back to article Climategate: A symptom of driving science off a cliff

I got some pushback from readers on the more skeptical side of the climate issue for describing Climategate as 'a tragedy'. There was clear evidence of cynicism and dishonesty, they argue - doesn't this let them off the hook? Not at all. But we need the bigger picture. Let's try this as a thought exercise. Demonising or …

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  1. dotdavid
    Go

    Impartiality

    "The media say they're irresponsible if they don't cover every potential alarm – and anyway, who wants to hear good news stories?"

    Of course they could always be a little more... critical in their coverage, a bit like El Reg, rather than blindly stating whatever any blithering idiot tells them.

    The BBC is one of the worst at this, they'll publish anything and do it all in the name of impartiality.

    1. Spearchucker Jones

      Impartiality?

      They may "say" that. It's done in the interests of viewers and readers. Sensationalism only works when my headline is gorier than yours.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Passive drinking

    I would be astounded if there was any significant proportion of readers here whose lives have not been negatively affected to some extent by someone else's alcohol consumption (ie, by passive drinking).

    For example, the adverse effects of alcohol in the UK are such that large parts of many cities (and maybe elsewhere) are now alcohol restricted zones (often wrongly called alcohol free zones, which would actually be preferable in many cases). You don't get one of those unless a demonstrable case can be made, in court.

    To claim "passive drinking " is not a problem damages any other point you might possibly have had (I couldn't see one between the pictures, but...).

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Stop

      It's not passive drinking though, is it.

      Passive smoking is where you inhale other people's smoke. Passive drinking would be somehow passively ingesting alcohol where people around you are drinking.

      The negative effects of alcohol consumption on a developing foetus would be passive drinking, but being hit by a car driven by someone who's over the limit is something else and involves no drinking on the part of the victim.

      This is a stupid use of language. Don't encourage it.

      1. dotdavid
        Thumb Up

        @sabroni

        "The negative effects of alcohol consumption on a developing foetus would be passive drinking, but being hit by a car driven by someone who's over the limit is something else and involves no drinking on the part of the victim."

        Indeed.

        However I'd also take issue with the implication that accidents that happen due to people driving under the influence are "alcohol's fault". It was the person who decided to do it, not the drink, and plenty of people drink without driving. Similarly plenty of people drink without becoming antisocial arseholes.

        IMHO we should punish those that do antisocial, dangerous and lethal things when under the influence of alcohol, and not create stupid laws that penalise the vast majority who don't. Unfortunately it seems most prefer the stupid laws which often don't work anyway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Cuz it's short

        it's extremely annoying. The problem is that people can't stand more accurate but verbose language. The meedja hates it because it they like short headlines.

        You and I might like "indirect impact of alcohol consumption" and titles of research articles but we don't count. Catchy wins.

        In an attempt to avoid inaccuracy, I suggest simply inventing new, short words instead.

        Alcohol has a lot of bad zob.

        1. Dr. Mouse
          Big Brother

          "In an attempt to avoid inaccuracy, I suggest simply inventing new, short words instead."

          We could call it "Newspeak".

    2. Mr Young
      Joke

      RE: Passive drinking

      Only one thing worse than that - somebody who is a complete arse while sober!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How is it called passive drinking? Is someone pouring it down their throat without them noticing? Perhaps they attached them to a drip against their will.

      Passive smoking comes from actually being affected by the physical substance. I do not doubt that drinking has adverse effects, we can all see that. It has been know for many years. But to call it "passive drinking" is just wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Anyone who's been assaulted by a drunk, disturbed by a drunk, run over by one, has alcoholic parents, works in social services, A&E, the police, ambulance or fire service (or the tax payers who have to fund the consequences) can testify to the passive effects of alcohol...

        Yet because standing next to a drunk doesn't make one drunk, it isn't an effect?!? ...if only!

    4. frobnicate

      Passive stupidity is even more of a problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Pint

        @frobnicate

        I owe you a pint for making me burst out laughing.

        1. meanioni

          ...

          Is that passive laughing? :-)

      2. Oninoshiko

        Passive stupidity

        on the contrary, I would prefer stupidity be passive. it's the active stupidity that is the REAL issue

    5. Gareth Jones 2
      Stop

      Corruption of language

      IMHO "Passive Drinking" is yet another deliberate corruption of language, designed to make something seem worse, or scarier, in order to justify greater powers, larger budget, political advantage, etc.

      Other examples: "Waste Crime" (illegal dumping), "Identity Theft" (impersonation), "Road Rage" (driving like a c**t), "Environmental Crime" (littering)...

    6. Ole Juul
      Coat

      Freudian sip?

      I wouldn't have thought that "passive drinking" deserved quite so much weight in this article.

  3. Josh 15
    Thumb Up

    Bravo, Andrew!

    "“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    - Joseph Goebbels

    Well done, Andrew, for once again having the cheek to criticise today's dominant narrative around AGW - the fact that sceptics are also called 'deniers' is no coincidence in the light of just how religious pro-AGW propaganda has become. But it's so much more than that - it's a dangerous political dogma and an expensive waste of public money - money that could have been used for genuine environmental protection. The Church of AGW has permitted bad people to sneak in under the guise of 'green' and steal public money for illegitimate ends.

    I refer El Reg once again to the upcoming COP-17 climate jamboree in Durban, S.A.. Two weeks of taxpayer-funded fun in the sun for politicians and NGOs alike, preaching the catechism of the AGW true believers, helped in their mission by the world's uncritical, ignorant media, eager for more sensational headlines regarding the impending 'climate catastrophe', no doubt headed our way. Will this be another 'two weeks to save the world' moment? I wonder. We've been there before, after all, so many times.

    Keep it up, El Reg. Don't be afraid of your critics and keep that delicious sense of the absurd alive and well.

    1. NomNomNom

      The catastrophe isn't a sure thing. The IPCC reports which make that clear.

      The issue is that rapidly elevating CO2 so much higher than it's been for millions of years will very likely have a number of significant effects on climate (ocean pH drop, warming of the planet, increased plant fertilization). In turn there are a myriad of secondary knock on effects from each of these changes - physical and biological and it's domino's from there. The catastrophe is the potential result of these changes happening so fast.

      The reason the word "denier" exists is to describe those who would rather trick themselves and others into believing none of the above mentioned effects are likely to happen at all and that the matter can simply be shelved and ignored.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Another reason the word "denier" exists is to describe the weight/fineness of yarn. The problem with the word is it has been appropriated by evangelicals as pejorative to describe anyone who would dare ask questions of the faithful. It's a pity the other religions took all the interesting words like infidel, kafir, pagan, savage & heathen. I guess if denier is the best a weather warrior can do, so be it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      f you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

      Whatever "lie" could you be referring to?

      (a) AGW is no threat at all to anyone

      (b) AGW is looming and certain catastrophe

      Anything in the media is either a lie or a gross (and very likely mangled) oversimplification. But no non-scientist (and only a subset of all scientists) is really qualified to understand the science (such as it is).

      So we have these boisterous debates in the media, in politics, commentary, and forums where almost everybody talks a load of horseshit . The debate about AGW that really counts is this propaganda war.

      We can only hope that the winners of the propaganda war happen to (by sheer bloody fluke) agree with whatever turns out to be the case. Just maybe the current state of climate science (however imperfect) suggests which side of the propaganda battle to support. But how that battle is fought has nothing all to do with what the science says now or might say in the future. Talking real science, (with its detail, interminable qualifications, subtletly, and often non-intuitive answers) in a propaganda war just gets in the way of the repetitive lying and sloganeering you need to win over the target audience.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      That's because you are deniers

      "the fact that sceptics are also called 'deniers"

      Yes, that's what happens when the overwhelming evidence supports one point of view, and you choose to subscribe to another. in spite of it. And indeed your rant continues on in that vein.

      1. Sean Baggaley 1

        You are aware that plate tectonics took a bloody long time to become mainstream, right?

        And where is this "overwhelming" evidence of which you speak?

        Hint: computer models are not, and never will be, "evidence". Computer models can only ever be *illustrations of a hypothesis*. Most climate scientists are not also expert computer scientists, so we can only guess at their software design and programming abilities.

        To put this into some context: 100% of video games are interactive models. If a computer model was all you needed to prove something existed, how come we're not all swearing at each other while wandering around fantasy landscapes carrying unfeasibly large weapons?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And where is this "overwhelming" evidence of which you speak?"

          Just about everywhere. It's not like it's a secret or anything.

        2. Burb

          I'm not sure what your point is about plate tectonics. You are aware that the concept of AGW has also been around for a long time - of the order of a century - but has only become mainstream in the last few decades as evidence has accumulated?

          As for evidence, there is the fundamental physics, the measurement of land and sea temperatures both by land and satellite sensors, there is measurement of polar ice caps, there is measurement of CO2 concentrations, there is research into ruling out factors such as solar activity and volcanic activity, etc., etc. In other words there are multiple strands of evidence - much more than one can go into here. Which is the problem really because a lot of people think that this is just some sort of point scoring debate that can be had out in on-line forums whereas in fact there is a huge amount of science to learn, understand and assimilate to be able to make a meaningful contribution.

          By the way, computer models are capable of making perfectly valid contributions to science. I mean, are you saying that we should not use mathematics in science, because that is what you imply? Your 'context' about video games is complete tosh. You could use your argument to say that aircraft manufacturers shouldn't bother using CFD to understand aerodynamics. Are you saying that?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @DrXym

        The *only* overwhelming evidence is that CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere.

        There is NO direct, provable evidence to state that is is man-made (despite all the best efforts by interested parties).

        The issue is now between AGW and GW (in fact I refuse to say GW anymore I'm going to use CDI [Carbon Dioxide Increase]) so in fact the issue is between ACDI and CDI and even if it is ACDI to what extent it will affect the climate.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good article

    My wife finds the only thing that will ease her neuropathic pain is cannabis - above even the morphine doctors practically give away. Yet because of this policy-led science approach, we are condemned as criminals and live in fear. I wonder if the ongoing phone-hacking circus is a sign that all sides are starting to turn on the media dragon ?

  5. NomNomNom

    "One of the striking things about the exchanges is that the climate scientists' private behaviour was so different to their public statements."

    Shouldn't that either be their private behaviour was different to their public behaviour or their private statements were different to their public statements?

    I was going to make a comment that everyone's private behaviour differs from their public behaviour (even down to people having different voices for when they talk on the phone) but I am not sure if that was the point being made.

    Private communications with familiar people in general tends to be more casual and relaxed whereas public communication is more polite.

    Also when you communicate publicly you have to think more about what you say. Politicians learn this well as any slight err in wording can be misused by their opponents who then claim it is a scandal and call for them to resign. Most scientists don't have to worry about that as they don't have such political opponents.

    Climate scientists do. Take Dr Phil Jones factual statement in an interview that there had been no statistically significant warming for 15 years. This was widely misinterpreted by climate skeptics into headlines telling the public that Phil Jones had admitted global warming had stopped 15 years ago.

    The likes of Dr Phil Jones learn from such examples that they have to be more careful with their words. Given more thought he could have simply provided the % significance figure for the last 15 years to prevent his words being misused by those with agendas.

    People who claim climate scientists should just blab without thinking in public like they do in private in their emails don't understand what they are up against.

  6. Thomas 4

    Very poor reporting

    So does chutney cause cancer or not?!

    1. hplasm
      Happy

      I'm afraid I'll have to wait until the study group is formalised-

      once the funding comes through, of course...

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Joke

      "So does chutney cause cancer or not?!"

      Well I can tell you that it will NOT if you attach this special sticker to the side of the jar. It shields your brain from the emissions of the chutney because it is made from a special meta-material originally designed by NASA for the space program.

      SPECIAL OFFER 2 for the price of 1!!! ONLY £79.99

    3. Pigeon

      That picture is worth a thousand. Anyway, what about pickled onions? I just ate a whole jar.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Mushroom

        Where are you?

        I'd like to make sure that I am standing upwind......

        1. Rune Moberg Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Passive farting

          Now you got me worried. Has anyone carried out any studies on the potential health hazards associated with passive farting?

  7. JimC
    Facepalm

    I wonder what would happen

    if all the cash that's being wasted on useless bl***y windfarms, and green this and that were spent on doing some decent science so that there was some more credible evidence about what's really going (or not going) on...

    I fear though that the science is so very complicated that is beyond current understanding...

    I still think though, bearing in mind that we know the climate can change very fast naturally, it might be better working out how to cope with major climate change *however caused* rather than spending a fortune on green this and that which might or might not replace any anthropogenic global warming that might or might not be going on.

  8. Thought About IT
    Thumb Down

    The problem doesn't go away

    Andrew Orlowski: "Demonise the individual and the problem doesn't go away."

    But that's exactly what the so-called "sceptics" are doing, and you're right, the problem doesn't go away.

    They mounted a sustained campaign to get the scientists to release all their data, doing it in a way that demanded ever more of their time away from their primary research, so they bitched about it in emails. That data is now out there for anyone to analyse, and nobody has come to any different conclusions than the original researchers. The problem is that this doesn't fit your agenda, so you keep on attacking the scientists.

    Come on Andrew, spell it out: let your readers know what exactly is your agenda, and that of the GWPF and WUWT who echo what you write.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The problem doesn't go away

      "When the wise man points at the moon, the idiot looks at the finger"

      - Chinese proverb.

      1. Thought About IT
        Pirate

        Andrew, I can understand why you're shy about coming clean, so I'll give you a hand.

        Here's the dichotomy:

        - The survival of the neoliberal agenda depends on never ending growth.

        - The survival of the environment depends on sustainability.

        The 1% have seen the threat, so to protect their ill-gotten gains they've mounted a propaganda exercise the tobacco industry would be proud of. Breathtakingly amoral, but impressively effective.

      2. Alex 14

        Re: Re: The problem doesn't go away

        When the idiot points at a streetlamp, thinking it's the moon, the wise man laughs at the idiot.

        You argued that epidemiology was corrupt because relative risks below 3.0 have been reported for the past 30 years. Ignoring the fact that a relative risk ration [sic] of 3.0 is an inherently arbitrary threshold for declaring something more than "a coincidence" and is anything but "iron-clad", and ignoring that smaller RRRs are can be hugely important on a population level, your argument that there's too much bad science showing spurious associations should mean you WANT RRRs <3.0 to be reported. Well conducted studies designed to test these associations that find RRRs of 1.0 would refute the existence of the associations to which you're objecting (and they would do it a lot more convincingly than rhetoric).

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge
      WTF?

      re: The problem doesn't go away

      "They mounted a sustained campaign to get the scientists to release all their data, doing it in a way that demanded ever more of their time away from their primary research, so they bitched about it in emails."

      Initially there was no campaign, just a couple of reasonable requests asking which temperature stations CRU used for their stations. This is a request that to an outsider would seem simple, CRU produces a product based on those data, surely it would be trivial to provide a list of the stations and source (GHCN, NCAR, NMS etc). Initial responses were simple fob-offs saying it's all on GHCN. Repeat requests for the station list got more excuses, some were confidential etc. The data may be, the station ID's were not. CRU simply refused to provide the station lists, so sceptics could not attempt to reconstruct CRU's series. Finally with Climategate 2, we understand why they were so reluctant-

      #1184

      "My head is beginning to spin here but I read this as meaning that he wants the raw station data; we don’t know which data belongs to which station, correct?"

      But then why should bad data management get in the way of setting energy policy and saving the planet?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mmmm!

    I think those graphics will stay with me forever :-(

  10. Pat 11

    you don't understand relative risk

    A small RR ratio can be interesting if you're looking at population incidences. Small changes can mean large numbers of events. Small RRRs can still have narrow confidence intervals.

    1. Tomato42
      Alien

      Chances for narrow confidence intervals in epidemiology studies are slim at best.

      And we don't even have a similar object to compare our results to (or will you tell me there is another Earth sized planet with plant life and oceans on it?). So the error bars can only be taller.

  11. Yet Another Commentard

    Cycle of Fear and Panic

    An excellent book, "Scared to Death" by Christopher Booker and Richard North looks at the exact feedback mechanism described by Mr O, with some very lucid examples (BSE, Asbestos, Climate Change being but a few).

    It's interesting to note the difference between CERN's handling of some odd results, and CRU and, well, any data at all.

    1. Turtle

      In the same vein

      Another book in the same vein would be Aaron Wildavsky's "But Is It True?: A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues".

      There seems to be a cultural parallel between people who like to be terrified by going to scary movies, and those who prefer to get their "thrills and chills" via the news media, presented as fact.

    2. Dr. Mouse

      "It's interesting to note the difference between CERN's handling of some odd results, and CRU and, well, any data at all."

      I must agree.

      CERN's handling of it's "faster than light" findings has been an example to all scientists. Publishing all the data involved, including the method used to collect and analyse that data, allows the whole scientific community to analyse it and find any possible errors. This is a very important step in something which affects a fundamental law of physics...

      ...or something which may have massive impact upon the entire human population, as climate scientists claim will happen with climate change.

      I am not saying one way or the other whether man-made climate change is correct. All I am saying is that when something is as important as this, CERN's method is the correct one, not CRU's.

  12. Mark #255
    Coat

    I always thought chutney was a bit suspect, mind...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you tasted the stuff my Aunt makes those suspicions would be confirmed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scientists need grants

    A lot of science depends on grants. No grants = no science. It's not surprising that scientists will do what they have to to maintain their positions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      indeed so

      we try very hard to write ever better research proposals about even more interesting and relevant topics, all the while maintaining the highest quality of research output we possibly can.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's how you phrase the question

      My wife works indirectly for the NHS in research. She explained to me how they get funding. This is a rather silly example to convey the idea:

      A scientist is interested the effects of litter on Wombles. Now nobody is really interested in these results, so the scientist might write their proposal "The effect of litter and chutney on Wombles".

      Pitch it to producers of (or campaigners against) Indian condiments - ???? - profit!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lamest smoking gun ever

    1500 pages and that's it?

    This evidence of deception doesn't involving facts or figures, but the tone of an email?

    Followed by a full page presupposing the motivations of scientists...sorry, to use your comedy scare quotes correctly: "climate scientists"

    If the motivation of scientists invalidates their research and its conclusion...why didn't you apply this logic to that Channel 4 documentary a couple of years ago?

    You know the one which dismissed climate change, by scientists who weren't actually experts in the fields and were in the pay of the oil industry?

    Re:"dubious ends"

    Pre-supposes the conclusions of the investigation rather!

    Re: governments looking for "a quick issue to deal with"

    Yeah, 'cos long term sustainability strategy is a quick issue for any government deal with; and with publicised effect on short term economic development they really want to jump on such a bandwagon unnecessarily!! Suggesting that climate science is done at the behest of government doesn't make sense; the greens aren't in government.

    Re: "The scientists may say they are merely feeding a demand"

    Conjecture; they "may say" a lot of things. Did they say it?

    Re: "evidence to the contrary is shunned, and scientists who advance it ostracized or smeared."

    Supposition. Contrary example; reaction to and continued investigation of FTL neutrinos.

    If the inference is that climate change detractors are being unfairly shunned, at least get the balls to state it openly along with supporting, what do they call it now... evidence.

    Oh, and that's the opposite of your MMR analogy (where that particular BS was correctly debunked by the scientific community at large).

    A lack of expertise doesn't encumbered the author... so why isn't he commenting on the data itself?

    Surely not because the latest meta-studies (even the those sponsored by oil magnates) have unequivocally stated that this is happening?

    If the results are bogus, then the only way to prove this is research showing that it's bogus.

    -That's how science works.

    Your "Analysis" suggesting that some comparatively poorly paid scientists are in the pocket of governments (who don't even want to take their advice)!

    -That's how gossip works.

  15. John Savard Silver badge

    Passive Drinking

    Having followed the link, I see that "passive drinking" was merely misnamed. It's not about people getting cirrhosis of the liver from inhaling alcohol fumes from other people drinking - that would indeed be junk science. It's about people injured by drunk drivers and so on. That is a real enough problem.

    1. Tinker Tailor Soldier

      So, you admit that the language is corrupted then....

      the problem is that it is totally unlike passive smoking because you aren't drinking are you? But then you'd lose association with passive smoking and the related fuzzy thinking in the general populace.

  16. DasEnglander
    Alert

    Well I'll be damned!

    I never thought I'd see that hack-tard Orlowski talking sense, but there it is in black and white for all to see.

