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Climate Change - The Key External Factors.

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The Labour Party’s Climate Change Act committed a UK expenditure of £500bn by 2040 to deal with reducing carbon emissions and providing alternatives to fossil fuels in the fraudulent belief that CO2 was a harmful greenhouse gas, when in fact it is totally beneficial for life, even in concentrations four times current levels.  Please see the supporting documents on the science of CO2, and how Cosmic rays and other external influences create the large water droplets in low level clouds, which cool the oceans and subsequently cool the planet.

As a consequence of the Labour Party’s Climate Change Act and current Government Policy on Energy, our electricity costs are double those of Germany and France, and many other trade competitors around the world.

Energy costs average around 40% of the costs of industry world-wide, thus the green global warming lobby in Britain are putting Britain out of business, as we can see from the very large number of job losses in steel, chemicals, manufacturing etc.
 
The two major pollutants nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide have only just been recognised.

 

Proof that Cosmic Rays Create Low Level Clouds

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The Truth About Greenhouse Gases

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THE TRUTH ABOUT GREENHOUSE GASES
William Happer

 

The Global Warming Policy Foundation
Briefing Paper No 3
GWPF REPORTS

 

Views expressed in the publications of the Global Warming Policy Foundation
are those of the authors, not those of the GWPF, its Trustees, its Academic
Advisory Council members or its Directors.

 

THE GLOBAL WARMING POLICY FOUNDATION
Director
Dr Benny Peiser

 

BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Lord Lawson (Chairman)
Lord Barnett
Lord Donoughue
Lord Fellowes
Rt Rev Peter Forster
Bishop of Chester

 

ACADEMIC ADVISORY COUNCIL
Professor David Henderson (Chairman)
Adrian Berry (Viscount Camrose)
Sir Samuel Brittan
Sir Ian Byatt
Professor Robert Carter
Professor Vincent Courtillot
Professor Freeman Dyson
Christian Gerondeau
Dr Indur Goklany
Professor William Happer
Professor Terence Kealey
Professor Anthony Kelly
Professor Deepak Lal
Sir Martin Jacomb
Henri Lepage
Baroness Nicholson
Lord Turnbull
Professor Richard Lindzen
Professor Ross McKitrick
Professor Robert Mendelsohn
Professor Sir Alan Peacock
Professor Ian Plimer
Professor Gwyn Prins
Professor B P Radhakrishna
Professor Paul Reiter
Dr Matt Ridley
Sir Alan Rudge
Professor Philip Stott
Professor Richard Tol
Dr David Whitehouse

 

The Truth About Greenhouse Gases

Professor William Happer


William Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at
Princeton University. He is a member of the GWPF’s Academic
Advisory Council.

 


The Truth About Greenhouse Gases


“The object of the Author in the following pages has been to collect the
most remarkable instances of those moral epidemics which have been
excited, sometimes by one cause and sometimes by another, and to
show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and
gregarious men are, even in their infatuations and crimes,” wrote Charles
Mackay in the preface to the first edition of his Extraordinary Popular
Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. I want to discuss a contemporary
moral epidemic: the notion that increasing atmospheric concentrations
of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, will have disastrous
consequences for mankind and for the planet. This contemporary
“climate crusade” has much in common with the medieval crusades
Mackay describes, with true believers, opportunists, cynics, money-hungry
governments, manipulators of various types, and even children’s
crusades.

 

Carbon dioxide
I am a strong supporter of a clean environment. We need to be vigilant
to keep our land, air and waters free of real pollution, particulates,
heavy metals, pathogens, but carbon dioxide (CO2) is not one of these
pollutants. Carbon is the stuff of life. Our bodies are made of carbon.
Every day a normal human exhales around 1 kg of CO2 -- the simplest
chemically stable molecule of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. Before
the industrial period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was
about 270 parts per million (ppm). At the present time, the concentration
is about 390 ppm, 0.039% of all atmospheric molecules and less than 1%
of that in our breath. About fifty million years ago, a brief moment in the
long history of life on earth, geological evidence indicates, CO2 levels
were several thousand ppm, much higher than now. And life flourished
abundantly.

 

“The Truth About Greenhouse Gases” appeared in the June/July issue of First Things
(www.firstthings.com) and a slightly revised version is published here with permission.

 


The Truth About Greenhouse Gases

 

Now the Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate
atmospheric CO2 as a “pollutant.” According to my Webster’s New
Collegiate Dictionary, to pollute is “to make or render unclean, to
defile, to desecrate, to profane.” By breathing are we rendering the air
unclean, defiling or desecrating it? Efforts are underway to remedy the
old-fashioned, restrictive definition of pollution. The current Wikipedia
entry on air pollution, for example, now asserts that pollution includes:
“carbon dioxide (C02)—a colorless, odorless, non-toxic greenhouse
gas associated with ocean acidification, emitted from sources such as
combustion, cement production, and respiration.”

 

Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom King Edward VIII renounced the
British throne, supposedly said “A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.”
But in reality, you can get too much or too little of a good thing. Whether
we should be glad or worried about increasing levels of CO2 depends on
quantitative numbers, not just qualitative considerations.

 

As far as green plants are concerned, CO2 is not a pollutant, but part
of their daily bread—like water, sunlight, nitrogen, and other essential
elements. Most green plants evolved at CO2 levels of several thousand
ppm, many times higher than now. Plants grow better and have better
flowers and fruit at higher CO2 levels. Commercial greenhouse operators
recognize this when they artificially increase the CO2 concentrations
inside their greenhouses to over 1000 ppm.

 

How close is the current atmosphere to the upper or lower limit for
CO2—or to some optimum intermediate level? Did we have just the right
concentration of CO2 at the preindustrial level of 270 ppm? Reading
breathless media reports about CO2 “pollution” and about minimizing
our “carbon footprints,” one might think that the earth cannot have
too little CO2, a bit like Wallis Simpson’s view on thinness. This view was
overstated, as we have seen from the sad effects anorexia in so many
young women. Various geo-engineering schemes are being discussed
for scrubbing CO2 from the air. Why not scrub it all out? Humans would
be perfectly healthy in a world with no atmospheric CO2 -- except that
we would have nothing to eat and a few other minor inconveniences --
most plants stop growing if CO2 levels drop much below 150 ppm. If we
want to continue to be fed and clothed by the products of green plants
we can have too little CO2. The preindustrial value of 270 ppm CO2 may
well have been below the optimum level, we are probably better off with
our current 390 ppm, and we would be better off with still more CO2. For
example, there is evidence that California orange groves are about 30
percent more productive today than they were 150 years ago because
of the increase of atmospheric CO2.

 

Although humans and many other animals would do just fine with
no CO2 at all in the air, there is an upper limit that we can tolerate.
Inhaling air with a CO2 concentration of a few per cent, similar to the
concentration of the air we exhale, hinders the diffusional exchange of
CO2 between the blood and gas in the lung. Both the United States Navy
(for submariners) and NASA (for astronauts) have performed extensive
studies of human tolerance to CO2. As a result of these studies, the Navy
recommends an upper limit of about 8000 ppm for cruises of ninety
days, and NASA recommends an upper limit of 5000 ppm for missions of
one thousand days, both assuming a total pressure of one atmosphere.
Higher levels are acceptable for missions of only a few days.

 

We conclude that atmospheric CO2 levels should be above about 150
ppm to avoid harming green plants and below about 5000 ppm to avoid
harming people. That is a big range, and our atmosphere is much closer
to the lower end than the upper end. We were not that far from CO2
anorexia when massive burning of fossil fuels began. At the current rate
of burning fossil fuels, we are adding about 2 ppm of CO2 per year to the
atmosphere, so getting from our current level to 1000 ppm would take
about 300 years—and 1000 ppm is still less than what most plants would
prefer, and much less than either the NASA or the Navy limit.

 

Yet there are strident calls for immediately stopping further increases in
CO2 levels and reducing the current level (with 1990 levels the arbitrary
benchmark). As we have discussed, animals would not even notice
a doubling of CO2 and plants would love it. The supposed reason for
limiting CO2 is to stop global warming—or since the predicted warming
has failed to be nearly as large as computer models forecast—to
stop climate change. Climate change itself has been embarrassingly
uneventful, so another rationale for reducing CO2 is now promoted: to
stop the hypothetical increase of extreme climate events like hurricanes
or tornados. But dispassionate data show that the frequency of extreme
events has hardly changed and in some cases has decreased in the 150
years that it has taken CO2 levels to increase from 270 ppm to 390 ppm.

 

The effects of CO2

 

Let me turn to some of the problems the non-pollutant CO2 is supposed
to cause. CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet, and
we should thank Providence for that, because without the greenhouse
warming of CO2 and its more potent partners, water vapor and clouds,
the earth would be too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. Other
things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming. The question is
how much warming, and whether the increased CO2 and the warming
it causes will be good or bad for the planet. More CO2 is supposed to
cause cities to flood, parched agriculture, tropical diseases in Alaska,
etc., and even an epidemic of kidney stones.

 

The argument starts something like this. CO2 levels have increased from
about 270 ppm to 390 ppm over the past 150 years or so, and the earth
has warmed by about 0.8 C during that time. Therefore the warming is
due to CO2. But correlation is not causation. The local rooster crows every
morning at sunrise, but that does not mean the rooster caused the sun to
rise. The sun will still rise on Monday if you decide to have the rooster for
Sunday dinner.

 

There have been many warmings and coolings in the past when the CO2
levels did not change. A well known example is the medieval warming,
about the year 1000, when the Vikings settled Greenland (when it was
greener) and wine was exported from England. This warm period was
followed by the “Little Ice Age” when the Thames would frequently freeze
over during the winter. There is no evidence for significant increase of
CO2 at the Medieval Warm Period, nor for a significant decrease at the
time of the subsequent Little Ice Age. Documented famines with millions
of deaths occurred during the Little Ice Age because of crop failures due
to cold weather. The earth has been warming in fits and starts since the
end of the Little Ice Age, a few centuries ago, and humanity’s quality of
life has improved accordingly.

 

A rare case of good correlation between CO2 levels and temperature
is provided by ice-core records of the cycles of glacial and interglacial
periods of the last million years of so. But these records show that changes
in temperature preceded changes in CO2 levels, so that CO2 levels were
an effect of temperature changes. Much of this was probably due to
outgassing of CO2 from the warming oceans or the reverse on cooling.
The most recent continental ice sheets began to melt some twenty
thousand years ago. During the “Younger Dryas” some 12,000 years ago,
the earth very dramatically cooled and warmed -- as much 10 C in fifty
years -- with no apparent change in CO2 levels, and with life -- including
our human ancestors -- surviving the rapid change in temperature just
fine.

 

The earth’s climate has always been changing. Our present global
warming is not at all unusual by the standards of geological history,
and the mild warming is probably benefiting the biosphere. Indeed,
there is very little correlation between the estimates of CO2 levels in the
atmosphere and the estimates of the earth’s temperature over the past
550 million years (the “phanerozoic” period). The message is clear that
several factors must influence the earth’s temperature, and that while
CO2 is one of these factors, it is seldom the dominant one. Other factors
that influence the earth’s temperature are spontaneous variations of
the complicated fluid flow patterns in the oceans and atmosphere of
the earth (perhaps influenced by continental drift), volcanoes, variations
of the earth’s orbital parameters (ellipticity, spin-axis orientation, etc.),
asteroid and comet impacts, variations in the sun’s output (not only the
visible radiation but the amount of ultraviolet light, and the solar wind with
its magnetic field), variations in cosmic rays leading to variations in cloud
cover, and other causes.

 

The Hockey Stick

 

The existence of the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period was
an embarrassment to the global-warming establishment because it
showed that the current warming is almost indistinguishable from previous
warmings and coolings that had nothing to do with burning of fossil
fuels. The organization charged with producing scientific support for
the climate crusade, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), finally found a solution. They rewrote the climate history of the
past 1000 years with the celebrated “hockey stick” temperature record.
The first IPCC report, issued in 1990, showed both the Medieval Warm
Period and the Little Ice Age very clearly. In the IPCC’s 2001 report was
a graph that purported to show the earth’s mean temperature since the
year 1000. A yet more extreme version of the hockey stick graph made
the cover of the 50th Anniversary Report of the United Nation’s World
Meteorological Organization. To the surprise of everyone who knew
about the strong evidence for the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm
Period, the graph showed a nearly constant temperature from the year
1000 until about 150 years ago, when the temperature began to rise
abruptly like the blade of a hockey stick. The inference was that this was
due to the anthropogenic “pollutant” CO2.

 

This damnatia memoriae of inconvenient truths was simply expunged
from the 2001 IPCC report, much as Trotsky and Yezhov were removed
from Stalin’s photographs by accommodating dark-room specialists in
the later years of the dictator’s reign. There was no explanation for why
both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, very clearly shown
in the 1990 report, had simply disappeared eleven years later.
The IPCC and its worshipful supporters did their best to promote the
hockey-stick temperature curve. But as John Adams remarked,
“Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our
inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state
of facts and evidence.” The hockey stick curve caught the attention
of two Canadians, Steve McIntyre, a retired mining consultant, and
an academic statistician, Ross McKitrick. As they began to look more
carefully at the original data—much of it from tree rings—and at the
analysis that led to the hockey stick, they became more and more
puzzled. By hard, remarkably detailed, and persistent work over many
years, consistently frustrated in their efforts to obtain original data and
data-analysis methods, they showed that the hockey stick was not
supported by observational data. An excellent, recent history of this
episode is Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion.

 

About the time of the Copenhagen Climate Conference in the
fall of 2009, another nasty thing happened to the global-warming
establishment. A Russian server released large numbers of e-mails and
other files from computers of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the
University of East Anglia. Among the files released were e-mails between
members of the power structure of the climate crusade, “the team.”
These files were, or should have been, very embarrassing to their senders
and recipients. A senior scientist from CRU wrote, for example: “PS,
I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station
temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has
a Freedom Of Information Act.” One of the most consistent themes of
the e-mails is the need to hide raw data from anyone outside the team.
Why the obsession on withholding data? Because the hockey stick lost
credibility when it was possible to see the raw, unmanipulated data on
which it was based.

 

Peer review
A traditional way to maintain integrity in science is through peer
review, the anonymous examination of a scientific paper by qualified,
competing scientists before publication. In a responsible peer review,
the authors may be required to make substantial revisions to correct any
flaws in the science or methodology before their paper is published. But
peer review has completely failed in climate science. Global warming
alarmists have something like Gadaffi’s initial air superiority over rag-tag
opponents in Libya. Consider this comment from one of the most
respected IPCC leaders, as revealed in the CRU e-mails: “I can’t see
either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth]
and I will keep them out somehow—even if we have to redefine what
the peer-review literature is.” And consider the CRU e-mail comment on
a journal that committed the mortal sin of publishing one of the heretical
papers: “I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a
legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our
colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or
cite papers in, this journal.”

 

Peer review in climate science means that the ”team” recommends
publication of each other’s work, and tries to keep any off-message
paper from being accepted for publication. Why this obsession with
cleansing the “scientific” literature of any opposing views? Because
it allows climate extremists to claim that they represent all of science
and anyone who questions their message is at war with all of science,
except for a few “flat-earthers”, “deniers,” or others scorned with carefully
researched epithets, designed to discredit dissenting scientific opinion. All
of this reminds me of the opposition in medieval Western Europe to the
translation of the Bible into the vernacular. The Scriptures were useless for
the large numbers of people who could read their own language, but
who had not been privileged to learn to read Latin, Greek or Hebrew.
The Climategate e-mails show the same fierce determination of “the
team” to deny the general scientific public the chance to form their own
conclusions about raw data --the old and the new testaments of science.
In the last half of the 18th century, “the Age of Enlightenment,” the
founding fathers of the United States studied all political systems known
to them, from the classical Greek city states to the Dutch republic. They
hoped to select the best form of government for their new nation. One
of them, James Madison, reminds his fellow citizens in The Federalist
Papers: (The Federalist 10) “No man is allowed to be a judge in his own
cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not
improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason,
a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same
time.” Madison goes on to observe that the smaller the community, the
more likely that parties and judges will be one and the same. Climate
scientists are trying to convince the world that they are so righteous that
they can judge their own cause. The notion that climate science should
be immune to criticism from anyone outside of the “team” is warmly
supported by the large numbers of people who stand to benefit from
global warming hysteria, as well as by a few who have a sincere and
touching faith in the incorruptibility of science.

 

Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist
with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really
is a greenhouse gas and, other things being equal, adding CO2 to the
atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase
the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling
the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly
cause about one degree Celsius warming. At the current rate of CO2
increase in the atmosphere —about 2 ppm per year— it would take
about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly
warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of
food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increased
CO2 will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative
effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean
acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, etc.
are greatly exaggerated.

 

“Mitigation” and control efforts that have been proposed will enrich
a favoured few with good political ties—at the expense of the great
majority of mankind, including, especially, the poor and the citizens of
developing nations. These efforts will make almost no change in earth’s
temperature. Spain’s recent experiment with green energy destroyed
several pre-existing jobs for every green job it created, and it was one of
the reasons for the near bankruptcy of the country.

 

Climate models

 

The frightening warnings that alarmists raise about the effects of doubling
CO2 are based on computer models. These models assume that the
direct warming effect of CO2 is multiplied by a large and positive
“feedback factor” from CO2-induced changes in water vapor and
clouds, which supposedly contribute much more to the greenhouse
warming of the earth than CO2. But there is observational evidence
that the feedback factor is small and may even be negative. Climate
models appear to fit the temperature rise over the last 150 years very well.
But the values of various parameters like clouds and the concentrations
of anthropogenic aerosols are adjusted to get the best fit to past
observations. The real values of most parameters, and the physics of how
they affect the earth’s climate, are in most cases only roughly known,
too roughly to supply data accurate enough for computer predictions.
The great mathematician John von Neumann once said, “With four
parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle
his trunk.” Climate models have dozens of parameters, not unlike the
epicycles of Ptolemaic astronomy. And they have done poorly at
predicting the future. No model predicted the lack of net warming of the
earth’s temperature that we have experienced over the past ten years.
In my judgment, and in that of many other scientists familiar with the
issues, the main problem with models could well be their treatment
of clouds and water vapor, changes of which can effect the earth’s
temperature as much or more than changing levels of CO2.

 

What is wrong with climate science?

 

What, besides the bias toward a particular, desired result, is wrong with
the science? Scientific progress proceeds by the interplay of theory
and observation. Theory explains observations and makes predictions
about what will be observed in the future. Observations anchor our
understanding and weed out the theories that do not work. This has been
the scientific method for more than three hundred years. Recently, the
advent of the computer has made possible another branch of inquiry:
computer simulation models. Properly used, computer models can
enhance and speed up scientific progress. But they are not meant to
replace theory and observation and to serve as an authority of their own.
We know they fail in economics. All of the proposed controls that would
have such a significant impact on the world’s economic future are based
on computer models that are so complex and chaotic that many runs
are needed before we can get an “average” answer. Yet the models
have failed the simple scientific test of prediction. We don’t even have a
theory for how accurate the models should be.

 

There are many honest, hardworking climate scientists who are trying
to understand the effects of CO2 on climate, but their work has fallen
under suspicion because of the hockey-stick scandal and many
other exaggerations about the dangers of increasing CO2. What has
transformed climate science from a normal intellectual discipline to a
matter of so much controversy?

 

A major problem has been the co-option of climate science by politics,
ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a
righteous cause. What better cause than saving the planet, especially
if one can get ample, secure funding at the same time? Huge amounts
of money are available from governments and wealthy foundations for
climate institutes and for climate-related research. Funding for climate
studies is second only to funding for biological sciences. Large academic
empires, prizes, elections to honorary societies, fellowships, consulting
fees and other perquisites go to those researchers whose results may
help “save the planet.” Every day we read about some real or contrived
environmental or ecological effect “proved” to arise from global
warming. The total of such claimed effects now runs in the hundreds,
all the alleged result of an unexceptional century-long warming of less
than one degree Celsius. Government subsidies, loan guarantees, and
captive customers go to green companies. Carbon-tax revenues flow
to governments. As the great Russian poet Pushkin said in his novella
Dubrovsky, “If there happens to be a trough, there will be pigs.” Any
doubt about apocalyptic climate scenarios could remove many troughs.
Many Americans still remember the wise words of President Eisenhower
in his farewell address of 1960, where he warned us against the “militaryindustrial
complex.” Few remember the following paragraphs in the same
speech:

 

“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our
industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during
recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also
becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing
share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed
by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same
fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas
and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct
of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government
contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every
old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal
employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever
present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research
and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the
equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the
captive of a scientific-technological elite. It is the task of statesmanship to
mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old,
within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the
supreme goals of our free society.”

 

Does this sound familiar? What would Eisenhower say about the frenzy
over supposed human-induced climate change and the amazing
scientific, industrial and governmental crusade that has coalesced
around it?

 

What about those who doubt the scientific basis of these claims, or who
simply don’t like what is being done to the scientific method they were
taught to apply and uphold? Publications of contrary research results in
mainstream journals are rare. The occasional heretical article is the result
of an inevitable, protracted battle with those who support the dogma
and who control the levers of peer review. As mentioned above, we
know from the Climategate emails that the team conspired to prevent
contrary publications from seeing the light of day and even discussed
getting rid of an editor who seemed to be inclined to admit such
contentious material.

 

Skeptics’ motives are publicly impugned; denigrating names are used
routinely in media reports and in the blogosphere; and we now see
attempts to use the same tactics that Big Brother applied to Winston
Smith in Orwell’s 1984. In 2009, a conference of “ecopsychologists”
was held at the University of West England to discuss the obvious
psychological problems resident in those who do not adhere to the
global warming dogma. These ecopsychologists, who knew almost
nothing themselves about climate science, told us that scientists and
members of the general population who express objective doubt about
alarmist views of global warming are suffering from a kind of mental
illness. We know from the Soviet experience that a totalitarian society can
find it convenient to consider dissidents to be mentally deranged and act
accordingly.

 

The role of scientific societies


The management of most scientific societies has enthusiastically signed
on to the global warming bandwagon. This is not surprising, since
government, as well as many states and foundations, generously fund
those who reinforce their desired outcomes under the cover of saving
the planet. Certain private industries are also involved: those positioned
to profit from enacted controls as well as financial institutions heavily
invested in “green technologies” – technologies whose rationale
disappears the moment global warming is widely understood to be a
non-problem. There are known connections and movements of people
involved in government policy, scientific societies, private industry and
foundations -- all with the common thread of influencing the outcome of
a set of programs and investments underpinned by the supposed threat
of global warming.

 

My own trade union, the American Physical Society (APS), is a good
example, but hardly the worst. An APS Council statement issued on
November 18, 2007 states: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global
warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant
disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems,
security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions
of greenhouse gases beginning now.” This is pretty strong language for
physicists, for whom skepticism about evidence was once considered a
virtue, and nothing was incontrovertible.

 


In the fall of 2009 a petition, organized by a Fellow of the American
Physical Society, Roger Cohen, and containing the signatures of
hundreds of distinguished APS members, was presented to the APS
management with a request that at least the truly embarrassing word
“incontrovertible” be taken out of the statement. The APS management’s
response was to threaten the petitioners, while grudgingly appointing a
committee to consider the request. It was exactly what James Madison
warned against. The committee included members whose careers
depended on global warming alarmism, and the predictable result
was that not one word was changed. Bad as the actions of the APS
leadership were, they were far better than those of most other scientific
societies -- that rejected any reconsideration of extreme statements by
the society leadership on climate.

 

The situation is even more lamentable for the general public, which is fed
a constant stream of propaganda by specialists in environmental issues
from the mainstream media and well-funded alarmist blogs. Not unlike
functionaries of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in 1984, with its motto “Ignorance
is Strength,” many of the environmental news media dutifully and
uncritically promote the party line of the climate crusade.

 

But Abraham Lincoln got it right when he (supposedly) said, “You can
fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all
of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” The
situation is slowly getting better. Skeptics are more numerous and better
organized than before. In a few cases, leading former adherents have
publicly and courageously spoken out against the dogma and its core
of establishment promoters. The IPCC itself has come under severe
criticism by the international scientific establishment for its series of
bizarre errors and organizational failings. Under pressure from a dissident
group of Fellows, the Royal Society moved to meaningfully moderate its
former radically alarmist position on global warming. And perhaps most
important of all, public skepticism has increased significantly, and with it
has come a major drop in support of the climate crusade’s attempt to
seize control of the “pollutant,” CO2.

 

Conclusion
I began with a quote from the preface of the first edition of Mackay’s
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and I
will end with a quote from the preface of the second edition: “Men,
it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in
herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” In our
efforts to conserve the beautiful planet that is our home, we should
not fixate on CO2. We should instead focus on issues like damage to
local landscapes and waterways by strip mining, inadequate cleanup,
hazards to underground miners, the excessive release of real pollutants
such as mercury, other heavy metals, organic carcinogens, etc. Much
of the potential harm from strip mining can be eliminated, for example,
by requirements that the land be restored to a condition that is as least
as good as, and preferably better than, when the mining began. And it
is high time that we assess great expanses of windmills and solar-panels
in the previously unspoiled open spaces of the world with the same
objectiveness that we apply to other human perturbations of nature.
Looking at once beautiful hilltops, now cluttered with windmills, I am
reminded of an exchange between Winston Churchill and a woman
who indignantly said, “Sir, you are drunk.” Churchill responded, “Madam,
you are ugly. In the morning I shall be sober.” The hilltops will be ugly for a
long, long time.

 

Life is about making decisions and decisions are about trade-offs. We
can choose to promote investment in technology that addresses real
problems and scientific research that will let us cope with real problems
more efficiently. Or we can be caught up in a crusade that seeks to
suppress energy use, economic growth, and the benefits that come from
the creation of wealth for all of mankind.

 


For further information about the GWPF or a print copy of this report contact:

 

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Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and
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Above all we seek to inform the media, politicians and the
public, in a newsworthy way, on the subject in general and
on the misinformation to which they are all too frequently
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The key to the success of the GWPF is the trust and credibility
that we have earned in the eyes of a growing number of
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The GWPF is funded entirely by voluntary donations from a
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Published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation

 

The scientific consensus on climate change (20.12.05) (2)

Download PDF

"The scientific consensus on climate change"

The letter Science Magazine refused to publish

From: Benny Peiser
To: Science
Web Submission ID: 56001
Submitted: 4 January 2005
First Author Name: Benny J Peiser
Address: Faculty of Science, Henry Cotton Campus, Liverpool John Moores University, 15-21 Webster Street, Liverpool L3 2ET UNITED KINGDOM

Type: Letter

Letter Details:1. N. Oreskes (2004). The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1686 , 3 December 2004

On December 3rd, only days before the start of the 10th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-10), Science Magazine published the results of a study by Naomi Oreskes (1): For the first time, empirical evidence was presented that appeared to show an unanimous, scientific consensus on the anthropogenic causes of recent global warming.

Oreskes claims to have analysed 928 abstracts she found listed on the ISI database using the keywords "climate change". However, a search on the ISI database using the keywords "climate change" for the years 1993 - 2003 reveals that almost 12,000 papers were published during the decade in question (2). What happened to the countless research papers that show that global temperatures were similar or even higher during the Holocene Climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period when atmospheric CO2 levels were much lower than today; that solar variability is a key driver of recent climate change, and that climate modeling is highly uncertain?

These objections were put to Oreskes by science writer David Appell. On 15 December 2004, she admitted that there was indeed a serious mistake in her Science essay. According to Oreskes, her study was not based on the keywords "climate change," but on "global climate change" (3).

Her use of three keywords instead of two reduced the list of peer reviewed publications by one order of magnitude (on the UK's ISI databank the keyword search "global climate change" comes up with 1247 documents). Since the results looked questionable, I decided to replicate the Oreskes study.

METHOD

I analysed all abstracts listed on the ISI databank for 1993 to 2003 using the same keywords ("global climate change") as the Oreskes study. Of the 1247 documents listed, only 1117 included abstracts (130 listed only titles, author(s)' details and keywords). The 1117 abstracts analysed were divided into the same six categories used by Oreskes (#1-6), plus two categories which I added (# 7, 8):

1. explicit endorsement of the consensus position
2. evaluation of impacts
3. mitigation proposals
4. methods
5. paleoclimate analysis
6. rejection of the consensus position.
7. natural factors of global climate change
8. unrelated to the question of recent global climate change

RESULTS

The results of my analysis contradict Oreskes' findings and essentially falsify her study:

Of all 1117 abstracts, only 13 (or 1%) explicitly endorse the 'consensus view'.
322 abstracts (or 29%) implicitly accept the 'consensus view' but mainly focus on impact assessments of envisaged global climate change.
Less than 10% of the abstracts (89) focus on "mitigation".
67 abstracts mainly focus on methodological questions.
87 abstracts deal exclusively with paleo-climatological research unrelated to recent climate change.
34 abstracts reject or doubt the view that human activities are the main drivers of the "the observed warming over the last 50 years".
44 abstracts focus on natural factors of global climate change.
470 (or 42%) abstracts include the keywords "global climate change" but do not include any direct or indirect link or reference to human activities, CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions, let alone anthropogenic forcing of recent climate change.

DISCUSSION:

According to Oreskes, 75% of the 928 abstracts she analysed (i.e. 695) fell into these first three categories, "either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view". This claim is incorrect on two counts: My analysis shows that only 424 abstracts (or less than a third of the full data set) fall into these three categories.

It also shows that many abstracts on "evaluation of impact" and "mitigation" do not discuss which drivers are key to global climate change, instead often focusing exclusively on the possible effects of elevated CO2 levels on plant growth and vegetation. Many do not include any implicit endorsement of the 'consensus view' but simply use certain assumptions as a basis for often hypothetical impact assessments or mitigation strategies.

Quite a number of papers emphasise that natural factors play a major if not the key role in recent climate change (4). My analysis also shows that there are almost three times as many abstracts that are sceptical of the notion of anthropogenic climate change than those that explicitly endorse it (5, 6, 7).

In fact, the explicit and implicit rejection of the 'consensus view' is not restricted to individual scientists. It also includes distinguished scientific organisations such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists:

"The earth's climate is constantly changing owing to natural variability in earth processes. Natural climate variability over recent geological time is greater than reasonable estimates of potential human-induced greenhouse gas changes. Because no tool is available to test the supposition of human-induced climate change and the range of natural variability is so great, there is no discernible human influence on global climate at this time" (8)

This is not to deny that there is a majority of publications that, although they do not empirically test or confirm the view of anthropogenic climate change, go along with it by applying models based on its basic assumptions. Yet, it is beyond doubt that a sound and unbiased analysis of the full ISI databank will find hundreds of papers (many of which written by the world's leading experts in the field) that have raised serious reservations and outright rejection of the concept of a "scientific consensus on climate change". The truth is, that there is no such thing!

In light of the data presented above (evidence that can be easily verified), Science should withdraw Oresekes' study and its results in order to prevent any further damage to the integrity of science.

References

  1. N. Oreskes (2004). The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1686, 3 December 2004 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/con
  2. ISI Web of Science (http://www.webofscience.com/)
  3. http://davidappell.com/archives/00000497.php
  4. C. M. Ammann et al., for instance, claim to have detected evidence for "close ties between solar variations and surface climate", Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 65:2 (2003): 191-201. While G.C. Reid stresses: "The importance of solar variability as a factor in climate change over the last few decades may have been underestimated in recent studies." Solar forcing of global climate change since the mid-17th century. Climate Change. 37 (2): 391-405
  5. H.R. Linden (1996) The evolution of an energy contrarian. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 21:31-67.
  6. Russian scientists K. Kondratyev and C Varotsos criticise "the undoubtfully overemphasised contribution of the greenhouse effect to the global climate change". K. Kondratyev and C Varotsos (1996). Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. 21: 31-67
  7. M.E. Fernau, W.J. Makofske, D.W. South (1993) Review and Impacts of climate change uncertainties. Futures 25 (8): 850-863.
  8. L.C. Gerhard and B.M. Hanson (2000) AAPG Bulletin 84 (4): 466-471

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. [mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

Sent: 04 January 2005 11:07
To: Peiser, Benny
Subject: Thank you for your WebSubmission.

Dear author:
Thank you for using Science's Web submission site.
It will take approximately one business day to process the receipt of your submission. If you are notified that one or more of your uploaded files is unreadable, you will need to return to the site to replace the unreadable files. In order to return to the site, you will need to have the following information:

First Author's Last Name: Peiser
Web Submission ID: 56001

Should you need to return to the site, please use the following link: http://www.submit2science.org/ws/valreturn.asp

Questions about your submission may be addressed to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sincerely,

The Editors

From: Etta Kavanagh [mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

Sent: 18 February 2005 18:17
To: Peiser, Benny
Subject: Your Letter to the Editor of SCIENCE

Dear Dr. Peiser,

A couple of weeks ago, you submitted a Letter to the Editor on Naomi Oreskes' Essay "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. In its current form, it is too long for a Letter, but we would consider a shorter version if you are willing to edit it. It should be 500 words or less, not counting the references. A correction dealing with the mistake in the search terms ("global climate change" vs. "climate change") was published in our Jan. 14 issue.

Best regards,

Etta Kavanagh - Associate Letters Editor SCIENCE

-----------

From: Peiser, Benny

Sent: 23 February 2005 14:13
To: Etta Kavanagh [ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]
Subject: Letter to the Editor of SCIENCE

Dear Etta Kavanagh

Please find attached my revised letter which I have shortened below the 500 words limit. I will submit the letter also in electronic form via your website.

With best regards
Benny Peiser
Liverpool John Moores University

e-letter to Science Magazine

sent: 23 February 2005

Your Websubmission ID is 58332.

Below is a summary of the information you have entered.

First Author Name: Benny Peiser Address: Faculty of Science Liverpool John Moores University

Letter Details: N. Oreskes (2004). The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1686, 3 December 2004

Abstract: As requested by Associate Letters Editor Etta Kavanagh,

I have revised and shortened my letter below.

Letter Text:

Oreskes (1,2) presents empirical evidence that appears to show a unanimous, scientific consensus on the anthropogenic causes of recent global warming. Oreskes also claims that this universal agreement had not been questioned even once in the peer-reviewed literature since 1993. Her assertion has been extensively reported ever since.

I replicated her study in order to assess the accuracy of its results. All abstracts listed on the ISI databank for 1993 to 2003 using the same keywords ("global climate change") were assessed (3). The results of my analysis contradict Oreskes' findings and essentially falsify her study: Of all 1117 abstracts, only 13 (1%) explicitly endorse the 'consensus view'. However, 34 abstracts reject or question the view that human activities are the main driving force of "the observed warming over the last 50 years" (4).

Oreskes claims that "none of these papers argued [that current climate change is natural]". However, 44 papers emphasise that natural factors play a major if not the key role in recent climate change (5).

The most significant discrepancy with Oreskes' results concern abstracts that are undecided whether human activities are the dominant driving force of recent warming. My analysis shows that a significant number of abstracts reject what Oreskes calls the 'consensus view'. In fact, there are almost three times as many abstracts that are unconvinced of the notion of anthropogenic climate change than those that explicitly endorse it (6).

Even if there is disagreement about any of these papers, it is highly improbable that all 34 are ambiguous. After all, the explicit and implicit rejection is not restricted to individual scientists (7). It also includes distinguished scientific organisations such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which formally rejects the view that anthropogenic factors are the main trigger of global warming:

"The earth's climate is constantly changing owing to natural variability in earth processes. Natural climate variability over recent geological time is greater than reasonable estimates of potential human-induced greenhouse gas changes. Because no tool is available to test the supposition of human-induced climate change and the range of natural variability is so great, there is no discernible human influence on global climate at this time" (8).

Despite this manifest scepticism, I do not wish to deny that a majority of publications goes along with the notion of anthropogenic global warming by applying models based on its basic assumptions. It is beyond doubt, however, that an unbiased analysis of the full ISI databank, which comprises almost 12,000 abstracts, will find hundreds of papers (many of which written by the world's leading experts in the field) that have raised serious reservations and outright rejection of the concept of a "scientific consensus on climate change". The truth is, there is no such thing!

In light of the data presented above, Science Magazine should withdraw Oreskes' study and its results in order to prevent any further damage to the integrity of science.

References

1. N. Oreskes (2004). The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1686, 3 December 2004 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686)

2. N. Oreskes (2005) Correction. Science, Vol 307, Issue 5708, 355

3. ISI Web of Science, (http://www.webofscience.com/)

4.) Of the 1247 documents listed, only 1117 include abstracts. The 1117 abstracts analysed were divided into the same six categories used by Oreskes, plus two categories (#7,8) which I added: 1. explicit endorsement of the consensus position; 2. evaluation of impacts; 3. mitigation proposals; 4. methods; 5. paleoclimate analysis; 6. rejection of the consensus position; 7. natural factors of global climate change; 8. unrelated to the question of recent global climate change. While 29% of the documents implicitly accept the 'consensus view', these papers mainly focus on impact assessments of envisaged global climate change. 470 (or 42%) abstracts include the keywords "global climate change" but do not include any direct or indirect link or reference to human activities, CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions, let alone anthropogenic forcing of recent climate change.

5.) C. M. Ammann et al., for instance, claim to have detected evidence for "close ties between solar variations and surface climate", Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 65:2 (2003): 191-201. While G.C. Reid stresses: "The importance of solar variability as a factor in climate change over the last few decades may have been underestimated in recent studies." Solar forcing of global climate change since the mid-17th century. Climate Change. 37 (2): 391-405.

6.) Russian scientists K. Kondratyev and C Varotsos criticise "the undoubtfully overemphasised contribution of the greenhouse effect to the global climate change"; K. Kondratyev and C Varotsos (1996). Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. 21: 31-67. M.E. Fernau at al. stress: "More and better measurements and statistical techniques are needed to detect and confirm the existence of greenhouse-gas-induced climate change, which currently cannot be distinguished from natural climate variability in the historical record. Uncertainties about the amount and rate of change of greenhouse gas emissions also make prediction of the magnitude and timing of climate change difficult", M.E. Fernau, W.J. Makofske, D.W. South (1993) Review and Impacts of climate change uncertainties. Futures 25 (8): 850-863.

7.) "Today, proponents of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, again claiming scientific consensus, threaten to create even greater energy market distortions at large social and economic costs." H.R. Linden (1996) The evolution of an energy contrarian. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 21:31-67.

8) L.C. Gerhard and B.M. Hanson (2000) AAPG Bulletin 84 (4): 466-471.

From: Etta Kavanagh [mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

Sent: 13 April 2005 22:39

Dear Dr. Peiser,

After realizing that the basic points of your letter have already been widely dispersed over the internet, we have reluctantly decided that we cannot publish your letter. We appreciate your taking the time to revise it.

Best regards,

Etta Kavanagh

From: Peiser, Benny

Sent: 14 April 2005 15:37

To: 'Etta Kavanagh'
Cc: ' This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. '
Subject: RE: Your letter to SCIENCE

Dear Etta Kavanagh

I am extremely disenchanted to hear that you have decided against publication of my letter.
I would be grateful if you could send me evidence for your claim hat "the basic points of [my] letter have already been widely dispersed over the Internet." As far as I am aware, neither the details nor the results of my analysis have been cited anywhere. In any case, don't you feel that SCIENCE has an obligation to your readers to correct manifest errors?
After all, these errors continue to be employed by activists, journalists and science organisations (as I have informed you on a number of occasions since January).
A statement by the Royal Society from March 2005, for instance, uses Oreskes' flawed study as a key argument in the climate change debate:

"In the journal Science in 2004, Oreskes published the results of a survey of 928 papers on climate change published in peer-reviewed journals between 1993 and 2003. She found that three-quarters of the papers either explicitly or implicitly accepted the view expressed in the IPCC 2001 report that human activities have had a major impact on climate change in the last 50 years, and none rejected it" http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=2986

Aside from the purely technical matter of Oreskes' factual errors, does SCIENCE really want to stand behind her bizarre claim of a complete scientific consensus on global warming?

Are you not aware that most observers know only too well that there is absolutely *no* consensus within the scientific community about global warming science? If not, let me remind you:

A recent international survey among some 500 climatologists found that "a quarter of espondents still question whether human activity is responsible for the most recent climatic changes."

As Professors Hans von Storch and Nico Stehr have stressed:

"The public statements made by well-known German climate researchers create the impression that the scientific fundamentals of the climate problems have essentially been solved. They claim that the scientific community has already established the conditions for taking concerted action. This is a view that in fact does not correspond to the situation in the scientific community. That's because a significant number of climatologists are by no means convinced that the underlying issues have been adequately addressed. Last year, for example, a survey of climate researchers from all over the world revealed that a quarter of respondents still question whether human activity is responsible for the most recent climatic changes" (Der Spiegel, 24 January 2005; http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,342376,00.php).

Even Tony Blair has emphasised the remaining uncertainties and ongoing scientific debates among climate scientists:

"So it would be true to say the evidence [on anthropogenic global warming] is still disputed. It would be wrong to say that the evidence of danger is not clearly and persuasively advocated by a very large number of entirely independent and compelling voices. They are the majority. The majority is not always right; but they deserve to be listened to" (Tony Blair, Davos Speech, 26 January 2005; http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7006.asp)

I very much regret your decision to reject my letter using a contrived technicality as an excuse. Obviously, your refusal leaves me no option than to publicise the results of my analysis somewhere else (results which anyone can of course verify) - but also to deplore the sad reality of your refusal to publish corrections of a fatally flawed paper.

With best regards

Benny Peiser

Liverpool John Moores University Faculty of Science

Naomi Oreskes: "Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position."

Below is a list of abstracts (found in the same ISI data set) that reject the "consensus position".

Ad Hoc Committee on Global Climate Issues: Annual report

Gerhard LC, Hanson BM

AAPG Bulletin 84 (4): 466-471 Apr 2000

Abstract: The AAPG Ad Hoc Committee on Global Climate Issues has studied the supposition of human-induced climate change since the committee's inception in January 1998. This paper details the progress and findings of the committee through June 1999, At that time there had been essentially no geologic input into the global climate change debate. The following statements reflect the current state of climate knowledge from the geologic perspective as interpreted by the majority of the committee membership. The committee recognizes that new data could change its conclusions, The earth's climate is constantly changing owing to natural variability in earth processes. Natural climate variability over recent geological time is greater than reasonable estimates of potential human-induced greenhouse gas changes. Because no tool is available to test the supposition of human-induced climate change and the range of natural variability is so great, there is no discernible human influence on global climate at this time.

The evolution of an energy contrarian

Linden HR

Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 21: 31-67 1996

Abstract: An analysis of the forces that have shaped energy and energy-related environmental policies is presented through the eyes of an active participant in their evolution over the past 53 years. The problem of self-interest in taking energy and environmental policy positions is addressed candidly. The "energy crisis" is cited as an example. Its credibility depended on excessive demand projections, coupled with erroneous assessments of US and global hydrocarbon resources and of prospects for making these resources economically recoverable through technology advances. Many energy crisis proponents benefited from the misguided government response and from the large investments in uneconomic synthetic fuel technologies. Today, proponents of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, again claiming scientific consensus, threaten to create even greater energy market distortions at large social and economic costs. The author traces his conversion to energy contrarian to the general failure of consensus and to his own misjudgments in these critical policy areas.

Review and Impacts of Climate-change Uncertainties

Fernau ME, Makofske WJ, South DW

Futures 25 (8): 850-863 Oct 1993

Abstract: This article examines the status of the scientific uncertainties in predicting and verifying global climate change that hinder aggressive policy making. More and better measurements and statistical techniques are needed to detect and confirm the existence of greenhouse-gas-induced climate change, which currently cannot be distinguished from natural climate variability in the historical record. Uncertainties about the amount and rate of change of greenhouse gas emissions also make prediction of the magnitude and timing of climate change difficult. Because of inadequacies in the knowledge and depiction of physical processes and limited computer technology, predictions from existing computer models vary widely, particularly on a regional basis, and are not accurate enough yet for use in policy decisions. The extent of all these uncertainties is such that moving beyond no-regrets measures such as conservation will take political courage and may be delayed until scientific uncertainties are reduced.

Establishing Research Objectives to Address Issues of Climate-Change

Keeney RL

Socio-Economic Planning Sciences 28 (1): 1-8 Mar 1994

Abstract: The implications of global climate change are enormous. However, there are major questions concerning whether climate change is occurring. If it is, subsequent questions should consider when and how the changes will affect society. There are numerous possible expensive research projects that could address each of the many facets of these questions. Wise decision making about global climate change research is thus seen as important. This paper describes a systematic process to identify and structure the objectives of research on global climate change. The result is a hierarchy of 81 important research objectives. This hierarchy was constructed based on interviews with a diverse set of individuals knowledgeable about climate change, and on discussions at an international workshop on global climate research objectives. The participants in both exercises included scientists, policy analysts, and executives of utility companies and national agencies from Europe, Asia, and North America. The main uses of these objectives should be to promote constructive communication about research programs designed to examine climate change issues, to stimulate the creation of potentially significant research tasks, and to provide a basis for evaluating and comparing research tasks.

ANOTHER LETTER SCIENCE REFUSED TO PUBLISH

"THE NOT SO CLEAR CONSENSUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE"

Letter by Dennis Bray submitted to Science on 22 December 2004http://w3g.gkss.de/G/Mitarbeiter/bray.php/BrayGKSSsite/BrayGKSS/WedPDFs/Science2.pdf

Title: The Not So Clear Consensus on Climate Change

Author: Dennis Bray

Affiliation: GKSS Forschungszentrum, Geesthacht, Germany

Abstract

One of the most heavily and most publicly contested scientific consensus in the last decade has been in the debate concerning climate change, namely if it is the result of natural causes or of anthropogenic activity. Using evidence from survey questionnaires distributed among climate scientists, the following suggests that consensus among climate scientists might not be as clear as sometimes depicted.

Scientific consensus seems to be a key word in science to policy transitions, particularly in those cases where uncertainty and risk are high, those issues labeled as post-normal science. [1] One of the most heavily and most publicly contested scientific consensus in the last decade has been in the debate concerning climate change, namely if it is the result of natural causes or of anthropogenic activity. Oreskes [2] claims that evidence suggests that there is indeed a scientific consensus of anthropogenic induced climate change as stated by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Using evidence from survey questionnaires distributed among climate scientists, the following suggests that consensus among climate scientists might not be as clear as depicted by Oreskes. The inset to Oreskes essay suggests that "Without substantial disagreement, scientists find human activities are heating the earth's surface". By reviewing 928 abstracts Oreskes concludes that "Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position". Oreskes goes on to argue that "This analysis shows that scientists publishing in peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the national Academy of Sciences and the public statements of their professional societies. [While on the other hand] Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is not correct [emphasis added].

Oreskes' main conclusion seems to be that "...there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change". Results of surveys of climate scientists themselves indicate the possibility that Oreskes' conclusion is not as obvious as stated.

In the results of a survey of climate scientists conducted in 2003 [3] one question on the survey asked "To what extent do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes? A value of 1 indicates "strongly agree" and a value of 7 indicates "strongly disagree". Countries, and number of responses from each country are as follows:

USA n = 372;
Canada n = 14;
Germany n = 56;
Italy n = 14;
Denmark n = 5;
Netherlands n = 4;
Sweden n = 5;
France n = 5;
U.K. n = 18;
Australia n = 21;
Norway n = 3;
Finland n = 3;
New Zealand n = 6;
Austria n = 3;
Ethiopia n = 1;
South Africa n = 3;
Poland n = 1
Switzerland n = 7;
Mexico n = 3;
Russia n = 1;
Argentina n = 1;
India n = 3;
Spain n = 2
Japan n = 3; |
Brazil n = 1;
Taiwan n = 1;
Bulgaria n = 1

To the question posed above there were 530 valid responses. Descriptive statistics are as follows:

Mean = 3.62; Std. Error of mean = .080; Median = 3.00; Std. deviation = 1.84; Variance = 3.386

Frequencies:

1 strongly agree 50 (9.4% of valid responses)

2 134 (25.3% of valid responses)

3 112 (21.1% of valid responses)

4 75 (14.2% of valid responses)

5 45 (8.5% of valid responses)

6 60 (10.8% valid responses)

7 strongly disagree 54 (9.7% of valid responses)

These results, i.e. the mean of 3.62, seem to suggest that consensus is not all that strong and only 9.4% of the respondents "strongly agree" that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes. This is however, a slight rise in consensus of the same survey conducted in 1996 [4] that resulted in a mean of 4.1683 to the same question (Five countries - USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Denmark only in 1996 survey, N = 511).

In the 1996 survey only 5.7% of the valid responses "strongly agreed" that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.

In fact, the results of the two surveys even question the Oreskes' claim that the majority of climate scientists agree with the IPCC, although this has improved somewhat between 1996 and 2003. In the 1996 survey only 8.2% of the valid responses 'strongly agreed' with the statement that the IPCC reports accurately reflect the consensus of thought within the scientific community while in 2003 the number rose to 22.8%. While there is a shift to a greater level of consensus the results however, do not substantiate Oreskes' claim. Lacking in Oreskes' approach to analysis is any notion of the dynamics of 'scientific consensus'.

References

1. Funtowicz, S. and J. Ravetz. 1992 "Three types of risk assessment and the emergence of post-normal science." in Krimsky, S. and D. Golding (eds.) Social Theories of Risk London. Praeger 1992.

2. Oreskes, Naomi. "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" Science Vol.306, 3 December 2004 Vol. 1686

3. Bray, D. and Hans von Storch "The Perspectives of Climate Scientists on Global Climate Change, 2003"

4. Bray, D. and Hans von Storch "The Perspectives of Climate Scientists on Global Climate Change, 1996"

---------

NOTE: Professor Dennis Bray's letter was submitted to Science in response to the Oreskes essay. It was rejected. In fact, the editors of Science refused to publish any of the numerous letters critical of the Oreskes study. No wonder many readers of Science believe that there is a universal consensus among climate researchers Neither Bray nor von Storch are climate "sceptics" themselves. Indeed, they are vocal critics of global warming "scepticism" in most of its forms and shapes. Nevertheless, both researchers are only too aware that the reality of scepticism is evidently present within the climate science community, and to a degree that is more significant than commonly thought.

BENNY PEISER RESPONDS TO SIR DAVID KING

OpenDemocracy, 10 May 2005

http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-6-129-2490.jsp

Benny Peiser

As long as science is uncertain about the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth's atmosphere, the public are justified in keeping an open mind, says Benny Peiser.

We often hear the claim that the science of climate change is settled, that there is general agreement that humans have been causing most of the recent warming trend, and that it will all end in global disaster unless we "do something about it". Let me state at the outset that I am not sure any of these blanket claims are accurate.

Yes, there has been great progress in our understanding of climate dynamics in recent years. Yes, most climatologists are convinced that global warming is mainly due to humans. And yes, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions undoubtedly have an effect on the global mean temperature. What we don't know, however, is how much of an effect. More importantly, most researchers who support the theory of anthropogenic global warming are by no means agreed that it will result in large-scale calamity even if CO2 emissions were to double.

Significant gaps in our understanding of terrestrial climate remain. Only last week, new research revealed that we don't know very much about the amount of the sun's energy that is absorbed by the Earth and the amount reflected back into space (see here). We know even less about how this process effects temperatures.

Neither do we genuinely understand the causes and effects of solar variability and how it alters the climate. Nevertheless, the idea that the sun, more so perhaps than humans, is the principal driver of terrestrial climate has been gaining ground in recent years. In March 2005, Jan Veizer, one of Canada's top Earth scientists, published a comprehensive review of recent findings and concluded that "empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate, with greenhouse gases acting only as potential amplifiers." (see Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective From Four Billion Years Of The Carbon Cycle). I don't know whether Veizer is right, but I believe his findings should be carefully assessed instead of being ignored or disparaged because they go against the grain.

As David King points out in his contribution to the openDemocracy debate, the majority of scientists and science organisations endorse the view that humans are to blame for recent climate change. Nevertheless, this support is not universal. A number of distinguished scientific organisations - such as the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) or the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC) - remain sceptical.

Indeed, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), an international organisation of more than 30,000 Earth scientists, has formally rejected the view that anthropogenic factors are the main drivers of global warming, stressing: "The earth's climate is constantly changing owing to natural variability in earth processes. Natural climate variability over recent geological time is greater than reasonable estimates of potential human-induced greenhouse gas changes. Because no tool is available to test the supposition of human-induced climate change and the range of natural variability is so great, there is no discernible human influence on global climate at this time".

A recent survey among some 500 international climate researchers found that "a quarter of respondents still question whether human activity is responsible for the most recent climatic changes". How decision-makers and the interested public deal with these scientific doubts and uncertainties is another matter. But it is vital for the health and integrity of science that critical evaluation and scepticism are not scorned or curbed for political reasons.

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Benny Peiser is a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University and the editor of the Cambridge Conference Network (CCNet). His research focuses on the effects of environmental change and catastrophic events on contemporary thought and societal evolution.

Copyright 2005, OpenDemocracy

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