Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bizarre Article On Global Warming From The Wall Street Journal

(I made the following post several weeks ago. Recently, The Union of Concerned Scientists took decisive action to refute the Wall Street Journal nonsense, see below, that originally prompted this essay. Here is UCS’ response -

I've altered the chronological sequence of the following correspondence to insure that the most important parts come first.

The Wall Street Journal article, "No Need To Panic About Global Warming is a collection of opinions by scientists speaking outside their areas of expertise. (I have positioned "No Need To Panic" at the bottom of this post.

Frankly, I'm surprised at myself. It took decades to realize The Wall Street Journal has the integrity of Wall Street itself.

Dear Ed,

I just discovered the following website with a "must see" NASA video.  (It was posted on the Facebook page of my town's mayor, Tom Stevens.)




On Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 10:46 PM, Ed M wrote:

"The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (set up by President Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues), as well as major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research have stated that the science is clear: The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible.".....and 97% of climate scientists agree. What is the additional information your analytical brain needs to take it seriously?    Ed

From: carl w
To: Ed M
Sent: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:19 AM

Ed:  this probably answers the question as well as any.  forward to Alan.  carl

Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate
  • Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.

You published "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" (op-ed, Jan. 27) on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science. 
Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter. And computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.
Thus, climate experts also know what one of us, Kevin Trenberth, actually meant by the out-of-context, misrepresented quote used in the op-ed. Mr. Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend.
The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (set up by President Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues), as well as major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research have stated that the science is clear: The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase. Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases.
Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses. In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.
Kevin Trenberth, Sc.D.
Distinguished Senior Scientist
Climate Analysis Section National Center for Atmospheric Research

On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 6:52 PM, Ed Myer <> wrote:
Alan:   Do you know any details on the "scientists" behind the Denial of Global Warming effort?   I don't know if any of those at the bottom of this missive will ring a bell for you (?)     If you have something compelling, pass it on to me... Ed


Ed:  you may need to straighten these guys out.  carl

No Need to Panic About Global Warming

There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word "incontrovertible" from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them. (Alan here... Lysenko was an ideologue from start to finish. He was not interested in the data. You, I and all other people with scientific orientation delight in grappling with the data and are eager for the dismissal of false data. Unlike right wing ideologues, Truth means more than political victory. "The Republican philosophy might be summarized thus: To hell with principle; what matters is power, and that we have it, and that they do not.” "Where the Right Went Wrong" - Pat Buchanan, the living American who has spent most time advising inside the White House.

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

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

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

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

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.


(What follows is a little rough but I will soon "tighten it up" and post it to my blog.)

Dear Ed,

Thanks for your email.

My reply is long, but worthwhile. 

The bulk of the verbiage that follows is attributable to an article - complete with "user comments" - that I've pasted in its entirety. 

If pressed for time, you can skip this reference altogether.

Here goes...

The Wall Street Journal article you sent contains an embedded video-interview with Princeton Physics professor, William Happer. 

In that interview, Happer says: "Most people like me believe that industrial emissions will contribute to global warming."

Happer's bottom line is not an argument against fact of anthropogenic global warming (which the Wall Street Journal has long tried to discredit) but an argument with the purported lack of global warming after the year 2000 which, in some quarters, has resulted in a perception that computer-model predictions have been inflated.

Happer goes so far as to say that global warming may be beneficial to humankind insofar as it will increase agricultural production.

However, given the ongoing desertification in the American southwest - and elsewhere in the world - Happer's view in this regard strikes me as a naive generalization, one that is clearly outside his purview as a physicist. (One wonders if Professor Happer has spoken with his Princeton fellows in Botany and Horticulture.) 

 Here's an article from today's press that points to the contraction of agricultural output as a function of global warming -

As I see it, Happer's twice-stated belief in the presumed "benefits" of global warming calls into question his overall judgement.

Happer conclusion is that we "do nothing for several decades" to see how things play out. 

If indeed the planet has not warmed significantly since 2000 (which the data below does not indicate) -- the cause of this purported "pause" in AGW could be "the melting ice in Greenland and the Poles," combined with melting permafrost, so that both factors create the effect ice cubes have when placed in a mint julip: i.e., the ambient temperature remains the same, but the refrigerated liquids within the overall domain cool. (We do know -- incontrovertibly -- that ocean temperatures have risen throughout the last decade, which, alone, goes a long way to refuting the dubious claims made by "16 scientists." N.B. The only purported climate scientist on the list of signatories, William Kininmonth of Australia, does not hold a doctorate. According to his Wikipedia page, Mr. Kininmonth is a meteorologist, not a climate scientist. Notably, meteorologists often argue against anthropogenic global warming whereas bona fide research climatologists, to my knowledge, never do By the way, the committee that launched his book against global warming was chaired by Hugh Morgan, the President of the Business Council of Australia. Despite his sparse scientific credentials, Kininmonth does hold a Masters of Administration degree from Monash University (wherever the hell that is... Monash... Sounds vaguely Iranian. ;>)  

I just discovered the following webpage whose author investigates the background of "all" 16 signatories. Although he has only had time to discover pertinent information on five of them, his findings are what I would expect - a group of quirky characters, with shady politics and shady "pasts.

