I forget how many Democrat candidates last night identified "climate change" as the principal global threat - I think it was 97 per cent of them - but for those minded to question the consensus here's a cautionary tale from France's top weatherman. Philippe Verdier is a household name thanks to his daily forecasts. Then he wrote a book criticizing Big Climate:
Every night, France's chief weatherman has told the nation how much wind, sun or rain they can expect the following day.
...but he never saw this coming: As of Monday, M Verbier has been on an involuntary "holiday".
Fortunately for me and my career and my own venture into this territory, I don't think there's anyone left to sack me.
~One of the many distinguished scientists quoted in my book is Freeman Dyson, the remarkable physicist who was given a lifetime appointment at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton by Robert Oppenheimer "for proving me wrong". Professor Dyson is on good form in this interview with The Register. Here's his answer to a question about why all the climate doom:
It is true that there's a large community of people who make their money by scaring the public, so money is certainly involved to some extent, but I don't think that's the full explanation.
It's like a hundred years ago, before World War I, there was this insane craving for doom, which in a way, helped cause World War I. People like the poet Rupert Brooke were glorifying war as an escape from the dullness of modern life. [There was] the feeling we'd gone soft and degenerate, and war would be good for us all. That was in the air leading up to World War I, and in some ways it's in the air today.
Professor Dyson, incidentally, isn't a frothing right-wing loon like yours truly:
It's very sad that in this country, political opinion parted [people's views on climate change]. I'm 100 per cent Democrat myself, and I like Obama. But he took the wrong side on this issue, and the Republicans took the right side.
And so now we have partisan science. Great.
~Speaking of which, when last we heard from "science writer" David Appell, he was falsely accusing me of doctoring a quote.
Whoops, sorry, my mistake. That was the penultimate time we heard from David Appell. The last time we heard from him he was grudgingly apologizing for falsely accusing me of doctoring a quote and instead falsely accusing me and my book of some other error. When it was politely suggested to him that he might want to procure a copy of "A Disgrace to the Profession" before levying all these accusations, Mr Appell protested:
Me, a poor freelancer scratching the floor for grains of wheat.
At which point, several readers offered to buy him the book - and I know at least one of them followed through, because he purchased it for Mr Appell via SteynOnline.
I don't know whether he ever read it, but he's now turned his attention to Lynne Cohen, who had the temerity to give it a favorable review, since when Appell has been huffing all over her comments section, demanding she answer his question:
Still waiting for the evidence showing the MWP and LIA were "indisputable."
So far it seems like your phoned your Steyn review in without being able to back up your assertions. Typical.
That's rich coming from a guy who phoned in his Steyn review with nothing to back him up but an ugly misogynist sock puppet. As to whether the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age actually occurred, which is what Appell is "disputing", I refer him to the section of my book titled "Mann Boobs". Excerpt:
There are peer-reviewed studies by over 750 scientists from over 450 research institutions in over 40 countries that have found a Medieval Warm Period of between 0.1┬░ and 3.2┬░ Celsius warmer than today in every corner of the globe - from Alaska to South Africa, Morocco to New Zealand, Bolivia to China, Egypt to New Guinea... Everywhere they look for it, they find it. But when it's processed into Mike's worldwide paleoproxypalooza, it vanishes every time - and don't you dare question it, because Mike's whole is always greater than the sum of everybody else's parts.
We subsequently address certain examples of this - for example, Mann et al 2009's conclusion that there was no Medieval Warm Period in the northern Tibetan Plateau. Professor Yuxin He and his colleagues comprehensively demolished this absurd contention in their 2013 paper. As I comment on page 212:
Mann is running out of places to find a Medieval non-Warm Period.
Very few things are entirely, absolutely "indisputable", but the Medieval Warm Period is getting pretty close. Of course, one is still free to dispute it if one so chooses. But as Professor Jonathan Jones says on page 31:
I was looking up some minor detail about the Medieval Warm Period and discovered this weird parallel universe of people who apparently didn't believe it had happened, and even more bizarrely appeared to believe that essentially nothing had happened in the world before the 20th century. The Hockey Stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, so I started reading round the subject. And it soon became clear that the first extraordinary thing about the evidence for the Hockey Stick was how extraordinarily weak it was, and the second extraordinary thing was how desperate its defenders were to hide this fact.
