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Old Speedy comment

June 30th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

On consensus…

If the ABC were Relevant 2.

Kerry: Bryan discusses the consensus behind the UN’s climate science with the President of the IPCC, John Clarke.

Bryan: Professor Clarke, thanks for your time.

John: Thank you Bryan.

Bryan: There’s a lot of money riding on the UN’s interpretation of climate change and people are beginning to worry about the validity of some of the science. Have you any words of comfort for the people, Doctor Clarke?

John: (Laughing gently). Now don’t you worry about that, Bryan. Don’t you worry about that at all. (Laughing gently.) We have the science well and truly under control.

Bryan: So the science is sound then?

John: The best that money can buy.

Bryan: Perhaps you’d like to elaborate on this John.

John: We have a consensus of science, Bryan. A whole herd. Ten thousand head of Western Whitecoats – every one watered, fed and paid for. Wormed and ticked, irrigated pasture and a nice big IPCC brand on their arse. You can’t argue with a consensus. Ten thousand scientists. Ten thousand voices…

Bryan: And only one mind?

John: Spot on Bryan! Only one mind and only one will! Consensus is a beautiful thing.

Bryan: So the scientific community is in full agreement?

John: All ten thousand of them Bryan. Nodding their little round heads to the point of concussion.

Bryan: But what about the others? Those who would question whether CO2 has a significant effect on the climate?

John: (Condescending.) Bryan, Bryan, Bryan. If they are asking those sorts of questions, then they aren’t scientists.

Bryan: Can you define “Peer Review” for the viewers at home please?

John: A pleasure. Peer Review is a critical part of the scientific process Bryan. It exposes the data, logic and assumptions underlying a given scientific theory to the light of day in front of friend and foe alike so that its true validity may be exposed and tested for the betterment of all mankind. Or something like that.

Bryan: And do you consider that climate science is bound by the same codes, Your Lordship?

John: I’d be bitterly disappointed if it were not so Bryan.

Bryan: And we can take it that the IPCC adheres to strict scientific and ethical principles?

John: On my honour.

Bryan: So how do you subject your scientific papers to peer review, your Lordship?

John: We have a pool of nearly ten thousand critics, Bryan. All fully qualified, wormed, ticked and branded.

Bryan: Have any of your papers failed muster at the review stage, your omnipotence?

John: They’re all very excellent papers Bryan.

Bryan: Do you have to pull out the cattle prod at any stage?

John: I think you’ll find that the Western Whitecoat is a particularly domesticated animal.

Bryan: And do alternative viewpoints ever get published?

John: Not in our journals Bryan.

Bryan: So what is the cutting edge in climate science as we speak John?

John: As you’d appreciate, Climate Science is a complex field and encompasses an extremely broad church. At the moment our energies are divided amongst four areas of intensive study.

Bryan: And these are?

1. It used to be cold.
2. It’s a lot hotter now.
3. It’s our fault.
4. We’re all going to die.

Bryan: I don’t suppose you’ve investigated alternative climate scenarios, perchance?

John: Not much funding for that sort of thing, Bryan. No.

Bryan: So at what stage do you think we should consider turning paying off the milkman and cancelling the papers, then?

John: Without urgent and immediate action, Bryan, I’m afraid the consensus opinion gives humanity about ten years maximum. Possibly as low as five.

Bryan: And when did you discover this?

John: About 20 years ago Bryan. There’s a very well supported and totally undeniable consensus around that.

Bryan: And if it were to all end in tears, John? Can you give us some hypothetical examples of Sociological and Anthropological Armageddon likely to arise from a failure to avert previously mentioned disaster?

John: Perhaps you would like to contemplate, if you will, the good burghers of Tuvalu standing up to their collective hips in 500 gallons of Pacific Ocean #1 wet.

Bryan: From rising sea levels.

John: From rising sea levels.

Bryan: Due to arctic melting.

John: Due to arctic melting.

Bryan: But surely the arctic is composed of sea ice? It’s all floating on the top, people park submarines underneath it all the time.

John: Perhaps. But what, pray tell, becomes of that portion above the plimsol line once it’s all melted, dare I ask?

Bryan: Nothing. It’s the Archimedes Principle.

John: Archimedes?

Bryan: Greek bloke. Had a bath. Discovered buoyancy. Yelled “Eureka” and did a lap of Athens in the raw.

John: Thanks for the thought. Bet he doesn’t stand up to peer review. (Sniggers)

Bryan: THE Archimedes Principle! “A body immersed in a fluid will float in that fluid if its mass is less than that of the fluid it displaces.” So the floating arctic ice is displacing its own mass of water. Whether it exists as ice or water, it still has the same mass, it still displaces the same volume and there’s no change in the volume of the ocean if it melts. Comprendi?

John: No, thank you. But I do “comprendi” that Mr. Archimedes has never published anything in the peer reviewed literature in his life. And, between you and me, I don’t think he will in the future, either.

Bryan: (Frustrated) OK. OK. Right. Look at that ice in your glass of water. (Points at desk.) That ice has been melting these last 10 minutes and the level in the glass is just the same as it was before. It doesn’t matter whether it melts or not – its still water! It still has the same mass, it still displaces the same volume and the waterline stays put. Don’t you understand? (The viewers might like to try one this at home – Ed.)

John: I understand that this ice is not in the arctic and it will have no impact on sea level or the good burghers of Tuvalu. And I think you’ll find that Archimedes has been thoroughly debunked. The overwhelming consensus of 10,000 leading climate scientists will more than adequately demonstrate this.

Bryan: (Getting agitated.) You can’t vote on truth – Archimedes Principle is a well known fact!

John: You want facts Bryan? OK. Next time Archimedes meets 10,000 climate scientists in a dark alley after a night on the turps, Bryan, Mr. Archimedes will be in the market for another 32 teeth. That is a well known fact.

Bryan: (Confused.) Er…

John: Thirty Two being the traditional per capita allocation in the dental department Bryan. And Mr. Archimedes will have the opportunity to verify that fact personally unless he pulls his horns in pronto. Another well known fact for you. Archimedes is a confirmed right-wing climate change denier and a stooge on the payroll of the Multinationals and Big Oil.

Bryan: (Very confused.) Who told you that?

John: Tomorrow morning. Gotta go. (Leaves)

Bryan: (Stunned. To camera.) Kevin? Ya there Kevin? Earth to Kevin… Earth to Kevin….
It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.

–William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1952

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