Report: Global Warming

Climate Change: The Deniers


CLIMATE CHANGE: The Deniers (National Post, 070202)

Statistics needed: The Deniers — Part 1 (National Post, 061128)

Warming is real - and has benefits: The Deniers — Part 2 (National Post, 061201)

The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science: The Deniers — Part 3 (National Post, 061208)

Polar scientists on thin ice: The Deniers — Part 4 (National Post, 061215)

The original denier: into the cold: The Deniers — Part 5 (National Post, 061222)

The sun moves climate change: The Deniers — Part 6 (National Post, 070105)

Will the sun cool us? The Deniers — Part 7 (National Post, 070112)

The limits of predictability: The Deniers — Part 8 (National Post, 070119)

Look to Mars for the truth on global warming: The Deniers — Part 9 (National Post, 070126)

Limited role for C02: The Deniers — Part 10 (National Post, 070202)

Series in Global Warming — Deniers Part 11: End the chill (National Post, 070209)

Series in Global Warming — Deniers Part 12: Clouded research (National Post, 070223)

Allegre’s second thoughts, Part 13 (National Post, 070302)

The heat’s in the sun, Par 14 (National Post, 070309)

Unsettled science, Part 15 (National Post, 070314)

Bitten by the IPCC: Part 16 (National Post, 070323)

Little Ice Age is still with us, Part 17 (National Post, 070330)

Fighting climate ‘fluff’, Part 18 (National Post, 070423)

Science, not politics: Part 19 (National Post, 070413)

Gore’s guru disagreed, Part 20 (National Post, 070428)

The ice-core man: Part 21 (National Post, 070504)

Some restraint in Rome: Part 22 (National Post, 070511)

Discounting logic (Deniers, Part 23) (National Post, 070528)

Dire forecasts aren’t new: The Deniers — Part 24 (National Post, 070525)

They call this a consensus? (Deniers, Part 25) (National Post, 070602)

NASA chief silenced (Deniers, Part 26) (National Post, 070608)

Forget warming - beware the new ice age (Deniers, Part 27) (National Post, 070615)

Open mind sees climate clearly (Deniers, Part 28) (National Post, 070629)

Models trump measurements (Deniers, Part 29) (National Post, 070707)

What global warming, Australian skeptic asks (Deniers, Part 30) (National Post, 070717)

In the eye of the storm over global warming (Deniers, Part 31) (National Post, 070728)





CLIMATE CHANGE: The Deniers (National Post, 070202)


The Post’s series on scientists who buck the conventional wisdom on climate science


Published: Friday, February 02, 2007


The Post’s series on scientists who buck the conventional wisdom on climate science. Here is the series so far.


- Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute, a division of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Statistics needed: The Deniers — Part 1 (National Post, 061128)


Lawrence Solomon, National Post


In the global warming debate, there are essentially two broad camps. One believes that the science is settled, that global warming is serious and man-made, and that urgent action must be taken to mitigate or prevent a future calamity. The other believes that the science is far from settled, that precious little is known about global warming or its likely effects, and that prudence dictates more research and caution before intervening massively in the economy.


The “science is settled” camp, much the larger of the two, includes many eminent scientists with impressive credentials. But just who are the global warming skeptics who question the studies from the great majority of climate scientists and what are their motives?


Many in the “science is settled” camp claim that the skeptics are untrustworthy — that they are either cranks or otherwise at the periphery of their profession, or that they are in the pockets of Exxon or other corporate interests. The skeptics are increasingly being called Deniers, a term used by analogy to the Holocaust, to convey the catastrophe that could befall mankind if action is not taken. Increasingly, too, the press is taking up the Denier theme, convincing the public that the global-warming debate is over.


In this, the first of a series, I examine The Deniers, starting with Edward Wegman. Dr. Wegman is a professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and board member of the American Statistical Association. Few statisticians in the world have CVs to rival his (excerpts appear nearby).


Wegman became involved in the global-warming debate after the energy and commerce committee of the U.S. House of Representatives asked him to assess one of the hottest debates in the global-warming controversy: the statistical validity of work by Michael Mann. You may not have heard of Mann or read Mann’s study but you have often heard its famous conclusion: that the temperature increases that we have been experiencing are “likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years” and that the “1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year” of the millennium. You may have also heard of Mann’s hockey-stick shaped graph, which showed relatively stable temperatures over most of the last millennium (the hockey stick’s long handle), followed by a sharp increase (the hockey stick’s blade) this century.


Mann’s findings were arguably the single most influential study in swaying the public debate, and in 2001 they became the official view of the International Panel for Climate Change, the UN body that is organizing the worldwide effort to combat global warming. But Mann’s work also had its critics, particularly two Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who published peer-reviewed critiques of their own.


Wegman accepted the energy and commerce committee’s assignment, and agreed to assess the Mann controversy pro bono. He conducted his third-party review by assembling an expert panel of statisticians, who also agreed to work pro bono. Wegman also consulted outside statisticians, including the Board of the American Statistical Association. At its conclusion, the Wegman review entirely vindicated the Canadian critics and repudiated Mann’s work.


“Our committee believes that the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported,” Wegman stated, adding that “The paucity of data in the more remote past makes the hottest-in-a-millennium claims essentially unverifiable.” When Wegman corrected Mann’s statistical mistakes, the hockey stick disappeared.


Wegman found that Mann made a basic error that “may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. We note that there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimate studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians.” Instead, this small group of climate scientists were working on their own, largely in isolation, and without the academic scrutiny needed to ferret out false assumptions.


Worse, the problem also applied more generally, to the broader climate-change and meteorological community, which also relied on statistical techniques in their studies. “[I]f statistical methods are being used, then statisticians ought to be funded partners engaged in the research to insure as best we possibly can that the best quality science is being done,” Wegman recommended, noting that “there are a host of fundamental statistical questions that beg answers in understanding climate dynamics.”


In other words, Wegman believes that much of the climate science that has been done should be taken with a grain of salt — although the studies may have been peer reviewed, the reviewers were often unqualified in statistics. Past studies, he believes, should be reassessed by competent statisticians and in future, the climate science world should do better at incorporating statistical know-how.


One place to start is with the American Meteorological Society, which has a committee on probability and statistics. “I believe it is amazing for a committee whose focus is on statistics and probability that of the nine members only two are also members of the American Statistical Association, the premier statistical association in the United States, and one of those is a recent PhD with an assistant-professor appointment in a medical school.” As an example of the statistical barrenness of the climate-change world, Wegman cited the American Meteorological Association’s 2006 Conference on Probability and Statistics in the Atmospheric Sciences, where only eight presenters out of 62 were members of the American Statistical Association.


While Wegman’s advice — to use trained statisticians in studies reliant on statistics — may seem too obvious to need stating, the “science is settled” camp resists it. Mann’s hockey-stick graph may be wrong, many experts now acknowledge, but they assert that he nevertheless came to the right conclusion.


To which Wegman, and doubtless others who want more rigourous science, shake their heads in disbelief. As Wegman summed it up to the energy and commerce committee in later testimony: “I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn’t matter because the answer is correct anyway. Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.” With bad science, only true believers can assert that they nevertheless obtained the right answer.




Edward Wegman received his Ph.D. degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Iowa. In 1978, he went to the Office of Naval Research, where he headed the Mathematical Sciences Division with responsibility Navy-wide for basic research programs. He coined the phrase computational statistics, and developed a high-profile research area around this concept, which focused on techniques and methodologies that could not be achieved without the capabilities of modern computing resources and led to a revolution in contemporary statistical graphics. Dr. Wegman was the original program director of the basic research program in Ultra High Speed Computing at the Strategic Defense Initiative’s Innovative Science and Technology Office. He has served as editor or associate editor of numerous prestigious journals and has published more than 160 papers and eight books.




Warming is real - and has benefits: The Deniers — Part 2 (National Post, 061201)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


One month ago, the world heard that global warming could lead to a global catastrophe “on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.” This assessment, from Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, made banner headlines and led prominent leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair to urge immediate action to stem global warming.


It also led some prominent environmentalists to denounce Sir Nicholas for what they deemed an outrageous study bereft of credibility. None of the environmentalists issued a stronger denunciation, or has better environmental credentials, than Richard S.J. Tol.


Tol is a Denier, to use the terminology of the “science-is-settled” camp in the increasingly polarized global warming debate. Like many other Deniers, Tol doesn’t think the evidence is in on global warming and its effects, he doesn’t think there’s reason to rush to action, and he doesn’t think that crash programs to curb global warming are called for.


Also like many other Deniers, he doesn’t fit the stereotype that those who use the epithet imagine. Anything but.


Tol is no fringe outsider to the scientific debate. He is at the centre of the academic investigation of global warming, a central figure in the scientific establishment that has been developing the models and the knowledge to understand the global warming phenomenon. At the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, considered by most the authoritative body in the field, Tol is involved as an author in all three of its Working Groups. He is also an author and editor of the United Nations Handbook on Methods for Climate Change Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies. He is also a mover and shaker in the prestigious European Climate Forum. He takes global warming seriously and has dedicated his professional life to making a contribution for the better in climate policy and related fields.


Because of his immense reputation, the Stern report itself relied on Tol’s work in coming to its conclusions. But Sir Nicholas twisted Tol’s work out of shape to arrive at unsupportable conclusions.


As one example, Sir Nicholas plucked a figure ($29 per ton of carbon dioxide) from a range that Tol prepared describing the possible costs of CO2 emissions, without divulging that in the very same study Tol concluded that the actual costs “are likely to be substantially smaller” than $14 per ton of CO2. Likewise, in an assessment of the potential consequences of rising sea levels, Sir Nicholas quoted a study co-authored by Tol that referred to the “millions at risk,” ignoring that the same study then suggested greatly reduced consequences for those millions due to the ability of humans to adapt to change.


Throughout his report, in fact, Sir Nicholas not only assumed worst possible cases, he also assumed that humans are passive creatures, devoid of ingenuity, who would be helpless victims to changes in the world around them. Such assumptions underpinned Sir Nicholas’s claim that “the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever,” and led Tol to view Sir Nicholas’s conclusions as “preposterous.” Tol’s conclusion: “The Stern review can therefore be dismissed as alarmist and incompetent.”


Tol and Sir Nicholas are worlds apart, and not just because of Sir Nicholas’s recklessness with the facts. Where Sir Nicholas paints an altogether bleak picture, Tol’s is far more nuanced: Global warming creates benefits as well as harms, he explains, and in the short term, the benefits are especially pronounced.


More important, Tol is a student of human innovation and adaptation. As a native of the Netherlands, he is intimately familiar with dikes and other low-cost adaptive technologies, and the ability of humans in meeting challenges in their environment. To assume that humans in the future would not use their ingenuity and resourcefulness in sensible ways defies the history of mankind and ultimately serves no one.


Yes, global warming is real, he believes, and yes, measures to mitigate it should be taken. But unlike the advocates who believe that the science is settled, and the global warning debate is over, Tol thinks that much research needs to be done before we know how best to respond.


“There is no risk of damage [from global warming] that would force us to act injudiciously,” he explains. “We’ve got enough time to look for the economically most effective options, rather than dash into ‘actionism,’ which then becomes very expensive.”


THE CV OF A DENIER: Richard Tol received his PhD in Economics from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change at Hamburg University, director of the Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Science, principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a board member of the Centre for Marine and Climate Research, the International Max Planck Research Schools of Earth Systems Modelling and Maritime Affairs, and the European Forum on Integrated Environmental Assessment. He is an editor of Energy Economics, an associate editor of Environmental and Resource Economics, and a member of the editorial board of Environmental Science and Policy and Integrated Assessment.




The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science: The Deniers — Part 3 (National Post, 061208)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


You’re a respected scientist, one of the best in your field. So respected, in fact, that when the United Nations decided to study the relationship between hurricanes and global warming for the largest scientific endeavour in its history — its International Panel on Climate Change — it called upon you and your expertise.


You are Christopher Landsea of the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory. You were a contributing author for the UN’s second International Panel on Climate Change in 1995, writing the sections on observed changes in tropical cyclones around the world. Then the IPCC called on you as a contributing author once more, for its “Third Assessment Report” in 2001. And you were invited to participate yet again, when the IPCC called on you to be an author in the “Fourth Assessment Report.” This report would specifically focus on Atlantic hurricanes, your specialty, and be published by the IPCC in 2007.


Then something went horribly wrong. Within days of this last invitation, in October, 2004, you discovered that the IPCC’s Kevin Trenberth — the very person who had invited you — was participating in a press conference. The title of the press conference perplexed you: “Experts to warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity.” This was some kind of mistake, you were certain. You had not done any work that substantiated this claim. Nobody had.


As perplexing, none of the participants in that press conference were known for their hurricane expertise. In fact, to your knowledge, none had performed any research at all on hurricane variability, the subject of the press conference. Neither were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability, you knew, showed no reliable upward trend in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes. Not in the Atlantic basin. Not in any other basin.


To add to the utter incomprehensibility of the press conference, the IPCC itself, in both 1995 and 2001, had found no global warming signal in the hurricane record. And until your new work would come out, in 2007, the IPCC would not have a new analysis on which to base a change of findings.


To stop the press conference, or at least stop any misunderstandings that might come out of it, you contacted Dr. Trenberth prior to the media event. You prepared a synopsis for him that brought him up to date on the state of knowledge about hurricane formation. To your amazement, he simply dismissed your concerns. The press conference proceeded.


And what a press conference it was! Hurricanes had been all over the news that summer. Global warming was the obvious culprit — only a fool or an oil-industry lobbyist, the press made clear, could ignore the link between what seemed to be ever increasing hurricane activity and ever increasing global warming. The press conference didn’t disappoint them. The climate change experts at hand all confirmed the news that the public had been primed to hear: Global warming was causing hurricanes. This judgement from the scientists made headlines around the world, just as it was intended to do. What better way to cast global warming as catastrophic than to make hurricanes its poster child?


You wanted to right this outrageous wrong, this mockery that was made of your scientific field. You wrote top IPCC officials, imploring: “Where is the science, the refereed publications, that substantiate these pronouncements? What studies are being alluded to that have shown a connection between observed warming trends on the earth and long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity? As far as I know, there are none.” But no one in the IPCC leadership showed the slightest concern for the science. The IPCC’s overriding preoccupation, it soon sunk in, lay in capitalizing on the publicity opportunity that the hurricane season presented.


You then asked the IPCC leadership for assurances that your work for the IPCC’s 2007 report would be true to science: “[Dr. Trenberth] seems to have already come to the conclusion that global warming has altered hurricane activity and has publicly stated so. This does not reflect the consensus within the hurricane research community. ... Thus I would like assurance that what will be included in the IPCC report will reflect the best available information and the consensus within the scientific community most expert on the specific topic.”


The assurance didn’t come. What did come was the realization that the IPCC was corrupting science. This you could not be a party to. You then resigned, in an open letter to the scientific community laying out your reasons.


Next year, the IPCC will come out with its “Fourth Assessment Report,” and for the first time in a decade, you will not be writing its section on hurricanes. That task will be left to the successor that Dr. Trenberth chose. As part of his responsibility, he will need to explain why — despite all expectations — the 2006 hurricane year was so unexpectedly light, and at the historical average for the past 150 years.


- Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.


Next: The polar denier




Christopher Landsea received his doctoral degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University. A research meteorologist at the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he was chair of the American Meteorological Society’s committee on tropical meteorology and tropical cyclones and a recipient of the American Meteorological Society’s Banner I. Miller Award for the “best contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting.” He is a frequent contributor to leading journals, including Science, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, and Nature.




Polar scientists on thin ice: The Deniers — Part 4 (National Post, 061215)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


A great melt is on in Antarctica. Its northern peninsula — a jut of land extending to about 1,200 kilometres from Chile — has seen a drastic increase in temperature, a thinning of ice sheets and, most alarmingly, a collapse of ice shelves. The Larsen A ice shelf, 1,600 square kilometres in size, fell off in 1995. The Wilkins ice shelf, 1,100 square kilometres, fell off in 1998 and the Larsen B, 13,500 square kilometres, dropped off in 2002. Meanwhile, the northern Antarctic Peninsula’s temperatures have soared by six degrees celsius in the last 50 years.


Antarctica represents the greatest threat to the globe from global warming, bar none. If Antarctica’s ice melts, the world’s oceans will rise, flooding low-lying lands where much of the world’s population lives. Not only would their mass migration spawn hardships for the individual families retreating from the rising waters, the world would also be losing fertile deltas that feed tens of millions of people. This chilling scenario understandably sends shudders through concerned citizens around the world, and steels the resolve of those determined to stop the cataclysm of global warming.


But much confounding evidence exists. As one example, at the South Pole, where the U.S. decades ago established a station, temperatures have actually fallen since 1957. Neither is Antarctica’s advance or retreat a new question raised by the spectre of global warming: This is the oldest scientific question of all about the Antarctic ice sheet.


Enter Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London and Director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. Dr. Wingham has been pursuing this polar puzzle for much of his professional life and, but for an accident in space, he might have had the answer at hand by now.


Dr. Wingham is Principal Scientist of the European Space Agency’s CryoSat Satellite Mission, a $130-million project designed to map changes in the depth of ice using ultra-precise instrumentation. Sadly for Dr. Wingham and for science as a whole, CryoSat fell into the Arctic Ocean after its launch in October, 2005, when a rocket launcher malfunctioned. Dr Wingham will now need to wait until 2009 before CryoSat-2, CryoSat’s even more precise successor, can launch and begin relaying the data that should conclusively determine whether Antarctica’s ice sheets are thinning or not. Apart from satellite technology, no known way exists to reliably determine changes in mass over a vast and essentially unexplorable continent covered in ice several kilometres thick.


But CryoSat was not the only satellite available to polar scientists. Dr. Wingham has been collecting satellite data for years, and arriving at startling conclusions. Early last year at a European Union Space Conference in Brussels, for example, Dr. Wingham revealed that data from a European Space Agency satellite showed Antarctic thinning was no more common than thickening, and concluded that the spectacular collapse of the ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula was much more likely to have followed natural current fluctuations than global warming.


“The Antarctic Peninsula is exceptional because it juts out so far north,” Dr. Wingham told the press at the time. As well, scientists have been drawn to the peninsula because it is relatively accessible and its climate is moderate, allowing it to be more easily studied than the harsh interior of the continent. Because many scientists have been preoccupied with what was, in effect, the tip of the iceberg, they missed the mass of evidence that lay beneath the surface.


“One cannot be certain, because packets of heat in the atmosphere do not come conveniently labelled ‘the contribution of anthropogenic warming,’ “ Dr. Wingham elaborated, but the evidence is not “favourable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming”.


Last summer, Dr. Wingham and three colleagues published an article in the journal of the Royal Society that casts further doubt on the notion that global warming is adversely affecting Antarctica. By studying satellite data from 1992 to 2003 that surveyed 85% of the East Antarctic ice sheet and 51% of the West Antarctic ice sheet (72% of the ice sheet covering the entire land mass), they discovered that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing at the rate of 5 millimetres per year (plus or minus 1 mm per year). That makes Antarctica a sink, not a source, of ocean water. According to their best estimates, Antarctica will “lower [authors’ italics] global sea levels by 0.08 mm” per year.


If these findings are validated in future by CryoSat-2 and other developments that are able to assess the 28% of Antarctica not yet surveyed, the low-lying areas of the world will have weathered the worst of the global warming predictions: The populations of these areas — in Bangladesh, in the Maldives, and elsewhere — will have found that, if anything, they can look forward to a future with more nutrient-rich seacoast, not less.




Duncan Wingham was educated at Leeds and Bath Universities where he gained a B.Sc. and PhD. in Physics. He was appointed to a chair in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 1996, and to head of the Department of Earth Sciences in October, 2005. Prof. Wingham is a member of the National Environmental Research Council’s Science and Technology Board and Earth Observation Experts Group. He is a director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling and principal scientist of the European Space Agency CryoSat Satellite Mission, the first ESA Earth Sciences satellite selected through open, scientific competition.




The original denier: into the cold: The Deniers — Part 5 (National Post, 061222)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


Most scientists who are labelled as “deniers” for their views on global warming don’t embrace this role. They cringe at the thought of disagreeing with colleagues who think that the science is settled, they do their best to avoid making waves, and they fear being marginalized as cranks who disagree with the scientific consensus. Dr. Richard Lindzen is an exception.


Dr. Lindzen is one of the original deniers — among the first to criticize the scientific bureaucracy, and scientists themselves, for claims about global warming that he views as unfounded and alarmist. While he does not welcome the role he’s acquired, he also does not shrink from it. Dr. Lindzen takes his protests about the abuse of science to the public, to the press, and to government.


His detractors can’t dismiss him as a crank from the fringe, however, much as they might wish. Dr. Lindzen is a critic from within, one of the most distinguished climate scientists in the world: a past professor at the University of Chicago and Harvard, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a lead author in a landmark report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the very organization that established global warming as an issue of paramount importance.


Dr. Lindzen is proud of his contribution, and that of his colleagues, to the IPCC chapter they worked on. His pride in this work matches his dismay at seeing it misrepresented. “[Almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by representatives from governments, NGOs and business; the full reports, written by participating scientists, are largely ignored,” he told the United States Senate committee on environment and public works in 2001. These unscientific summaries, often written to further political or business agendas, then become the basis of public understanding.


As an example, Dr. Lindzen provided the committee with the summary that was created for Chapter 7, which he worked on. “Understanding of climate processes and their incorporation in climate models have improved, including water vapour, sea-ice dynamics, and ocean heat transport,” the summary stated, creating the impression that the climate models were reliable. The actual report by the scientists indicated just the opposite. Dr. Lindzen testified that the scientists had “found numerous problems with model treatments — including those of clouds and water vapor.”


When the IPCC was stung by criticism that the summaries were being written with little or no input by the scientists themselves, the IPCC had a subset of the scientists review a subsequent draft summary — an improvement in the process. Except that the final version, when later released at a Shanghai press conference, had surprising changes to the draft that scientists had seen.


The version that emerged from Shanghai concludes, “In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” Yet the draft was rife with qualifiers making it clear the science was very much in doubt because “the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing.”


The summaries’ distortion of the IPCC chapters compounds another distortion that occurred in the very writing of the scientific chapters themselves. Dr. Lindzen’s description of the conditions under which the climate scientists worked conjures up a scene worthy of a totalitarian state: “throughout the drafting sessions, IPCC ‘coordinators’ would go around insisting that criticism of models be toned down, and that ‘motherhood’ statements be inserted to the effect that models might still be correct despite the cited faults. Refusals were occasionally met with ad hominem attacks. I personally witnessed coauthors forced to assert their ‘green’ credentials in defense of their statements.”


To better understand the issue of climate change, including the controversies over the IPCC summary documents, the White House asked the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s premier scientific organization, to assemble a panel on climate change. The 11 members of the panel, which included Richard Lindzen, concluded that the science is far from settled: “Because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward).”


The press’s spin on the NAS report? CNN, in language typical of other reportage, stated that it represented “a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room.”


Despite such obtuseness Lindzen fights on, defending the science at what is undoubtedly a very considerable personal cost. Those who toe the party line are publicly praised and have grants ladled out to them from a funding pot that overflows with US$1.7-billion per year in the U.S. alone. As Lindzen wrote earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal, “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.”


Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation. Email: Lawrence




Richard Lindzen received his PhD in applied mathematics in 1964 from Harvard University. A professor of meteorology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. He is also a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS’s Meisinger, and Charney Awards, and AGU’s Macelwane Medal. He is author or coauthor of over 200 scholarly papers and books.




The sun moves climate change: The Deniers — Part 6 (National Post, 070105)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


Man produces greenhouse gases and greenhouse gases cause global warming, most scientists agree, but how, exactly, do greenhouse gases cause global warming? While theories abound, as do elaborate computer models incorporating a multitude of gases and other climatic factors, none has been conclusive. And if greenhouse gases aren’t responsible, what else could be? A clear, verifiable mechanism showing how a greenhouse gas or other physical entity can drive climate change has eluded science. Until now.


For more than a decade, Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center has been pursuing an explanation for why Earth cools and warms. His findings — published in October in the Proceedings of the Royal Society — the mathematical, physical sciences and engineering journal of the Royal Society of London — are now in, and they don’t point to us. The sun and the stars could explain most if not all of the warming this century, and he has laboratory results to demonstrate it. Dr. Svensmark’s study had its origins in 1996, when he and a colleague presented findings at a scientific conference indicating that changes in the sun’s magnetic field — quite apart from greenhouse gases — could be related to the recent rise in global temperatures. The chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, the chief agency investigating global warming, then castigated them in the press, saying, “I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible.” Others accused them of denouncing the greenhouse theory, something they had not done.


Svensmark and his colleague had arrived at their theory after examining data that showed a surprisingly strong correlation between cosmic rays —highspeed atomic particles originating in exploded stars in the Milky Way — and low-altitude clouds. Earth’s cloud cover increased when the intensity of cosmic rays grew and decreased when the intensity declined.


Low-altitude clouds are significant because they especially shield the Earth from the sun to keep us cool. Low cloud cover can vary by 2% in five years, affecting the Earth’s surface by as much as 1.2 watts per square metre during that same period. “That figure can be compared with about 1.4 watts per square metre estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all the increase in carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution,” Dr. Svensmark explained.


The Danish scientists put together several well-established scientific phenomena to arrive at their novel 1996 theory. The sun’s magnetic field deflects some of the cosmic rays that penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere, and in so doing it also limits the immense amounts of ions and free electrons that the cosmic rays produce. But something had changed in the 20th century: The sun’s magnetic field more than doubled in strength, deflecting an extraordinary number of rays. Could the diminution of cosmic rays this century have limited the formation of clouds, making the Earth warmer?


That was a plausible theory. But exactly how cosmic rays might create clouds was a mystery — an unprovable theory, many said. Some even claimed that it was inconceivable for cosmic rays to influence cloud cover.


To discover a mechanism, a team at the Danish National Space Center assembled by Dr. Svensmark undertook an elaborate laboratory experiment in a reaction chamber the size of a small room. The team duplicated the chemistry of the lower atmosphere by injecting the gases found there in the same proportions, and adding ultraviolet rays to mimic the actions of the sun.


What they found left them agape: A vast number of floating microscopic droplets soon filled the reaction chamber. These were ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules — the building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei— that had been catalyzed by the electrons released by cosmic rays.


We were amazed by the speed and efficiency with which the electrons do their work,” Dr. Svensmark remarked. For the first time ever, researchers had experimentally identified a causal mechanism by which cosmic rays can facilitate the production of clouds in Earth’s atmosphere. “This is a completely new result within climate science.”


Dr. Svensmark has never disputed the existence of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect. To the contrary, he believes that an understanding of the sun’s role is needed to learn the full story, and thus determine man’s role. Not only does no climate model today consider the effect of cosmic particles, but even clouds are too poorly understood to be incorporated into any serious climate model.


Because of the work of Dr. Svensmark, other agencies are now building on the Danish findings. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, has just started a multi-phase project that begins with a rerun of the Danish experiment, only CERN will use an accelerator rather than relying on natural cosmic rays. This multinational project will provide scientists with a permanent facility for studying effects of cosmic rays and charged particles in the Earth’s atmosphere.


The clouds may be lifting on scientific inquiry into climate change.


Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation. Email: Lawrence




Henrik Svensmark is director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute (DSRI). Previously, Dr. Svensmark was head of the sunclimate group at DSRI. He has held post doctoral positions in physics at University California Berkeley, Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, and the Niels Bohr Institute. In 1997, Dr Svensmark received the Knud Hojgaard Anniversary Research Prize and in 2001 the Energy-E2 Research Prize.




Will the sun cool us? The Deniers — Part 7 (National Post, 070112)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


The science is settled” on climate change, say most scientists in the field. They believe that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are heating the globe to dangerous levels and that, in the coming decades, steadily increasing temperatures will melt the polar ice caps and flood the world’s low-lying coastal areas.


Don’t tell that to Nigel Weiss, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a scientist as honoured as they come. The science is anything but settled, he observes, except for one virtual certainty: The world is about to enter a cooling period.

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Dr. Weiss believes that man-made greenhouse gases have recently had a role in warming the earth, although the extent of that role, he says, cannot yet be known. What is known, however, is that throughout earth’s history climate change has been driven by factors other than man: “Variable behaviour of the sun is an obvious explanation,” says Dr. Weiss, “and there is increasing evidence that Earth’s climate responds to changing patterns of solar magnetic activity.”


The sun’s most obvious magnetic features are sunspots, formed as magnetic fields rip through the sun’s surface. A magnetically active sun boosts the number of sunspots, indicating that vast amounts of energy are being released from deep within.


Typically, sunspots flare up and settle down in cycles of about 11 years. In the last 50 years, we haven’t been living in typical times: “If you look back into the sun’s past, you find that we live in a period of abnormally high solar activity,” Dr. Weiss states.


These hyperactive periods do not last long, “perhaps 50 to 100 years, then you get a crash,” says Dr. Weiss. ‘It’s a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon.”


In addition to the 11-year cycle, sunspots almost entirely “crash,” or die out, every 200 years or so as solar activity diminishes. When the crash occurs, the Earth can cool dramatically. Dr. Weiss knows because these phenomenon, known as “Grand minima,” have recurred over the past 10,000 years, if not longer.


“The deeper the crash, the longer it will last,” Dr. Weiss explains. In the 17th century, sunspots almost completely disappeared for 70 years. That was the coldest interval of the Little Ice Age, when New York Harbour froze, allowing walkers to journey from Manhattan to Staten Island, and when Viking colonies abandoned Greenland, a once verdant land that became tundra. Also in the Little Ice Age, Finland lost one-third of its population, Iceland half.


The previous cooling period lasted 150 years while a minor crash at the beginning of the 19th century was accompanied by a cooling period that lasted only 30 years.


In contrast, when the sun is very active, such as the period we’re now in, the Earth can warm dramatically. This was the case during the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings first colonized Greenland and when Britain was wine-growing country.


No one knows precisely when a crash will occur but some expect it soon, because the sun’s polar field is now at its weakest since measurements began in the early 1950s. Some predict the crash within five years, and many speculate about its effect on global warming. A mild crash could be beneficial, in giving us Earthlings the decades needed to reverse our greenhouse gas producing ways. Others speculate that the recent global warming may be a blessing in disguise, big-time, by moderating the negative consequences of what might otherwise be a deep chill following a deep crash. During the Little Ice Age, scientists estimate, global temperatures on average may have dropped by less than 1 degree Celsius, showing the potential consequences of even an apparently small decline.


Dr. Weiss prefers not to speculate. He sees the coming crash as an opportunity to obtain the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions on climate change, and the extent to which man-made emissions have been a factor.


“Having a crash would certainly allow us to pin down the sun’s true level of influence on the Earth’s climate,” concludes Dr. Weiss. Then we will be able to act on fact, rather than from fear.


Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Nigel Weiss, professor emeritus of mathematical astrophysics in the University of Cambridge, discovered the process of “flux expulsion” by which a conducting fluid undergoing rotating motion acts to expel the magnetic flux from the region of motion, a process now known to occur in the photosphere of the sun and other stars. He is also distinguished for his work on the theory of convection, and for precise numerical experiments on the behaviour of complicated non-linear differential equations. Nigel Weiss is a recipient of a Royal Society Citation, he is a past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a past Chairman of Cambridge’s School of Physical Sciences. He was educated at Clare College, University of Cambridge.




The limits of predictability: The Deniers — Part 8 (National Post, 070119)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


When Frans Nieuwstadt, a distinguished Dutch meteorologist, engineer, editor and professor, died in 2005, his obituary recounted seminal events in his accomplished life. Among the experiences worthy of mention: Nieuwstadt had studied under the celebrated professor, Henk Tennekes, and along with other colleagues had been instrumental in convincing Tennekes to return to Europe in 1978 to become director of research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and later chairman of the august Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.


Henk Tennekes, in ways both personal and professional, has touched an extraordinary number of lives in his own distinguished career, among academics and laymen alike. He is loved for his popular 1997 book, The Simple Science of Flight From Insects to Jumbo Jets, and for his scholarly 1972 work, A First Course in Turbulence, a classic that logs more than 2,000 citations on Google Scholar. His provocative 1986 speech, “No Forecast Is Complete Without A Forecast of Forecast Skill,” led to the now-common discipline of “ensemble forecasting” and spurred “multi-model forecasting.” Scientists today continue to wrestle with the fundamental critiques that he first presented.


Tennekes became more than an inspiration for his students and a model for other scientists, however. He also became an object lesson in the limits of scientific inquiry. Because his critiques of climate science ran afoul of the orthodoxy required by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, he was forced to leave. Lesser scientists, seeing that even a man of Tennekes’s reputation was not free to voice dissent, learned their lesson. Ever since, most scientists who harbour doubts about climate science bite their tongues and keep their heads down.


Tennekes, more than any other individual, challenged the models that climate scientists were constructing, saying models could never replicate the complexity of the real world. What was needed was a different approach to science, one that recognized inherent limits in such scientific tools and aimed less to regulate the environment.


In a landmark speech to the American Meteorological Society in 1986, he argued that meteorology was poised to be the first of the post- Newtonian sciences because it was “at odds with the mainstream of the scientific enterprise of the last 300 years. One goal of science is to control nature, but we know we cannot control the weather. The goal of science is prediction, but we stand in front of the limits of predictability.”


Meteorology, in other words, would be the first scientific discipline to hit this brick wall. As Tennekes argued, modern theory “unequivocally predicts that no amount of improvement in the quality of the observation network or in the power of computers will improve the average useful forecast range by more than a few days.”


Since Tennekes’ speech, a host of scientists have sought to extend the bounds of modelling. They have seen success, but only on the scale Tennekes predicted.


In a paper presented in 2003, a team of European scientists detailed advances in modelling science. “Since the day, almost 20 years ago, in which Henk Tennekes stated … that ‘no forecast is complete without a forecast of the forecast skill,’ the demand for numerical forecasting tools ... has been ever increasing,” they said, explaining efforts to make modelling reliable beyond a three- to four-day period. Thanks to the intense efforts of a new generation of climate modellers, modelling capability has advanced in some instances by 12 to 36 hours, in others by several days. To extend the bounds further, the paper announced a major new research initiative, designed to bring the forecasting discipline to the 120-hour range.


Climate modelling is the basis of forecasts of climate change. Yet this modelling, Tennekes believes, has little utility, and “there is no chance at all that the physical sciences can produce a universally accepted scientific basis for policy measures concerning climate change.” Moreover, he states: “There exists no sound theoretical framework for climate predictability studies.”


Not surprisingly, Tennekes abhors the dogma that he feels characterizes the climate-change establishment, and the untoward role of climate science in public-policy making. “We only understand 10% of the climate issue. That is not enough to wreck the world economy with Kyoto-like measures.”




Look to Mars for the truth on global warming: The Deniers — Part 9 (National Post, 070126)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


Climate change is a much, much bigger issue than the public, politicians, and even the most alarmed environmentalists realize. Global warming extends to Mars, where the polar ice cap is shrinking, where deep gullies in the landscape are now laid bare, and where the climate is the warmest it has been in decades or centuries.


“One explanation could be that Mars is just coming out of an ice age,” NASA scientist William Feldman speculated after the agency’s Mars Odyssey completed its first Martian year of data collection. “In some low-latitude areas, the ice has already dissipated.” With each passing year more and more evidence arises of the dramatic changes occurring on the only planet on the solar system, apart from Earth, to give up its climate secrets.


NASA’s findings in space come as no surprise to Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov at Saint Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory. Pulkovo — at the pinnacle of Russia’s space-oriented scientific establishment — is one of the world’s best equipped observatories and has been since its founding in 1839. Heading Pulkovo’s space research laboratory is Dr. Abdussamatov, one of the world’s chief critics of the theory that man-made carbon dioxide emissions create a greenhouse effect, leading to global warming.


“Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,” he told me. “These parallel global warmings — observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth — can only be a straightline consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance.”


The sun’s increased irradiance over the last century, not C02 emissions, is responsible for the global warming we’re seeing, says the celebrated scientist, and this solar irradiance also explains the great volume of C02 emissions.


“It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth’s oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the common view that man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations.”


Dr. Abdussamatov goes further, debunking the very notion of a greenhouse effect. “Ascribing ‘greenhouse’ effect properties to the Earth’s atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated,” he maintains. “Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away.”


The real news from Saint Petersburg — demonstrated by cooling that is occurring on the upper layers of the world’s oceans — is that Earth has hit its temperature ceiling. Solar irradiance has begun to fall, ushering in a protracted cooling period beginning in 2012 to 2015. The depth of the decline in solar irradiance reaching Earth will occur around 2040, and “will inevitably lead to a deep freeze around 2055-60” lasting some 50 years, after which temperatures will go up again.


Because of the scientific significance of this period of global cooling that we’re about to enter, the Russian and Ukrainian space agencies, under Dr. Abdussamatov’s leadership, have launched a joint project to determine the time and extent of the global cooling at mid-century. The project, dubbed Astrometry and given priority space-experiment status on the Russian portion of the International Space Station, will marshal the resources of spacecraft manufacturer Energia, several Russian research and production centers, and the main observatory of Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences. By late next year, scientific equipment will have been installed in a space-station module and by early 2009, Dr. Abdussamatov’s space team will be conducting a regular survey of the sun.


With the data, the project will help mankind cope with a century of falling temperatures, during which we will enter a mini ice age.


“There is no need for the Kyoto Protocol now. It does not have to come into force until at least 100 years from no w,” Dr. Abdussamatov concluded. “A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse- gas emissions.”


- Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Habibullo Abdussamatov, born in Samarkand in Uzbekistan in 1940, graduated from Samarkand University in 1962 as a physicist and a mathematician. He earned his doctorate at Pulkovo Observatory and the University of Leningrad.


He is the head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academies of Sciences’ Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station’s Astrometry project, a long-term joint scientific research project of the Russian and Ukranian space agencies.




Limited role for C02: The Deniers — Part 10 (National Post, 070202)


Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post


Astrophysicist Nir Shariv, one of Israel’s top young scientists, describes the logic that led him — and most everyone else — to conclude that SUVs, coal plants and other things man-made cause global warming.


Step One Scientists for decades have postulated that increases in carbon dioxide and other gases could lead to a greenhouse effect.


Step Two As if on cue, the temperature rose over the course of the 20th century while greenhouse gases proliferated due to human activities.


Step Three No other mechanism explains the warming. Without another candidate, greenhouses gases necessarily became the cause.


Dr. Shariv, a prolific researcher who has made a name for himself assessing the movements of two-billion-year-old meteorites, no longer accepts this logic, or subscribes to these views. He has recanted: “Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media.


“In fact, there is much more than meets the eye.”


Dr. Shariv’s digging led him to the surprising discovery that there is no concrete evidence — only speculation — that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming. Even research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change— the United Nations agency that heads the worldwide effort to combat global warming — is bereft of anything here inspiring confidence. In fact, according to the IPCC’s own findings, man’s role is so uncertain that there is a strong possibility that we have been cooling, not warming, the Earth. Unfortunately, our tools are too crude to reveal what man’s effect has been in the past, let alone predict how much warming or cooling we might cause in the future.


All we have on which to pin the blame on greenhouse gases, says Dr. Shaviv, is “incriminating circumstantial evidence,” which explains why climate scientists speak in terms of finding “evidence of fingerprints.” Circumstantial evidence might be a fine basis on which to justify reducing greenhouse gases, he adds, “without other ‘suspects.’ “ However, Dr. Shaviv not only believes there are credible “other suspects,” he believes that at least one provides a superior explanation for the 20th century’s warming.


“Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming,” he states, particularly because of the evidence that has been accumulating over the past decade of the strong relationship that cosmic- ray flux has on our atmosphere. So much evidence has by now been amassed, in fact, that “it is unlikely that [the solar climate link] does not exist.”


The sun’s strong role indicates that greenhouse gases can’t have much of an influence on the climate — that C02 et al. don’t dominate through some kind of leveraging effect that makes them especially potent drivers of climate change. The upshot of the Earth not being unduly sensitive to greenhouse gases is that neither increases nor cutbacks in future C02 emissions will matter much in terms of the climate.


Even doubling the amount of CO2 by 2100, for example, “will not dramatically increase the global temperature,” Dr. Shaviv states. Put another way: “Even if we halved the CO2 output, and the CO2 increase by 2100 would be, say, a 50% increase relative to today instead of a doubled amount, the expected reduction in the rise of global temperature would be less than 0.5C. This is not significant.”


The evidence from astrophysicists and cosmologists in laboratories around the world, on the other hand, could well be significant. In his study of meteorites, published in the prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters, Dr. Shaviv found that the meteorites that Earth collected during its passage through the arms of the Milky Way sustained up to 10% more cosmic ray damage than others. That kind of cosmic ray variation, Dr. Shaviv believes, could alter global temperatures by as much as 15% —sufficient to turn the ice ages on or off and evidence of the extent to which cosmic forces influence Earth’s climate.


In another study, directly relevant to today’s climate controversy, Dr. Shaviv reconstructed the temperature on Earth over the past 550 million years to find that cosmic ray flux variations explain more than two-thirds of Earth’s temperature variance, making it the most dominant climate driver over geological time scales. The study also found that an upper limit can be placed on the relative role of CO2 as a climate driver, meaning that a large fraction of the global warming witnessed over the past century could not be due to CO2 — instead it is attributable to the increased solar activity.


CO2 does play a role in climate, Dr. Shaviv believes, but a secondary role, one too small to preoccupy policymakers. Yet Dr. Shaviv also believes fossil fuels should be controlled, not because of their adverse affects on climate but to curb pollution.


“I am therefore in favour of developing cheap alternatives such as solar power, wind, and of course fusion reactors (converting Deuterium into Helium), which we should have in a few decades, but this is an altogether different issue.” His conclusion: “I am quite sure Kyoto is not the right way to go.”




Series in Global Warming — Deniers Part 11: End the chill (National Post, 070209)


Lawrence Solomon


Who are the global warming deniers, those scientists who downplay the human cause of climate change, who claim that manmade climate change, if it’s occurring at all, may have modest costs or even bring benefits, who claim that the science is not settled on climate change? To discover whether these deniers are crackpots from the fringes of academia, as their detractors so often claim, I decided to investigate scientists at odds with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, the official body organizing the great bulk of the climate research that dominates the public airwaves.


After writing 10 columns on the subject, one for each “denier” and his theories, one fact is undeniable: The science is not settled. Not on man’s role in causing the warming we’ve seen this century. Not on the consequences of this warming. Certainly not on the extent of warming — or cooling— to come.


The deniers I have written about are not just credible; they have reached the pinnacle of the scientific establishment, with credentials to rival those of any of scientists representing the IPCC position. Here’s Russia’s Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the space research laboratory of the country’s renowned Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, a member of Russia’s Academy of Science. Or Henk Tennekes, former director of research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Or Henrik Svensmark, director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute. Or Edward Wegman, chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics.


Or, for a more direct comparison of scientists in the denier and the “science is settled” camps, consider Richard S. J. Tol, director of the Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Science at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, or Christopher Landsea of the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory, or Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. These three — among the most cited scientists in the world in the field of climate change— were universally acclaimed IPCC scientists until they disagreed with the positions espoused by the IPCC leadership. These deniers may no longer have an unqualified IPCC stamp of approval, but their academic credentials, record of scientific discoveries, and scientific prizes remain for all to see.


Most of the deniers I have written about have suffered for their scientific findings — some have been forced from their positions, others lost funding grants or been publicly criticized. In writing about these 10, I have inadvertently added to their anguish. None among the 10 welcome the term “denier” — a hateful word that I used ironically, but perhaps illadvisedly. Tol denies being a denier, as does Nigel Weiss, astrophysicist at Cambridge University, who called my portrayal of him a “slanderous fabrication.” The word “denier,” of course, is employed to tar scientists who dissent from IPCC convention. In other disciplines, dissent is part of what’s called “the scientific method” and lauded.


Most of the 10 especially object to being called “deniers” because they do not at all deny the existence of global warming, only what they see as erroneous and even outlandish claims from climate change alarmists. “Me? A ‘dyed-in-the-wool disbeliever in [human caused] climate change’?,” protested Tol. “I published one of the first papers [in 1993] that showed that warming was likely caused by greenhouse-gas emissions.” Tol believes that the IPCC bureaucracy is forcing out many of the best who once were part of the IPCC process, and he is also scathingly critical of work he considers bereft of integrity, such as the U.K. government’s highly publicized Stern review, which last year painted alarmingly dire scenarios. “The Stern review does not contribute to this cause. It is so badly researched and argued, and so full of hyperbole, that it is bound to backfire,” Tol argued. Although he continues his involvement with the IPCC, those who don’t find him pure enough call him a denier still.


Although most of the 10 deniers see little or no evidence from their own work that humans harm the climate, most nevertheless blame humans for global warming, on the basis of research conducted by others. In effect, most of these scientists are saying: “Don’t call me a denier —I’m sure the research by others is sound. It’s just that, in my own area of research, I have found nothing of concern.”


So what science might these 10 endorse, based strictly on their own research, rather than the research that they accept from the IPCC consensus?


First, the rising of the oceans due to the melting of the polar caps — the single biggest fear from global warming — isn’t continuing. The only large potential source of ocean water is Antarctica and the only way to determine if Antarctica is thinning is through the use of satellites. Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London and Principal Scientist of the European Space Agency, has unrefuted data that Antarctica, on the whole, is actually thickening, and will “lower global sea levels by 0.08 mm” per year.


The oceans are thus not about to swallow up the low-lying islands and deltas of the southern hemisphere, as so many fear. Unlike the several-kilometre-thick ice in the Antarctic, the Arctic has ice only a few metres thick. Even if the alarming predictions for ice loss there are correct —and Wingham doubts it — an Arctic ice melt cannot trump a thickening Antarctic.


If the low-lying countries of the southern hemisphere don’t experience economic losses from the ocean’s rise, the logic of economic ruin changes. The northern hemisphere, Tol has found, would generally gain economically from a warming, while the south would lose. But without losses in the south, global warming might well bring net economic gains in both hemispheres.


Hurricanes? Not an issue, says Christopher Landsea.


Data showing that recent temperature increases are “likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years” and that the “1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year” of the millennium? A misunderstanding of statistics by IPCC scientists, says Edward Wegman.


Human activity is driving climate change? Not much, says astrophysicist Nir Shaviv of Israel’s Racah Institute of Physics, who found that the sun dominates climate change. Maybe not at all, says Svensmark, who has discovered the mechanism through which cosmic rays form clouds on Earth. Irrelevant, believes Abdussamatov, who states global temperatures have peaked, and predicts a century of global cooling.


These 10 scientists are extraordinarily distinguished, accomplished, and deserving of our respect. But they do not have a monopoly on the truth, just as the IPCC does not. Much more research in many more fields needs to be done before we can assess the role of man with any confidence. Until then, it would behoove us all to drop the term denier from the scientific lexicon. Answers will come more quickly in a climate not chilling to scientific investigation.




Series in Global Warming — Deniers Part 12: Clouded research (National Post, 070223)


Jasper Kirkby is a superb scientist, but he has been a lousy politician. In 1998, anticipating he’d be leading a path-breaking experiment into the sun’s role in global warming, he made the mistake of stating that the sun and cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century.” Global warming, he theorized, may be part of a natural cycle in the Earth’s temperature.


Dr. Kirkby was immediately condemned by climate scientists for minimizing the role of human beings in global warming. Stories in the media disparaged Dr. Kirkby by citing scientists who feared oil-industry lobbyists would use his statements to discredit the greenhouse effect. And the funding approval for Dr. Kirkby’s path-breaking experiment — seemingly a sure thing when he first announced his proposal— was put on ice.


Dr. Kirkby was stunned, and not just because the experiment he was about to run had support within his scientific institute, and was widely expected to have profound significance. Dr. Kirkby was also stunned because his institute is CERN, and science performed at CERN had never before seemed so vulnerable to whims of government funders.


CERN is no fringe laboratory pursuing crackpot theories at some remote backwater. CERN, based in Geneva, is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, a 50-yearold institution, originally founded by 12 countries and now counting 20 country-members. It services 6,500 particle physicists — half of the world’s total — in 500 institutes and universities around the world. It is building the $2.4-billion Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. And it is home to Jasper Kirkby’s long-languished CLOUD project, among the most significant scientific experiments to be proposed in our time. Finally, almost a decade after Dr. Kirkby’s proposal first saw the light of day, the funding is in place and the work has begun in earnest.


The CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) laboratory experiment, CERN believes, will show the mechanisms through which the sun and cosmic rays can influence the formation of clouds and thus the climate. The CLOUD project will use a high-energy particle beam from an accelerator to closely duplicate cosmic rays found in the atmosphere. This will be the first time this technology will be brought to bear on global warming, the most controversial scientific question of the day.


Also for the first time, very basic answers about the drivers of climate change may surface to dispel the general paucity of data on the subject. “By studying the micro-physical processes at work when cosmic rays hit the


atmosphere, we can begin to understand more fully the connection between cosmic rays and cloud cover,” CERN explains. “Clouds exert a strong influence on the Earth’s energy balance, and changes of only a few per cent have an important effect on the climate.”


To accomplish all this, Dr. Kirkby has assembled a dream team of atmospheric physicists, solar physicists, and cosmic ray and particle physicists from 18 institutes around the world, including the California Institute of Technology and Germany’s Max-Planck Institutes, with preliminary data expected to arrive this coming summer. The world of particle physics is awaiting these results with much anticipation because they promise to unlock mysteries that can tell us much about climate change, as well as other phenomena. The world of climate science, in contrast, is all but ignoring the breakthroughs in climate knowledge that CERN is about to reveal.


In May, just months before the first CERN results are in, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the agency organizing most of the world’s climate-change studies, will be releasing its much-anticipated report on the state of climate science. Oddly, the IPCC report — now circulating in draft form — has in effect decided not to wait for CERN’s findings.


The IPCC draft report ranks the sun as an all-but-irrelevant factor in climate change. More oddly, it has come to this conclusion although it states that there is no consensus among solar scientists, meaning the IPCC admits it has no hard evidence to go on. Even more oddly, given the excitement and the anticipation that the CLOUD experiment is generating among the 6,500 particle physicists in CERN’s community, the IPCC has decided to diminish the sun’s estimated contribution to climate change by more than half, from its previously small contribution to one that is yet smaller.


Meanwhile, scientists who tout the manmade theory of global warming to the exclusion of others continue to disparage the CLOUD experiment. “This link is not properly established for the moment,” said Dr. Urs Neu of the Swiss Forum for Climate and Global Change, a prominent critic. “The cosmic ray theory has been used by people who want to deny human influence on global warming.”


Dr. Kirkby, in contrast, now 10 years older and wiser, has changed. In the past, he would unguardedly say: “There is certainly a greenhouse effect. The question is whether it is responsible for all the 0.6C warming in the past century, or two-thirds or a fifth — or what?” Now, to head off attacks, and controversies that might once again derail the CLOUD product, he hides his hopes and downplays the significance of what CLOUD may find: “If there really is an effect, then it would simply be part of the climate-change cocktail,” a perhaps less naive, more politic Dr. Kirkby now states.




Allegre’s second thoughts, Part 13 (National Post, 070302)


Claude Allegre, one of France’s leading socialists and among her most celebrated scientists, was among the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of global warming.


“By burning fossil fuels, man increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which, for example, has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century,” Dr. Allegre, a renowned geochemist, wrote 20 years ago in Cles pour la geologie..” Fifteen years ago, Dr. Allegre was among the 1500 prominent scientists who signed “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” a highly publicized letter stressing that global warming’s “potential risks are very great” and demanding a new caring ethic that recognizes the globe’s fragility in order to stave off “spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic and environmental collapse.”


In the 1980s and early 1990s, when concern about global warming was in its infancy, little was known about the mechanics of how it could occur, or the consequences that could befall us. Since then, governments throughout the western world and bodies such as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have commissioned billions of dollars worth of research by thousands of scientists. With a wealth of data now in, Dr. Allegre has recanted his views. To his surprise, the many climate models and studies failed dismally in establishing a man-made cause of catastrophic global warming. Meanwhile, increasing evidence indicates that most of the warming comes of natural phenomena. Dr. Allegre now sees global warming as over-hyped and an environmental concern of second rank.


His break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in l’Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro’s retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. “The cause of this climate change is unknown,” he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the “science is settled.”


Dr. Allegre’s skepticism is noteworthy in several respects. For one, he is an exalted member of France’s political establishment, a friend of former Socialist president Lionel Jospin, and, from 1997 to 2000, his minister of education, research and technology, charged with improving the quality of government research through closer co-operation with France’s educational institutions. For another, Dr. Allegre has the highest environmental credentials. The author of early environmental books, he fought successful battles to protect the ozone layer from CFCs and public health from lead pollution. His break with scientific dogma over global warming came at a personal cost: Colleagues in both the governmental and environmental spheres were aghast that he could publicly question the science behind climate change.


But Dr. Allegre had allegiances to more than his socialist and environmental colleagues. He is, above all, a scientist of the first order, the architect of isotope geodynamics, which showed that the atmosphere was primarily formed early in the history of the Earth, and the geochemical modeller of the early solar system. Because of his path-breaking cosmochemical research, NASA asked Dr. Allegre to participate in the Apollo lunar program, where he helped determine the age of the Moon. Matching his scientific accomplishments in the cosmos are his accomplishments at home: Dr. Allegre is perhaps best known for his research on the structural and geochemical evolution of the Earth’s crust and the creation of its mountains, explaining both the title of his article in l’ Express and his revulsion at the nihilistic nature of the climate research debate.


Calling the arguments of those who see catastrophe in climate change “simplistic and obscuring the true dangers,” Dr. Allegre especially despairs at “the greenhouse-gas fanatics whose proclamations consist in denouncing man’s role on the climate without doing anything about it except organizing conferences and preparing protocols that become dead letters.” The world would be better off, Dr. Allegre believes, if these “denouncers” became less political and more practical, by proposing practical solutions to head off the dangers they see, such as developing technologies to sequester C02. His dream, he says, is to see “ecology become the engine of economic development and not an artificial obstacle that creates fear.”




Claude Allegre received a Ph D in physics in 1962 from the University of Paris. He became the director of the geochemistry and cosmochemistry program at the French National Scientific Research Centre in 1967 and in 1971, he was appointed director of the University of Paris’s Department of Earth Sciences. In 1976, he became director of the Paris Institut de Physique du Globe. He is an author of more than 100 scientific articles, many of them seminal studies on the evolution of the Earth using isotopic evidence, and 11 books. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Science.




The heat’s in the sun, Par 14 (National Post, 070309)


We live in extraordinarily hot times, says Sami Solanki of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. In 2004, he led a team of scientists that, for the first time, quantitatively reconstructed the sun’s activity since the last Ice Age, some 11,400 years ago. Earth hasn’t been this hot in 8,000 years and, he predicts, the hot spell will carry on for a few decades before the sun turns down the heat.


The 19th and 20th centuries are especially noteworthy. “The sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently — in the last 100 to 150 years,” he says. “The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.”


Dr. Solanki gives cold comfort to those who claim that global warming took off with the Industrial Revolution, and that the warming we’ve seen over the last century is mostly man-made. To demonstrate how unlikely this is, Dr. Solanki shows an almost perfect correlation between solar cycles and air temperatures over the land masses in the Northern hemisphere, going back to the mid 19th century.


For example, when the length of solar cycle increased dramatically, as it did in from 1910 to 1940, so did the temperature on Earth; when it decreased, as it did from the 1940s to the 1960s, so too did Earth temperatures. Dr. Solanki’s startling correlation marked a pivotal point in the climate change debate: Its publication, more than any other single event, caused researchers around the world to examine the role that the sun plays in heating and cooling our planet.


Not that Dr. Solanki discredits the role of man-made greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. These have probably played a large role in Earth’s climate, he believes, but only since 1980 or so, when the sun’s almost perfect correlation with Earth temperatures ended. He also believes that evidence that greenhouse gases have played a larger role in climate change may some day turn up, because his near-perfect correlation does not constitute proof. To date, however, he hasn’t seen anything compelling that undermines his own findings.


The answer to most of the global warming we have seen over the past century, Dr. Solanki believes, will likely be somehow associated with the sun, and involve one or more of its parameters. It could be the sun’s total irradiance, he states, citing work by others that he respects, or it could be the solar spectral irradiance, in particular with regard to ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere. Or it could be the sun’s open magnetic flux, which modulates the galactic cosmic-ray flux. Or it could be other factors — many potential solar drivers of our climate exist.


Dr. Solanki is especially taken with the work of the Danish National Space Agency, which demonstrated the dramatic effect that cosmic rays can have on cloud formation, and thus temperatures — “the mechanism is just too beautiful to ignore,” he offers.


Among the factors that he believes hold great promise, and that cry out for investigation, are the sun’s irradiance and its magnetic field, which underlie all solar activity. “Unfortunately, regular and detailed measurements of the sun’s surface magnetic field are only available for a few decades, not long enough for comparison with climate,” he says on his Web site. “Records of the solar irradiance are available for an even shorter length of time” — accurate measurements began in 1978 using instrumentation aboard spacecraft. With knowledge of these fundamental determinants of Earth’s climate still in their infancy, we cannot act with confidence on climate change.


Dr. Solanki’s recommendation: more research, and lots of it. To uncover a possible connection between solar irradiance and magnetic-field variations and climate, he thinks it necessary to extend the irradiance record to earlier times with the help of models. To understand the mechanisms responsible for variations in solar brightness, it is necessary to study solar variability on time scales of days to centuries.


Until the research is in, he believes, the story of what drives climate change remains unknown.




Sami Solanki is director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. Previously, he was appointed professor of astronomy at the University of Oulu in Finland in 1998 and Minnaert Professor at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 1999. Among his research interests are solar physics, the physics of cool stars, radiative transfer and astronomical tests of theories of gravity. Dr. Solanki obtained his doctorate from the ETH in Zurich in 1987. His Web site is




Unsettled science, Part 15 (National Post, 070314)


Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been wronged. In The Great Global Warming Swindle, a no-holds-barred documentary that aired last week in the United Kingdom and will soon be coming to TV sets in North America, he was cast as a partisan in the climate-change debate. That he is not.


He was also cast as impugning the motives of scientists who employ complex computer models to predict the climate 50 or 100 years into the future. That he also did not do. Neither does he subscribe to the theory, championed in the documentary, that the sun and not carbon dioxide explains climate change


Director Martin Durkin’s documentary — the rival of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth for brash claims, selective presentations of the facts, and disdain for the opposing side’s views — is destined to raise a storm of controversy in the climate-change debate, with Dr. Wunsch destined to be uncomfortably at its centre.


Yet despite the untoward liberties taken by the documentary producers, there is little at dispute of substance. Here, in detail, is the documentary’s sole misrepresentation of fact involving Dr. Wunsch.


In a discussion about the nature of computer models that attempt to predict Earth’s climate, the narrator introduced his views by saying “there is a danger, according to Prof. Carl Wunsch, that modellers will be less concerned in producing a forecast that is accurate than one that is interesting.”


The narrator, some might well conclude, is hinting at ill-will on the part of the modellers, a conclusion buttressed by statements to this effect from other scientists in the documentary. Dr. Wunsch is understandably upset at being seen to criticize colleagues whom he didn’t intend to criticize, and to criticize climate modelling, which he views as a necessary scientific tool.


Yet from what Dr. Wunsch did say, it is easy to see why Mr. Durkin would think he took computer-model results with a grain of salt. “The models are so complicated you can often adjust them in such a way that they do something very exciting,” he said.


Dr. Wunsch may not have pointed to conscious wrongdoing on the part of scientists, but he certainly made it abundantly clear that scientists, being human, are susceptible to human frailties: “You see, it’s a problem. If I run a complicated model and I do something to it like melt a lot of ice into the ocean and nothing happens, it’s not likely to get printed. But if I run the same model and I adjust it in such a way that something dramatic happens to the ocean circulation, like the heat transport turns off, it will be published. People will say, ‘This is very exciting.’ It will even get picked up by the media. So there is a bias, there is a very powerful bias within the media and within the science community itself toward results which are dramatizable.”


This segment of the documentary, I believe from my interview with Dr. Wunsch, is the only explicit portrayal of him that could in any way be considered egregious. The rest of Dr. Wunsch’s complaints lie more with optics: He didn’t like to be seen in the company of scientists who are aggressive participants in the climate-change debate, as if he shared their views, and he didn’t like the in-your-face title of the documentary, with its use of the word “swindle” and the accusation that the public has been lied to by those issuing dire warnings of global change.


Yet even here, the difference between the director and the professor is more style than substance. There is precious little of a factual nature in the documentary that Dr. Wunsch would object to.


The big “lie” to which the documentary refers — the only lie that it explicitly claims — is that the science is settled on global warming. “Campaigners say the time for debate is over. Any criticism, no matter how scientifically rigorous, is illegitimate, even worse, dangerous,” the narrator states at the beginning of the documentary, in setting out his theme. “Everywhere you are told that manmade climate change is proved beyond doubt. But you are being told lies.” The film then establishes that the science is not settled “beyond doubt” by filming a series of commentators, among them prominent academics who had been participants in the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Whether these academics are right or not in their beliefs about the role of C02 and the perils of global warming, they prove Mr. Durkin’s point: The science is not settled.


Dr. Wunsch’s on-film persona does not make this point directly — he more does this indirectly, by explaining, for example, that the temperature of the oceans today can reflect events hundreds or thousands of years ago, rather than any recent climate change. But off-screen Dr. Wunsch — and this will surprise him — fits the alarmists’ stereotype of the global-warming denier. From Mr. Durkin’s perspective, he and Dr. Wunsch are fellow travellers in their view of the claims of alarmists. Dr. Wunsch, for example, does not accept that the science is settled, anything but. And when he speaks of limiting C02 production, he does so dispassionately and with balance, and with no pretense of having all the answers.


“Also muddled is what we should do about it. Should we be limiting C02 by 10%?” he asked me rhetorically. “It seems like a good idea, quite apart from the climate, because fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource.” But don’t push Dr. Wunsch into advocating some crash program to stop global warming, even though he believes some precautions are called for.


Likening the dilemma facing government to that of a homeowner who must decide how much insurance he needs to protect against threats such as faulty wiring, he says at some point the insurance becomes a bad investment. Better to accept the risk, or to rewire the house, than to overpay for insurance that may never be needed. And better to stop making any potential problem worse, such as by the government’s “crazy public policy to subsidize Florida developments” along the coastline through cut-rate insurance premiums, which only encourage people to live in low-lying, disaster-prone areas.


Most of all, Dr. Wunsch is repulsed by the nature of the debate. “The science isn’t mature to the point where anyone can say with any confidence that the Greenland ice sheet will melt,” he says. “Both extremes have reduced the debate to a cartoon war, like a Batman movie.” He does not spare the camp that Mr. Durkin attacks, decrying the “hysterical” claims of alarmists, such as their warnings that global warming might shut down the Gulf Stream or propel Britain into a new ice age — these “are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility as a scientific discipline if we proclaim their reality,” he says.


His overriding complaint, in the end, is that he didn’t bargain for a starring role in a Batman movie. If it’s any consolation to him, many of his co-stars are scientists of the highest calibre, and they share his disgust for the politicized debate that they are engaged in. They mainly differ from him in that they blame the UN’s panel on climate change for the disrepute that has come to science, where he blames the filmmaker who too aggressively amplifies their frustrations.




Carl Wunsch is Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After receiving his doctorate in geophysics from MIT in 1966, he joined the faculty at the institute, becoming head of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences from 1977 to 1981. His many honours include the Henry Stommel Research Prize and the Bowie Medal from the American Geophysical Union. He is also a foreign member of the Royal Society.




Bitten by the IPCC: Part 16 (National Post, 070323)


The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is very particular about the scientists it selects to investigate the health consequences of global warming. Those the likes of Paul Reiter needn’t apply.


Prof. Reiter heads the Insects and Infectious Disease Unit at the Pasteur Institute, famed for its founding by Louis Pasteur in 1887 and the eight Nobel Prizes that its later scientists received. Prior to joining the Pasteur Institute, Prof. Reiter directed the entomology section at the Dengue Branch of the Centers for Disease Control, the path-breaking U.S. government agency. Prof. Reiter is also known for his work as an officer of the Harvard School of Public Health, his membership on the World Health Organization’s Expert Advisory Committee on Vector Biology and Control, and, among administrative positions, his role as lead author of the Health Section of the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change.


Because of his history of excellence in researching diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other insects, the U.S. State Department in 2001, upon the recommendation of its own health authorities, nominated Prof. Reiter to be a lead author of the IPCC’s next health chapter. Global warming was increasing the habitats for mosquitoes, many feared, putting hundreds of millions of people in the tropics at risk of contracting malaria and dengue, and raising the spectre that these diseases would spread around the world. Prof. Reiter, in the view of U.S. health experts, was particularly well placed to address this research.


The IPCC selected two other candidates, more suitable in filling the role required of them. At the time of their selection, neither was distinguished by having published peer-reviewed articles dealing with mosquito-born disease. Both were distinguished by their conviction about the dangers to human health of climate change.


Prof. Reiter was not entirely surprised that the IPCC passed him over — he has been a critic of the science it has disseminated. And neither was he surprised at the IPCC’s failure to select scientists specializing in mosquito-borne diseases, despite the outsized role of malaria and dengue in previous IPCC reports. The IPCC faced an impossible task in finding such an expert.


“I know of no major scientist with any long record in this field who agrees with the pronouncements of the alarmists at the IPCC,” states Prof. Reiter, whose history in his research field spans three decades and five continents, and who is well familiar with the scope of work occurring in the mosquito-borne research community.


“On the contrary, all of us who work in the field are repeatedly stunned by the IPCC pronouncements. We protest, but are rarely quoted, and if so, usually as a codicil to the scary stuff.”


In one of the IPCC’s most egregious errors, in its Second Assessment Report chapter on human population health, it created the scare — repeated by scientists with a popular following such as David Suzuki — that global warming could lead to 80 million additional cases of malaria per year worldwide. The IPCC scientists’ “glaring ignorance” dumbfounded Prof. Reiter and his colleagues. For example, the IPCC claimed that malarial mosquitoes cannot ordinarily survive temperatures below 16C to 18C, not realizing that many tropical species do and that many temperate species survive temperatures of —25C. Likewise, IPCC scientists didn’t know at what altitudes mosquitoes can be found.


As Prof. Reiter testified to a U.K. parliamentary committee in 2005, “The paucity of information was hardly surprising: Not one of the lead authors had ever written a research paper on the subject! Moreover, two of the authors, both physicians, had spent their entire career as environmental activists. One of these activists has published “professional” articles as an “expert” on 32 different subjects, ranging from mercury poisoning to land mines, globalization to allergies and West Nile virus to AIDS.


“Among the contributing authors there was one professional entomologist, and a person who had written an obscure article on dengue and El Nino, but whose principal interest was the effectiveness of motorcycle crash helmets (plus one paper on the health effects of cellphones).”


How do such people become numbered among the IPCC’s famed “2,500 top scientists” from around the world? Prof. Reiter, wanting to know, wrote the IPCC with a series of detailed questions about its decision-making process. It replied: “The brief answer to your question below is ‘governments.’ It is the governments of the world who make up the IPCC, define its remit and direction. The way in which this is done is defined in the IPCC Principles and Procedures, which have been agreed by governments.” When Prof. Reiter checked out the “principles and procedures,” he found “no mention of research experience, bibliography, citation statistics or any other criteria that would define the quality of ‘the world’s top scientists.’”


First and foremost, Prof. Reiter believes, the IPCC is a creature of government that meets governmental needs and abides by governmental strictures, and does so without public scrutiny. In contrast, studies conducted under the more open auspices of the U.S. government’s Global Climate Change Research program, for example, are entirely in the public domain.


Even the peer-review process — ordinarily designed to ensure rigorous science — has mutated to meet IPCC needs. In professional science, the names of peer reviewers are kept confidential to encourage independent criticism, free of recrimination, while the deliberations of the authors being critiqued are made public.


“The IPCC turns this on its head,” Prof. Reiter explains. “The peer reviewers have to give their names to the authors, but the deliberations of the authors are strictly confidential.” In effect, the science is spun, disagreements purged, and results predetermined.


“The Intergovernmental Panel is precisely that — it is a panel among governments. Any scientist who participates in this process expecting the strictures of science to reign must beware, lest he be stung.”




Paul Reiter, Professor at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, is chief of its Insects and Infectious Disease Unit and a specialist in the natural history and biology of mosquitoes, the epidemiology of the diseases they transmit, and strategies for their control. He was chairman of the American Committee of Medical Entomology of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and of several committees of other professional societies. He has worked for the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and other agencies in investigations of outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, as well as of AIDS and Ebola haemorrhagic fever and onchocerciasis. He was also a contributory author of the IPCC Third Assessment Report. He has been chairman of the American Committee of Medical Entomology of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and of several committees of other professional societies. He received his PhD in Medical Entomology from the University of Sussex in 1978.




Little Ice Age is still with us, Part 17 (National Post, 070330)


The Earth slowly but surely warmed over the course of the 20th century, global temperatures increasing by about half a degree Celsius. The evidence for this global warming comes from ice core data from the Arctic island of Severnaya Zemlya, published just last year.


The Earth slowly but surely warmed over the course of the 19th century, too, global temperatures again increasing by about half a degree Celsius. The evidence for this global warming comes from the same ice core data.


The Earth slowly but surely warmed over the course of the 18th century, too, global temperatures increasing by about a half a degree Celsius. The evidence for the global warming that occurred during the 18th century comes from multiple sources, all well recognized.


The Earth slowly but surely warmed over the course of the latter part of the 17th century as well, global temperatures increasing at the rate of about a half a degree Celsius per century, according to one of those multiple sources, the only one that extends that far back.


Throughout these centuries, which followed the depths of the Little Ice Age, the rate of global warming has been fairly consistent. “There is clearly a linear increase of temperature from about 1800 based on last year’s ice-core data,” states geophysicist Syun-Ichi Akasofu of the University of Alaska. “Roughly the same linear change in temperatures extends back to the earliest recordings, going back to about 1660, even before the Industrial Revolution.”


Dr. Akasofu, the founder of the International Arctic Research Center and a giant in Arctic research since his discovery in 1964 of the origin of storms in the aurora borealis, postulates a startlingly straightforward explanation of the warming Earth has seen in the 20th century. The long slow climb out of the Little Ice Age, he states, is typically thought to have ended in 1900. Chances are good that it didn’t. “The Earth may still be recovering from the Little Ice Age,” he says, pointing to the consistent rate of warming over the centuries.


Although Dr. Akasofu thinks a continuation of the Little Ice Age can explain the 20th-century warming, he believes other explanations may also be valid. Any explanation, however, would point to a natural process, and not manmade CO2. The evidence for this lies in the Arctic, which magnifies temperature fluctuations seen at lower latitudes, highlighting temperature changes that might otherwise seem unremarkable. Arctic data, for example, shows a very large rise and then fall in temperature between 1910 and 1975, while the global average data shows this fluctuation as more a minor blip, peaking at 1940. A second temperature fluctuation involves a rise after 1975.


Because the pre-1940 increase in temperature happened without much CO2, and the 1940-75 temperature decline happened after CO2 emissions began in earnest, “the large fluctuation between 1910 and 1975 can be considered to be a natural change. Contrary to the statement by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2007 Report, it is not possible to say with any confidence that the rise after 1975 is mostly caused by the greenhouse effect.”


Ironically, the IPCC’s own climate-change models also point to carbon dioxide’s irrelevance in climate change. The Earth’s warming is not uniform: Different geographic regions are warming at different rates, while others are actually cooling. Dr. Akasofu asked the IPCC’s Arctic group to apply its global climate models to “hindcast” the geographic distribution of the temperature change during the last half of the last century. (“Hindcasting” asks a model to produce results that match the known observations of the past —a model that can do this helps establish its ability to predict future conditions.)


To his surprise, the model’s results showed dramatically different temperatures than those obtained from actual readings, with no apparent relationship between the two. Initially, Dr. Akasofu thought the problem lay in the model. “However, this possibility is inconceivable, because the increase of CO2 measured in the past is correctly used in the hindcasting, and everything we know is included in the computation. It took a week or so for another possibility to dawn on us: If the warming and cooling is not caused by the greenhouse effect, the models will not show CO2-related warming and cooling.”


To examine that possibility, Dr. Akasofu checked to see if the magnified warming in the continental Arctic was still increasing, in line with the ever-increasing amounts of CO2 entering the atmosphere. To his surprise, the continental Arctic had stopped its magnified warming, and was now warming only at the same rate as the rest of the world. The upshot: The IPCC models tend to confirm that: “Much of the prominent continental Arctic warming during the last half of the last century is due to natural change.”

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Syun-Ichi Akasofu, director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, received his PhD in geophysics in 1961. He has published more than 550 professional journal articles, authored or co-authored 10 books and has been the invited author of many encyclopedia articles. Twice named one of the “1,000 Most Cited Scientists,” he has been honoured by the Royal Astronomical Society of London, the Japan Academy of Sciences and the American Geophysical Union. In 2003, he received the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star, from the Emperor of Japan. As director of the university’s Geophysical Institute in 1986-99, he helped establish it as a key research centre in the Arctic. He also helped establish the Alaska Volcano Observatory.




Fighting climate ‘fluff’, Part 18 (National Post, 070423)


Physicist Freeman Dyson knows from long experience that models containing numerous fudge factors are worthless


As a mathematician and physicist, Freeman Dyson is known for the unification of three versions of quantum electrodynamics, for his work on the Orion Project, which proposed space flight using nuclear pulse propulsion, and for developing the TRIGA, a small, inherently safe nuclear reactor used by hospitals and universities worldwide for the production of isotopes.


As a theoretician, he is known for the Dyson sphere (an inspiration for science fiction such as Star Trek, as well as scientific works), the Dyson transform (which led to the discovery that every even integer is a sum of at most six primes) and the Dyson tree (a genetically engineered plant capable of growing on a comet). In his book The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet, he proposed engineering “trees that convert sunlight to liquid fuel and deliver the fuel directly ? to underground pipelines.”


As an activist and visionary, he is known for his concern for global poverty, for his promotion of international co-operation and for his work in furtherance of nuclear disarmament. He is a member of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the subject of numerous writings by environmental pioneers, such as Stewart Brand.


And this Renaissance Man, who has been prescient in many spheres, among them space travel and genetic diversity, who has written nine provocative books of his own and inspired dozens by others, is today known, too, as a scientific heretic, chiefly for disagreeing with the conventional wisdom on global warming. Or, as he puts it, “all the fluff about global warming.”


The “fluff,” Prof. Dyson explains, comes from climate-change models that predict all manner of catastrophe. The models count for naught as predictive tools.


“I have studied their climate models and know what they can do,” Prof. Dyson says. “The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics and do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields, farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in.”


Prof. Dyson explains that the many components of climate models are divorced from first principles and are “parameterized” — incorporated by reference to their measured effects.


“They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behaviour in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere,” he states.


Prof. Dyson learned about the pitfalls of modelling early in his career, in 1953, and from good authority: physicist Enrico Fermi, who had built the first nuclear reactor in 1942. The young Prof. Dyson and his team of graduate students and post-docs had proudly developed what seemed like a remarkably reliable model of subatomic behaviour that corresponded with Fermi’s actual measurements. To Prof. Dyson’s dismay, Fermi quickly dismissed his model.


“In desperation, I asked Fermi whether he was not impressed by the agreement between our calculated numbers and his measured numbers. He replied, ‘How many arbitrary parameters did you use for your calculations?’ I thought for a moment about our cut-off procedures and said, ‘Four.’ He said, ‘I remember my friend Johnny von Neumann [the co-creator of game theory] used to say, with four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.’ With that, the conversation was over.”


Prof. Dyson soon abandoned this line of inquiry. Only years later, after Fermi’s death, did new developments in science confirm that the impressive agreement between Prof. Dyson’s model and Fermi’s measurements was bogus, and that Prof. Dyson and his students had been spared years of grief by Fermi’s wise dismissal of his speculative model. Although it seemed elegant, it was no foundation upon which to base sound science.


Unlike many scientists today, who seek the comfort of consensus as opposed to thinking for themselves, Prof. Dyson has always been happy to be in the minority. He tells the story of his stint as an analyst during the Second World War in the U.K.’s Bomber Command, when he proposed ripping out two gun turrets from R.A.F. Lancaster bombers. Without the turrets, they could fly 50 miles per hour faster, be much more manoeuvrable and cut the U.K.’s catastrophic losses to German fighters. Those at the top preferred to delude themselves: “To push the idea of ripping out gun turrets, against the official mythology of the gallant gunner defending his crewmates ? was not the kind of suggestion the commander in chief liked to hear.”


Today’s official mythology involves global warming, in a societal mobilization of another kind. The allure of the conventional wisdom has not changed. “Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of twilight model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens that believe the numbers predicted by their models.” A heretic he remains, and, as history has shown, much more often right than not.




Freeman Dyson, a graduate of Cambridge University in 1945 with a BA degree in mathematics, has been for most of his life a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In 2000, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.




Science, not politics: Part 19 (National Post, 070413)


Of all the scientists who are labelled “deniers” because they don’t support the orthodoxy of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, none comes in for more vilification than Eigil Friis-Christensen. For understandable reasons.


Dr. Friis-Christensen questions the very premise that man-made activities explain most of the global warming that we see, and through his work he has convinced much of an entire scientific discipline to explore his line of inquiry. With his 1991 paper in Science, showing a startling correlation between global warming and the activities of the sun, Dr. Friis-Christensen unleashed a wave of related research by solar scientists seeking to learn the mechanisms through which solar activity may influence climate on Earth. Thanks largely to his early efforts, and ongoing efforts, too, a growing proportion of the world’s solar scientists no longer place man at the centre of the climate-change universe.


Dr. Friis-Christensen’s interest in climate change predates the Kyoto Treaty of 1995, it predates the Rio Conference in 1992 that led to Kyoto, it even predates the first report in 1990 of the IPCC, the body spearheading the vast majority of the climate-change research now underway.


“My interest dates back to an extreme solar storm that occurred in August, 1972,” he explains. “I was in Greenland, on my first assignment in my new job as geophysicist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, setting up a chain of magnetometer stations on the west coast.”


Dr. Friis-Christensen remembers lying in his tent and “watching the ink pens of my recorder going so wild that they nearly tore the paper chart apart — we had no digital recording at that time — and I wondered whether such big events could also have an influence in the lower atmosphere, on weather and climate.


“That storm cut off my contact to the outside world for nine days — all radio communication was blacked out — so I had lots of time to reflect on the enormity of the forces at play.”


Dr. Friis-Christensen would soon discover he had a soulmate in his reflections, his mentor and a division head at the institute, Knud Lassen, a pioneer in research into the aurora borealis. They followed developments in the field, even gave lectures on the subject, which was then topical, although not for the reasons we’re familiar with today — in the mid-1970s, climate scientists feared global cooling.


Yet for both scientists, the interest was more a hobby than a formal area of study — until 1989, when Dr. Lassen, 68 years old and nearing retirement, decided to cap his career by pursuing the hunch they had long held. Dr. Friis- Christensen needed no persuading to join him on his quest. Two years later, their path breaking study was published, though without fanfare. Global cooling had receded from public memory and global warming was not yet a hot topic.


That soon changed, with the growing role of the newly created IPCC.


Upon the IPCC’s creation, with its mandate to investigate the causes of climate change, Dr. Friis-Christensen was hopeful of advances in solving one of the scientific passions of his life. To participate in the IPCC’s quest for answers, he travelled to its January, 1992, meeting in Guangzhou, China, as part of the Danish delegation. By then, he had succeeded Dr. Lassen to become head of the institute’s geophysics division.


But to his astonishment, and despite the recent publication of his Science article, the IPCC refused to consider the sun’s influence on Earth’s climate as a topic worthy of investigation. The scientists at the IPCC had decided that man-made causes and man-made causes alone deserved their attention. But ignoring the potential role of the sun didn’t make it go away, especially since Dr. Friis-Christensen and other solar scientists refused to abandon their research.


Then the attacks on Dr. Friis-Christensen’s credibility began.


His 1991 study had errors, his detractors stated. His 1995 study only made it worse, others chimed in. He fabricated data, people whispered. A recent article in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper by IPCC partisan George Monbiot well represents the tenor of the attacks:


“A paper published in the journal Eos in 2004 reveals that the ‘agreement’ [between temperatures and solar activity that Friis-Christensen’s 1991 study found] was the result of ‘incorrect handling of the physical data.’ The real data for recent years show the opposite: that the length of the sunspot cycle has declined, while temperatures have risen. When this error was exposed, Friis- Christensen and his co-author published a new paper, purporting to produce similar results.


“But this too turned out to be an artefact of mistakes — in this case, in their arithmetic.


“So Friis-Christensen and another author developed yet another means of demonstrating that the sun is responsible, claiming to have discovered a remarkable agreement between cosmic radiation influenced by the sun and global cloud cover ... . But, yet again, the method was exposed as faulty. They had been using satellite data which did not in fact measure global cloud cover.


“A paper in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics shows that, when the right data are used, a correlation is not found.”


How much of this litany in the Guardian demonstrates actual errors by Dr. Friis-Christensen? In truth, none of it. Virtually all of the criticisms of Dr. Friis- Christensen, published and republished willy-nilly, stem from a lone advisor to the Danish government’s Ministry of the Energy with scant research credentials — he even admits that the government hired him largely for his communications skill.


There is no arithmetic error in Dr. Friis-Christensen’s studies. Remarkably, his critics attributed someone else’s error to him, and then kept doggedly repeating their assertion. Neither are there errors in methodology, although this charge likewise gets repeated without foundation. Neither should it be surprising that different studies of different aspects of solar behaviour would yield anomalies. It is through such exceptions that science proves the rule.


Do the epithets work? With the uninformed, they work a great deal. With the vast majority of his peers, the attacks more represent irritants, noise that obfuscates the political debate but not what counts — the science. Because of his scientific rigour, Dr. Friis-Christensen has won a citation from the Journal of Geophysical Research of the American Geophysical Union for “Excellence in refereeing” and he is sought after by the world’s leading agencies, who have elevated him to the top ranks of his profession.


He now chairs the Danish Space Consortium, heads a European Space Agency mission advisory group, and is vice-president of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy. Many of the world’s most prestigious space-related research institutions — the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, and the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia among them —are now building on the work that Dr. Friis-Christensen set in train.


Bit by bit, they are putting the pieces of the climate puzzle together, slowly learning more and more about the amazingly complex relationships among solar and cosmic forces, on the one hand, and the array of forces on Earth.


Where this slow, methodical brand of solar science will ultimately lead, no one can yet say. Such uncertainty does not characterize the brand of climate science practiced by the IPCC.


- - - - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Eigil Friis-Christensen is director of the Danish National Space Centre and a member of the space research advisory committee of the Swedish National Space Board, where he serves on the panel on space weather. He is also a member of a NASA working group and a member of the Earth-science advisory committee of the European Space Agency. The author or co-author of some 100 peer-reviewed articles, he has been chair of the scientific advisory group of the Institute of Space Physics. He holds a Magisterkonferens (PhD equivalent) in geophysics from the University of Copenhagen.




Gore’s guru disagreed, Part 20 (National Post, 070428)


In the history of the global-warming movement, no scientist is more revered than Roger Revelle of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Harvard University and University of California San Diego. He was the co-author of the seminal 1957 paper that demonstrated that fossil fuels had increased carbon-dioxide levels in the air. Under his leadership, the President’s Science Advisory Committee Panel on Environmental Pollution in 1965 published the first authoritative U.S. government report in which carbon dioxide from fossil fuels was officially recognized as a potential global problem. He was the author of the influential 1982 Scientific American article that elevated global warming on to the public agenda. For being “the grandfather of the greenhouse effect,” as he put it, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by the first President Bush.


Roger Revelle’s most consequential act, however, may have come in his role as a teacher, during the 1960s at Harvard. Dr. Revelle inspired a young student named Al Gore.


Dr. Revelle would change Gore’s life, particularly since the climate-change field had become cutting edge, with Dr. Revelle adding to the excitement by giving his students advance notice of the fruits of his research.


“It felt like such a privilege to be able to hear about the readouts from some of those measurements in a group of no more than a dozen undergraduates,” Gore later explained. “Here was this teacher presenting something not years old but fresh out of the lab, with profound implications for our future!”


Calling him “a wonderful, visionary professor” who was “one of the first people in the academic community to sound the alarm on global warming,” Gore thought of Dr. Revelle as his mentor and referred to him frequently, relaying his experiences as a student in his book Earth in the Balance, published in 1992. Gore’s warmth for Dr. Revelle cooled, however, when it became clear that he had misunderstood his former professor: Although Dr. Revelle recognized potential harm from global warming, he also saw potential benefits and was by no means alarmed, as seen in this 1984 interview in Omni magazine: Omni: A problem that has occupied your attention for many years is the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, which could cause the earth’s climate to become warmer. Is this actually happening? Revelle I estimate that the total increase [in CO2] over the past hundred years has been about 21%. But whether the increase will lead to a significant rise in global temperature, we can’t absolutely say. Omni: What will the warming of the earth mean to us? Revelle There may be lots of effects. Increased CO2 in the air acts like a fertilizer for plants ... you get more plant growth. Increasing CO2 levels also affect water transpiration, causing plants to close their pores and sweat less. That means plants will be able to grow in drier climates. Omni: Does the increase in CO2 have anything to do with people saying the weather is getting worse? Revelle People are always saying the weather’s getting worse. Actually, the CO2 increase is predicted to temper weather extremes ... .


While Gore in the late 1980s was becoming a prominent politician, loudly warning of globalwarming dangers, Dr. Revelle was quietly warning against taking any drastic action.


In a July 14, 1988, letter to Congressman Jim Bates, he wrote that: “Most scientists familiar with the subject are not yet willing to bet that the climate this year is the result of ‘greenhouse warming.’ As you very well know, climate is highly variable from year to year, and the causes of these variations are not at all well understood. My own personal belief is that we should wait another 10 or 20 years to really be convinced that the greenhouse is going to be important for human beings, in both positive and negative ways.” A few days later, he sent a similar letter to Senator Tim Wirth, cautioning “... we should


be careful not to arouse too much alarm until the rate and amount of warming becomes clearer.”


Then in 1991, Dr. Revelle wrote an article for Cosmos, a scientific journal, with two illustrious colleagues, Chauncey Starr, founding director of the Electric Power Research Institute and Fred Singer, the first director of the U.S. Weather Satellite. Entitled “What to do about greenhouse warming: Look before you leap,” the article argued that decades of research could be required for the consequences of increased carbon dioxide to be understood, and laid out the harm that could come of acting recklessly: “Drastic, precipitous and, especially, unilateral steps to delay the putative greenhouse impacts can cost jobs and prosperity and increase the human costs of global poverty, without being effective. Stringent controls enacted now would be economically devastating, particularly for developing countries for whom reduced energy consumption would mean slower rates of economic growth without being able to delay greatly the growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Yale economist William Nordhaus, one of the few who have been trying to deal quantitatively with the economics of the greenhouse effect, has pointed out that ‘... those who argue for strong measures to slow greenhouse warming have reached their conclusion without any discernible analysis of the costs and benefits ... . ‘ It would be prudent to complete the ongoing and recently expanded research so that we will know what we are doing before we act. ‘Look before you leap’ may still be good advice.”


Three months after the Cosmos article appeared, Dr. Revelle died of a heart attack. One year later, with Al Gore running for vice-president in the 1992 presidential election, the inconsistency between Gore’s pronouncements — he claimed that the “science was settled” then, too — and those of his mentor became national news. Gore responded with a withering attack, leading to claims that Dr. Revelle had become senile before his death, that Dr. Singer had duped Dr. Revelle into co-authoring the article, and that Dr. Singer had listed Dr. Revelle as a co-author over his objections. The sordid accusations ended in a defamation suit and an abject public apology in 1994 from Gore’s academic hit man, a prominent Harvard scientist, who revealed his unsavory role and that of Gore in the fabrications against Dr. Singer and Dr. Revelle.


That was then. Would Dr. Revelle, if he were still alive, believe that global warming now demands urgent action? We can never know. We do know, however, that Dr. Revelle had no time for the alarmist views of Al Gore in the 1980s. We also know that those whose views Dr. Revelle respected continue to caution us against precipitous action: Dr. Revelle’s colleague and friend, Fred Singer, is among the most prominent of Al Gore’s critics, and economist William Nordhaus, generally considered the leading expert in the field, continue to warn of the economic danger of climate alarmism.


We also know that the science is still not settled, and that in the years since Dr. Revelle’s death, new research from many of the world’s most respected scientists bears out the cautions that Dr. Revelle bequeathed us. - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.


- - -




Roger Revelle was Professor of Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and became its director from 1950-64. After his successful efforts to create the University of California San Diego, he went to Harvard University, where he was Professor of Population Policy and director of the Center for Population Studies until 1976. He was also founding chairman of the first Committee on Climate Change and the Ocean under the Scientific Committee on Ocean Research and the International Oceanic Commission. Dr. Revelle received a PhD in oceanography from UC-Berkeley in 1936.




The ice-core man: Part 21 (National Post, 070504)


Once upon a time, and for millennia before then, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were low and stable. Then came the industrial revolution and CO2 levels began to rise. The more man industrialized, the more that CO2 — and the temperature — rose. In the last half century, with industrialization at unprecedented levels, CO2 reached levels unprecedented in the human history. This is the story of global warming.


This story is a fable, says Zbigniew Jaworowski, past chairman of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, a participant or chairman of some 20 Advisory Groups of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Environmental Program, and current chair of the Scientific Committee of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw.


Dr. Jaworowski agrees that CO2 levels rose in the last half century. Starting in 1958, direct, real-time measurements of CO2 have been systematically taken at a state-of-the-art measuring station in Hawaii. These measurements, considered the world’s most reliable, are a good basis for science by bodies like the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the agency that is co-ordinating the worldwide effort to stop global warming.


But the UN does not rely on direct real-time measurements for the period prior to 1958. “The IPCC relies on icecore data — on air that has been trapped for hundreds or thousands of years deep below the surface,” Dr. Jaworowski explains. “These ice cores are a foundation of the global warming hypothesis, but the foundation is groundless — the IPCC has based its global-warming hypothesis on arbitrary assumptions and these assumptions, it is now clear, are false.”


Ice, the IPCC believes, precisely preserves the ancient air, allowing for a precise reconstruction of the ancient atmosphere. For this to be true, no component of the trapped air can escape from the ice. Neither can the ice ever become liquid. Neither can the various gases within air ever combine or separate.


This perfectly closed system, frozen in time, is a fantasy. “Liquid water is common in polar snow and ice, even at temperatures as low as -72C,” Dr. Jaworowski explains, “and we also know that in cold water, CO2 is 70 times more soluble than nitrogen and 30 times more soluble than oxygen, guaranteeing that the proportions of the various gases that remain in the trapped, ancient air will change. Moreover, under the extreme pressure that deep ice is subjected to — 320 bars, or more than 300 times normal atmospheric pressure — high levels of CO2 get squeezed out of ancient air.”


Because of these various properties in ancient air, one would expect that, over time, ice cores that started off with high levels of CO2 would become depleted of excess CO2, leaving a fairly uniform base level of CO2 behind. In fact, this is exactly what the ice cores show.


“According to the ice-core samples, CO2 levels vary little over time,” Dr. Jaworowski sates. “The ice core data from the Taylor Dome in Antarctica shows almost no change in the level of atmospheric CO2 over the last 7,000 to 8,000 years — it varied between 260 parts per million and 264 parts per million.


“Yet other indicators of past CO2 levels, such as fossil leaf stomata, show that CO2 levels over the past 7,000 to 8,000 years varied by more than 50 parts per million, between 270 and 326 parts per million. We also know that there have been great fluctuations in temperature over that time period — the Little Age just 500 years ago, for example. If the icecore record was reliable, and CO2 levels reflected temperatures, why wouldn’t the ice-core data have shown CO2 levels to fall during the Little Ice Age? “


Dr. Jaworowski has devoted much of his professional life to the study of the composition of the atmosphere, as part of his work to understand the consequences of radioactive fallout from nuclear-weapons testing and nuclear reactor accidents. After taking numerous ice samples over the course of a dozen field trips to glaciers in six continents, and studying how contaminants travel through ice over time, he came to realize how fraught with error ice-core samples were in reconstructing the atmosphere. The Chernobyl accident, whose contaminants he studied in the 1990s in a Scandinavian glacier, provided the most illumination.


“This ice contained extremely high radioactivity of cesium-137 from the Chernobyl fallout, more than a thousand times higher than that found in any glacier from nuclear-weapons fallout, and more than 100 times higher than found elsewhere from the Chernobyl fallout,” he explained. “This unique contamination of glacier ice revealed how particulate contaminants migrated, and also made sense of other discoveries I made during my other glacier expeditions. It convinced me that ice is not a closed system, suitable for an exact reconstruction of the composition of the past atmosphere.”


Because of the high importance of this realization, in 1994 Dr. Jaworowski, together with a team from the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technics, proposed a research project on the reliability of trace-gas determinations in the polar ice. The prospective sponsors of the research refused to fund it, claiming the research would be “immoral” if it served to undermine the foundations of climate research.


The refusal did not come as a surprise. Several years earlier, in a peer-reviewed article published by the Norwegian Polar Institute, Dr. Jaworowski criticized the methods by which CO2 levels were ascertained from ice cores, and cast doubt on the global-warming hypothesis. The institute’s director, while agreeing to publish his article, also warned Dr. Jaworowski that “this is not the way one gets research projects.” Once published, the institute came under fire, especially since the report soon sold out and was reprinted. Said one prominent critic, “this paper puts the Norsk Polarinstitutt in disrepute.” Although none of the critics faulted Dr. Jaworowski’s science, the institute nevertheless fired him to maintain its access to funding.


Is there an alternative to ice-core samples, which are but proxies from which assumptions about the historical composition of the atmosphere can be made? “Yes, there are several other proxies, and they lead to different findings about CO2,” Dr. Jaworowski states. “But we don’t need to rely on proxies at all.


“Scientists from numerous disciplines have been examining CO2 since the beginning of the 19th century, and they have left behind a record of tens of thousands of direct, real-time measurements. These measurements tell a far different story about CO2 — they demonstrate, for example, that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have fluctuated greatly, and that several times in the past 200 years CO2 concentrations have exceeded today’s levels.


“The IPCC rejects these direct measurements, some taken by Nobel Prize winners. They prefer the view of CO2 as seen through ice.”


- - - - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Zbigniew Jaworowski is chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw, where he has held various posts since 1973. He was a principal investigator of three research projects of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and of four research projects of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The author of four books and 300 scientific papers, he has held posts with the Centre d’Etude Nucleaires near Paris; the Biophysical Group of the Institute of Physics, University of Oslo; the Norwegian Polar Research Institute and the National Institute for Polar Research in Tokyo.




Some restraint in Rome: Part 22 (National Post, 070511)


President George Bush meets Pope Benedict in June. Some Vatican authorities are lobbying the Pope to press the U.S. administration to act on global warming.


“It’s not for me to say what the Pope and President Bush should discuss, but certainly they will discuss current issues and therefore I imagine and I hope they will [discuss climate change],” said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Vatican organization charged with developing policy for the environment and social issues.


Cardinal Martino spoke at the start of “Climate Change and Development,” a Vatican study seminar two weeks ago designed to “search for solutions to the phenomenon of global warming.” The 80 scientists, politicians, theologians and bishops in attendance were asked to consider that: “Global warming may bring about not only the imposition of drastic corrective means to protect the natural environment, but also a grave threat that destabilizes the world.”


By the seminar’s end, the 80 participants had heard dire warnings from some experts, but they heard much more, too — that global warming is natural, the cause of warming being primarily solar and that it can be beneficial.


During the two-day event, tensions were often high — the Catholic News Service, which interviewed participants at the private event, described how one pastor needed to calm down a distraught participant in the corridor, and used words like “bitter” and “heated” to set the early mood at the seminar. No one left the seminar thinking that the science of global warming is settled. To the dismay of those hoping that the high-level group would inspire a Church-led climatechange crusade, the Cardinal, in closing the seminar, urged caution in taking any position on global warming.


The man most responsible for quelling any potential call to action is one of the Vatican’s own, Antonino Zichichi, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Dr. Zichichi, who made the seminar’s most powerful presentation, set its tone. It amounted to a damning indictment of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body responsible for most of the dire warnings that the press reports daily.


Dr. Zichichi demonstrated “that models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are incoherent and invalid from a scientific point of view,” reported Zenit, a news service that acts as an extension of the Vatican administration. “On the basis of actual scientific fact ‘it is not possible to exclude the idea that climate changes can be due to natural causes,’ and that it is plausible that ‘man is not to blame.’ “


Dr. Zichichi has concluded that solar activities are responsible for most of the global warming that earth has experienced — he estimates that man-made causes of global warming account for less than 10% — and his conclusions have gravitas: This man is the president of the World Federation of Scientists, past president of the European Physical Society, past president of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics, and past president of the NATO Science Committee for Disarmament Technology.


He is also Italy’s most renowned scientist, credited with the discovery of nuclear antimatter, the discovery of the “time-like” electromagnetic structure of the proton, the discovery of the effective energy in the forces which act between quarks and gluons, and the proof that, despite its complex structure, it is impossible to break the proton.


“There is a need to do more work, with a lot more rigour, to better the models being used,” he argued in a 60-page written paper that accompanied his speech to the seminar.


The Vatican seminar was extraordinary, participants agree: Faith and reason met in inspired discussion and debate about global warming, and despite the occasional heat, came away the wiser for it. How different from the debate on climate change conducted by environmental groups, or, for that matter, the Parliament of Canada, the U.S. Congress or the German Reichstag, where global warming discussions rely on faith alone, and result in one-sided dogma.


- - - - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Antonino Zichichi, Professor Emeritus of Advanced Physics at the University of Bologna, has published over 800 scientific papers and 10 books, some of which have opened new avenues in subnuclear physics. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees from academic institutions around the world, and is the subject of seven books published by others about his accomplishments. He founded and directs the Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture, an organization dedicated to voluntary scientific service, the elimination of secret laboratories, and scientific freedom.




Discounting logic (Deniers, Part 23) (National Post, 070528)


If you’re the type of person who sets aside money today for the university education of your great-great-great grandchildren, even if it means that you may not be able to afford university tuition for your own children, you may think it sensible for society to invest now in major measures to stop global warming.


If you’re not this type — and who in his right mind is — you should forget about Kyoto-like greenhouse-gas reduction targets and the crash programs that would be required to meet them. Doing so would not only be economically prudent, it would be — by almost any measure — the ethical thing to do.


So argues celebrated economist William Nordhaus, author of pathbreaking books and studies on global warming, and generally considered the most authoritative economist in the climate change field. His verdict on global warming alarmism, as exemplified by the UK’s Stern review, which demanded drastic measures now to avert climate change calamity later: “Completely absurd.”


The Stern review, released last year to banner headlines, argues that the cost of inaction greatly exceeds the cost of action. It has been much criticized for its selective use of data — Sir Nicholas Stern piles one worst-case scenario upon another to arrive at his fantastical costs, and Dr. Nordhaus is among those who note this failing. In fact, Sir Nicholas uses Nordhaus as a source for global-warming costs that could present themselves well after the year 2100, although Nordhaus characterized that data as particularly unreliable.


But a series of unreliable, worst-case scenarios centuries off, by themselves, still would not warrant the extreme greenhousegas prevention investments that the Stern review recommends. To make an economic case for immediate action, Sir Nicholas adjusted his model to have us paying now for potential damage that could be happening hundreds of years from now.


Sir Nicholas estimates the potential costs of climate change to be so great as to force on us a “20% cut in per-capita consumption, now and forever.” Yet his data showed low damages from climate change in the next two centuries. To overcome his data, he applied to his model what economists call a “near-zero social discount rate.” Doing so brings forward future expenses — in the Stern review’s case, expenses that might occur in the 23rd and 24th centuries. The Stern review then presents us with a tab that includes these far-out costs, and the invoice is eye-popping indeed.


But the Stern review approach defies logic, as Dr. Nordhaus illustrates by demonstrating just where zero social-discount-rate thinking leads. “Suppose that scientists discover that a wrinkle in the climatic system will cause damages equal to 0.01% of output starting in 2200 and continuing at that rate thereafter,” he explains. “How large a onetime investment would be justified today to remove the wrinkle starting after two centuries? The answer is that a payment of 15% of world consumption today (approximately US$7-trillion) would pass the review’s costbenefit test. This seems completely absurd. The bizarre result arises because the value of the future consumption stream is so high with near-zero discounting that we would trade off a large fraction of today’s income to increase a far-future income stream by a very tiny fraction.”


Moreover, who should be asked to forgo that consumption? It hardly seems fair to keep back poor countries, yet, if paid by the rich countries alone, the decline would far exceed that of the Great Depression.


Some climate-change alarmists argue that we should invest in combating climate change now as an insurance policy against the risk of future damage. Sounds prudent, until you consider the premium to be paid.


“Suppose that we suddenly learn that there is a 10% probability of the wrinkle in the climatic system that reduces the post- 2200 income stream by 0.01%,” Dr. Nordhaus explains, again to illustrate the Stern review’s logic. “What insurance premium would be justified today to reduce that probability to zero? With conventional discount rates, we would probably ignore any tiny wrinkle two or three centuries ahead. If we did a careful calculation using conventional discount rates, we would calculate a break-even 0.0002% insurance premium to remove the year 2200 contingency, and a 0.0000003% premium for the year-2400 contingency. Moreover, these dollar premiums are small whether the probability is large or small.


“With the review’s near-zero discount rate, offsetting the low-probability wrinkle would be worth an insurance premium today of almost 2% of current income, or $1-trillion. We would pay almost the same amount if that threshold were to be crossed in 2400 rather than in 2200.”


Dr. Nordhaus’s conclusion about such scares: “We are in effect forced to make current decisions about highly uncertain events in the distant future, even though these estimates are highly speculative and are almost sure to be refined over the coming decades.”


Dr. Nordhaus discounts climate-change alarmism, but not climate change itself. He advocates research to better understand its consequences and to develop more efficient technologies. He advocates the elimination of subsidies that artificially increase greenhouse- gas emissions, and other “no-regrets” measures that would benefit the environment without harming the economy. The costs of climate change are real, he believes, and society should act. But not overreact.




William Nordhaus is the Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University. He is the co-author with Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson of Economics, the classic textbook, now in its 18th edition. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 1977 to 1979, he served Jimmy Carter as a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He serves on the Congressional Budget Office Panel of Economic Experts and is chairman of the advisory committee for the Bureau of Economic Analysis. He received his PhD in economics in 1967 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.




Dire forecasts aren’t new: The Deniers — Part 24 (National Post, 070525)


Germany’s Hans von Storch, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, believes that climate change is for real and that humans are responsible. He also believes that we shouldn’t fear climate change, that predictions of doom are “hysterical” when they aren’t “completely idiotic and dubious,” and that many of the science establishment’s pronouncements on climate change are bereft of scientific merit.


“Theories of global warming have left laboratories far behind. Now, they are the stuff of Hollywood,” he wrote in Der Spiegel, in an article that castigated global warming alarmists for debasing scientific inquiry and intimidating those who would challenge the conventional wisdom. Michael Crichton’s novel State of Fear has it right in its portrayal of environmental extremism, Dr. Storch believes.


“Despite some artful fictionalization of the facts, Crichton has certainly delivered an accurate portrayal of the dynamics of communication among the scientific community, environmental organizations, government and civil society.


“Like the protagonists in Crichton’s thriller, the general belief is that in order to keep public attention focused on the issue of ‘climate catastrophe’ [it must] be presented ‘somewhat more attractively.’ “


The “climate catastrophe” is hype, he stated. “In the early 1990s, just as Germany was being hit by severe windstorms, the German media were reporting that the storms were becoming more and more severe. Since then, storms of this magnitude have once again become less common in Northern Europe, a fact now ignored by the media. They have also ignored the fact that changes in barometric pressure measured in Stockholm since the days of Napoleon reveal no systematic change in the frequency and severity of storms.”


The fear of climate change, and the blaming of humans for them, did not start with global warming and the Kyoto Protocol of the 1990s. This fear is a feature of human history, and likely part of human nature, he explained in a 2005 paper entitled: “A History of Human Perceptions of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the Past 1,000 Years.”


In the last half century, global cooling theories arose, with man the culprit due to industrial pollution. Nuclear weapons testing also prompted an explosion of theories about the implication on the weather.


In the first half of the 20th century, First World War gunfire was blamed for wet summers, as was shortwave transatlantic radio communication. Because of a major warming that took place in large parts of the world, Monthly Weather Review in 1933 published an unsettling article entitled: “Is the Climate Changing?”


In the 19th century, European and North American scientists claimed that the water levels of rivers would fall continuously, leading to fears that the weather would change and to the laying of blame on both deforestation and reforestation. Europe’s abnormally wet summer of 1816, meanwhile, was blamed on the lightning rods that had just come into vogue.


In earlier centuries, such as the 14th, which saw a prolonged wet period in England, the cause was man’s wicked lifestyle, which precipitated divine retribution. “And nowadays it’s those hedonistic wastrels who pollute the air so that they can look at some pretty fish in the South Seas,” Dr. Storch states, adding that “many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach moralistic sermons to people?it would be better if we just presented the facts and scenarios dispassionately —and then society can decide for itself what it wants to do to influence climate change.”


But scientists don’t, and neither do the governments and quasi-governmental scientific establishments that now lend their own authority to climate-change myth-making.


Dr. Storch thinks it would be helpful to learn why humans keep forgetting how wrong we have been in our past dire forecasts. Until we do, we are doomed to repeat history.


Financial Post - See all 24 profiles in this series at under “Climate Change: The Deniers.”


- - -




Hans von Storch is director of the Institute of Coastal Research of the GKSS Research Centre and professor at the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg. From 1987 to 1995, he was senior scientist and leader of the Statistical Analysis and Modelling Group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. He is the author of 11 books and 120 peer-reviewed articles. He is a member of the advisory boards of the Journal of Climate and Meteorologische Zeitschrift and the Annals of Geophysics. Dr. von Storch was a lead author of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. He received his PhD from the Meteorological Department of the University of Hamburg in 1979.




They call this a consensus? (Deniers, Part 25) (National Post, 070602)


“Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.”


So said Al Gore ... in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren’t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn’t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.


Today, Al Gore is making the same claims of a scientific consensus, as do the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of government agencies and environmental groups around the world. But the claims of a scientific consensus remain unsubstantiated. They have only become louder and more frequent.


More than six months ago, I began writing this series, The Deniers. When I began, I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies.


My series set out to profile the dissenters — those who deny that the science is settled on climate change — and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world’s premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop — the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series.


Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists — the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects — and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.


What of the one claim that we hear over and over again, that 2,000 or 2,500 of the world’s top scientists endorse the IPCC position? I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. “The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world,” the IPCC Secretariat responded. “The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007.”


An IPCC reviewer does not assess the IPCC’s comprehensive findings. He might only review one small part of one study that later becomes one small input to the published IPCC report. Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.


A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.


Such diversity of views is also present in the wider scientific community, as seen in the World Federation of Scientists, an organization formed during the Cold War to encourage dialogue among scientists to prevent nuclear catastrophe. The federation, which encompasses many of the world’s most eminent scientists and today represents more than 10,000 scientists, now focuses on 15 “planetary emergencies,” among them water, soil, food, medicine and biotechnology, and climatic changes. Within climatic changes, there are eight priorities, one being “Possible human influences on climate and on atmospheric composition and chemistry (e.g. increased greenhouse gases and tropospheric ozone).”


Man-made global warming deserves study, the World Federation of Scientists believes, but so do other serious climatic concerns. So do 14 other planetary emergencies. That seems about right. - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research




NASA chief silenced (Deniers, Part 26) (National Post, 070608)


Michael Griffin aired his doubts about climate-change politics on National Public Radio. Under a barrage of criticism, he recanted


The head of NASA — the National Aeronautical and Space Association—is “an idiot” and “in denial.” He is also “surprisingly naive” and “a fool.” With his judgment and competence so lacking, demands abound for his resignation as head of the largest and most accomplished science agency in the world.


Those comments and others in the past week have come from scientists shocked to learn that NASA chief Michael Griffin thinks differently than they about global warming. Among the most shocked is one of Dr. Griffin’s own employees, James Hansen, a top climate scientist who “almost fell off my chair” when he learned that his research hadn’t convinced his boss. “It’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement,” he told ABC News, referring to an interview of Dr. Griffin on National Public Radio. “It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change.”


Some might think Dr. Griffin is entitled to think for himself. Apart from his PhD in aerospace engineering, he holds five masters degrees, he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, he manages a US$1.1-billion climate-research budget and was unanimously confirmed to head NASA by the United States Senate.


But no. He is either “totally clueless” or “a deep anti-global warming ideologue,” concludes Jerry Mahlman, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in a statement similar to many.


Dr. Griffin’s radio interview drew this storm of controversy after he was asked about the seriousness of global warming. He replied by saying, “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had, and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.”


Dr. Griffin doesn’t dispute that the Earth has been warming. He does dispute that we can — or even should — do anything about it. “First of all, I don’t think it’s within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings, where and when, are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now, is the best climate for all other human beings. I’m, I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”


Dr. Griffin’s interview was prompted by criticisms from environmental journalist Greg Easterbrook, who charged that Dr. Griffin is wasting NASA’s time and money on misguided space exploration projects, such as a manned mission to Mars and the establishment of a permanent base on


the moon. Instead, Easterbrook argued, Dr. Griffin should be exercising his right to free speech, coming out against misguided NASA policies and spending more on legitimate priorities, such as greater global-warming research.


The Easterbrook charge led National Public Radio to ask Dr. Griffin why he wasn’t “battling [global warming] as an army might battle an enemy.” Dr. Griffin’s response: “Nowhere in NASA’s authorization, which of course governs what we do, is there anything at all telling us that we should take actions to effect climate change in either — in one way or another.... NASA is not an agency chartered to, quote, ‘battle climate change.’ “


More howls from critics, who believe Dr. Griffin should be using his discretion to skew NASA’s mission away from its core purpose — and away from his fiduciary responsibilities to his organization — and toward the service of fighting climate change.


To which Dr. Griffin responds, not unreasonably, “The question is, in a democratic society, who gets to choose. Unfortunately for Greg, it’s not him.”


Unfortunately for society, Greg Easterbrook happened to be wrong in another claim: that Dr. Griffin hadn’t lost his right to speak out. For all intents and purposes, he has. Within days of the uproar, Dr. Griffin decided that he should not have discussed “an issue which has become far more political than technical.” In an apology to his staff, he said, “I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this,” adding that, “it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it.”


Dr. Griffin is now one more scientist who will not dispute the existence of a “scientific consensus on global warming.”




Prior to heading NASA, Michael Griffin served as space department head at Johns Hopkins University’s applied physics laboratory in Laurel, Md. He was previously president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel, Inc. and chief executive of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Magellan Systems division. Earlier, Dr. Griffin served as chief engineer and as associate administrator for exploration at NASA, and as deputy for technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. He is the lead author of more than two dozen technical papers, as well as the textbook Space Vehicle Design. He earned his doctorate at the Michael Griffin University of Maryland.




Forget warming - beware the new ice age (Deniers, Part 27) (National Post, 070615)


In the 1970s, leading scientists claimed that the world was threatened by an era of global cooling.


Based on what we’ve learned this decade, says George Kukla, those scientists - and he was among them — had it right. The world is about to enter another Ice Age.


Dr. Kukla, in 1972 a member of the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences and a pioneer in the field of astronomical forcing, became a central figure in convincing the United States government to take the dangers of climate change seriously. In January of that year, he and another geologist, Robert Matthews of Brown University, convened what would become a historic conference of top European and American investigators in Providence, R.I. The working conference’s theme: “The Present Interglacial: How and When will it End?”


Later that year, Drs. Kukla and Matthews highlighted the dangers of global cooling in Science magazine and, because of the urgency of the matter, in December they also alerted President Richard Nixon in a joint letter. The conference had reached a consensus, their letter stated, that “a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experienced by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon. The cooling has natural cause and falls within the rank of processes which produced the last ice age.”


The White House reacted swiftly to the letter, which described “substantially lowered food production” and “extreme weather anomalies,” such as killer frosts and floods, as well as a warning that the Soviet Union might already be in the lead in preparing for the climate disturbances to come. By February 1973, the State Department had established a Panel on the Present Interglacial, which advised Drs. Kukla and Matthews that it “was seized of the matter.”


Soon, numerous other government agencies were drawn in — the issue was seen to be of paramount importance — and by 1974, a federal government report, A United States Climate Program, cited evidence of the gathering storm, including:


“A killing winter freeze, followed by a severe summer heat wave in the United States.


“Drought in the Soviet Union producing a 12% shortfall in their grain production in 1972, forcing the country to purchase grain abroad, which in turn reduced world grain reserves and helped drive up food prices.


“Collapse of the Peruvian anchovy harvest in late 1972 and early 1973, related to fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean currents and atmospheric circulation, impacted world supplies of fertilizer, the soybean market and prices of other protein feed stocks.


“The anomalously low precipitation in the U.S. Pacific Northwest during the winter of 1972-73 depleted water-reservoir storage by an amount equivalent to an amount of water required to generate more than 7% of the electric energy for the region.”


By 1975, the first of numerous bills, such as the “National Climate Program Act of 1975,” was introduced to establish a co-ordinated national program of climate research, monitoring, prediction and contingency-planning analysis. Much congressional testimony spoke of the inadequacy of climate research and the need for preparedness. Meanwhile, the failure of the Soviet Union’s wheat crop (and a subsequent high-profile U.S. wheat deal), the severe winter of 1976-77 and El Nino’s influence on climate became dinner-table talk, heightening the government’s desire to predict the climate. In September, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the National Climate Program Act into law, in aid of predicting future climate and combating global cooling. That act has now been enlisted in the effort to counter global warming.


Many today speak with derision of the 1970s global-cooling scare, seeing it as a cautionary false alarm. Others see it as an embarrassment — Newsweek magazine, which published a 1975 article entitled “The Cooling World,” even corrected the record with a 2006 follow-up to its 1975 article arguing that scientists now have it right.


Dr. Kukla sees it — and the 1975 Newsweek article — differently. Although the magazine article indicated that the cooling trend would be continuous, scientists knew otherwise. “None of us expected uninterrupted continuation of the trend,” he states. Moreover, thanks to new evidence that Dr. Kukla only recently published, he now knows that global warming always precedes an ice age. That makes the current period of global warming a mere blip that constitutes additional indication of the ice age to come.


To Dr. Kukla, the fundamental issue here could not be more clear. For millions of years, the geologic record shows, Earth has experienced an ongoing cycle of ice ages, each typically lasting about 100,000 years, and each punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials, such as the one we are now in. This ongoing cycle closely matches cyclic variations in Earth’s orbit around the sun.


“I feel we’re on pretty solid ground in interpreting orbit around the sun as the primary driving force behind ice-age glaciation. The relationship is just too clear and consistent to allow reasonable doubt,” Dr. Kukla said. “It’s either that, or climate drives orbit, and that just doesn’t make sense.”




George Kukla, micropalentologist and Special Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, is a pioneer in the study of solar forcing of climate changes. He was the lead author of the scientific paper that first supported Milutin Milankovic’s theory of glacial cycles by investigating the stratigraphy in deep-sea sediment cores from the southern Indian Ocean. In the cores were clear imprints of Milankovic’s proposed cycles. In his paper he wrote, “We are certain now that changes in the Earth’s orbital geometry caused the ice ages. The evidence is so strong that other explanations must now be discarded or modified.” Prior to joining Columbia in 1971, he had published landmark studies in Czechoslovakia, where he was a member of the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences.




Open mind sees climate clearly (Deniers, Part 28) (National Post, 070629)


He’s the world’s most cited climatologist, according to an analysis in the journal of the British Institute of Geographers. He’s also the fifth-most-cited physical geographer in the world, and the 11th most cited among all geographers.


He has written some 230 articles and five books, including in such fields as geology, limnology, meteorology and archeology.


He has twice seen his papers in Environmental Conservation awarded prizes for being “best paper of the year,” and he’s a member of the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honour, created to recognize “outstanding achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment.”


He’s Dr. Reid Bryson, considered by many the “father of scientific climatology,” and he’s also pronounced on the most consequential climate issue of the day — man-made global warming. His verdict: “That is a theory for which there is no credible proof.”


Dr. Bryson, aged 87 and still professionally active, has become anathema to many environmentalists for his views on global warming. But those with long histories will remember him as an inspirational figure in the 1970s who challenged the wasteful ways of our consumer society, and warned of a dire need for lifestyle changes. Mother Earth News, a bible of the environmental movement, in the preamble to an extensive 1976 interview, described him as “an environmentalist in the broadest sense and his thoughts on the planet, its human population, and that population’s activities range as widely and carry all the force of such acknowledged environmental spokesmen as Barry Commoner, Paul Ehrlich, and Dave Brower.”


Dr. Bryson believed then, as he believes now, that humans affect the climate, in ways that both warm and cool the atmosphere. “Dozens of scientific papers, in fact, have been published about industry’s consumption of fossil fuels, its creation of carbon dioxide, and how the resultant “greenhouse effect” will cause a rise in the temperature of the atmosphere,” he told Mother Earth News.


“I find it interesting, however, that the same people who write those papers generally seem to overlook the even greater amounts of particulate matter which those same factories and foundries pump into the air, [cooling the atmosphere]. Not to mention the tremendous quantities of particulates now kicked into the atmosphere by poor farmers in primitive agricultural and marginal semi-arid regions all over the world.”


Humans change the climate in other ways, too, chiefly because “the Industrial Revolution, by making the modern megalopolis possible, has certainly concentrated the release of heat into the atmosphere.? Take New York City, for example. The heat produced by human activity in New York during the winter is greater than the amount of heat the city receives from the sun.”


As a result, large cities become warmer and drier, with different rainfall patterns than the surrounding countryside.


“It is quite possible that the growing megalopolis-type urban areas here in North America and the new concentrations of people in Europe and elsewhere are already slightly modifying the atmospheric circulation patterns of the whole hemisphere. In fact, since we already know that these metropolitan areas do alter the micro-climates around them, it would be hard to believe that they have no effect at all on the macroclimate.”


Dr. Bryson’s message in the 1970s attracted environmentalists, especially those drawn to the apocalyptic. As did many in that era, Dr. Bryson warned that the Earth faced catastrophe from overpopulation, and that even a small change in climate could have far-reaching consequences. But unlike many, Dr. Bryson wanted to find out what changes in climate might be in the offing, and what their consequences might be. He urged open-mindedness and investigation: “First, let’s accept the fact that the climate could be changing on a global scale right now. Second, let’s try to find evidence which either confirms or denies that such a change is taking place. And, third, if our evidence suggests that the Earth’s climate is indeed changing in any way ? let’s see if we can find a logical reason for such a change to be taking place.


“Furthermore, let’s do all this ? not because we want to scare anyone ? not because we want to find some terrible global calamity just over the horizon ? and not because we want to draw attention to ourselves by forecasting the future. Let’s just quietly and rationally try to figure out where the climate might be headed so we’ll be able to prepare ourselves well in advance for any changes that might lie ahead.”


As things would turn out, Dr. Bryson’s advice was ignored. Science was pursued irrationally and not to seek answers, he believes, but to suit other agendas. “There is very little truth to what is being said and an awful lot of religion,” he has decided. “It’s almost a religion where you have to believe in anthropogenic global warming or else you are nuts.”


As for the biggest believer, Al Gore, and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth: “Don’t make me throw up,” he exclaims. “It is not science. It is not true.”


And as for the often claimed scientific consensus on climate change, he doubts it: “I know of no vote having been taken, and know that if such a vote were taken of those who are most vocal about the matter, it would include a significant fraction of people who do not know enough about climate to have a significant opinion.”


Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation. Email:




Reid Bryson joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1946 and in 1948 became the founding chairman of its department of meteorology. In 2007, he became emeritus professor of the university’s department of oceanic and atmospheric sciences. Dr. Bryson’s research broke path in diverse fields, among them the Indian monsoon, airstreams and the reconstruction of past climates. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Meteorological Society. He received his PhD in meteorology at the University of Chicago.




Models trump measurements (Deniers, Part 29) (National Post, 070707)


We are doomed, say climate change scientists associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that is organizing most of the climate change research occurring in the world today. Carbon dioxide from man-made sources rises to the atmosphere and then stays there for 50, 100, or even 200 years. This unprecedented buildup of CO2 then traps heat that would otherwise escape our atmosphere, threatening us all.


“This is nonsense,” says Tom V. Segalstad, head of the Geological Museum at the University of Oslo and formerly an expert reviewer with the same IPCC. He laments the paucity of geologic knowledge among IPCC scientists — a knowledge that is central to understanding climate change, in his view, since geologic processes ultimately determine the level of atmospheric CO2.


“The IPCC needs a lesson in geology to avoid making fundamental mistakes,” he says. “Most leading geologists, throughout the world, know that the IPCC’s view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible.”


Catastrophic theories of climate change depend on carbon dioxide staying in the atmosphere for long periods of time — otherwise, the CO2 enveloping the globe wouldn’t be dense enough to keep the heat in. Until recently, the world of science was near-unanimous that CO2 couldn’t stay in the atmosphere for more than about five to 10 years because of the oceans’ near-limitless ability to absorb CO2.


“This time period has been established by measurements based on natural carbon-14 and also from readings of carbon-14 from nuclear weapons testing, it has been established by radon-222 measurements, it has been established by measurements of the solubility of atmospheric gases in the oceans, it has been established by comparing the


isotope mass balance, it has been established through other mechanisms, too, and over many decades, and by many scientists in many disciplines,” says Prof. Segalstad, whose work has often relied upon such measurements.


Then, with the advent of IPCC-influenced science, the length of time that carbon stays in the atmosphere became controversial. Climate change scientists began creating carbon cycle models to explain what they thought must be an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These computer models calculated a long life for carbon dioxide.


Amazingly, the hypothetical results from climate models have trumped the real world measurements of carbon dioxide’s longevity in the atmosphere. Those who claim that CO2 lasts decades or centuries have no such measurements or other physical evidence to support their claims.


Neither can they demonstrate that the various forms of measurement are erroneous.


“They don’t even try,” says Prof. Segalstad. “They simply dismiss evidence that is, for all intents and purposes, irrefutable. Instead, they substitute their faith, constructing a kind of science fiction or fantasy world in the process.”


In the real world, as measurable by science, CO2 in the atmosphere and in the ocean reach a stable balance when the oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. “The IPCC postulates an atmospheric doubling of CO2, meaning that the oceans would need to receive 50 times more CO2 to obtain chemical equilibrium,” explains Prof. Segalstad. “This total of 51 times the present amount of carbon in atmospheric CO2 exceeds the known reserves of fossil carbon— it represents more carbon than exists in all the coal, gas, and oil that we can exploit anywhere in the world.”


Also in the real world, Prof. Segalstad’s isotope mass balance calculations — a standard technique in science — show that if CO2 in the atmosphere had a lifetime of 50 to 200 years, as claimed by IPCC scientists, the atmosphere would necessarily have half of its current CO2 mass. Because this is a nonsensical outcome, the IPCC model postulates that half of the CO2 must be hiding somewhere, in “a missing sink.” Many studies have sought this missing sink — a Holy Grail of climate science research— without success.


“It is a search for a mythical CO2 sink to explain an immeasurable CO2 lifetime to fit a hypothetical CO2 computer model that purports to show that an impossible amount of fossil fuel burning is heating the atmosphere,” Prof. Segalstad concludes.


“It is all a fiction.”


Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.


CV of a denier


Prof. Tom V. Segalstad is head of the Geological Museum within the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo. Formerly, he was head of the Mineralogical-Geologic-al Museum at the University of Oslo, director of the Natural History Museums and Botanical Garden of the University of Oslo, and program chairman for mineralogy/petrology/ geochemistry at the University of Oslo. His research projects include geological mapping in Norway, Svalbard (Arctic), Sweden and Iceland, and have involved geochemistry, volcanology, metallogenesis (how mineral and ore deposits form) and magmatic petrogenesis (how magmatic rocks form). He was an expert reviewer to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report.




What global warming, Australian skeptic asks (Deniers, Part 30) (National Post, 070717)


Bob Carter, a professor at James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide (South Australia), is a paleontologist, a stratigrapher, and a marine geologist.


He has been chair of the National Marine Science and Technologies Committee, director of the Australian Office of the Ocean Drilling Program, and chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council.


He is Cambridge educated.


And he is an outspoken global-warming skeptic.


Most global-warming skeptics criticize the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on limited grounds — they might view the science put forth by the IPCC to be at odds with science in their particular discipline, for example, or they might object to the IPCC’s secrecy, or they might object to the IPCC’s failure to observe standard peer-review practices. Moreover, when they object they generally do so quietly, often without naming names and only in private.


Prof. Carter objects on multiple grounds and in multiple arenas; he names names and he will set the record straight, even when those he believes to be in the wrong are fellow skeptics.


NASA chief Michael Griffin, for example, is a skeptic because he thinks that global warming may be beneficial, that it is not worth worrying about, and that, in any case, we wouldn’t be able to stop it, even if we wanted to. But Dr. Griffin also thinks that a global-warming trend is certainly underway, and to this Prof. Carter takes objection.


Dr. Griffin’s “opinion is unsupported by the evidence,” Prof. Carter wrote in rebuttal. “The accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4%) in atmospheric carbon dioxide.


“Second, lower-atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little, if any, global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17%).”


Moreover, Prof. Carter adds, credible scientists predict global cooling. How then can Dr. Griffin boldly assert that humans are causing global warming?


One of the most contentious areas of climate-change science involves computer General Circulation Models (GCMs), the predictive tool that generate most of the scary scenarios that arouse public alarm. Prof. Carter has long been a critic of these models, which claim to project for us what the climate will be in the year 2100.


In the past, Prof. Carter has drawn the ire of global-warming proponents with his GCM critiques. Now, to his satisfaction, he has support in his critique from an unlikely source — Kevin Trenberth, whom he thinks of as “one of the advisory high priests of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”


As Dr. Trenberth recently acknowledged to Nature journal’s Climate Feedback blog, IPCC models cannot predict future climate because they don’t reflect reality: “None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate,” he stated.


“Moreover, the starting climate state in several of the models may depart significantly from the real climate owing to model errors. I postulate that regional climate change is impossible to deal with properly unless the models are initialized.”


While these statements warrant Prof. Carter’s approval , others do not, such as Dr. Trenberth’s claim that people have mistakenly believed that the IPCC makes predictions: “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been,” claims Dr. Trenberth.


To which Prof. Carter notes an audit at the 27th International Symposium on Forecasting presented earlier this month. It found that “in apparent contradiction to claims by some climate experts that the IPCC provides ‘projections’ and not ‘forecasts’, the word ‘forecast’ and its derivatives occurred 37 times, and ‘predict’ and its derivatives occur 90 times” in a chapter from the IPCC’s latest report.


“There is no predictive value in the current generation of computer GCMs and therefore the alarmist IPCC statements about human-caused global warming are unjustified,” he concludes. Until others conclude so too, expect Prof. Carter to continue his critiques without fear or favour.


— - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.




Bob Carter is a Research Professor at University of Adelaide (South Australia) and James Cook University (Queensland), where he headed the School of Earth Sciences between 1981 and 1999. He has published more than 100 papers in international science journals and received numerous awards and prizes from bodies such as the Australian Research Council, the Geological Society of New Zealand, and the Royal Society of New Zealand. He received his PhD in palaeontology in 1968 from the University of Cambridge.




In the eye of the storm over global warming (Deniers, Part 31) (National Post, 070728)


He’s called the world’s most famous hurricane expert, not because he likes to fly into hurricanes to experience them up close — which he does — but because of what he’s learned from them, up there, buffeted by the fury of nature. William Gray has developed an intuitive sense when it comes to understanding the atmosphere in its infinite complexity. This intuition rooted in experience allowed him to pioneer the science of hurricane forecasting more than two decades ago, and subsequently to practice his craft with an unprecedented precision that he keeps refining year after year. He and his colleagues have now reached a 95% accuracy rate in predicting the number of major storms and hurricanes that will occur next season. Insurance companies set their premiums, and government emergency-preparedness authorities set their budgets, on the basis of his pioneering work.


How has Dr. Gray adapted his methods of prediction in light of global warming, to maintain his accuracy rate? He hasn’t. Dr. Gray views recent climate-change science as meaningless “mush,” the product of simplistic computer models that crudely track a handful of factors and ignore the myriad others that influence the weather. Climate is not a contraption with a set number of easily manipulated variables, as you might find in a child’s science construct. Those who try to reduce the climate to suit the rudiments of computer models, he believes, accomplish nothing but the debasing of science. The models, he has demonstrated time and again, are utter failures, incapable even of explaining the past.


Dr. Gray dates his intimacy with hurricanes from Helene, the strongest in the 1958 season. Together with his renowned mentor at the University of Chicago, Herbert Riehl, they talked the pilot of their plane, a converted B-50 Superfortress bomber, into dangerously close encounters with Helene as she skirted the Carolina coasts. Amid 150-mile-per-hour winds pummelling the plane — “we took Dramamine,” he says —he garnered his first inkling of the awesome force of sea and wind.


That real-world experience, and the many other hurricane-hunting forays that followed over the decades, gave him the insights that would lead to brilliant discoveries of how weather and climate worked, insights that theorizing in the abstract could not have produced.


After years of collecting data by flying into storms off Florida, for example, and finding no meaningful local patterns, he decided to investigate whether the forces commanding the immensely variable storms of the Atlantic lay oceans away. He searched for, and found, distant relationships —El Nino in the Pacific correlated with Atlantic storms, as did Atlantic hurricanes and quasi-biannual oscillations. QBIOs are winds in the tropical stratosphere that reverse their course every 12 to 14 months. The westerly QBIOs, Dr. Gray discovered, foretold major Atlantic storms, as did rain in West Africa and Caribbean sea-level pressure.


“The problem was that we’d been looking locally,” Dr. Gray explains. “You had to look globally.” When Dr. Gray says “look,” he means that literally. The fruits of measurement and observation, he believes, can be trusted. Those of theoretical models at odds with the real world are likelier to mislead than to inform.


In 1984, Dr. Gray publicly predicted 17 major events for the coming hurricane season, seven hurricanes and 10 named storms. Startlingly, 17 occurred, almost as predicted (five hurricanes and 12 named storms materialized). He has been publicly predicting ever since, with a success rate that has been growing over the years as new insights, born of new experiences, led him to more suppositions about how the atmosphere could and could not work.


“In tropical cyclones, he’s got the best legacy of anyone,” acknowledges Greg Holland, who earned his doctorate under Dr. Gray’s tutelage and is now a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “He’s got former students running major organizations around the world.” Yet this former student, like many of the others whose careers Dr. Gray launched, now disparages Dr. Gray’s skepticism of climate change, and believes his time has passed.


Many of those former students now running major organizations, and others too, now shun this legendary figure in his field, saying that he has marginalized himself. Most funders now refuse to back his work at Colorado State University, some whispering that his success rate in predictions has come of dumb luck. To carry on with the limited funding available to him—he still receives two modest research grants, one from the National Science Foundation for hurricane research, the other from Lexington Insurance Co. of Boston for U.S. hurricane landfall probability prediction — Dr. Gray, now in his 70s, has scaled back his projects and also contributed some$100,000 from his retirement savings.


If he recanted on his views of global warming and subscribed to fears of catastrophe, if he rehabilitated himself and embraced computer models over observation, generous funding would almost certainly appear. But Dr. Gray has no intention of recanting: “I have a bit of an obligation, at my age — I was trained to tell the truth. There’s a lot of hogwash in this.”




William Gray is Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, where he has worked since 1961. His many tropical field experiments were directed to the study of cumulus convection, condensation heating, evaporation cooling, sea-air energy-moisture exchange and hurricane formation. He heads the university’s Tropical Meteorology Project, which publishes yearly forecasts for tropical storms, named storms, typhoons, hurricanes and intense hurricanes. He holds M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in meteorology and geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago.