North’s Exposure


Someone just sent me a transcript of a taped interview with Jerry North of Texas A&M doing what he can to diminish climate skepticism and some individual skeptics — and, in the process, merely diminishing himself.


North was the Chairman of the National Research Council Committee empanelled on the hockey stick, at the request of the former congressman from the Sierra Club, Sherwood Boehlert (R., NY). They were tasked not with evaluating the hockey stick proper, but with critiquing the exposés of said icon which, when finally assessed, got pantsed by the Wegman Report, along with the rest of the insular “climate” community (see Red Hot Lies pp. 326-28).


During these proceedings, North aggressively fended off criticism of and sought to rehabilitate the hockey stick — only to admit finally that he agreed with Wegman’s defrocking of the sham.


As MIT’s Richard Lindzen notes,

one of the reports assessing the Mann et al Hockey Stick was prepared by a committee of the US National Research Counsel (a branch of the National Academy) chaired by Gerald North (North, 2006). The report concluded that the analysis used was totally unreliable for periods longer ago than about 400 years. In point of fact, the only basis for the 400 year choice was that this brought one to the midst of the Little Ice Age, and there is essentially nothing surprising about a conclusion that we are now warmer. Still, without any basis at all, the report also concluded that despite the inadequacy of the Mann et al analysis, the conclusion might still be correct. It was this baseless conjecture that received most of the publicity surrounding the report.

North doesn’t seem to like that Lindzen notes things such as these.


Here is North, the apparently reluctant if highly sought-after orator, in the interview:

So, you know, by — by this time I’m not a publicity seeker. I’m happy to do this. And I never asked to do something like this, I’m always asked to do it. And I think most people who you see doing it are in that category, except for the skeptics. The skeptics in global warming are — they’re — and it’s the same ones over and over again.  You might notice, they’re always there. They’re always at the phone ready to be — and they take — they take lessons on debating, and so on. They’re very good at it. It’s only a handful of guys.  Same ones over and over. There’s this guy at University of Virginia, and there — there’s a guy at Huntsville Alabama, there — two of them there. And they’re, you know, a half a dozen people, and they’re always the same guys. Same guys. And you don’t see the same guy on the other side, because there are thousands of us. So — so that’s — that’s another little sociological issue there.  Some of them for religious purposes, you know. They’re — they do — they don’t believe. I know two people who are very religious. And they’re good scientists, outspoken, but they’re skeptics because they really just don’t believe that the earth is changing. They just don’t believe this can happen. So — that happens. …

Finally wrapping up, about two minutes later:

You know, de — good debaters, that — that’s not — ha — it has nothing to do with their expertise, it’s their expertise in debating that matters. You know, they know how to pull strings, and you know, put your buttons, and — they’re good.

I haven’t caught any debates involving UVA’s Pat Michaels, or John Christy and Roy Spencer (the two prominent denizens of Hunstville) up against alarmists — who generally decline the prospect, though such events may have taken place. I do know about the one involving Richard Lindzen, who is obviously the ultimate target of North’s ire (“the famous skeptic from MIT. Hope he doesn’t see this”; read the rant for yourself, at minutes 33-35).


But what a sniveling take on things — oh, and what sort of publicity seeker agrees to an interview, make that interviews, by the way? — just because the skeptic scientists clean the alarmists’ clock in the rare debate means they must have taken debating lessons, a supposition which in turn means something, if one left unsaid.


Also notice the reasoning: the fact that it’s usually one of a specific few skeptics who gets called for the “but, not everyone agrees” line that a handful of journalists feel it their duty to include in a climate piece — that they should dare to answer the phone for a media inquiry (obviously something no alarmist would ever do) — is evidence that a small group of skeptics exist, and they are publicity seekers.


This childishly blinkered thinking comes from an intellectual, mind you. The fact the media turn to the same small group of alarmists says nothing about anyone, except about the media for the sloth of only turning to the same small group of skeptics for the throwaway skeptic line. Now name alarmists featured in these scare stories other than the half-dozen usual-suspect, apparently self-promoting phone-answerers. Of course, other alarmists do get in print for alarmist claims — that’s the principal day-to-day focus of their industry, for heaven’s sake, and what the media thrive on. Then the press tosses in the “but, not everyone agrees” line . . . sometimes.



I suggest a comparison is in order: how often are the noisiest four alarmists quoted, vs. how often North’s four targets get ink? I recall how North’s pal Michael Mann was the go-to guy for every sort of alarmist story for years, until his “hockey stick” was finally subjected to scrutiny, and debunked. And James Hansen has apparently been on every reporter’s speed dial, giving 1,400 interviews over the period of time he claimed to have been “muzzled” by this Bush administration (just as he claimed to have been by the first Bush administration, both of which assertions are demonstrably false). North doesn’t say what these examples tell him.


To be charitable, North’s commentary reflects a double standard. To be more direct, it’s whiny nonsense from someone who proves that alarmists not only have a poor track record at debating, they do themselves no favors when given an open mic.


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