One of my resolutions this year has been to try to avoid the use of personal invective against the insufferably thick, dribble-mouthed, grant-troughing, pathologically mendacious, small-penised, knuckle-dragging, impotent, spavined, dishonest, compromised, sub-redbrick-educated inadequates, poltroons and borderline criminals on the opposing side of the climate change debate.
As you can see, it’s not always easy. But I do try my best, really I do. “They’re not really bad people, most of them,” I try to remind myself. “They’re just, well, a touch low grade; a bit not actually that good at what they’re supposed to do for their living – and for which we, the taxpayer, often pay them.”
For this reason, I absolutely refuse to say a single bad word about Professor Piers Forster, a pleasantly zany-looking climate scientist from the University of Leeds, who has been roped in by the Carbon Brief website to diss an article I recently wrote for Breitbart headed Global Cooling Discovery May Scupper Paris Climate Talks.
He told them:
“To say that it is potentially important for climate change is so far from the mark as to be quite crazy.”
I expect that Carbon Brief was pleased with this quote. Carbon Brief is a very professionally produced, EU financed eco-propaganda website, funded to the tune of £330,778 a year by the European Climate Foundation, edited by former Guardian environment correspondent Leo Hickman. It’s so much more fun to suggest that people who disagree with you are not just wrong but mentally ill. Saves you the bother of having to engage with them on facts and logic.
But it’s because of that failure to engage on facts and logic that I rather lose sympathy for Professor Piers Foster. I know I promised not to say a single bad word about him, but what I meant was, nothing gratuitously bad. I’m not going to say his breath smells of rancid iguana, or that he keeps little Syrian children as slaves in his basement or that he cheats at Monopoly or that he never buys his round in whatever pub scientists go to in Leeds because I have no evidence for any of this.
I don’t know whether climate scientists still consider evidence an important part of their research – as far I can tell, generally not – but what I do recall from my own field of undergraduate study, English, is that evidence was the sine qua non of every essay you had to write, every tutorial you had to sit through, every lecture you had to attend (or not, in my case).
There’s more on this in my brilliant book Watermelons, which you haven’t yet read you should.
In it I recount my extraordinary good fortune in having been taught at Oxford by arguably the most gifted professor, in any field, and at any university, of his generation. His name is Peter Conrad.
When you wrote an essay for Conrad you could make any case you liked but with one proviso: if you couldn’t support your argument with hard evidence from the text – be it The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, The Faerie Queen, Goodnight Moon, Spot the Dog, or whatever – then you were dead. Conrad, who wore leather trousers, would simply destroy you in your tutorial. A tutorial lasts an hour. It was a lesson you never forgot.
So how would Piers Foster have got on if, instead of having read Physics at Imperial he had some how lucked his way into the English course at Christ Church?
Not very well, I’d say, on the basis of his critique of my piece about “Global Cooling”. As I shall now demonstrate using evidence. (Feel free to skim. I’m just showing my workings. As climate scientists tend not to do these days because if their experiments were too reproducible they might get found out…)
So, if the oceans are producing more isoprene than scientists thought, could this “pose a serious threat to manmade global warming theory,” as Delingpole claims? The answer is “no”,Prof Piers Forster tells Carbon Brief, in no uncertain terms:
“To say that it is potentially important for climate change is so far from the mark as to be quite crazy.”
Forster, a professor of physical climate change at the University of Leeds who wasn’t involved in the study, explains that there are several reasons why.
First, the media reports confuse background levels of isoprene with a change over time, he says. In order to reduce the impacts of climate change, isoprene levels would need to rise to counterbalance increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But the paper isn’t saying that isoprene levels are getting higher, just that they’ve always been high, Forster says:
“The natural aerosol cooling could be 100 times bigger than our current estimate, but it would make no difference to climate change as it would stay more-or-less constant with time.”
Second, the paper refers to the amount of isoprene, not the extent of its cooling effect, Forster points out. Isoprene helps clouds to form, but clouds can both warm and cool the surface of the Earth. So, as other evidence suggests, larger amounts of natural aerosols doesn’t necessarily result in a like-for-like decrease in temperatures.
Third, there are many different natural aerosols. So even if higher levels of isoprene caused higher levels of aerosols in our atmosphere, any reevaluation of total natural aerosol emissions “would only be revised up slightly”, says Forster.
All jolly interesting, I’m sure, Prof Forster. But also entirely irrelevant. My piece made none of the claims Forster says it does, which leads me to infer one of two things: either he didn’t understand (or even read) it properly or he couldn’t find a suitable riposte so had to distract with a straw man argument instead.
Let me precis my article for the benefit of Forster and the Carbon Brief team:
Scientists have discovered a new thing which they didn’t know about before. This thing is known to have an effect on global warming. Ergo, the computer models used to predict “global warming” are flawed because they don’t take account of this thing (or indeed the many other as yet undiscovered things out there) which affect climate change. This goes to the heart of criticisms of man-made-global-warming theory: that it overemphasises anthropogenic CO2 at the expense of natural forcings and feedbacks.
You don’t need to be a climate scientist to understand this stuff. Or even a scientist. But it has long suited the alarmist camp to pretend otherwise because it would like us all to believe that “climate change” is a mystery which only the elect can understand. That is, they wish to confer on climate scientists the status priests used to have before the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the vernacular. Hence Carbon Brief’s desperate call to this Foster character to invoke his authority against a story unhelpful to the alarmist agenda.
“Behold: a Climate Scientist pronounces.”
Here’s a thing, though, that you’ll never learn from Graham Linehan’s Twitter feed or the Guardian environment pages or the National Academy of Sciences nor even – because he’s too polite – Anthony Watts’s Watts Up With That?
The thing is that thing that I mentioned at the beginning: the guys providing the science for the alarmist agenda are often really quite low-grade.
That is what is so deliciously cruel – but also, of course, so totally fair and accurate – about Mark Steyn’s new book “A Disgrace To The Profession.”
Basically, it’s just 300 pages of scientists from around the world, explaining how totally, embarrassingly useless Michael Mann is.
And if that’s what they’re saying about the alarmist camp’s top player – onlie begetter of the infamous Hockey Stick – what does that say for the rest of the team?
This was a point made a couple of years ago by Dr Richard Lindzen, professor of theoretical physics at MIT, during a committee grilling at the House of Commons in London. Climate science, he noted cattily, is simply not a field that attracts the world’s brightest and best.
“I’ve asked very frequently at universities: ‘Of the brightest people you know, how many people were studying climate […or meteorology or oceanography…]?’ And the answer is usually ‘No one.'”
And – warming to his theme:
“You look at the credentials of some of these people [on the IPCC] and you realise that the world doesn’t have that many experts, that many ‘leading climate scientists'”.
Was Lindzen suggesting, asked Tim Yeo at this point, that scientists in the field of climate were academically inferior.
“Oh yeah,” said Lindzen. “I don’t think there’s any question that the brightest minds went into physics, math, chemistry…”
I’ve gone on for too long but I’m enjoying myself too much. Let me give one more example of what I mean.
Here’s another greenie fellow traveller purporting to debunk my Breitbart article.
He has taken the trouble to write to one of the authors of the study I quoted, inviting him to debunk my claims.
The response, even allowing for the scientist’s poor grasp of English, is not what you might call Summa Cum Laude material.
thank you for the Information.
Our Studie, our paper and also our press release does not support the stated conclusions.
We didn´t made any statement to the “man-made global warming theory” because there is enough scientific evidence since many years that the global warming of the past decades is man-made. So there was and there is even after our new findings no doubt about this.
Our new findings can help to make climate models a little bit more precise. But these small details doesn´t put the models at all into question. Every scientist know that a model has to focus on parts of a complex reality. And climate is very complex system. From our point of view it´s quite unscientific to say: “The model doesn´t include this detail, thus the model has failed at all” as it was done by breitbart.com.
We can´t support this kind of unreliable conclusions and would like to say very clear: Our findings are no argument “that skeptics are right” with “the models used by alarmists to predict future climate change are fatally flawed”. Such interpretation would be a misuse of our research.
We didn´t made any statement about cooling effects. We showed just a new small detail that might have impact on the forming processes of clouds. But clouds can warm or cool. Cloud forming is a very complex system with still some open questions. “Clouds and aerosols continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth’s changing energy budget.” (IPCC 2013)
This is the reason why we and other research institutes do cloud research since many years.
To put it in a nutshell: There is no question that the global climate becomes warmer. The question is just how much, how fast and how large the effects will change our live.
I hope my answer shows you clear that we completely disagree with the conclusions made by breitbart.com and there are good reason why these strange assumptions can´t be true.”
As with Professor Forster’s response, this is straw man stuff.
Of course this Tilo character objects to the inferences I have drawn from his study. As a true believer (“There is no question that the global climate becomes warmer”), he is ideologically opposed to any viewpoint that doesn’t support the alarmist narrative. But he is speaking well above his pay grade here. What he thinks personally about global warming is completely irrelevant to the topic in hand, which is a study exclusively to do with the discovery that the oceans are producing unexpectedly large quantities of “isoprene” abiotically.
Not only is his response distractingly irrelevant but it also contradicts the press release produced by his own institution, summarising the significance of his study, to whit:
Isoprene is a gas that is formed by both the vegetation and the oceans. It is very important for the climate because this gas can form particles that can become clouds and then later affect temperature and precipitation. Previously it was assumed that isoprene is primarily caused by biological processes from plankton in the sea water. The atmospheric chemists from France and Germany, however, could now show that isoprene could also be formed without biological sources in surface film of the oceans by sunlight and so explain the large discrepancy between field measurements and models. The new identified photochemical reaction is therefore important to improve the climate models.
There it is in black and white. (My own stress added). The computer models on which anthropogenic global warming theory are based are inadequate to the task because they fail to take into account all the real-world data. And it’s not me saying this stuff: this is a viewpoint coming directly from the alarmist camp.
Do you not find all this slightly worrying? I do. Here we are, continually being informed by the climate establishment that their experty experts know all that is to be knowed.
But basically, they haven’t a ****ing clue. They can’t do logic; they can’t read or understand the most rudimentary argument; they refuse to accept the truth of their own findings. They’re a bunch of second-raters who yet have the gall to invite us to believe that on their say-so should depend the future of climate science, global environmental policy and, by extension, the world’s economy.