The 650 Climate Skeptics Speak

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe's Press Blog features tidbits like:

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007. Senate Report Debunks "Consensus" (Report Released on December 20, 2007) U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (Minority)

U.S. Senate Minority Report Update: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims (December 11, 2008)

UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims (December 10, 2008)

So who are these 650 skeptics, and what are they saying?

When Is A Skeptic Not A Skeptic?

Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, the principal investigator for the Committee for Scientific Research of the province of Buenos Aires (CIC) and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata, "There is no denying a warming; the discussion is whether it was created by man or whether it is natural."

Czech-born U.S. climatologist Dr. George Kukla, a research scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University expressed climate skepticism in 2007. "The only thing to worry about is the damage that can be done by worrying. Why are some scientists worried? Perhaps because they feel that to stop worrying may mean to stop being paid," Kukla told Gelf Magazine on April 24, 2007. "What I think is this: Man is responsible for a PART of global warming. MOST of it is still natural," Kukla explained.

Kukla is one of the very few scientists cited as a "skeptic" who has the stature of NASA's James Hansen, the go-to villain of the climate denialists. Except I seriously doubt he'd be happy about being included with some of the people we'll meet further along.

Chemist and Chemical Engineer Dr. William L. Wells is an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Murray State University who has studied air pollution control technologies and spent over 16 years in SOx (Sulfur Oxides)and NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) scrubber technology development and clean coal research. Wells expressed skepticism about man-made climate change. "Scientific measurements confirm the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is increasing. There is some evidence that the earth may be warming, but to what degree and its cause are not clear," Wells told EPW on January 23, 2008.

Climate scientist Dr. Dick Morgan, former director of Canada's Met/Oceano Policy and Plans, a marine meteorologist and a climate researcher at both Exeter University and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, rejected man-made climate fears in 2007. "As there is a perfect correlation between population growth and CO2, the major objective of Kyoto should be population control, otherwise it is simply pissing against the wind," he added.

Morgan is dead on. This is easily one of the most perceptive comments by anyone quoted on Inhofe's site. And it will never happen. Most of the people who attack global warming also are gung ho to perpetuate what might be called the Population Ponzi Scheme, where economic vitality is tied to perpetually growing population.

One of India's leading geologists, B.P. Radhakrishna, President of the Geological Society of India, expressed climate skepticism in 2007. "There is some evidence to show that our planet Earth is becoming warmer and that human action is probably partly responsible, especially in the matter of greenhouse gas emissions. What is in doubt, however, is whether the steps that are proposed to be taken to reduce carbon emission will really bring down the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere and whether such attempts, even carried out on a global scale, will produce the desired effect,"

None of these are especially scandalous remarks. They are commonplace among all scientists familiar with the climate change debate. What we've got here is your classic straw man: believers in climate change are rigid and dogmatic, so anybody who recognizes uncertainty must be a "skeptic."

True, But So What?

Lots of so called "skeptical" statements merely repeat some factor in climate change that all climatologists already know perfectly well.

Water Vapor is More Important

Meteorologist Karl Bohnak of WLUC TV6  €œWater vapor accounts for about 95 percent of earth€™s natural €˜greenhouse€™ effect. Carbon dioxide gets all the attention because that is what is released in the burning of fossil fuels. Yet it accounts for less than 4 percent of the total greenhouse effect.

Chemical Engineer Dr. Thomas L. Gould, an award-winning engineer with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, dissented from climate fears in 2008. €œGlobal warming is dominated by the sun, clouds, water vapor, and other factors before any influence is felt by CO2,€

Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ, who received the New Zealand Science and Technology Silver Medal in 2003 from The Royal Society of New Zealand, has published 218 journal, peer-reviewed papers and conference papers. Duffy also declared himself skeptical of man-made global warming fears in 2008. €œEven doubling or trebling (tripling) the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will,€

Belgian weather institute€™s (RMI) August 2007 study dismisses decisive role of CO2 in warming:  Luc Debontridder said. "Not CO2, but water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. It is responsible for at least 75 % of the greenhouse effect. This is a simple scientific fact, but Al Gore's movie has hyped CO2 so much that nobody seems to take note of it." said Debontridder.

Fact: every single climate researcher, without exception, knows about the role of water vapor in the Greenhouse Effect.

Carbon Dioxide is Harmless and Essential for Life

"The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued increasingly alarming conclusions about the climatic influences of human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2), a non-polluting gas that is essential to plant photosynthesis.

Water is harmless and essential for life, too. But you can still drown in it.

Human Output of Carbon Dioxide is Dwarfed by Natural Sources

Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ,  Air (on a dry basis) consists mainly of nitrogen 78.08% and oxygen 20.94%. Of the 0.98% remaining, 95% of that (i.e. 0.934%), or almost all is the inert gas argon. Carbon dioxide CO2 is a trace. It is less than 400ppm (parts per million) or 0.04% of all the atmosphere (on a dry basis). Surprisingly, less than a fifth of that is man-made CO2 (0.008% of the total), and that is only since the beginning of the industrial era and the rapid increase in world population,€ Duffy concluded.

Dr. G LeBlanc Smith, a retired Principal Research Scientist with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization  "Human generated carbon dioxide is arguably around 3% of the total carbon dioxide budget, and in the light of the above, we are effectively irrelevant to the natural climate change continuum.€

Chemist James Hammond, a councilor for the American Chemical Society's San Gorgonio section, refuted man-made climate fears in 2007. "Data published during the past few years show that all other life on Earth contributes 1,000 times as much greenhouse gases as do people and all their activities," Hammond said at an American Chemical Society meeting in Redlands, California, according to a November 16, 2007 article. The article noted that Hammond explained that "all humans and human activity, from driving cars to raising cattle, produce just 14 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions."

