'First, the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide are dominant over the climatic effects and are overwhelmingly beneficial. Second, the climatic effects observed in the real world are much less damaging than the effects predicted by the climate models, and have also been frequently beneficial.'

Freeman Dyson,

in Foreword to http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2015/10/benefits1.pdf

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Something to amuse you and then your senior pupils: a potted history of climate-alarmism, leaving the BEST to last

The recent spinning of the BEST results to claim they refute the arguments of sceptics by merely showing that the widely used global climate records do indeed show a modest warming in the 20th century is but the latest attempt at mass deception by those who have found advantage in climate alarmism.   Here, from Maggie's Farm, is a trenchant view of it all:

Global Warming 4.0


'I have a tough observation test for you (if you dare to take it, and I highly recommend you don't), but first a bit of history, written in my usual calm, clear, objective, pusillanimously pseudonymous style.


Global Warming 1.0 was the original theme (see accompanying photograph taken from Moon Base Alpha), basically launched by NASA's James Hansen as NASA began its decades-long plan to bankrupt the American economy by building a completely worthless trillion dollar space station as well as destroy entire nations as witnessed by the South Seas island nations who have been told that their islands will soon be inundated with water from the melting ice pack and have thus abandoned any future plans for their nations' growth.  Well done, NASA, well done.


Global Warming 2.0 was when it was realized that, dammit, the earth wasn't warming as quite as fast as it should, and the hurricanes we got clobbered with in 2004 and 2005 turned out to be the predicted results of typical hurricane patterns, not to mention that the hurricanes then had the temerity to go away in 2006 — and what a disappointment that was.  As a result, 'climate change' was created to cover more bases.

Global Warming 2.1 to 2.8 was when we saw the massive expansion of things that were going to affected by the new, improved 'climate change', and this was especially effective because you can work in both directions, hotter and colder.

Global Warming 2.9 was when earthquakes were deemed to be the result of man-made global warming.  This one was given its own special sub-version number so future historians will be able to pinpoint with precision the apex of mankind's stupidity.

Global Warming 3.0 was a little more insidious, in while it claimed that, yes, global warming was entirely man's fault, we didn't need to take such drastic measures as those espoused by the Kyoto Protocol and, later, Cap & Trade.  This version was spearheaded by Danish video rock star Bjorn Lomborg.  It was very seductive to the fence-sitters, and Tigerhawk, for one, took it seriously, as did other bloggers whose names you might recognize.

All of which brings us to today... '

[see the article link for the rest, which includes a link to an article in The Guardian in which 4.0 first sees the light of day.]

Notes added later on 25/10/11:  
(1) Dr Ball has interesting things to say about the BEST study:

'The fact they even attempted the project indicates lack of knowledge or understanding of the inadequacies of the data set in space or time or subsequent adjustments. Lamb spoke to the problem when he established the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). On page 203 of his autobiography he said,
“When the Climatic Research Unit was founded, it was clear that the first and greatest need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important. A worldwide record was needed particularly on the time scale of human history a project which surprisingly no other body had attempted in any coordinated way.” “We are living in a time when the glamour of the much more expensive work of the mathematical modeling laboratories, and the tempting prospect of their theoretical predictions are stealing the limelight. The confidence generally characterizing the pronouncements from those quarters has since given way to more cautious statements in later years. It does not seem to have been widely recognized that the theoreticians work was proceeding without adequate prior study (or any sure understanding) of the sometimes drastic swings of climate that have occurred over periods from a few years or decades to some centuries, often settling in abruptly and some of them still unexplained.”
The BEST study confirms Lamb’s concerns.  It adds nothing to advancing the understanding of the degree of climate change. Until that is adequately defined and described there is no hope of determining the underlying causes and mechanisms of change.  The failure to understand the complete inadequacy of the existing temperature record is troubling. It makes it appear that there is an incompetence or a political motive, or both.'
(2) James Delingpole is even more damning:
'What is going on is exactly the kind of utterly reprehensible dishonesty and trickery I anatomise more thoroughly in Watermelons. The Warmists lost the battle over "the science" long ago; that's why the best they can do now is resort to the kind of risible semantic ruse like this deliberate conflation of "global warming" with "man made global warming".'
(3) Willis Eschenbach provides a more technical assessment (but still a very accessible one):
'I remind folks again that the hype about BEST showing skeptics are wrong is just that. Most folks knew already that the world has been generally warming for hundreds of years, and BEST’s results in that regard were no surprise. BEST showed nothing about whether humans are affecting the climate, nor could it have done so. There are still large unresolved issues in the land temperature record which BEST has not clarified or solved. The jury is out on the BEST results, and it is only in part because they haven’t even gone through peer review.'
Note added 27 October 2011
This link to Nature may not last long since the comment by Prof Singer in it conflicts with and criticises their notorious stance with respect to climate science.
Extract:
'But unlike the land surface, the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons. This indicates to me that there is something very wrong with the land surface data. And did you know that climate models, run on super-computers, all insist that the atmosphere must warm faster than the surface? And so does theory.
And finally, we have non-thermometer temperature data from so-called 'proxies': tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, stalagmites. They don?t show any global warming since 1940!
The BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) results in no way confirm the scientifically discredited Hockeystick graph, which had been so eagerly adopted by climate alarmists. In fact, the Hockeystick authors never published their post-1978 temperatures in their 1998 paper in Nature, or since. The reason for hiding them? It's likely that those proxy data show no warming either. Why don't you ask them?
One last word: You evidently haven?t read the four scientific BEST papers, submitted for peer review. There, the Berkeley scientists disclaim knowing the cause of the temperature increase reported by their project. They conclude, however: 'The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.' I commend them for their honesty and skepticism.'

( I have corrected some punctuation typos, esp. where '?' was printed instead of apostrophes, and I added the emboldening at the end.)

Note added 30 October 2011.  A useful overview in the Mail on Sunday:
(note that the vertical scales are slightly different, and the horizontal scales are very different between the charts)
Extract:
'But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of  trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.
Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no  scientific basis.
Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.
Her comments, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, seem certain to ignite a furious academic row. She said this affair had to be compared to the notorious ‘Climategate’ scandal two years ago.'

(hat tip: Bishop Hill , where some discussion of this newspaper article can be found)

Note added 7 Nov 11.. Report of very poor data quality in the BEST study:  http://climateaudit.org/2011/11/06/best-data-quality/

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Perspective on Climate Knowledge: Geophysicist Deming speaks out as a 'Denier'

Any teacher wondering whether to take issue with the conventional, or establishment, view of the causes of climate variation might find the following essay helpful as a spur to their own reflections and for broadening their own background knowledge of the subject (hat tip: Tom Nelson's blog). Deming is unusual in being willing to accept the 'denier' epithet. His approach may well help to undermine the malevolent intent of those who deploy it. A key part of his position is based on the difficulty of defining, and measuring, an 'average temperature' for our planet. Given that climate discussions are often around actual or projected changes of less than one Celsius degree in 'average temperature, however defined', his concern is a very reasonable one.

Why I Deny Global Warming


I'm a denier for several reasons. There is no substantive evidence that the planet has warmed significantly or that any significant warming will occur in the future. If any warming does occur, it likely will be concentrated at higher latitudes and therefore be beneficial. Climate research has largely degenerated into pathological science, and the coverage of global warming in the media is tendentious to the point of being fraudulent. Anyone who is an honest and competent scientist must be a denier.

Have you ever considered how difficult it is to take the temperature of the planet Earth? What temperature will you measure? The air? The surface of the Earth absorbs more than twice as much incident heat from the Sun than the air. But if you measure the temperature of the surface, what surface are you going to measure? The solid Earth or the oceans? There is twice as much water as land on Earth. If you decide to measure water temperature, at what depth will you take the measurements? How will the time scale on which the deep ocean mixes with the shallow affect your measurements? And how, pray tell, will you determine what the average water temperature was for the South Pacific Ocean a hundred years ago? How will you combine air, land, and sea temperature measurements? Even if you use only meteorological measurements of air temperature, how will you compensate for changes in latitude, elevation, and land use?

Determining a mean planetary temperature is not straightforward, but an extremely complicated problem. Even the best data are suspect. Anthony Watts and his colleagues have surveyed 82.5 percent of stations in the U.S. Historical Climatology Network. They have found – shockingly – that over 70 percent of these stations are likely to be contaminated by errors greater than 2 deg C [3.6 deg F]. Of the remaining stations, 21.5 percent have inherent errors greater than 1 deg C. The alleged degree of global warming over the past 150 years is less than 1 deg C. Yet even in a technologically advanced country like the US, the inherent error in over 90 percent of the surveyed meteorological stations is greater than the putative signal. And these errors are not random, but systematically reflect a warming bias related to urbanization. Watts has documented countless instances of air temperature sensors located next to air conditioning vents or in the middle of asphalt parking lots. A typical scenario is that a temperature sensor that was in the middle of a pasture a hundred years ago is now surrounded by a concrete jungle. Urbanization has been a unidirectional process. It is entirely plausible – even likely – that all of the temperature rise that has been inferred from the data is an artifact that reflects the growth of urban heat islands.

