the IPCC?” and so on
Hypocritical double standards much?
Well, what can we expect from some random physicist publishing a popular article on the web? Actually I think it reasonable to expect anyone who has had any scientific training whatsoever (like a pass BSc) to be able to manage the 20 min it would have required to get his facts straight, particularly if they are pretending enough authority to write on the subject. After all, these days even a lot of pre-school children know how to use a search engine.
Let’s also note that Nicol is not some random physicist, he is in fact Chairman [sic] of the Australian Climate Science Coalition (yes, another
political PR/Lobbying Firm “Think Tank”) and author of the irrelevant “A Fundamental Analysis of the Greenhouse Effect”.
Of course when you consider some of the other members of the scientific advisory panel, like Bob Carter, David Evans, William Kininmonth, John McLean, and Ian Plimer to name a few, (condolences to our friends down under) you realize that Nicol may be the best available at the ACSC; he is merely ridiculously wrong, whereas the ACSC has far worse to offer.
Is it too much to ask that the Chair of anything with the term “Climate Science” in their title have at least a rudimentary grasp of the basic facts? Is that too much to expect? Apparently it is.
I should be (and I probably am) looking at the creme de la creme of climate change science “skepticism” written by the Chair of a “skeptic” think tank and being discussed by one of the premier “skeptic” blogs, and it’s a failed high school paper being graded by the student’s overprotective mother.
So I stopped there
The scientific failure that these pieces underscore is the failure to create a population sufficiently scientifically literate to immediately see these posts for ridiculous. Not merely ridiculous, but as allegedly serious scientific discussions of climate change science, outright insulting.
Surely there has to be a better way to approach this than merely documenting (yet again) that the Deniers are a bunch of clueless no hopers indulging in circle jerks to exploit the credulity of the gullible.
This is not news to any who actually read this, or most of the other science blogs. Why bother doing it again? On the off chance that any of the Deniers actually said anything rational it would immediately be picked up by the legitimate science community, so what’s the point?
Here again I think we are dealing with something that is necessary, but not sufficient. On the one hand it is necessary to document the vapidity of the Denier Canon:
- for those who are not aware and/or joining us late;
- for people who accept the science, but who want to see that it has answers to the Denier claims;
That this has not been sufficient is self-evident and much discussed, but that begs the question as to what else is needed?
Tactics without strategy
It seems to me (and perhaps someone can correct me) that most of the discussion of the public (mis)understanding of climate change science and the attendant policy failures is about messaging, how we present what we have to say.
That is tactics. Tactics are fine, you need tactics, but what is the strategy? What is it we want to achieve? Who is our target and why? Exactly how do our tactics lead us to achieving our goals?
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu
Granted the climate science community is a loose network of a broad spectrum of individuals and groups, with occasional nodes that might be described as coalitions and the like, so I am not suggesting a unified strategy. It’s not only impractical, it’s probably impossible.
Even so, it is possible for us to have a loose strategy that is constantly discussed and reviewed, and which many in the network implement in ways that are suited to their strengths and abilities.
The assumed “target” seems to be the public and policy makers. For the latter we assume access through official channels such as the government departments and academic societies, and secondarily through the electorate. For the former we put the science out there and hope that the media & NGOs will pick it up and pass it on, supplemented with blogs, podcasts and such other public voices as we can muster.
As for dealing with the Deniers, we are pretty much reactive and are restricted to documenting their errors and frauds, as well as exposing their links to vested interests. How this is meant to neutralize or counteract them is more assumed than stated, and depends heavily on assumptions of a rational society that is interested in self-preservation.
Is that a fair description?
If so, we need a clearer, more coherent, proactive strategy utilizing a broader range of tactics that takes advantage of the full range of people who support the rational, pro-science worldview and are willing to do something about it.
This is something I will be talking a lot more about in coming posts, and hopefully others will be as well.
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
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