Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Science Magazine and 255 NAS Scientists Take a Walk in the Sewer

Extensive review of fallacies used by proponents of Global Warming in Science magazine.  Read my criticism on PDF by clicking here or on this blog by clicking "Read more" below.



Science Magazine and 255 NAS Members Take a Walk in the Sewer

 W.J. Holly, Ph.D., Philosophy

            On May 7, 2010, 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) signed the lead letter in Science magazine.  It was titled, “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science.”   These scientists believe in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).  We might have hoped that such an august group would have done something to elevate the level of discourse regarding AGW.  Instead, they dealt another blow to the integrity of science, wallowing in self-pity, lodging vague and non-specific charges and complaints, engaging in abusive ad hominem attacks, begging the question, whitewashing colleagues’ unprofessional behavior, and even offering a revised Pascalian Wager for acting on their own apocalyptic vision of global warming. 

In short, instead of giving us something to take home and think about, they treated us to a parade of fallacies and misrepresentations.  Those who really love Science and who care about her Integrity must rise above such lowly forms of discourse.  Of course it is true that even those who use fallacious reasoning might be correct in their beliefs.  However, they leave us wondering, “Why do they use such sleazy rhetoric if they have cogent arguments to support their claims?  Why not just use their good arguments?”  And, they leave us wondering, “Can we really trust the private, scientific reasoning of people who do not detect or care about the fallacious reasoning they so carelessly use in their public discourse?  Finally, they make us wonder, “Can we trust endorsements made by those who are so shameless in their use of personal attack, the basest of fallacious argument?”

The charges I have leveled against the NAS 255 are serious enough that they should be considered insult or slander if I could not back them up.  But, of course I can.  And, you won’t need a Nobel Prize, a Ph.D. in Philosophy, or any computer codes to follow my proofs.  I will make no appeals to authority or to any phony-baloney “Consensus.” My reasoning is open for all to see. 

The letter in question has seven paragraphs (one with several subsections), and has been attached as Appendix I at the end of this paper.

Their first paragraph begins,” We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular.”  This has the flavor of ad misericordiam or appeal to pity, a rhetorical device designed to evoke sympathy: (“Pity us and believe us since we are victims of “political assaults.”) 

The most disturbing aspect of this lead sentence, however, is that its claim is completely vague and non-specific.  Exactly which scientists in particular do they think have been “politically assaulted”, when were they “assaulted,” and by whom?  It is a contemptible rhetorical device to make inflammatory charges that are so vague that they cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed.  Nobody can defend against charges that mention no particulars.  Nor can we determine whether the so-called assaults were “political” if we are not told which “assaults” they have in mind.  For all we know, they cannot give any concrete examples because these “assaults” are imaginary, paranoid delusions.  Or, are they just following the lead of their Climate-gate friends to make claims without feeling any need to publically archive and share any of the data on which their conclusions supposedly are based?
The remainder of their first paragraph seems unrelated to its first sentence, making no effort to substantiate their claims of “political assaults.”  It simply lectures us that “All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts,” namely that scientific conclusions always are associated with some uncertainty since “science never absolutely proves anything.”   So, in the tradition of Pascal’s wager, they conclude that it could pose a dangerous risk for our planet to take no action on potentially catastrophic climate change until scientists are absolutely certain that climate change is happening.  They say this would prevent acting on any scientific claims at all, because scientists never are absolutely certain about anything!  So, bet everything, since the whole planet might burn and drown if the “scientists” are right.

Now, it is simply false that there is “always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions,” that “science never absolutely proves anything.”  And, it seems a bit disingenuous (dishonest?) of the NAS 255 to claim that all scientific claims are a bit uncertain, because they do not seem to have any uncertainty about AGW.  In fact, skipping to paragraph two of their letter, they now claim that some theories have been so deeply and thoroughly tested that they often are spoken of as “facts.”  And, in paragraph three, we are told that the theory of climate change now falls into this category, the same category as the theory of Evolution and the view that the earth is 4.5 billion year old.  In short, they seem to be claiming that, while no scientific claims are absolutely certain, AGW is just as certain as the theory of Evolution.  This is false, and they know it.

Here is a handful of scientific conclusions that we know with absolute certainty:  We know from the optics of the eye why distant objects look smaller, we know why and how levers work (Thank you, Archimedes!), we know that the earth is spherical (not flat), we know (rather recently) that the continents move and that there have been successive ice ages, we know that the earth is several billion years old (not a mere 6,000 years old), we know that the sun is about 860,000 miles in diameter, and we know that the Theory of Evolution is true.  Do we know these things are true because we can cite thousands of peer-reviewed articles, because we have long lists of National Science Academies and distinguished scientists vouching for those views?  No; we know these things without peer-reviewed articles and the testimony of Academies of Science.  Do we know these views to be true because “they are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community,” because the evidence is in, the debate is over, and there now is “Consensus”?  I think not.  The absolute certainty of some of the views I cited stems partly from the fact that there is massive and overwhelming evidence in their favor, evidence that is available to any who would care to do a few hours of reading in elementary texts on physics, geology or biology.

The more telling source of certainty for these views, however, is that there are no competing theories to explain how we could be mistaken here.  There is no credible rival theory to explain why distant objects look smaller, to explain how we could be mistaken about the earth being spherical, or how we could be wrong about why levers work as they do.  Nor is our certainty about continental drift and the theory of Evolution based only on the fact that they explain and are supported by massive, overwhelming evidence.  Of equal importance is the fact that there are no competing, rival theories that have not been eliminated.  These theories are the only games in town.  (The so-called “theory” of intelligent design was utterly demolished by David Hume about 100 years before Darwin published Origin of Species.) 

While it does seem clear that CO2 levels are increasing due to human activities, and that this might cause some increase in global warming, there are many areas of uncertainty about (1) the extent of the warming to be expected and (2) about how “unprecedented” this warming really is.  In fact, the very language used in the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Synthesis Report is not the language of certainty:  In section 2.2 (Drivers of Climate Change) we see the following kind of language: “It is very likely that the observed increase in CO2 concentration is predominantly due to agricultural and fossil fuel use”, and, “There is very high confidence that…”, etc.  Indeed, page 27 of the 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report provides an eight-paragraph explanation of how they have refined the expression of uncertainties to an absolute art, qualifying their AGW claims in terms of italicized likelihoods such as “likely”, “very likely”, “virtually certain”, “more likely than not”, “about as likely as not”, “medium confidence” “high confidence, medium evidence,” etc., etc.  This is not the language of certainty.  It is the language of weather forecasting. 

So far from being mathematically determined probabilities (like the chances of rolling snake eyes with a pair of dice), Roy W. Spencer tells us that “probabilistic language applied to global warming is misleading and inappropriate.  Its use is simply a pseudo-scientific way of conveying the level of faith a scientist has in his beliefs.  (2008.Climate Confusion. Encounter Books, p. 86.)  To compare these estimates of likelihood to the certainty of Evolution and other theories that now have the status of “fact” is overreaching.  What should we think of a group of scientists who issued a report stating, “There is very high confidence that the earth is spherical rather than flat, and it is very likely that evolution has been taking place for many millions of years”?  We would wonder, what explains their nervousness?  What are their reasons for doubt?

Catastrophic AGW is not one of those theories that now is settled.  Even Phil Jones of IPCC fame does not claim that these matters are completely settled.  In a recent BBC interview (Feb. 13, 2010), even though he himself still feels certainty about AGW, Jones does not claim that the debate is over on climate change.  In fact, he says he does not think the majority of scientists think the debate is over.  He says, “It is not my view.  There is still much that needs to be done to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the paleoclimatic) past as well.”  This is a welcome admission of honesty from one of the lead defenders of AGW.  Thank you, Mr. Jones. 

One source of uncertainty about AGW mentioned in the 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report is this: CO2 is such a minute part of the atmosphere that even a doubling of it probably would not cause much global warming unless amplified by “feedback”.  So, to make the threat of CO2 warming more plausible, the IPCC has to postulate unproven “feedback” mechanisms: Perhaps the extra CO2 warming would be enough to cause more clouds which (depending on their distribution and altitude) might cause further warming (feedback).  But, this process is not well understood, and the extra clouds might instead cause cooling through increased precipitation and by reflecting more sunlight. (On page 73, the IPCC again admits that uncertainty exists about the climate sensitivity equilibrium, thus creating uncertainty in the stabilization scenario and expected precipitation.)   Moreover, this incredibly complex climate system is replete with many other constantly changing and incompletely understood influences (sunspots, ocean currents, air currents, etc).  Even the gradual shifting of the continents over the ages seems to have radically affected climate by changing the course of ocean currents (the great heat conveyors in the oceans), and by moving or removing continents from the poles, thus affecting buildup of polar ice caps.  This leads us to the Ace of Uncertainties, otherwise known as “Natural Variabiity”:

The objection is this:  Over billions of years, long before humans existed, there have been huge variations in global climate.  Ice ages have come and gone, temperatures and CO2 levels have risen and fallen (CO2 increases often lag hundreds of years behind temperature rises), very often through mechanisms not entirely understood.  Let us call these non-anthropogenic causes of climate variation “Natural” causes.  The story of how geologists have attempted to account for these changes is a fascinating detective story. The “astronomical theory” (first worked out by James Croll and later refined by Milutin Milankovitch) explains the onset and retreat of ice ages by reference to variations in the tilt of the earth’s axis toward the sun (obliquity), and differences in the earth’s distance from the sun due to changes in the ellipticity of the earth’s orbit (precession of the equinoxes).  This changes the amount of sunlight reaching different latitudes, thus affecting warming by the sun.  Acceptance of this view has waxed and waned over the years.  It was nearly abandoned in the 1950’s, and then was revived in about 1975 (“confirmed”, according to John Imbrie: John and Katherine Imbrie. 1979, in Ice Ages:  Solving the Mystery.  Harvard University Press) Along similar lines, R. N. Drysdale et al. have argued that changes in the earth’s obliquity may have been a more important mechanism than precession of the equinoxes in triggering or forcing recent glacial terminations (ending the ice ages) (Sept. 2009. “Evidence for Obliquity Forcing of Glacial Terminations II,” Science, Vol. 325, no 5947, pp. 1527–1531) Milankovitch cycles are likely to be only one among many different, cyclical Natural causes of climate variability (such as oscillations in the ocean currents, etc).  These are not rival theories.  They are complimentary theories, each calling attention to different natural causes that combine to yield complex climate patterns.

 One complimentary theory of climate change is based on the long recognized correlation between sun activity (sunspots) and increased temperatures.  This solar theory has been developed in the last couple decades by such scientists as Eigil Friis-Christensen and Henrik Svensmark, and championed by Fred Singer (S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. 2007. Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)  Singer notes that there are solar (sunspot) cycles (about 1500 years each) that extend back thousands of years.  Multiple lines of evidence show that there were more sunspots during the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) than during the Little Ice Age (see Doug Macdougall.  2004. Frozen Earth. University of California Press) The explanation of the correlation between more sunspots and higher temperature seems to be this: Increased sun activity (magnetic solar wind from sunspots) reduces the number of cosmic rays reaching the earth from distant stars.  Recent experiments have supported the theory that cosmic rays reaching earth cause the formation of sunlight-reflecting clouds which tend to cause cooling  Thus, more sunspots mean more warming because more sunspots means less cloud formation.  One implication of this theory is that we might go through successive periods of cooling as the earth travels through arms of our galaxy that have higher concentrations of stars that emit cosmic rays.  (For more on this story, see Laurence Solomon. 2008. The Deniers, pp. 132—160. Solomon’s book also describes some of the hostility that AGW supporters have vented on these scientists for proposing a theory that competes with the Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas theory.  For more on questionable attacks on these scientists, see Christopher Booker. 2009. The Real Global Warming Disaster, pp. 178--189)

Syun-Ichi Akansofu has offered a rival theory to AGW that is so simple that it hardly qualifies as a theory, not least because it doesn’t really identify any cause of the recent warming. Based in part on his studies of ice cores, Akansofu thinks that the earth has warmed about half a degree Celsius during each of the preceding three centuries (18th, 19th, and 20th).  Obviously, this three century linear increase is not tied to a similar increase in CO2.  Akansofu thinks we are simply continuing to emerge from the Little Ice Age (LIA).  Normal interglacial temperatures are more what we had during the Medieval Warming Period, the Roman Warming and the Holocene Optimum.  We just had one of those natural little dips in temperature during LIA, and we are just going back to normal.  Nothing unusual! So, why is this a problem for AGW?  Well, if it cannot explain the causes of prior climate variations, it cannot know what portion of any increase in temperature is due to CO2 emissions. So:

The “Ace of Uncertainties” for AGW is this:  We do not understand the so-called Natural causes of climate variation enough to predict their operation, and so we cannot separate them out from the possible anthropogenic causes (such as increasing CO2) to say which has been the cause of an observed temperature change.  This point was made in the executive summary of the 1990 IPCC First Assessment Report:  “…the evidence points consistently to a real but irregular warming over the last century.  A global warming of larger size has almost certainly occurred at least once since the end of the last glaciation without any appreciable increase in greenhouse gases.  Because we do not understand the reasons for these past warming events, it is not yet possible to attribute a specific proportion of the recent, smaller warming to an increase in greenhouse gases.” (underlines mine). (Note that this reasoning provides the motive for AGW supporters like Michael Mann to eliminate the MWP (Medieval Warming Period) with his hockey stick graph.)

When I asked one AGW defender  how modelers can know how much warming is due to CO2 when they do not know exactly what temperature contributions are being made by the Natural factors (Milankovitch cycles, ocean currents, sunspots, etc.), he said that the computer models now take all that into account.  He also said that Singer’s theory was an interesting idea, but that it has now been disproved.  I think this arrogant little man was just making it up as he went along.  There still is plenty of uncertainty about climate drivers.  It isn’t settled.  For those who say otherwise, that AGW is as certain as the theory of Continental Drift, the question is, “With this settled theory, with all the Natural variables now known and factored in, would scientists have been able to predict the cooling that happened between 1940 and 1975, and were they able to predict that the warming since 1995 would be statistically insignificant, and did they predict the cooling from 2002 to 2010?”  No, they didn’t and they still can’t explain why temperatures have gone up and down while CO2 levels constantly have risen.  They just do what any psychic does with a failed prediction:  They give retroactive explanations as to why their predictions failed. 

(Another thing this little man said was, “If a person has not done climate modeling, then he has nothing to say about global warming.”  When I asked him about this after his lecture, he asked why I would take issue.  All I could think to say at the time was that his statement seemed a bit arrogant.  But, think about it.  I assumed that he was a climate modeler, since he had plenty to say about global warming.  It turns out that he was not a climate modeler.  Neither were any of his audience climate modelers.  So, what could he possibly think was the point of our attending his lecture on the topic?  On his grounds, even if we had gotten the news first hand from a climate modeler, we would have nothing to say on the topic.    This attitude might be more common than you might think.  Another person attending the lecture, a faculty member at the junior college where the talks were given, boldly stated that it was a waste of time to invite skeptics on AGW to speak, that in fact they should not be allowed to spread their doubts, because junior college faculty members lack the expertise to form a proper judgment on the topic.  I think that he and the little speaker thought that all of us non-experts should only be allowed to parrot climate modelers or their followers.)

In a Feb. 13, 2010 BBC interview, Phil Jones admitted that from 1995 to present, there has been no statistically significant sign of global warming, and that from 2002 to present the trend has been negative, but again not statistically significant.  Moreover, in an Oct. 12, 2009 email to Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Michael Oppenheimer, and others, Kevin Trenberth ( a lead author for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th IPCC Reports) wrote:  “Re: BBC U-turn on climate:  Hi all.  Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming?  We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record.  … This is January weather … The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty,” (my underlines). In paragraph five, section ( i ), the NAS 255 say that one snowy winter in Washington does not alter the fact that the planet is warming due to heat-trapping gases.  Perhaps not, but their response is less than honest because (1) the recent, severe winter conditions were not restricted to our capital or even to our continent, and (2) because a few heat waves do not prove their theory any more than a few cold years would disprove it.  And, Trenberth’s cogent point seems to be that, since AGW cannot account for the cooling, it follows that the science is not yet settled. 

Let us return to how the NAS 255 use abusive ad hominem, both subtle and blatant in their letter:  Their paragraph four begins with these words:   “Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence” (underlines mine).

Now, to accuse AWG skeptics of “assaults” is to accuse them of violence and of violating the rules of civilized discourse.  To accuse skeptics of “assaults” (without substantiating their claim) then is abusive ad hominem because it is a personal attack, the lowest form of rhetoric, next only to outright lying.  Moreover, as in the first sentence of their letter, they keep their charges of “assaults” so vague and non-specific that it is impossible to defend against their accusations. Exactly who has assaulted whom, and when? They just say that “many” commit these assaults, and that “typically” those who disagree with them are dishonest.  This rhetorical devise is as effective as a plain lie that cannot be found out.  Vague charges against the vague “many” cannot be rebutted, nor need they even be substantiated.  Who would have thought that throwing mud could be made so safe?

The NAS 255 seems to think that anyone who disagrees with AGW is guilty not only of assaults on climate scientists but is guilty as well of assaults on climate science itself!  This is the pinnacle of arrogance.  If a person were to disagree with me, of course I would like to know his or her reasons for thinking me wrong.  But, disagreement alone would not itself be grounds for thinking that I had been “assaulted” or that philosophy itself had been assaulted!  No.  I would think that I or philosophy had been assaulted only if those who disagreed with me lowered themselves to the kind of personal attack and fallacious rhetoric that the NAS 255 here engage in so shamelessly.  (Clive Crook, a senior editor at the Atlantic, and a believer in AGW, says it better: “To criticize the work of a particular scientist or collaborating group of scientists is no more to attack science than criticizing a particular journalist is to attack press freedom, or criticizing a particular politician is to attack democracy.  Trying to shut down criticism in the name of science is the real attack on science.”)

One of the personal attacks used by the NAS 255 alarmists is so common that it probably was missed.  However, such a brilliant rhetorical device should not go unnoticed and unappreciated.  Note that the people who disagree with AGW are here called climate change deniers (a google search on “climate change deniers” turned up over 88,000 hits).  In the sophistry trade, this is known as a “question-begging epithet.”  The beauty of a question-begging epithet is that it combines the “best” of both fallacies: It begs the question by hurling an epithet (name-calling) that presupposes without proof that the name-calling is deserved.   Now, it might seem that it isn’t so bad to be called a “denier,” since skeptics do deny the truth of AGW, and things that are false should be denied.  However, to call a person a denier presumes (without argument, i.e., begs the question) that the denier is denying a known truth (as being “in denial”). (Versions of this fallacy have been seen recently in attacks on Republicans, calling them negative and calling them the “Party of No.”  Again, the question-begging epithet tries to paint disagreement as necessarily being both negative - in a pejorative sense - and false.) 

But, it gets worse.  Some, like Ellen Goodman (Feb. 9, 2007. Boston Globe.) have borrowed the negative connotation of one of the most famous uses of “denier” to compare AGW skeptics to “holocaust deniers.”   So, says Goodman: “I would like to say that we are at a point where global warming is impossible to deny.  Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.” (Underlines mine.)   Now the “deniers” are lumped in with Nazis and other evil people, all without presenting one shred of evidence that their skepticism about AGW is unwarranted, dishonest, or a danger to any living being.  (Even Sir Paul McCartney has taken up this Science-by-Slander tactic: “Some people don’t believe in climate warming – like those who don’t believe there was a Holocaust.”  (July 24, 2010. The Sun.)  Not to be outdone here, Al Gore compares skeptics to people who still believe the earth is flat (Nov. 5, 2007. NBS’s The Today Show.)

 (As a test to see whether the reader now can identify and explain question-begging epithets, I direct the reader to the first sentence two paragraphs above.  Did you catch it?  In passing, I referred to the “NAS 255 alarmists.”  “Alarmist” is a question-begging epithet, too.  Calling people “alarmists” because they believe in catastrophic global warming does not show that they are wrong.  Perhaps their alarm is warranted, but calling them alarmists allows us without evidence to implant the suggestion that they are just a hysterical, excitable bunch of bed-wetting hand-wringers, not to be taken seriously.)

Compared to what the NAS 255 say in the rest of their paragraph four, however, it is pretty mild ad hominem to call skeptics “deniers” or “contrarians.”  For, as quoted above, they go on to say that many recent assaults by climate change deniers “are typically driven by special interest or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence.”  This is contemptible.  It is simply mud-slinging abuse, unsubstantiated accusations against an unnamed set of people who disagree with them.  Who do these cowards mean to characterize as dishonest, dogmatic, and driven by special interests?  Do they mean Fred Singer, Steve McIntyre, Richard Lindzen, Jan Veizer, or any particular geologists or astronomers who think CO2 may not be a major player in climate variability?   Or will they weasel out, saying that they did not mean to accuse these particular men of dishonesty, but only meant that “many” “typically” are dishonest?  What can we say when the NAS 255 can resort so easily to general personal attacks?  If they were children, we should wash their mouths out with soap.  

I had a recent experience with a local AGW defender which I think is instructive here.  When he started discounting critics of AGW by saying that they were beholden to special interests like the coal and oil industries, I countered by saying that we could just as well say that scientists also often have a personal interest in supporting AGW to maintain prestige, get tenure, get grants, and so on.  He almost blew a gasket, saying that if that were the case, we never could trust anything scientists ever said.  What a prima donna!  He thought it was just fine for him to lodge personal attacks against people who disagreed with him, but questioning the motives of any of his fellow-travelers suddenly became sacrilege and ad hominem!  

In paragraphs two and three of their letter, the NAS 255 defensively comment briefly on “mistakes”: They say, “Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them.”  And, “The (IPCC) … which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes.  When errors are pointed out, they are corrected.”   Good.  But, it would be more honest if the NAS 255 mentioned which mistakes they think their friends have made, explaining how the mistakes were discovered and how they were corrected.  Which accusations of mistake have gotten them so upset?  Again, they are short on particulars and get it mostly wrong about how the scientific process is set up to catch mistakes.

Science gets its certainty from the fact that its claims are based on experiments, observations and computations that other scientists are invited to replicate. That is how mistakes are discovered and corrected.  If a scientist claims a result that is unexpected, other scientists can check the results by replicating the experiment – performing the experiment themselves.  So: the certainty of science depends on the fact that other scientists do not have to be content with appeals to “authority,” nor do they have to accept any “consensus” claimed by Academies of Sciences or by United Nations “working groups.”  They can run the experiments and computations themselves to see if they get the same result.  However, scientists cannot check each others’ work by replicating experiments when data are withheld.  The Replication Guarantee works only when scientists are honest and open, giving other scientists access to information sufficient to allow testing by attempted replication.

Let us take an example from the social sciences to see how science and its certainty become corrupted when the conditions that guarantee Replicability are not protected and promoted by the scientific community:   Several years ago (1985), a Harvard professor named Lenore Weitzman published a book entitled The Divorce Revolution.  One of her most remarkable claims was that custodial parents suffer a 73% drop in standard of living (SOL) one year after divorce, while the noncustodial parent (usually Dad) sees a 43% rise in his standard of living.  These amazing figures were cited in 350 social science articles, 250 law review articles, 24 state appellate and Supreme Court cases, and one US Supreme Court case.  The American Sociological Association (ASA) awarded her book its 1986 Book Award for “Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship.”  Weitzman testified before legislators several times, helping convince them to pass huge increases in the amount of child support noncustodial parents are required to pay. 

Despite all the fame and glory descending on Weitzman, her claim seemed dubious to other researchers.  It wasn’t just that her sample was too small and too local (114 each of custodial and noncustodial parents, all from Los Angeles County) to justify generalization to the rest of the state or country.  Its results also were at odds with several other studies.  So, Richard Peterson (a sociologist) requested to review Weitzman’s data and computations.  She stonewalled him and others for ten years.  Finally, under threat of being denied future grants by the National Science Foundation if she did not release her data, Radcliffe (the college archiving her data) finally released the data to Peterson.  The first thing he noted was that large amounts of data needed to make the SOL claims were simply missing.  Second, the numbers used in the computations had not been accurately transcribed from the handwritten interview sheets.  Correcting for this last set of errors alone changed Weitzman’s SOL change from  -73/+43 to -27/+10. That is to say, the noncustodial parent (NCP) drop in SOL now was only 27%, not 73%; and the custodial parent (CP) increase was only 10%, not 43%.  And, Peterson thought that even these revised figures were an exaggeration, not taking into account other factors relevant to SOL.  (See www.acbr.com/biglie.htm , or Sanford Braver.1998. Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths.)

There are several morals for us to derive from the Weitzman story.  The first is that important public policy decisions (child support and alimony laws) were based in part on grossly flawed claims made by a social scientist.  Those policy decisions were financially devastating to hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of families, and were unjust to the extent that they were based on huge distortions promulgated by Weitzman, journals, newspapers, judges, and other collaborators who uncritically passed her misinformation along as fact.  In short, her misinformation caused serious harm.  Second, all this could have been cleaned up easily and rapidly, if only Weitzman had immediately allowed other social scientists access to her data and computations.  The part of the scientific process designed to find and correct mistakes was thwarted.  Third, it is clear that Weitzman was able to find so many collaborators in protecting and promulgating her lie because her lie furthered a popular (“feminist”) political agenda.  It would not have been “politically correct” to challenge it.  (Christina Hoff Sommers has identified what she calls “Noble Lies,” lies told and accepted by people who think it is morally permissible to lie to promote their version of what they think is the public good.  For more examples of “noble lies”, see the chapter by that name in her book, 1994. Who Stole Feminism? Touchstone: Simon & Schuster.)  Truth suffers when science becomes politicized.