Geologists Dr. George Chilingar, and L.F. Khilyuk of the University of Southern California authored a December 2006 study in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Geology which found warming temperatures were due to natural factors, not mankind. "Recalculating this amount into the total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission in grams of CO2, one obtains the estimate 1.003—1018 g, which constitutes less than 0.00022% of the total CO2 amount naturally degassed from the mantle during geologic history. Comparing these figures, one can conclude that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission is negligible (indistinguishable) in any energy matter transformation processes changing the Earth's climate," Chilingar and Khilyuk added.

Okay, now. 0.00022% = 2.2 x 10-6. The earth is 4.6 x 109 years old. 2.2 x 10-6 times 4.6 x 109 = 10,000. So in the roughly 200 years since the Industrial Revolution, we've emitted as much carbon as the earth naturally does in 10,000 years. Sounds significant to me.

Earth's Climate Changes Naturally

A November 2007 study published in Energy & Environment found the Medieval Warm Period "0.3C warmer than 20th century" The study was authored by C. Loehle and titled €œA 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-tree ring proxies."

Geologist Dr. Simon Brassell, of the Department of Geological Sciences at the Indiana University, noted "climate change is nothing new." According to an October 16, 2006 Washington Post article, "Brassell said the evidence of climate change so long ago during a period without humans could influence the modern-day understanding of global warming." "If there are big, inherent fluctuations in the system, as paleoclimate studies are showing, it could make determining the Earth's climatic future even harder than it is," Brassell said. "We're learning our climate, throughout time, has been a wild beast," Brassell added. The study was conducted with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the results were published in the October 2006 issue of Geology.

Now of course you could actually quote what Brassell said in that peer-reviewed article (not hard to find on line or in libraries) rather than an interview in the Washington Post. But that would get all technical and stuff.

An August 2007 peer-reviewed study finds that the solar system regulates the earth€™s climate - The paper, authored by Richard Mackey, was published August 17, 2007 in the Journal of Coastal Research - Excerpt: €œAccording to the findings reviewed in this paper, the variable output of the sun, the sun€™s gravitational relationship between the earth (and the moon) and earth€™s variable orbital relationship with the sun, regulate the earth€™s climate. The processes by which the sun affects the earth show periodicities on many time scales; each process is stochastic and immensely complex.

The "earth€™s variable orbital relationship with the sun" would be the Milankovitch Cycles, which have only been known for the better part of a century.

An April 2007 study revealed the Earth€™s climate €œseesawing€ during the last 10,000 years, according to Swedish researchers Svante Björck, Karl Ljung and Dan Hammarlund of Lund University. Excerpt: During the last 10,000 years climate has been seesawing between the North and South Atlantic Oceans. We can identify a persistent "seesaw" pattern. When the South Atlantic was warm it was cold in the North Atlantic and vice versa. This is most certainly related to large-scale ocean circulation in the Atlantic Ocean.

New York's WABC-TV Senior Meteorologist Bill Evans, who has won the Outstanding Meteorologist Award from the National Weather Service and hosted the National Hurricane Conference, expressed man-made global warming skepticism in 2007. "There is climate change. The planet is warming. But we're coming off an ice age. So you would expect naturally the planet is warming," Evans said in an interview on Fox News Channel on August 19, 2007.

Well, if you want to get technical, the ice ages ended maybe 7,000 years ago when sea level rise stabilized and we actually had a somewhat warmer climate than today.

There Are Other Factors at Work

Oceanographer and Meteorologist Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory detailed how land use changes impact the climate. "Everybody's talking about the carbon coming out of the SUV exhaust or the coal plant, but in the past 50 years in California the bigger impact has been urbanization and suburbanization," Patzert said in a March 30, 2007 Reuters article. The article noted, "Average temperatures across California rose slightly from 1950 to 2000, with the greatest warming coming in the state's big cities and mostly caused by urbanization -- not greenhouse gases -- authors of a study released on Wednesday said." Patzert believes mankind's CO2 emissions and land use changes are key factors in climate change. "The study found that average temperatures in California rose nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly one degree Celsius) in the second half of the 20th century, led by large urban centers such as San Francisco and Southern California," Reuters explained. "This (warming) has already had a huge impact on the state of California. It's changed the way we do agriculture, it's changed the energy and water demands, it's changed the number of days we've had frost or extreme heat," Patzert said.

This guy is not a skeptic! First, he's talking about California, not the planet, and second he agrees that CO2 emissions are a key factor in climate change. And changes in land use are a well known ingredient in climate change. But we're trying to predict climate change in the world we've got, not the world our pre-industrial ancestors lived in.

Anyone who states that computer models are too imperfect to be trusted, or that based on his evaluation of the evidence, he believes solar variability is more important than anthropogenic effects, or that it is not possible to separate human effects from natural variability, may be mistaken, but is at least behaving responsibly. On the other hand, a large fraction of climate change denialists speak about solar activity, natural climate variations, water vapor, and so on, as if they were completely novel ideas that nobody had ever thought of before, and that simply makes them uninformed. They haven't bothered to become even superficially acquainted with what's really going on.

Confusing Weather and Climate

This is one of the most pervasive fallacies in the whole debate. Weather is short term variations in the atmosphere. Climate is long term energy balance. Climate is like predicting what the economy will do if interest rates or taxes change. Weather is like trying to predict what the Dow-Jones average will be at lunchtime tomorrow. Climate is like predicting someone's eventual risk of a heart attack if they are overweight and smoke. Weather is like trying to predict how long a given cold will last. Climate is like predicting that Russia would eventually try to regain its strategic power and would revert to authoritarian government after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Weather is like trying to predict whether Russia will attack Belarus.

