Wall Street Journal: Sceptics respond to Trenberth et al

Warming exaggerated every time

You will recall the article in the Wall Street Journal “No need to panic about global warming” (see here). Then came the response from the headbangers, swiftly dealt with by Pat Michaels here (“Wall Street Journal war of words continues”) and letter writers  here (“WSJ: When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail”).

Now the original writers have responded in detail:

[…] an important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is “falsified” and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007.

These projections were based on IPCC computer models of how increased atmospheric CO2 should warm the earth. Some of the models predict higher or lower rates of warming, but the projections shown in the graph and their extensions into the distant future are the basis of most studies of environmental effects and mitigation policy options. Year-to-year fluctuations and discrepancies are unimportant; longer-term trends are significant.

From the graph it appears that the projections exaggerate, substantially, the response of the earth’s temperature to CO2 which increased by about 11% from 1989 through 2011. Furthermore, when one examines the historical temperature record throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, the data strongly suggest a much lower CO2 effect than almost all models calculate.

Read it here.

"What if they are wrong?"

Mike Stopa

Mike Stopa, a physicist specialising in computation and nanoscience in the Physics Department at Harvard [cries of “not a climate scientist!” from the headbangers] writes at his blog:

Here I ask this. Suppose it turns out that CO2 has essentially nothing to do with the earth’s climate. How will the history of this colossal mistake be written?

They will say that a mechanism called the “greenhouse effect,” was postulated long ago (~1824 by Joseph Fourier) and gained adherents in the late 20th century. They will say that the theory was seemingly invalidated by the decrease in global temperatures from 1940-1975, but that the adherents patched this up by explaining the cooling with pollution, specifically sulfur, from industry

They will say that the theory was challenged by the noted vast gap between the amount of CO2 produced by civilization and the substantially smaller increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, but that the theory was patched up by examining the increased CO2 uptake by the hydrosphere and the biosphere.

They will say the theory was seemingly invalidated by the evidence that the atmosphere was already nearly opaque in the wavelengths that are absorbed by CO2 and so the additional CO2 could have, on its own, little effect, but that the theory was patched up by positing a feedback mechanism between the small temperature increases directly due to CO2 and the production of water vapor which is the main greenhouse gas.

They will note that the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) proceeded much like any scientific theory (cf. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) in that it was modified and patched up and adjusted to fit empirical challenges until it finally collapsed altogether under the weight of incontrovertible evidence. But, the scientific historians will have a new phenomenon to consider, and that is the social and political context of this particular scientific theory.

Kuhn describes very well the build-up of evidence that ultimately leads to the over-turning of accepted orthodoxy within the scientific community, of some particular theory. But AGW is intrinsically wrapped up with political ideology and, increasingly, with economics and government (cf. “Solyndra”). The only apt comparison I can think of is Lysenkoism, the anti-genetics theory of Trofim Lysenko that was bought wholesale by Stalin and ultimately hobbled the entire Soviet biological establishment for generations (to say nothing of its role in leading to the starvation of people who followed its tenets in regard to things like agriculture).

Scientific revolutions are difficult and traumatic enough without the added inertia of government sponsorship. To put it more bluntly, scientists have difficulty enough admitting that they have egg on their faces. Throw in the Solyndras of the world and the United Nations and the entire anti-capitalist Global Left and the backing out of this theory will be nothing short of a fiasco.

If someone were, for instance, to come up with indisputable evidence tomorrow that CO2 has essentially no impact on earth’s climate, could the world accept it? With the development of frakking and the concomitant extension of carbon based energy resources hundreds of years into the future, what would they do with all the windmills?

Well, the truth of this issue should be apparent within about 15 years…at which point we may be allowed to buy incandescent light bulbs again. (source)

h/t Climate Depot

Scientists: no need to panic about "global warming"

WSJ Online

Sixteen scientists, including such luminaries as Lindzen, Kininmonth, Happer and Shaviv, write to the Wall Street Journal, expressing the view that the global warming scare is completely overblown, and that AGW alarmism may result in increased research funding. Shock!

What heresy! Wait for the excuses: they’re not the “right” scientists, of course. They’ve all been “bought off” by big oil. They’re all probably suffering from delusions caused by mental illness. The fact that they may have reached these conclusion by means of proper impartial scientific enquiry wouldn’t occur to the alarmist head-bangers (given they haven’t a clue what “impartial scientific enquiry” is – “Surely science is avoiding FOI requests, deleting data and fudging results? That’s what I was taught!”).

Cue collective warmist head-pop in 3, 2, 1…

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word “incontrovertible” from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question “cui bono?” Or the modern update, “Follow the money.”

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Read it all.

That distant explosion was Monbiot, by the way…

(h/t Climate Depot)

UPDATE: Check out Un-skeptical Pseudo-Science’s hilarious over-reaction to this article here (the only reason I know about it is because they linked to me as a “denier blog” – LOL!)

UPDATE 2: Lubos Motl assembles links to all the hysterical responses from the headbangers here. Probably best to be sitting down when you read them.

UPDATE 3: Add to the list Andrew Glikson from ANU writing at The [One-sided] Conversation. Glikson cites NASA GISS (i.e. Hansen) data for global temperatures, and Munich Re (alarmist insurers) for “evidence” of more extreme weather. Would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. Go here (if you really must).

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