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It wasn't me!

It particularly irritates me when people make strident claims and then, when the claims are found to be untrue, someone says "Oh well, maybe a few people said that, but not any of us level-headed chaps." In other words, they get the mileage from the absurd claim, but when the claim is caught out, it is downplayed and disowned.

Which brings me to this 2006 article (index.php/ archives/ 2006/ 03/ bush-on-the-debate) from realclimate dot org, the website that proclaims itself "climate science from climate scientists." The site seems to be funded out of the taxes of those of you in America, so it must be reliable (wink wink):

"...warming yes, but is it caused by humans? This position is equally out of step with science, where the debate over this question has also now been settled."

I am not sure who wrote this article, it was signed by "group", so it seems to be a collective statement from all the climate "scientists" on the site. Note carefully: anthropogenic global warming has been settled.

But now comes Climategate, and the man at the centre of the allegations of trickery, Prof. Phil Jones, in full defence mode, admits the science has not been settled:

Question - When scientists say "the debate on climate change is over", what exactly do they mean - and what don't they mean?

Answer - It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don't believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.

Apparently the vast majority of Jones' colleagues on realclimate think so. But Jones, I don't recall any mainstream climate scientist pointing this out when it would have done some good, when the whole world was proclaiming "The science is settled", when this was the central "fact" in the public consciousness, and they were trying to pass cap and trade bills and so on, using this claim as the assurance that it was the right thing to do. Why did no one with the ear of the movers and shakers alert them? Tell us why we were allowed to continue down that path, wrongly believing the science was settled, with no significant (or any?) effort to correct matters by the vast majority (according to you) of climate scientists who knew this claim was false? Lives were and are at stake: biofuels have put food prices beyond the reach of many; failure to build electricity plants will put power and computers and lights beyond the budget of a great many poor people. These are the real life-and-death consequences of the whole world holding a false belief. It isn't a matter to be dismissed lightly. I think we are entitled to a better answer than you have given us so far.

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Re: It wasn't me!

William M. Connolley also tried to claim that only skeptics had ever used the 'science is settled' argument, that it was a strawman they created and there was no evidence any AGW proponent had made this claim. He wrote a Wikipedia article on it- which seems to have been removed, and Andy Revkin of the NYT claimed that Connolley made a convincing argument.Links here. This is pretty funny, because Gavin Schmidt also claims "The phrase 'the science is settled' is associated almost 100% with contrarian comments on climate and is usually a paraphrase of what ’some scientists’ are supposed to have said."

Re: It wasn't me!

Thanks for that link. I don't know how someone imagines they have proved a nonexistence proposition (except, of course, for things like logical contradictions). Yes, one could make it plausible by showing how to do a comprehensive search and finding nothing, but if one doesn't even do the search, as the link you give shows they didn't, it has to be dodgy. And, of course, a single find proves the claim wrong. I find it humorous that you and I found different instances of the 'nonexistent' claim - it can't be so uncommon after all.

Re: It wasn't me!

It is humorous, and the most delightful irony of all- to me, anyway- is that the example you found is on the same website where Gavin insists it's a nonexistent claim.