As readers may know, Big Climate alarmist and self-garlanded Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann is suing me and others for mocking his hockey stick. The latest development is that my co-defendants have appealed to the DC Court of Appeals to hear their appeal on whether or not they're allowed to appeal to the Court of Appeals. If the appeal to the Court of Appeals on whether they can appeal to the Court of Appeals is successful, they'll then appeal to the Court of Appeals to hear the appeal proper. That sound you hear is me putting a screwdriver through my brain just to make the ringing go away.
Dr Mann and my co-defendants are parties to this fascinating question, but I'm not. I want to move to trial as quickly as possible and get this thing before a jury, for reasons I explained here:
3. The charge that a man is a defamer is a serious one and profoundly damaging. With criminal charges, this nation provides a constitutional right to a speedy trial. It offers no such protections in civil court, even though to be accused as a defamer is certainly as damaging to one's reputation and honor as all but the most serious criminal charges. For an independent writer such as Defendant Steyn, this is especially so: His livelihood depends entirely on his reputation, and as long as this charge stains his character without being answered he is being damaged. As the accused, he asserts his right to confront his accuser in open court in a timely manner.
Yeah, well, good luck with that in the stagnant septic tank of DC justice. My lawyers and I are using this period to interview potential witnesses hither and yon, and prepare for our deposition of Mann and our requests for his documents. Your continued support for this important but time- and money-consuming phase of the case is very heartening.
Dr Mann sued me to defend his "reputation". How's that working out?
Whatever megalomanias float through the Mann's head, whatever his weird and insular insistences on being a multiply exonerated Nobel laureate, I was not about to accuse a scientist of fraud until I had good evidence. Such is scientific ethics and I insist on sticking to it.
Now, however, I find that I have been relieved of that weighty responsibility by Dr John Christy, climate scientist and contributor to the IPCC, who testified to the United States congress in the following manner:
'Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author [Michael Mann] working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another's result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data.'
So, one of these two men is lying. Both cannot be telling the truth. So, is the fraud a) the serially dishonest, bullying, thuggish, delusional Michael Mann, or b) a contributing author to the IPCC who pioneered the development of the satellite temperature record?
What made the transparently absurd "hockey stick" so useful to the political opportunists at the IPCC - its eye-catching cartoon simplicity - has profoundly damaged climate science over the longer term. Climate science is not cut and dried; it's murky and uncertain. The kindergarten certainties of the global warm-mongers have spent the entire 21st century diverging ever more from observable reality. In a sane world, the consensus of "settled science" would be chastened and circumspect, and acknowledge that what was claimed to be known was merely speculative, and that it's time to go back to the old drawing board and try something new.
Instead, we have the US National Climate Assessment, in whose name the President's climate consigliere John Podesta is threatening to shred the Constitution in the nearest wind turbine and save the planet through "executive orders". In other words, the same mechanism with which Obama rewrote, postponed, amended and reversed various Obamacare fixes will now be used to re-order the very heavens. If you like your climate, you can keep your climate.
As the Cato Institute wallahs summarized it:
One wonders how familiar the 240 authors of the 2013 draft National Assessment are with Karl Popper's famous essay on the nature of science and its distinction from "pseudoscience." The essential difference is that science only explains some things and that its hypotheses forbid others, while a theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event — i.e., one that is universally and comprehensively explanatory — is pseudoscience...
This National Assessment is much closer to pseudoscience than it is to science. It is as explanatory as Sigmund Freud. It clearly believes that virtually everything in our society is tremendously dependent the surface temperature, and, because of that, we are headed towards certain and inescapable destruction, unless we take its advice and decarbonize our economy, pronto. Unfortunately, the Assessment can't quite tell us how to accomplish that, because no one knows how.
In the Assessment's 1200 horror-studded pages, almost everything that happens in our complex world — sex, birth, disease, death, hunger, and wars, to name a few — is somehow made worse by pernicious emissions of carbon dioxide and the joggling of surface average temperature by a mere two degrees.
Dr Judith Curry ploughed through the report and puts it this way:
My main conclusion from reading the report is this: the phrase 'climate change' is now officially meaningless. The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change. Any increase in adverse impacts from extreme weather events or sea level rise is caused by humans. Possible scenarios of future climate change depend only on emissions scenarios that are translated into warming by climate models that produce far more warming than has recently been observed.
This is really an amazing moment. Why didn't those turn-of-the-century climate models pan out? Well, maybe there's an element of natural variability in the global climate that doesn't care about your SUV any more than it did back in the medieval warm period. But, just as Michael Mann eliminated the medieval warm period and got his millennium-long hockey-stick handle, so the climate mullahs have eliminated everything other than you: Smokey the Bear says only you can cause climate change.
Okay, maybe not you personally. You recycle; you buy carbon offsets from Al Gore every time you drive to one of his speeches; you ritually slaughter a flatulent Holstein to the climate gods every full moon. But not everyone's as responsible as you, as Harry Reid helpfully Tweets:
While the Koch brothers admit they're not experts on climate change, they are experts in CAUSING IT.
That's really only the merest evolution from the report: The NCA says man in general is to blame for everything. Harry Reid says he now has some GPS-like tracking device that can identify the actual individuals in particular. And, because everything has to be subordinated to man-made global warming, even actual observed reality has to be "adjusted":
Adjustments to the temperature record are increasing - dramatically. The present is getting warmer, the past is getting cooler, and it has nothing to do with real temperature data - only adjustments to temperature data. The climate reality our government is living in is little more than a self-serving construct.
To return to Dr Curry:
The focus should be on the final Chapter 29: Research Agenda, which outlines what we DON'T know.
Indeed. One recalls Donald Rumsfeld's useful disquisition on "known unknowns":
"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me," the US Defence Secretary began, "because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."
To be charitable (and to overlook all the cherry-picking and decline-hiding), the turn-of-the-century climate alarmists who failed to foresee the current 17-year warming pause might reasonably plead that it was an "unknown unknown" - something they didn't know they didn't know. By now, they ought to be honest enough to acknowledge "known unknowns" - that's to say, to know that there are things they do not know. Instead, they insist louder than ever that climate is a "known known", and they know they know it all.
Mann's hockey stick vastly expanded the market for such cartoon certainties, and enabled the climate apocalyptics to hijack an entire field of science. The cartoon science is what appeals to politicians and activist celebrities. The problem is its limited appeal among the broader population:
Obama's Climate Change Challenge: Americans Just Don't Care
According to this guy's Gallup poll, the number of Americans who do "care" is as flat as Mann's hockey-stick handle. And I would wager significant numbers of them are sentimentalists, who support "climate action" in the sense that it's something to do with Jessica Alba saving the polar bear. Once it's about them paying higher energy bills to heat a smaller home and drive a lousier car, even that sentimentalized solidarity will head south. As it is, like the dead-cat bounce of the IPCC report, this is another dud.
But the climate hysterics shriek on - because, ever since the IPCC made a world celebrity of Mann's hockey stick, loud and apocalyptic is the only setting on the machine.
Climate science needs a fresh start. I'm confident that the result of the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial will be a not insignificant contribution to that.
Speaking of fresh starts, a final thought from reader Mike Riddle:
We live in times that seem to be becoming so insane that you really cannot even parody them anymore. You've written about the absurdity of worrying about cattle farts. A year or two ago Mike Lester did a parody on this idea in a cartoon featuring the "Cattle-lytic Converter".
Today I learned that someone is seriously trying to do this! I refer to this.
It's no surprise that it's government funded. I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that it's Argentina and not the US government. Then again, I would not be surprised to learn in the coming weeks that the US government has a similar project in the works funded on a Top Secret, Priority One basis now that it appears publically that there's an expanding "Bovine Gas Countermeasures Gap".
The Cattle-lytic Converter becoming a reality reminds me to make another shopping trip to the Steyn Store.
I have to laugh because the alternative is to descend into utter depression.
You can see the new Bovine Backpack for converting cattle emissions in the picture above. I've asked Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology if they have one in Dr Mann's size.
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