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Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 | 8 comments

The Mann case is your business too

I know that my ongoing coverage of the Michael Mann/Mark Steyn case is not winning me many friends among skeptics, largely because Steyn takes the straight denialist view – that there is nothing to the idea that increased CO2 means increased temperatures and that means problems – and also because there is a long standing belief that right-wingers have no place in the skeptic/atheist ranks.

However, let me explain why this should matter to you.  I have long been saying that left-wing anti-science is far more lethal than right wing anti-science – that the peculiarly religious environmentalism gets a lot of people killed and has an utterly illiberal agenda.  Case in point, the recent calls to have deniers arrested.

I know what some of you are thinking, that post-socialist lefties are too big wimps to really mean that sort of thing, that they will content themselves with picking on the world’s poorest, sabotaging their energy supplies etc., but they will never have the stones to push this stuff through in the developed world.  It’s not they who will – it is the ones who come after.  Unlike the new left, the fascist right really does mean it when it comes to radical environmentalism.

That’s point one.  Point two, rather more immediate, is that the crap Mann is pulling will not stop with out and out deniers, and it is foolish to assume that it will.  I have recently become aware of Roger Pielke Jr who is being slammed as “anti-science” and a denier.

Except that Pielke isn’t a denialist by any definition of the term:

Humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The IPCC assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forcings as they alter regional and global climate. These assessments have also not communicated the inability of the models to accurately forecast the spread of possibilities of future climate. The forecasts, therefore, do not provide any skill in quantifying the impact of different mitigation strategies on the actual climate response that would occur.

So he accepts climate science, just says that the influence of factors other than CO2 has been understated, and this causes trouble for the models.

Maybe he is right and maybe he is wrong, but the point is that the attempts to howl him down – naturally including Pope Myers  – go far beyond attacking simple ‘denialism’.

As I have pointed out, to say that Mann’s work has been endlessly replicated is stretching it to say the least – but would we know that if he gets his way?  The effort by people like Michael Mann will be extended to all scientists who accept the basic premises, but differ on the details, or on the ways that it can be addressed.  What they are trying to do is create an official doctrine that cannot be questioned or challenged at all – witness the Mau Mauing of journals etc.

Is this what science is supposed to be to these people?

  • Crasher

    Steyn
    takes the straight denialist view – that there is nothing to the idea
    that increased CO2 means increased temperatures – See more at:
    http://www.skepticink.com/prussian/2014/04/03/the-mann-case-is-your-business-too/#sthash.3PYmKWmJ.dpuf

  • Crasher

    “Steyn takes the straight denialist view – that there is nothing to the idea that increased CO2 means increased temperatures…”
    Do you have a source for this? I have been trying to track down Steyn’s actual views on the subject. I’ve personally not found any writings where he rejects the Greenhouse Effect. I’ve found him criticizing scientists for claiming extreme weather events support their climate changes hypotheses. He is also vehement in his disbelief of Mann’s hockey stick.
    But for other issues that have wide scientific agreement (e.g. CO2 trapping heat, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mankind’s ability to affect climate change, increased global temperatures in the 20th century), I have been unable to locate Steyn’s opinions, one way or the other. Can you supply some?

    • ThePrussian
      • Crasher

        I’m sorry, but I don’t see how the article shows Steyn as a “straight denialist”. He uses the phrase “greenhouse gas emissions” sans scare quotes or adjectives like “so-called” that are typical of those who reject the scientific basics. He also argues that technological sharing will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by countries with developing economies. That’s not a denialist argument.

        Steyn also says the following (indicating his acceptance of the validity of the temperature record): “Why do most ‘global warming’ advocates begin their scare statistics with ‘since 1970’? As in, ‘since 1970′ there’s been global surface warming of half a degree or so. Because from 1940 to 1970, temperatures fell.”

        He appears unready to accept hypotheses that are unconfirmed by observations (especially Mann’s hockey stick). But he doesn’t appear to reject those hypotheses with solid scientific grounding.

        • ThePrussian

          Well, that’s the catch, isn’t it? I wrote a while back that even if it could be shown that Mann fabricated his work, which it has not been, there is a large number of first rate scientists unconnected to Mann who have found similar, though not identical (by a long shot) upticks in global temperatures in the twentieth century.

          Steyn doesn’t engage with these; in fact, he doesn’t engage with the science that much at all. He mainly concentrates on the politics. For what it’s worth, I think he’s right on the politics, but it doesn’t work without a grounding in the scientific fact.

          • Crasher

            If fabricated is meant to imply some deception, then Mann’s work was surely not fabricated. He produced a hypothetical temperature reconstruction using proxies.

            You can create a hypothesis however you please. You can manipulate the data in any way you see fit. You can use any cockamamie methodology you choose. You can even advance a hypothesis that you believe is wrong. You can do all of these without being deceptive. It’s just a hypothesis. Rightness and wrongness are evaluated by testing the hypothesis against nature.

            No one has yet compared Mann’s temperature reconstruction to nature. One may try to confer validity on the reconstructions due to their agreement with each other. But it is only agreement with nature that matters. That’s how science works.

            If someone finally tests Mann’s work against observations, then there will be real science to discuss. Until then, Steyn should continue to focus on the politics, because the science is lacking.

          • ThePrussian

            We both agree on the point about politics; as I say, there’s stacks of non-Mann stuff out there about the science, but the politics are what is toxic about this. http://www.skepticink.com/prussian/2014/01/29/global-warming-the-ultimate-argument-for-free-markets-and-limited-govenment/

  • MikeN

    You have confused Roger Pielke Jr and Sr.

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