|The Week That Was
April 20, 2002
1. FEDS NOT ONLY USE BAD SCIENCE BUT FALSIFY DATA: SO SAYS PETE DUPONT.
Why? Because greens thrive on cutting economic growth in every way possible.
2. NEGATIVE FEEDBACK? NEW DATA MAY EXPLAIN WHY CLIMATE MODELS OVER-PREDICT GREENHOUSE WARMING.
3. US BACKS INDIAN ENGINEER AS UN CLIMATE PANEL CHIEF. He wins vote by clear majority
4. THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST FIGHTS BACK. After the lynching the Scientific American gave Bjorn Lomborg in its Jan 2002 issue, it has agreed to let him respond in its May issue.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL FRAUDS. An editorial from CongressAction bewails the lack of ethics among environmental doomsayers.
6. SOLAR FRAUD: A Review Of A Not-To-Be-Missed Book
2. NEW STUDIES ERODE CONFIDENCE IN CLIMATE MODEL PREDICTIONS
Two data-based studies published in the 1 February 2002 issue of Science - Chen et al. (2002) and Wielicki et al. (2002) - reveal what Hartmann (2002) calls a pair of "tropical surprises." The first of the seminal discoveries was the common finding of both Chen et al. and Wielicki et al. that the amount of thermal radiation emitted to space at the top of the tropical atmosphere increased by about 4 Wm-2 between the 1980s and the 1990s; the second was that the amount of reflected sunlight decreased by 1 to 2 Wm-2 over the same period, with the net result that more total radiant energy exited the tropics in the latter decade.
These changes are highly significant. The measured thermal radiative energy loss at the top of the tropical atmosphere, for example, is of the same magnitude as the thermal radiative energy gain that is generally predicted for an instantaneous doubling of the air's CO2 content. Yet as Hartman correctly notes, "only very small changes in average tropical surface temperature were observed during this time." So what went wrong? Or as we should probably more correctly phrase the question, what went right?
One thing, of course, was the competing change in solar radiation reception that was driven by changes in cloud cover, which allowed more solar radiation to reach the surface of the earth's tropical region and warm it. These changes were produced by what Chen et al. determined to be "a decadal-time-scale strengthening of the tropical Hadley and Walker circulations." Another helping-hand was likely provided by the past quarter-century's slowdown in the meridional overturning circulation of the upper 100 to 400 meters of the tropical Pacific Ocean, which was recently reported by McPhaden and Zhang (2002). This circulation slowdown also promotes tropical sea surface warming, by reducing the rate-of-supply of relatively colder water to the region of equatorial upwelling.
So what do all of these observations have to do with evaluating the ability of climate models to correctly predict the future? For one thing - and one very important thing - they provide several new phenomena for the models to replicate as a test of their ability to properly represent the real world. In the words of McPhaden and Zhang, for example, the time-varying meridional overturning circulation of the upper Pacific Ocean provides "an important dynamical constraint for model studies that attempt to simulate recent observed decadal changes in the Pacific." If the climate models can't reconstruct this simple wind-driven circulation, in other words, why should we believe anything else they tell us?
In an eye-opening application of this principle, Wielicki et al. tested
the ability of four state-of-the-art climate models and one weather assimilation
model to reproduce the observed decadal changes in top-of-the-atmosphere
thermal and solar radiative energy fluxes that occurred over the past
two decades. And how did the models do?
Hartmann was a little more candid in his scoring of the test, saying it indicated "the models are deficient." Amplifying this assessment, he noted that "if the energy budget can vary substantially in the absence of obvious forcing," as it well did over the past two decades, "then the climate of earth has modes of variability that are not yet fully understood and cannot yet be accurately represented in climate models."
In conclusion, doesn't it seem strange that if (1) the energy budget of the planet can vary substantially in the absence of any obvious forcing, and if (2) earth's climate has modes of variability that are (a) not yet fully understood and (b) cannot yet be accurately represented in climate models - as these studies demonstrate is truly the case - the global political power brokers would not at least consider the possibility that the models upon which the Kyoto Protocol is based might not be painting an accurate picture of the future? It sure seems so to us. But, hey, that's politics, not science. And that about tells you all you need to know about the issue.
Dr. Sherwood B. Idso
Chen, J., Carlson, B.E. and Del Genio, A.D. 2002. Evidence for strengthening of the tropical general circulation in the 1990s. Science 295: 838-841.
Hartmann, D.L. 2002. Tropical surprises. Science 295: 811-812.