So while it's perfectly responsible to point out uncertainties in climate models, the importance of water vapor, solar variability and natural climate cycles, nobody who compares weather forecasting and climate modeling is qualified to speak.

Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson: "We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system. We only need to watch the weather forecasts."

Professor emeritus of aerospace engineering Vincent U. Muirhead, who researched and taught at the University of Kansas in the area of gas dynamics for 28 years, and also developed a laboratory model of a tornado: €œThere are six equations that describe a gas dynamics problem: the equation of state, and five nonlinear differential equations expressing the conservation of mass, momentum and energy. Key to these for the atmosphere are: 1. the future flow of heat from the sun as a function of time and space and 2. the absorbent and reflective nature of the atmosphere as a function of time and space. We don€™t have a clue about these. For any computer model to produce answers, many extremely questionable assumptions must be made. As McAllister noted, €˜Why can€™t the current scientific models accurately predict next week€™s weather?€™€ he asked.

Dr. Mel Goldstein, a PhD Meteorologist on Connecticut's TV News Channel 8, questioned the long-range climate models used by the UN's IPCC. "When you are in the trenches and forecasting each and everyday, you begin to realize the inadequacies of our computer models," Goldstein wrote in a March 9, 2007 blog. "I become skeptical when atmospheric models are used to project conditions 100 or 200 years from now," he noted.

Remember the commercial that started with the spokesman dressed up like a doctor and saying "I'm not really a doctor, but I play one on TV?" Substitute "meteorologist" for "doctor" and you have the broadcast meteorologists who comment on climate change.

In a June 29, 2007 blog post, Goldstein continued his critique of the shortcoming of climate predictions. "Long range forecasts are often short on reality. Sure, we have great mathematical equations applied to predicting our weather. But not all is known about our weather. We don't understand how water vapor comes into the equations, and that is a big deal. Heat sources represent other major unknowns, after all, heat drives the atmosphere. We make assumptions about these unknowns, and as long as these fit for the moment, the forecast looks good. But a slight error will only magnify as the forecast is further extended," Goldstein wrote. "We can get an idea of a trend, but specifics 30 days or 90 days out are seldom correct. Most of what we know about the atmosphere was known a hundred years ago. No doubt, technology has advanced faster than our basic understanding of the atmosphere. There are times when even a 24-hour forecast leaves something to be desired," he concluded.

State Climatologist Dr. Charles Wax of Mississippi State University and past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, declared his skepticism on warming in 2007. "First off, there isn't a consensus among scientists. Don't let anybody tell you there is," Wax said, according to a May 16, 2007 article. "I don't know if it's going to rain Thursday or not. Certainly I don't know what the temperature is going to be in 2050," Wax explained.

Because I Said So

Then we have a host of assertions by denialists that are nothing more than assertions, unsupported by any data.

Meteorologist Thomas B. Gray is the former head of the Space Services branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) €œNothing that is occurring in weather or in climate research at this time can be shown to be abnormal in the light of our knowledge of climate variations over geologic time,€ Gray explained. €œI am sure that the concept of a €˜Global Temperature€™ is nonsense,€ he added. €œThe claims of those convinced that AGW (anthropogenic global warming) is real and dangerous are not supported by reliable data,€ Gray concluded.

Geography professor Dr. Randy Cerveny of Arizona State University Cerveny rejected catastrophic fears of man-made climate change in 2007. "I don't think [global warming] is going to be catastrophic,€ Cerveny said according to an October 7, 2007 article. "Hopefully, our grandkids are going to have a lot better weather information than we did, and they will be able to answer a lot of the questions we're just in the process of asking," Cerveny explained.

Geophysicist Robert Woock is a senior geophysicist at Stone Energy in Louisiana and past president of the Southwest Louisiana Geophysical Society. The global warming debate is not over. I do not see any evidence in nature or data to suggest that we are in any anthropologic climate cycle,€

Ecologist Dr. John R Etherington, formerly Reader in Ecology at the University of Wales, declared that CO2 has €œclose to zero correlation with temperature.€

Physicist Dr. John Blethen runs the global warming skeptic website Heliogenic.blogspot.com. Blethen is blunt in his climate change views. €œThe Sun, not a harmless essential trace gas (CO2), drives climate change,€ Blethan declares on his website in 2008. Blethen highlights the dire predictions of global warmng and counters, €œSomeone should tell these people the globe has been cooling.€

Wonder What Lisa Nowak Has To Say

Award-winning NASA Astronaut and Physicist Walter Cunningham rejected climate fears in 2008.

Geophysicist Dr. Phil Chapman, an astronautical engineer and the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut, served as staff physicist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), dissented from global warming fears, and warned of a coming ice age. "The bleak truth is that, under normal conditions, most of North America and Europe are buried under about 1.5km of ice. This bitterly frigid climate is interrupted occasionally by brief warm interglacials, typically lasting less than 10,000 years."

Award-Winning NASA Astronaut/Geologist and Moonwalker Jack Schmitt who flew on the Apollo 17 mission, rejected man-made climate change concerns in 2008.

It's curious that Schmitt's term in the U.S. Senate isn't mentioned. Astronauts are highly trained people, but an astronaut's qualifications to comment on climate change are exactly as sound as a climatologist's qualifications to fly the Space Shuttle. There have been enough loopy causes backed by astronauts, like James Irwin's searches for Noah's Ark and Edgar Mitchell's paranormal and UFO crusades, to suggest that NASA needs to re-think its selection procedures. Certainly being an astronaut is no guarantee of immunity to crank science.

