THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY
John L. Daly
On 25th July 1996, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) sent an open letter to Benjamin Santer, Lead Author of Chapter 8 of the IPCC 1995 Report, a chapter which generated public controversy as a result of allegations that Santer had altered the text of Chapter 8 after the meeting of authoring scientists had approved a draft. The altered version of the IPCC report contained that infamous claim that there was "... a discernible human influence on global climate".
The Chapter 8 controversy aside, the AMS letter in defence of Santer contained the following revealing statements about their attitude to science and a scientist's place in the wider world.
"We believe that it is important to separate two issues. The first one is the scientific question of how and why climate changes. The second question is, if the climate is changing and humans are causing part of this change, then what should societies do about it. The appropriate arena for debating the first, scientific question is through peer-reviewed scientific publications--not the media".
"... essays based upon opinion and other communications in the media or other forms of popular public debate are inappropriate mechanisms for legitimate scientific debate".
"What is important scientific information and how it is interpreted in the policy debates is an important part of our jobs. ... That is, after all, the very reason for the mix of science and policy in the IPCC."
This AMS philosophy of science is not a defence of pure science per se, but a call for `scientism', the belief that science is applicable to any and all problems and situations, and that scientist's views should take a pre-eminent position in society. The last paragraph stakes their claim not only to keep scientific debate on such a crucial public issue entirely within their own private domain (an issue they made public to begin with), but that they should have the right to an un-elected say in the making of public policy for the rest of us.
Thus, `scientism' is science acquiring a taste for power.
The AMS demands that the scientific debate on climate change should be confined to the peer reviewed journals. This would clearly exclude everyone else from debate on, or giving a contribution to, the science of climate change except for the narrow peer group of professional greenhouse scientists. This is in spite of the fact that the findings of this peer group, if accepted as genuine science by the public, implies horrendous economic costs to billions of people. Is such an elitist position defensible in an open democratic society?
Besides, Who says that greenhouse science is actually a `science' at all? The greenhouse scientists do. Who says that the practitioners of that science are working in a proper scientific manner? Again, greenhouse scientists say so. Who says there are no motives other than scientific ones in the way they prepare their researches and peer-review each others papers? Once again, the greenhouse scientists say so. They have taken unto themselves the role of both judge and jury in their own cause.
So we are left in this position of having only their word as a professional group that their's is a genuine science, or that they are behaving in a scientific manner, and that their motives are above reproach. On that assumed trust, the AMS would ask us to turn our whole economies upside down, accept spiralling energy costs, greater unemployment, poverty for millions, and do so without ever questioning the soundness of the `science' they present us.
This is not some case of an obscure science being invaded by hordes of neanderthals bent on scientific vandalism. This is a science which deliberately thrust itself out into the public limelight and begun the mother of all hysterical scares, many of the scientists involved becoming celebrities in the process. This directly benefited the science itself as public funds poured in from governments for them to undertake further research into the alleged global warming. But now, when their actions are being called to public account, they turn around and put up the shield of `peer review' to protect themselves from public accountability (see a good example here, particularly the final comment).
If we took that principle to it's logical end and accorded, uncritically, the same privilege to all those other disciplines which self-assert themselves as `sciences', -
All our social priorities and policies would
be determined by sociologists
The education curriculum would be decided exclusively by educational psychologists
Criminal law and enforcement policy would be the preserve of criminologists
Our economic welfare would be managed only by economists and accountants
Health care policies would be the exclusive preserve of medical scientists
Our foreign policy would be in the hands of political scientists
All history would be written only by professional historians
Our language usage and norms would be dictated to us by linguists
Environmental policy would be run for us by environmental scientists
Our public moral standards and values would be determined by scientific ethicists
Nutritionists would have the sole right to decide what we eat and how much we eat
Even nearing our death, we would have Thanatologists for company
With sciences of every discipline running our lives, would we even need elections?
Simply because a discipline or peer group decides to call itself a `science' is no valid reason for the rest of the community to so regard it as such. Such public recognition should be earned the hard way, not merely accorded uncritically on the word of the peer group itself. This is what the older traditional sciences had to do, and they are the better for it. Many, such as Astronomy and Archaeology, welcome public participation in their science and have flourished all the better for that public input and interest.
Many peer groups proclaim themselves as `sciences', hoping perhaps that the high public respect and deference for the traditional sciences will somehow rub off on them as well. But who, apart from psychologists, would regard seriously psychology as a science? Or even sociology? It takes much more than a mere self-assertion by a peer group to scientific status for it to be truly regarded as such by the rest of society. Such `sciences' are often called `soft sciences' for this very reason (as distinct from `hard' sciences like physics and chemistry), and based on their performance so far, it would be reasonable to regard greenhouse science in the `soft' category.
How do these general principles relate to Greenhouse `science'?
Firstly, Greenhouse science has in no way proved it's scientific credentials. It is essentially an inferior sub-science of Meteorology, but still asserts itself as a `science', and even goes through all the motions, such as mutual peer review and the use of increasingly tortured techno-babble and exotic statistical techniques in their papers. But just as one does not need to be a qualified airline pilot to know that an aircraft is being flown badly, or that a particular doctor is really just a quack, it is equally true that one does not need to be a professional climatologist to recognise that something is very rotten in the state of Greenhouse `science'.
Secondly, there is the painfully obvious tunnel vision of many Greenhouse scientists. Hardly a paper goes by when the author(s) does not proudly proclaim "our results are consistent with the warming of the atmosphere due to anthropogenic CO2" (or similar such words). The fact that such results are also consistent with perhaps a dozen other natural effects and phenomena as well, is pointedly omitted. Such statements only reveal the hidden bias of the researchers concerned. The fact that such papers pass peer review so easily suggests that even the reviewers are not only afflicted with that same bias, but that the review process itself has largely degenerated into a form of mutual back-slapping among like-minded peers (an example of over-indulgent peer review here).
Third, it is now painfully apparent that when a set of natural data contradicts entrenched prejudices (as for example the satellite data, the lack of Arctic warming, and the presence of heat islands in the historical temperature records), the biased Greenhouse `scientist' will not confront this contradictory data head on, but simply ignore it. It does not exist because it is inconvenient to a pre-conceived theory or `model'. This is particularly true of the IPCC which consistently fails to address questions relating to identified contradictions and problems with the warming scenario.
Finally, Greenhouse `science' is shy of public scrutiny of it's methods and conclusions. This explains the prompt closing of ranks around Santer when he was under public criticism over actions for which he admitted responsibility anyway. This is also why many published papers now go beyond mere technical jargon and increasingly indulge in the kind of language style that psychologists are famous for, a form of techno-babble specifically designed not to be understood by anyone outside the narrow peer group. For example, a northerly wind becomes, in their hands, a “meridional flow”, all of which is intended to restrict comprehension of their papers only to fellow peers.
Appeal is often made to a self-proclaimed academic authority instead of invoking physical evidence in public support of their views. Many Greenhouse scientists have even taken to referring to each other, not as mere scientists, but as `eminent' scientists, or even `distinguished' scientists. The AMS letter in question used the pretentious term `distinguished' to describe some fellow climatologists. It is unlikely their contributions to science justifies such an exalted status.
Few other sciences are so fearful of public accountability, so prone to self-congratulation, and few other sciences have made so much public noise, spent so much of the public’s hard-earned money, and yet achieved so little.
When an entire discipline, such as this one, degenerates into becoming pseudo-scientific (making all the right scientific noises, words, and jargon, but lacking the rigour or substance of real science), then mutual peer loyalty, peer pressure, and even bureaucratic intimidation, ensures that the peer group as a whole co-operates in it's own degeneration.
Not all of the climatological community suffers from this tunnel vision and those who are disturbed by recent trends in climatology need to step back and reflect on the degree to which scientific method has been compromised in their's and related disciplines. It is disappointing to see so many Greenhouse scientists adopt the antiquated habits of drawing conclusions from insufficient data, and declaring it as fact. Or, drawing conclusions from a profuse amount of data leaving out data that may dispute their favourite view. That kind of biased approach to learning has existed for centuries. It is medieval and completely un-scientific.
There is also a cautionary note here for scientists in other disciplines.
The public credibility of all science is now in the clumsy hands of a remarkably few Greenhouse scientists and their computer models.
Is'nt that a comforting thought?
Return to "Still Waiting For Greenhouse"