HH Lamb's scepticism confirmed
Jul 15, 2015
Bishop Hill in Climate: CRU, Climate: Sceptics

A new paper (£) in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change caught my eye on the Twitter feed this morning. With a title of "Ways of knowing climate: Hubert H. Lamb and climate research in the UK" Janet Martin-Nielsen's paper sounded as if it was going to be a direct response to Bernie Lewin's GWPF report on Lamb's work, but a look at the paper suggests that to the extent that it is such a riposte it is so feeble as to hardly warrant the description.

Certainly it covers precisely the same ground as Bernie's paper, documenting Lamb's career step by step, describing his focus on natural variability and his distrust of computer models and even featuring many of the same excerpts from Lamb's books that Bernie used. The riposte to the sceptics, such as it is, comes in the closing section, which opens with a quote from a piece that Bernie wrote for BH about how Lamb should be seen as a proto-sceptic, follows up with a claim that allegations about the misdeeds of CRU have been shown to be "wrong" (based on the Oxburgh report!!), before heading onward to the meat of the case:

Lamb’s name is increasingly prominent in discussions of climate change, used by doubters, skeptics, and critics of global warming to support their case. In books, at think-tanks and in the blogosphere, Lamb is held up as an important early skeptic of global warming and anthropogenic climate change...

...I sense there's a "but" here...

Lamb’s position on anthropogenic climate change cannot be fully understood without taking into account his views of climatology as a discipline, his relationship with numerical modelling, and his struggles to gain funding for the Climatic Research Unit in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Uh huh...and this context was...?

[Lamb was concerned about] the imbalance of funding for different types of climate research and the growing hegemony of numerical modelling. By excluding alternative ways of thinking about climate, and specifically the study of natural climatic variations, Lamb thought that climate research was on the wrong path.

And in essence that's it. There is lots of stuff about Lamb's struggles for money but the conclusions are that Lamb was indeed a sceptic, but a "complex" one...

Ultimately, Lamb opposed what he saw as the identification of climate research as practiced by numerical modelers with anthropogenic global warming—and, in parallel, the way in which numerical modelling grew to supersede other ways of knowing climate. Lamb’s skeptical comments toward anthropogenic global warming need to be understood in this broader context: his was a complex skepticism, deeply entangled a vision of climatology that called for changes to funding and research directions and emphasis.

I'm not sure this is adding to the total of human knowledge in any particular way - Bernie descibed the funding issues in his GWPF paper - but I suppose we should welcome the fact that the peer-reviewed literature has now caught up somewhat.

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