I reproduce below one of the few Greenie responses to the Inhofe report that goes beyond the usual kneejerk reaction of saying: "It's the oil companies". The post is by James Wang, Ph.D., an alleged "climate scientist" at Environmental Defense, a Greenie organization. I have put a few italicized comments into the article itself and then, following the post, I append a few comments from various sources which highlight how weak the attack is
Climate change denier and U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla) published a report just before Christmas with the headline: "Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007." Does that leave you surprised and wondering? It shouldn't. It's a shocker of a headline, but the report itself doesn't back up the claim. The Inhofe report is 156 pages long. The eight-page introduction - all that most people will read - describes the report and its goals, and gives selected highlights. The body of the report is a series of profiles starting with a sentence or two of biography followed by quotes questioning the validity of climate science.
The aim of the report is to refute that only a handful of scientists - mostly in the pocket of oil companies - still dispute that global warming is happening, and that it's caused by human activities. To this end, Inhofe's aides scoured the internet for quotes from skeptical "scientists". I put this word in quotes because not all the "over 400 prominent scientists" are truly scientists. As the report itself states, the list includes economists and engineers. These may be smart people, but a smart person without expertise in climate science is still a person without expertise in climate science.
Some of these "over 400 scientists" have not published any climate science-related research. I did a search on the terms "climate," "weather," and "carbon dioxide" in the extensive ISI Web of Science database, and did not find, for example, James Hammond, a chemist; statistician Bjorn Lomborg (author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, not a peer-reviewed scientific publication); and physicist Antonio Zichichi.
Others are published, but while their results are consistent with the consensus view, their interpretations are not. For example, Duncan Wingham observed that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing rather than shrinking (true), but then said this is not "favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming." In fact, although the Greenland Ice Sheet is projected to melt and contribute to sea-level rise over the next century, the Antarctic is projected to gain ice in the near term due to heavier snowfall induced by global warming. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report states:Current global model studies project that the Antarctic Ice Sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.
[Another heads I win, tails you lose proposition: Global warming can make the ice either grow or shrink. Whatever happens is "proof" of global warming. In philosophy, an unfalsifiable proposition like that is regarded as simply meaningless. And note that the same "warming" is supposed to be causing less ice in the arctic and more ice in the antarctic all at the same time. That warming sure is pesky stuff!]
Then there are the many others making statements that are simply incorrect. The highlights of the report - presumably its best shots - contain one factual error after another. Here is a sampling, with responses from Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and science advisor to Environmental Defense:Even if the concentration of 'greenhouse gases' double man would not perceive the temperature impact. -Oleg Sorochtin
MO: Wrong. Earth is well short of a doubling of CO2, yet changes are apparent not only to scientists, but to the "man in the street" - warmer winters, a melting Arctic. These are closely tied to the buildup of greenhouse gases.
[So the "man in the street" is an authority now! And even if changes are apparent to all, it still does not prove that CO2 caused them]The effect of solar winds on cosmic radiation has just recently been established and, furthermore, there seems to be a good correlation between cloudiness and variations in the intensity of cosmic radiation. Here we have a mechanism which is a far better explanation to variations in global climate than the attempts by IPCC to blame it all on anthropogenic input of greenhouse gases. -Boris Winterhalter
MO: This theory is decades old and has been examined closely. The underlying correlations have been shown to be spurious, and there is no physical mechanism shown to connect cosmic rays to climate.
[An outright lie. Svensmark not only proposed a theory to connect the events but demonstrated it experimentally]
There is much more of the same low intellectual standard so I will at this point go straight on to a few comments by others:
1). Somehow Michael Oppenheimer is portrayed as the authority to refute over 400 scientists? Also, EDF claims that peer-reviewed research is all we should pay attention to, but the Senate report includes a section toward the end of an extensive sampling of recent peer-reviewed studies debunking man-made climate fears. It is obvious that the environmentalists are running scared as they realize the huge international impact this Senate report is having in redefining the climate change debate. (For sampling of media impact, see here )
Most significantly, there is no assertion by EDF or Oppenheimer in this rebuttal of the alleged overwhelming "consensus" on man-made global warming. Have they given up that unfounded argument so easily in the face of the Senate report? So far, the below is the best counter anyone has offered to the Senate Report. They attack, you decide.
2). Notice that ED styles Wang as a "climate scientist". His PhD is in Earth and Planetary Sciences. I see they've moved beyond demanding that one be a climatologist.
3). It is ironic to have ED and Oppenheimer noting 'industry ties' when Oppenheimer is a paid partisan of ED, the premier environmentalist special interest lobbying group!
4). The ED (Environmental Defense) criticism of the Senate report makes a big thing of economists and engineers being featured in it. Read this excellent research by Climate Resistance revealing that the so-called "thousands" of scientists from the IPCC are made up of many economists and engineers as well. After all, you could argue that half the climate change debate is premised on economics that falls under Stern Review inspired "it's cheaper to act now" than wait category.
I wonder if ED or other critiques of the report will note that the chief of the UN IPCC, Rajendra K. Pachauri is an engineer and an economist? The Associated Press has referred to Pachauri as the "chief climate scientist" for the UN. But -- funnily enough -- environmentalists and other critics of the Senate report failed to complain to the AP that Pachauri was merely an engineer and an economist and therefore should not be called a "chief climate scientist." The New York Times has erroneously referred to Pachauri as a "climatologist" but see here for details on Pachauri's background.
5). Climate alarmists don't seem to realise that by claiming science can be bought by a few oil dollars, they are actually denigrating all scientists - there is a far bigger pot of government money available to IPCC consensus scientists, plus non-scientist Al Gore has made tens of millions out of climate alarmism.
Secondly, we don't really need a list of 400 scientsists. Aside from 2007 being the year of a biased, cherry-picked literature review known as AR4, it was a good year for peer reviewed science that produced inconvenient results for the IPCC consensus e.g. a warm bias in the surface temperature records, the UAH troposhere data has been shown to be robust from independent sources, Spencer's negative feedback, Tsonis et al climate shifts paper, factors other than CO2 involved in Arctic warming, climate sensitivity, the Loehle climate reconstruction, another quiet hurricane season plus papers that fail to link hurricanes with global warming, the tree ring-surface temperature divergence problem, Lomborg's view backed by Prins and Rayner, and so on. In fact every cornerstone of global warming alarmism can be undermined by peer reviewed science, with more papers to come in 2008.
We all know that science isn't a numbers game - it doesn't work by consensus - ultimately it's a question of who is wrong or who is right - not about counting scientific sheep. But the situation is even worse for the consensus - even if it could be proved that CO2 drives climate change, modern life revolves around heating/lighting our homes, economic growth, industry, travel etc, all of which emits CO2 - and we can't stop that until we have alternatives that give us business as usual without CO2 emissions. Then there is China.
BR-R-R! WHERE DID GLOBAL WARMING GO?
By Jeff Jacoby, writing in "The Boston Globe"
The stark headline appeared just over a year ago. "2007 to be 'warmest on record,' " BBC News reported on Jan. 4, 2007. Citing experts in the British government's Meteorological Office, the story announced that "the world is likely to experience the warmest year on record in 2007," surpassing the all-time high reached in 1998.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the planetary hot flash: Much of the planet grew bitterly cold. In South America, for example, the start of winter last year was one of the coldest ever observed. According to Eugenio Hackbart, chief meteorologist of the MetSul Weather Center in Brazil, "a brutal cold wave brought record low temperatures, widespread frost, snow, and major energy disruption. The death toll for the 10-day cold wave was the highest for any single weather event in Argentina in recent history." In Buenos Aires, it snowed for the first time in 89 years, while in Peru the cold was so intense that hundreds of people died and the government declared a state of emergency in 14 of the country's 24 provinces. In August, Chile's agriculture minister lamented "the toughest winter we have seen in the past 50 years," which caused losses of at least $200 million in destroyed crops and livestock.
Latin Americans weren't the only ones shivering. University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, a specialist in temperature and heat flow, notes in the Washington Times that "unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007." Johannesburg experienced its first significant snowfall in a quarter-century. Australia had its coldest ever June. New Zealand's vineyards lost much of their 2007 harvest when spring temperatures dropped to record lows. Closer to home, 44.5 inches of snow fell in New Hampshire last month, breaking the previous record of 43 inches, set in 1876. And the Canadian government is forecasting the coldest winter in 15 years.
To be sure, weather isn't climate. In theory, all of these might be short-lived weather anomalies, mere blips in the path of the global climatic warming that Al Gore and a host of alarmists proclaim the deadliest threat we face. But what if the frigid conditions that have caused so much distress in recent months signal an impending era of global cooling?
"Stock up on fur coats and felt boots!" advises Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and senior scientist at Moscow's Shirshov Institute of Oceanography. "The latest data . . . say that earth has passed the peak of its warmer period, and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012." Sorokhtin dismisses the conventional global warming theory that greenhouse gases, especially human-emitted carbon dioxide, is causing the earth to grow hotter. Like a number of other scientists, he points to solar activity -- sunspots and solar flares, which wax and wane over time -- as having the greatest effect on climate.
"Carbon dioxide is not to blame for global climate change," Sorokhtin writes in an essay for Novosti. "Solar activity is many times more powerful than the energy produced by the whole of humankind." In a recent paper for the Danish National Space Center, physicists Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen concur: "The sun . . . appears to be the main forcing agent in global climate change," they write.
Given the number of worldwide cold events, it is no surprise that 2007 *didn't* turn out to be the warmest ever. In fact, 2007's global temperature was essentially the same as that in 2006 -- and 2005, and 2004, and every year back to 2001. The record set in 1998 has not been surpassed. For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming. Even though atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to accumulate -- it's up about 4 percent since 1998 -- the global mean temperature has remained flat. That raises some obvious questions about the theory that CO2 is the cause of climate change.
Yet so relentlessly has the alarmist scenario been hyped, and so disdainfully have dissenting views been dismissed, that millions of people assume Gore must be right when he insists: "The debate in the scientific community is over." When even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declares that global warming is at least as dangerous as nuclear war, and Bill Clinton calls it a "more profound threat" than international terrorism, laymen can be forgiven for assuming that the issue really is settled.
But it isn't. Just last month, more than 100 scientists signed a strongly worded open letter to Ban pointing out that climate change is a well-known natural phenomenon, and that adapting to it is far more sensible than attempting to prevent it. Because slashing carbon dioxide emissions means retarding economic development, they warned, "the current US approach of CO2 reduction is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it."
Climate science isn't a religion, and those who dispute its leading theory are not heretics. Much remains to be learned about how and why climate changes, and there is neither virtue nor wisdom in an emotional rush to counter global warming -- especially if what's coming is a global Big Chill.
Who Will Control Your Thermostat?
"There is nothing wrong with your thermostat. Do not attempt to adjust the temperature. We are controlling your power consumption. If we wish to make it hotter, we will turn off your air conditioner. If we wish to make it cooler, we will turn off your heater. For the next millennium, sit quietly and we will control your home temperature. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your thermostat. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... SACRAMENTO!"*
Building codes and engineering standards are generally good things. Updating and improving codes and standards better protect us against earthquakes, for example, as we better understand the weak points and failure modes of existing construction techniques. Requirements that ensure proper handling of sanitary wastes can be largely credited with the increased life spans in industrialized countries through the reduction of communicable diseases.
In California, we have 236 pages of state-mandated standards for building energy efficiency, known as Title 24. This prescribes methods for calculating the sizes of your home windows, the capacities of your air conditioner and heater, the thickness of the insulation in your attic. A small cottage industry has sprung up to perform these engineering calculations that are required for any new commercial or residential construction or major change to existing structures. While I've never personally been involved in this branch of retail professional engineering, I've had colleagues who would moonlight doing Title 24 calcs. It is now just part of the mandated paperwork involved in the construction business these days in California.
A new revision to Title 24 is in the works for 2008 and it includes a number of improvements and enhancements that are largely good sense items and should be non-controversial. For example a new swimming pool will probably need larger diameter pipes between the pool, the filter and the pump than was former practice. This will reduce the fluid friction losses that your pump must overcome and hence reduce the pump's consumption of electricity, albeit at a minor increase in first cost for the larger pipes and fittings. Another good idea is a requirement for lighter colored shingles, the "Cool Roof Initiative." That is intended to reduce heat loss over cold winter nights by emission and heat gain on summer days by absorption. My neighbor and I both recently discovered that it is difficult to get roofers to NOT use dark colored shingles for some reason. Having a little state muscle behind us will help, especially for renters.
What should be controversial in the proposed revisions to Title 24 is the requirement for what is called a "programmable communicating thermostat" or PCT. Every new home and every change to existing homes' central heating and air conditioning systems will required to be fitted with a PCT beginning next year following the issuance of the revision. Each PCT will be fitted with a "non-removable " FM receiver that will allow the power authorities to increase your air conditioning temperature setpoint or decrease your heater temperature setpoint to any value they chose. During "price events" those changes are limited to +/- four degrees F and you would be able to manually override the changes. During "emergency events" the new setpoints can be whatever the power authority desires and you would not be able to alter them.
