Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reefgate: More Greenie dishonesty about coral reefs -- including secret data again (of course)

Following is a letter from Walter Starck [] to an academic journal about a recent article they published which violates many canons of science. Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs.

The article Starck criticises advocates banning fishermen from as much of Australia's Great Barrier reef as possible and gives as one of the reasons: "Given the major threat posed by climate change, the expanded network of marine reserves provides a critical and cost-effective contribution to enhancing the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef"

Re: McCook, L.J., et al. 2010. "Marine Reserves Special Feature: Adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef". PNAS 2010: 0909335107v1-200909335.

The above referenced study presents a number of concerns:

The most serious concern is a major conflict of interest involving all of the 21 authors. It should be noted that the lead author is employed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and all of the 20 additional authors are either employed by them or are recipients of substantial funding from them.

It is incongruous in the extreme that all these employees and repeated recipients of generous GBRMPA funding, could, “…declare no conflict of interest.” when they are in fact assessing the benefits of their own work and that of the organisation which supports them.

Combined with the rather unrestrained positive spin on the benefits and cost effectiveness achieved by GBRMPA management, the appearance of this report is that of a promotion piece which the most productive and respected beneficiaries of their research funding have been invited to endorse.

In such case, it would have been very difficult for them to decline or to offer much objection to the claims made. At the same time, their names and status would provide credibility and deterrence of criticism while greatly increasing the prospect of acceptance for publication in a prestigious journal such as PNAS.

In addition, PNAS, “Authors must acknowledge all funding sources supporting the work.” There appears to be no such disclosure in this study.

PNAS must also, “…make materials, data, and associated protocols available to readers.”

McCook et al. state that, “Another important observation emerging from this review is the extent of relevant data that are not published or readily accessible. A full picture of the effects and effectiveness of zoning on the GBR has required extensive use of gray literature, previously unpublished data, and collation of separate data sources.”

GBRMPA has been the sponsor of most of the research cited and, through the permit system, they exercise control over the terms of all other research conducted there. They are also a major publisher of GBR literature, both scientific and non-technical. The extent to which relevant data is not published or readily accessible is their direct responsibility. As the data referred to for this review has obviously been assembled, why has it not been made available?

The major claim of a doubling of fish on protected reefs appears to rest on a single example. This is inconsistent with abundant other evidence including that which is presented in the report itself. Only one reef area of the 8 featured in the report showed a 2-fold increase and that area had the lowest level to begin and lowest difference between fished and unfished reefs.

In 5 of the 8 areas featured in the report the protected reefs actually showed a decline in coral trout numbers. On fished reefs, three areas showed increases in biomass while 5 showed declines. This is hardly the “extraordinary” 2-fold increase in protected areas being bannered.

McCook et al. state, "The economic value of a healthy GBR to Australia is enormous, currently estimated to be about A$5.5 billion annually...." "Relative to the revenue generated by reef tourism, current expenditure on protection is minor." "Tourism accounts for the vast majority of reef-based income and employment. ...income from tourism is estimated to be about 36 times greater than commercial fishing."

These claims are highly misleading. The economic value cited includes the total value for all tourism in the region when half of all tourists do not even visit the reef. For those who do, the reef component of the large majority is a one day, one time participation in a reef tour and the value of reef tours is similar to the value of commercial fishing.

If one also considers the economic value of recreational fishing, retail fish sales and seafood meals in restaurants, the total value of fishing is closer to twice that of reef tours. In addition, the reef tour industry regularly uses only about 2 dozen out of the 2500 reefs of the GBR and, on those which are used, the actual area visited would only be about 1% of the area of even those reefs.

Unfished reefs to optimize scenic value for tourism could easily coexist with an order of magnitude greater fishing effort, and no detriment at all to tourism. The attribution of total tourism value to the reef is no more justifiable than attributing it to the similar numbers who visit the rainforest or who eat seafood meals while visiting the region.

Such claims have been repeatedly made by GBRMPA and would, if used by a business, constitute violations of advertising and corporate law. To see it done repeatedly and included in a report in a leading scientific journal is a sad indictment of GBRMPA sponsored science as well as basic honesty.

Babcock et al., 2010 (in another study published in PNAS on the same day as McCook et al.) also examined the ecological effects of marine protected areas. However, this report is much more widely based geographically and longer term. Although the observed effects were generally positive, they were decidedly less large, rapid, extensive, and uniformly positive than those reported for the GBR. All of them also involved areas subject to much greater fishing pressure than the GBR.

One might reasonably expect that increased protection for the least impacted areas would result in a less marked beneficial effect rather than the much more widespread rapid and dramatic benefits claimed by McCook et al. For example, Babcock et al., “…found that the time to initial detection of direct effects on target species … was 5.13 ± 1.9 years….”

Note that this was the time to initial detection, not the even longer time required to reach a doubling of population. When compared to the much greater effects claimed for the GBR over two years, the latter do indeed appear to be “extraordinary”.

Various key claims are contradicted by other more extensive work by the same researchers with no acknowledgement or discussion of this.

In reading over McCook et al., some 40 such discrepancies were noted and more detailed examination would surely reveal more. However, without going further it should be clear that PNAS has been badly used. The serious and obvious conflict of interest alone can neither be ignored nor credibly explained away. If not addressed, it makes a farce of the declaration of no conflict. It alone must surely be more than sufficient grounds to retract this study. Although doing this may be unpleasant it would be far less damaging than to try to examine and defend all of the sad and disreputable details.

Coming at a time when public credibility in science is being seriously eroded by ongoing revelations of malpractice in what the public was assured was inrrefutable fact and settled science regarding climate change, these “extraordinary” (their own description) claims regarding the GBR are well positioned to become a “Reefgate”. This is especially so in that a key claim in this report and widely made elsewhere, is that a major benefit of protected areas on reefs is the increased resilience they provide against climate change.

Although controversy regarding the management of the GBR may appear of minor public interest from a U.S. perspective, it will be national news here in Australia and PNAS could find itself very much involved in a most difficult to defend position should prompt and decisive action not be taken.

A public release on all this will be made here in the near future. Whatever the decision of PNAS, it would be better made sooner than later.

The Next Big Thing: In environmental politics, it'll be 'ocean acidification'

Remember you read it here first: The Next Big Thing in environmental politics will be “ocean acidification.” That was assured this month when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency caved in to to the bullying tactics of enviro pressure groups, and proclaimed that EPA regulators will use the Clean Water Act to remedy a problem that doesn’t exist.

The EPA’s decision came in response to a lawsuit alleging the agency should have required the state of Washington to designate its marine waters as impaired by rising acidity. But in doing so, the EPA ignored sound science and did a disservice to Washington citizens.

Faced with the inconvenient truths that global temperatures have not been rising during the past decade, and that most of the warming of the twentieth century occurred before 1945 (when human greenhouse gas emissions were minimal), global warming alarmists are pushing ocean acidification as their new justification for restricting oil, coal, and natural gas production. They claim that as the world’s oceans absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean water becomes harmfully acidic to marine life.

The real-world evidence for an ocean acidification crisis, however, is even less persuasive than the real-world evidence for a global warming crisis.

The world’s oceans are not acidic and are in no danger of becoming so. Acidity and alkalinity are measured by pH balance, on a scale of 1 to 14. Water with a pH of 7 is neutral. A pH below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. The pH of the world’s oceans is slightly higher than 8.1—safely alkaline.

Regardless of human carbon dioxide emissions, the world’s oceans are in no danger of becoming acidic any time in the foreseeable future. A 2005 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature reports ocean pH was between 8.1 and 8.2 at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution—before humans began emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide—and remains between 8.1 and 8.2 today. The past 250 years of carbon dioxide emissions have had no significant effect on ocean pH, and there is little reason to believe that will suddenly, catastrophically change.

On the contrary, peer-reviewed scientific studies confirm higher carbon dioxide content will benefit rather than harm marine life.

A 2009 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for example, found sea star growth rates increased, rather than decreased, in water with double the carbon dioxide of current oceanic conditions. The study was particularly noteworthy because alarmists claim ocean acidification will take its greatest toll on marine invertebrates such as sea stars, which will allegedly have more difficulty calcifying their external skeletons in water with more carbon dioxide. A full doubling of carbon dioxide content, however, actually helped the sea stars.

In a 2007 study published in Global Change Biology, scientists observed higher carbon dioxide levels correlated with better growth conditions for oceanic life, producing higher growth rates and biomass yields than lower CO2 conditions.

A 2005 study in Journal of Geophysical Research reported rising oceanic carbon dioxide concentrations in the prior two decades correlate with a 22 percent increase in oceanic chlorophyll concentrations. Chlorophyll concentrations are the building blocks of marine life.

And in a 2008 study published in Biogeosciences, scientists subjected marine organisms to varying and often-abrupt changes in carbon dioxide concentrations. The study found marine ecosystems were “surprisingly resilient” to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and “the ecosystem composition, bacterial, and phytoplankton abundances and productivity, grazing rates and total grazer abundance and reproduction were not significantly affected by CO2-induced effects.”

These scientific studies show quite clearly that higher carbon dioxide levels substantially benefit marine life. This is similar to the effect of higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on terrestrial life, where plants convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into more biomass and higher growth rates.

Study after study shows most marine creatures, from phytoplankton on up the food chain, thrive and flourish when more carbon dioxide is added to the environment. It defies reason for environmental activists to assert a need to designate marine waters as impaired due to higher concentrations of life-assisting carbon dioxide.


Forecasters at odds about warming threat

Is climate change a serious threat to humanity or a scam trumped up by agenda-minded activists? Even the nation's TV weathercasters can't agree on that scientific dilemma, according to the largest survey of the profession to date released Monday by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication.

The majority — 63 percent — say global warming is caused "mostly by natural changes in the environment" compared with 31 percent who blamed the phenomenon on "human activities." More than a quarter said they agreed that the phenomenon is "a scam."

Another 48 percent said global warming should be a "low" priority for President Obama and Congress; one out of three felt is should be given "medium" priority; 23 percent felt is was of "high" importance.

The group is well aware of dissent in the research community as well: Sixty-one percent said there is "a lot of disagreement among scientists" about the issue.

But should climate change and global warming be a subject for their own broadcast coverage? Two-thirds said yes — though three-fourths also felt the subject was better suited for online discussions, "as many report concern about audience 'backlash,'" the survey said.

Some prominent weathermen, however, are not buying into the theory. John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel and a forecaster on KUSI in San Diego, has called global warming a "hoax" and "bad science" — a case that garnered public attention after some scientists were caught manipulating data to suit and environmental agenda.

"We are already suffering from this CO2 silliness in many ways," Mr. Coleman said. "Our energy policy has been strictly hobbled by no drilling and no new refineries for decades. We pay for the shortage this has created every time we buy gas.

"On top of that, the whole thing about corn-based ethanol costs us millions of tax dollars in subsidies. That also has driven up food prices. And, all of this is a long way from over."

AccuWeather senior forecaster Joe Bastardi is another high-profile skeptic. "Common sense dictates that a trace gas needed for life on the planet would not be the cause for destroying life on the planet. Common sense dictates that what has happened before without man can happen again with man," Mr. Bastardi said. "Common sense would dictate that you not believe me, or any one else, but go look for yourself."

AccuWeather — which provides local forecasts for the entire nation and more than 2 million locations worldwide — stands behind a lively, reasonable discourse.

"We urge all scientists and members of the public to engage in the global warming discussion, including's experts. We encourage our scientists to express their personal views without the constraint of a corporate position they must follow," the company says in a position statement.

The audience appears to be waiting. "Our surveys of the public have shown that many Americans are looking to their local TV weathercaster for information about global warming," says Edward Maibach, director of the climate center at George Mason and lead investigator for the new survey.

"The findings of this latest survey show that TV weathercasters play — or can play — an important role as informal climate change educators."

The survey found that 87 percent discussed climate change at community speaking events or in on-air banter with news anchors; only 37 percent addressed the topic during their forecast — mostly due to time constraints. The TV weathercasters also want to be fair: Seventy-nine percent said global warming broadcast segments must reflect "a balance of viewpoints." Personal opinions are still a work in progress.

The survey also found that 54 percent of the forecasters agreed that "global warming is happening," though 25 percent disagreed with the idea and 21 percent were unsure. Almost half said they needed a lot more information before forming "a firm opinion."

The survey of 1,373 TV weathercasters was conducted throughout January and February; the study was funded by the National Science Foundation. The findings can be seen here


Esquire Mag. Falsely Claims Climate Depot's Morano made an 'obvious mistake' about sea levels --- Reality Check: Morano Cited Data Accurately

Sea levels have been rising slowly since the last ice age -- but have they been rising faster lately? The Warmists say yes. Marc Morano and the data say no. But Esquire magazine was too dumb to understand the question

The April 2010 issue of Esquire Magazine features a more than 6500 word feature article on Climate Depot's Executive Editor Marc Morano. The article makes the false claim that Morano told a “howler” and an “obvious mistake” about sea level during a live Sky News TV Debate in December 2009.

The article by Esquire writer John Richardson contends that the following assertion by Morano in the December 12, 2009 TV debate with Professor Mark Maslin, is incorrect:

Esquire Magazine's Spin: "Morano says, sea levels are not rising. To prove it [Morano] quotes a study by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute that actually says sea levels rose nearly eight inches in the last century. This obvious mistake leads Maslin into his fatal error, which is patronizing Marc Morano...Despite his own howler about the sea levels, he hammers away.”

Reality Check: Morano's citation about sea level was that it was “not showing the acceleration.” Morano never said it was not rising. Esquire's Richardson simply made a mistake in trying to claim Morano said sea level was "not rising."

Here is Morano's exact quote on sea level during the debate: Morano: “Sea Level is not showing the acceleration. The Royal Netherlands Meteorology Institute said this. One scientist said if sea level is rising due to global warming, no one has bothered to tell sea level."

Further Reading on sea level:

'No evidence for accelerated sea-level rise' says Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute – December 12, 2008

Excerpt: In an op-ed piece in the December 11 issue of NRC/Handelsblad, Wilco Hazeleger, a senior scientist in the global climate research group at KNMI, writes: “In the past century the sea level has risen twenty centimeters. There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rise. It is my opinion that there is no need for drastic measures. It is wise to adopt a flexible, step-by-step adaptation strategy. By all means, let us not respond precipitously.”


Lovelock bloviating again

'We can't save the planet'

Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who developed Gaia theory, has said it is too late to try and save the planet. The man who achieved global fame for his theory that the whole earth is a single organism now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change.

Interviewed by Today presenter John Humphrys, videos of which you can see below, he said that while the earth's future was utterly uncertain, mankind was not aware it had "pulled the trigger" on global warming as it built its civilizations.

What is more, he predicts, the earth's climate will not conveniently comply with the models of modern climate scientists.

As the record winter cold testifies, he says, global temperatures move in "jerks and jumps", and we cannot confidently predict what the future holds.

Prof Lovelock does not pull his punches on the politicians and scientists who are set to gain from the idea that we can predict climate change and save the planet ourselves. Scientists, he says, have moved from investigating nature as a vocation, to being caught in a career path where it makes sense to "fudge the data".

And while renewable energy technology may make good business sense, he says, it is not based on "good practical engineering".

At the age of 90, Prof Lovelock is resigned to his own fate and the fate of the planet. Whether the planet saves itself or not, he argues, all we can do is to "enjoy life while you can".


Greens versus blacks in Australia

THE Kimberley's peak indigenous body has attacked the "disgusting" tactics of green groups and out-of-town celebrities opposed to industrial development near Broome, accusing them of fundamental dishonesty and abusive, dirty politics.

The Kimberley Land Council also said the Wilderness Society and Save the Kimberley environmental groups were "pitting family groups against each other" in a bid to undermine traditional owners, who have made the tough decision to back a job-creating multi-billion-dollar gas hub at James Price Point on the Dampier Peninsular, 60km north of Broome.

Declaring Aborigines the first conservationists, KLC executive director Wayne Bergmann said it was "distressing" that Aborigines were being vilified as "developers" by green groups and said opponents needed to understand the damage they were doing to local indigenous people.

"Save the Kimberley and the Wilderness Society are pretending to champion the indigenous cause in order to bolster their own position and credibility," Mr Bergmann said. "They're not helping Aboriginal people. Our future does not lie in a contrived alliance with bogus green groups; our future rests with Aboriginal people stepping up and taking control."

Celebrities such as John Butler, Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and Missy Higgins have joined retired Federal Court judge Murray Wilcox in pushing to stop the gas hub, accusing the Barnett government of riding roughshod over the rights of local Aborigines.

The KLC says the development, which will service the offshore Browse basin gas fields, will bring jobs. "The Jabirr Jabirr people are the only people who can make this decision about their country, and their decisions need to be respected," Mr Bergmann said in a speech late last week.

"The Kimberley Land Council works for and takes instructions from traditional owners. The KLC does not make decisions for traditional owners. We support the decisions of our people and their right to make those decisions."

Aborigines needed to use their land to create wealth and jobs, as 75 per cent of the indigenous population was between 16 and 26, and unemployment, suicide and crime rates were far beyond those of white Australia, he said.

Taking exception to suggestions green groups knew more about looking after their land than Aborigines did, Mr Bergmann said the KLC was examining other conservation and job-creating initiatives, including setting up a carbon trading scheme.

"Is it too much to ask that our children have opportunities for their future, have a safe environment where they can learn about their culture, language and become well-educated, that they go to school and that they can function as active participants in our society? That we put an end to poverty and disadvantage?" he said. "The actions of Save the Kimberley and some elements of the Wilderness Society, in particular, show they have no real respect for Aboriginal traditional owners and their responsibility for their land and sea country."

Save The Kimberley refused to comment, but the Wilderness Society's Peter Robertson said divisions within indigenous groups had been caused by both state and federal governments imposing "highly destructive and risky projects on Kimberley communities and the region's unspoiled environment".

"The reason there is a rising level of tension in parts of the Kimberley is because governments, in their reckless haste to approve the project, are placing communities under enormous pressure," Mr Robertson said.

"For example, WA Premier (Colin) Barnett continues to threaten traditional owners with the compulsory acquisition of their land if they do not agree to the LNG project (and) this was publicly described by the Kimberley Land Council as `negotiating with a gun to your head'."



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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

James Lovelock: Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change

The usual Green/Left arrogance and Fascist mentality is fully out in the open here

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change, according to the British scientist James Lovelock. Illustration: Murdo Macleod

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.

It follows a tumultuous few months in which public opinion on efforts to tackle climate change has been undermined by events such as the climate scientists' emails leaked from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.

"I don't think we're yet evolved to the point where we're clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change," said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. "The inertia of humans is so huge that you can't really do anything meaningful."

One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is "modern democracy", he added. "Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

Lovelock, 90, believes the world's best hope is to invest in adaptation measures, such as building sea defences around the cities that are most vulnerable to sea-level rises. He thinks only a catastrophic event would now persuade humanity to take the threat of climate change seriously enough, such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica, such as the Pine Island glacier, which would immediately push up sea level.

"That would be the sort of event that would change public opinion," he said. "Or a return of the dust bowl in the mid-west. Another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report won't be enough. We'll just argue over it like now." The IPCC's 2007 report concluded that there was a 90% chance that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing global warming, but the panel has been criticised over a mistaken claim that all Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2030.

Lovelock says the events of the recent months have seen him warming to the efforts of the "good" climate sceptics: "What I like about sceptics is that in good science you need critics that make you think: 'Crumbs, have I made a mistake here?' If you don't have that continuously, you really are up the creek. The good sceptics have done a good service, but some of the mad ones I think have not done anyone any favours. You need sceptics, especially when the science gets very big and monolithic."

Lovelock, who 40 years ago originated the idea that the planet is a giant, self-regulating organism – the so-called Gaia theory – added that he has little sympathy for the climate scientists caught up in the UEA email scandal. He said he had not read the original emails – "I felt reluctant to pry" – but that their reported content had left him feeling "utterly disgusted".

"Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science," he said. "I'm not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It's the one thing you do not ever do. You've got to have standards."


The truth is out: Green think tank tells environmentalists to leave climate science behind

Leaders of a contrarian environmental think tank, The Breakthrough Institute, have a way to get beyond the climate science wars: Break the link between global warming research and the push for low-carbon energy.

Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, in a new essay in Yale Environment 360, argue that environmentalists are too eager to link natural disasters and dangerous weather to man-made climate change.

They say this is a losing hand that has been made even weaker by the furor over the now-infamous hacked climate science emails, and controversy surrounding the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

They write:
Climate science, even at its most uncontroversial, could never motivate the remaking of the entire global energy economy. Efforts to use climate science to threaten an apocalyptic future should we fail to embrace green proposals, and to characterize present-day natural disasters as terrifying previews of an impending day of reckoning, have only served to undermine the credibility of both climate science and progressive energy policy.

The essay also suggests that climate advocacy and research have become too intertwined, with environmentalists seeking to represent the science as “apocalyptic, imminent, and certain.” The science has been harmed as a result, they argue, stating:
Greens pushed climate scientists to become outspoken advocates of action to address global warming. Captivated by the notion that their voices and expertise were singularly necessary to save the world, some climate scientists attempted to oblige. The result is that the use, and misuse, of climate science by advocates began to wash back into the science itself.

They later conclude:
Climate science can still usefully inform us about the possible trajectories of the global climate and help us prepare for extreme weather and natural disasters, whether climate change ultimately results in their intensification or not. And understood in its proper role, as one of many reasons why we should decarbonize the global economy, climate science can even help contribute to the case for taking such action. But so long as environmentalists continue to demand that climate science drive the transformation of the global energy economy, neither the science, nor efforts to address climate change, will be well served.

Shellenberger and Nordhaus are a contrarian pair with a years-long penchant for telling the mainstream environmental movement that it’s screwing up the climate fight in one way or another. Several of their past essays have been controversial, notably 2004’s "The Death of Environmentalism."


Climate prof: 'I'm a skeptic'

Another slow backdown

Penn State global warming scientist Michael E. Mann regrets he did not instantly object when a fellow climatologist asked him in 2008 to delete e-mails subject to Freedom of Information requests.

"I wish in retrospect I had told him, 'Hey, you shouldn't even be thinking about this,"' Mann told The Morning Call in his first interview since the university last month launched an investigation into his conduct. "I didn't think it was an appropriate request."

Despite the request by his British colleague Phil Jones, Mann did not delete e-mails, a Penn State University panel of inquiry found. But the panel on Feb. 3 ordered a further investigation, still in progress, over a general allegation of scientific misconduct by Mann.

Penn State officials said Friday they could not yet provide further information on the probe.

The investigation is a response to the uproar, commonly referred to as Climategate, over revelations of questionable comments made by climate scientists in e-mails made public in November. The furor has shaken the scientific community and fueled doubts about global warming.

Mann, recognized internationally for his studies that conclude the Earth is heating dangerously fast, denies any wrongdoing and says he is cooperating fully with the Penn State investigation.

And in a wide-ranging interview, Mann says that not all global warming science is settled. It's not yet certain, for example, that the heat is reducing the world population of polar bears or that it increases the number of hurricanes, he said.

But he said there is almost no doubt the last half of the 20th century was the hottest 50-year period of the last millennium. That conclusion is reflected in Mann's famous 1,000-year "hockey stick" chart of temperatures.

"There have been warming trends and cooling trends in the past," Mann said. "Over the past 50 years, there has only been a warming trend [With temperature measurements from cooler areas of the globe being steadily deleted from the record, what would you expect? Of Canada's roughly 200 meteorological stations, only ONE is now used!]. Contrarians cannot point to a sustained period -- a 20- or 30-year period -- of cooling over the past 50 years. [But they can over the last 500 years -- which is a mere blip in geological time] If they could, you can be sure we would have heard about it."

He said the evidence is solid that manmade global warming presents threats that must not be ignored, even during controversies over scientists' e-mails.


Mike Wallace on Warming Myopia

Mike Wallace, a climate scientist at the University of Washington, had a provocative op-ed in the Seatlle Times last Friday. Wallace was a member of the 2001 NAS panel that was convened at the request of George W. Bush to evaluate the IPCC top line conclusions (chaired by Ralph Cicerone, present-day NAS director). That committee reaffirmed the IPCC conclusions. Wallace was also the Chair of a 2000 NAS report on reconciling surface and satellite temperature trends. He is no skeptic.

Wallace's op-ed is provocative because it suggests that we've come to focus too narrowly on climate change, and he lays some of the blame for this at the feet of the scientific community. Here is an excerpt:
It's tempting to blame the media for fixating on global warming, but we climate scientists are partly to blame for the misplaced emphasis. Over the past 20 years we have stood by and watched as governmental and nongovernmental organizations that deal with environmental issues became more and more narrowly focused on the long-term impacts of global warming.

Meanwhile, more imminent issues relating to the sustainability of our planet's life-support system under the pressures of growing human population and the widening gap between rich and poor are not getting the attention they deserve. By failing to foster creation of robust, broad-based advisory mechanisms, we have allowed the IPCC assessment reports to become the dominant vehicle for representing the views of the scientific community on a widening range of environmental issues. In the IPCC terminology, symptoms of environmental degradation, regardless of their cause, are labeled as impacts of climate change, and the societal response to them is framed in terms of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Scientists still write papers and speak to the media about environmental concerns outside of the purview of the IPCC, but with so much of the world's attention riveted on climate change there is a lack of institutional infrastructure for calling attention to other issues. Labeling issues such as reduced agricultural productivity, loss of biodiversity, pollution and the looming shortage of fresh water as "impacts of global warming" leaves the public confused and susceptible to propaganda by groups who oppose environmental regulation of any kind. With the IPCC increasingly in the spotlight, the denialists can trivialize the entire environmental crisis simply by casting doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming.

Climate scientists and their detractors are slugging it out every day in blogs and editorial pages while legislative initiatives to get governments to address environmental and resource issues remain stalled, despite broad public support for them. At the recent Copenhagen Summit, the nations of the world were reluctant to make binding agreements to reduce their production of greenhouse gases.

Given the limited public understanding of the intricacies of climate science, the human tendency to be more concerned with current issues than with what the climate will be like 100 years from now, and the glaring inequities in per capita fossil fuel consumption between countries like the United States and those like India, justifying an enlightened energy policy on the basis of concerns about global warming is a tough sell. The negotiations might have gone better had the justification been framed in terms of conserving the world's dwindling oil reserves, stabilizing oil prices and promoting energy independence.

The current stalemate is likely to persist as long as scientists allow climate change to dominate the environmental policy agenda. In order to promote a more productive dialogue between scientists and policymakers, the discussion of adaptation and mitigation options in the policy arena needs to be reframed so that it addresses environmental degradation and sustainability in the broad sense, not just the impacts of climate change.

Wallace is right -- about the consequences of a myopic focus, the need for a more inclusive reframing and the role of the climate science community in helping maintain the myopic focus, both as silent bystander (most of the community) and actively involved in the myopic framing (those activist bloggers).

Along with Mike Hulme, Hans von Sotrch, Judy Curry and others, Mike Wallace is helping to show that there are a diversity of thoughtful views among the climate science community. The blog discussions of climate are typically colored in black and white, whereas the real world is painted in shades of gray.


Global warming 'will NOT slow down Gulf Stream and plunge Britain into ice age'

Another Greenie scare bites the dust. It did long ago, in fact, but the mass media are now noting it

Fears that global warming will shut down the Gulf Stream and plunge Britain into a mini-ice age are unfounded, a study shows. There is no evidence the phenomenon – which brings a constant flow of warm water and mild weather to northern Europe – has slowed down over the past 20 years, climate scientists say.

‘The changes we’re seeing in overturning strength are probably part of a natural cycle,’ said researcher Josh Willis, from Nasa.

The Gulf Stream is vital to Britain’s mild climate. Without the flow of warm water from the Mid Atlantic, the British Isles would be 4-6c colder than they are. Some environmentalists have argued that global warming could shut off the stream – sending temperatures spiralling down across Europe as they rise elsewhere.

The controversial scenario was dramatised in apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow and is predicted in some computer models of climate change.

The idea that a slowdown of the ocean currents would trigger such a rapid change in climate is pure fantasy, explained Dr Willis. ‘But the Atlantic overturning circulation is still an important player in today’s climate,’ he added. ‘Some have suggested cyclic changes in the overturning may be warming and cooling the whole North Atlantic over the course of several decades and affecting rainfall patterns across the U.S. and Africa, and even the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic.’

The study used satellite data to study the pattern of Atlantic currents between 2002 and 2009. Researchers from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory found no long-term trend, just short-term variability, according to the study published in Geophysical Research Letters journal.

The Gulf Stream is one of the strongest currents in the world. It is driven by surface winds and differences in the density of water.

Fears that the circulation was slowing emerged in a study by the UK National Oceanography Centre in 2005. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s last report in 2007 said it was ‘very likely’ that the Gulf Stream will slow down during the next 100 years. Most climate models suggest it will slow down by one quarter over the 21st century.

Although the slowing of the Gulf Stream would have a cooling effect on Europe, the IPCC claims temperatures will still rise overall.


'Smart' meters have security holes, researchers say

Computer-security researchers say new "smart" meters that are designed to help deliver electricity more efficiently also have flaws that could let hackers tamper with the power grid in previously impossible ways.

At the very least, the vulnerabilities open the door for attackers to jack up strangers' power bills. These flaws also could get hackers a key step closer to exploiting one of the most dangerous capabilities of the new technology, which is the ability to remotely turn someone else's power on and off.

The attacks could be pulled off by stealing meters -- which can be situated outside of a home -- and reprogramming them. Or an attacker could sit near a home or business and wirelessly hack the meter from a laptop, according to Joshua Wright, a senior security analyst with InGuardians Inc. The firm was hired by three utilities to study their smart meters' resistance to attack.

These utilities, which he would not name, have already done small deployments of smart meters and plan to roll the technology out to hundreds of thousands of power customers, Wright told The Associated Press.

There is no evidence the security flaws have been exploited, although Wright said a utility could have been hacked without knowing it. InGuardians said it is working with the utilities to fix the problems.

Power companies are aggressively rolling out the new meters. In the U.S. alone, more than 8 million smart meters have been deployed by electric utilities and nearly 60 million should be in place by 2020, according to a list of publicly announced projects kept by The Edison Foundation, an organization focused on the electric industry.

Unlike traditional electric meters that merely record power use -- and then must be read in person once a month by a meter reader -- smart meters measure consumption in real time. By being networked to computers in electric utilities, the new meters can signal people or their appliances to take certain actions, such as reducing power usage when electricity prices spike.

But the very interactivity that makes smart meters so attractive also makes them vulnerable to hackers, because each meter essentially is a computer connected to a vast network.

There are few public studies on the meters' resistance to attack, in part because the technology is new. However, last summer, Mike Davis, a researcher from IOActive Inc., showed how a computer worm could hop between meters in a power grid with smart meters, giving criminals control over those meters.

Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute, a security research and training organization that was not involved in Wright's work with InGuardians, said it proved that hacking smart meters is a serious concern.

"We weren't sure it was possible," Paller said. "He actually verified it's possible. ... If the Department of Energy is going to make sure the meters are safe, then Josh's work is really important."

SANS has invited Wright to present his research Tuesday at a conference it is sponsoring on the security of utilities and other "critical infrastructure."

Industry representatives say utilities are doing rigorous security testing that will make new power grids more secure than the patchwork system we have now, which is already under hacking attacks from adversaries believed to be working overseas.

"We know that automation will bring new vulnerabilities, and our task -- which we tackle on a daily basis -- is making sure the system is secure," said Ed Legge, spokesman for Edison Electric Institute, a trade organization for shareholder-owned electric companies.

But many security researchers say the technology is being deployed without enough security probing.

Wright said his firm found "egregious" errors, such as flaws in the meters and the technologies that utilities use to manage data from meters. "Even though these protocols were designed recently, they exhibit security failures we've known about for the past 10 years," Wright said.

He said InGuardians found vulnerabilities in products from all five of the meter makers the firm studied. He would not disclose those manufacturers.

One of the most alarming findings involved a weakness in a communications standard used by the new meters to talk to utilities' computers.

Wright found that hackers could exploit the weakness to break into meters remotely, which would be a key step for shutting down someone's power. Or someone could impersonate meters to the power company, to inflate victims' bills or lower his own. A criminal could even sneak into the utilities' computer networks to steal data or stage bigger attacks on the grid.

Wright said similar vulnerabilities used to be common in wireless Internet networking equipment, but have vanished with an emphasis on better security.

For instance, the meters encrypt their data -- scrambling the information to hide it from outsiders. But the digital "keys" needed to unlock the encryption were stored on data-routing equipment known as access points that many meters relay data to. Stealing the keys lets an attacker eavesdrop on all communication between meters and that access point, so the keys instead should be kept on computers deep inside the utilities' networks, where they would be safer.

"That lesson seems to be lost on these meter vendors," he said. That speaks to the "relative immaturity" of the meter technology, Wright added.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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


Monday, March 29, 2010

Meet Mr Forbush

"Forbush decreases" are probably getting a bit technical for many readers of this blog but they refer to short periods (a few days) when the earth is hit by fewer cosmic rays (no relation to me) than usual. And why is that important? Because Svensmark has shown that cosmic ray fluctuations affect cloud formation and hence global warming. Clouds are a major influence on the temperature underneath them.

So whether cloud cover varies during Forbush events would seem to be a good test of Svensmark's theory. A recent German paper has claimed that Forbush events did NOT influence cloud cover so therefore Svensmark is wrong.

I have not yet seen any comment from skeptics on the paper concerned so I think I might say a word or two until more expert heads than mine get to work.

Basically, the paper seems pretty silly. They sent an aircraft up to observe the cloud cover over just a few areas of central Europe. But it is GLOBAL data that is needed to test the theory. Local weather influences can easily swamp small effects from cosmic rays -- and it is small effects that the Warmists are talking about. Their "hockey stick" graphs (for instance) are normally scaled in tenths of one degree.

Lubos Motl had some sage words about Forbush events last year.

Private British weather forecasters reject global warming

The brief below is from "Positive Weather Solutions". PWS has a much better record at forecasting than does the official British Met office, who are keen global warmers

PWS are of the firm belief that global warming is cyclical, and there is no substantial, conclusive evidence, to back up the statement that we are heading towards a 'runaway climate' scenario.

There is significant evidence to suggest the our climate is dominated by cyclical patterns.

The graph depicts analysis of tree ring data taken from 12 locations in the northern hemisphere, and despite challenges to it from some quarters, it remains in the belief of PWS, solid evidence of a cyclical pattern in weather, and furthermore, shows that humans and their related events in history do indeed coincide with variances. Even if the ring data as some suggest actually suggests cooling where there is warming, this too remains a variance, and not an over all definitive trend.

There is also a noticeable blip in the argument for climate change during the period from around 5000 - 3000 BC, known as the 'climatic optimum', where temperatures were even warmer than the allegedly runaway climate temperatures of the future, that we're supposed to be seeing if global warming were true.

Furthermore, the most reliable form of temperature measurement are satellite readings taken from the Earth's lower troposphere, and these show no apparent global warming over the last quarter of a century. Land based temperature readings are distorted, because of human influence, industry etc.

In conclusion, there have been three noticeable trend indicators in history as we understand it. The 'Medieval Climate Anomaly'; 'The Little Ice Age', and 'The Industrial Era', which have all 'affected' the climate. However, nature and the Earth in general has re balanced affairs as it ages, and whereas man has had an influence on the climate, there remains no outright conclusive evidence that within the next hundred year or so, temperatures will continue to climb and even if they do, they will plateau out, and cool down again.


