On Lynas’s blog, Barry Woods seems upset that I consider him an “enemy”. Hey, Barry — if the shoe fits… I haven’t been coy about this whole business. I believe it’s a war — a policy war. As such, there are allies and adversaries. There are strategies and tactics, weapons and intelligence. In this, if you’re not with me, you’re against me. It’s a very important war — perhaps one of the most significant. Scientists are not good at fighting wars. Honest and well-intentioned members of the public or media aren’t necessarily good at fighting wars. I wouldn’t have pegged Lynas as naive but maybe he is — at least about how his latest blog posts have become fodder for deniers.
Case in point: Lynas is lauded for being “honest” for criticizing the IPCC over the WGIII Chapter 10 and press release. Reading a little deeper, the implication is that everyone else on his “side” — aka AGW — is dishonest. This is the big lie that deniers spread — that we all know that climate change is a lie and that the IPCC is corrupt and we’re all just pretending, lying in order to line our pockets and bring about a new communist world order. His “honesty” then gets touted as a turnabout, a epiphany, and the imminent demise of AGW is heralded far and wide in the denialosphere.
More noise to obscure the signal.
At Keith Kloor’s, KDK33 suggests that I am guilty of noble cause corruption. I think that’s taking my comment a tad too far, but that’s to be expected. I didn’t advocate lying for the sake of some higher principle. I said that the “truth” he felt so compelled to state — and I don’t accept that it is a truth — in alignment with deniers, will be bent all out of proportion, tainted and turned from a ploughshare into a sword which they will then use to skewer him. I think good arguments have been put forward that Lynas got it wrong in substance, regardless of the fact that he agreed with McIntyre. I merely wanted to point out that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
Here’s Keith Kloor:
This is a war and as we all know, the first casualty is truth. This means that well-intentioned supporters of AGW who point out errors, perceived or real, serious or of no consequence, find their words used as ammunition to attack them and AGW in a cynical effort to affect public policy by raising unfounded doubt about the science. If you decide to speak out, you have to remember that no matter what your motives or intentions, your words will be spun to suit the needs of your opponent. Unfortunately, when you are involved in a war, you have to think strategically. Those who are naive about this become tools for their enemy’s advantage.
This is a variation on the Republican 11th commandment of politics, made famous by Ronald Reagan. Lynas, in refusing to muzzle himself, is likely to get squeezed further by the climate capos on the left.
Of course deniers are raising the alarm that we warmists / alarmists are on a witch hunt, throwing Lynas to the lions and all. That’s what they do — overreach is their specialty and modus operandi. It plays well to the crowd, who after all, are distracted from the real problems by circuses.
Nullis in verba makes a good point:
Sometimes it is a case of losing the battle to fight the war. If it becomes widely known that you will dodge or deny even true statements for fear that they could give succour to your enemies, then soon nobody will believe you even when you’re right. You would say the same whether it was true or not, and so the statement conveys no information.
However, if you tell the truth even when it hurts, then while it will cost you this time, it will pay back in the next battle when people believe that you say what you say because you think it’s true, not because it supports the party line.
It’s a question of short-term thinking versus long-term. You sometimes need to fight the short-term battle to survive for the long-term one, but if you are forced into thinking short-term all the time, it means you’re losing.
That would be good advice and perhaps I should take it, because my words have been spun by skeptics for their own purpose, too.
The trouble is that I’m not losing — we all are. When deniers and their dupes and lackeys delay and obfuscate and create false controversies, they delay action on climate change. When the well-intentioned but naive provide them with legitimacy they dont deserve, the naive become part of the problem, not part of the solution. If Lynas hadn’t come out in support of McIntyre, if he hadn’t praised him, if he had instead taken some time and tried to see through his own biases — against Greenpeace, for example — and looked at the issue understanding the politics and optics, he might have taken a different track.
Here’s Grypo, coming to my defense — or at least, trying to represent what I wrote:
I don’t think that the alignment of Lynas and others is all that surprising. There are two distinct issues here. One, which Policy Lass discusses, is the issue of how Lynas’ attacks play into the hands of his political enemies, and two, the more interesting policy issue, which is the renewables versus nuclear mitigation decisions. So Lynas coming out against the IPCC on it’s use of a politically unfeasible scenario as it’s media headliner should have been expected.
