Der Spiegel’s 7-Part Story: Science Scandal – The Heated Climate War
If the notion “the science is settled” isn’t dead by now, then it just got a few more 30D spikes pounded into its coffin. Make no mistake about it: THERE IS NO CONSENSUS.
Der Spiegel’s Axel Bojanowski has just published online a 7-part piece on the climate war between scientists. http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,688175-7,00.html
I don’t have much time today, got some appointents and I have to take the bread home too. Here’s the general gist of it.
Part 1: Bojanowski lays out the battlefield and describes how climate scientists got tangled up in conflict.
Part 2: Most scientists are somewhere in between the extreme views. There’s a lot of uncertainty concerning the consequences of AGW. Big Industry launched a sceptic campaign in the 1980s and 1990s.
Part 3: Climate scientists countered, and fiddled with activist environmental groups. Both pressured industry and politicians. Many German scientists fell in line with environmental groups. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK and the Max Planck Institute drew up position papers together with the WWF.
Part 4: The battle in the media. US media was balanced and alllowed Big Oil funded sceptic views to proliferate. Klaus Hasselmann blames the media for over-dramatizing climate scenarios. Sceptic scientists in Germany became marginalised. Media outlets reporting sceptic views came under fire from scientists and activists.
Part 5: Fighting in the trenches. Alarmist scientists were reluctant to reveal their work, fearing it would only be attacked. Their studies had great ranges of uncertainty, and this made it easy for sceptics to take them apart. Then Mann put out the hockey stick curve, which turned out to be flawed. Briffa put out his curve in 1999, but warned of uncertainty, and wrote that the MWP was probably as warm as today. Mann’s stick was featured in TAR 2001, Btriffa’s curve not. Concerning hiding data sociologists believe that the damage is done. Without transparency, science is not credible.
Part 6: E-mails show Mann and Jones had too much influence on the journals, and acted as gatekeepers. Mann denies it, saying the journal editors decide the peer-reviewers. Conflicts in science are not unusual, but in climate science it has reached an extreme.
Part 7: Climate science is so politicised that it is now difficult to conduct. Mistakes were made in placing too much emphasis on consensus. Silvio Funtowicz sums it up: “Scientists who promise simple answers are best ignored”.
I wish I had more time to go into it more deeply – but I don’t right now. Hope to write more about this later.
Update: I made a small boo boo I think; the last sentence should read:
Sociologist Peter Weingart (and not Silvio Funtowicz!) sums it up: “Scientists who promise simple answers are best ignored”.