The Rubber Duckies 2

The Financial Post has announced the winners of its annual Rubber Duck Awards for junk science.

It reports:

FP Comment’s 12th annual Junk Science Week comes to a triumphant close with today’s 2nd annual Rubber Duck Awards to recognize the scientists, NGOs, activists, politicians, journalists, media outlets, cranks and quacks who each year advance the principles of junk science. Junk Science occurs when scientific facts are distorted, when risk is exaggerated or discounted, when science is adapted and warped by politics and ideology to serve another agenda.

Among the winners we are delighted to see this one:

The Rubber Duck award in the climate category goes to Lord Oxburgh, who gave “peer review” a whole new meaning in rushing out the first whitewash of the Climategate scandal. He headed an inquiry into the scientific integrity of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, from which the emails emerged, and concluded in record time that there was nothing to see here. Move along please.

Lord Oxburgh’s skimpy survey — which was carried out by a group distinctly free of skeptics — found in the CRU little more than a “small group of dedicated if slightly disorganized researchers.” His Lordship found the CRU’s “loss” of data infinitely excusable, as also was its lack of statistical sophistication, even though its field was “fundamentally statistical.”

We were a little surprised, and felt a little foolish, when we heard about this one , because we’d been taken in by the claim:

There’s a great deal of chatter in the press and online about the tremendous US$1-trillion-dollar mineral “discovery” in Afghanistan headlined by The New York Times recently.  Few … seem to be questioning the value of the so-called discovery…  The US$1-trillion-dollar figure, at best, cannot be anything more than the wildest of hopeful guesses. …

When geologists find outcropping mineralization, or other signs that an economic deposit of minerals may be present, that is not called a discovery. Even if the signs come from the latest scientific equipment flown over the country, as the U.S. government appears to have used, the result is still just an anomaly: a hopeful indication of where to look. …

Once an anomaly is identified, it takes extensive and very expensive field work to determine the best locations for drilling holes in the ground, which you have to do to calculate a volume of mineralized rock, from which you can estimate the metal contained. …

But even after you drill off a deposit, and know how big it is, how deep it is, and roughly what’s in it, you still don’t know what it’s worth. For that, you have to conduct extensive testing on the mineralized material, not just to quantify the metals or other desirable minerals within but also to see if there are contaminants, or other elements present that can complicate, or even make impossible the economic recovery of the valuable mineral. …

Now, back to Afghanistan. A “small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists” cannot possibly have drilled off these deposits, let alone done the engineering required to value them. At very best, they’ve spotted some outcrops and taken some samples. This is not a discovery — no serious exploration geologist would call anything a discovery until enough holes have been drilled into it to outline a significant volume of potentially economic material.

Where do they get the trillion-dollar figure? … They cannot have done the work necessary to generate any reasonable estimate. It’s worth pointing out that the vast majority of mineral outcroppings and other anomalies never lead to economic discoveries, much less mines. Even a very rich vein sticking right out on surface can turn out to be the last dregs of a system that has been eroded away, leaving nothing but a tease behind. For gold, the odds of an anomaly leading to an economic discovery are often cited as being on the order of 300 to one, against.

Note that this doesn’t mean the minerals are not there — Afghanistan has, for obvious reasons, not seen any modern exploration, or even antiquated exploration, for decades. It is, in all likelihood, a terrific place to look for minerals. But … it will take time for any real discoveries to be made …

And the great global warming hoax was recognized again:

Every country on Earth is still officially committed to catastrophic man-made warming as a reality that demands a draconian policy response. The erection of such a massive commitment on such shaky foundations begs for explanation, and must be put in both a larger political and psychological context.

Hubristic overestimation of human significance … may be the fundamental reason for broad acceptance of man-made climate change theory. The notion that man’s sinful and selfish ways will be punished goes back to the myth of the Flood. In many ways this belief in climate apocalypse reflects similar moralistic disapproval of “materialist” Western society

This quasi-religious belief is particularly appealing to the political and bureaucratic classes, because it provides new justifications for intervention to correct the imperfections and ongoing inequities of perpetually demonized capitalism. In a classic example of psychological “projection,” however, alarmists claim that it is their opponents who are tainted by “greed” and “self-interest.”

For most modern liberals, including many scientists, the market sun still goes round the government Earth, and it’s a paradigm they are reluctant to change. Policy skeptics, by contrast, who are still trying to establish the revolutionary and counterintuitive insights of Adam Smith, point out that carbon rationing, green industrial strategy and aid transfers under the aegis of “clean development” are — whatever the science — economic junk.

A guardian of the globe 0

Now here’s an idea! Want an inquiry into a scandalous hoax that has cost the public a mint? Get someone who makes a mint out of the hoax to lead the inquiry.

This info comes from Andrew Orlowski at The Register:

The peer leading the second Climategate enquiry at the University of East Anglia serves as a director of one of the most powerful environmental networks in the world, according to Companies House documents – and has failed to declare it.

Lord Oxburgh, a geologist by training and the former scientific advisor to the Ministry of Defence, was appointed to lead the enquiry into the scientific aspects of the Climategate scandal on Monday. But Oxburgh is also a director of GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment.

GLOBE may be too obscure to merit its own Wikipedia entry, but that belies its wealth and influence. It funds meetings for parliamentarians worldwide with an interest in climate change, and prior to the Copenhagen Summit GLOBE issued guidelines (pdf) for legislators… Globe lists Oxburgh as one of 23 key legislators.

At its blog, GLOBE wears its heart on its sleeve

In the House of Lords Register of Lords’ Interests, Oxburgh lists under remunerated directorships his chairmanship of Falck Renewables, and chairmanship of Blue NG, a renewable power company… He also declares that he is an advisor to Climate Change Capital, to the Low Carbon Initiative, … and [is] an environmental advisor to Deutsche Bank…

GLOBE is conspicuous by its absence, however. Oxburgh joined GLOBE in 2008. The University of East Anglia appointed Oxburgh after consulting the Royal Society.

“We are grateful to the Royal Society for helping us to identify such a strong panel and to the members for dedicating their time to this important matter,” said the University in a press statement. It may not be the smartest advice the UEA has ever received – the Royal Society’s partisanship [on the side of the scientists who were exposed by Climategate] is well known

One insider, who declined to be named, described Oxburgh’s appointment as “like putting Dracula in charge of the Blood Bank“…

Or more aptly, we suggest, like appointing Bernard Madoff to head a public inquiry into his own Ponzi scheme.

GLOBE’s worldwide secretary Elliott Morley and its British branch secretary David Chaytor were two of three MPs to face criminal [fraudulent expenses claims] charges last week…

In 2007 Oxburgh won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Platts. The judges said they were also impressed by “his very high ethical standards”.

James Delingpole comments at the Telegraph:

Climategate exposed the greatest scandal in the history of modern science but you’re never going to hear this from any of the official investigations

And he says of GLOBE that it is –

… very much the kind of body that likes to do things on the sly. Its Memorandum of Incorporation includes this revealing snippet about its purposes:

“To provide a forum for ideas and proposals to be floated in confidence and without the attention of an international spotlight.” … [And out of reach of the Freedom of Information Act.]

GLOBE was incorporated in 2006, the founding directors all being British legislators … And where does [its] money come from? Its 2008 accounts note:

The Directors acknowledge the support of International Organisations, Governments, Parliamentary Bodies and Industry, both financially and politically, with particular acknowledgement to United Nations*, The Global Environment Facility, The World Bank, European Commission, the Governments of Canada and Great Britain, the Senate of Brazil and Globe Japan.

*Footnote: the United Nations must be destroyed!