The Week That Was (Dec 27, 2008) brought to you by SEPP


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Quote of the Week:

On Dec. 20, U.S. president-elect Barack Obama --who will take over as head of state on Jan. 20, 2009 --named John Holdren as his chief science adviser, declaring, "The truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources. It’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say--even when it’s inconvenient."   -- SEPP says: Amen. We couldn’t agree more.


Fred’s Fearless Forecast for 2009:  Continued ‘no warming’ – and much else

So here we have them:  Obama’s three scientists—Steve Chu, John Holdren, and Jane Lubchenco.  All with sterling credentials – a Nobel laureate in physics, a recent president of the AAAS, a recent head of the International Council of Scientific Unions – but with minimal knowledge of climate science, except what they may have gleaned from reading the IPCC summary.  Yet all three seem supremely confident that they will drastically change US climate policy.  Well, let me be the first with the bad (for them) news: Within a year or so, they are going to be an awfully frustrated bunch.

My fearless forecast for 2009:  Big amount of activity by Congress, with lots of ‘Cap&Trade’ bills to limit CO2 emissions.  Waxman, Markey, and Pelosi in the House; Boxer, Lieberman, Bingeman, and maybe even McCain in the Senate.  It will take off, but it won’t fly: There is the prohibitive cost of any real C&T, raising energy prices and killing jobs -- while the economy is in the dumps.  There is the horrible example of the European emission-trading brouhaha, falling apart even as we go to press.  And after ten years, the climate is still refusing to warm.  I am not even considering the threat of a filibuster in the Senate—with Democrats from ‘fly-over’ states joining Republican opponents of C&T. 

I think that Obama is much too smart to devote political capital to doomed climate legislation.  He has more important priorities, and must also be thinking of 2010 and, of course, the 2012 elections.  Being a ‘one-term’ president just doesn’t look good.  He will certainly go through the motions and come up with great rhetoric.  He’ll trot out his science team – but to no avail.  Climate science isn’t going to figure prominently in the Congressional debates – alas; it’s all about economics and politics.

Now for the real action:  Once legislation stalls, Carol Browner, the supreme ideologue and strategist, will go the regulatory route.  EPA will try to treat CO2 as a ‘criteria pollutant’ under the terms of the Clean Air Act.  But there will be litigation.  EPA must demonstrate ‘endangerment’ and make a persuasive case that CO2 is a threat to ‘public health and welfare.’  Perhaps even show that there is a critical level of CO2 and demonstrate convincingly – in a court-of-law -- that its regulatory program will succeed in keeping CO2 from reaching that level.  EPA will be required to respond to all the scientific evidence now in its docket that says CO2 is not a threat – including the NIPCC report.  Here is where climate science will finally become all-important – but Obama’s science team will be of no help once cross-examination starts.

How much better if the three team members lay off climate and devote their efforts and expertise to genuine problems: Holdren can handle nuclear proliferation and the rising threat of nuclear terrorism; Lubchenco can try to stem the over-exploitation of ocean resources, and look after fisheries and whales; Chu should be thinking about the inevitable transition from fossil fuels to various forms of nuclear energy and foster research that assures adequate and low-cost supplies of fissionable fuel for the more efficient and safer reactors of the future.

While this may be best use of their considerable collective talents, they will probably be pressed into service to back up Browner on her dubious climate science  -- where they have negligible expertise.

SEPP Science Editorial #17 (12/27/08)


Keeping the IPCC honest

I know it’s a tough job – but let’s just check their iconic, widely-quoted conclusion and parse its meaning:


“Most of the observed increase in globally-averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.”  [IPCC Synthesis Report, SPM, Nov 2007].  How should one interpret this ex cathedra declaration to the faithful?


IPCC helpfully defines ‘very likely’ as ‘90-99% certain.’  But they don’t tell us how they reached such well-defined certainty.  What remarkable unanimity!  Just how many and whom did they poll? 

     IPCC doesn’t define the word ‘most.’  We may assume it means anything between 51 and 99%.  Quite a spread.  But a footnote informs us that solar forcing is less than 10% of anthropogenic [0.12/ 1.6 W/m2]; so ‘most’ must be closer to 99% than to 51%. 


OK; let’s check out the data since 1958.  But we don’t want to rely on contaminated surface data – which IPCC likely used – although they omitted to say so.  Atmospheric data were readily available to the IPCC in the CCSP-SAP-1.1 report (Fig 3a, p.54; convening lead author John Lanzante, NOAA), with independent analyses by Hadley Centre and NOAA that agree well.  And further, according to GH models, atmospheric trends should be larger than surface temperature trends.


1958 – 2005:  Total warming of +0.5 C – but how much of that is anthropogenic?

1958 - 1976:  Cooling

1976 – 1977:  Sudden jump of +0.5 C     Cannot be due to GHG

1977 – 1997:  No detectable trend

1998 - 1999:   El Nino spike

2000 – 2001:  No detectable trend

2001 – 2003:  Sudden jump of +0.3 C     Cannot be due to GHG

2003 – present No trend, maybe even slight cooling


Conclusion:  The IPCC’s ‘most’ is not sustained by observations; the human contribution is very likely only 10% or even less.

1.  Obama's disastrous choices for science positions 

5.  Global Warming rope-a-dope 


They are at it again: Gavin Schmidt (Jim Hansen’s chief acolyte and Rottweiler) and Michael Mann (the unrepentant originator and unashamed promoter of the notorious and discredited ‘hockeystick’ – not even the IPCC believes in it any more).  This dreadful duo evidently consider the NIPCC  (“Not-the-IPCC”) report “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate”  a threat to the IPCC – and to their careers, so they produce this memorable rejoinder  About the best they can up with is the smear  word “dishonest.”  [And this from Schmidt and Mann!]
   Thanks, fellas, for free publicity for NIPCC; the brainwashed readers of RealClimate should thank you.

Heartland’s reply to RealClimate attack on NIPCC:

No friends of the earth.  by Muhammad Cohen, The Guardian, 11 December 2008
This article on the UNFCCC [Rio Climate Treaty] asks why environmental NGOs support the Convention, as there is no evidence that the Convention is benefiting the environment. On the contrary, the article reports an increase in greenhouse gas emissions rather than a decline.

British Advertising Standards Authority decided that the wind power lobbies’ statement about carbon dioxide reductions was misleading by factor of two. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) has agreed to scale down its calculation.
 Telegraph-overstated the environmental benefit of wind farms - Telegraph.pdf


Last week, two prominent moderate Republicans — William K. Reilly, who ran the E.P.A. under President George H.W. Bush, and William D. Ruckelshaus, who served as administrator under both Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — sent a little-noticed but eloquent letter to President-elect Barack Obama.  The gist of the letter was that the E.P.A. could be an enormously positive force in the fight against climate change and oil dependency. All it needed was someone who believed in its mission and was prepared to use the laws already on the books. Granting California its waiver, carrying out the Supreme Court decision, regulating emissions from vehicles and power plants — all this and more, they wrote, could be accomplished with the statutory tools at hand.



Cicerone interview Dec 2008
[Dr Ralph Cicerone is president of the US National Academy of Sciences]
Excerpt: Yes, I think the evidence [for anthropogenic global warming – AGW] is overwhelming; the evidence is also completely scientific.  Up until maybe 10 years ago, some people thought the sun was causing some of the warming … but we now have enough high quality data [that] show the sun’s output is not increasing during this period of climate change, so [this] theory is no longer tenable.


“The good news about today's bad economic news is that we're being forced to curb our material consumption. If we do it in the right way, it will help limit global warming and may even force the realization that a truly high standard of living might entail more leisure, not just more material goods.”  [Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, is a professor of economics at Columbia University].
Published in Mother Jones:   SEPP says:  Thanks, Joe.  And the millions of unemployed, now forced into “leisure,” thank you too.