Conspiracy Theory

José Ramón Arévalo, Professor of Ecology at the University of La Laguna in Spain, dissented from climate fears in 2008. €œClimate warming is more an ideology, that I have read is call "Climatism"... so, as an ideology is perfect to me, the problem is when administrators become members of this sect, and then they have to spend millions in demonstrating their ideology,€

€œMeteorologist Art Horn, currently operating The €˜Art' Of the Weather business, is skeptical of man-made climate fears. "The debate on this issue is not over as many who will profit from the €˜Global Warming industry' would like it to be. They stand to make millions if not billions of dollars by creating a climate of fear, regulation, carbon offsets and taxes. ... The news media has been using the fear of climate change due to humans as a method of generating audience. Now every news program, documentary, newspaper, magazine and Hollywood star is on the €˜bandwagon' to make money from something they don't understand but stand to profit from.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt, Professor of Physics and an Environmental Science researcher at the University of Ottawa, believes the global warming campaigns do a disservice to the environmental movement. "Promoting the global warming myth trains people to accept unverified, remote, and abstract dangers in the place of true problems that they can discover for themselves by becoming directly engaged in their workplace and by doing their own research and observations. It trains people to think lifestyle choices (in relation to CO2 emission) rather than to think activism in the sense of exerting an influence to change societal structures," "I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized." "Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middle class."

Harold Brown, an agricultural scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Georgia and author of The Greening of Georgia: The Improvement of the Environment in the Twentieth Century, mocked global warming fears in 2007. "Global warming is a wonderful environmental disease," Brown said according to a December 7, 2007 article. "It has a thousand symptoms and a thousand cures and it has tens of thousands of practitioners with job security for decades to come unless the press and public opinion get tired of it."

What Is The IPCC?

IPCC stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), two organizations of the United Nations.

MIT atmospheric scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen also explained the UN's IPCC Summary for Policymakers involves only a dozen or so scientists. "It's not 2,500 people offering their consensus, I participated in that. Each person who is an author writes one or two pages in conjunction with someone else...but ultimately, it is written by representatives of governments, of environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, and industrial organizations, each seeking their own benefit," Lindzen said.

IPCC 2007 Expert Reviewer Madhav Khandekar, a Ph.D meteorologist: Khandekar also further critiqued the UN's IPCC process in a February 13, 2007 interview in the Winnipeg Sun. "I think the IPCC science is a bit too simplistic," he explained. "IPCC scientists did not thoroughly analyze why the Earth's surface temperature -- land and ocean combined -- has increased only modestly in the past 30 years," Khandekar said. "We have not fully explored why the climate changes from one state to another. It is too premature to say," he concluded.

The IPCC reports are not scientific research documents. They are summaries of the scientific data for non-scientists. The reason IPCC scientists did not pursue the issue raised by Khandekar is that the IPCC mission statement explicitly states that the IPCC does not conduct research. I would expect an IPCC Expert Reviewer to be familiar with his own organization's mission statement. The only "members" of the IPCC are the nations in the WMO and UNEP. The only way "environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, and industrial organizations" have input is if a member nation lets them.

Edmund Muskie, the late senator from Maine and as honorable a career politician as there ever was, once lamented that he wished there were "more one-armed scientists" because scientists testifying before Congress were always saying "on the other hand." There is no shortage of qualification and uncertainty in the IPCC documents (people who pretend otherwise just haven't read them) but they are definitely written to be "one-armed" and to eliminate wiggle room for the denialists.

Just Because It's Getting Warmer Doesn't Imply Global Warming

Meteorologist Peter R. Leavitt, President of Weather Information, Inc €œSkepticism in regard to AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) does not mean that the opposite is true, only that there is insufficient hard evidence to conclude that AGW is a significant factor in climate if it is a factor at all €œI have no problem recognizing that over the entire past Century temperatures have shown a net rise. There has also been a steady and generally indisputable rise in CO2 since regular measurements began in 1958.

Meteorologist Larry Cosgrove said on Fox News Channel on January 19, 2007, "I do not espouse the global kool-aid line of the American Meteorological Society. Now, I like many people, believe in global warming. You can't refute that. Temperatures are warming around the globe. But, the question is what's causing it. Is it purely man made as the American Meteorological Society and [the Weather Channel's Dr. [Heidi] Cullen espouse or is it a combination of events, namely what's happening on the earth and €˜some help' so to speak, from man kind?"

Scientific And Historical Illiteracy

Not content with being uninformed about climate, some denialists want to show their breadth.

Meteorologist Brad Sussman, a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and Seal holder and past officer of the National Weather Association (NWA), is currently with WJW-TV in Cleveland, Ohio. Sussman, a meteorologist for over 21 years, €œdebunks [global warming] theory by using logic and humor.€ According to Sussman, €œglobal warming has been happening on and off for millions of years. Millions of years when mankind wasn't driving around in SUVs and using coal for electric power

The only people who say €˜The debate is over€™ are people who are afraid to debate,€ Sussman wrote. €œ€™The debate is over?€™ If we used that line of thinking, man would have never gone to the moon, the Wright Brothers would have never flown, and we€™d still think the Sun rotated around the Earth,€ he concluded.

You can't debate people who rely on humor instead of data because they simply don't know the subject. If his comment about SUV's is indicative of his logic, a debate would be like a duel with an unarmed man. There have been hurricanes for millions of years, too, but that doesn't mean you can ignore hurricane warnings. And most of the opposition to going to the moon and powered flight came from people who considered their "practical" knowledge superior to that of "ivory tower theorists."

Chemist and Nuclear Engineer Robert DeFayette was formerly with NASA€™s Plum Brook Reactor in Ohio and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at its headquarters office near Washington, DC. €œNonsense! Civilization may one day cease to exist but it won€™t be from global warming caused by CO2 In the 1600s scientists believed we lived in an earth centered universe but Galileo disagreed and proved we lived in a sun-centered universe. At the time of Columbus, the scientific consensus was that the earth was flat but obviously that was wrong.

Well, actually Galileo neither discovered the idea of the earth going around the Sun, nor did he prove it. He popularized it. And just about no myth in history has been as thoroughly debunked as the notion that scientists in Columbus' day thought the Earth was flat. They couldn't possibly, for the simple reason that Ptolemy, the reigning authority in astronomy up till the time of Copernicus, explicitly stated that the Earth was a sphere. So not only do we have a completely unsupported assertion about climate, we have two of the most persistent myths about the history of science for good measure.

Geologist Gabriel Salas, who leads a UN High Commission for Refugees funded team, rejected the idea that man-made global warming was causing droughts in Africa. A July 27, 2007 article in The Christian Science Monitor reported, "Salas, as a geologist, doesn't see the problem of global warming as a recent phenomenon, but as something that has been going on for thousands of years." "The attack of Rome by Hannibal happened 2,400 years ago, and he took elephants from Carthage and marched them toward Rome. Now, the fact that you had elephants in the North of Africa shows that there has been climate change and that desertification has been taking place for a long time," Salas said.

Salas seems to be unaware that the desertification of North Africa is almost entirely anthropogenic. Yes, there were elephants in North Africa in Roman times, also lions, giraffes, and leopards. North Africa was forested. Humans cut down the trees, killed or drove off the animals, and overgrazed what was left to desert. In fact, the open landscape of the Mediterranean is anthropogenic - it was all forested in prehistoric times. Some of it more recently. Parts of the Adriatic coast of Slovenia and Croatia are treeless because the trees are holding up Venice as pilings.

Missing The Point

Biologist Dr. Matthew Cronin, a research professor at the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks: "Also, polar bear populations are generally healthy and have increased worldwide over the last few decades."

In September 2007, it was announced that a soon to be released survey finds Polar Bear population rising in warmer part of the Arctic. The Government of Nunavut is conducting a study of the [southern less ice region of the] Davis Strait bear population. Results of the study won€™t be released until 2008, but Taylor says it appears there are some 3,000 bears in an area - a big jump from the current estimate of about 850 bears. €œThat€™s not theory. That€™s not based on a model. That€™s observation of reality,€

Polar bear expert Dennis Compayre, formerly of the conservation group Polar Bears International, has studied the bears for almost 30 years in their natural habitat and is working on a new UK documentary about the bears. Compayre disputed fears of a potential global warming threat to polar bears. A December 7, 2007 article in the UK Daily Mail reported, "Dennis Compayre raises bushy grey eyebrows as he listens to the environmentalists predict the polar bear's demise. €˜They  (environmentalists) say the numbers are down from 1,200 to around 900, but I think I know as much about polar bears as anyone, and I tell you there are as many bears here now as there were when I was a kid.'

Nobody is saying polar bears are in imminent danger now. The problem is that if Arctic pack ice routinely retreats far offshore in the summers, the effect on the polar bear population could be catastrophic since the bears would be cut off from their normal food sources. Some would no doubt survive on land, finding alternative sources of food. But there would probably be a huge die-off and reduction in range.

Naturalist Nigel Marven is a trained zoologist and botanist and a UK wildlife documentary maker who spent three months studying and filming polar bears in Canada's arctic in 2007. Marven expressed skepticism about fears that global warming would devastate polar bears. "I think climate change is happening, but as far as the polar bear disappearing is concerned, I have never been more convinced that this is just scaremongering. "Of course, in 30 years, if there's no ice over the North Pole, then the bears will be in trouble. But I've seen enough to know that polar bears are not yet on the brink of extinction," Marven added. The article also noted that indigenous residents of the Arctic also reject polar bear fears. "After almost three months of working with those who know the Arctic best - among them Inuit Indians, who are appalled at the way an animal they have lived beside for centuries has become a poster species for €˜misinformed' Greens - Nigel Marven finds himself in broad agreement," the article reported.

Marven gets some kind of award for getting the point and missing the point simultaneously. If there's no polar ice in 30 years, then the bears will be in trouble. No $#!+, Sherlock. What then? Also, I wonder how he could spend three months among the Inuit and still think they were Indians, and I really wonder how aware most Inuit are of the polar bear being an icon for Greens.

Retired meteorologist Harry A. Gordon, formerly of the National Weather Service, defended global warming skeptics and noted naturally occurring cycles dominate climate. "Meteorologist Mike Thompson (of Fox TV) is correct in his defense of global warning skeptics. A personal examination of a 100-year period of weather in Kansas City showed a continuous series of short-term warming and cooling periods. Studies from China covered more than a thousand years and confirmed this. No cycles have been discovered that would help in forecasting climate changes," Gordon wrote on April 28, 2008.

Nobody has ever denied there are climate cycles of varying length and severity, but also nobody has ever claimed that global warming is based on "climate cycles." In fact it's mostly the skeptics who invoke cycles to explain away climate changes. The whole point of concern over global warming is that humans are doing something not cyclic and not seen in the previous geologic or historic record.

Just Plain Lousy Physics

Senior Meteorologist Dr. Wolfgang P. Thuene was a former analyst and forecaster for the German Weather Service in the field of synoptic meteorology and also worked for the German Environmental Protection Agency. €œThe infrared thermography is a smoking gun proof that the IPCC-hypothesis cannot be right. The atmosphere does not act like the glass of a greenhouse which primarily hinders the convection! The atmosphere has an open radiation window between 8 and 14 microns and is therefore transparent to infrared heat from the earth€™s surface. This window cannot be closed by the distinctive absorption lines of CO2 at 4.3 and 15 microns. €œSummarizing we can say: Earth€™s surface gains heat from the Sun, is warmed up and loses heat by infrared radiation. While the input of heat by solar radiation is restricted to the daytime hours, the outgoing terrestrial radiation is a nonstop process during day and night and depends only on the body temperature and the emissivity. Therefore after sunset the earth continuous to radiate and therefore cools off.

All radiation that reaches a planet eventually leaves. Even Venus, with a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere and runaway greenhouse effect, radiates as much energy into space as it receives from the Sun. The reason that Venus is far hotter than it would be if it had no atmosphere is that it takes time for trapped heat to escape. Meanwhile more heat from the Sun arrives. When the incoming heat finally matches the outgoing heat, we have equilibrium. So yes, the earth's atmosphere is transparent between 8 and 14 microns. That doesn't affect the reality that radiation at 4.3 and 14 microns is trapped and contributes to warming, because energy that could otherwise escape if the atmosphere were completely transparent in the infrared is blocked.

It's like having a room with two open windows in the winter. You will lose heat very quickly. Now close one of the windows. You will still lose heat, but not nearly as quickly.

And the atmosphere does limit convention. The top of the troposphere, at about 10 kilometers, is the upper limit of convection. One reason jets fly in the stratosphere is that there is no convection, hence no turbulence.

Nuclear Physicist and Chemical Engineer Dr. Philip Lloyd: The quantity of CO2 we produce is insignificant in terms of the natural circulation between air, water and soil. I have tried numerous tests for radiative effects, and all have failed. I have tried to develop an isotopic method for identifying stable C12 (from fossil fuels) and merely ended up understanding the difference between the major plant chemistries and their differing ability to use the different isotopes

Carbon 12 is carbon 12, and atoms of carbon 12 can't be distinguished from one another. I would expect a nuclear physicist and chemical engineer to know that.

Professor of Nuclear Chemistry Dr. Oliver K. Manuel of the University of Missouri- Rolla, €œCompared to solar magnetic fields, however, the carbon dioxide production has as much influence on climate as a flea has on the weight of an elephant.€

Show me anything in the literature linking solar magnetic fields to climate, let alone any proof that this assertion is true.

Field Geologist Louis A.G. Hissink is the editor of The Australian Institute of Geoscientists Newsletter and is currently working on the ore-reserve feasibility study of the Koongie Park Base Metals project in Western Australia. Hissink, who earned a masters in geology: "No gas is capable of storing heat so the assumption a gas could is to misunderstand basic physics and the greenhouse effect,€ Hissink told EPW on January 21, 2008. €œThe global mean temperature derivations from the surface meteorological stations confuse the thermal state of the measuring instruments with unspecified volumes of air nor are those temperatures linked to any discrete physical object.

This guy makes me embarrassed to be a geologist. "No gas is capable of storing heat" is scientifically illiterate on so many levels one hardly knows where to begin. If gases could not store heat you couldn't heat your house and there would be no such thing as a hot summer day.

I have seen creationists deny radiometric dating, and people deny the Apollo moon landings, but I never, in my wildest dreams, ever expected to meet someone who denied that a thermometer measured anything! All scientific measurements are based on the "state of the measuring instruments."

Physicist F. James Cripwell, a former scientist with UK€™s Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Presumably if you halved the concentration of CO2, you would decrease the radiative forcing by some linear amount. If you go on halving the CO2 concentration, then as the concentration of CO2 approached zero, it would appear that the CO2 was rapidly cooling the earth.

No, you would conclude the reduction in carbon dioxide was causing cooling, which would imply that an increase would cause warming.

In another interview in 2005, Cripwell said, "Whatever is causing warming, it is not an increase in levels of carbon dioxide. A more plausible theory is that it is water put into high altitudes by aircraft; this would have roughly the same time line,€ Cripwell said.

The water suggestion is actually somewhat defensible, since an opportunistic study performed during the aircraft grounding following 9-11 suggested that contrails contribute to warming by reflecting radiation back to earth. But note the complete lack of evidence for the assertion "Whatever is causing warming, it is not an increase in levels of carbon dioxide."

Team of Scientists Question Validity Of A 'Global Temperature' €“ The study was published in Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics. Excerpt from a March 18, 2007 article in Science Daily: €œDiscussions on global warming often refer to 'global temperature.' Yet the concept is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility, says Bjarne Andresen, a professor at The Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, who has analyzed this topic in collaboration with professors Christopher Essex from University of Western Ontario and Ross McKitrick from University of Guelph, Canada.€ The Science Daily article reads: "It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate.€

Wait, I'm confused here. If a temperature can only be defined for a homogeneous system, how can there be differences in temperature anywhere, let alone differences that drive weather? Of course you can define global temperature. It requires a lot of data and entails huge uncertainties, which is why climate change is so contentious, but it is neither thermodynamically nor mathematically impossible. And what does McKitrick, an economist, contribute to the discussion?

A modest proposal: Any economist who wants to write about the vagaries of climate modeling should have to publish a graph of how his personal portfolio has performed in the last couple of years.

A brief passage from their paper reads:

While it is always possible to construct statistics for any given set of local temperature data, an infinite range of such statistics is mathematically permissible if physical principles provide no explicit basis for choosing among them.

The problem, of course, is that physical principles do provide explicit bases for choosing among them. We know, for example, that if it's 70 degrees at two stations, it's not likely to be 50 degrees in between.

Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee, a former dean of engineering and pro-vice chancellor at Monash University: On July 6, 2007 on Australia's ABC Western Queensland's Morning Program, Endersbee explained the earth is an electrical conductor moving through the magnetic flux of the sun. "So we have these electric currents being created within the earth in response to the electro-magnetic radiation of the sun and that is the main driver of climate change on earth - it's not man," he explained. Endersbee believes that the world has been warming naturally due to this increased magnetic flow from the sun that started around the year 1700. "

So basically it's a big electric heater that makes the earth warm. Makes you wonder why we can't just tap all that free electricity. It's fitting he said this in Queensland, one of the few places in the world that makes Kansas or Texas look scientifically literate.

Physicist Dr. Gerhard Gerlich, of the Institute of Mathematical Physics at the Technical University Carolo-Wilhelmina in Braunschweig in Germany, and Dr. Ralf D. Tscheuschner co-authored a July 7, 2007 paper titled "Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics." The abstract of the paper reads in part:

  1. there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects;
  2. there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet;
  3. the frequently mentioned difference of 33 C is a meaningless number calculated wrongly;
  4. the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately;
  5. the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical;
  6. thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero
"The atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified." Gerlich and Tscheuschner's study concluded, "The horror visions of a risen sea level, melting pole caps and developing deserts in North America and in Europe are fictitious consequences of fictitious physical mechanisms, as they cannot be seen even in the climate model computations. The emergence of hurricanes and tornados cannot be predicted by climate models, because all of these deviations are ruled out. The main strategy of modern CO2-greenhouse gas defenders seems to hide themselves behind more and more pseudo explanations, which are not part of the academic education or even of the physics training."

This paper is published in an on-line archive that performs minimal peer review. I looked it up on line and read it. I urge readers who know their physics to do so as well. You have to read this paper to believe it. There are long digressions critiquing 19th and early 20th century physics, a long discussion of the trivially obvious fact that greenhouses are not the same as the earth's atmosphere, and lots of complex mathematics misapplied. It's just wrong in every single respect. The only thing I have ever seen like it was creationist Barry Setterfield's "proof" that the speed of light was decreasing.

Nuclear physicist Dr. Dennis Jensen, a PhD-trained scientist and a former researcher for Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization (CSIRO) and the Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), questioned man-made climate fears in 2007. "It has been found that warming is occurring on Pluto, Mars, Jupiter and Triton," Jensen said on February 27, 2007. "The last time I looked, there were no evil greenhouse gas belching industries on those planets, subplanets and moons," he said, which clearly indicated that increased solar activity was a significant factor," Jensen explained. He also noted that studies of ice core data reveals that warming precedes rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. "In other words, it would be more correct to say that temperature changes cause CO2 concentration changes," he said.

The simultaneous warming of Pluto, Mars, Jupiter and Triton has gone viral on the denialist web. Pluto is past perihelion (closest point to the sun) but is still warming because of heat lag. This is why it's usually hottest at about 2 PM rather than noon, and why it's hottest in July instead of June 21. Mars' ice caps are retreating because they do every Martian summer. They have become successively smaller over several Martian years. This is supposedly conclusive proof of solar warming - from people who demand decades of records to support greenhouse warming on Earth. Jupiter has warmed in places by up to six degrees C. If you believe the Sun can warm something as massive as Jupiter by 6 degrees C in only a few years, without frying the Earth, well, I have a bridge to sell you. And what's the significance of the rest of the planets not getting warmer?

Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ,  But the warmer the Earth gets, the faster it radiates heat out into space. This is a self-correcting, self-healing process,€ Duffy wrote.

Wow, just imagine how cool the earth will be if we warm to 100 C! If your car engine overheats, no problem. The hotter it gets, the more heat it radiates.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt, Professor of Physics and an Environmental Science researcher at the University of Ottawa also questioned the whole concept of a global average temperature, noting, "Averaging problems aside, many tenuous approximations must be made in order to arrive at any of the reported final global average temperature curves." He further explained: "This means that determining an average of a quantity (Earth surface temperature) that is everywhere different and continuously changing with time at every point, using measurements at discrete times and places (weather stations), is virtually impossible; in that the resulting number is highly sensitive to the chosen extrapolation method(s) needed to calculate (or rather approximate) the average." "The estimates are uncertain and can change the calculated global warming by as much as 0.5 C, thereby removing the originally reported effect entirely," he added.

None of these issues will be a problem if you use a standard method for all your data. Problems can (and do!) arise if you mix results derived by using different methods, but as important as the specific temperature are the temperature trends.

Award-winning Geologist Leighton Steward, who believes €œCO2€™s ability to trap heat declines rapidly, logarithmically, and reaches a point of significantly reduced future effect, said Steward, in explaining why correlations with CO2 don€™t hold. A far more consistent and significant correlation exists between the planet€™s temperature and the output of energy from the sun, said Steward. There have been a lot of sunspots this century, which are associated with higher energy levels from the sun. 45 million years ago the sun was 30 percent warmer.€

Where's his evidence for the asymptotic decrease of CO2 absorption? And what in the world is with the assertion "45 million years ago the sun was 30 percent warmer?" Is that a garbled version of the fairly well substantiated idea that 4.5 billion years ago the sun was 30 percent less luminous?.

Deserves A Page Unto Itself

Dr. Frederick Seitz, renowned physicist and former president of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, and president emeritus of Rockefeller University, declared his man-made global warming skepticism once again in 2008, shortly before his death. Seitz wrote the foreword in February 2008 to a report titled €œNature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate€ by a team of international skeptical scientists released in March 2008. The IPCC €œis pre-programmed to produce reports to support the hypotheses of anthropogenic warming and the control of greenhouse gases, as envisioned in the Global Climate Treaty.€

Dr. Art Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine declared his climate skepticism in 2007. "Long-term temperature data suggest that the current - entirely natural and not man made - temperature rise of about 0.5 degrees C per century could continue for another 200 years. Therefore, the best data available leads to an extrapolated value of about 1 foot of rise during the next two centuries," Robinson wrote to EPW on September 23, 2007. "There is no scientific basis upon which to guess that the rise will be less or will be more than this value. Such a long extrapolation over two centuries is likely to be significantly in error - but it is the only extrapolation that can be made with current data. There may be no sea level rise at all. No one knows," he added.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center Astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon co-authored with Dr. Art Robinson and Noah Robinson, a November 2007 study that found mankind's emissions are not harming the atmosphere. The paper, published in Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons was titled, "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide." The study reported: "A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that in creases during the 20th and early 21st centuries have produced no deleterious effects upon Earth's weather and climate. Increased carbon dioxide has, however, markedly in creased plant growth." The study also found, "There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other green house gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape."

Do These Guys Ever Read A Journal?

Chemist and Biochemist Dr. Michael F. Farona, an emeritus professor of Chemistry at the University of Akron and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, critiqued the news media for inadequate reporting about global warming and expressed climate skepticism. €œData, numbers, graphs, trends, etc., are generally missing in supposedly scientific reports on global warming. These articles are usually long on opinions and short on hard data.

You won't find hard data in popular articles or climate skeptic blogs. You will find them in actual scientific journals.

Phrases such as €˜scientists agree that ...€™ scientists doubt that ...€™ do not belong in a scientific article. There are more data in Michael Crichton's novel State of Fear than in all the global warming articles combined that I have read,€ Farona wrote on January 3, 2008.

Not a doubt in my mind. This is more or less an open admission that he never actually reads any scientific literature. It says far more about his scanty knowledge of the literature than it does about the state of the science.

€œThere have been at least four interglacial periods, where the glaciers have advanced and retreated. The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago and, in the case of North America, left the Great Lakes in the glacier's retreat. The glaciers are still retreating, so there should not be any great surprise that the sea level is rising. The industrial revolution is about 150 years old, compared to 10,000 years of warming. Can human activities have really made a significant contribution to rising temperatures in that amount of time?€ Farona asked. €œWe know that the east coast of the U.S. was flooded during the previous interglacial period, so sea level rising and coastal flooding are not unique to this interglacial period. Why now the draconian predictions of coastal flooding as if this has not happened before?€ he continued. €œWhat is the relationship between an increased level of carbon dioxide and temperature? Can it be predicted that an increase of so many parts per billion of carbon dioxide will cause an increase of so many degrees? I have not seen any answers to the questions posed above, leading me to adopt a somewhat skeptical view of blaming global warming on human activities. What puzzles me is the reluctance of climatologists to provide scientific data supporting their dire predictions of the near future if we don't change our ways,€ Farona concluded

Where do we begin? The glaciers are not "still retreating" - the Ice Age is over and has been for nearly 10,000 years. Can human activities have changed the earth in 150 years? Well, we've gone from 1 billion to 7 billion people, zero to 600 million cars, zero to millions of miles of paved highway, transformed millions of square miles of forest to open land, so, yeah. We can. "Can it be predicted that an increase of so many parts per billion of carbon dioxide will cause an increase of so many degrees?" Yes. "I have not seen any answers to the questions posed above." I'm sure he hasn't. That doesn't mean they haven't been answered. "What puzzles me is the reluctance of climatologists to provide scientific data supporting their dire predictions of the near future if we don't change our ways." The data fills every issue of most climatology journals. You just won't find a more brazen admission of never having done any real research.

David Packham is a former principle research scientist with Australia€™s CSIRO: [among his criticisms:] A lack of actual measurements for terrestrial radiation and the use of deemed values for particulate radiation absorption; The failure to consider the role of particulates from biomatter burning....

Hint: try Google Scholar.

Oops

Physicist F. James Cripwell, a former scientist with UK€™s Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Since some of us know this is wrong, it seems quite likely that the 2008 forecast will be as badly wrong as the 2007 one was. What will the media do then? Maybe if the Northwest Passage does not open up this summer, as seems quite likely, people may start to realize that AGW (Anthropogenic Global warming) is a myth.€

Well, the Northwest Passage did open in 2008, and so did the Northeast Passage. For the first time known, the Arctic sea ice was completely surrounded by open water. So I guess the ethical thing for Cripwell to do is admit that Anthropogenic Global Warming is not a myth? (crickets chirping....)

Bottom Line

Dr. Denis Dutton, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and recipient of the New Zealand Royal Society Medal for Services to Science and Technology, teaches a course on the distinction between science and pseudoscience. Dr. Dutton is skeptical about the degree to which human activity has contributed to the general warming trend that began in the 1880s. "Working at the university where Karl Popper taught in the 1940s, I am more than a little aware of the way that adequate scientific hypotheses must always be open to falsification.

"Teaches a course on the distinction between science and pseudoscience." What a coincidence, so have I. Where in his philosophical training did he get the idea that having taught at the same university as Karl Popper makes him especially qualified? You can find a mouse in a cookie jar, too, but that doesn't make him a cookie. One of my math professors in college had won the Field Award (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize) but that doesn't make me an award-winning mathematician. Most philosophers at least know what non-sequitur means.

Pseudoscience just has a distinctive tone and structure. If this were a debate about something I know nothing at all about, like the metrical structure of Tang Dynasty Chinese poetry, I'd be able to tell in ten minutes who were the real scholars and who were the charlatans. Real scholars look at the totality of the data; charlatans rely on anecdotal evidence and isolated anomalies. Real scholars know what constitutes being an expert, and rely on the findings of experts. Charlatans cite people with irrelevant credentials, or marginal credentials (master's degrees, even graduate students) as if they were on a par with the real experts on the other side. Charlatans pile on accusations that they were being unfairly treated and complain that important questions are not being addressed when even a cursory examination of the scholarly literature shows that they are.


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Created 12 December 2008;  Last Update 05 April, 2011

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