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.

    Hubris.

  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: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/03/uah-global-temperature-update-for-february-2012-0-12-deg-c/Also 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: http://vixra.org/pdf/1104.0013v1.pdf

    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):http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1911916/pdf/bullnyacadmed00086-0194.pdf

    “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: http://calderup.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/climate-physics-101/The 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.

How the Climategate Weasels Wriggled Free

The mainstream fails again

Delingpole tries to flee lunch engagement at University of East Anglia

Delingpole tries to flee lunch engagement at University of East Anglia

This week marks the anniversary of Climategate but even though I helped break and name the story I’m certainly not celebrating. That’s because, despite the marked shift it effected in public opinion, its effect on public policy-making has been close to zilch.

For chapter and verse on the horrifying disjunct between what all sane, informed people know about “Anthropogenic Global Warming” (ie, it’s a crock)  and what our governments are doing in response (i.e., “Nyah nyah. Not listening. We’re going to go ahead with our crazy tax, regulation and wind farm schemes anyway”) I refer you to this superb summary by M’Learned Friend Booker.

Since then, despite a series of unconvincing attempts to clear the Climategate scientists, it has become clear that the 20-year-old climate scare is dying on its feet. The money draining away from the Chicago exchange speaks louder than all those inquiries – and the same point will be made obvious in a fortnight’s time in Cancun, Mexico, as the UN attempts to salvage something from the wreckage at a conference that will draw scarcely a tenth of the numbers that met in Copenhagen.

But to all this deflation of the bubble our political class in Britain remains quite impervious. Our governments in London and Brussels charge on with completely unreal and damaging policies which increasingly look as much of a shambles as the warming scare which inspired them. Scarcely a single politician dares question the Climate Change Act, by far the most expensive law in history, which commits Britain, uniquely in the world, to reducing its CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 40 years. By the Government’s own estimates, this will cost up to £18 billion a year. Any hope that we could begin to meet such a target without closing down most of our economy is as fanciful as the idea that we can meet our EU commitment to generate 30 per cent of our electricity by 2020 from “renewable” sources, such as wind and solar.

And why is this so? In part, at least, it is because of the abject, ongoing failure of our Mainstream Media to report environmental issues with the robust scepticism that ought to be the natural tack of responsible journalists. Too many environmental reporters are still regurgitating press releases handed to them by activist organisations like the WWF, Greenpeace and Friends Of The Earth. In the MSM, as in government, it’s like Climategate never happened.

Those few pieces on Climategate which HAVE appeared in the MSM tend to have consisted of the various guilty parties trying to spin their way out of it. The disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method-abusing Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, for example, has granted tame interviews in Nature magazine and the Times presenting himself as a man far more sinned against than sinning. Michael Mann has been doing a similar auto-whitewash job in the US. But if you want to see an ecotard Houdini act at its most sublimely nuanced and slippery, I highly recommend this piece of sophistry from Mike Hulme in the Guardian.

Here’s the bit where it gets really evil:

Second, there has been a re-framing of climate change. The simple linear frame of “here’s the consensus science, now let’s make climate policy” has lost out to the more ambiguous frame: “What combination of contested political values, diverse human ideals and emergent scientific evidence can drive climate policy?” The events of the past year have finally buried the notion that scientific predictions about future climate change can be certain or precise enough to force global policy-making.

The meta-framing of climate change has therefore moved from being bi-polar – that either the scientific evidence is strong enough for action or else it is too weak for action – to being multi-polar – that narratives of climate change mobilise widely differing values which can’t be homogenised through appeals to science. Those actors who have long favoured a linear connection between climate science and climate policy – spanning environmentalists, contrarians and some scientists and politicians – have been forced to rethink. It is clearer today that the battle lines around climate change have to be drawn using the language of politics, values and ethics rather than the one-dimensional language of scientific consensus or lack thereof.

And when I say “evil” I really do mean “evil.” Mike Hulme is professor of climate change at the school of environmental science at the University of East Anglia. In other words he’s not just in the belly of the beast but right up its digestive tract. Yet miraculously, he has managed to emerge from the Climategate scandal smelling of violets. How?

Well there’s a clue in that phrase “the meta-framing of climate change”. Like his fellow arch-fiend Jerome Ravetz (co-inventor of Post Normal Science, the cod-intellectual movement that made Climategate possible) he is fluent in pseudo-academic gobbledegook designed to mean whatever listeners want it to mean. It sounds reasonable to many people because it doesn’t sound dogmatic. But the reason it doesn’t sound dogmatic is because like all postmodern waffle it’s not interested in trivial issues like truth or untruth, right and wrong. For people like Hulme, the science of “Climate Change” is a means to an end – and that end is advancing the goals of the liberal Left through ever more involved and constrictive policy-making.

Translate Hulme’s speech from academese into plain English and what it actually means is something like this: “All right. You rumbled us on Climate Change. But that’s OK. There’s always ocean acidification. And biodiversity. And whatever urgent crisis we dream up next…”

Like the Bourbons, the watermelons of the global green movement have learned nothing and forgotten nothing from Climategate. For them, AGW has never been about science or objective truth. It has always been just a pretext.

Or, metatext, perhaps, if your name is Mike Hulme.

Related posts:

  1. On the anniversary of Climategate the Watermelons show their true colours
  2. Steven Mosher: the real hero of Climategate?
  3. Climategate 2.0: the Warmists’ seven stages of grief
  4. Climategate 2.0

2 thoughts on “How the Climategate weasels wriggled free”

  1. Velocity says:20th November 2010 at 1:46 amHulme has consumed the snake-oil management-speak of Gov’t.

    In short he has dis-functioned the English language and like the professional classes (lawyers, accountants etc), turned words of substance into trigger words that mean something in your head but in truth are hollow, designed purely for deceipt and to bamboozle.

    These people are crooks, dysfunctional, phsycopaths. Welcome to the inner workings of socialism

  2. Groper says:25th November 2010 at 12:37 pmHey Delingpole, what’s with a picture of a muscle man when a picture of a puny spectacled chinless wonder sitting behind a desk typing away articles of faith on hate on all would be enemies of your libertarian movement would be more apt? Bit like those old pictures of Heinrich Himmler sitting behind a desk. Come to think of it, how uncanny!

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