|The Week That Was
October 28 , 2006
1. Response to Sir Nicholas Stern
Published in World Economics Oct. 2006
The exchange (World Economics, April 2006) between Sir Nicholas Stern and Ian Byatt and co-authors has concentrated on climate science. I would like to add some arguments based on logic, requiring little knowledge of climate science.
To do this I will pose three fundamental questions: 1] Is there evidence for or against an appreciable human contribution to current climate warming? 2] Would a warmer climate be better or worse than the present one? And 3] Realistically speaking, can we do something about climate? Is it possible to influence the climate by policy actions in an effective way?
1. To address the first question we need to recognize that the climate has always been changing. It is either warming or cooling – on time scales ranging from decades to millions of years -- though on average it has not changed very much since the beginning of time. Continents shift, mountain chains grow and decay, ice ages come and go; but there has been remarkable stability overall -- even with huge variations in the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Since 1979, when weather satellite temperature measurements began, there has been a slight warming trend; its exact magnitude is in dispute. How can we tell whether this warming is due to human influences, such as the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases, or whether it is simply another natural fluctuation?
It's no use asking the thermometers; they cannot talk. The melting of glaciers and ice sheets, the rise in sea level, severe storms, floods, droughts -- all of these are interesting, to be sure, but really irrelevant to our question. They may well be connected to a warmer climate -- or maybe not -- but they cannot tell us what causes the warming. Nor can a vote among scientists settle this scientific issue. Nor can we argue that the rough correlation with the rising level of greenhouse gases proves a cause-effect relationship. World climate cooled between 1940 and 1975 while greenhouse-gas levels rose sharply. Correlations have also existed in the past; but in every case (for example, in the sudden warming at the end of ice ages) the increase in temperature preceded the increase in carbon oxide. Clearly, carbon dioxide was not the fundamental cause of the warming. In other words, correlation is not proof – a truth that is often forgotten.
So what is left? All working scientists agree that one should compare the observed patterns of warming with the patterns calculated from greenhouse models: distinctive geographic and altitude distributions of the temperature trends. A just issued report, using the best available data and models, gives an interesting result: the patterns do not agree. [see FTNT**]. Note that, logically, agreement by itself cannot prove that the warming is due to human causes; it only makes it plausible. But when we find an instance of significant disagreement, then we can argue that the influence of human effects is minor compared to the natural fluctuations of the climate.
**FTNT: The report to resolve this comparison, published on May 2, 2006, is based on research funded by the US government under the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). See <http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm>
The crucial graph (Figure 5.4G) clearly shows the disagreement in the sensitive tropical region between observed temperature trends and those calculated from greenhouse models. Note, however, that the Executive Summary of this CCSP report claims that there is "clear evidence" for human global warming, disregarding the contrary result within the report. I shall not address this unexplained discrepancy here.
A separate but important question is: How reliable are forecasts of climate models, which indicate a major warming as a result of increasing greenhouse gases -- a "climate sensitivity" (CS) of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C for a doubling of carbon dioxide? Clearly, if we take the disagreement with the data seriously, then the observed patterns are consistent with a much lower value of CS and therefore only a minor future warming. [see FTNT***]
***FTNT: Logically, however, one cannot exclude the possibility that climate models are completely in error and that the current warming is anthropogenic after all. This assumption leads then to the following calculation: If one assigns all of the observed 0.6 degC temperature increase of the 20th century to an anthropogenic increase in GH gases (which together have gone about 50% towards a doubling), then the additional forcing from the next 50% will only add a little additional warming. This is so because the calculated temperature increases only as the logarithm of CO2 concentration.
This discrepancy between the observed and calculated values of CS stems from the fact that the models give very imperfect representations of the real atmosphere. It is well known, for example, that all models have a serious problem in representing clouds. Some of the best work on this problem has been done at the Hadley Centre, first by John Mitchell, and more recently by Murphy et al and Stainforth et al. at Oxford. The microphysics of clouds is extremely complex and has to be represented by somewhat arbitrarily chosen parameters. Stainforth has shown [Nature, 27 January 2005] that plausible assumptions about cloud parameters can lead to temperature increases of up to 11.5 degC for a doubling of carbon dioxide. To some people these large numbers suggest climate catastrophes; however, this result may only show that models are extremely sensitive to the assumptions put into them and therefore cannot be used in a reliable way to make predictions about future climate.
2. The second question is clearly in the realm of economics. In the ongoing debate it seems to be assumed, generally without much analysis, that a warmer climate presents a "danger" or a "threat" – or a similar prejudicial term, implying serious consequences for economy, human health, ecology, etc. In a proper analysis, various economic groups disagree about the magnitude and even the sign of the consequences. The IPCC report (1995), for example, featured five publications, all showing negative economic consequences. I found, however, that in spite of similar total damage numbers, they disagreed violently in their numbers for different economic sectors. On the other hand, a group headed by Robert Mendelsohn (Yale University) showed positive consequences; the GNP of the United States would increase for assumed temperature increases of 2 degC [Cambridge University Press, 1999].
William Nordhaus, a leading environmental economist, asserts geographic evidence that economic output decreases with increasing temperature. In a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (7 March 2006) he shows that economic activity decreases strongly in the tropics. But many other factors enter into the equation besides climate. For a striking example one only needs to look at the country of Zimbabwe before and after Mugabe.
Without going further into technical details, one can look at historical evidence. We know from voluminous records that human existence was good and much more comfortable during the Medieval Warm Period (ca. 1100 AD) than during the following Little Ice Age, when crops failed, people starved, and disease was rampant; life then was nasty, brutish, and short. Another way of looking at this question is to ask if things are worse in 2006 than in 1956 when it was colder. It becomes obvious that climate effects are minor compared to everything else that happened in the last 50 years; but that is exactly the point: Technological progress and the mobilization of capital far outweigh any climate factor that one can think of in promoting prosperity. It would be foolhardy to claim that a slightly warmer climate, of say one degC in a hundred years, will have serious effects on the way we live, on the economy, human health, or anything else. Indeed, since most agree that a colder climate would damage the economy, one might ask: What is the probability that the present climate just happens to be the Panglossian optimum?
3. The third topic is perhaps the easiest to deal with. What to do about climate change? People often talk about "stabilizing the climate;" what they really mean is stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But even that is a daunting task. But we know what it would take: As published by the IPCC (and here everyone agrees), we would have to reduce emissions worldwide by between 60 to 80 percent in order to stabilize the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is also agreed that the Kyoto Protocol is a puny effort; at the very best it only delays the increase in greenhouse gas levels by about six years. The effect on climate, all agree, would be minute: a calculated reduction of temperature of only one-twentieth of a degree. Such a change cannot even be measured by ordinary thermometers.
I noticed that the Stern report will include a “non-marginal dynamic cost-benefit analysis.” We are not told, however, what discount rate will be chosen -- a crucial piece of information. I am of course familiar with marginal cost-benefit analysis, which is fairly standard. I've even published some of the early work on dynamic cost-benefit analysis in connection with discovering the optimal path toward controlling pollution from automobiles. (Here we consider that the fleet of automobiles changes rather slowly so that introducing new technologies that reduce pollution has only slight effect on total emissions -- and ambient air quality -- to begin with.)
But the real question for the Stern Report: Since it is unlikely that the current warming has much of a human component and since it is unlikely that something substantial can be done about reducing the growth in greenhouse gases -- what is the point to a cost-benefit analysis, when in fact it seems most probable that a warmer climate would produce positive benefits instead of damages?
Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. He served as first director of the US Weather Satellite Service.
2. The Royal Society Flunks Science 101
Editorial, Washington Times, Oct. 5, 2006
We fear that the venerable Royal Society of London, the world’s oldest science academy, has succumbed to Global Warming fever. Having maintained for several years that the science of global warming is “settled,” they now try to stifle debate. A letter to the British branch of Exxon-Mobil found its way to The Guardian newspaper, which quotes from it:
"It is now more crucial than ever that we have a debate which is properly informed by the science. For people to be still producing information that misleads people about climate change is unhelpful. The next IPCC report should give people the final push that they need to take action and we can't have people trying to undermine it."
Ironically, the Royal Society letter calls for debate while trying to close it off. It doesn’t identify the objectionable class of “people,” but presumably they are the same ones that Al Gore refers to as “deniers.” [Curiously, in his movie and book, Gore also denies that any deniers exist. He bases this astonishing claim on a discredited “study” published in Science in December 2005.]
The Royal Society wants Exxon to stop support for studies that might reveal that the current warming is due to natural causes and not manmade. Too late! The US government released a report last May that clearly shows how observations disagree with results calculated from greenhouse models. Yes, that’s how science works. It’s a fundamental principle that one can never “prove” a scientific hypothesis; one can only falsify it. Here the hypothesis is that the current increase in greenhouse gases, presumably from the burning of fossil fuels, will cause temperatures to rise – and, according to models, most rapidly in the high atmosphere in the tropics. But the data don’t show this -- and thereby falsify the hypothesis.
We therefore recommend that the Royal Society and other concerned parties check for themselves and view the US Climate Change Science Program report, which summarizes years of work with balloon and satellite temperature data, supported by many billions of federal money. Just click on http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm and look at figure 5.4G in Chapter 5 of the CCSP report. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover that the observations disagree with climate models. This means that the current warming is mainly due to causes other than greenhouse gases – most likely the variable Sun. One other interesting fact: The report’s Executive Summary and press release both claim “clear evidence” for human-caused warming. But that’s not what the report itself says. Perhaps Congress should exercise its oversight responsibility and find the reason for this strange discrepancy. After all, far-reaching and costly policy decisions are based on the myth of manmade global warming.
3. Earth’s Climate is Always Warming or Cooling
Letter to Editor, WSJ
Published June 20, 2006
Roger C. Altman (WSJ op-ed, June 16), a Treasury official in the Clinton administration, says he is no climatologist, but then calls for energy policies that assume catastrophic global warming from carbon dioxide emitted in fossil-fuel burning. He doesn’t reveal his sources of information, perhaps just various “experts” quoted in the press – or perhaps even Al Gore. But Gore, in his movie and elsewhere, never asks the key question: How much of current warming is due to natural causes? And how much is really human-caused? Anthropogenic warming is simply taken for granted as part of a claimed but non-existent "complete” scientific consensus.
The current warming trend is not unusual: Climate is always either warming or cooling; and ice is either melting or accumulating. But thermometers can’t talk and tell you the cause of climate change. This requires a comparison of the patterns of the observed warming with the best available models that incorporate both anthropogenic (greenhouse gases and aerosols) as well as natural climate forcings.
Fortunately, the US-Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), funded at $2 billion annually, has done just that in its first report, published last month http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm
It is based on the best current information on temperature trends. So how well do observations confirm the results of greenhouse models? The answer: Not at all.
The disparity between theory that predicts a climate disaster and actual data from the atmosphere is demonstrated most strikingly in the report’s Fig. 5.4G (p.111), which plots the difference between surface and troposphere trends for a collection of models (shown as a histogram) and for balloon and satellite data.
Allowing for uncertainties in the data and for imperfect models, there is only one valid conclusion from the failure of greenhouse theory to explain the observations: The human contribution to global warming appears be quite small and natural climate factors are dominant.
This conclusion should have a crucial influence on shaping our energy future. We hope that Mr. Altman – and the Bush team in Treasury -- will pay attention to the science before advocating drastic energy policies that would kill economic growth.
Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service. June 16, 2006
4. Gore Unveils Global-Warming Plan
Cutting Emissions, Restructuring Industry and Farming Urged
By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 19, 2006; A02
NEW YORK, Sept. 18 -- Former vice president Al Gore laid out his prescription for an ailing and overheated planet Monday, urging a series of steps from freezing carbon dioxide emissions to revamping the auto industry, factories and farms.
