Responding to a Warmist

ClimateChange

 

I recently received a letter from a Party Member who is also a physicist, and questions the Party’s position on climate.  I thought it might be of general interest to publish an edited version of his letter, and of my reply.  Naturally I have respected his confidentiality and omitted his name.

 

Dear Mr Helmer

            I am entering my tenth year of active UKIP membership and on the whole have had few doubts about policies, but with one exception.  As a physicist, I find the policy statements on climate change ridiculous.  To be blunt, the Party appears to have few if any members of any scientific standing and, in consequence, policy statements have about them an element of tap-room nonsense.

            The Party should draw a clear line between the science, which it should accept, and the social policies concerned with mitigation which are an entirely separate matter and include much nonsense, mostly in the field of microeconomics.

 

Dear (Party Member),

Thank you for writing to me.  But surely as a physicist you must know that there is a significant number of very well-qualified people (you could start with Richard Lindzen of MIT) who profoundly disagree with the IPCC’s findings.  Indeed the IPCC is not so much a scientific panel as an advocacy group controlled and funded by bureaucrats.  Many of its reviewers are not scientists at all, and it has been shown that many of its “peer-reviewed findings” are merely quotes from Greenpeace propaganda.

It became clear from the Climategate scandal that the IPCC has been effectively hijacked by a small group of a couple of dozen scientists (“The Hockey Team”) who peer-review each other’s work from a common perspective; who recognise that reality is not following their predictions; and who have been prepared to use underhand methods to defend their position.

You should be aware that many astronomers are convinced that solar activity correlates much better with terrestrial climate than CO2 does.  The IPCC notes that solar radiation is fairly constant, but totally fails to account for the influence of the sun’s magnetic field (which changes substantially) on cosmic ray flux and consequent cloud formation and albedo.

If you are not familiar with it, I would urge you to read Fritz Varenholt’s recent book “The Neglected Sun” which deals with this question in great detail, and in terms which you as a physicist will appreciate.  In particular, it refers to hundreds — literally hundreds — of peer-reviewed papers which support its thesis.

No-one denies that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but there is a great debate about climate sensitivity to CO2.  The IPCC only gets to its extreme figure of 3o C per CO2 doubling by appealing to positive feedbacks which are strongly disputed.  My good friend Professor Fred Singer (University of Virginia, and one of America’s most distinguished climatologists) agrees that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but believes that any signal from CO2 warming is lost in the noise of other factors.  He was actually himself an IPCC reviewer, and has the Nobel lapel pin to prove it.

I am not a physicist, but I am a Cambridge mathematician, and I believe that I am well able to follow the argument.  I am all in favour of “accepting the science”, but in this case the science is in dispute, the predictions of the orthodox theory are conspicuously failing, and I believe that UKIP is on the right side of history.

I agree with you in one respect: if we agree to differ on “the science”, there is still a strong practical, technical and economic case against the policies currently espoused by Brussels and Westminster.

Thank you again for writing to me.   Best regards.   ROGER HELMER MEP

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27 Responses to Responding to a Warmist

  1. Alan Love says:

    As UKIP’s spokesman on the Environment in Northern Ireland I have more than three decades work experience as an environmental chemist. Although this was in the field of water pollution, I have also taken a keen interest in climate change science for the last 25 years. I thoroughly endorse Roger’s comments above. The effects of CO2 on climate change have been grossly exaggerated and the whole AGW hypothesis, in my opinion, does not stand up to thermodynamic scrutiny. The climate is constantly changing and may warm or cool in the future but carbon dioxide generated by human acivities will be a negligible factor.

  2. Neil Craig says:

    I take it you checked and found he really is a UKIP member first. The alarmists have an unfortunate history of claiming credentials they do not have.

    This is not to say it is impossible for a genuine scientist to hold such views, even when the reasoning seems to be “because its ridiculous, that’s why”. I have a science writer friend whose scientific opinions I will normally defer to but supports alarmism purely because the “scientific authorities” say so. Even the best of us have our blind spots (except me of course).

