The Week That Was
June 30, 2001


The Bush energy plan is a lot better than what Nixon or Carter came up with -even though there is no real energy crisis now - and there never was one then. But features of his plan may be in trouble as the "crisis" fades away

The Week That Was June 30, 2001 brought to you by SEPP


Handelsblatt (the leading German business newspaper) reports on June 20, 2001, page 6

MOSCOW: Like the US, Russia wants surprisingly not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for Climate Protection. "Moscow will certainly not ratify because the conditions of the protocol are uninteresting for us and undermine Russia's economic interests", Alexander Berdizkij, the chief negotiator for the Kyoto ratification, explained the Kremlin change of policy to the Internet magazine Instead, the country wants to authorize more forest area and push the use of nuclear energy in order to reduce the release of CO2.

Until now, Russia, which had agreed as per the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to limit itself to 17% of the world wide release of CO2, had not only held to the norms but had also along with the European Union criticized the USA for its rejection attitude. In addition Moscow wanted to earn millions of rubles through the sale of so-called climate credits.

Comment: Looks to us like George W. is starting a trend.


Thomas Sowell (Wash Times 6/24) writes:

"As the report stated clearly, [the scientists] 'were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release.'"

Is this correct? Who actually wrote the 5-page summary? And did panel members review it and submit comments?


And now -- for a real scientific debate
MANY CITATIONS SUPPORT GLOBAL WARMING TREND claims Prof Raymond Bradley in a Letter to Science (vol. 292, p.5524, 15 June 2001), slamming Fred Singer.

We think that Ray is mistaken and that this can be demonstrated. But he has done an important service by putting forth his data (and some pretty obscure references). We have long advocated the need for a public debate. This makes the point exactly

Many Citations Support Global Warming Trend
Arguing against conclusions about global warming reached by Donald Kennedy in his Editorial "An unfortunate U-turn on carbon" (30 Mar., p. 2515), S. Fred Singer says, "...the overwhelming balance of evidence shows no appreciable warming trend in the past 60 years; hence, it is unlikely to be significant in the future" (Letters, "Global warming: an insignificant trend·" 11 May, p. 1063). He is wrong on both counts.

The evidence for warming over the last 60 years is unequivocal, even if the direct instrumental record is ignored. The change in temperature has led to a major reduction in the mass of alpine glaciers in almost all parts of the world (1), an increase in permafrost thawing at high latitudes (2) and at high altitudes (3), a reduction in the extent and thickness of Arctic sea-ice (4), later freeze-up and earlier break-up dates of ice on rivers and lakes (5), and an increase in the calving rate of Antarctic ice shelves (6). There is no evidence or reason to think that these systems have a lag response to warming of 50 years or more [e.g., (7)]. There have also been shifts in the distribution of plant and animal species, both latitudinally and altitudinally (8), changes in the phenology of plant leafing and flowering (9), and the storage of significant quantities of heat in the near-surface ocean (10), as well as an overall rise in sea-level driven by both continental ice melting and a steric change due to the increase in overall ocean temperature (11). In addition, there have been remarkable increases in ground temperatures over the last millennium (12).

Thus, regardless of arguments over instrumental versus satellite-based estimates of warming in recent decades (13), there are multiple indicators of warming in the 20th century that paint a vivid picture of the global-scale environmental consequences of the temperature increase. Going forward in time, the accelerating rate of fossil fuel consumption will drive global temperatures to levels not seen in at least a millennium, and probably higher than for many thousands of years. This scenario will play out in a world whose population will increase by 50% over the next century.

Raymond S. Bradley
Department of Geosciences,
Morrill Science Center,
University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, MA 01003, USA.

References and Notes

1. M. B. Dyurgerov, M. F. Meier, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 1406 (2000); L. G. Thompson et al., Glob. Planet. Change 7, 145 (1993); H. H. Brecher, L. G. Thompson, Photogramm. Eng. Remote Sens. 59, 1017 (1993).
2. T. E. Osterkamp, V. E. Romanovsky, Permafrost Periglacial Proc. 10, 17 (1999).
3. H. Jin et al., Glob. Planet. Change 26, 387 (2000).
4. D. A. Rothrock et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 3469 (1999); P. Wadhams, N. R. Davis, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27, 3973 (2001); K. Vinnikov et al., Science 286, 1934 (1999).
5. J. J. Magnuson et al., Science 289, 1743 (2000).
6. T. A. Scambos et al., Ann. Glaciol. 46, 516 (2000).
7. G. Patzelt, M. Aellen, Mitt. Naturforsch. Versuchsanst. Wasserbau Hydrol. Glazioloogie ETH Zurich 108, 49 (1990).
8. G. Grabherr et al., Nature 369, 448 (1994); H. Pauli et al., World Resources Rev. 8, 382 (1996).
9. R. B. Myneni et al., Nature 386, 698 (1997).
10. S. Levitus et al., Science 287, 2225 (2000).
11. R. Warrick, J. Oerlemans, in Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment, J. T. Houghton et al., Eds. (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1990).
12. S. Huang et al., Nature 403, 756 (2000); R. N. Harris, D. S. Chapman, Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 747 (2001).
13. National Research Council, Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change (National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000).

Another debating issue from "the usual suspects":
The Scope of Medieval Warming

Hemispheric mean temperatures that have been reconstructed with a wide range of climate proxies indicate that temperatures were warmer in Medieval times than during the subsequent "Little Ice Age" (~1550 to 1850) (1). However, all studies of large-scale climate variations reveal some regions that do not follow the global or hemispheric trend [for example, (2)], so selecting a few data points, as W. S. Broecker does in his Perspective (Science's Compass, 23 Feb., p. 1497), adds little to resolving the title question he poses: "Was the Medieval Warm Period global·"

Furthermore, Broecker's statement that only borehole temperatures and snowlines can reconstruct temperatures to within 0.5_C is not supported in the literature. Reconstructing global temperature requires a geographically extensive network of data. Studies that have analyzed data from a wider range of instruments than Broecker mentions (1, 3) conclude that 20th century warming is unprecedented, in both rate and magnitude, compared with warming during the past 1000 years.

Medieval climate was clearly unusual in some areas (4), and further regional studies are needed. These might help determine if Broecker's hypothesis of a change in thermohaline circulation holds water.

Raymond S. Bradley,*
Department of Geosciences,
University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, MA 01003, USA.

Keith R. Briffa,
Climatic Research Unit,
University of East Anglia,
Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.

Thomas J. Crowley,
Department of Oceanography,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843, USA.

Malcolm K. Hughes,
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research,
University of Arizona,
Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.

Philip D. Jones,
Climatic Research Unit,
University of East Anglia,
Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.

Michael E. Mann
Department of Environmental Sciences,
University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA

*To whom correspondence should be addressed.

References and Notes

1. P. D. Jones et al., Holocene 8, 455 (1998); M. E. Mann, R. S. Bradley, M. K. Hughes, Geophys. Res. Lett. 26,
2. 759 (1999); T. J. Crowley, T. S. Lowery, Ambio 29, 51 (2000).
3. P. D. Jones et al., Rev. Geophys. 37, 173 (1999).
4. M. K. Hughes, H. F. Diaz, Clim. Change 26, 109 (1996); K. R. Briffa et al., J. Geophys. Res. 106D, 2929 (2001).
5. S. Stine, in Water, Environment and Society in Times of Climatic Change, A. S. Issar, N. Brown, Eds. (Kluwer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1998), pp. 43-67; M. K. Hughes, G. Funkhauser, in The Impacts of Climate Variability on Forests, M. Beniston, J. L. Innes, Eds. (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1998), pp. 99-107; C. Pfister et al., Holocene 8, 535 (1998); V. C. LaMarche, Science 183, 1043 (1974); D. Dahl-Jenssen et al., Science 282, 268 (1998).

Comments: These two Letters attempt to shore up the two crucial IPCC claims enunciated in the just released Third Assessment Report:

1. That the climate is currently warming , and at a rate that is unusual. Bradley ignores explicitly any evidence from instruments and uses only selected proxy data that are very soft. Even so, most of the phenomena cited by him are readily explained in terms of pre-1940 warming that is not likely to be anthropogenic.

2. That the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years. We will let Prof Wally Broecker fight that battle but note here only: What about the published papers that show the statement to be untrue?
And what exactly is the relevance of 1000 years? Why not 5000, for example?

We challenge the IPCCniks: On to the debate!



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