Climatological Criminality

The climate may or may not be warming, but the most ardent global warming proponents are now doing a slow burn themselves.

The planet may or may not be warming, but several scientists are on the verge of seeing their careers, their theories, and everything they claim to believe in go up in flames.

While there is plenty to say about what appears to be climatological criminality, I am proceeding very cautiously on this one. The bottom line, in keeping with the rich (2+ years) history of this blog, is that being slow and not covering a story is more important than rushing to judgment. Like many, I am watching events unfold.

There are so many angles to this story, but what chaps my hide (global warming does that, but so does Mistress Evil) is that this reverberates beyond anything having to do with environmental issues.

This reminds me of Alex P. Keaton, as played by Michael J. Fox on “Family Ties.”

(Stick with me, I will eventually get there.)

While I developed my politics from my parents, Alex P. Keaton made Republicanism cool. More importantly to me, I think that show made me at age eight want to be a stockbroker. If there is another explanation, I can’t find one. Nobody in my family knew or talked about finance or the stock market. That character was who I idolized as a boy, and one particular episode stands out. I had not thought about it in twenty years, but I wish I could go watch it again today.

Alex was in line for a very prestigious award. His professor was going to publish a brilliant paper, and as the understudy, Alex would reap some benefits. Yet a few days before the ceremony, Alex is up at 3am frantically banging away on his calculator. His parents wanted to know what was wrong. He looked at them and said, “The numbers don’t add up.”

He calculated it several times, but the entire paper the professor was going to submit was based upon assumptions that were wrong. Everything was wrong.

In one of the funniest scenes of the show, his parents asked him if maybe he had simply added the numbers wrong himself. He gave them a look that I have given my parents on occasion. I am a stockbrokerage professional. They are retired schoolteachers. His parents then realized that in Alexworld, Alex is never wrong. The numbers did not add up.

Alex told this to his professor. After Alex left his office, the white haired professor made a phone call, happily letting others know that everything was fine and that he looked forward to the ceremony.

When Alex learns about this, he confronts his professor, who explains what it is like to be old, at the end of your career, and feeling like none of it matters. Yet in the middle of the ceremony, the professor breaks down, and does the right thing. He says, “I was willing to submit a fraudulent paper to keep my job.” He spoke about how he did not want to become a dinosaur, and how he would rather have his integrity than any award.

This is not just about environmentalism. It is about every step we take, every action we engage in, and every consequence and subsequent reaction that emanates from the original information we process.

We go to the doctor, and take for granted that the doctor has our best interests at heart. The doctor gives us a pill or a spray. Yet what if the drug company called their study of the pill a double blind test when the truth is it was not so? What if the doctor is given commissions for recommending a certain amount of a drug?

We buy a stock after reading “reports,” and paying attention to analysts who do “research.” Yet how can we do this when companies “manage earnings,” and “massage the numbers?” How can we know that the Chinese Walls set up were not broken? Are the investment bankers putting pressure on the analysts? Are the accounting practices honest?

We hear that a President lied to get us into a war. Why are people so cynical? Because in the 1960s, LBJ did do this. He deliberately lied to Congress so he could escalate Vietnam. People have not trusted their government since. Nobody gets the benefit of the doubt.

Politicians say they are there for the public trust, yet they then commit adultery. Then they lie about it. This corrodes our souls, as hysterical accusations are given credence.

Airlines want us to trust that everything is safe, and then we find drunken pilots, mechanical problems, and other avoidable issues that can be fatal.

This is so much more than environmentalism.

Some will say that the scientists in the current scandal acted with deliberate malice. I am going to be perhaps more charitable than I should be, knowing that they would not be that generous with me.

I am putting myself in their shoes.

As a stock trader, I spent time doing research. Yet the boss would look at his traders and remind us of a very simple credo.

“Do what the stock tells you to do.”

This means reading the ticker tape and watching. It also means being neutral. If one comes in thinking that the news means that the stock “has to” go up or down, the trader will look for signs that confirm the original bias and discount contrary evidence. This leads to losing. As a rookie trader I remember trying to tell the stock what to do. It “can’t possibly” go any higher or lower. Yet it can.

The thing a trader must do is realize that they can, and often will be, wrong. The best traders are wrong 80-90% of the time. Yet they realize this quickly. The 10-20% of the time they are right, it compensates.

Now picture something much more serious than trading stocks. Picture trying to cure cancer.

You spend over a decade in medical school. You sacrifice your social life to get a 4.0 GPA so you can get into the best school. You put in what seems like 20 hour days for the right to be a glorified lab rat.

You spend years in the lab, and then it happens. You find the cure. You picture a world of fame, fortune, hot assistants, and a larger lab. You win awards and are universally praised. Oprah interviews you.

Then one day you find out that you were wrong. You were wrong in a way that can kill people, like NASA being off by a fraction of something smaller than an Amoeba’s little kid. In fact, instead of being blatantly wrong, you might still be right but there is a statistically small chance that you might be wrong.

So what happens?

You look people in the eye, and tell the entire scientific community, “I might be wrong. More testing is needed.”

You don’t let people keep believing something that may not be right.

I am not an expert on climate issues. I wrote a column awhile back entitled “Are the Greeniacs Wrong?”

It was a question, not a statement of certitude. I am not a “denier.” I am simply Socratic.

Some will argue that despite the scandal, the theory of global warming could be true.

“Could be” is not good enough.

The climatologists were willing to do anything to preserve their reputations. Now look at them. Their reputations are shattered. The public backlash has already begun.

Again, while this could have been a deliberate conspiracy, it was more likely the same thing that destroyed LBJ, to go back to the earlier example. It is called “escalation of commitment.”

People “double down” at the Blackjack table. Stock traders stubbornly refuse to face the changing market conditions because ego gets in the way of accepting being wrong and cutting losses.

Another tv show featured a police officer who accidentally killed an innocent man. Defiant for most of the show, he screams at his partner, “The man was guilty.” When the partner asks why, he responds, “Because I killed him.” Then he goes behind a tree and cries, realizing that he made a horrendous and irreversible but honest tragic mistake.

The scientists at the heart of this climatological scandal need to stop lashing out. They need to stop closing ranks. They need to get out in front of this, and say what they will do to improve their procedures.

They can start by having anybody that destroyed evidence be fired. Then an independent investigator should be allowed to find out how dissenting opinions were suppressed.

People no longer trust newspapers. At this rate, medical journals will be discredited.

The scientists need to decide if they care more about getting to the truth or saving their bacon.

Is this about science, or about adulation?

I don’t know about climate change, but I do know that those that are right do not need to resort to such behind the scenes machinations. Certitude makes open disclosure an easy thing to do.

It has been a long time since Alex P. Keaton was on television. It has been a long time since people believed that those they trusted would do the right thing.

That is the real criminal shame of this. “Experts” are going to Copenhagen to double down. They are still making statements. This will not stop the swirling questions.

It is not about being right. It is about doing right.


5 Responses to “Climatological Criminality”

  1. I don’t think our good host really understands the “climate change” issue, let alone “climategate.” As he pointed out, he knows the stock market, his parents know teaching. Following that logic, he should safely assume that climate scientists know more about science than himself, or say George Will or William Kristol. Climate science is not well understood by most Americans. I certainly claim to be no expert, not even lay by any stretch. But I do have a general idea of the complexity of the issue. What recently happened in England, unfortunately, has dealt a serious blow to our understanding of the issue, and handed an veritable arsenal of rhetorical deception to climate change skeptics.

    Scientists have the data to show that we have a very serious problem with pollutants affecting the atmosphere. They also know that there is something we can do about it. Their veracity and reputation should be vindicated by how we dealt with the ozone hole. We knew there was a growing hole in the ozone layer, we knew what was cauing it, we cut the pollutants that were causing it, and sure enough the hole stopped growing and started closing. There’s little doubt that we are now causing serious problems with our atmosphere and oceans with other polutants, but the models to prove it clearly and understandably are so complex, that some scientists have taken to massaging the numbers to make it more understandable to laypeople. And here’s where the “scandal” emerged. But this very “scandal” may well backfire on the unscientific skeptics.

    Here’s an interesting take on this potential “backfire”:

    Climate change skeptics, like teachers to stock borkers, mostly have no idea in the world what they’re talking about when it comes to climatology. There’s no great “criminal” conspiracy among the entire scientific community to decieve anyone for anything here. They are simply warning us. It would be like me blaming Eric for the Great Recession. Yes, he’s a stock broker, but I seriously doubt he was in on some great conspiracy to rip off the American people for his own gain. If we kill that message and those messangers and listen to conflicted interests who have no clue in the world what they’re talking about, we’re going to have some pretty big regrets one day. And that day is not all that far off.


  2. Toma says:

    Climate change is a natural function of the natural world, period. Whether or not we as part of the natural world are contributing to this particular episode is debatable. We probably are contributing, I don’t see how we could not be contributing given the enormous amount of pollutants we pump into the atmosphere.

    The question is whether these “scientists” have selected data that support their thesis and disregarded data that does not support their thesis in order to advance a political agenda. Some evidence has came to light that say they have. So now their credibility is in question and the credibility of their claims that we are facing eminient global death. My opinion is that they probably have skewed the data.

    What concerns me is that based on this so-called scientific study Obama, Congress and/or the EPA and the UN are about to impose regulations on Carbon Dioxide emmissions in this country and around the world, and they plan to impose these regulations today if not sooner. Which means that my energy costs will increase beyond my ability to pay. Which means I will not be able to afford to cool my home this next summer nor heat my home next winter. I will not be able to afford to drive to the grocery store and purchase food that I can not afford because fuel costs will be out of my reach and out of the reach of most everyone else.

    If the EPA imposes penalties on electricity producers I expect my utility bill to double. Everyone else can expect the same thing. The economy will suffer beyond belief.

    Will the politicians and bureauocrats use common sense and be reasonable as they claim they will? Time will tell, but their track record does not give them much credibility.

    Is there an agenda? You bet there is and it is simple. If we cannot afford to buy our energy then the government will supply our energy. How much can you use? The government will decide. Welcome to Obamunism.


  3. Micky 2 says:

    “Scientists have the data to show that we have a very serious problem with pollutants affecting the atmosphere. ”

    Yeah, and theres just as many if not more scientists that say you’re all full of sht.
    When Al Gore and his team of paid off scientists develope the balls to finally come out and debate either Monckton or Lindtzen (who have issued the invite numerous times) its only plain to see what the deal is.
    Anyone whos dumb enough to not be able to see that this is a wealth redistribution scam is well… dumb enough to believe in global warming.

  4. Micky 2 says:

    “What recently happened in England, unfortunately, has dealt a serious blow to our understanding of the issue, and handed an veritable arsenal of rhetorical deception to climate change skeptics.”

    Nice try, it didnt do anything to anyones understanding of anything, all it did was confirm the underhanded crap you guys will go to in order to pull this off.

  5. nkras says:

    Yeah, most of the criticism of global climate change –and just about all of the popular criticism of it– is garbage. If people would even read the e-mails, let alone the papers, they would understand. However, a concise scientific take on the “Climategate” “scandal” can be found here:

    There is no scandal. A “trick” is a neat scientific trick; every science freshman learns that. Proxy temperatures are not global average temperatures. Sigh. I wish that more Republicans were on the right side of this issue.

    While you’re on that page, you should watch the rest of the videos in the series; it is very informative.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.