Garth Paltridge: Global Warming ‘Pause’ Risks Destroying The Reputation Of Science

  • Date: 26/01/14
  • Garth Paltridge, Quadrant Online

Temperatures have not risen for 17 years. The pause now threatens to expose how much scientists sold their souls for cash and fame, warns emeritus professor Garth Paltridge, former chief research scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research:

…there has been no significant warming over the most recent fifteen or so years…

In the light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem … in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour…

The trap was set in the late 1970s or thereabouts when the environmental movement first realised that doing something about global warming would play to quite a number of its social agendas. At much the same time, it became accepted wisdom around the corridors of power that government-funded scientists (that is, most scientists) should be required to obtain a goodly fraction of their funds and salaries from external sources—external anyway to their own particular organisation.

The scientists in environmental research laboratories, since they are not normally linked to any particular private industry, were forced to seek funds from other government departments. In turn this forced them to accept the need for advocacy and for the manipulation of public opinion. For that sort of activity, an arm’s-length association with the environmental movement would be a union made in heaven…

The trap was partially sprung in climate research when a number of the relevant scientists began to enjoy the advocacy business. The enjoyment was based on a considerable increase in funding and employment opportunity. The increase was not so much on the hard-science side of things but rather in the emerging fringe institutes and organisations devoted, at least in part, to selling the message of climatic doom. A new and rewarding research lifestyle emerged which involved the giving of advice to all types and levels of government, the broadcasting of unchallengeable opinion to the general public, and easy justification for attendance at international conferences—this last in some luxury by normal scientific experience, and at a frequency previously unheard of…

The trap was fully sprung when many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the …  Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC. The reports were touted as national assessments that were supposedly independent of the IPCC and of each other, but of necessity were compiled with the assistance of, and in some cases at the behest of, many of the scientists involved in the IPCC international machinations. In effect, the academies, which are the most prestigious of the institutions of science, formally nailed their colours to the mast of the politically correct.

Since that time three or four years ago, there has been no comfortable way for the scientific community to raise the spectre of serious uncertainty about the forecasts of climatic disaster… It can no longer escape prime responsibility if it should turn out in the end that doing something in the name of mitigation of global warming is the costliest scientific mistake ever visited on humanity.

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