And later on:
Just because Policy Lass tells him that his words are going to be used to thwart his own efforts doesn’t constitute the dramatic reenactment of witch hunts.
That was my point — by lauding the Grand Disinformer, by attacking the IPCC over a faux controversy, he will thwart his own efforts. Unless of course, he’s changed his mind about climate.
They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, and this episode has been a prime example.
Here’s a thoughtful post from Chris Colose on the contribution of people like McIntyre and the skeptic crowd that I put here to counter the crap from skeptics:
A good way to gauge the scientific contribution of people like McIntyre (especially in cases like the hockey stick where few people have the time, or statistical background, to sift through every ClimateAudit, RealClimate, etc post and work it out themselves), is to follow the literature over time or go to scientific conferences with experts in that specific area. Although only a certain number of papers have become high-profile because of the blogosphere, google scholar searches of things like the “Medieval Warm Period” (which is now referred to by those in the field as the Medieval Climate Anomaly) will reveal dozens and dozens of papers which can still be considered recent; the citation count for an individual paper is also a good proxy for its value to the scientific discussion (not necessarily its accuracy). You can also read summary works like that of the National Academies. When you do this, you find that the general picture of the an anomalously warm MWP (relative to surrounding areas), a colder LIA (in both cases, with large spatial and temporal heterogeneity), and anomalously warm late 20th century is robust to well over a decade of work. There are various wiggles that authors disagree on, but the broad picture painted back in 1998 by Mann, and echoed by many papers since then has not in fact changed very much.
This is pretty much the case for any claim against “The Team” to date; as raypierre mentioned, the signal-to-noise ratio is incredibly small for people like McIntyre. I can remember him pointing out an error in the NASA temperature reconstruction that ended up making 1934 the hottest U.S. year, but with virtually no global impact, and that story was blown out of proportion. I cannot think of a single scientific contribution by him that has stood the test of time and has had such a profound impact on our understanding of climate, as many bloggers believe it has. There has been some lessons learned, but when we zoom out to critical “broad brush” topics like the radiative forcing of atmospheric CO2, climate sensitivity, impacts of ocean acidification or sea level rise, etc, the “skeptic” camp has contributed virtually nothing to help understanding anything. (my emphasis)
Here’s Lynas in his latest attempt to dig himself out:
How is the Exxon scenario different from what has just happened with the IPCC’s renewables report? And why – when confronted with this egregious conflict of interest and abuse of scientific independence – has the response of the world’s green campaigners been to circle the wagons and cry foul against the whistle-blowers themselves? That this was spotted at all is a tribute to the eagle eyes of Steve McIntyre.
Yet I am told that he is a ‘denier’, that all his deeds are evil, and that I have been naively led astray by him. Well, if the ‘deniers’ are the only ones standing up for the integrity of the scientific process, and the independence of the IPCC, then I too am a ‘denier’.
First, the Exxon scenario is pure self-serving fantasy.
Two words — false equivalence.
Exxon is not equivalent to Greenpeace. If Lynas the much vaunted journalist can’t see that, I have little hope. Just look at the tone he is taking — “egregious” and “abuse of scientific integrity” — why he sounds like — like — Steve McIntyre!
Lynas on the same side of a climate issue as “skeptics” like McIntyre, Watts and Jeff Id? If I found myself on the same side as them on an issue relating to climate or the IPCC, I’d run screaming and STFU. His willingness to side with them publicly and prominently makes me seriously question his ability to understand what’s going on in the climate wars.
All Lynas has done is give McIntyre and his crew validity they don’t deserve for an attack that lacks gravitas. He has turned himself into a mouthpiece, giving them a platform of faux legitimacy so they can continue selling their snake oil. Lynas and Revkin siding with McIntyre et al legitimates them. It’s a tactical mistake for those who accept AGW and argue that we have only so much time to do something to mitigate CO2.
When I wrote about truth being a casualty of war, I didn’t advocate lying. Quite the contrary. The truth about climate will outlast McIntyre and the likes of Morano and the mistakes of Lynas. I advocate focusing on what’s important and not being trapped by those who want to dwell in false controversies.
And that is what McIntyre and his ilk do — churn in a cesspool of irrelevancies.
In a climate of misrepresentation and deceit created by the denial machine and parroted by those taken in by it, it’s understandable that well-intentioned people want to appear to take the high road. It’s understandable but naive. The high road is to recognize the attack on truth for what it is and not be a part of it.
I think Lynas made a mistake, over-reached and now instead of acknowledging the mistake, he’s digging in. Another understandable, if regrettable, response. The fact that he criticized the IPCC and gave kudos to McIntyre is being used to fuel a ridiculous outrage by the usual suspects as part of the same ol same ol smokescreen. All a curious reader has to do is review how his words have been bandied about by deniers and skeptics to understand how futile it is to think one is taking the high ground, hoping to be “on the right side” of an issue and for truth, justice and the American way, when siding with deniers.
I advocate awareness that when you align yourself with your adversaries on an issue, you can’t express bemusement when they use your words as fodder for their own ends — at least not without the rest of us pointing and laughing.
In other words, don’t lie down with a dog and be all surprised when you get fleas.
Here’s a thoughtful post by CM over at Open Mind:
Thoughts: More of McIntyre’s embarrassing flailing about to maintain his relevance as a merchant of doubt. His beef with the recent IPCC report on renewable energy (SRREN) is (1) that it has Greenpeace cooties, and (2) the IPCC allowed a lead author to evaluate his own work. This is based on the following facts: A lead author on one of the chapters, Sven Teske, is a Greenpeace employee (renewables campaigner for Greenpeace International). And the headline message in the press release for the report, that close to 80% of world energy could be generated by renewables in 2050 given enabling policies, stems from a Greenpeace-commissioned scenario, Energy [R]evolution, on which Teske was also lead author (McIntyre links to a 2008 glossy Greenpeace report, but the updated version referenced in the SRREN is atTeske et al., 2010 – open access).
Greenpeacy is an advocacy group, not a scientific institution, but it commissions serious work by outside experts that may legitimately be cited by the IPCC. The Energy [R]evolution scenarios were commissioned from the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Three of the co-authors are at DLR, a fourth is at the U. of Utrecht. The supply scenarios used a model called MESAP/PlaNet (helpful intro in English here). Demand scenarios were updated from an earlier study by Ecofys, a Dutch consultancy.
As McI has provided no technical argument to the contrary, one should assume that Teske et al. (2010) meets the criteria for inclusion among the 164 scenarios from 16 different large-scale integrated models considered in the SRREN – and that, as the high-end scenario, it merits inclusion among the four scenarios singled out for further discussion. The report clearly shows the 80% claim as the high end, and the SPM puts it in perspective by noting that more than half of the scenarios show an RE contribution of “more than 27%” in 2050.
The IPCC working group, for better or worse, is not limited to academics with no ties to declare. Other contributors to the SRREN include big oil (at least three Chevron employees) and big nukes (at least two EdF employees). No reason not to have Greenpeace there as well, on the strength of the above-mentioned work.
There is no substance to McI’s claims that Teske was allowed to evaluate his own work, or the general insinuation that SRREN ch. 10 was somehow controlled by whale-huggers. Teske cannot reasonably be described as “the Lead Author of the IPCC assessment of the Greenpeace scenario” (McI, emph. added), given that he was only one of eleven lead authors on that chapter. He was not even a coordinating lead author. Chapter 10 was co-ordinated by Manfred Fischedick (Wuppertal Institute) and Roberto Schaeffer (U. of Rio de Janeiro), and also included lead authors from the U. of Botswana, U. of Leipzig, Joint Global Change Research Institute (USA), Volker Krey International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Central European University, and Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica. It also went through two rounds of expert review.
So it appears that there is not much “there” there in Lynas or McIntyre’s criticisms.
If there is some comedic relief in all this, it is that now, Lynas is beset by the likes of Oliver K Manuel.
Here’s Oliver, one of Mark’s new BFFs:
I also wish you well.
As a liberal, left wing Democrat who was once a supporter of Greenpeace, I now suspect that this whole affair was molded by the skillful hands of people of some propaganda politicians – like Henry Kissinger.
I was a Principal Investigator for NASA and saw shadows of something strange moving across the stage in 1972 – but I had no idea why science was being distorted and manipulated until I saw the opera of “Nixon in China.”
Here are a few of the experimental findings that were hidden ["Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal (in press) 2011]:
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Next, I expect Kim to show up with some of her inane haiku.
When you find yourself in such company, you gotta rethink what you’re doing…