Tuesday, 29 May 2007

More Crap About Climate Change

Following the U.S. Senate's vote today on a global warming measure (see today's AP article: Senate Defeats Climate Change Measure,) it is an opportune time to examine the recent and quite remarkable momentum shift taking place in climate science. Many former believers in catastrophic man-made global warming have recently reversed themselves and are now climate skeptics. The names included below are just a sampling of the prominent scientists who have spoken out recently to oppose former Vice President Al Gore, the United Nations, and the media driven “consensus” on man-made global warming.

(Source)1

From the website of US Senator Jim Inhofe (Republican - no surprise, Oklahoma).

The article, by one Marc Morano, claims that a consensus is building against anthropogenic global warming. He names thirteen experts who have seen the light and recanted. The list is:

  1. Dr. Claude Allegre
  2. Bruno Wiskel
  3. Dr. Nir Shaviv
  4. Dr. David Evans
  5. Dr. Tad Murty
  6. Dr. David Bellamy
  7. Dr. Chris de Freitas
  8. Dr. Reid Bryson
  9. Hans H.J. Labohm
  10. Tim Patterson
  11. Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski
  12. Dr. Ian D. Clark
  13. Dr. Jan Veizer

The article gives brief summary of the alleged opinions of each of these parties. Reading through the list, alarm bells started ringing when I got to number six, David Bellamy. This prompted me to have a look at some of the others.

A bit of google balsting has shown that the article by Morano is everywhere on the internet, reproduced on denier and conservative websites to much jubilation. It needs to be examined sceptically, because I don't think it is an honest article.

I'll start with the easiest one, the entry which made me suspect the article was crap - DAVID BELLAMY. David Bellamy is a splendid chap, a wonderful TV personality and, for years a great campaigner for the protection of the natural world. He 'came out' as a global warming sceptic in 2004, so his inclusion on this list as a newly converted sceptic is a bit puzzling. Further, Bellamy announced in 2005 that he was going to "draw back from the debate on global warming" (2) when the claims he made were questioned the claims he made were called into question.(3)

I wouldn't count Bellamy as an evil lying bastard, he got it wrong and did the sensible, honourable thing, which is to admit as much and shut up. So he's off the list. It is - shall we say - surprising that he was ever on it, given that the list was compiled in 2007 and Bellamy's departure from the scene was in 2005.

So, with Bellamy gone, that leaves 12 ...

CLAUDE ALLEGRE

The source article describes Allegre as "a top geophysicist and French Socialist" which is presumably meant to show climate scepticism crosses all politcal and national boundaries. Even French socialists and American Republicans can stand shoulder to shoulder on this issue.

Allegre, was 'one of the first scientists to sound global warming fears 20 years ago'(4) but 'now says the cause of climate change is "unknown" and accused the “prophets of doom of global warming” of being motivated by money'(5). Unlike the noble Senator Inhofe, who was only second on the list of senators who had their 2002 elections funded by oil and gas interests.(6)

Allegre also grumbles that "the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people" and advises us to be cautious in our assessment of cliamte change. This all in an article in LÉxpress, titled The Snows of Kilimanjaro.(7)

Reading the article, I'm not sure it is the recantation Morano claims it is. Allegre is discussing the changes witnessed on Kilimanjaro, and is stating that these changes are not caused by anthropogenic global warming, but local, non-anthropogenic, climate change:

The gradual retreat of the snows of Kilimanjaro is often imputed to local phenomena, the main one of these being desertification in East Africa. In a recent issue of Science magazine, French researchers have shown that this desertification was in a large measure due to tectonic activities responsible for the gradual uplift of the African continent, thereby inducing a reorganization of atmospheric circulation. Greenhouse effect plays no significant role in these processes. (8)

Which is fair enough. Every cold winter does not prove global warming isn't happening. Every example of local warming doesn't prove it is. Attributing every variation in climate to global warming when the science does not support it is wrong and plays into the hands of the global warming deniers. That is his point.

Further, the Morano article claims Allegre 'now says the cause of climate change is "unknown"'(9), but this is not so based on the Kilimanjaro article. Referring to recent erratic weather patterns in France, Allegre states 'The cause of this climate change is unknown,'(10) which is clearly referring to the specific instances cited, i.e. the infamous heatwave that blighted Europe in 2003 or what he calls the "Rotten summer."(11)

Allegre actually states, as far as I can judge, that he accepts anthropogenic warming is occuring:

But the exposure of man's responsibility as regards global warming allows us to sit idly by (the effect of the measures advocated will be felt only in half a century!). On the other hand, the crusade against extreme theories can be led with tangible results!(12)

Put plainly, Allegre is not, on the strength of this article, denying the existance on anthropogenic global warming. He is, as Morano says, lambasting alarmists, but his definition of an alarmist is probably very different from Morano's.

Incidentally, the Morano article also cites a profile in Canada's National Post as further evidence of Allegre's new-found scepticism. It doesn't offer much new - it cites the same LÉxpress article, though it uses quotation more honestly and describes Allegre's position not so much as that of a a climate change denier (though it is part of a series called The Deniers), but as someone fustrated at the hysteria that has congealed around global warming:

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. (13)

(http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=2f4cc62e-5b0d-4b59-8705-fc28f14da388)

So, unless someone can provide more conclusive evidence of Allegre's recantation, he's off the list. So we're down to 11 ...

BRUNO WISKEL

Morano describes Wiskel as a "Geologist ... of the University of Alberta"(14). It is a cheap shot, but, at the end of the day, is climate change in the late 20th century really part of geology? Unless, of course, climate change is caused by geological factors, which I haven't heard so far.

There isn't much information available online for Wiskel. He did write a book called "The Emperor’s New Climate: Debunking the Myths of Global Warming", but without knowing what is in that book, what can we say? The title is suggestive: "Debunking the Myths of Global Warming" hints that the author isn't denying that global warming is happening. Otherwise, the title would be "Debunking the Myth of Global Warming". Notice the difference? Incidentally, on climate change denier websites, the book is almost always referred to as "The Emperor's New Climate: Debunking the Myth of Global Warming". Sad.

But with little information on Wiskel's stance, all I can say is he seems a really hoopy frood(15), designing energy efficient homes and advising people on how to live a sustainable life style. His criticisms seem to be directed more at the way people are responding to climate change - by trying to balance out their lifestyles, rather than modify them - rather than claiming it isn't happening. For what it is worth, here's what I found on Wiskel and his book. (16)

That's right. One lousy review. Clearly, Wiskel lives by his principles and does not maintain a website. For that, I salute him, whatever his views may be. Like I said, a hoopy frood. But without further verification of his position, he's off the list.

So, that's down to 10 ...

1 - "Climate Momentum Shifting: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics," by Marc Morano, May 15, 2007. (http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=927b9303-802a-23ad-494b-dccb00b51a12)
2 - "In an adverse climate," letter by David Bellamy to The Times, May 29, 2005 . (
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article527565.ece)
3 - "Junk science: David Bellamy's inaccurate and selective figures on glacier shrinkage are a boon to climate change deniers," by George Monbiot, May 10th, 2005.
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1480279,00.html)
4 - Morano, Op. Cit.
5 - Morano, Op. Cit.
6 - The Centre for Representative Politics,
http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/recips.asp?Ind=E01&Cycle=2002&recipdetail=A&Mem=N&sortorder=U.
7 - "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," by Claude Allegre, September 21, 2006. Published in L'Express, reproduced here:
http://blog.nam.org/The%20Snows%20of%20Mount%20Kilimanjaro.pdf.
8 - ibid.
9 - Morano, Op. Cit.
10 - Allegre,
Op. Cit.
11 -
Ibid.
12 - Ibid.
13 - "Allegre's second thoughts," by Laurence Solomon, Financial Post', March 02, 2007. (
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=2f4cc62e-5b0d-4b59-8705-fc28f14da388)
14 - Morano, Op. Cit.
15 - A "Hoopy frood" is a term originating in the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by sci-fi writer and
environmentalist Douglas Adams. It translates, from galactic slang into English, as "A really together guy, a really amazingly together guy." (
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=A+really+hoopy+frood)
16 - "This Environmentalist’s View of Climate Change Isn’t What You’d Expect," review of The Emperor's New Climate: Debunking the Myths of Global Warming, published in The Pegg, November 2006. (
http://www.apegga.com/members/publications/peggs/Web11-06/climate_change.html)

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