The Week That Was
Oct 4, 2003
1. New on the Web: RUSSIA UNLIKELY TO RATIFY KYOTO. Will it go down the drain? Essays by geologist Tim Patterson (Carleton University, Ottawa) in the Moscow Times and by Fred Singer.



Better to react to climate change as it happens




2. President Putin and Russian ministers express doubts about Kyoto and its scientific basis

CNN, 29 Sept 2003

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said Russia had not decided whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the future of the landmark pact to curb global warming in doubt. At a conference on climate change, he said calls had been made on Russia to ratify the protocol and that would probably be repeated at the week-long meeting. But Russia was not ready to make a decision.

The decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will be adopted after this issue is thoroughly considered by the Russian government, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared at an international conference on climate change in Moscow today, Channel One television reported. The head of state stressed that over the past 13 years Russia had decreased the emission of greenhouse gases by about 30 percent, thus "having offset" an almost 40-percent advance in greenhouse gases released by other countries. The President noted that this reduction had been due to some structural changes in the Russian economy. Putin has urged the scientific community to unite efforts to define the level of the real danger of climate changes and identify the level of anthropogenic influence on the climate system.

No timetable for Russian Kyoto approval, says deputy prime minister Gordeyev
September 26, 2003 By Oliver Bullough, Reuters

MOSCOW - Russia needs time to consider the Kyoto Protocol and has no schedule to approve it, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Thursday, ensuring the environmental pact will not come into force for some time. But he repeated Moscow's support in principle for the landmark treaty, which aims to cut emissions of the gases that cause global warming. "There is no strict timetable at the moment," Gordeyev, who is also agriculture minister, told reporters. "The Russian government looks on the Kyoto protocol positively, but we say that the protocol, especially concerning scientific matters, leaves a lot of questions unanswered."

Under the treaty's weighting system, countries responsible for producing 55 percent of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, have to approve it before it comes into force. The United States, by far the world's biggest polluter, has pulled out, leaving Russia with the casting vote on the treaty, agreed to in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. Many environmentalists had hoped Russia would ratify the protocol before an international scientific conference on climate change opens in Moscow next week. While this hope has been dashed, they now suggest President Vladimir Putin might speak at the conference and give the right signal to the State Duma lower house of parliament to approve the pact.

Putin said in June he was broadly in favor of the treaty but described it as scientifically flawed. Many scientists say the treaty, especially now that Washington has pulled out, would do nothing to cut the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, although it could slow the pace of growth. Source: Reuters > > ---

The Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions in its present form discriminates against Russia, President Vladimir Putin's leading advisor on economic affairs, Andrei Illarionov, said on Tuesday as experts met in Moscow for a conference on climate change. Illarionov highlighted a "strange situation" in which, he said, Russia accounted for just six percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and yet will be obliged to reduce them, while countries such as the United States and China will be unrestricted. -
Agence France Press, 30 Sept. 2003

The words of President Putin cannot be interpreted as saying that Russia will ratify the Kyoto protocol but that it is just a matter of time. He never said that. The president said that we are in the process of studying the Kyoto Protocol and all the consequences of it. That will take time. What decision will be taken remains to be seen. -
Andrei Illarionov, President Putin's economic advisor, BBC 30 Sept. 2003

Kyoto would be particularly harmful to a country such as Russia, which is on the cusp of a period of rapid economic growth and technological development. -
Martin Agerup, Academy of Future Studies, Denmark
quoted by CCNews


3. Top Russian climate experts skeptical about Kyoto Protocol

MOSCOW: Leading Russian climate experts poured scorn on the Kyoto Protocol yesterday, strengthening the hand of government critics of the agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which needs Russia's ratification to go into force.

Russian scientists who spoke at the UN World Climate Change Conference argued that the protocol's advocates have failed to provide sound proof that the emissions the pact would limit are a key force behind global warming.

Prof. Kirill Kondratyev, an influential climate expert with the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that theories linking global warming to greenhouse gas emissions ignored numerous other factors, such as the ocean's impact on climate and volcanic eruptions. "The only people who would be hurt by abandoning the Kyoto Protocol would be several thousand people who make a living attending conferences on global warming," said Kondratyev. (BNA Daily Environment Report, Oct. 2)

Another top Russian researcher, Valentin Dymnikov, expressed similar doubts about the impact of concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, on climate change. He said that existing models of atmospheric change lack accuracy and aren't reliable enough. Skeptical statements from Russian researchers will provide arguments for government officials who appear to be increasingly dubious about the Kyoto Protocol.

President Vladimir Putin raised new doubts about the fate of the agreement when he told the conference Monday that his Cabinet has not decided whether Russia should ratify it.

His statement represented a step back from Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's pledge a year ago to ratify the agreement in the "very near future," and disappointed its European and UN backers.Putin's economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, told reporters yesterday that ratification would stall Russia's economic growth and said the government will take as much time as it needs to weigh all the consequences before making up its mind.

To go into force, the 1997 protocol must be ratified by no fewer than 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990. Since the United States rejected the treaty, the minimum can be reached only with Russian ratification.

Illarionov said that the United States rejected the protocol because it considered that compliance would be too costly, but that it would be less affordable for Russia, whose economy is much smaller. He also said scientists had failed to prove the need for curbing emissions.

Russia's Natural Resources Minister Vitaly Artyukhov cited critics of the Kyoto Protocol who said that the adverse effects of greenhouse gas emissions were probably overestimated. He said vaguely that the government would take a "well-considered" approach to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, "taking into account Russia's opportunities."

Russia's emissions have fallen by 32 percent since 1990, largely due to the post-Soviet industrial meltdown, but they have started to rise again amid the economic revival of the past few years.

Putin's ambitious goal of doubling Russia's gross domestic product by 2010 might come into conflict with the Kyoto Protocol, which would require Russia to overhaul its industries in order to cut emissions and could slow growth. Illarionov said that doubling the GDP will bring Russia's emissions to 104 percent of their 1990 level, conflicting with the protocol. - AP
4. You can't control the climate: Reducing carbon emissions in the hope this will stop global warming is a flawed idea, argues Philip Stott. Better to react to climate change as it happens

New Scientist vol 179 - 20 September 2003, page 25

IN EUROPE, the story of human-made global warming has become almost as unassailable as the Genesis creation story in parts of the American Bible Belt. It has morphed into a hegemonic myth, such that any scientific research that challenges it is neither reported in the media nor considered by politicians and policy makers. Whatever your opinion on the mechanics and extent of global warming, this is a pity. Not only does repressing critical science make for an ill-informed debate, it can also result in policy decisions founded on uncertain scientific conclusions.

Let me declare my position: I am a mildly left-wing global-warming sceptic. For me, the real questions have never been, "Is climate changing?" or "Are humans influencing climate?" Climate always changes, and humans affect climate in many ways, not just through carbon dioxide emissions. I don't believe we will ever be able to manage the climate in a predictable manner by trying to manipulate just one of the enormous number of natural and human factors involved.

My position is reinforced by recent scientific research. Over the past few weeks, a number of studies have emerged that cast doubt on the significance of human-made global warming and the climate models on which the dominant theory is largely based. But don't be surprised if you haven't heard of them.

One of the most important investigates the link between climate change and galactic cosmic rays (GSA Today, vol 13, p 4). Cosmic rays are known to boost cloud formation - and in turn reduce temperatures on Earth - by creating ions that cause water droplets to condense. Geochemist Ján Veizer of the Ruhr University at Bochum, Germany, and the University of Ottawa in Canada, and Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calculated temperature changes at the Earth's surface by studying oxygen isotopes trapped in rocks formed by ancient marine fossils. They then compared these with variations in cosmic-ray activity, determined by looking at how cosmic rays have affected isotopes in iron meteorites.

Their results suggest that temperature fluctuations over the past 550 million years are more likely to relate to cosmic-ray activity than to CO2. Cosmic rays could account for as much as 75 per cent of climate variations, they argue. By contrast, the researchers found no correlation between temperature variation and the changing patterns of CO2 in the atmosphere.

This research underlines the serious gaps in our knowledge of how CO2 behaves in the atmosphere. It is often taken as read by politicians, the media and much of the scientific community that increased levels of the gas lead directly to higher temperatures. Yet the mechanism is far from understood. This was emphasised by Veizer in a paper in Nature in 2000 (vol 408, p 698), in which he and two colleagues from the University of Liège in Belgium illustrated the serious mismatches between CO2 levels and climate variability in the geological record.

Another study, published last month, highlights weaknesses in the "general circulation models", the computer simulations of the Earth's atmosphere that are among the chief tools of modern climate research. In Progress in Physical Geography (vol 27, p 448), Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics point out that a number of scientists have already called for better models that more accurately reflect the extremely complicated interactions between atmosphere, ocean, land and ice cover.

Improving them, they argue, will require long-term monitoring of several key factors that affect the climate that are not yet sufficiently understood by climate scientists. These include radiation, magnetised plasma and energetic particles from the sun; the crucial properties of clouds; and variations in the shape of the Earth, which has a significant influence on atmospheric flow and climate.

Soon and Baliunas go on to stress that no general circulation model has successfully simulated the observation that while temperatures at the surface of the Earth have continued to rise, the lower atmosphere has not warmed at all. Yet if CO2 plays the substantial role in climate change the global warming lobby insists it does, this layer should be warming faster than the surface air.

It seems clear, then, that our climate models are very limited, and that we have a long way to go before the observations on which they are based can be used to dictate policy. Though the "global warming myth" has become immensely powerful, the science of climate change remains deeply uncertain. I believe it is vital to acknowledge this uncertainty. Our crucial mistake is in trying to manage the climate in the vain hope that we can predict it. Instead, we should put our resources into adapting economically and socially - especially at a local and regional level - to whatever it throws at us. I am certain of only one thing: the climate will surprise us.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott is professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London

5. After Moscow, why does Canada still cling to Kyoto?
Letter to Editor, Calgary Herald (Oct 4, 2003)

Charles Frank ("Kyoto ride promises to be a rocky one", Oct 3) missed a most important reason why the Kyoto Accord should be dumped. As I explained at an anti-Kyoto news conference in Ottawa last November, Kyoto almost certainly won't work since science does not support it.

Thousands of climate scientists, worldwide, understand that, while we are still decades away from understanding what really drives global climate, it is NOT significantly influenced by human activity. The Sun, ocean currents, volcanoes and other natural factors have far more impact than humanity has ever had.

What is most remarkable about the Moscow climate conference is the prominent role scientists played in the decision to delay ratification of Kyoto. Russian scientists recognize that climate has varied naturally for hundreds of millions of years and will continue to do so no matter what treaties governments sign. Contrary to the rhetoric of Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson, data from weather satellites show that the Earth has not warmed appreciably in the past quarter century. Mr. Anderson and his European counterparts have fallen victim to the unrealistic predictions of computer modelers instead of listening to those of us who base our opinions on real climatological data. Kyoto supporters apparently do not appreciate that the climate system is far too complex to properly simulate with today's immature computer models.

Perhaps it is President Putin's background that has made him unafraid of the attacks that are sure to follow from environmental extremists, or maybe, just maybe, he has seen the Kyoto Accord for what it really is - a plan to centralize control of the world's economy in a way that makes everyone, rich and poor alike, suffer for the sake of supposedly protecting the environment. The final irony of the Kyoto plan is that, if ever enabled, the environment itself would be one of its major victims as we divert resources from real environmental concerns to solve a problem that almost certainly doesn't even exist.