Gore touched on nuclear power as a palliative for global warming but made it clear that this is at best a partial solution. Nuclear power inevitably raises questions of nuclear arms proliferation, he said.
GORE at UN: Cigarette Smoking 'Significant' Contributor To Global Warming
Fri Sep 29 2006 09:04:05 ET
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff on Thursday evening about the perils of climate change, claiming: Cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!"
Gore, who was introduced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the world faces a "full-scale climate emergency that threatens the future of civilization on earth."
5. Stopping the Coming Ice Age
Baltic Cruise Workshop (Aug 27 – Sept. 8, 2006)
Earth climate is forever changing – sometimes warming, sometimes cooling. Over the past two million years the Earth has experienced some 20 episodes of glaciation, of roughly 100,000-year duration, with shorter interglacial warm periods of roughly 10,0000 year duration. Our present Interglacial, the Holocene period, has lasted over 10,000 years and many soon end, making way for the next ice age. Some calculations suggest that the Holocene may last much longer than 10,000 years. According to the “astronomical theory” of Milankovitch, the timing of these cycles is controlled by changes in the Earth orbit eccentricity, inclination of the spin axis, and its precession.
In any case, ice ages impose severe stress on human populations and on the ecology. During the most recent ice age, mile-thick ice sheets covered much of North America and all of northern Europe (including the British Isles). Sea levels were 120 meters lower than today. The English Channel was a huge river, draining the Rhine, Maas, Thames etc, and the melt water from the ice sheets, into the Bay of Biscayne.
In addition to the ice ages, less severe coolings have occurred on an irregular, 1500-year cycle (Dansgaard-Oeschger-Bond cycles). Their likely cause is solar variability. The most recent events include the Medieval Warm Period (around 1100 AD), the Little Ice Age, and the Modern Warming that started around 1850 AD. Historic records indicate that such cold periods had severe economic impacts, causing failed harvests and widespread starvation and disease.
We urge that studies be conducted to mitigate the occurrence of the coming ice age. According to theory, the onset of glaciation is caused by a positive feedback at a sensitive “tipping point.” Judiciously planned intervention there could destroy the positive feedback and delay or cancel an ice-age cycle.
There is little that can be done to mitigate the 1500-year cycles, if indeed they are controlled by solar activity. Here adaptation may provide the only means of dealing with the disastrous effects of cold periods. Research should be directed to discovering the best methods of dealing with the damaging impacts of cooling on human populations.
6. The Heat is On
Sep 7th 2006
From The Economist print edition
The uncertainty surrounding climate change argues for action, not inaction. America should lead the way
For most of the Earth's history, the planet has been either very cold, by our standards, or very hot. Fifty million years ago there was no ice on the poles and crocodiles lived in Wyoming. Eighteen thousand years ago there was ice two miles thick in Scotland and, because of the size of the ice sheets, the sea level was 130m lower. Ice-core studies show that in some places dramatic changes happened remarkably swiftly: temperatures rose by as much as 20C in a decade. Then, 10,000 years ago, the wild fluctuations stopped, and the climate settled down to the balmy, stable state that the world has enjoyed since then. At about that time, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, mankind started to progress.
Man-made greenhouse gases now threaten this stability. Climate change is complicated and uncertain, but, as our survey this week explains, the underlying calculation is fairly straightforward. The global average temperature is expected to increase by between 1.4C and 5.8C this century. The bottom end of the range would make life a little more comfortable for northern areas and a little less pleasant for southern ones. Anything much higher than that could lead to catastrophic rises in sea levels, increases in extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding and drought, falling agricultural production and, perhaps, famine and mass population movement.
Nobody knows which is likelier, for the climate is a system of almost infinite complexity. Predicting how much hotter a particular level of carbon dioxide will make the world is impossible. It's not just that the precise effect of greenhouse gases on temperature is unclear. It's also that warming has countless indirect effects. It may set off mechanisms that tend to cool things down (clouds which block out sunlight, for instance) or ones that heat the world further (by melting soils in which greenhouse gases are frozen, for instance). The system could right itself or spin out of human control.
This uncertainty is central to the difficulty of tackling the problem. Since the costs of climate change are unknown, the benefits of trying to do anything to prevent it are, by definition, unclear. What's more, if they accrue at all, they will do so at some point in the future. So is it really worth using public resources now to avert an uncertain, distant risk, especially when the cash could be spent instead on goods and services that would have a measurable near-term benefit?
If the risk is big enough, yes. Governments do it all the time. They spend a small slice of tax revenue on keeping standing armies not because they think their countries are in imminent danger of invasion but because, if it happened, the consequences would be catastrophic. Individuals do so too. They spend a little of their incomes on household insurance not because they think their homes are likely to be torched next week but because, if it happened, the results would be disastrous. Similarly, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the risk of a climatic catastrophe is high enough for the world to spend a small proportion of its income trying to prevent one from happening.
And the slice of global output that would have to be spent to control emissions is probably not huge. The cost differential between fossil-fuel-generated energy and some alternatives is already small, and is likely to come down. Economists trying to guess the ultimate cost of limiting carbon dioxide concentrations to 550 parts per million or below (the current level is 380ppm, 450ppm is reckoned to be ambitious and 550ppm livable with) struggle with uncertainties too. Some models suggest there would be no cost; others that global output could be as much as 5% lower by the end of the century than if there were no attempt to control emissions. But most estimates are at the low end, below 1%.
The technological and economic aspects of the problem are, thus, not quite as challenging as many imagine. The real difficulty is political. Climate change is one of the hardest policy problems the world has ever faced. Because it is global, it is in every country's interests to get every other country to bear the burden of tackling it. Because it is long term, it is in every generation's interests to shirk the responsibility and shift it onto the next one. And that way, nothing will be done.
