Does Climate Money matter?

Alarmists rarely attack, or even mention the Climate Money paper I did in 2009.  It’s an own goal to draw attention to the fact that skeptics are paid a pittance, while the alarm industry soaks in extended baths of cash, grants, and junkets, and the vested interests are a magnitude larger. Exxon might lose some money if a carbon tax comes in, but the world will still need oil. The same can’t be said for ACME-Solar. If a carbon scheme falls over, so does a Solyndra.

By JOANNE NOVA | | AUGUST 22, 2012

So yes, let’s do talk about The Money. As Climate Money pointed out: all Greenpeace could find from Exxon was a mere $23 million for skeptics over a decade, while the cash cow that is catastrophic climate change roped in $2,000 million a year every year during the same period for the scientists who called other scientists “deniers”.

John Timmer tried to debunk it with words like “bogus”, and “false” but lacked things like evidence and numbers to back up his case. As far as I can tell the arguments amount to saying that a massive wall of money doesn’t influence the scientific process because scientists are incorruptible, the peer review process is faultless, and the human process of  science works in ways that no other human process does. There are no political aims, personal ambitions, or human failings in *The Science!*™

Here’s why each excuse doesn’t pan out:

Excuse 1/”this is not how science works”

If money doesn’t have any influence on researchers, by implication, climate scientists are not like the rest of the human race.  (Why do we pay them at all, one wonders?) It would take a truly angelic mature being to welcome awkward results with a smile. Who would enjoy finding data that showed that they’d been barking up the wrong tree for two decades and was now an expert in a dead-end irrelevant topic?  If the results did not support their theory, which superhuman scientists would willingly work to ensure that their own specialty would plummet off the public agenda from “The Greatest Moral Threat” down to 193rd on the list of hot topics needing public attention? After we figured out that CO2 was of minor importance, the funding would slow, the red carpet events would dry up, and the two week long annual UN coordinated junkets in exotic countries would invite other experts from other fields.

Periodically an alarmist will claim that “mainstream science” would welcome the discovery that man-made emissions were irrelevant. But we don’t need to do that thought experiment, we’ve tested it already. Scientists who publish papers supporting non-catastrophic conclusions get called Deniers, they quickly get a DeSmog/SourceWatch/Exxon Secrets smear page that investigates contracts they may or may not have made 20 years ago, makes fun of their religious beliefs, dissects their biography, and if they persist, Greenpeace sends letters to their employer suggesting they ought not have a job. What’s not to like about that?

The price for speaking out against global warming is exile from your peers, even if you are at the top of your field.
We need a real free market in climate science before we create free markets in the real economy based on those conclusions.

Excuse 2/ The funding was mostly for “Climate Technology”

Funding for “technology” will not affect the science, says  Timmer. Apparently Jo Nova misread her own graph (and “spectacularly too!”) Except JoNova labelled the graph accurately, read it correctly and just drew different conclusions. Technology isn’t science research, but as far as the media, politicians and press are concerned, the difference is moot. The IPCC was happy to count those solar, wind power, biomass and geothermal scientists as “science experts” that made a consensus. (Remember 4000 scientists support the IPCC conclusions.) No one complained that the solar engineers were “not climate scientists” when they made statements on press releases saying “climate change is real”. Money for solar, wind and carbon sequestration fueled many press conferences and expo’s where the “threat” that CO2 poses was taken for granted. In universities those research groups added to the pressure on science faculties to “keep the alarm running”, if only because they adopted the same disdainful culture to scorn dissenters. None of any of these researchers spent ten minutes checking the modelers assumptions on water vapor feedback. Neither did any of the zoology majors who report on iguana habitats shifting either. They all became mindless cheerleaders for  the message. Can someone explain how any of those technology (or biology) researchers had an interest in announcing flaws in the theory of man-made climate funding?

Excuse 3/ It’s incomprehensible that money could affect science. Ergo science is incorruptible?

I pointed out that “Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and the climate. Hardly any have been funded to find the opposite.” Timmer responds that this is “an almost incomprehensible misunderstanding” (and there goes Adam Smith in the bin) but  the effect of only funding one side of a theory is not just “comprehensible” but documented in peer reviewed journals. Anyone with eyes can see how adjustments to the data progressively shift the graphs in one direction. (See these sea level graphs for example.) The adjustments are non-random, just like the adjustments to global temperature sets, and ocean heat content. The trend is always shifted to be more like the models. That’s exactly what you’d expect if you funded hundreds of people to look for one answer. You get what you paid for.

Excuse 4/ Timmer points out that some people are looking for solar effects on the climate.

True, a scattering of scientists funded through other areas are looking for natural causes of climate change, but they are  not necessarily free to find it. Funding for climate change is so large, and the anti-skeptic culture is so strong that even in astronomy researchers know better than to speak their skeptical minds freely. The grants panels of national research committees almost always include someone who is a fan of the man-made theory, and when competition for a grant is so fierce that making one enemy on an assessment panel can make the difference between success and failure, researchers know that keeping their skeptical opinions to themselves is important. Hence, even distant fields are affected by the rivers of money flowing in the Climate Change Stream. I’m relaying this story direct from a researcher, though for obvious reasons I cannot name them.

Excuse 5/ The government had been throwing lots of money at climate science for decades.

(So?) Timmer claims climate funding had not expanded out of nothing in 1989 though he has no numbers (that is always the way isn’t it?). Certainly, the US government had been studying climate science under many different agencies before then. But what the graph unmistakably shows is that money directed towards man-made global warming issue was expanding fast. The new “climate change” label plastered over hundreds of research grants, and underlying billions of dollars of spending, tells us that the emphasis, the motives, and the aim of international research had shifted. There was no “climate change” research project before then. In those days, people were mostly just trying to understand the climate.

Major Research Programs were created to solve preordained problems

Whole programs were created around 1990 to deal with a “risk” and “danger” from climate change. What previously was called “climate science” (or geography, geology, meteorology, and oceanography) now became part of a large campaign called the “climate change science program”. Note, sec 204 of the legislation that created the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Paraphrased:

The President shall establish an Office of Global Change Research Information. The purpose of the office is to supply information about the research and development related to:

  1. reducing energy use,
  2. promoting renewables,
  3. solving the ozone hole,
  4. reducing the amount of CO2,
  5. helping poor countries use agricultural and industrial chemicals,
  6. promoting recycling and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In other words, before the research was even done, the government was funding it so that results could help them achieve policy goals that were already decided. The questions were not: 1. Figure out if reducing CO2 is worth the cost, or is even beneficial. 2. Make climate models that will predict the weather and help agriculture and town planning. The science was decidedly unsettled in 1990, yet the government knew that it wanted to reduce CO2, burn less fossil fuel, and promote renewables.

Excuse 6/ Science is done by peer review, not auditing

Christopher Essex wrote to me to point out that when billions of dollars rests on research results, peer review is not enough, the work ought to be audited:

“Timmer is right that there is a difference between auditing and peer review. These things are very different and they have different purposes. Peer review is cursory in some sense. It is a compromise at best, but it is not intended to check or reproduce everything in a study, but provides an author and editor some feedback on the merit of a piece. The problem is that the peers are not school teachers marking a student’s assignment, because they are peers. They do not necessarily know better than the author. In fact  even a peer with great reputation can be wrong, which is why publication is not adding to holy scripture, but an opportunity to allow peers to respond with their own papers. Peer reviewed papers can thus be terrible, while non-peer-reviewed papers of high quality can experience a very rough ride.

Independent auditing is an entirely different matter. It has limited place in normal scientific give and take. But  it is crucial from a corporate or policy point of view. If you aim to adopt something out of the scientific literature as a basis of a business or government strategy or policy, the executive has a fiduciary responsibility to be sure that the work adopted is correct in terms of its internal consistency and credibility of the assumptions and interpretations. Peer reviewed literature must  be subjected to that from a liability point of view. That means everything needs to be checked, with caveats fully discovered and reported. This is not science except in as much as reproducibility is legitimately important to science.

The problem here is that most adoptions of  peer reviewed literature by the UN were not audited. That makes those responsible for the various UN IPCC howlers liable for the costs that have arisen as a result. Of course there is always a question of whether the UN can be sued, but that is the principle of it. All of the government policy stuff needs to be audited as some level, peer review is not sufficient. On that other hand non-peer-reviewed material might also be audited, and be fine.

One does not want suits over peer reviewed material in the science literature, because it is important that scientists do not get a chill over making mistakes. That would compromise the ability of the scientific community to work things out and to advance. But this caveat does not apply to corporate or government uses of science where people may be hurt financially or physically because of mistakes or bias. “

Cheap Shots that prove my point

The bottom line is that Timmer is so short of real arguments that he scratches for slurs, even resorting to associating a climate change skeptic to a HIV skeptic: “Like many other self-proclaimed skeptics, Nova …” (follow the link). There is no connection between the two topics. John Timmer’s attempt at denigration by association (of the non-existent kind) is more proof of just how unscientific, unenquiring and desperate the world of climate groupthink is. Why does the team that claims to do *The Science!* have to resort to baseless character attacks instead of reasoned arguments? Could it be they have no evidence?

Then there’s the standard of research”: Timmer claims I’m an “Australian journalist” but if he’d done ten seconds of research and read the  “About” page on my site,  he’d have seen that I’m not and have never been a journalist. It’s irrelevant in the big scheme of things, but emblematic of a sloppy mind. If he didn’t know or care what Jo Nova does, why say anything?

After ten years of hearing how Big-Oil was controlling the debate by funding experts, it took him two and half years to come up with the idea that money has no influence. Is he sending a memo to DeSmog? Is he telling them to call off the Exxon attack dogs?

More information:

  • Massive climate funding exposed
  • We need a free market in climate science
  • Skeptics Handbook II! Global Bullies Want Your Money
  • Map: The Climate Change Scare Machine — the perpetual self-feeding cycle of alarm
  • How many tax dollars have you paid towards climate PR or research?
  • The climate industry wall of money
  • We paid to find a “crisis”
  • Six words to expose the scam: Banks want us to trade carbon
  • Clean energy “investments” just a tiny $243 Billion in 2010
  • Deutsche Bank — A Wunch of Bankers

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