Policy: politicians write it but scientists incite it

policy document

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.

Views: 171

21 Thoughts on “Policy: politicians write it but scientists incite it

  1. Simon on 25/04/2013 at 7:52 am said:

    BS. The relatively recent trend of activism by individual scientists is solely because of the way their work is being misrepresented and their concern over the changing environment.
    I really do recommend that you watch http://thiniceclimate.org/ for a scientist’s viewpoint.

    • David on 25/04/2013 at 9:05 am said:

      Your disconnect with reality is quite startling and you are clutching for straws claiming scientists are becoming activists because their work is being misrepresented. More like, its because their work is being discredited and they have nowhere else to go! I suspect you think this because you fail to acknowledge or read any information which is published in forums which are not part of Skeptical Science, Desmogblog, Hot Topic etc. You believe everything that is told to you by them. The irony is because of that you suffer from the Group Think you have accused others of.
      Many Newspapers and Governments have now woken up to the farce that is DAGW and are turning away from it in droves. The activists like Renwick and Hansen are moving out (or being pushed out) and you and your ilk are the last bastion standing. I’m sure we will shortly see a Hitler’s Downfall parody just for you guys.
      Do yourself a favour. Get past the grief and denial that you were all wrong and try to widen your sources. You may see that the practice of science is in good health. Otherwise you will end up as bitter as people like Ken, Gareth , Rob and co.

    • Simon on 25/04/2013 at 9:28 am said:

      The “World Climate Widget” to the right of the screen does not seem consistent with your version of reality, Maybe it’s wrong too.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 10:21 am said:

      Which part’s wrong: the rising CO2? the temperature standstill graph? or the temperature anomaly stuck on 0.18 C ?

    • Simon on 25/04/2013 at 1:48 pm said:

      An unbiased observer would say that both measures are trending upwards. Correlation does not always imply causation but all climate scientists are saying that in this case it does.
      CO2 is a greenhouse gas, to deny that is just plain wrong.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 2:10 pm said:

      >”An unbiased observer would say that both measures are trending upwards.”

      An unbiased observer would note that there is no correlation between the two measures: one (CO2) trending upwards, the other (UAH temperature) WAS trending upwards but now trending flat:-

      UAH 1979 – 2002 Trend: 0.104 ±0.137 °C/decade (2σ)

      UAH 2002 – 2013 Trend: 0.009 ±0.336 °C/decade (2σ)

      An unbiased observer would also note that there are other series to consider e.g.

      RSS 2002 – 2013 Trend: -0.084 ±0.343 °C/decade (2σ)

      HadCRUt4 2002 – 2013 Trend: -0.050 ±0.189 °C/decade (2σ)

      GISTEMP 2002 – 2013 Trend: -0.025 ±0.212 °C/decade (2σ)

      Also trending flat and in no way correlating with the CO2 rise.

      >”Correlation does not always imply causation but all climate scientists are saying that in this case it does. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, to deny that is just plain wrong.”

      Problem though, as evidenced by the latest temperature trends above, is that the climate scientists are the ones who are wrong Simon.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 2:52 pm said:

      An unbiased observer would also look at trend methods with better R2 values than linear regression e.g.

      Moving average:-


      And a 30 year trend analysis HadCRUt4, linear vs polynomial:-


      An unbiased observer would also note that the linear trend 1998 – 2012 (-0.98 C/century) for 440 GTs of human CO2 emissions was less than 1983 – 1997 (+1.44 C/century) for 331 GTs of human CO2 emissions:-


      That would surely confirm for the unbiased observer that human CO2 emissions have no effect on global temperature, would it not?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 3:21 pm said:

      I note too that the 30 yr linear trend in HadCRUt4 approximates the 2011 trajectory of Foster and Rahmstorf (2011), Figure 1: Annual averages of the adjusted data – the global warming signal:-


      Unfortunately, with the addition of data to February 2013 and the application of the superior trend (by R-squared values), Foster and Rahmstorf’s trajectory – “the global warming signal” – has turned out to be bogus for the activism-based scientists (well Rahmstorf anyway).

      Already from 2011 to February 2013, they’ve overshot by about 0.14 C.

    • Huub Bakker on 25/04/2013 at 11:43 am said:

      Not so recent at all Simon. It was in ca 1980 that James Hansen gave his famous talk to Congressmen on global warming. He picked the day of the year with the warmest average temperature and snuck into the building the night before to disable the air conditioning. (I don’t think that they had to lock the windows closed as that is the general case in air conditioned buildings.)

      This is not the work of a scientist but the work of an activist.

      The formation of the IPCC shortly thereafter, with terms of reference that denied them the right to question that humans were causing global warming, meant that it was a political organisation, not a scientific one. And yet “thousands” of scientists work for it.

      I’m sorry Simon but history does not bear out your assertion.

  2. flipper on 25/04/2013 at 8:21 am said:

    Richard T…
    You are absolutely correct. Politicians have been sucked in by avaricious boffins.
    But the fight now is not about the science (which will always be debated!), but about politics.

    In the following, sent to me last week by Rupert Wyndham, he sits UK Parliamentarians down and lectures them in no un certain terms. 🙂

    Enjoy. It is Rupert at his eloquent best;

    Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee

    Climate: Public Understanding and Policy Implications

    [Yes, very good, flipper, thanks. But this is too long for a comment. I will promote it (it needs html formatting) and move the comments shortly. – RT]

    7. Postscript
    Anthropogenic Global Warming, speciously morphed to ‘Climate Change’, is not a scientific issue at all. The science is clear. There is no demonstrable causal linkage between carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and global mean temperature. Neither is there any evidence that modest rises in global mean temperature would be anything other than beneficial.

    Rather, because it represents a full frontal assault on the very notion of open and objective debate and evidence led scientific investigation, it constitutes a fundamental ethical issue of unique significance.

    R.C.E. Wyndham 14 April 2013
    Little Killivose, Killivose, Camborne, TR14 9LQ

    Note: 2820 words.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 9:56 am said:

    >”….it’s blindingly obvious that scientists don’t keep their hands off policy”

    Case in point – IPCC AR sequence: WGI > WG2 > WG3 > Summary For Policymakers, without which there would be no policy and the sequence becoming less scientific and more political as the sequence progresses. With a preconceived outcome of course so that any contra-science doesn’t see the light of day at any stage or is summarily dismissed if it cannot be ignored.

    Re Renwick and drought. I saw him in a TV interview being asked about the drought and he went off on a tangent saying we should expect “sea level rise”, among other things, as a consequence of climate change. As if a) drought and sea level rise are interrelated, and b) sea level rise is as abnormal as he tried to portray the drought was.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 11:05 am said:

    Latest alarmist screed from suyts space:-

    Scientific Frauds Project Their Anti-Science And Display Unfathomable Ignorance — Word of the Day — “Empirical”

    Recently, a few blogs have brought attention to an article and graph which I thought I’d expand upon. Real Science being the first place I saw this, but Climate Depot and Junk Science have also briefly covered this. There may be others.

    The article, Denying sea-level rise: How 100 centimeters divided the state of North Carolina is nothing but projection and smear job of skeptics. It was written by anti-science nutjobs Alexander Glass and Orrin Pilkey.


    Tweedle Dumber and Dumber even have a section sub-titled “The Rising Sea of Anti-Intellectualism“, as if they actually knew an intellectual.

    While their screed about science contained no science, they did manage to display their lack of scientific knowledge by posting a graphic.


    I took the liberty of enclosing the word “empirical” with a green box. I will now give the definition of “empirical” and then give an example. Webster defines empirical as this….

    1: originating in or based on observation or experience

    2: relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory

    3: capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment

    4: of or relating to empiricism

    Now, look at the graphic the dolts displayed. Is the curved line with the words “empirical understanding” around it based on observation? Of course not, it’s projecting into the future. Is it relying on experience?


    The estimate of 100cm rise wasn’t based upon observation, it wasn’t based on experience, it wasn’t even based on a reasonable projection. It was based on agenda driven hysterical hyperbole.

    The supposed advocates of science have no idea what the word empirical means. Oh, they do show pictures of troublesome beach front property, like this building built on sand.


    Maybe, they shouldn’t be so skeptical of theological applications towards what we do on earth. My religion instructs me not to be that stupid.

    My deep appreciation to Alexander Glass and Orrin Pilkey for making this post possible and bringing us a demonstration of alarmist understanding of science and scientific terms.



  5. Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 11:14 am said:

    Poor being thrown off Ugandan land for carbon credits

    When you think about the effects of global warming hysteria, you might think of higher electricity prices, not people being thrown off their land and having their homes burned down. But that is exactly what’s been happening in the East African country of Uganda, where a British company called New Forests has been seizing land to grow trees and then sell the so-called “carbon credits” for a profit that could reach nearly $2 million per year. According to reports published in the New York Times and Telegraph of London, New Forests is backed by the World Bank and has been using armed troops, with the government’s permission, to forcibly evict over 20,000 poor people from their homes. This certainly gives terrible new meaning to the concept of Green neo-colonialism.


    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 11:29 am said:

      LONDON, April 24 (Reuters Point Carbon) – The price of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) hit 1 euro cent on Wednesday morning, rendering near worthless U.N.-backed carbon credits that were once valued at more than 20 euros.

  6. David on 25/04/2013 at 3:35 pm said:

    Richard C (NZ)
    You should just forget trying to convince Simon. He’s clutching at straws out of desperation and is now just trolling so you’re wasting your time. He’s too far gone. Witness how he claims we deny CO2 is a greenhouse gas yet no one has said such thing.And he’s not important anyway.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/04/2013 at 5:00 pm said:

      More for lurking eyes than Simon’s David. You’re right about Simon but if the lurkers see our capitulation instead of our case they’ll go away thinking Simon has the better grip whereas we’ve got nothing. Just the reverse of course and worth highlighting for lurker benefit I think.

  7. Andy on 25/04/2013 at 5:18 pm said:

    One example of activist scientist.
    Andrew Weaver, Canadian climate modeler, who has produced copy for Greenpeace web material and is or was standing for the Green Party in Canada during recent elections,

    another, William Connelley, Purveyor of Wikipedia wisdom, Green activist.

    Lots more could be found.

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