Archive for the 'Climate change' Category

Published by on 05 Aug 2010

NOAA’s magic wand waves away 2000-2009 cooling

By Paul MacRae, August 5, 2010

The recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims that surface temperatures have increased in the past decade. In fact, the NOAA report, “State of the Climate in 2009,” says 2000-2009 was 0.2° Celsius [1]  warmer than the decade previous. However, the report’s summary, as shown in Figure 1 below, shows a decadal increase of only .2° Fahrenheit (.11°C) based on 20th century temperatures.

The press release was so splashy it made the front page of Toronto’s Globe and Mail with the headline: “Signs of warming earth ‘unmistakable’.”

Of course, given that the planet is in an interglacial period, we would expect “unmistakable” signs of warming, including melting glaciers and Arctic ice, rising temperatures, and rising sea levels. That’s what the planet does during an interglacial.

Furthermore, we’re nowhere near the peak reached by the interglacial of 125,000 years ago, when temperatures were 1-3°C higher than today and sea levels up to 20 feet higher, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself. In other words, the Globe might as well have had a headline reading “Signs of changing weather ‘unmistakable’.”

Similarly, the NOAA report laments: “People have spent thousands of years building society for one climate and now a new one is being created – one that’s warmer and more extreme.” The implication is that we can somehow freeze-dry the climate we’ve got to last forever, which is absurd.

Sea levels have risen 400 feet in the past 15,000 years, causing all kinds of inconvenience for humanity in the process-and all quite naturally. As the interglacial continues, sea levels will rise and temperatures will increase-until the interglacial reaches its peak, at which point the planet will again move toward glacial conditions. To think that we can somehow stop this process is insane.

Even die-hard alarmists admitted 2000-2009 cooling

But what about the NOAA claim that the surface temperature increased .2°C during 2000-2009? Although they did everything possible to hide this information from the public, media, politicians, and even fellow scientists, by the late 2000s even die-hard alarmists were eventually forced to accept that the surface temperature record showed no warming as of the late 1990s, and some cooling as of about 2002. In other words, overall, for the first decade of the 21st century, there was no warming and even some cooling. Continue Reading »

Published by on 21 Jul 2010

Comment on Dr. Stephen Schneider

Climatologist Dr. Stephen Schneider died this week. Although he was one of the leading promoters of climate change fears (in the 1970s he warned against global cooling[1], more recently against global warming), Schneider could also be remarkably candid about what was going on behind the scenes of what is supposed to be a “settled” science.

He is famous for noting that climate scientists will exaggerate if the truth isn’t “scary” enough: 

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change.

To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.[2] [italics ad

Is climate science based on “overwhelming” empirical evidence, as the public is told? Not if you believe Schneider, who wrote: “Computer modeling is our only available tool to perform what-if experiments such as the human impact on the future.”[3] [italics added]  In other words, climate science is only as good as its models, models that weren’t accurate enough to predict the non-warming of the past 10 years.

It was Schneider who noted during a debate with Bjorn Lomborg that, in climate science, “We end up with a maddening degree of uncertainty. We end up with scenarios which, if we’re lucky, give us mild outcomes and we end up with scenarios that, if we’re unlucky, give us catastrophic outcomes.”[4] [italics added]

In a similar vein, Schneider wrote in Scientific American as part of an attack on Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist: “Uncertainties so infuse the issue of climate change that it is still impossible to rule out either mild or catastrophic outcomes.”[5] [italics added]

A “maddening degree of uncertainty”? “Impossible to rule out either mild or catastrophic outcomes”? “Infused with uncertainties”? But isn’t the public told the science on climate change is settled, certain, beyond question, and that we’re heading for catastrophe?

Or are we being bombarded by “scary scenarios” that exist only in computer models?

Based on Schneider’s own words, the answer is obvious.

Notes

[1] In his 1976 book The Genesis Strategy (p. 66), Schneider wrote: “Today there are few people much concerned by the approach of the next ice age. And since ice ages take thousands of years to develop, why should we worry? There are several reasons to worry.”

[2] Laboratory Earth, 1997, p. 67.

[3] Quoted in Jonathan Schell, “Our Fragile Earth.” Discover, October, 1989, pp. 45-48.

[4] Earthbeat, “Skeptical Environmentalist Debates Critics,” Australian Broadcasting Corp., Oct. 10, 2001.

[5]  Stephen Schneider, “Global Warming: Neglecting the Complexities.” Scientific American, January, 2002.

Published by on 06 Jul 2010

Media appearances promoting False Alarm

False Alarm is finally out, under a revised title: False Alarm: Global Warming—Facts Versus Fears. The previous subtitle was “Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Global Warming is Misleading, Exaggerated, or Just Plain Wrong,” but that was a bit unwieldy.

False Alarm will be in bookstores in Canada sometime in August. In Victoria, B.C., the books are available at Munro‘s books and Bolen books, both excellent independent bookstores.

False Alarm can also be purchased online at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and BarnesandNoble.com. The price is around $25 US and Canadian, £17.50 British. A epub (electronic edition) for Kindle, iPad, Sony Reader, etc., will also be available soon.

For background on the book, please go to “Book,” on this site.

I have started to make media appearances to promote the book.

  • I was on Dave Dickson’s show in Victoria’s CFAX (1070 AM) on Thursday, July 15.
  • There was also a short interview with Stephen Andrew of A-Channel (Channel 12) Sunday, July 18, as part of the 6 p.m. news. (I originally announced this as Saturday, July 17.)
  • I will be on Stephen Andrew’s show on CFAX on Monday, July 26, at 10:30 a.m.



Published by on 18 Apr 2010

Rex Murphy slandered for stating a fact: the planet is cooling

Tom Pederson, director of British Columbia’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, got some cheap laughs at the expense of Rex Murphy and Murphy’s journalistic reputation at a University of Victoria panel on climate and the media in April.

The panel members were Pederson, Lucinda Chodan, editor of the Victoria Times Colonist, Peter Calamai, a science journalist, and James Hoggan, author Climate Cover-up, which claims that unscrupulous right-wing think tanks are trying to brainwash the public against belief in global warming. There was, thanks to Pederson (see why below), no one representing the skeptical side of the issue.

In his 15-minute segment, Pederson accused Murphy of breaching journalistic ethics in a July 24, 2009, Globe and Mail column entitled “So where’s that global cooling alert?” Murphy’s crime? He ignored what Pederson considers the global warming “facts.” Pederson’s point was that a newspaper columnist can have whatever opinions he/she wants, but these opinions must be based on facts, not just ideology. As a former columnist myself, for the Times Colonist, I also believe this is true.

Murphy’s column noted that temperatures in Ontario had been cool in July 2009 and he wondered why nobody had bothered to issue a global cooling alert; if the temperatures had been unusually warm, wouldn’t that have been blamed on global warming? Murphy wrote:

What we do not hear from them [the global warming believers], from any one of them, is the slightest indication of puzzlement over how or why so suddenly, in this age of the greatest emergency our planet has ever faced—global warming—things have gotten cool. Not a furrowed brow among the lot over the consideration that, contrary to the visions of Al Gore and David Suzuki or NASA’s own anti-global warming Nostradamus, James Hansen, the great trend line of an ever-warming world is being contradicted nightly in their own forecasts.

To show how wrong Murphy had been, Pederson presented a PowerPoint slide showing that, contrary to Murphy’s column, July 2009 was quite hot in most of the planet, and suggested—to audience laughter—that Murphy was foolishly guilty of assuming the weather in Toronto represented the world. Below is the map Pederson used, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website. Continue Reading »

Published by on 17 Apr 2009

Consensus climate science: What would Thomas Huxley say?

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The evidence … however properly reached, may always be more or less wrong, the best information being never complete, and the best reasoning being liable to fallacy.”

—Thomas Huxley, Science and Christian Tradition, p. 206

Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895) was one of the first and most vigorous promoters of modern scientific thinking. He is perhaps best-known as “Darwin’s bulldog”—no one did more to fight for Darwin’s theory of natural selection in the face of theological opposition—but he also almost single-handedly introduced science into the British school curriculum at all levels.

Thomas H. Huxley
Thomas H. Huxley

Huxley was a formidable philosopher of science, anticipating many of the principles of scientific inquiry that Karl Popper would make a mainstay of scientific thinking in the 20th century, including the need for falsifiable hypotheses and non-dogmatic, continuous inquiry.

In short, in the history and philosophy of science, Huxley is someone to be reckoned with.

So what would T.H. Huxley have thought of today’s “consensus” climate scientists, with their claims that the issue of man-made climate change is “settled,” that there is no need for further debate, and that those who challenge the hypothesis of anthropogenic warming in any way are, in effect, heretics?

Three of Huxley’s books—Science and Hebrew Tradition (SHT), Science and Christian Tradition (SCT), and Hume, a biography of Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776)—present Huxley’s philosophy of science very clearly. How well does “consensus” climate science bear up in Huxley’s crucible? Continue Reading »

Published by on 16 Feb 2009

Glimmer of hope for consensus climate honesty is short-lived

Paul MacRae
February 13, 2009

Do not knowingly mislead, or allow others to be misled, about scientific matters. Present and review scientific evidence, theory or interpretation honestly and accurately.

–Proposed scientific code of ethics

For one giddy, almost magical moment, I thought the “consensus” climate science community, or at least a small portion of it, had come to its senses. I should have known better.

The almost-magical moment came on reading a headline in the U.K. Guardian online. It read: “Scientists must rein in misleading climate change claims: Overplaying natural variations in the weather diverts attention from the real issues.” The article was by Dr. Vicky Pope of the British Meteorological (Hadley) Centre, one of the four major centres monitoring climate.

Finally! I thought. The consensus climate scientists who believe, passionately but with almost no scientific evidence beyond computer models, that the planet is warming, that it’s all humanity’s fault, and that we’re heading for oblivion, are willing to admit they’ve been wildly exaggerating the threat of warming to places like the Arctic.

Pope even seemed to agree, noting:

Figure 1: IPCC computer predictions of warming versus real-world temperature data (blue and green lines)
Figure 1: IPCC computer predictions of warming versus real-world temperature data (blue and green lines)
Recent headlines have proclaimed that Arctic summer sea ice has decreased so much in the past few years that it has reached a tipping point and will disappear very quickly. The truth is that there is little evidence to support this. Indeed, the record-breaking losses in the past couple of years could easily be due to natural fluctuations in the weather, with summer sea ice increasing again over the next few years.

But the giddiness quickly passed. The rest of Pope’s article is just another consensus attempt to explain away its deplorable track record in predicting a great deal of warming when there is either very little or no warming at all (see Figure 1 and Is the Planet Still Warming?).

At best, Pope will only admit that “in the past 10 years the temperature rise has slowed,” when in truth temperature rise hasn’t “slowed” (see How the Hadley Centre Spins the Data on Non-Warming), it’s stopped. The climate may even tip into cooling for the next decade or two or longer. But why quibble over facts?

Continue Reading »

Published by on 30 Jul 2008

What has ‘consensus’ climate science got right? (Hint: not much)

Paul MacRae, July 30, 2008

The determinants of complex processes are invariably plural and interrelated.

— David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, p. 517

Most of what “consensus” climate science tells the public about human-caused global warming is, I believe, misleading, exaggerated, or plain wrong. But what are the consensus climate scientists saying that isn’t misleading, exaggerated, or wrong? These are scientists, after all, men and women of high intelligence, years of academic study and, one can assume, high integrity. Surely they can’t be that wrong. What are they getting right?

First, let’s look at what orthodox climate science is arguing. Here’s as good a statement of the consensus hypothesis as any, from R.A. Warrick, E.M. Barrow and T.M.L. Wigley, all recognized climatologists and self-described climate “alarmists” (in Climate and Sea Level Change: Observations, Projections and Implications, from which the hypothesis is taken, they note “the alarming rate of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide”). They write:

The potential rates and magnitudes of the GHG-induced change … give rise to legitimate concerns about the future. These concerns include the following:

  • first, that humankind may now be a potent factor in causing unidirectional global changes which could dominate over natural changes on the decade-to-century time scale;
  • secondly, that, in terms of recent human experience, changes in climate and sea level could accelerate to unprecedented rates;
  • thirdly, that human tinkering with the global climate system could have unforeseen catastrophic consequences (e.g., ‘runaway’ warming or sea level rise from strong positive feedbacks); and
  • finally, that the quickened rates of change could exceed the capacity of natural and human systems to adapt without undue disruption or cost.(1)

In other words, it’s the classic consensus position that the build-up of human carbon emissions rather than natural factors is driving climate change and that we may be heading for disaster. What’s right about this hypothesis?

Continue Reading »

Published by on 11 Jul 2008

How the Hadley Centre spins the data on non-warming

Paul MacRae, July 11, 2008

Mystification is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident.

— John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Britain’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research is in a spot of bother at the moment.

On the one hand, the Hadley Centre is a firm believer in the hypothesis that humans are the main cause of global warming and that we’re heading toward catastrophe. It even devotes several of its web pages to waving a nagging finger at those foolish enough or unprincipled enough to believe otherwise.

On the other hand, the Hadley Centre, as part of the British Meteorological Office and one of the world’s foremost climate-monitoring sites, is also churning out data showing that the planet isn’t warming at the moment, and hasn’t for the past 10 years or so. Clearly, increasing human carbon emissions aren’t causing the warming that was expected.

What to do? Continue Reading »

Published by on 09 Jul 2008

Confessions of a (fictional) ‘consensus’ climate scientist

Paul MacRae, July 9, 2008

In proportion as religious sects exalt feeling above intellect, and believe themselves to be guided by direct inspiration rather than by a spontaneous exertion of their faculties — that is, in proportion as they are removed from rationalism — their sense of truthfulness is misty and confused.

— George Eliot, “Evangelical teaching: Dr. Cumming.”

After more than year’s intensive research for a book on the bizarre distortions that make up the global warming issue, I now wonder how anyone in the “consensus” climate scientist community sleeps at night. And yet, individually, I’m certain that 99 per cent of them are highly principled human beings.

If more climate scientists spoke out about what they really believe, here’s what I think the silent minority (majority?) might say:

Hello. I am a “consensus” climate scientist, and I must confess that I and many of my fellow climate scientists haven’t been entirely honest with the public over the last 20 years or so on the issue of global warming, what causes it, and what damage it is likely to cause. Therefore, I have decided to come clean and tell the public honestly what “consensus” climate science is really all about.

First, many of us are genuinely afraid that human beings are the main cause of the planetary warming of the past century and that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be a serious problem, maybe even catastrophic. That’s why we’ve felt it necessary to lie to you. We’re afraid you won’t take the threat seriously if we tell you the truth – that there may not be a threat because we have absolutely no scientific evidence to back up our beliefs. None. Continue Reading »

Published by on 24 Jun 2008

Climate change: Learning to think like a geologist

Paul MacRae, June 24, 2008

Most geologists aren’t part of Al Gore’s “100 per cent consensus” of scientists that humans are the principal cause of global warming and that we have to take drastic steps to deal with it.

For example, in March 2008, a poll of Alberta’s 51,000 geologists found that only 26 per cent believe humans are the main cause of global warming. Forty-five per cent believe both humans and nature are causing climate change, and 68 per cent don’t think the debate is “over,” as Gore would like the public to believe.1

The position of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists is quite clear:

The earth’s climate is constantly changing owing to natural variability in earth processes. Natural climate variability over recent geological time is greater than reasonable estimates of potential human-induced greenhouse gas changes. Because no tool is available to test the supposition of human-induced climate change and the range of natural variability is so great, there is no discernible human influence on global climate at this time. Continue Reading »

  1. Gordon Jaremko, “Causes of climate change varied: poll.” Edmonton Journal, March 6, 2008.

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