    It's just a pity he can't apply the same objective reasoning to copyright issues.

    1. JimC

      @ apply the same objective reason to copyright issues

      From where I'm sitting he does...

    2. Stiggy
      Thumb Up

      QFT

      I'm just surprised he hasn't labelled those keen on the AGW propoganda as 'Climatards'. It would be exactly as useful here as it is to his obsession with defending the media cartels dying business model. Namely, not at all.

      Great article though.

  17. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Yes, yes, but climate change was first mooted in the 80s, and yet the group of people loudly complaining that it might not be true have only really started doing so since the science became politicized. The movement against is a reaction to the social consequences of the science, not the science itself (although it's an attempt to attack the root cause of those social consequences, which is of course the science).

    So, on the one hand, we have a scientific theory which has become politicized, and on the other hand, an "against" movement which has been politicized from the outset.

    So, AT VERY LEAST, let's not pretend that it's only the scientists that are embroiled in this "systemic failure" of yours, Andrew. It would be trivial to write this article with the completely opposite slant on whether or not climate change is real, focusing on the all-too-human motivations of those who don't want to end up paying more for energy today just because it *might* fuck the planet up for their kids, and how the beliefs of people are painted more by what they wish were true, rather than any ideal of evidence or fact, which is a psychological truth you're ignoring on only one side (and please note that scientists do actually receive some training in learning the difference between ideals and actualities).

    1. John Hughes

      Yes, yes, but climate change was first mooted in the 80s

      Nearly. It was more the '90s than the '80s.

      The 1890's that is.

      Arrhenius, around 1896.

      1. PJI
        Unhappy

        Greenhouse effect

        I recall being taught all about the greenhouse effect, complete with feedback diagrams, for O level biology in the mid 1960's. There were also considerable worries about deforestation, the effects of water shortage, the effects of the water grid in UK (e.g. water from the North of England - Kielder was coming into use - with its particular chemical composition mixing with and so changing natural waters in the South. Somehow, if school children were being taught this stuff then, I doubt it was brand new research. Most of it has proved true to a greater or lesser extent since.

        So, please do not imagine this is all something new, dreamed up to make money. If anything, the new bit is the vociferous and desperate political "sceptic" lobby; the same nitwits who think the population can expand infinitely to keep the supply of cheap labour going in UK, who think we can concrete over the whole country, who think oil will last forever because we shall always find new sources (just like coal in the British coal fields?), who blame the EU for overfishing (which was well underway before we joined it), if they even accept that the lack of fish could be a sign of overfishing.

        I know nothing is yet proved on either side; but the weight of evidence is against the sceptics and, in something so important, I prefer the precautionary principle as the consequences of a mistake in the sceptic direction are almost too awful to contemplate and tend towards the irreversible.

        1. Nick Collingridge

          Very well said

          @PJI - beautifully put. The only thing I would add is that the science behind the cause of the warming IS very robust and no-one has yet countered it successfully in any measure at all. It depends to a large degree on basic physics which is irrefutable - just do the research. What is somewhat uncertain is exactly what will happen - it's the future, after all, and no-one can ever know EXACTLY what will happen.

          But that doesn't by ANY means suggest that nothing is known - we already have lots of evidence of what is happening with the moderate amount of warming we've had so far, and it's indisputably going to get much worse into the future unless we do something about it. The science of this will continue to evolve but we undoubtedly already know more than enough to know that things need to change to reduce our emissions.

          There are NO get-outs for this - people have been hunting for them for YEARS and they have not come up with anything which meets examination. This is the unpalatable but real truth, whatever people would like to believe.

  18. ChilliKwok
    Thumb Up

    Love it

    Chutney cancer crisis :) Love those pics. Great post Andrew. What we need is more humour like this. Once people start ridiculing and laughing at these scaremongers then we might start to reduce the funding to these green parasites. Just imagine the huge sums now being wasted on non-solutions to this non-problem of non-existent warming. Roll on the day the subsidies and grants end, and these green leeches shrivel up and drop off. Then maybe the £Billions can be diverted back to real environmental protection, medical research, promoting development and alleviating human suffering.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what debate?

      There's not really much of a question as to whether the earth is warming or not.

      Even to a dunce, the state of the polar ice caps are a little clue, along with sea levels.

      Even the detracting scientists aren't debating this point any more, they're focusing on trying to show that the cause isn't industrial and the effects aren't going to be significant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Uh....

        Uh, the northern icecap is contracting and the southern one expanding.

        So, your point is what, actually?

      2. Daren Nestor

        Sea level "rise"

        Repeat after me - unless the antartic continental ice-sheet melts, sea level rise is not a problem.

        1.1mm / year for the last century.

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Passive drinking

    Is whatever the *party* declares it to be.

    All else is a thought crime. Report all such cases to the Ministry of Truth.

  20. nobulart
    Go

    The entire trove of 5000+ emails is online at http://foia2011.org in a searchable format. Some fascinating reading for anyone interested in what this latest debacle is about, and in forming their own opinion about what's going on here.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      there are two obvious interesting things going on

      (i) the rhetorical battle between the pro- and anti- AGW camps,

      (ii) the progress being made in scientific understanding of the climate.

      Not sure what the emails will tell me much about either of those.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice article

    Thank you Andrew. Don't always agree with your opinions, this being an exception, but generally enjoy your articles and reasoning.

  22. btrower

    If you build it, they will come.

    "Wherever there is a trough, there you will find pigs". -- Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radio 4 is still (as of yesterday) spreading the line that there is a total consensus over climate change and basically only idiots doubt this for a second.

    This is a prime example of all opposing evidence being ignored and the ridiculing of anyone who dares speak out against the cult.

    Reminds me of the way Scientologists treat their opponents.

    1. Tomato42
      Boffin

      Climate change

      The climate change is happening, that's sure. Each and every climate study confirms that there is less than 1% chance the increase in temperature is lower than 1 degree Celsius. That is definitely total consensus.

      Now the question is: Why? Because the CO2 by itself sure can't do it (look up radiative forcing if you don't believe me). AGW is far from scientifically proven.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      which consensus do you mean?

      Scientific? political? public? media?

    3. Nick Collingridge

      @ Norfolk n goode: In what way is the opposite view being ignored? If you look into this subject even in a cursory way you would understand that EVERY theory is examined with care and accepted or refuted. That's the scientific process and it is definitely being followed. Don't just believe what you want to believe - do the research and you will discover that nothing is rejected until the work has been done on it. It's just that the denialist theories never stack up when exposed to scientific rigour.

      That's not to say that the science is fixed - it's not, and that's the nature of science. But one thing is scientifically as certain as anything can be - the world is warming, and we are largely the cause. This largely hinges on basic physics which cannot be disputed. What still has to be determined is EXACTLY what will happen, but we already know more than enough to know that we shouldn't be heading on in our foolhardy path without moderation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Nick Collingridge

        Listen to radio 4 and you'll see how the opposing view is being ignored, more than that, it's being treated like a paedophile with leprocy.

  24. silent_count

    This has got to be the oldest scam in book.

    Lets predict something horrible (the 'end of the world' is popular), then blackmail the peasants into keeping the priests in luxury while they strive mightily to prevent an armegeddon which, not to put too fine a point on it, wasn't going to happen anyhow. As a kicker, the peasants will then be eternally grateful to the priests afterwards for saving their peasant-backsides.

    - Pray to Ra or the sun won't rise tomorrow.

    - Pray to God or burn in hell. Literally. For all eternity.

    - Pray to your nearest programmer or the world will end on 01-Jan-2000.

    - Pray to Greenpeace or armageddon comes. Glaciers will melt. Seas will rise. Cities will drown. You'll be forced to listen to Al Gore's sanctimonious drivel forever and ever and ever.

    - Pray to the Chutney deity or you will get cancer. (Look! The peasants who said their prayers to his Chutneyness did not get chutney related cancer therefore the prayers of the devout have been answered. That'll be $49.99 for the prayer book. Thank you)

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Getting it back to front

      The scientists are presenting you with the evidence and the consequences . You just choose to ignore it.

  25. Tim McMurphy

    GMO safe?

    Regarding your comment "The great GM Food scare was based on research for which Dr Arpad Pusztai was later suspended. His results couldn't be reproduced. ".

    Was it reproduction of his tests ever attempted ? Where? When? By whom?

    "Pusztais experiment was eventually published as a letter in The Lancet in 1999.[9] Due to the controversial nature of his research the letter was reviewed by six reviewers - three times the usual number. One publicly opposed the letter, another thought it was flawed, but wanted it published "to avoid suspicions of a conspiracy against Pusztai and to give colleagues a chance to see the data for themselves" while the other four raised questions that were addressed by the authors.[10] The letter reported significant differences between the thickness of the gut epithelium of rats fed genetically modified potatoes, compared to those fed the control diet."

    Over to you and you can be a guinea pig for Monsanto but considering their track record you would be foolish to trust them on anything.

    Are you aware that for the GMO RBGH experiments Monsanto said there was "no residual GM material in the milk when at pasturization temperatures"? They kept it at those temps for 30 minutes! That is like baking a turkey for 2 weeks and claiming "no salmonella".

    The so called research proving GMOs safe were designed not to find problems.

  26. dannymot

    If anyone is looking for intelligent balanced reporting…

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21203-climategate-2-hacked-emails-released.html

  27. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Skewed research

    There's a bigger issue here; in that, as noted, a 21st century research proposal gets funded if it looks like it will agree with what the funders want to believe or is commissioned by people who are looking for a specific outcome.

    I worked for 30 odd years in sorting out kids' reading problems - at the start of that period there was a vast body of research flowing out to direct my work. It was good research and it held water.

    But there was a small group of "Reading is Phonics" lobbyists who hated it and deliberately misrepresented it, for example by pretending that the alternative to phonics was not the carefully evaluated research of the day, but something they called "Look and Say " .

    (A genuine teaching method that pretty much came and went in the '60s- Janet and John anyone?).

    Not just that, but the phonics method they promote is the most laborious and tedious one it's possible to invent. But it is cheap and simple.

    For the politicians wanting to claim that reading standards were plummeting but they had an easy and cheap answer, that's music. Yet the fundamental research that supports it all is one small scale study with ambiguous results

    So currently the only research that is quoted or is driving educational policy is The Best Way to Teach Synthetic Phonics. .

