The following items are the continuation of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation Newsletter, August 15, 2007:
Those first five major developments are themselves worthy of an entire issue of this newsletter, and the last two are significant as well. But here are some additional stories worth noting since our last issue:
1. Natural explanation for all climate variability in last century?
Science Daily, August 1, 2007
[University of Alabama climatologist Roy Spencer informed us of this article, writing, “a new paper in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) claims all climate variability in the last century is (gasp) NATURAL! (I wonder if the mainstream media will cover this?)”–ECB]
In the mid-1970s, a climate shift cooled sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean and warmed the coast of western North America, bringing long-range changes to the northern hemisphere.
After this climate shift waned, an era of frequent El Ninos and rising global temperatures began.
Understanding the mechanisms driving such climate variability is difficult because unraveling causal connections that lead to chaotic climate behavior is complicated.
To simplify this, Tsonis et al. investigate the collective behavior of known climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the El Nino/Southern Oscillation, and the North Pacific Oscillation.
By studying the last 100 years of these cycles’ patterns, they find that the systems synchronized several times.
Further, in cases where the synchronous state was followed by an increase in the coupling strength among the cycles, the synchronous state was destroyed. Then. a new climate state emerged, associated with global temperature changes and El Nino/Southern Oscillation variability.
The authors show that this mechanism explains all global temperature tendency changes and El Nino variability in the 20th century.
Title: A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts
Authors: Anastasios A. Tsonis, Kyle Swanson, and Sergey Kravtsov: Atmospheric Sciences Group, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2007GL030288, 2007
2. Hurricane Hysteria
by Patrick J. Michaels, American Spectator, July 19, 2007
Besides being darned good forecasters, the good people at the National Hurricane Center are also paragons of social sensitivity. They give storms names reflective of the cultures through which they are likely to pass. Hurricanes in the Atlantic basin are given anglicized names or ones that are roughly similar in both English and Spanish: Alberto, Bob, Gloria. In the Eastern Pacific, where storms frequently hit western Mexico, almost all the names are pure Spanish.
In this vein, I’d like to vote that this year’s “H” storm in the Atlantic be given the name Hysteria. As in, caused-by-global-warming-hysteria. As in, the perception that there’s been a tremendous increase in the damage done by these storms caused by global warming.
The name should be “Hysteria,” because that’s simply, flatly, untrue.
Last month, Roger Pielke, Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, released the most comprehensive paper ever published on the subject of damage trends in Atlantic hurricanes. The article will appear soon in the peer-reviewed journal Natural Hazards Review.
Is the planet warmer than it was? Yes. Is there any trend in hurricane-related damages in the United States, where good records of damages exist? After accounting simultaneously for inflation, population, and property values, no.
The problem with these storms is that Americans have a peculiar proclivity to take money and bury it in a sand dune on a hurricane-prone beach, i.e. a beach house. As a result, the number of beach homes is going up and up, and because the supply is limited (there’s only so much beach), prices have risen astronomically. And the costs and sizes of the homes have also risen, given that increases in real wealth have outpaced inflation.
Pielke’s very clever (and elegant) methodology, employing a simple algebraic equation, gives hurricane damages in 2005-dollar equivalents. That year’s Katrina, a monster by any standard, caused $81 billion worth of damage. Applied Insurance Research, using a totally different method, estimated $82 billion.
But Katrina pales in comparison to the Great Miami hurricane of 1926. Pielke gives two estimates, averaging around $148 billion. AIR pegs it at $160 billion. Given the trajectory of property values and population in Florida, Pielke notes that a $500 billion hurricane (in today’s dollars) should be quite likely by the 2020s.
A little history. After the Great Miami and Katrina, the remaining top ten storms (in descending order) occurred in 1900 (Galveston 1), 1915 (Galveston 2), 1992 (Andrew), 1983 (New England), 1944 (unnamed), 1928 (Lake Okeechobee 4), 1960 (Donna/Florida), and 1969 (Camille/Mississippi). There is no obvious bias toward recent years. In fact, the combination of the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes places the damages in 1926-35 nearly 15% higher than 1996-2005, the last decade Pielke studied.
What’s more interesting are the trends. After allowing only for inflation, hurricane damages are indeed increasing. Rather, it’s the other factors — the huge coastal population increases and the rapidly appreciating property values — that negate any trends.
The silence associated with this important finding is deafening, and the results are consistent with other science that is being ignored in the current climate. One of Pielke’s co-authors, Chris Landsea, from the National Hurricane Center, has also found no trends in hurricane frequency or intensity when they strike the U.S. Sure, as is known to anyone who has studied hurricane data, there has been an increase in the number of strong storms in the past decade, but there were also a similar number of major hurricanes in the 1940s and 1950s, long before such activity could be attributed to global warming.
As Pielke writes, “The lack of trend in twentieth century normalized [inflation and wealth-adjusted] hurricane losses is consistent with what one would expect to find given the lack of trends in hurricane frequency or intensity at landfall.”
Hysteria begets cost, especially when politics gets involved. For years now, Europe’s big reinsurance companies — the people who insure the insurers — has been raising rates, claiming that global warming is making hurricane damages worse. Interestingly, the American companies, using the AIR data, are not as strident.
This works out to an interesting market competition. People will obviously tend towards the lower cost insurance, after adjusting for coverage differences. Someone is going to go out of business. Who will win here: Hurricane Hysteria, or the real world?
Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.
3. Birth-control pills poison everyone? Environmentalists silent on threat from estrogen in water
WorldNetDaily.com, July 12, 2007
While environmentalists are usually vocal about perceived threats ranging from pesticides to global warming, there is a silence when it comes to one threat already harming the water supply: hormones from birth-control pills.
According to the National Catholic Register, EPA-funded scientists at the University of Colorado studied fish in a mountain stream near Boulder, Colo., two years ago.
When they netted 123 trout and other fish downstream from the city’s sewer plant, they found 101 were female, 12 were male, and 10 were strange “intersex” fish with male and female features.
It’s “the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me,” university biologist John Woodling told the Denver Post.
The main culprits were found to be estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches that ultimately ended up in the creek after being excreted in urine into the city’s sewers.
The Register says Woodling, University of Colorado physiology professor David Norris, and the EPA team were among the first scientists in the U.S. to learn a cocktail of hormones, antibiotics, caffeine and steroids is flowing through the nation’s waterways, threatening fish and contaminating drinking water. . . .
George Harden, a board member of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, based in Steubenville, Ohio, says people should not hold their breath for action to be taken.
“If you’re killing mosquitoes to save people from the West Nile virus, you can count on secular environmentalists to lay down in front of the vapor truck, claiming some potential side effect that might result from the spray,” Harden told the Register. “But if birth control deforms fish – backed by the proof of an EPA study – and threatens the drinking supply, mum will be the word.”
In New Jersey, traces of birth-control hormones and other prescription drugs were found in municipal tap water in 2003, and scientists were just beginning to look into the issue of impact on the human body. . . .
In ThePolitic.com, Shane Edwards writes, “To give this publicity would pit nature against consequence-free sex, and that just won’t happen. But what disturbs me about this even more than the environmental impact (and the reality that this will NEVER be dealt with because of its political ramifications) is what this is doing to us. I mean, if these effects are happening with fish and frogs, what is happening to us?”
4. Hot head: Global warming activist threatens campaign against critic’s professional integrity
by John McCaslin, Townhall.com, July 16, 2007
Get a load of the somewhat threatening letter sent by the head of a national energy council to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in response to an article the latter penned in the American Spectator about the various “global warming” bills introduced in Congress and their potential economic impact.
“Marlo, you are so full of crap,” writes Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). “You have been proven wrong. The entire world has proven you wrong. You are the last guy on Earth to get it.
“Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”
Inside the Beltway reached Mr. Eckhart at his home yesterday, and he confirmed he did in fact write the letter.
by John McCaslin, Townhall.com, July 20, 2007
The dust appears to be settling after Inside the Beltway published a rather threatening letter sent by Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
“Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar,” Mr. Eckhart had written in response to an article Mr. Lewis wrote for American Spectator about the potential economic consequences of “global warming” bills introduced in the Congress.
“If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community, of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”
Now, the ACORE president has sent Inside the Beltway an extremely lengthy response, and apology to everybody offended by his words to Mr. Lewis, which he intended as a “private communication,” and merely “in the context of personal combat and jousting.”
“I apologize to all in the public who were offended … because it was not intended for public display,” Mr. Eckhart writes. “In my opinion, CEI, and especially Dr. Lewis, has been presenting a false prosecution – a knowingly false prosecution – of the global-warming issue, to the detriment of society and the billions of people who will be affected by climate change.”
As for reader reaction, G. Merkle writes: “An amusing but chilling note. I’m not surprised – global warming is a religion, a belief system. Rather than adebate on fact, heretics must be destroyed.”
Another reader, Douglas Schulek-Miller, wrote directly to Mr. Eckhart, sending us a copy:
“Sir, having read the content of your letter to Marlo Lewis, I must thank you for your energetic reminder of why I chose Canada when I moved my family back to North America after 14 years in Europe …
“I recall vaguely from my youth how the spirit of [nuclear physicist] Enrico Fermi was besmirched over the results of his work during World War II. Hopefully when all this has wrung all the possible monies out of it, the publicwill not have the same view of the poor environmentalists who stood at the forefront of this pop-fascism that parades itself as science.” Sincerely and with best wishes, Douglas Schulek-Miller (A.A., B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D., but who’s counting?)”
Not so fast
by Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist, Boston Globe, 15 August 2007
[…] Anthropogenic global warming is a scientific hypothesis, not an article of religious or ideological dogma. Skepticism and doubt are entirely appropriate in the realm of science, in which truth is determined by evidence, experimentation, and observation, not by consensus or revelation. Yet when it comes to global warming, dissent is treated as heresy — as a pernicious belief whose exponents must be shamed, shunned, or silenced.
Newsweek is hardly the only offender. At the Live Earth concert in New Jersey last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced climate-change skeptics as “corporate toadies” for “villainous” enemies of America and the human race. “This is treason,” he shouted, “and we need to start treating them now as traitors.”
Some environmentalists and commentators have suggested that global-warming “denial” be made a crime, much as Holocaust denial is in some countries. Others have proposed that climate-change dissidents be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials. The Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen has suggested that television meteorologists be stripped of their American Meteorological Society certification if they dare to question predictions of catastrophic global warming.
A few weeks ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis published an article opposing mandatory limits on carbon-dioxide emissions, arguing that Congress should not impose caps until the technology exists to produce energy that doesn’t depend on carbon dioxide. In response to Lewis’s reasonable piece, the president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Michael Eckhart, issued a threat:
“Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America.”
This is the zealotry and intolerance of the auto-da-fé. The last place it belongs is in public-policy debate. The interesting and complicated phenomenon of climate change is still being figured out, and as much as those determined to turn it into a crusade of good vs. evil may insist otherwise, the issue of global warming isn’t a closed book. Smearing those who buck the “scientific consensus” as traitors, toadies, or enemies of humankind may be emotionally satisfying and even professionally lucrative. It is also indefensible, hyperbolic bullying. That the bullies are sure they are doing the right thing is not a point in their defense.
“The greatest dangers to liberty,” Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
See also Deepak Lal, “Inquisitors Propagating the Theory of Climate Change Won’t Succeed.”
5. Ignorance Is Strength, Dissent Is Treason: Robert Kennedy goes Orwell
by Marlo Lewis, National Review Online, July 16, 2007
At last weekend’s Live Earth concert in New Jersey, Robert Kennedy, Jr., a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), charged ExxonMobil and Southern Company with treason, declaring:
The most important thing you can do is to get involved in the political process and get rid of all of these rotten politicians that we have in Washington D.C.—who are nothing more than corporate toadies for companies like Exxon and Southern Company. These villainous companies that consistently put their private financial interest ahead of American interest and ahead of the interest of all of humanity. This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors.
The usual punishment for treason is death.
On Neil Cavuto’s show Common Sense, Kennedy insisted that he was accusing of treason only the two corporations he mentioned by name. But that won’t wash. Anyone who collaborates with traitors is also traitorous. Collaborator is just another word for coalition partner. And in Washington, D.C., all politics is coalition politics. Kennedy implicitly accused many individuals and organizations of treason.
Just imagine how Kennedy would conduct a hearing if he ever ends up running a committee of the House or Senate: “Are you now or have you ever been associated with the energy-producing sector of this economy?”
Kennedy’s outburst is just a green variant of what George Orwell, in his famous anti-totalitarian novel, 1984, called “doublespeak.” Big Brother taught that:
War is Peace.
Ignorance is Strength.
Freedom is Slavery.
“Dissent is Treason” would fit in well in that litany — and that is what Kennedy is essentially saying.
A similar Orwellian inversion preached these days by global warming catastrophists is: Balance is Bias. This is the claim that journalists mislead the public by interviewing global-warming skeptics or reporting their views, because the skeptics are on a par with Flat Earthers and Holocaust deniers. This is manifestly self-serving, the objective being to ensure that the public hears from only one side — the Kennedy-Al Gore side.
Kennedy’s doublespeak is New Left politics recycled. Recall that the New Left began by calling itself a college-campus “free speech movement.” However, their M.O. was to shout down opposing speakers, disrupt classrooms, occupy buildings, and in other ways intimidate and silence those who disagreed with them. When those radical students later became tenured professors, they instituted the politically correct speech codes that stifle intellectual diversity on campuses today.
Kennedy in effect demands a nationwide speech code for global warming. Such disdain for the First Amendment could tempt some to call him a traitor — turnabout being fair play in politics — but that would be wrong.
The Constitution defines the crime very narrowly: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” (Art III, Sec. 3, emphasis added).
Kennedy is trying to silence his political adversaries by driving the marketplace (politically incorrect energy companies) out of the marketplace of ideas. That may be disloyal to the spirit of the Constitution, but it is not treason. To be guilty of treason, for example, Kennedy would have to become an “American Taliban,” pledge allegiance to Bin Laden, or give aid and comfort to Al Qaeda.
For the same reason, Kennedy’s charge of treason against ExxonMobil and Southern Company is absurd calumny.
However, it would be a mistake to write off Kennedy’s rant as mere bombast or rhetorical excess. It is more likely a window into his belief system. Calling your political opponents traitors makes perfect sense if you see yourself as a combatant in a war. And many eco-activists do seem to view the global warming crusade as a holy war to save the planet, our democracy, even our very souls. Thus, they naturally regard their opponents as villains and traitors.
Yet there is also another, more prosaic explanation. When you cannot sell climate Armageddon and Kyoto on the merits of the case, go ad hominem. Call the other guy a polluter, a corporate toady, a tobacco scientist. Stigmatize policy differences so that nobody dares disagree with you in public. After endlessly ramping up the polemic, you are left with nothing else but to allege treason. When Doctor Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” this is precisely the sort of tactic he had in mind.
— Marlo Lewis is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
6. A Fish Is Just a Fish
by Terence Jeffrey, Townhall.com, July 11, 2007
One can see through the environmentalist movement as clearly as if it were a mountain stream by reading the opinion U.S. District Judge John Coughenour issued last month in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) suit brought by Trout Unlimited and other groups against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The judge sided with the environmentalists, arguing that the human race is endangering the steelhead species of salmon by breeding too many of them.
The problem, as the environmentalists see it, is not that man, through ill-considered and wanton acts, is driving a poor fish from the face of the Earth. The problem is that man, through imagination, careful planning and industry, is on his way to making this fish so abundant and readily reproducible that it more resembles a domesticated animal than a “wild” creature.
The key term in the judge’s decision is “human interference.”
“If the statute did not aspire to naturally self-sustaining populations of endangered or threatened species,” he says, for example, “it would be permissible under the ESA to capture and permanently raise such species in zoos or other environments where they are dependent on human interference for survival.”
Now, non-environmentalists understand that “human interference” in the environment can be either good or bad. When a farmer clears a forest, plants a crop and brings it to harvest, most of us would consider that a good thing. We recognize that the farmer’s interaction with the environment is quite different from the interaction of an arson who sets a forest ablaze simply to see it burn.
In environmentalist ideology, however, human acts are never good. All are ultimately destructive acts of “interference.”
This ideology runs throughout Coughenour’s decision on the steelhead, which orders NMFS to stop its practice of counting steelhead bred in fish hatcheries as part of the steelhead population for purposes of determining whether steelhead ought to be listed as endangered. To the judge, it does not matter if a river-born and a hatchery-born steelhead are genetically identical, born along the same river, migrate to the same ocean, and return to breed with one another in the same gravel bed and share the same offspring. The river-born steelhead, the judge says, counts. Its hatchery-born mate, the product of “human interference,” does not.
In fact, in this judge’s view, anything man does to the salmon is wrong. He dramatizes this by presenting a salmon-centric capsule history of North America in which man is the constant villain. First, man-the-villain depletes the salmon. “Despite their ability to survive the catastrophic events of millions of years of evolution,” the judge writes, “salmon populations have experienced substantial declines since the commencement of European settlement of the Pacific Northwest, due to overharvest and severe habitat degradation resulting from logging, mining, irrigation and construction of dams for hydropower, among other factors.”
Then man-the-villain increases the salmon, building artificial — even capitalistic — fish hatcheries “to compensate for the declines in salmon populations and meet the demands of the burgeoning canning industry.”
These hatcheries are soon “releasing far more fish fry than result from natural spawning.”
But, wait! These teeming schools are not real salmon, they are man-tainted ones.
“These floods of hatchery fish,” the judge observes, “can result in the appearance of a well-stocked fishery, though in actuality it would not be so without human interference.”
Finally, the man-bred salmon threaten the survival of the real salmon. “Hatchery fish and wild salmon also have ecological interactions that are detrimental to the wild population,” says the judge. “Hatchery fish, which tend to be larger than wild fish, compete for habitat and food and prey upon smaller wild fish.”
You have no doubt discerned by now that the movement to preserve the salmon through the ESA is not really about preserving salmon. So, what is it about?
It is about shackling man. “The legislative history of the ESA reinforces this view that species are to be protected in the context of their habitats, until they are self-sustaining without the interference of man,” the judge concludes. “(T)he ESA is designed to protect not just a species’ genetic material, but its place in the natural world.”
For those who see man as an interloper “in the natural world,” few acts of government can match those that would seek to remove the effects of man from the habitat of the salmon — which covers all the major rivers of our Pacific Coast and the ocean into which those rivers drain.
Saving the salmon from man may be the next best thing to global warming, which depicts the most productive activities of our race as a mortal threat to all of Earth.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor of Human Events.
7. Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny
by James M. Taylor, Chicago Sun-Times, June 30, 2007
In his new book, The Assault on Reason, Al Gore pleads, “We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public’s ability to discern the truth.” Gore repeatedly asks that science and reason displace cynical political posturing as the central focus of public discourse.
If Gore really means what he writes, he has an opportunity to make a difference by leading by example on the issue of global warming.
A cooperative and productive discussion of global warming must be open and honest regarding the science. Global warming threats ought to be studied and mitigated, and they should not be deliberately exaggerated as a means of building support for a desired political position.
Many of the assertions Gore makes in his movie, ”An Inconvenient Truth,” have been refuted by science, both before and after he made them. Gore can show sincerity in his plea for scientific honesty by publicly acknowledging where science has rebutted his claims.
For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate reported, “Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame.”
Gore claims the snowcap atop Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro is shrinking and that global warming is to blame. Yet according to the November 23, 2003, issue of Nature magazine, “Although it’s tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests’ humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”
Gore claims global warming is causing more tornadoes. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in February that there has been no scientific link established between global warming and tornadoes.
Gore claims global warming is causing more frequent and severe hurricanes. However, hurricane expert Chris Landsea published a study on May 1 documenting that hurricane activity is no higher now than in decades past. Hurricane expert William Gray reported just a few days earlier, on April 27, that the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined in the past 40 years. Hurricane scientists reported in the April 18 Geophysical Research Letters that global warming enhances wind shear, which will prevent a significant increase in future hurricane activity.
Gore claims global warming is causing an expansion of African deserts. However, the Sept. 16, 2002, issue of New Scientist reports, “Africa’s deserts are in ‘spectacular’ retreat . . . making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa.”
Gore argues Greenland is in rapid meltdown, and that this threatens to raise sea levels by 20 feet. But according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Glaciology, “the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins and growing inland, with a small overall mass gain.” In late 2006, researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute reported that the past two decades were the coldest for Greenland since the 1910s.
Gore claims the Antarctic ice sheet is melting because of global warming. Yet the Jan. 14, 2002, issue of Nature magazine reported Antarctica as a whole has been dramatically cooling for decades. More recently, scientists reported in the September 2006 issue of the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series A: Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, that satellite measurements of the Antarctic ice sheet showed significant growth between 1992 and 2003. And the U.N. Climate Change panel reported in February 2007 that Antarctica is unlikely to lose any ice mass during the remainder of the century.
Each of these cases provides an opportunity for Gore to lead by example in his call for an end to the distortion of science. Will he rise to the occasion? Only time will tell.
James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute.
[Related item: Art Robinson briefly dissects Inconvenient Truth in an article here; Marlo Lewis does so at length (PDF). –ECB]
8. Engineer’s doubts about manmade catastrophic global warming raise readers’ anger
by E. Calvin Beisner
An electronics engineer, Charles Murray, discovered lately by direct observation how emotional some people get in the debate–or, rather, denial that there is debate–about manmade catastrophic global warming. Writing in Electronics News and Comment, a department of Design News, an online publication for engineers, Murray on April 10 began,
After former vice president Al Gore spoke at the recent Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, I noticed a curious phenomenon. Many of the engineers who saw his speech were hesitant to give an assessment. Still, they expressed their opinions, sometimes without speaking a word. They smirked. They rolled their eyes. Because Gore’s subject matter – global warming – can be a delicate political issue, they stepped softly. Nevertheless, they made their points.
He then reported that when he returned to his office, he found that his editors had put a poll on the website that discovered that 62 percent of respondents (engineers) said they thought global warming did not pose a serious problem–quite the opposite of polls of the general public. In explaining the poll results, Murray wrote
It doesn’t surprise me that engineers would hold different opinions on global warming than the rest of the American public. Most engineers have a show-me mentality. And most, I suspect, don’t want to make their decisions on the basis of politics. That alone separates them from much of America, which, according to the Pew Center polls, has strongly aligned its global warming beliefs on a Democrat-Republican basis. . . .
Let’s be honest: Most of us aren’t meteorologists or climatologists. But every day we work in the world of the physical sciences and, as such, we generally have a strong antenna for junk science. It’s this antenna, I think, that’s causing the disparity between what we believe and what the rest of the country believes.
It’s necessary that we keep the antenna up. That’s part of who we are. At the same time, though, we need to stay on top of the science in this matter. Whether we like it or not, we are increasingly being seen as the soldiers in a battle against a worldwide catastrophe. So if we’re going to have opinions – and especially if we’re going to have contrary opinions – we better base those opinions on science, not politics.
Murray invited readers to comment on the blog or send him e-mails. Only a few commented on the blog. The first one said, “I can think of two reasons why a poll of your readers would give these results: (1) Most engineers work in energy-intensive fields, and they aren’t likely to give that up without sufficient reasons (if they’re willing to at all), and (2) many engineers are quite willing to put off dealing with potential problems until they become ‘real’ problems (‘real’ meaning something that stops production or jeopardizes business with a customer).” That is, he attacked not arguments but people. But another replied,
As Engineers we are inherently logical. Also, we deal with data, assumptions, and predictions on a daily basis. We know how these things are done. What bothers us the most about the Global Warming predictive catastrophe is that it is all based on a model, which as we all know is only as good as the assumptions going into it. The first thing one does with a predictive model is check it against reality. It should predict the present as well as the past. These can be checked and verified. unfortunately the model they use to predict GW catastrophe does not meet this simple verification. It could not predict either the mini ice age or the mediaeval warming period. So tell us why we should believe the model?
And the third (and last) blog commenter wrote,
It is important to distinguish 4 aspects of GW: 1) The notion that it’s real, regardless of the cause. 2) Caused by nature or humans. 3) GW’s progress or effect in the future. 4) What to do about GW. I think most people agree that GW is real. The big debate is whether it’s anthropogenic or not and what the outcome is. If you think that GW is not anthropogenic (like I do), then #4 doesn’t matter. After reading the IPCC report, it’s obvious that people like Al Gore exaggerate even the worst case projections which helps to reduce the credibility of AGW.
His editor rebuked him on his own blog in the same publication, saying, “Where I disagree (with Chuck) is with the suggestion that global warming is a media invention, which he all but says”–to which Murray replied on his blog April 13, “Alright, let’s take a breath here. As you said, John, I didn’t say that. And there’s a reason I didn’t say it: I don’t believe that.” (Murray refrained from saying what I’ll say here: that his editor’s misrepresentation of his view is a common tactic of GW alarmists, a means by which they try to portray the critics as believing the outrageous when they don’t.) He then quietly explained that the science presented by, e.g., the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change differs markedly from the extreme claims common in popular media, and added,
But I still do think that engineers are “show-me” people, and they haven’t seen enough data yet. What’s more, engineers may have their own reasons for being skeptical. Most of us have performed a computer analysis or two, usually on something as small as a plastic cell phone or a car. And we know how hard that can be. So, yes, we’re a little leery when we see results of a computer study of the atmosphere of the entire earth over the next hundred years.
He wrapped up that blog piece by referring readers to MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen’s April 16 Newsweek column, “Why So Gloomy?“, acclaimed atmospheric physicist Fred Singer and agricultural economist Dennis Avery’s book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years (as reviewed here), and science writer Michael Crichton.
But apparently, though few responses appeared on the blogs, Murray got a great deal of response by direct e-mail, prompting him to write at the start of his July 2 column,
Remember, you heard it here first: Global warming raises your blood pressure.
I say this with confidence, having spent the past three weeks reading e-mails from scores of Design News readers who saw a column of mine about global warming. The common thread among most of the respondents was anger. A few wrote to agree with me, and then proceeded to vent about the politics behind the subject. Many more, though, e-mailed to tell me I was wrong in a multitude of ways. Those readers insisted that global warming is no longer a debatable subject, and told me that I was horribly out of touch for believing otherwise.
He concluded by saying he had seen enough examples of settled conclusions of impending disaster (e.g., nuclear power, population explosion) turn out false that he was going to resist the temptation to jump on the global warming bandwagon and continue looking at evidence from all sides.
How refreshing! Would that more folks on both sides approached this (ongoing) debate so coolly and rationally.
(P.S.: Critics of global warming are frequently called “deniers,” the intent being to link them to Holocaust deniers. What should those who deny the obvious reality of debate over global warming be called? Are they not “deniers” too?)
9. A Nobel Prize for proving a negative?
Courtesy of CCNet
Jonathan Foley’s response to Reid Bryson fascinated those of us who understand logic:
“There is a huge mountain of evidence and scientific theory and publications, all out there in the public arena, and Reid comes along and has some other idea, but he provides no evidence. You just have to take his word for it,” said Jonathan Foley, a climatologist at UW-Madison who directs the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.
“If he could come up with any evidence for his hypothesis, anything that would back up what he is saying, and he could publish it, he would win the Nobel Prize,” Foley said. “Everyone would be thrilled if he were right. Global warming is a major, major global crisis and it would be fantastic if Reid were correct. But sadly he is not.”
How does Foley propose that Reid Bryson should prove the negative? Shouldn’t there be a Nobel Prize given for demonstrating the anthropogenic global warming is real?
Where is this “huge mountain of evidence”? Several expeditions have failed to find this mythical place.
I’m willing to bet that Foley’s Mountain consists of the following materials:
1. Multiproxy studies of climate change in the past 2000 years. Unfortunately every one of these studies is composed of equal parts of bad data, bad methodology, cherry-picking (automated and manual) and failure to report adverse statistical tests. None of them stand up to scrutiny, which is why their authors scramble to hide them from that scrutiny.
2. Climate models – these unverified and untestable computer games are supposed to show climate change into the future far beyond the reckoning of economic models that are supposed to underpin them. As Kevin Trenberth recently admitted, none of them can predict regional changes in climate and furthermore there is no way to tell the likelihood of whether any of them are correct on any timescale.
3. A supposed “scientific consensus” so weak that the slightest criticism from 87-year-old Emeritus Professors can send believers scurrying for the nearest reporters’ microphone to denounce them.
Have I missed anything?
10. MN State Senator Jungbauer: Humans have little impact on global warming
by Bob Williams, The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, MN, June 20, 2007
Recent trends in global temperatures cannot be attributed to human activities, according to Sen. Mike Jungbauer (R-Dist.48), who gave a presentation on global warming to 35 residents, including Rep. Bud Nornes (R-10a) in Fergus Falls on Wednesday.
“I was impressed with his knowledge, background and passion for detail,” Nornes said.
A global climate change survey from the National Registry of Environmental Professionals shows that 34 percent of environmental scientists and practicioners disagree that global warming is a serious problem facing the planet.
“The temperature of Earth is always changing,” Jungbauer said. “It’s pretty weird thinking, to think we can control temperature.”
Jungbauer believes it has become a partisan political issue which has gotten away from the science and is driven more by profits.
“It’s just as bad on either end and there are idiots on both ends,” he said. “We need to educate ourselves. People are profiting from global warming.”
For his views, Jungbauer has been on the receiving end of name calling in the blogosphere, garnering such insults as dimwitted and babbling idiot.
A former pastor, he cites his religious conviction as his means for dealing with such vitriol. He has studied global warming for five years and believes what he says.
“Nobody studies the environment like I do,” he said. “I want to get the truth out there.”
While debunking what he refers to as global warming alarmism, Jungbauer does so with some intriguing facts.
For instance, to combat the fact that human industry is releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, he cites a Science Magazine study which claims the digestion process of termites creates more carbon dioxide than all human industry.
Jungbauer takes Al Gore and his film “An Inconvenient Truth,” to task, citing Gore’s discussion of the deterioration of the Antarctic Peninsula in the film, which Gore expounds on as a sign of the detrimental effects of global warming.
Jungbauer notes the peninsula makes up roughly 2 percent of the total area of Antarctica.
“People are picking snippets of graphs to show you what they want to show you,” he said.
11. Europe’s industry cashes in on carbon scam
Bloomberg News, 3 July 2007
LONDON: The difference in price between European Union emission permits and United Nations credits offers EU industry a chance to make as much as $1 billion a year in profit, a Fortis analyst said.
Factories and power stations in Europe need a permit for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit, under the EU’s carbon-emissions trading system, the world’s largest. They can also use credits from United Nations-approved projects that curb emissions in developing nations.
The difference in price between the two is significant. Today, EU carbon dioxide permits for 2008 are trading at €21.45, or $29.22, a ton. That is 47 percent more than the price of €14.54 for 2008 UN credits, called certified emission reductions, according to the latest prices from the European Climate Exchange in Amsterdam and Nord Pool exchange in Lysaker, Norway.
Factories in Europe generally will get enough permits, which are allocated by the governments of EU countries, to satisfy their needs in the next phase of the trading system, from 2008 though 2012. They would profit from selling to power plants their capacity to import cheaper UN credits, Kris Voorspools, an analyst at Fortis in Brussels, said Monday.
“At the moment there’s a huge opportunity and few people are doing that,” Voorspools said.
12. Scientists worried about public backlash against climate hype
Norfolk Eastern Daily Press, 4 July 2007
Scientists admit they need to find more effective ways of explaining climate change after a poll revealed the public believe the situation is not as serious as they and politicians often claim.
A spokesman for the UEA-based Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research said the Ipsos Mori survey backed up its own findings and called on scientists to avoid catastrophic warnings and steer clear of hype to avoid alienating the public.
The poll shows Britons remains unconvinced about warnings that the climate is being affected by global warming.
There is also scepticism about “greenspin” and a feeling that the situation is being overstated in order to raise revenue rather than save the planet.
In fact, climate change is not a priority for most people in the UK – terrorism, crime, graffiti and even dog mess are of more concern. . . .
Read the whole article here.
13. The Man Who Saw Tomorrow
by Shawn Macomber, The American Spectator, July 13, 2007
In July 1989 columnist Warren Brookes surveyed the nation’s Independence Day celebrations and noted that Americans were about to “engage willingly in activities that are thousands of times more dangerous than the ‘environmental risks'” President George H.W. Bush and the U.S. Congress were committing hundreds of millions of dollars to stamp out of existence. No, Brookes wasn’t arguing for more stringent fireworks regulation. Those taxpayer dollars, he wrote, were “trivial compared with the dangers to our liberties and our sanity from the risk-free agenda of the newest secular religionists, the ‘ecotheologians’…who are now busy shouting ‘death’ on a crowded planet.”
Eighteen years later, the nation’s Fourth of July holiday was spent immersed in the hype over Al Gore’s impending series of Live Earth concerts, where a few days later Jane Goodall would greet the crowd in chimpanzee squeals, then ask, “Up in the North the ice is melting, what will it take to melt the ice in the human heart?”; half-hearted purveyor of indifference anthems John Mayer would liken environmental awareness to a vitamin — “You go to the bathroom and 99 percent of it is gone but you hope that you retained 1 percent”; and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. would call a disagreement on global warming “treason” and those who air such skepticisms “traitors.”
If Brookes hadn’t tragically passed away in 1992 at age 62, he would likely be Kennedy’s Public Enemy No. 1 today. Few understood the Green Scam quite so well or so early as Brookes did, and no one was more adept at eviscerating its sacred cows with sharpened facts, common sense — he spent 20 years in business before entering opinion journalism — and, yes, humor. (“When Columbus set sail for the New World, he was warned he would sail off the edge into an unknown abyss,” Brookes once quipped. “I am convinced that one of those at the dock trying to get him to change his mind was Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich’s ancestor Pablo.”) After his death the Wall Street Journal eulogized, “Few voices stand as Warren Brookes did, shouting facts into the gale of fashion.”
Brookes would not have been surprised by Gore’s hubristic (and apparently incorrect) guesstimation at Live Earth that “more than 2 billion of us have come together in more than 130 countries on all seven continents” to “demand action.” In 1989 Brookes watched Gore’s global warming presentation at the National Press Club — precursor to an Academy Award winning film, in case you haven’t heard — during which the preening Man Who Wouldn’t Be King warned near-biblical droughts were imminent.
“Since historically an average of one-sixth of the United States is in some kind of drought each year, and the natural Pacific current cycle now predicts warmer temperatures in 1991 to 1992,” Brookes, recognizing the self-serving convenience and lazy ease embodied in such sweeping statements, wrote, “Gore could well mobilize liberals away from Jesse Jackson to Mother Earth.” (Whether Gore could today entice them away from Mother Clinton is another issue, of course.) . . . .
Read the whole article (with links) here.
14. Floods are judgment on society, say bishops
by Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Sunday Telegraph
The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God’s judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops.
One diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless.
While those who have been affected by the storms are innocent victims, the bishops argue controversially that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation’s decision to ignore biblical teaching.
The Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, argued that the floods are not just a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgment on society’s moral decadence.
“This is a strong and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way,” he said. “We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused.”
The bishop, who is a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible, which described the downfall of the Roman empire as a result of its immorality.
“We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate,” he said.
“In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as ‘the beast’, which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want,” he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.
“The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance.”
He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with “environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate.” . . .
Read the whole article here.
Welcome to the Dark Ages
[Editor’s note: Benny Peiser, editor of CCNet, ran a piece in response to the Anglican bishops’ warning reported just above in which he compared it with a return to the Dark Ages. Following is a follow-up to that piece.–ECB]
Courtesy of CCNet
It’s interesting that you should mention the Dark Ages. On Nature’s “Climate Feedback” blog, Kevin Trenberth posted a comment that emphatically (and correctly) pointed out that the IPCC has never made any predictions about climate change.
Eduardo Zorita then asked, “The troubling aspect of Trenberth’s comment is that if the IPCC climate simulations do not represent real predictions for the future, how can the theory be falsified?”
The answer of course is that the IPCC “projections” can’t be falsified, because they aren’t predictions. Welcome to the Dark Ages, indeed.
P.S. I then offered to debate anyone anywhere on the proposition:
Resolved: “The IPCC Third Assessment Report’s (TAR’s) projections for methane atmospheric concentrations, carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases constitute the greatest fraud in the history of environmental science.”
So far, no takers. :-)
15. Briefly Noted
Acton Institute releases The Call of the Entrepreneur DVD
David Henderson explains major problems with IPCC and Stern Review (PDF)
Bush administration calls for technology-focused conference on climate change
Freeman Dyson explains why he chooses to be a climate change heretic
Robert Wager explains: “How organic food contributes to climate change”
Newsweek floats the N-word in an article on why GW fears could lead to more nuclear energy
Jesse Ausubel explains how renewable energy can wreck the environment
Excerpt from the first of those:
A consideration of each so-called renewable in turn, paints a grim picture of the environmental impact of renewables. Hypothetically flooding the entire province of Ontario, Canada, about 900,000 square km, with its entire 680,000 billion liters of rainfall, and storing it behind a 60 meter dam would only generate 80% of the total power output of Canada’s 25 nuclear power stations, he explains. Put another way, each square kilometer of dammed land would provide the electricity for just 12 Canadians.
Biomass energy is also horribly inefficient and destructive of nature. To power a large proportion of the USA, vast areas would need to be shaved or harvested annually. To obtain the same electricity from biomass as from a single nuclear power plant would require 2500 square kilometers of prime Iowa land. “Increased use of biomass fuel in any form is criminal,” remarks Ausubel. “Humans must spare land for nature. Every automobile would require a pasture of 1-2 hectares.”
Turning to wind Ausubel points out that while wind farms are between three to ten times more compact than a biomass farm, a 770 square kilometer area is needed to produce as much energy as one 1000 Megawatt electric (MWe) nuclear plant. To meet 2005 US electricity demand and assuming round-the-clock wind at the right speed, an area the size of Texas, approximately 780,000 square kilometers, would need to be covered with structures to extract, store, and transport the energy.
One hundred windy square meters, a good size for a Manhattan apartment, could power an electric lamp or two, but not the laundry equipment, microwave oven, plasma TV, and computer. New York City would require every square meter of Connecticut to become a wind farm to fully power all its electrical equipment and gadgets.
Solar power also comes in for criticism. A photovoltaic solar cell plant would require painting black about than 150 square kilometers plus land for storage and retrieval to equal a 1000 MWe nuclear plant. Moreover, every form of renewable energy involves vast infrastructure, such as concrete, steel, and access roads. “As a Green, one of my credos is ‘no new structures’ but renewables all involve ten times or more stuff per kilowatt as natural gas or nuclear,” Ausubel says.
Don Feder explains the cultic religious aspects of global warming alarmism
Paul Weyrich explains the political significance of the greening of NAE VP Rich Cizik
Debate continues over possible GW/hurricane link
Tenth anniversary of the US Senate’s rejection of Kyoto passes–and Myron Ebell explains its significance
MSN’s Live Earth site admits there are opposing views on GW among evangelicals
(Note: Readers of this newsletter have an opportunity to influence poll results by voting in the poll at this site. The second and third options are both reasonably akin to the positions espoused by Cornwall.)
A British scientist calls for population reduction to fight global warming
Live Earth comes and goes–and probably has little effect
But Live Earth shows plenty of hypocrisy
DNA recovered from 1.2 miles deep in Greenland ice indicates a much warmer world long ago
Australian scientist Lance Endersbee rejects manmade global warming–and ABC Western Queensland actually reports well on him
Southern Baptist Convention journal publishes article on Cornwall Alliance
Claims continue that GW threatens increase in vector-borne diseases like dengue fever despite the fact that such claims have been ably refuted, as for instance by Mary Ellen Gilder here.
Martin Durkin explains why he made the documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” and responds to critics of the film here.
David Morris explains: Al Gore is right: There is no debate about climate change–because thought police prevent it
Michael Fox explains how physics trumps global warming hysteria
Focus on the Family’s Citizen criticizes NAE’s Rich Cizik for global warming campaign
Ipsos Mori poll shows public skeptical about global warming claims
And for good measure, a new study explains why we’re not running out of copper while an article explains more broadly why we’re not running out of resources
Kyoto projects may harm the ozone layer
Carbon offsetting might increase emissions, doing more harm than good