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Sunday 15 April 2012

Booker Latest Rant Filleted

In the eyes of Nature, warming can’t be natural” reads the headline in Christopher Booker’s latest Telegraph comment piece. Here, The Great Man once again tries to convince the more easily persuaded of the paper’s readership that climate change – which in the retelling has become “alarmism” – isn’t really happening, and that it’s all part of a great, but otherwise unspecified, conspiracy.

Not yet seriously disputed or exposed

There is, however, one problem with this, and every other Booker missive, and that is that readers have to take him on trust, as this, being an on-line version of what is in today’s print edition, has no links or other citations to back it up. This is probably as well for the paper and its columnist, as the sources he does cite range from the less than totally accurate to the downright discredited.

Booker’s first authoritative name is that of Frederick Seitz, former head of the National Academy of Sciences who railed against the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. What Booker doesn’t say is that Seitz, for many years, was paid by the tobacco giant R J Reynolds, and that, in the words of his successor at the NAS Frank Press, on climate change Seitz “was not a specialist in this field”.

But for Booker, Seitz taking a contrary stance on Kyoto means the IPCC has been party to a “scandal”. Then we get the “Hockey Stick” treatment: Booker tells with the usual pejorative language how McIntyre and McKitrick “exposed” it. They did not: while there has been continuing argument, the work of Michael Mann has not been “exposed” and nor has it been “discredited”.

Then Booker introduces Anthony Watts, which is one of those predictable occurrences. Watts is more than happy to give space to folks like Steven Goddard, whose name will be familiar to Zelo Street readers: Goddard, who likes to bully his opponents off the ball rather than debate rationally, has been shown not to know the difference between temperatures and temperature anomalies.

But, tells Booker, the Watts blog has an “expert contributor” called Willis Eschenbach. Let’s cut through the flannel here: Booker can polish his turd only so far. Eshchenbach is no expert: he is an amateur sceptic, another whose tendency to shout down and otherwise denounce his opponents masks the weaknesses in his own arguments and presentations.

Booker concludes by citing Judith Curry, not because of any body of work, but because he can get a soundbite from her that fits. This makes her “respected”. One has to wonder why Booker keeps on churning out this tired and repetitive rubbish: rebutting it is straightforward, he’s making no converts, and all that seems to be happening is that a sceptic is whistling to keep his spirits up.

But the cheques keep coming in, so that’s all right, then.

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