Monday, February 13, 2012

Climate and the sun

The article excerpted below is a useful summary of the discussion about solar influences on climate. Climate skeptics will know the first part of it well. It is the second part -- putting the Warmist case -- that seems of some interest. So that is the section I excerpt below and discuss here.

The article is unsigned but is written by a "moderate" skeptic (possibly Pat Michaels) who accepts that CO2 can have SOME influence on climate -- rather than CO2 levels being a RESULT of climate. The author may adopt that stance for political reasons, given the poor empirical evidence for it. How come, for instance, that CO2 levels have risen greatly over the past 15 years, while temperature has flatlined or maybe even cooled?

A notable difference between the skeptical and Warmist cases is that the skeptical case -- as articulated by Svensmark -- is a theory that has been confirmed by direct experimental observations, while the Warmist case relies on a very dubious temperature record. The "hiding the decline" (in proxies) episode was a vivid demonstration of how unreliable temperature proxies are and the thermometer record has been blatantly corrupted by Jim Hansen and others with their various "adjustments". What the thermometers originally showed in aggregate is unknown. The data has been hopelessly compromised in an attempt to show temperature rises where no rise was previously shown.

So it is no wonder that Warmist scientists find no correlation with solar fluctuations and the temperature record. The temperature record is a false representation of reality.

But some facts from the past do not rely on a hokey temperature record. Events like the Little Ice Age or the Medieval Warm Period are well known from history. So we do have SOME information about past temperatures that we can rely on. And that data is very clearly correlated with solar activity. When both sides of the correlation are firmly established, we find that the correlation is strong. The "harder" the data the more we see a solar influence
The idea that solar variability exerts little-to-no influence on the global average surface temperature is based upon several lines of reasoning.

The first is that the difference in the amount of total incoming radiation from the peak of the well-known 11-yr solar sunspot cycle to the trough of the cycle is very low, only about one-quarter of Watt per square meter at the earth's surface. Depending on the climate sensitivity to incoming radiation that you prefer, this works out to a change in the global average temperature of maybe a tenth of a degree Celsius, give or take a few hundredths of a degree. Detecting such a small "signal" amidst other forms of climate "noise" (such as El Ni¤o, volcanoes, and a myriad of circulation patterns) becomes rather challenging.

The second, is that over a period spanning several solar cycles (several decades), the direct correlation between the solar variability and global temperature variability (after accounting for volcanoes and El Ni¤o/La Ni¤a cycles) is basically zero ( it even switches signs from time to time). This means that knowing what the sun is doing gives you little information as to what the global temperatures are doing. But notice the use of the word "direct". In Case #1 the mechanism is "indirect" with the sun modulating cloud formation via cosmic rays and not timed precisely with the more common measures of solar output (e.g. sunspot counts).

However, if your analysis is confined to last two of solar cycles, then it appears as if a decline/rise in solar output over the course of the 11-yr cycle is tied to a decline/rise in global temperatures. Such a correlation leads to the conclusion that declining solar output over the past decade has been, in part, responsible for the contemporaneous slowdown in the rate of global warming-accounting for maybe 0.05 to 0.1 degree of cooling over the course of past 10 years or so. This explanation is currently en vogue with respect to the obvious lack of strong warming in almost fifteen years. It is interesting to note that a solar explanation was largely absent (and in fact was pretty much pooh-pooed) by this same group of people during earlier periods when the warming rate was more to their liking.

A string of papers in the scientific literature have reported that even over the time period of the past several centuries that the influence of solar variability on the earth's average temperature has been slight. For example, Judith Lean and David Rind found that, although they could identify a persistent solar signal in the temperature record during the past century, the signal was small and little-changed over the course of the past 100 years. In other words, solar variability could not explain the observed warming trend. And another just-published paper by Gifford Miller and colleagues even makes the case that the cold period known as the Little Ice Age, long thought to have been the result of an extended period of low solar output, was primarily caused by a concurrence of large volcanic eruptions and feedback processes resulting therefrom. Currently, that paper is an outlier in the field and time will tell whether or not it is correct.

So in very general terms, what buoys the little-to-no solar variability influence reasoning is that straightforward empirical analyses trying to relate solar changes (both directly observed and inferred from proxies such as sunspots) to changes in the global temperature (both directly observed and inferred from proxies) fail to find a large direct influence on the latter from the former.

Even within the "little-influence" community, though, the science is not settled.


Santorum Sends The Right Message On Global Warming

A long-time source of frustration for many small-government Republicans has been politicians who buy into various subsidies, mandates, restrictions and other big-government “solutions” to speculative or nonexistent energy and environment problems. This frustration has continued throughout the Republican primary season as frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich each have a history of supporting such big-government energy and environment policies. But the times may be a-changing. Rick Santorum has been emphasizing small-government energy and environment policies in recent weeks and the conservative base is responding.

Most visibly, Santorum is throwing down the gauntlet on global warming. While blasting Obama on global warming, he is also hitting Romney and Gingrich hard on the topic. “Both of them bought into the global warming hoax!” Santorum has taken to saying on the campaign trail and in media interviews.

Santorum’s strategy is powerful for two reasons. First, he has an unassailable record of questioning alarmist global warming claims and opposing carbon dioxide restrictions. Second, he is pressing the issue with a fervor that conveys clear and unmistakable sincerity.

True, Romney and Gingrich have been saying the right things lately on global warming and other energy/environment topics. Small-government Republicans hope they will govern in a manner that is consistent with their recent statements and pledges on these topics. But small-government conservatives have reason to be concerned.

As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney championed and signed into law the toughest carbon dioxide restrictions in the nation. He directed state officials to factor carbon dioxide emissions into land-use decisions and other regulatory mischief. He appointed to highly influential government positions John Holdren and Gina McCarthy, who graduated from their Massachusetts positions to lead the Obama administration’s war on power plants and carbon dioxide emissions. He has chosen as his campaign’s top energy advisors people who have been outspoken supporters of cap-and-trade restrictions, carbon taxes, and Obama administration environmental policies. These things stick in the minds of Republican primary voters. They may hope that Romney really has turned over a new leaf, but they are hesitant to bet their vote on it.

As for Gingrich, he filmed the atrocious global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi. He wrote A Contract with the Earth. He supports ethanol subsidies and mandates. He wants to hand over to the renewable power industry government revenues from oil and gas production. These are positions that are not generally considered limited-government or conservative.

Santorum has none of that baggage on energy and environment topics. He has consistently voted against ethanol subsidies. He has consistently fought global warming alarmism. He has consistently opposed handing over taxpayer dollars to the renewable power industry.

For pundits who don’t believe this is a powerful issue with Republican primary voters, remember that opposition to the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in 2009 was the first big issue that took a sizeable chunk out of Obama’s approval rating. Cap-and-trade was in 2009 what Obamacare was in 2010.

When Romney hits Gingrich for filming his global warming commercial with Pelosi, small-government Republicans think, “Sure, but who is Romney to talk?” When Gingrich points out that Romney imposed toughest-in-the-nation carbon dioxide restrictions on Massachusetts power plants, small-government Republicans think, “Sure, but who is Newt to talk?” Santorum doesn’t have these obstacles with small-government conservatives.

Of course, no candidate is perfect and Santorum has other issues that are troublesome to small-government Republicans. But the lesson to be learned here, as Santorum surges in recent primaries due in large part to his willingness and ability to throw down the gauntlet on global warming and related issues, is that politicians champion big-government energy and environment policies at their own peril. Rick Santorum has a clean record on these issues, and he is starting to turn that clean record into political momentum.


Energy Policies Hit Poorest Hardest; Maybe That's the Goal

Because of the unproven notion that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, saving energy has become the cultural norm with the expectation that reducing the use of coal-fueled electricity and gasoline will help everyone. More and more wind and solar generation is being installed and cars use less and less gas, with some being all-electric. This should be a good thing, but it ends up costing everyone—and disproportionately hurts the poor.