Dr. S. Fred Singer
Distinguished Research Professor at George Mason University, Professor Emeritus of environmental science at University of Virginia

6. Failed attacks on weather satellite climate data

Greening Earth Society, 29 Sept. 2003

Because the satellite-measured lower atmosphere temperature record compiled by University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) scientists John Christy and Roy Spencer continues to expose the inability of climate models to correctly simulate observed trends, both Science and Nature have amassed troops along its flanks in hopes of being first to publish a paper that can successfully enfilade the data and destroy its credibility. So far, these tactics have been frustrated by the inability of the record's critics to successfully maneuver along the scientific terrain that results from solid peer-review. Instead good soldiers are dying as they do the bidding of the journals' top brass.

Nature fired the first salvo back in 1998 when it published findings by Frank Wentz and Matthias Schabel showing how the satellites' orbits were slowly losing altitude, thereby "throwing off" data generated by the onboard Microwave Sounding Units (MSUs) used to record atmospheric temperature. Wentz and Schabel knew Spencer and Christy had not accounted for such orbital decay and asserted that when altitude loss is factored into the data, the trend in satellite-measured temperatures increases. In this way they hoped to demonstrate how the gap between surface and satellite trends (the root of the satellite controversy) was becoming more narrow.

Spencer and Christy counterattacked and examined the issue of orbital decay more closely than had Wentz and Schabel. In so doing, they discovered an additional orbital effect of importance, namely satellite "drift." This previously undocumented east-west movement of the satellites resulted in an artificial warming trend that very nearly overrides the effect of the artificial cooling trend imparted by orbital decay. The corrected data reveals only a very modest warming trend, something that doesn't come close to bringing the surface temperature record into agreement with the satellite record. Heavy artillery, lots of noise and little effect.

Then, earlier this summer, Science groped along another flank and rushed to publish a paper by Ben Santer and colleagues that compares climate model output with an as-yet unpublished satellite dataset compiled by Wentz and Schabel (again) with additional support from Carl Mears.

The folks at the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) weren't satisfied with the manner in which Christy and Spencer compile their satellite data and devised their own. It resulted in more of a warming trend than does the UAH version.

Santer's contribution was a feint that appeared to adjudicate the difference between the satellite temperature datasets. Most judges would prefer eye-witness testimony (in this case, a different set of observations) over hearsay (climate models), but not this juris docterer. Santer et al chose to ignore the history of independent temperature measurements of the lower atmosphere recorded by weather balloons (launched twice daily to collect atmospheric data for use in weather forecasting). That testimony provides a corroborating close match with the satellite data and reveals precious little warming. Santer chose a climate model that was a closer match with the faster-warming satellite dataset. Gavel thumps, case closed, right? Wrong.

The scientific method requires that a hypothesis be tested by observation. The method Santer and company used was to test observations with a hypothesis (a climate model). In other words, using independent weather-balloon measurements represents an upright scientific method to test the veracity of the differing satellite temperature data, it doesn't call upon a notoriously unreliable witness like a climate model!

Science still is done elsewhere. Two papers were published at virtually the same time as Santer's, though not in Science or Nature. One research team led by John Lanzante, and another by John Christy and colleagues, show extremely close correspondence between weather-balloon temperature trends and the UAH satellite-measured temperature trends. This timely arrival of reinforcements thwarted the initial assault and the barrage laid down by Science proved so short-fused that the damage was self-inflicted.

Yet another flanking maneuver (this time in the pages of Science) fell apart before its weight could be added to the fracas. Konstantin Vinnikov and Norman Grody employ their own statistical scheme to recalibrate the satellite data and account for changes in the satellites' orbital drift. It ignores the work by both UAH and RSS, and summarily dismisses the weather-balloon records. Their lower atmosphere temperature trend is about 50 percent greater than the surface measurements. Within the same analysis they determine there to be a diurnal cycle of temperature in the lower atmosphere that manifests a double peak (at 11 a.m. and at 9 p.m.) with a local minimum in between the two at about 3:30 p.m. Twin peaks, maybe; a single dip lynches the concept because it is a near physical impossibility.

Earth's temperature and that of the lower atmosphere warms and cools over the course of a day because the sun rises and the sun sets. As the sun rises to its noontime peak, so does temperature. As the sun begins its descent, so does temperature. This leads to a very smooth diurnal cycle of temperatures (especially when averaged over a large number of days). The amplitude of the diurnal temperature cycle decreases as the place of measurement ascends through the atmosphere, but it nevertheless is present throughout nearly the entire atmosphere.

Christy et al. (2000) use satellite observations to determine the peak of the diurnal cycle (daily maximum temperature) in the lower atmosphere to be at about 1:30 p.m. Mears et al. (2003) use a climate model to simulate the path of temperatures in the lower atmosphere throughout the day and conclude the peak temperature occurs at about 2:00 p.m. Vinnikov and Grody (2003), however, use a statistical method of their own devising and find two peaks, one at 11 a.m. and another at 9 p.m. - with cooler temperatures in between (a relative minimum that occurs at about 3:30 p.m.). It seems unrealistic, as a matter of physics, that atmospheric temperatures would cool from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (when the sun is rising or just past its peak and is heating earth's surface and atmosphere) and then would resume warming from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (as the sun sets).

We believe it likely that one of the reasons Vinnikov and Grody have such an unusual diurnal cycle in their dataset is that they failed to account for a non-climatic trend in the satellite data and mistook it for an actual climate trend. We know there to be a change in the MSU instrument temperature as the sun's angle changes.

The diurnal temperature cycle is important because, as the orbits of the satellites slowly drift east to west, the time of day at which a satellite passes over a particular place on earth changes. Thus, a temperature trend will appear in the data not because the average temperature of the location is changing (climate change), but because the temperature is being taken at a different time of day. As a consequence, the observed data must be adjusted for the time of day it is taken before it can be relied upon in climate change studies.

But even as the satellite orbits slowly drift, another effect sets in - the sun is shining on a satellite at a different angle. This results in a slight drift in the temperature of the MSU instrument, which also must be taken into account when processing the data into temperature measurements. The researchers at UAH and RSS recognize this necessity, but Vinnikov and Grody do not. As a result, their data includes a warming trend that is not related to climate. The consequent "artificial" warming is spread throughout their data and likely produces their unrealistic diurnal cycle. This "unrealism" is then used to correct for the orbital drift, which ultimately leads to temperature trends that are wildly inconsistent with others, including the independent weather balloons.

Their failure to correct for recognized non-climate effects should have kept Vinnikov's and Grody's paper from being published. But during the current campaign of "shoot first and ask questions later" scientific caution and responsibility are thrown to the wind. The unnecessary slaughter continues and the fight becomes more desperate.


Christy, J.R., Spencer, R.W., Braswell, W.D., 2000. MSU tropospheric temperatures: Dataset construction and radiosonde comparisons. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 17, 1153-1170.

Christy, J.R., et al., 2003. Error estimates of Version 5.0 of MSU-AMSU bulk atmospheric temperatures. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 20, 613-629.

Lanzante, J.R., Klein, S.A., Seidel, D.J., 2003. Temporal homogenization of monthly radiosonde temperature data. Part II: Trends, sensitivities and MSU comparison. Journal of Climate, 16, 241-262.

Mears, C.A., Wentz, F.J., Schabel, M., 2003 Monitoring global temperatures using the microwave sounding unit. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 5, 07241.

Wentz, F.J., and M. Schabel, 1998, Effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower-tropospheric temperature trends, Nature, 384, 661-664.

Santer, B.D., et al., 2003. Influence of Satellite Data Uncertainties on the Detection of Climate Change, Science, 300, 1280-1284.

Vinnikov, K.Y., Grody, N.C., 2003. Global warming trend of mean tropospheric temperature observed by satellites, Sciencexpress, September 11, 2003.

7. And finally, for those trying to figure the future of the Kyoto Protocol:

In a radio broadcast on 3 October, 1939, Winston Churchill said one of his memorable phrases that has often been quoted in an abbreviated form. The full quote is provided by David Wojick::

"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."




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