An interesting paper was published this month in the journal, Science. Titled "Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature", the paper's authors, Lacis, Schmidt, Rind, and Rued, contend that CO2 is the critical trigger of climatological catastrophe, on the basis of their global climate models, which have long been used to provide evidence of the fact that CO2 is causing climatological catastrophe.
You would think that the authors might have paused for a second over the potential circularity of their argument - and might have chosen to take the opportunity to illustrate how their models can be used to predict something which has actually occurred.
Or, 'well ok', you might think, 'not particularly convincing science, but the statement is clear enough, "In our models, CO2 is very important"'. The paper concludes with the statement: "This makes the reduction and control of atmospheric CO2 a serious and pressing issue, worthy of real-time attention." less of a scientific statement and more a call to political action.
Then there is Figure 1, some kind of a see-saw, teeter-totter, type diagram (depending on your English preferences), a type of diagram rarely seen in scientific papers, though quite commonly employed in communicating complex concepts of the balance of power to the unwashed masses.
Anyway, intrigued by the possibility that this distinguished paper's verbiage might have suffered from the copy-and-paste malaise that seems to prevalent in climatology, I googled its closing sentence, "This makes the reduction and control of atmospheric CO2 a serious and pressing issue, worthy of real-time attention." and, sure enough, 24,000 hits, or thereabouts.
I looked at the time periods that those hits come from, making use of google's daterange functionality. (This is a nice keyword which allows you to restrict a google search to a given time window). This showed, for example, that thousands of examples of the search string had made it onto the web in the last few days! (For reference, here is the query: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=daterange%3A2455471-2455491 This makes the reduction and control of atmospheric CO2 a serious and pressing issue%2C worthy of real-time attention (and, by the way, if you want to obtain the necessary numbers for the daterange google keyword, go here: http://www.onlineconversion.com/julian_date.htm - among many other possible date converters).
So, I was again intrigued. The occurrences of this string on the web are pretty recent. One example hit was to a TIME magazine blog (which quotes the article extensively): http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2010/10/14/climate-why-co2-is-the-control-knob-for-global-climate-change/ another was to a helpful NASA page, trying to explain the article http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/lacis_01/GISS_CO2_Science_Brief.pdf (The target sentence was somewhat rearranged in the NASA article, but still clearly visible).
How had this massive explosion in the web's interest in this pressing issue come about so rapidly? Hard to say, either a lot of journalists and bloggers pounced on that issue of Science, assimilated all the papers, and decided that this particular circular argument needed a wider audience....OR....there is an orchestrated media campaign designed to push this CAGW perspective.
Why have the scientists decided to become activists? Surely their job should be to remove uncertainty from their studies, not to try to spread a half-baked word far and wide?
One answer to this question might be that the science is not as good as has been represented, and instead of improving the science, the activist-scientists have decided to improve the positioning of the bad science.