Yes. Global Warming is a hoax, and I can prove it. Please take a moment to carefully read numerous postings from the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). More come every day. Each is backed with a link to an article by a scientist, showing why various claims are wrong, or pointing out flaws.
For example, Professor Bob Carter asserts in The Age that a green paper published by the climate minister of Australia has seven scientific errors.
The first sentence of the opening section of her paper, entitled “Why we need to act”, contains seven scientific errors — almost one error for every two words.
Here is the sentence: “Carbon pollution is causing climate change, resulting in higher temperatures, more droughts, rising sea levels and more extreme weather.”
The article continues, enumerating the seven errors. It’s worth reading, I think, as I think it helps me understand why there continues to be a debate amongst scientists about the realities of global warming and the veracity of claims made by various bodies.
Did you read the article yet? I’ll bet you didn’t. How about the Green Paper? No.
I’ll be honest, like most people I haven’t read all of the papers published by scientists on the both sides of the debate. There are a lot of them, they are long, and it’s kind of hard to keep up.
But I did read these two items (actually, I only read the 34 page summary of the complete green paper).
A Linguistic or Semantic Critique
After reading the Green Paper summary, I concluded that it was a proposal on how the Australian Government implement a cap-and-trade program. The item quoted by Professor Carter is a cover letter signed by the Prime Minister, Treasurer, and the Green Paper’s author, Penny Wong, explaining the motivation for the paper.
Professor Carter selected the first sentence to critique. He parsed the sentence into words and short phrases.
He asserts “the debate is not about carbon, but human carbon dioxide emissions and their potential effect on climate”. So that’s the first word, “carbon”.
The next word is “pollution” (carbon dioxide is natural, to be sure).
The next is a counter to the assertion that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming.
And so on.
An Alternate Interpretation
I had a different read of this first sentence. I believe that the authors are recapitulating what they believe to be a reasonable statement based on the position of the Australian government as a whole, based on a widely accepted global consensus. The cover letter does expand upon this first sentence, and the green paper uses more technically complete language, as far as I can see.
Comparing the two, Professor Carter writes 810 words, the majority of which are focused on rebutting the semantics of the first sentence of 19 words, of a preamble to a document that is a proposed response to the government’s position. His article, to be fair, is a newspaper piece, but it does not back up any of its assertions of error. The green paper, in its summary of the main impacts of global warming on Australia are supported with data all of whose primary sources are footnoted.
Professor Carter is a geologist. Apparently he also has some expertise with linguistics.
I do agree with the professor on his last statement, that it is time for some due diligence.
Too Much Information
Even those who are scientists, or even have a degree of understanding, circumspection, and diligence cannot truly keep up with the mass of information that is available. I spend a lot of my waking and sleeping hours thinking about topics related to global warming; I have a reasonable scientific education and skill at interpreting scientific and economic data; I have read a lot.
But there’s simply no way I could begin to pretend to have actual first-hand knowledge, or even the ability to carefully asses the validity of data that relates to climate change. And I don’t think there is any person who could assimilate all the information, asses it’s validity, pertinence, and the conclusions drawn by those who analyzed and reported on that data.
Oh, and the scientific process never claims to be “right” (well almost never, except in the case of laws — all the rest are hypotheses or theories or findings). Very little is conclusive in the sense of being a “proof”; it’s not black or white, just a shade of gray. Instead, we gradually arrive at consensus. Is consensus always right? No. It is simply what people who do know think to be the most likely outcome.
Unless there is indeed a large conspiracy, everything that I have read suggests that scientists have reached consensus. I have tried to delve past the headlines and new articles, and actually read some of the layers closer to the actual data and findings. I am very willing to believe that scientists often “want” to arrive at a particular finding, and human nature may encourage them to ignore conflicting data. But I also tend to think the process of peer review tends to weed out the egos, and identify the facts. Nothing I have read indicates conspiracy.
So, unless we mainly ignore the information, we need to listen to someone who has rolled up their understanding of the facts and drawn a (tentative) conclusion. I think Professor Carter would agree with this. The Australian government has accepted the conclusion, and is now working as quickly as it can to take steps based on that conclusion.
