Clive James has openly admitted that he knows nothing about Climate Change :-
“In praise of scepticism”, 23 October 2009
and yet he still continues to pass judgement on the way the Science is conducted, and accepts the validity of the arguments of the Climate Change deniers :-
“Climate change – a story too often told the same way”, 11 December 2009
I ask you this : since he knows nothing about Climate Change Science, how can he possibly justify accepting the views of the Climate Change deniers ?
Has he analysed the history of Climate Change denial (as known as “scepticism”) ?
Does he know how some Climate Change denier-sceptics have been funded, and the influence they have in the networks they have built ?
If he were to do even just a smidgen of research he would find that the Climate Change denier-sceptic network is rather like a wart – a viral infection that does one no good whatsoever.
There are not two sides to the Climate Change “debate”. The “debate” is an artefact. It’s not real.
Let me point at a few things that Clive James errs on, in my humble opinion.
“a story too often told the same way” : well, that’s because the data only points in one direction : the only way is up with the temperatures. Yes, of course there’s some localised variability, but the upwards slope of the temperatures is clear.
“one-sided discussions” : there isn’t another “side” to the discussion. There’s only one side : the Science of Global Warming.
“an impressive way of talking about the future, a way of sounding impressive that sounded less impressive only when you realised that sounding impressive was its main motive. Big things would happen. It was big talk. And it paid the penalty of all big talk. As you got used to it, you got tired of it.”
Let’s be clear here : Climate Change is a big story. You cannot diminish it by claiming to be bored or unimpressed. And it’s not going away. It’s no longer a question of whether or not the biosphere has been wrecked : it’s now a question of exactly how much the biosphere has been wrecked. How wrecked are we ?
“the globe uncooperatively declined to get warmer during the last 10 years” : factually incorrect : 2005 was possibly warmer than 1998 and 2007 could have tied with 1998. The last decade has been the hottest on record.
“Today, after recent events at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, that supposedly settled science is still the story, but the story is in question.” : incorrect : the story is not in question.
“Suddenly there are voices to pronounce that the reputation of science will lie in ruins for the next 50 years.” Which voices, Clive ? People we can trust ? I doubt it.
“My own view is that true science, the spirit of critical inquiry that unites all scientists, or is supposed to, is reasserting itself after being out-shouted by at least half a Hermie of uninterrupted public relations.” Here, Clive James is showing that he is clearly unaware of the continual sniping that Science has taken from the Climate Change denier-sceptics.
Ever since I learned about the Science of Global Warming in the early 1980s, I have known genuine sceptics and outright deniers of the Science.
Clive, if you want to do some “critical inquiry” you will discover just how long the denier-sceptics have been chipping away at public opinion of Climate Change and Global Warming Science.
And as for “public relations”, well, the Climate Change denier-sceptics have been dominating the mindscapes of people through the Media for way too long. Scientists do factual explanations. Denier-sceptics do propaganda.
“I thought the reported scientific unanimity that global warming is man-made, and likely to be catastrophic, was always a more active area of scientific debate than you would have guessed from the way the media told the story.” Yes, Climate Change Science is a very active area of scientific debate, but the things debated are not the fact of Global Warming (it is a fact), but things slightly more esoteric like – exactly how much the Earth will heat up given current emissions trajectories.
“…he said my scepticism about the settled science was a wilful defiance of established fact. Unfortunately the fact had been established largely by the media, who had been telling only one story.” Wrong again, Clive. The Media have been prone to being used as a platform by the Climate Change denier-sceptics. That’s an established fact that has been demonstrated by research. Global Warming is an established scientific fact, yet the Media still behave as if the matter hasn’t been settled. And that includes the BBC. And your writing for the BBC. You are denying established scientific fact.
“If you said the story might have two sides, that sounded like scepticism. People in my position had to get used to being called sceptics, as if scepticism were a bad thing. We even had to get used to being called denialists, although clearly it was an unscrupulous word.”
A Climate Change sceptic is not the same as a Climate Change denier. A Climate Change sceptic is someone who is genuinely not appraised of the full narrative and so genuinely cannot make up their minds. A denier is someone who denies the Science outright.
For example, the other week I was talking to a family friend and he said, “I don’t think it’s going to warm up as much as they say it will”. And I asked him, “on what do you base your assessment ?”
Of course, he’s a busy guy, and just skims the Media, so that’s the only way he gets any opinion-forming information. He’s a sceptic, and has the audacity to have made up his mind on the basis of his own judgement, basing it on a shallow reading from the Media, without basing it on fact.
A denier is another kettle of worms. A denier denies established facts.
“the more absolutist man-made global warming case has always looked sufficiently vulnerable just by the way it has been reluctant to listen to opposing voices no matter how well qualified.”
And which “opposing voices” do you mean, Clive ? Go on, name names and I’ll tell you if I think they’re sufficiently qualified to comment on established facts.
“All you ever had to do was notice how their more strident representatives didn’t want to hear any other opinions, even when the opinions came from within their own ranks.”
And which people “within their own ranks” could you possibly be referring to ? I think you’re bluffing. Have you seen how many scientists in the ranks support the science ?
“Far from there having been unanimity among scientists on the subject of catastrophic man-made global warming, there has scarcely been unanimity among climate scientists. It only takes one dissenting voice to punch a hole in the idea of unanimity, if that voice has a chance of being right.”
There’s no need for 100% unanimity on all matters and their details. There is a broad consensus on the basic established facts of Global Warming. This is sufficient to press for policy.
“You could say that the number was small, and a few of them were vengeful because they had been sidelined for not being sufficiently doom-laden in their claims.”
No, they were vengeful because they were sidelined by their own unverifiable claims.
“It could be said that few of them had expertise in climate science, but that argument looked less decisive when you considered that climate science itself was exactly what they were bringing into question.”
The basis of Climate Change Science includes the Sciences of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, so you’d have to have an entirely different Universe if you wanted to invalidate it.
“So science was not speaking with one voice on the matter. It only seemed to be, because the media, on the whole, was giving no other story.”
Wrong again, Clive. It has nearly ten years to get Climate Change the emphasis it needs in the Media, and even now, denier-sceptics get the opportunity to write nonsense on the wide range of Press platforms.
“Then this Climate Research Unit thing happened, and it was the end of the monologue. The dialogue has begun again.”
Not at all. What you call “dialogue” never ceased. The denier-sceptics have been snapping at the heels of Science for just about ever.
“The scientists are arguing on the matter, which is the proper thing for science to do, because in science the science is never settled.”
You’re wrong, Clive. The Science is often settled. It is for this reason that we give antibiotics to those with bacterial infections. The science is sufficiently settled for us to do all manner of things, like make computer chips, send rockets to the Moon, make nuclear submarines, that kind of thing. If the Science wasn’t sufficiently clear we wouldn’t even attempt to vaccinate children, or eliminate wheat from the diet of those suffering gluten intolerance.
We know enough to know that Global Warming is a fact. Climate Change is real and it’s happening now.