E-mails from National Academy of Sciences plot attacks on AGW skeptics
posted at 9:30 am on March 5, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Earlier this week, I criticized the American media for ignoring the rapidly-increasing number of scandals surrounding the IPCC, the University of East Anglia CRU, and the anthropogenic global-warming movement in general. Today, an American newspaper breaks news of yet another scandal involving AGW scientists and e-mail — but this time here in the US. The Washington Times obtained e-mails sent through the National Academy of Sciences that show AGW scientists conspiring to attack critics:
Undaunted by a rash of scandals over the science underpinning climate change, top climate researchers are plotting to respond with what one scientist involved said needs to be “an outlandishly aggressively partisan approach” to gut the credibility of skeptics.
In private e-mails obtained by The Washington Times, climate scientists at the National Academy of Sciences say they are tired of “being treated like political pawns” and need to fight back in kind. Their strategy includes forming a nonprofit group to organize researchers and use their donations to challenge critics by running a back-page ad in the New York Times.
“Most of our colleagues don’t seem to grasp that we’re not in a gentlepersons’ debate, we’re in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules,” Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.
Some scientists question the tactic and say they should focus instead on perfecting their science, but the researchers who are organizing the effort say the political battle is eroding confidence in their work.
Perhaps the scientists should concentrate more on science than advocacy. In fact, that was the conclusion of several people in the e-mail chain, warning against getting into a big public-relations battle when the supposedly “settled science” of the IPCC has all but utterly collapsed. Even if one is inclined to the most paranoid possible perspective on the meltdown, a $50,000 back-page ad in the New York Times will hardly offset all of the negative publicity that AGW scientists have managed to create on their own.
And besides, a $50,000 back-page ad in the New York Times isn’t going to reach people inclined towards skepticism on AGW anyway. Do these scientists realize who reads the Gray Lady? The only people impressed by an ad in the NYT will be the Times’ business office.
Placing ads won’t prove AGW theory. The only way to do that would be to produce solid, reproducible results in completely open-source research with transparent data and methodology … which is what we used to call science before AGW advocates hijacked the term to describe religious belief. One researcher says that the plotting does nothing to build credibility for the science, which these very people undermined with their doomsday predictions in the first place:
“Sounds like this group wants to step up the warfare, continue to circle the wagons, continue to appeal to their own authority, etc.,” said Judith A. Curry, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Surprising, since these strategies haven’t worked well for them at all so far.”
She said scientists should downplay their catastrophic predictions, which she said are premature, and instead shore up and defend their research. She said scientists and institutions that have been pushing for policy changes “need to push the disconnect button for now,” because it will be difficult to take action until public confidence in the science is restored.
“Hinging all of these policies on global climate change with its substantial element of uncertainty is unnecessary and is bad politics, not to mention having created a toxic environment for climate research,” she said.
“Appeal to their own authority” is a fairly elegant way of pointing out the hubris in AGW advocates who declared the science “settled” and began to brand everyone who questioned it as “deniers.” Stephen Dinan reports that Stanford researcher Stephen Schneider accused Senator James Inhofe of “McCarthyesque” attacks for urging a criminal investigation into potential fraud in the AGW movement. Schneider must have missed the calls from AGW advocates to have any weatherman who expressed doubt about global warming to be decertified as meteorologists, or questioning the patriotism of Americans who dare to question the sputtering consensus. Nothing McCarthyesque about that, is there?
At least the NAS has the good sense to realize how bad this looks. They insisted to Dinan that they had nothing to do with facilitating this effort and that the researchers are merely using their e-mail servers to pass the messages back and forth. Maybe the NAS should take the time to remind these advocates that they should focus on performing to scientific standards and let the results inform the policy. Instead, it appears that we have a nascent American version of the East Anglia CRU strategy — which didn’t work out too well for the UEA CRU, its director, or the UN panel that relied on its efforts.
Update: Gabriel Malor at Ace’s place picks up on another part of the story I missed — the inclusion of Paul Ehrlich in this group:
But then come back here and recall with me that Paul Ehrlich is one of the most discredited pseudo-scientific alarmists of all time. In 1968 he predicted that population growth would exceed the resources available on the planet, resulting in decades of famine and disease. He conned universities and governments into thinking that hundreds of millions of people would die by the 1980s.
His error, though he refuses to this day to admit it, was failing to consider such obvious things as: (1) more people means more land being farmed, not less; (2) improvements in farming techniques; (3) people (outside of academe, I mean) don’t just sit around and wait to starve; and (4) the market regulates scarcity far better than idiot pseudoscientists expect.
Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, which also included this interesting advice for governments of the future: that they should put “temporary sterilants” in the water supply and then closely regulate the antidote in order to choose who could reproduce and when. If he’s the leading light of AGW theory, that explains (a) why it’s not science-based at all but rather a screen for statist control, and (b) why it’s collapsing as a science.
Update II: David Harsanyi reminds us that Ehrlich mentored John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.