Wednesday, June 06, 2007

They call this a consensus?

"Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled." So said Al Gore ... in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren't sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn't think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.

Today, Al Gore is making the same claims of a scientific consensus, as do the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of government agencies and environmental groups around the world. But the claims of a scientific consensus remain unsubstantiated. They have only become louder and more frequent.

More than six months ago, I began writing this series, The Deniers. When I began, I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies.

My series set out to profile the dissenters -- those who deny that the science is settled on climate change -- and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world's premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop -- the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

What of the one claim that we hear over and over again, that 2,000 or 2,500 of the world's top scientists endorse the IPCC position? I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. "The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world," the IPCC Secretariat responded. "The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007."

An IPCC reviewer does not assess the IPCC's comprehensive findings. He might only review one small part of one study that later becomes one small input to the published IPCC report. Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.

A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.

Such diversity of views is also present in the wider scientific community, as seen in the World Federation of Scientists, an organization formed during the Cold War to encourage dialogue among scientists to prevent nuclear catastrophe. The federation, which encompasses many of the world's most eminent scientists and today represents more than 10,000 scientists, now focuses on 15 "planetary emergencies," among them water, soil, food, medicine and biotechnology, and climatic changes. Within climatic changes, there are eight priorities, one being "Possible human influences on climate and on atmospheric composition and chemistry (e.g. increased greenhouse gases and tropospheric ozone)."

Man-made global warming deserves study, the World Federation of Scientists believes, but so do other serious climatic concerns. So do 14 other planetary emergencies. That seems about right.


India in blow to G8 hopes on climate

INDIA has dealt an early blow to hopes that this week's G8 summit will set new greenhouse gas reduction targets, declaring yesterday that it will neither accept a binding emissions cap nor agree to curbs that stunt its economic growth.

Following weekend talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil's visiting President Lula de Silva on how to deal with climate change, Indian officials insisted yesterday they would not allow environmental policies to imperil plans to improve the lot of the country's impoverished masses. "We are willing to work in partnership in this process to cut emissions but we cannot accept equal responsibility (for the global mess caused by the industrialised nations)," an Indian official said.

India is one of the world's top polluters, ranked fourth behind the US, China and Russia. However, like China, it argues that the industrialised world is to blame for global warming and must bear the burden of reversing it.

Neither India nor Brazil are members of the G8 but are among five nations invited to the summit at which German Chancellor and current G8 president Angela Merkel will seek agreement for a global reduction in emissions to50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. China, Mexico and South Africa are the three other non-G8 member states invited to the summit. China and India, with their booming economies and projections for growth, are seen as crucial to any agreement.

But India maintains that its commitment to improving the lot of its people must take precedent over any imperative to help clean up the global mess caused by the world's industrialised nations. With more than 40 per cent of its 1.1 billion people surviving on less than a dollar a day, it is estimated that, if India can maintain current annual growth rates of about 10 per cent, it will still take about 25 years to end poverty.

The country's top environmental official, Pradipto Ghosh, said yesterday that "legally mandated measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are likely to have significant adverse effects on the GDP growth of developing countries, including India". Dr Ghosh added that plans to cut back on greenhouse gases could also have "serious implications for our poverty-alleviation programs: this is not the path we want to pursue".



China has said an EU proposal seeking to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius did not have scientific backing and it needed to be studied before it was used to set policy. Ma Kai, director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, which steers climate change policy, told reporters that the EU proposal had not been subjected to proper study. "I fear this lacks a scientific basis," he said of the EU's proposed goal.

China says its response to the threats of climate change must give overriding priority to economic development as the nation seeks to balance ambitions for growth with fears of environmental calamity. The remarks came in China's first national plan on climate change, which sets out the country's broad policies on global warming and greenhouse gas pollution. "The first and overriding priorities of developing countries are sustainable development and poverty eradication," the plan states. "China will continue to actively tackle climate change issues in accordance with its national sustainable development strategy in the future."

The unveiling of Beijing's broad blueprint comes two days before President Hu Jintao attends a meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Germany at which global warming will feature. His country is facing international pressure to spell out targets for taming greenhouse gas emissions, which are trapping more heat in the atmosphere and threatening dangerous climate change.

International contention over emissions is set to intensify as negotiations open on extending a UN treaty on global warming and emissions beyond 2012, when the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol ends. China and other developing countries signed that treaty, but under current rules they do not have to set goals for emissions. Beijing is willing to strengthen international cooperation on climate change, but any regional cooperation should "complement" the Kyoto Protocol, the UN-sponsored treaty, the Chinese plan says.

US President George W Bush has signalled that he might seek an international agreement on the issue outside the Kyoto framework. "Regional cooperation on climate change, in any form, should function as a helpful complement to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol rather than replacing or weakening them," China's plan states, referring to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto's parent treaty.



Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has flatly rejected President Bush's proposals for parallel global negotiations to combat climate change, insisting that countries come to agreement at the United Nations, and not under US leadership. In a rare interview with a British newspaper, President Lula told the Guardian that Brazil, a fast developing country whose support is critical to a global deal on emission cuts, had not even been informed that Mr Bush was contemplating a new negotiating framework, before the US president made his announcement last Thursday. "The Brazilian position is clear cut," Mr Lula said. "I cannot accept the idea that we have to build another group to discuss the same issues that were discussed in Kyoto and not fulfilled. "If you have a multilateral forum [the UN] that makes a democratic decision ... then we should work to abide by those rules [rather than] simply to say that I do not agree with Kyoto and that I will develop another institution," said Mr Lula, who was in London to watch Friday's England-Brazil international football friendly.



As Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks to convince world leaders to cut greenhouse gases at a G8 summit this week, one of the biggest brown coal-fired power plants ever built is taking shape in this depressed town. Hosting the Group of Eight summit in Heiligendamm, Germany may see itself as a guardian of the environment and sometimes wags a green finger at the rest of the world's efforts to tackle global warming. But residents of this eastern town, where the population has halved since 1990, are delighted by the plant and by a plan to fuel it by re-opening an opencast pit which closed eight years ago.

The plant on the outskirts of Boxberg near the Polish border will emit 4.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year -- as much as 1.5 million cars -- and is one of 26 coal-burning plants due to be built in Germany. "Everyone here is in favor of the new power plant," said Boxberg mayor Roland Trunsch. "The town would have died without it. People went out to protest in the streets to get it built. The CO2 doesn't bother any of us. The jobs are more important."



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 generally 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

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


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