The Week That Was
March 10 , 2007
Quote of the Week:
George Cardinal Pell in The Australian 10 May 2006:
'pagan emptiness and fears about nature have led to hysteric and extreme claims about global warming. In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.'
Climate Panic Misplaced (ITEM #1)
Climate Alarmists Fault the IPCC Report (ITEM #2)
Economists critique Stern Review (ITEM #3)
Junk Science in the Journals – in spite of Peer Review (ITEM #4)
No Scientific Consensus on GW (ITEM #5)
EU embraces Nuclear Energy (ITEM #6)
“The Great GW Swindle” --- on BBC (ITEM #7)
EU CLIMATE AGREEMENT NOT LEGALLY BINDING.
MEMBER STATES WIN VETO OVER TARGETS
From CCNet 49/07 - 6 March 2007
EU INDUSTRY COMMISSIONER WARNS AGAINST CLIMATE 'HYSTERIA'
EU industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen has warned against hysteria in the climate change debate as the bloc considers setting stringent new caps for greenhouse gas emissions at a summit later this week. He reiterated his fear that by trying to raise the environment bar within the EU, the bloc risks losing out on competitiveness to other, less green, regions in the world.
--Honor Mahony, EUObserver, 5 March 2007
The EU is 22 years behind the US on economic growth according to a new study, with several other economic indicators showing further gaps despite Europe's ambitious reform agenda to be praised by leaders at this week's summit. A report by Eurochambers argues that the US reached the current EU rate of GDP per capita in 1985 and its levels in employment and research investment almost 30 years ago.
--Lucia Kubosova, EUObserver, 6 March 2007
China is highly likely to overtake the United States this year or in 2008 as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. This information, along with data from the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based alliance of oil importing nations, also revealed that China's greenhouse gas emissions have recently been growing by a total amount much greater than that of all industrialized nations put together.
--Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 March 2007
Letter to Globe and Mail (Toronto) SFS/3/10/07
(Former head of UNEP and environment adviser to Kofi Annan) Maurice Strong's proposal (7 March 2007) for yet another UN bureaucracy for Global Warming mitigation has the ring of sincerity and real concern, but is ultimately based on nothing more than slogans and the absence of any scientific understanding . We now have convincing evidence that the current warming is largely of natural origin rather than caused by an increase in greenhouse gases -- contrary to the IPCC conclusion. Mitigation, as suggested by Kyoto and its proposed follow-ons, is not only ineffective but actually counter-productive. It will dissipate resources that can better be used to increase resilience to meet any future climate change -- whether warming or cooling. Coming generations will look back on the current Global Warming scare as we do on ancient fears of witches and demons.
The Ethanol Debate:
In "For Now, Gasoline is Our Only Cheap Fuel," Cato Institute senior fellow Jerry Taylor writes: "Ethanol made out of corn is probably the closest thing we have to a domestic alternative to gasoline. But no matter how nice 'growing our own fuel' might be in theory, it's uneconomically expensive in fact. Even after 30 years of lavish federal subsidy, ethanol (defined as fuel that is nine parts gasoline and one part ethanol) has only managed to capture a bit more than 3 percent of the automotive fuels market, and even industry participants concede if the subsidies and consumption mandates were removed today, the entire industry would collapse. One might think the current run on gasoline prices would have substantially narrowed the cost gap, but one would be wrong. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to grow corn and a lot of energy to distill it into ethanol and get it into the market. Accordingly, rising energy prices has made ethanol more expensive. Growing corn to meet a tiny fuels market is one thing, harvesting enough corn and building the infrastructure necessary to displace serious amounts of gasoline is another."
In WHAT'S NEW, 9 Mar 07 Robert L. Park writes
We've been through this before: Brazil makes ethanol from sugar cane. We grow corn. Corn is food. The diversion of food to fuel, even at today's trivial level, has already inflated the price of corn in Mexico, sending Mexicans north for better paying jobs. Toxic waste from fermentation of sugar cane is dumped in the Amazon. We don't have an Amazon. Because the energy balance is precarious, sugar cane must be harvested in Brazil by hand. That condemns vast numbers of laborers to serfdom. We don't have serfs - yet. What we do have is lots of people who are capable of running the numbers for the President to see if ethanol is any kind of a solution. None of these people seem to be in the White House.