    Anyone who suggests that acquiring reading is much more complicated than that is demonised or ignored.

    And every few months a new crop of politicians pops up and says they are going to improve reading standards by promoting "Synthetic Phonics" as if the previous bunch hadn't been saying the same thing.

    The funny thing is that the real data shows that most British kids did really well, but that the tail of kids that did less well were really bad - and that hasn't changed

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @proposals that get funded

      Claim: "There's a bigger issue here; in that, as noted, a 21st century research proposal gets funded if it looks like it will agree with what the funders want to believe or is commissioned by people who are looking for a specific outcome."

      Evidence, please. I'd be particularly interested in which UK Research Councils you claim do this,

      and in which particular subject areas - as long as you have evidence.

      /waits

  28. Al Jones

    "Groupthink takes over, and evidence to the contrary is shunned"

    An excellent description of the deniers.

    You're really out-doing yourself today, Andrew.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    now apply this analysis to

    evolution.

    (my gift to el reg's page impression count)

  30. jake Silver badge

    Bottom line ...

    The Romans were growing bulk wine grapes along Hadrian's Wall 2,000 years ago. George III's (IV's? Depends on how you look at it) subjects were ice-skating on the Thames in 1814.

    In other words, the climate has been both a lot warmer, and a lot cooler than it is today, and within historical times.

    Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knows exactly why.

    Trying to make changes without understanding the underlying mechanism will only lead to tears. Blaming mankind is narcissistic at best, and myopic at worst. Or vice-versa.

    Hubris is an ugly thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jake...

      Yet again you bring up the zombie arguments of grapes and ice that have been discredited - please get some new arguments, these are rubbish.

      No, I can't be arsed to go into why they're rubbish again.

      1. jake Silver badge

        So, AC 00:48 ...

        ... Do you dispute and/or refute that Earth's climate has run quite a bit colder, and quite a bit warmer than it is today?

        My examples are rather egregious, and yes there are other factors involved (flood control on the Thames making for a faster flowing river, for example) ... but the bottom line is that if the temperature extremes of 1814's winter occur this winter, the Thames will freeze. See the Hudson in NY. Likewise, nobody's growing wine grapes between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall anymore, despite the fact that The Romans demonstrably were.[1]

        Why is this true? You don't know. Neither do I. But them's facts, nonetheless. Trying to place blame on humans for Global Warming (or cooling, for that matter) is as daft as blaming tomatoes for contracting rust or TPR.

        [1] I have a 10 acre test vineyard near Rockport, California that is showing some promise ... No reason that those grapes wouldn't do well in The Boarders. But that's after several decades of breeding, which the Romans had little or no scientific knowledge of.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ AC 00:48

        You said "No, I can't be arsed to go into why they're rubbish again"

        That's because you'll be falling back on the totally bogus "These were localized" events argument which you know to be complete pants but don't want to admit...

  31. mjh
    WTF?

    WTF is up with all the retards on this site. Even the most prominent climate skeptic group of scientists now concedes that climate change is occurring after having conducted their own independent study:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21074-sceptical-climate-scientists-concede-earth-has-warmed.html

  32. Xris M
    FAIL

    RE: balanced reporting

    Have to love the fact that on the New Scientist article discussing this (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21203-climategate-2-hacked-emails-released.html) the second story down in the more news box is 'CO2 may not warm the planet as much as thought' (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21212-co2-may-not-warm-the-planet-as-much-as-thought.html).

    Of course this research "omes from considering just one climate model, and unless it can be replicated".

    This shit just goes round and round doesn't it.

  33. jason 7
    Mushroom

    We need to dump Global Warming/Climate Change now!

    As a concept its flawed in that its not something thats blatantly proved. Show me some states showing it exists and then someone will show me stats it doesn't and both can be classed as credible depending which side you sit.

    It's not helping as a poster boy for the environmental cause. Too divisive and it's wasting time we don't have.

    As I have said before we need to go back to basics. We need to go back to that old fave of the 60's and 70's......Pollution.

    Yes we can all see 'pollution' and the effects of pollution. No one can say "Hey pollution is a great thing!" and not look mental. No one can stand by a lake full of dead fish and say "nothing to see here!"

    If we all get behind just cleaning up the crap we've made then chances are the planet as a whole 'climate wise', will benefit as a direct result.

    We are all too busy arguing about what or what isn't going on above our heads but forgetting about whats going on around our feet.

    Let's all tackle that instead. Worth a try isnt it?

    Or isnt there any money in pollution? Hmmmmmm.

    1. Rune Moberg Silver badge

      Helping the environment

      Where I hail from, Norway, the government announced a few months ago that they would add more taxes on diesels.

      A few years ago they promoted diesel cars by lowering taxes on engines with low CO2 emissions, completely ignoring NOx and SO2 emissions.

      Then, last winter, several big cities in Norway nearly choked to death and one city had to pose limits on the number of cars driving on the roads.

      Clever much? Not really.

      The politicians brilliantly pointed to 'new research', despite all the warnings they received prior to their first decision on lowering taxes on diesels.

      That is my main objection to the AGW-hypothesis. We have important work ahead of us when it comes to limiting particle emissions. CO2 can wait. Think first, then act.

