Monday, December 31, 2007

Marc Morano uses facts to answer an "ad hominem" attack from an alleged scientist

One would have hoped that a scientist would have put scientific points to Morano but it was not so. Bill Houck [] (the Bill Houck of the EPA, I assume) wrote rather condescendingly to Marc Morano (of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee) as follows:

Assuming you are sincere in your beliefs about the lack of evidence proving `global warming', I would encourage you to look back 45 - 50 years ago and consider the (400 or so) "prominent scientists" or doctors the tobacco companies would parade around who would insist that cigarette smoking was not proven to be seriously harmful to your health. Perhaps 400 said no while many thousands accepted the obvious about smoking without feeling compelled to write or make public statements about it. After all, it was obvious.

Even if the warming/dimming concerns are exaggerated, there's no great down side to halting excessive and unnecessary pollution. Certainly everyone would want an environment that is as clean as possible.

Morano replied politely as follows:
Thank you for writing. You may have a good point with your tobacco analogy. Please read this article, I do tend to agree with the comparison.

As for the "thousands" of scientists who believe we face a "climate crisis," where are they? The UN IPCC had only 52 scientists write the alarmist Summary for Policymakers in 2007. There are no "thousands" of UN scientists. Even the UN says "hundreds" but they are not involved in the media hyped summary. Many of the "hundreds" of UN scientists are skeptical of the alarmist summary written by the 52 scientists. Many of the skeptics are profiled in our report.

Even the National Academy of Sciences and American Meteorological Society's "consensus" statement was only voted on by two dozen or so governing board members, rank and file scientists never had a say. Take a look at this post, an environmental scientist admits he never looked at evidence of man-made climate fears, he just parroted the UN's line. Because of the new Senate report of over 400, he is now reconsidering his views. See here

Finally, as for your "no great downside" to halting pollution. Of course that statement is true. But that is not what we are facing. Because of fears of a "tipping point" and we "must act now" and "it's cheaper to act now than wait" the US and other nations are being rushed into meaningless and ineffective international treaties and complete climate symbolism for huge costs domestically.

In over three decades of global warming fears, there has been no single proposal that would have a detectable impact on temperatures if fully enacted and the alarmists are correct about the science. Even if Kyoto, the grandaddy of all climate agreements were being complied with, it would not have a detectable impact on temps 50 or 100 years from now. (this is not in dispute, Gore's own scientist Tom Wigley has said this).

There is no such thing as an "insurance" policy against warming when it comes to current proposals. The upcoming cap-and-trade LIeberman-Warner bill in the Senate would not have a detectable impact on global temps, but will cost poor and middle class Americans huge amounts in higher energy bills. All economic pain for no climate gain.

Would you buy and insurance policy that had a huge up front premium for absolutely no payout at the end of the term? If you would, then by all means support all of the current climate bills. But if they were "insurance policies" they would be shut down for insurance fraud for taking money and not paying any benefits.

Cleaner burning technology and wealth creation go hand and hand. Saddling our economy with UN mandates and new layers of federal bureaucracy will only make us poorer and not 'solve' the "climate crisis."

After attending the last four UN climate conferences in a row, I can tell you unequivocally that if we were facing a man-made climate "crisis' and the UN were our only hope to "solve" it, we would all be doomed.

Please read this very long speech to understand the scientific and economic and technological issues.

Please do not continue parroting the meaningless line about "insurance" policies or how "thousands" of scientists endorse a mythical "consensus" unless you can show a shred of evidence for your claims.

Above exchange received by email from Marc Morano []

Science and soothsaying

By Daniel B. Botkin, professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Barbara, and president of the Center for the Study of the Environment

Now that the Bali conference is over and climate scientists have warned us again about the dire predictions of their climate models, a question remains: Will their forecasts come true? Given the current international focus on global warming, you would think that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, many people will want to know whether today's predictions proved accurate.

But, in fact, people rarely look back to see if their old forecasts were on the mark. Foretelling the future has always been difficult and almost always wrong. Charles Mackay, in his wonderful 1841 book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," observes that the so-called necromancers of earlier centuries who purported to divine the future were grouped with the worst alchemists. Today, however, computers seem to have undermined our natural skepticism. Many of us put our faith in complex software that most of us cannot understand.

My own experience makes me skeptical of how environmental forecasting is being used. In 1991, several colleagues and I drew national and international attention when we used a computer model to forecast possible effects of global warming on an endangered species. Our computer program forecast that the Kirtland's warbler, the first songbird in America ever subjected to a complete census, would likely face extinction by 2010. Its habitat, jack pine trees, would be unable to thrive in conditions that climate computer programs forecast for southern Michigan, the only place and only trees where the bird nested.

The computer told us these declines should be measurable even in the year we made the forecast. We suggested that measurements of jack pine growth be started to verify the forecasts and to see whether the potential effects of global warming on the diversity of life were actually occurring. People could have started going to southern Michigan to check out our forecasts 16 years ago. Nobody did. I tried to get funding to do this, but no government agency or private foundation was interested.

Even today, amid the furor over global warming, no one is rushing out to verify that it does indeed threaten the Michigan jack pine. (But, happily, independent action by the government, the Audubon Society and private individuals has brought the Kirtland's warbler back from the brink of extinction.)

What could explain the lack of interest in verifying a dated computer forecast? After all, computer forecasts are the basis for the current alarm. Did people perhaps decide that a 16-year-old forecast had to have been based on inferior methods?

But wait a minute. Given the usual progress of science, won't forecasting methods in the future always be better than in the past? What this suggests is that today the primary uses of, and interest in, such forecasts are political, not scientific - that scientists as well as politicians are using forecasts for political and ideological purposes to influence public behavior here and now. The question is not really whether the forecasts are scientifically valid, but how much impetus they can provide to influence society.

It wasn't always this way. In the 1960s, when research into global warming was just beginning, it seemed impossible that people could change the global environment; the Earth was just too big. Charles Lyell, the father of modern geology, considered the possibility in detail in the mid-19th century and decided it was impossible because the mass of living things amounted to less than a drop in the bucket compared to the weight of all the materials in the oceans, atmosphere, soil and rocks.

In the 1970s, however, scientists began to realize that life had in fact greatly changed the Earth's environment, starting more than a billion years ago. At the same time, evidence was building that burning fossil fuels was increasing the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. In 1957, Charles Keeling began the first continuous measurements to study carbon-dioxide change over time at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. By 1973, he reported at a landmark conference at Brookhaven National Laboratory on "Carbon and the Biosphere" that carbon dioxide showed a definite increase in 15 years, consistent with releases from burning fossil fuels. For those of us working on these issues, the scientific and environmental implications were vast.

Global environmental change began to become a political issue in the 1980s. Climatologists and astrophysicists showed that a nuclear war could put so much dust in the air that disastrous cooling would occur, the infamous nuclear winter. With the end of the Cold War, the focus shifted to global warming. At that time, climatologists explained that their computer models were crude approximations of the real atmosphere and pushed the limit of computer technology, requiring months of computing for a single simulation. You could accept either the results of these crude models or the less-formal projections by the most experienced meteorologists. The primary focus continued to be on the implications of what we knew.

In 1988, in a move that marked a shift to the politicization of forecasts, Congress asked the Environmental Protection Agency to report on the potential effects of global warming. Computer forecasting became much more complex; output from the huge climate models became input into ecological models. My projection for the little warbler was part of that work. The attempt was to be more realistic, but the result was that forecasts became more difficult to verify and also more alarming, thus drawing more and more public attention.

Thinking over this history, I see three primary uses of environmental computer forecasts: to understand the implications of what we know (Can living things change the global environment?); to know the future; and to influence public behavior. Only the first can be strictly scientific. The third is wandering farther and farther away from science.

Since proving the validity of long-term forecasts is difficult and the ultimate tests would take years, and since many scientists are alarmed at the dire scenarios, my colleagues are beginning to talk about whether it is O.K. to exaggerate and push forecasts that are not currently provable if the only way to get societies to act is to frighten people. I think it is not O.K. It is a short-term view, and even if it works, it will inevitably debase science and scientists.

Soothsayers have always tried to persuade people that they could predict the future. What is new today is that the incredibly powerful tools of science - nuclear weapons, flights to the moon, computers, iPods - have such huge implications for civilization that they may contain the seeds of their own destruction. Thirty years from now, we will probably not be interested in today's specific computer forecasts, but we may have lost our faith in science, a deeper and, to me, a more important problem.


Scientific evidence builds to counter global warming

Heads of state, government bureaucrats, environmental activists, and the news media -- 15,000 strong -- have just completed a global warming conference in Bali, Indonesia. They intended to force mandated reductions in man-made carbon dioxide emissions (CO2 ) in order to avert the catastrophic consequences of global warming.

But respected and skeptical climate scientists were banned from panel discussions, censored, silenced, and threatened with removal by the police if they tried to present peer-reviewed evidence contradicting the ''prevailing wisdom.'' The message was that, ''the debate is over; don't confuse the issue with facts; it's time to move ahead.''

But, the nations of the world refused to commit to CO2 reductions because the consequences to their economies would have been truly disastrous. Perhaps the scientific evidence that man-made global warming does not exist somehow sneaked into the conference, and caused doubt about the conventional wisdom, the so-called ''scientific consensus'' that humankind causes global warming. Albert Einstein once said that a scientific consensus is undone by one fact.

I'm not making this up. Here's a quote from a Dec. 13 letter to Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, by 100 top scientists, many of whom are themselves on the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change: ''In stark contrast to the often repeated assertion that the science of climate change is 'settled,' significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of human-caused global warming.'' This letter can be found here.

Concurrently, writing in the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society, three top climate scientists say that ''our research demonstrates that the ongoing rise of atmospheric CO2 has only a minor influence on climate change. We must conclude, therefore, that attempts to control CO2 emissions are ineffective and pointless -- but very costly.''

And there's more. The 2007 report issued by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee details the views of over 400 prominent scientists from more than 25 countries who voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called ''consensus'' on human-caused global warming. Many of these scientists are current or former members of the IPCC, and are criticizing the claims of the IPCC. This blockbuster report lists the 400-plus scientists by name, academic/institutional affiliation, country of residence, and features their own words -- verbatim.

The thing that is glaringly absent from the global warming theory is testing. The scientific method requires exhaustive testing to validate a hypothesis, and also requires that a test be applied that would show the hypothesis to be false. This was not done, but instead, the environmentalists cherry-picked only periods of time when CO2 and temperature were both increasing. The problem is, that has rarely happened.

The accepted global average temperature statistics used by the IPCC show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Also, satellite-based temperature measurements show little, if any, global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 percent). And, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

We should care a great deal about the great global warming scare, because the actions being pushed on us would ruin the world's economies, and result in reduced standards of living for us, and food shortages around the world as energy production dropped. The proposals are insane: carbon taxes, carbon caps, carbon credits, carbon trading -- all for nothing.


His Eminence promotes climate skepticism

Article below by Cardinal archbishop of Sydney George Pell

ANOTHER year has passed quickly; too quickly for those who will run out of time before they run out of money. Undoubtedly, the most important event in the Australian year was the election last month of a new federal government. The transition was smooth, and the new Prime Minister is striving to avoid antagonising the various elements of the broad coalition that brought him to office.

The unions are impatient about the proposed pace of change to workplace regulations, while the maverick ACT Government's proposals to downplay marriage are causing apprehension among Christians.

The Bali summit on the Kyoto Protocol and climate change was a public relations triumph, although I'm hopeful the new government will not impose major costs on the people for dubious versions of climate goals. We need rigorous cost-benefit analysis of every proposal and healthy scepticism of all semi-religious rhetoric about the climate and, especially, about computer models for the future. It is difficult to predict what the weather will be like next week, let alone in 10, 20 or 100 years. We hope the drought is coming to an end in country areas, but Australia will always be susceptible to recurrent droughts until the arrival of the next ice age.

There is little reason to be optimistic about peace in the Middle East despite the Annapolis meeting, and unfortunate, suffering Lebanon teeters on the edge of another disaster. Australian troops will remain in Afghanistan, probably for years of struggle, and will slowly withdraw from Iraq, where fragile signs of an improving situation have been appearing.

US President George W. Bush survives as the only continuing head of government from the major allies of the "coalition of the willing". Tony Blair has resigned as UK prime minister, although his government is still in office. One of the most remarkable politicians of his generation, Blair possesses communication skills rivalling those of Bill Clinton. Apparently a religious man, Blair remains an enigma at many levels. He has attended Mass every Sunday for many years with his wife and family, and has just become a Roman Catholic. Yet he implemented and personally supported anti-Christian legislation over the years.


The Holy Father is not too keen on Warmism either

Pretty remarkable when even a Pope feels a need to advise skepticism

AT midnight mass in St Peter's, Benedict XVI conjured in his sermon with an image from the writings of Gregory of Nyssa, of the whole universe torn and disfigured by sin. "What," the Pope wondered, "would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation? Anselm of Canterbury, in an almost prophetic way, once described a vision of what we witness today in a polluted world whose future is at risk."

At first blush, it seems as though he's talking about global warming. That's certainly the way Ian Fisher, the Fairfax stringer in Rome, framed his story about the event and construed those passing remarks in a sermon mainly devoted to the incarnation. "Benedict has spoken out increasingly about environmental concerns and the Vatican has purchased carbon offsets, credits to compensate for carbon dioxide emissions created by the energy consumed in the world's smallest state, Vatican City," Fisher's report said.

There are three problems with such a gloss. The first is that the line about selfish and reckless abuse of energy might be no more than a reference to the First World's consumption of dwindling oil reserves. The second is that the idea of a polluted world whose future is at risk could just as well be interpreted as an allusion to acid rain, contaminated waterways, general environmental degradation and the problem of nuclear proliferation.

The third and most conclusive objection is that we already know what Benedict thinks about global warming. He made a telling intervention during the Bali conference earlier this month, releasing a message prepared for World Peace Day fully three weeks earlier than scheduled just to emphasise the point. Whether some Vatican bureaucrat - who probably got the project under way in the dying days of the previous reign - has bought some tokenistic carbon credits is neither here nor there. What matters is what the Pope himself says.

He warned that "any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not dubious ideology ... Fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disaster are nothing more than scaremongering. While some concerns may be valid, it is vital that the international community bases its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement ... Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions."

It cannot have escaped the Pope's attention that carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere but the mean planetary temperature hasn't increased significantly for nearly nine years. Similar misgivings about how well the greenhouse theory fits the available facts informed the views of his leading local representative, Cardinal George Pell. In February this year Pell wrote a column calling for caution over exaggerated claims of severe global warming. He said he is "deeply sceptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence. What we are seeing from the doomsayers is an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition. I would be surprised if industrial pollution and carbon emissions had no effect at all, but enough is enough."

A reporter with a sharper eye for coded messages could have found one at least that was unmistakable in the text of the sermon and within the rest of the liturgy half a dozen actions that spoke far louder than words.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Divorcees are bad for the environment. Do environmentalists care?

A small item in the British Medical Journal recently caught my eye. It was a brief digest of a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the environmental impact of divorce. Researchers from Michigan found that people in divorced households spent 46 and 56 percent more on electricity and water, respectively, than did people in married households. This outcome is not all that surprising: marriage involves (among many other things, of course) economies of scale.

One of the interesting questions that this little piece of research poses is whether the environmentalist lobby will now throw itself behind the cause of family values. Will it, for example, push for the tightening of divorce laws, and for financial penalties-in the form, say, of higher taxes-to be imposed on those who insist upon divorcing, and therefore upon using 46 percent more electricity and 52 percent more water per person than married couples who stay together? Will environmentalists march down the streets with banners reading SAVE THE PLANET: STAY WITH THE HUSBAND YOU HATE?

For myself, I doubt it. Yet these figures, if true, are certainly suggestive. The fact that there will be no demonstrations against environmentally destructive divorcees, who probably emit as much extra carbon dioxide as the average SUV, suggests that the desire to save the planet is not nearly as powerful as the desire to destroy a way of life.


There's a lot we DON'T know about CO2

The article excerpted below is written so as not to threaten Warmists but the great gaps in knowledge that it notes show how shaky the assumptions fed into climate "models" have to be

So far, scientists have no reliable way to measure all these fluctuating carbon emissions. Temperature predictions based on future CO2 levels, therefore, could overestimate the risk of greenhouse warming -- or dangerously understate it. "A quarter of all the CO2 that is emitted is going somewhere, and we don't know where," said David Crisp at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he is senior scientist for the $270 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory, set for launch next December. "That raises a lot of red flags."

Moreover, as governments try to prevent climate change through emissions trading -- where buying and selling emissions rights is expected to top $70 billion by the end of next year -- regulators must track CO2 no matter where it comes from or where it goes, to verify transactions.

To pinpoint the places where the planet naturally absorbs CO2 emissions, researchers have turned North America into a test lab. No other region is so thoroughly monitored; nor does any other area emit as much carbon dioxide -- about 27% of the world's annual total.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada together release about 2 billion tons of carbon as CO2 into the air every year -- 85% from the U.S. alone -- but only about a third of it typically is absorbed by so-called carbon sinks, such as new forests, grasslands, crops and soil. The rest is either in the air or unaccounted for. That is according to a new study of 28,000 measurements collected every week from 2000 through 2006 and analyzed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's online CarbonTracker system.

The CarbonTracker offers a portrait of the continent in carbon dioxide, locating where greenhouse-gas upwellings are strongest and where new plant growth and soil most readily remove it from the air. Greenhouse-gas emissions were highest in the Midwest, which released more CO2 than any country except Russia, China, India, and the U.S. as a whole. By the same token, CO2 was absorbed mostly east of the Rocky Mountains and in northern Canada, where vast boreal forests hold twice as much carbon as tropical woodlands.

These detailed calculations reveal a countryside where these natural carbon-storage zones are failing, the NOAA researchers determined. The higher temperatures that result can, through more frequent wildfires and prolonged droughts, further interrupt ancient cycles of carbon storage, spilling even more carbon into the air....

An unusually severe U.S. drought in 2002, the NOAA researchers discovered, left an extra 360 million tons of carbon in the atmosphere -- an amount equal to the annual emissions of 200 million cars -- by stunting plant growth that normally might have absorbed the gas. "We lost half our natural sink," said NOAA geochemist John Miller. In Europe, a severe drought in 2003 left more than 500 million tons of carbon in the air.

In turn, the dry weather from higher temperatures also has made wildfires in the western U.S. more frequent, longer-burning and harder to extinguish. Large-scale fires in western and southeastern states can release as much carbon dioxide in a few weeks as motor-vehicle traffic there does in a year, University of Colorado researchers reported this past October in Carbon Balance and Management.

In a single week this fall, they reported, wildfires in Southern California released 7.9 million metric tons of CO2 -- equal to 25% of the monthly fumes from every car, truck, factory and power plant in the state.


Yet another double standard

Climate alarmists have been critiquing the Senate "400" report for including engineers and economists in the report despite the fact that the IPCC is made up similarly

Back at Gristmill, Andrew Dessler stands by his cancer/doctor analogy in the in-whom-do-we-trust war, after some comments on his blog:
The complexity of climate change does not suddenly make a sociologist, economist, computer programmer, etc. a credible skeptic. In fact, the weakness of Inhofe's list is readily apparent by the very fact that he had to include such people on his list. The crown jewels of skeptics are Lindzen, Christy, Singer, etc., but as I've said before, there are only a small number of them. In order to bulk up the list, Inhofe lowered his criteria to basically include anyone who doesn't believe in climate change --- regardless of their technical background in the subject. As far as my analogy being unsuitable, I stand by it. If your child is sick, you take him/her to the experts. Ditto if your planet is sick. You don't take either your child or a planet to a sociologist or economist.

For the uninitiated, here is the lowdown: Andrew Dessler is a professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University. He is complaining about a US senate report which listed hundreds of individuals who have been reported in the media during 2007 as speaking against the "scientific consensus" on climate change, claiming that they are scientists. The report naturally challenges the very principle of the consensus, which has given climate policies the authority they have needed to be carried forward. The global warming camp have sought to undermine the value of this new list, by claiming that the scientists lack scientific qualifications, expertise, or moral integrity.

But Dessler has made a significant concession here. He is visibly shifting from the idea that the power of the consensus comes from the weight of scientific opinion - numbers. An "overwhelming number" of scientist's opinions might indicate that the "science" had been tested. Now, you have to be qualified to have an opinion on climate change. But Dessler doesn't tell us exactly how we are to measure the qualifications, we just have to take his word for it that the 400 sceptics aren't qualified, but the IPCC scientists are. So it's not simply a consensus, it's a qualified consensus, and he gets to call the qualification. So much for science. So, apparently, the IPCC scientists who represent the consensus are more qualified than their counterparts. They are akin to the experts you would trust your desperately ill child to, not the ragbag of mavericks you would avoid. Worse still, many of the sceptics are in fact mere computer programmers or - gasp - sociologists!

We decided to test Dessler's claim. So we downloaded IPCC WGII's latest report on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability". There were 380 contributors to the report [PDF of contributors]. A thorough and exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of these experts (or were they?) was too ambitious (it's Christmas, and we have wine to drink, and mince pies to eat, too). So, we focused on the contributors who operate in the UK. Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren't clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists. This gives the lie to Dessler's claim that IPCC contributors are analogous to medical doctors. There are economists working on saving that dying child!!! That's got to be wrong, by Dessler's own standards.

Nonetheless, were these contributors the "experts" that Dessler claims they are? There were a few professors, but few of them had the profile Dessler gives them. Many of them were in fact, hard to locate to establish just how much better than their counterparts they were. One professor (Abigail Bristow) wasn't what you'd call a climate scientist, but a professor of Transport Studies at Newcastle University. How is she going to cure the sick child? Will she be driving the ambulance? Another Professor - Diana Liverman at Oxford University - specialises in "human dimensions of global environmental change" - Geography is a social science too. Another - John Morton of the University of Greenwich, specialises in "development Anthropology". Professor of Geography, and Co-Chair of IPCC WGII, Martin Parry's profile merely tells us that he is "a specialist on the effects of climate change". But what does that actually mean?

Among the remainder - most of whom are not professors, but research associates at best, are an assorted bunch, many of whom are better known for their alarmist statements in the mainstream press than they are for their contributions to scientific knowledge - activists in other words, with their own political motivation. And in spite of being reported as "climate scientists", involved in scientific research, also seem to be working within the social sciences, albeit for "climate research" institutions, such as Tyndall. Johanna Wolf, for example, is an IPCC contributor from the University of East Anglia, who works in the department for "development studies". Does that make her a climate scientist? Anna Taylor, of the Stockholm Environment Institute in Oxford has no PhD at all, her research focuses on "stakeholder engagement in adapting to multiple stresses, including climate variability and change, water scarcity, food insecurity and health concerns" - not climate science, and has simply not been alive long enough to join the ranks of the specialists of specialisms that Dessler demands of sceptics. Similarly, Susanne Rupp-Armstrong, listed as a member of Southampton University only appears to have ever contributed to one academic paper. Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, Maureen Agnew does not focus her research on climate science, but on such things as "Public perceptions of unusually warm weather in the UK: impacts, responses and adaptations", and "Potential impacts of climate change on international tourism." Katherine Vincent specialising in "Social Capital and Climate change" at the UEA, only began her PhD thesis in October 2003. How can she be cited as a specialist in climate science?

Then there are the contributors whose involvement we cannot explain. Farhana Yamin is an international lawyer, based at the University of Sussex. Rachel Warren and Paul Watkiss are merely listed as "environmental consultants" at the latter's consultancy firm, and clearly have a commercial interest in climate change policies being developed. Kate Studd is listed as a contributor, but she works for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, and doesn't appear to be an academic at all. What are these people doing on this list of the most expert climate specialists in the world?

We were surprised by the results. Was the prevalence of social scientists from the UK representative of the whole group? We decided to repeat the test for the contributors based in the USA. Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modellers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in earth/atmospheric sciences. Again, we gave the benefit of the doubt to geographers where it wasn't clear whether their specialism was physical, or human geography.

In a follow-up post, Dessler has set about 'Busting the 'consensus busters'' by ridiculing the qualifications of Inhofe's 400 experts, starting with a certain Thomas Ring. In the comments section he justifies this approach:
I agree it would be quicker to simply note the qualified skeptics on the list (there are probably a few dozen), but, from a rhetorical point of view, I think pointing out these immensely unqualified members of the list is more effective.

Well, we can all play that game... Included as contributors to WGII are Patricia Craig, Judith Cranage, Susan Mann, and Christopher Pfeiffer, all from Pennsylvania State University. It's not that these people aren't experts in their field - they probably are. Our problem with their inclusion on the list of Contributors to the IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment report is that their jobs are (in order) website-designer, administrative assistant (x2), and network administrator.

Also on the list is Peter Neofotis who appears to be a 2003 graduate of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia. Are there many experts in anything who graduated in 2003? Would Dessler take his sick child to a doctor, who, according to our understanding of medical training, would have not yet qualified? Also at Columbia is Marta Vicarelli, who is a PhD candidate in 'sustainable development'. Can she be the amongst the world's leading experts on sustainability? It seems hard to take the claim seriously. Or what about Gianna Palmer at Wesleyan University, who, as far as we can tell, will not graduate from university until 2010? And yet Dessler insists that
Inhofe's list is chock full of people without any recent, relevant research on the problem. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why they're skeptics: people with the relevant experience are immediately persuaded by the evidence. This should be compared to the IPCC, which includes exclusively people with recent, relevant expertise on the problem.

Anything which can be thrown at the sceptics can be thrown at IPCC contributors. That is not to say that social scientists and computer programmers have nothing to offer the world, or the IPCC process. They are crucial in fact. What it is to say, however, is that, when social scientists, computer programmers and administrative assistants comprise a significant proportion of IPCC contributors, the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world's top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.

Dessler's wish to maintain that the IPCC comprises unimpeachable experts in their field mirrors the common desire to create an unassailable scientific consensus that political changes in the world are a necessity. This is driven less from the data generated by these experts - they aren't as expert as is claimed, and the consensus is not unassailable - and more to do with the desire to drive politics by creating scientific orthodoxy. This would be scientism, if there was any matter of science about it. The only claim to authority that the IPCC has is not tested, scientific expertise, but just the fact of being established as an authority. There is obviously no substantial attempt to select the best in the field to contribute, as there is no objective measure of such expertise. If we do not take the view that IPCC's authority rests on its contributors' expertise, then the consensus it generates is meaningless. It is merely a 'ministry of truth' - the existence of which is only designed to reduce inconvenient challenges to political, not scientific, orthodoxy. Dessler says :
The problem is not the several dozen credible skeptics on Inhofe's list, some of whom you've named, it's the 350 others. Overall, There are nowhere near 400 credible skeptics on his list, or on the planet.

Even if it were possible to draw together the best scientific minds (and perhaps even the best sociologists and programmers too), would it even be desirable? Science has never 'worked' by measuring opinion, but by testing hypotheses. It doesn't work by generating orthodoxy, but by challenging it. The IPCC doesn't represent the best available understanding, but the paucity of understanding of the factors governing climate. If the 'truth' really is 'out there' then it doesn't need to be decided by committee.


Scientist Reconsidering Climate Views After Reading Senate Report of 400 Skeptics!

"Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007. " For the skeptics among us, fed to me again by A.

It got me thinking: I'm an environmental scientist, but I've never had time to review the "evidence" for the anthropogenic causes of global warming. I operate on the principle that global warming is a reality and that it is human-made, because a lot of reliable sources told me that, and because I read it in learned journals. When I said, in my opening speech for the launch of UNEP's Global Environment Outlook-4 in Beirut: "There is now irrevocable evidence that climate change is taking place..." I was reading from a statement prepared by UNEP. Faith-based science it may be, but who has time to review all the evidence? I'll continue to act on the basis of anthropogenic climate change, but I really need to put some more time into this.


Gore Milks Cash Cow: What France Is Reading

Climate-change skeptics are taking a beating these days even in France, where people long resisted the green creed. Paris bookstores brim with guidebooks -- including one shaped like a toilet seat -- that tell readers how to help save our planet. Yet the dissidents refuse to shut up, even now that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.S. government has agreed to negotiate a new global-warming treaty by 2009. The most conspicuous doubter in France is Claude Allegre, a former education minister and a physicist by profession. His new book, ``Ma Verite Sur la Planete'' (``My Truth About the Planet''), doesn't mince words.

He calls Gore a ``crook'' presiding over an eco-business that pumps out cash. As for Gore's French followers, the author likens them to religious zealots who, far from saving humanity, are endangering it. Driven by a Judeo-Christian guilt complex, he says, French greens paint worst-case scenarios and attribute little-understood cycles to human misbehavior. Allegre doesn't deny that the climate has changed or that extreme weather has become more common. He instead emphasizes the local character of these phenomena.

While the icecap of the North Pole is shrinking, the one covering Antarctica -- or 92 percent of the Earth's ice -- is not, he says. Nor have Scandinavian glaciers receded, he says. To play down these differences by basing forecasts on a global average makes no sense to Allegre. He dismisses talk of renewable energies, such as wind or solar power, saying it would take a century for them to become a serious factor in meeting the world's energy demands.

To his relief, France has taken another path: Almost 80 percent of its electricity comes from nuclear reactors. What's more, France has a talent for eating its cake and having it, too: Although it signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the country is nowhere near meeting the agreed targets.

``Ma Verite Sur la Planete'' is published by Plon/Fayard (240 pages, 18 euros).

Jean de Kervasdoue, a health expert, also stresses the benefits of nuclear power, noting that it emits only a small fraction of the greenhouse gas that comes from burning coal, oil or gas. His pet peeve, though, is genetically modified food. In ``Les Precheurs de l'Apocalypse'' (``The Doomsday Preachers''), Kervasdoue decries how shrill and sometimes violent campaigners have prevented GM foods from gaining a foothold in Europe. They way they talk, he says, ``it sounds as if Martians are attacking the Earth.''

In fact, genetically modified organisms have proved highly beneficial to mankind, he argues, pointing to insulin, an artificially created hormone that has saved the lives of countless diabetes sufferers. A much greater danger to health and life expectancy, he says, is obesity -- even though the food that European fatsoes ingest is ``natural.''

Kervasdoue also has politically incorrect things to say about asbestos and Chernobyl. The motto of his book comes from Marcel Proust: ``Facts don't enter a world dominated by our beliefs.''

``Les Precheurs de l'Apocalypse'' is from Plon (254 pages, 19 euros).



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Not So Hot

By Patrick J. Michaels

If a scientific paper appeared in a major journal saying that the planet has warmed twice as much as previously thought, that would be front-page news in every major paper around the planet. But what would happen if a paper was published demonstrating that the planet may have warmed up only half as much as previously thought? Nothing. Earlier this month, Ross McKitrick from Canada's University of Guelph and I published a manuscript in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres saying precisely that.

Scientists have known for years that temperature records can be contaminated by so-called "urban warming," which results from the fact that long-term temperature histories tend to have originated at points of commerce. The bricks, buildings, and pavement of cities retain the heat of the day and impede the flow of ventilating winds. For example, downtown Washington is warmer than nearby (and more rural) Dulles Airport. As government and services expand down the Dulles Access road, it, too, is beginning to warm compared to more rural sites to the west.

Adjusting data for this effect, or using only rural stations, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with confidence that less than 10% of the observed warming in long-term climate histories is due to urbanization. That's a wonderful hypothesis, and Ross and I decided to test it. We noted that other types of bias must still be affecting historical climate records. What about the quality of a national network and the competence of the observers? Other factors include movement or closing of weather stations and modification of local land surfaces, such as replacing a forest with a cornfield.

Many of these are socioeconomic, so we built a computer model that included both regional climatic factors, such as latitude, as well as socioeconomic indicators like GDP and applied it to the IPCC's temperature history.

Weather equipment is very high-maintenance. The standard temperature shelter is painted white. If the paint wears or discolors, the shelter absorbs more of the sun's heat and the thermometer inside will read artificially high. But keeping temperature stations well painted probably isn't the highest priority in a poor country.

IPCC divides the world into latitude-longitude boxes, and for each of these we supplied information on GDP, literacy, amount of missing data (a measure of quality), population change, economic growth and change in coal consumption (the more there is, the cooler the area).

Guess what. Almost all the socioeconomic variables were important. We found the data were of highest quality in North America and that they were very contaminated in Africa and South America. Overall, we found that the socioeconomic biases "likely add up to a net warming bias at the global level that may explain as much as half the observed land-based warming trend."

We then modified IPCC's temperature data for these biases and compared the statistical distribution of the warming to the original IPCC data and to satellite measures of lower atmospheric temperature that have been available since 1979. Since these are from a single source (the U.S. government), and they don't have any urban contamination, they are likely to be affected very little by economic factors.

Indeed. The adjusted IPCC data now looks a lot like the satellite data. The biggest change was that the high (very warm) end of the distribution in the IPCC data was knocked off by the unbiasing process.

Where was the press? A Google search reveals that with the exception of a few blog citations, the only major story ran in Canada's Financial Post.

There are several reasons why the press provides so little coverage to science indicating that global warming isn't the end of the world. One has to do with bias in the scientific literature itself. Theoretically, assuming unbiased climate research, every new finding should have an equal probability of indicating that things are going to be more or less warm, or worse-than-we-thought vs. not-so-bad. But, when someone finds that there's only half as much warming as we thought, and the story is completely ignored, what does this say about the nature of the coverage itself? Somehow, you'd think that would have been newsworthy.


IPCC stumbles from folly to folly

The IPCC -- a United Nations bureaucracy that literally dictates the world view on climate change--may not be the most reliable or trustworthy of agencies. It is, above all, a government-controlled body with a political mission that IPCC officials pursue with religious and dogmatic fervour. The IPCC distorts, exaggerates and manipulates its science, producing conclusions that are aimed at generating a political response and raising public awareness.

To doubt IPCC science is considered sacrilegious. We are required to "believe" anthropomorphic climate change is real, or otherwise face ridicule. For scientists, it can mean excommunication.

One of the IPCC's earlier blunders was to claim, as part of its proof of carbon-caused warming, that the 20th century was the hottest in 2,000 years. A graph showing the trend, shaped like a hockey stick, dominated scores of IPCC documents. But the science behind the claim was wrong. The latest IPCC reports no longer make the claim or show the graphic. The latest rough version of the Earth's temperature over 2,000 years (prepared by non-IPCC scientists) suggests the Earth was a lot warmer about 1,000 years ago, long before man began driving Fords and Chevys. Not much propaganda value in that, so the IPCC dropped the whole idea.

The new version of the 2,000-year temperature record corrects some of the main problems with the original hockey stick. Above all, it attempts to plot temperature change without using flawed tree-ring data as major indicators of temperature. Stripped of its 2,000-year sensation, the IPCC now trumpets a new chart as the official Global Temperature Record. This is the first graphic in the IPCC's latest official pre-Bali "synthesis" report on climate science. It's another scientific icon that purports to show temperatures soaring over the last 25 years. The recent jump, the IPCC says, is "very likely" due to man-made carbon emissions.

But a new paper by Ross McKitrick of Guelph University and Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute suggests the latest IPCC climate-change icon could be as flawed as the hockey stick. One of the main problems with the 2,000-year graphic is that it wiped out a well-known Medieval Warm Period from 1,000 years ago. The McKitrick/Michaels analysis looks at the other end of the time spectrum and finds that much of the recent warming trend may be a function of faulty, contaminated data. It may simply be wrong.

The trick IPCC treatment of problems associated with 20th-century temperature measurements are spelled out in Mr. Mc-Kitrick's commentary. The short version is that the IPCC ignored findings related to the heat effect of people living in urban areas, and the degree to which measures of urban temperatures have been compromised over the years. It's hotter in cities not because of climate change, but simply because cities are hotter. "Claims about the amount of warming since 1980 ... should be reassessed using uncontaminated data," Mr. McKitrick says.

Most revealing, however, is the scientific runaround Mr. Mc-Kitrick experienced when, as an official IPCC external reviewer, he presented his evidence on the degree of contamination in the IPCC's official Global Temperature Record. Not only is IPCC science in question, but on display is the IPCC's domineering bureaucratic methodology, state monopoly science in action.

So now the IPCC temperature scares have been corrected at both ends. First, warming periods of the distant past were wrongly eliminated or diminished. And now the warming periods of the present have been exaggerated. What's left as proof that unprecedented anthropomorphic climate change is taking place as predicted?


NYT says Castro is good for the environment

The New York Times blubbers about how Cuba's environment will suffer in a post-U.S. embargo era of increased tourism. Better to preserve a "priceless ecological resource" than to free people from oppression. I have yet to come across ANY Leftist who disapproves of Castro. I think that tells you what so-called "liberals" really aspire to

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to take the environmental movement, and science and environmental reporters, seriously because of stories such as the Christmas Day hand-wringer "Conserving Cuba, After the Embargo." Given great latitude by New York Times editors, reporter Cornelia Dean goes on for more than 2,000 words about "why many scientists are so worried about what will become of (Cuba's environment) after Fidel Castro and his associates leave power and, as is widely anticipated, the American government relaxes or ends its trade embargo."

There was precious little, though, about the obvious - except to intractable left-wingers - advantages to humanity. It's as if the beneficiaries of the fall of communism in Cuba and the ensuing spread of commerce would be only greedy capitalist exploiters.

The New York Times, with a wide reach and influence far out of proportion to its lack of wisdom, has found yet another backhanded way to praise Castro's Island Prison and malign the free market. Maybe its plunging stock price - now below $18 a share, down from its all-time high of nearly $50 in 2004 - soon WILL teach its staff a valuable lesson in capitalism. Until then, the Times and the rest of the mainstream media will continue to worship at the green altar. In the meantime, let's bring some clarity to the murky swamp of environmental agitprop.

Above all else, the fall of Marxism in Cuba would lift the torment that millions of Cubans have endured since Castro took power 48 years ago on Tuesday. Far from being a workers' paradise, Cuba has been a hellhole where the ruling elite and a few party functionaries enjoy life at everyone else's expense. It's an island without hope. Communism, hailed as environmental savior, brought to Cuba food shortages, food rationing, land and factory seizures, economic regression, brutal imprisonment and often death for dissenters, fear, paranoia, censorship and a discouragingly bleak future.

Once a jewel of the Caribbean, Cuba has been since 1959 a police state where sons turn their fathers in and neighbors spy on each other. That evil system is what the political left, using the cover of environmentalism, wishes to preserve. If self-identified environmentalists were truly interested in Cuba's ecology, they would welcome capitalism and renounce the revolution.

But they are blinded to the illuminating lessons offered by East and West Germany and North and South Korea, which starkly demonstrate the differences between capitalism and communism. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, one of the first things visitors noticed was how dirty the former communist East Germany was compared with West Germany, which was far more densely populated.

Likewise, communist North Korea is a mess, while South Korea thrives. In 2003, a United Nations assessment found the country to be in an environmental crisis. Unlike North Korea, capitalist South Korea has clean cities, a fast-growing economy and no starvation. In neither case can culture or ethnic differences be blamed.

The Germans who have prospered in a clean environment under a liberal economic system are the same as those who have been miserable under tyrannical Marxism and lived in its hallmark filth.

The Koreans who have kept the southern part of the peninsula thriving and relatively clean are the same people as those in the North who simply don't have the luxury to think about the ecological impact of their actions or the property rights that effectively police the environment.

Are we supposed to believe that, unlike North Korea and East Germany, Cuba has somehow escaped the environmental ravages of Marxism? The chance of that is about as slim as the legacy media appropriately recognizing the human progress that comes each time a communist regime falls.


Scientific skeptics have a right to be heard

In the 16th century a large, powerful institution saw itself as threatened by heretics - people who didn't agree with all its dogmas - so it began to identify and punish those dissidents. Five hundred years later a similar effort is under way.

In the 16th century it was the Roman Catholic church; today it is Big Science. The only real difference is that today heretics are simply deprived of their livelihood; burning at the stake is no longer in vogue.

Exhibit One in this contention is found on Page A2 of the Dec. 14 Enquirer: "Global-warning skeptic says he's being vilified." This is from an economist, but scientists who express similar doubts about the fashionable view (global warming is due to generation of CO2 by humans) are similarly marginalized.

Exhibit Two is the denial of tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez by the astronomy department of Iowa State University, despite a stellar record of scientific publications. His crime? He co-authored a book ("The Privileged Planet") that suggested that the unusually benign (for life) situation of the Earth might have been due to an intelligent designer.

As a doctoral student I was taught that good science sought reliable facts about the world around us, and hypotheses followed wherever those facts lead. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case. Instead, selected facts have led to politicized conclusions, and countervailing facts are no longer tolerated. This is not good science.The 16th century Inquisitors had, as part of their agenda, the salvation of the heretic's soul; the preservation of institutional power was a useful side result. Today's inquisitors no longer have even that touch of humanity; the preservation of their power as the ultimate arbiters of "truth" is their only goal.To end this Inquisition, scientists dedicated to good science must defend the right of skeptics to be heard.


One disappointed nutcase coming up

Green/Leftist claims that "Global Warming Will Save America from the Right...Eventually". And it will apparently happen within a cat's lifetime (c. 15 years). Not even the IPCC expects such rapid change

The future political map of America is likely to look a lot different, with much of the so-called "red" state region either gone or depopulated.Sat., 12/22/2007 - 19:21-Say what you will about the looming catastrophe facing the world as the pace of global heating and polar melting accelerates. There is a silver lining. Look at a map of the US.

The area that will by completely inundated by the rising ocean-and not in a century but in the lifetime of my two cats-are the American southeast, including the most populated area of Texas, almost all of Florida, most of Louisiana, and half of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as goodly portions of eastern Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. While the northeast will also see some coastal flooding, its geography is such that that aside from a few projecting sandbars like Long Island and Cape Cod, the land rises fairly quickly to well above sea level. Sure, Boston, New York and Philadelphia will be threatened, but these are geographically confined areas that could lend themselves to protection by Dutch-style dikes. The West Coast too tends to rise rapidly to well above sea level in most places. Only down in Southern California towards the San Diego area is the ground closer to sea level. So what we see is that huge swaths of conservative America are set to face a biblical deluge in a few more presidential cycles.

Then there's the matter of the Midwest, which climate experts say is likely to face a permanent condition of unprecedented drought, making the place largely unlivable, and certainly unfarmable. The agribusinesses and conservative farmers that have been growing corn and wheat may be able to stretch out this doomsday scenario by deep well drilling, but west of the Mississippi, the vast Ogallala Aquifer that has allowed for such irrigation is already being tapped out. It will not be replaced.

So again, we will see the decline and depopulation of the nation's vast midsection-noted for its consistent conservatism. Only in the northernmost area, around the Great Lakes (which will be not so great anymore), and along the Canadian border, will there still be enough rain for farming and continued large population concentrations, but those regions, like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, are also more liberal in their politics.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Global warming comes to Mecca

(The 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah (the Month of Hajj) is called the Day of Arafat. This day is the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca)

Turkish Hajj visitors prayed for global warming at Arafat: "we did not realize the value of the blessings you granted to us; we have caused global warming and drought."

Turkish Hajj visitors asked for forgiveness for causing global warming at Arafat. The Department of Religious Affairs requested all its units inform society about global warming throughout the year and has now brought the issue to the Hajj.

The chairman of the Hajj Office, Seyfeddin Ersoy, made 100 thousand Turkish Hajj visitors read the prayer which said: "Dear God! You created us, you granted us innumerable blessings; but we did not realize the value of the blessings you have granted to us; we have spoiled the balance of nature, we have polluted the environment and we have caused global warming and drought. Please forgive us for all of this."


My Global Warming Question

By Arnold Kling

"The global annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces for 2007 is expected to be near 58.0øF and would be the fifth warmest since records began in 1880. Some of the largest and most widespread warm anomalies occurred from eastern Europe to central Asia.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6øC and 0.7øC since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend.

The greatest warming has taken place in high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Anomalous warmth in 2007 contributed to the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record low set in 2005 by a remarkable 23 percent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent reductions of approximately 10 percent per decade since 1979."

--National Climactic Data Center, Preliminary Annual Report

I am worried about climate change. In one respect, I may be more worried than other people. I am worried because I have very little confidence that we know what is causing it. One of my fears is that we could reduce carbon emissions by some drastic amount, only to discover that --oops--it turns out that climate change is being caused by something else.

I am not a skeptic about the rise in average temperatures. Nor am I skeptical that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing. However, I remain skeptical about the connection between the two.

My question is this: what are the most persuasive reasons for believing that the rise in temperature is due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide?

What I am looking for is evidence that I can use to overcome my skepticism. My view of climate change is that we have about three data points--an increase in temperatures from 1900-1940, and slight decrease from 1940-1970, and a recent increase. There are a lot of variables that could affect climate, and I wonder how we can be confident about our understanding of the process, given that we have only those three data points to work with.

I certainly am open to an argument that we have more data points to work with. I am just trying to explain where I am coming from.

Other Scientific Propositions

It seems to me that with other scientific propositions, I do not rely on a scientific consensus for proof. I am persuaded by other evidence. For example, I do not have a deep comprehension of the relationship between matter and energy. However, I find the atomic bomb a reasonably persuasive piece of evidence that Einstein was onto something.

In economics, many of us believe that economic institutions matter. We believe that prosperity is more likely in societies with systems that protect private property, encourage trade, and so forth. We do not know exactly which systems work best, a point which I made in Cracking the Code of Prosperity and which Dani Rodrik makes in his book, One Economics, Many Recipes. But many of us believe that institutions are a major factor.

If I were asked to supply the most persuasive reasons for believing that institutions matter in economics, I would site the following:

1. East Germany's decline relative to West Germany under Communism. For example, Japp Sleifer writes,

"Before the Second World War the East German economy had the signs of a blossoming landscape. At that time per capita national income amounted to 103 per cent of West Germany, compared to a mere 31 per cent in 1991. In the industrial sector labour productivity dropped from 91 per cent of the West German level in 1936 to merely 31 per cent in 1991. East Germany is a case of an economy that was relatively wealthy, but lost out in relatively short time."

A similar point could be made about North and South Korea. In both German and the Korean cases, a reasonably homogeneous society was split in two, with one half adopting a Communist system of central planning and the other half adopting a more market-oriented system. The outcome was that economic performance was better in the market-oriented system.

2. Workers in low-income countries can increase their wages dramatically by moving to high-income countries. See Lant Pritchett's book, Let My People Come. If it were simply a matter of American firms preferring low-wage Mexican workers to high-wage American workers, capital would be flowing across the border to Mexico. However, the same capital and labor is much more productive here than there, and this likely reflects better institutions in the United States.

3. Economic liberalizations tend to increase growth. We have seen this in China, in India, and under Margaret Thatcher in the UK. However, the evidence is not overwhelming. Skeptics point out that the liberalization in India was not particularly dramatic. Indeed the more dramatic liberalizations in some Latin American countries and in post-Communist Russia were not very effective.

Overall, the evidence that institutions matter is not as devastating, so to speak, as the atomic bomb. Still it is evidence, and I am willing to present the evidence and let individuals make up their own minds.


Recently, New York Times columnists David Leonhardt dubbed Shannon Brownlee's Overtreated the best economics book of 2007. I also spoke highly of it in my list of the year's best books and in a longer review.

A major thesis of Brownlee's book is that Americans undergo a large number of unnecessary medical procedures. I agree with this thesis. Evidence in its favor includes:

1. Studies by Dartmouth economist Jack Wennberg and colleagues showing that there is wide variation in intensity of the use of procedures across Medicare regions, with no difference in outcomes.

2. The RAND health insurance experiment gave similar patients different levels of health insurance coverage. Those who had more coverage elected to undergo more procedures--with little difference in outcomes.

3. Recently, economist Amy Finkelstein studied the impact of Medicare on health spending. She found a large effect on spending--but little effect on outcomes.

Change my Mind

Health care is an issue on which I have changed my mind. Before I began working on my book, my inclination was to believe that at some point we will see America's extravagant health care spending translated into better outcomes. Now, I have my doubts. I suspect that a lot of procedures are done for institutional and emotional reasons, without tangible medical benefits.

I am willing to change my mind about the role of carbon emissions in causing global warming. However, I would like to know what evidence other people find most persuasive. I would like to assess this evidence, given what I know about statistics and modeling. Feel free to leave your argument in comments, emails, or blog posts--use "Arnold Kling" in your post and my ego-surfing will pick it up. I assume that one of the reasons that people believe the carbon emissions story is that the evidence for alternatives is fairly weak. However, if someone thinks that he or she has good evidence for an alternative, feel free to let me know.


McCain is a Greenie

And a hypocritical one, as usual

Living up to his reputation as the anti-pander candidate, John McCain dropped into Detroit on Thursday, and dumped all over the U.S. auto industry just a month before Michigan's January 15 primary. In a meeting with The Detroit News editorial board, the GOP field's greenest candidate lectured Detroit's Big Three on what they should build, championed new federal fuel mileage mandates that will severely tax U.S. automakers at a time that they are struggling to regain profitability, and even bragged about his family driving Toyotas.

"I think they (Detroit automakers) can adjust to the new mandate," he said of the 35 mpg standard which the industry estimates will cost them $85 billion to comply. "And frankly, I think it's overdue."

Whether advocating good policy or bad, McCain reinforced the notion that, above all else, he wants be an "honorable" public servant. It is his sense of honor - of personal duty - that girds his political decisions. For McCain, all politics is personal. Driven by a sense of duty to his U.S. soldiers, he is determined that their blood in Iraq not have been spilled in vain. Shamed by his role in the Keating Five, he was determined to resurrect his reputation as the reformer of McCain-Feingold. And racked by guilt over U.S. consumption of goods and Mideast oil, he is determined to "do something" about global warming.

Make no mistake; John McCain is a climate-change true believer. In the heart of a Motor City that is in the cross-hairs of car-hating Washington regulators - McCain was not shy about his determination to go green. "Greenland is the most outstanding example of what's been happening," says the senator who, in 2000, co-sponsored a fuel mileage mandate bill with Democrat John Kerry that was an early draft of the onerous regulations President Bush just signed into law last Wednesday. The bill strengthens so-called CAF regulations that, for 30 years, have discriminated against the Big Three's product strength - big sedans and trucks - while doing nothing to limit America's dependence on foreign oil.

"In Detroit, I am convinced that a plug-in electric car would sell like hotcakes," he says. So he's determined to mandate it whether automakers see the demand or not. "The young people I meet on the campaign trail demand it," he says. "We owe it to them to leave a world worth living in." It's the honorable thing.

When asked about climatologist John Christy's recent study finding that the fuel economy mandate would have no discernable effect on global temperatures, McCain was dismissive. "With all due respect to (him)," says McCain, "we've got to do everything. We've got to do nuclear power; we've got to do hydrogen."

Well, maybe not everything. McCain admits to driving a much-less-than-35 mpg Cadillac CTS (EPA mpg: 22). His wife? A similarly thirsty Lexus. But, ever aware that his honor is at stake, McCain is quick to reassure his questioners that "my daughter, Megan, drives a (hybrid) Toyota Prius, so at least one of us is trying to make a difference. And my wife and I have moved out of our house and into an apartment and we've equipped it with solar panels."

Alas, he then admits to the sin of (ahem) owning a second home in northern Arizona. Perhaps, one day, Washington can save him the moral anguish and mandate only one home per family.


Threatened coral reefs? $cience Magazine Jumps on Global Moneywagon

Scientists like money. (It's true --- be still, my heart.) Big Science is a Big Business, supporting nearly half the budgets of our major universities. Science professors are only hired if they can swing enough Federal grant money to pay for their labs, hire a gaggle of graduate assistants, and let the universities skim up to forty percent off the top for overhead. And besides, it's nice to get fat salaries. So the professional scientist union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has ads headed AAA$. They aren't shy about it.

The trouble is that money means politics, and politics means shading the truth. As a result, we get politicized science, which corrupts real science. Any kind of Politically Incorrect science therefore becomes very hard to publish. So the cult of PC has invaded the pristine halls of science.

The past week's Science magazine is a study in the way science can be ruined. The scare cover shouts Reef TROUBLE, to support the idea that our coral reefs are dying. It's like the National Enquirer. Donald A. Kennedy is the editor of Science, with a dubious reputation from his years as president of Stanford University. Turns out that President Kennedy spent millions of Stanford research funds to rebuild his personal residence; "feathering your own nest" is more than a metaphor at Stanford. The scandal led to his resignation. Fortunately Kennedy did not end up on the bread line. He was able to jump to become editor-in-chief of the flagship journal of the AAAS, Science magazine.

Naturally, Science magazine has weekly updates on the grant wars in Washington, DC. In the last issue of Science Donald Kennedy has an editorial endorsing the Democrat candidate for president. Not exactly in so many words, but it's unmistakable. "The United States could ... mitigate carbon dioxide emissions: The root cause of global warming and the reef problem. Experience suggests that for this, we might have to await an election." (1695) This is like the union boss telling his members how to vote in a general election if they want to get more money. But global warming is a popular hypothesis, Dr. Kennedy. It's not established. You remember the difference.

No doubt Kennedy is a fire-breathing liberal. But he's also hoping for lots of global warming money from Hillary or Obama. (For a good cause, of course. Perhaps his roof needs repairs).

What new discoveries does Science magazine present to support that scare cover? The answer is: None. This week's Science has one article by Australian reef researchers, but it presents no new data. They make the claims that if the acidity of the oceans increases slightly over the next 50 to 100 years, coral reefs will be in trouble. The source? The highly politicized United Nations IPCC report, which has now been roundly criticized by many of the scientists who were involved with it. So if disaster strikes, disaster will strike. It's a perfect circular argument.

This scientific article is "supported" by a truly sloppy coral reef article by a professional writer --- not a trained scientist --- repeating the panic slogan of the moment, with a few second-hand quotes from scare mongers. This one is really embarassing. It contradicts itself and makes no sense at all. (1712)

The whole sham is based on the notion that carbon in the air has never increased before, slightly changing the acidity of the surface layers of the oceans. So this is a unique world-historic doom caused by evil human beings. But that is absurd. In 1911 a comet crashed in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia, leading to massive wildfires. Forest fires like that increase carbon in the air and the water. At other times in the last billion years, animal species have exploded in variety and biomass. Animals breathe out carbon dioxide. CO2 grows plants, which emit oxygen, which increases animal life, and so on. It's a stable symbiotic system, not a self-destroying system.

The other farcical assumption is that global temperatures are bound to increase by two degrees Celsius in the next hundred years, and that has never happened before either. That assumption is based on the 22 grossly oversimplified computer models that are constantly revised to take in new evidence to come to the same convenient conclusion. The idea that world temperatures have never increased by a mere two degrees C over a century is bizarre. Every time the world comes out of an ice age, temperatures increase by a lot more than 2 degrees.

Living things adapt to changing conditions. That is why they are still here. Coral reefs are living biosystems that emerged half a billion years ago in the Cambrian explosion of single-celled life. Single celled creatures can adapt with amazing speed --- which is why we get "superbugs" in hospitals, remember? Superbugs are bacteria that have evolved to survive antibiotics, so they are hard to wipe out. Hospitals therefore easily become centers of infection. Find a new antibiotic, pretty soon you get a new superbug.

In fact, we now know about extremophiles, organisms that thrive in extremely harsh environments, like volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean. Life is hardy, not fragile. You can't have it both ways. Either microorganisms evolve and adapt to slightly changing temperatures, or they can't. If they can adapt rapidly, the coral reefs can adjust to minor changes. Since coral organisms have been around for 500,000,000 years, it's pretty clear that they have been able to adapt quite nicely, thank you.

Experiments on the adaptability of e coli (yes, that one), show that over a decade or two, some 20,000 generations of bugs evolve to deal with a wide variety of conditions. Fruit flies have been bred continuously over fifty years under adaptive pressures, and evolve to cope.

What scientists have actually observed is changes in coral reefs. That's why they are running around like religious maniacs on street corners with signs that The End of the World is At Hand! But change is a constant in biological history. Nothing stays the same.

Nobody has a complete "census" of the coral reefs in the world, so percent changes in the estimated size of coral reefs are a wild guess. (The denominator is missing). Our current guess is that world reefs constitute about six times the area of West Virginia. There's no way we know what's happening in a vast ecosystem like that. But basic biology says that those populations of coral creatures are constantly adapting, adapting, adapting.

As science fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke loves to point out, famous physicists predicted about 1900 that man would never fly. In the 1950s they confidently said that a moon landing was impossible. "Clarke's Law" states that whenever a famous scientist tells you that something is impossible, don't believe him. Chances are he's just wrong.

Humans are the fastest-learning creatures ever known. In the last hundred years we have gone from choo-choo trains to scramjets. Give us another century, and who knows what we will do? Colonize Mars? Solarize energy? Double our life span? Human history gives lots of grounds for hope, and much less for despair.

It's easy to imagine ways to fix coral reefs. For one thing, we could strip mine them if the ocean level drops, so that the top of the reefs will stay immersed in seawater. Or we can take blocks of the dead part of a reef (which is most of it), and spread them on top of the coral layer cake if the water level rises. We do that kind of thing all the time in dredging rivers and harbors. So we can keep adjust coral reefs to the heigh to sea water if that ever changes.

My real worry is --- will we ever fix politicized science? Because if we allow the search for truth to be so easily twisted by political fads, we may be in really deep doo-doo. Now there's a scary prediction.


Comment on the above by Brian Valentine []:

Nice of them not to mention the overhaul of the Yacht and the travel expenses for pets billed to Stanford. As I told someone this morning - this scare isn't looking at the big picture. Carbon dioxide has been in the atmosphere for about 4 billion years (since the Earth has had an oxidizing atmosphere, a consequence of the development of life) - And we don't see any evidence in four billion years, of carbon dioxide causing havoc? Nothing at all???? Carbon dioxide suddenly has the power to destroy Earth????

See also here on the Stanford embezzlement scandal.

Secular fundamentalists will ignore growing dissent and disproof

By Cal Thomas

You don't have to be religious to qualify as a fundamentalist. You can be Al Gore, the messiah figure for the global warming cult, whose followers truly believe their gospel of imminent extermination in a Noah-like flood, if we don't immediately change our carbon polluting ways.

One of the traits of a cult is its refusal to consider any evidence that might disprove the faith. And so it is doubtful the global warming cultists will be moved by 400 scientists, many of whom, according to the Washington Times, "are current or former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Mr. Gore for publicizing a climate crisis." In a report by Republican staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, these scientists cast doubt on a "scientific consensus" that global warming caused by humans endangers the planet.

Like most cultists, the true believers struck back, not by debating science, but by charging that a small number of the scientists mentioned in the report have taken money from the petroleum industry. A spokeswoman for Al Gore said 25 or 30 of the scientists may have received funding from Exxon Mobile Corp. Exxon Mobile spokesman Gantt H. Walton dismissed the accusation, saying, "the company is concerned about climate-change issues and does not pay scientists to bash global-warming theories."

The pro-global warming cultists enjoy a huge money advantage. Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, who has testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, noted in an EPW report how much money has been spent researching and promoting climate fears and so-called solutions: "In one of the more expensive ironies of history, the expenditure of more than $50 billion (U.S.) on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one," he wrote on June 18, 2007. The $19 million spent on research that debunks the global warming faith pales in comparison.

Also included in the Republican report are comments by Dutch atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes: "I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting - a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the IPCC number - entirely without merit. I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached."

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the report debunks Mr. Gore's claim that the "debate is over." In fact, the debate hasn't even begun because the global warming cultists won't debate. Despite numerous challenges, Al Gore has refused to debate the issue with any credible scientist who is a skeptic.

Shouldn't the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize be willing to debate such an important issue? What does he have to fear? If his theory cannot stand up to scientific inquiry and skepticism, it needs to be exposed as a false religion and himself as a false prophet before he and his followers force us to change the way we live and alter the prosperous society that generations of Americans have built.

Gore and his disciples will still be living in their big houses, driving gas-guzzling cars and flying in private jets that leave carbon footprints as large as Bigfoot's, while most of us will be forced to drive tiny automobiles and live in huts resembling the Third World. But hypocrisy is just one of many traits displayed by secular fundamentalists like Gore.

Before adopting any faith, the agendas of the people attempting to impose it, along with the beliefs held by them and their disciples, should be considered. Gore and company are big government liberals who think government is the answer to all of our problems, including problems they create. In fact, as Ronald Reagan often said, in too many cases government is the problem.

The secular fundamentalists who believe in Al Gore as a prophet and global warming as a religious doctrine are being challenged by scientists and others who disbelieve and who think we ought to be spending more time on developing new technology and energy sources for the future and not preaching gloom, doom and retreat. Let them debate the issue. If they won't, we can only conclude that all they are spewing is hot air.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Climate reconstructions: Loehle vs Schmidt

A Warmist attack without substance. Post below lifted from Lubos Motl. See the original for links

Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate.ORG tries to criticize the recent article by Craig Loehle (PDF). Loehle's article was the first published climate reconstruction that has only used proxies that had already been independently calibrated in peer-reviewed literature. It has eliminated tree rings because they don't seem to be good temperature proxies. The main result of Loehle's paper was that the Medieval Warm Period did exist, after all. Gavin Schmidt correctly lists five important issues that a good reconstruction must properly address:

1. Dating: correct chronology for your proxies is essential and its accuracy of the "age" must be sufficient to answer your questions

2. Fidelity: the assumed relationship between temperature and your proxy should be pretty much time-independent; temperature must be the main thing that influences your proxies

3. Calibration: the coefficient between the changes of the proxy and the changes of temperature must be correctly determined

4. Compositing: when you study global mean temperature, local data must be properly combined to be representative of the globe

5. Validation: you must check that your method works by comparing some of its results with another method that has already been established

As far as I can say, Gavin Schmidt learned these principles from McKitrick & McIntyre and other independent climate experts because they have been carefully checking these things in the context of older climate reconstructions such as the infamous Mann et al. hockey-stick reconstructions for quite some time. If you remember Richard Feynman's "Cargo Cult Science", he talked about the sloppy experiments with the rats running through labyrinths. Now, a guy called Young actually made some careful experiments and found the rules that one must respect in order to find anything about the rats. Young's work was ignored by the rat pseudoscientific establishment in the 1930s. Needless to say, the generic rat scientists play the same role as Mann et al., Young is McIntyre, and the issues one must be careful about are mentioned above.Unfortunately, Gavin Schmidt didn't learn these rules too well.

For example, his very first sentence says:

Many people hold the mistaken belief that reconstructions of past climate are the sole evidence for current and future climate change.

His suggestion that climate reconstructions may be completely avoided is, of course, untrue because of the point "5. Validation". The very existence of climate change is a tautology and you don't need any special methods to say that climate is changing and will be changing. But if you want to say anything beyond this tautology - how much it will change and what factors may influence it - you can't live without climate reconstructions.

It is because every theory or model in science must be validated and the validation must ultimately involve a comparison to reality. If a theory predicts how the temperature will change at the centennial scale, it is simply inevitable to have some data about the centennial changes of the temperature. Because of the arrow of time ;-), we can only have such data from the past.In order to figure out whether the 20th century warming was outside the natural variability, you may create a lot of theories but you won't know whether the theories are true until you will compare their description of the past climate with the corresponding information extracted from the history of Earth. Think about it: it simply can't work otherwise, especially because we know that the mostly unknown natural causes are stronger than the man-made causes, at least for 30-year-long periods (recall the 1945-1975 cooling).

Now, I am the last one who would think that it is essential to know whether the year 1005 was warmer than 2005. These are two warm years and which of them was warmer is pretty much a matter of chance. If 2005 were warmer than 1005, it is still far from a reason to panic. On the other hand, if we can show that 1005 were warmer or 1005 and 2005 were very close, it shows that the recent temperatures are not unprecedented. At any rate, it would be foolish to build global policies on a random question whether 1005 was warmer than 2005. On the other hand, you can't throw away all the data from the centennial paleoclimate reconstructions because they are the only source that tells you which effects actually matter in reality at this timescale.

Gavin's criticism

It is a standard policy at RealClimate.ORG that the authors of the articles don't offer the criticized article itself to their undemanding readers. Gavin's recent text is an exception - a link to Loehle's paper was later added to Gavin's article but it is still difficult to find it. What's important for the readers is not to learn something or compare arguments for various statements and their robustness. Instead, what they expect is their daily prayer, Oh the global warming, you're so great and holy, and oh the climate skeptics and the climate traitors, they are oh so evil. Gavin Schmidt and others are optimized to write this cheap crap for this kind of people.

Gavin tries to indicate that Loehle makes errors in all the five issues mentioned at the beginning. Unfortunately, his criticism is extremely vague and in the cases when it is not vague and where I could try to check his statements, they seem to be demonstrably wrong. So for example, we learn that Craig Loehle has confused the symbols "BP" and "BP (2000)". The former symbol means "before the year 1950" while the latter means "before the year 2000". I don't see any trustworthy evidence for this accusation by Gavin. If you go to the first sentence and download the PDF file with Loehle's paper, you may check that the paper doesn't use any of these "BP" symbols at all. This symbol should only be used for very long timescales, not timescales comparable to centuries, anyway. Moreover, Craig Loehle has thanked the very same Eric Swanson for finding dating errors as Gavin Schmidt. I just find it unlikely that Loehle's paper contains these well-defined dating errors that Gavin could find so easily but express so vaguely.

Some of the other statements by Gavin seem even more obviously incorrect. For example, Schmidt writes that the proxy Loehle #12 is also off by 50 years (???) but this proxy shouldn't have appeared at all because it only starts in the year 1440. If you actually look what the proxy is, it is from the paper Calvo, Grimalt, Jansen (2002). Click at the link and read at least the abstract. You will see that these authors don't go 550 years into the past but as much as 8,500 years into the past. This is what some of the cores from the seas are normally used for.

As far as I can say, what Schmidt writes is a downright lie and he relies on the assumption that no one will be searching for the actual papers and check his statements. Preventively, he didn't link to the paper by Calvo et al. either. OK, maybe it wasn't a lie. Maybe he just "confused" Calvo et al. (2002) with Zhao et al. (2000): it is indeed an analysis of sea cores that covers the interval 1440-1940. However, Zhao et al. (2000) was not used by Loehle (2007). At any rate, Gavin's criticism is wrong.

There might be some legitimate criticism in Gavin's text but I couldn't find any. The comparison of Gavin Schmidt and Steve McIntyre as "auditors" couldn't be more startling. While McIntyre always analyzes the finest detail of the reconstructions, he reruns all relevant programs (and does some reverse engineering when necessary), Schmidt builds on superficial, Woit-like defamations and pseudocriticism that he often makes up in which he doesn't even link to the relevant papers or sources because he probably knows himself that what he writes is not true and it only designed to manipulate with gullible readers.

If you realize that charlatans such as Gavin Schmidt are paid for their work while Steve McIntyre must work as an outsider, the state of affairs in the present climate science seems sad, indeed.

Inhofe staying on

Sen. Jim Inhofe never even considered retiring after his current term ends in early 2009. Though he'll be 74 then and a 22-year veteran of Washington, he said that he isn't close to running out of gas and that his seniority gives Oklahoma influence that it wouldn't have with a new senator.....

At least one prominent outside group is ready to take him on - the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental organization that is active in congressional elections. The group named Inhofe to its "Dirty Dozen" this year and may commit resources to try to defeat him. Inhofe, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and the former chairman of that panel, has become enemy No. 1 for many groups because of his stance on global warming, which he once called "a hoax."

Inhofe has spent hours on the floor of the Senate, on radio and television programs and in speeches across the country seeking to persuade people that human-caused climate change is a myth. There is no more outspoken skeptic on the topic than Inhofe, and he has vowed to block any legislation - including one that just cleared his committee - that would impose controls on carbon emissions. He says the bill would have no real impact on worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and would burden the poor with higher energy costs.

Inhofe has been vilified by those who contend climate change poses major risks for humanity and ridiculed for his discourteous treatment of former Vice President Al Gore at a committee hearing on the subject.

None of what he calls the "demonization" of him bothers him, because Inhofe feels he's doing "the right thing." Inhofe readily conceded that he'll never be universally liked. His approval numbers even in Oklahoma, where he has won House and Senate races since 1986, are typically low compared to his colleagues. "My numbers will never be good," he said. "I know that."

Inhofe said he decided five years ago that he would raise questions about the global warming issue as it was generating an increasing amount of media attention but, according to him, not enough scrutiny. He cited the old expression that "character is doing the right thing when no one is looking." "Well, political character is doing the right thing when you know you can't explain it to the public," he said. "People are too busy to do their own research, so they have to rely on a biased media."

More here

Is global warming just the latest Salem witch hunt?

"The advent of a new ice age, scientists say, appears to be guaranteed. The devastation will be astonishing." - Gregg Easterbrook in Newsweek, Nov. 23, 1992

Global warming skeptics look on in wonder and amazement at the daily barrage of environmental doom and gloom featured in these pages and elsewhere. How is it possible that so many people - journalists, scientists and politicians alike - could be so gullible? History and sociology may prove instructive.

In 1691, a phenomenon sociologists call a "collective delusion" swept the enclave of Salem Village, Mass. As a consequence of social paranoia, hundreds of people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and perhaps two dozen lost their lives. Of course, we enlightened moderns would never succumb to superstition and mass hysteria.

Or would we? According to sociologists Robert Bartholomew and Erich Goode, collective delusions have taken place with surprising frequency, and the phenomenon's long and shameful history includes several episodes from the recent past. A relic of the Dark Ages it is not. In fact, global warming could be described as a collective delusion, a modern equivalent to the Salem witch hunt.

Bartholomew and Goode write that collective delusions are "typified as the spontaneous, rapid spread of false or exaggerated beliefs within a population at large, temporarily affecting a particular region, culture, or country." Several factors "contribute to the formation and spread of collective delusions." Among them, "mass media, rumors, the social and political context, and reinforcing actions" by "institutions of social control." Collective delusions are also distinguished "by the redefinition of mundane objects, events, and circumstances." Sound familiar?

Consider a few recent examples. In October, Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times (and mouthpiece of the liberal elite), suggested that we "may have introduced enough of man's economic activities - enough CO2 emissions - into Mother Nature's operating system that we cannot determine anymore where she stopped and we started." Man is partly to blame, Friedman suggests, for Hurricane Katrina and the California wildfires.

Unfortunately for Friedman and the doomsayers, there is no correlation between greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures. As Christopher Horner writes in the "Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming," "Sometimes a GHG rise has preceded a temperature rise, and sometimes vice versa. Sometimes they move in opposite directions." Worse, he writes that nature "produces 97 percent of greenhouse gasses currently in our atmosphere by volume."

Contrary to near-daily claims in the media, there is no "consensus" on global warming. Hurricane expert William Gray recently gave a speech at UNC-Charlotte and pointed out that there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, but only 83 from 1957 to 2006. The inconvenient truth is that the latter period, in which fewer hurricanes developed, was warmer. Furthermore, the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history struck Galveston, Texas over a century ago - well before man's "greenhouse gasses" provoked tranquil Mother Nature.

According to Dr. Gray, man is not responsible for the warming of the planet, but "We're brainwashing our children. They're going to the Gore movie and being fed all this. It's ridiculous." We will "look back in 10 or 15 years," Gray said, "and realize how foolish it was." Indeed. Rather like those who emerge from a collective delusion.

Readers in September were accosted by an alarming headline in these pages: "Thin ice dooms most polar bears, scientists predict." The breathless lead paragraph informed us that "two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be killed off by 2050 because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic."

Evidently Canada's polar bear population did not get the memo from The Associated Press. Canadian polar bear biologist Mitchell Taylor reports that, "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, eleven are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."

And, about that "warming" in the Arctic. To begin with, many hysterical assertions have been based on information from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the participants of which chose to expand the "Arctic Circle" some 450 miles in every direction. Worse, scientists involved in the ACIA chose as their baseline the year 1966, which features the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the Arctic. Even modest warming would seem cataclysmic by comparison.

A U.N. report released last month concludes that First World nations "must immediately help fight global warming or the world will face catastrophic floods, droughts and other disasters." Said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "I believe we are on the verge of a catastrophe if we do not act." According to sociologists Bartholomew and Goode, mobilization transforms mere collective delusion into panic. Welcome back to Salem Village.


British diplomat gets a pounding

Taking the steps needed to combat global warming would also boost the economy, improve air quality and ensure cleaner water, a British official told state lawmakers at a hearing on climate change.

But one legislator challenged the international scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to warming the world and implied that the globe might not be heating up, something conceded even by many skeptics of man-made climate change..... Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, questioned the scientific consensus that the Earth is warming. He pointed out that most scientists in Christopher Columbus' day believed the Earth was flat and that a squadron of fighter planes lost over Greenland in 1942 was found in the 1990s under 250 feet of ice, even as the world was reportedly getting warmer.

Seabaugh said he believed the theory of man-made climate change was being pushed by industries that could benefit financially. "That is the reason why I remain highly skeptical of the hysteria over global warming," he said.

Rickerd later disputed Seabaugh's characterization. "It isn't hysteria," he said. "It isn't a bandwagon." The British envoy said while some areas of the world have cooled, the average global temperature is rising.

In a separate presentation, self-proclaimed global warming skeptic Harold Brown, an agricultural scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, said many were worried about "global cooling" as recently as the 1970s. He also said some of the direst effects of a warming world, such as an increase in the number of deaths because of heat-related illnesses, might not be as bad as some feared, even if climate change were to continue.

"Global warming is a wonderful environmental disease," he said sarcastically. "It has a thousand symptoms and a thousand cures and it has tens of thousands of practitioners with job security for decades to come unless the press and public opinion get tired of it."

Environmental groups, meanwhile, said lawmakers needed to quit rehashing a debate about climate change that green organizations consider settled.

More here

Global warming: Earth cooled 0.05 degrees C in the last 10 years

Post below lifted from Bruno De Wolf. See the original for links

Talking about global warming is all in today, but talking about actual numbers seems be a lot less... We all agree that temperatures rose around 0.75øC in the 20th century. And since the official IPCC numbers warn us about a projected warming between 1.4 to 5.8øC in the 21st century, it might be a good idea to have a look how well the earth is doing in the last 10 years. After all, we're nearing the end of 2007 so the 21st century is already well on it's way.

In order to achieve just that, I took the RSS data (here) and executed a simple linear regression in Excel over the last 10 years, from December 1997 to November 2007 (with tools --> data analysis --> regression). Temperatures are indicated in difference between the current month and the long term avarage. For instance: a temparature of +0.2øC means that that month was 0.2øC warmer that the long term average for that month.

What do we see? The linear trend is going down with a rate of 0.05øC per decade. What's more, the last 8 months are situated below the trendline, so the negative trend is likely not going away in the next couple of months. The RSS data is based on satellite measurements and are fairly accurate.

Those who are talking about a 'climate catastrophe' and call for 'imminent action' should have a careful look at this graph.


For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.