How government cash created the Climategate scandal

By Andrew Bolt

Australian climate scientist policy analyst Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen tells the British parliamentary inquiry into Climategate just how much global warming science is corrupted by politics and money. Excerpts:
I was peer reviewer for IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)… Since 1998 I have been the editor of the journal, Energy & Environment (E&E) published by Multi-science, where I published my first papers on the IPCC. I interpreted the IPCC “consensus” as politically created in order to support energy technology and scientific agendas that in essence pre-existed the “warming-as -man-made catastrophe alarm."…

3.2 Scientific research as advocacy for an agenda (a coalition of interests, not a conspiracy,) was presented to the public and governments as protection of the planet… CRU, working for the UK government and hence the IPCC, was expected to support the hypothesis of man-made, dangerous warming caused by carbon dioxide, a hypothesis it had helped to formulate in the late 1980s…

3.3 ... In persuading policy makers and the public of this danger, the “hockey stick” became a major tool of persuasion, giving CRU a major role in the policy process at the national, EU and international level. This led to the growing politicisation of science in the interest, allegedly, of protecting the “the environment” and the planet. I observed and documented this phenomenon as the UK Government, European Commission, and World Bank increasingly needed the climate threat to justify their anti-carbon (and pro-nuclear) policies. In return climate science was generously funded and required to support rather than to question these policy objectives… Opponents were gradually starved of research opportunities or persuaded into silence. The apparent “scientific consensus” thus generated became a major tool of public persuasion…

4.1 ...  As editor of a journal which remained open to scientists who challenged the orthodoxy, I became the target of a number of CRU manoeuvres. The hacked emails revealed attempts to manipulate peer review to E&E’s disadvantage, and showed that libel threats were considered against its editorial team…

4.4 Most recently CRU alleged that I had interfered “maliciously” with their busy grant-related schedules, by sending an email to the UKCIP (Climate Impact Programme) advising caution in the use of CRU data for regional planning purposes. This was clearly reported to [CRU head Phil] Jones who contacted my Head of Department, suggesting that he needed to reconsider the association of E&E with Hull University. Professor Graham Haughton, while expressing his own disagreement with my views, nevertheless upheld the principle of academic freedom…

4.5 The emails I have read are evidence of a close and protective collaboration between CRU, the Hadley Centre, and several US research bodies such as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where former CRU students had found employment. Together they formed an important group inside IPCC Working Group 1, the science group…

The CRU case is not unique. Recent exposures have taken the lid off similar issues in the USA, the Netherlands, Australia, and possibly in Germany and Canada… It is at least arguable that the real culprit is the theme- and project-based research funding system put in place in the 1980s and subsequently strengthened and tightened in the name of “policy relevance”. This system, in making research funding conditional on demonstrating such relevance, has encouraged close ties with central Government bureaucracy. Some university research units have almost become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Government Departments. Their survival, and the livelihoods of their employees, depends on delivering what policy makers think they want. It becomes hazardous to speak truth to power…

Postglacial climatic history is by no means well understood and the human contributions cannot yet be assessed.


Boehmer-Christiansen responds to comments below. Yes, she is indeed Australian, but no, she is not a climate scientist but a climate policy analyst. Moreover:
What fun to read so much about oneself!

For your info: I was 16 years old when I arrived in Adelaide from Germany; now I have two passports: one Australian and one British. I use both. Most of my family live in Australia and my children have dual nationality but live in the UK. My mother died last year in Adelaide and I did some research on Australian climate policy at Adelaide Uni during the 1990s. My husband Peter Christiansen was a space physicist who died very young in the UK but wanted to go back; my father-in-law is a very famous Australian radio-astronomer, look him up (Prof.W N Christiansen). Ted Hill was also a relative…

You all missed the most important points: my 7 or so years as research fellow at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit) working with energy economists and emission modellers, and my research fellowship (3 years) to study the science and politics of the IPCC. I interviewed many climate scientists, read much by them but would not call myself a climate scientist. At Hull I taught environmental policy and politics. I know enough about climate science, however, to know what is not known.

My political agenda? a) To demonstrate that the sciences (a group of competing globalised institutions in need of grants - climate science needs a lot of money), are themselves a major political actor in the politics of climate change. Its managers are not adverse to a little corruption.

And b) to give climate sceptics a voice because I did not trust what emerged from the IPCC’s policy-makers summaries. The IPCC was only asked to study man-made climate change (but can’t distinguish from natural change, as yet), and to serve a treaty that had already decided what and who was to blame.

And E&E;is back on-line, is peer reviewed and took up the cause of climate scepticism because of its importance for energy policy. I believe but cannot prove that we are observing energy interest (not carbon based) ‘driving’ the science, not vice versa. Do have a closer look as IPCC working group 3.


Federal Climate Change Programs: Funding History and Policy Issues

Excerpt below from a report by the Congressional Budget Office shows the huge U.S. Federal funding that Warmists have received. ANY funding received by skeptics is the merest trifle by comparison

In recent years, the federal government has allocated several billion dollars annually for projects to expand the understanding of climate change or to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.

Most of that spending is done by the Department of Energy (DOE) and by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), although a dozen other federal agencies also participate. The work is coordinated by committees in the Executive Office of the President.

Successive Administrations have tracked the funding of climate change programs and the cost of tax incentives related to climate change through what is sometimes called the “climate change budget.” That budget typically has included federal efforts in several categories:

Technology programs that develop, demonstrate, and deploy new products or processes to reduce GHG emissions;

Scientific research directed toward explaining the processes of climate change and monitoring the global climate;

Assistance to other countries as they work to reduce GHG emissions; and

Tax incentives that encourage businesses and households to adopt technologies that curtail the use of fossil fuels and reduce GHG emissions.

Funding for Federal Climate Change Programs

From 1998 to 2009, appropriations for agencies’ work related to climate change totaled about $99 billion (in 2009 dollars); more than a third of that sum was provided in fiscal year 2009.

In addition, climate-related tax preferences reduced tax revenues, by a much smaller amount, from what would have been collected in their absence. For most of that period, federal resources devoted to examining and mitigating climate change grew slowly and unevenly when adjusted for inflation.

Regular annual appropriations rose from $4.0 billion in 1998 (measured in 2009 dollars) to $7.5 billion in 2009. During that period, the nation’s commitment to climate-related technology development increased significantly, as has the forgone revenue attributable to tax preferences.


Censorship at AGU: scientists denied the right of reply

Has the Journal of Geophysical Research been coerced into defending the climate alarmist faith?

Science is best progressed by open and free discussion in which all participants have equal rights of contribution. This is especially the case when a scientific issue is related to a matter of high public controversy - such as the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming.

In July 2009 we published a paper in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) in which we described the results of comparing global atmospheric temperature since 1958 with variations in the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climatic framework. Our analysis supported earlier research that demonstrates a close link between these factors, and indicated that a large portion of the variability in global temperature is explained by ENSO variation, thus leaving little room for a substantial human influence on temperature.

On November 20, a newly appointed, replacement JGR editor informed us that a group of scientists led by Grant Foster (aka Tamino) had submitted a critique of our paper for publication in JGR. To which a reviewer responded “But as it is written, the current paper [Foster et al. draft critique] almost stoops to the level of “blog diatribe”. The current paper does not read like a peer-reviewed journal article. The tone is sometimes dramatic and sometimes accusatory. It is inconsistent with the language one normally encounters in the objectively-based, peer-reviewed literature.” Anonymous referee of the Foster et al. critique, September 28, 2009.

We were invited to write a response, which we did, submitting it to JGR on January 14, 2010.

On March 16, the replacement editor contacted us again. He included three referees’ reports, and indicated that on the advice of these referees he was rejecting our response to the Foster et al. critique, and that the response would therefore not be published in JGR.

The practice of editorial rejection of the authors’ response to criticism is unprecedented in our experience. It is surprising because it amounts to the editorial usurping of the right of authors to defend their paper and deprives readers from hearing all sides of a scientific discussion before they make up their own minds on an issue. It is declaring that the journal editor - or the reviewers to whom he defers - will decide if authors can defend papers that have already been positively reviewed and been published by that same journal. Such an attitude is the antithesis of productive scientific discussion.


The High Cost of Environmentalism

In Los Angeles, in the heart of California’s anemic economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Department of Water and Power (DWP) hope to massively raise energy rates by a whopping 21% next year, with other rate increases slated through 2014, for a total 37% hike.

Are the increased rates intended to pay for a budget shortfall? No. Are they going up because the cost of energy is going up, too? Not exclusively. The increased rates would raise money to “invest” in renewable energy. In fact, Villaraigosa thought the hike was so important that he invited former Vice President Al Gore to present at the city council meeting via satellite.

The good news is that some common sense remains in the L.A. city council chambers, and the rate increase has not yet been implemented.

With unemployment at 12.5% in California, it would seem like now is the worst possible time for a rate hike. That fact, though, will not stop the environmental left. They will stop at nothing to make sure people can’t afford essential things like electricity and heating oil, all in the name of unconfirmed science.

Consumers aren’t the only ones who would take a hit under the plan. Villaraigosa also proposed a 22% rate increase for businesses and tried to hide the rate increases under the fa├žade of creating 18,000 jobs His arguments fell on deaf ears at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, where they voted against his proposal saying “They’re just making those [jobs] up.”

It is just another costly tax increase that threatens to kill whatever growth there is in the stagnated economy. There is some good news though. Not many council members are in favor of the plan, and those that are say the extra money should go toward improving the DWP. Councilman Paul Krekorian said the plan was “an extraordinary burden on our homeowners and businesses” and “unacceptable.”

It is a telling sign that even in a place as liberal as Los Angeles, there is as much opposition to a progressive “green jobs” initiative as there is in this case. It just might be another indicator of the growing skepticism about global warming. Not even the presence of former Vice President Al Gore was enough to sway council members to pass a tax that would lead to more unemployment, more people unable to pay bills, and would worsen the recession in a state that is floundering.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soils, CO2, and Global Warming

An amusing demolition of some sensation-mongering Warmist garbage below. The paper concerned is so trashy that it should never have passed peer review but where global warming is concerned we see a lot of uncritical evaluation of dubious claims

On March 24 the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) issued a News Release [here] that proclaimed the soils of the Earth are now giving off more CO2 because the Earth has warmed over the last 20 years.
Even soil feels the heat

Soils release more carbon dioxide as globe warms

Mary Beckman, PNNL, March 24th, 2010

Twenty years of field studies reveal that as the Earth has gotten warmer, plants and microbes in the soil have given off more carbon dioxide. So-called soil respiration has increased about one-tenth of 1 percent per year since 1989, according to an analysis of past studies in today’s issue of Nature.

The scientists also calculated the total amount of carbon dioxide flowing from soils, which is about 10-15 percent higher than previous measurements. That number — about 98 petagrams of carbon a year (or 98 billion metric tons) — will help scientists build a better overall model of how carbon in its many forms cycles throughout the Earth. Understanding soil respiration is central to understanding how the global carbon cycle affects climate.

“There’s a big pulse of carbon dioxide coming off of the surface of the soil everywhere in the world,” said ecologist Ben Bond-Lamberty of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “We weren’t sure if we’d be able to measure it going into this analysis, but we did find a response to temperature.” …
The research paper touted in the News Release is: Bond-Lamberty and Thomson, 2010. Temperature-associated increases in the global soil respiration record, Nature March 25, 2009, doi:10.1038/nature08930.

Note: The PNNL is a Richland, WA, Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory “proudly operated by Battelle”. Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle) is “a charitable trust organized as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Ohio. Battelle is exempt from federal taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code because it is organized for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes” [here].

In this essay I discuss whether there is any merit to the findings of the research paper.

Meta-Studies and the File Drawer Effect

The PNNL/Battelle/DOE study is a meta-study or meta-analysis. That means that the authors did no soil testing themselves. Instead they examined the studies of others (818 at last count) and “pooled” them.

All meta-analyses have inherent problems including the File Drawer Effect, also known as publication bias. Researcher-authors are more likely to submit for publication positive rather than inconclusive results. Journal editors are more likely to accept articles that report “significant” findings than research which finds no effect. Studies that find no effect are shoved in a file drawer; hence the name.

Publication bias is likely in this area of study especially, given the strong political/funding incentives to find climate change effects.

For example, Martin Grueber, Research Leader, Battelle, wrote last December [here] that:
The greatest impact on our energy infrastructure in the near future will come from research and development focused on global climate change. Numbers bear this out.

For example, one of the surveys used as a basis for this R&D funding forecast shows that 60% of the respondents believe concern over global climate change will have a positive impact on research and development investments in the United States. More than 80% of those same respondents believe there will be a budget increase for R&D from U.S. federal agencies during the next year, and 73% think budget increases will continue for the next five years.

The Science and Public Policy Institute issued a report last July (written by Jo Nova) [here] that found:
The US government has spent over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks. …

Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks are calling for more carbon-trading. And experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 - $10 trillion making carbon the largest single commodity traded.

With that kind of money at play, there is tremendous pressure on government scientists to find “effects” that they can attribute to “climate change”. Scientists are only human, after all. When their careers and their laboratories or institutions are dependent on government funding, and the government has a declared bias, it is only natural that “findings” will suit the policies.

Few scientists would be so daring (or foolish) to find no effect, and those that do are soon terminated. Integrity in government science is for sale, or subject to extortion, especially in a hugely politicized science like climatology.

We would all like to think that researchers have integrity, and that they would report whatever they found honestly. Researchers themselves would claim that they do have integrity. But the forces at play are so enormous that bias creeps in, despite good intentions.

The File Drawer Effect is pronounced in climatology. As was revealed in the Climategate scandal, government scientists conspired to subvert journals and ostracize contrarian views. A “consensus” in climatology has been declared, despite the fact that consensus has no place in any science, particularly in the speculative and uncertain prediction of future climate.

The PNNL/Battelle/DOE scientists are under significant pressure to find “effects”. So were the researchers involved in the 818 individual studies that were meta-analyzed. The meta-study itself was announced with great ballyhoo in a media blitz.

It would be the height of naivety to claim no bias exists.

Violating the Scientific Method

The 818 individual studies were limited in scope: location, duration, and methodology. The methodologies including modeling studies as well as some empirical observation studies. That is, not all of the examined studies report actual field work, either. Pooling the findings is equivalent to extending the individual study inferences beyond their respective scopes, a practice that weakens if not violates the scientific method.

Most of the studies were focused on temperate forests, and other vegetation/soil types are thus poorly represented. The authors of the meta-study characterized a percentage of the forests in the individual studies as “unmanipulated ecosystems,” but that is a stretch. No temperate forests are in truth unmanipulated within any historical context. Nor are temperate forests independent of current political trends in forest management.

For that matter, forest fires are also non-independent of current political trends. Forest fires represent the most severe type of soil carbon and soil metabolic change (disturbance).

Given all that, the meta-study purported to find a minute trend in soil respiration that is so small that it is dwarfed by the large uncertainties and biases. Further, no purported trends in gross sequestration of carbon through photosynthesis were considered in this meta-study. A slight increase in photosynthesis would offset soil respiration increases, yielding no net change terrestrial in carbon sequestration.

The upshot is that the “findings” are extremely weak and apparently blown completely out of proportion by the media blitz accompanying the paper — the blitz representing, ironically, a meta-example of publication bias.

The Numbers Reported Don’t Add Up

Alan Siddons offered some commentary on the meta-study at the Climate Realists website [here], to which Ben Bond-Lamberty and Allison Thomson, the authors of the meta-study replied. The exchange is interesting.

Siddons commented that the findings were more evidence that a climbing CO2 rate is the result of warming, not the cause. The authors replied that their study has nothing to do with whether CO2 is a result or cause of warming.

Siddons then pointed out that the News Release states:
“There’s a big pulse of carbon dioxide coming off of the surface of the soil everywhere in the world,” said ecologist Ben Bond-Lamberty of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “We weren’t sure if we’d be able to measure it going into this analysis, but we did find a response to temperature.”

So it appears that Siddons is correct and the authors are backtracking.

Siddons also pointed out that, “Results like this mean that the anthropogenic fraction must be readjusted. Is man’s annual contribution 4%? 3%? Less?” The authors replied:
We found that the soil-to-air component of the global carbon cycle is accelerating; this might not, by itself, have any effect on atmospheric CO2 levels. Even if it did, the projected CO2 increase from the soils (0.1 Pg/yr) is around 1% of fossil fuel emissions (8 Pg/yr).

Note: a petagram is 10^15 grams.

However, the News Release stated that:
The scientists also calculated the total amount of carbon dioxide flowing from soils, which is about 10-15 percent higher than previous measurements. That number [is] about 98 petagrams of carbon a year (or 98 billion metric tons).

A 10 to 15 percent increase in CO2 emission from soils is 9.8 to 14.6 petagrams per year. The amount of CO2 released from burning fossil fuels is 5 to 7 petagrams per year (the authors say 8). Roughly 4 petagrams are reabsorbed by the oceans and land. The amount of CO2 remaining in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of roughly 2 parts per million per year (which gives a picture of how voluminous the Earth’s atmosphere is).

The question is: what is responsible for the increase is atmospheric CO2? Is it burning fossil fuels, or increased soil emissions? The authors say the increased soil emissions are 0.1 petagrams per year, but the News Release implies 9.8 to 14.6 petragrams per year. That is a difference of two orders of magnitude. The numbers are fuzzy at best, and wild estimates at worst.

The last question Siddons raised has to do with whether climate models are accurately modeling any of these CO2 fluxes. The meta-study says no:
Soil respiration, RS, the flux of microbially and plant-respired carbon dioxide (CO2) from the soil surface to the atmosphere, is the second-largest terrestrial carbon flux. However, the dynamics of RS are not well understood and the global flux remains poorly constrained.

although the authors’ in reply to Siddons say, “Our findings don’t show that “source/sink models” are inadequate.” That’s a little bit like shutting the barn door after the horse ran off.


Meta-studies suffer from inherent publication bias, and in this case the biases are huge. They also violate the scientific method. It seems that in this meta-study, the numbers don’t add up. The uncertainties are vastly larger than the tiny “effect” the authors claim to have extracted from research papers by others.

What does it all mean? Mostly nothing. It’s all a bunch of noise, signifying zip, zero, nada.

Why did I write about it? I thought it might be interesting to readers, especially the File Drawer Effect.

We are not a Big Media Machine here. We can’t hold back the tidal waves of BS that emanate from trillion-dollar vested interests responsible for promulgating the climate hoax/swindle. But we can poke them in the eye once in awhile.


Inconvenient questions

The simple reality is none of the solutions proposed by global warmists actually work

With the fourth global Earth Hour put to bed last night, today let’s ask some inconvenient questions of the global warmists. First, does the real-world failure of virtually all of your ideas ever give you a moment’s pause?

From the fiasco in Copenhagen, to the collapse of the UN’s Kyoto accord, with its absurd, unrealistic, centrally-mandated, carbon dioxide-reduction diktats, mindful of the old Soviet Union? Does it never occur to you you’ve barked up the wrong tree rings?

What about the humiliation of Climategate? The circumventing of freedom of information requests at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia? The growing controversy over the inaccuracy of those never-ending apocalyptic predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

Does the fact the earliest corporate boosters of Kyoto and carbon trading were the fraudsters at Enron never cause you to wake up in a cold sweat?

How about the fact your “allies” on cap-and-trade are the giant U.S. money houses that just finished wrecking the global economy, now looking to make another quick killing by brokering trading in highly speculative carbon credits, the European market for which, aside from doing nothing to cool the planet, is awash in multi-billion-dollar frauds?

What about the 2002 report by Statistics Norway that Norway’s 1991 carbon tax has been largely ineffective in reducing emissions?

Or last week’s story in the Times of London that the U.K.’s energy regulator has found many of Britain’s wind farms are a bust when it comes to delivering electricity?

That, in the words of Michael Jefferson, professor of international business and sustainability and a former lead author of the IPCC: “Too many developments are underperforming. It’s because developers grossly exaggerate the potential. The subsidies make it viable for developers to put turbines on sites they would not touch if the money was not available.”

Gee. Hard to see that one coming, eh? Who knew that when governments insanely guarantee to pay grossly inflated prices for “green” electricity for 20-25 years, thus handing developers windfall profits from the hides of electricity consumers, many don’t deliver the goods?

Does none of this ever penetrate your Pandora world or your Na’vi brains, as you self-righteously declare yourselves the only people on Earth who care about your grandchildren? (You do realize Avatar was just a movie, right?)

When challenged, warmists with their apocalyptic rhetoric that even responsible climate scientists shun, insist the answers lie in doing more of what hasn’t worked.

For example, putting Kyoto on steroids. Never mind that doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is a good definition of insanity.

Perhaps this blindness is related to the fact that, particularly in Europe, which has led on climate hysteria, the green agenda was driven in large part by Marxists, who, realizing the jig was up when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, quickly shifted their anti-capitalist, anti-western, anti-growth, anti-American rhetoric to “fighting” climate change. Not for nothing are they called green on the outside, red on the inside.

Doomed from the start

Thus, it’s hardly surprising we ended up with the Soviet-style, centrally-imposed, Kyoto approach to reducing CO 2 emissions.

Kyoto was doomed from the start for the same reason as the Soviet Union — you can’t manage an economy, or the environment, by imposing from on high five-year plans for the production of tin, or 10, 40 or 70-year plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Ironically, the Soviet Union, the “workers’ paradise,” was supposed to deliver to humanity both economic prosperity and environmental nirvana. Instead it produced a devastated economy and environmental nightmares.

So, of course, the crafters of Kyoto retroactively rewarded Russia and the former Soviet satellites by choosing 1990 as the base year for reducing global emissions, just before the Soviet empire collapsed, thus handing Russia billions of dollars in “hot air” credits to sell to unsuspecting suckers like … uh … us. Not because of anything Russia or (East Germany) actually did to improve its environment, but because its economy collapsed.

That’s warmist “logic.” Unsurprisingly, none of it has worked. But that never deters them from carrying on to the next disaster.

With their final cry, they demand: “What would you do, instead?” — ignoring the fact that since they’re the ones demanding a massive change in how mankind secures and uses energy, the onus is on them to come up with something that works. Which, of course, they can’t.


Earth Hour could INCREASE carbon emissions

A climate change campaign to get everyone to switch off their lights will not reduce carbon emissions, according to electricity experts. Earth Hour, organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will see millions of people switch off their lights for an hour this weekend.

But the fall in electricity use for such a short period is unlikely to result in less energy being pumped into the grid, and will therefore not reduce emissions. Even if power stations are turned off, the upsurge in turning the lights back on one hour later will require power stations that can fire up quickly like oil and coal. Energy experts said it could therefore result in an increase in carbon emissions "rendering all good intentions useless at a flick of a switch".

But WWF said the campaign was about raising awareness and saving energy in the long term, rather than a short-term fix.

Millions of buildings around the world are expected to go dark at 8.30pm on Saturday including the Sydney Opera House and Big Ben.

WWF Earth Hour is designed to raise awareness of climate change and has been supported by Al Gore and the United Nations.

This year more than 50 million people are expected to take part on every continent in the globe in the biggest Earth Hour since the event began three years ago.

Ross Hayman, of the National Grid, said only a small fall in demand is expected in the UK, meaning the event will not cause less energy to be put into the grid.

However, he warned that even if there is a significant drop and supply is turned off, the reduction in energy will be offset by the surge needed to turn bring energy back onto the grid from firing up coal or gas stations.

"It might not have an effect on overall carbon emissions because we might have to use more carbon intensive power sources to restore supply afterwards," he added.

Mr Hayman said the best thing for climate change would be for people to insulate their homes and get into the habit of turning appliances off at night.

"People ought to focus on general efficiency measures to reduce their energy use overall rather than switch everything off for an hour because that might not have an efficiency effect on the network overall," he said.

James Millar, managing director of the sustainable lighting company Greenled, said when the lights come back on there is "enormous strain thrust upon the national grid".

“Energy companies always retain spare capacity and will continue to produce energy at the same rate throughout the hour-long demonstration which will end up being dumped off the grid with the loss of millions of tonnes of energy due to lack of demand; thereby, rendering all the good intentions of Earth Hour useless – at the flick of a switch,” he added.

But Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF, said it was not about saving energy for just an hour but raising awareness.

"Earth Hour is an opportunity for people to show that they care about climate change and want global leaders to take action. Earth Hour is not about saving energy, it’s a positive inspiring event that will show the level of public concern about climate change, and for that reason we will not be measuring energy saved during the hour or reduction in CO2 emissions," he said.


Activists jet 12,000 miles - to climate change meeting

Climate change activists opposed to air travel are travelling to a conference in South plane.

Campaigners from Climate Camp -- who helped blockade Heathrow at the height of the summer holidays in 2007 -- face claims of hypocrisy having decided to send two members to an international meeting in Bolivia to discuss ‘transnational protests’ against climate change.

The 12,000-mile round trip to the Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights conference next month involves changing planes at least twice.

The flights will generate about eight tons of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.

The money for their tickets -- at least £1,200 for an economy fare -- is being paid for by donations to Climate Camp from people opposed to flying and airport expansion.

One of the campaigners making the trip is Agnes Szafranowska. Ms Szafranowska, a Canadian who now lives in London, organises Climate Camp workshops and was involved in the Great Climate Swoop on Ratcliffe power station in Nottingham last October.

Police arrested ten people before the protest began on suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

Some 1,000 people took part, and security fencing around the plant was pulled down. Police made 56 arrests and a number of people were injured, including one policeman who had to be airlifted to hospital.

Ms Szafranowska failed to answer questions sent to her by email, other than to say that Climate Camp were preparing a statement. The group’s Press officer did not return calls.


When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’

Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are not immune to the non-rational dynamics of the herd.

A December 18 Washington Post poll, released on the final day of the ill-fated Copenhagen climate summit, reported “four in ten Americans now saying that they place little or no trust in what scientists have to say about the environment.” Nor is the poll an outlier. Several recent polls have found “climate change” skepticism rising faster than sea levels on Planet Algore (not to be confused with Planet Earth, where sea levels remain relatively stable).

Many of the doubt-inducing climate scientists and their media acolytes attribute this rising skepticism to the stupidity of Americans, philistines unable to appreciate that there is “a scientific consensus on climate change.” One of the benefits of the recent Climategate scandal, which revealed leading climate scientists manipulating data, methods, and peer review to exaggerate the evidence of significant global warming, may be to permanently deflate the rhetorical value of the phrase “scientific consensus.”

Even without the scandal, the very idea of scientific consensus should give us pause. “Consensus,” according to Merriam-Webster, means both “general agreement” and “group solidarity in sentiment and belief.” That pretty much sums up the dilemma. We want to know whether a scientific consensus is based on solid evidence and sound reasoning, or social pressure and groupthink.

Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are not immune to the non-rational dynamics of the herd. Many false ideas enjoyed consensus opinion at one time. Indeed, the “power of the paradigm” often shapes the thinking of scientists so strongly that they become unable to accurately summarize, let alone evaluate, radical alternatives. Question the paradigm, and some respond with dogmatic fanaticism.

We shouldn’t, of course, forget the other side of the coin. There are always cranks and conspiracy theorists. No matter how well founded a scientific consensus, there’s someone somewhere—easily accessible online—that thinks it’s all hokum. Sometimes these folks turn out to be right. But often, they’re just cranks whose counsel is best disregarded.

So what’s a non-scientist citizen, without the time to study the scientific details, to do? How is the ordinary citizen to distinguish, as Andrew Coyne puts it, “between genuine authority and mere received wisdom? Conversely, how do we tell crankish imperviousness to evidence from legitimate skepticism?” Are we obligated to trust whatever we’re told is based on a scientific consensus unless we can study the science ourselves? When can you doubt a consensus? When should you doubt it?

Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, maintains, and communicates the ostensible consensus. I don’t know of any exhaustive list of signs of suspicion, but, using climate change as a test study, I propose this checklist as a rough-and-ready list of signs for when to consider doubting a scientific “consensus,” whatever the subject. One of these signs may be enough to give pause. If they start to pile up, then it’s wise to be suspicious.

(1) When different claims get bundled together.

Usually, in scientific disputes, there is more than one claim at issue. With global warming, there’s the claim that our planet, on average, is getting warmer. There’s also the claim that human emissions are the main cause of it, that it’s going to be catastrophic, and that we have to transform civilization to deal with it. These are all different assertions with different bases of evidence. Evidence for warming, for instance, isn’t evidence for the cause of that warming. All the polar bears could drown, the glaciers melt, the sea levels rise 20 feet, Newfoundland become a popular place to tan, and that wouldn’t tell us a thing about what caused the warming. This is a matter of logic, not scientific evidence. The effect is not the same as the cause.

There’s a lot more agreement about (1) a modest warming trend since about 1850 than there is about (2) the cause of that trend. There’s even less agreement about (3) the dangers of that trend, or of (4) what to do about it. But these four propositions are frequently bundled together, so that if you doubt one, you’re labeled a climate change “skeptic” or “denier.” That’s just plain intellectually dishonest. When well-established claims are fused with separate, more controversial claims, and the entire conglomeration is covered with the label “consensus,” you have reason for doubt.

(2) When ad hominem attacks against dissenters predominate.

Personal attacks are common in any dispute simply because we’re human. It’s easier to insult than to the follow the thread of an argument. And just because someone makes an ad hominem argument, it doesn’t mean that their conclusion is wrong. But when the personal attacks are the first out of the gate, and when they seem to be growing in intensity and frequency, don your skeptic’s cap and look more closely at the evidence.

When it comes to climate change, ad hominems are all but ubiquitous. They are even smuggled into the way the debate is described. The common label “denier” is one example. Without actually making the argument, this label is supposed to call to mind the assertion of the “great climate scientist” Ellen Goodman: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.”

There’s an old legal proverb: If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have neither, attack the witness. When proponents of a scientific consensus lead with an attack on the witness, rather than on the arguments and evidence, be suspicious.

(3) When scientists are pressured to toe the party line.

The famous Lysenko affair in the former Soviet Union is often cited as an example of politics trumping good science. It’s a good example, but it’s often used to imply that such a thing could only happen in a totalitarian culture, that is, when all-powerful elites can control the flow of information. But this misses the almost equally powerful conspiracy of agreement, in which interlocking assumptions and interests combine to give the appearance of objectivity where none exists. For propaganda purposes, this voluntary conspiracy is even more powerful than a literal conspiracy by a dictatorial power, precisely because it looks like people have come to their position by a fair and independent evaluation of the evidence.

Tenure, job promotions, government grants, media accolades, social respectability, Wikipedia entries, and vanity can do what gulags do, only more subtly. Alexis de Tocqueville warned of the power of the majority in American society to erect “formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.” He could have been writing about climate science.

Climategate, and the dishonorable response to its revelations by some official scientific bodies, show that scientists are under pressure to toe the orthodox party line on climate change, and receive many benefits for doing so. That’s another reason for suspicion.

(4) When publishing and peer review in the discipline is cliquish.

Though it has its limits, the peer-review process is meant to provide checks and balances, to weed out bad and misleading work, and to bring some measure of objectivity to scientific research. At its best, it can do that. But when the same few people review and approve each other’s work, you invariably get conflicts of interest. This weakens the case for the supposed consensus, and becomes, instead, another reason to be suspicious. Nerds who follow the climate debate blogosphere have known for years about the cliquish nature of publishing and peer review in climate science (see here, for example).

(5) When dissenting opinions are excluded from the relevant peer-reviewed literature not because of weak evidence or bad arguments but as part of a strategy to marginalize dissent.

Besides mere cliquishness, the “peer review” process in climate science has, in some cases, been consciously, deliberately subverted to prevent dissenting views from being published. Again, denizens of the climate blogosphere have known about these problems for years, but Climategate revealed some of the gory details for the broader public. And again, this gives the lay public a reason to doubt the consensus.

(6) When the actual peer-reviewed literature is misrepresented.

Because of the rhetorical force of the idea of peer review, there’s the temptation to misrepresent it. We’ve been told for years that the peer-reviewed literature is virtually unanimous in its support for human-induced climate change. In Science, Naomi Oreskes even produced a “study” of the relevant literature supposedly showing “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” In fact, there are plenty of dissenting papers in the literature, and this despite mounting evidence that the peer-review deck was stacked against them. The Climategate scandal also underscored this: The climate scientists at the center of the controversy complained in their emails about dissenting papers that managed to survive the peer-review booby traps they helped maintain, and fantasized about torpedoing a respected climate science journal with the temerity to publish a dissenting article.

(7) When consensus is declared hurriedly or before it even exists.

A well-rooted scientific consensus, like a mature oak, usually needs time to emerge. Scientists around the world have to do research, publish articles, read about other research, repeat experiments (where possible), have open debates, make their data and methods available, evaluate arguments, look at the trends, and so forth, before they eventually come to agreement. When scientists rush to declare a consensus, particularly when they claim a consensus that has yet to form, this should give any reasonable person pause.

In 1992, former Vice President Al Gore reassured his listeners, “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.” In the real 1992, however, Gallup “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.” Seventeen years later, in 2009, Gore apparently determined that he needed to revise his own revisionist history, asserting that the scientific debate over human-induced climate change had raged until as late as 1999, but now there was true consensus. Of course, 2009 is when Climategate broke, reminding us that what had smelled funny before might indeed be a little rotten.

(8) When the subject matter seems, by its nature, to resist consensus.

It makes sense that chemists over time may come to unanimous conclusions about the results of some chemical reaction, since they can replicate the results over and over in their own labs. They can see the connection between the conditions and its effects. It’s easily testable. But many of the things under consideration in climate science are not like that. The evidence is scattered and hard to keep track of; it’s often indirect, imbedded in history and requiring all sorts of assumptions. You can’t rerun past climate to test it, as you can with chemistry experiments. And the headline-grabbing conclusions of climate scientists are based on complex computer models that climate scientists themselves concede do not accurately model the underlying reality, and receive their input, not from the data, but from the scientists interpreting the data. This isn’t the sort of scientific endeavor on which a wide, well-established consensus is easily rendered. In fact, if there really were a consensus on all the various claims surrounding climate science, that would be really suspicious. A fortiori, the claim of consensus is a bit suspicious as well.

(9) When “scientists say” or “science says” is a common locution.

In Newsweek’s April 28, 1975, issue, science editor Peter Gwynne claimed that “scientists are almost unanimous” that global cooling was underway. Now we are told, “Scientists say global warming will lead to the extinction of plant and animal species, the flooding of coastal areas from rising seas, more extreme weather, more drought and diseases spreading more widely.” “Scientists say” is hopelessly ambiguous. Your mind should immediately wonder: “Which ones?”

Other times this vague company of scientists becomes “SCIENCE,” as when we’re told “what science says is required to avoid catastrophic climate change.” “Science says” is an inherently weasely claim. “Science,” after all, is an abstract noun. It can’t say anything. Whenever you see that locution used to imply a consensus, it should trigger your baloney detector.

(10) When it is being used to justify dramatic political or economic policies.

Imagine hundreds of world leaders and nongovernmental organizations, science groups, and United Nations functionaries gathered for a meeting heralded as the most important conference since World War II, in which “the future of the world is being decided.” These officials seem to agree that institutions of “global governance” need to be established to reorder the world economy and massively restrict energy resources. Large numbers of them applaud wildly when socialist dictators denounce capitalism. Strange philosophical and metaphysical activism surrounds the gathering. And we are told by our president that all of this is based, not on fiction, but on science—that is, a scientific consensus that human activities, particularly greenhouse gas emissions, are leading to catastrophic climate change.

We don’t have to imagine that scenario, of course. It happened in Copenhagen, in December. Now, none of this disproves the hypothesis of catastrophic, human induced climate change. But it does describe an atmosphere that would be highly conducive to misrepresentation. And at the very least, when policy consequences, which claim to be based on science, are so profound, the evidence ought to be rock solid. “Extraordinary claims,” the late Carl Sagan often said, “require extraordinary evidence.” When the megaphones of consensus insist that there’s no time, that we have to move, MOVE, MOVE!, you have a right to be suspicious.

(11) When the “consensus” is maintained by an army of water-carrying journalists who defend it with uncritical and partisan zeal, and seem intent on helping certain scientists with their messaging rather than reporting on the field as objectively as possible.

Do I really need to elaborate on this point?

(12) When we keep being told that there’s a scientific consensus.

A scientific consensus should be based on scientific evidence. But a consensus is not itself the evidence. And with really well-established scientific theories, you never hear about consensus. No one talks about the consensus that the planets orbit the sun, that the hydrogen molecule is lighter than the oxygen molecule, that salt is sodium chloride, that light travels about 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum, that bacteria sometimes cause illness, or that blood carries oxygen to our organs. The very fact that we hear so much about a consensus on catastrophic, human-induced climate change is perhaps enough by itself to justify suspicion.

To adapt that old legal aphorism, when you’ve got decisive scientific evidence on your side, you argue the evidence. When you’ve got great arguments, you make the arguments. When you don’t have decisive evidence or great arguments, you claim consensus.



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