The Week That Was
June 10, 2006

New on the Web: The Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) of the UN-IPCC, due in 2007, has now become widely available. Its more lurid conclusions are being hyped in popular journals.** It seems timely therefore to critique its Summary for Policymakers (SPM): While the global climate may be currently warming, there is no good evidence that it is human-caused. Hence, no reliance should be placed on IPCC estimates of future warming based on greenhouse (GH) models.

** See, for example, "New UN Report predicts climate catastrophe." In SPIEGEL ONLINE (5/26),1518,418165,00.html
It warns of disappearance of Arctic ice by 2100, and a large list of assorted calamities. It also denies any appreciable solar contribution to current warming; we therefore present some of the evidence the IPCC ignores (Item #1).

"Some Like It Hot": Where would Al Gore, IPCC, and assorted NGOs be without GW, plus all those good folks that are soaking up $5 billion a year from the feds?

More comments in my letters to Roger Ebert and the WSJ about the Gorey movie and the "science" behind it (Item #2). And: Al Gore's telling whoppers again (Item #3). Plus: a real 'gem' from the website of realclimate (Item #4).
The media have oscillated, focusing on catastrophes, both hot and cold (Item #5)
Even GW supporters agree: Hurricane Katrina cannot be blamed on GW. (Science editor Kennedy, take note!) (Item #6)
Sea Level Falling, Polar Bears Stable, Ice Caps Thickening: Al Gore, take note! (Item #7) ...

Emissions trading in Europe: A scheme designed to punish polluters is rewarding them (Item #8). And here we thought only Enron was gaming the system

Norway goes off the deep end. Norwegian firm Statkraft says subaquatic sea-tide-harnessing machines could in future provide 3 percent of the EU's electricity.
Where have we seen all this before? Pardon us for being skeptical.
Hope for coral as oceans warm, reports Richard Black, BBC Environment correspondent
Coral live in close partnership with algae, but lose the algae when temperatures rise, causing death. Australian scientists have discovered that coral may be able to exchange their algae for varieties which can survive at higher temperatures.

Finally, once in a while the slick surface of public relations and spin-doctoring pulls back to reveal the messy -- and often entertaining -- truth. That happened recently when President Bush visited Pennsylvania to talk about nuclear energy. Greenpeace was ready. Or almost ready. It prepared a "fact sheet" denouncing the Exelon Limerick Generating Station outside Pottstown where Bush made his remarks.
"In the 20 years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident," it read, "there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

A spokesman for the environmental group said it had not meant to release that early draft of the broadsheet. Nevertheless, it's good to know Greenpeace sticks by its anti-nuke stance even when it can't explain why.

1. The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame
By Michael Leidig and Roya Nikkhah
Daily Telegraph 7/18/04
Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research. A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.
Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures. The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years."
Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.
Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have contributed to the warming of the planet in the past few decades but have questioned whether a brighter Sun is also responsible for rising temperatures.
To determine the Sun's role in global warming, Dr Solanki's research team measured magnetic zones on the Sun's surface known as sunspots, which are believed to intensify the Sun's energy output. The team studied sunspot data going back several hundred years. They found that a dearth of sunspots signalled a cold period - which could last up to 50 years - but that over the past century their numbers had increased as the Earth's climate grew steadily warmer.

The scientists also compared data from ice samples collected during an expedition to Greenland in 1991. The most recent samples contained the lowest recorded levels of beryllium-10 for more than 1,000 years. Beryllium-10 is a particle created by cosmic rays that decreases in the Earth's atmosphere as the magnetic energy from the Sun increases. Scientists can currently trace beryllium-10 levels back 1,150 years.
Dr Solanki does not know what is causing the Sun to burn brighter now or how long this cycle would last. He says that the increased solar brightness over the past 20 years has not been enough to cause the observed climate changes but believes that the impact of more intense sunshine on the ozone layer and on cloud cover could be affecting the climate more than the sunlight itself.
Dr Bill Burrows, a climatologist and a member of the Royal Meteorological Society, welcomed Dr Solanki's research. "While the established view remains that the sun cannot be responsible for all the climate changes we have seen in the past 50 years or so, this study is certainly significant," he said. "It shows that there is enough happening on the solar front to merit further research. Perhaps we are devoting too many resources to correcting human effects on the climate without being sure that we are the major contributor."
Dr David Viner, the senior research scientist at the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, said the research showed that the sun did have an effect on global warming. He added, however, that the study also showed that over the past 20 years the number of sunspots had remained roughly constant, while the Earth's temperature had continued to increase. This suggested that over the past 20 years, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation had begun to dominate "the natural factors involved in climate change", he said.
The research adds weight to the views of David Bellamy, the conservationist. "Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth," he said. "I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not.
"Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock."

