I’m writing this in Salcombe, Devon on a rainy, miserable summer’s day which, I fear, may be all too symptomatic of the climatic rubbish we can all expect for the next 30 years as – thanks to changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation combined with a solar minimum – we enter a period of global cooling. Let’s hope I’m wrong, eh?
Well, among those who seems to be hoping just that is an amiable fellow called Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel prize winning geneticist and president-to-be of the Royal Society, who came round to my house last week to film part of a BBC Horizon documentary on why it is that people are losing their faith in scientists.
I told him people aren’t losing their faith in “scientists”. Just the “scientists” who are behind the junk science being advanced in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s four increasingly tendentious and misleading assessment reports.
Over the next three hours, Sir Paul and I had a long, friendly, on-camera argument in which he tried to make a distinction between “skepticism” [good] and “denialism” [bad] – an entirely specious distinction, in my book – while I tried to focus on the details of the Climategate emails because it’s only on details that an arts graduate journalist is ever going to win a debate like this with a (feisty, bright, delightful but not a little combative) Nobel genetics laureate.
A trick I noticed Sir Paul trying to perform throughout our debate was to move away from specifics to the general. So, for example, he would keenly assert that “the majority” of the world’s scientists agreed with a thing called a “consensus” on man-made global warming, and whenever I got down to grimy and tedious detail suggestive of the contrary – eg Ben Santer’s outrageous rewriting of the Summary for Policy Makers in the Second Assessment Report, which seriously exaggerated the unanimity of scientific opinion on AGW – he’d either politely brush it off as if it were far too involved to be of much interest or he’d airily cite the three whitewash enquiries into Climategate as “proof” that the scientists had done nothing wrong.
Perhaps he was just playing devil’s advocate. The impression I got that Sir Paul is a thoroughly decent, very clever man who wants to be as open-minded as possible on the whole AGW debate. But the impression I also got is that, as you would entirely expect of a future president of the Royal Society (which for years has been one of the great cheerleaders for AGW theory, even to the point of writing an official letter to Exxon demanding that it cease funding “deniers”) is that Sir Paul’s view of what is reasonable and balanced has been heavily colored by that of the scientific Establishment. And, unfortunately, the scientific Establishment’s views on AGW are about as neutral and unbiased and reliable as, say, the BBC’s are about Israel. Or the European Union. Or, indeed, “Man Made Global Warming.”
James Delingpole is a British writer, journalist and broadcaster who is (he says) right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books including Welcome to Obamaland: I’ve Seen Your Future and it Doesn’t Work. His website is http://www.jamesdelingpole.com/ and he also has a blog at the Daily Telegraph.
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