|The Week That Was
March 18, 2006
New on the Web: Economist and former Chancellor of the Exchequer
Nigel Lawson presents a masterful and balanced account of the science,
economics and policy of Global Warming in The Spectator March 11, 2006:
The newly-established International Panel to Stop the Incipient Ice Age (IPSIIA) will celebrate its founding in a Baltic Cruise this summer with series of mini-symposia aboard ship and in various ports in a region that was covered with kilometer-thick sheets of ice during the first half of the Holocene - as recently as 5000 years ago. Building on a successful "dry run" in 2004 with co-founder of IPSIIA Dr. Klaus Heiss, we will start and return to London, visiting the following ports: Warnemunde (Berlin), Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen in a 12-day cruise (Aug 27 to Sept. 8).
Cost per person is about $2000 (incl. tax and port charges), depending
on type of cabin. Indicate yr interest ASAP and receive details
Gas prices rise sharply also in Britain. And there is both a reason
and a remedy (Item #1). Meanwhile, as the BBC reports breathlessly: "Sharp
rise in CO2 levels recorded"
concentration in the atmosphere
at "new record level." Sure, guys, but every year sets a new
record as we add more CO2 to an existing level. That's been happening
now for 150 years -- or haven't you noticed?
British economist David Henderson discusses the REPORT (by the House of Lords Select Committee), the RESPONSE (by DEFRA, a govt dept), and the REVIEW (by Sir Nicholas Stern of UK Treasury). Henderson is sharply critical of the DEFRA Response (Item #2). An Australian group is critical of what has come out so far of the Review (Item #3 - This excerpt from a letter by Ian Castles is detailed but worth reading).
Problems in the US also. The CCSP (US Climate Change Science Program)
seems to have been hijacked by IPCC activists. Read the Abstract of the
Third Draft (Item #4A); it claims there is no longer a discrepancy between
models and data. Then compare with the essence of the report: Fig 5.4-G
shows the discrepancy clearly: http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/third-draft/default.htm
We have had much to say recently about polar ice melting and sea level rise. Here some examples how the media hype the issue (Item #5). And talking about hype: John Judis in The New Republic not only misreports and tries hard to connect Katrina to Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). In the process he also attacks the credibility of NOAA scientists and trashes NOAA chief Admiral Lautenbacher. Let's not forget the facts: Katrina was only a Category 3 hurricane at landfall; the damage came from the failed levees. Don't blame the disaster on AGW but on the New Orleans-Louisiana Levee Board, which over the years frittered away on pet projects millions of federal money for levees. Are indictments and criminal prosecutions in order? Will any new federal moneys be spent properly? Don't hold yr breath.
Of course, leading scientific journals are often not much better than the popular press - driven by the whims and prejudices of their editors, who try to be politically correct and crave publicity. When did you last see a paper in Science or Nature that was critical of AGW? But there are alternatives to standard journals (Item #6).
An example: Extinction of species linked to AGW. An "influential"
(163 citations) paper (C.D. Thomas et al, Nature 427:145-8.2004) modeled
relationships between 1103 (!) animal and plant species and their habitats.
It concluded that by 2050 temperatures would reach 2 C and 15 - 37% of
species would be committed to extinction. This effort has spawned the
widely quoted paper (J.A. Pounds et al. Nature 439:161-7. 2006) that ascribed
a current extinction of many species of Central American harlequin frogs
Finally, a potato-themed blessing for you on St. Patrick's Day: "May the frost never afflict your spuds." Here's to a warmer climate!
The chickens have finally come home to roost. British consumers of natural gas are forced to pay a heavy price ("UK gas price quadruples" FT March 14) -- all because of misguided faith in "catastrophic" global warming. After years of incessant propaganda this myth has become widely accepted. As a result, 41.6% of Britain's electricity is now generated from gas - about double the US fraction. Coal-fired generation has shrunk to 33.7% and the wholesale price of a megawatt-hour has doubled, from 50p to £1. All this to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, one of the satanic greenhouse gases. As generally accepted, however, the climate impact of the CO2 reductions under the Kyoto Protocol is only about 0.05 C -- too tiny even to be measured. Time to take seriously the report published last July by the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs.
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the
University of Virginia
The Select Committee report and after
After an unusually long interval, the government's official response to the report (hereafter the Response) was published in late November (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/71/7104.htm). Its source is given as the responsible ministry, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), though presumably, in the usual Whitehall way, other interested departments were consulted.
Well before the appearance of the Response, the government had announced the inception of a full-scale official inquiry into the economics of climate change to be led by Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service. The first statement of this intention was made in mid-July, and on 12 October a joint press release on the Stern Review was issued by the Treasury and the Cabinet Office. The Review has been given broad terms of reference, which are set out in the press release, and Sir Nicholas has stressed the 'need to have a deep understanding of the economics of this complex problem'. The Review is due to be completed in the autumn of 2006, and will be presented to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor (rather than the Secretary of State for the Environment). Among other things, it is seen by the government as contributing to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) which is due to be published in 2007 (more of this below).
While it is tempting to see the Stern Review as having been prompted by the House of Lords Select Committee report, there is no direct evidence to this effect. It is the DEFRA Response alone that has to be judged as such, and the Review appears to be a separate freestanding exercise. Here I comment on some aspects of the Response, before turning to the prospects and potential of the Review.
The Response: the party line restated
A striking feature of the Select Committee report was the doubts and concerns that it expressed about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These were both specific and general. Under the former heading, the Committee referred in particular to the emissions scenarios which formed the starting point for the Panel's Third Assessment Report (TAR); the much-publicised 'hockey-stick' diagram showing temperature changes over the past millennium; and the treatment by the Panel of the possible impact of global warming on the incidence and spread of malaria and other vector-borne diseases. More generally, the report voiced 'a concern that the IPCC has not always sought to ensure that dissenting voices are given a full hearing'. It saw 'a risk that IPCC has become a "knowledge monopoly" in some respects...'
Any such line of thinking is rejected dismissively in the Response. On behalf of the government, DEFRA gives unqualified endorsement to the IPCC's work, role and procedures, as also to the conduct of British policies. The Response does not so much address the arguments made by the House of Lords Select Committee as restate, reflex-like, the Whitehall and IPCC party line. It evinces an unshakable confidence in the status quo; and this goes with a reluctance to face, to understand properly, or even to recognise, unwelcome arguments and facts. Indeed, the Response is itself an illustration of those features of the IPCC process and milieu which prompted the Select Committee's concerns.
The Response says that the IPCC 'assesses available literature rigorously', through it's 'two stage, fully documented peer review process'. There is no attempt to meet, or refer to, either of the twin concerns that critics have voiced about this process, namely:
**Peer review is no safeguard against dubious assumptions, arguments and conclusions if the peers are largely drawn from the same restricted professional milieu.
**The peer review process as such, here as elsewhere, may be insufficiently rigorous. Its main purpose is to elicit expert advice on whether a paper is worth publishing in a particular journal. Because it does not normally go beyond this, '...peer review does not typically guarantee that data and methods are open to scrutiny or that results are reproducible'.
Among the data and methods that have not been made fully open to scrutiny, and the results that have not been reproducible, are those that entered into the 'hockey-stick' study and other temperature reconstructions that the IPCC has given currency to. Such failures in disclosure, which constitute a basic flaw in procedure, are not mentioned in the Response, and what it says about the state of the debate on this study is not accurate.
The Select Committee was highly critical of the scenarios which yielded the projections of emissions that formed the starting point for the TAR, and which were published in 2000 in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES). Here again the Response is dismissive. It twice makes the point, as though this was all that mattered, that the scenarios yield a wide range of possible outcomes. It conveys the misleading impression that the SRES scenarios are undergoing revision and improvement as part of the preparation of AR4, whereas in fact they are being used unchanged as the point of departure for this Assessment Report as for its predecessor.
In relation to emissions projections, the Response makes a glaring error. It says (p. 13) that:
'Most commentators ... would agree that any change in emissions due to changed economic assumptions will translate into a smaller effect on [CO2] concentrations and an even smaller effect on temperature... In other words [sic] the current IPCC scenarios are still fit for informing the climate change policy debate'
Even leaving aside the final non-sequitur, the initial statement is false. One has only to look at the opening pages of the report of TAR Working Group I, and in particular Figure 5 on page 14, to see that there are large differences for projected temperature changes shown in the Report which directly result from different projections of emissions. The last-minute decision to extend the upper range of projected temperature changes shown in the Report was the direct consequence of bringing into consideration the emissions-intensive A1FI scenario.
The Response makes other questionable or misleading statements about the scenarios and what has been said by way of criticism of them; and it passes over the key point that those who have questioned the IPCC's treatment of economic issues have not confined their criticisms to the SRES scenarios. The main case for the prosecution is that elements within the TAR contain what many economists and economic statisticians would regard as basic errors, showing a lack of awareness of relevant published sources, and that the same is true of more recent IPCC-related writings, as also of material published by the United Nations Environment Programme which is one of the Panel's two parent agencies. In this area, the IPCC milieu is neither fully competent nor adequately representative.
The Select Committee was critical of the limited part that has been played by HM Treasury in relation to issues of climate change. This line of thought is also rejected in the Response, which says (p. 4) that 'Treasury has since the outset played an integral role in the development of UK climate change policy'. Such reassuring language is not consistent with the continued failure on the Treasury's part even to notice, still less to act on, the questionable treatment of economic issues within the IPCC process
From the Response it appears that, in this corner of Whitehall, Dr Pangloss is alive and well. It is to be hoped that he will not be made welcome to the proceedings of the Stern Review.
The Review: an opportunity for fresh thinking
The decision to set up the Stern Review, and to assign to it wide terms of reference in relation to the economic issues, opens up a dual opportunity.
First, the Review can serve a valuable purpose by contributing to public enlightenment and a better informed debate. There is clear scope for a well-based and objective review of the economic issues.
Second, and more controversially, it could put to the test the widely accepted view, reflected in the Response, that established official procedures and policies in this area, both within the UK and internationally, are soundly based and well judged.
An opportunity for reviewing these wider issues arises in connection with AR4. The press release says that 'The findings of the Review will contribute to the ongoing international assessments and discussion of climate change policy, including ... the forthcoming IPCC Fourth Assessment Report'. Taken literally, this is a questionable statement. By the time the Review is completed, it may be too late for the final text to be taken into account in what will then be the last stages of AR4. However, the Review process could usefully become involved with AR4 from now on, in a number of ways.
The Review team can gain access to the draft Working Group reports (which are not public documents), and use them as a source of information and ideas.
The team could presumably contribute to the second-stage 'Expert and Government' review of these drafts, with comments and suggestions of their own. In this context, the emissions scenarios constitute one of the leading topics for consideration.
The team could consider more broadly how far the treatment of economic issues by the IPCC is adequate, and to what extent the various criticisms that have been made of it, which as noted above are by no means restricted to the scenarios, deserve to be taken seriously. They could scrutinise the draft texts for evidence that bears on the strengths, weaknesses and claims of the IPCC process.
Within the UK, the Review could lend its weight to ensuring that the Treasury should become and remain seriously involved with the issues: this could well be one of the most useful results of the exercise. Again, it could help to ensure the involvement of finance ministries generally within OECD countries, by supporting the proposal that the economic issues relating to climate change should be placed on the agenda of the OECD's Economic Policy Committee.
It is to be hoped that such a broad interpretation of the Review team's task will not be ruled out either by the team itself or by higher authority. An argument can be made that a group which is charged with the duty of reviewing the economics of climate change should steer clear of commenting on the IPCC process as a whole. As against this, however, it should be noted that the same could have been said of the House of Lords Select Committee: their chosen subject was precisely the same, yet they found themselves drawn into reviewing, and querying, the IPCC's role and conduct. It is a striking fact that a group of eminent, experienced and responsible persons, drawn from a national legislative body and spanning the political spectrum, with the help of an internationally recognised expert adviser and after taking and weighing expert evidence, has published a carefully considered and unanimous report on 'economic aspects of climate change' in which, among other things, the work and role of the Panel are put in serious question. The Stern Review should explicitly treat the issues that the Select Committee thus raised, and do so in a more objective, thoroughgoing and informed way than the government's Response.
By taking this course, the Review could mark a new departure in the thinking not only of the British government but of others too.
 Visiting Professor at the Westminster Business School, London, and formerly Head of the Department of Economics and Statistics at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
 On the other hand, unfavourable comments have come from Michael Grubb ('marked by several glaring internal contradictions ... incoherent') and Tom Burke ('an exercise in obfuscation').
 Ross McKitrick, 'Science and Environmental Policy-Making: Bias-Proofing the Assessment Process', Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol 53, 2005, p. 289.
 The leading critics of the hockey-stick study are Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. In a personal communication, sent after reading the Response, McKitrick has written: 'We have shown conclusively, in peer-reviewed journals, that [the] results lack statistical significance, depend on an improper application of Principal Component Analysis, and lack robustness because of their dependence on flawed bristlecone pine data. None of these points has been overturned. No one from Whitehall has ever contacted McIntyre or me...'
