Climategate Predictions: The Aftermath

The Future of Climate Change

The aftermath isn’t yet upon us. We are still in the in situ-math. But I thought it would be fun anyway to make some definite, testable predictions of what will happen given the CRU-cliimategate / warmergate emails and files release.

These are prognostications, not desires. Obviously, they might not be right.

  1. Die-hard “activists” will develop a conspiracy theory of how skeptics are deliberately misinterpreting and/or inventing the emails/computer code to confuse the public. A rumor will float that Big Oil, or other “denialist” bugaboo, was involved in the conspiracy.
  2. The Real Climate folks will be forced to back peddle for some time. There will continue, for about three to six months, a stream of “We didn’t really mean X, although, yes, we said X. We really meant Y” explanations. These will become increasingly half-hearted. Profanity and creative invective will be publicly resorted to.
  3. The CRU release will change few, if any of the major “stakeholders’” minds. That is, the end of the world types will still watch the skies, and skeptics will still be skeptical. The larger middle-ground, including all civilians, will begin to forget about the whole climate change thing after a year. There will be three or four high level defections. Al Gore will not be one of them.
  4. Politicians will have to be cagier in what they say and do. They won’t be able to continue to tout the party line of “consensus” directly—in fact, “consensus” will cease being the party line—because they will worry that more revelations could appear, which would make them look like asses—their number-one horror. As a consequence:
    1. Copenhagen will result in a torrent of frothy, “We Care!” statements countries can sign, but all will be non-binding. President Obama will not go and remain home “to focus on health care.”
    2. Cap & Trade legislation will still get talked about—too many Congresspersons, and some businesses, want the power associated with the new taxes and regulations, the environment be damned—but it will have to take a different public face. The legislation that eventually passes—for something will pass—will be much watered down from today’s current proposals.
    3. Papers/studies produced by NGOs and GOs will morph from “Climate Change” to “Environmental Stewardship”. There are too many groups and too much money in the system for them to disappear altogether. Global warming will be deemphasized and pollution, cellphone cancers, excessive water use, GMOs, and other man-made ills will be touted. After two years or so, many will have a difficult time recalling that “climate change” was so important.
    4. Ordinary politicians will still discuss the “importance” of climate change, but they will point to other legislation that is more immediately pressing. Until, that is, they feel their constituents have forgotten about the matter. Then they’ll move on to other ways to consolidate power.
  5. No criminal charges of any kind will be prosecuted (some might be threatened and even filed). Phil Jones will announce he is retiring to “spend more time with his family.”
  6. At least six months from now, some upstart journal papers will begin to appear. “It might not be quite as bad as we had feared” will be the titles of the first of them. The second brigade will be themed, “No, it’s not that bad, but it might be in the future, we just don’t know. We do still need more grants/research if you can spare the money.”
  7. The old guard will respond with papers like “Pollution is masking warmth, but, boy, wait until the air clears, then it’s really gonna heat up.”
  8. Some of the CRU crew will suffer TIAs, peptic pops, hives, or worse as a result of the stress. Start an aspirin regime now, gentlemen. Begin a hypertension watch.

The gist is that people have “cared” about global warming—the nomenclature later mysteriously changed to “climate change”—for a long time. Habits are not easily broken. Even failed forecasts, even dismally failed forecasts, do not easily dissuade. For example, look at Paul “Population Bomb” Ehrlich. Going on forty-one years of touring his Chicken Little dance, with absolutely no signs of his slowing. And, to demonstrate the widespread nature of human folly, we can’t even count how many homeopathists there are.

Evidence, of any kind, never fazes the true believer. So it is rational to believe that evidence won’t change the minds of any hard-core global warming “activists.”

Those were my predictions. What are yours?

Don’t miss tomorrow’s story: What is—and what isn’t—evidence of global warming.

Update Thanks to Nervous Tick for correcting my usual appalling typos.

Comments

Climategate Predictions: The Aftermath — 48 Comments

  1. Love it – I hope you’re right. The silence in the mass media worries me still.

    Minor suggestions:

    Won’t the first scientific papers have to have the word anomaly or anomalous in them to really begin to turn this around? I thought that was how it worked.

    Before they get to environmental stewardship – don’t forget ocean acidification and peak oil – there’s still plenty for the Chicken Licken crowd. And climate justice will morph to environmental justice.

    Then final prediction 2030 – “Global cooling threatens”

    Repeat.

    Cheers
    Robin

  2. Just seen it and their samples of the letters.

    About time. The BBC has been very reticent. At least now they can quote the WSJ quoted e-mails.

    The Guardian’s arch-warmist George Monbiot has this which is also startling despite the childish topping and tailing:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/nov/23/global-warming-leaked-email-climate-scientists

    It’s worth seeing his reply to some of the comments as well:

    “I apologise. I was too trusting of some of those who provided the evidence I championed. I would have been a better journalist if I had investigated their claims more closely”

    But he’s still defending the rest.

    I now forecast level 2 responses – the bad apple defence and it being pushed all onto Jones. Your E. might be early.

  3. Measuring your model’s predictive power will be interesting. Early indications are that it will be quite high.

  4. Unless as a result of all this the journals and climate scientists are placed into a position where they have to actually follow the archiving requirements they are supposed to follow so that the peer review system can really work, then what I believe your message is may well be right that no significant permanent change will take place.

  5. Here are my predictions:

    1) There will be a lot of talk about the possibility that the next IPCC report will focus much more on the uncertainty in climate forecasts.

    2) When it comes out, however, it will “validate”, “vindicate” and otherwise “strongly support” the findings of prior reports, and even “go beyond” them in certain respects. “Fully accounting for the uncertainty” will result in things possibly being “much worse than we thought”, and the “accumulating evidence of unprecedented change” will “demand immediate and concerted action” by governments around the world.

    3) This “immediate and concerted action” will require the transfer of large amounts of money from private citizens to government.

    4) This money will be used to buy votes through increased transfer payments and to make a select group of politically connected people very wealthy

    5) None of it will have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions.

  6. Matt,

    I’m not so sure about D.3. While they have worked through Anthropogenic Global Warming ( AGW ), Anthropogenic Climate Change ( ACC ), they haven’t tried out Anthropogenic Climate Crisis ( ACC ), or Anthropogenic Climate Crisis Consensus ( ACCC ). One of these might fly. They’ll send them up as trial balloons and see what happens.

    In the mean time ( isn’t that supposed to be one word? ) RealClimate is providing Context in the sense that the Titanic only hit a tiny iceberg that was much smaller than the ship.

  7. LOL at G).

    But isn’t this what they’ve already said about aerosols? i.e. that aerosols were masking warming until the Montreal Protocols reduce aerosols and let the CO2 forcing take over? (at least until 1998, and who knows what’s happened since then).

  8. Speaking of typos, I’m trying to figure out if B is a typo or not: “back peddle.” Hmmm. Maybe it’s that they’re still trying to sell their old conclusions? Ties in nicely with the homeopath remark, I suppose.

    I’m not so sure about D.2. Their legislative momentum was mostly lost last spring, and I think either passage or no passage of health care “reform” will sap it even more, and either will serve to rile up opposition. Of course, if you water down “something” enough, then I suppose I won’t argue, but I suspect that they won’t get away with anything resembling a tax.

  9. Believers tend to be resilient to facts. And the ilk associated with AGW alarmism are a particular breed (in this regard the out-of-print book, “The Power of Persuasion,” by G. Ray Funkhouser, fits perfectly. The same personality type is also described in M. Scott Peck’s book, “People of the Lie”).

    The BEST way to discourage them & dissuade them & get them to behave properly (or at least stop misbehaving) is to not present facts–but poke fun at them, make them the butt of jokes. Item “D” is correct–they’re horrified to look like asses. Better: Laughter hits where it hurts. Of course, they’ll hold a grudge forever; liking this about as much as vampire likes being cornered by a crucifix and getting a wooden stake thru its heart.

