Tuesday, December 4th 2012, 4:22 PM EST
Even the name of the “Skeptical” “Science” blog is a lie. The blog is neither skeptical nor scientific. It is a malicious, paid propaganda platform for rude, infantile, untruthful, and often libelous attacks on anyone who dares to question whether global warming is a global crisis.
That poisonous blog has recently attacked 129 climate researchers, of whom I am one, for having dared to write an open letter to the U.N. Secretary-General asking him not to attribute tropical storm Sandy to global warming that has not occurred for 16 years.
The following are among the blog’s numerous falsehoods and libels:
1. On at least four occasions we are referred to as climate “denialists” – a term as unscientific as it is malevolent. We do not deny that there is a climate, or that it changes, or that the greenhouse effect exists, or that Man’s emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases enhance that effect and may cause some warming. We raise legitimate scientific questions about how much warming Man may cause, and about whether attempted mitigation can ever be cost-effective.
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2. It is claimed that our “preferred route” to air our “grievances about global warming is via “opinion letters published in the mainstream media” rather than via peer review. Yet most of the signatories named by the blog as having “no climate expertise” have published papers in the reviewed literature. To take one example named by the blog, Professor Nils-Axel Mörner of the University of Stockholm has published some 550 papers, nearly all of them in the reviewed literature, and nearly all of them on sea-level rise, which he has been studying for 40 years.
3. It is claimed that our arguments are “unsubstantiated”. Yet our letter offered a great deal of substantiation, as will become evident.
4. Tom Harris of the Climate Science Coalition, one of the letter’s organizers, is described as “best known for grossly misinforming … university students about climate change in a Climate and Earth Science class he should never have been teaching”. The only sources given for this grave libel are a farrago of childish falsehoods on the “Skeptical” “Science” blog and its sole citation, an error-ridden screed circulated by the dishonestly-names “Canadian Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism”.
5. The fact that there has been no statistically-significant global warming for 16 years is described as a “myth”. Yet the least-squares linear-regression trend on the Hadley Centre/CRU dataset favoured by the IPCC indeed shows no statistically-significant warming for 16 years. The minuscule warming over the period is within the margin of uncertainty in the measurements and is, therefore, statistically indistinguishable from zero.
6. It is claimed that we were wrong to say there has been no statistically-significant global warming because the oceans have warmed. However, the standard definition of “global warming” is warming of the near-surface atmosphere. Also, measurements to date are inadequate to tell us reliably how much – if at all – the oceans have warmed in recent years.
7. It is claimed that we were wrong to say that computer models are now proven to exaggerate warming and its effects. Yet we had pointed out, correctly, that a paper by leading climate modelers, published in the NOAA’s State of the Climate report in 2008, had said that 15 years or more without global warming would indicate a discrepancy between the models’ projections and real-world observations and that, therefore, the models were proven incorrect by their creators’ own criterion.
8. It is claimed that we were wrong to state that some scientists point out that near-term natural cooling, linked to variations in solar output, is a distinct possibility. Yet some scientists have indeed pointed out what we said they had pointed out, though our use of the word “some” fairly implies there is evidence in both directions in the literature.
9. It is claimed that we used “careful wording” in saying that there is an absence of an attributable climate change signal in trends in extreme weather losses to date. Yet we were merely citing the IPCC itself on this point.
10. It is claimed that we were wrong to state that the incidence and severity of extreme weather has not increased. Though it is trivially true that temperature maxima have increased with warming, there has been no trend in land-falling Atlantic hurricanes in 150 years, and there has been a decline in severe tropical cyclones and typhoons during the satellite era.
11. It is claimed that we “falsely” accuse the U.N. Secretary General of “making unsupportable claims that human influences caused” tropical storm Sandy, and that “in reality, Ban Ki-Moon did not say climate change caused Hurricane (sic) Sandy”. Yet he had said: “Two weeks ago, Hurricane (sic) Sandy struck the eastern seaboard of the United States. A nation saw the reality of climate change. The recovery will cost tens of billions of dollars. The cost of inaction will be even higher. We must reduce our dependence on carbon emissions.” We had rightly written: “We ask that you desist from exploiting the misery of the families of those who lost their lives or properties in tropical storm Sandy by making unsupportable claims that human influences caused that storm. They did not.”
12. It is claimed that we are “a list of non-experts”. Yet half of the 129 signatories are Professors; two-thirds are PhDs, and several are Expert Reviewers for the IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report.
One day, the useless “Skeptical” “Science” blog may perhaps have a curiosity value to historians studying the relentless, lavishly-funded deviousness and malice of the tiny clique who briefly fooled the world by presenting themselves as a near-unanimous “consensus” (as if consensus had anything to do with science) and mercilessly bullied anyone with the courage and independence of mind to question their barmy but transiently fashionable beliefs. The blog’s falsehoods have made no serious contribution to the scientific debate that we who are genuinely skeptical and truly scientific have by our patient endurance now largely won.