Posted by: New Class Traitor | December 1, 2009

ClimateGate Twofer: Bret Stephens and Richard Lindzen

The Wall Street Journal has two powerful articles on ClimateGate.

Bret Stephens, former editor of the Jerusalem Post and now on the WSJ editorial board: “Follow the money

[…]But the deeper question is why the scientists behaved this way to begin with, especially since the science behind man-made global warming is said to be firmly settled. To answer the question, it helps to turn the alarmists’ follow-the-money methods right back at them.

Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he’d been awarded in the 1990s.

Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?

Thus, the European Commission’s most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that’s not counting funds from the EU’s member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA’s climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA’s, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls “green stimulus”—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

[…]

None of these outfits are per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what’s known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.

Go read the whole thing as they say.

And Prof. Richard Lindzen (MIT meteorologist): The Climate Science Isn’t Settled. This article cannot be done justice by selective quoting — go read it all. It is an excellent, lucid summary for laymen of the AGW skeptic position.

On a personal note: Readers may wonder why I am going after the ClimateGate story hammer and tongs. As it happens, I heard one Jewish scientist too many being accused of “[being] equivalent to a Holocaust denier” for the ‘crime’ of expressing mild skepticism about the man-made character of global warming (not even GW itself!). At that point this affair stopped being just business, and became personal.

Addendum: Debra Saunders on RCP: “The global warming inquisition“. But nobody expects the Spanish inquisition…

Addendum 2: NYT [!] science blogger John Tierney:

I’ve long thought that the biggest danger in climate research is the temptation for scientists to lose their skepticism and go along with the “consensus” about global warming. That’s partly because it’s easy for everyone to get caught up in “informational cascades”, and partly because there are so many psychic and financial rewards rewards for working on a problem that seems to be a crisis. We all like to think that our work is vitally useful in solving a major social problem — and the more major the problem seems, the more money society is liable to spend on it.

I’m not trying to suggest that climate change isn’t a real threat, or that scientists are deliberately hyping it. But when they look at evidence of the threat, they may be subject to the confirmation bias — seeing trends that accord with their preconceptions and desires. Given the huge stakes in this debate — the trillions of dollars that might be spent to reduce greenhouse emissions — it’s important to keep taking skeptical looks at the data. How open do you think climate scientists are to skeptical views, and to letting outsiders double-check their data and calculations?

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