Icing The Hype
May 14, 2007
Some Restraint in Rome

Lawrence Solomon, The Financial Post

By the Vatican seminar’s (Climate Change and Development") end, the 80 participants had heard dire warnings from some experts, but they heard much more, too—that global warming is natural, the cause of warming being primarily solar and that it can be beneficial. No one left the seminar thinking that the science of global warming is settled. To the dismay of those hoping that the high-level group would inspire a Church-led climatechange crusade, Cardinal Martino , in closing the seminar, urged caution in taking any position on global warming.

The man most responsible for quelling any potential call to action is one of the Vatican’s own, Antonino Zichichi, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Dr. Zichichi, who made the seminar’s most powerful presentation, set its tone. It amounted to a damning indictment of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body responsible for most of the dire warnings that the press reports daily. “On the basis of actual scientific fact ‘it is not possible to exclude the idea that climate changes can be due to natural causes,’ and that it is plausible that ‘man is not to blame."Dr. Zichichi has concluded that solar activities are responsible for most of the global warming that earth has experienced—he estimates that man-made causes of global warming account for less than 10%—and his conclusions have gravitas: This man is the president of the World Federation of Scientists, past president of the European Physical Society, past president of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics, and past president of the NATO Science Committee for Disarmament Technology. See full story here


May 13, 2007
Borenstein Finds an Even Warmer Climate Model

Seth Borenstein, AP

Seth Borenstein never ceases to amaze. He can always be counted on to find and hype the most alarmist reports. In this case a climate model run by Barry Lynn and Leonard Druyan of Columbia University and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The study found that future eastern United States summers look much hotter than originally predicted with daily highs about 10 degrees warmer than in recent years by the mid-2080s. Druyan said the problem is most computer models, especially when compared to their predictions of past observations, underestimate how bad global warming is. That’s because they see too many rainy days, which tends to cool temperatures off, he said.

Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said the link between dryness and heat works, but he is a little troubled by the computer modeling done by Lynn and Druyan and points out that recently the eastern United States has been wetter and cooler than expected. A top U.S. climate modeler, Jerry Mahlman, criticized the study as not matching models up correctly and “just sort of whistling in the dark a little bit.”

But Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, editor of the journal Climate, which published this paper, and who himself is no stranger to modeling with exaggerated positive feedbacks and noted for his global warming hype and puffery, praised the paper, saying “it makes perfect sense.” He said it shows yet another “positive feedback” in global warming, where one aspect of climate change makes something else worse and it works like a loop.
NASA Study: Eastern U.S. to Get Hotter

I will point out the worst drought years in the eastern United States were the 1960s, the coldest decade of the 20th century. 

For more reaction to this paper see Roger Peilke Sr.’s Climate Science weblog entry Another-unbalanced-news-reporting-on-a-research-paper-on-predicted-heat-waves-in-the-future


May 12, 2007
Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming

By Daniel Howden, The Indeopendent

The accelerating destruction of the rainforests that form a precious cooling band around the Earth’s equator, is now being recognised as one of the main causes of climate change. Carbon emissions from deforestation far outstrip damage caused by planes and automobiles and factories.  Tropical forests are the elephant in the living room of climate change,” said Andrew Mitchell, the head of the GCP.

Scientists say one days’ deforestation is equivalent to the carbon footprint of eight million people flying to New York. Reducing those catastrophic emissions can be achieved most quickly and most cheaply by halting the destruction in Brazil, Indonesia, the Congo and elsewhere. That destruction amounts to 50 million acres - or an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland felled annually.

Most people think of forests only in terms of the CO2 they absorb. The rainforests of the Amazon, the Congo basin and Indonesia are thought of as the lungs of the planet. But the destruction of those forests will in the next four years alone, in the words of Sir Nicholas Stern, pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than every flight in the history of aviation to at least 2025. See full story here


May 10, 2007
More Like Stalinists than Scientists

By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked-online

As we have reported, a group of scientists and science communicators has written an open letter to WAG, a TV production company, insisting that it make changes to its film The Great Global Warming Swindle before releasing it on DVD. They argue that Martin Durkin’s film, which claims that global warming is not man-made and which caused a storm of controversy when it was shown on Channel 4 in Britain in March, contains a ‘long catalogue of fundamental and profound mistakes’, and these ‘major misrepresentations’ should be removed before the film hits the DVD shelves later this year. ‘Free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements’, the letter-writers claim.

Indeed, it was striking that around the same time that the 38 scientists wrote to WAG to complain about The Great Global Warming Swindle, the British government announced plans to send a copy of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth to every secondary school in the country. Some very serious scientists have raised questions about the scientific accuracy of Gore’s movie. Don J Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, said: ‘ I don’t want to pick on Al Gore… But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.’ Yet Gore’s allegedly inaccurate claims will be used to ‘stimulate debate about climate change’ amongst schoolchildren (in the words of UK education secretary Alan Johnson) while Durkin’s allegedly inaccurate claims are labelled unfit for public consumption.

This is really about the moral message of the films rather than their scientific underpinnings. Because Gore’s movie has the ‘correct’ moral outlook (global warming is manmade, and we must all take individual responsibility for changing our behaviour and lowering our horizons), it is sanctioned by the authorities and even used to reshape children’s understanding of humanity and our relationship with the planet. Because Durkin’s movie has the ‘incorrect’ moral outlook (global warming is not manmade, and demands that we limit carbon emissions are proving disastrous for the developing world), it is vilified.
See full story here


May 09, 2007
Not the End of the World as We Know It

By Olaf Stampf, Spiegel Online International

Svante Arrhenius, the father of the greenhouse effect, would be called a heretic today. Far from issuing the sort of dire predictions about climate change which are common nowadays, the Swedish physicist dared to predict a paradise on earth for humans when he announced, in April 1896, that temperatures were rising—and that it would be a blessing for all.  Arrhenius, who later won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, calculated that the release of carbon dioxide—or carbonic acid as it was then known—through burning coal, oil and natural gas would lead to a significant rise in temperatures worldwide. But, he argued, “by the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates,” potentially making poor harvests and famine a thing of the past. Arrhenius was merely expressing a view that was firmly entrenched in the collective consciousness of the day: warm times are good times; cold times are bad.

It was not until the rise of the environmental movement in the 1980s that everything suddenly changed. From then on it was almost a foregone conclusion that global warming could only be perceived as a disaster for the earth’s climate. How bad is climate change really? Are catastrophic floods and terrible droughts headed our way? Despite widespread fears of a greenhouse hell, the latest computer simulations are delivering far less dramatic predictions about tomorrow’s climate. 
Read this excellent story here


May 09, 2007
In 1979, it was the Cold that Had This Town Concerned Enough to Contemplate a Dome!

Time Magazine, December 10, 1979

In the Wall Street Journal article we covered last week, James Fleming warned” potential fixes (to our global warming problem) being discussed reflect an overconfidence in technology as well as an ignorance of the history of failed efforts to control the weather.” I would also add the word “unnecessary”. Here is a Time Magazine story from 1979 about an American City planning a dome to protect itself from increasing cold and rising energy bills due to the oncoming “ice age”. It was after the 3rd in a series of frigid US winters and at the peak of the talk of global cooling, believed to have a high degree of certainty because there was a “consensus” of scientists. “See “A Dome for Winooski?”

It also followed years of media hype about the coming ice age including this Time Magazine story in 1974 Another Ice Age? and this original Newseeek article in 1975 A Cooling World.


May 09, 2007
Prediction Time: Global-warming “truths” are not as certain as some claim them to be.

By Jim Manzi, National Review Online

It is notoriously common for simulation models in many fields to fit such holdout samples in historical data well, but then fail to predict the future accurately. So the crucial test is actual prediction, in which a model is run today to forecast the climate for some future time-period, and then is subsequently validated or falsified. No global climate model has ever demonstrated that it can reliably predict the climate over multiple years or decades—never.

The available evidence indicates that it is probable (though not strictly scientifically proven) that human activities have increased global temperatures to date and will likely continue to do so. But in spite of all the table-pounding, nobody can reliably quantify the size of these future impacts, or even bound them sufficiently to guide action. The total impact of global temperatures over the next century could plausibly range from negligible to severe. Long-term climate prediction is in its infancy, and improved forecast reliability is crucial to enable useful guidance for policymakers. Better science could give us what is most need in this debate: more light and less heat.  See full story here


May 03, 2007
Canadian Controversy: How do Polar Bears Fare?

The Christian Science Monitor

Polar bears are the poster animals of global warming. The image of a polar bear floating on an ice flow is one of the most dramatic visual statements in the fight against rising temperatures in the Arctic.  But global warming is not killing the polar bears of Canada’s eastern Arctic, according to one ongoing study. Scheduled for release next year, it says the number of polar bears in the Davis Strait area of Canada’s eastern Arctic – one of 19 polar bear populations worldwide – has grown to 2,100, up from 850 in the mid-1980s

“There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a ... lot more bears,” biologist Mitchell Taylor told the Nunatsiaq News of Iqaluit in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Earlier, in a long telephone conversation, Dr. Taylor explained his conviction that threats to polar bears from global warming are exaggerated and that their numbers are increasing. He has studied the animals for the Nunavut government for two decades. See full story here

Mitchell had earlier written to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on this issue. See letter here

Polar bears are the poster animals of global warming. The image of a polar bear floating on an ice flow is one of the most dramatic visual statements in the fight against rising temperatures in the Arctic.  But global warming is not killing the polar bears of Canada’s eastern Arctic, according to one ongoing study. Scheduled for release next year, it says the number of polar bears in the Davis Strait area of Canada’s eastern Arctic – one of 19 polar bear populations worldwide – has grown to 2,100, up from 850 in the mid-1980s

“There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a ... lot more bears,” biologist Mitchell Taylor told the Nunatsiaq News of Iqaluit in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Earlier, in a long telephone conversation, Dr. Taylor explained his conviction that threats to polar bears from global warming are exaggerated and that their numbers are increasing. He has studied the animals for the Nunavut government for two decades. See full story here

Mitchell had earlier written to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on this issue. See letter here


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