Climate change denier and U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla) published a report just before Christmas with the headline: "Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007." Does that leave you surprised and wondering? It shouldn't. It's a shocker of a headline, but the report itself doesn't back up the claim. The Inhofe report is 156 pages long. The eight-page introduction - all that most people will read - describes the report and its goals, and gives selected highlights. The body of the report is a series of profiles starting with a sentence or two of biography followed by quotes questioning the validity of climate science.
The aim of the report is to refute that only a handful of scientists - mostly in the pocket of oil companies - still dispute that global warming is happening, and that it's caused by human activities. To this end, Inhofe's aides scoured the internet for quotes from skeptical "scientists". I put this word in quotes because not all the "over 400 prominent scientists" are truly scientists. As the report itself states, the list includes economists and engineers. These may be smart people, but a smart person without expertise in climate science is still a person without expertise in climate science.
Some of these "over 400 scientists" have not published any climate science-related research. I did a search on the terms "climate," "weather," and "carbon dioxide" in the extensive ISI Web of Science database, and did not find, for example, James Hammond, a chemist; statistician Bjorn Lomborg (author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, not a peer-reviewed scientific publication); and physicist Antonio Zichichi.
Others are published, but while their results are consistent with the consensus view, their interpretations are not. For example, Duncan Wingham observed that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing rather than shrinking (true), but then said this is not "favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming." In fact, although the Greenland Ice Sheet is projected to melt and contribute to sea-level rise over the next century, the Antarctic is projected to gain ice in the near term due to heavier snowfall induced by global warming. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report states:Current global model studies project that the Antarctic Ice Sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.
[Another heads I win, tails you lose proposition: Global warming can make the ice either grow or shrink. Whatever happens is "proof" of global warming. In philosophy, an unfalsifiable proposition like that is regarded as simply meaningless. And note that the same "warming" is supposed to be causing less ice in the arctic and more ice in the antarctic all at the same time. That warming sure is pesky stuff!]
Then there are the many others making statements that are simply incorrect. The highlights of the report - presumably its best shots - contain one factual error after another. Here is a sampling, with responses from Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and science advisor to Environmental Defense:Even if the concentration of 'greenhouse gases' double man would not perceive the temperature impact. -Oleg Sorochtin
MO: Wrong. Earth is well short of a doubling of CO2, yet changes are apparent not only to scientists, but to the "man in the street" - warmer winters, a melting Arctic. These are closely tied to the buildup of greenhouse gases.
[So the "man in the street" is an authority now! And even if changes are apparent to all, it still does not prove that CO2 caused them]The effect of solar winds on cosmic radiation has just recently been established and, furthermore, there seems to be a good correlation between cloudiness and variations in the intensity of cosmic radiation. Here we have a mechanism which is a far better explanation to variations in global climate than the attempts by IPCC to blame it all on anthropogenic input of greenhouse gases. -Boris Winterhalter
MO: This theory is decades old and has been examined closely. The underlying correlations have been shown to be spurious, and there is no physical mechanism shown to connect cosmic rays to climate.
[An outright lie. Svensmark not only proposed a theory to connect the events but demonstrated it experimentally]
There is much more of the same low intellectual standard so I will at this point go straight on to a few comments by others:
1). Somehow Michael Oppenheimer is portrayed as the authority to refute over 400 scientists? Also, EDF claims that peer-reviewed research is all we should pay attention to, but the Senate report includes a section toward the end of an extensive sampling of recent peer-reviewed studies debunking man-made climate fears. It is obvious that the environmentalists are running scared as they realize the huge international impact this Senate report is having in redefining the climate change debate. (For sampling of media impact, see here )
Most significantly, there is no assertion by EDF or Oppenheimer in this rebuttal of the alleged overwhelming "consensus" on man-made global warming. Have they given up that unfounded argument so easily in the face of the Senate report? So far, the below is the best counter anyone has offered to the Senate Report. They attack, you decide.
2). Notice that ED styles Wang as a "climate scientist". His PhD is in Earth and Planetary Sciences. I see they've moved beyond demanding that one be a climatologist.
3). It is ironic to have ED and Oppenheimer noting 'industry ties' when Oppenheimer is a paid partisan of ED, the premier environmentalist special interest lobbying group!
4). The ED (Environmental Defense) criticism of the Senate report makes a big thing of economists and engineers being featured in it. Read this excellent research by Climate Resistance revealing that the so-called "thousands" of scientists from the IPCC are made up of many economists and engineers as well. After all, you could argue that half the climate change debate is premised on economics that falls under Stern Review inspired "it's cheaper to act now" than wait category.
I wonder if ED or other critiques of the report will note that the chief of the UN IPCC, Rajendra K. Pachauri is an engineer and an economist? The Associated Press has referred to Pachauri as the "chief climate scientist" for the UN. But -- funnily enough -- environmentalists and other critics of the Senate report failed to complain to the AP that Pachauri was merely an engineer and an economist and therefore should not be called a "chief climate scientist." The New York Times has erroneously referred to Pachauri as a "climatologist" but see here for details on Pachauri's background.
5). Climate alarmists don't seem to realise that by claiming science can be bought by a few oil dollars, they are actually denigrating all scientists - there is a far bigger pot of government money available to IPCC consensus scientists, plus non-scientist Al Gore has made tens of millions out of climate alarmism.
Secondly, we don't really need a list of 400 scientsists. Aside from 2007 being the year of a biased, cherry-picked literature review known as AR4, it was a good year for peer reviewed science that produced inconvenient results for the IPCC consensus e.g. a warm bias in the surface temperature records, the UAH troposhere data has been shown to be robust from independent sources, Spencer's negative feedback, Tsonis et al climate shifts paper, factors other than CO2 involved in Arctic warming, climate sensitivity, the Loehle climate reconstruction, another quiet hurricane season plus papers that fail to link hurricanes with global warming, the tree ring-surface temperature divergence problem, Lomborg's view backed by Prins and Rayner, and so on. In fact every cornerstone of global warming alarmism can be undermined by peer reviewed science, with more papers to come in 2008.
We all know that science isn't a numbers game - it doesn't work by consensus - ultimately it's a question of who is wrong or who is right - not about counting scientific sheep. But the situation is even worse for the consensus - even if it could be proved that CO2 drives climate change, modern life revolves around heating/lighting our homes, economic growth, industry, travel etc, all of which emits CO2 - and we can't stop that until we have alternatives that give us business as usual without CO2 emissions. Then there is China.
Posted by John Ray