By RICHARD S. LINDZEN
In mid-November of 2009 there appeared a file on the Internet containing thousands of emails and other documents from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain. How this file got into the public domain is still uncertain, but the emails, whose authenticity is no longer in question, provided a view into the world of climate research that was revealing and even startling.
In what has come to be known as “climategate,” one could see unambiguous evidence of the unethical suppression of information and opposing viewpoints, and even data manipulation. The Climatic Research Unit is hardly an obscure outpost; it supplies many of the authors for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Moreover, the emails showed ample collusion with other prominent researchers in the United States and elsewhere.
One might have thought the revelations would discredit the allegedly settled science underlying currently proposed global warming policy, and, indeed, the revelations may have played some role in the failure of last December’s Copenhagen climate conference to agree on new carbon emissions limits. But with the political momentum behind policy proposals and billions in research funding at stake, the impact of the emails appears to have been small.
The general approach of the official scientific community (at least in the United States and the United Kingdom) has been to see whether people will bother to look at the files in detail (for the most part they have not), and to wait until time diffuses the initial impressions in order to reassert the original message of a climate catastrophe that must be fought with a huge measure of carbon control.
This reassertion, however, continues to be suffused by illogic, nastiness and outright dishonesty. There were, of course, the inevitable investigations of individuals like Penn State University’s Michael Mann (who manipulated data to create the famous “hockey stick” climate graph) and Phil Jones (director of the CRU). The investigations were brief, thoroughly lacking in depth, and conducted, for the most part, by individuals already publicly committed to the popular view of climate alarm. The results were whitewashes that are quite incredible given the actual data.
In addition, numerous professional societies, including the American Society of Agronomy, the American Society of Plant Biologists and the Natural Science Collections Alliance, most of which have no expertise whatever in climate, endorse essentially the following opinion: That the climate is warming, the warming is due to man’s emissions of carbon dioxide, and continued emissions will lead to catastrophe.
We may reasonably wonder why they feel compelled to endorse this view. The IPCC’s position in its Summary for Policymakers from their Fourth Assessment (2007) is weaker, and simply points out that most warming of the past 50 years or so is due to man’s emissions. It is sometimes claimed that the IPCC is 90% confident of this claim, but there is no known statistical basis for this claim—it’s purely subjective. The IPCC also claims that observations of globally averaged temperature anomaly are also consistent with computer model predictions of warming.
There are, however, some things left unmentioned about the IPCC claims. For example, the observations are consistent with models only if emissions include arbitrary amounts of reflecting aerosols particles (arising, for example, from industrial sulfates) which are used to cancel much of the warming predicted by the models. The observations themselves, without such adjustments, are consistent with there being sufficiently little warming as to not constitute a problem worth worrying very much about.
In addition, the IPCC assumed that computer models accurately included any alternative sources of warming—most notably, the natural, unforced variability associated with phenomena like El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, etc. Yet the relative absence of statistically significant warming for over a decade shows clearly that this assumption was wrong. Of course, none of this matters any longer to those replacing reason with assertions of authority.
Consider a letter of April 9 to the Financial Times by the presidents of the U.S. National Academy of Science and the Royal Society (Ralph Cicerone and Martin Rees, respectively). It acknowledges that climategate has contributed to a reduced concern among the public, as has unusually cold weather. But Messrs. Cicerone and Rees insist that nothing has happened to alter the rather extreme statement that climate is changing and it is due to human action. They then throw in a very peculiar statement (referring to warming), almost in passing: “Uncertainties in the future rate of this rise, stemming largely from the ‘feedback’ effects on water vapour and clouds, are topics of current research.”
Who would guess, from this statement, that the feedback effects are the crucial question? Without these positive feedbacks assumed by computer modelers, there would be no significant problem, and the various catastrophes that depend on numerous factors would no longer be related to anthropogenic global warming.
That is to say, the issue relevant to policy is far from settled. Nonetheless, the letter concludes: “Our academies will provide the scientific backdrop for the political and business leaders who must create effective policies to steer the world toward a low-carbon economy.” In other words, the answer is settled even if the science is not.
