Tuesday, August 12, 2008

APS, A thought-free zone

Below is the substance of a communication received from The Right Honourable The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

The American Physical Society ceased to be a scientific body and became a mere pressure-group when, in 2007, it adopted "National Policy 07.1" on climate change, reproduced in full below. The "policy" cites not a single scientific authority: it is a purely political manifesto whose tendentious conclusions are materially at odds with scientific theory and with observed reality.
"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

"Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth's climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases."

A scientifically accurate revision of the APS' "National Policy" on "Climate Change" is below
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities have increased the proportion of the atmosphere occupied by carbon dioxide by one-ten-thousandth part since 1750 (Keeling & Whorf, 2004, updated). This minuscule perturbation may cause a small, harmless, and beneficial warming (Monckton, 2008). Greenhouse gases also include water vapor, the most significant greenhouse gas because of its volume, and methane, of which the atmospheric concentration ceased to increase in 2000 and is now declining (IPCC, 2007). Greenhouse gases are not pollutants, but occur naturally in quantities greater than those emitted from fossil fuel combustion and industrial and agricultural processes.

The evidence is incontrovertible: global cooling is occurring (GISStemp, HadCRU, RSS, UAH, NCDC). Though a natural warming trend of ~0.5 øC per century began in 1700, long before humankind could possibly have had any significant effect on global temperature (Akasofu, 2008), there has been no new record year for global temperature since 1998 and, since late 2001, there has been a downtrend. The cooling between January 2007 and January 2008 was the sharpest since records began in 1880.

Therefore no action need be taken to mitigate "global warming", for there is no evidence in the instrumental record that humankind has caused any significant increase in the 300-year-long natural warming rate, and no theoretical reason why future greenhouse-gas emissions should prove harmful. In any event, mitigating actions would be orders of magnitude less cost-effective than adaptation as, and if, necessary (all economists except Stern, 2006). The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was ~18 times today's in the Cambrian era (IPCC, 2001). Humankind was not responsible - we were not there. The planet came to no harm. Significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are unlikely to occur.

Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate long-run prediction impossible (Lorenz, 1963), the APS urges caution in relying upon computer models when making long-term climate predictions. There is no basis for the oft-repeated contention that the effects of human activity on the Earth's climate are likely to be great enough to influence the future climate. The APS therefore urges governments and peoples to provide the technological options for meeting real short-term and long-term environmental challenges, of which "global warming" from greenhouse-gas enrichment is not one. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the current official misinformation and unscientific alarmism about emission of greenhouse gases.

Climate realists' weekend sports sampler


Here's a news flash: someone is actually shivering at the Olympics. Beijing was supposed to be hotter than Amanda Beard, but yesterday, the rain poured down on the women's cycling road race.

The odds of somebody quivering in the cold at the Beijing Olympics were about as long as Yao Ming's inseam, but the lips of Canadian cyclist Leigh Hobson were trembling in a finish-line interview after she placed an impressive 17th on her 38th birthday. What do you have to say now, David Suzuki?


With unseasonably cool temperatures dipping into the mid-60s Sunday night at Wrigley Field, Edmonds received three standing ovations in a 6-2 victory over St. Louis, including one in the second inning for flying out and advancing a runner...

On a crisp night that felt more like early October than the dog days of August, Edmonds almost managed to upstage Ryan Dempster...


An unseasonably cool August morning and a highly competive field that featured many of the area's best distance runners were the catalysts for record-setting performances at the third annual Dog Days 5K in Gypsy Hill Park on Saturday.


Gerald Mosse took the starring role on Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup day at Ascot when leading his European team to victory as well as collecting the Silver Saddle trophy for leading rider.

Despite damp conditions and unseasonably cold weather for the height of summer, over 33,000 turned out to enjoy the annual four-team jockeys' competition which drew riders from across the globe.


New poll shows CO2 hysteria fading in the U.S.

Actual poll results are here. A few notes:

Only 25% (question 2) of those surveyed thought that global warming was the world's single biggest environmental problem (multiple responses accepted). This is down from 33% last year.

Only 30% (question 3) trust the things that scientists say about the environment "completely" or "a lot".

Only 33% (question 8) thought that a rise in the world's temperatures was caused by "things people do", down from 41% last year.

Only 33% (question 18) thought that "most scientists" agree with one another about the causes of global warming, and only 33% thought that "most scientists" agree with one another about how much of a threat global warming poses.


Scientists debate whether we're changing the climate

The global warming debate isn't likely to cool off anytime soon, with experts disagreeing about its causes, and even its existence. What you hear about global warming can vary as much as, well, the weather. One day, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is quoted saying: "We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late. The science is clear. The global warming debate is over."

Another day, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says this: "Americans are coming to understand that global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10."

