Since I was one of those who responded to Judith Curry promoting Steven Hayward’s recent article on, what he calls, Climate Cultists, I thought I might write a few thoughts about this. My response to Judith may make it seems that I’m bothered by someone writing an article with such a title. No, I’m not really bothered by someone from the American Enterprise Institute (an institute that, apparently, once offered to pay scientists to dispute the IPCC reports – H/T Steve Bloom) writing an article suggesting that those who accept mainstream science are cultists (especially as he seems to have some rather old-fashioned views about sexual harassment). I don’t really care. It’s a free world. He can write whatever he likes; I don’t have to read it. If I’m bothered by anything, it’s that someone with Judith Curry’s credentials and influence would promote such an article. Again, it’s a free world, so Judith is – of course – free to do as she wishes.
Some have suggested that maybe one should at least try to read the article, rather than simply judging it from its title. I tried that. It says
the categorical demand that debate about science or policy is over because the matter is settled
Nonsense. Virtually noone credible is suggesting that the debate over policy is settled. If anything, most are arguing that this is precisely what we should be debating, rather than continually “debating” the scientific evidence, which might not be settled, but is much more settled than many would have you believe.
He continues with
The computer models are still too crude and limited, especially about the crucial question of water vapor “feedbacks” (clouds in ordinary language)
Well, no, water vapour “feedbacks” is not the same as clouds.
He then has the standard “doubt” section, saying
While climate skeptics are denounced for mentioning “uncertainty,” the terms “uncertain” and “uncertainty” appear 173 times, while “error” and “errors” appear 192 times,
Well this just illustrates that Steven Hayward doesn’t understand the difference between scientific uncertainty (more properly called “confidence intervals”) and being uncertain. It also illustrates that he seems to think that uncertainty implies that we should wait to be more certain, rather than considering that this uncertainty could mean that things could be more severe than expected.
The article then says
The basic theory says we’re supposed to continue warming at about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade, but since the late 1990s we’ve stopped.
Nonsense, we haven’t stopped.
So, I did try reading it and, as far as I can tell, not only is the title ludicrous (does anyone really believe that there is a cult of climate change believers) but the article just illustrates that Steven Hayward really doesn’t understand (or doesn’t want to) the scientific evidence associated with climate change/global warming. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a ridiculous article, with a ridiculous title, written by someone who has a ridiculously poor understanding of climate science (and that’s a generous interpretation).
Here’s what I’d be interested in reading : an article that can make a Conservative climate policy argument without mis-representing/undermining the current scientific evidence. I don’t think I’ve seen a good example of such an article yet, and I’m not convinced that it is actually possible. I’m more than happy to be proven wrong though.