McPhaden, M.J. and Zhang, D. 2002. Slowdown of the meridional overturning circulation in the upper Pacific Ocean. Nature 415: 603-608.
Wielicki, B.A., Wong, T., Allan, R.P., Slingo, A., Kiehl, J.T., Soden,
B.J., Gordon, C.T., Miller, A.J., Yang, S.-K., Randall, D.A., Robertson,
F., Susskind, J. and Jacobowitz, H. 2002. Evidence for large decadal variability
in the tropical mean radiative energy budget. Science 295: 841-844.
As predicted by Dr. Hugh Ellsaesser in 1984*: The enhanced greenhouse
effect increases convective activity in the equatorial zone, which in
turn strengthens the Hadley circulation. This leads to increased subsidence
in the extra-tropical zones and a drying of the upper troposphere. The
IR emission from the major GH gas water vapor rises (as just observed)
since it now comes from a lower, warmer layer.
3. PACHAURI ELECTED TO CHAIR IPCC. ROBERT WATSON OUT.
The voting results were announced in Geneva on April 17: Pachauri 76, Watson 49 (from mostly European and Small-Island nations).
The United States backed the eminent Indian engineer-economist Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri to head the IPCC, a blue-ribbon UN panel on climate change, in the hope that he will be more sympathetic to the Bush administration's views on global warming. The current Chairman Robert Watson, an American who was appointed by the Clinton administration in 1996, differed sharply with the Bush White House because he campaigned aggressively to cut emissions.
The contest is described in Science "Battle over IPCC Chair" vol 296. p. 232, 12 April 2002
While we didn't know anything about Pachauri, we thought that with PhDs in both engineering and economics he would be an improvement over Bob Watson as chm of IPCC. Our correspondents in India just sent us his recent article. It's ironic, however, to find an economist who eschews free markets and advocates a shift to biomass; most Indians would be happy to give up cow dung for oil. But we will withhold judgment until we learn whether he believes in scientific facts or ideology.
Climate change: a serious threat
Climate change represents a serious threat to every part of the globe, and it would be ridiculous to believe that this is just another issue being pushed by the West down the throats of the developing world. If this was not the case then we would have had a very different Framework Convention on Climate Change that was agreed to at the Rio Summit of 1992. In fact, the very first draft of this Convention was tabled by the Indian delegation. The draft, of course, underwent several changes on the basis of discussions and negotiations between the parties involved. The Convention was based, therefore, not only on substantive inputs provided by India but also by several other developing countries. Similarly, the Kyoto Protocol, which gives practical form to the Framework Convention, was arrived at on the basis of intensive, and at times acrimonious, discussions. The fact that the world has still not ratified the Protocol clearly indicates that it is not the product of any conspiracy hatched by the rich nations against the poor. India as a major developing country must support the Kyoto Protocol by arranging to ratify it as early as possible. This becomes even more important for symbolic and practical reasons because India would be hosting the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention in October-November this year.
The growing concern about climate change is based on very convincing scientific analysis. Mention must be made in this context of the outstanding work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, a body established in 1988 jointly by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. The IPCC, which functions with a very lean Secretariat based in Geneva, has been able to mobilize the world's leading scientists and experts drawn from all over to come up with a series of three successive assessment reports on the whole range of questions related to climate change, as well as a set of special reports on very specialized subjects in this field. The work of the IPCC, which forms the basis of our current knowledge on the prospects of climate change, its likely impacts, and methods to mitigate it, has been widely acclaimed as rigorous, objective and policy relevant (but not policy prescriptive). It is, therefore, devoid of politics and subjective bias, which is assured by a painstaking review process in which all member nations participate, the largest number of which come from the developing nations.
There are no doubt uncertainties in the prediction of future climatic changes by virtue of the very complexity of the system that we are dealing with. But, these uncertainties are narrowing as more and more research is undertaken on various aspects of climate change. However, there are some areas on which further work is required urgently, such as on the impacts of climate change in different parts of the world. On current evidence, the impacts on countries of the tropics would be far worse than on countries in the temperate zones. For this reason alone much greater research in this field should be carried out by Indian scientists, a matter that government in this country should facilitate and fund to a greater degree.