 An even more striking diagram (Figure SPM-2) is to be found on p. 5 of the Summary for Policymakers of the report of Working Group II.
 Both these aspects, the scenario debate and the general critique, are reviewed at length in an article of mine entitled 'SRES, IPCC, and the Treatment of Economic Issues: What Has Emerged?' (Energy and Environment, Volume 16 No. 3 & 4, 2005). Although the article appeared in the summer, it has apparently found no readers in DEFRA.
 This section draws on the evidence jointly submitted to the Review
by me and three other authors - Ian Byatt, Alan Peacock and Colin Robinson.
Two of the co-authors of the attached note (Lord Lawson and Lord Skidelsky)
were members of the Committee. In an earlier submission to the Stern Review,
four of the co-authors of the paper attached to this message (Sir Ian
Byatt and Professors David Henderson, Sir Alan Peacock and Colin Robinson)
have written that: It is a striking fact that a group of eminent, experienced
and responsible persons, drawn from a national legislative body and spanning
the political spectrum, with the help of an internationally-recognised
expert adviser and after taking and weighing expert evidence, has published
a carefully considered and unanimous report on the economics of climate
change in which, among other things, the work and role of the [IPCC] is
brought into serious question.
I hope that these papers are of interest to you in your capacity as Coordinating Lead Author for the Australia and New Zealand chapter of the Working Group II Contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and perhaps also to your colleagues in the Climate Impact Group at CSIRO. In this connection, I need to comment on the following recent paper by eight members of the Group. I gained access to this paper by following the link to Publications on your personal page on the CSIRO website.
Whetton, P. H., McInnes, K. L., Jones, R. N., Hennessy, K. J., Suppiah, R., Page, C. M., Bathols, J.. M., and Durack, P. J. (2005). Australian climate change projections for impact assessment and policy application: a review . (CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper; 001) Aspendale, Vic.: CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research. 34 p.
My concern is with the discussion of how CSIROs approach to preparing projected ranges of climate change could be improved in the future (p. 32). In the context of a proposal to assign probability distributions to the range of possible changes, you and your co-authors say that the SRES emissions scenarios currently available were deliberately constructed to be equally plausible, and that therefore each scenario would be assigned an equal likelihood of occurrence.
This assumption is incorrect, for several reasons:
These statements do not mean that the IPCC scenarios were deliberately constructed to be equally plausible. If the TAR says somewhere that this was the case, the TAR is wrong: only the SRES writing team can speak for what they deliberately constructed.
Far from constructing the scenarios to be equally plausible, the writing team effectively acknowledged that the scenarios that assume high rates of convergence (which account for 23 of the 35 scenarios used in calculating the IPCCs temperature range, and 4 of the 6 illustrative scenarios which were analysed in greater detail in the Panels Third Assessment Report) were unlikely to be realised:
The scenarios of rapid development and catch-up remain in dispute within the SRES writing team because they imply high productivity growth ... However, it is agreed that such scenarios of high productivity growth and smaller income-per-capita disparities cannot be ruled out, even if they are certainly very challenging from the perspective of recent growth experience in a number of regions, most notably Africa (SRES, pps. 194-96, emphases added).
In short, the scenarios of catch-up are unlikely to be realised. This judgment is of course confirmed by the findings of McKibbin & Stegman as reported above.
Secondly, the IPCC scenarios, far from being equally probable, were biased towards a gross over-representation of the least likely outcomes. As 15 of the SRES authors explained, in response to the Castles & Henderson critique:
The fact that 17 out of the 40 SRES scenarios explore alternative technological development pathways under a high growth ... scenario family A1 does not constitute a statement that such scenarios should be considered as more likely than others with a less dynamic technological and economic development outlook, nor that a similar large number of technological bifurcation scenarios would not be possible in any of the other three scenario families. Reflecting the aim of exploring alternative economic development pathways that lead to a condition and gradual closing of the relative North-South income gap, two of the four SRES scenario families (A1 and B1) consider this possibility ... Whereas two others adopt a more cautious (B2) or even pessimistic (A2) perspective where current income gap disparities persist throughout the century. Again this does not constitute a statement with respect to likelihood ... of such scenarios on behalf of the SRES writing team (Nakicenovic et al, IPCC SRES Revisited: A Response, Energy & Environment, 14, 2 & 3: 195, emphasis added).
Thirdly, the A2 scenario family, which is pessimistic in terms of the rate of narrowing of current income disparities, is also pessimistic in assuming a large and continuing growth in the world's population, with the total rising to 15.1 billion in 2100. This already seemed unlikely at the time that the SRES was produced. In a long footnote in the Report (n. 20 to s. 4.4..3.2, p. 193) it was observed that It was noted in the government review process that A2s population projection by 2050 is 11.3 billion people, higher than the highest UN projection (10.7 billion) published in the report The State of World Population 1999. The footnote then sought to justify the A2 population projection on the grounds that its assumption for 2100 was significantly below the corresponding assumption in the high variant in the UN's long-range population projections published in 1998, and to conclude for this and other reasons that the adopted values for the A2 scenario are well within the range of the UN long-range population projections.
These projections are no longer well within the range of the UN projections. According to the UN Population Divisions World Population in 2300, published in 2004, the low, medium and high population assumptions yield projections for 2100 of, respectively, 5.5, 9.1 and 14.0 billion. Thus the A2 projection for 2100 exceeds the UN's high projection by 8%, its medium projection by 66% and its low projection by 175%.
An even more serious difficulty for the A2 scenario is that the population projections in this scenario are now acknowledged to be extremely improbable by their authors. In 2001 the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), which had produced the suite of population projections from which the A2 series was drawn in 1996, prepared and published an exercise in expert argument-based probabilistic forecasting. The Institute collected the best available information to make an informed judgment about the likely uncertainty distribution of certain future demographic trends, and went a step further in the direction of making the expert-based assumption more objective.
According to the these projections (which are available at http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Research/POP/proj01/index.html?sb=5 ), there is only a 2.5% chance that the global population in 2050 will reach 11.3 billion (which is the A2 scenario projection) and in 2100 will reach 14.4 billion (which is 0.7 billion less than the A2 projection of 15.1 billion for that year). There is also a 2.5% chance that the global population in 2050 will be 6.6 billion or less (i.e., that there will be no net increase in the global population in the next half-century) and 4.3 billion or less in 2100. Under the A2 scenario, the worlds population will be 72% greater in 2050, and no less than 250% greater in 2100, than under an equally likely projection based on the low end of IIASAs expert argument-based probabilistic forecasting range.
The CSIRO might consider commissioning an emissions scenario incorporating projections of regional and global population based on IIASAs low end (2.5% probability) argument-based forecasts. These population assumptions are unlikely to be realised, but this is equally true of those that are incorporated in the A2 scenarios to which the CSIRO is proposing to assign equal probability in the course of improving its projections for policy application.
The Hot Topic article on the IPCC Climate Change Scenarios, which was prepared by CSIRO for the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) and is posted on its website, is in urgent need of revision. The article states that the IPCC scenarios demonstrate that the global mean temperature could increase by 1.4 - 5.8 between 1990 and 2100. This is not so: the IPCCs temperature projections are no better than the assumptions fed into them, including the assumptions on emissions. The article cites both of the Castles & Henderson papers in Energy & Environment in 2003 as having the same title, and omits altogether our paper in World Economics in 2004 (which has been republished by ANU ePrints Repository). Professor David Henderson's recent review of the whole range of issues, which was published in Energy & Environment, vol. 16, nos. 3 & 4, 2005 (and is cited in footnote 5 of the attached note) is also omitted from the Hot Topic article, as are all of the sources cited in the list at the beginning of this message. The omission of the McKibbin and Stegman article is especially surprising, as this research was funded in part by the AGO.
The Hot Topic article on How unusual is late 20th century warming? on the AGO website is also inadequate. This subject is discussed on p. 3 of our attached note, and our footnote 4 provides a correct reference to a paper by McIntyre & McKitrick (M&M) that was published in 2005 in Geophysical Research Letters. The Hot Topic article includes this paper in the list of references, but misstates the initials of both authors, and misspells the word principal (as in principal components) in the title of the paper as principle. The article also states incorrectly that M&M claimed that their corrections to the Mann Bradley and Hughes (MBH) data showed that the early 15th century was warmer than any period in the 20th century: in fact, M&M have repeatedly emphasised that their purpose is not to attempt an alternative reconstruction of temperatures across the millennium, but to demonstrate that the MBH methodology (which they do not endorse) would have yielded a different result if it had been correctly applied. Finally, as will be apparent from the discussion of the hockey stick debate on our p. 3, the Hot Topic article fails to convey the depth of the critique of the MBH findings and the way that they have been used since the publication of the IPCC Third Assessment Report.
I urge that the Hot Topics articles be revised as a matter of urgency, with a view to providing a more balanced presentation of the science and economics of climate change.
With best wishes,
Previously reported discrepancies between the amount of warming near the surface and higher in the atmosphere have been used to challenge the validity of climate models and the reality of human-induced global warming. Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite data showed little or no warming above the surface. There is no longer evidence of such a discrepancy. This is an important revision to and update of the conclusions of earlier reports from the U.S. National Research Council and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Since those reports, errors have been identified and corrected in the
4B. Comparison of observations with climate models
A key problem is to establish the extent of the human contribution to climate change, especially in the past 25 years. This task involves the careful comparison of observations of surface (from land and oceans) and troposphere (from radiosondes and satellites) temperatures with climate models that incorporate all relevant forcings, including those from rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Unfortunately, uncertainties are still very large. Modeled climate sensitivities can range from about 1.5 C up to 11.5 C (for a doubling of CO2) depending on details of parameterization of clouds [Stainforth et al, Nature 27 Jan, 2005]. We will discuss the disparities reported for observed temperature trends from the MSU satellite data by the UAH [Christy and Spencer] and RSS [Mears and Wentz, Science, 2 Sept. 2005] groups and the ongoing corrections of radiosonde trends [Sherman et al, Science, 2 Sept. 2005], and describe efforts for their resolution [Thorne et al].
A concordance of temperature trends for surface and troposphere is a necessary but not sufficient condition; it seems to exist for short-term climate fluctuations but not on a decadal scale [Santer et al, Science, 2 Sept. 2005]. The latitude variation of temperature trends does not accord with models - esp. in the Arctic and Antarctic. Also, the observed dependence of trends does not match what models predict [Douglass, Pearson, Singer, GRL, 9 July 2004].
It would be premature therefore to claim that observations and greenhouse
models agree or that most or all of recent warming is anthropogenic.
Poster: (Douglass/Singer AGU meeting Dec 5-9, 2005)
David H. Douglass (Univ of Rochester) and S. Fred Singer (Univ of Virginia/SEPP)
We challenge the substantial greenhouse (GH) warming projected from current
climate models. Incontrovertible differences exist between observed temperature
trends from balloons and satellites and those calculated from GH models
Now, a panel of experts convened by the CCSP and using updated analyses
of balloon and satellite data, has essentially confirmed these earlier
results [1,2]. As can be seen from Fig. 2, the disparity between observations
and model results is both real and substantial. The surface is warming
faster than the lower troposphere (LT) in 3 out 4 data sets.
2. National Research Council. Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature
Change. National Academy Press, Wash. DC, 2000
David H. Douglass is professor of physics at the University of Rochester.
Figure 1. From Douglass/Pearson/Singer . Leading climate models (dashed lines) show positive temperature trends (tuned to surface temperatures - CIRCLE) and increasing with altitude. Balloon radiosondes (two independent data sets - solid lines) show the opposite and agree with satellite result (MSU-UAH - shown by SQUARE)
Figure 2. This is Fig.5-4G from CCSP report : The difference between
tropical temperature trends (since 1979) of Surface (TS) and Lower Troposphere
(T2LT). Model results are shown in the histogram. Two independent radiosonde
analyses are shown as Circles; two independent satellite analyses as Squares.
The evident disparity between models and observations suggests that only
a minor contribution towards current warming comes from anthropogenic
Wonder why Fox News polls show 60 percent of Americans think global warming is either a crisis (16 percent) or a major problem (44 percent)? It's because for almost 20 years Americans have been effectively brainwashed by mainstream liberal media. A recent example of how one-sided the journalism of global warming is, occurred after research scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder released a new study alleging that Antarctica's ice is melting faster than previously thought.
As the school's March 2 press release stated, according to a study of satellite data, Antarctica's massive ice sheet is not growing, as a 2001 study had predicted, but is "in significant decline." As much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year is being lost, the study found, because more ice is melting or falling into the sea than is being created by snowfalls. That sure sounds like a "significant" amount of ice water: It's 30 times what L.A. uses per year. But it's an ice chip compared to Antarctica's 7 million cubic miles of glaciers.
As any devout reader of The New Yorker magazine fiction knows, rapidly melting polar ice caps -- and the resulting scary rise in ocean levels -- is the hottest theme in the global warming hysteria industry. New scientific "proofs" of our doomed melting planet are dutifully trumpeted in media almost daily, often without perspective and rarely with any journalistic skepticism. The New York Times' March 3 piece on Antarctica was short and perfunctory. But it made sure to note that the study "added credence to recent conclusions" that global warming "caused by humans was likely to lead to higher global sea levels" than previously thought.
And what will be the sea level rise when that 36 cubic mile ice cube joins Earth's 320,000,000 cubic miles of ocean? A whopping 0.4 millimeters per year, says the study. For nonscientists, that's 0.015 inches. (20,000 years ago -- about 19,985 years before the SUV was invented -- global sea levels were 400 feet lower than today.) The L.A. Times' report, though longer, had no room for caution, uncertainty or critiques from other scientists about the findings. The idea that a mere three-year study, which used satellites that can't distinguish between ice and rock to measure a continent larger than the United States, might be less than definitive never crossed the reporter's mind.
Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin's piece was the most thorough and most balanced. Sure, she never challenged the official global-warming party line and her story was given the standard hyperbolic headline, "Antarctic ice sheet is melting rapidly: New study warns of rising sea levels." But in the interest of fairness and balance, she called Oregon state climatologist George Taylor, a known global warming skeptic, who told her what any honest, sensible scientist would: that "a lot more research" is needed to understand Antarctica's complex climate and ice trends.
Taylor told me last week he was not happy with the way he was treated by The Post, however. He was identified as someone "who writes for the Web site TCSDaily (TCSdaily.com), which is partly financed by fossil-fuel companies that oppose curbs on greenhouse gases linked to climate change." Taylor, an Oregon State University professor, said "that implies I sold my soul to the devil." Yet he hardly is a tool of the oil industry. He says he's written about six pieces at about $500 a pop for TCSDaily, an excellent conservative-libertarian Web site whose many sponsors include ExxonMobil.
Funny; no one else in The Post's article who gets government money had
his credibility smeared. Just the guy who wasn't a global-warming true
believer. Sen. John Kerry appeared at the story's end, saying the polar
meltdown meant the United States must act quickly to impose mandatory
limits on CO2 and other greenhouse gases. What if The Post had discredited
Kerry "as a rabid wind-surfer who has a vested interest in preserving
current sea levels off Nantucket"? Or that he's "the husband
of a wealthy ketchup heiress who gave a $250,000 award to scientist Jim
Hansen, the Founding Father of Global Warming Doomsayers, who appeared
on ABC's 'Good Morning America' March 2 warning of sea level rises of
80 feet in a few centuries"? Would anyone have complained about a
David Lynch' complaint about scientific journals (Physics Today, March 2006) struck a responsive chord. He describes well the hoops one has to jump through to prepare a paper to the exact specifications of a journal. Such problems have discouraged me - and, I am sure, many others - from publishing worthwhile research results.
Submission of papers is further discouraged when working in a contentious area with policy implications, like climate change, where one faces endless hassles with referees and editors - who often openly display their prejudices in editorials.
However, I have found several workable alternatives - always assuming one no longer must publish to gain academic promotion:
¦ Publishing on the web. This is akin to sending out preprints or internal reports. They don't carry the prestige of established journals and are not as widely read. Some, like www.climateaudit.org, are highly specialized and invite lively discussion; others, like www.co2science.org, are mostly informative. My own weekly newsletter in www.sepp.org deals mainly with policy. But I am quite satisfied to simply "get the word out" to several thousand who read it.
¦ Presenting a paper at professional/scientific meetings. The abstract is published -- after approval by the session organizers, a kind of peer review, and can be quoted as a reference. Compared to preparing a publishable paper, the effort is minimal. The discussion is prompt and can be quite stimulating, especially with a poster paper.
¦ Publishing with a co-author, preferably one who still has access to slave labor (aka as graduate students). I have always liked the remark by Bob Solow, Nobel Prize winner in Economics at MIT: "Our job is to get out there in our tennis shoes and explore the territory. Graduate students can do the hard work. After all, that's why God created grad students."
¦ The most satisfying way to publish new ideas is to put them into a book. And they are read, esp. by people who disagree. I have had the experience of a researcher publish a critique of my analysis and graph in a refereed journal and later proving him wrong - much to my satisfaction.
¦ Finally, of course, there is a Letter to the Editor. I don't know about others, but I always read the Letters before the rest.
S. Fred Singer