Friday, March 19, 2010

A response from a climate change skeptic

In response to Ray Grigg's article "A Message for Climate Skeptics", I felt some feedback from a self described climate skeptic might be in order.

Ray, you correctly point out that the IPCC is finally admitting mistakes in their 2007 report. But for you to state that the Himalaya glaciers could melt a mere 100 years later than predicted is not very scientific since there is no basis for any rate of melting that can be considered reliable at this point. That's why the IPCC has set up an independent inquiry to find out how such poor science made it into the peer reviewed literature. There were other mistakes. Articles from Green Peace and the World Wildlife Fund also were referenced in the report, perhaps this could explain the advocacy that the IPCC became known for? These are not impartial organizations and do not produce credible scientific papers. Mistakes as obvious as how much of the Netherlands is below sea level also found their way into the "peer reviewed" report. The report stated 55 per cent is below sea level, in fact the correct number is less than half at 25 per cent.
You incorrectly claim that skeptics say that there has been no climate change. That is not a credible position even among skeptics. What we object to is the certainty that humans are somehow in control of changes in the climate and that any climate change that we cause will be negative or rapid. Changes we are seeing are not rapid and if record snowfall across the northern hemisphere for this winter doesn't count as climate, then neither should record heat waves in 2005 or an unusually low arctic sea ice extent in 2007. Climate changes. It always changes. Nothing will change that.
Now to the issue of the leak or hacking of emails at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK (AKA - climategate). You again start off well and admit that the conduct of some of their researchers was not becoming of true scientists. However, you still take their side and erroneously state that they were justified in their actions because they were under attack by the high volume of freedom of information request that were being filed. I reject your reasoning.
Things didn't have to get to that point, and they shouldn't have. Polite, informal inquiries were indeed made by well known figures in the climate skeptic community for access to the raw data. What you may or may not be aware of, is that most of the FOI requests that were filed were not for the data toward the end. Instead they were filed to gain access to the alleged non disclosure agreement that Phil Jones - head of the CRU - claimed prevented him from releasing the raw data. So far, no such written legal document has ever been revealed. I for one am grateful that there are people out there who are willing to work within the rule of law to uncover the truth instead of subvert the rule of law to keep it hidden. I wish there were more skeptics out there and not just in the area of climate science.
Your final error is that skeptics think they have discredited climate science in general. The climate science community doesn't need our help to do that. When Phil Jones was recently called before a committee of British MPs investigating "climategate", he was asked by one member of the panel - a former scientist - if all previous climate papers had raw data available. His answer was no. The reason?
"Because it hasn't been standard practice to do that."
Jones went on to say that most scientist that he did work with didn't even want to see the raw data. This includes the peer reviewed process. Hmm......
Phil Jones is also on record with this now famous quote in response to one of those earlier informal requests for data before the situation escalated to open warfare:
"Why should I give information to you when all you want to do is find something wrong with it?"
Actually, Phil, that's what science is all about.
It becomes even more important when people like Phil Jones are keeping science secret that is then used to drive policy that we all have to live with the world over. Read more.

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