Sunday, September 19, 2010

{#11b} Lord Monckton, Mr. Ferguson, SPPI, v. Dr. Ben Santer - anatomy of a character assassination

Lord Monckton, and SPPI's Mr. Ferguson,

In this email I want to look at how some lies never die. In particular, today's reincarnation of the Wall Street Journal's travesty, with it's relentless, substance lacking, attacks on Dr. Benjamin Santer.

From SPPI’s Blogwatch: “Science ad rem, not politics ad hominem”
“However, a single scientist – Ben Santer – was asked by the IPCC substantially to alter the scientists’ final draft. He did so, crossing out five references to the absence of any evidence of a human influence on climate, and substituting the directly opposite conclusion.... the contrarian opinion of a single scientist who was willing to write what the IPCC’s bureaucrats wanted.”

10/14/9 MFMI 43:00
“Now we come on to a lie we find in the 1995 report. And this is one of the most extraordinary lies of the lot. Time and again, the scientists in that report said “We can not find any anthropogenic, or human signal, in the climate record. We are having no effect on temperature so far as we can see.” They said it five times very clearly, here’s one sample of it, here’s another. And now watch this, here is what the bureaucrats did. They rewrote the final draft, yet again, after it had been cleared and signed off by the scientists, to say the exact opposite: The body of evidence now points to a discernible human influence upon climate. And, that has been the official line ever since.”

Lord Monckton you often repeat this meme. To do so you ignore reams of contrary evidence. Why should we take your word for it?

Beyond that, why must you paint climate scientists like foreign enemies? In my last email I documented how these charges against Professor Ben Santer were shown to be gross falsehoods. Yet, here we are nearly fifteen years later and the same knowingly false charges are still being advertised. What a stellar example of the Monckton brand of “fidelity to the truth.”

I think this a good place for Dr. Santer to defend himself a little.
I can do this thanks to an interview by Paul D. Thacker, I quote:

~ ~ ~
PT: I want to take you back to the IPCC Second Assessment in 1995, when you wrote . . .

DS: Oh yes, it’s engraved on my memory: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”

PT: I didn’t need to repeat it to you. That was verbatim. I’ve spoken with several climate scientists. . . . If there’s been this consensus going back to 1995, then how odd is it that we’re still discussing it today?

DS: Well, it’s been a long road. I thought that our 1995 statement was very cautious and entirely justified by the then-available science.

But even that cautious statement caused some pretty healthy ripples in the ponds of science, politics, and the media. And it caused me a number of problems. I’d guess that about a year of my life was spent defending that scientific conclusion and my own personal scientific reputation.

PT: Didn’t the Third Assessment in 2001 confirm what had previously been stated?

DS: Actually, they went quite a bit further. They attempted to quantify the size of the human effect on climate, which we had not done in the Second Assessment. The Third Assessment report concluded that “there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” the “scientific cleansing” charges.

PT: This criticism of you and your work on the Second Assessment is still propagating itself across the Internet like some sort of meme.

DS: This is rather frustrating. I can’t alter what people wrote about me on some op-ed page. It’s unfortunate but beyond my control. Likewise, I have no control over the weird and wacky motives that climate-change skeptics ascribe to me. In 1996, at the time of publication of the IPCC Second Assessment, I was a messenger bearing news that some very powerful people did not want to hear. So they went after the messenger. They were very good at it. I’m sure there was no personal animus involved. I just happened to get in the way and had to be discredited. I’m a private person but somehow have the unfortunate knack of getting into very public situations.

From “The Many Travails of Ben Santer” by Paul D. Thacker, in the
Environmental Science & Technology / October 1, 2006 (p.5834 +)
~ ~ ~
Paul Thacker’s interview is an information packed four pages, spending most of its time discussing the continuing development of the science in a manner that makes it easy to feel sincerity from the professor. Ben Santer is a proud and capable scientist who wants to do the best job possible... and from what other climate experts have to say about his work - he continues to do it quite well - even in the face of relentless slander. Given what he’s has to endure, the man sounds more like a science hero than a scoundrel.

There is another excellent article on Ben Santer’s work in climate “fingerprinting.” It discusses his work trying to match patterns of data from observations of the atmosphere and from computer simulations. “Fingerprinting in the Sky” in the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s 2003 Annual Report.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
SPPI’s Blogwatch: “Science ad rem, not politics ad hominem”
“Naturally, anyone who follows the scientific method must be open to the possibility that he has misunderstood matters. Therefore, I am always willing to stand corrected if I have gotten something wrong. However, mere ad-hominem attacks do not convince me that there is any error in my analysis. Science is not done ad hominem but ad rem...”

Lord Monckton, you claim to be “willing to stand corrected.” Why don’t you ever acknowledge mistakes, or modify your message in light of contrary evidence? As for this charge of “ad hominem,” come now, I’ve learned that in your world “ad hominem” means any critique or attack upon the substance of your lectures and your articles of faith, rather than the traditional “misleading name calling” which you yourself do with abandon, despite your lofty words abhorring such nonsense.

Since, your charges originated with two 1996 op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal (discussed in #11a), let’s review the last paragraph from the IPCC’s attempted reply:

“We invite Mr Seitz and those concerned about the integrity of the science to read the chapter in the IPCC report and also the approved Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) particularly as they concern the detection issue. Both have been carefully and honestly crafted to explain our understanding of the uncertainties and to express clearly the scientific basis for the conclusions stated in the SPM (approved by all the delegates at Madrid), namely that 'our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited nevertheless, the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate'.

Unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal saw fit to censor this paragraph, along with four others. Five out of the seven paragraphs of the scientists reply to Seitz’s conjured charges, gutted from their letter to the WSJ editor. Lord Monckton, I ask you, where is “ad rem” in that censorship?

Lord Monckton, if I am wrong, please produce the evidence that supports your slanderous accusations. What makes all this Bad Santer Red Herring really laughable - is the past 15 years of data collection have only dramatically increased the weight of evidence pointing to the man made influences upon our climate and a warming planet, and the correctness of Dr. Santer's warning.

But, you can’t know that by refusing to look at the evidence in a scrupulous manner.


Peter Miesler

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In 1998 Santer was awarded a MacArthur Foundation grant of $270,000 for research supporting the finding that human activity contributes to global warming.

He has also received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award and

a Distinguished Scientist Fellowship from the
U.S. Department of Energy and

the Norbert Gerbier/MUMM award from the World Meteorological Organization.

He ranks #12 amongst climate scientists in a 2002 assessment of most influential scientists.

Once again, Mr Santer sounds more like a science hero than a scoundrel.

No comments: