I’m constantly amazed by what some seem to think is good or interesting. The latest seems to be an article by a Professor or Economics and an Independent Scholar called causes and conequences of the climate science boom. Both Judith Curry and Andrew Montford think it’s spot on; I think it’s largely a bunch of evidence-free assertions.
Even the very first few lines are pretty dire. It starts with
Scientific disciplines, like economies, can and do experience booms and busts. We document a boom in climate science, sustained by massive levels of funding by government entities, whose scientific direction is set by an extra-scientific organization, the IPCC, which has emerged as a “big player” in the scientific arena, championing the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the boom and bust analogy. Clearly governments do set overall research funding priorities, and clearly some areas may go out of favour, while others become more popular. The latter is, however, often because of our understanding evolving and it becoming harder and harder to continue justifying funding an area that is becoming well understood and, therefore, becoming easier to justify funding something new and exciting. However, to state that the scientific direction of climate science is set by the IPCC just seems completely unjustified. It’s certainly not their formal remit. Its remit – as I understand it – is to synthesize our understanding of climate science, which appears consistent with what is claimed on their website
It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
You’d think such a strong claim would need some kind of actual evidence. Also, what does championing the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming actually mean?
The article then spends some time discussing the whole consensus issue, saying
While a large majority of climate scientists are reported as being in general agreement with the AGW hypothesis and with the IPCC’s pronouncements, the accuracy and extent of this consensus has been questioned. But, despite the objections to vaguely worded questionnaires, selectivity in sampling, subjectivity in the analysis of paper abstracts, and disputes as to who actually qualifies as a “climate scientist”, the results of several surveys are consistent in depicting an overwhelming acceptance, by scientists associated in some way with climate science, of the IPCC line. The oft-quoted 97% number may be unrealistic and unsupportable, but the general acceptance by the majority of scientists having any connection to climate science seems real enough. This herding is a predictable result of the IPCC’s Big Player presence.
The references  and  include Poptech, someone’s written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee, and Andrew Montford’s blog. So, to summarise the above paragraph: there are various studies that show a strong consensus; these studies have been rebutted by bloggers (corrected from original : boggers – which may, actually, have been quite appropriate 🙂 ); these results are, however, probably about right (so the bloggers are wrong?) but this indicates the herding influence of the IPCC? Or – as seems more likely – these studies illustrate the level of agreement in the literature, and amongst scientists, that exists because of the overwhelming evidence that supports this position, and that the authors of this article don’t know what they’re talking about.
Maybe the most egregious comment in the article was the one below
The understandable concern that if in fact the climate is warming significantly as a result of human action there might be adverse effects that may be possible to mitigate through concerted action. Although this concern rests on three assumptions that are far from certain (that human activity is having a measurable effect on the global climate, that the climate is warming at a rate that will make adaptation difficult and costly for some, and that the effects of warming will be a net negative), it is widely held, and it finds powerful (if usually unarticulated) support in the ideological bent which sees humanity as the despoiler of nature.
So, that human activity is having a measureable effect on the global climate is far from certain? Really? It might not be absolutely, completely, irrevocably certain, but it’s a good deal more certain than far from. Given that we are currently changing our climate at a rate that is probably 5-10 times faster than at any time in human history, it would be remarkable if adaptation was easy and cheap. Finally, even if there are some positive warming effects, most impact studies suggest that the negatives outweigh the positives; especially under moderately high future emission pathways.
So, when I see articles such as this being promoted as spot on, it’s hard not to conclude that it’s simply because it bashes the IPCC and insults climate scientists because they’re – supposedly – suffering from some kind of herd mentality. It’s hard to conclude that those promoting it have read it and given it any critical thought, since doing so should make it obvious that it’s largely evidence-free nonsense written by people who appear to have little understanding of this topic or of science in general. We’re all being encouraged to not use terms like “climate science denier” or to suggest that climate “skeptics” are prone to conspiracy ideation. Reading articles like this makes me think that this is more because the truth hurts than because it wouldn’t be reasonable to do so.