In France, several distinguished scientists have recently published books criticizing the alarmist focus on carbon emissions. The gist of all the books was the scientific standards for establishing the alarmist concern were low, and the language, in some instances, was intemperate. In response, a letter signed by 489 French climate scientists was addressed to “the highest French scientific bodies: the Ministry of Research, National Center for Scientific Research, and Academy of Sciences” appealing to them to defend climate science against the attacks. There appeared to be no recognition that calling on the funding agencies to take sides in a scientific argument is hardly conducive to free exchange.
The controversy was, and continues to be, covered extensively by the French press. In many respects, the French situation is better than in the U.S., insofar as the “highest scientific bodies” have not officially taken public stances—yet.
Despite all this, it does appear that the public at large is becoming increasingly aware that something other than science is going on with regard to climate change, and that the proposed policies are likely to cause severe problems for the world economy. Climategate may thus have had an effect after all.
But it is unwise to assume that those who have carved out agendas to exploit the issue will simply let go without a battle. One can only hope that the climate alarmists will lose so that we can go back to dealing with real science and real environmental problems such as assuring clean air and water. The latter should be an appropriate goal for Earth Day. (Wall Street Journal)
Mr. Lindzen is professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Archive for the ‘Lindzen’ Category
An old one, but worth the watch for Professor Lindzen’s comments, including the quote:
“…it’s mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other.”
“Nye was talking about freshwater perhaps shutting down the gulf stream. But that isn’t what physical oceanographers think. First of all, we’ve measured the heat transport from the tropics to high latitudes- it’s almost all in the atmosphere. The Gulf Stream is mostly driven by wind. To shut it down you’d have to shut down the rotation of the earth, or shut off the wind. There’s alot of confusion in this and at the heart of it we are talking about a few tenths of a degree change of temperature, none of it in the last 8 years by the way. If we had warming it should be accompanied by less storminess . But because the temperature itself is so unspectacular we’ve developed all sorts of fear prospect scenarios of flooding, plague, increased storminess when the physics says we should see less; I think it’s mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other”
Here is the PDF of Lindzen’s recent paper, as also discussed in his recent talk covered in my previous post.
Here are some related links, including comments from Roy Spencer
Some points from Part 1:
As far back as the 1970’s, Bert Bolin, advisor to the Swedish Prime Minister and later the first head of the IPCC openly announced that “Climate Change” would be used as a vehicle to implement a variety of agendas.
Two cooperating institutions emerged n the 1990’s:
– the Tyndal Centre for Climate Studies at UEA, headed by Michael Hulme
– Potsdam Institute for Climate impact Research, headed by Joachim Schellnhuber
Both these institutions epitomize the explotation of the clmate issue. Both have nterlocking directorates (they are effectively one institution).
Mike Hulme’s recent book “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” contains some revealing quotes. He readily acknowledges that the science is uncertain, but that this doesn’t matter given the uses that this issue may be put:
“The idea of climate change should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identities and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but what climate change can do for us.”
“Because the idea of climate change is so plastic. It can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical and spiritual needs.”
“We will continue to create and tell new stories about climate change and mobilise them in support of our projects.”
“These myths transcend the scientific categories of “true” and “false.”
“Create a concept and reality leaves the room” – quote which might apply to CAGW.
The vulnerability of science was well understood by President Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation in 1961, he said “that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite” and that “Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract virtually becomes a substitute for intellectual curiosity …. 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.”
The Foreign Secretary accused the public of lacking a sense of urgency in the face of potentially devastating consequences of climate change. David Miliband said that the people had grown apathetic about the issue when they needed to be galvanised into action before the Copenhagen Climate Change summit in December.
Hannah Devlin, The Times, 23 October 2009
Bertold Brecht response to the popular uprisings in East Germany in 1953:
After the uprising of 17th June, The secretary of the writer’s union, Had leaflets distributed in Stalinellee, stating that the people had forfeited the confidence of the government, and could win it back only by redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people, and elect another?
Any two temperatures (eg from 1985-2008 years temp record) where the error bars (uncertainty or fuzz) overlap – means that the two or not statistically significantly different from each other. (It doesnt matter whether the trend is up, down or flat). Therefore, according to this criteria, temperatures in 1987 were not staistically different to temperatures in 2008! However the BBC talks of “reaching the dizzy temperature heights of 1998”
Whenever people in positions of authority who support global warming alarmism are challenged, their response is usually along the lines of “this is all justified by the latest IPCC report, which is the best available concensus of the world’s climate scientists.”, or “how can so many institutions all support this if it is not true?”
This is effectively an appeal to “Authority” rather than to scientific argument. Any discussion of the science is usually avoided. This is abuse of scientific integrity.
– the normal scientific method to validate calculations is with empirical data.
-we have had the data for some time, to actually measure the greenhouse effect, to see if it is functioning as predicted, and to evaluate climate sensitivity. This data is as follows:
1) The 16 year (1985 to 1999) record of outgoing radiation from two satellites
a) ERBE satellite -the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE Barkstrom, 1984).
b) CERES satellite
These give the longwave radiation emitted by the earth, the heat radiation and reflected shortwave radiation.
2) Sea surface tmperatures for the same period from the National Centre for Environmental Prediction
3) On top of this, we have the IPCC calculated radiation budget for models, forced by observed seasurface temperature from the atmospheric model intercomparison program at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory of the DOE. That is, the IPCC intercompares models in that they have a dataset of the models that were run with exactly the same temperature observed, & as forced by the sea surface temperatures, these models predict the radiation that should be observed at the top of the atmosphere.
Most feedbacks from models and in nature, are occurring in the tropics.
It is generally agreed that doubling CO2 alone will cause about 1C of warming due to the fact that it acts as a blanket.
Model projections of greater warming absolutely rely on positive feedbacks from the main greenhouse substances in the atmosphere – water vapour and clouds, act to amplify anything that man does with CO2. Model projections require that these positive feedbacks add to the ‘blanket’ – reducing any net cooling of the climate system. This is not widely recognised.
However there is a way to evaluate the feedback factor – by seeing how fluctuations in radiation change with temperature. This is done by taking fluxes observed by satellite, and predicted by models and correlating how they change with fluctuations in observed sea surface temperatures.
Taking the greenhouse effect as a ‘blanket’
If increasing the temperature reduces the outgoing radiation (which is the cooling of the system) , then the blanket effect is amplified (positive feedback).
If increasing the temperature increases the outgoing radiation , then the blanket effect is diminished (negative feedback).
All of the climate model results show a trend of decreasing outgoing radiation with increasing temperature, indicating an amplified blanket effect (positive feedback). The fact that all models agree is used to imply that the result is ‘robust’. All this shows is that there is good ‘precision’ between the models, but tells us nothing about the accuracy of the results!
The real world empirical data shows the opposite! As temperature increases, the outgoing radiation increases (& at twice the magnitude that it goes down according to the model predictions).
All this can be easily related to climate sensitivity. The real data is telling us that climate sensitivity is only about 0.5C for a doubling of CO2, significantly less than model predicitions (e.g. ‘catastrophe’ models predict 5C increase for a doubling of CO2, but the real world data suggests only 1/10th of that).
In a normal world we would be able to conclude that the very foundation of the global warming issue is wrong.
“The field (climate science) is corrupt, without any question. I would say most scientists don’t believe this and didn’t believe this 20 years ago. But for young scientists they know they ould be in trouble if they spoke out, so they don’t. “
” A community of scientists has been created that are not interested in the science. The Potsdam Institute is called the institute of climate “Impacts” – what this means is that if you are stuying cockroaches and you want funding, you call it “Global Warming and Cockroaches”, but never in a million years do you learn about climate. ”
” The people who are dealing with the policy have to genuinely familiarise themselves with the science”.
“When asked , ‘am I a climate skeptic?’, I always answer ‘No, to the extent possible I am a climate denier’. Ths is because by being a skeptic, you are assuming they have a case but you have doubts about it. There isnt a good case, and by allowing them to call us skeptics would force us to agree that they have something.”