ISS/Atlantis On Display

A lot of USians will be able to see it tonight. And you don’t have to stay up late, it’s only an hour or so after sunset, at least on the left coast. Go here and plug in your zip code for azimuth and elevation.

[Update a few minutes later]

Heavens Above is another good place to go, where it says that ISS is now sufficiently bright with all of its arrays that it is visible in the daytime, if the sun is low enough.

Science, And Politics

Some thoughts from John Derbyshire:

That’s the spirit of scientific humility. You get a conceptual model that works — fits known data, and has strong explanatory and predictive power — and you work with it to uncover new truths, always understanding that it might yield to some better theory.

It’s an ideal, of course. The guys who perpetrated the great scientific frauds didn’t adhere to it, and it doesn’t look as though the EAU climate researchers did, either. That’s humanity for ya.

Ideals matter, though, and this one is peculiar to science. You will never — I guarantee it! — hear an imam say: “Can we really be sure that Muhammed was the Messenger of God? Will new discoveries overthrow this idea and replace it with some other theology?” Nor will you ever hear a Marxist economist begin a sentence with: “If some day the Labor Theory of Value is replaced by a better theory, …”

And always in science, as the decades roll by, the fraudsters, cranks, and political entrepreneurs fall by the wayside and the scientific spirit triumphs at last. We then know more true facts about the world than our fathers did. And that’s a very wonderful thing. Which I extol.

And it is very clear now that what many of the leading “scientists” in the climate-change fiasco weren’t doing science at all, and had little interest in it.

Tom Blumer notes one of the most absurd, and egregious failures to follow the science this morning, by Trenberth:

He can protest until the methane-generating cows come home, but the following implication of Trenberth’s trembling response is inescapable: “Even though we’ve relied on them all along to build our case, we suddenly can’t rely on temperature measurements to prove or disprove the existence of global warming. Our models nonetheless simply have to be right.” His backup argument if the temps are indeed correct — which would mean that the model generating “the CERES data” and other similar simulations will have been proven to be flawed — would be, “Well, even if the models are wrong, we still have proof in melting Arctic sea ice, rising sea levels, etc.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose work Trenberth cites in a recent paper to support his belief that “global warming is unequivocally happening,” doesn’t name any other factors beyond temperature, ice, and sea levels in the pull quote of its “Summary for Policymakers”: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

So unless Trenberth has something meaningful in the “lot of other indicators” he casually cites in his response to his email’s release, he and his brethren are in a heap of trouble. That’s because by his own logic, temperature measurements must be rejected as credible evidence. Further, his presumptive, supposedly settled-science arguments about Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels melt upon only a cursory review.

Who are you gonna believe, me and my Charlie Foxtrot of a model, or your lying thermometers?

Along those lines, William Briggs explains what is and isn’t evidence for global warming.

And Ian Plimer says that we should be angry. Very angry.

I know I am, and anyone who cares about science (at a minimum) should be.

[Update a few minutes later]

Ilya Somin on the social validation of knowledge:

Most of us, however, lack expertise on climate issues. And our knowledge of complex issues we don’t have personal expertise on is largely based on social validation. For example, I think that Einsteinian physics is generally more correct than Newtonian physics, even though I know very little about either. Why? Because that’s the overwhelming consensus of professional physicists, and I have no reason to believe that their conclusions should be discounted as biased or otherwise driven by considerations other than truth-seeking. My views of climate science were (and are) based on similar considerations. I thought that global warming was probably a genuine and serious problem because that is what the overwhelming majority of relevant scientists seem to believe, and I generally didn’t doubt their objectivity.

At the very least, the Climategate revelations should weaken our confidence in the above conclusion. At least some of the prominent scholars in the field seem driven at least in part by ideology, and willing to use intimidation to keep contrarian views from being published, even if the articles in question meet normal peer review standards. Absent such tactics, it’s possible that more contrarian research would be published in professional journals and the consensus in the field would be less firm. To be completely clear, I don’t think that either ideological motivation or even intimidation tactics prove that these scientists’ views are wrong. Their research should be assessed on its own merits, irrespective of their motivations for conducting it. However, these things should affect the degree to which we defer to their conclusions merely based on their authority as disinterested experts.

At the same time, it’s important not to overstate the case. I don’t think we have anywhere near enough evidence to show that the academic consensus on global warming is completely bogus, or even close to it. Nor has it been proven that all or most prominent scientific supporters of global warming theory are as unethical as those exposed in this scandal.