  34. Shannon Jacobs
    Mushroom

    Sometimes the attitude produces stinkbombs

    The problem is that real science requires skepticism, and that produces a kind of asymmetric warfare supported by such dunderheads as the author of this exceptionally worth-less-than-I-paid-for-it-which-was-nothing article. The relevant comparison would be between legitimate scientists debating (sometimes heatedly) the validity of the evidence, its significance, and the analysis leading to deciding on its underlying meaning in contrast to a religious argument about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Who needs to bother with evidence of ANY sort when you have faith?

    The new problem is the politicization of science that interferes with the ability to pursue actual scientific work, and this author (whatever his name was) is a symptom of the problem, NOT any part of a solution. Where's that icon for the Register rising to new depths of stupidity? Was this author conceivably paid for this 'contribution'?

  35. Nick Collingridge

    Let's see the other side emails!

    What I would like to see is the emails between those who are opposing the science of AGW - they would make interesting reading. Does anyone SERIOUSLY imagine that they wouldn't reveal a blatant conspiracy to undermine the science?

    Put in that context the totally tame stuff that emerges from the "climategate" emails (and that name alone is clear evidence that nefarious interests are trying to talk up their impact) would not be of great significance.

    I know that those who do not want to believe in the science think there's a big conspiracy afoot - what about the undeniable conspiracy on the other side which is proved by the hacking of the CRU emails amongst many other activities? Why no cynicism about that? Let's face it, the deniers don't even have any science on their side.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "the deniers"

      Aren't you a "denier"[1], Nick Collingridge?

      Putting negative labels on people does not support your cause.

      [1] Denier of logic and reason, that is ...

  36. Super Diggers
    FAIL

    Climate change, GIGO

    Note, this conversation may or may not ever have happened.....

    Scientist: " I need a computer simulation"

    Programmer: "Okay, no problem, what do you want it to do?"

    Scientist: "Okay, I'll give you data, you use that to extrapolate how that data will progress"

    Programmer:"Right, so to just to confirm, you'll give me detailed data and I then compute how that will progress over time?"

    Scientist"Yep"

    Later......

    Programmer"Okay, i've done your algorithm, lets get the data in"

    Scientist"Right the data is temperature figures and CO2 figures for the last 100 years"

    Programmer"Cool, in it goes. Execute. Great, your data for the last 100 years show a steady increase, my algorithm shows more increase"

    Scientist:"Oh my god. Its as i expected, we're all doomed"

    Programmer:"Well we could double check, have you got more data? We're talking a long term thing here aren't we?"

    Scientist"Er no not really, sorry"

    Programmer"Riiiight. So we're talking about a data model that at least spans billions of years, countless variables and we only have a minuscule fraction of data from that whole and yet this model is expected to accurately predict how the model will continue over time? In that case I'd say the outcome should be it'll be warmer, or colder, or more likely both. The model can only work with the data you give it. Garbage in, garbage out."

    Scientist:"Ah sod it, we'll publish anyway".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Climate change, GIGO

      Scientist: " I need a computer simulation".

      Scientists quite frequently code their own simulations, whether that be solo, in groups or collaborations, or in series; whether by postgrads, postdocs, or academics. Even when they employ programmers, the science parts of the simulation are very likely coded by programmers with the requisite science background.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        AC@14:24

        "Scientists quite frequently code their own simulations, whether that be solo, in groups or collaborations, or in series; whether by postgrads, postdocs, or academics. "

        And judging by the previous batch of climategate emails *very* badly.

  37. David Robinson 2

    I have seen endless chat about theoretical causes for a theoretical GW. I have seen no-one come up with evidence that they have experienced. Over the last few years I have taken a number of air samples. I have seen no evidence of change with a figure of around 311 ppm. Of course, my figures have been taken near the ground north of London, not on top of an extinct volcano in Hawaii where Co2 is seeping out of the ground continually and is surrounded by active volcanos as where NASA gets it's figures. The rise in Co2 from NASA mirrors not the rise (and fall) of general temperatures but the increase in the last thirty years of volcanic activity in Hawaii.

    Dave.

    1. DaWolf

      I smell something bad....in the neighbourhood

      " I have seen no evidence of change with a figure of around 311 ppm."

      Well, that just says you are talking nonsense, as CO2 figures vary between summer and winter anyway by about 3-9 ppmv.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LMFAO

    So, did anyone bother to read all of the so called emails in full within their own context, or merely repeat James Delingpole's writings, as if it was the gospel truth? The true cynics and real skeptics who applied "Occam's Razor" actually do read them in full and realize that several have been recycled from James long debunked first serve of cherry picked context free ones that he first released in 2009.

    Oh the evil irony, serving the very same debunked crap twice, with a new label!

    Ah, those silly mononeurons, sadly equipped with the memory spans of a goldfish, they are so easily fooled all of the time.

    "If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem." Abraham Lincoln

    "You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln

    There is an old cynical American saying: - "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!"

    LMFAO!

  39. James Evans

    Sustainability

    I've just had an idea on how to make theaters sustainable. People who want to see a play at the theater could hand over a certain number of tokens. Each one of these tokens could then be used by the theater to obtain goods or services from other people. I really think it could work. It could even be used by other places, not just theaters.

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