Naomi Oreskes wrote the Merchants of Doubt, a book which describes climate sceptics as ‘deniers’. Oreskes regards ‘deniers’ as cold war warriors who think those who believe in man-made global warming [AGW] are communists, Marxists and assorted leftists who want to undermine the West.
Merchants of Doubt is a textbook of terms and techniques used by AGW believers: personal smearing and denigration, alleging an ideological position by the ‘deniers’ while ignoring the manifest ideology of AGW believers, reliance on authority and consensus while simultaneously endorsing the essence of ‘science’ and the vindication of climate science in confirming AGW.
Oreskes has little sense of irony.
She was recently in Australia and was interviewed by Richard Vidler at that other bastion of tolerance and open-mindedness on the subject of AGW, the ABC.
During the interview all the shibboleths of AGW were presented in the usual ‘received truth’ manner of AGW advocates.
So, according to Oreskes, ‘deniers’ of AGW are not only similar to those who deny the evils of tobacco they are the very same people; poor old Fred Singer got his usual deriding and the other 9000 or so sceptical scientists were lost in the smoke of the moment.
Real pollution issues like the effect of fluorocarbons and the Ozone layer were conflated with AGW and once again poor old Fred Singer got some more condescending opprobrium.
What really raised my ire, however, was when Oreskes wheeled at Ben Santer, not only as an example of the archetypal scientist but as a victim of the underhanded tactics of the ‘deniers’.
This is the same Santer who declared an overwhelming desire to punch the crap out of Pat Michaels.
This is the same Santer who unilaterally made fundamental changes to the 1996 IPCC report, in contradiction of IPCC procedure. Oreskes made light of this and regurgitated the mantra that the criticism of Santer’s alteration was not made in a peer reviewed fashion. This is an irrelevant criticism because the alteration effect caused by Santer is plain and does not need any review, peer or otherwise; Santer left out these clauses:
1. “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence thatwe can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specificcause of increases in greenhouse gases.”2. “While some of the pattern-based studies discussed here haveclaimed detection of a significant climate change, no study todate has positively attributed all or part [of the climate changeobserved to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes. Nor hasany study quantified the magnitude of a greenhouse-gas effector aerosoleffect in the observed data—an issue of primaryrelevance to policy makers.”3. “Any claims of positive detection and attribution of significantclimate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertaintiesin the total natural variability of the climate system arereduced.”4. “While none of these studies has specifically considered theattribution issue, they often draw some attribution conclusions,for which there is little justification.”5. “When will an anthropogenic effect on climate be identified?It is not surprising that the best answer to this question is, ‘wedo not know.’ ”
In addition to these exclusions Santer added this clause:
6. “The body of statistical evidence in Chapter 8, when examinedin the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.” (Ref. 2. p. 439)
Yet Oreskes claimed this had no effect on the meaning of the report because it was based on Santer’s 1996 paper. This paper in turn was based on truncated data. When the full sequence of data was included the conclusions of Santer’s paper were found to be contradicted by the observations which meant the original conclusions excluded from the IPCC report by Santer were correct.
According to Oreskes, Santer is a leading scientist of AGW who has established human caused ‘fingerprints’ in the climate which prove AGW.
The ‘fingerprint’ found by Santer is the Tropical Hotspot [THS]. The THS is a faster warming in the tropical atmosphere compared with the warming on the surface. AGW theory predicts a THS because CO2 warming causes more evaporation and that water vapour causes more heating. Since there is most water in the tropics the tropical air should be warming at a faster rate.
Santer has written another paper in 2008 supposedly verifying the existence of the THS which he had previously ‘proved’ in his 1996 paper which justified the alterations to the IPCC report. Santer wrote his 2008 paper partially in response to a paper by Douglass, Christy, Pearson and poor old Fred Singer. Douglass et al had found no THS and a marked divergence between the AGW model predictions and the observations.
There was a legitimate objection to the Douglass paper because the Douglass paper did not properly address the variability between models which meant the models may have got the results right.
So in this respect the Santer 2008 paper was good science. It overcame the problem with the Douglass et al paper, considered all the models and found a THS.
There was only one problem; Santer was up to his old trick of cherry picking the data. Despite there being data up to 2008 Santer only used data to the end of 1999. Maybe he is superstitious!
However there is another possible reason. As a multitude of papers found after Santer et al 2008, when you use all the data there is, you guessed it, no THS. These papers were written by McKitrick, McIntyre and Herman, McKitrick and Vogelsang, Douglas and Christy’s follow up paper, and notably the paper by Fu et al. Fu is, like the other researchers, a top atmospheric specialist who works within the AGW establishment. These guys are not ‘deniers’.
The first McKitrick paper is also interesting in that it was refused publication on 2 occasions. It appears that Peter Thorne, one of the Santer 2008 paper co-authors was a reviewer on the McKitrick paper.
None of this was referred to in the Oreskes interview. It was all about Santer the hard-working scientist who was vilified by the ‘deniers’ for proving AGW by finding the THS. In fact the existence of a THS is crucial for AGW; AGW depends on there being a THS; the weight of evidence is that there is NOT a THS. Santer has had 2 goes at proving a THS and on both occasions he has resorted to cherry-picking; that is, selecting data which proves his point, rather than the scientific truth.
Oreskes should have known this; if she didn’t she is not competent to comment on AGW or Santer. If she did know she is a liar by omission. In either case the interview was a disgrace.