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« DECC prioritises prices over carbon | Main | Diary dates, Winchester Science Festival edition »
Tuesday
Jul212015

A private communiqué

The hijacking of learned institutions by political activists is something of a theme at BH, and today's news brings further depressing evidence that the situation has not changed. It seems that the managers of a group of UK learned societies have decided to try to influence the political agenda ahead of the Paris conference, issuing a joint call to arms (another one!), no doubt without consulting a single one of their members.

The communiqué opens with a decidedly shonky statement about the scientific evidence:

The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming and that human activity is largely responsible for this change through emissions of greenhouse gases.

Sorry guys, but unvalidated computer simulations are incapable of giving "overwhelming" evidence. Hints and suggestions, perhaps, but not "overwhelming evidence". This is yet another example of scientists behaving in a way that would get city financiers sent to jail.

The science thus dealt with, it moves on to the politics:

[G]overnments should demonstrate leadership by recognising the risks climate change poses, embracing appropriate policy and technological responses, and seizing the opportunities of low-carbon and climate-resilient growth.

Whatever that means.

Interestingly, the only place you seem to be able to read the comminque itself is the Guardian and Carbon Brief - my straw poll of the websites of some of the societies involved turns up no mention of it. This either means that the Royal Society et al have decided to keep the news "in the green family" and want to give them a proper exclusive or that everyone else has seen through it for the sham it is and is ignoring it. I wonder what's going on?

[Update, the Royal Society has now posted it on their policy pages]

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Reader Comments (69)

Dear learned societies,

Please justify your claims with validated, reproducible experiments using actual data.

Thank you

The public.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Unvalidated predictions, backhanders, bribery, corruption and dodgy records really helped destroy Tesco credibility.

However, the Guardian and Royal Society have more in common with FIFA.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

'The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons' (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

"G]overnments should demonstrate leadership by recognising the risks climate change poses..."

I know what "demonstrating leadership" means, it means taking political actions that no other sensible politicians will take in the hope that they take the Kool Aid with you.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

RS says AGW is real. Their reasoning: all the scientific literature will not be in error therefore the scientific literature is not in error. On the basis of this, they suggest action while ignoring their position of 'take nobody’s word for it.

RS is a learned society?

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

The science may not be "settled", but the scientific evidence is "overwhelming". Nice to know.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:58 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Treehuggers: Lovers of all things organic; haters of carbon and carbon dioxide.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I love the 'leadership' meme all progressives and lefties go in for. In their fantasy world they don't even realise they are spouting the same old rubbish as the kind of colonialist mentality they no doubt despise, ie setting an example to the damned natives; and the really good bit of the fantasy is their assumption that the damned natives, aka the Chinese government, is really hanging on the words of some English nonentity, or even pays any attention at all to the British government.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this is who is not on the signatories list. The Royal Institution is very conspicuous by its absence and I am sure that a little digging would produce more defaulters. On the other hand what the hell is the Learned Society of Wales? I live in the country and I've never heard of it.

And does anyone know whether all the organisations listed whose names start with Royal are like the Royal Society and depend heavily on public funding?

According to the Guardian, these are the signatories:

Academy of Medical Sciences, Academy of Social Sciences, British Academy, British Ecological Society, Challenger Society for Marine Science, Geological Society, Institution of Civil Engineers, Institute of Physics, Institution of Chemical Engineers, Institution of Environmental Sciences, Learned Society of Wales, London Mathematical Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Economic Society, Royal Geographical Society, Royal Meteorological Society, Royal Society, Royal Society of Arts, Royal Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Society for General Microbiology, Wellcome Trust, Zoological Society of London

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

Back in the late 60 ' s when computers were room sized, there was a continuing joke of the vapid blonde or gruff delivery man saying that "it must be right because the computer gave the figures"... we have now descended so far that we have ( so called) learned societies taking the part of the vapid blonde; "it must be right because the computer gave the figures".

Do these people understand how very foolish they appear?

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan W

Climate Science only has months before Paris, and its Self Assured Destruction.

A SAD event in climate science, heralds a brighter future for the rest of the world.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Thank goodness that we don't yet have electronic smell-o-gram technology. This communiqué would really get the skunk spray synthesiser working in overdrive if we had.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Ian W - it also reminds me of this one:

'On two occasions I have been asked, "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.'

—Charles Babbage (originator of the concept of a programmable computer), Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, 1864

Plus ça change ... !

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

10:16 AM golf charlie

dang - beat me to it

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:40 AM | Registered Commentertomo

I am puzzled as to how an organisation, such as the Geological Society, can be a "signatory" of a letter.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Great comments ahead of me.

This communiqué has all the same credibility as the BBC luvvies letter.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Cash for honours, ie payments to political parties in return for knighthoods, seems a bit old hat.

These days, as chair of a learned society, you get paid, and honoured, just for an autograph, and an approving nod.

