|The Week That Was
May 6, 2006
New on the Web: Elizabeth Whelan is president of the American Council
on Science and Health, a strongly
anti-smoking group. [Full disclosure: I serve on the Advisory Board
of ACSH.] Here she warns against exaggerated health fears about second-hand
smoke. The topic is scientifically controversial; Report 95-1115 from
the Congressional Research Service discusses the ambiguous evidence:
The flap of the week revolves around the CCSP (US Climate Change Science
Program), the nearly $2-billion-a-year federally funded research effort.
report (SAP-1.1) analyzes the patterns of warming of the past 25 years
and compares them with what greenhouse models would predict. The NOAA
of May 2 (Item #1) says there is no longer any discrepancy between observations
and theory. But readers of the SEPP website know that this is not true:
The report itself shows a significant disparity between data and model
results (see http://www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/Data%20vs%20Models.htm
or New on SEPP web of Dec. 14, 2005)
The NY Times (Item #2) buys into the press release - as does the Washington
Post (Item #3). The BBC, however, mentions some doubts (Item #4). Roger
Pielke Sr. describes the various conflicts of interest of authors and
editors of the CCSP report (Item #5). Stay tuned
this story is not
over by any means.
Meanwhile in Europe, big problems with their cockamamie carbon-trading
scheme (Item #6). Utilities gain, ratepayers and consumers lose. But what
did you expect?
Canada seems set to leave the Kyoto Protocol (Item #7)- which would
give a great PR boost for George Bush.
A statistician expresses her doubts about the evidence for Global
Warming (Item #8). And the science shows no increasing trend in water
vapor (Item #9). How can this be? And here we thought the oceans were
Oh well, another problem to be resolved.
CONGRATULATIONS TO PROF. RICHARD LINDZEN ON RECEIVING THE LEO PRIZE
IN GOTHENBURG SWEDEN
With profound regret we inform you that Professor Kirill Ya. Kondratyev,
Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, passed away on the 1st
of May 2006.
A giant force in atmospheric physics and climatology, and a strong supporter
of SEPP, he was vigorous to the end. We last met in 2004 in St Petersburg
during an informal symposium.
RIP, my friend.
1. New Report Reconciles Atmospheric Temperature Trends
NOAA News, 2 May 2006
First of 21 Reports from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Significantly
Revises, Updates Conclusions from Previous Key Reports
May 2, 2006 - The U.S. Climate Change Science Program issued the first
of 21 Synthesis and Assessment S&A Products today with findings that
improve the understanding of climate change and human influences on temperature
"Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding
and Reconciling Differences," also referred to as S&A Product
1.1, tackles some of the long-standing difficulties that have impeded
understanding of changes in atmospheric temperatures and the basic causes
of these changes.
According to the published report, there is no longer a discrepancy in
the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared
with higher levels in the atmosphere. This discrepancy had previously
been used to challenge the validity of climate models used to detect and
attribute the causes of observed climate change. This is an important
revision to and update of the conclusions of earlier reports from the
U.S. National Research Council and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
FULL STORY at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/s2623.htm
2. Federal Study Finds Accord on Warming
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
The New York Times, May 3, 2006
A scientific study commissioned by the Bush administration concluded
yesterday that the lower atmosphere was indeed growing warmer and that
there was "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."
The finding eliminates a significant area of uncertainty in the debate
over global warming, one that the administration has long cited as a rationale
for proceeding cautiously on what it says would be costly limits on emissions
of heat-trapping gases.
But White House officials noted that this was just the first of 21 assessments
planned by the federal Climate Change Science Program, which was created
by the administration in 2002 to address what it called unresolved questions.
The officials said that while the new finding was important, the administration's
policy remained focused on studying the remaining questions and using
voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases
like carbon dioxide.
The focus of the new federal study was conflicting records of atmospheric
For more than a decade, scientists using different methods had come up
with differing rates of warming at Earth's surface and in the midsection
of the atmosphere, called the troposphere. These disparities had been
cited by a small group of scientists, and by the administration and its
allies, to question a growing consensus among climatologists that warming
from heat-trapping gases could dangerously heat Earth.
The new study found that "there is no longer a discrepancy in the
rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with
higher levels in the atmosphere," in the words of a news release
issued by the Commerce Department and approved by the White House. The
report was published yesterday online at climatescience.gov.