Lenore was an academician (a Harvard Professor) and she presented herself as a scientist. Research for her book was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Academicians and scientists presumably are bound by professional ethics, codes of conduct.  But, these codes often have rather vague and loose rules, they are not often enforced with any strictness, and the sanctions generally are mild.  The worst sanction Weitzman would suffer from ASA’s most recent ethical code (see www.asanet.org ) for failure to share data would seem to be loss of ASA membership.  And, so far as I know, the ASA still has not even acted on requests to withdraw the award they gave her lying book.  So, I do not think we are likely to find justice in the governing codes of ethics or in the institutions trusted to enforce them.  They go easy on their “politically correct” friends.

The question remains, can we call Lenore Weitzman a Liar without being able to prove that she knew or at least believed that her claims were false?  Indeed, we can.  The reason is this:  When scientists publish results of their scientific investigations, they are announcing to the world that they have discovered certain facts that they can and will back up with proof (data, computations, experiment descriptions, etc., needed for replication).  When people renege on this public promise to behave as a scientist, when they refuse to honor the chief safeguard of scientific integrity, then they have committed a lie:  They have made a lying promise.  To continue to maintain that their claim is a scientific claim, yet to withhold the data that would enable others to test the claim, is to lie and to undermine science.  Whatever those people are playing at who refuse to share data, the game they are playing is not science -- science invites replication.  Those who pretend to be scientists while they obstruct the very process designed to find and correct mistakes are not scientists – they are promise breakers and frauds.

My claim that scientists who refuse to share data and codes simply are not scientists was challenged by a friend recently.  He wanted to say that, while those who withhold their data might be bad scientists, nevertheless they still are scientists.  However, one of the Climategate emails (from Keith Briffa to Paul Jones, Feb 21, 2005) pointed me to unexpected support:  On Feb. 14, 2005, Dr. Jerry Pournelle wrote of Michael Mann:  I had not known he kept the actual methods he used for combining data secret, as well as keeping secret some of the data he used.  That isn’t science.  You can prove anything that way.  If you can’t mail it in a letter to a colleague so that he gets the same results, it isn’t science.”

Perhaps scientists are more tolerant of lying in science today than in the past.  When I was an undergraduate, some 50 years ago, my science professors made it clear that any person who is caught faking data (making up data) would be permanently exiled from all academic and research positions.  He assured us that the scientific community had zero tolerance for liars.  And, unless we insist that scientists reveal their data, there is no way to know whether or not they are liars, making up data, faking it. To quote Dr. Pournelle again: “One of Pournelle’s Laws states ‘You can prove anything if you can make up your data.’  I will add another Pournelle’s Law: ‘You can prove anything if you can keep your algorithms secret.’  www.eastangliaemails.com  (emails released Nov. 20, 2009)

For a wonderful article on the need to disclose data, and on how little this is done, see B.D. McCullough and Ross McKitrick, “Check the Numbers: The Case for Due Diligence in Policy Formation,” Fraser Institute, Feb. 2009.  In their executive summary, they state:  “…researchers and journals have allowed habits of secrecy to persist that severely inhibit independent replication. … Practices that obstruct independent replication, such as refusal to disclose data, or the concealment of details about computational methods, prevent the proper functioning of the scientific process and can lead to poor public decision making.”  www.fraserinstitute.org/commerce.web/product_files/casefor...

So what has all this to do with the NAS 255 and AGW?  Well, I think that these persons have their own Lenore Weitzmans (their own lying friends), and they shamelessly defend them in their last paragraph with these outrageously false and hysterical accusations (underlines mine):  We also call for an end to the McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them.”   True to form, these distinguished scientists again make charges devoid of any particulars that could allow us to check the truth of their claims.  Indeed, this is exactly what we are complaining about:  Making claims while withholding the data or particulars on which the claims supposedly are based. 

So, (1) which scientists in particular do they think have been the victims of McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution, (2) what exactly is “McCarthy-like” about those threats, (3) who in particular made those threats, (4) what “innuendo and guilt by association” do they think has been leveled against their colleagues, (5) which particular scientists do they think have been harassed by which politicians, (6) why do they think that those (unnamed) politicians don’t believe the charges but are only “seeking distraction to avoid taking action,” (7) exactly which “outright lies” are being spread about their colleagues, and (8) by whom?  This must set a record in the annals of mudslinging!  At least eight vague and nonspecific accusations made in one hysterical sentence.  This vile and cowardly piece of nonspecific slander alone should be sufficient grounds for removing all the 255 signers of this letter from the rolls of the NAS.   But, how can we say their claims are false when they hide behind accusations that give no particulars?  Well, I think we can guess whom these cowards are thinking of, and why they don’t want to mention them specifically.  If we guess wrong, then the fault is theirs:  Be specific when making accusations.

Of course the “friends” they think have been victimized must be Phil Jones, Paul Briffa, Michael Mann, and other players in the Climategate scandal (sometimes known as the Hockey Stick Team).  In the same issue of Science in which their letter appears, Brooks Hanson, Deputy Editor for physical sciences at Science provides support for this guess, although he too lacks the courage to name names.  On page 667, 22 pages prior to the NAS 255 letter, Hanson says the following:  “The controversial e-mails related to climate change, plus reported errors in the … (IPCC) reports, have spurred a dangerous deterioration in the rational relation between science and society.  One U.S. senator has called 17 prominent climate scientists criminals, and pundits have suggested that climate scientists should commit suicide.  Fourteen U.S. states have filed lawsuits opposing the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, some asserting that ‘climate change science is a conspiracy.’  South Dakota even resolved that there are other ‘astrological’ forcings on climate. Scientists have become barraged by hateful e-mails.  The debate has become polarized, and the distrust of scientists and their findings extends well beyond climate science.  What can be done to repair society’s trust in science?”    Hanson goes on to say: “we must move beyond polarizing arguments…  The scientific community must recognize that the recent attacks stem in part from its culture and scientists’ behavior.  In turn, it is time to focus on the main problem:  The IPCC reports have underestimated the pace of climate change while overestimating societies’ abilities to curb greenhouse emissions.”  He also says the scientific community must recognize “its modern data responsibilities.” 

 Hanson should be commended for a couple things here.  First, he seems to allow that some of society’s mistrust of science can be blamed on the scientific community.   He also says that we must move beyond “polarizing” arguments  However, it would have been more forthright for him to give a few concrete examples of the kind of  “polarizing” arguments he thinks we should avoid, perhaps using examples from the NAS 255 letter in that very issue of Science.  And, he should have apologized for Science having collaborated with the NAS 255 in publishing their unprofessional and polarizing piece of diatribe.  Also, he does commendably state that science must “recognize its modern data responsibilities”.  But, again, he needs to be explicit and come clean about the recently revealed offenses that have created this mistrust of scientists, such as the refusal of Mann and Jones to share data and codes.  He should explicitly condemn those who refuse to share data and codes. 

Hanson says the “controversial” e-mails and the reported errors in the IPCC reports bear some responsibility for the deterioration in the relation between science and society.  And, he says the scientific community must recognize that the recent attacks stem in part from its culture and scientists’ behavior.  But, again, why does Hanson pussyfoot around the issue?  The e-mails in question are not simply “controversial.”  In fact, they are a damning record of efforts by the Hockey Stick Team to withhold data and computer codes, conspiring to block Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests even to the point of destroying incriminating emails, intimidating or removing editors of scientific journals that publish articles that they don’t like, and on and on.  If Hanson is serious about repairing the public trust in the IPCC and AGW science, the first step would be to name those who have violated the public trust, give the particulars of their offenses, and call for sanctions (e.g., removal from academia, research, and IPCC posts). 

While he is at it, Hanson also might tell us which “errors” he thinks damaged IPCC’s reputation with society, and how to salvage that reputation.  Is he thinking of the false and pathetically unfounded claim that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 (this was no mere computational “error”)? Will Hanson point out that Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC chairman) dismissed early criticisms of this claim as being “Voodoo Science” (See Christopher Brooker. August 01, 2010. “Patchuri: The real story behind the Glaciergate scandal.” Telegraph.co.uk)?  Will he ask what Pachauri has done to make us trust that similar lapses of standards will not recur, or will he ask for Pachauri’s resignation?   Does Hanson want trust?  Then those who cannot be trusted must be censured and removed from positions of trust. 

Hanson also lets us down when he complains that scientists have been barraged with hateful emails and that “pundits” have suggested that climate scientists should commit suicide.  Are these “pundits” or authors of hate mail anyone that we know or should care about?  Not likely.  It also harms Hanson’s credibility to mention that South Dakota resolved that there are other “astrological” forcings on climate.  Perhaps they meant to refer to Milankovitch’s “astronomical” forcings.  Are we supposed to believe that South Dakotans are so abysmally ignorant as to believe in the pseudo-science of astrology?  That is a preposterous slur, unworthy of Hanson. 

Neither does Hanson make it clear why he thinks we should be appalled that fourteen U.S. states have filed lawsuits against federal regulation of greenhouse gases, especially given the uncertainties in the “science” alluded to, now reinforced by Climategate revelations of sloppiness and dishonesty.  Nor does he explain why we should be offended by the suggestion that “climate change science is a conspiracy.”   The Climategate emails clearly reveal conspiracies to pressure editors of science journals to reject articles critical of AGW, conspiracies to break IPCC rules that are supposed to guarantee inclusion of disparate views, conspiracies to stonewall requests for data, conspiracies to deny legitimate FOIA requests, and conspiracies to destroy incriminating emails.  Some of these actions are criminal conspiracies (against the law). 

It must have been the Honorable Senator James Inhofe that Hanson meant when he said that a senator has called 17 prominent climate scientists criminals.  However, I do not believe that Senator Inhofe actually called those 17 scientists criminals.  All he did was call for an investigation into whether or not those 17 major players in the Climategate scandal had indeed committed criminal acts.  Some on the internet have accused Inhofe of “criminalizing” these climate scientists (See Rick Piltz. Feb. 4, 2010. “Sen. Inhofe inquisition seeking ways to criminalize ... leading climate scientists.”  Climatescience.org)   But of course this ad hominem against Senator Inhofe is a misuse of the English language.  If those 17 scientists broke laws, then they “criminalized” themselves by breaking laws.  Moreover, it is clear from reading the Climategate emails that several laws likely were indeed broken by those “prominent climate scientists.”  And, contrary to the NAS 255, it is not in the least McCarthy-like to demand criminal investigation and prosecutions of people who clearly appear to have broken the law.  When the NAS 255 suggest that the Senator’s request is McCarthy-like, then they themselves are the ones who are “seeking distractions to avoid taking action.  Instead of calling for an investigation of the misbehavior of their colleagues, they try to distract us from that misbehavior by again resorting to name-calling and to non-specific, unsubstantiated charges of “outright lies being spread.”

       For a brief review of some of the laws that the Climategate crowd seems likely to have violated, see pages 29 to 31 of:  United States Senate Report.  ‘Consensus’ Exposed: The CRU Controversy, United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Minority Staff, February 2010. www.epw.senate.gov/inhofe.  Federal laws and policies that might have been violated include (1) the Freedom of Information Act, (2) the Shelby Amendment which allows broader FOIA access to federally-funded research data, (3) Office of Science and Technology Policy (establishes procedures and sanctions related to misconduct in research, (4) President Obama’s Transparency and Openness Policy, (5) the Federal False Statements Act (extends to acts of concealment and knowingly submitting false data; sanctions can include fines and no more than 5 years imprisonment), (6) the False Claims Act (creating a tampered data base and then making a claim for payment can trigger this act), and (7) Obstruction of Justice: Interference with Congressional Proceedings (which could include providing false or misleading testimony).  I believe that the laws explained in Senator Inhofe’s minority report are excellent laws, and that their enforcement would do much to advance the integrity of science and to restore public confidence in it.  Let me add that this minority report, in contrast to the embarrassing piece by the NAS 255, is sensible, straightforward, honest, and refreshingly civilized in its tone.

One excellent introduction to the Climategate emails is The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science, 2010, by A.W. Montford.  The Climategate emails surfaced just as he was finishing his book, so Montford added a last chapter devoted to those emails.  The story of McIntyre’s epic struggles to get data from Mann and cohorts is maddening.  Read it, and you will know why many regard Steve McIntyre and his collaborators as modern heroes.  What most amazes me about this book, however, is that the story of the intransigence of the secretive Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU) is so disgusting that the revelations of the Climategate emails add little to the outrage that any honest person must feel.  The emails only add behind-the-scenes details of the corruption and lies.

In the meantime, to the everlasting shame of anyone who cares about the integrity of science, most of the scientific community appears to have rallied to whitewash the crimes of the Climategate crowd.  For details, see Wikipedia’s “Climatic Research Unit email Controversy” 4/27/10.  The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry reported (3/31/10) that “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and the CRU remains intact,” and that the controversy did not challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is caused by human activity.  On 4/14/10, the independent Science Assessment Panel reported that it had seen “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit,” and that their work had been “carried out with integrity” using “fair and satisfactory” and “objective and dispassionate” methods. The panel did note that it was surprising that CRU scientists had not collaborated more with professional statisticians, and suggested that they could have done more to document and archive data and algorithms.  The panel also deplored the tone of much of the criticism directed at CRU, finding that some of the criticism had been “selective and uncharitable.”  Announcing the report at a press conference, the panel chairman, Lord Oxburgh, stated that his team had found “absolutely no evidence of any impropriety whatsoever.  He also said that many of the criticisms and allegations of scientific misconduct had been made by people who didn’t like implications of some of the conclusions, and said that the repeated FOIA requests made by Steve McIntyre and others could have amounted to a campaign of harassment.  McIntyre was not even interviewed.  Yes, Virginia:  The fix is in. 

 The first Pennsylvania State University Inquiry Committee determined that there was no substance to the allegation that Michael Mann had engaged or participated, directly or indirectly, in any actions with the intent to suppress or falsify any data, and that further investigation of this allegation was not warranted.  This conclusion was reached, despite clear evidence (unmentioned) from the emails that Mann and others were conspiring or agreeing to stonewall requests for data and codes, and even to destroy emails that were the subject of FOIAs.  The concluding “Pennsylvania State University RA-10 Final Investigation Report” was released June 4, 2010.  The Investigatory Committee did interview Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT.  When Lindzen was told that the first three allegations against Mann already had been dismissed by the earlier Inquiry, he said, “It’s thoroughly amazing.  I mean those are issues that he explicitly stated in the emails.  I’m wondering what’s going on?   The Committee did not respond to Lindzen’s question.  In response to questions they put to him, Lindzen did say that “if somebody asks you how did you get this, you really should let them know,” and that because most of the data are acquired using public funds, there is no basis for investigators being proprietary with their data after publication.  In the end, however, after taking into evidence even such thoroughly vicious and disgusting apologetics as this NAS 255 letter, the “Investigatory Committee” decided unanimously that “there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor.”   More specifically, the committee determined that “Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.”  Indeed, we must echo Dr. Lindzen’s amazement:  What, indeed, is going on?  The infamous technique of the Big Lie is alive and well in the service of Penn State and AGW!

These are contemptible whitewashes.  It is impossible for any person of even minimal moral integrity to read the Climategate emails without finding abundant evidence of the kind of unprofessional and possibly criminal activity Senator Inhofe wants investigated.  Of course, those who have not read the emails are in no position to judge whether or not the investigations have been whitewashes. This scandal digs itself an even deeper and dirtier hole with these lying cover-ups.  How dare they shamelessly accuse honest men like McIntyre with harassment and lack of charity, while totally exonerating the Hockey Stick crowd?  I think that Senator Inhofe should call members of these cover-up committees (people like Oxburgh) to testify, and then charge them with criminal acts such as obstruction of justice and violation of the Federal False Statements Act if they persist in their dishonest “exonerations.”

The outrage that many “skeptics” feel at these whitewashes is felt even by some AGW believers, for example by Clive Crook, a senior editor at The Atlantic.  Crook thinks that climate science points to a risk that needs to be taken seriously, and he even favors a carbon tax!  Still, this man is so cursed with a fundamental sense of honesty and decency that he cannot stomach these whitewashes.  In an editorial titled “Climategate and the Big Green Lie” (July 14, 2010.The Atlantic), Crook writes that “the Climategate emails revealed, to an extent that surprised even me ..., an ethos of suffocating groupthink and intellectual corruption,” (underlines mine).  He had hoped that the Climategate inquiries would be severe, as “a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports ... at best are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst, they are patently incompetent and even willfully wrong.”  Crook goes on to say that it “would be difficult to parody” the Penn State inquiry that exonerated Mann, as it dismissed three of four allegations out of hand, with no investigation.  Moving on, Crook tells us that the report in effect reasons that “Mann is a distinguished scholar, a successful raiser of research funding, a man admired by his peers – so any allegation of academic impropriety must be false.”  Fearing that people might think he exaggerates, Crook repeats the incredibly obsequious reasoning offered by the report: Mann could not have received so many awards and recognitions if his activities had been outside accepted practices in his field!  “In short, ... His record is swooned over.  Verdict: case dismissed, with apologies that Mann has been put to such trouble.”   Crook also notes that, so far from concluding that climate science is sound, neither the Lord Oxburgh report nor the Russell report even thought that judging the science was their job.  And, Crook finds it “astonishing and indefensible” that the Russell inquiry did not even ask Phil Jones whether he deleted any emails to defeat FOIA requests. 

Of course the NAS 255 say that “there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change.”  Clive Crook (Dec. 08, 2009. The Atlantic) questions this claim as well.  Asking whether these “exonerations” of the Climategate crew leave the science unscathed, he argues that it does not: “If the CRU emails show climate science as it is done in the real world, and there is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, then what reason is there to think that the corroborating research, even if truly independent, has been done to a higher standard?  If coercing the data, bad-mouthing dissenters, and covering your tracks are business as usual in climate science -- which is what we have been told – why expect the other proofs of the temperature record to be any better?”

 Backing up Crook’s reservations, let me cite a couple of the leaked emails: First, Keith Briffa to Jonathon Overpeck, Feb, 2006:  “Taken together, the sparse evidence of Southern Hemisphere temperatures prior to the period of instrumental records indicates that overall warming has occurred during the last 350 years, but the even fewer longer regional records indicate earlier periods that are as warm, or warmer than, 20th century means. ... you have to consider that since the TAR, there has been a lot of argument re “hockey stick” and the real independence of the inputs to most subsequent analyses is minimal.  True, there have been many different techniques used to aggregate and scale data – but the efficacy of these is still far from established” (“TAR” refers to the IPCC Third Assessment Report, 2001).  Phil Jones, 7/05/2005: “The scientific community would come down on me on no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998.  OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it hasn’t been statistically significant.”  Phil Jones, 2/02/2005, in seeming reference to McIntyre and McKitrick:  “The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years.  If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send it to anyone.”  Jones, 2/21/2005, telling Hughes why he will not release underlying data used in his reconstruction of the global temperature series: “Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data.  We have 25 or so years invested in the work.  Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?  ... Cheers, Phil.”

Here are a few more of those emails that, according to Lord Oxburgh, show “absolutely no impropriety whatsoever”:  On 12/02/2008, Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory complains to Jones that his refusing McIntyre’s requests for data had gotten him in trouble (the US Department of the Environment had written to Santer’s employer saying that this behavior was bringing the lab’s good name into disrepute).  The next day, Dec. 3, Jones replied that, after he had managed to convince the person in charge of FOIA requests of the “types of people “ they are dealing with, they became very supportive of FOIA denials.  (In other words, FOIA requests could be denied to those who disagreed with the CRU team) On 3/19/2009, Santer complains, “If the RMS (Royal Meteorological Society) is going to require authors to make ALL data available – raw data PLUS results from all intermediate calculations -- I will not submit any further papers to RMS journals.”   On 5/29/2008, worried about FOIA requests regarding AR 4 (IPCC 4th Assessment Report, 2007), Jones asks Michael Mann, “Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR 4?  Keith will do likewise. … Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same?”  Mann’s reply was, “I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP.”  (In an interview with Frank Warner, 3/28/2010, Mann tries to take it back, saying, “I wish in retrospect that I had told him, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t even be thinking about this.... I didn’t think it was an appropriate request.”  But, we know Mann’s actual response was: “I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP.”)  Well, enough of this.  Read the emails yourself to check your own ethics-meter.
   
In his editorial, Hanson complains that some states call climate change science a conspiracy:  Michael Oppenheimer (Dec. 8, 2009.CNN.), one of the scientists named in the emails, has argued that the conspiracy or fraud charge is not plausible because at least a couple thousand scientists have contributed to the IPCC reports, and it is not plausible to claim that a couple thousand and the NAS were involved in a conspiracy.  Similarly, the NAS 255 say, “The … IPCC and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly made some mistakes. …  But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change.”  These defenses are hollow.

We already noted above that there is plenty evidence that the Climategate crew responsible for writing the summaries of the IPCC reports were engaged in conspiracies to stonewall FOIA requests for data and codes, conspiracies to pressure peer-reviewed journals to reject articles that disagreed with AGW claims, conspiracies to violate IPCC rules in order to downplay or hide dissenting views, and admissions by some that some of their work (Mann’s in particular) was sloppy and indefensible.  So, even if the “thousands” of other scientists contributing to the IPCC reports were not themselves part of these conspiracies, those conspiracies do in fact cast doubt on the claimed consensus, on the IPCC summaries of the contributing scientists, and on the legitimacy of central IPCC claims.  First, we now know (from the emails) that the “consensus” has been exaggerated, because the summarizing crew deliberately ignored dissenting views in their summaries.  Moreover, the crew even pressured journals to keep dissenting voices from being published.  Second, we know from Phil Jones’ own lips (Feb. 13, 2010. BBC interview) that the science is not settled.  Third, we know that many AGW claims rest on work that is unreliable, work by statistically unsophisticated “scientists” like Mann and Jones who stonewalled requests for data and codes needed to check their work.  In fact, many extreme AGW claims have rested on claims by Mann and others that have been thoroughly discredited by McIntyre, Wegman and others.  Moreover, many of the articles on which AGW claims rest are “incestuous,” referencing each other, so that it is unclear how many journal articles are infected by relying on work by the hockey stick crew that has been discredited or for which data and codes have never been made public.  (By analogy, how many social science articles would have to be flagged as unreliable, and how would this be done, given that at last count 350 social science articles cited Weitzman’s false claims?)  How many apples in the AGW consensus barrel are touched by the hockey stick rot?

Dr. Edward Wegman, an expert in statistics, deserves honorable mention in this connection.  In 2006, he and his committee issued a report to the U.S. Congress (Energy and Commerce Committee) assessing Mann’s hockey stick:  Wegman and his committee vindicated McIntyre and McKitrick’s criticisms of Mann.  They agreed that Mann’s methodology is flawed, that his algorithm data-mines (selectively emphasizes) hockey stick shapes.  They added that Mann’s mistakes should have been obvious to a top-notch statistician.  They even examined lists of references in paleoclimate papers and resumes of the most frequently published authors in the field, and they concluded that this lack of statistical sophistication was all too common in the paleoclimate field.  Not stopping there, Wegman and his team did a “social network analysis” showing that peer review of paleoclimate articles was done by a small number of cliques (where every member of a group has at least one coauthored relationship with every other member of the group). In layman’s terms, these scientists were getting peer-reviewed by their friends – friends who shared their lack of expertise in statistics. This is no way to generate reliable science. (See Laurence Solomon. 2008. The Deniers) The full Wegman Report can be found here.

Of course, Mann’s supporters have mounted personal attacks even on Dr. Wegman.  Some even claim that Mann’s hockey stick was given a clean bill of health by the US National Academy of Sciences report (June, 2006. “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years”).  So, the Disinformation Machine grinds on, making it difficult for some to know who to believe.  One article that is helpful here (even though written by a skeptic) is called, “There He Goes Again:  Mann Claims His Hockey Stick was Given ‘Clean Bill of Health.’”  The point of this April 15, 2010 blog is that the 2006 NAS report does not in fact vindicate Mann.  To the contrary, Dr. North (Chair of the NAS committee) in testimony said, “We don’t disagree with their (the Wegman report) criticism.  In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.”  Another NAS committee member, Dr. Bloomfield added, “Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate.  We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.”  See:  There He Goes Again: Mann Claims His Hockey Stick was Given "Clean Bill of Health"


We should be reminded why the AGW crowd so passionately embraced Mann’s hockey stick:  First, the hockey stick seemed to show that there has been a rapid uptick in temperatures in the past few decades; but, more importantly, it seemed to “get rid of the Medieval Warm Period,” to show that recent temperatures are unprecedented in the last millennium.  As Mann said in a 6/4/2003 email, “It would be nice to try to ‘contain’ the putative [Medieval Warm Period], even if we don’t have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back.”   Earlier, Briffa (9/22/1999) had put the problem for AGW this way: “I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago. ... there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene that require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate.”   In other words, the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age seem to show that Natural Variability is a plausible explanation of much, if not all, of the recent warming.    


So, did the NAS report support Mann’s erasure of the MWP?  It absolutely did not.  On pages 3 & 4, the NAS panel claims to have “a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries.”  However, they have “less confidence” in temperature reconstructions from A.D. 900 to 1600, and “very little confidence” prior to about A.D. 900. While they have a “high level of confidence” in the Little Ice Age cooling, they have much less confidence in Mann’s claim that “the 1990’s are likely the warmest decade ... in at least a millennium.”  This is a rejection of Mann’s attempt to get rid of the medieval warming period. 