2A. An Inconvenient Truth
Letter to Roger Ebert SFS/6/4/2006

Dear Roger

I agree with your review
on one point: Gore's movie "A Inconvenient Truth" is technically excellent and really quite exciting. So - 4 stars or 4 thumbs up, or whatever.

It is also very persuasive -- to anyone who doesn't know the science.

Just two items:

1. Are you really sure that the current warming trend (which followed a cooling trend from 1940 to 1975, which had followed a warming trend from 1920 to 1940, which had ….. and so on) is human-caused? Not an easy question to answer, is it? Thermometers can't talk and tell you the cause.

We have analyzed the recent pattern of warming and find that the observations do not agree with what greenhouse models calculate. We published this result in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Of course, we cannot (and do not) deny the existence of manmade greenhouse warming: But it's just so small and insignificant, it can't be seen.

2. The claimed consensus of 925 ( or 932 or whatever) published scientific papers is phony -- completely phony. It is based on a flawed piece of research (by Naomi Oreskes), published in the journal Science (in Dec. 2004) and never corrected. Why not? Because the ideologically motivated editor (Don Kennedy) refused to publish a correction. He only published the author's correction in which she admitted that in her search she had overlooked 11,000(!) published papers. But she did not retract her wrong conclusion. All this is a matter of record.

And by the way, science does not advance by consensus. Never has.


Fred Singer

2B. An Inconvenient Truth?
Letter to Editor, Wall Street Journal SFS/5/4/2006

A press release of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) <> and a NOAA briefing of Senate staff (WSJ May 3) claimed that the current warming trend was due to human-caused emission of greenhouse (GH) gases. But an earlier warming, from 1900 to 1940, and certainly the subsequent cooling, were not caused by GH gases. So how could they tell?

Well, they said that the patterns of warming, derived from surface and atmospheric measurements, agreed with what GH models calculate. But an "inconvenient truth" contradicts their claim. The government-sponsored report (from which they supposedly drew their conclusion) clearly shows that observed temperature trends disagree with theoretical GH trends by a wide margin in the tropical zone - the most sensitive region for proving or disproving GH effects. They are forced to admit this discrepancy but then downplay it and try to blame it on bad data. Anyone willing to check Figure 5.4-G in the report <> will immediately be convinced that the climate models are unable to explain the observed trends. (You too can become a climate skeptic just by clicking on your Internet browser.) We don't deny basic GH theory; but using the data put together in this otherwise fine report, we don't see evidence for a significant human contribution to current warming.

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.

Note to editor:
The press release NOAA News, 2 May 2006 is found at

The SP-1.1 report, first of 21 reports from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is found at

Fig. 5.4-G is at


3. FALSE ALARM: Al Gore's telling whoppers again.
Look carefully before swallowing Gore's warming theories whole

By ROBERT L. BRADLEY JR., June 4, 200

Al Gore will be in Houston this week promoting his movie and book, An Inconvenient Truth. Predictably, his message is dire. The planet must be saved - and quickly - from manmade carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by coal, petroleum and natural gas usage. Self-interested consumer choices are the culprit, and a government-directed reshaping of energy production and consumption is necessary.
The Gore-led campaign is clear: A grass-roots movement must arise to force politicians to give us our bitter medicine - smaller cars, more expensive appliances and higher gasoline prices and electricity rates.
Wait! Before we jump to government energy-planning, let's look at the track record of the sky-is-falling crowd. Didn't we hear in the 1960s that the "population bomb" would cause food riots in American cities and mass starvation globally? Didn't the Club of Rome in the 1970s predict the end of mineral resources by now? Wasn't global cooling the scare before global warming? Isn't it suspicious that the problem is always individual behavior, and the solution is always government action?
There should be great hesitation before swallowing the Chicken Little du jour. The good news is that the bad news about the climate is exaggerated. Leading climate scientists such as Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Houston's own Dr. Neil Frank, a hurricane expert, as well as popular writers such as Michael Crichton, John Stossel and George Will are not careless, deceivers or plain bad folks. They are reporting the flaws in the analysis behind climate alarmism.
What are some of the inconvenient truths that An Inconvenient Truth fails to consider? First, CO2 is not a pollutant but a building block of life, benefiting plant life and agriculture. The one-third increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, from pre-industrial levels, has produced a "greening" of planet Earth, and this will continue for decades to come. Second, the surface warming that many scientists associate with manmade greenhouse gas emissions shows a relatively benign distribution. Minimum (night, winter) temperatures have been increasing twice as much as maximum (daytime, summer) temperatures. Higher night-time temperatures and longer growing seasons reinforce the carbon-fertilization effect, aiding plant growth and agricultural productivity. Third, the actual rate of global warming to date is well below the high levels predicted by some climate models.
As climate scientists know, it is feedback effects that turn a low level of predicted warming into a potentially problematic one; yet it is the nature and impact of such feedbacks that are most in dispute. Real-world climate is far too complex to be modeled. Local weather predictions several days out are notoriously suspect; models predicting the global climate decades and even a century out are will-o'-the-wisps.
At a minimum, Al Gore should add some caveats to his stage show. Citizens and policy-makers should beware those who habitually blame free markets for problems and call on government planning to solve them. Many climate economists argue that global warming - whether man-made or natural - has significant economic benefits, not only costs. The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy, an anthology by 26 specialists, pointed out that the United States would be a net beneficiary from most warming scenarios in the 21st century. It concluded: "Agronomic studies suggest that carbon fertilization is likely to offset some if not all of the damages from warming."
Strangely, the environmental lobby that is at war with fossil fuels is also warring with nuclear power and hydroelectricity, the only two large-scale, low-emission substitutes for hydrocarbon energy. And they seem to forget that their beloved windpower has its own set of environmental problems. A California representative of the Sierra Club labeled wind turbines "the Cuisinarts of the air." The bird-kill problem is an important argument that environmentalists are currently using against the proposed construction of a wind farm in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Padre Island and south of Baffin Bay. Without Texas' renewable energy mandate, and without a slew of special subsidies, this environmentally controversial project would not be on the drawing board. What utility, after all, wants to buy electricity that goes away every time the wind stops blowing?
Al Gore has been a master of exaggeration ever since then-Senator Gore blamed the heat and drought of the summer of 1988 on manmade global warming. Eighteen years later, despite contrary evidence that the human influence on climate has significant benefits, not only costs, and that a political cure could be far worse than the alleged disease, he is creating more heat than light. It is time for cooler heads to prevail.
Bradley is president of the Institute for Energy Research, a 501(c)(3) organization formed in 1989 in Houston and funded by individuals, foundations and corporations, including major energy companies. He is author of "Climate Alarmism Reconsidered" (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 2003). His Web site is

4. A gem from realclimate #170 June 5

Reader: From what I've read, Gore's movie begins with the assertion that "debate no longer exists regarding the causes and effects of global warming". There is a claim that "no reasonable climate scientist" disputes the reality of global warming. Yet.. today, I read that William Gray directly disputes the notion of anthropogenic global warming. Let me see... who do I trust more, William Gray? or Al Gore? Sorry... I don't need to see or hear ANYTHING further from this film.

Response by realclimate: If you really think Bill Gray is a more reliable authority on global warming than Al Gore, I don't think we need to hear the rest of your comment (which has therefore been deleted).

The Business & Media Institute (BMI) conducted an extensive analysis of print media's climate change coverage back to the late 1800s.

It found that many publications now claiming the world is on the brink of a global warming disaster said the same about an impending ice age -- just 30 years ago. Several major ones have reported on three or even four different climate shifts since 1895.

In addition, BMI found:

o Several publications warned in the 1970s that global cooling posed a major threat to the food supply. Now, remarkably, global warming is also considered a threat to the very same food supply.

o The media continue to point to glaciers as a sign of climate change, but they have used them as examples of both cooling and warming.

o The media treat global warming like it's a new idea. In fact, British amateur meteorologist G. S. Callendar argued that mankind was responsible for heating up the planet with carbon dioxide emissions -- in 1938. That was decades before scientists and journalists alerted the public about the threat of a new ice age.

o Longtime readers of the New York Times could easily recall the paper claiming "A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable," along with its strong support of current global warming predictions. Older readers might well recall two other claims of a climate shift back to the 1800s -- one an ice age and the other warming again. The Times has warned of four separate climate changes since 1895.

Newspapers that pride themselves on correction policies for the smallest errors now find themselves facing a historical record that is enormous and unforgiving. It is time for the news media to admit a consistent failure to report this issue fairly or accurately, with due skepticism of scientific claims, says BMI.
Source: R. Warren Anderson and Dan Gainor, "Fire and Ice," Business and Media Institute, May 17, 2006. Courtesy NCPA


6. Science Mag, Hurricane Katrina And Science Politics
Roger Pielke, Jr, 19 January 2006

In this week's Science magazine, editor Donald Kennedy opines that "Not only is the New Orleans damage not an act of God; it shouldn't even be called a "natural" disaster." Could it be that he sees the significance of millions of people and trillions of dollars of property in locations exposed to repeated strikes from catastrophic storms? Unfortunately, not at all.

Prof. Kennedy is a Johnny-come-lately to exploiting Katrina for political advantage on climate change. He writes, "As Katrina and two other hurricanes crossed the warm Gulf of Mexico, we watched them gain dramatically in strength. . . We know with confidence what has made the Gulf and other oceans warmer than they had been before: the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human industrial activity, to which the United States has been a major contributor."

I suppose one could make the convoluted case that Prof. Kennedy is [just a bad writer/only talking about statistics/dumbing-down the science/anticipating inevitable future research results] and didn't really mean to link Katrina's damage (or Katrina) with global warming. But he did, clearly. The current state of science doesn't support such claims. Let's review:

From Kerry Emanuel's MIT homepage:

"Q: I gather from this last discussion that it would be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming?
A: Yes, it would be absurd."

From Webster et al. (2005) in Science (PDF):
"... attribution of the 30-year trends [in hurricane intensity] to global warming would require a longer global data record and, especially, a deeper understanding of the role of hurricanes in the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, even in the present climate state."

From RealClimate:
"... there is no way to prove that Katrina either was, or was not, affected by global warming. For a single event, regardless of how extreme, such attribution is fundamentally impossible."

From Rick Anthes at UCAR (who effectively used the "act of god" metaphor in his essay):
"Whatever the relationship between hurricanes and global warming turns out to be, it is not likely to be simple, and we will never be able to attribute a single event like Katrina to a changed climate."

7. Sea Level Falling, Polar Bears Stable, Ice Caps Thickening ...

"I can assure Mr. Gore that no one from the South Pacific islands has fled to New Zealand because of rising seas. In fact, if Gore consults the data, he will see it shows sea level falling in some parts of the Pacific." -- Dr. Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, associate professor, University of Auckland, N.Z.

- - -

"We find no alarming sea level rise going on, in the Maldives, Tovalu, Venice, the Persian Gulf and even satellite altimetry, if applied properly." -- Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, emeritus professor of paleogeophysics and geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden.

- - -

"Gore is completely wrong here -- malaria has been documented at an altitude of 2,500 metres -- Nairobi and Harare are at altitudes of about 1,500 metres. The new altitudes of malaria are lower than those recorded 100 years ago. None of the "30 so-called new diseases" Gore references are attributable to global warming, none." -- Dr. Paul Reiter, professor, Institut Pasteur, unit of insects and infectious diseases, Paris, comments on Gore's belief that Nairobi and Harare were founded just above the mosquito line to avoid malaria and how the mosquitoes are now moving to higher altitudes.

