Sir Paul Nurse – saviour of the universe! | James Delingpole

March 1, 2012

As regular readers will no doubt be aware, Sir Paul Nurse is easily my favourite Nobel-prizewinner after Yasser Arafat, Al Gore and Barack Obama. All right, so he got his award for genetics rather than (as the others did) services to world peace. But in no wise does this diminish my respect for the many wondrous things he has achieved, not just in medical science, but also in the fields of political activism, self-promotion and tendentious TV documentary making.

Which, of course, is why I have been so concerned these last few months for the state of Nurse’s reputation. First, of course, there was that string of boo-boos he made in his BBC Horizon documentary, Science Under Attack,  in which he set out to make fools of people he branded “deniers” only to end up proving himself significantly more ignorant of the complexities of climate science than the “deniers” were. Then came Andrew Montford’s devastating report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation on how Nurse (and his two predecessors Lord Rees and Lord May) had destroyed the integrity of the once-great Royal Society by transforming it from a scrupulously neutral scientific body into a “policy-driven quango.” To add insult to injury, poor Nurse was dismissed thus in an introductory essay by Professor Richard Lindzen:

The presidents involved with this issue (May, Rees and Nurse) are all profoundly ignorant of climate science. Their alleged authority stems from their positions in the RS rather than from scientific expertise. This is evident in a variety of ways.

That’s why I was so delighted to learn that Nurse had been given the chance to rescue his tattered credibility by giving this year’s Dimbleby lecture. And sure enough he managed to do so, with all the deftness of Paul Daniels doing a card trick (in his pre-bandsaw days), nay with the dazzling legerdemain of a balloon dancer hiding her rude bits at Madame Jo-Jos.

Here’s how he did it. (H/T Neil Craig who has also noticed at this blog, most disrespectfully titled Sir Paul Nurse slithers) He cunningly pretended that instead of being one of those political activist scientists who had aggressively pushed the threadbare theory of man-made global warming onto an unsuspecting, gullible audience who thought men with Nobel-prizes and white lab coats could be trusted, he had in fact been a scrupulously neutral party all along.

The key passage is this one:

The majority of expert climate scientists have reached the consensus view that human activity has resulted in global warming, although there is debate about how much the temperature will rise in the future. Others argue that warming is not taking place at all or that it will happen in a catastrophic way, but they have failed to persuade the majority of climate experts, who have judged the scientific arguments made to support these more extreme views as being too weak to be convincing.

Can you see what he’s doing there? Blink and you’ll miss it. So let me explain. Nurse is ingeniously mischaracterising the debate on AGW as being one between two extreme parties: on the one hand are these imaginary people (anyone know any? I certainly don’t) who argue that “warming is not taking place at all” and on the other are these ones who believe that this anthropogenic warming will happen “in a catastrophic way.” And somewhere in the middle, apparently, is balanced, reasonable Nurse.

Well, I hesitate to accuse a man whose integrity I admire so greatly of lying, but, isn’t he being a little – ahem – economical with the actualite here?

I mean if, as Nurse is now suggesting, the scientific mainstream understanding of global warming is that it’s happening but that it’s open to debate how significant it is then doesn’t this completely contradict pretty much everything he, the Royal Society, and its two previous presidents Lords Rees and May have been doing this last decade or more to stoke up the Anthropogenic Global Warming scare for all they’re worth?

After all if the “science” of AGW were still, so to speak, “unsettled” then clearly it would be madness, not to say despicably irresponsible, of organisations like the Royal Society to urge policy prescriptions in order to deal with a problem which may actually not even exist.

It would be nice to think that having narrowly escaped being written off by future historians as yet another of those junk science eco-loons who helped foment what I describe in my book Watermelons as “the biggest and most expensive outbreak of mass hysteria in history”, Nurse will now stick to what he knows best: proper, falsifiable, empirical science – as opposed to post normal science and left-leaning activism.

But this paragraph of his speech persuades me that he may not have learned the error of his ways just yet:

Today the world faces major problems. Some uppermost in my mind are food security, climate change, global health and making economies sustainable, all of which need science. It is critical for our democracy to have mature discussions about these issues.

“Making economies sustainable”, eh? As Homer Simpson might have said: “Nobel-Prize-winning geneticists: is there ANYTHING they can’t do?”

Related posts:

  1. Sir Paul Nurse’s big boo boo
  2. Meet The Sceptics: another BBC stitch-up
  3. What the liberal elite feel you should know about ‘Climate Change’
  4. I thought I was having a Nobel laureate for tea. Instead, the BBC had me for lunch

4 thoughts on “Sir Paul Nurse – saviour of the universe!”

  1. Nige Cook says:1st March 2012 at 10:59 pmHubris. Politics is what you get when you professionalize anything, and it’s fatal to nascent science.You get a breed of greasy-pole climbers awarding each out prizes paid for by blood money (Crimean War dynamite).You get the BBC always treating these famous bigwig’s patronising polemics like the word of God.


  2. Nige Cook says:3rd March 2012 at 8:44 amJames, please at some stage write a post about the latest UAH global lower troposphere mean temperature data point for February 2012, it closely matches January’s and it really seems to indicate a COOLING setting in: please note that all this satellite microwave mean tropospheric data is biased in favour of EXAGGERATING temperature rises, because it includes heating at the tops of clouds, which plays NO PART in ice cap melting, sea level rises, etc. Hot air expands and rises, cool air contracts to higher density and descends (Archimedes’s buoyancy principle). The hot air at the tops of clouds doesn’t mix downward very well because of this.the IPCC models assume that the additional humid air over oceans (due to CO2 temperature rise) is able to absorb IR and get hot, without buoyantly rising to form cloud cover which shadow and cool the altitudes below the clouds. The tops of clouds will be hotter than the land and sea under the clouds (simple shadowing due to cloud cover). If this data is simply an average over all altitudes, it will be biased against cloud cover (shadowing) effects, and won’t accurately indicate the mean surface temperature. the IPCC models assume that the additional humid air over oceans (due to CO2 temperature rise) is able to absorb IR and get hot, without buoyantly rising to form cloud cover which shadow and cool the altitudes below the clouds. The vapor absorbs sunlight IR, heats up, expands, rises like a hot air balloon, then condenses into clouds at cooler altitudes.

    The H2O positive feedback assumed in all IPCC models seems at odds with NOAA humidity data:

    However crackpot you think this looks, it’s actual data. Not tree ring proxies spliced with heat island data and then with some satellite data tagged on at the end where it helps fabricate a hockey stick curve. Phil Jones, Michael Mann et al. used tree ring proxies up to 1960, direct temperature station data from 1960-80, then satellite data after 1980. Temperature only one variable determining the tree growth rate; others are cloud cover (photosynthesis), and rainfall. Second, direct temperature data from 1960-80 was biased by expanding “heat islands” (cities) for many weather stations. The satellite data is at least consistent and reasonably direct, although it is biased, not the mean temperature under cloud cover.

  3. Nige Cook says:5th March 2012 at 6:37 pmWhat Nurse should be doing is getting the BBC to kill anti-nuclear witchcraft hysteria which pretends that 100% of natural cancers after exposure to radiation are caused by radiation. The early nuclear pioneers tried to do this, but were shouted down by Jane Fonda’s Hollywood scam the China Syndrome and related propaganda.Dr Alvin M. Weinberg (nuclear reactor engineer), “The Second Nuclear Era”, Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, vol. 59, no. 10, Dec 1983, pp. 1048-59 (quotation below from pp. 1055-1056):

    “I am not exaggerating when I say that our Western society, for reasons that are unclear to me, suffers from massive hysteria. It is not entirely unlike the witchcraft hysteria that swept through Western Europe for 200 years beginning in 1494. The analogies are really quite similar, as was first pointed out by the ecologist William Clark. Children got sick, cattle died, crops failed, and people were puzzled: Why did that happen? Obviously, because witches hexed them. Fully a half-million people, mostly women, were executed during that period because they were bona fide witches. And then, in the year 1610, the Inquisitor in the south of Spain put together an advisory committee, and said to the advisory committee: What is the epidemiological evidence for a connection between these witches who are casting their spells and all these bad things happening? And his committee got together, and they considered the matter, and they made a report, and they concluded that they could find no connection between how many witches were killed, or whether the witches were there or not, and all these bad things happening. The Inquisitor did not forbid executing witches. All he did, after due consideration and consultation with many members of the hierarchy, was to forbid the use of torture in extracting confessions from witches. And the result was that witchcraft fell precipitously. … I am not prepared to say that all the environmental insults are simply witchcraft; some of them, of course, are not.”

  4. Nige Cook says:7th March 2012 at 9:05 amWe live in a Wilson cloud chamber: it is how climate is regulated. For graphical proof, see New Scientist editor Calder at: more cosmic rays, the more ionization trails for clouds to form in the low pressure air of the mid troposphere:Lots of cosmic rays -> lots of ion trails -> lots of cloud cover -> cold

    Few cosmic rays -> few ion trails -> little cloud cover -> hot weather.

    The Science Museum in South Kensington used to have a giant Wilson cloud chamber, where you could watch the cloud trails from cosmic rays actually forming before your eyes. Cirrus clouds form at 15,000 to 20,000 feet, i.e., in the middle of the troposphere. They are enough to tip the balance by shadowing lower altitudes, and produce the climate changes.

    Water vapour molecules absorb wideband infrared, so the sunlight filtered through water will tend to lose the far red end of the spectrum, and appear slightly bluer. Condensed water vapour (cloud droplets) scatter light effectively and appear white in colour.

    Cosmic rays don’t do any heating, a dose of 1 Gray (100 rads) is only 1 Joule/kg, so if they directly drove climate change, we’d be dead from acute radiation poisoning every time a cosmic flare occurred.

    They merely trigger the condensation of water vapour (which saturates very easily in low pressure air) into cloud droplets which reflect back sunlight to space, rather than absorbing infrared as water vapour does. It is a catalytic action. The catalyst does not provide any energy itself. It is merely the trigger for a process that cools the earth by reflecting away sunlight.

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