04 December 2009

Your Politics Are Showing

In early 2005, almost five years ago, I began criticizing the scientists at RealClimate, including Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann, for hiding a political agenda in the cloth of science. In The Honest Broker I call this behavior "stealth issue advocacy" and it is among the most insidious and certain ways for science to become pathologically politicized . To be clear, I have no problem with scientists being open advocates, with NASA's Jim Hansen as perhaps the most visible example -- through such advocacy is how democracies work. But when scientists claim to be representing the scientific establishment while at the same time are pursuing a political agenda, it hurts the credibility and trust given to scientists.

At the time I wrote:
. . . opponents to action on climate change have already taken a big step toward winning the political debate when advocates of action take the bait on uncertainty. By raising uncertainty as a red herring advocates for action spend considerable time and effort trying to disprove allegations of uncertainty as the centerpiece of their efforts, but no matter how this sideshow winds up, it will do little to change the underlying political outcome, as the opponents can just switch their justification to something else while maintaining their political commitment to opposition. This is an exceedingly difficult line of argument for environmentalists and scientists to accept because the former have hitched their agenda to science and the latter’s claims to authority lie in science.

The experiences of a new weblog run by a group of climate scientists, RealClimate, provide a great example of this dynamic. The site claims to be

“restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.”
This is a noble but futile ambition. The site’s focus has been exclusively on attacking those who invoke science as the basis for their opposition to action on climate change, folks such as George Will, Senator James Inhofe, Michael Crichton, McIntyre and McKitrick, Fox News, and Myron Ebell. Whether intended or not, the site has clearly aligned itself squarely with one political position on climate change. And by trumpeting certainty and consensus, and attacking claims to the contrary, it has fallen squarely into the uncertainty trap.

So if opponents to action on climate change want to distract the attention of some prominent climate scientists, they need simply write the occasional opinion article or give a speech in which they invoke uncertainty about climate change. Meantime, business as usual pretty much gets a free pass.

It would be wonderful if opponents to action on climate change would stop hiding behind science. But the efforts of those scientists who take them on the basis of science are what allow then to hide in plain sight. The way out of this situation is not to engage in endless debate about climate science, but to question whether science is in fact the right battleground for this political conflict.

RealClimate's Gavin Schmidt responded to these comments and he strongly eschewed that they were pursuing any sort of political agenda:

Let me make one more thing clear: we are not taking a political stand on this. That someone else decides to support their political point by using bogus science is not our fault. If we correct their errors it is because we don’t want to see bogus science used at all. It does not necessarily imply that we are taking a stand against their political premise.

Of course the science is not the right battleground for political issues. Those who want to push forward the policies would be well advised to say this as often as they can.
Thus, it was with some interest that I received an email today announcing a press conference by Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann, organized with the Center for American Progress. Here is the announcement for the call (emphasis at the end is added):
PRESS CALL TOMORROW: Climate Science - Setting the Record Straight

*Michael Mann*, A Leading Climate Scientist and Professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University Whose Hacked Personal Emails Have Recently Become the Source of Media Attention Will Be Joined By NASA Climate Scientist *Dr. Gavin Schmidt*, Princeton's *Dr. Michael Oppenheimer*, and CAP Senior Fellow *Dr. Joseph Romm* to Discuss the Overwhelming Scientific Understanding of the Danger Posed by Unmitigated Global Warming Pollution, and That the Stolen Emails Reveal Nothing That Changes Our Extensive Understanding of Climate Science, Tomorrow, *Friday December 4 at 11:00 AM EST.*

Leaders from 190 nations are meeting in Copenhagen next week because they understand the science behind climate change is real, and that the evidence is growing stronger that each day we delay to address the problem increases the danger to our planet and our economy. Against this backdrop, opponents of action --who have been ignoring the unequivocal scientific evidence and misrepresenting the facts for decades-- are now exaggerating and distorting a batch of stolen emails from prominent climate scientists in a further effort to block action. Opponents of cleaner energy have, since the 1970s, systematically attacked and politicized sound science in an attempt to widen the partisan divide and mislead the public. The global consensus on climate change science has been reached by through decades of work by thousands of independent scientists from different institutions in nations around the world. Now more than ever it is critical for Americans to understand that the scientific evidence that climate change poses a very real threat to our health, economy, and planet has never been clearer. Tomorrow Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and author of part of the IPCC third assessment report, along with IPCC participant Dr. Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton, and Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA, will discuss the mounting scientific evidence since the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report, and why it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis.
I think we can get past the lie -- and it was a lie -- that these activist scientists, in the words of Gavin Schmidt, "are not taking a political stand." They are indeed taking a political stand and they are doing so in stealth fashion using the authority and institutions of science as cover to do so. As the leaked CRU emails show, this group of activist scientists are firmly entrenched in the major institutions of climate science, such as the IPCC.

The upshot of this stealth issue advocacy is to rot these institutions of science from the inside. Consider that in a Rassmussen poll released yesterday, 59% of respondents thought it somewhat or very likely that scientists have falsified their research data in support of their views on global warming. This is a very strong sign that the climate science community has lost a lot of credibility. Today's press conference will only reinforce the perception that these scientists are using science as cover for their political views. The American public may not understand the details of climate science, but they know politics when they see it.

Judy Curry was speaking of the IPCC, but I think that her comments go for any major institution of climate science:
These guys should pick people who don't want to be advocates and will shut their mouths about advocating for policies. Otherwise, we don't look credible.
For individual scientists, being an advocate is fine so long as that advocacy is open and not hidden behind science. But climate science is chock full of advocates. What it needs are more honest brokers and fewer stealth issue advocates.


  1. Oh! A press conference with The Center for American Progress! Oh dear. This ought to be a real Lou Lou!

    Let‘s see, The Center for American Progress is all about social engineering and redistribution of income. The Center for American Progress is an advocate for the underlying agenda of Climate Change.

    Ok, then Wylie Coyote is going to speak on behalf of Acme Products.

  2. The Rasmussen poll is very important, as most politicians see polls as one of their main guidances.

  3. Completely baseless accusations. Absolutely outrageous. Which is just what you want.

    Just when it seems like you might have a reasonable side (unlike most skeptics), and hence be worth engaging in productive dialogue, you put up something like this that shows your very strong, and very personal, and very much unresolved, animosities. This is almost certainly why people who care about the truth of the science don't engage much with you.