Lib Radio Host: “Record Snows and Cold Caused By Global Warming"
In other news, chastity causes pregnancy, food causes starvation, and fresh water dehydration.

Environmentally conscious travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to assuage their guilt and minimize the impact of their air travel by buying certified carbon offsets at airport kiosks.  The experimental program, scheduled to start this spring, would make SFO the first airport in the nation - possibly the world - to offer fliers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets.  – SF Chronicle 12/24/2008

***Comment: A Merry Christmas to one and all, and don't spend a single moment worrying about your carbon footprint. – Lord Christopher Monckton [Monckton of Brenchley]***

CEI's Myron Ebell ,  Dec 19, 2008
Earlier this week, CEI sent out a press release headlined, Obama Interior, Agriculture Appointees Complete Anti-Energy Team. I don’t know what I was thinking. President-elect Obama clearly is not finished staffing his anti-energy team.

Today, Obama announced that he would nominate John Holdren to be his science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dr. Holdren is a physicist who has become a radical apostle of global warming alarmism and energy-rationing policies, which Rob Bradley of the Institute for Energy Research detailed in a paper for CEI. Currently, he is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center. The Woods Hole Research Center should not be confused with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, although the name was chosen so that you would confuse it.  The Woods Hole Research Center is an environmental group that is tricked up to look like a scientific organization. Holdren was also a co-chairman of the self-styled National Commission on Energy Policy.

Dr. Lubchenco is professor of marine biology and zoology at Oregon State University. The Heinz Center, another scientific-appearing environmental group, gave her their Heinz Award in the Environment in 2002. She and Holdren are both past presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Holdren and Lubchenco are on the scientific fringe of global warming alarmism. They make claims that are not supported by the scientific literature.  My colleague Julie Walsh has assembled some quotes from Holdren here. We’ll try to put together some from Lubchenco as well and post them on the blog.

Much more can be said about them individually, but suffice it to say that the Obama Administrations energy and climate team is a disaster. While he has chosen moderate establishment Democrats for the macro-economic jobs, his micro-economic policy appointees on energy policy will wreck the economy for a generation if President Obama and the Congress adopt their policies. 

Julie Walsh, CEI, December 19, 2008


(CA) Copyright 2007 San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2007 Section: NEWS Climate change prime topic at science summit, by David Perlman

The meeting's theme is "Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being." John Holdren, the association's [AAAS] president, said Wednesday that the greatest threat to the Earth's well-being is increasingly rapid global climate change.

The evidence for dangerously climbing temperatures is "absolutely stunning," Holdren said in a discussion with The Chronicle's editorial board. He cited such phenomena as the damage now caused worldwide by floods and wildfires, the spread of malaria in the tropics where mosquito populations are increasing, and the rapid melting of permafrost in the Arctic tundra, as well as the swiftly increasing loss of ice in both polar regions of the globe.

He noted that virtually all climate scientists agree that global temperatures are rising, and that the major cause is increased greenhouse gases -- largely from the burning of fossil fuels.

The world's most urgent need, he said, is "a massive effort to slow the pace of global climatic disruption before intolerable consequences become inevitable."

The scientific community can certainly help develop new technologies to cope with the problems, he said, but with the pace of climate change increasing so rapidly, "we've only got about a decade to get things right." New Statesman Copyright 2006 New Statesman Ltd. September 11, 2006 Drax and Today-I really must protest.  Lynas, Mark

Then, ten minutes after the second Drax interview, the BBC's environment correspondent, Roger Harrabin, was sitting down with John Holdren, the eminent president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and discussing global warming. Holdren put it bluntly: "We are already experiencing dangerous human disruption of the global climate." To continue to ignore the problem would, he suggested, be "flirting with catastrophe", given that carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere have already "passed the safe level".

Sunday Times (UK) Copyright 2006 The Sunday Times September 3, 2006 Section: Features The war on hot air; Focus.  Jonathan Leake

Only last week, John Holdren, new president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, suggested that global sea levels could rise 13ft by the end of this century -much higher than previous forecasts.

Boston Globe (MA) Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company April 22, 2008 Section: Op-Ed Get real on global warming goals

If we want to improve our chances of averting this century the extinction of 50 percent of the species or dramatic drops in grain yields or devastating sea level rises, we have to get worldwide CO2 emissions to start a real decline as fast as possible. Scientist Jim Hansen says that if we wait until 2018 to "stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions" then we have close to no chance of avoiding catastrophic effects. Scientist John Holdren tells us that if we plateau in 2015, our chances of averting these catastrophic effects are down to 50 percent.

St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN) Copyright 2007 Saint Paul Pioneer Press November 11, 2007 Section: Business: Oil prices make coal seem cheap: despite environmental dangers, low price is 'huge advantage' and shipments are rising.  By Christopher Martin, Bloomberg News

"Coal is by far the cheapest fuel because there's no price on how much damage it causes," said John Holdren, a Harvard University professor of environmental science and director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

3.  WIND ENERGY WILL BE AN EARLY TEST OF OBAMA'S WHITE HOUSE STAFF:  Difference between campaigning and governing

By Glenn R. Schleede


"Good ideas," even if costly, can be useful during a presidential campaign. Once elected, however, presidents typically find that they have many more "good ideas" thrust upon them by staffers, campaign contributors, special interest groups, and heads of departments and agencies than their Presidential budget can accommodate, or that have benefits outweighing true costs.


Therefore, all presidents need effective procedures and trusted staff with discernment skills near at hand who can tell them whether the claims made by proponents of various "good ideas" are really true and whether a proposal will be cost-effective in meeting his goals.


The question now is whether Mr. Obama's White House and Executive Office staff will have the capability and "clout" to protect him from being pressured to adopt unworthy proposals. This will be a test for NEC Director Larry Summers, Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes, ERAB Staff Director Austan Goolsbee, and OMB Director Peter Orszag and their staffs.


Clearly, President Bush did not have effective procedures or staff in place to protect him from bad proposals, including those from his Department of Energy (DOE) and its constituents. DOE demonstrated that it could not be relied on to provide objective analysis -- or to put the public interest ahead of special interests. A recent, relevant example is the highly misleading report -- prepared by DOE, the National Renewable Energy "Laboratory" (NREL), and the wind industry - that suggested that the US could get 20% of its electricity from wind energy.

 by Christopher C. Horner, Human Events 12/23/2008

The most expensive secret you’re not supposed to know is that George W. Bush leaves office with the planet cooler than when he entered. This dangerous trend threatens the multi-billion dollar global-warming industry, adding new urgency to the ritual shriek of we must act now! in the scramble to impose a costly regime of mandates and energy taxes. The global warming industry’s tactics already range from comical to reprehensible.

As a result of a cooling atmosphere -- which thanks to the global cooling panic we began measuring in 1979 -- you are distracted with irrelevant surface temperatures. This is possibly because more than 90% of our surface thermometer network is in violation of rules for locating the instruments. For example, why are so many now on asphalt parking lots, black tar roofs, airport tarmacs, and even hanging directly above barbeque grills?

Such childishness is only the tip of the iceberg of outrages employed to advance an ideological agenda. Our schools torment those whom they are charged with protecting from abuse, with night terrors among the less egregious outcomes. Their brainwashing includes hate mail campaigns to skeptics, reporting on their parents’ willingness to adopt an agenda, and even emotional breakdown requiring institutionalization.

High government officials around the world abuse their powers to expand government’s powers. The media moved from pushing catastrophism in order to sell copy, to expressly abandoning journalistic principles and declaring that, regarding global warming, balance is bias. Last year, after Kevin Rudd was elected Australia’s Prime Minister, he addressed a gathering of that nation’s best and brightest pondering how to achieve their policy dreams. One idea floated was to strip Aussies of their citizenship if they expressed doubts about man-made climate catastrophe. So as to not be extremist, however, this allowed for the prospect of restoring one’s standing upon -- you guessed it -- reeducation.

The mostly taxpayer-funded science community is repeatedly caught fudging their numbers to exaggerate and even manufacture warming. Peer-review journals place hurdles in the skeptics’ path to publication while publishing demonstrable falsehoods -- without bothering to check the claim’s viability. Gang Green smears any who dare speak out as unqualified or shills corrupted by Big Oil money. Media and lawmakers repeat the claims, yet show no curiosity about the staggering $300 million given to Al Gore. Who is it so covetous of frightening you into accepting costly policies in the name of a climate crisis as to underwrite this aggressive lobbying and re-branding blitz? Gore won’t tell us, but you can bet they stand to profit at your expense.

The establishment furiously engages to shout down, censor and shut down dissent. They now have the active participation of the National Academy of Sciences -- thanks to a back door created to elect environmentalists who otherwise would not attain this status and who then exercise a veto over others who do not share their worldview. Forget the policy implications, and consider how this threatens the various institutions of science -- once the entire enterprise is inevitably exposed.

It is now mainstream in the campaign to suppress speech to call for criminalization of skepticism (that is, of science) and imprisonment of its practitioners. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett publicly demands that media outlets refuse to grant skeptics space, on the grounds that they are just like Islamic terrorists. Who, then, is surprised that scientists receive professional and even death threats for their heresy, and one in Norway had the wheels fall off of his car -- twice -- after speaking out, once when his young daughter was a passenger? His mechanic said the lugs had been loosened.

Apparently dissent is not patriotic to the global warming industry. One prominent former CEO now pushing alarmism says that continued opposition to climate policies, specifically a supranational organization to which we cede the necessary authority, will be paralyzing and suffocating. Officials and opinion leaders similarly argue that the global warming issue is simply too important to be left to democracy and that we must suspend certain such arcane notions, if just for this one issue.

This is madness. It has to stop. The first step in our recovery is to have a public discussion about why proponents of the global warming agenda must stoop to these tactics.

Mr. Horner is author of "Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed

by Walter E. Williams, December 24, 2008 ore 5. 

Americans have been rope-a-doped into believing that global warming is going to destroy our planet. Scientists who have been skeptical about manmade global warming have been called traitors or handmaidens of big oil.

The Washington Post asserted on May 28, 2006 that there were only "a handful of skeptics" of manmade climate fears. Bill Blakemore on Aug. 30, 2006 said, "After extensive searches, ABC News has found no such (scientific) debate on global warming." U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said it was "criminally irresponsible" to ignore the urgency of global warming. U.N. special climate envoy Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland on May 10, 2007 declared the climate debate "over" and added "it's completely immoral, even, to question" the U.N.'s scientific "consensus." In July 23, 2007, CNN's Miles O'Brien said, "The scientific debate is over." Earlier he said that scientific skeptics of manmade catastrophic global warming "are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry, usually."

The global warming scare has provided a field day for politicians and others who wish to control our lives. After all, only the imagination limits the kind of laws and restrictions that can be written in the name of saving the planet. Recently, more and more scientists are summoning up the courage to speak out and present evidence against the global warming rope-a-dope. Atmospheric scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, "It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming."

Dr. Goldenberg has the company of at least 650 noted scientists documented in the recently released U.S. Senate Minority Report: "More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims: Scientists Continue to Debunk 'Consensus' in 2008." The scientists, not environmental activists, include Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate in physics, who said, "I am a skeptic. Global warming has become a new religion." Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an environmental physical chemist, said warming fears are the "worst scientific scandal in the history. When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists." "So far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming," said Dr. Jarl R. Ahlbeck, a chemical engineer at Abo Akademi University in Finland, author of 200 scientific publications and former Greenpeace member.

Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh, said, "Many (scientists) are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined." The fact of the matter is an increasing amount of climate research suggests a possibility of global cooling. Geologist Dr. Don J. Easterbrook, Emeritus Professor at Western Washington University says, "Recent solar changes suggest that it could be fairly severe, perhaps more like the 1880 to 1915 cool cycle than the more moderate 1945-1977 cool cycle. A more drastic cooling, similar to that during the Dalton and Maunder minimums, could plunge the Earth into another Little Ice Age, but only time will tell if that is likely." Geologist Dr. David Gee, chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress, currently at Uppsala University in Sweden, asks, "For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?"

That's a vital question for Americans to ask. Once laws are written, they are very difficult, if not impossible, to repeal. If a time would ever come when the permafrost returns to northern U.S., as far south as New Jersey as it once did, it's not inconceivable that Congress, caught in the grip of the global warming zealots, would keep all the laws on the books they wrote in the name of fighting global warming. Personally, I would not put it past them to write more.

Frank Tipler, the distinguished mathematical physicist at Tulane University, is an Urgent Agenda reader.  We recently asked him for his view of the global-warming controversy, and he was kind enough to send us this thoughtful reply.  We reprint it in full. <>

“As regards global warming, my view is essentially the  same as yours: Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in  science.

A few comments on my own particular view of global warming: 

(1) I am particularly annoyed by the claims that "the debate is  over," because this was exactly the claim originally made against the  Copernican theory of the Solar System.  Copernicus' opponents said the  idea that the Earth was the third planet from the Sun was advanced by  Aristarchus in 300 B.C. (true), and had been definitely refuted by 100 A.D.   The debate is over!  Sorry, it wasn't: the Earth IS the third  planet.

(2)  It is obvious that anthropogenic global warming is  not science at all, because a scientific theory makes non-obvious predictions  which are then compared with observations that the average person can check  for himself.  As we both know from our own observations, AGW theory has  spectacularly failed to do this.  The theory has predicted  steadily increasing global temperatures, and this has been refuted by  experience.  NOW the global warmers claim that the Earth will  enter a cooling period. In other words, whether the ice caps melt, or expand  --- whatever happens --- the AGW theorists claim it confirms their theory.   A perfect example of a pseudo-science like astrology.

(3) In  contrast, the alternative theory, that the increase and decrease of  the Earth's average temperature in the near term follows the sunspot  number, agrees (roughly) with observation.  And the observations  were predicted before they occurred.  This is good science.

(4) I  emphasized in point (2) that the average person has to be able to check the  observations.  I emphasize this because I no longer trust "scientists" to  report observations correctly.  I think the data is adjusted to confirm,  as far as possible, AGW.  We've seen many recent cases where the data was  cooked in climate studies.  In one case, [Jim] Hansen and company claimed  that October 2008 was the warmest October on record.  [Anthony] Watts looked at the  data, and discovered that Hansen and company had used September's temperatures  for Russia rather than October's.  I'm not surprised to learn that  September is hotter than October in the Northern hemisphere.  

(5) Another shocking thing about  the AGW theory is that it is generating a loss of true scientific knowledge.  The great astronomer William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus,  observed in the early 1800's that warm weather was correlated with sunspot  number.  Herschel noticed that warmer weather meant better crops, and  thus fewer sunspots meant higher grain prices.  The AGW people are trying  to do a disappearing act on these observations. Some are trying to deny the  existence of the Maunder Minimum.  