On another day, dozens of papers proclaim that the sun is at fault, since the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research demonstrated that the sun has burned brighter in the last 60 years than any time in the last 1,100 years, or 8,000 years, depending on the news source.

Most climatologists maintain that global warming is real and human activity is likely the major contributor. They believe that as we release more CO2 into the atmosphere, the planet will get hotter. The contradictory statements tend to cluster around a couple of sticking points: the heating trend over the last few years, the influence of the sun, and the lessons from the distant past.

Where there's good agreement is laid out by MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen, a critic of Al Gore and others he considers alarmists. In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal several years ago called "Climate of Fear," he wrote that he agrees that global temperature has risen about a degree (Celsius) since the late 19th century. He also agrees with most other climatologists that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by about 30 percent over the same period, and that CO2 should contribute to future warming, thanks to basic atmospheric physics.

Lindzen, however, said in a recent interview that the carbon dioxide buildup may not be causing the current warming trend, and it therefore may not play a significant role in the future climate. And the trend may already have turned around, he said. "If you look from 1995 you don't see any change that could be regarded as statistically significant . . . . For the last 13 or 14 years nothing has been happening."

Pennsylvania State University climatologist Richard Alley said the recent cooling claim is everywhere. If you search for the phrase "global warming stopped in 1998," you get thousands of hits, and he's most recently heard this argument from U.S. senators. He called it "cheating" to start in 1998 and then pick some subsequent cooler year to argue for cooling. It's a little like taking your first measurements in July and your last ones in January, he said. To understand the climate, you have to look at longer-scale trends, he said, smoothing out those little ripples known as weather. Over the long term, he said, it's getting hotter. "If you take the last 30 years, it's completely evident that it's going up," he said of the global temperature.

But could it be the work of the sun? Solar physicists say the sun has been temperamental in the past, and flare-ups and calm periods have rocked the climate. One clue to the sun's variability comes from the Little Ice Age, during the 17th and 18th centuries, when Europe and North America were much colder and snowier than they are today. During that time, astronomers noted a nearly complete absence of sunspots, said atmospheric physicist Peter Pilewskie from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Called the Maunder Minimum, he said, the coincidence of this spotless period on the sun with the notable chill of the ice age suggests a sun-climate connection.

Could the sun be getting warmer? If that were so, Pilewskie said it would be unlikely to account for more than a fraction of the observed warming trend. With satellites, scientists have been able to record the total radiation emitted by the sun, and found it has changed very little in the last 30 years.

But those records only go back so far. Several years ago, a team from Germany's Max Planck institute published a paper showing that carbon isotopes trapped in tree rings reveal unprecedented solar activity during the 20th century. Carbon 14, a heavy form of carbon, is formed when cosmic rays from outer space impact carbon on the Earth. The greater the solar activity, the more the sun's magnetic field deflects the cosmic rays and the less carbon 14 should be stored in tree rings. According to the Max Planck team, we've been experiencing more solar activity in the last 100 years than we did for the last 8,000 years.

Judith Lean, a solar physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, calls that conclusion erroneous. She said the isotopes also vary much more with changes in the Earth's own magnetic field and processes on the Earth, thus complicating the analysis. She said the consensus among solar physicists now is that the sun is in a relatively warm phase, but nothing unprecedented and not hot enough to have raised the temperature a degree in the last century.

The other major point of contention surrounds the Earth's erratic climate history, with its many ice ages and long steamy periods. Lindzen argues that the climate is ultimately unstable, and so we should expect constant change regardless of human-generated carbon dioxide. Many factors can influence climate on time scales long and short. Slight fluctuations in the Earth's distance from the sun have periodically conspired with the angle of the planet's tilt to create ice ages over the course of the last five million years.

More ancient hot periods that lasted millions of years are raising bigger questions. About 95 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs, for example, it was so warm that alligators lived in what's now Canada and tropical trees grew as far north as Greenland. Dinosaurs roamed where penguins and polar bears live today.

It looks as if it would take about eight times today's atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to make things that hot, said Brian Huber, who studies past climate for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "This is a challenge for climate modelers - we don't fully understand it," he said. But it could be that CO2 has a greater warming power than previously realized, in which case we will be in for a more severe global warming than has been predicted, Huber said.

To Lindzen, the inability to fully account for past warm spells makes it hard to trust predictions of our near-term future. "If we knew the answer to things like this, one would have more confidence." Lindzen takes the view that the climate doesn't need human intervention to change over the course of decades or centuries. "The whole notion that something outside has to cause a change is absurd," he said. "The system is never in equilibrium; it's always wobbly."

But Penn State's Alley said CO2 from volcanoes looks to be the prime suspect for the warm spells of the distant past, and fossil-fuel burning is by far the most likely driver of current trends. "We've looked at the sun. Volcanoes are not doing anything weird. The oceans can dump heat into the atmosphere, but they're getting warmer too," he said.

