Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Denialist crocodile tears

The climate change denial organization has been in a well-funded and well planned campaign to attack climate scientists all over the world. Any scientist doing research showing the climate is changing is subject to viscous attacks. This has even been given a name - The Climate Wars. The fossil fuel industry, Koch brothers, Scaife Foundation, the Heartland Institute and Saudi Arabia have been very active in this campaign. The leading members of Congress that are denialists receive massive amounts of support from these, and other, groups. Virtually every noteworthy denialist also receives funding from one or more of these groups.

Recently, though, more and more information is being revealed about all of these activities. The result is that many of the denialists are being shut out of venues for their messages. After years of villainizing climate scientists, the deniers are finding themselves on the other end of the message.

Now, they are claiming they are the victims. They claim they are just honest scientists trying to present an alternative interpretation of the science. Take this article that appeared on Forbes.com as an example. This article is a very typical example of how deceptive the deniers can be. For instance, the author, Warren Meyer, discusses an article critical of climate change deniers and states, "Of course, not once in the article is the mainstream skeptic scientific position even given." The problem with this is that there is no scientific position provided by the deniers. They claim there is, but there is no science and no evidence to support any of their claims. Many of their claims are even contradictory.

Meyer goes on to state, "Those who are not actually involved in the details of the debate could be forgiven for believing that skeptics have not real scientific position, since folks like Clynes go out of the way never, ever to write about it.  It is the first rule of climate journalism — never quote a skeptic’s scientific position." Well, Mr. Meyer, I am actually involved with the details of the debate. I am a professor of physics and have been working in fields related to climate change for over 25 years. I have actively followed the science and engaged climate scientists for about 30 years. I am well read and very conversant on the issues of both climate scientists and the deniers. I am qualified to speak on this issue and I can tell you that there is no valid scientific position the deniers can stand on. In fact, I have said that the only way you can deny manmade climate change is to reject science. And, I can defend that statement. Rejecting science is not a scientific position.

Meyer also states,
The climate community has become incredibly insular and resistant to criticism and replication of their work.  Peer review tends to be by a small group of friends and close associates, and attempts by third parties to replicate their work are impossible, since climate scientists seldom release their key data to outsiders, even when, which is often the case, their work is publicly funded. In particular, climates scientists often get very “creative” with statistical methods, and often create results which don’t stand up to review by qualified statisticians outside the field.
This, of course, is a total fabrication, something the deniers do frequently. It sounds good with the general public, so they say it over and over. The fact that it is a lie is something that is missed by most people that are not involved in science.

Here are the facts, most of the climate data is readily available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. I, myself, frequently go on-line and download the data. It is free and does not even require a password.  What is not readily available is proprietary computer code that scientists work many years to develop. The physics and the data are available and are the same for everyone, but the product of their minds and efforts belongs to them and they don't have to release it. If someone wants to duplicate the experiment they have access to the physical equations and the data. It is actually better, and much more valid, if someone verifies an experiment with independent code. There is nothing under-handed or malicious here. This is the way it works in all fields.

Peer reviews are done by anonymous individuals. Editors try to ensure there is no conflict of interests, but sometimes that happens. The deniers have learned how to play that game with several very controversial and invalid papers that were, literally, reviewed by their friends and associates. Generally speaking, the community is much too large, contrary to what Mr. Meyer claims, for it to be a real problem. There are thousands of climate scientists world wide. I have reviewed papers for peer-reviewed journals and I can state that I did not know the authors or have any association with them. Mr. Meyer is just making this up.

Every paragraph of Mr. Meyer's article is false. Just below the paragraph stated above he says,

Over and over we must take Michael Mann and other climate scientists at their word that these lawsuits are purely to harass them.  But, in fact, the origins of these lawsuits were to try to obtain data from Mann and others that was needed by third parties to replicate their published works, data that was collected in most cases with taxpayer-funded grants for research that was published in journals that nominally required authors to provide all data needed for replication.
Sure, some recent FOIA suits by political groups, particularly one in Virginia of Mann’s emails when we was a professor there, border on harassment; but I have yet to meet any scientist who, hearing the story of Mann’s resistance to providing replication data, has any sympathy for such a clear breach of the scientific process.
 The reality is that Dr. Mann has been literally attacked by the deniers and has received as many as 20 FOIA requests over a single weekend. The people requesting the data have all been told that the data is freely available. As I explained above, the actually computer code is proprietary and Dr. Mann, or anyone else, is not required to provide it. Considering the hostile and illegal activities that have been directed at him, he is well advised not to engage the deniers any more than he is forced to. Mann wrote a very good book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, that provides the story in detail. If you have any interest in the subject, I recommend you read it. I'm willing to bet you will be surprised to find out what has been going on.

As for the 'border on harassment' suits in Virginia, these were attacks by the state Attorney General, Kenneth Cuccinelli, that were so flagrant that the universities involved refused to provide the requested information and successfully went to court to quash the AG's subpoenas. That does not 'border' on harassment, it is harassment.

Read the article for yourself and do a little homework. It will not take very much effort at all for you to investigate his claims and to find that they are false. Try it. Its fun.

I could go on, but all I  would do is to provide more evidence that Mr. Meyer is a liar. If he doesn't like me saying that, he knows were to find me. I will stand by my statement. Do you think he will do anything to me? I would be stunned. The truth is a defense in suits on libel and slander. I am absolutely sure Mr. Meyer and any other climate change denier would never want to have to defend their statements in court. That would be a losing bet for them and they know it.

Instead, the deniers, such as Mr. Meyer, will cry and act like victims. In this way they hope to lure new believers to listen to them. That is the very definition of crocodile tears.

Meanwhile, if any of the climate change deniers show up with anything that is scientifically valid, it will get published, just like any other paper that is based on real science.

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