Installing an unsubsidized residential solar photovoltaic (PV) system is expensive and the payoff can be decades. As a result, they are typically purchased by only those with substantial disposable income. A few years ago, I participated in a “solar fiesta.” I live in rural New Mexico where we often have snow on the ground from late October through early March. Due to cost, I only heat my home to 58 degrees in the winter. I have a large south-facing roof surface. I figured I was a prime candidate for a solar PV system. I visited different vendors. When I asked about the payoff, one vendor looked down his nose and emphasized: “It is not about the payoff.” I could not afford to go solar. I still burn pellets in my stove and bundle up all winter.

Those, who can afford the up-front costs to take advantage of the free energy from the sun, can avoid paying their utility company anything. They may even feel smug that they have beat the system. With net metering, when they generate extra power, the meter may literally spin backward. When the sun isn’t shining, they use the power they’ve banked. The end of the month total can balance out.

However, there are still costs to the electric company. The usage is still monitored. The home, or business, is still tied to the grid. The wires and other system services require maintenance and those costs are factored into the per-kilowatt-hour price and are borne by all the rate payers. But what happens when the wealthy few, who have the luxury of installing a solar system, no longer contribute to the communal cost of service? The overall cost must be spread to a smaller pool of users, which means rate increases for everyone—except those who are getting “free” electricity from the sun.

Case in point, in Hawaii, government mandates have encouraged the installation of solar systems. In 2011, Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) customers installed nearly triple the number of solar PV panels over the previous year, enough to generate a maximum of 30 megawatts of electricity. While this free electricity is saving homeowners and businesses millions of dollars in their utility bills, the personal savings translate into a $7.4 million loss to HECO—revenue that would typically contribute to fixed maintenance costs and system upgrades. As a result, HECO needs a rate increase that will cost the average ratepayer up to an additional $10 a month or $120 a year. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports: “HECO customers who don't have solar panels will see their rates go up because of the increase in customers who do.”

Solar advocates often tout the fact that, with subsidies, a system can be almost free—which makes my point. Where do the subsidies come from? Either government funds—meaning taxpayers (you and me)—or from utility company-funded programs—meaning ratepayers (you and me). Either way, everyone pays for a few to benefit and feel good. In the HECO case, Hermina Morita, PUC chairwoman acknowledges, “It's not equitable. It's something the commission will have to look at closely.”

On a national scale, there are mandates that cause similar problems.

In 2009, President Obama proudly announced new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for vehicles: 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Just six months ago, to great fanfare, he ceremoniously upped the ante: 54.5 mpg by 2025. The CAFE part is that a company’s overall fleet must have an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg. Because Americans continue to purchase more trucks and SUVs with much lower mpg, a company must produce cars like the Volt or the Leaf that are measured at 93 and 99 mpg equivalent. Overall the average might come out in the mandated range. The CAFE standards also mean that manufacturers use technologically advanced lighter materials—as a light car gets better mileage. These materials are also more expensive, which increases the sticker price and makes it harder for lower-income people to purchase a new car and may lock them into buying used cars, with lower mpg and frequent expensive repairs.

Like the solar PV users in Hawaii, drivers of electric cars are using the infrastructure, but not paying for it. Drivers of high-mileage cars are using less gas and, perhaps, driving more. Because a good portion of highway construction and maintenance is paid for through gasoline taxes, many states are now looking for additional ways to collect needed funding. While Kansas has only two dozen Chevy Volts registered in the entire state, a bill has been proposed that would impose a new fee on electric- and hybrid-car owners—though it is unlikely to pass. In West Virginia, lawmakers are considering a “user fee” to make up the shortfall in the State Road Fund. Citing “less gas tax paid” due to “the fuel efficiency of new vehicles, especially hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles,” Oregon has been testing a mileage-based charge where a point-of-sale system sends data to a central computer that calculates the mileage fee. Washington, DC, is considering a system where a “transponder would calculate the totals” “and drivers would be charged accordingly when they purchased gas.”

Until new systems are in place (despite their big brother-like implications), those who can afford the more expensive, low mpg or electric, vehicles are beating the system by using infrastructure they are not paying for and sticking the rest of the population with the tab and increased operating costs resulting from bad roads. The wealthy, who are saving energy, are increasing costs for everyone.

Like solar power, wind energy is believed to be a saving—by reducing the burning of fossil fuels. Instead, it costs all of us, as the industry is heavily subsidized. Without taxpayer funding, it will fail, which is why advocates have been lobbying for an extension of the twenty-year-old production tax credit. But this supposed energy-saving technology would also cost all ratepayers more. A recent report on wiring wind energy shows that costs are nearly double what had been estimated. The increased costs will be paid through higher rates. Building a new gas-fueled power plant near the consumers would be cheaper than bringing the wind energy from afar. But once again, the few are benefitting while the average person pays.

Free energy sounds good. Saving energy makes people feel good. But the costs of these sound-good, feel-good policies hurt those who can least afford it—trapping them in a life of government dependence. Since we do not have an energy shortage, maybe that is the goal of all of these energy-saving policies, after all.


EPA should stop hiding the data used in making regulations

Thousands of conservative political activists, officeholders, public relations operatives, celebrities, think tankers, and academics are assembled here this week for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Among the issues that most intensely unite the various factions within the conservative galaxy is the use by liberals of global warming programs and policies as cover for the expansion of government power. All too often the science behind those efforts is inaccessible to the public and thus not subject to genuinely independent review and verification. So a key ingredient in stopping the global warming juggernaut in agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency is making scientific data publicly available.

Consider a 1999 EPA report purporting to show that the Clean Air Act would generate $170 billion in economic benefits in 2010. That at least sounded plausible. But EPA's numbers changed dramatically when the agency released its 2011 report on the purported economic benefits of the Clean Air Act. The EPA's new number was $2 trillion, an increase exceeding 1,000 percent. How did the Obama EPA come up with this number? Government officials used an economic model that, according to the scientists who wrote the study, was filled with "significant" and "major uncertainties." The researchers even admitted that because of their model's design flaws, "there is no way to validate" their findings. The agency refused to make their data available for outside review.

Such outlandish findings are not exceptions at the EPA, but the rule. A 2004 EPA staff report found that "since EPA is a health and environmental protective agency, EPA's policy is that risk assessments should not knowingly underestimate or grossly overestimate risks." Notice the two different standards. The EPA can never "knowingly" underestimate risk, but they are allowed to overestimate it as long as they don't do so "grossly." The results are increasingly costly regulations that do little to actually protect human health and well-being.

For example, the EPA recently issued new Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (Utility MACT) regulations for mercury that agency officials claim will produce $140 billion in annual economic benefits. But a quick review of the supporting documents shows that, at most, $6 million of the benefits will come from mercury reductions. The remaining $139,994,000,000 is attributed to benefits that will supposedly result from carbon dioxide reduction. On the flip side, EPA pegged compliance costs at $200 billion a year. That means the cost will exceed the benefits by $60 billion, as in $60,000,000,000. (A separate drafting error misstated a proposed emission standard by a factor of 1,000. Yet the rule is still scheduled to go into effect.)

One solution, suggested at a recent House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing, would be to require the EPA to make public all data used in formulating regulations. "When the EPA proposes a regulation based on science, it should name the papers it is depending on and it should make data sets used in those papers publicly available," Assistant Director for Bioinformatics at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences Stanley Young testified. "Claims are more likely to be valid and resulting policy sensible. Let normal science help in the vetting process. Make the data available." We agree. Since taxpayers are paying for it, they ought to be able to the price sticker.


