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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


In reply to letters from Roy Turnball & Canon Kenyon Wright disputing that there was an lack of scientific consensus over global warming I sent this relatively long response:
A "consensus", scientific or otherwise means that there is broad unanimity. Thus, despite Roy Turnball's protests (letters 9th Nov.), the fact that 17,100 scientists in the Oregon Petition have said that "Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful" (CO2 helps plant growth) there cannot reasonably be said to be unanimity for the opposite view. The statement clearly goes much further than Mr Turnball's claim that it only denies "catastrophic" warming, rather than "harmful" warming. Anyway since we are spending $400 million worldwide on Kyoto every single day & much more if, as intended, it is followed by a more severe treaty, I think we are entitled to expect something more than aleviating some harm & some benefits. He also objects that it is possible that some of the scientists work for oil companies, which, on a statistical basis is probable, but must be far fewer than those who work for governments, such as Blair's, which have already decreed the science to be "settled".

In fact it has been regularly commented on, that a disproportionate number of public sceptics are emeritus professors - that is no longer susceptible to threats to salary or grants.

Canon Kenyon Wright's letter is even more certain of the existence of "scientific consensus" on warming. Indeed it is noticeable that those loudest in claims of a scientific consensus are politicians, journalists & indeed theologians but the existence of this petition & organisations such as the very emminent Professor Singer's SEPP proves that the consensus, as with so many consensii, is only in the media.

More important than the opinions of the "great & good", more important even than the opinions of scientists, are the facts & it is a fact that since 1999 the world has not got warmer, that it is not now warmer than in the Medieval warming period & cooler than in the Late Roman, that sea levels are still only increasing at about 0.6mm a year as they have since the last ice age, that Antarctic ice is increasing & that the Hockey Stick theory of a sudden sharp increase has been shown to be mathematically flawed in that whatever figures are fed in out pops the same prediction, That it took an independent sceptical researcher to actually check the maths after the IPCC had been using it for years is not indicative of "scientific illiteracy" being on the sceptical side.

Finally the Canon concludes with a plea that even if warming can't be proved we should take drastic action on the "precautionary principle". Of course under this same principle we should be currently forced to take equally drastic action to protect us from global cooling which used to be the "environmentalist's" bĂȘte noire. To be fair, this would not be as impossible as it sounds since their patent remedy for an ice age was ending air flights, pollution & modern technology generally - exactly the same as their remedy for warming. In fact the "precautionary principle", in its current extreme form, once defined by the late Sir Humphrey Appleby as "while many things should be done nothing should ever be done for the first time" is merely the institutionalisation of Luddism (& civil service practice) & should be treated with the greatest suspicion.

The climate has always moved up & down, up normally being better, & governments or the "great & good" who wish to panic us into more restrictions & higher taxes are doing us no favours.
Though they did not publish it they have had shorter (or shortened)responses from Martin Livermore of the Scientific Alliance on Saturday & Dr G M Lindsay today both of which were sensible.

I'm on your side, but still I'd put no weight on a "petition".
I generaly agree that science is not a matter of counting heads & this does not prove GW false only the claim to consensus as false.

The Origon Insitute refuses government grants & thus sounds a bit like survivalists but is led by a winner of the Fermi medal & a Nobel winner. That this petition does not get reported while any reearcher who says GW is getting worse is proof of spin.
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