Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Global Warming – Fact or Fiction?

In James Houle on December 30, 2009 at 7:15 am

Redwood Valley

The threat of Global Warming has become accepted wisdom in America. Between the Al Gore book and film, the pictures of polar bears leaping amongst ice flows, and snippets of data about melting glaciers and how warm it has become recently, we have become captives of this calamitous scenario. In this essay, I have tried to separate fact from forecast, to examine actual climate history rather than computer generated projections of The Cataclysm That Awaits Us from Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Is Planet Earth really heating up inexorably? Is it because of CO 2 emissions from fossil-fueled power stations? I will lay out a few of the key questions and cite the evidence that exists. You can decide for yourself where reality lies, but first look at some of the data and arguments that question Big Al’s simplistic forecast of a warm and watery doom if we don’t change our ways right now. I hold no brief for dirty coal fired power production, and I believe that moving towards renewable power sources away from gasoline guzzling cars makes good sense. My home is fully solar powered and I’ll purchase an all-electric car in 2010.

I first became wary of ‘made-up’ climate data some years ago, while managing a large irrigation project in Algeria, We lacked sufficient meteorologic data to predict rainfall patterns and thus available water for irrigated agriculture. We were forced to ‘fill-in’ large gaps in the historic rainfall data where trees had grown over rain gauges, or where the French had inadvertently burned a valuable meteorologic station while napalming miserably poor villages in the Atlas Mountains. I was reminded of this when I began to read of the paucity of reliable information on global temperatures before the advent of satellites in 1975, and the very spurious simulating of past surface temperatures by counting petrified tree rings, by drilling ice cores and the like. We are unable to track carbon dioxide levels very far back in time, but we do know that much of Greenland’s shoreline was very warm and green in 1400 and supported herds of cattle. I have found that much of the current UN-sponsored research relies upon computer simulation to fill in their model of the environment. However, simulation is not observation and the resultant ‘made-up’ data cannot be verified. The lesson to be learned when relying upon computer simulation was stated by the famed mathematician /John von Neumann/: “Give me four adjustable parameters and I can simulate an elephant. Give me one more and I can make his trunk wiggle.”

Despite the claims by various authorities, no consensus exists amongst scientists as to the existence of AGW. Yet, if you listen to the major mass media, you will be told that all serious scientists agree with the Al Gore hypothesis. “The debate in the scientific community is over” – /Al Gore said on Meet the Press in 2009/. But Al, there has been no real debate. Global Warming deniers are treated with about as much respect as those who openly question the holocaust. Seldom is an AGW denier allowed into a television studio nor given space in the print media to express another point of view. “Scientists who dissent from the global warming alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse” /(Lindzen: Global 4/7/07). /

The establishment of the UN sponsored IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) consisting of 600 scientists from 40 countries and its acceptance as authoritative at the 1992 Rio Conference represented the victory for politics over science and the firm establishment of the global warming paradigm as accepted wisdom. IPCC has very deliberately suppressed research by those who fail to support the notion that human actions such as fossil fuel burning power plants have caused a momentous increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and this has inhibited the earth’s ability to cool itself by reflecting excess heat back into space.

The problem of an official and very politically managed IPCC controlling the publication of scientific data and studies was pointed out in 2007 by the /President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Kraus/ who said a parallel panel was needed to avoid the one-sidedness of the scientific debate over climate change monopolized by IPCC /(NIPCC Report March 2009)/. The eminent scientist, /Roger Revelle /once had Al Gore as a student. Later, in his 1992 book “Earth in the Balance”, Gore credits Revelle with introducing him to the horrors of AGW. However, Revelle changed his mind in the face of further research, stating (/Singer Starr & Revelle, Cosmos Club Journal/) that we knew too little about global climate to implement any drastic measures. Gore staffers and Harvard associates immediately started an intense campaign to have Revelle’s name removed from 1991 paper that Gore had cited.

In response to the attempted monopolization of climate data by IPCC, an alternative scientific panel, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), was organized in Vienna in 2007 without governmental funding and with no connections to politicians. In June 2009, the first NIPCC report was published by The Heartland Institute entitled Climate Change Reconsidered. This report, some 880 pages in length, is a most comprehensive critique of the IPCCs’ positions and lists 35 contributors and reviewers from 14 countries as well as the names of 31,478 American scientists who have signed a petition saying “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

Dr. Richard Lindzen, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT/, explains how the UN-sponsored IPCC dominated the climate change debate up until this year: “There has been change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation programs”. In climate-related sciences, computer simulation of the environment has replaced observation, and these simulations are seldom tested against the past history of climate variation. Available historical data are inserted into the program, often without adequate controls as to reliability, gaps in data are adjusted through ‘fill-in’ programs which make up data that looks a lot like real data, and forecasts of future weather patterns, sea levels, and earth temperatures are then produced. There are no dependable temperature data earlier than 1895, and therefore all sorts of techniques have been devised to infer past temperatures from ice cores, from rings on well-preserved trees, and from evidence of human settlements in now-frozen tundra. We are working in very immature fields of science such as oceanography, geography, climatology and meteorology. Their data base being small, the tendency is to simulate past climatological patterns when direct observation of reliable data is not possible. This is dangerous, in the words of /Frederick Seitz, (President Emeritus of Rockefeller University, Past President of the Nat’l. Academy of Sciences, and Chairman of the Science and Environmental Policy Project /): “It is foolish to impose drastic measures and harsh economic penalties when an environmental problem is largely theoretical and and not substantiated by observations”.

The basic tenets of the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis are as follows:

1.Planet Earth is experiencing worldwide atmospheric warming, threatening life as we know it.
2.This warming is unprecedented because average worldwide temperatures for at least a thousand years have shown no significant variation until the last seventy years, which correlates with a thirty-percent increase in carbon dioxide gas generated by industrial activity.
3.“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is “very likely” due to observed increases in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations such as CO2 (carbon dioxide). (IPCC – AR4 2007 report). Heat absorbed by the planet earth from the sun cannot be released as infra-red radiation and is thus trapped by these greenhouse gases.
4.The burning of fossil fuels and the resultant increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a major component of the greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing rapidly.
5.The glacial ice caps are melting precipitously and as they do the sea levels will rise inundating vast areas of our shores.
6.If we just find a way to reduce the production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases by mankind’s activities, all will be well.

Is global warming the same as Climate Change? No, climate change is a broader term and refers to the long term changes in the earth’s temperature either as a result of natural warming and cooling cycles of the earth, and a result of human activity. Climate change does not necessarily predict the advent of an inexorable global warming. The Medieval Warm Period from roughly 900 to 1300 C.E. and the Little Ice Age from 1650 to 1800 C.E. are examples of natural climate change. Mankind was not burning large quantities of fossil fuels at that time.

Evidence of warming is not evidence that the cause is anthropogenic (man-made). The retreat of the Greenland Ice Sheet does not prove that mankind is responsible for it. The very long term fluctuation in the glacier mass depends upon many factors other than average global temperature. Way back in the Eocene Age, some 50 million years ago, the ice sheet was so small that a type of alligator swam around Spitsbergen Island, well above the Arctic Circle, and long before the discovery of fossil fuel.

The IPCC conclusion that the 1990s were the hottest decade of the millennium has been soundly refuted. The so-called “hockey stick” analogy first discussed by /Climate Scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University in 1997/ and made popular by /Al Gore’s book “A Inconvenient Truth”/ and his 2006 film used proxy tree ring data and ice core borings to prove that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years. This data completely obscured the fact that during the Medieval Warm Period temperatures soared far above what we have experienced anytime since. The hockey stick graph constructed by IPCC researchers appears relatively flat for over 900 years and then, about 1920, begins to rocket upward, with but a brief pause around 1970, before heading still higher with no relief in sight. They accomplished this ‘trick’ by shifting from the proxy data sources to actual temperature readings in about 1960. The IPCC concluded the graph’s sudden change in character during the early 20th century correlated with the introduction and increasing use of fossil fuel energy in that period and that production of carbon dioxide represented the principal man-made greenhouse gas culprit”. /(John McLaughlin, American Thinker 9/29/09)/. Mixing one source of data with another leads to total misrepresentation. /Dr. Edward Wegman, Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee/, reported this to the House of Representatives and stated that the statistical methodology underpinning the ‘hockey stick’ version was, indeed, profoundly flawed and that the McIntyre & McKitrick analysis was correct and valid. The Wegman report and data from Greenland cores and other studies so thoroughly undermined the Mann hypothesis that it was not mentioned in the text of the 4th IPCC assessment (2007). Nevertheless that simple hockey stick graph “became canonical – it was the consensus view and it seems even today that anyone publicly questioning the conclusion was in for a ferocious reception” /(McIntyre & McKitrick, Environment and Energy 2003)/.

Wegman criticized Dr. Mann and and his IPCC colleagues for “their systematic unwillingness to share research materials with other than like-minded analysts and concluded that Mann’s assessment that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade and 1998 the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis” (he erroneously cited maximum and minimum global temperatures rather than mean global temperatures as commonly used in other analysis). In fact, 1934 turns out to have been considerably hotter. Satellite data, the most reliable method we have to measure the earth’s temperature, has shown no warming trend since 1998. The most reliable U.S. surface temperature data show that from 1940 to the late 1970s temperatures actually declined, prompting concern about a coming ice age. Temperatures then increased until an El Nino spike in 1998. Since then temperatures have again been declining.

The correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide levels is weak and inconclusive. As an example the climate cooled from 1940 to 1975 while the CO2 level in the atmosphere was rising rapidly. There has been no warming trend in the current century as measured most accurately by satellites despite a continuing rapid rise in CO2. Aside from man-made sources, CO2 in the atmosphere is released from the oceans, from the decay of plant life, from animal manure, and from melting tundra. It is also reabsorbed by forests and by the oceans. We have very little data with which to measure the total impact of all of these factors, far less than would be necessary to predict the net effects of any mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We do know however, that from the industrial revolution until WWI, (1850 to 1915) CO2 increased at an average of 4.5% per year, reflecting perhaps the great surge in the burning of coal. Then, the rate of increase slowed to 1.3 %/year until 1945, and subsequently increased at a rate of 4.3%/year from 1945 to 1975, supposedly as the world recovered from the depression and WWII. From 1975 through 2000 the annual rise in CO2 in the atmosphere was only to 1.2% per year.

The notion that more CO2 in the cooler upper atmosphere will trap solar heat and thereby warm the earth is a violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics – heat cannot flow uphill from these cooler gases high in the sky to the hotter earth’s surface. /(John McLaughlin, American Thinker 11/27/09)/. Global emissions of CO2 have increased 40% since 1990, and the portion from fossil fuel burning went up 27%. But even yet, the total quantity of CO2 emitted from human enterprises only adds 10 parts per million to the total already held in the atmosphere /(Roy Spencer, Climate Confusion, March 2009)/. Expressed another way, we dump 28.4 billion tonnes of CO2 each year into the air which already holds 3,000,000 billion tonnes of CO2. This does not seem like a suffocating quantity of man-made pollution, particularly when one considers that half the CO2 released ends up being re-absorbed by the oceans and the flora. The total quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is 387 ppm of CO2 plus 1.75 ppm of Methane, 0.3 ppm of NO2, and 0.0003 of fluorocarbons. No substantive data have yet been developed that proves the earth’s surface temperature rise is directly related to the burning of fossil fuels. The use of the analogy to glass greenhouses, is, in the opinion of /Gerlich and Tscheuschner, (International Journal of Modern Physics, March 2009)/ a deliberate misrepresentation. In a glass greenhouse, sunlight warms the air inside the glass windows and this air subsequently warms, by simple convection, the plant life in flower pots. No infrared radiation takes place in a glass greenhouse. “In summary, there is no atmospheric greenhouse effect, in theoretical physics or in engineering thermodynamics. Thus it is illegitimate to deduce predictions which provide a consulting solution for economics and intergovernmental policy.”

Other factors beyond greenhouse gases have considerable impact upon global warming and cooling. These include: (1) increased output from the sun, (2) increased absorption of the sun’s heat due to a change in the Earth’s reflectivity, (3) El Nino, (4) volcanic explosions, (5) variations in the rate of absorption of CO2 by the oceans, (6) expansion of the biosphere (forests), and (7) the Iris Effect. The Iris Effect /(Lindzen, Chou and Hou, American Meteorological Society, 2001)/ describes the major warming of upper level strati-form clouds in the tropics. During periods when surface temperatures increase, the ‘iris effect’ of these strati-form clouds decreases, countering the warming trend. This temperature balancing was found to be sufficient to significantly reduce any impact from higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. To further confound the IPCC scenario, ice core data confirms that increased CO2 in the atmosphere generally follows rising sea temperatures as the solubility of CO2 decreased. It does not precede it as the AGW model would have it. Yet, IPCC continues to say that it is ‘very likely’ (more than 90% chance) that humans are causing a global temperature change that will reach 3.2 to 7.2 degrees F by 2100.

Some glaciers are melting and a large number are actually increasing in coverage and thickness. In Greenland, one of the largest glaciers has doubled its rate of advance recently, moving forward 7.2 miles per year. After gathering data for more than ten years, a team of Norwegian-led scientists has found that the Greenland Ice Sheet is actually growing thicker at its interior. Ignoring this data, James Hansen of NASA told /CBS’ “60 Minutes”/ recently that the edges of the Greenland ice sheet are melting rapidly and that the speed of this melting proves that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible. But this sort of melting also occurred 1000 years ago when the Vikings moved in 3000 people and cattle and communities thrived for 300 years. The name Greenland came from the lush green of the meadows along the coasts. When the Little Ice Age began, the Viking had to leave in 1408. Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier (the largest glacier in Patagonia), is advancing at the rate of 7 feet per day. The 250 km² ice formation, 30 km long, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. This ice field, located in the Andes system shared with Chile, is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. While the Antarctic Peninsula area has warmed in recent years and ice coverage diminished, the interior of Antarctica has been colder and ice accumulation has been extensive. A study published by the American Meteorological Society has found that glaciers are only shrinking in the eastern Himalayas. Further west, in the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram, glaciers are actually thickening and expanding.

Ice cores drilled deep into the Greenland ice sheet document a natural, sudden-but-moderate 1500-year global warming cycle which raised temperatures about 2 degrees C above the mean for 750 years or so and then abruptly dropped the temperatures 2 degrees C below the mean (at the latitude of northern Europe). The melting ice from the Medieval Warming did not flood London, and it’s unlikely to happen in any Modern Warming Cycle. The melting of 100 cubic kilometers of Greenland ice would raise sea levels by only 0.01 inch. Recent satellite research shows Greenland’s interior ice sheet has thickened 2 inches in the past 11 years, because warmer temperatures are evaporating more seawater to make more snow.

/George Stephanopolous said on ABC TV’s Meet the Press/ recently that “the best estimates of sea level rise are much less dire than Gore suggests in his movie” In response, Gore whined that scientists just don’t have the models that would give them a high level of confidence one way or the other – “its that the scientists just don’t know”. But that’s not how you sell books and movies, is it Al?

We have been through this panic about the Good Planet Earth heating up or freezing quite a few times: “Weather changes and the media are just as capricious” (Global Research May 2006.). Here are a few examples:

1895: New York Times headline 2/24/95: Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again
1902: L.A. Times: Disappearing Glaciers in the Alps with a persistence that means their final annihilation
1920: NYTimes: After a one-half degree temperature rise, Earth is Steadily Growing Warmer
1924: Arctic Explorer Macmillan Reports Signs of a New Ice Age
1933: NYTimes 3/27/33: America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1766
1954: Fortune Magazine: Climate – The Heat May Be Off Again
1974: Time Magazine 6/24/74: The cooling trend is here to stay
1975: NYTimes: A Major Cooling Widely Considered To Be Inevitable
1981: NYTimes 8/22/81: Global Warming of an Almost Unprecedented Magnitude
2006” NYTimes 12/27/06: Past Hot Times Hold Few Reasons to Relax About New Warming

Six months before COP15, business and government leaders met quietly in Copenhagen for the Business Summit on Climate Change. Al Gore was there along with Ban Ki Moon and a large assortment of financial and energy business executives. “The Summit considered how the twin challenges of climate change and the current economic crisis could be turned into opportunity if business and government work together to stimulate low carbon growth”. /(Copenhagen Climate Council May 2009)/. This wonderfully worded phrase translates into ‘how can we use the notion, once approved at COP15 for a low carbon economy, to make a huge profit trading greenhouse gas emissions?’

So, Cui Bono? Who actually gains from the Anthropogenic Global Warming Craze?:

First: The producers of electric power: The imposition of carbon taxes upon fossil fueled power stations will give utility companies all the rationale they need to hike electricity rates way up. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who engineered the Cap and Trade legislation through the House of Representatives in June, admitted: “I certainly don’t claim I know everything about this bill. We relied upon the IPCC scientists and there is a consensus that there is a problem with global warming and having an impact that we need to reduce. That’s what I know. I rely upon the scientists”. And with no further effort to determine the truth about Global Warming, Waxman has pushed this legislation that will heavily tax certain industries, significantly raise energy prices, and increase the cost of almost all produced goods.

Second: The nuclear power industry – who have been arguing desperately for over 25 years for the resurrection of this terribly costly alternative power source.

Third: Carbon Derivatives Traders: Blyth Masters, the acknowledged inventor of the infamous credit default swaps, and now heading JPMorgan’s carbon trading efforts, recently stated: “Banks must be allowed to lead the way if a mandatory carbon-trading system is going to help save the planet at the lowest possible cost. Derivatives related to carbon must be part of the mix”. Derivatives are securities whose value is derived from the value of an underlying commodity – in this case, carbon as in CO2. (Global Research 12/8/09). Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State has argued against this and proposes that state governments be given the right to ban such unregulated financial products. ”The derivatives market has done so much damage to our economy and is nothing more than a very high stakes casino, except that casinos have to abide by regulations”. Speculators could easily end up controlling U.S. carbon prices and trigger the same type of boom-or-bust cycles that have buffeted other commodities. Banks will attempt to inflate the carbon market by recruiting investors from hedge funds and pension funds, Wall Street is going to sell it as an investment to people that have nothing to do with carbon, Then suddenly investment managers are dominating the asset class, and nothing is related to actual supply and demand. We have seen this before.” (Hedge fund manager at Masters Capital Management LLC).