German daily newspaper article On Vahrenholt: “Climate Skeptics Are Like Viruses”

The usual Leftist reliance on abuse

Leftist TAZ Daily Article On Vahrenholt: “Climate Skeptics Are Like Viruses”: With the book out 6 days, parts of the the German mainstream media and green activists are finding the the whole affair really tough to digest. Some of the reactions have been downright nasty and Medieval.

The left wing German online TAZ here has a weekend article called ”Climate Skeptics Are Like Viruses“, which looks at the controversy swirling about Vahrenholt’s and Lüning’s new skeptic book “Die kalte Sonne“.

TAZ’s message is clear: In climate science, scientific scrutiny and enquiry are mental disorders coming from viruses. We all know what needs to be done with viruses.

In the TAZ piece, IPCC lead author Petra Döll is quoted as saying that skeptics don’t need to be heard. Lüning and Vahrenholt respond at their Die kalte Sonne site:
The attitude of refusal by the IPCC with respect to open scientific discussion and debate is now conspicuous. This is demomstrated by IPCC lead author Dr. Petra Döll in the German online taz in claiming that “climate skeptics” no longer need to be heard. Indeed it is questionable just how long this weird scientific approach can be maintained. Should we not expect a professional demeanor from scientists who are paid and supported by German tax revenue? Döll’s dubious reasoning: The climate skeptics ”just keep repeating the same arguments”. Could it be that the so-called climate skeptics are forced to keep repeating because the current climate science establishment has yet to provide a satisfactory answer?

There’s a lot that indicates this is the case. An assessment of the media one week after the launch of the book “Die kalte Sonne” has clearly shown: The media are relying on a hand-full of prominent experts whose arguments are showing to be everything but scientifically convincing. The statements of many experts and activist editors are characterized by misrepresentations, intentional omissions and errors.

Politicians have become aware of this problem. SPD socialist party Chairman writes in the the Sunday edition of the TAZ sonntaz that in all cases we have to hear the climate skeptics out, ‘and even if it is sometimes very difficult to do so.’ Perhaps he’s beginning to realize that something is amiss within the IPCC.

Politicians have blindly relied on the IPCC for too long. Whatever the IPCC said, was law. When one considers how high the stakes really are in the climate debate, then one has to conclude that an independent review of the IPCC’s basic assumptions is essential, even just for the sake of transparency reasons. To avoid conflicts of interest, such a review should be conducted by neutral parties who are not involved in the climate debate. Of course this should be done by scientists, but the more they are from outside of climate science, the better.

Climate science is not rocket science. An independent review by a commission is possible with independent scientists. In the event members come from a large research facility, then it must be assured that there is no sister institute that is dependent on climate science funding. The most important tool of such a commission is natural science common sense, which has been increasingly missing in the climate sciences over the last years.”

That’s a reasonable response. A commission to conduct a review of the IPCC is long overdue, as it is well-documented that the IPCC house is a mess.

But scrutinizing science is mentally ill – the TAZ wants to tell us. There’s another part of the TAZ report, which Lüning and Vahrenolt did not respond to (probably because of its sheer absurdity). Here’s what the end-of-the-world-obsessed TAZ adds:
Also psychologist Marius Raab asks that climate skeptics be listened to. Their ‘house of thoughts’ in the end fulfill many criteria for conspiracy theories, which Raab studies at the University of Bamberg. ‘A conspiracy theory is foremost a good story,’ he wrote to the sonntaz, “in structure and argumentation it is especially compelling and holds the invitation to get involved and thus to spread the word. Argumentation is one-sided, not scientific.’”

Reminds me of the old Soviet tactic of admitting political opponents to mental institutions in order to eliminate them. With the TAZ’s “virus” remark and adding the comments from shrink Raab, it’s clear that the TAZ has no interest in arguing the science and is perfectly content to engage in gutter journalism.


A letter to Paul Nurse

Prof. Nurse is a poor boy made good. Not rocking the boat is probably a lesson he learned on his way to the top

I am reproducing this letter with the permission of Professor Brice Bosnich, a retired chemist and a fellow of the Royal Society. He sent it to Paul Nurse on his election as president of the society in 2010. Nurse did not reply.

