Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny

In his new book, The Assault on Reason, Al Gore pleads, "We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth." Gore repeatedly asks that science and reason displace cynical political posturing as the central focus of public discourse. If Gore really means what he writes, he has an opportunity to make a difference by leading by example on the issue of global warming. A cooperative and productive discussion of global warming must be open and honest regarding the science. Global warming threats ought to be studied and mitigated, and they should not be deliberately exaggerated as a means of building support for a desired political position.

Many of the assertions Gore makes in his movie, ''An Inconvenient Truth,'' have been refuted by science, both before and after he made them. Gore can show sincerity in his plea for scientific honesty by publicly acknowledging where science has rebutted his claims. For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame."

Gore claims the snowcap atop Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro is shrinking and that global warming is to blame. Yet according to the November 23, 2003, issue of Nature magazine, "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests' humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine."

Gore claims global warming is causing more tornadoes. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in February that there has been no scientific link established between global warming and tornadoes.

Gore claims global warming is causing more frequent and severe hurricanes. However, hurricane expert Chris Landsea published a study on May 1 documenting that hurricane activity is no higher now than in decades past. Hurricane expert William Gray reported just a few days earlier, on April 27, that the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined in the past 40 years. Hurricane scientists reported in the April 18 Geophysical Research Letters that global warming enhances wind shear, which will prevent a significant increase in future hurricane activity.

Gore claims global warming is causing an expansion of African deserts. However, the Sept. 16, 2002, issue of New Scientist reports, "Africa's deserts are in 'spectacular' retreat . . . making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa."

Gore argues Greenland is in rapid meltdown, and that this threatens to raise sea levels by 20 feet. But according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Glaciology, "the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins and growing inland, with a small overall mass gain." In late 2006, researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute reported that the past two decades were the coldest for Greenland since the 1910s.

Gore claims the Antarctic ice sheet is melting because of global warming. Yet the Jan. 14, 2002, issue of Nature magazine reported Antarctica as a whole has been dramatically cooling for decades. More recently, scientists reported in the September 2006 issue of the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series A: Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, that satellite measurements of the Antarctic ice sheet showed significant growth between 1992 and 2003. And the U.N. Climate Change panel reported in February 2007 that Antarctica is unlikely to lose any ice mass during the remainder of the century.

Each of these cases provides an opportunity for Gore to lead by example in his call for an end to the distortion of science. Will he rise to the occasion? Only time will tell.


Digging up the roots of the IPCC

The UN's all-powerful climate change panel is no straightforward scientific body. It is a deeply political organisation that was born out of disenchantment with progress

Witnessing the intensity of the discussion about global warming today, it is hard to imagine a time when climate change was not a defining feature of social, political and economic life. Today, everything from floods in England to poverty in the Third World is discussed as a product of global warming. Yet it is a relatively new issue, barely discussed until 50 years ago, and established as a significant policy issue only in the past two decades. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which now sits like Solomon over key questions of international development, sovereignty and social progress, was not established until the late 1980s and only in the past 10 years has it enjoyed its exalted status. Yet the IPPC's most recent set of reports led the UK's environment secretary, David Miliband, to declare that `the debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over', and `what's now urgently needed is the international political commitment to take action to avoid dangerous climate change'

So how should we understand the process by which climate science has come to have a defining impact on political life in 2007? On one hand, there is the scientific research that has been conducted, which, most would argue, has strengthened our knowledge of climatic processes and the impact of man-made emissions. On the other hand, the emergence of the science of climate change coincided with strong cultural and political trends, which have interacted with the science and shaped our understanding of the climate change issue in a peculiarly misanthropic way.

While there may be different policy perspectives on the question of climate change, one central message dominates the discussion. This is that `the science' has issued humanity with a warning that our activities threaten our very existence on planet Earth, and that `the science' tells us that we should rein in these activities in order to preserve our existence. Because the message appears to come from science, not politicians or campaigners, it becomes a fait accompli. But if we are to develop a better understanding of how to move forward, we need to examine how this situation came about.

Many have criticised the scientific debate for becoming politicised - whether that be in terms of underplaying or overplaying the dangers presented by climate change - and this is an important issue to explore. But what has really been lacking in recent years is any substantive political debate about how we should view and respond to climate change. This has led to a situation where the IPCC, an unelected body, holds an unprecedented influence on the lives of everyone on the planet - and any attempt to question this body's legitimacy or actions is shouted down as `denial' of the scientific facts. In discussing the origins of the climate change issue and the IPCC, this essay raises the following questions:

* How much of the global warming issue is shaped by new scientific discoveries, and how much by broader cultural and political trends?

* How has the interaction between scientists, international institutions, governments, media and activists influenced the development of climate change policy?

* Was the establishment of the IPCC a visionary act or an expression of political implosion in the West?

This essay does not attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the global warming issue; rather its aim is to contribute to the start of a critique. For whatever the facts about climate change can tell us, they do not tell us that the debate is over.

The level of funding and attention attracted by climate change today is a far cry from the late 1950s and early 1960s, when a few scientists decided to investigate what was happening to CO2 levels in the atmosphere as a consequence of manmade emissions. Indeed, according to the latest IPCC report, published in 2007, 95 per cent of `all the climate change science literature since 1834 was published after 1951', while the number of articles published per year in atmospheric science journals tripled between 1965 and 1995 (2). The first journal dedicated to climate change, Climatic Change, was founded in 1977.

A colourful account of the contrast between the global warming story now and half a century ago is provided by science historian Spencer Weart, in his fascinating book The Discovery of Global Warming (3). According to Weart, Roger Revelle, the eminent American oceanographer (whom, incidentally, Al Gore credits with provoking his Damascene conversion on the climate change question), along with a small number of scientists interested in global warming, `had taken up the question as a side issue' and `saw in it a chance for a few publications, a detour from their main professional work, to which they soon returned'. Revelle secured a modest budget to hire a young geochemist called Charles David Keeling to establish a baseline `snapshot' of CO2 values around the world.

By 1960, with two years of Antarctic data in hand, Keeling reported that the baseline CO2 level had risen and that `the rate of the rise was approximately what would be expected if the oceans were not swallowing up most industrial emissions'. However, in 1963 `the funds ran out altogether, and CO2 monitoring shut down', until Keeling secured a budget from the National Science Foundation to continue the work (4). Keeling's data, as described in a recent IPCC historical overview of climate change science, are now regarded as having `iconic status in climate change science as evidence of the effect of human activities on the chemical composition of the global atmosphere' (5). But as Weart points out, this was not the discovery of global warming but `the possibility of global warming' (my italics). Indeed, according to the IPCC's historical overview, `it was not possible to detect anthropogenic warming in 1980', though some `predicted it would be evident within the next two decades' (6).

One striking feature of Weart's account of the discovery of global warming is the extent to which, even when modern-day climate science was in its infancy, some scientists were prepared to speculate about the potentially destructive consequences of man-made emissions. Keeling himself was involved in a conference in 1963, sponsored by the Conservation Foundation, which warned of the possibility of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and coastal flooding in the future. In August 1965, a climate conference hosted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, opened with a presentation by Edward Lorenz, an early pioneer of chaos theory. According to Weart, Lorenz argued `that the slightest change of initial conditions might bring at random a huge change in the future climate'. Other scientists apparently agreed that, in contrast to the prevailing idea that the planet's climate kept itself stable, the climate system `showed a dangerous potential for dramatic change, on its own or under human technological intervention, and quicker than anyone had supposed'.

How can we account for this leap from rudimentary findings to cataclysmic worst-case scenarios? Weart argues, convincingly, that such predictions were motivated as much by cultural trends as a clear-cut scientific truth. Citing popular protests against nuclear weapons tests, concerns about air pollution, and the effect of chemicals such as DDT, he argues that `science alone could not explain the deep shift in views' about the stability of the climate system - rather `events had been altering the thinking of everyone in modern society'........

Much more here


I have alluded on a number of occasions to the extensive exposition of Warmism as a Religion by Prof. Brignell. One true believer -- from the BBC! -- has however shown his ignorance of the history of the matter. I reproduce below Prof. Brignell's reply. In consideration of his age, Prof. Brignell refers to himself as a "poor old thing". See Prof. Brignell's original post for links:

Thanks are due to BBC sayer of sooth, Alex Kirby, for providing a fine illustration of how the priesthood deals with infidels. This appeared in CCNet today:


Alex Kirby [alexkirby_uk@yahoo.co.uk]

Dear Benny

Poor John Brignell really does need to go and lie down in a darkened room, I think. In his highly entertaining piece "GLOBAL WARMING AS RELIGION AND NOT SCIENCE" he rehearses the hoary old myth that climate change is something cooked up years ago by Sir Crispin Tickell and Margaret Thatcher. Then, again without offering a shred of evidence, he accuses the media of peddling untruths and faking the coverage. Why does he have to spoil such a rattling good laugh-a-minute read with elementary errors of this sort? Possibly, of course, he thinks they're not errors, in which case I'd be glad to see his evidence for either assertion.

Yours ever


At least his first word was correct. Of course, this poor old thing wrote nothing of the sort. What he wrote was "The father of the new religion was Sir Crispin Tickell". The global warming thing has been around since the time of Arrhenius. What Thatcher did was to bring it into the world political arena. Tickell's book on the subject was published in 1977, when the new ice age scare had hardly been decently interred (the funerall bak't meates did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables). You need look no further than Tickell's protege, George Monbiot, that the Thatcher speech of 1989 was inspired by Tickell himself. Kirby, of course, has been Tickell's representative on Earth for some time.

For further information, this poor old thing:

* was Chairman of a branch of the Conservative Party and member of a constituency committee during the 1980s, but is now ex.

* sat in the front row at a speech in which Margaret Thatcher made a point of mentioning the importance of Global Warming.

* raised his concern with his MP David Mitchell, who was Industry Minister at the time, but did not think this an important issue. Unfortunately, this was only orally, since we did not know that a quarter of a century later accusations of lying would be flying.

* has been offering shreds of evidence for the past seven years, as have others, such as the late, great John Daly. What does he want - the whole of Number Watch and its two associated books in brackets?

It is, of course not new that the lefties feel the need to rewrite history. Their near monopoly of the media makes it easy for them and their Winston Smiths. It is a bit inconvenient, however, that not only is there so much documentation in existence, but also that some of us whose were there at the time are persistently still around. We tend to get a bit stroppy when they shout that there is no evidence that something happened, when we were eye witnesses.

It is not the fact that Tickell is their founding father that they need to so desperately suppress, but that it was one of their all-time monsters of the right who was associated with him in launching the faith into the political world. This is not the only case in which Thatcher manufactured the tools for the left to do their work. The whole process of central control, for example, particularly of education under the ghastly Kenneth Baker, was put into place during the Thatcher years for the later convenience of New Labour.

Footnote: The pertinent question was asked by Michael Ronayne, when pointing out one of the more egregious cases of fakery - "If the evidence for global warming is that compelling, why is it necessary for those who believe in global warming to misrepresent data in this manner to support their cause?"


Note that Prof. Brignell's essay on the Warmist religion did get him interviewed on Canadian radio. You can hear the interview (in two parts) here and here

Carbon trading proposals in Australia: A critique

The Government should consider other options before it burdens our economy with emissions taxes

The Howard Government is keen to show it is serious about the problem of human-induced climate change, although the debate is still raging. To this end, the Prime Minister has announced that he is moving to establish a national carbon-emissions trading system by the end of 2012, as recommended by a taskforce he appointed last December.

Separately, the state and territory Labor governments have set up a national emissions-trading taskforce, which is investigating a scheme for emissions-trading by the end of 2010. The aim of these proposals is to put a price on the emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, with a view to progressive reductions in the years ahead.

The Federal Government proposal, as set down by the taskforce, envisages the establishment of a "cap and trade" system, in which the government determines limits on greenhouse gas emissions (that is, sets a target or cap) and issues tradable emissions permits up to this limit. Beyond that, they must be bought from the government, i.e., they are a tax. Businesses must hold enough permits to cover the greenhouse gas emissions they produce each year. Under the taskforce recommendations, permits can be bought and sold, with the price determined by the supply of and demand for permits. Similar schemes are in operation in Europe and in parts of the United States. They are also proposed for Canada and New Zealand.

The European Union (EU) describes its Emission Trading Scheme, established in 2005, as the largest multinational greenhouse gas emission scheme in the world. It is the centre of the EU's campaign to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a costly failure. The Climate Action Network, an umbrella group of some 350 environmental organisations, of which 100 are in Europe, issued a report which stated that only two of the 25 EU states (UK and Germany) asked participating industries to reduce emissions below historic levels, and found that in the 15 old EU member states as a whole, allocations were 4.3 per cent higher than the base year. The British reached their target by closing down the domestic coal industry and importing from abroad, while Germany cut greenhouse emissions by closing down dirty old Soviet-era power stations in Eastern Germany.

In May 2006, when several countries revealed that their industries had been allocated more allowances than they could use, trading prices crashed from about 30 euros ($50)/tonne to 10 ($17)/tonne, and have since declined further to 4 ($7) in January 2007, and below 1 ($1.60) in February 2007. Countries like Sweden have committed themselves to cutting CO2 emissions by closing older coal-fired power stations and building nuclear power plants. Most countries in the European Union have failed to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitment to cut CO2 emissions. Those which have "reached" the target have usually done so through what are known as "international credits", that is, by purchasing emission permits from overseas to bring themselves within the Kyoto targets. Another method of purchasing carbon credits is in bankrolling reforestation programs, which are supposed to "lock up" CO2 in trees. In fact, trees' absorption of CO2 is minimal in their early years, and eventually, when the tree dies, the CO2 is returned to the atmosphere.

All of this basically is a manipulation to make it appear that countries are achieving measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions when in fact they are not. Reading the report of the Prime Minister's Task Group on emissions-trading, the EU scheme is described in glowing terms. It said, "The European Union has committed to meeting its Kyoto reduction target and has introduced a domestic emissions trading scheme to that end. In March 2007, the European Union adopted a package of new climate change and energy security measures." Its failings were not even mentioned.

There can be little doubt that the taskforce's objective was to solve a political problem rather than an environmental one, and to minimise the potential damage to Australian industry, particularly the export industries. If Australia and other countries wished to preserve fossil fuel resources as well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, they would be looking at encouraging nuclear power and the use of biofuels, which recycle atmospheric CO2 through plants, into ethanol and biodiesel. This recycling process substantially cuts net CO2 emissions.

A few other countries have already established very large biofuel industries. Brazil, which produced 18 billion litres of ethanol in 2004, was the world leader in ethanol production until it was recently overtaken by the US. Brazil's output is currently being expanded to produce biodiesel. If Australia was serious, it would forget about emissions trading, and invest in biofuel technology instead.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: