Watts Up With That has seen fit to highlight a rehash of a 2008 attempt at discrediting the current understanding of climate change, in the form of a cross-examination carried out by Jason Scott Johnston, Professor and Director of the Program on Law, Environment and Economy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The document purports to prove that “scientists cannot provide useful guidance regarding the impact on climate of increases in atmospheric ghg concentration.”
From the abstract:
This paper departs from such faith in the climate establishment by comparing the picture of climate science presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other global warming scientist advocates with the peer-edited scientific literature on climate change. A review of the peer-edited literature reveals a systematic tendency of the climate establishment to engage in a variety of stylized rhetorical techniques that seem to oversell what is actually known about climate change while concealing fundamental uncertainties and open questions regarding many of the key processes involved in climate change.
What it is, however, is nothing more than a very clever marketing trick. Repackage every argument ever made about AGW into a long (82 pages), tiresome, lawyerly document and label it a “cross examination.” This gives the pleasing and easily swallowed illusion that it is fair, because it is part of our wonderful, revered, constitutional western-civilization style judicial system.
Which, of course, is very far from the truth, since in a real trial events would be interactive, and you would have seen the other side actually present its own evidence prior to listening to the cross examination, and that could in turn be followed by counter arguments.
But this is a written document, so it gets to present “the other side’s” evidence any way it wants, limiting it to what it wants you to see, and always with the tone of a sarcastic, cynical, cross examining, adversarial lawyer.
This also all presumes that something as complex and involved as any branch of science could be “tried and judged in a court of law” using legal methods. Can you imagine how a trial of the theory of relativity would go? Or quantum mechanics? Certainly this is, in a way, piggy backing on the idea of the Scopes trial, although the subject there was not the truth of evolution, but rather a teacher’s right to teach it. And we all know how that went.
Lastly, its very nature conveys the underlying connotation that those that believe in AGW have committed some crime, and must defend themselves.
People don’t even need to actually read it, and it is very hard to get through because of its length and plodding legal style. Just its existence and nature serve to cast doubt, and to give blog-deniers a document to wave and say “see, what about this? what’s your answer to this? Hah!”
With this in mind, go back to what the paper itself says in the abstract about the peer reviewed literature in contemporary climate science. Remember, such papers are aimed at other intelligent, educated scientists, not at the general public. They seek to advance knowledge in one narrow, specific aspect of science. The target and purpose of Global Warming Advocacy Science: a Cross Examination, on the other hand, is the general public, with the aim of convincing them that the science is wrong. That very cleverly concocted paper says of the peer reviewed literature that it:
… reveals a systematic tendency of the climate establishment to engage in a variety of stylized rhetorical techniques…
Stylized rhetorical techniques? As I said, it’s a clever (and despicable) marketing trick, but why am I not surprised?