The Church of Climate Change? (3)

Here’s a fairly even-handed summary of the Warmergate scandal from the London Times. These sections are particularly relevant to the idea that a belief in AGW has mutated, for some, into a quasi-religious faith:

…There is unease even among researchers who strongly support the idea that humans are changing the climate. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: “Over the last decade there has been a very political battle between the climate sceptics and activist scientists. “It seems to me that the scientists have lost touch with what they were up to. They saw themselves as in a battle with the sceptics rather than advancing scientific knowledge.”

Ah yes, the quest for heretics.

And then there’s this:

There could, however, be another reason why the unit rejected requests to see its data. This weekend it emerged that the unit has thrown away much of the data. Tucked away on its website is this statement: “Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites … We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (ie, quality controlled and homogenised) data.” If true, it is extraordinary. It means that the data on which a large part of the world’s understanding of climate change is based can never be revisited or checked. Pielke said: “Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, ‘Trust us’.”

Ah yes, faith.

And then…

Where does this leave the climate debate? While the overwhelming belief of scientists is that the world is getting warmer and that humanity is responsible, sceptical voices are increasing. Lord Lawson, the Tory former chancellor, announced last week the creation of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank, to “bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant”. Lawson said: “Climate change is not being properly debated because all the political parties are on the same side, and there is an intolerance towards anybody who wants to debate it. It has turned climate change from being a political issue into a secular religion.”

A secular religion, indeed.

That said, I’d make the obvious–but necessary–point that the fact, extent and causation of climate change ought to be a matter of science, not politics. What to do about it is where the politics come in….

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17 Responses to The Church of Climate Change? (3)

  1. Don says:

    Climate change science is alive and well, and will survive the well-funded attempts by the Right to discredit it. If you do not trust the data and analyses of the East Anglia group, why not check their results against three other independent groups, NOAA, NASA, and the Japan Meteorological Agency, JMA? The quotes that you include indicate special concern about old data, so why don’t you look in the literature for comparisons among independent researchers that focus on these old data? Such a comparison was published in 2000, and the different group results were found to be congruent through 1997, the trend lines lie almost exactly on top of one another. You can read about this on Dot Earth at the NYT.

  2. Jeeves says:


    Climate change science is alive and well, and will survive the well-funded attempts by the Right to discredit it.

    Except for the headline stories, I’m not well-informed about climate change politics (or the science itself). So help me out here: Can you provide sources for the notions that (a) climate skeptics are “well-funded”; and (b) that said skeptics are uniformly a Right-wing phenomenon.

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  4. Le Mur says:

    “Climate change science is alive and well, and will survive the well-funded[sic] attempts by the Right to discredit it.”

    All extant religions have survived the fact they’re intellectually bogus.

  5. Half Sigma says:

    Secular religion is an oxymoron. He means non-Christian or post-Christian religion.

  6. Polichinello says:

    Secular religion is an oxymoron.

    Secular means “worldly” or temporal. A religion can be natural, or at least ostensibly based on natural assumptions. If it were called “secular supernaturalism” or maybe “secular spiritualism” then it would be an oxymoron.

  7. mike shupp says:

    I gather the original data was not actually destroyed; it was presumably archived by the various national metrological agencies which recorded the data in the first place. The East Anglia people simply didn’t bother to keep their copies of that data, on the grounds that their own modified-purified-scrubbed-adjusted versions of that data were all they needed to preserve. A bit high-hat perhaps, but as Pielke himself sensibly points out at his blog, nobody could have guessed in the 1980’s that the piles of raw data would ever be of importance to anyone at all. We’re not dealing with scientific conspiracy or even negligence but horrid impulses toward tidy housekeeping.

    Of course… that’s the pro-AGW take on things, or the neutral-on-AGW take, that this climatological tempest in a teapot is no big deal, and will soon be forgot. On the other side of the fence, people who never liked the idea of AGW seem to feel that they have just won a major battle in an enormous war; an enormous hole has been smashed in the Ultra-Warmer’s front, the climatolgists are on the run, and the troops of truth and justice (and planetary cooling) are pressing forward in all directions. Liberation is almost at hand! The only issues left are in what venues should the generals of the AGW-Nazis be tried, and whether their punishment should be limited to execration, excruciation, and execution.

    One group of people, or the other, is soon to be sorely disappointed.

  8. Eoin says:

    ” Can you provide sources for the notions that (a) climate skeptics are “well-funded”; and (b) that said skeptics are uniformly a Right-wing phenomenon.”

    He cant. The opposite is true. The government funding is huge, of course, but so too is funding from George Soros ( for Real, and the Engergy companies have given up fighting this – the clue is in the name. Not oil companies anymore.

    Against this are people with blogs in bedrooms, mostly scientists or people with mathematical degrees, and the vast majority of who use – given the American average – about 10% of Al Gore’s footprint, or 0.1% of Prince Charles.

    In my case, and I am a sceptic towards the warming, I share a house, and dont drive to work. Generally use public transport. I have measured myself at about 50% of the UK average, or about 2.5% of Gores footprint.

    But he plants trees. To be fair.

    So the Rich, or businessmen have nothing to fear here – all they have to is declare themselves environmentalists and carry on as normal. A carbon tax will affect the poor however. Not that I am poor, but I do leave furgally enough.

    So what is my big problem with global warming. Lets give what I agree with.

    1) The Stefan Bolzmann constant – which describes what the Earth temperature should be, as a black body, Lower than it is.
    2) The idea that greenhouse gasses exist.And up the temperature.
    3) The idea that CO2 is one of them
    4) The idea that there is, then, some human Anthropogenic warming.
    5) That a doubling of Co2 without feedback from pre-industrial levels will raise world temps by 1 degree, and another doubling by

    I am sceptical – lets say almost certain – that the predicions of 6 degrees of warming, of the computer models as science, of the forcings always being positive, of the ignoring of the urban heat effect, and the whole religious carry-on – DENIERS as HERETICS. And the “Science is Settled” nonsense.

    Seriously the model are not matching the reality at the moment, real science would abandon the models. The ScienceIsSettled religion would not.

    This decade is warmer than the last, but it is not continuing to warm, and thats a problem. 11 years now. Even with the faulty measurements from Hadley.

    Trends should be visible in 11 years. Warming should be taking place. This is an El Nino year as well.

  9. Susan says:

    The whole jazz about planting trees to stave off climate change has always struck me as more than slightly silly. New England has more trees now than it did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when a great deal of forest land was cut down to provide fields and pasturage. Maine must be about 85 percent woods. Massachusetts, the most populous of the New England states, is still 70 percent woods. Or at least it was the last time I checked. More and more towns set aside conservation land every year.

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  11. durt says:

    That was rather incoherent… What are you trying to say about the Stefan-Boltzmann constant? It is what it is. Emissivities are what vary. Still, what are you talking about?

  12. Arvin says:

    Here’s the problem with the majority of people when it comes to these sort of “scientific” topics: they have absolutely no frigging idea what they are talking about. The subject matter of science, mathematics, or technology is usually so complicated and required a tremendous depth and knowledge, that it would make it almost impossible for an ordinary person, which consists of pretty much 99.9% of us, to make a definite assertion — and it shows.

    For instance, the author of this entry simply takes on an article taken from Times Online, a weak paper to discuss scientific topics, which its writer clearly hasn’t bothered to perform a rudimentary task of journalism and do a research on “talking points” which are smuggled into the content from the radical anti-climate change sources. For instance, he writes:

    “In one, Jones boasted of using statistical ‘tricks’ to obliterate apparent declines in global temperature.”

    Take note that the Times Online’s article was written almost 10 days (Nov. 29) after one of the scientists involved intimately with the research (Nov. 20) clearly explained in detail how the content of the emails were taken out of the context (i.e. the “trick” fiddle, you can read more about it here from the original source: ).

  13. outeast says:

    I’m pretty disappointed by this post – Stuttaford does nothing but repeat Pielke’s own framing of the debate. That adds no insight. OK, we see that Pielke sees the issue in those terms, but so what? Pielke is himself a controversial figure in the debate, easily as politicized as Jones or Mann. That’s fine, of course – but there’s no reason to accept his framing as somehow constituting evidence of a quasi-religious attitude (and in fact even Pielke doesn’t go so far).

  14. I.Mish says:


    Jeeves :


    So help me out here: Can you provide sources for the notions that (a) climate skeptics are “well-funded”; and (b) that said skeptics are uniformly a Right-wing phenomenon.

    Mother Jones had article titled, “The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial”. You can read it here:

    * No. 1: ExxonMobil
    * No. 2: Lord Christopher Monckton
    * No. 3: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
    * No. 4: Plants Need C02
    * No. 5: American Petroleum Institute (A.K.A. Energy Citizens)
    * No. 6: Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (A.K.A.
    * No. 7: The Heartland Institute
    * No. 8: Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (A.K.A. The Idso Family)
    * No. 9: FreedomWorks
    * No. 10: Tennessee Center for Policy Research (A.K.A. Carnival of Climate Change)
    * No. 11: Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security (A.K.A. FACES of Coal)
    * No. 12: Institute for Energy Research (A.K.A. American Energy Alliance)

  15. A-Bax says:

    The basic problem for AGW enthusiasts is that they haven’t been able to make any successful “risky” predictions. The whole point of the bogus hockey-stick graph and the “hide the decline”, “math trick” outrage is because AGW enthusiasts can’t even predict the (known) past accurately, let alone the present or future.

    We just got out of a mini-ice age when the industrial revolution began. The Medieval Warm Period mostly likely was as warm if not warmer than 1998. IPCC-endorsed paleoclimatic modeling cannot account for the cooling of the last decade.

    In short – there is insufficient evidence for the largely implausible theory that a minor contribution (human as compared to volcanic, etc.) to a minor greenhouse gas (CO2 as compared to water-vapor), which is a minor factor in the global climate (greenhouse gas vs. solar output, oceanic currents, the role of clouds, etc.) is the primary driver of climate change.

    Climate change is happening. But it has always happened, and always will. Al Gore and the Copenhagen Clowns can take it up with the sun, the ocean, and the sky if they don’t like it. Until there’s legitimate science behind AWG (which there isn’t until they make falsifiable predictions about the climate, which they are currently unable or unwilling to do), climate-hysteria is just a bunch of medieval, hairshirt witch-doctory. And that’s the charitable reading.

    The uncharitable reading is that climate-hysteria is a just fig-leaf pretext under which unreconstructed Leftists seize control of the “means of production”.

  16. outeast says:


    There are people out there raising valid concerns with the uncertainties to climate science – and there is a huge amount of variation in what people would like to see in terms of policy responses and suchlike – but the idea that an entire branch of science has somehow totally failed to account for the blindingly obvious is extremely bloody improbable; you should at least give credence to the idea that – just maybe – your objections have been considered and resolved many times over.

    And check your facts, too: the claim that ‘volcanic, etc’ contributions to CO2 dwarf those of humans is badly wrong, for example (according to the US Geological Survey, to pick just one authoritative source, ‘Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes’… though admittedly I don’t know what your ‘etc’ pertains to!). And that’s just one error.

  17. A-Bax says:

    @ outeast:

    What has AGW theory predicted again? And, when did they predict it?

    Science does not proceed by consensus. And a wholesale reliance on “explanation” leave your theory hostage to the imagination of those who propagate the theory. (E.g., in the 13th century: There’s no other explanation for the functionality of the eye – therefore there it must have been designed. As all designs require a designer.)

    “Explanation” often assists theorists in coming up with complex and ingenious theories, which then lead to experiments with falsifiable predictions. But it is the result of those experiments which ultimately justify the theory.

    As an example, general relativity theory was proposed in 1915. It wasn’t experimentally “confirmed” until 1919. During that 4 year interval, skeptics of general relativity were on firm ground. Until a theory makes successful predictions (a la Popper, Lakatos, etc.), no one is obligation to treat the theory as anything more than speculative.

    So…I ask again, what has AGW theory successfully predicted? Until that requirement is satisfied, AGW remains speculative.

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