What Kyoto did
The Kyoto protocol, which tried to get the world's big polluters to commit themselves to cutting emissions to 1990 levels or below, was not a complete failure. European Union countries and Japan will probably hit their targets, even if Canada does not. Kyoto has also created a global market in carbon reduction, which allows emissions to be cut relatively efficiently. But it will not have much impact on emissions, and therefore on the speed of climate change, because it does not require developing countries to cut their emissions, and because America did not ratify it.
The United States is the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases, though not for long. Every year China is building power-generating capacity almost equivalent to Britain's entire stock, almost all of it burning coal, the dirtiest fuel. It will shortly overtake America, and India is not far behind. Developing countries argue, quite reasonably, that, since the rich world created the problem, it must take the lead in solving it. So, if America continues to refuse to do anything to control its emissions, developing countries won't do anything about theirs. If America takes action, they just might.
Two measures are needed. One is an economic tool, which puts a price on emitting greenhouse gases. That could be a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, such as Europe's Emissions-Trading Scheme, which limits how much producers can emit, and lets them buy and sell emissions credits. Ideally, politicians would choose the more efficient carbon tax, which implies a relatively stable price that producers can build into their investment plans. The more volatile cap-and-trade system, however, is easier to sell to producers, who can get free allowances when the scheme is introduced.
Either of these schemes should decrease the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of alternatives. In doing so, they are bound to raise energy prices. To keep down price rises, and thus ease the political process, governments should employ a second tool: spending to help promising new technologies get to market. Carbon sequestration, which offers the possibility of capturing carbon produced by dirty power stations and storing it underground, is a prime candidate.
Although George Bush now argues that America needs to wean itself off its dependency on oil, his administration still refuses to take serious action. But other Americans are moving. California's state assembly has just passed tough Kyoto-style targets. Many businesses, fearing that they will end up having to deal with a patchwork of state-level measures, now want federal controls. And conservative America, once solidly sceptical, is now split over the issue, as Christians concerned about mankind's stewardship of the Earth, neo-cons keen to reduce America's dependency on the Middle East and farmers who see alternative energy as a new potential source of energy come round to the idea of cutting down on carbon.
Mr Bush has got two years left in the job. He would like to be remembered as a straightshooter who did the right thing. Tackling climate change would be one way to do that.
7. Climate Change
Letter to Editor
Published in Geotimes, Sept 2006
In the June 2006 Geotimes, Michael Glantz eloquently expresses a widely held concern about global warming. I want to expand his apt taxonomy of birds (hawks, doves, owls and ostriches) by adding “Chicken Littles,” who fear that the sky is falling just because some ice is melting.
Glantz points out, quite correctly, that climate is always either warming or cooling -- and, of course, this means that ice is either melting or growing. The real problem though is to determine how much of current warming is due to natural causes and how much is manmade. This requires a comparison of the patterns of the observed warming with the best available models that incorporate both anthropogenic (greenhouse gases and aerosols) as well as natural climate forcings.
Fortunately, we have the just published U.S.-Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) report
([[www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm]]), based on best current information. As shown in Figure 1.3F in the report, modeled surface temperature trends are seen to change little with latitude, except for a stronger warming in the Arctic. The observations, however, show a strong surface warming in the northern hemisphere but not in the southern hemisphere (see Figures 3.5C and 3.6D in the CCSP report). The Antarctic is found to be cooling and Arctic temperatures, while currently rising, were higher in the 1930s than today.
Although the Executive Summary of the CCSP report says that a discrepancy no longer exists between tropospheric and surface temperature changes, due to past faulty data interpretations, a disparity is still apparent in the report itself. The greenhouse models indicate that the tropics should provide the most sensitive location for their validation; trends there increase strongly with altitude, peaking at around 10 kilometers. The observations, however, show the opposite: flat or even decreasing tropospheric trend values (see Fig. 3.7 and also Fig. 5.7E). This disparity is demonstrated most strikingly in Figure 5.4G, that shows the difference between surface and troposphere trends for a collection of models (displayed as a histogram) and for balloon and satellite data.
Allowing for uncertainties in the data and for imperfect models, there is only one valid conclusion from the failure of greenhouse models to explain the observations: The human contribution to global warming is quite small, so that natural climate factors are dominant. This may also explain why the climate was cooling from 1940 to 1975 -- even as greenhouse-gas levels increased rapidly.
An overall test for climate prediction may soon be possible by measuring the ongoing rise in sea level. According to my estimates, sea level should rise by 1.5 to 2.0 centimeters per decade (about the same rate as in past millennia); the U.N.-IPCC (4th Assessment Report) predicts 1.4 to 4.3 centimeters per decade. Writing July 13 in The New York Review of Books, NASA scientist James Hansen, however, suggests the scary value of 20 feet or more per century -- equivalent to about 60 centimeters or more per decade.
Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service.
8. AAPG Award to Crichton
Letter to Eos
Published Oct 24, 2006
It is somewhat unusual for a professional organization to criticize the actions of another professional society [Brigham-Grette et al 2006]. So when the Council of the American Quaternary Association takes issue with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists over its 2006 Journalism Award to writer and climate skeptic Dr. Michael Crichton, citing a recently issued government scientific report [Karl et al 2006], one must take notice. The AMQUA council members, with no obvious familiarity with the intricacies of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), nevertheless claim such evidence but merely demonstrate that they have not read (or understood) the cited CCSP report. It is true that the report’s Summary (and press release) claim “clear evidence” for AGW, but the report itself clearly contradict this. Specifically, Figure 5.4G, which compares key observations with the calculations of major greenhouse models, shows a considerable disparity. There are other differences between observed and calculated “fingerprints” of temperature trends [Singer 2006], further demonstrated by more detailed comparisons [Douglass et al, 2004].
Note that even if there were agreement between observed trends and those calculated from GH models, it would not – logically -- constitute “proof” of AGW but simply make it more plausible. However, the demonstrated disagreement between observations and GH models falsifies the AGW hypothesis and argues convincingly that human effects are minor and that natural factors are the main cause of current warming. This explanation fits well with the paleo-climatic evidence for a (roughly) 1500-year climate cycle, observed in ice cores, ocean sediments, and a variety of other data [Singer and Avery 2006]. AMQUA members must surely be familiar with such evidence. The obvious disparity between the CCSP report and its Summary illustrates the common problem of relying on a distorted summary for policy-makers. Perhaps we need a policy for summary-makers.
S. FRED SINGER
Brigham-Grette, J. et al. Petroleum Geologists’ Award to Novelist Crichton is Inappropriate. Eos 87, No. 36, 5 September 2006.
Douglass, D.H., B. Pearson, and S.F. Singer. “Altitude Dependence of Atmospheric Temperature Trends: Climate models versus observations” Geophys. Res. Letters (09 July 2004), Vol. 31, No. 13, L13208, 10.1029/2004GL020103
Karl, T.R., S.J. Hassol, C.D. Miller, and W.L. Murray (Eds.) (2006). Temperature trends in the lower atmosphere: Steps for understanding and reconciling differences---Synthesis and assessment product 1.1, Clim. Change Sci. Program , Washington, DC. (Available at climatescience.gov)
Singer, S.F. Climate Responses (Letter). Geotimes Vol.51, No. 9, 6, Sept 2006
Singer, S.F. and D.T. Avery. Unstoppable Global Warming – Every 1500 Years. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, MD, 2006. 260 pp.
9. Congressional Hearings Break 'Hockey Stick'
Experts testifying before a Congressional subcommittee said a graph used by some environmentalists to illustrate "unprecedented global warming in the twentieth century" is fraudulent.
The "hockey stick" depicts relatively stable temperatures from A.D. 1000 (and in later versions from 200 A.D.) to 1900, and a dramatic temperature increase from 1900 to 2000. The conclusion drawn by the authors of the image is that human energy use over the past 100 years has caused a dramatic and unprecedented rise in temperatures across the globe.
Because the hockey stick image has been regularly used to promote and justify proposed climate change legislation, Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to examine the controversy. The NAS report confirmed criticisms leveled against the hockey stick:
o Whereas the authors of the research that produced the hockey stick concluded "the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium," the NAS found little confidence could be placed in those claims.
o In addition, the NAS found the original researchers used proxy data for past temperature reconstructions that were unreliable; that the historic climate reconstruction failed important tests for verifiability; and that the methods used underestimated the amount of uncertainty in the conclusions it reached.
The main conclusion of the hockey stick study:
o Based on the evidence cited and methodology used by the hockey stick researchers, the idea that the planet is experiencing unprecedented global warming "cannot be supported."
o The close ties between scientists in the small paleoclimatology community prevented true peer review of the hockey stick and related analyses.
"The 'hockey stick' picture of dramatic temperature rise in the past 100 years following 1,700 years of relatively constant temperature has now been proven false," says David Legates, Delaware state climatologist.
Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Congressional Hearings Break 'Hockey
Stick,'" Heartland Institute, October 1, 2006.
Friday September 29, 7:00 pm ET
The country is drowning in wild alarums warning of impending doom due to global warming. Yet there has risen -- from the U.S. Senate, of all places -- a lone voice of rational dissent.
While Al Gore drifts into deeper darkness on the other side of the moon, propelled by such revelations as cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming," Sen. James Inhofe is becoming a one-man myth-wrecking crew.
Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, took to the Senate floor two days last week to expose the media's role in the global warming hype. This is a man who more than three years ago called the global warming scare "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and has made a habit of tweaking the left-leaning environmental lobby.
One member of the media, Miles O'Brien of CNN, responded last week to Inhofe's criticism of the media with a piece criticizing Inhofe and challenging his arguments. If anything, it seems that O'Brien's reply simply motivated Inhofe to continue his effort to undress the media's complicity and bring light to the issue.
We hope so. The "science" on global warming and the media's propaganda campaign need to be picked apart.
The assumptions made by gloomy theorists should be revealed for what they are: mere conjecture.
The lies and carefully crafted implications, many of them discharged like toxic pollutants by a former vice president, deserve a thorough and lasting deconstruction.
What the public needs -- and deserves -- is a credible voice to counter the sermons from Gore, on whose behalf cigarettes were distributed in 2000 to Milwaukee homeless people who were recruited by campaign volunteers to cast absentee ballots. Inhofe could be that voice.
He's no John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness. What he is, in fact, is a thrice-elected senator, a former member of the House and, before that, a state senator and representative.
For those not impressed by a political background -- after all, Gore, far out of proportion to his qualifications, rose to the second most powerful position on Earth -- consider that Inhofe is an Army veteran and longtime pilot, and has actually worked in the private sector.
Unlike most in the Senate, Inhofe is willing to stand on a soapbox and expose his head to his opponents' rhetorical stones. Name another in that august body who would dare label as a hoax the premise that undergirds the day's most trendy pop cult. Is there anyone there who would want to try to stand up to the likes of O'Brien?
O'Brien's biased report is not exactly the type of exposure global warming skeptics hope for, though. The goal, say the skeptics, should be to teach and inform, to provide an alternative to the flood of hyperbole and intentionally misleading thunder that's passed off as settled science.
There are enough scientists to fill a fleet of Humvees who can express scepticism over global warming, despite Gore's claims that the matter has been resolved in favor of his conclusions. But none has the forum a U.S. senator can command. With rare exceptions, scientists can marshal media attention on the climate change issue only by spouting the party line that man-made emissions are causing Earth to warm. That's the sort of stuff the press laps up like a starving dog.
Without the wind of a compliant media at his back, Inhofe nevertheless got his message out to America, primarily through C-Span and the Drudge Report, which linked to his speeches at the Web site of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Among those responding to Inhofe's first speech included a scientist and a meteorologist. Both hold views on global warming that are in line with the senator's -- which puts them at odds with the environmental lobby's assertions of "consensus" that have been relentlessly beaten into the masses for more than a decade.
