Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Global warming hysteria fuels a climate of fear

By Aussiegirl

Another article debunking the global warming hysteria and pointing out the disturbing way in which science is increasingly being politicized and distorted by a drive for funding, creating a self-perpetuating loop -- hysteria brings funding, funding fuels hysteria, while drowning out and silencing legitimate scientific skeptical research.

Let's just put a few things in perspective. There has been a slight warming over the mean temperature of the globe over the last century of anywhere from one-half a degree to one degree. Hardly a matter of impending doom. The recent hysteria over melting ice caps and receding glaciers is also misleading. In Greenland and Antarctica, while it is true that ice has been melting at the edges, the ice cover is actually getting deeper in the middle, causing the edges to be pushed out and to melt upon hitting the water. The earth has experienced much warmer periods that occurred way before there were coal-fired electric plants or SUV's.

This article rightly points out the political influences driving who gets funding, who gets published, and why. Unfortunately, it's probably true that science was never completely free from politics and prejudice -- just look at the number of scientists in different fields who have been ignored, ridiculed or denied funding because they espoused political or scientifically unpopular theories. We have only to look back at the famous case of Ignaz Semmelweis, who in the last century advocated that doctors wash their hands before delivering children in order to prevent childbed fever. Doctors were in the habit of going from the morgue and the dissection of dead bodies directly into the delivery room without washing their hands. Semmelweis was ridiculed and eventually driven from practice even though he reduced the mortality rate in his obstetrics department from 13% to less than one percent. He ended his days in an insane asylum, although his theory of antispectic prophylaxis has become standard practice in medicine.

More recently we have the case of the Australian doctor, Dr. Barry Marshall, who had the theory that ulcers were caused by a bacterium. He too was ridiculed by scientists and doctors and had difficulty finding funding. Eventually in a desperate bid to prove his case he deliberately drank a concoction containing the bacterium H. pylori, giving himself an ulcer. He then cured it by taking antibiotics.

Although scientists claim the high road and an almost godlike status in the matter of reason and objectivity, they are human and thus subject to the same temptations and prejudices as the average man. It's hard to go against the crowd and march to your own drummer. But the greatest achievements in science have generally been made by those who were willing to buck conventional thinking. Always a good thing to keep in mind when considering prevailing scientific dogma. The march of progress has proven that what is dogma today will probably be overthrown tomorrow.

JohnBatchelorShow.com - The Homepage of the John Batchelor ShowClimate of Fear
By Richard Lindzen from The Wall Street Journal
Posted May 03, 2006

There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science -- whether for AIDS, or space, or climate -- where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less -- hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

So how is it that we don't have more scientists speaking up about this junk science? It's my belief that many scientists have been cowed not merely by money but by fear. An example: Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Joe Barton issued letters to paleoclimatologist Michael Mann and some of his co-authors seeking the details behind a taxpayer-funded analysis that claimed the 1990s were likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the last millennium. Mr. Barton's concern was based on the fact that the IPCC had singled out Mr. Mann's work as a means to encourage policy makers to take action. And they did so before his work could be replicated and tested -- a task made difficult because Mr. Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to release the details for analysis. The scientific community's defense of Mr. Mann was, nonetheless, immediate and harsh. The president of the National Academy of Sciences -- as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union -- formally protested, saying that Rep. Barton's singling out of a scientist's work smacked of intimidation.

All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists -- a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

[...]Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.


At 6:53 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Thanks for posting that! It shoots holes in the argument that GW enthusiasts use to claim dispassionate ``science`` has declared the Earth is heating from greenhouse gasses.


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