Or (resuming my earlier theme) perhaps less sea ice augments seawater's absorption of heat through some combination of conduction, radiation, "expanded surface area" and "expanded volume."

Clearly, I am not a climate scientist, so I do not know if any of my speculation carries weight. 

That said, the following webpage does carry weight. 

Considerable weight.

N.B. I have pasted extensive "user comments" to the following page - comments which, by-and-large, exhibit the careful thinking of "scientific minds," not "shoot from the hip" jabberwock characteristic of right-wing ideologues. If you have neither time nor patience for "all this," be sure to see the continuation of my analysis immediately following "user comments" (below).

What has global warming done since 1998?

The skeptic argument...
It hasn't warmed since 1998
For the years 1998-2005, temperature did not increase. 
This period coincides with society's continued pumping of more CO2 into the atmosphere. (Bob Carter)
What the science says...
Select a level...
Description: Basic

For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005.
No, it hasn't been cooling since 1998. Even if we ignore long term trends and just look at the record-breakers, that wasn't the hottest year ever. Different reports show that, overall, 2005 was hotter than 1998. What's more, globally, the hottest 12-month period ever recorded was from June 2009 to May 2010.
Though humans love record-breakers, they don't, on their own, tell us a much about trends -- and it's trends that matter when monitoring Climate Change. Trends only appear by looking at all the data, globally, and taking into account other variables -- like the effects of the El Nino ocean current or sunspot activity -- not by cherry-picking single points.
There's also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can perhaps give us a better idea how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans for instance -- due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called 'thermal mass') -- tend to give a much more 'steady' indication of the warming that is happening. Here records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there's no signs of it slowing any time soon.
Last updated on 17 August 2010 by John Russell.
Further reading
Tamino further explores the warming trend since 1998 in Garbage is Forever and Wiggles.
I've kept my original treatment of the subject as other websites hotlink to the images. My original treatment uses similar arguments to Fawcett and Jones 2008 although their analysis is much more rigorous (as you'd expect in a peer-reviewed paper).

1  2  3  Next
 (Alan here... The comments are superb but too long to post here. Please see

While contemplating "No Need to Worry About Global Warming," consider the following parallel with Linus Pauling, the only person to win two Nobel Prizes. 

Pauling's advocacy of  the miraculous benefits of Vitamin C mega-doses was as wrong as any fly-by-night snake oil salesman, even though he voiced his views from within his area of prize-winning expertise. 


Recall for a moment, the expertise of  William Kininmonth, holder of a Masters Degree in Administration from Monash University (best known for its Zarathustrian Seminary  ;>) - 

The Right Wing "makes shit float" because American "conservatism" is populated by so many dimwits - aggressively ignorant, anti-scientific crackpots, eager to fill the web with sludge - very much like a sewer backing up.
In any "demographic" there will always be a group of contrarians, which leads me to the hypothesis that the issue "in play" is not so much scientific as psychological. 

Furthermore, the fact that the signatories of "Don't Panic" contain no real climate scientists reveals a situation in which we have the rough equivalent of consulting with The Car Guys" to advance cutting edge research in "controlled nuclear fusion."
In the WSJ video interview, recall that both interviewer -- and Happer -- are more than a little "off": the interviewer is a glib dimwit who thinks The Left is "out to destroy industry," whereas Happer (a rather hapless fellow) validates the mechanism of anthropogenic global warming but goes on to posit a dubious interpretation of "trend lines," finally arguing that we should see if  the wildly-speculated benefit of increased agricultural productivity outweighs the negative effects of greenhouse gasses on the very atmosphere that makes Life possible.

If it is true that we have another 30-50 years before crossing "the point of no return," this global warming grace period "should" be construed as "just what we need" to turn the tide - a tide that is currently swamping us... and our coasts. Whole inhabited islands have already disappeared.  ///  ///  
I would also note that a small group of scientists - and 16 is a minuscule group - does not automatically comprise a group of "reasonable policy-makers." 
Nazi physician Mengele headed a group of far more than 16 capable scientists all of whom got their political priorities wrong. Completely wrong.
The last time The Specious Right "got mileage" from seeming refutation of global warming was when England's Lord Monckton made the following argument:
If you have patience for a meticulous, elegantly scientific refutation of Monckton, see  It is a scrupulous "textbook" refutation of ideologically driven falsehood, which - sadly - also reveals the pains that must be taken to un-ring bells that can "never" be un-rung.
Tens of thousand of serious, peer-reviewed research scientists (belonging to a growing group of such scientists) are scientifically certain that anthropogenic global warming (caused by greenhouse gasses) is already wreaking havoc on the planet. 
"Wall Street Journal Industrialists ---" ever eager to make a quick buck (even if it puts the United States at insurmountable economic disadvantage by failing to deploy sustainable energy sources NOW, particularly when oil's "days are numbered" even if we "squeeze the sponge tighter for another 50 years") ---- are trying to resurrect a dead business model. 

Despite their "last gasp" (and "last gasps" are typically quite loud) fossil fuels are on their way out. And those nations which first develop solar grids (and, I think, geothermal) will be the ones that "win" the future.
Once again, "the forces of Wall Street" (and I see ever less difference between reckless Wall Street bankers and the editorial slant of their flacks at the Wall Street Journal) have assembled a small cadre of scientific wankers in a bogus attempt to refute the ever-mounting consensus of peer-reviewed scientists operating in their field of expertise.
Carl should also be reminded that the Pentagon (and Joint Chiefs) are preparing furiously for the catastrophic geopolitical effects that are overwhelmingly likely to accompany global warming. 

Would Carl like to see them do an about face? 

Also, does Carl think these 16 little league contrarians (operating outside their fields of expertise) are anything other than a non-recurring blip on The Big Screen? (I do not have sufficient statistical skill to analyse the post-2000 "global warming charts." But I do know that 2005 and 2010 were the warmest years on record.  ///  ///    

I have also seen the effects of global warming personally while conducting work in the Yucatan. Since establishing my business in Yucatan, I have seen -- with my naked eyes -- serious beach erosion on the two coasts I frequent (north and east). 

Perhaps the most compromising component of the WSJ piece is the bogus allegation that researchers deliberately advance "the global warming hoax" to secure research money. 

As we've known since Ike warned against the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex, the BIG research money is in traditional defense research, not global warming.   ///

Given the comprehensive paranoia that surrounds "homeland security," it is plain-as-potatoes that any researcher can devise a "defense angle" to tap The Really Big Bucks, if indeed money is what motivates them. 

On the face of it, I see this allegation of scientific venality as a psychological projection of the greedy minds of the conservative-reactionary-neo-fascist industrialists, minds that sleep with the anti-scientific, anti-rational bozos who constitute the Republican Base

It is risible that The Right makes allegations of "research profiteering" when very few people -- including those "on the right" -- disbelieve the ubiquitous extent of defense profiteering - at every conceivable level, not just research. 

If you have yet to see the documentary "Why We Fight," I strongly encourage you to watch it. The "hero," ironically, is Dwight Eisenhower. "Why We Fight" is freely available online. Go ahead... make your day!   ///

Speaking of American paranoia, I highly recommend Zbigniew Brzezinski's interview with Diane Rehm - 

More generally, I think any understanding of America's persistent paranoia requires at least one reading of Hofstadter's classic, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." No gringo policy-maker should even think about trotting out his ponies until this cornerstone masterwork is taken to heart -  ///
On the flip side of "16 Scientists" here is a recent NPR report entitled "Climate Change: Public Skeptical, Scientists Sure," arguing that the reality of anthropogenic global warming is settled science.
No matter where people stand on the issue, it is impossible to refute the message of the following cartoon. Those who attempt refutation were, I think, afflicted by Oppositional-Defiant Disorder while young, and have now "graduated" to fully-certified obstreperousness.
 is global warming a hoax, & what if
One way or another, modern "conservatives" are dangerous people who propagate falsehood as zealously as The Prince of Darkness propagates obfuscation and bafflegab.
Pax on both houses,
PS In "Don't Panic," I would note that Lysenko - with whom the WSJ author draws a parallel - was an ideologue born-and-bred. He was not interested in "the data" - and did not subscribe to, nor honor, any rubric of intellectual rigor. You and I -- and all other people of scientific orientation -- delight in grappling with "the data" and are eager for its dismissal when proven false. However, unlike right-wing ideologues, Truth means more to us than political victory. This is why liberals endure so much division. We are, by nature, inquisitive people drawn to Truth wherever it lies, not where we want to find it. As Pat Buchanan, the living American who has spent most time advising inside the White House, put it: "The Republican philosophy might be summarized thus: To hell with principle; what matters is power, and that we have it, and that they do not.” "Where the Right Went Wrong" -

No comments:

Post a Comment