...because, instead of extraordinary evidence, Michael E Mann decided he could magic away the Medieval Warm Period with a handful of dodgy California bristlecones and a pair of Qu├ęb├ęcois cedars.
David Appell has refused to read even a gift copy of my book but, for some reason, remains weirdly obsessed by it. Having already picked a fight with Professor Jones and made a fool of himself, he now returns to clobber Miss Cohen:
Why did you write something you have no evidence for?
Was it based on your ideology? Do you WANT Steyn to be right, for some reason?
If you want to write about science, you'd better be able to back up your assertions. Especially when challenged. Otherwise your science writing is misleading, and even untruthful.
You are effectively calling people like Mann et al liars, when admitting you can't support your claim. That's extremely low of any writer.
Golly, all this writerly ethical stuff! Apparently, in between "scratching the floor for grains of wheat", Mr Appell also chairs the Ethics Committee of the Union of Officially Credentialed Writers.
Miss Cohen has done nothing wrong: she thinks the evidence for the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age is so overwhelming as to be "indisputable" - and the vast bulk of the scientific literature would agree with her. Whereas the evidence for most of Michael Mann's science is far from overwhelming but we are supposed to regard it as literally "indisputable" - in the sense that Mann and far too many of his comrades think it should be a criminal offense, punishable by jail, to dispute his climate-change hypotheses.
One of the themes of my book is the contrast between what Mann's colleagues say in public and what they say in private. In public, the hockey stick is "indisputable". In private, Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Jonathan Overpeck, Richard Alley et al admit to all kinds of uncertainties and worse about Mann's science.
So it is depressing to see Appell resort to the same humbuggery. On February 22nd 2012 David Appell responded to an email from Steve McIntyre:
From: David Appell
Sent: February-22-12 12:36 AM
To: Steve McIntyre
Subject: Re: Gleick
Hey Steve, thanks for writing...
For whatever reason, Climategate 2 really opened my eyes. The behind-the-scenes organizing of public points of views, intolerance, etc -- it's just not how I believe scientists should behave, even when under pressure. The revelation that Mann was looking for investigate journalists to "expose" you really soured me. (I told him so in a late night email I probably shouldn't have written, and he doesn't answer me anymore when I ask him something) It's just not honorable. By all means, fight hard, but fight fair. And the extreme politicization coming from Gleick and Mooney is really unacceptable...
And since CG2 I've just been more attuned to the large and deep uncertainties in all of climate science, especially the models. And Revkin's quote seemed reached me: "Do I trust climate science? As a living body of intellectual inquiry exploring profoundly complex questions, yes. Do I trust all climate scientists, research institutions, funding sources, journals and others involved in this arena to convey the full context of findings and to avoid sometimes stepping beyond the data? I wouldn't be a journalist if I answered yes."
I guess, as in the motto you like (thanks), I'm just trying to ask more questions, about everything.
As with Jones, Alley et al, Mr Appell's private doubts are at odds with his public devotion. I have no idea why he's taken against my little book: I think it's because I like Shirley Temple and he likes Billy Joel and ne'er the twain shall meet. But, if he'd stop taking inept stabs in the dark at a book he hasn't even picked up, he might realize that he and I are in substantial agreement: "A Disgrace to the Profession" supports David Appell's view that Mann is "not honorable" and does not "fight fair", and that respectable scientists do not engage in "the behind-the-scenes organizing of public points of view" and "intolerance" of dissent. And above all my book, like Mr Appell, recognizes "the large and deep uncertainties in all of climate science".
The only difference is that I'm willing to say it in public - whereas David Appell only says it in private and then slavishly toes the Mann line in public. To turn around his questions to Lynne Cohen, why does he do this?
Is it based on your ideology? Do you WANT Mann to be right, for some reason?
This gaping inconsistency between Appell's public and private assessment of Mannworld is sadly typical of climate science. But, if he's going to pass the rest of the year frenziedly attacking anybody who says a kind word about my book, wouldn't it be easier to read it first? Not to do so is, as he would say, "extremely low of any writer".
[UPDATE: Mr Appell responds here.]