The most important audience, though, is among the Americans who have no links to science. They're the ones who have a lot to learn and will benefit the most from someone who has mass access to the public and is willing to challenge the widely -- and often uncritically -- accepted claims about climate change.
11. Inhofe correct on global warming
By David Deming
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe has been taking a lot of heat lately for his skeptical stance on global warming. He's been called a “social dinosaur” for his failure to accept the politically correct view. But in my opinion, Senator Inhofe is absolutely correct.
I'm a geophysicist who has conducted and published climate studies in top-rank scientific journals. My perspective on Senator Inhofe and the issue of global warming is informed not only by my knowledge of climate science, but also by my studies of the history and philosophy of science.
The media hysteria on global warming has been generated by journalists who don't understand the provisional and uncertain nature of scientific knowledge. Science changes. For years we were told that drinking coffee was bad for our health and would increase our risk for heart disease. But more recent studies have shown that not only is coffee safe for our hearts, it can decrease the risk of liver cancer and is chock full of healthy antioxidants.
I read in the Edmond Sun last week (October 1, “That Old Sickening Feeling”) that temperatures are now higher than at any time in the past 12,000 years. The fact that the thermometer wasn't invented until the year 1714 ought to give us pause when evaluating this remarkable claim. Reconstructions of past temperatures are not measurements, but estimates. These estimates are based on innumerable interpretations and uncertain assumptions, all invisible to someone who only reads the headline. Better studies – completely ignored by the major media – have shown that late-twentieth-century temperatures are not anomalous or unusually warm.
I also read in the Edmond Sun last week that in a mere fifty years mean global temperatures on Earth will be higher than they have been for the last million years. We all know that in recent years weather forecasts have become more accurate. But meteorologists can't predict what the temperature will be in 30 days. How is it that we are supposed to believe that they can reliably predict what the temperature will be in fifty years? They can't, because Earth's climate system is complex and poorly understood.
It is not surprising that some scientists today find evidence to support global warming. True believers always find confirming evidence. In the late 18th century, a school of geologists known as Neptunists became convinced that all of the rocks of the Earth's crust had been precipitated from water. British geologist Robert Jameson characterized the supporting evidence for Neptunism as “incontrovertible.” The Neptunists were completely wrong, but able to explain away any evidence that appeared to contradict their theory. A skeptic pointed out that not all rocks could be formed by water because he had observed molten lava from a volcano cool and solidify into rock. Unperturbed, the Neptunists calmly explained that the heat of the volcano had merely melted a rock originally formed by water.
Around 1996, I became aware of how corrupt and ideologically driven current climate research can be. A major researcher working in the area of climate change confided in me that the factual record needed to be altered so that people would become alarmed over global warming. He said, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”
The Medieval Warm Period was a time of unusually warm weather that began around 1000 AD and persisted until a cold period known as the “Little Ice Age” took hold in the 14th and 15th centuries. The warmer climate of the Medieval Warm Period was accompanied by a remarkable flowering of prosperity, knowledge, and art in Europe. But the existence of the Medieval Warm Period was an “inconvenient truth” for true believers in global warming. It needed to be erased from history so that people could become convinced that present day temperatures were truly anomalous. Unfortunately, the prostitution of science to environmental ideology is all too common.
Senator James Inhofe is not only correct in his view on global warming, but courageous to insist on truth, objectivity, and sound science. Truth in science doesn't depend on human consensus or political correctness. The fact that the majority of journalists and pundits bray like sheep is meaningless. Galileo, another “social dinosaur,” said “the crowd of fools who know nothing is infinite.”
David Deming is a geophysicist, an adjunct scholar with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), and associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.
Truth in science doesn't depend on human consensus or political
correctness, says Deming.
Source: David Deming, "Inhofe correct on warming," Washington
Times, October 15, 2006.
12. Inhofe, The Apostate
By Debra J. Saunders
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Global warming is a religion, not science. That's why acolytes in the media attack global-warming critics not with scientific arguments, but for their apostasy. Then they laud global-warming believers not for reducing greenhouse gases, but simply for believing global warming is a coming catastrophe caused by man. The important thing is to have faith in those who warn: The end is near.
So a New York Times editorial Thursday took after Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., not for being a Doubting Thomas, but as the headline read, a "Doubting Inhofe." The brunt of the editorial was not a scientific refutation of Inhofe's arguments against the global-warming craze -- other than to cite a National Academy of Sciences report that warned that the Earth is approaching the warmest temperatures in 12,000 years -- a short blip in time to your average geologist.
The Times' focus was on Inhofe's refusal to bow to "the consensus among mainstream scientists and the governments of nearly every industrialized nation concerning manmade climate change." That is, Inhofe has had the effrontery to challenge elite orthodoxy. Or, as the editorial put it, Inhofe "has really buttressed himself with the will to disbelieve."
Get thee away, Satan.
"I see a sense of desperation that I haven't seen before," Inhofe told me by phone Thursday, "and frankly I'm enjoying it." CNN's Miles O'Brien also challenged Inhofe in a similar vein. O'Brien cited the NAS study, then assailed Inhofe with quotes from notable Republicans -- President Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut -- who recognize global warming. Note that Schwarzenegger gets into global-warming heaven just for believing, despite his four Hummers and use of a private jet.
Global warming even has a martyr, NASA scientist James Hansen, who told O'Brien in January that under the Bushies, "you're not free to speak your own mind." It's amazing that a scientist can complain that he is being muzzled -- while appearing on CNN and "60 Minutes."
Be it noted that Hansen endorsed Sen. John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 award from a foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry in 2001. At the time, Hansen told The New York Times, the award had "no impact on my evaluation of the climate problem or on my political leanings." I believe that.
I also believe we should all be so muzzled.
What does Inhofe make of the NAS finding? Inhofe recognizes that the Earth is warming, but sees this as part of the natural cycle. Inhofe mentioned the Medieval Warm Period -- A.D. 1000 to 1270, when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland. So he doesn't buy this 12,000-year high. His office referred me to a piece University of Oklahoma geology professor David Deming penned for the Normal Transcript that noted, "The fact that the thermometer wasn't invented until the year 1714 ought to give us pause when evaluating this remarkable claim."
I remain agnostic on global warming, as I've seen good arguments on both sides. I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist.
The Times' "mainstream scientists" line undermines the editorial's credibility, as it ignores the likes of MIT climate scientist Richard S. Lindzen, who argues that clouds and water vapor will counteract greenhouse-gas emissions. Ditto the 60 Canadian scientists who wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that there is no "'consensus' among climate scientists."
Let me add the Copenhagen Consensus, a group of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and economists that looks at the best way to spend a hypothetical $50 billion to benefit mankind, rated fighting global warming as a "bad" use of money. That's amazing, when you consider the pressure that is put upon scientists to conform.
"Consensus" is another word for clique science. The good people are true believers, the bad people exhibit a "will to disbelieve." Editors used to salute healthy skepticism. Now some are global-warming Torquemadas.
Copyright 2006 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.
13. Global Warming: The Chilling Effect On Free Speech
Spiked Online, 6 October 2006
The demonisation of 'climate change denial' is an affront to open and rational debate.
Whoever thought that serious commentators would want it made illegal to have a row about the weather? One Australian columnist has proposed outlawing 'climate change denial'. 'David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial', she wrote. 'Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a crime against humanity, after all.' (1) Others have suggested that climate change deniers should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made to account for their attempts to cover up the 'global warming...Holocaust' (2).
The message is clear: climate change deniers are scum. Their words are so wicked and dangerous that they must be silenced, or criminalised, or forced beyond the pale alongside those other crackpots who claim there was no Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Perhaps climate change deniers should even be killed off, hanged like those evil men who were tried Nuremberg-style the first time around.
Whatever the truth about our warming planet, it is clear there is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate. There has been no decree from on high or piece of legislation outlawing climate change denial, and indeed there is no need to criminalise it, as the Australian columnist suggests. Because in recent months it has been turned into a taboo, chased out of polite society by a wink and a nod, letters of complaint, newspaper articles continually comparing climate change denial to Holocaust denial. An attitude of 'You can't say that!' now surrounds debates about climate change, which in many ways is more powerful and pernicious than an outright ban. I am not a scientist or an expert on climate change, but I know what I don't like - and this demonisation of certain words and ideas is an affront to freedom of speech and open, rational debate.
The loaded term itself - 'climate change denier' - is used to mark out certain people as immoral, untrustworthy. According to Richard D North, author most recently of Rich is Beautiful: A Very Personal Defence of Mass Affluence: 'It is deeply pejorative to call someone a "climate change denier"...it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust denial - the label applied to those misguided or wicked people who believe, or claim to believe, the Nazis did not annihilate the Jews, and others, in very great numbers.' (3) People of various views and hues tend to get lumped together under the umbrella put-down 'climate change denier' - from those who argue the planet is getting hotter but we will be able to deal with it, to those who claim the planet is unlikely to get much hotter at all (4). On Google there are now over 80,000 search returns, and counting, for the phrase climate change denial.
Others take the tactic of openly labelling climate change deniers as cranks, possibly even people who might need their heads checked. In a speech last month, in which he said people 'should be scared' about global warming, UK environment secretary David Miliband said 'those who deny [climate change] are the flat-earthers of the twenty-first century' (5). Taking a similar tack, former US vice president-turned-green-warrior Al Gore recently declared: 'Fifteen per cent of the population believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona and somewhat fewer still believe the Earth is flat. I think they all get together with the global warming deniers on a Saturday night and party.' (6)
It is not only environmentalist activists and green-leaning writers who are seeking to silence climate change deniers/sceptics/critics/whatever you prefer. Last month the Royal Society - Britain's premier scientific academy founded in 1660, whose members have included some of the greatest scientists - wrote a letter to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant cut off its funding to groups that have 'misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence'. It was the first time the Royal Society had ever written to a company complaining about its activities. The letter had something of a hectoring, intolerant tone: 'At our meeting in July...you indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any further funding to these organisations. I would be grateful if you could let me know when ExxonMobil plans to carry out this pledge.' (7)
One could be forgiven for asking what business it is of the Royal Society to tell ExxonMobil whom it can and cannot support - just as we might balk if ExxonMobil tried to tell the Royal Society what to do. The Society claims it is merely defending a 'scientific consensus...the evidence' against ExxonMobil's duplicitous attempts to play down global warming for its own oily self-interest. Yet some scientists have attacked the idea that there can ever be untouchable cast-iron scientific facts, which should be immune from debate or protected from oil-moneyed think-tanks. An open letter to the Society - signed by Tim Ball, a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg, and others - argues that 'scientific inquiry is unique because it requires falsifiability': 'The beauty of science is that no issue is ever "settled", that no question is beyond being more fully understood, that no conclusion is immune to further experimentation. And yet for the first time in history, the Royal Society is shamelessly using the media to say emphatically: "case closed" on all issues related to climate change.'
Or as Charles Jones, an emeritus English professor at the University of Edinburgh, put it in a letter to a publication that recently lambasted climate change deniers, '[W]e are left with the feeling that [climate change] is a scientific model which is unfalsifiable and which has not been - and indeed cannot be - the subject of any theoretical counter-proposals whatsoever. As such, it must surely be unique in the history of science. Even a powerful model such as Relativity Theory has been the object of scientific debate and emendation.' (8)
For all the talk of simply preserving the facts against climate change deniers, there is increasingly a pernicious moralism and authoritarianism in the attempts to silence certain individuals and groups. This is clear from the use of the term 'climate change denier', which, as Charles Jones argued, is an attempt to assign any 'doubters' with 'the same moral repugnance one associates with Holocaust denial' (9). The Guardian columnist George Monbiot recently celebrated the 'recanting' of both the tabloid Sun and the business bible The Economist on the issue of global warming. ('Recant' - an interesting choice of word. According to my OED it means 'To withdraw, retract or renounce a statement, opinion or belief as erroneous, and esp. with formal or public confession of error in matters of religion.' Recanting is often what those accused before the Spanish Inquisition did to save their hides.) Pleased by the Sun and The Economist's turnaround, Monbiot wrote: 'Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.' (10)
Earlier this year, when a correspondent for the American current affairs show 60 Minutes was asked why his various feature programmes on global warming did not include the views of global warming sceptics, he replied: 'If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?' Here, climate change deniers are explicitly painted as the bad guys. He also argued that, 'This isn't about politics...this is about sound science', and went so far as to claim that it would be problematic even to air the views of climate change sceptics: 'There comes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible.'
Some take the moral equivalence between climate change denial and Holocaust denial to its logical conclusion. They argue that climate change deniers are actually complicit in a future Holocaust - the global warming Holocaust - and thus will have to be brought to trial in the future. Green author and columnist Mark Lynas writes: 'I wonder what sentences judges might hand down at future international criminal tribunals on those who will be partially but directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead. I put [their climate change denial] in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial - except that this time the Holocaust is yet to come, and we still have time to avoid it. Those who try to ensure we don't will one day have to answer for their crimes.' (11)
There is something deeply repugnant in marshalling the Holocaust in this way, both to berate climate change deniers and also as a convenient snapshot of what is to come if the planet continues to get warmer. First, the evidence is irrefutable that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis; that is an historical event that has been thoroughly investigated, interrogated and proven beyond reasonable doubt. (Although as the American-Jewish academic and warrior against Holocaust denial, Deborah Lipstadt, has pointed out, even the Nazi Holocaust is not above debate and re-evalution; it is not a 'theology'.) There is no such proof or evidence (how could there be?) that global warming will cause a similar calamity. Second, it is, yet again, a cynical attempt to close down debate. The H-word is uttered as a kind of moral absolute that no one could possibly question. We are all against what happened during the first Holocaust, so we will be against the 'next Holocaust', too, right? And if not - if you do not take seriously the coming 'global warming Holocaust' - then you are clearly wicked, the equivalent of the David Irvings of this world, someone who should possibly even be locked up or certainly tried at a future date. At least laws against Holocaust denial (which, as a supporter of free speech, I am opposed to) chastise individuals for lying about a known and proven event; by contrast, the turning of climate change denial into a taboo raps people on the knuckles for questioning events, or alleged events, that have not even occurred yet. It is pre-emptive censorship. They are reprimanded not for lying, but for doubting, for questioning. If this approach was taken across the board, then spiked - motto: Question Everything - would be in for a rough ride.
Sometimes there is a knowing authoritarianism in green activism. The posters advertising George Monbiot's new book are targeted at various celebrities and businessmen judged to be living less than ethical green lives, with the words 'GEORGE IS WATCHING YOU' (12). It comes straight out of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Some institutions employ Orwellian doublespeak when they use the word 'facts'. They are not talking about submitting theories or hypotheses or evidence for public debate and possibly public approval - they are talking about using 'facts' precisely to stifle public debate and change the way people think and behave.
So in a report on global warming titled Warm Words: How Are We Telling the Climate Story and Can We Tell it Better?, the British think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research argued that 'the task of climate change agencies is not to persuade by rational argument but in effect to develop and nurture a new "common sense".... [We] need to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement.... The "facts" need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.' The IPPR proposes treating us not as free-thinking citizens who should be engaged, but as consumers who should be sold these 'unspoken facts': 'Ultimately, positive climate behaviours need to be approached in the same way as marketeers approach acts of buying and consuming.... It amounts to treating climate-friendly activity as a brand that can be sold. This is, we believe, the route to mass behaviour changes.' (13)
Nurturing a new common sense? Changing mass behaviour? Behind the talk of facts and figures we can glimpse the reality: an authoritarian campaign that has no interest whatsoever in engaging us in debate but rather thinks up 'shrewd' ways to change the way we behave. From the description of facts as 'so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken' to the lumping together of climate change deniers with Holocaust deniers - and even Holocaust practitioners - we can see a creeping clampdown on any genuine, open debate about climate change, science and society. This represents a dangerous denigration of free speech. When George W Bush said after 9/11 'You're either with us or against us', he was widely criticised. Yet greens, think-tanks, reputable institutions and government ministers are using precisely the same tactic, drawing a line between good and proper people who accept the facts about climate change and those moral lepers who do not; between those who submit to having their common sense nurtured by the powers-that-be and those who dare to doubt or debate.
If anything, the greens' black-and-white divide is worse than Bush's. At least his was based on some kind of values, allowing us the opportunity to say yes or no to them; the greens' divide is based on 'facts', which means that those who decide that they are 'against' rather than 'with' can be labelled liars, deniers or crackpots like moon-landing conspiracy theorists or anti-Semitic historians.
Effectively, campaigners and officials are using scientific facts - over which there is still disagreement - to shut down what ought to be a political debate about what humans need and want. This is the worst of it. Whatever side you take in the climate change clash of facts, this undermining of debate should be a cause of concern. In place of a human-centred discussion of priorities and solutions we have an unconvincing battle over the facts between two sides - between those in the majority who claim that their facts show the planet is getting a lot hotter and it will be a disaster, and those in the minority, the 'deniers', who say the planet is getting a little hotter and it won't be so bad. We could urgently do with a proper debate that prioritises real people's aspirations. If parts of the planet are likely to be flooded, then where can we build new cities and how can we transport the people affected by the floods to those cities? If natural disasters are going to become more frequent, then how can we urgently and efficiently provide poorer parts of the world with the kind of buildings and technology that will allow them to ride out such disasters, as millions do in America every year?
We need to elevate the human interest over the dead discussion of fatalistic facts - and challenge the 'You can't say that!' approach that is strangling debate and giving rise to a new authoritarianism.
Copyright 2006, Spiked