Fourth: Carbon Offsets Marketers: Every major financial house has set up carbon trading operations and a recent report predicts that “the carbon market could become double the size of the vast oil market”. This carbon market could replace the ‘wealth’ that evaporated with the housing bust. However, it all depends upon achieving a consensus that CO2 emissions are the single biggest threat to the environment. Trading existing emissions for rights to CO2-eating rain forests does not reduce greenhouse gases one bit, but it sure does look good on paper. The head of Barclay’s Trading predicts: “Carbon will be the world’s biggest market and could grow from $60 billion currently to $1 trillion within a decade” /(Renewable Energy World, 3/5/09/). Its a wonderful scam – how can anyone possibly be against reducing that terrible carbon in the atmosphere?

Fifth: Many dedicated followers of the international environmental movement have taken on the cause of Global Warming as true believers. They will find they have strange bedfellows from the nuclear power camp as well as ravenous carbon derivatives sharks and power generating companies. The Third World nations of Africa, believing that they will suffer most from AGW and rising tides, have in many cases made common cause with the environmentalists. Notwithstanding, the biggest producers of CO2 will continue to stonewall any serious attempt to reduce carbon emissions, and the environmentalists will eventually drop away as they discover this to have been a false alarm. The movement for reducing environmental damage from coal mining and damage to our lungs from breathing the smoke from coal burning will suffer a set back and the push towards solar and other renewable energy sources may also slow down. This is regrettable.

In November 2009, just weeks before the COP15 Summit, a data bank of over 3000 emails exchanges between key climate change scientists and researchers revealed a number of instances of scientific dishonesty and deceit and the “fixing of climate data to fit the policy” and to mask the fact that temperatures are now falling, not rising. Some of this is illustrated by the ‘hockey stick’ analogy discussed above. Strangely, the counteroffensive by the climate scientists whose emails were published never denies their authenticity but instead they state that “the Global Warming Consensus holds irrespective of their actions to selectively manipulate data”. /Global Research 11/30/09)/. Oh?

Perhaps the angriest speaker at the opening of COP15 was /Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of IPCC/. He roundly condemned the email hackers not the data manipulators: “Given the wide-ranging nature of change that is likely to be taken in hand some naturally find it inconvenient to accept its inevitability. The recent incident of stealing the emails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC”. All of this sounds a bit hollow when one considers that Dr. Pachauri, whom the BBC called ‘the world top climate scientist” is actually a former railway engineer and economist, not a climate scientists. He has, since his elevation at IPCC, accumulated a worldwide portfolio of conflicting business interests as head of the Tata Energy Research Institute, an arm of the huge Tata Group in India, as a director of India Oil, and as an advisor to Credit Suisse Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation and a number of other firms. His international business interest as a lobbyist for Tata Group have made several important ‘climate skeptics” question his objectivity and suitability to head the IPCC.

So, what will happen now as people come to recognize the truth about AGW? Derivatives Traders will do their damnedest to keep the climate disaster story cooking. The major polluters like the US and China who have never seriously intended to cut back on CO2 emissions anyway will not need to adjust. The environmental movement will need to refocus their work towards stimulating renewable energy sources and all electric cars. The rest of us will need to remember that the consensus view always has something to hide. We must always question the accepted wisdom.

  1. Let us never forget that Al Gore was the lead saboteur of the Kyoto Protocols under Clinton. That anyone believes anything Al Gore says is testament to our collective gullibility. In thinking about why Al was selected by the corporate overlords (and given the Nobel Prize) to be their Trojan Horse into the environmental movement, it occurs to me that when Al “lost” to George Bush, he became the perfect screen upon which to project our collective angst at allowing ourselves to be ruled by a stuttering goon in the service of the greed meisters. The tried and true method of defusing any serious resistance to corporate hegemony has always been to co-opt the surface gist of the deeper issue, which in this case is the annihilation of Nature through pollution largely driven by over-population, both of which we could actually do something about, but won’t. Carbon, however, is, as you point out, a debatable hypothetical at best, and therefore a perfect fit for the emperor’s new clothes

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