- - -

"Our information is that seven of 13 populations of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (more than half the world's estimated total) are either stable or increasing..... Of the three that appear to be declining, only one has been shown to be affected by climate change. No one can say with certainty that climate change has not affected these other populations, but it is also true that we have no information to suggest that it has." -- Dr. Mitchell Taylor, manager, wildlife research section, Department of Environment, Igloolik, Nunavut.

- - -

"Mr. Gore suggests that the Greenland melt area increased considerably between 1992 and 2005. But 1992 was exceptionally cold in Greenland and the melt area of ice sheet was exceptionally low due to the cooling caused by volcanic dust emitted from Mt. Pinatubo. If, instead of 1992, Gore had chosen for comparison the year 1991, one in which the melt area was 1% higher than in 2005, he would have to conclude that the ice sheet melt area is shrinking and that perhaps a new Ice Age is just around the corner." -- Dr. Petr Chylek, adjunct professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax.

- - -

"The oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling.... Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them [coral] out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all." -- Dr. Gary D. Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, Calif.

- - -

"Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps are thickening. The temperature at the South Pole has declined by more than one degree C since 1950. And the area of sea ice around the continent has increased over the last 20 years." -- Dr. R.M. Carter, professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

- - -

"From data published by the Canadian Ice Service, there has been no precipitous drop-off in the amount or thickness of the ice cap since 1970 when reliable overall coverage became available for the Canadian Arctic." -- Dr./Cdr. M.R. Morgan, FRMS, formerly advisor to the World Meteorological Organization/climatology research scientist at University of Exeter, U.K.

- - -

"The MPB (mountain pine beetle) is a species native to this part of North America and is always present. The MPB epidemic started as comparatively small outbreaks and through forest management inaction got completely out of hand." -- Rob Scagel, M.Sc., forest microclimate specialist, Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, B.C., comments on Gore's belief that the mountain pine beetle is an "invasive exotic species" that has become a plague due to fewer days of frost.
Ran with fact box "Sea Level Falling, Polar Bears Stable, Ice Caps Thickening ..." which has been appended to the story. © National Post 2006

8. Emissions trading:
Gaming gases: Why a scheme designed to punish polluters is rewarding them

Jun 8th 2006 From The Economist print edition

ALL new policy instruments have teething troubles but the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has more than its fair share. Designed to discourage the production of greenhouse gases and encourage investment in cleaner forms of energy, it has rewarded polluters rather than penalising them, and failed to boost alternatives.

The ETS was set up in 2005 to cover five industries, and 13,000 factories and plants, rated as particularly dirty. They were given tradable allowances covering their existing emissions; firms wanting to exceed those levels had to buy permission, either by purchasing allowances from other firms, or by buying permits from developing-country companies. Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) established by the Kyoto agreement, developing-country companies which clean up their operations can (once they have approval from the UN) sell EU companies the right to pollute by an equivalent amount.

Three problems have emerged. The first is the consequence of handing allowances free to existing polluters (a process known as "grandfathering"). The polluters pocketed them, passing on the extra cost of production to their consumers. Moreover, once trading took off, the price of allowances rocketed to €30 ($40) a tonne. Developing countries, meanwhile, were selling permits for about half that (because they cannot yet be traded, and are regarded as riskier). So polluters have been cashing in their allowances, buying cheap CDM permits-and keeping the difference. According to a report by IPA Energy Consulting, Britain's power companies alone have profited to the tune of around £800m ($1.5 billion) a year.

The second problem was that when the scheme started there was little information about how much pollution the 13,000 factories were emitting. The original levels claimed by member governments were not much more than guesswork, and not surprisingly were generous. Now that levels are being monitored, it turns out that Europe is not emitting as much as it thought it was. When this emerged last month, the price of carbon allowances crashed.

Third, the current phase of the ETS lasts for only three years. Nobody knows what level of allowances will then be set. Since the payback period for cleaner power-generating technology is at least five years, there is no incentive for producers to invest in cleaner technologies.

None of this suggests that using the market to curb emissions is a bad idea. But if the EU is to create a system for airlines, it should learn from the ETS's teething troubles. The scheme should be based on reliable information, permits should be auctioned not grandfathered, and it should run for long enough to get polluters to change their ways.



Go to the Week That Was Index