Steyn puts Warmists in the Dock
A DISGRACE TO THE PROFESSION: The World’s Scientists – in their own words – on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science, compiled and edited by Mark Steyn, Volume I, Stockade Books, September, 2015 (320 pages, $19.95, Paperback)
The final episode of "Seinfeld" involved a “Good Samaritan” court case that featured witness after witness testifying passionately about the moral misdemeanors perpetrated against them by the show’s protagonists: Elaine, George, Kramer, and Jerry. One segment simulated a TV newscast in which Geraldo’s onsite reporter summarized the testimony. The number of prosecution witnesses, she concluded, “just went on and on and on into the night.” That’s the feeling one gets reading the negative evidence Steyn has amassed in A Disgrace to the Profession, his work about the litigious climatologist and “hockey-stick” inventor, Michael Mann.
Steyn’s book is, in fact, a series of relatively short “testimony” segments by scores of “witnesses” to the shoddy science and shocking intimidation tactics employed by Mann and colleagues. The book also indicts various science publications and organizations for malpractice, especially the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- a bureaucracy headed till his resignation in 2015, following charges of sexual abuse, by Dr. Rajandra Pachauri, formerly “Indian Railways engineer at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi.”
Steyn divides his work into 12 chapters which contain, in total, 120 testimony segments. Almost all focus on damning observations about Mann’s methods, conclusions, and harassment of dissenting scientists -- many of whom are still in the anthropogenic global warming camp. Thus, the book isn’t a broadside against apocalyptic climate change per se but rather a barrage against Michael Mann, the inventor of global warming’s most effective propaganda icon --- the “hockey stick” diagram of global temperature. (Note: The diagrammatic “hockey stick” is lying flat with only the blade projecting upward to represent an unprecedented temperature rise in the last century.)
To obtain this ominous shape that Al Gore and the IPCC seized upon with orgasmic enthusiasm, Mann obliterated two mainstays of traditional climate science: the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. In the opinion of many eminent scientists, this feat was accomplished by employing dubious statistical analysis, by using and even manipulating scanty tree-ring evidence, and by tacking on actual thermometer readings for recent times to tree-ring proxy data that was largely employed to erase significant climate variations in the past. These methodological shenanigans resulted in the apocalyptic headline that summarized the Mann-dominated IPCC report of 2001, namely, that 1998 was “likely” the warmest year in the warmest decade in the warmest century of the past 1,000 years -- a headline gobbled up by lazy and politically-motivated climate journalists.
Probably 5% of Steyn’s extended “brief” against Mann, et al. consists of extended résumés of Mann’s critics -- a procedure designed to show that scholars like MIT’s Richard Lindzen, NASA’s Roy Spencer, and renowned physicist Freeman Dyson are, indeed, expert witnesses and not the scientific JV team. Here’s a sample of those critiques: “The whole hockey-stick episode reminds me of the motto of Orwell’s Ministry of Information” (Dr. William Happer, Physics, Princeton); “The blade of the hockey-stick could not be reproduced using either the same techniques as Mann and Jones or other common statistical techniques” (Dr. David Legates, U. of Delaware, Climatologist); “The behavior of Michael Mann is a disgrace to the profession” (Dr. Henrick Tennekes, former Director of Research at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute); “The work of Mann and his colleagues was initially accepted uncritically, even though it contradicted the results of more than 100 previous studies” (Dr. David Deming, Geophysicist, U. of Oklahoma); “That was a mistake and it made tree-ring people angry” (Dr. Gordon Jacoby, pioneer in dendrochronology); “Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data… Yet that’s exactly what he did” (Dr. Philip Stott, Biogeography, U. of London). The damning critiques go on and on and on in detail. The above comments are only chapter headings, and the individual résumés all include a large number of professional achievements.
Another swath of Steyn’s evidence concerns the University of East Anglia Climate Research emails that were hacked into and published in 2009, resulting in the “Climategate” scandal. These communications give credence to the claim that there is or was a “Big Climate” mafia headed by Michael Mann -- a group as eager to protect its fame and grant-producing turf as Michael Corleone was to defend his crime syndicate. Fortunately, Mann and company “only” employ stigma, blackballing, and control of peer-reviews to achieve their objectives. Two cases in point: In 2014 Dr. Judith Curry, former Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology observed that her “challenge to the [climate change] consensus has precluded any further professional recognition.” She also mentioned that she worries about younger scientists without tenure protection. That same year the 79-year-old distinguished professor Lennart Bengtsson was forced by “enormous group pressure” to resign “for the sake of [his] health and safety” from the advisory board of a think tank that promoted rational skepticism about global warming.
As a closing bonus, Steyn explains the origin of the “97% of all scientists” mantra that Mann and President Obama confidently throw around whenever the “settled science” of climate change is at issue. Short story shorter: 97% comes from a survey conducted for a thesis by a University of Illinois graduate student who, having received 3,146 responses to a two-question online questionnaire sent to 10,257 earth scientists, eventually identified 77 “experts” of which 75 (97%) were found to agree with the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. There’s no word as yet on the identity and views of the other 10,180.
One might ask why Steyn is so hell-bent on exposing Michael Mann rather than broadly addressing the issue of climate change -- and why he structures his book so that it reads like the sequential testimony of a hundred different witnesses, interspersed with witty Steyn asides? The answer is that Steyn, National Review, et al. are being sued for defamation by the aforementioned Dr. Mann. In other words, true to form, Mann is using intimidation to silence critics. Specifically, the legal case concerns a National Review blog post dated July 15, 2012, in which Steyn quotes aerospace engineer Rand Simberg’s negative comments about the Penn State hockey-stick inventor, including the remark that Mann has become “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science.” Steyn proceeds in a mere 147 words to distance himself somewhat from Simberg’s metaphor, to identify Mann as “the man behind the fraudulent ‘hockey-stick’ graph,” and to note that the same college president who “declined to find one of its star names [Paterno] guilty of any wrongdoing” and who was forced to resign over the Sandusky scandal also oversaw the exculpatory investigation of Mann after the “Climategate” emails were made public.
The fact that this speech-suppressing defamation suit in the D.C. courts has been going on for years without media outrage clearly shows that Steyn’s derogatory book title applies to American journalists and courts as much as to the now-greatly-diminished Penn State climatologist.
Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California. Opinion columnist for the North County Times (1996-2012); online reviews: http://spectator.org/people/richard-kirk/all; blog: http://musingwithahammerkirk.blogspot.com/