Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Below is the introduction to a recent talk given by Prof. Richard S. Lindzen [rlindzen@MIT.EDU]. It explains what is wrong with the BBC spin (See following below). Full talk not yet available online. Excerpt received from Prof. Lindzen via Benny Peiser

Confusion is at the heart of global warming alarm. That intrinsically complicates any serious analysis of the issue. The following illustrates what I mean. Recently, a court in the UK required that mandatory presentations of Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" be accompanied by critiques of its inaccuracies and exaggerations. Here is an example:

Al Gore: A sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland "in the near future".

The judge's finding: "This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore's "wake-up call". It was common ground that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia."

Gore's response is revealing.

Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made "the most important and salient points" about climate change, if not "some nuances and distinctions" scientists might want. "The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger," he said, adding, "I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand."

"Of course," he said, "there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions." He said "not every single adviser" agreed with him on every point, "but we do agree on the fundamentals - that warming is real and caused by humans."

As I will show, the point of agreement, as concerns attribution, is dubious at best. However, the point of agreement also has no discernible connection to the alarm (which Gore presumably considers a "nuance").

While it is interesting to debunk the attribution, it also serves to suggest to the listener that the point implies the alarmism. It most certainly does not. In many respects, communicating this profound disconnect may be more important than explaining the underlying science. However, science is essential for understanding this disconnect.

Although it is true that the validity of various claims does not imply alarm, if these claims are false, it does imply that the association of alarm with greenhouse gas emissions is baseless.

Alarm may, in fact, be warranted, since disasters do occur. Only the connection with greenhouse warming is being challenged. However, in the absence of greenhouse concerns, the response to any alarm is almost certainly going to be different. Hopefully, this introduction will sensitize you to the plethora of non sequiturs that characterize the discourse on this issue. The preceding barely scratches the surface. Several more examples will be noted in this talk.

Harrabin of the BBC replies

On 14th., I reproduced an internal BBC memo from Roger Harrabin, which put the best possible "spin" on the verdict against Al Gore's movie by the British High Court. The memo was originally circulated by Benny Peiser and Harrabin has now replied to Benny in defence of his memo by drawing attention to the article by him below. He seems to think that the article shows him as a man of balance, despite outright lies such as "the ever-dwindling band of sceptics" and his typically Leftist attack on the motivations and funding of Stuart Dimmock. Leftist are absolute devotees of "ad hominem" arguments, despite their logical irrelevance

The heat and light in global warming

By Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst

I have spent much of the last two decades of my journalistic life warning about the potential dangers of climate change, but when I first watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth I felt a flutter of unease. Not because the central message - that climate change is happening and almost certainly caused by mankind - is untrue; but because in several points of the film, Mr Gore simply goes too far by asserting or implying facts that are contentious. This leaves the film open to attack by the ever-dwindling band of sceptics who do not want to accept that climate change is anything to do with humans, and indeed a successful attack is exactly what has happened in the UK.

Because although Mr Justice Burton agreed in Wednesday's High Court ruling that An Inconvenient Truth is mainly based on consensus science, his judgement will be trumpeted more for finding that the film was studded with green "errors". The judge listed nine areas where Mr Gore had swayed from the scientific consensus position, and it was the "errors" that made the headlines in the media.

The man who brought the complaint, Stuart Dimmock, expressed his delight that this "shockumentary" had been exposed. Mr Dimmock is a member of the "New Party", apparently funded by a businessman with a strong dislike of environmentalists and drink-drive laws. When asked on the BBC's World Tonight programme who had under-written his court costs, he paused long and loud before saying that "someone on the internet" had offered him support.

It always looked likely that Mr Dimmock would make some headway with his court case because, as the judge observed, when the film was first circulated it did not supply teachers with the material needed to help pupils distinguish which of Mr Gore's factoids were still subject to serious mainstream debate.

The film was made as a polemic, not an educational tool for children. The government would have been on safer ground if it had chosen Sir David Attenborough's climate change programme which passed the BBC's own anguished impartiality test.

In the event, ministers seized on the slick, powerful and informative Gore movie as a tool to persuade children, and presumably by extension their parents, to worry about the climate. And this points to the essentially political nature of the film, and the decision to show it in schools.

There is now a strong political consensus throughout Europe that climate change is a dangerous problem needing urgent solutions; but politicians consistently tremble when they tentatively advance any of those solutions towards a public confused by the noisy media debate about climate change. A recent poll by Ipsos Mori showed that 82% of people were personally concerned about climate change, but a majority (56%) believed that many leading experts still question if human activity is contributing to climate change. This latter conclusion is simply wrong - all the world's major scientific institutions believe the man-made climate change theory - but the Gore court judgment will confuse people even more.

So why did the vice-president, who reveals himself in the movie to be a master of factual recall and presentation skill, produce a film in which assumptions became assertions and worst-case scenarios became the norm? The answer lies in the conflicted politics of climate in the US.

Remember that Al Gore, an environmental science graduate, has been trying to alert the public to climate change for a quarter of a century. Along with that other failed Democratic candidate John Kerry, he launched Senate hearings on climate in the 1980s. Then he signed the Kyoto Protocol nine years ago on behalf of the US, only to see President Clinton refuse to back it. He then spent impotent frustrating years in the White House, and later outside it, watching climate sceptics - some well-meaning scientists, but many in the pay of the oil industry - discredit the global warming theory. The sceptics knew that they did not need to win the battle of climate facts, they just needed to keep doubt alive.

An Inconvenient Truth is a response to that often cynical campaign, attempting to put climate change beyond doubt and remove ambiguity from presentation of the scientific facts. The problem is that climate science is a massive and messy field; and although even the White House now accepts that the climate is changing and humankind is more than 90% likely to blame, there are still wrinkles in the science, signposts that point in the opposite direction to the one we expect.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with these wrinkles by expressing its prognoses in bands of uncertainty: the climate is likely to warm by between 1.8C and 4.0C by the end of the century. But movies are not made of piffling equivocations like this, so Mr Gore dispenses with many of them.

Mr Justice Burton takes exception with nine such simplifications, or "errors". He notes that Mr Gore attributes to climate change the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro, the demise of polar bears, the drying of Lake Chad and bleaching of coral reefs. Correctly identifying the scientific consensus, the judge says debate is still open on these issues, as it is over hurricane frequency, also instanced by Mr Gore. The judge says (again taking the IPCC as gospel) that there is little support for Mr Gore's implication that the Gulf Stream will shut down soon, and that the great ice sheets will cause catastrophic sea level rise soon.

Here the judge is on slightly more contentious ground, because the IPCC science is itself out of date on Arctic melting, which is advancing at a pace that many worst-case scenarios had failed to predict.

On the remaining point - Mr Gore's implication that ice core records prove that CO2 rises drove shifts in Ice Ages - the judge is spot on. The vice-president cleverly lures the viewer into making the calculation that CO2 drove historical climate change by presenting graphs and asking the audience if they fit. Well, the graphs do fit - but what Mr Gore fails to mention in the film is that mainstream scientists believe that historically the temperature shifted due to our changing relationship with the Sun, with warmer climes unlocking CO2 from the oceans, which amplified global temperature rise.

I challenged Mr Gore about this in an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme in March. He responded, accurately, that scientists believe that CO2 is now driving climate change - but that was not what his misleading historical graph showed. And after the interview he and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.

It is miserable when such a vastly important debate is reduced to this. The film and the High Court row are, though, products of their time. If the conservative IPPC forecasts are accurate our children may rue the years we spent squabbling over climate change rather than tackling it.


Fresh milk to be banned in Britain

BRITONS may be banned from drinking "traditional milk" in favour of the long-life variety in order to save the environment, according to a government strategy. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London has recommended the use of long-life UHT milk to limit commercial refrigeration, The Times has reported.

The newspaper said officials have developed a long term goal to reduce the amount of carbon emissions caused by refrigerated milk. They aim to have long-life milk make up 90 per cent of the market by 2020. It has been reported that 93 per cent of milk sold in Britain was the "traditional" fresh type.

According to The Times, a strategy paper has already been sent to dairy industry officials suggesting the changes. "Retail and domestic refrigeration is an area with the potential for significant impact reduction," the paper reportedly said. "The milk chain should enhance the development, marketing and placement of UHT milk products."

The move could see less refrigeration by outlets, but consumers will still have to cool the milk in fridges once the carton has been opened.



Renowned French Scientist & Socialist Slams Gore's Nobel


In France, a sour note was sounded by a leading French climate sceptic, former Socialist education minister and award-winning geochemist Claude Allegre. He brushed off Friday's announcement as "a political gimmick", saying: "The amount of nonsense in Al Gore's film! It's all politics, it's designed to intervene in American politics. It's scandalous. There's a presidential election upcoming in the United States, and it's well known that Gore wants to run."


Greenspan has 'grave doubts' that international cap-and-trade is 'feasible'


But even the highly-respected former Federal Reserve chairman and economist Alan Greenspan questioned in his book, "The Age of Turbulence," the validity of a cap and trade system's impact as an effective means to fight global warming. "Yet as an economist, I have grave doubts that international agreements imposing a globalized so-called cap-and-trade system on CO2 emissions will prove feasible," Greenspan wrote. "There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy," Greenspan wrote. "Net, it is a tax. If the cap is low enough to make a meaningful inroad into CO2 emissions, permits will become expensive and large numbers of companies will experience cost increases that make them less competitive. Jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained."


UN Scientist calls for abolition of IPCC


The whole process is a swindle, The IPCC from the beginning was given the licence to use whatever methods would be necessary to provide "evidence" that carbon dioxide increases are harming the climate, even if this involves manipulation of dubious data and using peoples' opinions instead of science to "prove" their case. The disappearance of the IPCC in disgrace is not only desirable but inevitable. The reason is, that the world will slowly realise that the "predictions" emanating from the IPCC will not happen. The absence of any "global warming" for the past eight years is just the beginning. Sooner or later all of us will come to realise that this organisation, and the thinking behind it, is phony. Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens.....

I have been an "Expert Reviewer" for the IPCC right from the start and I have submitted a very large number of comments on their drafts. It has recently been revealed that I submitted 1,898 comments on the Final Draft of the current Report. Over the period I have made an intensive study of the data and procedures used by IPCC contributors throughout their whole study range. I have a large library of reprints, books and comments and have published many comments of my own in published papers, a book, and in my occasional newsletter, the current number being 157. I began with a belief in scientific ethics, that scientists would answer queries honestly, that scientific argument would take place purely on the basis of facts, logic and established scientific and mathematical principles. Right from the beginning I have had difficulty with this procedure. Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely.

Over the years, as I have learned more about the data and procedures of the IPCC I have found increasing opposition by them to providing explanations, until I have been forced to the conclusion that for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound. Resistance to all efforts to try and discuss or rectify these problems has convinced me that normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organization from the very beginning. I therefore consider that the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. The only "reform" I could envisage, would be its abolition....

The two main "scientific" claims of the IPCC are the claim that "the globe is warming" and "Increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible". Evidence for both of these claims is fatally flawed.



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