Friday, April 14, 2006

Climate of Fear: Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence

By Richard Lindzen (Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT)

There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred.

In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less--hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

So how is it that we don't have more scientists speaking up about this junk science? It's my belief that many scientists have been cowed not merely by money but by fear. An example: Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Joe Barton issued letters to paleoclimatologist Michael Mann and some of his co-authors seeking the details behind a taxpayer-funded analysis that claimed the 1990s were likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the last millennium. Mr. Barton's concern was based on the fact that the IPCC had singled out Mr. Mann's work as a means to encourage policy makers to take action. And they did so before his work could be replicated and tested--a task made difficult because Mr. Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to release the details for analysis. The scientific community's defense of Mr. Mann was, nonetheless, immediate and harsh. The president of the National Academy of Sciences--as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union--formally protested, saying that Rep. Barton's singling out of a scientist's work smacked of intimidation.

All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists--a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest. However, even when such papers are published, standards shift. When I, with some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an "Iris Effect," wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2.

Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as "discredited."

Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming--not whether it would actually happen.

Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.



Genetic engineering! Horrors! To bad about poor people dying.

A cheap and effective treatment for malaria could be available within a decade after scientists genetically engineered a form of yeast to make the key ingredient of the drug best able to fight the disease. The advance by a research team in the United States should reduce greatly the cost of manufacturing artemisinin, the most effective therapy for the world's second-most deadly infectious disease.

Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), in which the drug is given in combination with older anti-malarial treatments, are recommended by the World Health Organisation as the best way of fighting malaria. But the cost places them beyond the means of many of the developing countries where malaria is most prevalent.

At present, artemisinin can be made only by using an acid extracted from the sweet wormwood plant, Artemisia annua, which is grown in China. The raw material is expensive, raising the cost of a dose of ACT to about œ1.35 per person. By producing artemisinic acid, the key precursor of artemisinin, artifically from genetically modified yeast or bacteria, the researchers hope that they will eventually be able to reduce the cost to as little as 14p per dose, making it more widely available in poor countries.

Malaria kills more people than any infection other than HIV/Aids, with an annual death toll estimated at between 1 million and 2.7 million. It infects between 300 million and 500 million a year, chiefly in Africa.

The new strain of yeast has been engineered by a team led by Jay Keasling, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, which discovered two years ago that it was possible to modify microbes to make artemisinic acid. The yeast, details of which are published today in the journal Nature, is an efficient producer of the acid and should allow scientists to sidestep expensive laboratory processes needed at present to synthesise artemisinin...

It will probably take five to ten years to develop the yeast as a large-scale producer of artemisinic acid. The work, which also involves Amyris Biotechnologies, a California-based company, is supported by a $43 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

More here


The European Commission has opened the process necessary to fine Spain for not fulfilling two of the commitments it acquired when it signed the Kyoto protocol. Spain promised to inform Brussels before January 15 about the amount of greenhouse gases it emitted in 2004, and about the amount of emissions it will be permitted between 2008 and 2012; it has not done so. The environmental ministry chalked up the delay to "exceptional difficulties" in gathering the data.

Spain, Luxembourg, Italy, and Germany have not turned over their emissions data for 2004 to the EC. The EU had promised to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 8% between 1990 and 2004, with different requirements for each of its member countries. Spain had permission to increase its carbon dioxide emissions by 15%. However, as of 2003, Spain's emissions had increased by almost 41% compared with 1990.

In a report filed with the United Nations, the Spanish environmental ministry predicted that in 2010, Spain's carbon dioxide emissions would have increased by 49% over 1990. The Kyoto protocol is supposedly to go into effect between 2008 and 2012, and Spain will be unable to meet its commitments. Doing so would cost at least EUR20 billion, at least 600,000 jobs, and two percentage points of inflation, not counting the companies that would move to countries where environmental restrictions are less costly.

Spain Herald, 11 April 2006


I guess the 60 climate experts who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week imploring him to "examine the scientific foundation of the federal government's climate-change plans" hadn't read Time magazine's declaration in last week's special edition that "the debate over climate change is over." Instead of debate, Time (and many other media heavyweights including ABC, USA Today and CNN) is advising us to "Be Worried, Be Very Worried."

Personally, I am worried. Like the 60 scientists who signed the letter to Mr. Harper, I am worried that, "much of the billions of dollars earmarked for implementation of the [Kyoto] Protocol in Canada will be squandered without a proper assessment of recent developments in climate science." That fear is well-founded, given that our own bureaucrats admitted that the $4 billion spent between 1998 and 2003 on climate change and our plan to meet our commitments outlined in the Kyoto accord was wasted.

Before you think of adding to the 327 hate mails I've received for stating on numerous occasions that Kyoto was a farce, consider that a couple of weeks ago Tom Axworthy, co-chair of a Liberal party renewal commission, summed up the government's climate-change plan by saying it was difficult to understand, but that didn't matter because his party's Kyoto plan "wasn't real anyways." Last September, one of Kyoto's main proponents, Tony Blair, declared that for all practical purposes the accord was dead because "no country was going to cut its growth." The Canadian record lends credence to that observation given that, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, we are 30-per-cent away from meeting our Kyoto commitments.

By exempting both the auto and petroleum industries from its Kyoto plans, the government was clearly not interested in implementing a plan that the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation estimated would cost the average Canadian household $3,000 a year for what even proponents of Kyoto admit would yield little progress.

I have no idea whether I should file my concerns over global warming beside my Y2K survival kit, my SARS epidemic face mask, and my avian flu pamphlet. But I do know that there is no scientific consensus as to humanity's impact on climate change. I don't need to be a climate expert to notice the thousands of signatories from the scientific community who declared in the Oregon Petition that "there is no convincing evidence" of the impact of human activities on climate change.

Last year, I noted that the vice-president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Yury Izrael, was quoted in the online Media Monitor that "there is no proven link between human activity and global warming." I'm also aware that the data behind the famous hockey-stick graph used by so many global warming proponents has now been shown to be deeply flawed, and more importantly was never properly checked by members of the peer-review panels.

I admit that I smiled last week when I read syndicated columnist George Wills reminder that in 1975 the New York Times declared that "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" as he recited the conventional wisdom of the time. It's hardly a surprise -- given that I've been skeptical of the one-sided coverage the topic has received -- that I would welcome the federal government "convening open, unbiased consultations [so that] Canadians will be permitted to hear from experts on both sides of the debate," as the 60 signatories of the open letter to Mr. Harper suggest, before billions of dollars more are wasted.

Vancouver Sun, 8 April 2006


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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