On 27 November Greg Spearritt posted an item entitled “Climate Heresy” to which I made some comments and he replied. What might well appear in the annals of science as the greatest hoax or blunder or mistake since the Piltdown Man of 1905 seemed destined to pass us by almost un-noticed.
For a couple of months now I’ve been chasing down websites around the world for more and more reliable information about AGW (anthropogenic global warming) i.e. the proposition that it is the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that give rise to global warming and its alleged consequences.
It has to be the internet as the source since most media (for a variety of reasons) seem to avoid publishing anything that remotely challenges the received wisdom of the climate change proponents.
And I’ve found some good ones:
This one is the easiest to read and most comprehensive and fair-minded that I came across.
Click on “Temperate Facts” to find a primer of information about climate change and AGW etc. The daily newsletter provides a daily glimpse of anti-climate change activities and publications globally.
So does this site.
There are many others, most accessible via the three mentioned above.
I don’t know for sure that AGW is nonsense. However:
- the physics, quite simple physics in fact, as explained in the first site above, makes it clear that carbon dioxide is quite unable to absorb enough heat to cause the temperature rises that are claimed
- solar cycles are more likely to explain the heating of the atmosphere
- the unscientific behaviour of the ‘climate scientists’ who worked with the UN IPCC is quite astounding, and the ideology-driven behaviour of many UN bureaucrats and national politicians is deplorable.
However it’s up to you to decide for yourself.
Scott and I differ markedly on this issue, but I should preface what I say below with the declaration that I respond at such length because I respect his intellectual rigour and integrity. My hope is that I will persuade him – or that he will persuade me! – to change views, as I believe there is an important truth at stake here.
The author of the article in Scott’s first link, James A. Peden, was once apparently an Atmospheric Physicist. He’s just one scientist, though, and – by his own admission – not an expert in climate science. (http://www.us-environ.info/global-warming/Do-you-think-this-c-v--is-impressive---Alternative-Fuel-Vehicles-.html.)
Peden’s arguments have been directly rebutted (successfully or otherwise, judge for yourself if you believe you understand the issues well enough) at http://mind.ofdan.ca/?p=1547#update.
Scott’s second link is from a site which admits outright that it’s there to push a barrow, and is not the work of climate scientists: the ‘Climate Change Fraud’ site is
made up of all political persuasions, men, women, of varying ages, with higher educations (college or above), with jobs no different than most, and with one primary belief in common: that AGW research has been hijacked by enviro-extremists with agendas diametrically opposed to sound, verifiable, reproducible science.
In the case of the third link, it is claimed on what appears to be a Greenpeace site (Exxonsecrets.org - http://www.exxonsecrets.com/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=25) that the group behind this webpage (Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow - CFACT) “has received $582,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998” and that “CFACT's Board of Academic and Scientific Advisors is a who's who of climate skeptics and industry-funded scientists.” This may not invalidate the conclusions of CFACT, but it surely doesn’t inspire confidence in them.
So to Scott’s three points:
Is carbon dioxide unimportant in global warming?
Is the sun responsible for GW?
Is the “astounding” behaviour of the climate scientists who work for/with the IPCC “unscientific”?
All three are answered (adequately?; you decide) by Professor of Meteorology in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, David Karoly (http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2323407.htm).
On the “unscientific behaviour” issue – by which I assume Scott means the emails stolen from the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit – there is in fact more to the story than the ‘climate hoax’ websites and tabloid press will tell you. See, for example, http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/ben_santer_open_letter/.
One thing I find suspicious about the links Scott mentions, and about most of the anti-AGW sites, is the way-out rhetoric. AGW is ‘scare-mongering’, ‘flummery’, a ‘swindle’, a ‘hoax’, an ‘hysteria’, a ‘scam’, a ‘religion’. This is anything but scientific language, and it suggests an ideology to push rather than conclusions based on objective assessment of the science.
That kind of objective assessment comes from taking the whole of the peer-reviewed data into account. Those who do just that include the thousands of scientists associated with the Science Academies from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA; these bodies issued a joint statement in 2005 in which they declared: “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”. (http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf)
Who to believe? James A. Peden, with his own line of argument presented on a blog site or the Science Academies from 11 prominent countries relying on the peer-reviewed evidence? Why are those writing on websites like Scott mentions doing that in preference to submitting their work – if there is any scientific validity to it – to peer-reviewed scientific journals? (Is it because of the same scientific conspiracy that keeps creation scientists and anti-vaccination enthusiasts from being published?)
There is no certainty to be had on this issue. The peer-reviewed literature is not unequivocal, and genuine science is a slow process. Groups like the IPCC talk about likelihoods rather than certainty… but the balance of genuinely scholarly opinion is clearly in favour of AGW.
It’s possible that the current opinion of the bulk of mainstream scientists will turn out to be wrong. If so, the scientific process will make that clear in time… but if it isn’t wrong, time is what we are rapidly running out of. And, in any case, actions we take to reduce our use of fossil fuel pollution and ramp up renewables will still be of benefit.
Posted by Greg Spearritt
Responding to Greg's comments above is a problem. We can't argue the science itself as we don't know it and don't have access to the data and don't have the time (or inclination) anyway.
We are forced to look at what we can find behind the scientific arguments i.e. at the credibility of the people involved. And so that's what Greg did somewhat above.
And that's what, more than anything else, has caused me to change my position from being a supporter of AGW to becoming a skeptic.
I don't trust the IPCC reports or the people involved in their preparation anymore. There's been more than enough cause for concern arise from the Climategate Email incident to throw into question:
* the integrity of the temperature data collected, and of the methods of 'processing' them (fudge factors)
* the lack of availability of such data so others could check their validity and that of the processes used (and the active working against FOI requests for such data)
* the interference with the peer review process that used to ensure confidence in objectivity an dintegrity
* the interference in the processes of publication that saw 'skeptics' unable to publish their findings and journals that published such findings being forced to change editors or being put out of business.
I can provide references for all the above. But much of this can be found at: www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org
Posted by Scott McKenzie
This (see link below) is why, as I argue, we must in the end rely not on our own grasp of the evidence (which is what most 'climate sceptical' sites ask us to do), but defer to the best of what climate science has to offer (in the form of peer-reviewed material and the opinions expressed by major science bodies):
Posted by Greg Spearritt
I'll admit I am happy to be a sceptic because I am a contrary sort of person. I do trust scientists but they are not the ones usually being unequivical. Once it is in the media now we get great certainties spouted and perjorative responses to opposition or question. Science partly funded by Exxon might be questionable but so is science funded by greenpeace or government agencies interested in climate change. I don't mind the cautious response as the stakes are high. On the other hand we have been happy in the west to live the high life off the suffering of other nations for centuries. Why do I have to care more for people in the future than people in the present?
It is not scientific but I like Dominic Moisie's ideas in "The Geopolitics of Emotion" and I think something like it pertains to AGW too.
Posted by Owen