It was for a moment the clash of the Nobel Prize winners on climate change… just barely, but nothing like this has happened before in the debate-that-isn’t. Normally this is not a show the heavyweights turn up too. But there were three Nobel winners in the room at the same time.
Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland won the 1995 Nobel for work on Ozone. Both of the first two are fans of the man-made global warming theory and they both spoke just prior to notable skeptic Ivar Giaever (who won a Nobel for tunneling in superconductors in 1972).
[UPDATE: Watch Giaever speak – the whole speech – it’s excellent. h/t Roberto Soria]
As usual, the core arguments of believers comes down to argument from authority. Can they attack the credentials of the dissenters? The skeptics, the real scientists, talk about evidence.
From Scientific American by Mariette DiChristina
“The scientific evidence is really overwhelming. Most experts agree; maybe two or three in 100 disagree.” He added, “I know who they are and why they are wrong.”
“Anticipating the next speaker, Ivar Gieavaer(sic), who shared the 1973 prize for work on tunneling in superconductors but was to offer a skeptical take on climate change, Molina said that critics aren’t usually the experts. Listening to them, he added, is like going to your dentist when you have a heart problem.”
Giaever stood his ground, dished it out for the Nobel committee, and pointed out the instruments are inaccurate, the results too small to mean anything, and called climate change “pseudoscience”. Merciless.
As he took the stage for his turn, Gieavar’s (sic) immediate remark was, “I am happy I’m allowed to speak for myself.” He derided the Nobel committees for awarding Al Gore and R.K. Pachauri a peace prize, and called agreement with the evidence of climate change a “religion.” In contrast to Crutzen and Molina, Gieavar (sic) found the measurement of the global average temperature rise of 0.8 degrees over 150 years remarkably unlikely to be accurate, because of the difficulties with precision for such measurements—and small enough not to matter in any case: “What does it mean that the temperature has gone up 0.8 degrees? Probably nothing.” He disagreed that carbon dioxide was involved and showed several charts that asserted, among other things, that climate had even cooled. “I pick and choose when I give this talk just the way the previous speaker picked and chose when he gave his talk,” he added. He finished with a pronouncement: “Is climate change pseudoscience? If I’m going to answer the question, the answer is: absolutely.”
A long while ago, I wrote about the thought experiment — the delicious idea of someone like Julia Gillard coming face to face with someone like Ivar Giaever — and calling him a “science denier”… How arrogant art thy name-callers?
I very much enjoyed watching the whole speech. This is breaking new ground. Not that he is telling die-hard skeptics anything new science-wise, but he’s convincing, authoritative, and entertaining and he’s reaching a layer of society with quiet but penetrating influence. No I don’t expect news headlines. It’s more that the seed has been planted, the message will spread and today we are just a bit closer to the point where it becomes very uncool to be caught looking like the gullible fool who didn’t question the propaganda. The alarmists must fear something exactly like this.
Giaever tells it well mostly. He has new ways to explain old themes and several times he’s crafted a funny line and delivered it with aplomb – nice timing.
No doubt he’ll be attacked. They will say he’s old, past it, not a climate scientist, because that’s the kind of people they are. They will go on and on about 1998, and why he was “cherry picking” even though that doesn’t make any difference to his main points or his final conclusion. I wouldn’t have included the part about “cooling since 1998”, mostly because it will distract from the excellent points everywhere else, and we don’t need to talk about the big El Nino in 1998 – we need to talk about how sea levels started rising long before coal fired power stations; we need to talk about the difference between science and religion; we need to talk about how impossible it is to measure global average temperatures to just 0.8C.