Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Climate orthodoxy perpetrates a hoax

By GORDON FULKS (Gordon J. Fulks [] holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago, Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research)

Gov. Ted Kulongoski's successful purge of George Taylor -- Oregon's former state climatologist and soon-to-be former director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University -- has a clear message for scientists: agree with the governor or you too will disappear. Don't hint that man-made global warming is the greatest scientific hoax of our time. It offends the governor.

Many, like Taylor, are unwilling to support political agendas at odds with good science but also too polite to play the role of the little boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes." They will quietly say, "Let's look at the evidence concerning man-made global warming (more properly known as Anthropogenic Global Warming or AGW), because science is based entirely on evidence."

As a meteorologist, Taylor would show that the warm-up we saw peak in the 1990s was very similar to the warm-up in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, before there was significant use of fossil fuels. He would also mention the sharp decline in global temperature this January, returning us close to where we were decades ago. Climate change is perfectly normal.

As a physicist, let me point out that our understanding of climate was not "settled more than a decade ago," as global warming alarmists argue. Science is never settled, as Albert Einstein spectacularly demonstrated.

Our knowledge of the interplay between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature has gone through three stages over the past 20 years. Al Gore correctly points out that early ice-core data gathered from glaciers around the world showed a very strong correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature over 650,000 years. Because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, most of us assumed that it regulated global temperature.

By 1999, improving ice-core techniques produced a stunning reversal, showing that the global temperature changed many centuries before carbon dioxide changed. This proved that natural climate cycles were causing changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, probably by affecting how much remained dissolved in the oceans. Using new ice-core evidence, Caillon, et al. (Science, March 2003), concluded that "CO2 is not the forcing that initially drives the climatic system."

This should have convinced alarmists that their scare was unwarranted. But too many would have been thrown out of work, and too many politicians would have lost a hot-button issue. So they ramped up the alarm, relying on ever-more-contrived theories to explain the ice-core data.

In 2007, their last theoretical bastion crumbled. Climatologists announced that a fundamental signature of greenhouse gases, predicted by all U.N. climate models, is missing. There is no "hot spot" from CO2 -induced warming at tropical latitudes. Satellites and weather balloons show normal temperature profiles. The climate models are fundamentally flawed. (Douglass, et al., International Journal of Climatology, Royal Meteorological Society, October 2007.)

Of course, with the abysmal state of science education and the near-total support of the media, global warming propagandists saw no reason to alter their strategy. We continue to hear that catastrophe is just around the corner, and we must sign up for ever more expensive and environmentally damaging "solutions."

A very important break in this discussion came from The New York Times on Jan.1: "In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm" science writer, John Tierney, describes how we are being victimized by a vast array of opportunists. They point out anecdotal evidence of warming and ignore counter evidence -- such as the fact that the global temperature last year "was actually lower than any year since 2001. "Governor Kulongoski should understand that responsible science is nonpartisan. We follow scientific evidence, not those lacking scientific training. Forcing out a scientist because he won't go along with your favorite hoax hurts Oregon science and ultimately every citizen in this state.



John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton all promise bold action on climate change. All have endorsed a form of cap-and-trade system that would severely limit future carbon emissions. The Democratic Congress is champing at the bit to act. So too is the Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of companies led by General Electric and Duke Energy.

You'd think this would be a rich time for debate on the issue of climate change. But it's precisely as sweeping change on climate policy is becoming likely that many people have decided the time for debate is over. One writer puts climate change skeptics "in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial," another envisions "war crimes trials" for the deniers. And during the tour for his film "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore himself belittled "global warming deniers" as unworthy of any attention.

Take the reaction to Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg's latest book, "Cool It," which calls for a reasoned debate on global warming. Mr. Lomborg himself leans left, and he opens his book by declaring his belief that "humanity has caused a substantial rise in atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels over the past centuries, thereby contributing to global warming." But he has infuriated environmentalists by saying it is necessary to debate "whether hysterical and head-long spending on extravagant CO2-cutting programs at an unprecedented price is the only possible response." To do so, he says, it will be necessary to cool the doomsday rhetoric, allowing a measured discussion about the best ways forward. "Being smart about our future is the reason we have done so well in the past. We should not abandon our smarts now."

Mr. Lomborg's solution is to avoid discredited cap-and-trade programs, in which developing nations limit economic growth while they fruitlessly try to convince booming economies such as India and China to do the same. His alternative: "Let's focus on research and development. Let's focus on noncarbon-emitting technologies like solar, wind, carbon capture, energy efficiency and also, let's realize the solution may come from nuclear fission and fusion." He laments that the climate change issue has been demagogued by ideological groups on both sides, "and the ones who are making panicky or catastrophic claims simply have better press." At the end of the day, he ruefully acknowledges that potential progress and the sorts of solutions he advocates "are just boring things."

Let's hope Mr. Lomborg is wrong in his fear that the media are uninterested in showcasing a real debate on climate change. The proof may be found next week, when hundreds of scientists, economists and policy experts who dissent from the "consensus" that climate change requires radical measures will meet in New York to discuss the latest scientific, economic and political research on climate change. Five tracks of panels will address paleoclimatology, climatology, global warming impacts, the economics of global warming and political factors. It will be keynoted by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has argued that economic growth is most likely to create the innovations and know-how to combat any challenges climate change could present in the future. (Information on the conference is here.)

The conference is being organized by the free-market Heartland Institute and 49 other co-sponsors, including a dozen from overseas. Heartland president Joseeph Bast says its politically incorrect purpose is to "explain the often-neglected 'other side' of the climate change debate. This will be their chance to speak out. It will be hard for journalists and policy makers to ignore us."

I wonder. Already, environmental groups have sent out their opinion to their media friends that the conference is simply a platform for corporate apologists and can safely be ignored. One group alleges the conference will have "no real scientists" present despite an impressive array of speakers such as Patrick Michaels, a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Critics point out that ExxonMobil gave nearly $800,000 to Heartland between 1998 and 2005 and that the group's board of directors include several people with ties to energy companies. The authors of the blog Real Climate don't engage the issues raised by the conference but instead attack it as stuffed with shills. When Heartland experts tried to respond to those charges, they were blacklisted from the comments section of the Real Climate Web site.

All this has led the Western Standard, a Canadian magazine sympathetic to the global warming skeptics, to predict that "the gathering will be completely ignored, even though it's being held in the news media capital of the world." Let's hope not. Global warming is too important a subject to not to debate, and we in the U.S. may rue the day we rushed pell-mell into expensive and shortsighted solutions when much more rational and cost-effective ones were readily available.


Reporters as Prostitutes

Reporting on the issue of "global warming" demonstrates that often the only difference between reporters and prostitutes is that prostitutes understand what type of business they are in. Many reporters are allowing themselves to be used by politicians and others to con the viewers and readers the reporters are supposed to be serving

30 years ago as a graduate student I took some journalism courses. At that time reporters were encouraged to get more than one opinion on issues and to avoid taking sides by reporting allegations as facts. A phrase like "according to" some source should precede or follow whatever claim the source is making.

Many reporters willingly repeat the allegation that "greenhouse gases are causing global warming" as if it were an accepted fact instead of a subject of controversy. News stories will state that "CO2 causes global warming" without presenting any evidence to support the allegation. Those who support this hypothesis cannot provide evidence because the process doesn't exist.

The situation is occurring in spite of the fact that it is easier for reporters to find alternate opinions than it was 30 years ago. In the 70's reporters had to contact other news sources and ask for other opinions. Today reporters can use internet search engines to find quotes from other sources, including experts who aren't well known, with just a few mouse clicks.

Good reporters should be skeptical of their sources and recognize that people who willingly talk to reporters are usually attempting to gain acceptance for their points of view. Such sources may get away with misrepresenting the facts when reporters don't bother to check the validity of statements. Reporters who don't understand the issues they are reporting on are particularly vulnerable.

Why should reporters who don't understand science be skeptical of the claims about "greenhouse gases causing global warming"? First, those making the claim admit that average temperatures only increased by 1 F (0.5C) during the entire 20th Century. Average temperatures can vary by more than that from one day to the next or from a shady area to a sunny area only a few feet apart.

In an era when even priests and preachers can be crooks, there is no reason to assume scientists will tell the truth. Those scientists who believe in global warming sometimes claim that those who disagree are being paid to do so by oil companies, etc. If these scientists don't believe scientists as a group can be trusted to tell the truth why should reporters? Have reporters checked to see how many of those scientists who support global warming claims are being paid to do so?

The scientist as con artist is an old movie plot that is based on fact. There have been recent cases of scientists being caught presenting false data to support their claims in addition to those who claim they can provide miracle cures for diseases. The claim that a minor atmospheric gas (0.036% of the atmosphere) can determine air temperatures sounds too much like magic to be taken at face value.

Statements by global warming claimants about punishing those who disagree with them should raise a red flag with any real journalist who supports freedom of speech. Such statements made by individuals in authority positions can indicate fear that someone will find out they are wrong. Scientists who believe they are correct welcome challenges.

If the idea of "global warming" is valid why do those who support it feel they have to exaggerate everything? Many of their claims sound too much like the traditional Hollywood disaster movie plot to be believable, particularly the claims of the great exaggerator, Al Gore.

Journalists have criticized the U.S. military for "planting" stories about the Iraq conflict. NASA's Gavin Schmidt has been running an ostensibly private website supporting NASA's claims about global warming for some time. If the claim about global warming is valid, why does the government need to set up a propaganda site to plant information supporting the claim?

S. Fred Singer who was the first director of the National Weather Satellite Service has questioned claims about global warming for years. John Coleman who founded the Weather Channel recently called the global warming claim the greatest scam in history, but reporters ignore him because they have already made up their minds and aren't interested in facts.

How many of those who call themselves journalists have bothered to check with these well known experts? Real journalists report both sides of controversial issues. Propagandists only present one side.Perhaps it is unfair to compare reporters to prostitutes. Prostitutes are professionals who are paid by those who utilize their services. Reporters who present only one side of an issue don't get paid by those who use them.



European consumers shunning imported food supposedly to limit climate change should not make African farmers a scapegoat, a Brussels conference has been told. In Britain, several supermarkets have begun labelling products flown into the country with stickers marked "air-freighted," to reflect concern about the contribution of aviation to global warming.

But Benito Mueller, a director at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, dismissed the concept of food miles as "an extremely oversimplified indicator" of ecological impact. Saying he was "really angry" with the implicit message that agricultural produce from Africa should be avoided, Mueller claimed that less greenhouse gas emissions are often emitted from the cultivation and transport of such goods than they would be if grown in Europe. Strawberries imported from Kenya during the winter, he maintained, have a lower "carbon footprint," a measure to ascertain the effect of a method of production on the environment - than those grown in a heated British greenhouse, even when their transport by air from Africa is taken into account. Mueller argued that African farmers should not suffer because of efforts to cut discharge of carbon dioxide, the main gas triggering climate change. Britain, he added, is responsible for 50 times more greenhouse gas emissions than Kenya.

Efforts to increase the use of biofuels were also called into question at a February 13 conference organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation, a body dealing with relations between Europe and some 80 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The European Union has set itself a target that biofuels should provide 10 per cent of the energy needed to power cars and other modes of transport by 2020, despite growing doubts over whether it is wise to rely so heavily on these fuels.

Two new papers published in Science magazine have calculated that production of the most popular forms of biofuels causes a major increase in greenhouse gas emissions because of land clearance. Palm oil, a key biofuel used in European cars, is produced through the deforestation on lands rich in peat. It would take an estimated 840 years to claw back the amount of carbon dioxide released from that process, according to scientists, through the eventual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions caused by using biofuels rather than conventional petrol or diesel.

Mark Rosegrant from the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute cited worries that land that should be used to grow food for the poor and hungry is instead being used for biofuels. "The continued expansion of biofuels is increasing food prices and increasing malnutrition in a number of developing countries," he said.


Australia: Some climate skepticism that has generally gone unnoticed

The media have noted only the drastic cuts in emissions that the Garnaut report said would be needed. But that pesky Andrew Bolt has looked at the report in detail:

KEVIN Rudd's global warming adviser has had a rude surprise. Professor Ross Garnaut has invigorated a debate on catastrophic man-made global warming that Al Gore, and most journalists and politicians, keep claiming was over years ago. In fact, he's even wondering if some scientists have played funny buggers.

Garnaut, hired to tell Labor how to cut greenhouse gases, yesterday released his interim report, saying most scientists felt we were running out of time: "The world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change more rapidly than has generally been understood." This was honey to alarmists, but Garnaut also admits his review of the global warming science "takes the work of the IPCC as its starting point".

That's a problem. This Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body that persuaded governments we're doomed unless we get less gassy. But Garnaut concedes the IPCC has in fact been accused - not least by an all-party British House of Lords inquiry into climate change - of using dodgy science, excluding dissenters and sexying up findings. Or in Garnaut's more polite words, of lacking "objectivity" and giving in to "political considerations".

As Garnaut says, its critics include top scientists such as hurricane expert Chris Landsea, who quit the IPCC to protest (in Garnaut's words) the "mispresentation of climate science" by colleagues.What's more, despite claims the "science is settled", Garnaut found the science of man-made warming was of a "qualified and contested nature", and he was in "no position to adjudicate on the relative merits of various expert scientific opinions". He just had to go "on the balance of probabilities" - with this controversial IPCC and the majority of scientists whose views it represented.

But he urged that the global debate be made "open to alternative perspectives beyond the IPCC", and said he'd recommend a "strengthening (of) the pluralist character of the Australian research efforts".

Meanwhile, Britain's Hadley Centre reports a global drop in temperature in the past 12 months, backing up predictions that 1998 will still remain the hottest year on record. No one knows if global warming has stopped. But with even Garnaut wanting a more balanced debate, it's best to be wary of the people shouting once more that it's time to panic.



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.


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