The "denier" is portrayed as a person who refuses to accept the plain evidence of his senses. But in fact it is the alarmist who doesn't know what they are talking about. The temperature of the Earth and how it has varied over the past 150 years is poorly constrained. The person who thinks otherwise does so largely because they have no comprehension of the science. Most of these people have never done science or thought about the inherent difficulties and uncertainties involved.

And what is "global warming" anyway? As long ago as the fifth century BC, Socrates pointed out that intelligible definitions are a necessary precursor to meaningful discussions. The definition of the term "global warming" shifts with the context of the discussion. If you deny global warming, then you have denied the existence of the greenhouse effect, a reproducible phenomenon that can be studied analytically in the laboratory. But if you oppose political action, then global warming metamorphoses into a nightmarish and speculative planetary catastrophe. Coastal cities sink beneath a rising sea, species suffer from wholesale extinctions, and green pastures are turned into deserts of choking hot sand.

In fact, so-called "deniers" are not "deniers" but skeptics. Skeptics do not deny the existence of the greenhouse effect. Holding all other factors constant, the mean planetary air temperature ought to rise as the atmosphere accumulates more anthropogenic CO2. Christopher Monckton recently reviewed the pertinent science and concluded that a doubling of CO2 should result in a temperature increase of about 1 deg C. If this temperature increase mirrors those in the geologic past, most of it will occur at high latitudes. These areas will become more habitable for man, plants, and other animals. Biodiversity will increase. Growing seasons will lengthen. Why is this a bad thing?

Any temperature increase over 1 deg C for a doubling of CO2 must come from a positive feedback from water vapor. Water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere, and warm air holds more water than cold air. The theory is that an increased concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere will lead to a positive feedback that amplifies the warming from CO2 by as much as a factor of three to five. But this is nothing more that speculation. Water vapor also leads to cloud formation. Clouds have a cooling effect. At the current time, no one knows if the feedback from water vapor will be positive or negative.

Global warming predictions cannot be tested with mathematical models. It is impossible to validate computer models of complex natural systems. The only way to corroborate such models is to compare model predictions with what will happen in a hundred years. And one such result by itself won't be significant because of the possible compounding effects of other variables in the climate system. The experiment will have to repeated over several one-hundred year cycles. In other words, the theory of catastrophic global warming cannot be tested or empirically corroborated in a human time frame.

It is hardly conclusive to argue that models are correct because they have reproduced past temperatures. I'm sure they have. General circulation models have so many degrees of freedom that it is possible to endlessly tweak them until the desired result is obtained. Hindsight is always 20-20. This tells us exactly nothing about a model's ability to accurately predict what will happen in the future.

The entire field of climate science and its coverage in the media is tendentious to the point of being outright fraudulent. Why is it that every media report on CO2 – an invisible gas – is invariably accompanied by a photograph of a smokestack emitting particulate matter? Even the cover of Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, shows a smokestack. Could it be that its difficult to get people worked up about an invisible, odorless gas that is an integral component of the photosynthetic cycle? A gas that is essential to most animal and plant life on Earth? A gas that is emitted by their own bodies through respiration? So you have to deliberately mislead people by showing pictures of smoke to them. Showing one thing when you're talking about another is fraud. If the case for global warming alarmism is so settled, so conclusive, so irrefutable...why is it necessary to repeatedly resort to fraud?

A few years ago it was widely reported that the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause poison ivy to grow faster. But of course carbon dioxide causes almost all plants to grow faster. And nearly all of these plants have beneficial human uses. Carbon dioxide fertilizes hundreds or thousands of human food sources. More CO2 means trees grow faster. So carbon dioxide promotes reforestation and biodiversity. Its good for the environment. But none of this was reported. Instead, the media only reported that global warming makes poison ivy grow faster. And this is but one example of hundreds or thousands of such misleading reports. If sea ice in the Arctic diminishes, it is cited as irrefutable proof of global warming. But if sea ice in the Antarctic increases, it is ignored. Even cold weather events are commonly invoked as evidence for global warming. People living in the future will look back and wonder how we could have been so delusional.


For the past few years I have remained silent concerning the Climategate emails. But what they revealed is what many of us already knew was going on: global warming research has largely degenerated into what is known as pathological science, a "process of wishful data interpretation." When I testified before the US Senate in 2006, I stated that a major climate researcher told me in 1995 that "we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period." The existence and global nature of the Medieval Warm Period had been substantiated by literally hundreds of research articles published over decades. But it had to be erased from history for ideological reasons. A few years later the infamous "hockey stick" appeared. The "hockey stick" was a revisionist attempt to rewrite the temperature history of the last thousand years. It has been discredited as being deeply flawed.

In one Climategate email, a supposed climate scientist admitted to "hiding the decline." In other words, hiding data that tended to disprove his ideological agenda. Another email described how alarmists would try to keep critical manuscripts from being published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. One of them wrote, we'll "keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" Gee. If the climate science that validates global warming is so unequivocal, why is it necessary to work behind the scenes to suppress dissent? You "doth protest too much."

As described in my book, Science and Technology in World History: The Ancient World and Classical Civilization, systematic science began with the invocation of naturalism by Greek philosophers and Hippocratic physicians c. 600-400 BC. But the critical attitude adopted by the Greeks was as important as naturalism. Students were not only allowed to criticize their teachers, but were encouraged to do so. From its beginnings in Greek natural philosophy, science has been an idealistic and dispassionate search for truth. As Plato explained, anyone who could point out a mistake "shall carry off the palm, not as an enemy, but as a friend." This is one reason that scientists enjoy so much respect. The public assumes that a scientist's pursuit of truth is unencumbered by political agendas.


But science does not come easy to men. "Science," George Sarton reminded us, "is a joykiller." The proper conduct of science requires a high degree of intellectual discipline and rigor. Scientists are supposed to use multiple working hypotheses and sort through these by the processes of corroboration and falsification. The most valuable evidence is that which tends to falsify or disprove a theory. A scientist, by the very definition of his activity, must be skeptical. A scientist engaged in a dispassionate search for truth elevates the critical – he does not suppress it. Knowledge begins with skepticism and ends with conceit.
Finally, I'm happy to be known as a "denier" because the label of "denier" says nothing about me, but everything about the person making the charge. Scientific theories are never denied or believed, they are only corroborated or falsified. Scientific knowledge, by its very nature, is provisional and subject to revision. The provisional nature of scientific knowledge is a necessary consequence of the epistemological basis of science. Science is based on observation. We never have all the data. As our body of data grows, our theories and ideas must necessarily evolve. Anyone who thinks scientific knowledge is final and complete must necessarily endorse as a corollary the absurd proposition that the process of history has stopped.

A scientific theory cannot be "denied." Only a belief can be denied. The person who uses the word "denier" thus reveals that they hold global warming as a belief, not a scientific theory. Beliefs are the basis of revealed religion. Revelations cannot be corroborated or studied in the laboratory, so religions are based on dogmatic beliefs conservatively held. Religions tend to be closed systems of belief that reject criticism. But the sciences are open systems of knowledge that welcome criticism. I'm a scientist, and therefore I must happily confess to being a denier.





October 19, 2011
David Deming [send him mail] is a geophysicist, associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma, and author of the books Science and Technology in World History, Vols. 1 & 2.
Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.





Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Trashy Climate 'Science' Can Be Exposed in the Classroom: Watts Shows the Way

Replicating Al Gore’s Climate 101 video experiment shows that his “high school physics” could never work as advertised

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The title links to a post by Anthony Watts in which he describes the results he got when he tried to replicate a 'high-school physics' experiment promoted by Albert Gore as part of a recent propaganda initiative.

He writes:

'Readers may recall my previous essay where I pointed out how Mr. Gore’s Climate 101 Video, used in his “24 hours of climate reality”, had some serious credibility issues with editing things to make it appear as if they had actually performed the experiment, when they clearly did not. It has taken me awhile to replicate the experiment. Delays were a combination of acquisition and shipping problems, combined with my availability since I had to do this on nights and weekends. I worked initially using the original techniques and equipment, and I’ve replicated the Climate 101 experiment in other ways using improved equipment. '

This work by Watts was triggered by provocative remarks by Gore as well as by evidence that his video showing the experiment had been doctored:

'[Gore's] specific claim was:
“The deniers claim that it’s some kind of hoax and that the global scientific community is lying to people,” he said. “It’s not a hoax, it’s high school physics.” - Al Gore in an interview with MNN 9/14/2011
So easy a high school kid can do it. Right?
Bill Nye, in his narration at 0:48 in the video says:
You can replicate this effect yourself in a simple lab experiment, here’s how.
and at 1:10 in the video Nye says:
Within minutes you will see the temperature of the bottle with the carbon dioxide in it rising faster and higher.
So, I decided to find out if that was true and if anyone could really replicate that claim, or if this was just more stagecraft chicanery. I was betting that nobody on Gore’s production team actually did this experiment, or if they did do it, it wasn’t successful, because otherwise, why would they have to fake the results in post production?'

 See the post for a great many details, easily sufficient for any physics teacher to replicate the experiment.  The post has many illustrations, including some videos, of the procedures, the equipment, and the results.

The conclusions?

Watts finishes his post with these remarks

'Mr. Gore’s Climate 101 experiment is falsified, and could not work given the equipment he specified. If they actually tried to perform the experiment themselves, perhaps this is why they had to resort to stagecraft in the studio to fake the temperature rise on the split screen thermometers.
The experiment as presented by Al Gore and Bill Nye “the science guy” is a failure, and not representative of the greenhouse effect related to CO2 in our atmosphere. The video as presented, is not only faked in post production, the premise is also false and could never work with the equipment they demonstrated. Even with superior measurement equipment it doesn’t work, but more importantly, it couldn’t work as advertised.

The design failure was the glass cookie jar combined with infrared heat lamps.

Gore FAIL.'

All italics and emboldening in the above have been added by me.

One day, school curricula will include such refutations of shoddy science and exposures of blatant manipulation to assure pupils that 'yes, people really did get up to such tricks back in those days, but we know better now'. 



 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

More of this please: in Michigan, a climate textbook removed from schools after errors exposed

(Hat tip: http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/) Sounds like this book is yet another potboiler, from the vivid school for scary stories, written by someone with no apparent background in science, but who has been so convinced by the outputs of radical environmental groups that she wants to recruit schoolchildren to the cause.  Here is a brief description of it:

'A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids” holds up Al Gore as an “eco-hero;” promotes organizations such as Greenpeace and Rainforest Alliance; urges children to persuade their parents to “Vote Green” and buy organic; cautions against new-home construction, the plastics industry and conventional agriculture, and notes “many people believe that it is best for the earth for families to have no more than one child.” The 88-page book was written by Julie Hall, a resident of Bainbridge, Wash., cofounder of ProgressiveKids, “a planet-friendly” online company, and a poet whose work has been published in The Nation, a liberal magazine.'




The book was criticised by a farmers' group because of serious errors in materials on agriculture.

The book has now has now been recalled, although the people involved still hold by some of the climate materials in it:









Climate change book recalled by Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center


'A week after defending a self-published book on global warming  included in their science kits marketed to Michigan school districts, the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center is now recalling all copies of the book.
“This book makes sweeping statements” unfounded in science, BCAMSC Director Connie Duncan said today. “We want to be sure the information we send out is 100 percent correct to the best of our knowledge.”
The BCAMSC is contacting schools and teachers, via telephone, mail, and the center's secure Website, “any way we could get hold of them,” Duncan said regarding the supplemental texts it included in kits of materials to teach seventh graders the science of climate change.'

As the 'madness of crowds' which has affected so much of society with regard to climate continues to subside, I hope and expect to see much more of this: the long overdue, critical evaluation of textbooks and curricula to identify and remove that which is designed not so much to inform, but rather to recruit.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Climate Change Politics: 'a truly disquieting chapter in recent history'

For any teacher or administrator, or indeed pupil, wishing to deepen and broaden their general perspective on climate change activism and its consequences would do well to study the insights of Vaclav Klaus.  David Henderson has written an excellent essay as part of a tribute to Klaus, and it was posted today at Bishop Hill's site:

Climate Change Issues: The Special Contribution of Vaclav Klaus

David Henderson

1 An established policy consensus
In relation to climate change issues, there is an official policy consensus. That consensus has been firmly in place for over twenty years, and virtually all governments subscribe to it. By way of recent example, paragraph 66 of last year’s G20 Summit Document begins as follows:
‘Addressing the threat of global climate change is an urgent priority for all nations. We reiterate our commitment to take strong and action-oriented measures...’
The measures referred to are chiefly directed towards curbing emissions of (so-called) ‘greenhouse gases’ in general, and carbon dioxide in particular. The policy consensus reflects what I call received opinion; and the core of received opinion is that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) constitutes a serious threat, which however can be contained and partially averted by severely limiting emissions.
The consensus has been increasingly reflected in a wide variety of official actions at local, state, national and international level. In taking these actions, the governments concerned have so far met with widespread public approval.
It is a remarkable fact that, throughout the period since its adoption at the end of the 1980s, the policy consensus has gone without serious political challenge. In the OECD member countries in particular, climate change issues have typically been the subject of close and continuing cross-party agreement, so that policies have been little affected by changes in government. Inside the governmental machine, the policies have had cross-departmental backing, with none of the usual conflicts of interest or differences of opinion.
2 An isolated dissenter
Political leaders across the world have embraced the consensus, and they continue to do so. Within their ranks, however, there has for some years now been a prominent and outspoken dissenter, in the person of Vaclav Klaus.
The position which Klaus has taken on climate change issues is distinctive. In particular:
  • For several years now, he has given a great deal of thought and attention to the subject. It has become for him a leading (though far from exclusive) preoccupation.
  • The views that he expresses on the subject are his own. It is unusual for a political leader to stake out publicly a strong personal position on a major issue of policy. Klaus’s readiness to act in this way reflects the strength of his convictions. No element of political calculation enters into those convictions or the way in which he has chosen to express them.
  •  His critique of the policy consensus, and of the arguments on which it rests, forms one element in a wider set of beliefs, a personal philosophy. Klaus is a committed liberal, in the European sense of the term – a classical liberal. In consequence, his assessment of any measure or policy largely depends on what he sees as its implications for the freedom – the personal liberty - of individuals. In the case of current and prospective climate change policies, his main single concern has been with the threat that he sees them as posing to individual freedom and to the market economy which gives expression to it.
  • Klaus views this threat as extremely serious. He holds that ‘ambitious environmentalism’ has ‘replaced Communism’ as ‘the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity’, in that it ‘wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world’. [1]
Given Klaus’s isolation in the political world, and the persistence and intensity with which he has argued his case, it is easy for opponents to class him as both an eccentric and an extremist. Two obvious charges that can be brought against him are
  • first, that he has become over-preoccupied with climate change issues;
  •  second, that in relation to those issues, and the threat that he sees as arising from consensus thinking and policies, he has taken an extreme and untenable position.
In my view, these charges do not hold. I believe that in his lonely role, as outspoken critic and protester, Klaus has by no means overstated the grounds for concern about the situation of today. From the outset, the treatment of climate change issues by governments has gone badly astray. Both the content of policy and its underlying rationale give grounds for serious concern.
3 The costs and impact of consensus policies
Klaus has strongly emphasised the likely costs and dangers that consensus policies bring with them, and some of those costs and dangers have already materialised. Across the world, measures to curb emissions that are currently in force or in prospect largely take the form of a long and growing list of detailed regulatory initiatives - an array of interventionist gimmicks. These have raised costs unnecessarily, since little regard has been paid to cost-effectiveness; and by creating a host of new opportunities for rent-seeking and lobbying they have brought a further corrupting influence into public life. What is more, they involve a range of intrusions on the freedom of choice of individuals and institutions, opening up multiple new possibilities for what has been well termed ‘micromanaging the lives of people’.
All these effects have emerged already, yet they are no more than a beginning. Far more drastic measures will be required to meet the extraordinarily ambitious goals of consensus policy for reductions in emissions. Among those who endorse the goals, within governments and outside, there are frequent ominous references to the need and scope for individuals, institutions and societies to change their behaviour radically. Two representative instances are:
  • ‘... countries need to act in a concerted fashion to reshape human activities on an unprecedented scale’.
  • ‘Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales...’ [2]
 I believe that Klaus is justified in his belief that world-wide ‘reshaping’ and ‘transformation’, in the cause of radical ‘decarbonisation’, could be expected to bring coercive and would-be permanent restrictions on individual freedom.
4 Steering the planet
Received opinion points to the need for and feasibility of what Klaus has referred to as ‘global central planning’. It holds that:
  • changing concentrations of ‘greenhouse gases’, in response to changing rates of emissions, are now the main influence on the climate system of today;
  • accordingly, the system can be reliably tuned and guided, and what would otherwise be dangerous concentrations avoided, through judicious expertly-directed collective action to control and curb emissions;
  • in exercising this control the objective, in the form of a safe maximum concentration of ‘greenhouse gases’, is known with close approximation, and
  • alternative paths to its realisation can be mapped out with confidence.
True, received opinion recognises the possibility that the costs of radical ‘decarbonisation’ could be significant; but it maintains that any such costs are known with confidence to be greatly exceeded (or overshadowed) by what would otherwise be the costs (or risks of disaster) of dangerous global warming: hence the case for far-reaching, concerted and well defined world-wide action has been firmly established. For the indefinite future, then, the constraint of not exceeding the now-identified safe twin maxima, of emissions and concentrations, is taken to be both practicable and binding: in this sense, the right climate change policies are now fixed for ever. Given the necessary political will on the part of governments across the world, supported by enlightened public opinion ready to adopt new modes of living, the planet can be held for good on a safe and prudent course.
To my mind, such beliefs reflect what Klaus has described, in a different but related context, as ‘immodest constructivist ambitions’. It is contrary to all past experience, including experience of failed energy strategies, to presume that governments now know enough about the extraordinarily complex systems involved, and the ways in which these might change, to lay down firm blueprints, and even specific targets, which are to hold good into the indefinite future.
5 The basis of received opinion
How is it that received opinion on climate change issues, and far-reaching policy conclusions arising from it, have won such widespread, continuing, confident and unqualified support, official and unofficial, including endorsement at the highest political levels and by central economic departments of state, over nearly a quarter of a century?
I think the answer is straightforward: it is the shared conviction of all these persons and institutions that ‘the science’ of climate change can now be taken as ‘settled’.
This response provokes the further question: What is the basis of this shared conviction? Here again, I think there is a straightforward answer. Received opinion everywhere reflects, and has throughout accepted and relied on, the scientific advice provided to governments through what I call the official expert advisory process.
That advice can and does come from many sources; but the main single channel for it, indeed the only channel of advice for governments collectively, has been the series of massive and wide-ranging Assessment Reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1990 onwards. The fourth and most recent of these, referred to for short as AR4, was completed and published in 2007. Work on its successor is now well under way.
For more than twenty years, then, governments and international agencies, and a great many outside observers too, have put their trust in the official expert advisory process as a whole and the IPCC process in particular. They are continuing to do so. However, there is now a substantial body of evidence to suggest that their trust is unwarranted.
6 A flawed process
From the start, received opinion has been subject to challenge on many fronts. In part, and predominantly until 2003, the various challenges have been to the correctness of the analysis, and of the inferences drawn from it, which have emerged from the expert advisory process. In recent years, however, a further dimension of challenge has been opened up, in which the critics concerned have questioned the integrity and professionalism of the process, often with implications for the plausibility of specific key results.
The main headings of unprofessional conduct which the critics have noted and documented have been:
  • over-reliance on in-group peer review procedures which do not serve as a guarantee of quality and do not ensure due disclosure;
  • serious and continuing failures of archiving and disclosure in relation to peer-reviewed studies which the IPCC and member governments have drawn on;
  • continuing resistance to disclosure of basic information which reputable journals increasingly insist on as a precondition for acceptance of papers;
  • basic errors in the handling and interpretation of data, through failure to consult or involve trained statisticians;
  • failure to take due account of relevant published work which documented the above lapses, while disregarding IPCC criteria for inclusion in the assessment process;
  • failure to take due note of comments from dissenting critics who took part in the preparation of AR4;
  • false claims to openness and transparency within the IPCC process;
  • resisting the disclosure of professional exchanges within the drafting process of AR4, despite the instruction of member governments that IPCC proceedings should be ‘open and transparent’; and last but far from least
  • failure over the years on the part of the IPCC and its directing circle to acknowledge the above deficiencies, still less to remedy them.        
Well-documented exposure of these flaws has come from a number of independent commentators: I would mention particularly, in relation to key chapters in the influential reports from the IPCC’s Working Group I, the outstanding work of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, and later of David Holland.[3]
In November 2009 an unexpected event gave further substance to what these and other critics of the advisory process had been saying, through the unauthorised release of a mass of emails, data and code from the influential Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Many of the now-exposed exchanges between CRU staff and fellow-scientists elsewhere, all of whom were closely involved in the IPCC process, revealed attitudes and practices which were clearly unprofessional. Among them, two in particular lent further weight to already existing lines of criticism. First, there was a dogged determination, on one false pretext after another, to continue to withhold information that should from the start have been in the public domain. Second, the clear intention was revealed to prevent the publication in scientific journals, and the inclusion in the IPCC process, of pieces of work that cast doubt on received opinion.
The manifest defects in the expert advisory process have gone unacknowledged and unremedied by what I call the environmental policy milieu. This high-level failure, as also the defects themselves, have resulted from chronic and pervasive bias. Right from the start, members of the milieu, and of the IPCC’s directing circle, have been characterised by what has been well termed ‘pre-commitment to the urgency of the climate cause’.
It is not just the environmental policy milieu that is to blame for the mishandling by governments of climate change issues. As a former Treasury official and international civil servant, I have been surprised by the failure of economic departments in OECD member countries to audit the evidence bearing on climate change issues, their uncritical acceptance of the results of a process of inquiry which is so obviously biased and flawed, and their lack of attention to the criticisms of that process which have been voiced by independent outsiders – criticisms which they ought to have been making themselves. A similar lack of resource has characterised the Research Department of the IMF, the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission, and the Economics Department of the OECD. In all these departments and agencies, national and international, there has been a conspicuous failure of due diligence.
7 A missing dimension
In relation to climate change, a fundamental flaw in official thinking and policies across the world, which has hardened with time, lies in treating the main issues as closed. Hence there is a continuing failure to consider and explore an appropriately wide range of possibilities for action.
On the basis of the advice they have been given, governments everywhere have accepted the reality of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. As a working assumption, this is understandable. But given (1) the huge uncertainties and unknowns that remain, (2) the high potential costs, and dangers to freedom, from far-reaching mitigation measures, and (3) the serious proven flaws in the expert advisory process and the conduct of climate science, it should not be the end of the matter. The various elements of received opinion should not be taken as embodying revealed and now unassailable truth. Rather, they should be viewed as working assumptions and no more. As such, they should be subject to rigorous and continuing test and review, and it should be a concern of policy to ensure that such testing takes place. Neither the current official policy consensus nor the advice on which it rests should be treated as authoritative or final. The whole notion of a now-settled consensus should be discarded. Governments should promote open exchanges of view and contrasting informed assessments.
In an area where so much is at stake, and so much remains uncertain or even unknown, policies should be evolutionary and adaptive, rather than presumptive as they are now; and their evolution should be linked to a process of inquiry and review which is more thorough, balanced, open and objective than has so far been the case. 
8 A disquieting episode
The treatment of climate change issues, across the world and over the past quarter of a century, forms a truly disquieting chapter in recent history. Richard Lindzen has drawn a parallel with the history of eugenics in the last century, and the analogy may prove to have been an apt one.[4]
In part, the story is one of ill-chosen policy initiatives already in place or in prospect. But the current disordered policy mix, though alarming, is symptomatic. A deeper cause for concern is the complex of attitudes, beliefs, presumptions and flawed procedures which have shaped and entered into received opinion, and which now form the officially unchallenged basis for further and far-reaching measures of intervention and control.
In this area of policy, the treatment of risks by governments is dangerously partial and one-sided. Since the late 1980s, attitudes, beliefs and policies world-wide have been fully attuned to the risks of AGW. But there is another side to the coin. A counterpart risk is that humanity is being committed to a costly world-wide collectivist adventure, in which people everywhere will be made not only poorer but less free, on arguments and evidence which are mistakenly treated as final and in a prevailing atmosphere of credulity, bias and intolerance.
In relation to climate change issues, governments in general, and the OECD member governments in particular, have locked themselves into a set of procedures, and an associated way of thinking - in short, a framework – which both reflects and yields over-presumptive conclusions which are weighted towards alarm. They have done so through a worrying combination - of credulity and inadvertence on the part of responsible lay persons, and of chronic bias and professional underperformance on the part of trusted experts and expert bodies. In this whole episode, the capacity of human societies today to arrive at well founded conclusions and decisions has been placed in question. Against this disturbing background, the lone stand of Vaclav Klaus appears as a salutary and much-needed contribution to the climate change debate.  
David Henderson was Head of what was then the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD in Paris. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

[1] These quotations are from a newspaper article of 2007. Of Klaus’s many writings on the subject, the main single publication is his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, brought out (in its English version) in 2008 in Washington D. C. by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
[2] The first of these two quotations is from an article published in 2008 in the IMF journal Finance and Development by Mohan Munasinghe, then a Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second is from a 2011 report from the German independent but officially-appointed Scientific Advisory Council on Global Environmental Change. The report is entitled ‘World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability’.
[3] There is an array of possible references here, most of which are on Ross McKitrick’s website. In addition, leading elements in the story are treated in Holland’s article, ‘Bias and Concealment in the IPCC Process’ (Energy and Environment, 2007), and at book length in A. W. Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science (Stacey International, 2010). McIntyre’s blog, climateaudit.org, is a notable continuing source of analysis, commentary and debate.
[4] Richard S. Lindzen, ‘Science and Politics: Global Warming and Eugenics’, from R. W. Hahn (Ed.), Risks, Costs and Lives Saved, Oxford University Press, 1996.

Bishop Hill describes the provenance of this essay:
' David Henderson writes:

Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, recently passed his  70th birthday. To mark the occasion a Festschrift volume has been put  together, with a wide range of contributors. I understand that the main  topics in the book are: capitalism and the free market; European  integration; the euro; climate change issues; and the Czech  transformation after 1989.

 The English version of the volume has been sent for publication. Meanwhile I have been given clearance to circulate my own contribution,  which is herewith attached. It is entitled ‘Climate Change Issues: The  Special Contribution of Vaclav Klaus’.