In other words, the temperature of your home will no longer be yours to control. Your desires and needs can and will be overridden by the state of California through its public and private utility organizations. All this is for the common good, of course.
In some technocratic worldview, it does have a justification. California's population growth and its affluence have strained the state's electric and natural gas resources. Famously, rolling blackouts have occurred due to shortages of electrical generation during peak periods. Unbeknownst to most citizens, short supplies of natural gas during cold weather have resulted in curtailments of delivery to industrial and large commercial customers. Those last kilowatts tend to be very expensive kilowatts and tend to drive up the average cost of electricity for all.
But the discomforts of compliance will fall unevenly across the state. Come the next heat wave, the elites might be comfortably lolling in La Jolla's ocean breezes or basking in Berkeley by the Bay, while the Central Valley's poor peons are baking in Bakersfield and frying in Fresno. California's coastal climate, where the elites live, seldom requires air conditioning. I've lived a middle class life style in Mill Valley, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and now San Jose, and never have I lived in a home with air conditioning. Even in relatively warm San Jose, separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Coast Range, ceiling fans will get a family through the worst.
How will the state ensure compliance and prevent free riders? As above, coastal elites are already free riders as they will see the benefits while paying none of the costs except for the higher first cost of a PCT. For initial construction or home remodeling, it will be one of those items a building inspector will check before signing a certificate of occupancy. Replacing one's mandated PCT with a bootleg unit from Nevada should be within the skill of most homeowners. A low powered FM transmitter might easily be devised to override the broadcast commands for low cost. Even a metal wire shield around your PCT could block its FM reception. Adding a window air conditioner or an electric space heater are other work-arounds as neither have requirements for PCTs - yet. Sweating for the common good is for the chumps.
Another problem is that PCTs will obscure the price signals to power plant developers telling them that it will be profitable to build additional generation. As explained in this article, a deregulated electric market will come to resemble other commodity markets, like pork bellies, where shortages cause high prices that induce new capacity and low (or obscured) prices inhibit investment. When bacon prices are high, farmers arrange dates between their sows and their boars in hopes of future, profitable piglets. When bacon prices are low, farmers are more interested in chastity for their herds. If the state "shaves" peak loads by adjusting your thermostat during "price events," generators will not receive the higher prices. This effect will reinforce electrical shortages much like rent control discourages apartment building.
The real question poised by this invasion of the sanctity of our homes by state power is -- why are we doing this? It seems to me to be the wrong fix for a problem that we don't have to have. The common sense alternative is to build new power plants so that power shortages don't occur. Of course, they can't be coal or nuclear power plants! The coastal elites have their minds set against those undesirables. The state has wasted billions of our dollars on wind generation that hasn't helped to meet peak loads. For natural gas, offshore drilling should be considered. While we have one liquefied natural gas terminal in Mexico supplying us with Indonesian and, in the near future, Russian, LNG, another receiving terminal to be supplied by Australian LNG was rejected by the State Coastal Commission.
While nowhere in the Bill of Rights is there explicitly a right to set one's own thermostat to whatever temperature one desires (and is able to pay for), the new PCT requirement certainly seems to violate the "a man's home is his castle" common law dictum.
Global Warming and Pagan Emptiness: Cardinal George Pell on the latest hysterical substitute for religion
In the debate over the theory of global warming, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney is a decided skeptic. His forthright reservations about the claim of catastrophic man-made climate change have made him a target for criticism in Australia. CWR talked to him about the controversy.
Q: Your recent remarks questioning the claims about man-made climate change have drawn fierce criticism here in Australia. How do you account for that?
Cardinal Pell: Despite the fact that Australians like to see themselves as a ruggedly independent, rational, and democratic people, in some respects a herd-like mentality still prevails. Right now, the mass media, politicians, many church figures, and the public generally seem to have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion. These days, for any public figure to question the basis of what amounts to a green fundamentalist faith is tantamount to heresy. The angry editorials and letters to newspapers certainly suggest this.
Q: You are one of very few public figures in this country to express open skepticism about man-made climate change and its alleged long-term effects. What is your reading of the scientific evidence for climate change? What is the basis of your skepticism?
Cardinal Pell: I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. Scientific debate is not decided by any changing consensus, even if it is endorsed by political parties and public opinion. Climate change both up and down has been occurring, probably since earth first had a climate.
Science is a process of experimentation, debate, and respect for evidence. Often it is dealing with uncertainties rather than certainties, and so its forecasts and predictions can be spectacularly wrong. We must not ignore evidence that doesn't suit our cause. Long-term weather forecasting is a notoriously imprecise exercise. In the 1970s some scientists were predicting a new ice age because of global cooling. Today other scientists are predicting an apocalypse because of global warming. It is no disrespect to science or scientists to take these latest claims with a grain of salt. Commitment to the scientific method actually requires it.
Uncertainties on climate change abound. Temperatures in Greenland were higher in the 1940s than they are today, and the Kangerlussuaq glacier there is not shrinking but growing in size. While the ice may be melting in the Arctic, apparently it is increasing in extent in the Antarctic. Overall world temperatures have not increased since 1998 according to the statistics-whatever the case might be in particular locations.
Q: Do you accept that human activities may have contributed to at least some of the global warming?
Cardinal Pell: Significant evidence suggests that average temperatures rose by 0.6 degrees centigrade during the last century, and there is no doubt that large-scale industrial activities can have an adverse impact in particular locations, as in the larger Chinese cities. But when averaged out across the globe, it is difficult to see this being the main culprit for any overall global warming, let alone bringing us to the verge of catastrophe. Again, we are dealing with a very imprecise science here, whatever the computer models might suggest. There are so many other variables.
The journal American Scientist recently published a study on the melting glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro. The study confirms that air temperature around the glacier continues to be below freezing, so it is not melting because of global warming. Instead, the melt pattern of the glacier is consistent with the effect of direct radiant heat from the sun. Human activity can't be blamed for that.
Extra Sunshine Blamed for Part of Arctic Meltdown
A cautious mainstream report below. There is another attempt to downplay the findings here
A reduction in clouds was likely a culprit in this summer's record Arctic meltdown which temporarily opened up the fabled Northwest Passage, scientists announced this week. While Earth's rising temperatures fueled by global warming are certainly a factor in the Arctic melt, unusual weather patterns this summer also influenced how much of the sea ice melted.
One result of these patterns was a decrease in cloud cover, scientists said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which would have allowed more sunlight to penetrate Earth's atmosphere and warm the Arctic ocean waters. New data from NASA satellites observing the western Arctic, where most of the ice loss occurred, showed a 16 percent decrease in cloud coverage this summer compared to 2006. "There's been quite dramatic reductions of cloudiness this summer," said study member Graeme Stephens of Colorado State University.
The amount of sunlight from these clearer skies would have been enough to heat ocean waters by 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius), or enough to melt 1 foot (0.3 meters) of sea ice, the scientists said. "Clouds are conspiring, they're playing a role in this," said study author Jennifer Kay, a post-doctoral research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
Kay says the result of this work highlights the importance of the influence of weather pattern variability on an already stressed-out Arctic system. "As Arctic sea ice thins, its extent is more sensitive to year-to-year variability in weather and cloud patterns," Kay said. "Our data show that clearer skies this summer allowed more of the sun's energy to melt the vulnerably thin sea ice and heat the ocean surface."
We have been cleaning up the environment since before the Environmental Protection Act was enacted in 1972. We certainly have economic reasons for pursuing energy independence. Technological advances are proceeding with or without the direct stimulus of environmental protection or energy independence in our capitalistic society. That is being objective.
As for the global warming debate, it is interesting that thousands of scientists and politicians have lined up on the side of man being a big factor in global warming. Whereas, the "handful" of scientists presenting factual evidence that man has a limited effect on global warming just happen to be those trained and knowledgeable in the field of meteorology.
For example, these true experts in the field were ignored by the United Nations commission, as well as those meeting at the latest international conference on global warming. It's something like the old saying: "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is already made up." And, Al Gore is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his movie, with a number of documented inaccuracies and his public appearances pushing his environmental views.
So, let's get practical. Global warming is a theory presented by a number of scientists and lay persons that has not been proved. There have been a number of scare tactics used, such as the ocean rising 20 feet by the end of this century, more of Africa turning into desert, warm temperatures in North American drastically damaging our environment, and the like.
Historically, we have been going through climate changes throughout the existence of the Earth. Scientists studying the Arctic and Antarctic have found ice melting in the Arctic and new ice forming in the Antarctic. These findings are being ignored by those who have already made up their minds on global warming.
The scientific process is to gather the facts before we make up our minds. I suggest that the scientists remember and follow this training, and that the politicians go back to finding other ways to attract votes.
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