Despite the fact that Boehlert explicitly charged the NAS committee with evaluating the conclusions and criticisms of Mann & coauthors, the report is remarkably vague and nonspecific when it comes to Mann.  Discussions of methodology, etc. almost always are general, not pointed at Mann at all. It seems likely that this is because Ralph Ciccerone, NAS President and an AGW pioneer, rewrote the committee’s statement of task.  (A more detailed review of the NAS report can be found in A.W. Montford’s masterful book, “The Hockey Stick Illusion,” pp. 226 – 265.) The two statisticians on the NAS committee, Nychka and Bloomfield, both were associated with the hockey stick team. Neither of these men challenged Mann when he testified that he had never calculated the R2 score for hockey stick reliability, despite clear statements to the contrary in his paper, and despite testimony to the contrary given by McIntyre the prior day.  (See Montford, pp 241-2). 


In Chapter 9 (“Statistical Background”) of the NAS report, the committee seems largely to agree with McIntyre and Mckitrick’s criticisms of Mann’s statistical reliability claims without mentioning that they are criticisms of Mann!  This is amazing! In a press release and comment on the report, Hans Von Storch et al. highlight the relevance of some of the committee’s conclusions to Mann’s work.  In point 3, they say that they share the assessment that the evidence for an unprecedented warming of a single decade or even a single year in times prior to 1500, or so, “is stretching the science too far.  However, this was the key claim made in the contested 1998-‘nature’ and 1999-GRL-papers by Mann et al.”  In point 4, Von Storch says: “the committee is showing reservations concerning the methodology of Mann, et al. The committee notes explicitly on pages 91 and 111 that the method has no validation (CE) skill significantly different from zero. ... Methods without a validation skill are usually considered useless,” (underlines mine).  These are harsh criticisms coming from scientists who are not skeptics or deniers.  Von Storch and friends do not even mention McIntyre and McKitrich, the first two to publish peer-reviewed criticisms of the statistical flaws in Mann.  However, in the last comment, Von Storch et al. do say they find it disappointing that Mann’s methods were not sufficiently described in the original publication to be peer-reviewed prior to publication, and (disappointed) that “no serious efforts were made to allow independent researchers to check the performance of the methods and of the data used.”


The NAS committee also concludes (chapter 4, page 50) that bristlecone pines should not be used in temperature constructions but they do not mention Mann’s deep dependence on these unreliable proxies!  Nor do they even mention that the bristlecone criticism is one of McIntyre and McKitrick’s main criticisms of Mann!  They just endorse it as a general criticism of temperature reconstruction studies, leaving it as a connect-the-dot exercise for the reader to notice that it is a valid criticism of the Mann studies!  This is stunning!  (Don’t take my word for it.  The 141 page report is readily available online.)   Finally, despite the statistical flaws and unreliable “strip bark” bristlecone proxies used in the Mann studies, the NAS committee finds Mann’s conclusions for the last 400 years to be “plausible.”  Why?  Because several other recent studies have reached similar conclusions.  But, the NAS does not mention that all but one of those “supporting” studies uses the same admittedly unreliable bristlecone proxies!  This is epic epistemic schizophrenia: ~ Mann’s study is flawed because he uses bristlecone data, but his conclusions are “plausible” because they are supported by other studies that use bristlecone data.  This kind of logic is worthy of a “Saturday Night Live” skit.  Thank you, NAS.


When Rosanne D’Arrigo and Jacoby testified before the NAS committee, they explained how they cherry-picked data to support AGW claims.  So far from seeming to be aware of doing anything unscientific or shameful, D’Arrigo said that cherrypicking is necessary if you want to make cherry pie.  In one of their widely cited papers, they used only 10 sites out of 36 for which they had data, picking the sites that they said were “most temperature-influenced.” That is to say, they cherrypicked to get the results they wanted. They also refused to archive data from the sites that they left out.  Mann, as well, mentioned that that the southwestern USA is a “sweet spot” for creating Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions.  (See Montford, again, pp.236-237, 241.)  Of course these bold and unapologetic admissions to cherrypicking went unchallenged by the NAS committee. 


So, what are we to think of this NAS panel of experts that is supposed to have vindicated Mann while discrediting Wegman?  Of course we have seen that this panel did no such thing.  To the contrary, it thoroughly (though indirectly, through uber-politeness) discredited Mann, siding with the criticisms leveled by Wegman, McIntyre, and McKitrick.  But, how much respect should we really have for this NAS committee?  How much should we be impressed by their “authority”?  Not much at all, I should think.  But, ignore the reasons already given for not taking them any more seriously than their actions show them to have taken themselves.  Let us just go to the horse’s mouth and look at the evaluation given by their own chairman, Dr. North (see Monford, pp. 264-5).  If you love science, this will make you lose your breakfast:


We didn’t do any research in this project, we just took a look at the papers that were existing and we tried to draw some kinds of conclusions from them.  So, here we had twelve people around the table, all with very different backgrounds from one another and we just kind of winged it to see ... so that’s what you do in that kind of expert panel.     So, they “just kind of winged it.”  Thank you, Dr. Gerry North.


It is amazing that the hockey stick was taken seriously in the first place, since the MWP (Medieval Warming Period) had been well-established long before Mann.   Historical records from the Viking settlements on Greenland, medieval records of cherries blooming in China, grapes growing in medieval England, etc., provided ample evidence that there was a warm period in the Northern Hemisphere from about 900 to 1300 A.D.  Indeed, that period must have been warmer than at present for the tree lines to be so much higher, for grapes to be cultivated at such higher latitudes, and so on.  To suggest that present temperatures exceed those of the MWP, or to claim that there was no MWP, would be to make extraordinary claims, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  Tree rings, ice cores, stalactites, and lake/ocean sediments provide interesting but very noisy temperature proxies, not likely able to wipe out the more concrete evidence of higher temperatures available in remains of higher tree lines, etc.  For those who like tree-ring temp reconstructions, however, there is a large, 2,000 yr. temperature reconstruction using giant sequoias (that can live to 3,200 years) that shows a distinct Medieval Warming Period from about 800 to 1300 A.D.  (Thomas W. Swetnam et al. 2009. “Multi-Millennial Fire History of the Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, California, USA.”  Fire Ecology.  Vol. 5, No. 3, p. 139)


When Mann’s hockey stick graph is criticized, some defenders will point to the “error bars” on the graph, saying, “See? There is room for a MWP there!”  But, the error bars only indicate how noisy the proxies are, while the clear intention of Mann’s graph is to hide the MWP.  And, what would be the importance of the hockey stick if it didn’t get rid of the MWP, and so didn’t show that current temperatures are “unprecedented?” The next move defenders sometimes make is to say that the MWP was only “regional” and probably restricted to the Northern Hemisphere, not global.  But, if so, why such hoopa-loo about getting rid of the MWP which in most Mann graphs is clearly labeled “Northern Hemisphere”?  In fact, one might wonder why the IPCC worries about the MWP at all when it is such small-time “Chump Change?”  Why not try to eliminate the Roman Warming Period (200 B.C. to 600 A.D.) an even more impressive naturally caused climatic warming?  In fact, while engaging in Revisionist History, why not go after the Really Big Guns?  Why not try to erase the Holocene Climatic Optimum, the hipsithermal phase that followed our last great ice age, between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago?  While it is estimated that some temperatures in some northern latitudes were as much as 2 to 6 degrees centigrade higher than they are currently, some claim that the global temperatures were actually a bit lower than they are today.  If that is the case, then it is not immediately clear how important a measure “global temperatures” really is.  For, the temperatures during the Optimum were sufficiently higher to melt the vast Ice sheets that covered much of North America, to largely free the arctic seas of ice, and to entirely melt the northernmost glaciers of Greenland. Greenland’s glaciers have been mostly replaced during the post-Optimum cooling that began about 4,000 years ago.  Some think that our recent warming only represents our slow recovery from the Little Ice Age.  Whatever the case might be, the MWP is only one of several known warming periods that have been caused by Natural non-anthropogenic causes that are not well understood by climate scientists.  So much for Mr.Mann.   

Editorial boards have become so infiltrated with politically correct environmental activists that we cannot trust the major scientific journals to be honest brokers of truth.  It is disgusting enough that the Scientific American and National Geographic now are propaganda organs for AGW.  Even the editors of Science magazine and Nature have become politicized (unabashed AGW advocates), as even a cursory reading of their recent editorials will reveal. We already have seen above that Science willingly published the NAS 255 letter, which is a contemptible piece of AGW propaganda and a Climategate whitewash; Hanson’s editorial in the same issue honestly hints that some (unnamed) scientists’ behaviors might have been responsible for some erosion of public trust.  Nevertheless, he claims (without argument) that “the IPCC reports have underestimated the pace of climate change…” (Hanson’s last claim here seems to have become a common AGW “talking point” – responding to criticism of having rigged the data by saying that the AGW claims were modestly understated!)

 Not to be outdone in the cover-up game, Nature magazine (Dec.3, 2009) gives us an editorial which is an even more shameless and partisan whitewash. It begins with, “the email theft highlights the harassment that denialists inflict on some climate-change researchers.”  Thank you, Nature magazine: Blame the whistleblowers, and make the dishonest scientists the victims!  With people like this selecting the climate science articles, it is no wonder that public trust has eroded.  When science journals become politicized, Lady Science becomes a whore turning tricks, and editors and scientists become her pimps, debasing her and renting her out for their own purposes.

Wikipedia, one of the most used sites and one of the first to show up on web searches on global warming, recently has had its reliability called into question.  When I went to Wikipedia, “Climatic Research Unit email controversy,” on 4/27/2010, I was amazed at how fast most of the official inquiries cleared the protagonists of all wrongdoing.  What seemed most odd, however, was that the Wikipedia article itself seemed to be part of the whitewash.  It was so biased that it could have been written by the Associated Press (AP) or by Newsweek.  A few weeks later, I think I found the reason why:  In an article entitled “Wikipedia’s climate doctor,” Dec. 2009, Laurence Solomon reveals that one of the RealClimate.org team (established by Mann and the Climategate crew) was William Connolley, a UK scientist and Green Party activist.  Connolley was a busy little beaver.  He rewrote Wikipedia articles on global warming, the greenhouse effect, the instrumental temperature record, Urban Heat Islands (UHI), and global cooling.  He also erased the little ice age and the MWP, and rewrote articles on such skeptics as Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas.  In all, according to Solomon, the “climate doctor” rewrote (doctored) 5,428 Wikipedia articles, and as a website administrator he was able to remove 500 articles and blocked over 2,000 from making contributions he did not like.  So, it is not clear how much we can trust any climate science materials on Wikipedia, given that a friend of the hockey stick team continues to spend enormous amounts of time rewriting articles related to global warming.  If you want to check the changes he has made, each article does come with a revision history. 


In the end, it is not even clear that we know how much surface, oceanic, and atmospheric global warming has occurred in the last 1,000 years, last 100 years, or even in the last 10 years.  Mann’s claim that recent warming is “unprecedented” in the past 1,000 years (his hockey stick ruse to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period) has been thoroughly discredited by McIntyre and McKitrick, Wegman, and the NAS committee.  And, as noted earlier, Jones in 2010 admitted to the BBC that there has been no statistically significant sign of global warming since 1995 and that there has been a negative trend since 2002. 


In a rather bizarre twist, however, NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) now flatly denies the cooling trend that even Phil Jones admits.  In the face of recent widely publicized, record snowfall and cold snaps across the USA and elsewhere, GISS now claims that this past decade is the warmest ever recorded, that 2009 is the second warmest year for the planet ever recorded, and that 2009 was the warmest year ever recorded for the Southern hemisphere (See quotes from James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt posted Jan. 21, 2010 at: NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  And, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) claims that 2009 was the fifth warmest year ever since recordings were started in 1880.  So, should we trust James Hanson and Gavin Schmidt to be fair and impartial keepers of the national temperature data?  Well, it is hard to trust these men.  Hansen is a well known AGW advocate, sometimes called the father of global warming, and his new book (2009) is entitled Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and our Last Chance to Save Humanity.  Well, this is the language of psychotic hysteria, not the language of calm reason and sanity.  And, Gavin Schmidt, a well-known AGW apologist and a player for the Hockey Stick team, is one of the founders (along with Michael Mann, Ray Bradley, and William Connolley) of RealClimate.org – a pro-AGW blog site.  He is one of the front-line defenders of the Climategate crowd.  He is part of the cover-up team.  (Check him out on You Tube. Dec. 9, 2009. John Christy VS Gavin Schmidt on Climate Gate) 

The Jan. 2010 NASA post (cited above) claims that, while 2008 was the coolest year of the decade, 2005 is the hottest year ever recorded; and, that 2009 is tied with 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 as the (globally) hottest years recorded since record-keeping began in 1880.  GISS claims this despite the admitted fact that there was “an unseasonably cool December in much of North America.”  In short, Hansen minimizes the recent USA cold spells by talking about “global” temperatures and by saying, “the contiguous 48 states cover only 1.5 percent of the world’s area.”     For analysis and criticism of these claims, see this well-documented post: (Kirk Myers. January 28, 2010. “NASA, NOAA create global warming trend with cooked data.” Seminole County Environmental News Examiner) Also see the following two posts at   www.wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/02 :  First, see Steve Goddard.  2010/08/02 “NOAA Graphics: 62% of Continental US Below Normal in 2010.” And, see Roy Spencer. 2010/08/02 “Global Sea Surface Temperature Cooling Continues.”

The fact of the matter is that Hansen and Schmidt are revisionists, well-known for changing their temperature graphs without giving notice of their changes and without explaining the basis of their changes.  Thus, as keepers of the data, they can pretty much change the historical temperature records as they please.  Sometimes, however, “watchdogs” like McIntyre force them to revise their claims about which years are the hottest on record.  For example, about three years ago, McIntyre got Hansen to retract the claim that 1998 was the hottest year on record, admitting that 1934 was a bit hotter.  Now, three years later, without explanation, Hansen is again claiming that 1998 is hotter than 1934, and that 2006 (which had been considered fourth behind 1921) is also tied with 1998 as one of the hottest ever recorded years.  For a well-documented account of Hansen and Schmidt’s revisionism, see: Christopher Brooker. 2009. The Real Global Warming Disaster.  pp. 198–201. Or, for more of the story and more references, see: Christopher C. Horner.  Red Hot Lies. 2008. pp. 273—292.  Or, straight from the horse’s mouth, see: Anthony Watts.  www.wattsupwiththat.com/2007/08/08 

Many skeptics seem to think that there has been some slight warming over the past 130 years, maybe as much as 1 degree F, though not as much as the 1.5 degree F. recently claimed by Hansen. This doesn’t seem enough to worry much about.  However, I think that there remains a very large degree of uncertainty about the reliability of the official temperature records:  On Feb. 2, 2005, Jones said in an email: “The two MMs (apparently a reference to McIntyre & McKitrick) have been after the CRU station data for years.  If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. … We also have a data protection act which I will hide behind.”  Why would Jones want to keep the CRU station data secret if that data supported his AGW claims?  I think we find part of the answer in one of the Climategate files named HARRY_READ_ME.txt.  This file reveals that the CRU meteorological datasets are horribly corrupt and unreliable -- they include made-up data and even show stations that do not exist.  The file is replete with such comments as: “You can’t imagine what this has cost me – to actually allow the operator to assign false WMO codes!! But, what else is there in such situations? Especially when dealing with a ‘Master’ database of dubious provenance (which, er, they all are and always will be).”

Jones’ temperature records (reports of warming trends) also may be unreliable because he does not compensate enough for the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect.  This effect was discovered by Anthony Watts and his army of volunteers, not by IPCC or government personnel.  In fact, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) tried to obstruct Watts’ investigations by temporarily withdrawing locations of stations and by refusing to post their photos of Historical Climate Network sites.   Watts also did testing that suggests that as much as half of the U.S. surface warming since 1979 might be due to the switch from whitewash to semi-gloss latex paint for the boxes that house the thermometers. (See Christopher C. Horner. 2008.  Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, pp. 268-270. Regnery Publishing, Inc.)   A related source of skepticism is argued by Vincent Gray (“The Cause of Global Warming”, January 2001).  Gray’s argument and evidence is quite simple:  surface measuring stations that have been remote from urban areas for over a hundred years show no warming.  His simple conclusion is that all “global warming” is due to the Urban Heat Effect!

Yet another reason to be suspicious of the warming record based on surface stations is that more than half of the world’s surface stations were closed in 1989-91.  Thousands of these closed stations were in cold-weather latitudes in Canada and Siberia.  Not surprisingly then, these cold-weather station closures coincided exactly with the time that average global temperatures estimates suddenly jumped up (see Ross McKitrich’s graph, and discussion in  Horner’s Red Hot Lies, pp. 270—272) ).  The question, again, is just how accurate can we trust these records of warming to be, when station data have been kept secret and are in such disarray?   Perhaps one of the most useful sites is at www.junkscience.com in a 2010 posting of various temperature records.

Well, back to fallacies:  Those who appeal to “Consensus” are making an appeal to authority.  They are telling us that we should believe AGW because all the experts (scientists who are more competent than us to judge) believe AGW is true.  The NAS 255 letter is precisely such an appeal to authority.  It asserts catastrophic AWG claims without presenting any direct evidence.  Apparently, we are supposed to believe them because they are a large group of distinguished (National Academy of Sciences) scientists who are better qualified than we to know.  They are authorities, and so we should believe them.

            What should we think of such appeals to authority?  Nobody says it better than Roy. W. Spenser (former senior scientist for climate studies at NASA): “... when you hear of scientific societies making official statements on global warming, they are merely parroting what they have heard.  The experts who supposedly all agree on global warming are just assuming that someone else who is more expert than them has all the evidence and answers,” (Roy W. Spenser. 2010. The Bad Science and Bad Policy of Obama’s Global Warming Agenda, p.30). So, when we appeal to the authority of the NAS letter, we are making a second-order appeal to authority – we are appealing to an authority group’s appeal to someone else’s authority!  That is to say, we are simply parroting parrots.  But, let us examine this in more depth:


“Appeal to authority” ordinarily is listed as a fallacy in logic books.  Yet, if one person X thinks P is true while another person Y thinks P is false, the fact that person X is better qualified than person Y to know whether or not P is true can be evidence that P is true.  So, where is the fallacy in appeals to authority?


One thing that can undermine the cogency of an appeal to authority is disagreement between authorities (people more qualified to judge P).  If there is room for reasonable disagreement between two authorities (if the science behind the claim is not settled), then appeal to authority is worthless.  When experts disagree, we cannot settle the matter by taking a vote -- we need to evaluate the evidence and arguments in dispute. 


A second way that appeal to authority can go wrong is that the claimed authority might not be an expert.  That is why the NAS 255 use so much ad hominem:  They want to claim that those who disagree with them either are not experts (are crackpots) or that they are hired liars.  At bottom, then, the other side of the appeal-to-authority coin here really is an ad hominem attack -- meant to show that the “authorities” who disagree with their preferred authorities are not really authorities.


 So, how good is the NAS 255 appeal to its own authority?  Are the scientists who signed this lead letter qualified experts on catastrophic AGW?  I think not.  The list of signers is nearly 5 pages long, compared to a bit more than one page for the letter.  What pretention!  But, what do we learn from the list?  We are told that they are members of the NAS and that they are associated in some (unspecified) capacity with prestigious Universities such as Princeton, MIT, Oregon State University, etc.  But, we have no idea what each person’s area of expertise is.  So, the list is worthless.  For example, I looked up J.C. Carrington from OSU, and found that his expertise is in RNA, genomes, and bio-computing.  Does this qualify him as an expert on global warming?  Not in an obvious way.  What about Jack Dixon from the Howard Hughes Medical Center?  Is he a climate expert?  More likely he is a medical expert. So why do we find his name on the climate-science expert list?


 A friend of mine (personal communication) objected to this kind of criticism because he thought that perhaps a biologist might have pertinent evidence about climate change.  For example, suppose that a biologist has expert knowledge that certain species of plants and animals have been moving to higher altitudes over the years, indicating that the planet is getting warmer.  Doesn’t that biologist have something to say about global warming?  Absolutely not.  His personal observations about organism movement might be evidence that there has been recent warming where he was doing his research, but that does not make him an authority on the causes of that warming, how global the warming is, or how historically unique that warming is.  A couple years ago I asked a student if he believed in global warming, and he said “It obviously is happening:  Have you seen how low the water is in the Don Pedro Reservoir?”  So, should this student be considered to have pertinent evidence on global warming, too?  I just laughed and asked how long he had lived in California.  The levels go up and down in the reservoirs every eight to ten years here.  This year (2010) has been unusually wet, and Don Pedro is back up to 97% capacity, which information does not make us experts in evaluating global warming.


I suppose that if the NAS 255 (all being scientists) all had done serious studies of AGW, then their opinions might carry more weight than those of the average person, although not weight equal to that of a highly credentialed skeptic with a climate-relevant area of expertise.  But, we are given no reason whatsoever to believe that these 255 scientists have read (or are capable of expertly judging) even one peer-reviewed paper that provides good evidence for Catastrophic AGW.  We are not even told who wrote the letter they all signed!   Did they all sit down as a huge committee and hash out the pros and cons, coming to some kind of collective (multidisciplinary) expert opinion?  No, they did not.  We have to go to the (politically neutral?) Huffington Post to discover that this letter was written by Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, his name modestly hidden in the list.  So, how did this distinguished group come to sign this letter?  My guess is that Gleick asked them to sign, and that some signed because they felt agreement, and others probably signed because they thought that signing would be good for their careers, or because they feared that refusal to sign would be politically unwise or even dangerous.  Whatever their reasons, this “appeal to authority” is worthless because these signers are not known to be authorities on AGW.


I recently received a similar appeal to authority in my faculty email.  The professor who sent it seemed apologetic for presenting an appeal to authority which he said is often considered a fallacious form of argument.  But he thought that in this instance it carried some weight.  He presented a list of over 100 organizations “who accept the evidence that global warming is a human-caused phenomenon requiring action.”  Another person who had received the email seemed to like the “argument,” saying that the list was too much to resist and that it was a “hoot.”  So, has this argument any merit?  Of course not.  Since organizations are not persons, they have no expertise or authority, even though their members might have some such expertise.  When one examines the list, however, it is far from clear why we should think that the endorsement of these organizations provides any meaningful evidence for the truth of AGW.  For example, what expertise in climatology does the American Academy of Pediatrics or its membership have?  Absolutely none, I would guess.  Their expertise is in childhood hygiene and childhood diseases, not in climate science.  They just want to feel that they are being kind to children by helping save the planet.  


So, what do the Tanzania Academy of Sciences, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kenya National Academy of Sciences, or the Cameroon Academy of Scientists have to contribute?  Do these Academies have members who are prominent (or even competent) Climate Scientists with relevant expertise or published contributions in peer-reviewed journals?  If so, then provide the names of the members with relevant expertise and publications, provide us with their Curriculum Vitas, and provide us with their best evidence and their best arguments so that we can dispense with these shallow and meaningless appeals to authority.  How do you suppose that these Academies came to make these AGW endorsements?  Did they get their membership together, do a group study guided by the members with climate science expertise, and vote on the endorsement?  Of course not.  Some board of directors or some Academy committee thought it would be a good bandwagon on which to jump. 


So, what about the Australian Coral Reef Society, the Botanical Society of America, or the Australian Medical Society?   Again, how did these societies come to their AGW conclusions?  Did their climate science expert members vote or what?  These endorsements are meaningless.  And, what of the endorsements by the United States Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the United States Department of Transportation?  I do not understand how any person can seriously think that appeal to the “authority” of these governmental departments can add to our certainty about the truth of AGW.  These government departments are run by political animals (bureaucrats) taking political positions, not by committees of climate scientists.


 But what of the endorsement by the National Center for Atmospheric Research?  Of course one would expect this organization would have some expert climate scientists.  Still we do not know how the endorsement of the organization came about.  Did all the climate scientists in the organization have a conference where they hashed things out, did they even get surveyed by the Director of the Center, or was it again just a political move made by department heads in a politically charged environment?  (And, if the employees did all vote, was it unanimous?  And, was it done by secret ballot so that employees could vote without fear of reprisal or job loss?)


Happily, we do not have to guess what process led the American Meteorological Society (AMS) to endorse AGW.  The process is recorded in Christopher Horner’s Red Hot Lies, pp. 148 – 153.  The process was almost exactly as I suspected:  In 2006, the AMS council secretly appointed an ad hoc committee of 10 to draft an AGW statement, which after approval by the council was posted on the AMS web home page, without any notice to the membership.  One council member told Horner that he was told at a meeting that there was a record number of comments on the position, most negative, many strongly negative, but that he (a council member) was not given access to the comments. Roger Pielke Sr., a member of AMS, criticized the position statement extensively on his Climate Science blog.  He said that it did not represent the full spectrum of members’ views; he pointed out that some members on the Committee had a clear conflict of interest in preparing the statement.  And, he asked that the members be allowed to vote on the position.  His request for a vote was denied.  Horner hits the nail squarely on the head: “This rises to the level of knowingly misrepresenting the views of much of its membership for whom such statements implicitly speak.” Is this not disgusting?  This scientific organization refused to allow its members to vote on the AGW statement.  So, this claimed consensus is a lie.  And, we have no reason to suppose that this method of endorsement was not typical for the list of organizations.


But, suppose that the AMS endorsement had not been a lie.  Suppose that the AMS had allowed its members to study, discuss, and vote (by secret ballot, of course, since AMS certification is a requirement for on-air meteorological jobs).  And, suppose that there had been universal agreement on the AGW statement.  What would such “consensus” show?  Horner (p. 156) quotes John Kay as noting the oddity of speaking of “consensus” in science: “We do not say that there is a consensus over the second law of thermodynamics...We say these are the way things are.”  We don’t do science by vote.   


The list of organizations endorsing AGW that I received in my email box had no reference, so I did a web search.  The first copy of the list I found was from Brad Johnson, who thinks the Climate Change Debate is a matter of “Science versus Snake Oil.”  For these people, the other side of the “appeal to authority” coin is the inevitable personal attack.  Not content with listing their prestigious supporters, they feel they have to insult and degrade all who dare to question AGW.  For Brad Johnson, those who disagree with AGW are not simply mistaken scientists -- they are quacks pushing “Snake Oil.”  The list of AGW supporters sent to my faculty email was supplemented by a short list of organizations that claim “human-induced climate change is a fraud.”  This was billed as a list of organizations that have “a short-term financial interest in the political outcome”:  the American Petroleum Institute, Georgia Motors Trucking Assn., Western States Petroleum Association, etc.  Of course they added Senator Inhofe, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck to show that the dispute is political, not scientific, adding that “the vast majority of the deniers are politically motivated.”  Ad hominem again!  Of course they did not list Al Gore as financially interested or political, even though he has made millions pushing the catastrophic AGW line.  The origin of these lists seems to have been the recently defunct blog at:  www.skepticscience.com/global_warming_scientific_consensus.htm


The above reference gives another variation on the appeal to authority:  In a 2008 Gallup poll of 3,146 earth scientists, 90% of whom had Ph.D.s, 82% agreed that human activity is a “significant factor” in changing global temperatures.  But, when the poll was restricted to those who were climatologists who actively publish research on climate change, the positive responses increased to 97.5%.  So, what does this appeal to authority prove?  Nothing, I think. In the first place, the positive response here is not a clear endorsement of Catastrophic AGW because we are not told how much do they think the climate is warming,.  Secondly, we do not know how this group of climate experts was selected to be surveyed, so the selection might be biased or non-representative. (Restricting the survey to those who actively publish on climate change might exclude expert opinions of those whose work has been rejected by the political bias of journals in this hostile environment.)  And, so long as 2.5% of the experts disagree with the survey question, don’t we want to know and evaluate their reasons for disagreement?  People have doubts because they have reason to doubt, and reasoned doubts must be addressed by reasoning and evidence, not answered by a poll.  Science by consensus is simply science by mob rule.        


In his editorial, Hanson says that the “debate has become polarized, and the distrust of scientists and their findings extends well beyond climate science.”  He wants to “repair society’s trust in science.”  Even the editorial in Nature (12/3/2009) (which totally sympathizes with the hockey stick crew, while viciously attacking and blaming anyone who does not accept AGW) seems to worry about the issue of public trust.  For, they end by saying that denialists might “use every means at their disposal to undermine trust in scientists and science.”  I want to say two things to these editors:


 First, if you really care about establishing public trust, then you need to start acting like scientists.  Demand openness and public posting of data and codes if you want to be believed.  And, stop using ad hominem, vicious attacks and name-calling.  This viciousness doesn’t work in politics, and it works even less in science.  It is infantile, it isn’t civilized, and we expect better behavior of leading scientists, leading science journals, and leading science associations.  Stop behaving like a bunch of radical students at a demonstration, trying to win arguments by shouting down those whose opinions differ from yours. Your viciousness, the lack of transparency in your work, and these whitewashes of your pet scientists’ misbehavior only increases our distrust of you. 


Second, relax:  The public has not lost faith in science.  It has only lost faith in you -- because of your ugly viciousness, your secretiveness, your whitewashes of misbehavior, and because of your arrogance.  Some scientists (like Galileo, Newton, and Einstein) are Gods.  It is true.  But, sorry:  You AWG guys just are not Gods yet.  So, know your place, and get a little humble.  Allow questions, discussions, and differences of opinion.


I am puzzled by the absolute certainty that many have that AGW is true.  I do not understand how they can think AGW is as certain as that the earth is not flat.  But, my greater puzzlement is the viciousness of the personal attacks the alarmists resort to so freely.  Solomon’s entire book, The Deniers, is filled with stories of respected scientists and environmentalists who were personally attacked, who lost their jobs, their research grants, their positions on the boards of environmental organizations, etc., when voicing doubts about AGW.  Even a couple members of Wegman’s team investigating the hockey stick for the U.S. Senate, requested that their names be withheld for fear of repercussions.


This viciousness can get real and personal.  A bit over a year ago, I visited a dermatologist and asked about some pre-cancerous, scaly cells on my face, near my temple. When the Dr. noted that I was reading a book on global warming, I said, “Yes, global warming is a hoax.”  Upon hearing this, the Dr. paused for a moment as though lost in thought, and then he said, “Well, I can remove those cancer cells for you.”   Then he suddenly grabbed a spray can and lunged at me without warning, spraying the side of my face with freezing spray. I cringed and shielded my eyes with my hand from the spray.  He kept on spraying, dousing my fingers, warning me that it would freeze my fingers if I didn’t get them out of the way.  In short, my Dr. physically assaulted me, and could have seriously injured my eyes, just for voicing skepticism about AGW.  This is absolutely astonishing to me.  How do these people come to feel that they are justified in physically assaulting those who disagree with them? 


Why are so many of the advocates of AGW so vicious and intolerant?  Of course some of the viciousness comes from having financial interests, grants, jobs, and reputations at stake. They are just Climate-Fear Bootleggers protecting their turf, promoting their eco-scam industry.  But, only a few of the alarmists have that motive.  Sometimes it seems that they genuinely believe that deniers must be EVIL because skeptics (for short-term financial gain) are spreading doubts that will lead to the deaths of billions, even to the destruction of our very planet.  As David Roberts (staff writer for Grist Magazine, Sept. 19, 2006) so nicely put it, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us, ... we should have war crimes trials for these bastards – some sort of climate Nuremberg. 


Even Michael Shermer’s Skeptic magazine recently lowered itself to publishing this kind hateful diatribe against those who dare to question AGW.  (See David Brin. “Climate Skeptics v.Climate Deniers” Skeptic Vol.15 No. 4, 2010) Following the suggestion of “Nuremberg” Roberts (above), Brin (p.15) asks, “If the Denier movement’s knowing and deliberate obstruction of climate remediation can someday be plausibly shown to have contributed toward vast losses of real and intangible property and the displacement of millions of refugees, will the top-most Deniers then be liable for damages, under common and tort law...?”  In the next paragraph, he assures us that those who merely ask scientific questions while simultaneously helping to push for energy independence, will be safe enough. (Thank you, Mr. Brin.  It is assuring to know that it will be “safe enough” to question AGW, so long as we behave as though AGW is true.)  However, Brin continues with: “Preventing action that, upon expert advice, might have staunched or curtailed harm, is legally culpable.”  This is absolutely astonishing!  In a magazine supposedly devoted to Skeptical inquiry, we find an article that endorses taking future legal action against AGW skeptics if they do not now behave as though AGW is true.


A statement of purpose for Skeptic magazine can be found at skeptic.com/contribute.   Here, we are told that Skeptic is published for the purpose of “promoting science and critical thinking.”  Moreover, we are told that the question that Skeptic asks about all claims investigated is this: “How well do they hold up under scientific scrutiny?”  Yet, to our great disappointment and dismay, Skeptic published Brin’s long (five page) article – a smug and arrogant piece that contains nothing but ad hominem attacks, appeals to authority, straw man, and other offenses against critical thinking, without providing any discussion whatsoever of the scientific evidence for or against AGW claims. 


Throughout his essay, Brin states that disagreement with AGW is politically motivated, that it is part of the Republican War on Science.  It is, he says, part of the faux-conservative anti-intellectual movement, part of “America’s calamitous, seditious, and self-destructive Culture Wars,” that include “Creation Science” and the “side that oversaw the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, based on mythological asset bubbles.”  In order to become a respectable Climate Skeptic (as opposed to being one of those Climate Denier’s that “hitch their wagons to the Fox-Limbaugh machine”) Brin insists that we must “become sufficiently distanced from “madmen, oiligarchs (sic), and reflex-puppets to express legitimate curiosity about a scientific matter in the news.”  To gain Brin’s respect (and not be considered “reflex-puppets”), we also need to recognize that atmospheric scientists are humans with important work on their plates, and that frankly they see little point in wasting their time trying to reason with folks who deny his list of self-evident AGW claims.  If a conservative Skeptic can do all that, then Brin says he will be “all kisses and flowers.”  How on earth did this rubbish get accepted into the Skeptic magazine?  This is an insult and an embarrassment.  It is exactly the kind of vicious and hateful bigotry that we would expect in an extreme left-wing propaganda rag like The Rolling Stones magazine, not in our leading Skeptic magazine.


  Sometimes it seems that the alarmists enjoy a bit too much their roles as Saviors of the World.  Many of them have rejected traditional religion, so perhaps they need a secular religion.  And, what greater religion than this one, where they themselves can be Saviors of the Earth, leading others to the moral perfection of living in teepees, wearing sweaters instead of turning up the heat, and so on?   Of course, if it is a religion, it cannot allow “atheists”, “agnostics”, and heretics of the faith.  Those deniers who like global warming should be burned at the stake.  And, how dare anyone question Science, their God (their version of science, of course)?   But, science does not simply suffer when it becomes religion – it ceases to be science.


There are a couple other possible explanations for the intolerant viciousness of some AGW supporters.  The first explanation is suggested by Clive Crook of The Atlantic who says that Climategate revealed an ethos of groupthink and intellectual corruption.  Crook only mentions “groupthink” in passing, but it deserves some elaboration.  Groupthink is not just a label to be hurled at those who love consensus and group conformity.  It is a term that was coined by the social psychologist, Irving Janis, in 1972 to describe a common pattern in group dynamics.   (While explanations of this term abound on the internet, my main source is a classic textbook by Robert Barron and Byrne. 1991. Social Psychology, Sixth Edition. “B&B” will refer to Barron & Byrne’s book.) 


On page 458-463 & 465-6, B&B explain what social psychologists have discovered about decision-making by groups.  First, they note that most people think that groups would make more informed and more moderate decisions than individuals because of the pooling of expertise and diversity of opinion among group members.  However, the opposite is generally true of group dynamics.  First, groups are more likely to discuss information shared by all the members, and to ignore expert information possessed only by a few of the members.  Second, a phenomenon known as “polarization” is common in group decisions: Decisions made in the group process are more likely to become more extreme (in either direction) than the positions originally held by most of the members. Proffered explanations of this are that individuals tend to adopt more extreme views to improve their social comparison with others; or, that confirmation of their views in group discussion makes them hold their views more strongly.  While social scientists have suggestions on how to guard against these drawbacks in group decision-making, it does not bode well for so-called expert panels.  For, groups tend to be less expert and less moderate in their decisions than we would expect of expert individuals.  This is another reason to be skeptical of appeals to consensus supported by groups.


On pages 463-4, B&B explain Groupthink:  When there is a high level of group cohesiveness, coupled with such conditions as complex or difficult decisions, or emergency conditions involving strong time pressure, a process known as groupthink may emerge.  (So far, this seems to fit the AGW debate.  What is more complex, difficult, and urgent than the Global Warming question?)  Groupthink is when the group is more concerned with maintaining consensus than with making the best decision.  How does this condition fit the AGW crowd?  Well, they think they already know the best decision, and they fear that a loss of consensus will prevent implementation of the radical measures urgently needed to save the earth:  Thus, preserving the consensus becomes paramount. 


B&B next explain what trends follow, once groupthink develops:  First, the members come to see their group as incapable of making mistakes. (Sound familiar?  “There is a consensus, the debate is over, the evidence is in, etc.”)  Second, they discredit or ignore any information contrary to their views.  Third, they think their group is not only right, but is morally superior, and that those who do not share their views are confused, evil, or worse (thus, all the hateful ad hominems).  Or, as one site called Xfinity put it, they have “Stereotyped views of the out-group, often as too evil, weak, or stupid to be worth bothering with.” (recall Birn, above)   Fourth, there is self-censorship and intense pressure to conform and not rock the boat.  Finally, there is a “growing illusion that the group is truly unanimous” – belief that there really is no dissent (the consensus is perfect). 


 The above profile of groupthink fits the AGW crowd perfectly.  It beautifully explains why so many of them are so arrogant and hateful, why they so often engage in vicious personal attacks and so much ad hominem.   As any good explanation does, the groupthink explanation makes us feel less amazed at the puzzling and unwarranted AGW viciousness because now we understand:  This is simply standard group dynamics.  The AGW crowd is simply behaving as social psychologists have discovered that groups ordinarily behave when dealing with complex issues relating to pressing and urgent problems – they go into attack mode.  That is just how groups function.  (This social psych explanation also casts light on why some of us think that individualism is to be preferred to collectivism, that individual freedom and individual responsibility makes better and more civilized people – and better science, too – than does a system that subordinates individuals to the demands and censorship of the group.)


For those who are offended by the groupthink explanation, I think that Peter Taylor (2009. Chill. Claireview Books) has identified another possible reason why so many alarmists cannot be civil and respectful of those who disagree with them. It is the problem of “face.”  On page 14, Taylor (an environmentalist himself) says, “I despair a little bit at the emotional brutality of a formerly sensible environmental movement. ... I ask who gains from this blatant propaganda?  In any war, truth is the first victim, but to whom the spoils? ... Science institutions gain influence and funding. ... (but)  above all these gains there is the avoidance of a loss, as important in science as it is in politics, and that is the loss of face.    I think Taylor hit it on the head: The Specter of “loss of face” is perhaps the greatest obstacle today to honesty and civility in the AGW controversy. 


Since I myself have never claimed to know for sure whether or not AGW is true, I do not have a lot of face to lose if somehow I come to see and must admit that my doubts were misplaced.  The only penalty I then would have to suffer would be the one proposed by Socrates to Thrasymachus:  The penalty that the ignorant deserve is simply to be corrected.  But what of those Professors and Scientific Academies who have been pontificating to everyone that there is a Consensus, that the science is settled, that anyone who questions AGW is a denier, a contrarian, a person on a par with a flat-earther or the holocaust deniers?  After all this, how can these people admit to their students and the public that they were wrong after all, without loss of face?  And, what of the politicians and the governments who have imposed billions of dollars of hardship on people with their CO2 regulations, their Cap-and-Trade schemes, and their economically disastrous windmill farms?  How can they possibly admit that all that “science” was wrong? The problem of loss of face here is HUGE.  What will we tell our students when we find that we have been suckered, that we have been carrying water for dishonest brokers like Michael Mann?


So, I recommend modesty and humility.  Always keep in mind that the truly dishonorable and shameful thing lies not in having made a mistake, but in being too small to admit error and to learn from it.  So, just relax. Allow questions, discussion, differences of opinion.  Just give truth a chance.

    

                                                         W.J. Holly


 Appendix I:      CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE INTEGRITY OF SCIENCE

Lead Letter Published in Science magazine, May 7, 2010

From 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences:

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial— scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That's what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of "well-established theories" and are often spoken of as "facts."

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today's organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected.

But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world's scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business- as-usual practices. We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.

We also call for an end to McCarthy- like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

The signatories are all members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences but are not speaking on its behalf or on behalf of their institutions:

Adams, Robert McCormick, University of California, San Diego

Amasino, Richard M, University of Wisconsin

Anders, Edward, University of Chicago

Anderson, David J, California Institute of Technology

Anderson, Wyatt W, University of Georgia

Anselin, Luc E, Arizona State University

Arroyo, Mary Kalin, University of Chile

Asfaw, Berhane, Rift Valley Research Service

Ayala, Francisco J, University of California, Irvine

Bax, Adriaan, National Institutes of Health

Bebbington, Anthony J, University of Manchester

Bell, Gordon, Microsoft Research

Bennett, Michael V L, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Bennetzen, Jeffrey L, University of Georgia

Berenbaum, May R, University of Illinois

Berlin, Overton Brent, University of Georgia

Bjorkman, Pamela J, California Institute of Technology

Blackburn, Elizabeth, University of California, San Francisco

Blamont, Jacques E, Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales

Botchan, Michael R, University of California, Berkeley

Boyer, John S, University of Delaware

Boyle, Ed A, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Branton, Daniel, Harvard University

Briggs, Steven P, University of California, San Diego

Briggs, Winslow R, Carnegie Institution of Washington

Brill, Winston J, Winston J. Brill and Associates

Britten, Roy J, California Institute of Technology

Broecker, Wallace S, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University

Brown, James H, University of New Mexico

Brown, Patrick O, Stanford University School of Medicine

Brunger, Axel T, Stanford University

Cairns, Jr John, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Canfield, Donald E, University of Southern Denmark

Carpenter, Stephen R, University of Wisconsin

Carrington, James C, Oregon State University

Cashmore, Anthony R, University of Pennsylvania

Castilla, Juan Carlos, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Cazenave, Anny, Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales

Chapin, III F, Stuart, University of Alaska

Ciechanover, Aaron J, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

Clapham, David E, Harvard Medical School

Clark, William C, Harvard University

Clayton, Robert N, University of Chicago

Coe, Michael D, Yale University

Conwell, Esther M, University of Rochester

Cowling, Ellis B, North Carolina State University

Cowling, Richard M, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Cox, Charles S, University of California, San Diego

Croteau, Rodney B, Washington State University

Crothers, Donald M, Yale University

Crutzen, Paul J, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry

Daily, Gretchen C, Stanford University

Dalrymple, Brent G, Oregon State University

Dangl, Jeffrey L, University of North Carolina

Darst, Seth A, Rockefeller University

Davies, David R, National Institutes of Health

Davis, Margaret B, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

De Camilli, Pietro V, Yale University School of Medicine

Dean, Caroline, John Innes Centre

DeFries, Ruth S, Columbia University

Deisenhofer, Johann, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Delmer, Deborah P, University of California, Davis

DeLong, Edward F, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

DeRosier, David J, Brandeis University

Diener, Theodor O, University of Maryland

Dirzo, Rodolfo, Stanford University

Dixon, Jack E, Howard Hughes Medical Center

Donoghue, Michael J, Yale University

Doolittle, Russell F, University of California, San Diego

Dunne, Thomas, University of California, Santa Barbara

Ehrlich, Paul R, Stanford University

Eisenstadt, Shmuel N, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Eisner, Thomas, Cornell University

Emanuel, Kerry A, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Englander, Walter S, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Ernst, W, G, Stanford University

Falkowski, Paul G, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey

Feher, George, University of California, San Diego

Ferejohn, John A, Stanford University

Fersht, Sir Alan, University of Cambridge

Fischer, Edmond H, University of Washington

Fischer, Robert, University of California, Berkeley

Flannery, Kent V, University of Michigan

Frank, Joachim, Columbia University

Frey, Perry A, University of Wisconsin

Fridovich, Irwin, Duke University Medical Center

Frieden, Carl, Washington University School of Medicine

Futuyma, Douglas J, Stony Brook University

Gardner, Wilford R, University of California, Berkeley

Garrett, Christopher J R, University of Victoria

Gilbert, Walter, Harvard University

Gleick, Peter H, Pacific Institute, Oakland

Goldberg, Robert B, University of California, Los Angeles

Goodenough, Ward H, University of Pennsylvania

Goodman, Corey S, venBio, LLC

Goodman, Morris, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Greengard, Paul, Rockefeller University

Hake, Sarah, Agricultural Research Service

Hammel, Gene, University of California, Berkeley

Hanson, Susan, Clark University

Harrison, Stephen C, Harvard Medical School

Hart, Stanley R, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Hartl, Daniel L, Harvard University

Haselkorn, Robert, University of Chicago

Hawkes, Kristen, University of Utah

Hayes, John M, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Hille, Bertil, University of Washington

Hökfelt, Tomas, Karolinska Institutet

House, James S, University of Michigan

Hout, Michael, University of California, Berkeley

Hunten, Donald M, University of Arizona

Izquierdo, Ivan A, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul

Jagendorf, André T, Cornell University

Janzen, Daniel H, University of Pennsylvania

Jeanloz, Raymond, University of California, Berkeley

Jencks, Christopher S, Harvard University

Jury, William A, University of California, Riverside

Kaback, H Ronald, University of California, Los Angeles

Kailath, Thomas, Stanford University

Kay, Paul, International Computer Science Institute

Kay, Steve A, University of California, San Diego

Kennedy, Donald, Stanford University

Kerr, Allen, University of Adelaide

Kessler, Ronald C, Harvard Medical School

Khush, Gurdev S, University of California, Davis

Kieffer, Susan W, University of Illinois

Kirch, Patrick V, University of California, Berkeley

Kirk, Kent C, University of Wisconsin

Kivelson, Margaret G, University of California, Los Angeles

Klinman, Judith P, University of California, Berkeley

Klug, Sir Aaron, Medical Research Council

Knopoff, Leon, University of California, Los Angeles

Kornberg, Sir Hans, Boston University

Kutzbach, John E, University of Wisconsin

Lagarias, J Clark, University of California, Davis

Lambeck, Kurt, Australian National University

Landy, Arthur, Brown University

Langmuir, Charles H, Harvard University

Larkins, Brian A, University of Arizona

Le Pichon, Xavier T, College de France

Lenski, Richard E, Michigan State University

Leopold, Estella B, University of Washington

Levin, Simon A, Princeton University

Levitt, Michael, Stanford University School of Medicine

Likens, Gene E, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Lippincott-Schwartz, Jennifer, National Institutes of Health

Lorand, Laszlo, Northwestern University

Lovejoy, Owen C, Kent State University

Lynch, Michael, Indiana University

Mabogunje, Akin L, Foundation for Development and Environmental Initiatives

Malone, Thomas F, North Carolina State University

Manabe, Syukuro, Princeton University

Marcus, Joyce, University of Michigan

Massey, Douglas S, Princeton University

McWilliams, Jim C, University of California, Los Angeles

Medina, Ernesto, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research

Melosh, Jay H, Purdue University

Meltzer, David J, Southern Methodist University

Michener, Charles D, University of Kansas

Miles, Edward L, University of Washington

Mooney, Harold A, Stanford University

Moore, Peter B, Yale University

Morel, Francois M M, Princeton University

Mosley-Thompson, Ellen, Ohio State University

Moss, Bernard, National Institutes of Health

Munk, Walter H, University of California, San Diego

Myers, Norman, University of Oxford

Nair, Balakrish G, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases

Nathans, Jeremy, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Nester, Eugene W, University of Washington

Nicoll, Roger A, University of California, San Francisco

Novick, Richard P, New York University School of Medicine

O'Connell, James F, University of Utah

Olsen, Paul E, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University

Opdyke, Neil D, University of Florida

Oster, George F, University of California, Berkeley

Ostrom, Elinor, Indiana University

Pace, Norman R, University of Colorado

Paine, Robert T, University of Washington

Palmiter, Richard D, University of Washington School of Medicine

Pedlosky, Joseph, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Petsko, Gregory A, Brandeis University

Pettengill, Gordon H, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Philander, George S, Princeton University

Piperno, Dolores R, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Pollard, Thomas D, Yale University

Price Jr. Buford P, University of California, Berkeley

Reichard, Peter A, Karolinska Institutet

Reskin, Barbara F, University of Washington

Ricklefs, Robert E, University of Missouri

Rivest, Ronald L, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Roberts, John D, California Institute of Technology

Romney, Kimball A, University of California, Irvine

Rossmann, Michael G, Purdue University

Russell, David W, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center of Dallas

Rutter, William J, Synergenics, LLC

Sabloff, Jeremy A, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

Sagdeev, Roald Z, University of Maryland

Sahlins, Marshall D, University of Chicago

Salmond, Anne, University of Auckland

Sanes, Joshua R, Harvard University

Schekman, Randy, University of California, Berkeley

Schellnhuber, John, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Schindler, David W, University of Alberta

Schmitt, Johanna, Brown University

Schneider, Stephen H, Woods Institute for the Environment

Schramm, Vern L, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Sederoff Ronald R, North Carolina State University

Shatz, Carla J, Stanford University

Sherman, Fred, University of Rochester Medical Center

Sidman, Richard L, Harvard Medical School

Sieh, Kerry, Nanyang Technological University

Simons, Elwyn L, Duke University Lemur Center

Singer, Burton H, Princeton University

Singer, Maxine F, Carnegie Institution of Washington

Skyrms, Brian, University of California, Irvine

Sleep, Norman H, Stanford University

Smith, Bruce D, Smithsonian Institution

Snyder, Solomon H, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Sokal, Robert R, Stony Brook University

Spencer, Charles S, American Museum of Natural History

Steitz, Thomas A, Yale University

Strier, Karen B, University of Wisconsin

Südhof, Thomas C, Stanford University School of Medicine

Taylor, Susan S, University of California, San Diego

Terborgh, John, Duke University

Thomas, David Hurst, American Museum of Natural History

Thompson, Lonnie G, Ohio State University

Tjian, Robert T, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Turner, Monica G, University of Wisconsin

Uyeda, Seiya, Tokai University

Valentine, James W, University of California, Berkeley

Valentine, Joan Selverstone, University of California, Los Angeles

Van Etten, James L, University of Nebraska

Van Holde, Kensal E, Oregon State University

Vaughan, Martha, National Institutes of Health

Verba Sidney, Harvard University

Von Hippel, Peter H, University of Oregon

Wake, David B, University of California, Berkeley

Walker, Alan, Pennsylvania State University

Walker John E, Medical Research Council

Watson, Bruce E, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Watson, Patty Jo, Washington University, St. Louis

Weigel, Detlef, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

Wessler, Susan R, University of Georgia

West-Eberhard, Mary Jane, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

White, Tim D, University of California, Berkeley

Wilson, William Julius, Harvard University

Wolfenden, Richard V, University of North Carolina

Wood, John A, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Woodwell, George M, Woods Hole Research Center

Wright, Jr Herbert E, University of Minnesota

Wu, Carl, National Institutes of Health

Wunsch, Carl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Zoback, Mary Lou, Risk Management Solutions, Inc



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