The Week That Was
November 3, 2007

NO TWTW ON Nov. 10, 17 and 24: at Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA) as Visiting Wesson Fellow


A note to our subscribers:  Format Change:  The TWTW e-mail letters will carry only summaries, easy to print out.  The full stories, in formatted form, are in the mailed Attachment.
Our website < > will show the summary but allows access to the full newsletter through ‘READ more’ or through ‘Archives.’
For quick access to summaries online, visit our NEW blog at < >

IMPORTANT:  Comments invited to AGU Panel on ‘Human Impacts on Climate’

AGU has appointed a panel to update the 2003 AGU Statement on GW, for consideration by the AGU Council in Dec. 2007 [see Eos, Vol 88, No 35, 28 Aug 2007, p. 345]

Comments are being invited from AGU members only.  My own comment [see TWTW Sept 8] is found at   Click on ‘Comments,’ and then add your own.

[To see the six Figures cited in my Comment, go to]


Quote of the Week:

"Fanaticism is ... overcompensation for doubt." - Robertson Davies

Calif plans to tax electric power further to bribe its powerful academic/technology lobby [ITEM #1]. 
California needs technological advances to meet its new greenhouse gas emission standards. The first standard, enacted last year, requires a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, to 1990 levels, by 2020. Two years ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order targeting 80% reductions by 2050.” Will the last industry to leave Calif please turn off the lights?
    California is not alone – alas!  As reported by AP on Oct 30 from Lisbon, Portugal—[NJ’s] Governor Corzine dashed across the Atlantic on Monday to join an international coalition that is waging a battle against global warming — and to vault New Jersey into the forefront of the fight.  Corzine signed onto a pact with Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain that supporters say confronts head-on the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.  Other members of the new International Carbon Action Partnership are California, New York and British Columbia.
    Corzine says he was compelled to make a deal with European nations — signing New Jersey up for a system that trades pollution credits for energy savings — because the federal government hasn’t effectively confronted the looming threat to American lives and livelihoods.  “Utility companies would be encouraged to use renewable energy sources.  Consumers ultimately could see lower bills.”
[Yes, when hell freezes over – or more likely, when NJ runs out of electric power –- SFS]
    More grandstanding and empty promises from Britain’s environment minister [ITEM #2].  But a frank and long-overdue admission that they cannot even meet the puny Kyoto targets [ITEM #3].
    Whoever thought we might agree with British activist George Monbiot?  “Our response will be to demand that the government acts, while hoping that it doesn't. We will wish our governments to pretend to act. We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity.”   --From: George Monbiot, Heat, How to Stop the Planet From Burning

John Christy, my fellow skeptic and fellow co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize (by virtue of having our names listed in IPCC reports) in the WSJ [ITEM #4]

Satellites provide new evidence for negative climate feedback [ITEM #5].  This may finally explain why the data show so much less warming than models predict.


Climate information from the Independent Institute:

"The Great Global Warming Swindle," article by S. Fred Singer

And for your own assessment, here is the video of "The Great Global Warming Swindle," the acclaimed British Channel Four program itself:

Is There a Basis for Global Warming Alarm? by Richard S. Lindzen

New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn't Telling Us, by S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, and Wendy M. Novicoff

Finally, some humor from the WSJ opinion page

Report:  “Sen. Barbara Boxer released a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of the phrases that the White House removed [from CDC testimony] and the U.N. panel's report this year on how climate change affected public health.  The comparisons showed striking similarities.”
    Ho hum, right? But a  global-warmist blog  has obtained the redacted report, and it contains one claim that is hysterical in the sense of "laugh-out-loud funny" instead of the usual "sky is falling!" sense:
QUOTE ***Mental Health Problems: Some Americans may suffer anxiety, depression, and similar symptoms in anticipating climate change and/or in coping with its effects. *** END QUOTE ***
That's right, global warmism is a mental disease, and the Bush administration is covering it up so that people like Al Gore do not get the help they need!  See also ITEM #6.


Robert F. Service
Science 2 November 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5851, p. 730 DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5851.730b

California researchers could soon be able to tap a 10-year, $600 million climate initiative.  The project would create the California Institute for Climate Solutions to foster research so the state can meet strict greenhouse gas emissions limits enacted over the past 2 years.  The president of the state's public utilities commission (PUC), Michael Peevey, recently announced that PUC is looking at the proposed institute as a way to help meet the new targets.  The commission is weighing a plan to finance it through a $1-a-month hike in electricity rates.
    "This is really exciting to see," says Daniel Kammen, an energy policy expert at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, who views the institute as a way to translate climate goals to action.  "It will really put financial muscle behind the climate-change laws."  Omar Yaghi, a chemist at UC Los Angeles, who works on materials capable of separating carbon dioxide from power-plant emissions, likes the idea that utility commissioners are paying attention to more than just the industry's bottom line.  "I'm really happy to hear the PUC is taking the initiative on this," Yaghi says.
    The institute's design is still in flux.  But Kammen and others say it's likely to focus on a range of projects that offer near-term energy savings.  A preliminary list, Kammen says, includes research centers for energy efficiency, solid-state lighting, carbon sequestration, and green buildings, and a policy center to mesh California's climate regulations with those of other states and countries.
    California needs technological advances to meet its new greenhouse gas emission standards.  The first standard, enacted last year, requires a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, to 1990 levels, by 2020.  Two years ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order targeting 80% reductions by 2050.
    A public comment period closes next week, followed by hearings early next year. If all goes smoothly, the institute could have money to spend by next summer.


There will be a new carbon trading scheme for large and medium-sized firms which will cut more than 4m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2020.  The Bill will make the UK the first country to put carbon emissions reduction targets into law.  He spoke as MPs called for a climate change minister to be appointed.

Mr. Benn said the government would amend its draft climate change legislation following a three-month public consultation and scrutiny by three parliamentary committees.  An independent committee on climate change would be set up that would advise on "five year carbon budgets" - part of a new commitment to carbon reduction

"We will use the bill to introduce carbon trading in further sectors," said Mr. Benn.  "These powers will implement the new carbon reduction commitment - a trading scheme for large to medium size companies and public sector organisations.  This scheme will save four million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2020 and help to spread responsibility for doing something about climate change right across the economy."

Other measures will include, asking the committee on climate change to report on whether the government's target to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050 should be strengthened further.  It will also be asked to look at the implications of including other greenhouse gases and emissions from international aviation and shipping in the UK's targets as part of this review.  The committee will be independent from the government, having its own chief executive and staff, and ministers will be required to seek its advice before amending the 2020 and 2050 targets in the Bill.

However, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party's principal speaker, criticised the government's response to the three month public consultation on the draft Climate Change Bill and its target to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.  She said that target was "woefully inadequate and too distant".  "It's criminally irresponsible to adopt a target that not only flies in the face of science," she said.  "Brown is as content as Blair to continue fudging and stalling on cutting on our emissions and so the UK continues to fail on climate change. 
We need a Climate Change Bill which sets binding emissions reduction targets of at least 6% a year to allow us to achieve cuts in UK greenhouse gas emissions in the region of 90% by 2030."

But Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne gave Mr Benn's announcement a qualified welcome.  He said he was pleased to see that the government was now saying that other greenhouse gases should be included in the UK's emissions targets and not just CO2.

The Environmental Audit Committee, meanwhile, said a Climate Change and Energy secretariat, based in the Cabinet Office, could cut inter-departmental conflict.  Committee chairman, Conservative MP Tim Yeo said: "The UK must be equipped to meet both the challenge of a carbon-constrained world and the likely climate change impacts that will occur.  "It would be disastrous if bad planning policy meant that today's new housing developments become tomorrow's "climate slums," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/10/29 15:45:08 GMT

report in the journal Nature this week. 

Echoing sentiments long associated with politicians such as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President George Bush, the report says it is time to ditch the Kyoto Protocol because the United Nations treaty has "failed."  Not only has the decade-old treaty not delivered cuts in global emissions of greenhouse gases which continue to soar, but it is the wrong tool for the job, say Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics and Steve Rayner at Oxford. 

Their commentary has top billing in the influential British science journal this week. '... as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions [Kyoto] has failed.  It has produced no demonstrable reduction in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth,' reads a report in the journal Nature.  Under the headline "Time to Ditch Kyoto," they call on delegates heading for the United Nations climate meeting in Bali in December to "radically rethink climate policy" and warn against creating a "bigger" version of Kyoto with more stringent targets and timetables.  
    Kyoto is a "symbolically important expression" of governments' concerns about climate change, they say: "But as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions it has failed. It has produced no demonstrable reduction in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth.  And it pays no more than token attention to the needs of societies to adapt to existing climate change."  "Kyoto's supporters often blame non-signatory governments, especially the United States and Australia, for its woes," say Mr. Prins and Mr. Rayner. "But the Kyoto Protocol was always the wrong tool for the nature of the job."

By JOHN R. CHRISTY,  WSJ, Nov 1, 2007;

I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume.

The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat.  Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases.  The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see.  Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have a loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why.  As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations.  (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us.  As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately.  Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse.  Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see.  We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before.  Sea levels rise and fall continually.  The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before.  One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe.  Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover.  CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.

Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate.  For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily.

There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide.  If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts.  The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry.  The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West.  A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

Without a doubt, atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing due primarily to carbon-based energy production (with its undisputed benefits to humanity) and many people ardently believe we must "do something" about its alleged consequence, global warming.  This might seem like a legitimate concern given the potential disasters that are announced almost daily, so I've looked at a couple of ways in which humans might reduce CO2 emissions and their impact on temperatures.

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade.  Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable.  Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions.  Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per century.  It's a dent.  But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short.  The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today.  Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."  Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.
Mr. Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a participant in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.


Julia Slingo & Rowan Sutton,  Nature 450, 27 (1 Nov 2007) | doi:10.1038/450027a;

Sir -- The dramatic loss of sea-ice cover over the Arctic this summer was widely reported, for example in your News story 'Arctic melt opens Northwest passage' (Nature 449, 267; doi:10.1038/449267b 2007 <> ), and frequently attributed to global warming.  Although the gradual decline in sea-ice extent during the past four decades is in line with that expected from global warming, it is very unlikely that the loss of sea-ice cover this year is explicable solely in terms of temperature change.         Changing wind patterns are an important influence on the distribution of sea ice.  Throughout summer 2007, exceptional pressure and wind patterns persisted over the Arctic Ocean.  The observed migration of ice cover, from the Siberian and Beaufort seas northwards and eastwards into the Arctic Basin, was in line with the expected response to the anomalous winds.  These Arctic wind anomalies were part of a global-scale pattern of highly unusual circulation this summer, the causes of which are as yet unclear.  The growing La Nina in the East Pacific undoubtedly had a major influence globally, and there is some evidence from past events that La Nina predisposes the circulation towards the type of exceptional patterns seen this summer.

News release (8/9/2007)

The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.

That was not what he expected to find.
"All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases," he said.  "That amplification is a positive feedback.  What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback.  As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease.  That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space."

The results of this research were published today in the American Geophysical Union's "Geophysical Research Letters" on-line edition. The paper was co-authored by UAHuntsville's Dr. John R. Christy and Dr. W. Danny Braswell, and Dr. Justin Hnilo of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA.

"While low clouds have a predominantly cooling effect due to their shading of sunlight, most cirrus clouds have a net warming effect on the Earth," Spencer said.  With high altitude ice clouds their infrared heat trapping exceeds their solar shading effect.

In the tropics most cirrus-type clouds flow out of the upper reaches of thunderstorm clouds.  As the Earth's surface warms - due to either manmade greenhouse gases or natural fluctuations in the climate system - more water evaporates from the surface.  Since more evaporation leads to more precipitation, most climate researchers expected increased cirrus cloudiness to follow warming.

"To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer said. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming."
The only way to see how these new findings impact global warming forecasts is to include them in computerized climate models.

"The role of clouds in global warming is widely agreed to be pretty uncertain," Spencer said. "Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I'm betting that if the climate models' 'clouds' were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades."

The UAHuntsville research team used 30- to 60-day tropical temperature fluctuations - known as "intraseasonal oscillations" - as proxies for global warming.

"Fifteen years ago, when we first started monitoring global temperatures with satellites, we noticed these big temperature fluctuations in the tropics," Spencer said.  "What amounts to a decade of global warming routinely occurs in just a few weeks in the tropical atmosphere.  Then, as if by flipping a switch, the rapid warming is replaced by strong cooling.  It now looks like the change in cirrus cloud coverage is the major reason for this switch from warming to cooling."

The team analyzed six years of data from four instruments aboard three NASA and NOAA satellites.  The researchers tracked precipitation amounts, air and sea surface temperatures, high and low altitude cloud cover, reflected sunlight, and infrared energy escaping out to space.

When they tracked the daily evolution of a composite of fifteen of the strongest intraseasonal oscillations they found that although rainfall and air temperatures would be rising, the amount of infrared energy being trapped by the cloudy areas would start to decrease rapidly as the air warmed.  This unexpected behavior was traced to the decrease in cirrus cloud cover.

The new results raise questions about some current theories regarding precipitation, clouds and the efficiency with which weather systems convert water vapor into rainfall.  These are significant issues in the global warming debate.

"Global warming theory says warming will generally be accompanied by more rainfall," Spencer said.  "Everyone just assumed that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds.  That would be your first guess and, since we didn't have any data to suggest otherwise ..."

There are significant gaps in the scientific understanding of precipitation systems and their interactions with the climate, he said.  "At least 80 percent of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds, and those are largely under the control of precipitation systems.

"Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don't believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade.  Without that knowledge, we can't predict future climate change with any degree of certainty."

Spencer and his colleagues expect these new findings to be controversial.  "I know some climate modelers will say that these results are interesting but that they probably don't apply to long-term global warming," he said. "But this represents a fundamental natural cooling process in the atmosphere.  Let's see if climate models can get this part right before we rely on their long term projections."
Ref:  GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, L15707, doi:10.1029/2007GL029698, 2007
Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations
Roy W. Spencer, William D. Braswell, John R. Christy, Justin Hnilo


Children are having nightmares about their carbon footprint.  What a pretty pass modern man has brought himself to!  Frightening children with scary stories about hell fire is the way our ancestors drilled society into conformity.  It might have been hoped that the age of science would bring all that to an end, but now we have entered the post-scientific age, in which a new class of high priest returns to the traditional methods of enforcement.  In order to establish the essential fear-provoking scenario they have nominated in the role of original sin one particular element, one atom out of the whole gamut.  It is a choice that is bizarre to the rational mind, yet one that conforms to the long established principles of the founding of authoritative religions.  Why is it bizarre?  If you are of a mind to seek out magic and miracles look no further than the sixth member of the periodic table of elements.