MARS MAY BE GOING THROUGH A PERIOD OF CLIMATE CHANGE, new findings from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter suggest. JPL/NASA, 8 December 2003
MIT RESEARCHER FINDS EVIDENCE OF GLOBAL WARMING ON NEPTUNE'S LARGEST MOON 24 June 1998
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE ON JUPITER; Nature 428, 828-831 (22 April 2004) doi:10.1038/nature
PLUTO THOUGHT TO BE WARMING UP ABC News, 26 July 2006
For more discussion, see cross-patch blog in
1. THE CHURCH OF CLIMATE PANIC
By Rich Lowry , The Natinal Review Online
Sophisticated people in Western societies don't stand in public and shout, "The end is near!" the way a nutty preacher does. They don't cut their scalps the way Shia Muslims do in a rite of self-flagellation to mark the Day of Ashura. They do none of these things, because they have the issue of global warming instead.
The planet is indeed getting warmer (by about 0.7 degrees Celsius during the 20th century), and carbon emissions are contributing to it. This is a problem that deserves study and debate about what realistically can be done about it. But it doesn't justify the bizarre panic that suggests the issue has become a trendy vehicle for traditional fears of the apocalypse and for rituals of guilt and expiation.
The latest assessment of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the Vatican of the Church of Climate Panic — prompted apocalyptic headlines worldwide. The New York Times dubbed it "a grim and powerful assessment of the future of the planet." Actually, the summary report was less grim than prior reports, but grimness is the only acceptable mood when it comes to climate change.
Christopher Monckton, a former adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, points to the neglected data in the IPCC summary. It "more than halved its high-end best estimate of the rise in sea level by (the year) 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches." In his scare-documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore posited a catastrophic sea-level rise of more than 20 feet (feet, not inches).
Monckton notes that, "The U.N. has cut its estimate of our net effect on climate by more than a third," and, "It now thinks pollutant particles reflecting sunlight back to space have a very strong cooling effect." As for the increase in temperature, Monckton writes, the best estimate for the effect of the CO2 level reaching "560 parts per million, twice the level of 1750, was 3.5 C in the 2001 report. Now it is down to 3 C."
But no editors are going to run blaring headlines, "IPCC Climbs Down Slightly From Direst Predictions." The report was, in any case, crafted to avoid any such less-than-grim headlines. "I hope this report will shock people," said the chairman of the IPCC.
Shock tactics inevitably mean simplifying in an area of unimaginable complexity. No one knows how to create a reliable model of the planet's climate, and inconvenient anomalies muddy the story line of the warming zealots. From 1940 to 1975, the global temperature fell even as CO2 emission rose. Since 2001, global temperatures have only gone up a statistically insignificant 0.03 degrees Celsius. And in recent years, the oceans have actually gotten cooler.
None of this, obviously, is to deny global warming, but to introduce a note of caution about the calls for individual and collective self-denial that accompany the warming panic. If people feel better about using compact fluorescent light bulbs, so be it, but schemes to mandate drastic reductions in carbon emissions based on avoiding an entirely speculative calamity are folly.
Even the Kyoto Treaty, which would have only a slight effect on global climate even if fully implemented, is utterly unrealistic. Canada ratified the treaty in 2001, notionally committing itself to reducing its carbon emissions 6 percent from their 1990 level. But from 1991 to 2003, Canada's emissions increased 24 percent. That great climate scold, Europe, has been increasing its emissions at a rate faster than ours. China will soon pass the U.S. as the world's greatest polluter and is robustly unrepentant about it.
The sensible ways to try to mitigate global warming and counteract its effects in the long run are the development of new energy technologies in the West, as well as economic development and aid programs for those Third World countries that are most vulnerable to disease and sea-level rises. These solutions won't, however, satiate the deeper atavistic urges behind the global-warming panic. For that, people will have to head to their nearest place of worship.
2. CLIMATE ALARMISTS ALARMED ABOUT IPCC: "WHAT THE IPPC DIDN'T TELL US"
New Scientist, 10 February 2007
THE word they were most pleased with was "unequivocal". Three hundred government-appointed delegates from 113 countries were last week unanimous in agreeing what most climate scientists have believed for years: that the world is warming fast and that humans are almost certainly to blame.
Some 600 scientists wrote the summary of the fourth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published this week. Virtually everything they wanted to say in it survived the politicians, but the IPCC's review process was so rigorous that research deemed controversial, not fully quantified or not yet incorporated into climate models was excluded. The benefit - that there is now little room left for sceptics - comes at what many see as a dangerous cost: many legitimate findings have been frozen out.
This is the untold story of the report, uncovered in interviews with many of the scientists involved, the story of how a complex mixture of scientific rigour and political expediency resulted in many of the scientists' more scary scenarios for climate change - those they constantly discuss among themselves - being left on the cutting room floor.
