In Which I Develop A Strange New Respect

…for George Monbiot:

…his message looks awful. It gives the impression of confirming a potent meme circulated by those who campaign against taking action on climate change: that the IPCC process is biased. However good the detailed explanations may be, most people aren’t going to follow or understand them. Jones’s statement, on the other hand, is stark and easy to grasp.

In this case you could argue that technically he has done nothing wrong. But a fat lot of good that will do. Think of the MPs’ expenses scandal: complaints about stolen data, denials and huffy responses achieved nothing at all. Most of the MPs could demonstrate that technically they were innocent: their expenses had been approved by the Commons office. It didn’t change public perceptions one jot. The only responses that have helped to restore public trust in Parliament are humility, openness and promises of reform.

When it comes to his handling of Freedom of Information requests, Professor Jones might struggle even to use a technical defence. If you take the wording literally, in one case he appears to be suggesting that emails subject to a request be deleted, which means that he seems to be advocating potentially criminal activity. Even if no other message had been hacked, this would be sufficient to ensure his resignation as head of the unit.

I feel desperately sorry for him: he must be walking through hell. But there is no helping it; he has to go, and the longer he leaves it, the worse it will get. He has a few days left in which to make an honourable exit. Otherwise, like the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, he will linger on until his remaining credibility vanishes, inflicting continuing damage to climate science.

Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific.

We will continue to vehemently disagree on political issues, but henceforth (not that I did it much, or paid him that much attention in general), I shall refrain from calling him George Moonbat. He seems to recognize the damage that these people are doing to his cause, even if they cannot.

12 thoughts on “In Which I Develop A Strange New Respect”

  1. …I shall refrain from calling him George Moonbat…

    You just did! 🙂

    George’s article is a turgid thing to read, but at least he admitted these people gotta go.

  2. Rand,

    I’m not so sure he deserves the respect you now give him; he’s still a key UK booster for the AGW orthodoxy who’s prepared to sacrifice anybody, even one of his colleagues, for the sake of maintaining the AGW narrative. I regard his statement as a rather cynical attempt to deflect people away from the fundamental scientific issue that the AGW orthodoxy has a major problem defending, which is that there is no real-world evidence to support their claim that CO2 is the dominant controller of climate by virtue of positive feedbacks.

    This little episode is doing nothing to actually change the underlying science. It’s simply bringing to people’s attention the fact that the science was never settled to any real degree: we always knew CO2 can act as a greenhouse gas from the basic physics (i.e. the science is settled) but we have little, if any, evidence that the positive feed-backs that are required to “fix” the models tell the whole story (i.e. the science is by no means settled).

    Let’s be clear about this; without those feed-backs, CO2 becomes little more than a small contributor to the primary force that drives our climate, which is the Sun.

  3. I’m not so sure he deserves the respect you now give him; he’s still a key UK booster for the AGW orthodoxy who’s prepared to sacrifice anybody, even one of his colleagues, for the sake of maintaining the AGW narrative.

    At least, he recognizes that he needs to do so.

  4. Darkstar Says:
    November 26th, 2009 at 2:58 am

    “I wonder what Chris Gerrib has to say about this?

    Him and Jim are probably waiting for their new marching orders to come down from the libtard-o-sphere. That or he is out in his back yard counting tree rings.

  5. Josh and Darkstar – I commented in other posts on this blog. Bottom line – nothing in the emails disproves AGW. You could toss all of the CRU data and still have plenty from NOAA, NASA, the British Meterological Office and other sources.

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