Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global

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Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global

Post#1 » Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:53 pm

"Global warming," just like "second hand smoke," is a matter of "blowing smoke" while
pretending to scientific knowledge. But there is a real agenda to these and other such
farces, although not disclosed publicly. If smoke only bothers the smoker and man is not
screwing up the atmosphere, then there is no call for government to force its invasive
control apparatuses into these issues. But if hype pretending to be science can make
people believe nonsense such as "second hand smoke is more deadly than first hand" or
that "global warming caused by man is going to cause a myriad of dire threats to life"
then government "must" step in and regulate to death everyone's life over these matters.
Just ask any politician. Eventually, should people remain dumb enough to accept this
crap as gospel, these totally idiotic but draconian intrusions on personal freedom will
be enforced by the UN. You know, those global police some of us have been warning the
sheep about ever since WW2. After all, these are "global problems," are they not?

Don't discount either the lust for both profit and control of the criminal scam misnamed
"insurance". Is there a single business left which operating policy is not actually set
by some arrogant, money grabbing insurance corporation? In cahoots with (and splitting
the take with) government agencies today at every opportunity.

All this control, like all modern governmental control, is "for the children," of course.
So that those unfortunates will spend their whole lives in various imposed strait
jackets. Mommas, always easy to hype up about "danger," can't see the irony here. The
primary unseen danger, and greater irony, was in giving women the right to vote in the
first place, as today's screwed up, always more intrusive, "nanny" governmental policies
clearly prove.

Tony B.


Don't Believe the Hype
Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global warming.

Sunday, July 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

According to Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth," we're in for "a planetary
emergency": melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more and stronger
hurricanes, and invasions of tropical disease, among other cataclysms--unless we change
the way we live now.

Bill Clinton has become the latest evangelist for Mr. Gore's gospel, proclaiming that
current weather events show that he and Mr. Gore were right about global warming, and we
are all suffering the consequences of President Bush's obtuseness on the matter. And why
not? Mr. Gore assures us that "the debate in the scientific community is over."

That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC,
ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is
referring to? Is there really a scientific community that is debating all these issues
and then somehow agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been
clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place.

The media rarely help, of course. When Newsweek featured global warming in a 1988 issue,
it was claimed that all scientists agreed. Periodically thereafter it was revealed that
although there had been lingering doubts beforehand, now all scientists did indeed agree.
Even Mr. Gore qualified his statement on ABC only a few minutes after he made it,
clarifying things in an important way. When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with
the fact that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he suggests
in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that scientists "don't have any
models that give them a high level of confidence" one way or the other and went on to
claim--in his defense--that scientists "don't know. . . . They just don't know."

So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus." Yet their research is
forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's preferred global-warming
template--namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it requires that one ignore the truly
inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the
Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time
immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually
growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the
coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore's movie. In
the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming.

They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th
century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of
the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we
don't know why.

The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on similar
oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once common in Michigan and
Siberia and remains common in Siberia--mosquitoes don't require tropical warmth.
Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to
be an important factor. This temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales.
However, questions concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the
nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the profession.

Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can't attribute any
particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one exception, Greg Holland
of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who argues that it
must be global warming because he can't think of anything else. While arguments like
these, based on lassitude, are becoming rather common in climate assessments, such
claims, given the primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.

A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that
the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external
forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to
exploit that fear is much worse. Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over
which debate is ended--at least not in terms of the actual science.

A clearer claim as to what debate has ended is provided by the environmental journalist
Gregg Easterbrook. He concludes that the scientific community now agrees that significant
warming is occurring, and that there is clear evidence of human influences on the climate
system. This is still a most peculiar claim. At some level, it has never been widely
contested. Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean
temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century,
having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early
'70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998.

There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have
risen from about 280 parts per million by volume in the 19th century to about 387 ppmv
today. Finally, there has been no question whatever that carbon dioxide is an infrared
absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas--albeit a minor one), and its increase should
theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in
carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed, assuming
that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing carbon dioxide rather than
a natural fluctuation in the climate system. Although no cause for alarm rests on this
issue, there has been an intense effort to claim that the theoretically expected
contribution from additional carbon dioxide has actually been detected.

Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change, this
task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a persistent effort to suggest
otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus, although the conflicted state of the affair
was accurately presented in the 1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, the infamous "summary for policy makers" reported ambiguously that "The balance
of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This sufficed as
the smoking gun for Kyoto.

The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has become known as
the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms are responsible for observed
changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude argument--e.g., we can't think of an
alternative--to support human attribution. But the "summary for policy makers" claimed in
a manner largely unrelated to the actual text of the report that "In the light of new
evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed
warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse
gas concentrations."

In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page) report
responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the difficulties with
attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front end that ambiguously claimed
that "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human
activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a
reflection of natural variability." This was sufficient for CNN's Michelle Mitchell to
presciently declare that the report represented a "unanimous decision that global warming
is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no wiggle room." Well, no.

More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy Oreskes
claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003
under the key words "global climate change" produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts
supported what she referred to as the consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny
Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts
at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus
view. Several actually opposed it.

Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's
coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of
human influences on the climate system." This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: "Case closed."
What exactly was this evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact
atmospheric temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed no
warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective corrections to the
atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus reducing the conflict between
observations and models descriptions of what greenhouse warming should look like. That,
to me, means the case is still very much open.

So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three

First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science.
Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any
need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even
scientists--especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that
the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting
visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an
inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral"

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by
perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx
was right. This time around we may have farce--if we're lucky.

Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.

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