On balance, therefore, I still think that global warming exists and is a genuinely serious problem. But I am marginally less confident in holding that view than I was before. If we see more revelations of this kind, I will be less confident still.

I’ve always been an agnostic on these issues, but willing to accept the notion that the planet is warming and that we are causing it. Where I’ve dug in my heels was on the notion that the proposed cures weren’t worse than the disease, and I agree with Bjorn Lomborg, who (almost alone among the people discussing this) seems to have his head screwed on straight in terms of the economics. But this episode has increased my skepticism about not just the proposed policies, but the science itself. I would say that, at this point, the burden of proof has shifted in the extreme, and is now on those who demand that we impoverish ourselves (at least in relative terms, and don’t fool yourself that this isn’t exactly what they’re demanding) in the name of the science. The science is flawed.

There are no doubt sincere scientists working on this in good faith, but the charlatans in East Anglia and other places have had an inordinate influence on the work of the entire community, and we can’t know to what degree others’ work was affected by it and the false consensus. All climate science is suspect at this point, and the notion that we should be making global policy on it has to be seen now as completely absurd. It will be interesting to see how heretical people will feel comfortable in being in Copenhagen.

Another Decline To Hide

The president continues to fall in the polls (not a permalink):

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters worry that the federal government will do too much when it comes to reacting to the nation’s financial problems. That’s up seven points since President Obama took office.

…Overall, 45% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That matches the lowest level of total approval yet measured for this president. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Democrats approve as do 33% of unaffiliated voters. Eighty-three percent (83%) of Republicans disapprove.

Among all voters, 54% now disapprove.

Support for the health care plan proposed by the President and Congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low of 38%. Sixty percent (60%) of voters believe passage of the bill will lead to higher health care costs.

The marks are catching on.

[Evening update]

Hide the decline. I think that this is just the beginning of the thermonuclear-level mockery that is about to descend on these power-hungry charlatans.

The Wooden Stake

Senator Inhofe says that Copenhagen and cap’n’tax are deader than doornails:

Following the worldwide attention on the leaked CRU e-mails, Inhofe says that he still plans to go to the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month. He also says that cap-and-trade legislation is “dead in the Senate.”

“I’ll be going to Copenhagen to expose the truth,” says Inhofe. “I’ve been ridiculed for the past six years, yet we were right all along.” (The Oklahoman led a similar “truth squad” in 2003, during the U.N.’s climate-change negotiations in Milan, Italy.) Supporters of cap-and-trade who also plan on attending, such as Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), “are in denial,” he adds.

“My message will easier to deliver, that’s for sure,” says Inhofe. “When I was in Milan, it was kind of humorous. I had put out a statement calling anthropogenic global warming a hoax and they put up my picture on ‘Wanted’ posters around the city. I tore them down, brought them home, and auctioned them at fundraisers.”

“It’s different this time,” says Inhofe. “We went to Milan with little credibility, saying that this thing is rigged, that the science is cooked. We didn’t have much to back us up in 2003. I know that Boxer and Kerry would try to misrepresent the state of cap-and-trade in the Senate. I can hear their speech now saying it’s not dead — that’s it’s passed out of a committee. But look, it’s dead. It’s not going to pass. It’s dead because regardless of what you think of the science, which these e-mails certainly don’t help, you know that the costs are simply too much. Jobs would go elsewhere if we introduced harsh carbon regulations.”

I think this could end up killing health care too. As I said earlier, people are going to start asking, with good cause, “What else are they lying to us about?”

The Politics Of Science

Some thoughts on Climaquiddick over at The New Atlantis:

In his “Memorandum on Scientific Integrity” from earlier this year, President Obama stated that it is the function of “science and the scientific process” to “inform and guide” his administration on virtually every issue from health care to national security. This came on the heels of his promise in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place,” and his boast that his administration will “base” its “public policies on the soundest science,” indicating that the proper relation between politics and science subordinates the former to the latter. The classic concern about science—that it might become dangerously liberated from moral or political guidance—is not what concerns President Obama in his memorandum and speeches. Rather, he worries about the suppression or politicization of unambiguous scientific fact. If the president’s words are taken at face value, his administration should seriously reconsider its enthusiastic embrace of aggressive climate legislation, since the CRU e-mails reveal a political appropriation of science instead of a science liberated from political pressure.

