The scientific finding that fails to settle the climate-change debate

There’s been a lot of excitement amongst the climate alarmist community recently (everyone has “a community” these days) about a set of results from the Berkeley Climate Project in the US which, they claim, settles the climate debate once and for all.  The notoriously alarmist magazine Nature published an editorial celebrating these claims.  My good friend Prof Fred Singer has sent a response to Nature.  It is so complete and decisive that I decided to publish it in full on this blog:

 

Dear Editors of Nature:

What a curious editorial – and how revealing of your bias!
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v478/n7370/full/478428a.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20111027

            Scientific climate.  Nature 478, 428, (27 October 2011)  doi:10.1038/478428a  Published online   26 October 2011.
Results confirming climate change are welcome, even when released before peer review.”
            (emphasis added)

You imply that contrary results are not welcomed by Nature.  But this has been obvious for many years.

Why are you so jubilant about the findings of the Berkeley Climate Project that you can hardly contain yourself?  What do you think they proved?  They certainly added little to the ongoing debate on human causes of climate change.

They included data from the same weather stations as the Climategate people, but reported that one-third showed cooling — not warming.  They covered the same land area – less than 30% of the Earth’s surface – housing recording stations that are poorly distributed, mainly in the US and Western Europe.  They state that 70% of US stations are badly sited and don’t meet the standards set by government; the rest of the world is likely worse.

But unlike the land surface, the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons.  This indicates to me that there is something very wrong with the land surface data.  And did you know that climate models, run on super-computers, all insist that the atmosphere must warm faster than the surface?  And so does theory.

And finally, we have non-thermometer temperature data from so-called “proxies”: tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, stalagmites.  They don’t show any global warming since 1940!

The BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) results in no way confirm the scientifically discredited Hockeystick graph, which had been so eagerly adopted by climate alarmists.  In fact, the Hockeystick authors never published their post-1978 temperatures in their 1998 paper in Nature – or since.  The reason for hiding them?  It’s likely that those proxy data show no warming either.  Why don’t you ask them?

One last word:  You evidently haven’t read the four scientific BEST papers, submitted for peer review.  There, the Berkeley scientists disclaim knowing the cause of the temperature increase reported by their project.  They conclude, however: “The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.”  I commend them for their honesty and scepticism.
********************************************************************
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute and of the Independent Institute.  His specialty is atmospheric and space physics.   An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere.  He is co-author of Climate Change Reconsidered [2009 and 2011] and of Unstoppable Global Warming [2007].

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22 Responses to The scientific finding that fails to settle the climate-change debate

  1. Mike Spilligan says:

    Several elements of our MSM reported – or misreported – these “findings”. I doubt if Prof Singer’s letter will be copied to them, if it is they’ll misunderstand it, and even if they understand its implications won’t report it as only “alarmist” talk sells newspapers.

  2. David H. Walker says:

    Dr. Singer should stop confusing the warmists with the facts.

    When the force can be used to define who makes money and who pays, then reality means NOTHING; greed and politics tak over. It’s pretty clear the crisis constructors and their sheeple won’t quit ’til they’ve ruined everything.

  3. And yet…..
    When I was watching the Dimbleby on the two arctic poles the day before yesterday, we got all the superb photography which was fascinating. Even obligatory two sacred polar bears bonking in the snow.
    At the end, like the final hymn at evensong, we got the Global Warming Fanfare as usual.
    These people are already well out of date. It made the Dimbleby look ancient!

  4. Lazarus says:

    Just how much evidence do some people need that the planet is warming? All the data sets found show a warming trend, including satellites which suffer none of the issues that Singer thinks call this research into doubt, like only covering a small part of the surface and being badly sited etc. And to cite ‘the Climategate people’ when the data they use in not in question is just a cheap shot.

    Is your good friend Singer the same Singer who still claims second had smoke isn’t harmful? Who has also done consulting work for major oil companies including Texaco, Arco, Shell, Sun, Inocal, the Electric Power Institute, Florida Power and the American Gas Association? Whose own “Science and Environmental Policy Project” (SEPP) has received $20,000 from ExxonMobil? Whose SEPP reported that “555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich have been growing since 1980 while the World Glacier Monitoring Service said this was “complete bullshit”?

    Even Singer has admitted the planet is warming on numerous occasions claiming this was natural. Is he denying has own words now?

    I’d be careful who my friend were in case I ended up looking wrong, as biased and as confused as they they do.

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      @Lazarus If you can be bothered to raise youself from the dead again perhaps you would read through Prof Singer’s letter again before slagging him off.

    • Interested to see you comparing a few dollars for SEPP with the billions and billions going into the global warming industry. Singer does not deny that satellite data show a warming trend, but he points out that they indicate a much slower trend than the rather suspect data from ground stations. The point at issue here is whether there has been a pause in the warming trend over the last decade. Many people (including Phil Jones of UEA/CRU) say there has.

      • Lazarus says:

        Perhaps you think 20,000 is a ‘few dollars’ and it justified to compare a single payment to one group with the whole ‘global warming industry’.

        Could you offer a definition of that term and what it includes? Perhaps you would like to add compare those alleged billions to the million to an individual mentioned here;
        http://lazarus-on.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html

        Or the half a trillion dollars to the fossil fuel industry just last year;
        http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/04/us-iea-idUSTRE7931CF20111004

        And you are misinformed to believe that satellite data shows a slower warming trend than ground stations. It is in fact the opposite way around but both show similar warming and unless you think any differences are significant my initial point stands, all data records prior to and now including Berkeley show a warming trend.

        You either accept evidence or you don’t.

      • Two little points for Lazarus.
        First of all: all this talk of degrees of warming or cooling doesn’t really mean a lot to people like me. An average or even a mean doesn’t really show much. It just looks scientific.
        Secondly, before 1900, huge parts of the world were not covered by scientific weather stations. Africa, Siberia, South America? Are you honestly telling me that a little man in a furry jacket was going out into the tundra to read the meters every day on his sleigh?
        Or that Stanley in Africa discovered lots of little black men in grass skirts going out to read the meter in the Congo?

      • Lazarus says:

        Mike says;
        “First of all: all this talk of degrees of warming or cooling doesn’t really mean a lot to people like me. An average or even a mean doesn’t really show much. It just looks scientific.”

        Well that is a very good point. To people like you it just looks scientific, but to scientists it is scientific. So you either accept that the science, even if it could be wrong, is the best evidence we have, or you look for ways to reject it.

        I suspect you accept science for most things except perhaps when it is concluding something for whatever reason you would rather not hear.

  5. Richard Welch says:

    It is curious that people do not seem to see the most obvious explanation for the apparent warming trend of the past few decades: that we are reaching the natural peak of the current interglacial period. Both the historical pattern and geopulsation theory point in this direction, as does the virtual absence of warming in the past dozen years (see Roots of Cataclysm, Algora Publ. NY 2009). After the warm peak of course, we can expect another glacial episode of the Pleistocene, as has alway been the case for the past million years to so. There is nothing much humans can do about any of this. CO2 is virtually irrelevant, the increases being a result of warming, not a cause.

    • Good point Richard. Except I’d say “one of the regular cyclical peaks” rather than “the peak”. I believe that the early part of the current interglacial (5 to 6000 BC) was consistently warmer than the present. You are quite right that anyone looking at the pattern of interglacials would expect dramatic cooling fairly soon.

    • Lazarus says:

      It does seem to make sense to think that it has been warming since the last ice age and we should expect it to continue to do so but , but it has warmed about 1C in the last century. The Ice age was about 4C colder than now and ended over ten thousand years ago. Do the math.

      Actually if the planet was to heat up 1C every century then in the last 10,000 years the world would be over 100 degrees centigrade! Or hotter than boiling water!

      So Roger might think it is a good point but a little application of knowledge an common sense shows different.

      • Come off it Lazarus. The Ice Age was massively colder than today. And a warming of 1 degree C in a century is absolutely typical of the cyclical pattern we see of warm periods alternating with cool periods every 1000 years or so. The very small changes we are seeing are entirely consitent with well-established, long-term, natural climate cycles. It was warmer than today in the early Holocene, in the Roman Optimum, in the Mediaeval Warm Period — and cooler in the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age.

      • Lazarus says:

        Well Roger it nice to see you actually giving some figures to support your claims but typically they are wrong.

        The current best science we have shows that globally the planet was at most 6C cooler than present at the end of the last Glacial as this graph clearly shows;

        http://lazarus-on.blogspot.com/p/graphs.html

        The so called Little Ice Age was less than 2C cooler than present. 1C in a century is extremely un-typical over such a short period of time except during events that lead to climate tipping points.

      • If you look at a graph of mean temeratures through the current interglacial, you find something very like a sine curve, with the current warming exactly mimicking other peaks like the Roman and MWP.

  6. Lazarus says:

    Something very like a sine curve? You mean this one?;

    The whole temperature range for the MWP and the Little ice age is less than a single 1C and not as hot as now.

    So are you admitting you were incorrect to say ‘The Ice Age was massively colder than today. And a warming of 1 degree C in a century is absolutely typical ‘?

    Perhaps you are thinking of a graph of equally credible data that better illustrates this ‘something like a sine curve’ showing the ice age ‘massively cooler’?

  7. JSmith says:

    You write that Fred Singer’s post at Nature”…is so complete and decisive that I decided to publish it in full on this blog”.
    OK, if it is so “decisive” perhaps you or your friend Fred could answer the following :

    Why does he make such a big deal about recording stations being “poorly distributed” and “badly sited” when BEST specifically looked into that and concluded : “…poor station quality in the United States does not unduly bias estimates of land surface average monthly temperature trends” ?
    Does he (and you) not like what they have concluded ? If so, why ?

    Why does he state that “…the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons”, when trends from the UAH and RSS satellite readings show a similar positive trend to ground-based readings, i.e. 0.14C/Decade, and balloon radiosonde data also shows warming ?
    (Check for yourself here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_recordhttp://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/recenttc.html)

    Why does he bring in “proxies” and state that they “don’t show any global warming since 1940”, when proxies only need to be used when there are no direct temperature measurements, i.e. before we have been measuring temperatures directly using thermometers and satellites ? What possible use could proxies be for determining temperatures today ?

    Why does he bring up the “Hockeystick graph”, when the BEST study is looking at temperatures since 1800 ?

    Why does he claim that “the Hockeystick authors never published their post-1978 temperatures in their 1998 paper in Nature – or since”, when they are available here : http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/research/MANNETAL98/ ?

    If you find Fred Singer’s comments so “decisive”, perhaps you could answer my questions, or ask your friend to answer them.

  8. John Russell says:

    Fred Singer is one of just a very few maverick scientists who dispute that humans are causing the warming we’re experiencing. In fact thousands of scientists, including all the world’s major national science academies, have come together to issue joint declarations confirming anthropogenic global warming, and urging the nations of the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

    You can cherry pick a few ‘facts’ to try to build a case for doing nothing, but there are multiples lines of evidence that demonstrate with a high level of probability that we’re damaging our planet irreparably.

    Fred Singer has a history of contrary opinions that have proved very damaging for society — the most notorious being his work to discredit the research that proved, correctly, that cigarettes damage health. People would be wise not to take too much notice of his opinions.

    • e pur si move!
      (Pardon the Italian!) as Galileo didn’t say when leaving the Pope’s presence after not being tried for saying the earth goes round the sun.

    • Lazarus says:

      “Fred Singer has a history of contrary opinions that have proved very damaging for society — the most notorious being his work to discredit the research that proved, correctly, that cigarettes damage health.”

      He also denied the idea of damage from acid rain, the possibility of a nuclear winter, that ozone depletion wasn’t caused by CFCs and the idea that the increased UV would not increase instances of skin cancer. In fact it seems that he has opposed just about every piece of science that could possibly lead to more regulation, been wrong about it, but is making a good living from it.

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