There are six gases identified in the Kyoto Protocol, the cumulative emissions of which have led to the threat of climate change. Of these, CO2 is the largest, the major source of which is the combustion of fossil fuels. Mitigation of emissions of CO2 would require not only increased efficiency in the use of fossil fuels but a major shift to low carbon or non-carbon fuels such as solar, wind and sustainable use of biomass. Certainly, such a shift can occur if in the price of energy the externality of global environmental effects is internalized. Free market solutions will not work, and regulatory systems such as embodied in the Kyoto Protocol are inescapable. This may not be the most perfect solution, but in the immediate future it is the only answer, given the difficult journey it has undergone to reach a stage of likely ratification. India must, therefore, ratify the Protocol urgently, as a major developing country.
For further information, please write to
The problem, dear Watson, is what you have been working so hard at, which is the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. The way your Euro friends want to implement the Protocol will cost the U.S. about 2.3 percent of its GDP per year, and you seem very enamored of their attitude. At the same time, the Bush people know the Protocol would have no detectable effect on planetary temperature for about 100 years, and that it's pretty silly to promulgate technological regulations in that time frame.
Nonetheless, it is a bit unfair. Watson really is indefatigable, or
at least he doesn't show fatigue. At the interminable U.N. meetings, such
as the one that slapped together the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, he stayed
up all night, a lot of nights, to craft text acceptable to Al Gore. In
an earlier incarnation, as a graduate student in atmospheric chemistry
at University of Maryland, and later as honcho of NASA's stratospheric
chemistry program, his drive and commitment were legendary.
4. SEPP COMMENTS ON BJORN LOMBORG--RAFE POMERANCE DEBATE (4-8-02)
The American Enterprise Institute organized a debate between Lomborg
and Pomerance, deputy assistant secretary of State under Clinton/Gore.
Jim Glassman moderated. Here is my letter to them:
I enjoyed yr discussion. But I wouldn't call it a debate.
1). You both (BL and RP) seem to accept the IPCC claim that the climate is currently warming - in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary from satellites, balloon sondes, and even proxy data. . Moderator Jim Glassman asked RP to explain the disparity with surface data. A little unfair perhaps, since the National Academy panel of experts couldn't explain it either. 
Everyone agrees that the climate warmed up to 1940 and then cooled till about 1975 [1, p.3]. So the dispute covers only the last 25 years. It is disingenuous therefore to accuse the satellite record as being too short -- only 22 years.
The surface thermometers at weather stations do show such a warming. So I suppose we can accept as fact that airports are warming. It may well be anthropogenic but it's not because of an increase in atmospheric CO2.
The GW situation is becoming clearer thru recent publications. The human GH effect is there but it is much smaller than indicated by climate models, most likely because of negative feedback from water vapor, and therefore insignificant.
2). You both seem to accept as fact that global warming presents a problem -- but you differ on what to do about it. Well, historic data show that warming is good for people and for crops. . And a most competent group of economists has concluded that a putative future warming would raise our GDP , and presumably Europe's and Japan's. What about the tropics? According to all climate models, the temperature increase there would be the smallest but the whole world would get more rain (because of more evaporation from the ocean). Is that bad?
3). What to do? If it's not noticeably warming, and if in any case warming is good for us, why put national economies in danger, beyond no-regrets policies, like greater efficiency and more conservation wherever it makes economic sense. Both of you talked about reducing CO2 emissions but you didn't even mention nuclear energy.
4). And once we talk about reducing GH gases, what should be the goal? The Rio Treaty talks about a level that avoids "dangerous interference with the climate system." But nobody has defined what that level is? We aren't even sure in what direction to go. Maybe more CO2 is better for the climate system. We know from geologic data that the climate was quite unstable during the cold period of the Ice Age and more stable during the warm interglacial. [1, p.6]
In any case, we have experienced huge and rapid climate swings during recorded human history without dire consequences [1, p.6]. Yes, even the corals survived these higher temperatures.
5). Basically you both would make energy more costly, whether by setting caps (rationing) or by forcing the use of uneconomic energy sources or efficiency standards. So why not bite the bullet, so to speak, and just impose a heavy tax on motor fuels? Why don't you recommend that to politicians?
Best wishes ..Fred
1. S. Fred Singer. Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate. Independent Institute (Oakland, CA). 2nd ed, 1999.
2. US National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council. Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change. National Academy Press. Washington, DC. 2000.
3. Thomas G. Moore. Climate of Fear. Cato Institute, Washington, DC. 1998.
4. R. Mendelsohn and J. E. Neumann (eds.). The Impact of Climate Change on the US Economy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999. See also ref 1, p.26.
There was persistent fear-mongering that every year that passed was the "hottest ever" due to human caused global warming; first it was 1995, then 1997, then 1998, then 1999, then 2000, then 2001, each succeeding the last as "the hottest ever". Rarely mentioned was the fact that the temperature readings from 1995 and 1997 were based on eleven months of partial data only that conveniently did not include readings from the coldest month of the years; and that the 1999 data was selectively chosen largely from urban recording stations subject to the urban heat island effect. 1998 was proclaimed to be the hottest year on record in North America, but few noticed that 1998 was also a year of record cold temperatures all across Europe. Few noticed amidst the hysteria in 2000 that official records from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration showed 2000 temperatures to be highly ordinary. And little reported during "hottest ever" 2001 was the fact that upper atmosphere temperature readings continued their 20-plus year cooling trend.
And there is all the hype over chemicals such as dioxin and PCBs, widely proclaimed to be the deadliest ever and the basis of massive lawsuits and economic destruction (many miles of the Hudson River are about to be destroyed by dredging to remove long buried and virtually harmless PCBs), despite studies showing little, if any, danger from those substances.
Science itself has become perverted to serve political ends, by people who justify their shams with the rationale that lying isn't really wrong if it is done in service to what someone defines as a "greater good". Many of these environmental frauds originated with government agencies (the Klamath water fiasco, the species habitat deceptions, and the PCB dredging, for example), and during this period of time the highest government official in the nation was, of course, Bill Clinton.
And as is well known, Bill Clinton himself had some recurring problems with the truth. Federal District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright found "clear and convincing evidence that the President responded to plaintiff's questions by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process." And how many times during the Clinton impeachment saga did we hear that lying was OK under certain circumstances (if it was "just about sex", in Clinton's case), and after all, weren't we told that "everyone does it"? Little did we realize at the time how widespread and pervasive was that phrase "everyone does it". Ethical malleability -- yet another flawed jewel in the tarnished crown of Bill Clinton's legacy.
(From Congress Action April 7, 2002 www.congressaction.info)
6. SOLAR FRAUD: A Review Of A Not-To-Be-Missed Book
Howard Hayden 'Required Reading'
Any who thinks renewables are a niche technology at best, or a cruel hoax at worst, but aren¹t sure they can prove it, should get Howard Hayden¹s new book -- The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won¹t Run The World. Despite the title, this book is as much about wind, hydro, and biomass as solar energy per se. Hayden is a punctilious physicist who insists (even if it means losing readership) on reminding us that the atmosphere blows and rains, and plants grow, because of the sun.
Hayden¹s forte is not just facts, but calculations, delivered with a very pointed, bubble-bursting wit. His newsletter -- the Energy Advocate -- guarantees me a monthly happy hour. Like Bjorn Lomborg, Hayden starts with a widely published litany of the green left, then runs it through the shredder of reality. But unlike Bjorn, Howard is fiendishly funny at the same time.
"Fraud" is a strong term, but Hayden pulls no punches. As he explains it, "The solar fraud is the litany of unrealistic, rosy predictions of a solar future. It involves lying with statistics and attempting to manipulate the public through numerous coercive means. It is the sure path to Brownout Nirvana."
Perhaps the funniest thing about this book is that it is actually a very good handbook of renewable power. In the process of explaining the limitations inherent in each technology (why they can¹t "run the world") Hayden explains the physics underlying the technology. All the concepts and calculations are there, including extensive charts, graphs, tables, and formulas.
Despite the necessary complexity of the calculations, the basic point is quite simple. Renewables suffer from two tremendous shortcomings as primary sources of electricity. They are intermittent in unpredictable ways, and their energy source is highly diffuse, so they are real-estate hogs. Intermittency mandates either massive storage systems or backup via duplicate fossil plants to meet peak demand, huge costs that never appear in the calculations that accompany the litany.
Hayden also throws in a chapter on conservation and efficiency, since it is an integral part of the renewables litany. After all, one way to reduce the adverse aspects of the inherent limitations in renewable technologies is to use less electricity. But increasing efficiency reduces cost, so may actually increase consumption. This is the "fallacy of efficiency."
In typical fashion, Hayden lets the English economist Stanley Jevons make this point, as he did in 1865: "It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth ... It is the very economy of its use which leads to extensive consumption. It has been so in the past and will be so in the future." Or, as Hayden puts it, "When hot water is cheaper, we install hot tubs."
The bottom line on The Solar Fraud is that renewables portfolio standards such as those floating around Congress and state governments these days are a mandate of foolishness. Please send your Senators, persons of Congress, and state legislators a copy of this book.
Solar Fraud is available from http://www.energyadvocate.com, and so is the newsletter. Required reading.