Professor Bob Carter is a paleoclimatologist with a distinguished career at a number of Australian Universities. He has appeared as an expert witness on climate change in the USA and around the world, and he was a leading scientific witness at the UK court case which found that Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” was riddled with errors.
I’ve been in touch with him by e-mail, though I’ve only had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times, most recently at the Heartland Conference in Chicago in May.
His new book “Climate: the Counter Consensus” is part of the Independent Minds series from Stacey International, which I have blogged about before, but I return to it because there are some points from the book (which is excellent, readable, accessible, credible and extremely well-referenced, by the way) which I should like to share.
One of his most striking graphs (Fig 4. p. 45) shows two temperature reconstructions over 25,000 years, based on ice cores from Greenland, and from the Southern hemisphere, in Antarctica. Apart from the Younger Dryas event around 12/13,000 years ago (which is evident in Greenland but not in the Antarctic record) they are remarkably similar.
Both show extremely low, Ice Age temperatures between 25 and 15k years BP, a marked and rapid increase in temperature of close to 10°C between 15k and 10k, with the onset of the current Interglacial, and then almost flat to the present day.
Not quite flat. The more or less straight line (with a few little wiggles) shows a slight but significant decline. That’s right – a decline to the present day. And the trivial recent changes about which we agonise are merely another tiny wiggle, indistinguishable from those that have characterised the whole of the current Interglacial.
That’s the simple truth. Nothing exceptional has happened. There is no particular warming phenomenon to explain, because the small increase we have seen in the last 100 years (+0.7°C) is utterly typical of variation in preceding millennia. Therefore we need no special pleading, no special explanation. There is no need to discuss whether CO2 is the cause, because nothing has been caused.
Carter also discusses the famous IPCC computer models at length. They seek to represent the climatology of the whole climate system, and to create credible scenarios of future climate. The problem is that climate is a vastly complex and non-linear chaotic system, and such systems are so sensitive to initial conditions that no prediction can be credible (as even the IPCC admitted in its Third Assessment Report).
The models have not been, and cannot be, validated. They are a wholly inadequate basis for major public policy and spending decisions. Attempts have been made to validate them through so-called “hind-casts” – that is, by running time backwards to re-create the known historic pattern of climate – but this is only achieved by massaging the parameters to achieve the desired result. Carter quotes mathematician Johnny von Neumann’s remark regarding curve-fitting: “With four parameters I can fit an elephant. With five, I can make him wiggle his trunk”. The IPCC models typically have dozens.
Carter describes an alternative approach. With any data set, it is possible to apply standard statistical analyses to identify patterns in the data, and then to extrapolate the patterns. This is fundamentally different from the IPCC models, which seek to represent the poorly-understood climate system. These methods are purely statistical, and would apply to the numbers alone, regardless of the underlying subject.
Several such studies have been done, and they all seem to predict a peak temperature about 2000, with subsequent cooling for perhaps thirty years. And right on cue, we have in fact observed cooling for the past decade.
A number of climatologists believe that the Sun, not CO2, is the major influence on global climate, and the record of the last 500 years seems to support them. The Dalton and Maunder Minima occurred during periods of very low sunspot activity. We seem to be entering just such a period, so these scientists too are talking of cooling, not heating.
Forecasting is a mug’s game. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2030 will be cooler than today.
Climate: The Counter Consensus, By Prof. Bob Carter, published in the Independent Minds series by Stacey International. £9.99. ISBN978 1 906768 29 4.