    Don’t miss an opportunity to poke fun! THAT will work!!!!

  10. There is a new IPCC-like report out today and it is accesible via RealClimate. I haven’t read it yet. Apparently they decided that it would be better to pre-empt the IPCC since they may have to involve reviewers who might see things a little differently. Looking at the list of authors there are new names to check out on the CRU email list.

    As for Matt’s predictions – I cannot see how Jones can survive this. I don’t know anything of him personally, but based on the emails he does not seem like a particularly nice person. Ergo, I do not see many folks rallying around. Now would be a great time to push the Wang and Chinese temperature records scandal.

  11. My predictions:

    1) Jones will retire. As will others. Briffa? Perhaps for health reasons. Mann? to pursue a career in the private sector? Low level personages, like the FOI officers, will be sacked for not doing their jobs. Ian Harris may take a well deserved break, to recover from de-bugging the programming code.

    2) there will be investigations; both on the governmental and the scientific ethics level.

    3) as a result of 2), some people will be caught with improper expenses or time claims, and will be asked to retire, or pursue a career elsewhere. Some scientists will be censured.

    4) peer review will be revamped.

    5) lawsuits will be filed. Most will be FOI requests. Some will be civil (I suspect the targeted editors are talking to lawyers right now). Perhaps a criminal suit or two, if FOI acts were found to be violated.

    6) most journals will enact and enforce data and methodology disclosures. “doveryai, no proveryai” will become the unofficial watch words.

    7) Oddly, blogs may become part of the peer review process, at least informally.

    8) data manipulation, intentional or otherwise, will be found. These will be relatively minor in nature, and will not materially change the scientific landscape of climate change. However, this will cause further alienation in the political landscape, and greater loss of public support.

    9) as a result of 8), public funding for climate change studies will be reduced.

  12. hmmmm….apparently the code for “smiley face” is 8, followed by an close – bracket

  13. Matt, your predictions are spot on, but you didn’t mention the dim future of the term “peer review” which will likely now fade into antiquity.
    Since the Jones crowd are all true believers, might they not morph the “A” in AGW into an “H” for “Holy”?
    Ken is spot on. Making fun of the them and their beliefs is the best way to wear ‘em down. For some reason they have no sense of humor and hate that.

  14. Yes I think a pretty shrewd assessment.

    A couple of points, the USA may initially become more sceptical more quickly than the UK if only because the current UK [Labour] administration is wedded to the idea and still controls the purse strings. But they must fall by the middle of 2010 and it seems to me likely that the new [Conservative] one, having nothing to do with the scandal in the first place is likely to dodge it by dropping it.

    And moreover the backlash in the UK although longer delayed is also likely to be much more violent than in the USA: after all they have been fed an increasing diet of green propaganda for so very long, and they know it.

    More importantly whilst there are vast vested interests the newer ones are those seeking investment and that is likely to dry up very quickly, do you think savvy investors are going to buy or support a GE largely dependent on a failing cap and trade policy?

    But time will tell. If it wasn’t for the damage already done it would be a superlative farce. As it is it still promises to be fun.

    Kindest Regards

  15. With regard to H) I know you’re joking, but as one who recently suffered a TIA which led to an asiprin regime which probably caused the gastritis which, exacerbated by the antiplatelet drug I was on, caused severe anaemia, I not sure I’d wish that on anyone, even these bozos.

    Well maybe Mann who comes across as an arrogant SOB. And perhaps Jones who seemed to be the leader who delighted in wielding power and crushing those who opposed him. And then there’s that supercilious Gavin. Nasty piece of work….

    Calm down Kevin. Watch your BP.

  16. I have a feeling the impact of these e-mails is highly overestimated.

    In a couple of weeks the AGW people will simply ignore any reference to them, or at best respond dismissively as ‘irrelevant’ or ‘out of context’.