Perhaps some of the disagreement boils down to a philosophical difference. Some fret over the pace of humanity's impact on the planet, and consider the cautious approach to be to hold off on further changing our atmosphere. Others are comfortable with the notion of human beings altering the global atmosphere, and argue the cautious approach would be to avoid changing our way of life until we know more.


The Columbia Journalism Review's Division Over Dissent

When does dissent become Untruth and lose the rights and respect due to "legitimate dissent"? Who decides-and how-what dissent deserves to be heard and what doesn't? When do journalists have to "protect" readers from Untruth masking itself as dissent or skepticism?

I found myself thinking about this when I came across an unexpected disjunction in the July/August issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. The issue leads off with a strong, sharply worded editorial called "The Dissent Deficit." (It's not online, but it should be.) In it, the magazine, a publication of the Columbia School of Journalism-and thus a semi-official upholder of standards in the semi-official profession of journalism-argues clearly and unequivocally that allowing dissent to be heard and understood is part of a journalist's mission.

The editorial contends that doing so sometimes requires looking beyond the majority consensus as defined by the media on the basis of a few sound bites and paying extra attention to dissenting views, because they often present important challenges to conventional wisdom on urgent issues that deserve a hearing.The editorial deplores the way that journalism has lately been failing in this mission: "Rather than engage speech that strays too far from the dangerously narrow borders of our public discourse, the gatekeepers of that discourse-our mass media-tend to effectively shout it down, marginalize it, or ignore it."

So true. The editorial offers the media's treatment of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a dissident whose views, particularly on American foreign policy's responsibility for 9/11, have gotten no more than sound-bite treatment, as an example. I found that the editorial gave the best short summary of Wright's view of "black liberation theology," especially the concept of "transformation," and made a strong case that Wright and his views deserve attention rather than derision. He shouldn't be erased from public discourse with the excuse that we've "moved on," that we're all "post-racial" now.

The CJR editorial encourages journalists not to marginalize dissenters, however unpopular or out of step. Implicit are the notions that today's dissenters can become tomorrow's majority, that our nation was founded on dissent, that the Bill of Rights (and especially the First Amendment) was written by dissenters, for dissenters. That the journalistic profession deserves what respect it retains not for being the stenographers of the Official Truth but for conveying dissent and debate.

It was troubling, then, to find, in an article in the very same issue of CJR, an argument that seems to me to unmistakably marginalize certain kinds of dissent. The contention appears in an article called, with deceptive blandness, "Climate Change: What's Next?" The article doesn't present itself as a marginalizer of dissent. It rather presents itself as a guide for "green journalists" on what aspects of climate change should be covered now that the Truth about "global warming"-whether it's real, and whether it's mainly caused by humans-is known.

About two-thirds of the story offers tips and warnings like "watch out for techno-optimism." Alas, the author doesn't inspire confidence that she takes her own warnings to heart. The very first paragraph of her story contains a classic of credulous "techno-optimism":
... a decade from now, Abu Dhabi hopes to have the first city in the world with zero carbon emissions. In a windswept stretch of desert, developers plan to build Masdar city, a livable environment for fifty thousand people that relies entirely on solar power and other renewable energy.

All that's missing from the breathless, real-estate-brochure prose is a plug for the 24-hour health club and the concierge service for condo owners.

But, the article tells us, the danger of "techno-optimism" pales before the perils of handling dissent. The first problem in the evaluation of what dissent should be heard is how certain we are about the truth. If we know the truth, why allow dissent from it into journalism? But who decides when we've reached that point of certainty? In any case, as the author's Abu Dhabi effusion suggests, there's no lack of certainty about what the Official Truth is in her mind:
"After several years of stumbling, mainstream science and environmental coverage has generally adopted the scientific consensus that increases in heat-trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels and tropical deforestation are changing the planet's climate, causing adverse effects even more rapidly than had been predicted.

She's correct in saying that this is the consensus, that most journalists now accept what's known as the "anthropogenic theory" of global warming: that it is our carbon footprint that is the key cause of global warming, rather than-as a few scientists still argue-changes in solar activity, slight changes in the tilt of the earth's axis, the kinds of climate change that the earth constantly experienced long before man lit the first coal-burning plant.

But here lies danger, "a danger that the subtleties of the science, and its uncertainty, might be missed by reporters unfamiliar with the territory," especially when confronted with "studies that contradict one another." Faced with conflicting studies, she tells us, "scientists look for consistency among several reports before concluding something is true."

This is, frankly, a misunderstanding or misstating of the way science works. She seems to be confusing consensus among scientists and scientific truth. They are two different things. The history of science repeatedly shows a "consensus" being overturned by an unexpected truth that dissents from the consensus. Scientific truth has continued to evolve, often in unexpected ways, and scientific consensus always remains "falsifiable," to use Karl Popper's phrase, one any science reporter should be familiar with. All the more reason for reporting on scientific dissent, one would think.

Yet when I read her description of how science proceeds, it seems to me she is suggesting science proceeds by a vote: Whoever who has the greatest number of consistent papers-papers that agree with him or her-"wins." As in, has the Truth.

In fact, the history of science frequently demonstrates that science proceeds when contradictory-dissenting-studies provoke more studies, encourage rethinking rather than being marginalized by "the consensus" or the "consistency" of previous reports. Indeed, the century's foremost historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, believed, as even "green" reporters should know, that science often proceeds by major unexpected shifts: Just when an old consensus congealed, new dissenting, contradictory reports heralded a "paradigm shift" that often ended up tossing the old "consensus" into the junk bin.

If it hadn't been for the lone dissenting voice of that crazy guy in the Swiss patent office with his papers on "relativity," we still might believe the "consensus" that Newtonian mechanics explained a deterministic universe. And what about Ignaz Semmelweis and his lone crusade against the "consensus" that doctors need not wash their hands before going from an infected to an uninfected patient? Or the nutty counterintuitive dissenting idea of vaccination? The consensus was wrong. In fact, science proceeds by overturning consensus.

Sometimes the consensus proves to be long-lasting, but in science, any consensus, even the new consensus that formed around relativity, is subject to the challenges of Popper's "falsifiability." But even if-or because-not all truths in science are final, argument about what the truth is, and competition among competing ideas, often helps us to get closer to it.

But our CJR author appears to believe that the green consensus, the anthropogenic theory of global warming, has some special need to be protected from doubters and dissenters, and that reporters who don't do their job to insulate it are not being "helpful." When faced with dissent from the sacrosanct green consensus, the author, as we'll see, argues that the "helpful" reporter must always show the dissenters are wrong if they are to be given any attention at all.

This was the contention that stunned me-that reporters must protect us from dissent -especially in light of the CJR editorial deploring the "dangerously narrow borders of our public discourse."

The contention that reporters must be "helpful" in protecting us from dissent is best understood in the context of the "no last word" anecdote in which the author tells us of the way your loyal green reporter must manage conflicting reports. She tells the story of a report that indicated the rest of the century would bring fewer hurricanes. It was important to her that "experienced" green journalists were able to cite other reports that there would be "more and more powerful hurricanes." She praises a reporter who concludes his story "with a scientist's caveat": "We don't regard this [new, fewer-hurricane report] as the last word on this topic."

So, "no last word" is the way to go. Except when it isn't. We learn this as the CJR writer slaps the wrist of a local TV station for allowing "skeptics" to be heard without someone representing the consensus being given the last word. "Last year," she writes, "a meteorologist at CBS's Chicago station did a special report that featured local scientists discussing the hazards of global warming in one segment, well-known national skeptics in another, and ended with a cop-out: 'What is the truth about global warming? It depends on who you talk to.' " In other words, no last word. Bad CBS affiliate, bad! "Not helpful, and not good reporting" she tells us. "The he-said, she-said reporting just won't do."

Setting aside for a moment, if you can, the sanctimonious tone of the knuckle rapping ("just won't do"), there are two ways to interpret this no-no, both objectionable, both anti-dissent.

One implication is that these "nationally known skeptics" should never have been given air time in the first place because the debate is over, the Truth is known, their dissent has no claim on our attention; their dissent is, in fact, pernicious.

The second way of reading her "not helpful" condemnation is that if one allows dissenters on air to express their dissent, the approach shouldn't be "he-said, she-said." No, the viewers must be protected from this pernicious dissent. We should get "he-said, she-said, but he (or she) is wrong, and here is the correct way to think."

It may be that believers in anthropogenic global warming are right. I have no strong position on the matter, aside from agreeing with the CJR editorial that there's a danger in narrowing the permissible borders of dissent. But I take issue with the author's contention that the time for dissent has ended. "The era of 'equal time' for skeptics who argue that global warming is just a result of natural variation and not human intervention seems to be largely over-except on talk radio, cable, and local television," she tells us.

And of course we all know that the Truth is to be found only on networks and major national print outlets. Their record has been nigh unto infallible.

But wait! I think I've found an insidious infiltration of forbidden dissent in the citadel of Truth that the CJR writer neglected to condemn. One of the environmental reporters the writer speaks of reverently, the New York Times' Andy Revkin, runs the Times' Dot Earth blog and features on his blogroll a hotbed of "just won't do" climate-change skeptics: the Climate Debate Daily blog (an offshoot of the highly respected Arts & Letters Daily). Revkin provides no protective warning to the reader that he will be entering the realm of verboten dissent from the Consensus.

I find Climate Debate Daily a particularly important site precisely because it does give "equal time" to different arguments about climate change. Take a look at it. It's just two lists of links, one of reports and studies that support the consensus view and one of studies that don't. No warnings on the site about what is True and what constitutes Dangerous Dissent. Exactly the sort of thing that our CJR reporter says is just not done.

And yet one cannot read the site without believing there are dissents from the consensus by scientists who deserve a hearing, if only so that their theses can be disproved. Check out, for instance, this work by an Australian scientist who was once charged with enforcing limits on greenhouse gases by the government but who now has changed his mind on the issue! It happens perhaps more often than "green journalists" let us know.

At a dinner recently, I listened as Nick Lemann, the dean of Columbia's J-school, talked about the difficulty the school had in helping the students get the hang of "structuring an inquiry." At the heart of structuring an inquiry, he said, was the need to "find the arguments." Not deny the arguments. Find them, explore them.

But which arguments? It's a fascinating subject that I've spent some time considering. My last two books, Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars, were, in part anyway, efforts to decide which of the myriad arguments about and dissenting visions of each of these figures was worth pursuing. For instance, with Hitler, after investigating, I wanted to refute the myth (often used in a heavy-handed way by anti-Semites) that Hitler was part Jewish. The risk is that in giving attention to the argument, one can spread it even while refuting it. But to ignore it was worse.

Perhaps this is what our green journalist with her tsk-tsking really fears, and it's a legitimate fear. But I'd argue that journalists should be on the side of vigorous argument, not deciding for readers what is truth and then not exposing them to certain arguments.

In my Shakespeare book, I mentioned-but didn't devote time to-what I regarded as the already well-refuted argument that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays in the canon. This doesn't mean I would stop others from arguing about it; it just is my belief that it wasn't worth the attention and that since life was short, one would be better off spending one's time rereading the plays than arguing over who wrote them. In any case, the fate of the earth was not at stake.

But the argument over the green consensus does matter: If the green alarmists are right, we will have to turn our civilization inside out virtually overnight to save ourselves. One would like to know this is based on good, well-tested science, not mere "consensus."

Skepticism is particularly important and particularly worth attention from journalists. Especially considering the abysmal record green journalists have on the ethanol fiasco.

Here we should give the CJR reporter credit where due: She does include perhaps the single most important question that such an article could ask, one I haven't heard asked by most mainstream enviro-cheerleader media: [W]here were the skeptical scientists, politicians and journalists earlier, when ethanol was first being promoted in Congress?

Indeed I don't remember reading a lot of "dissent" on the idea. Shouldn't it have occurred to someone green that taking acreage once capable of producing food on a planet with hundreds of millions of starving people and using it to lower the carbon footprint of your SUV might end up causing the deaths of those who lack food or the means to pay the soaring prices of ethanol-induced shortage? But it doesn't seem to occur to her that the delegitimizing of dissent she encourages with her "just won't do" sanctimony might have been responsible for making reporters fearful of being "greenlisted" for dissenting from The Consensus at the time.

I think it's time for "green reporters," the new self-promoting subprofession, to take responsibility for the ethanol fiasco. Go back into their files and show us the stories they wrote that carry a hint that there might be a downside to taking food out of the mouths of the hungry. Those who fail the test-who didn't speak out, even on "talk radio, cable TV or local news"-shouldn't be so skeptical about skeptics.

I'd suggest they all be assigned to read the CJR editorial about protecting dissent and the danger of "narrowing the borders" of what is permissible. The problem is, as Freeman Dyson, one of the great scientists of our age, put it in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, environmentalism can become a religion, and religions always seek to silence or marginalize heretics. CJR has been an invaluable voice in defending that aspect of the First Amendment dealing with the freedom of the press; it should be vigilant about the other aspect that forbids the establishment of a religion.


Climate Change: Breaking the "Political Consensus"

The purpose of this report is to examine the science behind climate change so as to better understand the issue at hand, and thus, to be able to make an informed decision on how to handle the issue. The primary aim here is to examine climate change from a perspective not often heard in media or government channels; that of climate change being a natural phenomenon, not the result of man-made carbon emissions.

The "Science" of Consensus

When addressing the issue of climate change, it is important to understand that climatic change is an important field of study in science. However, it is not an exact science, like all sciences. Our understanding of the climatic sciences is always changing, just as our understanding of all sciences changes. If our understanding of science does not change, we would still think that the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around our little planet. When these great achievements in science were first discovered, the scientists who discovered them were attacked, denounced, or even imprisoned.

There is an enormous political, social and economic interest in a scientific consensus, because it determines our understanding of our environment and all that is in it, including humanity, itself. A challenge to a perceived consensus is a challenge to all the powers in human society, as it can take a person's understanding of the world we live in, and flip it upside down.

This encourages people to think "outside the box," fosters creativity and to be critical thinkers. This can ultimately threaten any power structure, as people may come to understand the forces that seek to control our lives. A consensus is an amazing tool in the hands of elites to control and manipulate people. And challenging a consensus is an amazing tool for people to remain free and independent thinkers.

This does not mean that any perceived consensus is inaccurate or completely manipulated. But it is important to understand how such a consensus can be used. It is also vital to understand that without questioning and challenging a scientific consensus, science would never advance. The key to scientific discovery is being able to change your perspective as the science changes. This is why debate on climate change must not be simply reduced to a one-sided debate; those who "know there is a problem," and those who are "deniers." All sides must be heard, so that we can come to a better understanding of the issue.

We hear consistently the one side of the debate, that climate change is caused by increased Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and that humans are the greatest contributor of this toxic greenhouse gas, and thus, the greatest contributor to climate change, and that there will be catastrophic consequences as a result. I hope to give voice to the other side of the debate.

A Brief Climate History

First of all, it is important to note that climate change is not new. There has always been climate change, and there will always be climate change. After all, there was a period known as the Ice Age, which was a long-term period of reduction in global temperatures. This expanded the continental ice sheets and glaciers. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were created in this period. The ice age left its imprint upon our environment, forming valleys, fjords, rock formations, and the like as glaciers advanced across the continents. As they receded when the ice age passed, it left the landscape altered and free for plant growth and life to flourish. The Great Lakes between Canada and the United States were carved out by ice. Following the Ice Age, the Holocene period began roughly 12,000 B.C. All human civilization has occurred within the Holocene period.

During the Holocene period, there was both global warming and cooling periods, which have lasted until today. During the period of 10,000 to 8500 BC, there was a slight cooling period known as the Younger-Dryas. However, that passed, and between 5000 and 3000 B.C., temperatures increased to a level higher than today. This period is referred to as the Climatic Optimum. It was during this warming period in history that Earth's first great human civilizations began to flourish, such as ancient African civilizations around the Nile.

Between 3000 and 2000 B.C., a cooling period occurred, resulting in a drop in sea levels, from which islands such as the Bahamas emerged. There was a subsequent warming period between 2000 and 1500 B.C., again followed by a cool period, which led to glacial growth. The Roman Empire (150 B.C. - 300 A.D.) occurred during a cooling period, which went until roughly 900 A.D. During the period of 900 A.D. until 1200 A.D., a warming period occurred known as the Medieval Warming Period, or Little Climatic Optimum, which was warmer than today, allowing settlements to flourish in Greenland and Iceland.

Then a cooling period followed and between 1550 and 1850, temperatures were colder than at any other time since the end of the previous Ice Age, leading to what has been called the Little Ice Age. Since 1850, there has been a general warming period.

CO2 and Temperature

This latest warming period has also coincided with the Industrial Revolution, which saw the greatest output of human induced CO2, leading many, like Al Gore, to compare the rise in CO2 levels with the rise in temperatures, drawing a conclusion that the rise in CO2 in the earth's atmosphere was the determining factor in the rise in temperatures. However, if one studies statistics and how to read and interpret stats and graphs, one of the primary lessons is that correlation does not imply causation. Simply put, two factors lining up on a graph, does not necessarily imply that there is a cause and effect relationship. One could take a graph of increases in temperatures and increases in the consumption of peanuts, and they may line up. However, common sense will tell us that eating peanuts does not increase global temperatures. Simply because there appears to be a correlation between the two, that does not imply that there is a cause and effect relationship.

When it comes to CO2, however, there is a much more important factor to analyze than simply statistical interpretation. Al Gore popularized the CO2/temperature connection in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, in which he showed the correlation between the two on a graph. However, he interpreted the graph as evidence of a cause and effect relationship. His information came from an ice core sample related to CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. However, paleoclimatologist and earth sciences professor at USC, Lowell Stott, released findings of a study in September of 2007, which concluded that, "Deep-sea temperatures warmed about 1,300 years before the tropical surface ocean and well before the rise in atmospheric CO2" at the ending of the last ice age, which "suggests the rise in greenhouse gas was likely a result of warming," not the cause of warming.[3]

As well as this, an ice core sample of air bubbles in 2003, "revealed a precise record of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations" and concluded that, "the CO increase lagged Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 +/- 200 years and preceded the Northern Hemisphere deglaciation." Simply put, the analysis of the ice core samples, published in Science Magazine, reported that CO2 increases lagged behind temperature increases by roughly 800 years.

In statistics, this is what is called a "lurking variable," meaning a hidden variable that can have an outcome on the results of a statistic without having been taken into consideration in the statistic's interpretation. For example, Al Gore's graph showed a correlation between CO2 increases and temperature increases. The interpretation he gave was that the correlation implied causation; that because they lined up, there was an established relationship, and that relationship was defined as CO2 increases driving temperature. However, the lurking variable was that he did not take into consideration whether CO2 followed temperature increases, as the ice core samples have shown, but he rather chose to conclude that because they line up on a graph, CO2 is therefore the driver. This is bad science and statistical analysis at best, or intentional political deception at worst.....

What Causes Climate Change?

If CO2 increases lag behind temperature increases, it does not make sense that CO2 can be the cause of temperature increases. It would be the equivalent of saying that growing older is caused by the graying of hair; there appears to be a cause and effect relationship, it is just of vital importance to understand which is the cause and which is the effect. So, from here we must examine what some major causes of climatic change can be.

The most important factor in climatic changes is what is called solar variations. This refers to radiation emitted from the Sun and its variations, in particular, the sunspot cycle. Sunspot cycles are the irregular rises and drops in the number of sunspots, which are regions on the Sun's surface, which have lower temperatures than its surrounding area and strong magnetic fields. The cycles tend to last 11 years.

An important thing to note is that Earth is not the only planet that experiences climate change, as in 2002, it was reported that Pluto was "undergoing global warming in its thin atmosphere," likely due to it's orbit, which, "significantly changes the planet's distance from the Sun during its long `year,' which lasts 248 Earth years."[14] In 2006, it was reported that a new storm on Jupiter could indicate that the planet is "in the midst of a global change that can modify temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit." As far back as 1998, it was reported that Neptune's largest moon, Triton, "has been undergoing a period of global warming," since 1989.[16] This could have much to do with the fact that, as reported in 1997, the "Sun is getting hotter," leading some scientists to say that Earth's global warming "is part of a natural cycle for the planet."

In 2004, the Telegraph reported that, "Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research." The study, conducted by Swiss and German scientists, "suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes." Interestingly, the Sun "is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years," coinciding with the warming trend experienced since the Industrial Revolution.

This is what can be referred to as a "lurking variable" in Al Gore's analysis of his graphs of carbon and temperature increases since the Industrial Revolution. It is a lurking variable because though the temperatures and carbon emissions match up on a graph, it doesn't take into account other factors that may influence the statistics, such as increasing radiation from the Sun, which also correlates with increasing temperatures.

National Geographic News quoted a scientist in 2007 that, "Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural-and not a human-induced-cause." Mars' ice caps had been diminishing for three years in a row, and the scientist, "Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun." He further stated that, "changes in the sun's heat output can account for almost all the climate changes we see on both planets."

A NASA study in the same year also reported that Mars warmed since the 1970s, "similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period," which, they conclude, "suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena." A study in 2007 on climatic changes on Earth and Neptune suggested that, "some planetary climate changes may be due to variations in the solar system environment."

In 2006, a study was conducted regarding Venus being the "solar system's most inhospitable planet." A planetary scientist at Oxford University stated, "It's very disturbing that we do not understand the climate on a planet that is so much like the Earth," and that, "It is telling us that we really don't understand the Earth. We have ended up with a lot of mysteries." Venus was "unbelievably hot, dense, and had virtually no oxygen." Venus has a very pronounced greenhouse effect, as its "thick atmosphere traps solar radiation and heats the world to boiling point."

Scientists say that Venus being closer to the Sun than Earth is a factor, yet, there may be other factors. One brought up was that Venus' atmosphere is almost entirely made up of CO2, which is effective at trapping heat. CO2 is roughly 95% of Venus' atmosphere, compared to Earth's atmosphere, which is 0.038% CO2, so it is extremely understandable that CO2 would have a greater effect upon Venus than Earth. The question as to why Venus has so much CO2 may be because it lost its water, whereas on Earth, "carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans, where it forms carbonate minerals and over the millennia is deposited as rock. That process was arrested early on Venus when it lost its oceans."[22] Perhaps we should put more focus into preserving and protecting our oceans.

Get Your Parka, Here Comes Global. "Cooling"?

There is a little problem with the whole "global warming" consensus, in that recent scientific research has shown that, "A study of sea temperature changes predicts a lull as traditional climate cycles cancel out the heating effect of greenhouse gases from pollution," and that, "Global warming will be `put on hold' over the next decade because of natural climate variations."[23] In other words, the natural climate cycles that Earth goes through, and always has gone through, has changed once again, just as a political consensus was reached. This is very significant because if CO2 was the prime cause for recent warming, and CO2 consumption has not gone down, yet, the Earth's climate has engaged on a cooling trend, this appears to pose a problem for the CO2 hypothesis.

This cooling trend is supported by many recent events. In 2008, "Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966," and China went through its most brutal winter in a century. Also, when we are told that the Artic Sea ice is melting to its "lowest levels on record," it is important to note that the records date back to 1972, and "that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past."

As it turns out, the ice itself has not only recovered from melting, but has grown thicker in many places. With the previous melting of the Arctic, we have been told it was caused by human activity and will result in catastrophe. However, climate modelers, predicting the future climate with computer models based upon information they provide, such as CO2 consumption, are highly inaccurate, as, "Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt."

Many places have experienced unusual cold and snowfalls in the last year. Argentina got its first snowfall in Buenos Aires since 1918,[25] Johannesburg, South Africa, experienced snow for the first time in 26 years,[26] Baghdad experienced snow for the "first time in living memory,"[27] and Saudi Arabia went through sub-zero temperatures and snow storms, making it the coldest winter in over 20 years.

Even the BBC reported that temperatures will decrease, "as a result of the cold La Nina current in the Pacific,"[29] which is a natural phenomenon, and has a large effect on increasing cyclonic activity in the Atlantic. It's interesting how La Nina and El Nino have disappeared from discussion on climate and hurricanes. Today, whenever there is a hurricane or natural disaster, it is instantly blamed on global warming and having been accelerated by human activity. Even Al Gore's movie poster pictured a smoke stack with a hurricane coming out the top. An MIT climate scientist, who previously wrote about the link between hurricane energy and warming, produced a study in 2008 where he changed his pervious claims, saying that its not a clearly defined connection, saying there is a "lot of uncertainty," and he was quoted as stating, "It's a really bad thing for a scientist to have an immovable, intractable position."

In March of 2008, NPR reported that after a survey of the ocean by 3,000 scientific robots, information was retrieved that showed that, "the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather." The article quotes a NASA scientist as saying that, "the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming."

In July of 2008, a major peer-reviewed journal of the American Physical Society, Physics and Society, concluded that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report "overstated" the effects of CO2 on temperature in their climate models by between 500 and 2000%. The paper concluded that there is no "climate crisis." The paper further reported that CO2 will add "little more than 1øF (O.6øC) to global mean surface temperature by 2100;" that the IPCC report took their predictive information from four published papers, not 2,500, as was claimed; that "global warming" stopped ten years ago; the IPCC overstated the "effect of ice-melt by 1000%"; that 50 years ago, it was proved that "predicting climate more than two weeks ahead is impossible"; and that an important factor in explaining the previous warming was that, "In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the last 11,400 years."

What About the Consensus?

We are often told, (especially by Al Gore), that on the issue of the effects of human activity on climate change, there is a "scientific consensus" on humans being the primary cause. If the above information does not provide some proof as to a lack of consensus on the subject, perhaps the fact that for the UN-organized 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which concluded that, "global warming and other environmental insults were threatening the planet with catastrophe," was countered with a petition of scientists decrying, "the unsupported assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuels and requires immediate action." The number of signatories to the petition eventually reached 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners. In 2000, to counter the Kyoto Protocol, a petition was made up of "1,500 clergy, theologians, religious leaders, scientists, academics and policy experts concerned about the harm that Kyoto could inflict on the world's poor."

A current petition makes the statement that, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth." This petition has been signed by over 31,000 scientists.

The former editor of New Scientist magazine, Nigel Calder, wrote that, "When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works." He explained how roughly 20 years ago, "climate research became politicized in favour of one particular hypothesis," and that the media, "often imagine that anyone who doubts the hypothesis of man-made global warming must be in the pay of the oil companies. As a result, some key discoveries in climate research go almost unreported."

He also explained the results of a scientific study conducted in 2001 in Denmark, which found that, "cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars. More cosmic rays, more clouds. The sun's magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer world. On the other hand the Little Ice Age was chilly because the lazy sun let in more cosmic rays, leaving the world cloudier and gloomier."[35] So not only is the Sun a determining factor, but so are cosmic rays.


I won't state exactly what is causing climate change on our planet, as the reality is that there are many answers to that question; the Sun, cosmic rays, ocean currents and other natural phenomena, etc. However, it is safe to say that the wealth of science points to a natural change in our climate, and the entire history of the world and of all humanity supports this hypothesis. Throughout history, as in the earliest African civilizations, it was the ability of different peoples to change and adapt to climate change, which determined their survival as a civilization.

Today, we are trying to fight it. This is a dangerous road to walk, and history will not look kindly upon our scientific ignorance and politically fear-driven society. How will we be viewed in the future? How have we viewed the people of the past who thought the Earth was flat, or the Sun revolved around Earth? Trying to fight and stop a natural phenomenon is possibly one of the most ignorant and dangerous things humanity has ever engaged in. How would history view a civilization that tried to reverse the spinning of the Earth, or the blowing of wind? It is a recipe for the fall of a civilization.

Much of the people in the world have been riled up with predictions of a catastrophic end to mankind and the world unless we don't do something about so-called "man-made" climate change. Ironically enough, our refusal to adapt to a changing world, and instead a determination to fight it with our efforts to "go green" and "carbon neutral" may, in fact, cause the catastrophic end of our civilization. And sadly, in this instance, it would undeniably be a man-made disaster.



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.


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