    • The “argument from authority” has no place in science. Politics works by majority opinions. Science does not. When a journalist told Einstein that a thousand physicists disagreed with him, he thought for a moment and replied: “If I were wrong, one would be enough”.

  3. David H. Walker says:

    Well said, Roger. Thank you. In the long run, I’m sure we will learn that atmospheric CO2 actually has a negligible effect on temperature when considering all things affecting the atmosphere, intrinsic and celestial.

    At this point it’s absurd to err, in the name of precaution, on the side of fascism, socialism, stupidism in order to “protect the planet”. There are actually pressing and amenable challenges we face as free people, and we can overcome as free people.

    Man has suffered monumental scams, hatred and self-loathing before; and it never ends well. When will we evolve to rebuff the fools?

    • Massive, truly massive, up-front expenditure based on speculative science and failed predictions. Lord Lawson is right: we should wait and watch, and adapt if necessary. We should not attempt large-scale mitigation in the short term.

  4. Mike Stallard says:

    I am impressed by your research and knowledge. I am very tempted to send this to some Greenies I happen to know – but what’s the use? They already know the truth and they stopped listening a very long time ago.

  5. There may not be many scientists amongst politicians, but there are many scientists with an interest in politics.

    • paul vickers says:

      “There may not be many scientists amongst politicians”
      That’s been the cause of so many shockingly bad decisions by politicians these many years.

      The two outstanding PMs of the last 100 years were both scientists (Churchill and Mrs Thatcher) and the most important thing for any politician to recognise is the power of Darwinian principles and why their primary purpose should be to *promote* competition (aka ‘post-code lottery’) and to devolve power to the lowest possible tier of government, not accrue and concentrate power in Westminster and Brussels – what does a Eurokraut know of life in a village in the west of England?

      I believe there is just ONE MP with a science degree – time to ensure that biologists are the most powerful group in the HoC as they at least understand how to promote competition, diversity and the sophistry which is miss-quoted and abused statistics.

  6. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Science…thats where art becomes incontrovertible proof isn’t it? My experience is proof by logical expression, a formula and is something of elegance really.

    Logical expressions exist within computer driven models – and we are to accept their output based on those expressions. No questions asked of course because the majority of us are not qualified. Well ok. ask questions but don’t expect to be tolerated for too long, meanwhile policy transfers to dire action.

    My experience has been that we often get somebody of lesser knowledge/experience to ask those dumb questions (so called) and it is often surprising/useful as to what reveals. Just try explaining something you believed simple to both your peers and lesser. Or complicated for that matter.

    I wanted to say Chrisopher Monkton but of course he’s not qualified either, neither is he much UKIP I believe. However, if he is a loose cannon let it roll – often!!

  7. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Daily Mail today…oops!
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    ‘Whatever measure you use, solar peaks are coming down,’ Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told the BBC.

    ‘I’ve been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.’

    He says the phenomenon could lead to colder winters similar to those during the Maunder Minimum.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    The BBC must be receiving a high number of sick notes suddenly. Question is do you accept that statement from a solar physicist remembering that you are unqualified and he must be an authority? I personally suspected the Sun but am unqualified and not an authority – useless really but have to pay dearly for this stuff.

  8. Andy Heyes says:

    With regard to climate change, there are some useful facts and models/predictions based on them and other available data. A fact is that the concentration of atmospheric CO2 is rising. It started rising shortly after the invention of the steam engine and is correlated with the industrial revolution – so there is compelling evidence that mankind caused it. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and the greenhouse effect keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life – a simple undergraduate heat transfer calculation on the back of an envelope without the aid of a super computer can demonstrate this.

    For me at least, based on my experience and knowledge, this is where the facts end and I defer to the scientists and their carefully constructed models who are trying to understand what the effects of CO2 levels in the atmosphere will be. A healthy debate on the value of these models is right and proper and indeed is the scientific way.

    However, do you really think that of all the scientists who have critically examined the facts and data (I do not count myself among them and suspect that you are not one of them either) that the number who support the theory of anthropogenic climate change is so low that it is reasonable to say:

    “It became clear from the Climategate scandal that the IPCC has been effectively hijacked by a small group of a couple of dozen scientists (“The Hockey Team”) who peer-review each other’s work from a common perspective; who recognise that reality is not following their predictions; and who have been prepared to use underhand methods to defend their position.”

    I think that your correspondent is correct and that this is one for the taproom.

  9. Chris___ says:

    I used to be a climate change ‘believer’ until I went to work for a consultancy that used to specialise in mathematical forecasting/modelling etc. They were asked by a major insurance firm to do a project on global warming and approached the IPCC for the original data. They were surprised to find that the IPCC and similar organisations were unwilling to share any data with people who were ‘unqualified to use it’ eg know how to ‘adjust’ the raw data. But they pleaded ‘we are qualified, we have PhD in mathematical modelling’ etc.but they were refused. What amazed them when they came to look at climate claims is that all the claims are based on models, and models are rarely correct and easily mislead by wide-ranging assumptions. They became climate sceptics… The biggest concern is that you must be a “believer” or “non-believer” This is literally the only science in the world which depends on Belief rather than hard data.

  10. thomas fox says:

    Dear Roger To counter scare mongering and media propaganda about dangers of shale gas drilling which will lose votes in my Bowland Shale area could UkIp encourage a drilling engineer to explain in understandable language his every daypractice. All lies about climate change are coming forward ,the Environmentalists right volumes about the protection of our natural habitat ,so how about this interesting shale?

    Sent from Molto for iPad

  11. John Hancon says:

    Thank you Roger for a very well written response to the warmist scientist. He or she may also like to note that, as mentioned in your third paragraph, that although overall spectral output of the sun has not changed significantly over many years, there has been a significant change in the last six years in the extreme ultra violate (EUV) output of the sun. EUV appears to follow the sunspot level and has reduced dramatically. The reduction in EUV seems to effect the jet stream, by making it wobble North to South bringing cold arctic air further south than normal, as in North America at the moment and the UK and Europe last winter.

    It is remarkable that the BBC has mentioned the influence of the Sun on our climate, as they normally follow the IPCC in heavily discounting the climate drivers of the past (i.e. the ocean oscillations and the Sun spot cycle) to concentrate on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels.

    Your corespondent as a scientist, should consider that when the predictions of a hypothesis do not follow observations, the hypothesis is disproved and is therefore wrong.

    Keep up the good work.

    • John Hancon says:

      Correction – The reduction in EUV seems to effect the jet stream
      should read-The reduction in EUV seems to affect the jet stream
      Sorry for the error.

    • Thanks John. It’s a key point of Vahrenholt’s book that the IPCC is happy to talk about solar irradiation (which is remarkably stable overall) but glosses over the UV variability and the massive variability in the Sun’s magnetic field.

  12. Gareth says:

    May I recommend “The Inconvenient Skeptic” by an American engineer, John Kehr.
    It is a brilliant demolition of the CO2 theory.

  13. Ex-expat Colin says:

    And then there is this from the physicists letter above:

    “The Party should draw a clear line between the science, which it should accept…….”

    GWPF has this about Judith Curry in front of a US senate committee:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/invisible-judith-curry

    Missed by the media it appears? The science isn’t clear but stuff about bl**dy washing machines is right on the button. The issue of the IPCC having no interest (requirement) to consider natural variation mechanisms is simply appalling. If there was any cherry picking its at the UN and co-sponsors of the IPCC. So really you get many sheds full of money for considering half the job at hand. What kind of science is that?

  14. Barry Harding says:

    Thank you Roger. An excellent letter.

  15. Linda Hudson says:

    question all, and everything whether you are a scientist or not!

  16. DougS says:

    Roger, I would suggest that ask this physicist to pick his two favourite pieces of conclusive ‘evidence’ for catastrophic AGW from the vast array that he obviously believes is out there.

    I’ve yet to see such from AGW alarmists – they generally retreat into their favourite logical fallacies, prime among them being ‘appeal to authority’, ‘consensus’ and ‘name-calling’.

    I’m not holding my breath!

    • Climate Alarmists seem to miss the point that the IPCC bases its models on a series of estimates. Not science, but guesses. If we want to be more specific, we could ask the IPCC for evidence of the positive feed-backs it uses to justify its very high CO2 sensitivity figures. Richard Lindzen has done studies indicating a negative feed-back

  17. Richard111 says:

    I endorse the recommendation for “The Neglected Sun”. And for those who haven’t the time to read a whole book, here is a link to a 26 page pdf file written for the interested layman.
    http://junksciencearchive.com/Greenhouse/Earth-s_Climate_Engine.pdf
    This is a subject we must understand. We live in a high technology society. This requires energy. If that energy is denied to us we starve. Go figure.

  18. cosmic says:

    The mistake the physicist is making is to accept that Climate Science is a science at all. Climate Studies would be a more accurate name. Compare it with management science, social science and political science. Computer science would be more appropriately called computer technology.

    We have the hypothesis that CO2 can mediate temperature change. This is a logarithmic relationship – the law of diminishing returns. We have the fact that there have been historic changes in climate – the Roman Warm Period, the Dark Ages Minimum, the Mediaeval Warp Period, the Little Ice Age, none of which have been attributed to CO2.

    To produce catastrophic warming caused by CO2 there have to be positive feedback mechanisms,(forcings in climate science parlance) such as through increased water vapour in the atmosphere. There is no evidence for this. There’s no evidence for a tropospheric hotspot either.

    We also have the output of computer models, which even the IPCC admits cannot model climate, being treated as evidence. They are of course, completely adjustable to produce any result.

    The Climategate affair showed that the CRU had lost the original data and had ‘homogenised’ manipulated the data of one of the fundamental data sets. They had no records of how they had rearranged the data.

    Over the period of the last 20 years atmospheric CO2 has increased by 10% (from memory) and global temperatures have remained static. Either CO2 has far less effect on global temperature than the hypothesis predicts or the effect has been exactly balanced by changes brought about through other mechanisms.

    So we have a hypothesis, all of the predictions of which have been shown to be false or dubious. In anything with a serious claim to be called a science it would have been dismissed. It certainly would have been in physics.

    However, there’s no ignoring the political dimension to this and it reminds me of nothing quite so much as Lysenkoism in the USSR.

    The physicist isn’t thinking critically IMHO, however, he’s right in that the important practical objective is to tackle the legislation which has been set up on the basis of a scare, and this is going to prove difficult.

  19. DICK R says:

    THE MAN IS OBVIOUSLY AN ECOLUNATIC

  20. cosmic says:

    I think not, but he does come across as someone easily impressed by perceived authority and surprisingly uncritical.

    I don’t think he realises that what’s described as climate science has been hijacked to follow a political agenda (all the talk of post normal science which was being aired a couple of years back – this is the trappings and authority of science being used to illustrate a political agenda), and a crowd of rent seekers. Such standards wouldn’t pass muster in his own discipline.

    I can see the problem because the routine practice of science does assume that peer review is a fairly honest process which allows legitimate short cuts to be taken. However, there are plenty of examples of peer reviewed published work which has been shown to be rubbish.

    Science is a self-correcting system and a method of obtaining the most reliable knowledge we have about the way the world works. It relies on results being able to be replicated and standing up under scrutiny. Pseudo-science is an interesting phenomenon which comprises a set of experimental results or claimed experimental results (there are experiments and experiments) and then without challenging the basis, a huge edifice of speculation is built upon them and it gets to the point where the basis can’t be challenged; too many believers to disappoint and businesses catering to them to wreck.

    I see CAGW as a political phenomenon much more than a scientific one. If you remove the political element, which is the rearrangement of money and power CAGW implies, you are left with a very dubious hypothesis. It’s more interesting if you remove the scientific element, and then you are left with a political proposition which could never be sold honestly, as it demands that people deliberately impoverish themselves.

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