Hillary Clinton famously remarked that during the Bush years it was “open season on open inquiry,” rehashing the familiar charge that a faith-based obscurantism dogmatically dismissed not only the claims of legitimate science, but also the very claims of reason itself. President Obama has stayed true to the liberal posture that whatever policy he happens to advocate is the only one substantiated by empirical science. However, it has become increasingly clear that the president’s claim to rigorously adhere to a science of politics—a science that provides unprejudiced information upon which he can craft sound policy—has been overtaken by a politics of science—the crass and Procrustean transformation of whatever data is available into further confirmation of his own ideological commitments. Australian writer Andrew Bolt has suggested that the CRU e-mail leak is a “scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science.” But the greater scandal may be that the United States and the rest of the world are considering enacting energy-restrictive and economy-damaging climate policies based on ideological distortions of scientific fact.

While putting a wooden stake through Copenhagen and cap’n’tax are immediate beneficial results of this, I think it may have policy implications far beyond climate change. The Emperor of “science,” whose findings have been used to justify all manner of totalitarian impulses has been shown to be naked. It’s perfectly natural, at this point, to ask “What else have they been lying to us about?”


Brenden O’Neill reviews a climate change exhibit at the Science Museum of London:

…That we are expected to sit and stare at this “Sun,” to be passive recipients of some higher wisdom from a disc hovering above our heads, speaks volumes about how environmentalists view both “science” and ordinary people’s intellectual capabilities. For them, scientific fact is a kind of divine revelation, an unquestionable truth, which must be delivered from on high to us little people in order to wake us from our consumerist-induced stupor and make us rethink our destructive habits. In treating science as both Gospel and political weapon, the green-leaning organizers of this exhibition have committed an act of double violence against scientific truth and integrity.

Indeed, the “Prove It!” exhibition unwittingly, yet brilliantly, illustrates why climate-change alarmism has no place in the world of real science, an arena that ought to be marked by open-mindedness, truth-seeking, and intellectual seriousness. Where most of the Science Museum engages visitors through intelligent exhibitions, explaining in measured terms how things were discovered or how breakthroughs were made, the “Prove It!” exhibition screams slogans in our faces from an overhead projector. Where many of the rooms in the Science Museum take us through the various leaps forward that led to modern technology and medicine, the “Prove It!” exhibition contains no climate science at all (presumably it’s too complicated for us idiots), only ready-made, life-altering slogans.

When science is treated as given, unquestionable, and supremely authoritative, Sun-like in its obviousness, then it ceases to be science at all and becomes something closer to religious decree. The motto of the U.K. Royal Society, which helped to found the Science Museum 100 years ago, was “On the word of no one,” capturing science’s rejection of traditional forms of wisdom and authority and its embrace of experimentation, exploration, and the authority of the truth alone. Yet today, we are expected to uncritically accept the word of the Science Museum, and to vote in favor of using so-called scientific fact to drive an explicitly political agenda at Copenhagen in December.

We’re not as stupid as they want us to be.

A Chink In Hansen’s Armor?

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is taking advantage of the scandal to sue NASA and Goddard:

CEI seeks the following documents, among others — NASA’s failure to provide which within 30 days will prompt CEI to file suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:

— internal discussions about NASA’s quiet correction of its false historical U.S. temperature records after two Canadian researchers discovered a key statistical error, specifically discussion about whether and why to correct certain records, how to do so, the impact or wisdom or potential (or real) fallout therefrom or reaction to doing so (requested August 2007);

— internal discussions relating to the emails sent to James Hansen and/or Reto A. Ruedy from Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre calling their attention to the errors in NASA/GISS online temperature data (August 2007);

— internal discussions relating to the content, importance, or propriety of workday-hour posts or entries by GISS/NASA employee Gavin A. Schmidt on the weblog or “blog” RealClimate, which is owned by the advocacy Environmental Media Services and was started as an effort to defend the debunked “Hockey Stick” that is so central to the CRU files. is implicated in the leaked files, expressly offered as a tool to be used “in any way you think would be helpful” to a certain advocacy campaign, including an assertion of Schmidt’s active involvement in, e.g., delaying and/or screening out unhelpful input by “skeptics” attempting to comment on claims made on the website. This and the related political activism engaged in are inappropriate behavior for a taxpayer-funded employee, particularly on taxpayer time. These documents were requested in January 2007 and NASA/GISS have refused to date to comply with their legal obligation to produce responsive documents.

We’ll see if it gets anywhere. And if anyone in the media pays any attention. Have any emails from Hansen turned up in the document release?

[Early afternoon update]

An interview with CEI’s Myron Ebell.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!