Friday, November 27, 2009

Advocacy science: Climate science has no "product"

By Donald Sensing

Credit the title of this post to commenter don (not me), number 21 on Vincent Gray's post on how, as an IPCC Expert Reviewer, he knew, "There Was Proof of Fraud All Along." The comment begins, "Perhaps we need to coin a new term in our New Age post industrial world, Advocacy Science."

And so we shall. We should remember that while doing science may be socially or even morally commendable, that fact does not mean that scientists themselves are socially or morally virtuous.

Every scientist is committed to something as number one priority. It is not necessarily science. (This is true for any profession, of course.) A scientist's number one passion might be cross-country running, leading him or her to arrange the work schedules around runs and meets rather than professional opportunities. That does not mean that the scientist does bad science, when it is science he is doing rather than running. It simply means that his science work is not the thing that shapes his life.

But what if the number one passion shaping a scientist's passion is not running, but the conviction that modern economies are too complex and international affairs too complicated for national sovereignty to be vested in the people of the various countries, and that therefore at minimum national governments must dominate economic processes and planning, eventually to become subordinate to supranational agencies that do the same thing for the globe at large?

In other words, our hypothetical scientist's worldview is shaped primarily not by the challenges of doing good science or the challenges of hypermiling, but by the political ideology of statism.

What then?

A commenter (#7) on this Belmont Club post wrote,

I worked in academia (as staff) with “scientists” for 20 years and none of the shenanigans at CRU or elsewhere surprises me.

Even knowledgeable outsiders can’t know the extent to which science is harnessed to a Leftist political agenda these days. Presidential economic adviser Larry Summers, formerly president of Harvard U — until he mused openly about gender differences — can explain.
Commenter #14, observed,
... scientists are human. They are venal. They are arrogant. They want more money for less work. They wish to see their rivals discredited and defunded. They seek to become entrenched bureaucrats, protected from their actions by layers of regulations, political influence and conspiracies. They lie. My experience at the Pentagon merely reinforced all of these observations.

To quote Robert Conquest :”And an ever larger section of society is put through “higher’ education. One element of this is educated in scientific and other specialized disciplines, though often unaccompanied by much in the way of “education” proper. At any rate, the state is to some extent creating a nonproductive class and creating nonproductive work for them.”
Speaking of advocacy science, World Climate Report has a smoking gun, the cover of the latest United Nations Environmental Programme report.
The United Nations Environmental Programme just released a major report in advance of the Climate Change Summit to take place in Copenhagen this December. The report is intended to “show how the science has been evolving” since the publication of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in the spring of 2007.

Although we suppose we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we are having a lot of difficulty bringing ourselves to think that the contents provide a fair representation of the recent state climate change science.

The title says “Climate Change 2009: Science Compendium” but the cover illustration screams “Political Propaganda!”

Here is the cover of the UNEP report:

What is this illustration supposed to be representing?

It shows the earth, slipping through an hourglass and coming out not as just a pile of sand, but as a desert, replete with sand dunes.

I guess the symbolism is supposed to be that time is running out on our ability to save the earth from this fate. Apparently climate change is going to turn the earth from predominantly a blue and green vibrant planet (in the top half of the hourglass) to a brown lifeless one (in the bottom of the hourglass).
There is another side to climate science that needs to be remembered. (I can't find the web site where I first read this, but I want to disclaim this insight as my own.) Climate science may well be the only scientific study that has no utilitarian value. All other scientific disciplines enable some kind of improvement in the human condition. Physics enables space exploration and medical equipment such as MRIs, for example. Meteorology predicts weather which has all sorts of beneficial applications. Chemistry provides us with new materials and biology with health insights and improved crop productions. All of these things plus countless others.

Yet climate science has no "product." The outcomes of climate modeling cannot be used to do anything except what is being done with them - promote statist control of ever-expanding slices of national economies to conform to a transnationalist ideology.

If climate science could be used to do anything else, it would already be happening. But have you ever heard of any report of climate science's findings not in connection with expanding the power of the state or trans-state organs?

Now if climate scientists - products of universities co-opted by modified Marxism since the 1960s - find that their only paying customers are statist bureaucrats, and most of the scientists are believe that ideology, or are neutral at best, what do you think will be the result?

The money from the customers must be kept flowing (preferably increased) and if that means pushing the customers' agenda along by cooking the scientific books, well, maybe science in and of itself is not the number one passion here, anyway.

Remember, chemists have paying customers who demand accuracy of theory and formula right now. So do weather predictors, practical physicists and scientists of every other discipline.

But the accuracy of climate science is irrelevant and deals in decades anyway. To the paying customers - statist politicians and bureaucrats - it is not accuracy they seek but the forecast itself: "By the middle" or "the end of this century, global temperatures will be a degree or two higher and the oceans will be a a foot (or less or more) deeper."

It's a crisis! And crisis is the health of the state!

Update: Via Rand Simberg, this on-target shot from James Lewis:
The most important take home lesson is that global frauding was the clear and conscious work of a political machine aiming to steal your money, your liberties, and your country. It was a massive, worldwide attempt at a coup d’etat, and the victims were going to include all the free and prosperous peoples of the world. Hitler had his Reichstag fire. Today’s transnational left had its global warming fraud. The political goal was exactly the same: maximum power through maximum fear.
Update: Financial Times:
Sciences at the cutting edge of statistics and public policy can make blood sports seem genteel. Scientists aggressively promoting pet hypotheses often relish the opportunity to marginalise and neutralise rival theories and exponents.

The malice, mischief and Machiavellian manoeuvrings revealed in the illegally hacked megabytes of emails from the University of East Anglia’s prestigious Climate Research Unit, for example, offers a useful paradigm of contemporary scientific conflict. Science may be objective; scientists emphatically are not. This episode illustrates what too many universities, professional societies, and research funders have irresponsibly allowed their scientists to become. Shame on them all. ...

Concealment and secrecy invites mischief; too many scientists seeking influence accept the invitation.
Read the whole thing. The British press have been much more aggressive than the US media in covering and analyzing the CRU scandal. FT has substantial and specific recommendations to fix the processes in the future.