[Plaintiff]: SOME OF THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
[Defendant]: HUMAN INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY
[Charge]: ATTEMPTED MURDER OF THE PLANET EARTH
Someone today made the claim I’ve heard from time to time that the climate skeptics, of whom I am one, shouldn’t be allowed to get away with picking holes in someone else’s hypothesis without having some hypothesis of their/our own to replace it. Now while on the surface that may sound reasonable, let us look at it another way – by looking at what would happen in our court system if that was the case.
What an interesting court system that would be, that in order to find someone Not Guilty, the defense in a criminal trial was required to prove that someone else – someone specific – perpetrated the crime instead. Of course, we would never consider such a thing, in this our enlightened age. A criminal charge is either found sufficient or insufficient to convict the defendant, solely on the merits of the case against him. Not on his ability to put the blame on someone else.
Though it is the defendant whose liberty is at stake, when a trial is held, it is the prosecution’s case that is really being judged. Many a case never even goes to court, even when the prosecutor is certain that his suspect has perpetrated the crime, because the prosecutors recognize that they do not have sufficient evidence to convict. After all, in our system, if a defendant is found not guilty once, he may never be tried for that crime again. Double jeopardy. The prosecution gets only one shot, once it goes into the criminal courts. So, rather than fail to convict, the prosecutor holds back, presumably hoping that more evidence will show up that will allow a successful conviction later on.
The defendant does not have to prove his innocence, and if found not guilty in the current fair trial, he is set free. “Not guilty” means that the CASE against him was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, not that he was necessarily innocent. It is not incumbent upon him to prove anything – only to create a reasonable enough doubt in the minds of the jury.
As taxpayers and as citizens, we are the jury regarding the facts presented, when our tax moneys are used to study a phenomenon. As the jury, we are not required to derive solutions that others are – in our estimation – inadequately assessing. Neither is this required of the defense counsel. If called upon, we are only asked to assess and judge. And what we the jury judge is not the defendant, but the case against him, and the case is limited to what has been presented in court. It is the business of the prosecutor to present a strong case to convict, and it is the defense’s business to create a reasonable doubt. The jury judges the evidence that makes up the case for each side.
The defendant in the case of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is human activity, specifically human technological activity, with a particular emphasis on that part called “human industry.” It used to be called “progress.” But “progress” has a positive ring to it, so the human activity labeled “industry” is in the docket, not progress. Representing “The People”, are environmentalists, some of whom have garnered a virtual monopoly on a certain branch of science, climatology. Like any prosecutors, the environmentalists are convinced of the sufficiency of their case. It is, of course, their job to be convinced – otherwise they would not be up to the task. It is also obvious that in a courtroom if prosecutors themselves were allowed to be the jury, well, that would be a kangaroo court, wouldn’t it? And no defendant would ever get off. The prosecutors are not – and should not be allowed to be – the jury. No one would disagree with that.
If that were the case, we would end up only having Grand Juries. In a Grand Jury, only the basics of the case made by the prosecutor (enough to get an indictment issued) is allowed a voice. There is no defense of any sort permitted in a Grand Jury trial.
DOESN’T THE DEFENDANT GET TO FACE HIS ACCUSER AND CHALLENGE THE EVIDENCE?
Thankfully, there are those who want to hear “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” This we take for granted. Yet this has not been done for the case of AGW. In public courtroom trials, there are citizens who accept the word of the prosecutors, no matter what. After hearing the prosecutor’s side of the case, they are all for convicting at that point, even before hearing the case presented by the defendant, his case challenging the prosecution’s version of “the truth.” Those who in the mid-1990s followed the O.J. Simpson trial may recall that at the end of the prosecution’s case, there was a hue and a cry to put Mr. Simpson away right then and there. This was the case, even though not one minute had been spent on the defense’s case. Only after both sides have presented their cases does it become the jury’s business to decide if the prosecution’s case has withstood the challenges of the defense.
We who are skeptical about global warming simply assert that the climate scientists as prosecutors have made a case, but that the case is not strong enough, and we assert the right to challenge their evidence and to have the other the other side of the story heard. We assert that, after listening to both sides’ cases, there will be sufficient reasonable doubt. But when some of us (Steve McIntyre, e.g.) tried to use “discovery” to be able to look at the evidence for ourselves, the prosecution (CRU, and now Michael Mann) has stonewalled, asserting that discovery isn’t allowed for the defendant yet the prosecution somehow still asserts that the trial (of humans and their economic activity) should continue anyway, even with some of the evidence not being presented.
If the prosecution (CRU, in this instance) is allowed to see the evidence, don’t you believe the defense should also be so entitled? I assure you that Steve McIntyre had the wherewithal to assess the evidence. When he did do so, in (<i>McIntyre & McKittrick 2003</i>), he found out that the prosecutor named Michael Mann had inexpertly mishandled the evidence, coming up with a non-supportable assessment. In fact, McIntyre found that Mann’s “black box” statistics method (Mann is still yet to provide his evidence, and he is fighting such revelations in a real court) would produce the same kind of result (the infamous ‘hockey stick’ shape), no matter what kind of facts were put into it, even random data. So, at least some of the evidence has been shown to be flawed. That much is known. Still, all the evidence available via discovery has not been handed over yet. That was the specific issue (FOIA) in many of the Climategate emails of 2009, the issue that made the two sides very antipathetic to each other.
Coming back to it, should the defense HAVE TO come up with our own case, our own hypotheses? We do have them, and have the people to deliver a more full hypothesis, but our people would need to have access to ALL the facts (i.e., data and methodologies) so as to know how to challenge the evidence. After all, the prosecutors did not themselves collect the data in the field. Others did. And the others provided that data to the prosecutors, but the prosecutors do not choose to let anyone else see the data or the methods. Some might say that, yes, the data was made available to the BEST authors, whose results were publicized to great fanfare a few months ago. That was not really true, though. Some data was provided, but it was data that had been already adjusted. Therefore, all BEST did was to do statisitcs on the adjusted data, so it made perfect sense that the BEST results were nearly identical to the previous work, the work done by the prosecutor/scientists at CRU, GISS and NOAA. It is precisely the adjustments and the selection of data that is being challenged by the defense/skeptics. We skeptics, thus, would come up with our counter-theory(ies), except the prosecution is not turning over all the evidence they have. therefore, we do not have ebough information with which to work, in order to challenge the work of the prosecutors/scientists.
Human activities have been indicted, and we want to have a fair trial, and that means we get to challenge the evidence. Isn’t that the way it is in any civilized nation, the way it is in any civilized courtroom?
I fail to see why supporters of the global warming argument mock us with ad hominem name calling (deniers” being the most egregious). What about our case do they not get? The activity of humans deserves to have a fair trial. And that means hearing both sides of the case. We all know that in the 1988-1990 period, when the “consensus” about global warming was first being claimed, there was no fair trial. The prosecutors acted as judge, jury, and executioner. We did not hear any debate about the other side of the issue. Everyone was told, “There IS no other side. All the opposition is manufactured by the oil industry, and we can’t trust any of it. Our case is the only one worth listening to, and everyone should just ignore them.” Anyone reading this knows this is true: No debate has ever been held on this. The prosecutor’s side ran around screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and everyone has been expected to accept it without debate. The skeptics simply want to have their work replicated by someone outside the prosecutor’s office.
DO YOU MEAN THE ACCUSED GETS REPRESENTATION?
It is a sad thing that for a long time there WAS no debate. Finally, when some people said, “Wait a minute! Are you sure?” The prosecutors said, “No fair! We already concluded this! Go home and shut up! Move along! There is nothing to see here!”
IT ISN’T OVER TILL THE FAT LADY SINGS
For some, the moment that began the defense of human activity was when Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” graph was presented, ten times as big as a lottery winner’s check. Here is the IPCC version of it:
That is one of my own clear moments where I asked, incredulously, “WTF is going on here?” That was because I knew from school that there had been two extreme periods in the last 1,200 years. One, the Medieval Warm Period (about 900 AD to about 1350 AD), was extremely warm. The other, the Little Ice Age (about 1400 AD to about 1800 AD), was extremely cool. And neither one of them showed up on this anointed graph of Michael Mann’s. I myself also vehemently disagreed with the amount of the cooling and warming; I still do not believe that such small quantitative differences can produce such great extremes. For example, the Vikings farmed in Greenland, when it was only 0.7C or so warmer than in 1900? I find that impossible. I believe someone has screwed up. I do have my very clear reasons, but this is for another discussion.
The IPCC’s first graph, with the WMP and the LIA
I though, “Surely, someone will notice that oversight – the missing MWP and missing LIA – and point out the error of Mann’s ways. Every meteorologist and climatologist in the world knows that those periods existed, so Mann must have screwed up. Right? Yeah, they will catch it.” Wrong. Instead of calling him out on it, everyone acted as if the MWP and the LIA had simply never existed. It was as if Micheal Mann had time traveled to 850 AD and killed the grandfather of the MWP and the LIA, meaning that they were never born.
That was in 1998, and my skepticism pretty much dates from that time. I began looking to see what kind of studies had been done. I especially wanted to see what papers had proven that climate variability or climate were not the cause. Other causes I was interested in, too – such as sunspot cycles, changes in the output of the Sun. I wondered isf any of those might have been positively ruled out. I write this in very early 2012, and still have not found anthing but assertions. I’ve found no empirical studies that eliminate the other likely suspects.
I’ve since learned that basically there were two conferences in Switzerland in the 1980s, at which basically no one except environmentalists were invited. The consensus among those enivronmentalists was that human indsustrial activity was putting more CO2 into the atmosphere, in line with Arrhenius’ late 19th century speculation. In the 1970s we had been in the depths of the coldest period since the Little Ice Age, bringing some to wonder if we were going into a new Ice Age. One of the organizations sounding the alarm about the coming Ice Age was no other than the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the UK. Snce the 1980s, CRU has been at the forefront of exactly the opposite – telling all the world that a crime is being committed – the indiscriminate release of massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, causing the climate to warm. Coming less than ten years after that cold spell, it didn’t occur to anyone among them to ask if it might be NORMAL for the world to warm up after an extended cold spell. Instead they started making the case against human activity, and then began telling the world that such activities were going to destroy the world, if severe sanctions were not imposed.
From about 1988 until Mann’s paper in 1998, there were few people who didn’t hear the alarm, and few who asked, “Is it true?” Mann’s hockey stick seemed to galvanize the people who did ask that question, and the beginnings of what are called climate skeptic blogs began to appear in the early 2000s. The skeptics in essence became activists resisting the claim that human industrial activity was causing the climate to warm to dangerous levels. The prosecutors – the environmentalist climate scientists – expressed a great deal of vitriol at the newcomers who disagreed with them. Since the prosecutors had had their way for over ten years, at least a bit of hubris had set in, and it manifested in accusations leveled against the “skeptics” that they were paid shills for the oil industry. Though no evidence has ever pbeen produced, over a decade later, the same charges continue to be made.
Prosecutors and defense council are never expected to be pals. There is no reason that this case should be any different. The climate scientists/prosecutors are not happy that their pronouncements of guilt are being challenged. That is to be expected. The defense/skeptics continue to point out the flaws in the prosecution’s case. The ongoing case is still to be decided. Of course, the real proof will be in what the climate does over the next several decades. HOwever, with the prosecution asking the public to fund remedial actions that will, if enacted, seriously affect the economic activity of the nations of the world, the case can’t go on for decades. They are asking for us to reach for our wallets now, to not wait to see what the evidence shows over the long term. They assert that “we can’t wait any longer, we need to punish the perpetrators now.”
So, the defense’s approach was a holding action, while pecking away at the prosecution’s case. All the while the prosecution has pushed for a summary judgement. It appeared that they would succeed, but just before a critical juncture, some evidence was leaked implicating the prosecution scientists in a conspiracy to hide exculpatory evidence. This caused a firestorm of support for the defense and was extremely injurious to the prosecution’s case.
As of this time, the case is still open, and the jury is still out. But at least now the defense has begun to be heard, and the prosecution lost its mojo and the almost absolute monopoly on informing the public of the merits of the case.
Nothing is certain right now as to the eventual outcome of the case, because it is not known yet how permanent the damage to the prosecution’s case has been. A second batch of pertinent evidence has come out in the last two months, and it all seems to confirm the conspiracy to hide pertinent facts from the court.
The case seems now destined to go on for a long time. The defendant is still free on its own recognizance. More to come in this long and complicated case. The fat lady has not sung yet.