Climate Science-by-Letter is Not Science

Tue, 2008-04-15 12:26Page van der Linden
Page van der Linden's picture

Climate Science-by-Letter is Not Science

BREAKING NEWS from the Newsbusters Global Warming Denier Clearinghouse!

Well, it was BREAKING! yesterday, anyway. Noel Sheppard posted:

Nobel Prize-Winning Peacekeeper Asks UN to Admit Climate Change Errors

… six months [after Al Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize], a fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient is part of a group asking the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “admit that there is no observational evidence in measured data going back 22,000 years or even millions of years that CO2 levels (whether from man or nature) have driven or are driving world temperatures.”

The meandering nonsense in the letter that Newbusters quotes includes “If you [the IPCC] believe there is evidence of the CO2 [climate change] driver theory in the available data please present a graph of it… [M]ore recent data shows that in the opposite sense to IPCC predictions world temperatures have not risen and indeed have fallen over the past 10 years while CO2 levels have risen dramatically.”

Never mind that you can find plenty of relevant graphs and data on the IPCC website.

That's not the point here.

First of all, we have the usual denier modus operandi known as “science by letter or petition” versus “science by peer review.” The individuals who signed the letter did not present a peer-reviewed scientific study for consideration; it's more of a pub conversation over a few web links than “science”.

Secondly - and most importantly - it is becoming patently clear that Mr. Sheppard cannot use Google. Let's take a trip on the “Internets” and see exactly who the letter's signatories are.

The “Nobel Prize-Winning Peacekeeper” to whom Sheppard refers is Svend Hendriksen (Nobel Peace Prize 1988 , awarded to UN Peacekeeping Forces. I assume Hendriksen was one of the peacekeepers).

It turns out that Hendriksen is the publisher of a website, “The Greenland Art Review”, in which he presents some of his art history theories, as well as his views as a global warming denialist.

He presents a rather, um, unusual analysis of An Inconvenient Truth. He claims that the film has “Rorschach phenomenon and hidden messages” (see the pdfs on his site, as well as the image linked in his art forum post here). To say the least, it's unconventional, verging on the bizarre.

As if that wasn't enough to discredit the letter to the IPCC, the other signatories don't help its credibility either.

Hans Schreuder is an analytical chemist who runs ilovemycarbondioxide.com.

He rants about graffiti tagging, tells us to “be good, PLANT TREES, NOT BOMBS,” and says that “there is absolutely NO proof whatsoever that carbon dioxide has any influence on our climate, not even a minute one. ALL “proof” is based on theories and computer models, not actual direct evidence - cause there ain't none!” It is not clear exactly how his “calculations” (much less, his education in analytical chemistry) are relevant to the “analysis” presented in the letter.

Piers Corbyn is the proprietor of weatheraction.com. His specialty is predicting the weather as far as a year ahead of time; you can even buy his horoscope forecasts. His techniques are apparently proprietary.

And last, but not least, is Dr. Don Parkes, “Prof. Em. Human Ecology, Australia”. A little digging reveals a few publications. Human Ecology is an interesting and relevant area of study (especially in light of the world's changing climate), but it's a stretch as to how Parkes' academic career applies to the claims presented in the letter.

The letter was copied to two members of the Global Warming Denier Hall of Shame: John Christy and Roy Spencer.

Hardly a case of scientific peer review.

More like “preaching to your own choir”, and regurgitation by Mr. Sheppard.

Shameful, predictable, and tiresome.

Previous Comments

troll, rob, zog, herald, et al aren’t touching this one with a ten foot pole.

Pseudoscience makes for such strange bedfellows, doesn’t it?

They’ll be back. They will fin a way to twist this around. But it might be very interesting to see what spin thay will put on it …

Fern Mackenzie

“First of all, we have the usual denier modus operandi known as “science by letter or petition”“

Oh, those naughty deniers and their bothersome petitions!

By the way, look what I found:

The Mile Long Petition to Stop Coal
http://tinyurl.com/69ean2

Sign DeSmog’s petition to throw the Junk Science off Fox News
http://tinyurl.com/2a8k3h

Reps for 10,000 EPA Scientists and Staff File Mass Petition to Address Warming
http://tinyurl.com/6rm432

Sign MoveOn’s Renewable Energy Bill Petition
http://tinyurl.com/5wjnls

Check out our online petition at the end of this post.
http://tinyurl.com/62o6su

Consider yourself beclowned.

“Shameful, predictable, and tiresome.”

Feeble.

Even VJ thinks the post was feeble.

And VJ knows all about feeble.

I agree completely with Rob.
Pot…. meet kettle.

Quite Ballsy assertions by a smear site though, don’t your think?

Give them credit for hypiocracy.

All of which address public policy, not underlying science, but that’s a subtlety you obviously cannot see.

I think we can broadly distinguish between the two types of petitions.

In a democracy and open market economy, we all get to petition our government institutions and corporations, in order to present our opinions and to persuade them to act in ways that satisfy our preferences.

But science isn’t conducted by public opinion campaigns - politics is.

The Newsbuster “story” triggers Gore’s Law in 6 words, or 27 letters.

Is this a new record or what?

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