The report's authors all agreed that their review of the data showed that
the atmosphere was, in fact, warming in ways that generally meshed with
computer simulations. The study said that the only factor that could explain
the measured warming of Earth's average temperature over the last 50 years
was the buildup heat-trapping gases, which are mainly emitted by burning
coal and oil.
All other industrial powers except Australia have accepted mandatory restrictions
on such gases under the Kyoto Protocol, but efforts to extend and expand
that treaty face hurdles.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that
conducts an exhaustive periodic review of causes and impacts of warming,
has just finished reviewing drafts of its next assessment, to be published
next year. Scientists involved in that effort, while refusing to comment
on specific findings, said that research since the last assessment, in
2001, had generated much greater certainty that humans are the main force
behind recent warming, and that much more warming is in store unless emissions
Michele St. Martin, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental
Quality, said, "We welcome today's report" and added that it
showed that President Bush's decision to focus nearly $2 billion a year
on climate monitoring and research was "working."
Thomas Karl, the director of the National Climatic Data Center in the
Commerce Department and the lead editor of the report, said it was not
simply a review of existing work but also, by forcing scientists with
differing views to meet repeatedly, resulted in breakthroughs. "The
evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature
increases," Dr. Karl said.
John R. Christy, an author of the new report whose analysis of satellite
temperature records long showed little warming above Earth's surface,
said he endorsed the conclusion that "part of what has happened over
the last 50 years has clearly been caused by humans."
But Dr. Christy, who teaches at the University of Alabama, Huntsville,
said the report also noted that computer simulations of the climate system,
while good at replicating the globally averaged temperature changes, still
strayed in projecting details, particularly in the tropics. This implied
that the models remained laden with uncertainties when used to study future
trends, he said.
Dr. Christy also said that even given what the models projected, it would
be impossible to slow warming noticeably in the coming decades. Countries
would be wise to seek ways to adapt to warming, he added, even as they
seek new sources of energy that do not emit heat-trapping gases.
3. Study Reconciles Data in Measuring Climate Change
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post, May 3, 2006
A government study released yesterday undermines one of the key arguments
of climate change skeptics, concluding there is no statistically significant
conflict between measures of global warming on the earth's surface and
in the atmosphere.
For years some global warming critics had pointed to the fact that satellite
measurements had recorded very little warming in the lower atmosphere,
while surface temperature readings indicated that the earth is heating
up. Now the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, an interagency body,
has concluded the two data sets match.
"The bottom line is there are no significant discrepancies in the
rates of warming," said Thomas R. Karl, director of the National
Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
in a telephone call with reporters. Karl said reconciling the two sets
of temperature readings is "really a major step forward" in
understanding climate change.
The report also concluded that humans are driving the warming trend through
greenhouse gas emissions, noting in the official news release, "the
observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained
by natural processes alone, nor by the effects of short-lived atmospheric
constituents such as aerosols and tropospheric ozone alone."
Rafe Pomerance, chairman of the Climate Policy Center, a group that advocates
mandatory curbs on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
linked to global warming, said the new report settles the scientific debate
over humans' role.
"This puts the nail in the coffin of [the skeptics'] argument as
much as anything I've seen," Pomerance said. "It may not be
the first time it's been said, but it's the clearest I've seen it stated
coming out of a government agency. Game over."
Twenty-one scientists worked on the federal report, Karl said, and concluded
that more recent satellite data -- coupled with some corrections to earlier
analyses -- had reconciled surface temperature observations with satellite
Still, the new findings did not sway several scientists and politicians
who question whether the climate is changing dramatically.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe
(R-Okla.), who maintains there is no evidence that human activity is warming
Earth, noted that observed land temperatures have risen about the same
amount over the past 30 years as in the period from 1918 to 1945, when
industrial sources were emitting fewer greenhouse gases.
"What is clear is that our increased confidence in land-based temperature
data in no way implies or supports a conclusion that recent observed warming
is due to man instead of natural variability," said Inhofe's spokesman,
Inhofe's analysis does not account for the acceleration in global surface
temperatures since the mid-1970s on top of earlier warming at the turn
of the century, Pomerance said, and Earth has now entered the warmest
period on record.
John Christy, who directs the Earth System Science Center at the University
of Alabama at Huntsville, thinks humans are contributing to global warming
but had long pointed to the discrepancies between surface and atmospheric
readings in challenging predictions of future rapid climate change. A
co-author of yesterday's federal study, he said he has "a minimalist
interpretation" of the report because Earth is not heating up rapidly
at this point.
"That doesn't change my whole view of the thing, because the whole
rate of change is fairly modest," Christy said in an interview. He
added that in the tropics, climate models predict higher temperatures
in the atmosphere than at the surface, something scientists are still
4. Clear' human impact on climate
By Richard Black, Environment Correspondent, BBC News website
A scientific report commissioned by the US government has concluded there
is "clear evidence" of climate change caused by human activities.
The report, from the federal Climate Change Science Program, said trends
seen over the last 50 years "cannot be explained by natural processes
alone". It found that temperatures have increased in the lower atmosphere
as well as at the Earth's surface. However, scientists involved in the
report say better data is badly needed.
Observations down the years have suggested that the troposphere, the lower
atmosphere, is not warming up, despite evidence that temperatures at the
Earth's surface are rising. This goes against generally accepted tenets
of atmospheric physics, and has been used by "climate sceptics"
as proof that there is no real warming. The new report, Temperature Trends
in the Lower Atmosphere, re-analyses the atmospheric data and concludes
that tropospheric temperatures are rising.
We do now have overlap between what is happening and what we believe ought
to be happening, said Peter Thorne, UK Met Office This means that the
impact of human activities upon the global climate are clear. "The
observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained
by natural processes alone, nor by the effect of short-lived atmospheric
constituents (such as aerosols and tropospheric ozone) alone," it
Holes in the data
But there are some big uncertainties which still need resolving. Globally,
the report concludes, tropospheric temperatures have risen by 0.10 and
0.20C per decade since 1979, when satellite data became generally available.
The wide gap between the two figures means, says the report, that "...it
is not clear whether the troposphere has warmed more or less than the
surface". Peter Thorne, of the UK Meteorological Office, who contributed
to the report, ascribes this uncertainty to poor data.
"Basically, we've not been observing the atmosphere with climate
in mind," he told the BBC News website. "We're looking for very
small signals in data that are very noisy. From one day to the next, the
temperature can change by 10C, but we're looking for a signal in the order
of 0.1C per decade."
The interpretation that's been given is different from what the data show,
says Fred Singer, SEPP. The report shows up a particular discrepancy concerning
the tropics, where it concludes that temperatures are rising by between
0.02 and 0.19C per decade, a big margin of error. Additionally, the majority
of the available datasets show more warming at the surface than in the
troposphere, whereas most models predict the opposite.
For Fred Singer, of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a prominent
climate sceptic, this suggests that the report's support for the concept
of human-induced climate change is spin rather than substance. "The
basic data in the report is quite OK," he said, "but the interpretation
that's been given is different from what the data says. "In particular,
[the authors] suppress the major result of the report; that data do not
agree with models."
Measuring tropospheric temperatures is far from a simple business. Satellites
sense the "average" temperature of the air between themselves
and the Earth, largely blind to what is happening at different altitudes.
To compound matters, instruments on board satellites degrade over time,
orbits subtly drift, and calibration between different satellites may
be poor. Weather balloons (or radiosondes) take real-time measurements
as they ascend, but scientists can never assess instruments afterwards;
they are "fire-and-forget" equipment. Correcting for all these
potential sources of error is a sensitive and time-consuming process.
5. Senior Climate Researcher Raises Reservations About New CCSP Report
Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science, 2 May 2006
The CCSP Report "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps
for Understanding and Reconciling Differences" (http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm)
by Thomas R. Karl, Susan J. Hassol, Christopher D. Miller, and William
L. Murray, editors, was published May 2, 2006. This is a report by the
Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research,
As discussed several times on the Climate Science weblog and in my Public
Comment, this Report is not a balanced presentation of the issue of recent
surface and tropospheric temperature trends. The weblogs on this Report
which report on its obvious conflict of interest include;
Conflict of Interest in the CCSP Report "Temperature Trends in the
Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences"
CCSP Report and Response to Public Comments Appears - Confirmation of
the Advocacy Position of the Committee (http://climatesci.atmos.colostate.edu/2006/03/17/ccsp-advocacy-report-appears/)
A Further Discussion of the Conflict of Interest on the CCSP Committee
My Public Comment is available from
Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report "Temperature
Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling
Differences". 88 pp including appendices.
As another example of the advocacy character of the Report, one of the
Editors, Ms. Susan Hassol, was also the writer of the recent HBO Special
"Too Hot Not to Handle" (http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/toohot/?ntrack_para1=leftnav_category5_show1).
This show clearly has a specific perspective on the climate change issue,
and lacks a balanced perspective. The Executive Producer was Ms. Laurie
The synopsis of the show from the HBO web site states (http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/toohot/synopsis.html),
"Over the past century, consumption of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil
fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) has risen to staggering levels, especially
in the United States, where five percent of the world's population is
responsible for 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. TOO
HOT NOT TO HANDLE offers a wealth of chilling evidence that the greenhouse
effect is intensifying and the Earth is warming faster than at any other
time in human history.
Among the startling facts revealed are:
Deadly heat waves in the U.S. have increased threefold since 1950 and
today kill more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and blizzards
The average temperature in Alaska has already risen five degrees, causing
99 percent of its glaciers to be melting, retreating and shrinking.
Rising sea levels are eroding our shoreline and may eventually displace
large numbers of Americans.
The intensity of catastrophic storms, such as 2005's devastating hurricanes
Katrina and Rita, , has increased dramatically in the last half-century,
as hurricanes draw their strength from warm ocean water.
Deadly viruses like West Nile, aided by higher air temperatures, are
spreading to new parts of the globe, including the entire continental
'My personal hope is that every viewer will be inspired to become part
of the solution to reducing our carbon emissions," says executive
producer Laurie David. "As the film shows, everything we need to
address this pressing problem already exists, and the time to act is now.'
The advocacy that is obvious in this HBO show is that these problems
are due to the increased radiative forcing of added anthropogenic CO2.
As readers of this weblog know, the climate system, including the human
influence, is much more complex than presented on the HBO show.
That one of the Editors of the CCSP Report also wrote the HBO special
should be of concern regarding the objectivity of that Report. Ms. Hassol's
role as an advocate is clearly exemplified by her Nature correspondence
in 1998 entitled "Clear need to act on global warming" (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v396/n6708/full/396210a0_fs.html).
Her role as advocate is, of course, appropriate, in other venues outside
of the CCSP process. Her position at the Aspen Global Change Institute
provides her with a platform to promote her views.
However, to serve as an Editor on the CCSP Report that was just
published, with a documented active role in what text was to be included
on the issue of 'Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for
Understanding and Reconciling Differences", further compromised the
Report. Since the goal was to provide policymakers with an objective understanding
of this issue in climate science, her involvement with the CCSP Report
is yet another example to show that the Report was intended to promote
a particular, narrow perspective on the issue of recent surface and tropospheric
6. Europe Fails To Halt Faltering Carbon Trading Scheme
By Fiona Harvey and Kevin Morrison in London
Financial Times, 3 May 2006
Prices for business permits to produce carbon dioxide slid to their lowest
in more than a year on Tuesday, even as the European Commission tried
to damp turmoil in the fledgling market in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Commission called on member states to withhold information on their
emissions until May 15, when officials plan to publish data on how much
carbon dioxide companies in each member state emitted in 2005, the first
year of the EU's emissions trading scheme.
This information is crucial to the emissions trading market, because the
price of permits is determined by the difference between the amount of
carbon dioxide produced by the 11,500 industrial installations covered
by the scheme and the number of permits issued. The early release of information
last week from France, the Netherlands and Belgium, showing that companies
in these states had an excess of allowances for the amount of carbon they
produced last year, sent prices plummeting.
Under the EU's emissions trading scheme, companies in certain energy-intensive
sectors are issued with permits to produce a certain tonnage of carbon
dioxide. If they produce less than their allowance, they can sell the
excess. But Tuesday's news that Swedish companies had been issued with
more than 10 per cent more allowances than they required sent prices even
lower, to EUR11 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
Atle Christiansen, director of Point Carbon, the analysts, urged caution.
He pointed out that Sweden's allocation of allowances amounted to only
about 1 per cent of the 2.1bn permits issued for 2005, and that the countries
that had issued information represented only about a quarter of emissions
under the scheme. The states yet to report - including Germany, the UK
and Italy - could have produced more carbon dioxide than was covered by
their allowances, which could help to rebalance the market. He said: "The
market has seen [the information released to date] as confirmation of
a more general trend but I think it is too early to pass judgment."
EU carbon dioxide futures for December 2006 delivery bounced off their
low to end at EUR11.50, down EUR1.85 on the day on the European Climate
Exchange. The December 2006 price has now fallen about 63 per cent from
its peak reached two weeks ago.
