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.

Published by on 17 Jun 2008

Sorry, environmentalism as much religion as science

Paul MacRae
First appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist, January 7, 2000

Here’s why I agree with University of Victoria Prof. Jeffrey Foss that environmentalism is a religion, based as much in faith as in science, and have believed this for quite some time:

In the mid-1970s, living and working in Thailand, I heard the occasional story about Christian missionaries in the previous century trying to convert the Thais from Buddhism to the Western faith. Continue Reading »

Published by on 15 Jun 2008

The making of a climate skeptic

Paul MacRae, June 15, 2008

How is it possible for a theory, which is false in its component parts, to be true as a whole?

— Jean Francois Revel, Neither Marx nor Jesus, p. 15

After reading some of the False Alarm website, which criticizes the scientific “consensus” that humans are the principal cause of global warming, a friend sent me an email the other day that read, in part:

How can many, many respected, competitive, independent science folks be so wrong about this (if your premise is correct)?  I don’t think it could be a conspiracy, or incompetence…  Has there ever been another case when so many “leading” scientific minds got it so wrong?

This is a really good question. I’m not a climate scientist (but, then, neither is Al Gore); I’m an ex-journalist, now an academic. I teach professional writing. How dare I claim to know more than, say, the 2,000 or so scientists who contribute to the reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? These are the experts, after all, and they say that humans are the principal cause of global warming at the moment. How could the experts possibly be wrong?

Continue Reading »

Published by on 13 Jun 2008

Sir David Attenborough hosed on global warming

Paul MacRae, June 13, 2008

David Attenborough is the narrator of the brilliant Planet Earth nature series and many other excellent nature documentaries. And so it’s sad to see him appear in a video on YouTube being hosed by a climate scientist’s so-called computer-generated “proof” that humans are the main cause of global warming.

In the YouTube video (“Sir David Attenborough: The Truth About Climate Change,” taken from a documentary series of the same name), Attenborough is shown a chart (see below) of the temperature rising (red line), natural variation (green line), which climatologist Peter Cox explains as being caused by volcanoes, solar variation, etc., and the greenhouse effect produced by humans (yellow line). All of this data is being supplied by a computer climate model. Continue Reading »

Published by on 07 Jun 2008

Stephane Dion 1, Logic 0

Paul MacRae, June 7, 2008

In an article in the June 6, 2008, National Post, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion declares: “The debate is over, the science is conclusive: Climate change is real, it is man-made and unless something is done, it will damage the planet and our way of life. What our country needs now is bold leadership that will engage Canadians in an honest debate, quickly put a price on carbon and–given uncertain times–bring forward a plan to allow Canada to succeed in the 21st-century global economy.”

Let’s parse this statement by Dion to see if it makes any sense. Continue Reading »

Published by paulmacrae on 04 Jun 2008

Are sunspots to blame for climate change?

Paul MacRae, May 31, 2008

“It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age.”

–from “The Deniers: Our spotless sun.”

Those who still think humans are to blame for planetary warming and cooling should have a look at Lawrence Solomon’s article in the National Post, May 31, 2008, “The Deniers: Our spotless sun.”

It shows pretty conclusively that changes in sunspot activity have caused major climatic changes in the past (the Medieval Warm Period, 800-1350, and the Little Ice Age, 1350-1850), and that low sunspot activity now may bring on another cooling that we will like far less than warming (which usually brings benefits). Continue Reading »

Published by on 03 Jun 2008

Is the planet still warming?

Paul MacRae, March 9, 2008

If the temperature data since 2001 is correct, climate change is clearly not due primarily to carbon dioxide levels.

Has global warming stopped? That’s the title of an article published in December in The New Statesman by respected British science journalist David Whitehouse.

“Surely not,” writes Whitehouse. “What heresy is this? Haven’t we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that’s left to the so-called skeptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?” Continue Reading »

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