It’s hard to know if a reader, Simon, was being serious when he said “Scientists don’t set policy either, politicians do that” because it’s blindingly obvious that scientists don’t keep their hands off policy. They constantly agitate because — surprise — they constantly need funding.
That’s the very reason we’re in this climate change mess, because politicians alone couldn’t have done it. A few smart leaders might have come up with the idea of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) justifying deep government interference in our lives, but they had to be assisted by publicly-funded scientists who became heavily involved in supporting policy proposals, even to the point of activism.
At all levels of science and of government, scientists have spent thirty years providing assistance of varying magnitude to politicians; it’s not only cynics who remark that scientists made friends with politicians only to safeguard their funding.
Where the sun don’t shine
Some scientists have moved unrepentantly to where the sun don’t shine — the unlit side of science — recruited to activism. This from “Climate Maverick to Retire From NASA” in The New York Times of April 1st, regarding James Hansen:
“He plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments over their failure to limit emissions, for instance, as well as in fighting the development in Canada of a particularly dirty form of oil extracted from tar sands.”
For an example of a scientific policy activist closer to home, we have Professor James Renwick, among others, such as Jim Salinger. Just a few weeks ago, on March 17 (remember the drought which is already over?), the ever-reliable James Renwick was again quoted in the NZ Herald, this time as saying in this wise:
Farmers need to adapt for a drier future as once-in-a-lifetime events like the North Island drought become closer to the norm, a top climate scientist warns.
James Renwick, Associate Professor of physical geography at Victoria University, said global warming was the only explanation for the current drought, which he described as “an exceptional event”.
“It’s probably the first time in 50 years that it’s been this dry over this much of the country,” he told TVNZ’s Q+A programme today.
So first he claims global warming caused the drought, then says that 50 years ago we had a drought just like it. He expresses no surprise that the earlier drought occurred without the help of human carbon dioxide. But he contradicts himself.
The only explanation? What rot. Global warming didn’t exist 50 years ago, so global warming isn’t the only explanation.
Readers might remember Jim Salinger saying in March that NZ drought records only go back to 1941-42. From about 70 years’ worth of data (which is always of poor quality, because what, precisely, is a drought?) these climate scientists are now trying to tell us what to expect in 50 or 100 years’ time. Baloney. Or, to use Keith Hunter’s colourful term describing my opinion: Bullshit!
Things must change
The Herald article doesn’t mention scientific evidence of anything, it only mentions the scientist. When Renwick the scientist starts talking, he doesn’t cite evidence either — he only mentions policy. Cue strong, authoritative male voice:
“We’ve got time. It’s decades we’re talking about … but things will have to change.”
He’s like a propaganda machine. You won’t catch him making a statement of the form: “this phenomenon was observed, therefore this will happen.” The sort of thing you might expect from a scientist. You hear unrelated statements, connected only in the mind of the listener, who is trying valiantly to join the dots.
Yabbering of the party line
Well, the dots have it, then, and it’s quite dotty, for there’s no reason in what Renwick says; only the yabbering of the party line: Obey the call of the precious planet, or doom shall be upon ye and upon your children! There’s no reason and there’s no evidence — he doesn’t give us any because there is none. In reality, in the world, nothing is happening except what has always happened: chaotic and unpredictable weather.
Renwick last year left NIWA, where he had been a principal climate scientist. An important reason for his move could have been the deeply disturbing slide in the popularity of the climate change “fight” and the increasing likelihood that no dignified retreat from the DAGW hypothesis is any longer possible.
Every scientist who has been a champion of dangerous anthropogenic global warming already faces difficulties in extricating himself with credibility intact; the difficulties will multiply as more and more papers are published reporting “adverse” climate indicators (in fact, they aren’t adverse, they are good news, showing we’re not creating a disaster), criticism of climate models and widespread, increasingly hostile criticism of the IPCC and its behaviour.
The wave of climate surrender
So Renwick’s gone from the fight, and still makes sympathetic noises simply to avoid revealing his change of heart. Safely ensconced at Victoria he can let others take a leading role and just quietly teach (with the occasional foray providing authoritative remarks for the Herald) until the wave of climate surrender reaches inside his ivory tower, whereupon he can gently give in to the inevitable DAGW abandonment, surrounded still by fellow activists and without drama. Or so he fervently hopes.
One wonders what has become of David Wratt. He has not gone from NIWA, but he’s certainly stepped down from public utterances. Gosh, I miss Rodney Hide in the Parliament chivying them with questions.
The propaganda is paramount
Every 50 years is once in a lifetime? Hullo! Anyone in there? That’s hardly accurate when our life expectancy hovers around 80 years for men and women.
If you do the maths, James, about half of us get two per lifetime. On average.
But that’s what you get from any activist — inaccuracy, because the propaganda is paramount.