Dozens of climate scientists, including many of the leading lights of the IPCC study, came together two years ago this month to discuss "dangerous" climate change at a conference organised by the UK government in Exeter. They identified a series of potential positive feedbacks and "tipping points" not included in current models of the Earth's climate system that could accelerate global warming or sea-level rise. These included the physical collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, rapid melting in Antarctica, a shut-down of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and the release of carbon dioxide and methane from soil, the ocean bed and melting permafrost.
Yet last week's summary report virtually ignored most of the Exeter findings. One concern is that the huge ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica could be close to disintegration. This would cause rises in sea levels that would be measured in metres, but the report restricts itself to noting that sea levels are rising by 3.1 centimetres a decade - still almost twice the rate of the early 1990s. Current climate models assume that the ice sheets will melt only slowly, as heat works its way down through ice more than 2 kilometres thick. But many glaciologists no longer believe this is what will happen.
In reality, they say, ice sheets fracture as they melt, so water can penetrate to the bottom of the ice within seconds, warming its full depth and lubricating the frozen join between ice and the bedrock. Physical break-up of the ice sheets will happen long before thermal melting, they say.
Richard Alley, a US glaciologist who has published widely on the dangers, says climatologists have yet to be convinced that they need to rewrite their models, even though the rate of ice loss in Greenland has unexpectedly doubled in the past decade. The report does note that permanent Arctic sea ice is contracting by 7 per cent every decade.
"Our chapter of the report will say that Greenland is doing things that could make it disintegrate much faster than people think," Alley says. "But we don't have a strong basis yet for projecting exactly what the ice sheets will do," So, he says, the summary excluded the new thinking.
Last week another IPCC author, Stefan Rahmstorf of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, published a paper showing that world sea levels are rising 50 per cent faster today than predicted in the last IPCC report in 2001 (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1136843). Co-author Jim Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies believes this is the first sign of a dramatic acceleration of sea level rise likely in the coming decades, as ice sheets start to disintegrate.
Both acknowledge in the paper that there may not yet be enough data to extrapolate a trend, but the IPCC last week reduced its estimate of worst-case sea level rise in the coming century from 88 to 59 centimetres. Real-world evidence was specifically excluded, the IPCC said, because it is not yet included in the models.
Researchers outside the IPCC process have been outspoken in condemning this approach. Bob Corell, a leading US meteorologist and chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, warned before the report's publication that any prediction of sea level rise of less than 1 metre would "not be a fair reflection of what we know".
The IPCC team also sidelined findings from the British Antarctic Survey. BAS researchers say that the Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than almost anywhere on the planet. They have documented a sharp decline in sea ice around the peninsula, and warn that the giant West Antarctic ice sheet is "unstable and contributing significantly to sea level rise".
In contrast, the IPCC summary claims there are "no statistically significant average trends [in sea ice]," and that this is "consistent with a lack of warming, reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region". It asserts that overall "the Antarctic ice sheet... is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall".
Researchers at the UK's National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, will also feel overlooked. In 2005, they reported that the Gulf Stream slowed by about 30 per cent between 1957 and 2004. The Gulf Stream is a key feature of the world ocean circulation system, and any failure could have huge and unpredictable repercussions for world climate. But the IPCC summary insists that "there is insufficient evidence to determine whether trends exist".
Water vapour is increasing in the atmosphere, the summary says, thanks to more evaporation from the oceans. Weather systems are changing, with more intense droughts and tropical cyclones at low latitudes. Rainfall, when it occurs, is measurably heavier because the warmer air holds more moisture.
However, the summary fails to take up warnings made at the Exeter meeting about "carbon-cycle feedbacks" - the release of greenhouse gases from warmed soils, forests, permafrost and sea beds. It does note that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere at a record rate, with annual increases now a third greater than even 20 years ago.
Another IPCC author, Venkatchalam Ramaswamy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told New Scientist that the IPCC's predictions of significant warming in northern latitudes should give urgency to assessing potential methane releases from Siberia and the Arctic. But, he said, his fears had failed to make it into the summary.
FULL SOUR GRAPES at http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19325903.800-climate-change-what-the-ipcc-didnt-tell-us.html
CCNet EDITOR'S NOTE: The New Scientist's IPCC skepticism is summed up in its front page headline which screams: "GOODBYE COOL WORLD: WHY OUR FUTURE WILL BE HOTTER THAN WE'VE BEEN TOLD." So much for the current state of climate hysteria in the UK. BJP
WHY THE IPCC CONSENSUS IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME: A RESPONSE TO THE EDITORS OF NEW SCIENTIST
Benny Peiser [firstname.lastname@example.org]
That the editors of New Scientist would be incensed by the IPCC AR4 report was to be expected. Most of the worst-case disaster scenarios they have peddled, pushed and published over the last few years have been either debunked altogether or are widely regarded as highly unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. The apparent disgruntlement voiced in today's editorial is thus a clear indication that climate alarmists are beginning to worry about the new, moderate mood within the IPCC.
Despite media campaigns, false leaks and antechambering, the SPM has thrown out the more extreme scenarios regarding sea level and temperature rise, polar ice melting, hurricane activity, the Gulf-Stream-collapse-ice-age, etc. Not surprisingly, this has come as a huge disappointment to many dogmatic neo-catastrophists. After all, these extreme scenarios have been carefully advanced by the disaster lobby since the notorious Met Office conference in Exeter ("Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change") exactly 2 years ago.
http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Peiser/Peiser_Exeter2005_report.html Now they bitterly complain that "last week's [IPCC] summary report virtually ignored most of the Exeter findings."
One only has to compare the SPM with the Stern Review to appreciate just how much the IPCC has softened its assessment and estimates of core issues. Many doom merchants are fuming about the new moderate temper. Others are simply denying that any moderation has actually occurred.
To make matters worse, every single government has now signed on to the IPCC consensus. Some bloggers are seething about President Bush's conversion, as this newfangled consensus deprives campaigners of a natural target in the "science wars." Now, that no government is disagreeing with the basic science, campaigners are forced to engage in the much more complex issues of climate policy and economic analysis. The issue is no longer about action versus inaction. Quite the opposite. The real debate about the most cost-effective ways of dealing with climate change: revolutionary change as advocated by climate alarmists, or gradual adjustment as suggested by climate moderates.
Nonetheless, I don't expect that the prophets of doom will surrender that easily and accept the IPCC consensus. In fact, I expect the stream of disaster predictions, catastrophe scenarios and hyped media alarmism to go on as usual, in the hope that -never mind the set back - the next IPCC report will, for sure, be more alarmist! Indeed, the editors of New Scientist are as certain as true believers that this will happen in the end: "[The AR4] omits some very real risks either because we have not yet pinned down their full scale or because we do not yet know how likely they are... It's a fair bet that much of what we do not yet know for sure will turn out to be scarier than most of us like to imagine."
In sharp contrast to such statements of complete belief, I keep on open mind and will adjust my views on the potential risks of climate change as new data and observations emerge. Nevertheless, I will always defend the editors of New Scientist against accusations that they are too sceptical of the IPCC consensus and that they focus too much on minority positions among climate researchers. Tolerance cuts both ways, doesn't it?
9 February 2007
SEPP COMMENTS ON CLIMATE ALARMISTS
Professional climate alarmists (Hansen, Rahmstorf et al) are upset --and so is Fred Pearce of the New Scientist: The IPCC conclusions are “too optimistic and “not scary enough.” They want more catastrophes to keep the GW excitement going. So, for example, Hansen predicts sea level rise by 2100 that’s 20 times the mean IPCC value – 20 feet instead of one foot. Rahmstorf managed to con Scinece into publishing a “theory” of sea level rise that’s pure bunk. [Pearce misreports the essence of the paper.]
Perhaps one overall response will suffice: Why didn’t all these imagined disasters happen in the past, during periods when the climate was much warmer than today’s?
3. STERN REVIEW STRIKES OUT WITH PROFESSIONAL ECONOMISTS
Criticism of Climate Change Report Mounts
Washington, D.C., February 13, 2007 When members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sit to hear the testimony of Sir Nicholas Stern on the economics of climate change today, they may want to take his remarks with a grain of salt.
Stern, an economics advisor to the British government, made waves recently with the release of a report on the future economic impacts of climate change. His dramatic findings seemed to reinforce the alarmist predictions of catastrophic climate change, but his calculations have been accumulating an impressive list of critics. The passages below are just a few of the critical reactions to the Stern Review which have come from experts in international, natural resource and development economics:
“The discount rate used is lower than the official recommendations by HM Treasury. Results are occasionally misinterpreted. The report claims that a cost-benefit analysis was done, but none was carried out. The Stern Review can therefore be dismissed as alarmist and incompetent.”
“If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a master’s thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a D for diligence; but more likely I would give him an F for fail.”
―Dr. Richard Tol, Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University
“[Stern] makes numerous new assumptions that cause the estimated damages from climate change to be far more severe than previous estimates. The report also makes several strong assumptions that lower the estimated abatement costs. Finally, the report does not consider any policy alternatives other than its own abatement strategy and doing nothing, thus ignoring the possibility of an optimal abatement path that is apart from its own proposal. These characteristics raise serious questions about the soundness of the report’s policy recommendation.”
“[T]he analysis needs to be based on solid science and economics before hundreds of billions of dollars per year are invested in abatement.”
―Dr. Robert O. Mendelsohn, School of Forestry and Environmental Science,
”The Stern Review is a Prime Minister’s dream come true. It provides decisive and compelling answers instead of the dreaded conjectures, contingencies, and qualifications. However, a closer look reveals that there is indeed another hand to these answers. The radical revision of the economics of climate change proposed by the Review does not arise from any new economics, science, or modeling. Rather, it depends decisively on the assumption of a near-zero social discount rate. The Review’s unambiguous conclusions about the need for extreme immediate action will not survive the substitution of discounting assumptions that are consistent with today’s market place. So the central questions about global-warming policy how much, how fast, and how costly remain open. The Review informs but does not answer these fundamental questions.”
―Dr. William Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics, Yale University
”Are the numbers taken in the Review to reflect the two ethical parameters compelling? I have little problem with the figure of 0.1% a year the authors have chosen for the rate of pure time/risk discount (delta). But the figure they have adopted for eta - the ethical parameter reflecting equity in the distribution of human well-being - is deeply unsatisfactory. To assume that eta equals 1 is to say that the distribution of well-being among people doesn't matter much, that we should spend huge amounts for later generations even if, adjusting for risk, they were expected to be much better off than us. To give you an example of what I mean, suppose, following the Review, we set delta equal to 0.1% per year and eta equal to 1 in a deterministic economy where the social rate of return on investment is, say, 4% a year. It is an easy calculation to show that the current generation in that model economy ought to save a full 97.5% of its GDP for the future! You should know that the aggregate savings ratio in the UK is currently about 15% of GDP. Should we accept the Review's implied recommendations for this country's overall savings? Of course not. A 97.5% saving rate is so patently absurd a figure that we must reject it out of hand. To accept it would be to claim that the current generation in the model economy ought literally to impoverish itself for the sake of future generations. The moral of finger exercises such as the one above is that we should be very circumspect before accepting numerical values for parameters of which we have little a-priori feel. What we should have expected from the Review is a study of the extent to which its recommendations are sensitive to the choice of eta. A higher figure for eta would imply greater sensitivity to risk and inequality in consumption, meaning that it could in principle imply greater or less urgency in the need for collective action on global warming. Whether it is greater or less would depend on whether or not the downside risks associated with the warming process overwhelm growth in expected consumption under business as usual. To put it more sharply, a higher value of eta could imply that the world should spend more than 1% of GDP on curbing emissions, or it could imply that the expenditure should be less. Only a series of sensitivity analyses would tell. Curiously, the Review doesn't report any such sensitivity analysis.
―Sir Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics, University of Cambridge
”The Stern Review sides with those who believe in a low discount rate, arguing that the only ethical reason to discount future generations is that they might not be there at all -- there could be some cataclysmic event like a comet hitting the earth that wipes out all life. The report assumes that the probability of extinction is 0.1 percent per year. For all intents and purposes, this implies a social rate of discount that is effectively zero, implying almost equal weight to all generations.
The report not only chooses to weigh all generations' welfare almost equally, it also makes an extreme choice when specifying the relationship between consumption and welfare. These choices together imply that a 1 percent reduction in consumption today is desirable if it leads to slightly more than 1 percent increase in the consumption of some future generation, even though, in the model, future generations will be much wealthier than the current generation.
―Dr. Hal Varian, Professor of Business, Economics and Information Management, University of California, Berkeley
“Despite using many good references, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is selective and its conclusion flawed. Its fear-mongering arguments have been sensationalized, which is ultimately only likely to make the world worse off.”
“The Stern review...analyzes what the cost would be if everyone in the present and the future paid equally. Suddenly the cost estimate is not 0% now and 3% in 2100--but 11% of GDP right now and forever. If this seems like a trick, it is certainly underscored by the fact that the Stern review picks an extremely low discount rate, which makes the cost look much more ominous now.
But even 11% is not the last word. Mr. Stern suggests that there is a risk that the cost of global warming will be higher than the top end of the U.N. climate panel's estimates, inventing, in effect, a "worst-case scenario" even worse than any others on the table. Therefore, the estimated damage to GDP jumps to 15% from 11%. Moreover, Mr. Stern admonishes that poor people count for less in the economic calculus, so he then inflates 15% to 20%.
This figure, 20%, was the number that rocketed around the world, although it is simply a much-massaged reworking of the standard 3% GDP cost in 2100--a figure accepted among most economists to be a reasonable estimate.”
―Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, Director, Copenhagen Consensus Center and Adjunct Professor, Copenhagen Business School
“So far from being an authoritative guide to the economics of climate change, the Review is deeply flawed. It does not provide a basis for informed and responsible policies.”
―Sir Ian Byatt et al . In World Economics
4. THE PROBLEM WITH PEER REVIEW
Editorial by S Fred Singer
The recent stem-cell fiasco in Science magazine has drawn renewed attention to the shortcomings of the scientific peer-review process. There have been many other such cases in which peer review failed, like the endocrine-disrupter scare featured in the book Our Stolen Future. In most of these cases it is difficult to blame the reviewers for failing to spot fraud. Eventually, the failure to replicate results in the laboratory would expose these fraudulent results.
But what about scientific results that cannot be verified by independent laboratory experiments? In the area of environmental studies we have seen the case of the “Hockeystick” – an elaborate analysis of proxy data for temperatures, which seemed to establish the 20th century as unusually warm and was accepted by many as a sure sign of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It was exposed as false only through the diligence of a single investigator who had never published on climate issues but was able to carry out a detailed audit of the data and methodology.
Unfortunately, such audits cannot be conducted on a routine basis – and certainly not by referees. It is the editor, therefore, who bears a special responsibility, since it is the editor who chooses the referees. It is incumbent on editors, therefore, to be especially careful when dealing with “breakthrough” papers that promise unusual results.
In this respect, the record of the leading scientific journals, Nature and Science, is not very good. This is especially true in the environmental area, which has both high visibility and policy significance. Ozone depletion was a hot topic in the 1980s and led to the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987. Global warming continues to be a hot topic – before and since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. I will confine my choice of examples to these two areas since I am most familiar with them:
BREAKDOWN OF PEER-REVIEW SYSTEM: Examples with narratives and references
1. Supersonic Transport (SST)………………………………………………….Singer
2. “Limits to Growth” (1972)……Maddox, Simon, Singer, and recently Nordhaus, Lomborg
3. Nuclear Winter (Sagan et al in Science)……………………………….…….Singer
4. Acid Rain impacts …………………………………………………………….Singer
5. Solar UV and Skin Cancer …(J. Kerr in Science)………………………..Michaels et al
6. Arctic “ozone hole” (Anderson et al in Science) Singer
7. AGW in the 20th Century--before 1940 …(Wigley in Science)………………Singer
8. Fingerprint of AGW (Santer in IPCC-TAR)………………………..Michaels, Singer
9. Climate – Hockeystick (Mann in Nature)………………………McIntyre , Mc Kitrick
10. Scientific Consensus on AGW (Oreskes in Science)………………………….Peiser
10. Ocean Heat Storage – a “smoking gun” of AGW (Hansen et al in Science)…...Singer
12. AGW as the Cause of Disappearing Frogs (Pounds et al in Nature)……….Michaels
13. AGW and Human Health (Patz in Nature)……………………………….…..Goklany
14. Nuclear Winter Redux (Turco et al in Scinece 2007)
15. Sea Level Rise (Rahmstorf in Science 2007)
CAUSES AND REMEDIES
There are many other examples; it would take a book to discuss them fully. But we know enough to (1) demonstrate a breakdown in scientific standards, (2) examine the likely causes, and (3) suggest possible solutions.
1. I put the cause squarely on the editors of Nature and Science (and more recently also Proc Nat’l Acad Sci), on their personal prejudices and also on their competitive drive to outdo each other by attracting and publishing papers that advertise spectacular results and seemingly confirm that human activities are damaging the environment.
2. With authors clamoring to publish in Nature and Science, both editors can choose the papers they wish to accept, using their personal criteria of “novelty,” “relevance,” “importance,” etc. The underlying criterion might also be: Will it support the AGW thesis and attract media attention? They can then choose the reviewers, more or less as they please. None of the studies listed above would have been published if a different set of reviewers had been chosen; they would not have survived. From my personal experience, I review papers regularly for Environmental Geology and other journals, but have not been asked to review a single paper for either Nature or Science for at least 10 years.
3. Remedies for this situation do exist: Either competition will slowly displace these journals or editors or their policies will change. Consider that the first successful attack on the Hockeystick was published in Energy & Environment, a relatively new journal. I was one of the referees of this paper. And then there is the Internet and blogs. I spend an increasing fraction of my time reading them and their critiques of published papers. I list some of them:
1. ClimateSceptics (Yahoo group) edited by Timo Hameranta/ David Wojick
2. Climateaudit.org by Steve McIntyre
3. CO2Science.org by Sherwood, Craig and Keith Idso
4. WorldClimateReport.com by Pat Michaels
5. ClimateSci.atmos.colostate.edu/ Roger Pielke, Sr
6. Prometheus--Science Policy Weblog Roger Pielke, Jr
7. JunkScience.com Steve Milloy
8. CCNet: www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/CCNet-Archive.htm Benny Peiser
9. Center for Science and Public Policy http://ff.org/centers/csspp/misc/index.html
10. NZ Climate Truth Vincent Gray
11. EnviroTruth.org National Center for Public Policy Research
12. And. of course, my own TWTW in www.SEPP.org
5. SCIENTIFIC `CONSENSUS' ON GLOBAL WARMING DOESN'T EXIST
By Robert Cohen
San Jose Mercury
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summary, released Feb. 2, states that it is "very likely" that changes in climate are due to human influence.
More recent comments in various media outlets have focused on a scientific consensus that supports the panel's conclusions. Those who question this consensus have been compared to Holocaust deniers, and some have been threatened with job dismissal. This is no longer science, but scientific socialism. I do not agree with all of the IPCC conclusions and know through peer discussions that the idea of a consensus in the meteorological community is false.
The IPCC was formed under U.N. auspices, and while each expert contributed a few pages of the report, the final publication was vetted through governmental committees before release, where significant changes could be made. The documents signed by the contributing experts note that they agree with the pages they contributed, but not necessarily the complete report nor its conclusions.
There are a number of inconsistencies in the report. The most glaring is that the models on which the conclusions depend do not agree with various sets of observations. Following are a few specific examples:
The summary notes an increase in mean sea level of 7 inches during the 20th century, with a forecast rise of an additional 7 to 23 inches by 2100. Observations, however, do not agree with these predictions. Stockholm, which has the world's longest sea level measurement record of about 1,200 years, has shown increases in sea level of only plus-or-minus 0.06 inches per year, with an average very close to zero; these observations are well below the model predictions.
The Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu , barely above sea level, has requested permission to move its people to Australia or New Zealand, based on the predicted sea level rise. However, satellite data and sea level measurements indicate falling sea level at the island.
The models predict that temperature increases will appear first at the poles. However, data published after the release of the IPCC Summary indicate that temperatures in the Antarctic have not increased during the previous 50 years. Those data frequently quoted in the media of increasing temperatures are only from a small region occupied by scientists; the Antarctic region as a whole does not show rising temperatures.
Away from the earth's surface, models predict that temperature trends should show a strong increase with height, particularly in the tropics. However, observations indicate upper atmosphere temperatures showing flat or decreasing temperature trends.
Research has also shown that slight changes in energy from the sun can significantly affect the earth, particularly in terms of clouds, which are a weak link in the global warming models. The level and amount of cloud can determine whether temperatures will warm as the cloud layer limits heat dissipation to space or whether temperatures will cool as the sun's incoming energy is reflected back to space before reaching the Earth's surface.
Temperature has fluctuated significantly in the past, with shorter-term cooling and warming trends of about 1,500 years superimposed on long-term cycles of ice ages and glacial melting. The 1,500-year cycle includes the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age, which together extended from about 900 to 1850 A.D. During the former, literature and archaeology provide evidence that the Vikings found grapes in Newfoundland, naming their new settlement Vinland. The Little Ice Age was associated with major diseases, which were rampant, due at least partially to the cold weather. As the Arctic ice edge advanced, Inuit hunters in kayaks were observed as far south as Scotland around 1700.
Clearly, these changes were not due to human influence. It has yet to be determined whether we are in a warming period that is part of the normal climate cycle. Is it worth destroying our economy and lifestyle based on an unproven theory that does not correlate with historical observations?
6. EU EMBRACES NUCLEAR ENERGY OPTION
by David Charter and Rory Watson, Brussels
The role of nuclear power in Europe received an unexpected boost yesterday as EU leaders hailed a landmark climate change deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable fuels.
Environmentalists complained that an ambitious headline goal to cut Europe’s CO emissions by a fifth by 2020 had been weakened by concessions to the main nuclear nations and the biggest polluters in Eastern Europe.
Nonetheless, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, will use the agreement struck at the spring EU summit in Brussels to put pressure on world leaders to follow suit when she hosts the G8 meeting in June.
China, India and Brazil will join that summit and, like the US, be challenged to accept the principle of binding CO cuts for the first time.
As well as agreeing in principle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, EU leaders pledged to ensure that 20 per cent of Europe’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2020. The commitment of all 27 member nations is legally enforceable by the European Court of Justice.
Months of haggling will follow as diplomats argue over targets for individual countries. Each will contribute a different amount, and diplomats made clear that less would be expected of the heaviest-polluting former Communist countries. The Czechs and Slovaks had both complained that they had only just left decades of five-year plans behind them.
In a sop to France and the Czech Republic, a country’s nuclear power capability will be taken into account when calculating national commitments to renewable energy. France produces 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power stations and insisted that this noncarbon source of fuel should be taken into consideration. French diplomats believe this will lessen the EU demand for more renewable sources such as wave, wind and solar power.
