Sunday, July 26, 2009


There has been much debate over how clouds would affect global warming. Would they slow it down or amplify it? Warmists are at the moment in a state of frabjous joy over a study which appears to show that cloud changes amplify global warming. Rather than note any of the Warmist comments, I simply reproduce below the summary from "Science" magazine which describes the study concerned:

Clouds Appear to Be Big, Bad Player in Global Warming

Richard A. Kerr

The first reliable analysis of cloud behavior over past decades suggests —but falls short of proving —that clouds are strongly amplifying global warming. If that's true, then almost all climate models have got it wrong. On page 460, climate researchers consider the two best, long-term records of cloud behavior over a rectangle of ocean that nearly spans the subtropics between Hawaii and Mexico. In a warming episode that started around 1976, ship-based data showed that cloud cover—especially low-altitude cloud layers—decreased in the study area as ocean temperatures rose and atmospheric pressure fell. One interpretation, the researchers say, is that the warming ocean was transferring heat to the overlying atmosphere, thinning out the low-lying clouds to let in more sunlight that further warmed the ocean. That's a positive or amplifying feedback. During a cooling event in the late 1990s, both data sets recorded just the opposite changes—exactly what would happen if the same amplifying process were operating in reverse.

Science 24 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5939, p. 376

The caution I have highlighted in red seems generally to have been ignored. Note also that for the last 10 years there has been no warming for clouds to amplify (or not) so the question is probably moot anyway. There is considerable cloud expertise among climate skeptics so I expect that we will hear more about this in the next few days


My comment above is brief because my professional expertise is not in climatology and I am quite happy to leave further comment to those who are experts. I have therefore only glanced at what the findings were. I have however long been a critic of scientific assumptions in other fields and I suspect that what we have above is another iteration of the utterly fallacious but still common claim that correlation is causation. In other words the results could in fact show that warming causes clouds rather than vice versa. A very clear temporal succession would be needed to settle the matter either way. So it will be interesting to hear if an unambiguous succession of that kind was shown. "I hae me doubts", as the Scots say

BOOK REVIEW of "Global warming false alarm" by Ralph Alexander

"I wrote this book because I’m a scientist. Because I’m offended that science is being perverted in the name of global warming – today’s environmental cause célèbre. Because the world seems to have lost its collective mind and substituted political belief for the spirit of scientific inquiry." -- From the Preface of “Global Warming: False Alarm” by Ralph Alexander, PhD. Review below by Lubos Motl

You might think that there are already many books about climate change on the market. But Ralph Alexander's book is special and unusually appropriate for both beginners and experts in the field because of its balanced attitude to the problem.

That doesn't mean that Dr Alexander ends up with a "mixed" answer to the basic question. Just like a majority of books on the subject, Dr Alexander makes the readers understand that the global warming alarm is almost completely an artifact of manipulation with the human psychology and with the data. But unlike the case of many other books, you will see that Dr Alexander is actually a mainstream scientist (and an applied scientist in the environmental sector) who cares about the good name and functioning of science. Years ago, he was inclined to believe the "general wisdom" about the problem. His diametrically opposite conclusions are a result of his long research of the problem. And his pride of a scientist has been hurt. Climatology has become an ugly example of a scientific discipline that has largely ceased to be scientific.

Dr Alexander determines that the "ring" and the international character of the IPCC, the climate panel of the United Nations, are the main drivers of the hysteria so the IPCC, its process, and its reports are the main players investigated by this text. He analyzes the history and structure of the IPCC and finds out that this panel is just a particular and heavily funded group of loud partisans and activists that is meant to defend a predetermined conclusion and that doesn't reflect the scientific opinion of the world's scientific community, at least its financially and otherwise unbiased part, and certainly not the available body of data. Lots of numbers about the percentages of the scientist who agree and disagree with various statements are included.

The following chapters are dedicated to the standard topics in this debate: an introduction to the enhanced greenhouse effect and why it cannot account for most of the climate variability; computer models as the main basis underlying the alarm and their flaws; the CO2 and temperature records and reconstructions, their comparisons, and their flaws (including the urban heat effect); cherry-picking in various "concerned" studies; the interactions with politics (in both directions); corruption of the conventional peer review process; the biased IPCC evaluation of the climate sensitivity (warming from CO2 doubling); the lag in the correlation showing that the temperature is a driver, not an effect, of trace gas concentrations; solar, oceanic, cosmic, and other natural drivers that have to be crucial (even though the author honestly says that science doesn't yet understand their precise and separate effects); the high possibility of a cooling in the 21st century.

A significant portion of the text is also concerned with the economic consequences of the alarm; the failures of the cap-and-trade systems in the past, the differences between various countries; and the false hopes in green, luxurious sources of energy.

