George Bernard Shaw’s comment that, “A man never tells you anything until you contradict him” certainly applies to promoters of human caused global warming. They react quickly and predictably to contradictions identified in the ‘consensus’ climate science. The pattern of the reactions identifies what is wrong with the practice of climate science. It also shows why the consensus should not serve as the basis for any energy or economic policy.
The US economic stimulus package includes $400 million for climate research, but it isn’t needed because the science is settled. But sarcasm aside, the money will not improve the science because government funding goes to thwart not to advance science. Up to now money was used to prove an hypothesis not disprove it as is the normal scientific method and this practice will not change. Every time evidence emerges questioning the hypothesis it becomes the focus for a counterattack.
This began early when the traditional scientific method of disproving a hypothesis was usurped for political purposes. The anthropogenic global warming hypothesis (AGW) assumes:
1. CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere through the ill-named greenhouse effect.
2 An increase in atmospheric CO2 will cause global temperatures to rise.
3. Atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase because of growing human economies using fossil fuels.
Those who tried to practice good science were quickly marginalized, while a small group of mostly government funded scientists shifted to defending the hypothesis by any means. This included trying to discredit research that showed it was wrong or by producing studies that appeared to show support. A major theme of the early days was to prove CO2 was increasing and causing temperature increase. This collapsed when the ice core record that AGW proponents used to show CO2 increases were causing temperature increase was shown to do exactly the opposite. More recently, that is from 2000 to the present, temperatures have declined while CO2 levels continue to increase.
This recent pattern triggered two responses that typify the dilemma of being forced to defend the indefensible. It’s a treadmill accentuated and aggravated by having convinced politicians that the hypothesis is proved. They effectively abandoned the CO2 argument and focused on the temperature. They also essentially ignored the cooling trend, which according to the IPCC conclusions should not occur at all. Instead they claim the current decade is the warmest in the record. The UK weather office writes
, “Global temperatures for 2000-2008 now stand almost 0.2 °C warmer than the average for the decade 1990–1999.”
It is essential to keep the thought in people’s minds that we are warmer now than ever before. There are several of examples of previous efforts to do this. There is a pattern that appears to indicate premeditation not to seek the truth but perpetuate the myth.
Either a new problem is found that contradicts the AGW hypothesis, or a serious flaw is discovered in the existing argument. Relatively quickly a research article appears, usually authored by several people, which claims the opposite. Because of the Internet, a legion of people now seize on the research and identify the flaws. It doesn’t matter much because the story is headlined and remains in the public mind even if it is totally discredited. It also remains on the Internet and shows up whenever a search is done.
The best known example of a discredited story that perpetuates is the “hockey stick” which was designed to achieve the objective expressed in an email to Professor Deming from a leading AGW advocate: “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” This was necessary because hundreds of research articles from a multitude of sources showed the period 1000 years ago was clearly warmer than present conditions. It made a lie of the claim that today’s temperatures were warmer than any previous period.
Another period of significantly warmer temperatures occurred 3000 to 9000 years ago known as the Holocene Optimum. Here is the plot of temperatures for the period from Greenland ice cores:
Present day is on the left and the rapid warming out of the last Ice Age is on the right. You can see it was warmer for most of the last 9000 years. Indeed, it was much warmer on several occasions than even the most dramatic global warming predictions. You can also see how much the temperature varies naturally all the time. Nice graph, but more dramatic evidence is seen in this photograph taken by Professor Ritchie of the University of Toronto.
This is a White Spruce 100 km north of the current tree line and radiocarbon dated as 4940 years (± 140) B.P. The tree rings are wider than those of the nearest present-day forest well to the south. Certainly temperatures indicated by the Greenland ice core are necessary for a tree of this dimension to grow this far north, that is 3 to 4° C warmer than at present. This warmer period was rejected with claims it only occurred in the northern hemisphere and with summer temperatures
Actually, there is evidence globally for the Holocene Optimum, but more important is the claim made for the cause. They quote NOAA, “…we clearly know the cause of this natural warming, and know without doubt that this proven “astronomical” climate forcing mechanism cannot be responsible for the warming over the last 100 years.” The astronomical cause reference is to changes in a) the orbit of the earth around the sun b) the tilt of the earth and c) the date in the year when equinox occurs, collectively known as the Milankovitch Effect. The claim that this Effect does not explain temperature of the last 100 years is unsupportable because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) computer model does not include the Milankovitch effect.
The most recent example of an attempt to counteract facts that challenged the AGW hypothesis occurred with the publication of an article in Nature on January 2009. Antarctica has challenged the AGW hypothesis because records at the South Pole and other stations over most of Antarctica showed cooling since 1957 (The International Geophysical Year) with the exception a few stations on the Antarctic Peninsula. Written by six authors, including Michael Mann who produced the hockey stick, the article claimed
it has actually warmed.
Steve McIntyre, who with Ross McKitrick exposed the hockey stick, quickly identified serious flaws with the paper. He dismantled the claims of the paper by showing how it misused data and method to show a warming Antarctica. One commentator who has followed the manipulation of climate data and science for some time described the paper as
, “Yet another example of the ‘research’ masquerading as science that is used to reinforce the man-made global warming fraud.”
Yes it is another example, but it follows a predictable pattern; what in criminal terms is called a modus operandi (M.O). Unfortunately, this type of research will continue for the foreseeable future, fuelled by the $400 million from the stimulus package. It will spawn more research directed to proving rather than disproving the hypothesis, including research created to contradict those that contradict.
Copyright © 2009
“Dr. Tim Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball employs his extensive background in climatology and other fields as an advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition
, Friends of Science
and the [url]http://www.fcpp.org/main/index.php]Frontier Centre for Public Policy[/url].”