Dear Professor Nurse

I am a retired professor of chemistry in The University of Chicago. I also am a Fellow of the Royal Society. First, allow me to congratulate you on becoming president of the Society. You are about to live in interesting times, I am sure.

Whereas I am reluctant to intrude on your time, I feel compelled to draw your attention to a very serious matter related to the Royal Society's position on man-made global warming (AGW).

Beginning with the presidency of Bob May and continuing during the tenure of Martin Rees the Society has put forward a scientific case for (catastrophic) AGW, has joined with other academies in urging governments to take drastic action to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and, on occasions, has behaved as if it were a propaganda arm for the alarmist cause, [1]. No one objects to individual Fellows having any view they wish on this matter, political or scientific, but I believe the Society should exercise great care in its public pronouncements. It should, I believe, resist taking overtly political or advocacy positions. Cautious, balanced and informed scientific arguments should be presented, the political implications of which should be left to the politicians.

If one goes to the Royal Society Web site one finds an especially poor, in places inaccurate, case made for catastrophic AGW, [2]. There is also a highly speculative report on ocean acidification by CO2, [3], which seems to be based on a single paper, [4], that purports to calculate the change in ocean pH from 1750 to present! A change of 0.1 pH change was calculated! On this basis the report goes on to describe all imaginable catastrophes. At about the same time the Society's web page highlighted a paper about AGW and the shrinking sheep of St Kilda [5]! Then there was Bob May presenting an AGW lecture with the comprehensively discredited, [6], “hockey stick” graph as backdrop. I could go on.

How this state of affairs came about is a matter of speculation on my part. It is probable, however, that a group of committed Fellows persuaded the Society to take a position on AGW while the less conversant majority remained uncomfortably silent. Further, I fear the Society may have decided it was advantageous to blend its position with that of the existing government. I hope this is not the case.

Although I am not a climate scientist, I am sufficiently conversant with the climate science literature to be able to assess the issues accurately. My conclusion is that the case for catastrophic warming induced by man-made CO2 emissions is extremely weak (see for example, [7]). Allow me to encapsulate the issue, and forgive me if you are already familiar with the material that follows.

* Following the (global) Medieval Warm Period where the temperatures were similar to those presently recorded, the earth entered the Little Ice Age. Since the end of the Little Ice Age (about 1850) the earth has warmed intermittently. The actual amount of warming is controversial for technical and possibly other reasons. For surface temperatures recorded by thermometer measurements, the amount of warming is probably less than reported [8]. There is, however, no dispute that some near surface atmospheric warming has occurred, [9] [12].

* Doubling the concentration of atmospheric CO2, which is projected to occur by the end of this century, will lead to an increase in temperature of about 1 degree C from the CO2 greenhouse effect. There is no dispute here. No one has suggested that a 1 degree C of "forcing" would be catastrophic.

* In order to get to the 2 to 4 or more degrees C increase by 2100 as claimed by the IPCC, one has to invoke large positive feedbacks. For the case of the feedback by water vapor, as an example, the initial(CO2 induced) warming would generate an increase in atmospheric water vapor, a greenhouse gas, which itself will increase the temperature which, in turn, would generate more water vapor and so on. There are other feedbacks, most notably clouds, which combined with water vapor represent about 90% of the greenhouse effect. Contrary to what the Society’s Web site asserts, there was no (predicted) upper atmosphere signature found for water vapor feedback during the recent warming. The feedback from clouds is poorly understood as acknowledged by the IPCC. There is, however, accumulating evidence which suggests that the total feedback from all sources is zero or possibly negative (see for example, [10]). The evidence for the negative feedback case is substantially more persuasive than the IPCC assertion that it should be large and positive.