(6) AGW supporters are  also bringing back the Inquisition, where the power of the state is used to  silence one's scientific opponents.  The case of  Bjorn Lomborg is  illustrative.  Lomborg is a tenured professor of mathematics in Denmark.   Shortly after his book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," was published  by Cambridge University Press, Lomborg was charged and convicted (later  reversed) of scientific fraud for being critical of the "consensus" view on  AGW and other environmental questions.  Had the conviction been upheld,  Lomborg would have been fired.  Stillman Drake, the world's leading  Galileo scholar, demonstrates in his book "Galileo: A Very Short  Introduction" (Oxford University Press, 2001) that it was not theologians, but  rather his fellow physicists (then called "natural philosophers"), who  manipulated the Inquisition into trying and convicting Galileo.   The "out-of-the-mainstream" Galileo had the gall to prove the consensus  view, the Aristotelian theory, wrong by devising simple experiments that anyone  could do.  Galileo's fellow scientists first tried to refute him by  argument from authority.  They failed.  Then these "scientists"  tried calling Galileo names, but this made no impression on the average  person, who could see with his own eyes that Galileo was right.  Finally,  Galileo's fellow "scientists"  called in the Inquisition to  silence  him.

I find it very disturbing that part of  the Danish Inquisition's case against Lomborg was written by John Holdren,  Obama's new science advisor. Holdren has recently written that people like  Lomborg are "dangerous."  I think it is people like Holdren who are  dangerous, because they are willing to use state power to silence their  scientific opponents.

(7) I agree with Dick Lindzen  that the AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science.   If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract.  If he is a skeptic, then no contract.  There is a professor at  Tulane, with a PhD in paleoclimatology, who is as skeptical as I am about  AGW, but he'd never be considered for tenure at Tulane because of his  professional opinion. No government contracts, no tenure.

(8)   This is why I am astounded that people who should know better, like Newt  Gingrich, advocate increased government funding for scientific research.   We had better science, and a more rapid advance of science, in the early  part of the 20th century when there was no centralized government funding for  science.  Einstein discovered relativity on his own time, while he was  employed as a patent clerk. Where are the Einsteins of today?  They would  never be able to get a university job --- Einstein's idea that time duration  depended on the observer was very much opposed to the "consensus" view of the  time. Einstein's idea that light was composed of particles (now called  "photons") was also considered crazy by all physicists when he first published  the idea.  At least then he could publish the idea.  Now a refereed  journal would never even consider a paper written by a patent clerk, and all  1905 physics referees would agree that relativity and quantum mechanics were  nonsense, definitely against the overwhelming consensus view.  So  journals would reject Einstein's papers if he were to write them today. 

Science is an economic good like everything else, and it is  very bad for production of high-quality goods for the government to control  the means of production.  Why can't Newt Gingrich understand this?   Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government  funding for science.”

The Scientific Alliance, 19th December 2008

2008 will be remembered by most people around the world as the year of The Crash. The long period of growth which improved the lives of the great majority (but, unfortunately, still not those of most Africans or significant minorities in other developing regions) seemed unstoppable, but masked a financial system built on foundations of sand. Inevitably, these were washed away, first by the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the USA, and then by waves of equally unwelcome and confidence-sapping news from the banks and hedge funds.
In addition to reinforcing the old maxim "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" there are two lessons to be learnt from this fiasco. The first is that we should not put undue trust in something we do not understand. In the complex world of financial derivatives, most of the companies selling them did not understand them either, hence the remaining uncertainty about the level of losses banks are exposed to. At the same time, regulators often seemed complacent and to have been asleep at the wheel. The second is that making projections based on current trends will almost certainly give the wrong answer.
These lessons do not just apply to finance and economics, but are equally applicable to many other areas of life, and are particularly true of science. Of course, modern science is too complex for non-specialists to understand the arcane details. But we can expect that professional scientists will only draw conclusions based on sound evidence. Indeed, scientists are notoriously difficult to pin down to straight answers; conclusions are always hedged around with caveats which lay people find difficult to deal with.
But when a certain view becomes dominant and is accepted as received wisdom, the basics of it are rarely questioned. The current state of climate science is a perfect example. Mainstream scientists accept the hypothesis that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the industrial era is the primary driver of changes in the global climate and that, unchecked, this is likely to lead to a dangerous (to humans and many other species) increase in average temperatures.
If this was now just the basis of academic work, possibly to be replaced by a new paradigm at some point in the future, the general public would care little, nor would they need to. But climate science is way past that stage. The greenhouse gas hypothesis - plausible but with no overwhelming evidence to pick it out from other candidates - underpins a complex modeling exercise which tries to reproduce the way that global climate will develop over the 21st century and beyond.
The problem is that, just like complex financial derivatives, no-one really knows how the world's weather systems interact and evolve with time. Summer Arctic sea ice has been melting to a greater extent in recent years than was the case in the latter half of the 20th century, but is this due primarily to rising average temperatures driven by the additional radiative forcing provided by small increase in carbon dioxide, or to changes in winds and ocean currents, the ultimate drivers of which are not understood? Are patterns of drought and flood reflecting normal long-term cycles, or are they mainly influenced by an increase in the greenhouse effect?  No-one knows for sure.
Even more importantly, climatologists are unable to understand enough about the formation and extent of different types of clouds to say whether they are having a net positive or negative effect on global temperatures. This may sound like a detail, but when a few percent difference in cloud cover can more than compensate for any carbon dioxide-driven temperature increase, it is a key factor. And yet complex computer models are being built on the belief that the world's climate system is sufficiently well understood not just to project its development many years into the future, but also to base on these projections policies which could force major changes to society. A complex model, based on dubious assumptions and poorly understood by those using it, sounds a bit like financial derivatives.
Which brings us to the second point about the dangers of projecting from current knowledge. Assumptions about continued high oil prices, economic growth and increases in carbon dioxide emissions were made on the understanding that things would broadly go on as they had in the recent past and that any bubbles would slowly deflate rather than burst. All that has been turned on its head by the credit crunch, compounded by the Madoff scandal and doubtless by other skeletons still to come out of their particular cupboards.
When it comes to climate, the official message is that temperatures are continuing to rise as models predict, with short-term influences such as La Nina affecting the actual figures year by year. Indeed, much of the media, fed the stories by activist scientists, is still willing to ramp up concerns about the speed of change being even faster than predicted (or, in IPCC-speak, projected). But the reality is that we have now had ten years without a rise in average temperatures. 2008 is being touted as the tenth warmest year on record. While this is factually correct, it is a misleading statistic, since there has been no upward trend in temperature over the last decade.
The IPCC tells us still to expect renewed warming in coming years. Other scientists point to the very quiet phase the Sun is entering, historically correlated with lower than average temperatures. Whatever may turn out to be the case, it is clearly impossible to project climatic changes with any realistic degree of certainty.
Looking forward to 2009, it is, however, clear that economics will dominate the scene as governments try to boost output and avoid the recession being longer and deeper than necessary. But it is also the year when the world's governments are intending to agree to a post-Kyoto agreement on emissions reductions, in Copenhagen next December. And the expectation is that the USA under President Obama will play a leading role in this, alongside the EU, which already regards itself as setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.
Unfortunately (or, if you think the policy direction is misguided, fortunately) economic realities are forcing a throttling back of the commitments and actions by many Member States. The same will almost certainly be the case across the Atlantic. No US president will compromise his country's economy for the sake of the goal of climate control. There will doubtless be a face-saving agreement in Copenhagen, or possibly a delay to accommodate the ramping up of American policy under the new presidency.
But it is difficult to see a new international agreement being any more effective than the Kyoto protocol itself. By the time of the Copenhagen summit, provisional 2009 temperature figures will be in. By the time any new agreement comes into force in 2013, several more years of data will have been published. If they continue to show no renewal of the warming trend, it is difficult to see how the political will can be maintained to push through emissions reduction measures.
However, what could and should be done in the face of scientific uncertainty is to fund a major push of research into new technologies for power generation, energy storage and transport motive power. This is a rational no-regrets policy, and a good way to learn from the lessons of 2008.
This is the last Scientific Alliance newsletter for this year. The next one is due on 9th January. We wish all our readers a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. If you have not yet thought of a New Year's resolution, you could do worse than try "I need to look at the evidence and make up my own mind". SEPP says: And the evidence shows that “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”