The book contains many wise stories and analogies from the history, useful data from the present, some jokes, and black-and-white pages that summarize the IPCC claims and their flaws in various sections. Two appendices discuss the feedbacks and the effect of Pacific Decadal Oscillation. And indeed, Dr Alexander had to include some equations, too. The book has a short glossary, 30 pages of technical endnotes (including many references that don't disturb you in the main text), and an index. At any rate, it is quite an amazing piece of work that is fun to read - because of its detailed data, its convincing case, and warm style - and I wholeheartedly recommend you to buy it and read it.


Double Breakthrough: Nature publishes Letter by 6 climate skeptics which tells of another breakthrough: A major scientific society has agreed to reconsider its alarmist Statement on Climate Change

Petitioning for a revised statement on climate change

By S. Fred Singer, Hal Lewis, Will Happer, Larry Gould, Roger Cohen & Robert H. Austin

We write in response to your issue discussing "the coming climate crunch", including the Editorial 'Time to act' (Nature 458, 10771078; 2009). We feel it is alarmist.

We are among more than 50 current and former members of the American Physical Society (APS) who have signed an open letter to the APS Council this month, calling for a reconsideration of its November 2007 policy statement on climate change (see open letter at; APS statement at The letter proposes an alternative statement, which the signatories believe to be a more accurate representation of the current scientific evidence. It requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas, to help prevent subversion of the scientific process and the intolerance towards scientific disagreement that pervades the climate issue.

On 1 May 2009, the APS Council decided to review its current statement via a high-level subcommittee of respected senior scientists. We applaud this decision. It is the first such reappraisal by a major scientific professional society that we are aware of, and we hope it will lead to meaningful change that reflects a more balanced view of climate-change issues.

Nature 460, 457 (23 July 2009)

Government monopsony distorts climate science

The climate industry is costing taxpayers $79 billion and counting. (A monopsony is where there is only one buyer or provider of funds)

The Science and Public Policy Institute announces the publication of Climate Money, a study by Joanne Nova revealing that the federal Government has a near-monopsony on climate science funding. This distorts the science towards self-serving alarmism. Key findings:

Ø The US Government has spent more than $79 billion of taxpayers’ money since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, propaganda campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks. Most of this spending was unnecessary.

Ø Despite the billions wasted, audits of the science are left to unpaid volunteers. A dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of “global warming” theory and to compete with a lavishly-funded, highly-organized climate monopsony. Major errors have been exposed again and again.

Ø Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks, which profit most, are calling for more. Experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 - $10 trillion in the near future. Hot air will soon be the largest single commodity traded on global exchanges.

Ø Meanwhile, in a distracting sideshow, Exxon-Mobil Corp is repeatedly attacked for paying just $23 million to skeptics—less than a thousandth of what the US government spends on alarmists, and less than one five-thousandth of the value of carbon trading in 2008 alone.

Ø The large expenditure designed to prove the non-existent connection between carbon and climate has created a powerful alliance of self-serving vested interests.

Ø By pouring so much money into pushing a single, scientifically-baseless agenda, the Government has created not an unbiased investigation but a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ø Sound science cannot easily survive the vice-like grip of politics and finance.

Says Nova, “For the first time, the numbers from government documents have been compiled in one place. It’s time to start talking of “Monopolistic Science”. It’s time to expose the lie that those who claim “to save the planet” are the underdogs. And it’s time to get serious about auditing science, especially when it comes to pronouncements that are used to justify giant government programs and massive movements of money.”

Robert Ferguson, SPPI’s president, says: “This study counts the cost of years of wasted Federal spending on the ‘global warming’ non-problem. Government bodies, big businesses and environmental NGOs have behaved like big tobacco: recruiting, controlling and rewarding their own “group-think” scientists who bend climate modeling to justify the State’s near-maniacal quest for power, control, wealth and forced population reduction.

“Joanne Nova, who wrote our study, speaks for thousands of scientists in questioning whether a clique of taxpayer-funded climate modelers are getting the data right, or just getting the “right” data. Are politicians paying out billions of our dollars for evidence-driven policy-making, or policy-driven evidence-making? The truth is more crucial than ever, because American lives, property and constitutional liberties are at risk.”


Even Warmists don't believe their own guff -- deeds speak louder than words

The guy writing below is a Warmist true-believer so struggles to understand why his allegedly Warmist colleagues behave "hypocritically". He ends up attributing their inconsistent behavior to incompetent communication. Yet his interlocutors are very well informed, so what level of communication would be needed to change them? North-Korean-style brainwashing? That seems to be where his argument leads

At a recent dinner at the University of Oxford, a senior researcher in atmospheric physics was telling me about his coming holiday in Thailand. I asked him whether he was concerned that his trip would make a contribution to climate change - we had, after all, just sat through a two-hour presentation on the topic. "Of course," he said blithely. "And I'm sure the government will make long-haul flights illegal at some point."

I had deliberately steered our conversation this way as part of an informal research project that I am conducting - one you are welcome to join. My participants so far include a senior adviser to a leading UK climate policy expert who flies regularly to South Africa ("my offsets help set a price in the carbon market"), a member of the British Antarctic Survey who makes several long-haul skiing trips a year ("my job is stressful"), a national media environment correspondent who took his family to Sri Lanka ("I can't see much hope") and a Greenpeace climate campaigner just back from scuba diving in the Pacific ("it was a great trip!").

Intriguing as their dissonance may be, what is especially revealing is that each has a career predicated on the assumption that information is sufficient to generate change. It is an assumption that a moment's introspection would show them was deeply flawed.

It is now 44 years since US president Lyndon Johnson's scientific advisory council warned that our greenhouse gas emissions could generate "marked changes in climate". That's 44 years of research costing, by one estimate, $3 billion per year, symposia, conferences, documentaries, articles and now 80 million references on the internet. Despite all this information, opinion polls over the years have shown that 40 per cent of people in the UK and over 50 per cent in the US resolutely refuse to accept that our emissions are changing the climate. Scarcely 10 per cent of Britons regard climate change as a major problem.

I do not accept that this continuing rejection of the science is a reflection of media distortion or scientific illiteracy. Rather, I see it as proof of our society's failure to construct a shared belief in climate change.

I use the word "belief" in full knowledge that climate scientists dislike it. Vicky Pope, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change in Exeter, UK, wrote in The Guardian earlier this year: "We are increasingly asked whether we 'believe in climate change'. Quite simply it is not a matter of belief. Our concerns about climate change arise from the scientific evidence."

I could not disagree more. People's attitudes towards climate change, even Pope's, are belief systems constructed through social interactions within peer groups. People then select the storylines that accord best with their personal world view. In Pope's case and in my own this is a world view that respects scientists and empirical evidence.

But listen to what others say. Most regard climate change as an unsettled technical issue still hotly debated by eggheads. Many reject personal responsibility by shifting blame elsewhere - the rich, the poor, the Americans, the Chinese - or they suspect the issue is a Trojan horse built by hair-shirted environmentalists who want to spoil their fun.

The climate specialists in my informal experiment are no less immune to the power of their belief systems. They may be immersed in the scientific evidence, yet they have nonetheless developed ingenious storylines to justify their long-haul holidays.


Conservative wobbles over climate laws in Australia

There is a widespread awareness among Australia's Federal conservative politicians that global warming is a hoax but they also see various political hazards in completely rejecting Warmist laws. The conservative coalition as a whole is fairly demoralized and disorganized so they are not game so far to declare that the emperor has no clothes. With strong leadership they could probably win an election by proclaiming the hoax but they don't have such leadership so would almost certainly lose an election fought on that basis

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described the Opposition's demands on climate change as a "shopping list" aimed at patching up divisions within the Coalition. The Opposition says it is willing to vote for the emissions trading scheme (ETS) if the Government agrees to a number of changes.

Mr Rudd says he is surprised Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has put forward a raft of amendments, just 19 days before the ETS will be voted on. "[It is] a shopping list, which I think has more to do with patching up some of the internal divisions in the Liberal Party than it has to do with much else," he said.

Mr Turnbull has today responded to criticism of his emissions policy backflip, particularly from backbencher Wilson Tuckey. "The shadow cabinet is as arrogant as Wilson Tuckey is humble," he said. He has also refused comment on whether the policy change is simply about stopping the Government calling an early election.

Mr Turnbull says he is confident he will get the support of a majority of the party room on an ETS. "What we've said is that if the scheme is presented in its current form on August 13 then we will vote against it and that's what we agreed to do in the party room," he said. "If the changes are satisfactory, if they address the issues that we've set out in the statement and it's a different scheme, then we'll take it back to the party room."

Some National senators have expressed concerns about the change of position, but Mr Turnbull told Saturday AM it is rare for any decision to have the entire support of the party room. "We're not seeking unanimity we're seeking consensus, we're seeking the support of a majority," he said.

He has conceded that there is little chance the Government will hold off on voting on an ETS until after the United Nations climate change meeting in December. "As far as the delaying a vote until after Copenhagen, I still believe that would be more prudent and we make that point in the statement," he said. "But the reality is, Mr Rudd is the Prime Minister, he's running the legislative agenda, he's going to force a vote before Copenhagen - that's his decision.

"And so the question is, presented with that less than ideal timing, how do we react to it? And so we are reacting to it in a constructive and effective way that the Australian people will understand, is an Opposition that is seeking to engage and ensure as best we can that the emissions trading scheme is right for jobs and right for the environment."



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