* The only case that the IPPC makes for AGW is that they can't think of anything else that could have caused the recent warming and that models can reproduce the warming. This reproduction is achieved by introducing arbitrary amounts of aerosols. These same models did not predict the recent 12 years of constant temperatures.

* Finally, there is an excellent correlation between the US postal rates since 1900 and global temperatures, [11]. Thus the assertions that AGW is responsible for the shrinking sheep of St Kilda or the vanishing snows of Kilimanjaro or any other alarmist pronouncements do not establish that the warming is man-made. This should be obvious to Fellows of the Royal Society, many of whom have used such correlations to support the existence of catastrophic AGW.

The case for catastrophic warming rests solely on the sign and magnitude of the feedbacks. As has been often said, “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence”. The potential of catastrophic AGW is an extraordinary claim, but is without compelling supporting evidence. Because of the way that the AGW issue has been politicized together with the behavior of certain climate scientists, the reputation of science and the institutions that support it have suffered. Further, were catastrophic AGW to join the dreary parade of alarms that have punctuated the recent history of affluent societies, the consequences to science and the Society could be severe. It may take a long time before reputations are restored. It is, therefore, imperative for the Society to stay away from politics and advocacy of AGW or any other science based issue, no matter how beguiling the prospect may seem.

Below is the opening paragraph of a joint statement (2005) by several academies including RS and NAS. This statement urges governments to take action on AGW. I have reviewed it for accuracy and balance, see round bracketed highlighted comments. This has been done in order to illustrate the unease and frustration that I am sure many Fellows feel when they read these official pronouncements.
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate (Correct, climate science is in its infancy). However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring (Is about 0.7 degrees C increase in 150 years evidence?). The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures (No warming has occurred for the last 12 years and the recent rate of warming is about the same as the rate of rise for the period 1920 to 1940 when greenhouse gases were increasing more slowly, [12]), and subsurface ocean temperatures(No warming has occurred for 8 years, at least, [13], and sea temperatures have been varying up and down for at least 50 years, [14]), and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels(No significant change in the rate of rise of sea levels has occurred for at least 100 years, [15] ), glaciers retreating (Glaciers have been retreating and some reforming since the Little Ice Age, at least, [16], and there is no persuasive evidence to suggest that the retreat is accelerating), and changes to many physical and biological systems(Which ones, the sheep of St Kilda?). It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities [IPCC 2001] (See above for this "evidence"). This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate (Climate is defined as more than 30 years of weather, so what are they trying to say? That 0.7 degree C or so rise in temperature is an indication of climate change?).

Similarly, the most recent Royal Society statement, issued jointly with the Met Office and NERC, is replete with misleading and inaccurate assertions, [17].

Finally, I note that the Society has enthusiastically endorsed the central recommendations of the Stern Review, [18]. As noted by William Nordhaus, "the (Stern) Review should be read primarily as a document that is political in nature and has advocacy as its purpose". Moreover, Nordhaus makes a persuasive case that Stern has not got the economic assumptions right, especially on the crucial question of economic "discounting", [19]. The Nordhaus argument, placed in a wider context, is given in, [20], where it is noted that when “Prudential Handicapping” is abandoned for the “Precautionary Principle” there are no guiding criteria for an impossibly expensive journey in the endless pursuit of a zero risk world. A recent assessment of these issues offers a prescription for dealing with climate change, from whatever source, that drastically differs from that advocated by the IPCC, Stern and by the Royal Society, [21]. These and other social science studies indicate that it would be wise for statements from the Society to stay strictly within the bounds of (physical) science.

I end with a quotation from Atte Korhola, a Professor of Environmental Change at the University of Helsinki:
When later generations learn about climate science, they will classify the beginning of the twenty-first century as an embarrassing chapter in the history of science. They will wonder about our time and use it as a warning of how core values and criteria of science were allowed little by little to be forgotten, as the actual research topic of climate change turned into a political and social playground.

This letter is being sent to Martin Rees and to John Pethica. I should be grateful if you were to pass it on to members of Council.


Brice Bosnich



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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