It’s that time of year where copy-stretched editors get lax with their briefs, so it’s probably no surprise that The Age would let one of its cartoonists, John Spooner, loose on the climate science debate, here: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/sceptics-weather-the-storm-to-put-their-case-on-climate-20121228-2bz91.html.
The article is a book promotion – but that little detail is held until the end of the article. I’ll start at the start, in which Mr Spooner outrageously equates climate science to the Mayan apocalypse:
“WELL, so much for the 2012 apocalypse. If the ancient Mayans ever knew anything about the future, they made a serious miscalculation. The same fate has befallen the international climate change emergency brigade.”
See how clever that was? How funny? Climate science – which is based on measurement and observation – is the same as the faked-up media “Mayan apocalypse” scare story? We’re still here, so both the Mayans and the scientists are wrong.
In Mr Spooner’s logic, the science was proved wrong not by scientists, but by the failure of a political process. In other words, politics determines the validity of science.
He then indulges in a bit of name-calling (which is OK if you’re calling climate scientists names; anyone calling a climate sceptic names is indulging in group-think), before moving on to this:
“Anyone familiar with the judicial process knows the gravest issues of liberty and fortune are often determined by a jury selected from the public. Expert witnesses can give evidence in support of either side at a trial. The judge must rule on questions of admissibility, but in the end it is the jury that decides which scientific evidence is to be believed.”
In other words, because courts accept the decisions of the inexpert, the whole world is bound to accept inexpert opinion on science.
Then there’s this:
“In the climate debate, the only "judge" is the scientific method - a testable hypothesis followed by factual or experimental challenge.”
Wrong, Mr Spooner. You don’t understand the scientific method.
Science doesn’t start with a hypothesis – that’s a misapprehension pushed by journalists who don’t understand science. It starts with an observation. For example, quantum physics came to us, courtesy of Max Planck, because of the observations of energy radiating from black bodies. Hypothesis follows observation (as it indeed does in climate science). A hypothesis can be considered sound if it can be used to predict the behavior of a system.
“For example, everybody agrees that the warming trend paused 16 years ago, despite a corresponding 10 per cent increase in atmospheric CO2.”
No, everybody does not agree this. There is noise in atmospheric observations, but most of the extra heat is taken up by the ocean; there is no “pause” in global warming. Here’s a decent debunk, over at Discovery. http://news.discovery.com/earth/no-global-warming-hasnt-stopped-121017.html
“The reason why scientific consensus emerged in this debate is because political activists want to get things moving”, Spooner writes.
In other words, the entire IPCC process – including the review and editing of IPCC reports – is captive to activists. This is pure conspiracy theory.
The whole thing boils down to a book promo:
“I still feel that the voices of highly qualified sceptics are not heard enough. In an effort to redress this imbalance, an unusual book on the sceptics' view will be published in 2013.”