  4. -3-Jim

    Now that you've vented, do you care to explain your objections in any detail?

  5. Vented? What do you call your piece Roger, other than prolonged venting? Hint: "Diatribe" would be in order.

    And what detail is there to explain? You've simply levied a baseless charge that Mike Mann and Gavin Schmidt are "politicizing" science. No details, no evidence, no proof, no nothing. Whatsoever.

    You want details, you start with 'em.

  6. This kind of hidden mixture between science and politics leads to that:


  7. -5-Jim

    On the politicizing of science, the evidence is abundantly clear, they are. That in itself,a s I argue in THB, is not necessarily a bad thing. We want science to be politicized (as in used in our democratic deliberations).

    What we don't want is a pathological politicization, e.g., that damages the trust or credibility of scientific institutions.

    So if you want to argue with me, the fact that these guys are politicizing science is not your best route, they are, it is obvious. The question that is worth debating is whether there actions are pathological for institutions of science. I have argued for years (and in a book, which I assume you have not read) that stealth issue advocacy damages science.

    If you want to defend their politicization, be my guest.

  8. Excellent blog, Roger.

    What exactly is The Center for American Progress and more importantly, who funds it ?

    In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to three million dollars.... Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler.


    Soros is (reputedly) the highest paid hedge fund manager on Wall Street and the man who's currency speculation did enormous damage to the Russian, British, and Australian economies and a few countries in South East Asia.

    BBC News | The man who broke the Bank of England

    His name hasd been associated with Hansen and Realclimate before.

    He has been behind a number of the neocon uprisings in Europe, especially the colour coded ones, including Ukraine, Georgia and Yugoslavia. He makes James Bond look like a desk clerk.

    Soros and his fellow global warming advocate, Jeffrey Sachs were also principally responsible for the destruction of the Russian economy and its transfer to seven crimional oligarchs. Along with destitution and suffering for tens of millions of people.

    He is the hand behind a lot of progressive organisations like Moveon.org and Human Rights Watch. He also funds Amnesty.

    As it happens, I share almost all his sprogressive, social views, but the reality is that he represents international capital and is living proof that they control both sides of the political divide.

    Like the corporation that owns both teams in the Superbowl, they can't lose.

  9. Hear hear. (Or, for younger readers, Word.)

    One minor quibble: if Hansen and Schmidt want to be political advocates, they should get the hell out of NASA, seeing as it's at least technically illegal.

  10. -8-chasrmartin

    Actually, NASA's guidelines allow their scientists to engage in advocacy as related to their position so long as they don't use US gov't resources to do so and so long as they make clear that they are speaking in a personal capacity. NOAA has a different set of guidelines.

    I am all for allowing scientists freedom to express their views. After some rough patches, Hansen has now gotten this about right.

  11. Roger:
    Do you know if there is a link between Romm's group and Fenton Communications?

  12. @ezric44

    too easy to accuse capital. I think that another possible source of politicisation is that one opinion in this debate, namely "global warming is man made" creates a justification for extending poltical power and state intervention" whereas the opposite opinion reduces the need for this intervention.

    State sponsored research on an issue with a lot of political consequence can easily become state controlled propaganda

  13. "On the politicizing of science, the evidence is abundantly clear, they are. That in itself, as I argue in THB, is not necessarily a bad thing. We want science to be politicized (as in used in our democratic deliberations).

    What we don't want is a pathological politicization, e.g., that damages the trust or credibility of scientific institutions.

    So if you want to argue with me, the fact that these guys are politicizing science is not your best route, they are, it is obvious...If you want to defend their politicization, be my guest.

    You're serious aren't you? Unbelievable.

    First, you put up a baseless accusation about "politicization" by Mann and Schmidt (whatever def you have of that in your mind--not clear). Then when I call you on the need for evidence instead of assertions, you respond by simply reasserting???? And add to it that this "is not necessarily a bad thing"???? THEN WHY DID YOU CALL THEM OUT FOR DOING IT IF IT'S NOT SUCH A BAD THING.

    And I have no desire to "argue" with you on anything. You want to have productive discussions, then fine, I'm game, time allowing. Arguments based on who can assert the strongest, no thanks.

    Exceedingly poor. Exceedingly.

  14. RealClimate Epitaph: Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.

    I fear for their careers. They fear for their careers. Their enemies will attempt to destroy their careers. Their friends will end their careers.

  15. -13-Jim

    I define the politicization of science to be the use of the systematic pursuit of knowledge in the process of bargaining, negotiating and compromising in pursuit of desired ends.

    What is your definition?

    By my definition politicizing science has occurred here. Do you have a different view?

    I go further and argue that these guys are engaged in stealth issue advocacy, which I define as representing oneself as being interested only in science or truth, ut really having an agenda focused on reducing the scope of political choice to some desired end. And I have argued that this also is going on here.

    Stealth issue advocacy is problematic because it turns debates about science into proxy debates about politics.

    Finally, in my corner of academia "arguments" are about making cases based on logic and evidence, and are often how we engage in productive discussion. So please, no need to shout, I can hear you just fine ;-)

  16. Can you imagine what would happen if a real journalist showed up to ask real questions of Mann and Schmidt? We could even call it Realjournalism. I wonder if the other "journalists" would assault him.

    Imagine if Revkin showed up and asked a legitimate, tough series of questions. How many heads would explode?

  17. Levy

    There will be little or no state intervention. Emissions trading was established (at the request of Enron) in article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol. London and Wall Street will run this show. The state will act as their proxy by setting emission targets. The modern American state consists of corporate fronts like Summers, Paulson, Geithner and a legion of others, anyway.

    Carbon trading could be worth twice that of oil in next decade

    The carbon market could become double the size of the vast oil market, according to the new breed of City players who trade greenhouse gas emissions through the EU's emissions trading scheme.

    The ETS market may see $3tn (£1.8tn) worth of transactions a year in the next decade or two, according to Andrew Ager, head of emissions trading at Bache Commodities in London, with it even being used as a hedge against falling equities or rising inflation. "It is still a relatively new industry with annual trades of around €300bn every year. But this could grow to around $3tn compared to the $1.5tn market there is for oil," says Ager, who used to be a foreign currencies trader.

    The speed of that growth will depend on whether the Copenhagen summit gives a go-ahead for a low-carbon economy, but Ager says whatever happens schemes such as the ETS will expand around the globe.


  18. It appears Mann is attempting to preempt the reported investigations at Penn State and at the University of East Anglia (UEA), and I hope he'll take questions.
    One question that I would pose: Why did the UEA last November 24 publish the reconstruction data of Mann, Briffa and Jones which show no positive temperature anomalies? See: http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/nov/CRUupdate

  19. Malcolm:

    All Schemes unravel. The “unravel” is the messy part.

    The Scheme was going to benefit group X. The unraveling of the Scheme is to the detriment of group X. Generally the benefit upside is equal to the detrimental downside.

    ClimateGate has been lent WaterGate’s name. Why? Watergate unraveled slowly. In Watergate the group X participants saw their perceived benefit become a perceived detriment. They wanted to hold onto their perceived benefit. The longer group X attempts to hold on, the longer and more messy becomes the unravel.

  20. Roger,
    George Soros doesn’t agree with you that the politicization of science is a bad thing.
    Science is seen by Soros and some others in positions of power as just one more tool to adjust the society.

    From page 143 of the 2006 Soros Foundation Network report.

    “The Strategic Opportunities Fund includes grants related to Hurricane Katrina ($1,652,841); media policy ($1,060,000);
    and politicization of science ($720,000).”

  21. "The Center for American Progress is all about social engineering and redistribution of income. "The Center for American Progress is an advocate for the underlying agenda of Climate Change."

    Well who knew?

    Maybe someone should tell Gavin. I'll bet he'd be surprised.


  22. If I may have a go at articulating why I think you're argument is wrong? First-off, let me see if I've got your argument correct. You say Realclimate have politicised the science, and this is shown because they attack anyone who questions that the science of climate change is certain, like Sen. Inhofe, Fox News etc.

    First point: there is probably scientific illiteracy right across the political spectrum - but the truth is, it tends to be right-leaning thinkers who question climate science. If you're interested, I've written about how this affectively hides most left-of-centre scientific illiteracy from climate arguments: http://www.coveredinbees.org/node/267

    This means that one can imply Realclimate as 'taking a political position' by default. But I think you muddy the picture then: this most emphatically does *not* mean Realclimate writers are politicizing science. By your reasoning, the only way Realclimate could become politically neutral would be to "even themselves out" by arguing with left-of-centre climate skeptics. Obviously, that's ridiculous: Realclimate cannot be held responsible for who decides to question the science, and it's certainly false to assign them to a political position "by default" in the way you seem to be doing.

    Second: the uncertainty meme is a huge problem. You may have picked up on all the recent noise about scientists as "lords of certainty" in the UK: a picture has been painted of scientists as authoritarian figures, using a mythical scientific certainty to impose their will on the world. I think it's entirely reasonable of Realclimate and others to point out - this utterly misrepresents the science. I cannot imagine that people making these claims have actually - for example -read the IPCC's uncertainty guidance notes:


    You'll have seen Realclimate's last post on uncertainty too - I won't attempt to restate all the great points made there. What I'd love to read from you is a more detailed piece on exactly how you think climate scientists are treating uncertainty incorrectly. I can't help but conclude that, as Brad Delong points out, most skeptics appear to have forgotten "uncertainty has two tails." Certainly, there's no scientific contradiction between understanding the range of uncertainties whilst still claiming we know enough to act. In citing that press call, you seem to be saying this is problematic?

    I also note your choice of Copenhagen read - James Scott's Seeing like a State. This book is kind of my PhD bible. I wonder what connections you see between Scott's / Hayek's radical uncertainty thesis ("everything is just too complex for state political action to succeed") and scientific uncertainty? For me, they're two very different animals. One could be 99% certain that climate change posed a dire threat to humanity, and still be 100% skeptical about political action having a hope of solving the problem. Interestingly, this isn't a position one comes across very often.

  23. some evidence of non political involvement . . Not

    "Putting a bow on this package of interwoven relationships and back-scratching in pursuit of the elites’ agenda (and largely at taxpayer expense) comes the leading alarmist webblog RealClimate.org. Seemingly established in 2004 to counter, of all things, Michael Crichton’s novel, State of Fear, RealClimate serves as the popular science media’s main touchstone for alarmist memes second only to Gore and his advisor Hansen – and we see here that this is really a distinction without a difference. This outlet is populated by none other than NASA’s resident alarmist mouthpiece – and official spokesman for Hansen’s GISS shop – Gavin Schmidt. Although RealClimate touts the unpaid nature of their writers’ work, the time-stamps on Schmidt’s often highly personal blog posts make quite clear that these actually come on the taxpayer dime, as well. Other RealClimate writers include “Hockey Stick” Mann and Hockey Stick-related Casper Amman.

    It turns out that Realclimate.org is owned by an outfit that is in essence a non-profit public relations firm called Environmental Media Services (EMS), “dedicated to expanding media coverage of critical environmental and public health issues”, whose Pittsburgh office houses the RealClimate server.[1] ActivistCash.com describes EMS as “the communications arm of leftist public relations firm Fenton Communications.”[2]"


  24. -22-Dan

    Thanks for this comment. A few replies:

    1. I don't think your restatement of my views is quite right. They are politicizing science because they are engaged n a political debate using science. Which is all well and good. We want science used in politicla debates, we're better off for it.

    2. The problem is not politicization of science, but stealth issue advocacy, as defined above.

    3. On uncertainty, see the press release above, any hint of uncertainties? ;-)

    4. You write, "Certainly, there's no scientific contradiction between understanding the range of uncertainties whilst still claiming we know enough to act."

    The black/white framing act/don't act is not so useful in my view. We always know enough to act (the important question is "what action given uncertainties?"). So this is a bit of a strawman. See Mike Hulme's recent WSJ op-ed (linked on this blog a few days ago) for a good discussion of this topic.

    5. Scott is relevant because it gives use some insights about how to act under uncertainty and ignorance.

    I'd encourage you to have a look at my chapter on uncertainty in The Honest Broker where I discuss this issue in far more depth and nuance than I can give justice to here.


  25. Roger,
    Please explain exactly how they are politicizing science. I assume you take exception to these words:

    "more clear than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis"

    Is that right?

    I hope your objection is not just that they are holding a press conference to defend themselves and the science from the hyperbole of the last couple of weeks.

  26. I'd actually prefer the scientists to get more politically aware and start seriously thinking about the implications of carbon re-adjustment. So far they continually extrapolate way beyond the science into a fantasy-land of worst-case scenarios and then demonize anyone who has legitimate doubts. If they were to start to consider what real world actions are necessary to achieve their desired CO2 reductions, ie the costs and what those costs mean for businesses and householders then maybe they'd retrieve some old-fashioned scientific integrity and stop pretending to be the good guys fighting the forces of evil.

    So far this "need to act now" alarmism has only engendered proposals for subsidized clean coal, nuclear proliferation and carbon trading. Is this what the scientist-activists really wanted? It's time for them to take stock and think about realities rather than fantasies. How can people be simultaneously ridiculously pessimistic about current technology but ridiculously optimistic about future technology should we eventually impose a limit of 350 ppm?

  27. -25-johnvanliet

    From -15- above:

    "I define the politicization of science to be the use of the systematic pursuit of knowledge in the process of bargaining, negotiating and compromising in pursuit of desired ends."

    Isn't it clear that in partnering with an advocacy group to call for action justified in terms of science and authority that they are politicizing science? Again, politicizing science, as I say in THB is not necessarily bad and is often desired.

    I am surprised that the claim that they are politicizing science is even controversial. How would you define politicizing science differently than I have?

  28. I love the use of capital letters for every word of the press release. Classic propaganda method.

  29. The problem with Realclimate is that they are a campaigning organisation promoting global warming on the (incredibly naive) view that it furthers a progressive political agenda.

    The Realclimate blog and the criminal emails reinforce that view.

    I am sure James Hansen thinks that being head of NASA GISS makes him an intelligent man. He has become a global recognised political campaigner. Compared with Soros, he is a village idiot. That is the fundamental problem.

    Hansen is now opposing emissions trading, but that door slammed shut more than 10 years, ago and will stay shut. He is now irrelevant.

  30. "Defending themselves and the science from from the hyperbole"
    What arrant nonsense! They are defending themselves from their own written words. How you interpret those words is up to your own inbuilt honesty meter but don't assume the rest of us can't read! The science has only been undermined by their duplicity.

  31. Roger,

    Your definition of politicizing science is fine. It wasn't and isn't clear to me that this press conference is an example of your definition.

    How does a press conference (with anyone) demonstrate "systematic pursuit of knowledge... in pursuit of desired ends"?

    You are accusing them of putting politics first and then looking for science to back up their politics. I believe you have it exactly backwards. They undoubtedly have political preferences, but those preferences arose from their understand of AGW and its consequences. The science came first.

  32. -31-jonvanliet

    I don't think that you can get an ought from an is -- the naturalistic fallacy. The point is not which comes first, but that regardless, the science and politics are conflated and those saying that they are dealing only in science are misrepresenting the actual situation, hence stealth issue advocacy

  33. I just got off the call, and while they took questions exclusively from main stream, generally favorable journos, Andy asked a good and serious question: Why do this under the auspices of the CAP instead of, say, AGU?

    I'll write something about this at PJM after the transcripts come out.

  34. Roger,

    I think you need to change your definition of politicized science then. Your definition requires that the politics ("the desired ends") come first and that the "pursuit of knowledge" is to support the politics.

    You assert that they are guilty of politicizing science by your definition, but then fail to demonstrate your assertion.

    If you accused them of "pursuing desired ends based on acquired knowledge" I would agree. But you did not. You are accusing them of "pursing knowledge... in pursuit of desired ends".

    Do you see the difference? Do you see how your headline accusation depends on which comes first?

  35. This post is the classic, type example, of why problems exist on the whole topic, to wit: baseless accusations, no details, playing with words, defining terms after the arguments made with those terms are made, and just generally stirring up will with slanderous accusations that simply emanate from your personal issues with 3 of the four scientists who took part today.

    As I said, this is why scientists don't generally engage with you--you take a predetermined position that you hold as a given even though others see clearly contrary evidence to it, and don't defend it with actual evidence. Is this your idea of what it means to be an "Honest Broker"???????????????

  36. You judge whether they are about politics or science by looking at whether they even try to do science. If they were really interested in science, think about how much different their behavior would be. This isn't a close call.

    The examples are endless. Mann comes out with a revolutionary claim based on "novel" statistical techniques. If you are a real scientist, you check. They didn't bother to check. Then someone comes out and asks for the data, etc. in order to check, and these "scientists" are part of the stonewall. That's the very opposite of science.

    Same thing for Briffa. For the Rahmstorf debacle in 2007. And Steig's Antarctica mess. Over and over we see real science get stiff-armed.

    And here we are today. The crappy code found in the CRU docs reveals many of the same flaws found in GISS. REAL scientists would be working to evaluate the problems. Political players would be closing ranks and deflecting attention from the problems.

    These guys are making the political play. They aren't behaving the way real scientists should behave. What more evidence do you need?

  37. One question -- did you ask any climate scientists about holding a press call to explain the state of the science in the context of the hacked emails?

    One would think that you, as an honest broker, would have been an excellent person to have done so.

  38. Roger:

    I basically agree with most of your position in this thread, with one exception;

    Since picking a scientific subject to study involves value judgments, all science must, in some sense, necessarily conflate 'politics' with science. It's generally agreed that when the motivating value is something like 'for the good of humanity and ecosystems' and/or 'increasing understanding' ;-), we oughtn't be scolding scientists for such motivation.

    When they fail to explicitly state such motivation, it doesn't turn it into "stealth issue advocacy"!

    Of course anyone who thinks, or says, that their motivation is 'pure' may be mistaken – or conniving. But your blanket call for transparency of motives, though desirable, is nearly impossible to realize.

    As a result, you too often come down too hard on the RealClimate gang.

  39. I find some of the comments here stunning. People who can't see the obvious -- don't want to.

    Schmidt and Mann have long argued that they do not support policy, this is a statement which is intended to convey unbiasedness. Today they come out in favor of one of the most draconian leftist measures ever conceived. The policies of Copenhagen are anti-business, anti-captialism, and anti-American. They intend to provide a group of unelected individuals the ability to transfer money from working functional government to non-working government while destroying the economies of the working governments.

    To support such a thing is a clear sign of an extremist political agenda. We're not talking about working to improve emissions, we're talking about defining an unelected global government with the power to tax, redistribute and enforce all based on what these scientists say is best for the environment.

    What you can eat, what you can drive, what kind of house you live in all fall under this group over time.

    And people write- you can't prove it.

    Give me a break, just don't pretend to be that slow witted.

  40. -34-jonvanvliet

    Your abbreviated quote changes the meaning of my statement:

    "pursing knowledge... in pursuit of desired ends"

    here is what I wrote:

    "the systematic pursuit of knowledge in the process of bargaining, negotiating and compromising in pursuit of desired ends."

    And here is what I mean:

    Science = systematic pursuit of knowledge
    Politics = bargaining, negotiation and compromise in pursuit of desired ends

    Put it together in my quote:

    "science in the process of politics"

    There is no temporal ordering, and in fact, I explicitly discuss this in the book. Hopefully, now more clear.

  41. -35-Jim

    If you'd like to engage in a substantive discussion, I'm happy to, if you'd like to vent, that is OK too.

    As far as my interactions with scientists, they are many and happen on this blog (even in this thread!) and elsewhere.

    Do you think your comments are really presenting the best face of scientists here?

  42. -37-

    Honest brokers aren't usually individuals, this is a function best played by diverse committees of experts.

  43. -38-Len

    Thanks ...

    "But your blanket call for transparency of motives, though desirable, is nearly impossible to realize."

    I'd be happy with some progress in the right direction, I don't think we have to worry at this point about overdoing it in this area;-)

  44. Jeff writes in 39:

    “To support such a thing is a clear sign of an extremist political agenda. We're not talking about working to improve emissions, we're talking about defining an unelected global government with the power to tax, redistribute and enforce all based on what these scientists say is best for the environment”.

    Jeff points out the pure Orwellian of Climate Change. That is, Climate Change really means tax and redistribute.

  45. Roger,

    Just to be clear then, are you saying that:

    A. The participants are pursuing knowledge for the purpose of achieving desired ends?


    B. The participants are pursuing desired ends based on their understanding of the science?

    The two options are very different, and your definition "in the process of" is much too generic. Your definition allows you to *imply* that they are skewing science for the sake of politics, but to spin away from that implication when asked directly.

  46. Jim Bouldin,

    Roger has indicated that Gavin said:

    "Let me make one more thing clear: we are not taking a political stand on this."

    Yet here they are, presenting because:

    "why it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis."

    So, Mann, Schmidt, et al, are in fact advocating for specific action, and then saying "oh no, were not advocating". Which Roger has implied is stealth advocacy. And he has also attempted to educate his opinion about why stealth advocacy (not advocacy) is a problem.

    That, IMHO, is what this post is about.

  47. -45-johnvanvliet

    Can I choose C. none of the above? ;-)

    No one has been accused of skewing science, and I don't think anyone here is doing so, nor have I implied that. The issue is that they are claiming to be apolitical when they are in fact acting very politically. My point has nothing to doing with your two-direction causality.

    Hope this is clear.

  48. -41-Roger,

    Speaking as a scientist and an informed skeptic of AGW hysteria, I would strongly prefer that Jim Bouldin refrain from purporting to represent me or any of my fellow scientists in any way, shape or form.

  49. matthew hincman

    More than that

    On Realclimate, there is total advocacy of one side of the argument. Vicious, bullying attacks on those who put forward contrary points of view, and blatant censorship in their blogs. There is no resemblance to the dispassionate scientific method. It's politics.

    They are so confident that they control the science, they don't consider the very obvious effect that crass, infantile behaviour has on the neutral observer. Academics may believe they can hide behind self inflated vocabulary, but there is more than one type of intelligence.

    Here is a current BBC blog in which the overwhelming number of recommendations are for comments which are excoriating toward science and scientists.

    Posts are ordered by popularity,

    BBC Have your say

    It is a very good thing indeed that those who pay for science know how corrupt it is. The pity is that they don't realise the fundamental reason isn't the behaviour of Phil Jones, but the influence of big players like Thatcher, Soros and Shell (who bribed Jone's colleague Mick Kelly into promoting emissions trading and CDM and allowing them to set the academic agenda ). Those and a million others. I have little doubt there is external influence at play here even if it is simply the appointment of compliant individuals.


  50. "If you'd like to engage in a substantive discussion, I'm happy to."

    Then why don't you start DOING so Roger, instead of playing with words and expecting people to follow your byzantia?

  51. -51-Jim

    I have no idea why you are so angry, or why you find that people discussing complex issues like "politicization of science" is problematic.

    I wrote a book on the subject, and defining key terms is something that scholars do. I've asked you for your definition of "politicization of science" and you haven't replied. I'm interested, what is it?

  52. The nuclear bomb was a scientific endeavour with a clear political/strategic end. I can imagine more political (just?) causes that require the help of science to succeed.
    I'm not suggesting here that Gavin or Michael and all the other AGW zealots have the right to misrepresent the evidence and corrupt science in their wake.

  53. "I go further and argue that these guys are engaged in stealth issue advocacy, which I define as representing oneself as being interested only in science or truth, ut really having an agenda focused on reducing the scope of political choice to some desired end."

    Some people would say that you engage in the same tactics, Mr. Pielke. What is actually your political stand or preference?

    I gather you believe that AGW is real? If it is real I'm sure you agree this would mean that every policy to solve the problem would involve the imposing of limits of some kind. This is immediately regarded as a left-wing stance.

    So I see why a scientist is automatically characterized as taking a political stand when he comes out and says action should be taken to prevent or lessen the consequences of current policy. But did Mann, Schmidt or whoever say what kind of action should be taken? Are they proposing a policy?

    If they aren't they are rightfully claiming they are apolitical. Stating that action should be taken based on the science, isn't taking a political stance per se. It just follows logically that taking action to prevent/mitigate Global Warming would involve the imposing of limits, which happens to be perceived as a left-wing stance (with the right-wing stance being all about individual, theoretically limitless freedom). Many right-wing climate scientists probably come to the same conclusion. Does that make them socialists?

    But again, Mr. Pielke, what is your political stand or preference? Because 'Honest Broker' also seems to imply you are apolitical, but I'd be very surprised if this were the case.

  54. -54-Neven

    I don't think anyone has called me a stealth issue advocate because I don't claim that science compels specific decisions.

    However it is perfectly fair to ask about my political views. I suggest starting here:


    and here:


    And as I have already said on this thread, honest brokers are not typically individuals, but diverse, authoritative groups. On the climate issue I am without a doubt an issue advocate, and proud of it ;-)

  55. #50 "On Realclimate, there is total advocacy of one side of the argument. "

    Yup ... and a refusal to let the other side even comment fully. I had a comment just disappear into a black hole, and that comment was a call to question RealClimate's purpose ... "Is RealClimate about science, where-ever it leads, or is it stage-managed PR on behalf of the Jones/Mann/IPCC viewpoint? " See here:


    With their refusal to even print such comments and signing up for Press Events with the Podesta/Soros/left-liberal Center for American Progress, they've made their choice. RealClimate is a PR outfit.

  56. I think that many fail to realize that the statement ""will discuss the mounting scientific evidence since the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report, and why it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis"" is a political argument about policy. The "we must take action" is clearly a political call. After all, in a scientific sense, it does not matter if AGW would cause man to become extinct, it would be a scientific observation.

    Next, these persons seem to be unable to reason that as Roger has defined it. Yes, indeed they are engaged in "stealth advocacy" which is shown in the preceding part of saying ""will discuss the mounting scientific evidence since the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report."" Once again this is not a scientific statement on its own. It is used, as Roger has claimed, as a call for political action while claiming to be scientific. If it was science, the action part would have said something like ""why it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must do more research to solve the global climate response confidence intervals."

    I agree with Jeff that it appears that persons are not reading Roger's definitions or are not comprehending the definitions or what the article states.

  57. "I don't think anyone has called me a stealth issue advocate because I don't claim that science compels specific decisions."

    Are Mann and Schmidt claiming that science is compelling specific decisions? They are claiming that action should be taken, because AGW is a threat, but this is not a specific decision, is it? In your interview with Tom Fuller you scale global warming as something of the highest importance. You also maintain that some form of action should be taken to adapt to or mitigate Global Warming, but would you call that a political stance? In fact, you seem to be very careful in not taking any clear political stance wrt global warming.

    I have read on your OAQ that you are a conservative democrat if I may term it that, more or less the political centre in the US. I have a feeling you consider yourself also as being on the middle ground in the climate debate. However, I usually get the feeling from your articles that you are critiquing the warmist side most.

    For instance, I followed the recent kerfuffle with Michael Tobis quite closely and in the end it gave me the feeling you were indeed a bit of the wolf in sheep's clothing that others seem to accuse you of.

    If I may ask, have you ever critiqued people on the "denialist" side of the debate? It is fairly obvious for instance that someone like Anthony Watts or Marc Morano has a clear (political) agenda, being postponing any action whatsoever on Global Warming. Wouldn't it do your position a lot of good if you were attacking both extremes of the issue?

    Denouncing some of the very dodgy but very popular assertions by Christopher Monckton or taking on Anthony Watts' obvious misrepresentations every once in a while (or some other non-skeptic for all I care) would make your centrist position a lot more credible IMO.

  58. -24-Roger: 3. On uncertainty, see the press release above, any hint of uncertainties? ;-)

    That's something I've noticed as well; there's plenty of work in the literature on uncertainty and systemic bias in the forecasts(that's just what I could find with a bit of Googling), but you never hear about it in any of the advocacy. I don't think uncertainty is a 'red herring', simply the reality we should recognize if we hope to decide and act successfully.

  59. -58-Neven

    I'm on record taking pretty strong stances on carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade, on geoengineering, on the importance of adaptation and other subjects. These are all political stances. Ask if you'd like details.

    I don't like the term "middle ground" for reasons I describe here:

    While I recognize the need for simplifications and short-cuts in describing individual's political views, as a policy scholar, like many policy scholars, you can be sure that on topics that I have expertise in I'll have views that don't map neatly onto simply one dimensional political scales. So feel free to ask if anything is unclear. On topics that I don't have any expertise, simple political scales probably are much more useful.

    I do critique the scientific community a good deal. One reason is that is the subject of my research and has been for almost 20 years (I wrote a dissertation on the role of climate science in decision making in the early 1990s). A second reason is that I think that their actions, and those of many advocates for action, matter much more than the actions of those opposed to action. I explain that a bit in the WP interview that I posted up today. That said, I don't totally ignore that other side, e.g., just yesterday:


    Were I trying to create a "middle position" I it probably would make sense to critique both sides equally. But, hopefully as you'll better understand, in my view both sides are not worth equal treatment.

  60. I'd go much further than Roger. There has never been a time when this field was not political, and from the very beginning the politics were driving the science. I was just re-reading 'The Population Bomb' for an article I'm writing, and noticed that as early as 1968, Paul Ehrlich was bewailing the increase in atmospheric CO2. It being 1968, he had no ideas whether it was going to cook us or freeze us, but either way it was going to be bad, and so we needed coercive population control. Notice: the political prescriptions started before the science even had established the sign of the effect.

    In 1971, John Holdren (who was working closely with Ehrlich at the time) speculated that 'thermal pollution' -- the direct anthropogenic generation of heat -- might at some time in the future become a problem for the Earth. Holdren had to admit we were several orders of magnitude below the point we had to worry, but still he insisted we consider limiting power generation in response to this completely made-up threat.

    And of course, The Limits to Growth wanted to shut everything down -- population, economic growth, etc. etc..

    What is noticeable is that while the supposed threat changes, the prescription -- increased control over the economy and over personal freedom -- never does. That strongly suggests the politics are primary and the science secondary. Granted, they seem to have found a 'winner' in AGW, but if for some reason the skeptics turn out to be right, we'll have another 'threat' in 20 years.

  61. I really enjoy this blog. I don't contribute to any other personal blogs on any subject. I was attracted to it initially because of the amusing underlying premise that makes so many people angry as we saw on this thread.

    It plays an mportant and possibly unique role in the debate. The articles are well written and the subjects very well chosen. The challenging subject matter is complemented by a measured and dignified tone

    For myself, I am very grateful to have the opportunity to express my unconventional views in a considerably less dignified and measured tone.

  62. I have no idea why you are so angry...

    I know--you don't. That's a big part of the problem. Stay tuned.

  63. Holding their press conference at the Center for American Progress - an outfit run by John Podesta (Slick Willie's former White House Chief of Staff) - is a silly move.

    Can you think of a better way for these putative scientists to explicitly proclaim not only their political agenda but also starkly partisan character of that agenda?

    If they wanted a Washington venue, they could've contacted the Cato Institute (1000 Massachusetts Avenue NW) and asked for the use of their F.A. Hayek Auditorium.

    I'm sure the people at Cato would politely help Dr. Mann and his colleagues to hold their event in that facility, and it might confuse the daylights out of the more rabidly Republican "global warming deniers" to have the Cato logo prominent in the foreground as the Hockey Team tried to run damage control.

    Everybody knows that "progressive" is today's weasel-word for "Liberal" (aka socialist).

    But speaking from a LIBERTARIAN think-tank's podium (with the promise of Cato Senior Fellow Patrick Michaels handling introductions and offering a few balancing remarks) certainly might lend credibility to the Hockey Team's contentions that they're real, honest-to-Kelvin scientists and not just Judas goats for the left-wing politicians.

  64. No one has been accused of skewing science, and I don't think anyone here is doing so,....

    (Raises hand.)

    I do think that Climategate suggests that science was skewed for political purposes, and would argue that the subornation of peer-reviews to suppress papers that weren't sufficiently supportive of the CO2-forced model of AGW is a demonstration of that.

  65. Maybe a few people shuld take a leaf out of prof. Willem Buiter's book -

  66. -63-Jim

    "Stay tuned."

    Mysterious. Let us know when you are ready to go public with the news.

  67. -64-Tucci,

    Considering that the Center for American Progress is more than a little opaque about their funding, maybe somebody on the inside should leak a few e-mails from their server as well.

  68. SBVOR said... 68

    Considering that the Center for American Progress is more than a little opaque about their funding, maybe somebody on the inside should leak a few e-mails from their server as well.

    SBVOR: an e-mail leak from The Center for American Progress (CAP)? That would make for some interesting reading. Probably have to dawn the plastic-poopy-pants for that reading session.

    However, according to CAP the current e-mail leak from East Anglia is a “Conspiracy”. More correctly, a Right Wing Conservative Conspiracy. Hey, go figure! Here it is in their own words:


    Where is Rod Serling when you need him?!?

  69. RWP
    A more disturbing observation to me is that both Ehrlich and Holdren have both received many prestigious science awards, largely for those pessimistic tracts where they were proven to be consistently wrong. Obviously the scientific community at large is naturally pre-disposed towards man-made planetary destruction theories.

    Yet economists are equally unrealistically optimistic about human endeavors. I'm still trying to work it out. It's probably the tendency for academics to prefer dogmatic theory over facts. And when one bad theory fails, they immediately revert to either a previously discredited theory or a newborn bad theory.

    In economics you see this phenomenon in the return to Keynesian interventionism after the idiotic self-correcting market theory failed. But the prevailing theme of all economic theories is that it will all be wonderful in the future if we practice the currently fashionable theory. In the midst of a hellish recession they are still predicting future yearly growth. They never seem to predict the recessions though.

    In climate science, man-made cooling morphed seemlessly into man-made warming - both of course from fossil fuel emissions. A flat trend to them is clearly the man-made warming being masked by the man-made cooling. Can't possibly question the theory can we? - at least not until it starts cooling again. Again the theme is that it's always going to be bad whether it cools or warms. There has been around half a dozen alternating cooling and warming scares since the 19th century.

    Probably some psychologist somewhere has already studied this irrational, herdlike fact-avoidance.

  70. -68-SBVOR

    Center for American Progress IS specifically and openly an advocacy group with a particular agenda. CRU, on the other hand, supposedly collects data to better understand climate. CRU (and the IPCC) should not be collecting data to advocate for specific policy - or rejecting data that doesn't support policy they are advocating for. Thus, the stealth issue advocacy claim by Roger.

  71. Prof Pielke:

    I write to support you on this issue of political advocacy despite my not sharing your view that AGW is a real problem.

    It is, at best, disingenuous to claim that one is not advocating something when one is calling for action: clearly such a claim advocates that action needs to be taken.

    A claim that “we must do something” is advocating doing something, and no amount of obfuscation can alter that. And it does not matter whether or not the required action is stated or not because the call to do something is advocating doing something.

    So, it is not advocacy to say that more scientific information has become available since the IPCC AR4, and it is not advocacy to report what that information is. But an assertion that “it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis” is advocacy in its purest form.

    There are always opposing views in science. Indeed, science could not progress if that were not so. And those with similar views will align with each other to promote their case. That is political action which is both right and proper.

    Also, scientists are human so they have a right (and sometimes a duty) to advocate Political actions (i.e. actions by governments) they think are right whether they gained those thoughts from their scientific understanding or anything else.

    But science is an attempt to seek a best possible understanding of the world. Science does not and cannot advocate that people take actions.

    In this case the only things that can be done in response to the asserted “climate crisis” are Political actions. So, it cannot be reasonably disputed that a claim “that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis” is political advocacy.

    And, in this case the advocates claim they present the science and are not engaged in political advocacy. So, they are either self-deluded or liars. There are no other possibilities.


  72. -69-Matthew,
    Which part of that did you assume I did not understand?

  73. Demonstrating the peril of citing comments by number...

    At the time I posted the comment bearing the time stamp of "Sat Dec 05, 09:51:00 AM MST", the comment I was responding to bore a comment number of 69.

    At the moment, the same comment bears comment number 71.

    The comment I was responding to bears the time stamp of:
    Sat Dec 05, 07:39:00 AM MST

    In the future, I may cite the time stamp rather than the comment number.

    P.S.) The word verification for this comment was "mensuck". Have radical feminists infiltrated Blogger.com in order to perpetrate an anti-male conspiracy? ;-)

  74. W.E. Heasley,

    Skimming the CAP link you cited, I got the impression that CAP found nothing of any concern in the ClimateGate revelations.

    Or, perhaps they were merely employing the age old propaganda tactic of diverting attention to the hated enemy rather than dealing with the “inconvenient truths”.

    I’ve heard it said that the Iranian tyrants would welcome a military strike on their nuclear facilities (as that would offer the potential to unite their dissident population against the hated “others”).

    But, far be it from me to draw an analogy between CAP/ClimateGate and the Iranian tyrants pursuing nuclear weapons. ;-)

  75. Over at Real Climate Gavin Schmidt shows his class:

    "[Response: Lil'Roger is engaged in a deligitimizing exercise which is designed to leave him as the only credible voice on climate science. The idea that we are the cause of the politicisation of climate science, or that answering questions about the science when it is misrepresented is making things worse, is ludicrous. He can only make those arguments by misrepresenting statements by us and others (hence the recent spate of baseless accusations of dishonesty, theft, plagirism and the like). By attempting to elbow out other mainstream voices he aims to be the middle-of-the-road academic that is supposed to be the voice of sense. This strategy is however very transparent, and judging from the commentaters on his blog, is only convincing to the denialist fringe. He is welcome to them. -gavin]


  76. The dispassionate objectivity of NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt, aged thirteen and three quarters.

  77. Roger,

    1) Should I assume that Gavin has labeled me as being among "the denialist fringe"?

    If so, I wonder which part of this presentation Gavin regards as evidence coming from "the denialist fringe".

    2) Can anybody who consciously employs a word deliberately designed to put AGW heretics on the same moral plane as Holocaust Deniers ever be considered anything but a member of a "fringe" group?

    3) I expect this sort of irony from RealClimate. But, one would think that -- at some point -- they would learn to stop making fools of themselves.

    P.S.) Note to Gavin - When you make up words (such as “denialist”), it tends to make people wonder what else you make up.

  78. Roger (Sat Dec 05, 06:13:00 PM MST),

    I can now report that RealClimate is behaving as dishonestly as ever.

    This comment passed moderation.

    But, that was just a trick to allow the faithful to offer bogus responses & attacks which I was then forbidden to refute. (I’ve seen others play that game.)

    The following are two responses which were rejected in so-called moderation:

    Beginning of rejected response #1:

    dhogaza (6 December 2009 at 1:58 PM),

    You declare that you are only “interested in human timescales”. Fine, I can win the debate just as easily playing by your rules.

    Let’s start by quantifying your preferred timeframe:

    “Comparison with the human and chimpanzee genomes reveals that modern human and Neanderthal DNA sequences diverged on average about 500,000 years ago.”


    So, by your own constraints, I am free to explore all peer reviewed science dealing with timeframes as far as 500,000 years ago -- but no further.

    Here we go:

    1) Both the Arctic:

    and, the Antarctic:

    show an on-going, uninterrupted cooling trend wherein the latest warming is demonstrated to be not even remotely unusual.

    The citation links and more details are found in these two links:


    2) In the next chart, we find that, comparing current temperatures to each of the previous 4 interglacial warming periods, there is nothing even remotely unusual about current temperatures:


    The citation links and more details are found in this link:


    Again, the overview is found here:


    End of rejected response #1

    Beginning of rejected response #2:

    Brian Dodge (6 December 2009 at 6:55 PM) complains about my:

    “tacking on the recent instrumental record to the Vostok core data in the 3rd graph”

    The third graph has nothing to do with Vostok, but several others do.

    Each of my Vostok charts documents which NASA GCMD page provides the reference point temperature which makes appending current instrumental temperature readings entirely valid.

    So, tell me again what the beef is (other than you find the data to be “inconvenient”):


    End of rejected response #2

    Obviously, I will not waste anymore time at RealClimate. They are clearly still living in a pre-ClimateGate world.

  79. To simplify, which came first the science or the policy? If you can get at that, you have an excellent clue about who is doing politics and who is doing science.

    And yes Roger, knowledge should compel policy if not determine it.

    Of course, what is getting lost here is the politics of the science. Consider v. Storch vs. Mann.

  80. Pielke's problem seems to be with scientists who say "I have no opinion about the policy implications of my research" and who then turn out - quelle surprise - to have an opinion after all. (Apparently it's not a problem if you say up front that you have an opinion).

    So the lesson to all scientists is this. If you want to avoid Pielke's censure, when asked about your research you should say something like "Of course I have an opinion on what this means for policy, but I don't want to share that right now. Today let's focus on the science".

    Then you'll be happy, right, Roger?

  81. -81-Tom

    Partially motivated by your question, I have a new post up on this. Please feel free to follow up there.

  82. Are funding sources examined when looking at researchers, and assessing their credibility? Of course, because we know there is no such thing as a completely dispassionate scientist.

    We should also assume those advocating policy have political or vested interest in taking those positions-which may still be completely legitimate.

  83. This kind of political distortion took over economics with the rise of Keynesianism.

  84. Re: James Hansen and NASA:

    Partisan political activity by federal employees is prohibited by the Hatch Act. Since only the Democratic Party supports global warming alarmism and cap and trade as a policy to combat it, then by definition, anyone who supports those policies is supporting Democratic Party policies. Ergo, as a federal employee, Dr. James Hansen, should be investigated for violation of the Hatch Act.

  85. Gavin: “We are not going to get better climate policy by agreeing that the smearing, misquoting and misrepresentation of scientists is ‘ok’.”

    Randy Magruder: "Policy? I thought this was “Climate Science from Climate Scientists”? I thought you guys were objective scientists and wanted to leave policy to the policy-makers?

    Ups :-)

  86. There are always opposing views in science. Indeed, science could not progress if that were not so. And those with similar views will align with each other to promote their 70-350 case. That is political action which is both right and proper.