Being Skeptical is Good
Few of us have the luxury, ability or resources to be good skeptics. But questioning what you hear is a very, very important thing to do. I am sure there are people, probably other scientists out there who can convincingly rebut some of the claims being made by scientists about their predictions. In fact, the best scientists go to great lengths to identify the possible holes in their own work, qualify, and if possible quantify the uncertainty of their assertions, and identify paths other can take to validate findings, and so on.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recently published is recent assessment, publishes guidelines on how scientists should address the inherent uncertainties of their findings.
So the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), which Professor Carter is affiliated with, would seem to be a healthy foil to the IPCC. Now it should be pretty easy to find fault with a panel created by the United Nations, and the ICSC links numerous articles that raise objections to the conclusion of the IPCC as being flawed in one of several ways.
One of the sound bites of the IPCC reports is that 90% of the 2500 scientists who peer-reviewed the primary sources of evidence supporting the various components of global warming, concurred with the finding of the study. And the real sound bite is “2200 scientists can’t be wrong”, or something similar.
Several of the criticisms of the process seem valid to me. Others I have not been able to confirm.
Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater
But, like the work of Professor Carter, it’s quite easy to understand the conclusions that the ICSC scientists are promoting, but more difficult to determine just how significant their criticisms are to the more general conclusion, if they are indeed valid.
In one example, Lawrence Solomon reports that a respected scientist had a complaint (perhaps valid) about the methodology of one of the results of one of the studies related to the rate of temperature rise in the 20th century.
Ok, so let’s say it is true that this finding is wrong.
Are there other findings that support the corrected finding? What other conclusions depend upon the incorrect finding? Does the error in this one finding create the likelihood that there are many other findings that are similarly flawed?
It would seem that Solomon thinks the answers to all of these are yes, because in a speech to the Petroleum Club, he states:
The fears of cataclysm over global warming are unfounded. There is no consensus on climate change, despite what Al Gore and the UN’s Panel on Climate Change would have you believe.
As I understand, this conclusion is based on the possibility (or let’s even say, certainty) that one scientist, Edward Wegman, found an error in one study. From there, Solomon says
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.
So the claim of the IPCC that 90% of the 2500 scientists who peer-reviewed the main studies that show global warming exists, is caused by human activity, is not just part of an historical cycle, and we can do things to reverse it, and so on are therefore “unfounded”.
Solomon has 10 articles, which I think are now a book, each presumably pointing to flaws in the science behind the general conclusion that global warming is real, humans caused it, the impact will affect us, and we can do something about it if we act. I haven’t read all of them yet, but after the first, I believe based on Solomon’s statistical methodology I need not read any others since a possible flaw in one invalidates the body of work.
Without many more facts, I am unable to see how we throw out the whole IPCC finding as “unfounded” based on information like this.
Is there really still a debate amongst scientists about global warming?
I should certainly hope there is still a debate. It would indeed be junk science unless some people were questioning findings, and refining analysis, learning, rethinking the assumptions, and so on.
The “debate”, it seems to me, is amongst a great deal of repetition of several points of consensus, frequently taken out of context by the media. This isn’t a “conservative vs. liberal” thing; this is just how the majority of us tend to consume what the media feeds us.
Whereas scientists arrive at consensus after diligent review of distinct studies around a larger area, the rest of us tend to believe that which is repeated frequently. Reporters and news outlets are very conscious about appearing balanced in their reporting. So if one thing is being repeated, news stories tend to seek out contrary viewpoints (even if they use them as shills, or straw-men in their reports).
For example, right after the IPCC report, the Boston Globe reported:
Some, though, are sticking to aggressive tactics, even contending they are gaining momentum. And they have influential allies: some scientists, conservative think-tank pundits, a minority of Republicans in Congress, and a sympathetic White House…
And it is this kind of reporting, even if from the clearly liberally biased Boston Globe, that tends to keep the notion that there is still a debate alive. And it creates a wonderful market for Professor Carter, Lawrence Solomon and the ICSC alive.
Is there still a real debate about the general conclusions:
- Global warming exists
- It is being caused by human activity
- It may be worse as a result of historical patterns
- We can take action to help resolve the problem