Six Degrees of Warmerization
by Mark Steyn
Among the documents requested from me in discovery by Michael E Mann's Big Tobacco white-shoe legal team a couple of months ago was this column of mine from 2009:
"Climategate" wasn't only about the science - "Hide the decline" et al. It was also about the general thuggishness with which Mann and his gang treated anyone who disagreed with them, however mildly: The science is settled. Got it? Nice little peer-review journal you got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it.
The joke "investigations" conducted in the wake of Climategate chose to let the Clime Syndicate skate. To be charitable, it's possible Sir Muir Russell, Lord Oxburgh and the other grandees assumed that, having been caught once, the Warmanos wouldn't do it again. Instead, having been caught once and gotten away with it, the Warmanos kept right on doing it. Hence, this week's offer he couldn't refuse to Lennart Bengtsson: Whether they also left a polar bear's head in his bed we shall discover in the fullness of time.
In other words, despite Climategate, despite the Oxburgh inquiry and the Russell inquiry and the NOAA inquiry and all the rest, nothing has changed. With hindsight, Rand Simberg's comparison of Penn State's joke investigations into Jerry Sandusky and Michael Mann missed the most obvious point of similarity: The more Penn State bent over backwards to look the other way, the more Sandusky took it as a nod and a wink to carry on as usual. The Clime Syndicate seems to have reacted to the Climategate investigations in exactly the same way.
Aside from their lack of interest in the threats and intimidation, the panels' treatment of the broader corruption of "peer review" was also striking. The magical properties of "peer review" are greatly overrated - it's what would be called in less pretentious fields an old boys' club, and was described to me recently by one eminent scientist as, if you'll pardon the expression, a "circle jerk". In that 2009 column, I wrote:
By "herky-jerky process", I don't think Mr Revkin means quite the same as that eminent scientist I quoted above. As to whether Dr Mann agrees with him, amazingly he does!
Fancy that! In London, the front page of today's Times leads with a follow-up story on Professor Bengtsson by its Environment Editor, Ben Webster, headlined "Scientists in Cover-Up of 'Damaging' Climate View":
Golly, it's almost like Climategate never happened, and it's business as usual.
Of course, they're only "industry-funded deniers" because Mann labels them as such. When he sued me in the District of Columbia, he was simultaneously suing others in Virginia and British Columbia: He and his quintet of white-shoe Big Tobacco lawyers are funded by the alarmism industry. We can all play this moronic game. The problem for Mann is that this moronic game -"Shut up, denier!" - is the only one he can play. But let's take his argument at face value - that, if you share the stage with someone, you're lending them your credibility.
Okay. So who's this bloke John Gibbons with whom Mann is happy to "share the stage"? Any number of Irish readers wrote to fill me in, including Peter O'Neill, who mentioned that Mr Gibbons was a man who believed in "expressing temperature change in degrees Celsius as a percentage". I didn't quite credit this, but it's true. John Gibbons on February 16th 2011:
Mr Gibbons seems to think temperature is like pounds or euros. If you have zero pounds, you have no money. Similarly, says Gibbons, if you have zero degrees Celsius, you have no temperature. If you start out in the morning with Â£2 and you end the day with Â£4, you're twice as rich. Likewise, if you start out in the morning with two degrees and end the day with four degrees, you're twice as warm.
Mr O'Neill and others endeavored to point out, politely, that temperature doesn't work like that. For one thing, if Gibbons is so worried by that increase in surface temp of "over 25%", all he has to do is stop using Centigrade and convert to Fahrenheit. So the current global average is 14.5C - or about 58F. If you add 4C to it, that's a little over 7F. So, instead of that massive "over 25%" increase from 14.5C to 18.5C, you have an increase from 58F to 65F - or about 12 per cent. Hey, presto! Global warming halved - just like that!
Still, if I understand Gibbons, it's like the Three Degrees. If a fourth Degree were to join - Scary Spice, say, or a Nolan Sister - there would be over 33 per cent more Degrees.
This wasn't a one-off mistake by John Gibbons, but something of a recurring theme. Two years earlier, he wrote in The Irish Times, no less:
Which, converted to Fahrenheit, translates to a world that has become only three per cent warmer. Amazing how that works. My old newspaper, The Irish Times, Ireland's newspaper of record, actually published this, and permitted Gibbons to announce it as "the science bit".
But here's the thing: Michael Mann, who's so concerned about not wanting to "share the stage" and thereby lend his credibility to "anti-science" "deniers", has just happily shared the stage with a guy who thinks temperature can be expressed as a percentage. (And I don't mean Kelvin, the only male member of the Three Degrees.)
You have to laugh at that "peer reviewer" who rejected Professor Bengtsson's paper because it might bolster the "oversimplified claims" of the skeptic side. The cartoon climatology of the hockey stick comes with "oversimplified" as the default setting. That's its appeal: See this graph? That's all you need to know. Don't worry your pretty little head about anything else. If you do, you'll wind up like John Gibbons, way out of your depth, even before rising sea levels have swept away dear old Dublin.
Michael Mann won't "share the stage" with Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Jr, Hans von Storch, Richard Tol, Steve McIntyre, Nigel Lawson, Matt Ridley, Lennart Bengtsson or even me, because we're all anti-science oversimpletons, and the false balance would only give us a credibility we don't deserve. So instead he gives exclusive interviews to blokes who think Centigrade temperatures can be expressed as a percentage. Mann's Climate Cult depends on credulous rubes and fawning groupies, and he's running low.
UPDATE! Several readers point out that if you do convert Centigrade and/or Fahrenheit to Kelvin, Mr Gibbons has even less to worry about. My first memory of Kelvin was a query to my physics teacher: "What's a Kelvin?" "A man called William," he replied. Also from Ireland, as I recall. (My daughter and I passed his tomb in Westminster Abbey a couple of years ago, near Isaac Newton's.) At any rate, in Kelvin, the units are the same size as Celsius, but everything is shifted 273-point-something lower down the scale. So that sizzling "over 25 per cent" increase in the warmth of the planet works out to one per cent and change. We really need a new Manntigrade or Mannenheit scale, where all the numbers sound big and scary, even if it's 12 and partly cloudy with a chance of light showers in the afternoon.
~As you can possibly tell, I'm itching to get Dr Mann into court, and mulling over ways that that might be accelerated. In the meantime, we're interviewing witnesses, and working on our broader investigation of him. It takes time and money, and, if you're minded to support it, I hope you'll consider buying a showtune or two, or my free-speech book, or one of our many other fine products. Don't forget every five per cent increase in my legal offense fund is equivalent to a 41 per cent increase in Fahrenheit.
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