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The Real Problem with Climate Change: Experts who Aren't Experts

The Real Problem with Climate Change: Experts who Aren't Experts

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Have a look at this recent BBC interview with Al Gore.

Then, once you’ve cleaned up the sick, consider what it tells us about the current debate on climate change. I’d suggest two things.

1. The mainstream media still isn’t doing its due diligence in exposing the scam.

2. (And this is a consequence of 1.) Charlatans like Al Gore are getting away with murder.

“The science doesn’t support that view” declares Gore airily. And instead of challenging Gore on what this “science” of which he claims to be the gatekeeper actually says, the journalist smiles indulgently and moves on to the next “So Mr Gore, would you say you are merely wonderful or totally fantastic?” softball question.

I was struck by a similar lack of intellectual curiosity and professional competence in the journalists who’d come to cover the Heartland Institute’s 9th International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas. The vast majority were what you might term “trolls”. They’d come to Heartland, basically, to write it up as a freak show: “Look at all these crazy deniers.” I asked one of them whether he’d even tried listening to any of the erudite, informed panels by experts in their field: the polar experts who said the poles weren’t about to disappear; the marine experts who pointed out that thermohaline circulation – arguably the most significant driver of climate change – works on 1000 year cycles; the solar experts who thinks it has much more to do with – duh – the sun. Hadn’t his curiosity been piqued just a little?

And his response? “You don’t read peer-reviewed papers.”

He’s right. I don’t. Getting me to comment on, say, Michael Mann’s latest apologia on “Why, despite everything, my useless, multiply-discredited, fantastical, nonsensical Hockey Stick is great” would be like me asking Michael Mann to translate Beowulf from the Anglo Saxon.

There are other reasons too. For example, as we saw in the Climategate emails, the peer-review process has been so corrupted by “pal review” that – at least where the climate change industry is concerned – it isn’t worth the candle.

But in any case, let’s just remind ourselves what the key issue is here. It’s not “Is climate change happening?” (It is. Always has done. Changing is what climate does.) Nor – sadly for the Warmists – is it: “Is recent climate change unprecedented, catastrophic or significantly man-made?” (All you need to know on that one is that, contrary to all the computer modelers’ predictions there has, despite rising anthropogenic CO2 levels, been no global warming since 1997).

Rather it’s: “Are all the measures we’re introducing to combat what looks increasingly like a non-existent problem, or at least one we’re powerless to control, doing more harm than good?” And you really don’t need to be a scientist to participate in that kind of debate. You just need to do what journalists are supposed to do on whatever subject they tackle: read around it; talk to a few people; form a considered view.

So why is climate change – environmentalism generally – not subject to this degree of journalistic scrutiny.

Well one reason, I’d suggest, is this core belief so common among journalists like the one I berated at Heartland: this fetishisation of “experts”, allied with the notion that unless you’re a “scientist” you simply lack the qualifications necessary to participate meaningfully in the debate.

To which I’d reply, first that you don’t need to be a policeman or a lawyer to recognise when daylight robbery is taking place. And second that if you’re going to base your entire argument on the Appeal To Authority, it’s going to look increasingly wobbly if your supposed experts turn out, on closer examination, to be a bunch of shysters, fakers, grant-troughers and total ignoramuses.

I’m not sure into what precise category you’d put Brian Hoskins of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change (as endowed by a hedge fund billionaire heavily exposed to the green sector), but for an expert scientist wheeled out by the mainstream media at every opportunity to support the climate change alarmism narrative he doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of genius on whose say-so you would decide the fate of global energy policy, let alone the future of western civilisation.

Hoskins was the man who went head to head with former Chancellor Nigel Lawson on a controversial February 2014 edition of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. It was only controversial because the greenies decided to make it so. Bob Ward – also of the Grantham Institute – wrote complaining to the BBC that Lawson was insufficiently qualified to discuss such complex issues. Astonishingly, the complaint was upheld by some BBC functionary called Fraser Steel, with the outcome that the BBC issued a directive ordering that climate sceptics should be given even less space than they had been before.

But now Hoskins, poor man, has been given the Steve McIntyre treatment. McIntyre, as most of you know, is the tenacious Canadian former mining engineer who eviscerated Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick. He hasn’t spared the blushes of Hoskins, either. If anyone should be grovelling about that Today interview, he suggests, it should be Hoskins.

If Hoskins and the Grantham institutes want to persuade more people of the seriousness of the issues, Hoskins’ obligation is to do a better job, rather than have Lawson silenced by a Grantham apparatchik. I think that Hoskins should write to the BBC Complaints Unit, separating himself from Ward’s complaint and, at a minimum, conceding that Lawson’s position on the (lack of) linkage of floods and global warming is either correct or one that can be reasonably argued.

It is, of course, vanishingly unlikely that Hoskins would do anything so gracious. Hoskins was the go-to person for the University of East Anglia when the Royal Society laundered the list of articles for the Oxburgh inquiry: although Hoskins himself had no informed knowledge of the literature, he immediately endorsed the UEA. Later, he acted as a supporting authority for refusing FOI requests.

 Ouch!


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