The price plunge has been deeper for the first phase of the EU trading
scheme, with prices for the second phase, from 2008 to 2012, holding at
higher levels. CO2 futures for December 2008 delivery ended 25 cents lower
at EUR18.75 a tonne, down 44 per cent from a record peak two weeks ago.
7. Canada Alters Course on Kyoto Budget: Slashes Funding Devoted to
Goals of Emissions Pact
By Doug Struck, Washington Post Foreign Service, May 3, 2006
TORONTO, May 2 -- Canada's Conservative government on Tuesday slashed
funds for environmental programs designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions,
a move that critics said gutted support for the Kyoto accord on global
Environmental groups said Canada, one of the early signatories and a high-profile
proponent of the 1997 pact, is now in line with the Bush administration,
which has dismissed the international agreement and expressed doubts about
humans' contributions to climate change.
The cuts were included in a federal budget, submitted to Parliament by
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that would also cut the national sales
tax and business taxes, create a variety of individual tax credits and
beef up spending for the military and law enforcement.
In planning the budget, Harper had a federal surplus -- one Canada has
maintained since 1998 -- to work with, and the funding priorities reflect
his campaign promises to replace government programs with tax cuts. The
budget replaces a federal day-care program with a $90-a-month child-support
payment, cuts a $4.6 billion program for aboriginal welfare, and omits
about $3.2 billion already allocated for environmental programs through
2010 to pay municipalities and businesses to reduce emissions of carbon
Instead, Harper's ruling party said it would develop a new "made-in-Canada"
program to reduce smog and offered a tax credit to try to increase public
transit usage. The government's environmental plan -- one paragraph in
a budget document replacing 25 pages in the previous government's budget
-- drew immediate protest.
"These are dramatic cutbacks," said Jack Layton, head of the
opposition New Democratic Party. "Every Canadian out there has become
more and more aware of the crisis of climate change, but our government
is going in the other direction."
"Canada doesn't have a climate change program anymore," said
Dale Marshall, a policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation, a Canadian
environmental group. Canada is currently chairing the meetings on the
Kyoto accord, and it is "embarrassing to have a chair that doesn't
even believe in the agreements," he said. "Other countries,
in the European Union, are absolutely committed to meeting their Kyoto
targets and are on track."
Canada, which has long clung to its "green" image, hosted early
work that led to the Kyoto Protocol, in which 163 countries and regional
organizations pledged to meet quotas to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions
that many scientists believe are warming Earth, melting glaciers and brewing
Despite Canada's vocal support for Kyoto, its greenhouse emissions have
risen by 24 percent since 1990, leading Harper's environmental minister,
Rona Ambrose, to declare meeting the goals "impossible."
Ambrose had already cut a variety of programs aimed at meeting the Kyoto
standards, including a much-publicized plan that encouraged individual
conservation efforts. Business and oil-producing groups from the oil-rich
province of Alberta applauded the government's pullback on Kyoto.
"We shouldn't be spending billions of dollars fighting a problem
that may not be there," said Morten Paulsen, a spokesman for a Calgary-based
group called Friends of Science, which has criticized the Kyoto accord.
He said that arguments that global warming is caused by carbon dioxide
are unproven and that "we believe they are a white elephant."
Douglas Macdonald, a senior lecturer at University of Toronto Center for
the Environment, predicted that the Harper administration would not actually
withdraw from the Kyoto accord, which Canada formally ratified in 2002.
"That would be too visible," he said. "They are more interested
in smoke screens. Canada had been one of the leaders pushing for Kyoto.
Now the government is saying we won't take it seriously."
8. Personal view: The idea everyone agrees on climate change is a fallacy
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | May 1, 2006 |
As it is bank holiday Monday it seems appropriate to discuss the weather.
In an age of, we are led to believe by assorted greens and eco-fundamentalists,
unprecedented and potentially cataclysmic global warming, it does seem
rather cool. Indeed last winter was one of the coldest for the best part
of a decade and spring was a frogspawn-threatening two weeks behind schedule.
I am no climatologist but the alarmism of the scientific establishment,
including the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King who
is on record as saying the only habitable continent will be Antarctica
by the end of the century if climate change is not controlled, does strike
me as slightly excessive.
I am, however, a trained statistician. One of the first things I read
about statistics was that it was about measurement and variability. People's
height varies, the number of leaves on trees varies, and so does the global
average temperature over time. Climate change, therefore, strikes me as
quite unexceptional. Indeed I would be amazed if it did not exist, given
that solar activity varies.
There have been many fluctuations in the Earth's average temperatures.
The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. But there was a period
from about 5,500 to 2,000BC known as the Holocene Maximum when average
temperatures were, apparently, about 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than they
Temperatures then cooled, resulting in the Little Archaic Ice Age of
around 520-350BC, and then warmed into Roman times. The Dark Ages were,
apparently, on the cool side, but the flowering of medieval culture happily
coincided with a warm period. The subsequent Little Ice Age occurred from
around 1500 to 1860 and included some bitterly cold winters in the 17th
Century when the Thames froze. Greenland's icy mountains became decidedly
icier and the Norse settlements died out.
Since the middle of the 19th Century average temperatures have picked
up. But even over this geologically short period of time there have been
discernable swings in temperature. The years 1942 to 1970 were, for example,
on the chilly side and included the bitter winter of 1962/63 which was
the coldest in England and Wales since 1740. Since the early Seventies,
when "runaway glaciation" and a new ice age were foretold, there
has been some warming.
All in all, global average surface temperatures picked up by about a
modest 0.6C during the 20th Century, which geologist Dr Bob Carter of
the James Cook University, Australia, for example, assesses to be within
the limits of natural statistical variability. And, interestingly, global
average air temperatures, which are regarded as more reliable by climate
scientists, have not changed over the past 20 to 30 years. This all strikes
me as little reason to take out a timeshare with the Emperor penguins.
But this is not the impression gained when reading about the so-called
scientific consensus, which claims that global warming is not just a major
threat to the planet but is primarily man-made. The culprit is the burning
of fossil fuels that results in the release of carbon emissions into the
atmosphere. These emissions act as greenhouse gases, blanketing the earth,
trapping the Sun's heat and, apparently, frying the Earth. But the burning
of fossil fuels also results in sulphate aerosols (tiny particles in the
atmosphere) that reflect the Sun's heat back into space and cool the Earth.
The combustion of fossil fuels can, therefore, cool as well as warm.
Part of the scientific consensus is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), which was set up in 1988 under UN auspices. Its influential
work claims to show that unrestricted carbon emissions will lead to hugely
damaging increases in temperature. And, crucially, its work is the scientific
underpinning to the UN's Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which requires signatories
to restrict their carbon emissions in order to control global warming.
Suffice to say here that the UK Government is an ardent supporter of
Kyoto's procedures, which are part of the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affair's policies for "dealing with dangerous climate
change", irrespective of cost.
But the IPCC's analysis is deeply flawed, as explained in an excellent
report from the House of Lords*. The Lords' report also contained a quote
from Professor Reiter, of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, which challenged
the appropriateness of the notion of scientific consensus. He said "consensus
is the stuff of politics, not science".
And indeed it is, as there seems to be little scientific agreement that
mankind's fossil-fuel burning is the major reason for climate change.
On the contrary, analyses of scientific papers on climate change by Dr
Benny Peiser, of John Moores University, and Dr Dennis Bray, of the German-based
GKSS National Research Centre conclude that the dissenters are in a healthy
* House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, The Economics of
Climate Change, Volume I, HL Paper 120I (July 2005), TSO (The Stationery
Ruth Lea is a director of the Centre for Policy Studies and a non-
executive director of Arbuthnot Banking Group
9. Variations in annual global precipitation (1979-2004), based on
the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5 analysis
Thomas M. Smith et al
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L06705, doi:10.1029/2005GL025393,
The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) has produced a combined
satellite and in situ global precipitation estimate, beginning 1979. The
annual average GPCP estimates are here analyzed over 1979-2004 to evaluate
the large-scale variability over the period. Data inhomogeneities are
evaluated and found to not be responsible for the major variations, including
systematic changes over the period. Most variations are associated with
El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episodes. There are also tropical
trend-like changes over the period, correlated with interdecadal warming
of the tropical SSTs and uncorrelated with ENSO. Trends have spatial variations
with both positive and negative values, with a global-average near zero.
The new paper by Smith et al, suggests that there has been no global
increase in water vapor content, and undermines the IPCC foundation stone
of an enhancement of the increased warming effect of CO2 via increased
atmospheric water vapor:
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