The latest institutional retreat from uncritical support of the AGW hypothesis is one that will chill warmists to the core: the Royal Society has announced it is to review its public statements on climate change. The Society now believes that its previous communications did not properly distinguish between what was widely agreed on climate science and what is not fully understood. It has appointed a panel to review its statements, assisted by two critical sub-groups, including a number of Fellows who have doubts about the received view on the risks of increasing CO2 levels.
In fact this review has been forced on the Society by 43 of its Fellows who demanded last January that the pamphlet Climate Change Controversies, produced in 2007 and published on its website, should be rewritten to take a less aggressive stance in support of AGW and respect climate change “agnostics”. In such partisan activities the Royal Society has form: in 2005 it published “A guide to facts and fictions about climate change”, which denounced 12 “misleading arguments” which today, post Climategate and the subsequent emboldening of sceptical scientists to speak out, look far from misleading.
This development does not, of course, mean that the Royal Society is embracing climate scepticism. On the contrary, it is very reluctantly modifying its stance to accommodate some of its Fellows who take the very scientific position that a degree of agnosticism is good practice when hypotheses remain unproven. Yet this retreat from absolutist global warming orthodoxy will deeply dismay the AGW lobby. For years, there was no fiercer proponent of the AGW theory than the Royal Society. Its previous president Lord May notoriously stated: “The debate on climate change is over.”
That was about as unscientific a statement as you could get: even the theories of iconic pioneers such as Einstein are routinely revisited by scientists. Yet Lord May intolerantly declared: “On one hand, you have the entire scientific community and on the other you have a handful of people, half of them crackpots.” Most major scientific advances have been achieved by a handful of people. That kind of dogmatic assertiveness brought great joy and comfort to the Al Gore cultists; to sceptics it was a reminder that the Royal Society’s founding members dabbled in alchemy – was the Society returning to its roots? Is carbon capture the new Philosopher’s Stone?
Clearly, that kind of blind commitment to the AGW cause will no longer be endorsed by the Royal Society. It is a sign of the times. Two months ago the Science Museum in London changed the name of its Climate Change Gallery to the Climate Science Gallery, as it began to distance itself from the partisan assumptions of the climate lobby. In fact it was abashed by the derision to which its previous posture had been subjected by visitors. Its director said: “We have come to realise, given the way this subject has become so polarised over the past three to four months, that we need to be respectful and welcoming of all views on it.”
That same realisation is dawning on more and more institutions and individuals, as the AGW scam becomes ever more discredited. Scepticism is now the prevailing public sentiment: the onus is on the alarmists to prove, rather than assert, their increasingly untenable claims. The European and global financial crisis has also concentrated minds on the insanity of squandering $45 trillion on an imaginary threat, to make carbon traders billionaires.
Slowly but surely, the sceptical camp is winning. Daily the alarmists are forced to give ground. They will contest every inch of the way; it will be trench warfare against them for years; but the tide of battle has shifted decisively and the AGW superstition will ultimately be defeated.