Saturday, January 28, 2012

WSJ claims there’s “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” (part two)

Regarding the substance of the Wall Street Journal’s letter “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” signed by 16 supposedly “prominent scientists”

The letter can be found at here.

{Below the letter’s text is in black, with my comments in blue.}
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WSJ Editor's Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ one:
Yet, if this is the case then way could they only muster 16 signees?  Worse only two have actual climatology experience and seven of the sixteen are directly connected to right-wing think tanks that actively opposed any action to address Anthropogenic Global Warming on economic grounds.

{please do read on}
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ two:
82 year old Ivar Giaever a mechanical engineer sharing a Nobel Prize in 1973 for discoveries in the field of semiconductors, later going into biophysics.  Giaever has no climatology education, nor has he published any work in the field of climatology, yet he feels comfortable labeling Global warming a religion and patently ignoring much of the scientific developments in that field.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ three
Another appeal to the authority of a supposedly growing number of “prominent scientist-heretics.”  But, again the jaundice list of signees to this letter speaks for itself and the inflammatory working should raise red flags.
In science facts are used to confront facts.  The flowery language throughout this letter is for political advocacy.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ four
Claims that no global warming has occurred in over ten years is in contradiction of Earth observations that include the entire globe and our oceans.  Warming has not been as dramatic as some expect it to be but it’s a complicated situation including the fact that solar irradiance is at a historic low.  Also, the recent Southern Oscillation index (El Nino, La Nina) pattern have been plowing heat into the oceans thus cooling surface temps.

In short the WST provides a one dimensional cherry-picked cartoon - for a more complete picture review the information provided at:
~ ~ ~
From their summary:
“2011 was only the ninth warmest year in the GISS analysis of global temperature change, yet nine of the ten warmest years in the instrumental record (since 1880) have occurred in the 21st century. The past year has been cooled by a moderately strong La Niña. The 5-year (60-month) running mean global temperature hints at a slowdown in the global warming rate during the past few years. However, the cool La Niña phase of the cyclically variable Southern Oscillation of tropical temperatures has been dominant in the past three years, and the deepest solar minimum in the period of satellite data occurred over the past half dozen years. We conclude that the slowdown of warming is likely to prove illusory, with more rapid warming appearing over the next few years.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ five
To begin with the IPCC makes scenario projections not predictions!

Furthermore, the claim in this paragraph is a gross over simplification and misrepresentation of IPCC projections.  For a primer on these complexities may I suggest a visit to:

Other results successfully predicted and reconstructed by models
    •    Cooling of the stratosphere
    •    Warming of the lower, mid, and upper troposphere
    •    Warming of ocean surface waters (Cane 1997)
    •    Trends in ocean heat content (Hansen 2005)
    •    Energy imbalance between incoming sunlight & outgoing infrared radiation (Hansen 2005)
    •    Amplification of warming trends in the Arctic region (NASA observations)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ six
Here we have a cynical misdirection from the issue of CO2s atmospheric thermo behavior.  CO2 acts much like an insulating blanket keeping our planet hospitable.  Metaphorically we are adding extra blankets upon our planet which is warming up our planet.  Furthermore comparing a controlled greenhouse with our global biosphere is a dishonest act of misrepresentation.

This paragraph also illuminates another favorite denialist practice of ignoring all issues that don’t fit their story line.  A portion of the CO2 we are emitting into our atmosphere is being absorbed by the ocean, enough so that the Ph balance of our oceans is being measurably shifted toward our of the range that ocean life has adapted to over hundreds of thousands years.  Something that promise to induce a major disruption of the Ocean web of life.  Of course that web of life will adjust to a more acidic ocean - but that adjustment takes place on time scales of thousands of years, when our society acts on timescales of decades.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ six
This claim completely ignores the substance of the controversy over a paper coauthored by Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon.  Or that 13 of the authors Baliunas and Soon cited in the paper refuted their interpretation.  The bottom line is that the paper was roundly condemned because it was a shoddy piece of science that didn’t deserve to be published in the first place because it misrepresented known facts.

Dr. Chris de Freitas is listed as a Heartland Institute "global warming expert" and an adviser to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition ~ two public advocacy organizations dedicated to stopping any political action regarding AGW.

Sallie Baliunas is an astrophysics and is not a trained climatologist.  She is Senior Scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute and affiliated with a number of other right wing advocacy groups including the Heartland Institute - and through her numerous connections has spent more time advocating a “no action political policy” than doing science.
Furthermore, her work has been underwritten by American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil and General Mobil Corporation among others

Willie Soon has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and no climate science training.
Furthermore,  “... Dr. Soon has admitted that U.S. oil and coal companies, including ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, and the world’s largest coal-burning utility, Southern Company, have contributed more than $1 million over the past decade to his research.[1]” 

His argument that: “it’s the sun” is belied by the fact that our sun has been experiencing a historic low ebb while temperatures have continued to creep up. Not to say the sun isn’t a major factor in keeping our planet hospitable, in other words when the sun’s ebb reverses NASA expects a substantial increase in global temperatures.[2]

Sources and further educational material:

Google: Olivia Koski  ‘Global Warming Debate, and Think Tank Scholarship’
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.
Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word "incontrovertible" from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ seven
This paragraph is infuriating considering the stream of misrepresentations and omissions this entire letter is guilty of.  While ignoring the steady accumulation of Earth Observation evidence.  Further it implies that the thousands of scientists and tens of thousands of researchers doing work on our planet’s climate are all frauds - quite a disingenuous stretch. 

As for Dr. Giaever, he is another case study in exactly the kind of advocacy in action this letter purports to condemn.  Please refer to comments under ¶ two.  Though I’ll add it is worth considering that his age and political inclination has much to do with how he cherry picks his science.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ eight
Most scientists got into the field of science because of a love of learning. . . 
something that seems quite alien to the editorial staff of the new Wall Street Journal who project a belief that Profits Über Alles is all life has to offer.

Want to look at manipulated evidence in order to secure funding?  Spend some time reviewing the evidence you won’t find the likes of Heartland, Marshall Institute, SPPI, WUWT, et al. sharing:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ nine
This is simply more hand waving, and again no evidence is presented and much is willfully ignored.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Princeton physics professor William Happer on why a large number of scientists don't believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ ten

William Happer is a physicist who has specialized in the study of optics and spectroscopy.  Another ancient (born in 1939) for whom I can find no climate science training in his background.  Happer is chairman of the board of directors at the George C. Marshall Institute and featured at SPPI and other right-wing agenda driven think-tanks.

Now please consider a man who is preaching about how science should be done, yet is capable of uttering the following:

“Physics professor William Happer GS ’64 has some tough words for scientists who believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.
“This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,”" [3]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ eleven
This conclusion seems at odds with Williams Nordhaus’s own words written just a few months ago for a New York Times book review of Michael Graetz’s “End of Energy: The Unmaking of America’s Environment, Security, and Independence” MIT Press.

“Energy: Friend or Enemy?”
by William D. Nordhaus, October 27, 2011

In his summation the professor writes:
~ ~ ~
"The conclusion is that oil policy should focus on world production and consumption and not on the portion we import, and should focus as well on the externalities from our consumption in the form of pollution and global warming. This means primarily that oil consumption should face its full social cost. The major external cost that remains to be addressed is climate change. Until countries put an appropriate price on carbon emissions for oil and other fossil fuels, energy policy will be incoherent, and energy and environmental policies will be working at cross-purposes. The National Research Council estimates cited above used a damage cost of $30 per ton of CO2 emissions. This is somewhat higher than estimates from my own work but is a reasonable target for a US carbon price over the next decade or so. If phased in gradually through a cap-and-trade or carbon tax, such a price would help promote both fiscal and environmental goals."
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If elected officials feel compelled to "do something" about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ twelve

I admit I am simply a layperson who has been interested in this topic since the early seventies.  But, I have been keeping up on the evolving science and an honest review does reveal that scientific check and balance are healthy.

Unfortunately, the right-wing agenda driven Think Tanks and advocacy organization have no such checks and balances to worry about.  They can cherry pick, misrepresent and manipulate the science all they want, in fact if one wants funding from these corporate sponsors one must support their story line or be crucified as the story of Richard A. Muller and his B.E.S.T study dramatically illustrates.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of "incontrovertible" evidence.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¶ thirteen
True, so very true.  Unfortunately, this letter does nothing but continue the crazymaking that has so tragically crippled America’s willingness to learn about the true facts regarding the state of climatological understanding.

For the lay person unfamiliar with these scientific questions I recommend as a great place to start the learning process.  The following link goes straight to a listing of comment skeptical argument and proceeds to explain the state of the science regarding these claims.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The signees are not included here 
since I hope to do another post reviewing the signees in the next few days.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Just in has published an article discussing the above letter, 
including a look at the signees:

"The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction"
By dana1981 posted 1/31/2012 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~   

Chris Mooney has also weighted in with some thoughtful reflections
regarding the bizarre Lysenko argument made by these "prominent scientists":
"In Which Climate “Skeptics” Drop the Lysenko Bomb. No, I’m Not Kidding…"
DesmogBlog  ~  January 30, 2012


No comments: