News Worth Knowing
ANDREW KENNY: Climate change
Published: 2010/11/30 07:31:12 AM
A year after Climategate, the corruption of science persists
Leaked from the Climate Research Unit in England, the e-mails showed the scientists behind the climate scare plotting to: hide, delete and manipulate data; to denigrate scientists presenting different views; to force journals to publish only papers promoting climate alarm; to subvert "peer review" into "pal review"; and make the reports of the IPCC nothing but alarmist propaganda. The corruption spread through governments, universities, scientific societies and journals. You have to look back to the Lysenko episode in the Soviet Union in the 1940s (when a crank persuaded the Soviet establishment that agriculture did not follow Darwinian evolution) to find such perversion of science.
The worst nonsense after the scandal was this: "Well, some climate scientists committed a few minor transgressions but the basic science is sound." In fact, the basic science is nonexistent.
There is no evidence that mankind is changing the climate in a dangerous way. The slight warming of the p ast 150 years is no different from previous natural warming periods, such as the worldwide medieval warm period from about 900 to 1200AD. Global warming and cooling are closely correlated to variations in the sun, especially in its emission of charged particles. Carbon dioxide (CO² ), a harmless, natural gas upon which green plants depend, is a feeble greenhouse gas. Its only significant absorption band (15 micron) is saturated, so adding more to the atmosphere has a small and diminishing effect.
Over the p ast half- billion years (the span of multicelled life), CO² levels have averaged more than 2000ppm (parts per million) but with wild fluctuations, from more than 6000ppm to less than 500ppm. This has had no noticeable effect on global temperatures, which have remained remarkably constant for long periods, pointing to a stable global climate system, without which higher life might not be possible. This stability probably comes from low clouds, which increase when temperatures rise and have a powerful cooling effect by reflecting away sunlight.
In the 19th c entury, CO² levels were about 280ppm, extraordinarily low, putting stress on green plants. Man, by burning fossil fuels and through deforestation, has pushed the levels up to 390ppm. On present trends, they will be more than 500ppm by the end of the century. This will have only one major effect: better crops and forests, and more biodiversity. The effect on the climate will be insignificant. Talk of a temperature rise of 2°C is not valid.
But rising CO² has spawned the new millennial religion of man-made climate change. It has the usual religious themes of sin, damnation and redemption. The sin is naughty industrial man emitting CO² . Damnation is soaring temperatures, rising seas, floods and droughts. Redemption is forsaking fossil fuels and building wind turbines. The priesthood has special exemptions. The faithful see nothing wrong with US environmental activist Al Gore, who tells us to reduce carbon emissions, consuming vast amounts of fossil-generated electricity in his mansion and flying first class around the world.
The ideological reasons for climate alarm are the usual religious ones too: a desire to show how sinful man is, and to control human behaviour. The alarmists yearn to forbid ordinary people from using fossil energy.
What is new is the staggering amount of money involved. It is estimated that the US government alone, in the p ast two decades, has given 79b n to fund climate alarm. This dwarfs any money oil companies might have given to research. The sinister effect of this political funding is to drive science towards a desired result rather than truth: you will get your funding only if you show that mankind is causing dangerous climate change. The more alarm, the more funding.
Harold Lewis, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) after 67 years. In his resignation letter, he wrote about "… the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the Climategate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organises the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion."
He refers to The Hockey Stick Illusion by AW Montford, which is essential reading for understanding the climate scam. The book is about a key part of the scam: denial of the medieval warm period. If you go to www.co2climatescience.org, you will see more than 900 scientific studies confirming the medieval warm period. So does historical record: during this period, the Vikings colonised Greenland and grew crops where it is now too cold for them. The alarmists hate it because it showed the world warmer a thousand years ago while CO² was lower. So they used quackery to deny it.
The "hockey stick" graph, first published in Nature magazine in 1998 and then shown six times in the IPCC’s 2001 report and brandished around the world, showed temperatures in the northern hemisphere steady from 1000 to 1900AD (the handle of a hockey stick) and then rising to unprecedented heights in the 20th century (the blade). No medieval warm period! This nonsense was accepted with blind, unquestioning faith by the IPCC and much of the scientific establishment. They liked the result; they didn’t care about the method.
The hockey stick theory was eventually demolished by Steve McIntyre, an expert statistician, who managed to get hold of the data on which it was based and found outrageously wrong statistical methods, deliberate use of data known to be wrong, and other manipulations. (After this exposure, the perpetrators of the hockey stick started a website called "realclimate".)
The Climategate e-mails are there for all the honest world to see. You will see a small number of names — Jones, Mann, Bradley, Hughes, Briffa, Schneider, Santer, etc — conspiring among themselves to silence critics and promote climate alarm, which they have done with great success.
The climate alarmists are unable to counter the scientific arguments of the climate rationalists. So they resort to vilification. Anyone who questions man-made global warming is: a stooge of the oil companies; just like those who deny the Nazi Holocaust or deny that cigarette smoking causes cancer — or just like those who deny that Americans landed on the moon.
In May, I attended a superb climatescience conference in Chicago. Most of the speakers were the world’s leading scientists, all of whom showed convincingly that climate changes are natural. But some were politicians. One, Harrison Schmitt, gave a passionate attack on the pseudoscience of man-made climate change. He had been a US senator. He had also been a crew member of Apollo 17 — among the crew who were the last humans to walk on the moon.
Kenny is a consulting engineer with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering.