The Week That Was
September 8 , 2007
The Hillsdale College talk on Global Warming,in Imprimis, Aug. 2007. (Circulation 1.25 million)
NOAA Scientists Say Arctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Expected [Washington Post, Sept 7, 2007]. The Arctic ice cap is melting faster than scientists had expected and will shrink 40 percent by 2050 in most regions, with grim consequences for polar bears, walruses and other marine animals, according to government researchers.
1. A CONTRIBUTION TO THE AGU POSITION STATEMENT ON “HUMAN IMPACTS ON CLIMATE”
(Draft/SFS/9/7/2007—figures are attached as PowerPoint file)
The undersigned, including mostly members and/or fellows of the AGU, want to make the following input to the AGU Panel, chaired by Prof. Michael Prather. The Panel is charged with developing a position statement on “Human Impacts on Climate” for consideration by the AGU Council in Dec. 2007. In addition to this written statement, which we will put on the web site (designated in Eos Vol. 88, No. 35, 28 August 2007), we also request a meeting with members of the Panel so we can answer directly any questions or concerns by panel members.
Dear Panel Members,
You have an awesome responsibility to develop a draft statement to the Council that fully reflects the views of the AGU membership. It is not likely that the Council will make significant changes in your draft, which increases the level of your responsibility.
You have basically two choices:
1. You can go along with the recently published IPCC report and adopt its major conclusion – specifically, that the current warming is ‘very likely’ human-caused.
2. Or you can strike out and show your scientific independence by confirming or denying the IPCC conclusions, but based on your own examination of the evidence. While this might look like a forbidding task, it is really not very difficult. We encourage you to examine our critique of the IPCC conclusions and then use your own best judgment.
We propose to look at three major questions:
1. Is current global warming (GW) mostly natural or anthropogenic?
2. If the former, why do greenhouse (GH) models give so much higher rates of warming than are observed?
3. If models are inadequate to explain observations, what then are the major causes of current climate variability?
NB: Those who do not accept the IPCC conclusion about the importance of anthropogenic GW are obligated to provide answers to the second and third question.
1. To examine the cause of warming, we can ask what is the evidence that leads the IPCC to conclude that the cause is anthropogenic. While the IPCC report discusses melting of glaciers, shrinking of sea ice, etc., they surely realize that this cannot establish the cause of warming. Any warming, whether natural or anthropogenic, will cause ice to melt.
Neither can correlation with greenhouse gases, like CO2, be used to prove that current warming is anthropogenic. In principle, correlation cannot establish causation. Furthermore, the correlation is quite poor; during much of the 20th century climate cooled while CO2 levels rose.
One cannot simply argue that climate models based on the greenhouse effect show a warming trend and use this as evidence. Even assuming the models are correct, published warming trends from models differ by an order of magnitude, depending mainly on subtle assumptions about cloud microphysics and cloud optics. However, the IPCC does offer a method for establishing the cause of warming, as seen in Fig. 1 [IPCC 2007, fig. 9.1]. It shows the warming patterns (‘fingerprints ‘) arising from different forcing mechanisms. Greenhouse forcing is quite distinctive and shows a characteristic increase of warming rate with altitude, reaching a maximum at about 10 km in the tropics, about 200-300% that of the surface rate. The next step is taken by the CCSP Report 1.1, based on the federal government’s Climate Change Science Program [Fig. 2]. One can compare the calculated pattern [Fig. 3] [CCSP-1.1 fig. 1.3F], which agrees with the IPCC’s, with the observed pattern [Fig. 4]from balloon radiosonde data [CCSP-1.1 fig. 5.7E]. It is quite clear that the fingerprints don’t match. The observed pattern shows no increase at all with altitude; perhaps even a slight decrease.
This discrepancy between calculated and observed patterns leads us to the conclusion that the greenhouse contribution to current warming is not significant compared to natural causes.
2. Why don’t the models show a warming pattern that agrees with the observations? Or putting it differently, why is the climate sensitivity calculated by current greenhouse models much greater than any realistic value? The answer must be that there is negative feedback in the atmosphere, which has not been incorporated into the models. This feedback could either be simply an increase in cloudiness [or in cloud albedo] or a misjudgment about the amount of water vapor in the upper troposphere. It can readily be shown that the humidity of the upper troposphere, levels of UTWV, have a powerful effect on the emission of IR radiation from the atmosphere into space, and consequently on the surface temperature. See the cartoon of Fig. 5.
Present observations are not refined enough to establish either cause with any degree of certainty, and models do not as yet incorporate such negative feedbacks -- hence their inability to account for current observations.
3. If not greenhouse forcing from increased CO2, etc., what could be the natural causes of current warming? They can either be external or internal, produced by oscillations of the atmosphere-ocean system. Best known is the El Nino-Southern Oscillation [ENSO], but there is also a North Atlantic Oscillation, an Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, a Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and probably others. But many believe that the Sun is the basic cause of climate change on a decadal or century time scale. The IPCC report considers only solar variability in Total Solar Irradiance [TSI]. But it is likely that changes in solar activity through variation of the solar wind exert a much greater influence on terrestrial climate. The mechanism consists of two parts: first, a modulation of galactic cosmic rays by magnetic scattering centers carried within the solar wind. And then, a change in atmospheric cloudiness as the variable level of cosmic rays produces varying levels of cloud condensation nuclei.
The ‘solar wind, cosmic ray, cloudiness’ mechanism has not been fully accepted as yet. However, there is much empirical evidence that supports it. One of these is shown in Fig. 6, a very detailed correlation, extending well over 3000 years, between Carbon-14 [a proxy for cosmic-ray flux into the atmosphere] and Oxygen-18 [a proxy for temperature] from stalagmites in a cave in Oman. This, and similar evidence from around the world, strongly suggests that solar activity has a dominant influence on climate change.
We would urge the AGU Panel to consider the evidence presented here very seriously, to critique it where necessary, but at least to mention explicitly that the causes of warming are not yet settled and that a substantial fraction of the climate science community believes that Global Warming is produced largely by natural causes.
2. THE STEAMROLLERS OF CLIMATE SCIENCE
By Clive Crook
Almost from the beginning, critics have attacked the Bush administration for the way it has dealt with science. In many areas - and emblematically in the case of climate change - well-qualified accusers have complained that the White House and its political appointees across the federal government have interfered with the work of scientists, misrepresented their findings and censored their public statements. Many of these cases are shocking - or at least they were, until people became inured to them. The administration’s record on managing the government’s own scientific efforts, and on respect for science more broadly, is awful.
So when the White House disagrees with most other governments in the world and expresses doubts about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that view is contemptuously dismissed as one more instance. To be sure, the administration has destroyed its own credibility on scientific integrity and has nobody to blame but itself. For the rest of us, however, this is a pity - because to put it bluntly the IPCC deserves the administration’s disdain. It is a seriously flawed enterprise and unworthy of the slavish respect accorded to it by most governments and the media.
In the decisions which have already been made on climate-change mitigation, to say nothing of future decisions, the stakes are enormous. In guiding these momentous judgments, the flawed IPCC process has been granted, in effect, a monopoly of official wisdom. That needs to change -- and the IPCC itself must be reformed.
For a fully documented indictment, read the article by David Henderson in the current issue of World Economics. Mr Henderson, a distinguished academic economist and former head of economics at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has been tangling with the IPCC for some time. Five years ago, he and Ian Castles (a former chief of the Australian Bureau of Statistics) first drew attention to a straightforward error in the way emissions scenarios were being calculated. The projections had used long-range cross-country projections of gross domestic product that were based on exchange rates, unadjusted for purchasing power.
This mistake yielded projections for individual countries that were in some cases patently absurd. Far from acknowledging the point and correcting the projections, the IPCC treated these eminent former civil servants as uncredentialed troublemakers. Its head, Rajendra Pachauri, issued a prickly statement complaining about the spread of disinformation. As Mr Henderson’s new article makes clear, the episode was symptomatic of a wider pattern of error (often, in the case of economics, elementary error) and failure to correct it. How can this be possible? The IPCC prides itself on the extent of its network of scientific contributors and on its rigorous peer review.
The problem is, although the contributors and peers are impressively numerous, they are drawn from a narrow professional circle. Expertise in economics and statistics is not to the fore; sympathetic clusters of co-authorship and pre-commitment to the urgency of the climate cause, on the other hand, are. Add to this a sustained reluctance - and sometimes a refusal - to disclose data and methods that would allow results to be replicated. (Disclosure of that sort is common practice these days in leading scholarly journals). As a result, arresting but subsequently discredited findings - such as the notorious “hockey stick” chart showing the 1990s as the northern hemisphere’s hottest decade of the millennium - are left to be challenged by troublesome outsiders.
Underlying it all is a pervasive bias. From the outset the IPCC network was fully invested in the idea that climate change is the most pressing challenge confronting mankind and that urgent action far beyond what is already in prospect will be needed to confront it. In the minds of the panel’s leaders and spokesmen, this conviction justifies public pronouncements that often go beyond the analysis which the IPCC’s own scientists have presented. Speaking of the panel’s Fourth Assessment Report, Mr Pachauri said: “I hope this will shock people and governments into taking more serious action.”
The rules under which the IPCC operates tell it to be “neutral with respect to policy” - and the reports themselves strive to comply. But statements such as that, and many more besides, align the institution and its network of scientists with a programme that goes much further than science alone dictates. The IPCC may be right: climate change may indeed be mankind’s biggest and most urgent challenge. It would be wrong to demand certainty before doing more. The scientific consensus, though not quite as strong as usually claimed, is surely strong enough to warrant a carbon tax or equivalent.
But if governments are to get the best advice, they need information and analysis from an open and disinterested source - or else from multiple dissenting sources. With the environmental risks calmly laid out, framing the right policies demands proper political accountability and a much wider range of opinion and expertise than the IPCC currently provides. One incompetent institution, committed to its own agenda, should never have been granted this degree of actual and moral authority over the science, over public presentation of the science, and over calls for ”more serious action” that go well beyond the science.
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberal darling Ted Kennedy has run afoul of the left over his opposition to a controversial wind farm project in Massachusetts. Liberals are now heaping scorn on the 73-year-old senator, reports syndicated columnist Froma Harrop. Young audiences boo at his name, and the leftish Daily Show on Comedy Central makes fun of him.
The energy-producing wind farm on Nantucket Sound was slated to be the first such project in the U.S., and polls showed that 84 percent of state residents favor it. The Cape Wind Project would erect 130 windmills in Nantucket Sound and could provide three-fourths of the power needed by Cape Cod and nearby islands, which is now largely supplied by coal-fired plants. But the project has been frustrated at every turn by a handful of yachtsmen, Kennedy included, who don’t want to see windmills from their verandas, writes Harrop, who is on the staff of the Providence (RI) Journal.
The new book “Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound,” by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb, chronicles the bipartisan efforts to kill the wind farm project. An earlier book by Peter Schweizer, "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy,” also disclosed Kennedy’s efforts to torpedo the wind farm.
The Cape Wind Project would be built in Nantucket Sound, about six miles off the coast from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, Schweizer explained. "The problem was not aesthetic; the Kennedys wouldn’t be able to actually see the turbines from their home. Instead Robert Kennedy Jr., who had been beating the drum for alternative sources of energy for more than a decade, complained that the project would be built in one of the family’s favorite sailing and yachting areas.
Kennedy was not alone in opposing the project. Authors Williams and Whitcomb disclose that Sen. John Warner, R-Va., added a rider to an urgent Iraq war-funding bill that barred the Army Corps of Engineers from spending money permitting offshore wind projects. Warner’s wealthy relatives own choice waterfront property on Cape Cod, Harrop notes. After an outcry, Warner was forced to back down.
Another Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, introduced a bill banning virtually all offshore wind projects in the U.S. He owns real estate on Nantucket Island. But Kennedy remains the main focus of wind farm proponents, including Greenpeace which has launched an anti-Kennedy TV ad campaign in support of the offshore project.
After 45 years in the Senate, Kennedy should be polishing his liberal legacy, Harrop concludes. But his manipulative attacks on this wind farm have so sickened supporters that his long career may be headed for a sorry end.
4. APEC LEADERS REACH CLIMATE DEAL
Asia-Pacific leaders meeting in Sydney have reached an agreement on climate change, unveiling an "aspirational" goal to reduce greenhouse gases.
China and the US - two of the world's biggest polluters - are among the 21 nations that have signed the statement, which contains no firm commitments. Australian Prime Minister John Howard called it "a very important milestone" towards an international deal. Environmentalists said the declaration was symbolic rather than concrete.
The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says the deal is the first time China and the US have accepted global goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "The world needs to slow, stop and then reverse the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions," said Saturday's statement by the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum.
The Apec statement included a non-binding goal of reducing "energy intensity" - the amount of energy used to produce a dollar of gross domestic product - by at least 25% by 2030. The leaders also called for increased forest cover in the Asia-Pacific region of at least 20m hectares (50m acres) by 2020. And they agreed greenhouse gas reduction strategies should reflect "differences in economic and social conditions" in each country.
Summit host Mr Howard said: "We are serious about addressing in a sensible way, compatible with our different economic needs, the great challenge of climate change." But Greenpeace said the agreement was a "distraction" rather than a "declaration". A spokeswoman for the organisation, Catherine Fitzpatrick, said: "Without supporting binding targets for developed countries, which is where the rubber really hits the road on climate action, it looks like a political stunt by John Howard."
The Sydney declaration also included China's and other developing nations' calls for global warming negotiations to take place under United Nations auspices. The UN climate convention is scheduled to host talks in December at the Indonesian resort of Bali.
Apec's 21 members, which also include Russia and Japan, together pump out around 60% of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Saturday's deal followed wrangling at the summit over the shape of a treaty to replace the landmark Kyoto Protocol of 1997.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6984723.stm
2007/09/08 09:10:22 GMT
5. THE BBC AND ‘PLANET RELIEF’
From The Scientific Alliance (Sept 7, 2007)
After what seems to have been a degree of heart-searching, the BBC has backed out of plans to run a 'Planet Relief' TV special on climate change next January. This was intended to 'raise awareness' of the issues, in a similar way to Live8, which sought to increase concern about global poverty.
The reasons for the Beeb's change of mind are not entirely clear. The official spokeswoman said that it had nothing to do with concerns raised by some commentators about impartiality. In her words 'BBC One aims to bring a mass audience to contemporary and relevant issues, and this includes the topic of climate change. Our audiences tell us they are most receptive to documentary or factual style programming as a means of learning about issues surrounding this subject, and as part of this learning we have made the decision not to proceed with the Planet Relief event. Instead, we will focus our energies on a range of factual programmes on the important and complex subject of climate change. This decision was not made in light of the recent debate about impartiality.'
But it seems that senior news editors would beg to differ. Peter Horrocks, head of TV news, wrote in the BBC's own editors' blog 'It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject.' In a similar vein, Peter Barron, the Newsnight editor, remarked at the Edinburgh Festival 'It is not the BBC's job to save the planet.' Well said, both Peters.
Whatever the motivation (and to us, it is difficult to believe that the decision was not influenced by a degree of discomfort at being seen to promote a campaign), it has not been universally welcomed. Mark Lynas, environmental campaigner, for one, is quoted as saying 'This decision shows a real poverty of understanding among senior BBC executives about the gravity of the situation we face. The only reason this became an issue is that there is a small but vociferous group of climate sceptics lobbying against taking action, so the BBC is behaving like a coward and refusing to take a more consistent stance.'
Which just goes to show that the BBC was absolutely right to pull the programme. Hard-line environmentalists seem to view the media purely as channels for their own views, and deviation from this is unacceptable to them. This is becoming positively Stalinist. And we prefer to believe less in the existence of a 'small but vociferous group of climate sceptics' whose lobbying success seems to be out of all proportion to their size (though doubtless funded by some international capitalist conspiracy) and more in the ability of rational people to understand that there is a range of views on both the science of climate change and the policy options necessary to address it.
Just because a person believes something to be right does not make it fact. The BBC should have no role in promoting belief as fact.
6. IS CARBON-OFFSETTING JUST ECO-ENSLAVEMENT?
Brendan O’Neill, 3 September 2007
In offsetting his flights by sponsoring eco-friendly hard labour in India, David Cameron [leader of the UK Conservative Party]has exposed the essence of environmentalism.
7. NOW IT'S THE GARBAGE POLICE!
Caledonian Record Editorial, September 6, 2007
Ideologies, almost by definition, are extremist. The zealots who subscribe to an ideology are essentially tunnel-visioned, and the more intense their zeal, the more tunnel-visioned they are, frequently pushing the far envelope of absurdity. A case in point just became public.
The city council of Seattle has just passed a measure that mandates that all residents of single-family homes recycle their table scraps. To help, they will be issued a garbage recycling container to put out on the curb beside the other mandated recycled materials. Seattle residents who refuse to comply when the law takes effect will have their garbage collection service discontinued. It doesn't matter to the zealots on this nanny-state council that 71 percent of Seattle residents disagree with the new mandate. Here are some of the supporting council members' inane comments.
Richard Conlin, chairman of the Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee: "Seattle is once again on the cutting edge when it comes to actually walking the talk of our environmental values."
Sally Clark, a city council member: "This legislation embodies our city's environmental ethos."
Tom Watson, director of King County's Recycling and Environmental Services: "The methane produced by food waste is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. So, remember to eat your leftovers."
There was one voice of reason. Stefan Sharkansky, editor of SoundPolitics.com had this to say, "It's all the work of Seattle's garbage police. The totalitarian nannyists of the Seattle City Clowncil have voted to microregulate residential garbage. "When they impose their messy fetishes on the rest of us, it becomes tempting to bring one's food waste to a council meeting and deliver it in person."
Once again, one of the oldest tests of a proposition's validity is called the "reductio ad absurdum," i.e., can you push it to a logical absurdity? Recyling food garbage on a city-wide scale is absurd, and so are the zealots pushing it.