Jacques Chirac, the outgoing French President, welcomed the deal as one of the top three achievements of the EU during his 12 years in the Elyse Palace.
Tony Blair was also pleased with the concession towards the nuclear powers. The outcome will give a boost to his plans to rebuild Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations which suffered a setback last month when the High Court ruled that the consultation process was seriously flawed. Mr Blair said: There is then the 20 per cent target on renewable energy. In setting that, there will be permission to look at the energy mix that countries have . . . including nuclear technology, which obviously helps the UK as well.
Environmentalists were less enthusiastic. Friends of the Earth said the targets were timid. A spokesman said: Heads of States gave a modest boost to the uptake of renewable energies, but agreed that the EU should aim low on cutting greenhouse gases, and failed again to agree any concrete commitment towards reducing Europe’s appalling waste of energy.
Mr Blair and Mr Chirac were full of praise for the handling of the summit by Mrs Merkel, who faced strong opposition to her climate change ambitions from several nations, not least in eastern European countries such as Poland, which still rely heavily on fossil fuels.
But she was determined to give herself the best possible leverage on members of the G8 to persuade them to follow suit and prepare a post-Kyoto global framework for cutting harmful emissions.
President Chirac described the outcome as one of the great moments of European history. He said: It was not easy, but Mrs Merkel achieved it with lots of intelligence and brio.
Key to any new global deal will be the United States, where Congress refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol, but also China, India and Brazil, which were all excused Kyoto targets because they were classed as developing nations in the 1990s.
The EU deal allows Mrs Merkel to challenge other global players to match the EU’s commitment with the extra pledge that Europe will go further and cut emissions by up to 30 per cent if others are prepared to follow suit.
CCNet EXTRA - 10 March 2007
EU CLIMATE AGREEMENT NOT LEGALLY BINDING:
MEMBER STATES WIN VETO RIGHT OVER TARGETS
The European Council decides that a differentiated approach to the contributions of the Member States is needed, reflecting fairness and transparency as well as taking into account national circumstances and the relevant base years for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. It recognises that the implementation of these targets will be based on Community policies and on an agreed internal burden-sharing and invites the Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States, immediately to start a technical analysis of criteria, including socio-economic parameters and other relevant and comparable parameters, to form the basis for further in-depth discussion.
--The Council of the European Union, 9 March 2007
Barroso promised to submit a bill with binding targets later this year. This is made more difficult, however, by the fact that the European Union has formally no competence over energy policy. Hence he is dependent on the good will of member states. The lacking power of the Commission to implement the agreement could still prove to be a problem. Asked what the Commission would do if a country refuses to accept binding targets, Barroso and Merkel failed to give a convincing answer. She does not see any reason to discuss this problem today, the German Chancellor said stroppily.
--Spiegel Online, 9 March 2007
The contribution of each member state will be determined according to a complicated computation method. At the end of the day, individual countries will be burdened differently. Should only one of the 27 member states object to the fixed burden-sharing calculation for renewable energies, the entire legal package fails. A right of veto for everyone - this is the actual price Merkel had to pay for the EU agreement.
--Die Welt, 9 March 2007
7. GLOBAL WARMING LABELED A "SCAM"
A new documentary, directed by filmmaker Martin Durkin, rejects the concept of man-made climate change, calling it "a lie ... the biggest scam of modern times."
The truth, says Durkin, is that global warming is a multibillion-dollar worldwide industry, created by fanatically anti-industrial environmentalists, supported by scientists peddling scare stories to chase funding, and propped up by compliant politicians and the media.
According to one of the filmmaker's experts, paleontologist professor Ian Clark of the University of Ottawa:
o Global warming could be caused by increased activity on the sun, such as massive eruptions.
o Ice-core samples from Antarctica show that, in fact, warmer periods in Earth's history have come about 800 years before rises in carbon dioxide levels.
Clark's findings appear to contradict the work of other scientists, who have used similar ice-core samples to illustrate that raised levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have accompanied the various global warming periods.
"The fact is that (carbon dioxide) has no proven link to global temperatures," says Durkin. "Solar activity is far more likely to be the culprit."
Scientists in the documentary cite what they claim is another discrepancy involving conventional research:
o Most of the recent global warming occurred before 1940, after which temperatures around the world fell for four decades.
o They view this as a flaw because the worldwide economic boom that followed the end of World War II produced more carbon dioxide, and therefore should have meant a rise in global temperatures -- something he says did not happen.
Source: Al Webb, "Global warming labeled a 'scam,' " Washington Times, March 6, 2007.
“The Great GW Swindle” – on BBC Channel 4 March 8, 2007. Watch it on