The secret society of Warmists
The climate scientists who advise our politicians are so sure they are right that it is impossible to have any serious dialogue with them
In this week's Spectator Diary, Lord (Nigel) Lawson, chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, partly lifts the veil on a curious "secret meeting" held at the House of Lords between a team from his GWPF and six scientists from the Royal Society. This arose from a bizarre personal attack made on Lord Lawson as a "climate denier" at an Australian university, by the Royal Society's president, Sir Paul Nurse - a geneticist who has publicly shown that he knows little about climate science, but who believes that rising CO2 is disastrously causing the world to warm. After Lawson pointed out to Nurse that his attack was factually inaccurate, Nurse offered to send some of his "experts" to put the GWPF straight on science.
The society insisted that the meeting be shrouded in secrecy; not even the names of those present were to be revealed. What might have surprised it was the calibre of the scientific team the GWPF was able to muster, including three fellows of the Royal Society itself, and Dr Richard Lindzen, the world's most distinguished atmospheric physicist. Although the GWPF has in general scrupulously observed the "Chatham House rule" that the society imposed on the meeting, we can piece together something of how it went.
Nurse's team, led by Sir Brian Hoskins of the Grantham Institute, who also sits on the climate change committee advising the Government on policy, trotted out all the familiar arguments for the orthodoxy, including several "hockey stick" graphs to show global temperatures now soaring to levels unknown for thousands of years. They threw in some of the scare stories warmists have come up with to counter evidence that for 15 years temperatures have failed to rise as their computer models predicted, such as that "the oceans are acidifying" and that there has been a dramatic increase in "extreme weather events" (neither claim is true).
As one present put it, "it was like talking to members of a cult". What particularly struck the GWPF team was their opposite numbers' refusal to discuss the policy implications of their beliefs, even though Hoskins is a leading member of the "independent" committee which advises the Government on its increasingly disastrous and futile "low carbon" energy policy. In short, the meeting seemed perfectly to exemplify the real mess we are in, where the officially approved scientists who advise our politicians are so sure they are right that it is impossible to have any serious dialogue with them.
The new anti-Darwinians
Written by Dr. Vincent Gray
Until the middle of the 19th century everybody believed that the earth was static and unchanging, interrupted by earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters, caused; usually by Gods, but after which the earth returned to its original static state.
It was the developments of the science of geology by Hutton and Lyall that changed this picture. They showed that the earth is in a constant state of change. Many of the rocks are formed from deposits made in previous history. In addition they contain remains of organisms that had lived at the time they had been deposited.Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, who joined captain Robert Fitzroy in a voyage around the world in HMS Beagle in 1831, was an enthusiastic naturalist who had also studied the new geology. He took the first volume of Lyall's "Principles of Geology" with him on the voyage and picked up the second volume at Valparaiso during the trip.
It became obvious to him that the remains of early living organisms in geological strata were often very different from those alive today, so there must be an evolutionary change over time.
The concept of "Climate Change" promoted by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) denies the existence of evolution. They believe in the old Medieval concept of an unchanging static world, affected only by "Natural Variability" which can only be "changed" by human greenhouse gas emissions.
Evolution of living organisms means their ever changing interaction in every place at every level. This process was called "Ecology" by Ernst Haeckel.
Environmental "Ecologists" treat the whole world as a collection of static "ecosystems" - regions where the organisms are uniformly distributed. They believe that there is a moral virtue in their largest possible variety; in "biodiversity." Both these concepts are unknown to evolutionary theory.
Evolution is also diametrically opposed to the concept of "sustainability." Evolution happens, it cannot be stopped or reversed. The only sensible policy is adaptation.
Darwin tried to find a cause for the changes in living organisms over time. He had noticed that the offspring of many organisms were often not identical with one another and also too numerous for all of them to survive. The next generation would consist of those who were more successful in coping with their current, changed circumstances; the "survival of the fittest." Each generation would be different from the last one and over sufficient time would explain the observed changes.
Darwin was unable to explain how it worked. Now we know that the mechanism is controlled by genetic changes in the DNA of each organism.
The evidence that organisms evolve and that the mechanism is selection of favourable genes is overwhelming and most professional biologists purport to agree that this is so and routinely honour the memory and work of Charles Darwin. But very few are prepared to accept the full implications of these two theories.
Darwin himself was unwilling to accept some of them and his mistakes have been subsequently copied by many others.
Since the evolution of humans has occurred in the same way as all organisms humans cannot claim special privileges. There is thus no scientific basis for the existence of a superior being providing privileges to humans alone, not available to the others. There is no scientific basis for any religious belief.
Darwin had a degree in theology and had prepared for service as a country parson. His wife was an enthusiastic Christian who worried that her husband was losing his faith.
Darwin struggled all his life with this dilemma and it was only in his last work, his autobiography, that he tackled it head on and confessed that he was "agnostic;" which means that he was not sure, despite the certainty of his theories.
His confession so horrified his family that they censored his autobiography. His true opinions were only made known when the uncensored book was published by his granddaughter, Nora Barlow as late as 1958.
A belief in some form of religion is part of the emotional apparatus which binds humans to their particular society. Even many scientists try to make the excuse that religion can be an explanation for that part of their knowledge of which they are ignorant, thus preventing further research.
Darwin's second mistake was to assume that humans were in some ways different from all oher organisms. He expressed this difference by the very mechanism of evolution - of SELECTION. The process of selection from a set of offspring contending for survival can cover the spectrum of complete accident (such as the luck to survive a disaster) to deliberate measures to obtain an advantage. There is no need for a distinction between different organisms. Yet Darwin chose to make a distinction between NATURAL SELECTION and ARTIFICIAL Selection. Implying that Darwinian selection carried out by humans is different or superior to selection that occurs with non humans.
The Environmental Movement goes way beyond this departure from evolutionary science by claiming that humans are not only superior to other creatures but ara also responsible for them.
Darwin went to a great deal of trouble to explain that the hierarchical classification system which is used to classify organisms is arbitrary, based on personal opinions of taxonomists.
In his most influential book "The Origin of Species" he showed that the particular classification level "species" is not the sacred unchanging category believed by the originator of the term, Carl Linnaeus but it depends entirely on what characteristics are chosen to distinguish one species from another. The choice may be different for different groups of organism in different periods and places and it can even depend on similarities of DNA instead of physical characteristics.
Environmentalists regard every organism that at one time or another has been given a species name by a taxonomist as sacred. It must never be permitted to evolve or become extinct, but must often be considered as "endangered", preserved forever, or "conserved."
The IPCC Climate Models and the Environmental Delusions that inspired it not only contravene basic principles of physics and mathematics. They are also at odds with the basic principles of biological science.
Green Energy Could Kill Britain's Economy
The Chancellor is to knock £50 off the average energy bill by replacing some green levies with general taxation and extending the timescale for rolling out others. On the face of it, the possibility that global energy prices may start to fall over the next few years might seem like good political news for him, and some of the chicken entrails do seem to be pointing in that direction. There is, however, a political danger to George Osborne in such trends .
For Government strategists reeling from the twin blows of Ed Miliband's economically illiterate but politically astute promise of an energy bill freeze and the energy companies' price hikes, the prospect of lower wholesale energy prices might seem heaven sent. But in many ways it only exacerbates their problems, for the Government is right now fixing the prices we will have to pay for nuclear, wind and biomass power for decades to come. And it is fixing those prices at quite a high level.
The more that oil, gas and coal prices drop, the worse these deals look and the more they threaten our economic competitiveness. The Liberal Democrats have not allowed the Chancellor to cut subsidies for the renewable energy industry, the most regressive redistribution of wealth since the Sheriff of Nottingham was in his pomp.
They argue that what has driven energy bills up threefold in ten years is mainly an increase in the wholesale price of energy, rather than any great lurch towards subsidising renewables. True, but most of the lurch is yet to come and as wind power capacity quadruples by 2020, it will add £400 to average bills - not to mention driving up the price of energy to industry, which will pass it on to consumers.
"There is not a low-cost energy future out there," said Ed Miliband when Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in 2009, at the time an enthusiast for discouraging energy use by price rises. It even became fashionable to argue, when Chris Huhne filled that post, that higher prices would cut bills (yes, you read that right) by encouraging people to use less power.
Anyhow, the forces that have driven energy prices up in recent years appear to be fading. Consider some of the reasons that oil and gas prices rose in 2011, the year energy companies pushed up prices even more than this year. Japan suffered a terrible tsunami, shut down its nuclear industry and began scouring the world for gas imports to keep its lights on. At about the same time Libya was plunged into civil war, cutting off a key supplier of gas. Add in simmering tension over Iran, Germany's sudden decision to turn its back on nuclear power, the legacy of a couple of cold winters and the lingering depressive effect on oil and gas exploration of low energy prices from much of the previous decade, and it is little surprise that oil and gas producers pushed up prices.
Contrast that with today. Several years of high prices have driven a surge of new exploration. Deep offshore technology is advancing rapidly and huge gas fields have been found in the Mediterranean and in the Indian and Atlantic oceans. In the United States, the shale revolution has glutted both gas and oil markets, displacing imports. Iran is coming in from the cold, Libya is back on stream and Australia is preparing to export huge volumes of gas. Should the rest of the world start producing shale gas - China, Argentina, Poland and others are on the brink, even Britain might one day deign to join them - that would further add to supply.
A decade is a long time in energy policy. Ten years ago, no less an oracle than Alan Greenspan told Congress: "Today's tight natural gas markets have been a long time in coming, and distant futures prices suggest that we are not apt to return to earlier periods of relative abundance and low prices anytime soon." Abundance and low prices are exactly what America now has: so much so that it is using gas instead of coal to provide base-load electricity, investing heavily in manufacturing and chemical industry, and shifting some of its road transport from oil to gas. By 2020, shale gas will have boosted the American economy by £500 billion, 3 per cent of GDP and 1.7 million jobs, according to McKinsey Global Institute.
Meanwhile, the argument that the running out of fossil fuels is what has been driving up prices has been proven once again, for the third time in my lifetime, to be bunk. America, the most explored and depleted oil and gas field in the world, is now increasing its oil and gas production at such a rate of knots that it is heading towards self-sufficiency. If an oil field as gigantic as the Eagle Ford can be found (through technological innovation) in Texas, think how much awaits explorers in the rest of the world. Even five years ago, gas was thought likely to be the first of the fossil fuels to run out. Nobody thinks that now.
At least nobody outside Whitehall. As Professor Dieter Helm told a House of Lords committee last month: "I think one should be very sceptical about this Government and the last Government embarking on policies that require them to assume that the oil and gas prices are going to go up and then pursuing those policies and not being willing to contemplate the consequence of that not being the case." According to Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital, the recent "strike price" deal with EDF to build a nuclear power station at Hinckley Point in Somerset will only look good value to consumers if gas prices more than double by 2023.
Suppose, instead, world energy prices come down, even as the cost of subsidising renewables and nuclear starts to bite. We will have rising energy bills while the rest of the world has falling ones. That is a recipe for job destruction.
One of my favourite charts - I know, I should get out more - comes from Professor Robert Allen of the University of Oxford. It shows the cost of energy, as measured in grammes of silver per million BTUs, in various world cities in the early 1700s. Newcastle stands out like a sore thumb, with energy costs much lower than London and Amsterdam, and far lower than Paris and Beijing. The average Chinese paid roughly 20 times more for heat than the average Geordie. This meant that turning heat into work (via steam engines) throughout the north of England was profitable. In China, by contrast, it made more sense to employ lots of people, on low wages . The result was an industrial revolution in Britain with innovation and rising living standards and an "industrious" revolution in China (and Japan) with falling living standards.
Affordable energy is the indispensable lifeblood of economic growth. Back in 2011, David Cameron was warned by an adviser that electricity, gas and petrol prices were of much greater concern to voters than any other issue, including the NHS, unemployment, public sector cuts and crime. If subsidies for windmills prevent us from passing on any future falls in gas and oil prices, and jobs flee to lower-cost countries, the voters will not be forgiving.
Climate Expert von Storch: Why Is Global Warming Stagnating?
Climate experts have long predicted that temperatures would rise in parallel with greenhouse gas emissions. But, for 15 years, they haven't. In a SPIEGEL interview, meteorologist Hans von Storch discusses how this "puzzle" might force scientists to alter what could be "fundamentally wrong" models
SPIEGEL: Mr. Storch, Germany has recently seen major flooding. Is global warming the culprit?
Storch: I'm not aware of any studies showing that floods happen more often today than in the past. I also just attended a hydrologists' conference in Koblenz, and none of the scientists there described such a finding.
SPIEGEL: But don't climate simulations for Germany's latitudes predict that, as temperatures rise, there will be less, not more, rain in the summers?
Storch: That only appears to be contradictory. We actually do expect there to be less total precipitation during the summer months. But there may be more extreme weather events, in which a great deal of rain falls from the sky within a short span of time. But since there has been only moderate global warming so far, climate change shouldn't be playing a major role in any case yet.
SPIEGEL: Would you say that people no longer reflexively attribute every severe weather event to global warming as much as they once did?
Storch: Yes, my impression is that there is less hysteria over the climate. There are certainly still people who almost ritualistically cry, "Stop thief! Climate change is at fault!" over any natural disaster. But people are now talking much more about the likely causes of flooding, such as land being paved over or the disappearance of natural flood zones -- and that's a good thing.
SPIEGEL: Will the greenhouse effect be an issue in the upcoming German parliamentary elections? Singer Marius Müller-Westernhagen is leading a celebrity initiative calling for the addition of climate protection as a national policy objective in the German constitution.
Storch: It's a strange idea. What state of the Earth's atmosphere do we want to protect, and in what way? And what might happen as a result? Are we going to declare war on China if the country emits too much CO2 into the air and thereby violates our constitution?
SPIEGEL: Yet it was climate researchers, with their apocalyptic warnings, who gave people these ideas in the first place.
Storch: Unfortunately, some scientists behave like preachers, delivering sermons to people. What this approach ignores is the fact that there are many threats in our world that must be weighed against one another. If I'm driving my car and find myself speeding toward an obstacle, I can't simple yank the wheel to the side without first checking to see if I'll instead be driving straight into a crowd of people. Climate researchers cannot and should not take this process of weighing different factors out of the hands of politics and society.
SPIEGEL: Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, outside Berlin, is currently Chancellor Angela Merkel's climate adviser. Why does she need one?
Storch: I've never been chancellor myself. But I do think it would be unwise of Merkel to listen to just a single scientist. Climate research is made up of far too many different voices for that. Personally, though, I don't believe the chancellor has delved deeply into the subject. If she had, she would know that there are other perspectives besides those held by her environmental policy administrators.
SPIEGEL: Just since the turn of the millennium, humanity has emitted another 400 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, yet temperatures haven't risen in nearly 15 years. What can explain this?
Storch: So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We're facing a puzzle. Recent CO2 emissions have actually risen even more steeply than we feared. As a result, according to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 10 years. That hasn't happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) -- a value very close to zero. This is a serious scientific problem that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will have to confront when it presents its next Assessment Report late next year.
SPIEGEL: Do the computer models with which physicists simulate the future climate ever show the sort of long standstill in temperature change that we're observing right now?
Storch: Yes, but only extremely rarely. At my institute, we analyzed how often such a 15-year stagnation in global warming occurred in the simulations. The answer was: in under 2 percent of all the times we ran the simulation. In other words, over 98 percent of forecasts show CO2 emissions as high as we have had in recent years leading to more of a temperature increase.
SPIEGEL: How long will it still be possible to reconcile such a pause in global warming with established climate forecasts?
Storch: If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models. A 20-year pause in global warming does not occur in a single modeled scenario. But even today, we are finding it very difficult to reconcile actual temperature trends with our expectations.
SPIEGEL: What could be wrong with the models?
Storch: There are two conceivable explanations -- and neither is very pleasant for us. The first possibility is that less global warming is occurring than expected because greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have less of an effect than we have assumed. This wouldn't mean that there is no man-made greenhouse effect, but simply that our effect on climate events is not as great as we have believed. The other possibility is that, in our simulations, we have underestimated how much the climate fluctuates owing to natural causes.
SPIEGEL: That sounds quite embarrassing for your profession, if you have to go back and adjust your models to fit with reality…
Storch: Why? That's how the process of scientific discovery works. There is no last word in research, and that includes climate research. It's never the truth that we offer, but only our best possible approximation of reality. But that often gets forgotten in the way the public perceives and describes our work.
SPIEGEL: But it has been climate researchers themselves who have feigned a degree of certainty even though it doesn't actually exist. For example, the IPCC announced with 95 percent certainty that humans contribute to climate change.
Storch: And there are good reasons for that statement. We could no longer explain the considerable rise in global temperatures observed between the early 1970s and the late 1990s with natural causes. My team at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg, was able to provide evidence in 1995 of humans' influence on climate events. Of course, that evidence presupposed that we had correctly assessed the amount of natural climate fluctuation. Now that we have a new development, we may need to make adjustments.
SPIEGEL: In which areas do you need to improve the models?
Storch: Among other things, there is evidence that the oceans have absorbed more heat than we initially calculated. Temperatures at depths greater than 700 meters (2,300 feet) appear to have increased more than ever before. The only unfortunate thing is that our simulations failed to predict this effect.
SPIEGEL: That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Storch: Certainly the greatest mistake of climate researchers has been giving the impression that they are declaring the definitive truth. The end result is foolishness along the lines of the climate protection brochures recently published by Germany's Federal Environmental Agency under the title "Sie erwärmt sich doch" ("The Earth is getting warmer"). Pamphlets like that aren't going to convince any skeptics. It's not a bad thing to make mistakes and have to correct them. The only thing that was bad was acting beforehand as if we were infallible. By doing so, we have gambled away the most important asset we have as scientists: the public's trust. We went through something similar with deforestation, too -- and then we didn't hear much about the topic for a long time.
SPIEGEL: Does this throw the entire theory of global warming into doubt?
Storch: I don't believe so. We still have compelling evidence of a man-made greenhouse effect. There is very little doubt about it. But if global warming continues to stagnate, doubts will obviously grow stronger.
SPIEGEL: Do scientists still predict that sea levels will rise?
Storch: In principle, yes. Unfortunately, though, our simulations aren't yet capable of showing whether and how fast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will melt -- and that is a very significant factor in how much sea levels will actually rise. For this reason, the IPCC's predictions have been conservative. And, considering the uncertainties, I think this is correct.
SPIEGEL: And how good are the long-term forecasts concerning temperature and precipitation?
Storch: Those are also still difficult. For example, according to the models, the Mediterranean region will grow drier all year round. At the moment, however, there is actually more rain there in the fall months than there used to be. We will need to observe further developments closely in the coming years. Temperature increases are also very much dependent on clouds, which can both amplify and mitigate the greenhouse effect. For as long as I've been working in this field, for over 30 years, there has unfortunately been very little progress made in the simulation of clouds.
SPIEGEL: Despite all these problem areas, do you still believe global warming will continue?
Storch: Yes, we are certainly going to see an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or more -- and by the end of this century, mind you. That's what my instinct tells me, since I don't know exactly how emission levels will develop. Other climate researchers might have a different instinct. Our models certainly include a great number of highly subjective assumptions. Natural science is also a social process, and one far more influenced by the spirit of the times than non-scientists can imagine. You can expect many more surprises.
SPIEGEL: What exactly are politicians supposed to do with such vague predictions?
Storch: Whether it ends up being one, two or three degrees, the exact figure is ultimately not the important thing. Quite apart from our climate simulations, there is a general societal consensus that we should be more conservative with fossil fuels. Also, the more serious effects of climate change won't affect us for at least 30 years. We have enough time to prepare ourselves.
SPIEGEL: In a SPIEGEL interview 10 years ago, you said, "We need to allay people's fear of climate change." You also said, "We'll manage this." At the time, you were harshly criticized for these comments. Do you still take such a laidback stance toward global warming?
Storch: Yes, I do. I was accused of believing it was unnecessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is not the case. I simply meant that it is no longer possible in any case to completely prevent further warming, and thus it would be wise of us to prepare for the inevitable, for example by building higher ocean dikes. And I have the impression that I'm no longer quite as alone in having this opinion as I was then. The climate debate is no longer an all-or-nothing debate -- except perhaps in the case of colleagues such as a certain employee of Schellnhuber's, whose verbal attacks against anyone who expresses doubt continue to breathe new life into the climate change denial camp.
SPIEGEL: Are there findings related to global warming that worry you?
Storch: The potential acidification of the oceans due to CO2 entering them from the atmosphere. This is a phenomenon that seems sinister to me, perhaps in part because I understand too little about it. But if marine animals are no longer able to form shells and skeletons well, it will affect nutrient cycles in the oceans. And that certainly makes me nervous.
David Viner Gets It Wrong Again
By Paul Homewood
He had us all falling about in our seats with his epic "snow is just a thing of the past" routine.
And we were rolling around on the floor when he claimed that "continental tourists would be flocking to Blackpool for their holidays to enjoy the mediterranean climate there."
So it will come as no surprise to find that our favourite junk scientist came up with this gem back in 2006, in the Guardian:
Dr Viner added that Britain could experience more dramatic and unpredictable weather in the future, including tornados.
“We saw a tornado in Birmingham last year and I think generally we are likely to see an increase in localised, unforecastable and unpredictable weather.
Fortunately, we have the ever sensible meteorologist, Philip Eden, to tell us the real story. From the Sunday Telegraph:
Unfortunately, the Telegraph never put his articles on line, but he points out that, back in the 1950′s most meteorologists did not believe that tornadoes occurred in Britain. He goes on.
According to the TORRO website, the UK gets about 35 to 40 tornadoes a year, but this number will increase "with the improved communications and a growing network of TORRO reporters."
It is also worth pointing out that, according to NOAA, "In fact, the United Kingdom has more tornadoes, relative to its land area, than any other country. Fortunately, most UK tornadoes are relatively weak."
So, next time you hear a junk scientists making up claims about tornadoes, suggest that they check the facts first
First Climate Change Refugee Appeal Officially Rejected
Townhall covered a Pacific Islander's attempt to become the first climate change refugee and avoid deportation from New Zealand. It's official: the High Court described the appeal as "novel," but ultimately inadequate. If you missed the original story, here is the background:
France 24 reports that the man, Ioane Teitiota, is currently appealing the New Zealand High Court's decision to refuse him refugee status on the basis of climate change predictions.
Teitiota, 37, has had three children in New Zealand and argues that returning to Kiribati would endanger his family:
"There's no future for us when we go back to Kiribati," he told the appeal tribunal, adding that a return would pose a risk to his children's health. ... "Fresh water is a basic human right ... the Kiribati government is unable, and perhaps unwilling, to guarantee these things because it's completely beyond their control," [his lawyer] told Radio New Zealand.
Thankfully, this case is finally closed (assuming he doesn't attempt to appeal the ruling on his appeal - a futile exercise). He and his family will likely be deported to his home in Kiribati soon.
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the whole affair is that, despite thwarting Teitiota's attempt, both New Zealand and Kiribati have taken UN climate change warnings very seriously and are taking pre-emptive action. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Worries over the impact of rising sea levels prompted the Kiribati government to buy 6,000 acres of land in neighboring Fiji this year to grow food and potentially resettle some of its 100,000 people if the country were to become uninhabitable.
Last month, the United Nations reiterated in a landmark report that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal," saying that air and oceans are getting warmer, ice and snow are less plentiful and sea levels are rising. New Zealand has made tackling climate change an environmental priority, and rolled out an emissions-trading program in 2011.
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