The fabled deeds of the Knights of the Round Table, are being replaced by the fabled financial accounts of The Knights of the Approving Noddyies.

Jul 21, 2015 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

" I am puzzled as to how an organisation, such as the
Geological Society, can be a "signatory" of a letter."

Yes, who actually wrote it and who signed it? (there must be some squiggly writing at the bottom of the page)

Jul 21, 2015 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

It has now appeared on the Institute of Physics website: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2015/jul/20/leading-uk-scientific-organizations-urge-governments-to-tackle-climate-change-head-on

Jul 21, 2015 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

@Rob Burton, I guess a government can sign a letter, but then there is some democratic accountability.
With these societies it probably like the activists have highjacked/infiltrated the power.

I note the Statistics society didn't sign.

Jul 21, 2015 at 2:23 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Jonathan Drake 12:36, the idea of Government Ministers tackling climate change "head on", is something I would like to witness.

They could go around head-butting polar bears, and the ice they stand on, or simply stop, and think it through. If they still want to take issue with polar bears, and their refusal to die, they should risk their own right to life, and no one elses.

Jul 21, 2015 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

There is a blog at the RS, apparently open for comments:

http://blogs.royalsociety.org/in-verba/2015/07/21/a-scientific-communique-on-climate-change/

Jul 21, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The Royal Society web page leads with comments from Lord Stern, and Sir John Beddington.

With theiir combined expertise on climate science, representing the best advice available, I am happy to place more faith in bits of seaweed dangling from a rusty nail in a tree. Wet/dry, hot/cold, windy/still. 100% reliable, no batteries required.

Some climate science experts are still hoping for divine inspiration from migrations of penguins, flying south.

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

No Royal Statistical Society among those. One would thing the society that has expertise in dealing with uncertainty would be represented.

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRSS

SSAT asks if the Royal Institution is a learned society:

While Baroness Thatcher reminded us that there is no such thing as society, she was a great joiner of such Societies as:

Academy of Medical Sciences, Academy of Social Sciences, British Academy, British Ecological Society, Challenger Society for Marine Science, Geological Society, Institution of Civil Engineers, Institute of Physics, Institution of Chemical Engineers, Institution of Environmental Sciences, Learned Society of Wales, London Mathematical Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Economic Society, Royal Geographical Society, Royal Meteorological Society, Royal Society, Royal Society of Arts, Royal Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Society for General Microbiology, Wellcome Trust, Zoological Society of London

, so SSAT mught want to serially ask himself whether equally learned folk may dominate them today as well ?

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

There is a blog at the RS, apparently open for comments

Nobody gives a sh1t so far.

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

"Nullius in verba", and so forth... such corrugated-brow verbalizing proves only that grant-mongering academics have neither professional competence nor ethics.

During this current rebound from a 500-year Little Ice Age c. AD 1350 - 1890, the 30-year cyclical warm phase from 1980 - 2009 actually petered out after sixteen years, in 1996. Given indisputable if marginal global temperature declines over 18 1/2+ years from late 1996 through mid-2015, Earth's latest "pause" has now outlasted circular-reasoned Global Climate Models' (GCMs) spurious forecasts by a full 10%.

After last year's "Blowtorch Winter" (sic) ended in the most severe declines since 1917, in the continental U.S. the third lowest readings since the mid-19th Century, historically reliable projections foresee a"brutal" El Nino-based cold shock affecting dustmote Earth's entire northern hemisphere. At odds of 10 : 1 against ossified, self-dealing Catastrophists, anyone care to bet on Winter 2016?

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterLloyd Martin Hendaye

If 30,000 bona fide scientists signed the Oregon Petition, why didn't they parlay the AAAS membership that comes with their Science subscriptions into the electon of someone other than Marcia McNutt to the presidency of the world's largest general scienctific society, whence she is about to segue into being NAS President as well ?

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The Learned Societies are experts on which side of their decarbonised toast is buttered, and who pays for the butter and jam, but still clueless about its aerodynamics, and one-sided attraction to the floor.

Jul 21, 2015 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming..."

The Arctic is back at 1980 ice levels. The Antarctic ice is at an all time new record. There is no sign of water vapour positive feedback or the hot spot that should accompany it. Sea level rise is constant or reducing. Extreme weather events are the lowest in decades.

In fact the primary indicator of a warming climate, its temperature, shows no change in over 18 years.

Yet they claim overwhelming evidence of warming. Where is it? The learned societies are beginning to sound very stupid indeed. The members should be furious about this.

Jul 21, 2015 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The Royal Society of Chemistry is a signatory to this letter but there has been no internal debate or discussion amongst society members about it. When the subject is raised, periodically in the house magazine the letters page demonstrates the lack of universality of opinion across the members.

The RSC is simply going along with the crowd like most of the others. This is how Lysenko achieved such power in the Soviet Union, no one is prepared to stand up and shout that the emperor has no clothes, except for people here in the blogosphere whom nobody listens to.

One of the ClimateGate e-mails that I will always remember is from Dr Jones who sent a message saying in essence if we are wrong about this (AGW) they (people and governments) will kill us.

Jul 21, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

I've posted a comment on the in-verba blog to the effect of "following your motto, I don't believe you", and asked for author & authorizer names. I don't suppose it will see the light of day & be moderated out.

Jul 21, 2015 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterIlma

Arthur Dent good to see that the Royal Society of Chemistry does not waste it's Members money on democracy, when there are more important courses to discuss prior to next lunch.

Jul 21, 2015 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ilma (Jul 21, 2015 at 6:05 PM),

Following the hint from Paul Matthews above, I thought I'd do likewise.

As I write this, I see that there are no comments posted up here yet. However, I very much doubt that I shall be the first—or the last—to express the following sentiment or very similar:

To think that in all the world, yours is the scientific institution of which Sir Isaac Newton was once president ... how sad!

What went wrong?

Why did you change your motto to:
Nullius in verba — nisi hoc dixerimus?


Let's see how open they are to dissenting opinion.

Jul 21, 2015 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Archer

I wonder whether it was got up by Lord Stern, who is currently President of the British Academy? I assume he's the sort of chap who wouldn't turn down a good chance to abuse his authority. And it does come to that because, so far as I can discover, the Fellows were not consulted (ditto for RS and RSE). I'm one of them and I rather resent being forcibly cast in the role of useful idiot. I note that the BA website carries a long quote from Stern (not particularly well proof-read) in which he chides the reckless among us who continue to deny something he believes to be true (albeit on little evidence). Pretty desperate stuff. The communique says nothing much and in so far as it talks about "the greatest threat ever to face mankind" in terms of research opportunities, it is actually rather unpleasant.

Jul 21, 2015 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kennedy

Is there no national paper that will take this to pieces. They would never get an easier target. Come, is there not one science journalist willing to make a name for him/her self ?

Jul 21, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

Tony N

I am pleased to say that I do not see The Royal Dublin Society, The Royal Irish Academy, The Geological Society of Ireland or The Dublin Institute for Advanced Science on the list of supporting organizations. Perhaps we Irish can recognize " inebriation" better than you Brits - especially power induced drunkenness.

Jul 21, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

What is with the stupid footnote? Why not just say what they mean?

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commentersue

Why do these societies again and again put out statements of science that is not at all settled. And if it was settled there was no need for a statement.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSvend Ferdinandsen

Lord Stern as President, appears unlikey to pass up the opportunity of a good lunch. Or dinner. He seems to carry the responsibility of such high office, with the help of an expensive tailor, but seems capable of expanding his roll into the political sphere.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The Royal Economic Society signed.
Considering the regulations about such consultation there could be a very amusing legal challenge.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:17 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

As a long-standing Fellow of the Geological Society [of London] I wholly dissociate myself from the 'Climate Communique' which the Society has apparently put its name to. Moreover I do not believe such an unscientific and blatantly political assertion about the causes of climate change represents the majority view of the Fellows.

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Knipe

"[G]overnments should demonstrate leadership by recognising the risks climate change poses"

Another nebulous use of "climate change." Perhaps the Royal Society would be so kind as to define what they mean by it. Climate change is a reification fallacy.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." - George Orwell

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

M Courtney and Colin Knipe

Would a letter to your preferred national newspaper be worth a stamp?

The fabrication of a consensus, requires the creation of an illusion that everyone is in agreement. In the absence of any science, Papal blessing is considered important. They would probably welcome the support of the Magic Circle, Women's Institute, Injured Jockeys Fund, Caravan Club, and Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, but it does not make up for the lack of evidence.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

As a Member of the Royal Society of Biology and a Chartered Biologist, I can categorically state that the Society did not consult its members over signing to this 'communique'. If the Society did sign up to it, it was without the mandate and authorisation of its membership, therefore, this document isn't worth the paper it was written on.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:25 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Golf Charlie's mastery of his trade should commend him to any injured jockey in need of a chimneysweep.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Jul 21, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Arthur Dent

I think the Institution of Chemical Engineers is in a similar position to the RSC. Back in 2013 the 'policy director' of the IChemE wrote an embarrassingly bad letter of support to Ed Davey after Davey had given one of his mad speeches. The governing clique continue to lend the Institution's support to climate change hysteria; but if they've ever bothered to canvas the opinion of members, I must have missed it.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

I can also confirm that the Geolgical Society did not consult its members on this.

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

vvussell, why don't you do something about the lack of evidence for man made global warming, or would you prefer to carry on trying to draw attention away from the fraudulent misrepresentation of UK professionals? Is this the normal scientific method of corruption in your experience?

Jul 22, 2015 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Salopian "... therefore this document is not worth the paper it is printed on "

A concise assessment of most climate science, however if you can get paper prints for free, most climate science papers are worth their weight in firewood.

Jul 22, 2015 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

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