"Global warming has played out roughly according to the models," he said. Even models set up in the '80s and '90s, which by comparison with those used by scientists now were very rudimentary, have held up. At the same time, he freely admitted that scientists have a great deal of work to do to explain some discrepancies.
"We don't catch that decadal variability very well," he said. "But in time that irons itself out."
A lot of criticisms have to do with details and are missing the bigger picture, England said.
"Coming up to the summer time, you know it's going to be warmer in summer than winter," he said. "You don't have to say exactly when the rain times will occur."
Critics are often focusing on disputes over details of the science. Along with the so-called "hiatus" in surface temperatures, Paltridge cites the role of cloud formations that could be skewing the models on which a lot of global warming predictions are based.
In the case of Paltridge and Met Office scientist Mat Collins, we see voices clearly dissenting from majority opinion from within the scientific community. Collins goes so far as to say that any conclusions about the link between "climate change" and the storms in England is premature at best.
Matt England disagrees with the broadness of Collins' conclusion, preferring an interpretation in which climate change, whether involving the polar winds or not, is directly involved.
However, speaking specifically about whether the jet stream could have been shifted by changes we know were caused by global warming, England appeared to side with Collins, "What I'm hearing is that the science is not really solid enough to go and make that conclusion. The Daily Mail of course goes and makes a big thing about it. That's disappointing because [on the whole] the science is panning out."
Paltridge's airing of his concerns for his profession should be applauded. Healthy debate must function within the scientific community or it ceases to do its job. Scientists should question whether they are allowing their findings to be skewed by a majority opinion that is itself influenced by politics. That danger is real, even if its effects are not currently pronounced.
But for now, Paltridge's views are in the minority. And it is clear that the scientific process of discovery and argument, a process that involves much messy dissent and allows for minority findings to be aired and argued, has not been derailed, no matter how much some in the media might wish it to be.
-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in New York City