    By in large the e-mails were less than impressive from a scientific standpoint. Only a couple of references to data in the whole lot, all of them ambiguous. The politically damning e-mails were only validation of what people already knew… that the opposition is near ‘blackballed’ from publication in most high impact journals.

    There is some reference to misuse of funds which may spark an investigation… that’s about it.

  17. These are reasonable predictions, but I think the emails and data provide valuable cautionary tales and teaching opportunities for those of us working in statistical modeling, and will be points of reference for that community for some time. Here’s an exchange with a colleague from today:

    COLLEAGUE: Bert is peer reviewing my team’s model. He’s focused on variable x, which seems to be a powerful predictor. He wants to know why we didn’t include it in the model. IT needed our model structure locked down before we could assemble the data for x, and I was told there would be big operational barriers to implementation, so we didn’t provide for it in the structure. I want to ask Bert not to mention x in his review.

    ME: Come on, we’re not climate scientists here. You have perfectly valid reasons for not using x. Make sure Bert knows all the facts and I’m sure he’ll write a fair review.

  18. Politicians will go with the flow. If selling climate change to the public becomes untenable they will find some other scary scenario. My guess is the focus will switch to “sustainable energy” as the battle cry to save humanity. Former climate scientist will morph into alternative energy experts.

  19. Meanwhile, what confidence will remain in the general public about the project of science? Will all science be tarnished? Will the (hopeful) collapse of faddish science take solid science with it?

    How about the mainstream science journals that have often refused to accept papers questioning the ‘consensus’. Will they alter their peer review processes to try to overcome Wegman-style ‘cliques’ cutting out challenging alternatives?

    I think science is the best way we have for establishing facts about the real world around us. But that is conservative science, in the sense of findings that have lasted the test of time. Will we lose future advances because of this abuse?

    I fear so.

  20. To those who are saying this will change how peer-review is done – I doubt it and here’s my reason.

    The peer-review process is generally executed by people who have HUGE portfolios of peer-reviewed articles. Those portfolios have been a way to measure their career productivity: for job acquisition, for promotion and measuring grant output (for future grant applications). They won’t willingly change it and jeopardize the objectively perceived value of their life’s work.

    That not withstanding. Peer-review as a measure of the value of work was intentionally inflated by the AGW crowd.This was done as a rhetorical device. It has nothing to do with how research is really evaluated.

    I know of no one who works with the peer-reviewed research who honestly thinks, “Oh. It’s peer-reviewed, it deserves more consideration.” If I see a SPIE article with a good idea and an IEEE article with what I think is contradictory wrong idea all things being equal (i.e., I don’t recognize the authors), I don’t give one second of thought to which journal is peer-reviewed. If I knew of scientists or engineers who did so, I would regard them as dimwits.

    The “it’s-peer-reviewed-so-it’s-verified” was always asinine argument. The things discussed in the E-mails – changing editors and gaming referees – have gone on for years in all fields. The articles we’re discussing are published in the technical newsletters of private, professional societies. I don’t see how the gaming couldn’t happen.

    If any change occurs with regard to peer-review, hopefully the argument that peer-review strengthens a result will disappear.

  21. There’s one thing that’s driving me crazy (and it’s not really along the line of this post)…

    I keep hearing that we were kept safer after 9/11 by the Bush admin because we were not attacked after 9/11. What does a statistics guy have to say?

  22. Nice work, William. As a matter of fact, I posted my little piece of the future at my blog:

    FREE EDITORIAL TO GOOD LEFTIST HOME — MATURES IN THREE YEARS

    “The proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming may have been wrong in their facts, but they were entirely noble in their intentions. These were hard-working, concerned people who believed they saw disastrous environmental conditions looming, and did their utmost to stop it. Perhaps they bent rigid scientific standards a bit in their zeal to get the word out, and they might have sounded human (horrors!) when they exchanged private e-mails. It is also understandable that they would feel a little combative in the face of the extreme hostility they faced from conservatives and skeptics. But their hearts were in the right place, and we should continue to listen to them as they explore the future of planetary change. The brakes that were put on runaway industrial development as a result of their inquiries doubtless prevented a great number of medical and ecological disasters in any case.

    “Those who deny the latest discoveries in Planetary Change are taking us down a cataclysmic road. They point to the mistakes of the AGW scientists and say ‘Here we go again.’ Well, this isn’t the same data set and it isn’t the same science. If we don’t act now to curb our manic consumption and save the planet, in ten years it may be too late.”

    http://maltesegirls.blogspot.com/2009/11/free-editorial-to-good-leftist-home.html

  23. Matt, this story – if the outcome is upheld in a court of law – might provide the gravitas to make the hack job story a “Berlin Wall is Crumbling” moment.  And prove some of your predictions irrelevant.  I suspect you would not cry too much over a subsequent slide in your prognostication reputation if that were to occur.

  24. “It might not be quite as bad as we had feared”

    Same thing happened after the stink in the ’80s about the “nuclear winter” which would follow a massive nuclear exchange. After the initial apocryphal study was released, scientists took a closer look at the assumptions and modeling and came to the conclusion that perhaps we’d suffer a “nuclear autumn.”

  25. Here’s an Update on the CRU Coding Discoveries:

    At Bishop Hill’s blog they’re saying that one file supposedly has a reference to the phrase “fudge factor” (in reference to a fudged data routine of some type).

    They’re also talking about a comment in the coding which states that all Russian temp data is messed up and useless, and possibly other data as well.

    Can you confirm if these allegations are true?

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2009/11/23/the-code.html

  26. Michael_Jenner,

    I’ll take a look. But Bishop is known as a reliable fellow.

    Mike,

    Gold. People have lost their minds over it.

    49er,

    Good luck to them. Those kinds of things are always a mess, however.

    arhooley,

    Thanks!

    Everybody should cruise over to her site(s). Interesting lady. Nice t-shirt! (Or is that the proper name for them? But I don’t think it would flatter my figure.)

    costanza,

    Excellent question. I’ll try and remember to answer it separately. It’s out of place here. If I forget, please remind me by email. A very good example to talk about.

    Joe Triscari is mostly right. But peer review has not always been in the form we see it today, and it is slowly loosing its grip even now. Arxiv.org anybody?

    I know I’m forgetting to answer some…but I’ll try and get to them. Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. Your best guess story line is already playing out – See Dr. Pachauri’s (head of IPCC) most recent blog post – he’s now saying that nothing will happen at Copenhagen and its time to move on to address biocapcity, “unsustainable development” and environmental protection issues.

    “Environmental stewardship” has already become the new mantra. It is frustrating, William, when our predictions come true only a day later, isn’t it? I feel so much better when I’m ahead of the pack, not just a day ahead :-)

    (Link to his blog http://blog.rkpachauri.org/)

    ——-
    Above, Michael references the term “fudge factor” appearing in source code from CRU. I am software engineer. Without knowing – yet – the context in which this appears, this may mean nothing at all. For example, last night I found a defect in the code that CRU used from 1997 to 2003 to process their raw monthly time series data for producing their estimate of global temperature. The specific code checks for an error – but then makes an incorrect fix that leaves the incorrect calculation intact.

    Is this a problem? It depends.

    It is possible that the problem it checks for never occurred and thus, the incorrect code never effects the result. Additionally, this code appears to have been used only from about 1997 to 2003, when it was replaced with an all new set of custom analysis software.

  28. From France, from tonight, our main TV news has added tons in the form of ‘IMMEDIATE DANGER LEVELS OF CO2′, with various documentaries showing the end of petrol, etc. A few alternative’ medias have done a good job of translating the mails and commentaries to explain the contexts.. but the main medias are very very defensive.

    They have spent so many years and energy in pursuing the dangers of climate that they obviously don’t know how to reverse their positions and mostly don’t even know about all the gen involved. Journalists obviously are ordinary people, and they also receive certain orders from their superiors and this is shown in a mail, when mann says he’s going to complain to the BBC for allowing sceptic authors..

    I thing unfortunately that these mails were released a bit too late, the bulldozer is there, but I’m optimist, as I realize for the first time in my life how much we are pawns …

  29. I disagree with you sir. I believe this will become a very big deal. A number of groups, some politicians, will create formal investigations. The Internet will parse the data. More scientists will come out proving that the greenhouse effect is impossible, and that anthropogenic global warming is scientifically impossible and a myth.

    In other words, this story is a tip of the iceberg thing. I am sure a great number of scientists have remained quiet because they didn’t want to put their credibility on the line against established politics. When that cracks, the floodgates will open.

    All of this will blast through the Internet. It is irrelevant whether the MSM cover the story of the century, which this story should already be. The Internet will carry the day until Congress receives a mouthful from its constituents.

  30. Briggs

    I like the predictions – I am willing to bet that most will come to pass – but our collective betting performance is not good so I will refrain from co-joining you in a bet.

    One prediction that is almost a monty to fail is the prediction that Obama will not attend Copenhagen.. One high profile Warmist in Australia (Flannery) who has a 100% negative prediction record has forecast that Obama will not attend Copenhagen and that was sufficient for several of us to bet he would and now I understand that he will.

    For a real indication of the future take the opposite view of Flannery and bet on it – 100% winner.

    regards

  31. Harry G, All,

    I blew on the Obama/Copenhagen guess. He’s still going, “restoring science to its rightful place.” I’m hoping it’s because this CRU mess hasn’t had time enough to sink in.

    I’m still betting the other part will obtain: no binding outcome.

    Jim,

    Some of the MSM here is carrying. Not the leftward organizations, of course. But they’ll eventually be forced to, and on good old-fashion capitalistic grounds: either stick in a story about which everybody has an interest, or lose readers, and therefore, money.

  32. Briggs – ‘Some of the MSM here is carrying. Not the leftward organizations, of course. But they’ll eventually be forced to, and on good old-fashion capitalistic grounds: either stick in a story about which everybody has an interest, or lose readers, and therefore, money’.

    I hope you are right.
    How long would they have to ignore it before they could claim that it never mattered?

  33. The criminals in congress will grab bits and pieces of this cap and trade and insert it into popular or needed budget bills with different names. These guys are not only criminal, they are experienced in hiding this stuff from the public. They will get their power grab and loot from a bankrupted America one way or another.

  34. I agree with John — it’s so easy to ignore news when the media are on your side. What we’ll mostly hear after a week or two is a chorus of “that was all irrelevant” or “we’ve already answered those questions” every time we try to bring these emails up. Half the people who read newspapers or watch TV news will never even hear about this scandal.

  35. On the homeopathy score…. do you realize Abe Lincoln was making fun of homeopathy some 150 (7 score and ten odd ) years ago? He said, in reference to the Freeport Doctrine of Stephan Douglas, that it’s “as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death”

  36. You are wrong about one thing . . . The One will not remain home. The other purpose for his trip is to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize. With things not going his way all the time any more, he’s going to need something for his mantelpiece when the American public sends him back home.

  37. As you rightly say, the chances of this getting into the criminal courts of any of the jurisdictions involved are slim, given the extent to which the “establishment” was suckered into praising the Emperor’s New Clothes. However this leak contains evidence of tortious behaviour – people’s careers, lives and reputations have been injured by these guys. My hope is that the victims of Jones et al will club together and sue them. Evidence arising at trial (assuming they didn’t settle) might well then compel the prosecutorial authorities to act.

  38. Mr Briggs:

    “The gist is that people have “cared” about global warming—the nomenclature later mysteriously changed to “climate change””

    What do you think the CC in IPCC stands for?

    When do you thnk the IPCC was founded?