July 2003 (vol. 19, #5)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2003 Physicians for Civil Defense
Possibly emboldened by a review of historical climate data by Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas, and others (see CDP 5/03), the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget made major edits to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on climate change.
``They deleted a summary of scientific consensus and discussions of impacts on ecosystems and human health; the White House also emphasized uncertainty that the EPA thought was scientifically unwarranted.'' Therefore, the EPA allegedly deleted a whole section rather than ``misrepresent'' the science (Science 2003;300:2013).
On the contrary, writes Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the White House removed references to discredited studies and deleted a sentence that ``could be an environmentalist's holy mantra'' (Wash Times 7/2/03).
Senators Liebermann and McCain also complained that the EPA refused to analyze their proposed legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions, stating that the Energy Information Agency (EIA) was already conducting an analysis. The EIA's model is thought to be ``more conservative.'' The Bush Administration, Liebermann asserts, ``lets its politics and ideology overwhelm and stifle scientific fact'' (NY Times 7/14/03).
McCain criticized witnesses before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for their lack of definiteness: ``It makes it a little more difficult for me to...ask colleagues to vote on cap-and-trade initiatives [for CO2] when they say that scientists aren't sure'' (TWTW 6/14/03).
The outpouring of strident censure comes not only from elected politicians but also from the heavily pro-Kyoto science establishment. Scientific American, fretting about an article (Climate Research 2003;23:89-110) on the climate of the past millennium by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, wrote: ``[M]ainstream climatologists, as represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), are perturbed that the report has received so much attention; they say the study's conclusions are scientifically dubious and colored by politics'' (Appell D, www.sciam.com, 6/24/03). A sidebar attacked the journal that published the article, insinuating misconduct and political motivation on the part of editor Chris de Freitas.
Others demanded to see the reviewers' evaluations of the paper and suggested that editors needed oversight lest they be influenced by outside interests. Editors who fail to meet their ``quality control'' responsibilities should be replaced, said one authoritative figure, in an apparent call for censorship by appropriately vetted ``expert peer reviewers.''
The Scientific American response is just its ``newest snit,'' quite consistent with its treatment of other articles that tend to allay global warming fears, according to Ross McKitrick (www.techcentralstation.com, 7/9/03). It failed to report at all on the study by Olavi Kärner in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which showed that the worst-case scenario of cumulative positive feedback, essential for global warming catastrophe, is unsupported by the data. It barely mentioned, on p. 28 of the June 2003 issue, a study by Richard C. Willson of Columbia University showing that solar flux is probably more important than previously thought. It alluded to the anti-Kyoto petition signed by 17,000 American scientists only in a sidebar, sniffing out six unnamed signatories who apparently said they changed their minds, while prudently delegating the hard-core, probably libelous smear tactics to a left-wing website. It published an 11-page ``temper tantrum'' on Bjorn Lomborg's book, subtitled ``Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist''-a book that, contrary to its original intent, agrees with many conclusions of free-market economist Julian Simon, who thought the environment is improving, and questions the cost-effectiveness of Kyoto.
Lomborg had to publish his rebuttal on the internet, at www.lomborg.com. When Scientific American threatened to sue him for copyright violations because he reprinted their article interspersed with his comments, he blotted out most of the text of the original hit piece, and the reader will have to click to somebody else's website to find it.
A group of scientists reported Lomborg to the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, which relied heavily on the Scientific American critique in its investigation. In a highly confusing judgment, the Committees deemed Lomborg's book to ``fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty'' because of its allegedly biased presentation of data, while conceding that there was no evidence that Lomborg intended to deceive anyone.
Environmentalists have learned valuable lessons, according to Jim Giles, associate news and features editor for Nature: ``the venom with which Lomborg was attacked may have been counterproductive.'' It brought his ``controversial ideas back into the headlines at a time when interest had at last begun to wane.'' The attacks looked ``emotive'' or even political (Nature 2003;423:216-218.) In other words, the agitators let their mask of calm, reasoned scientific argument slip.
Environmental radicals, with or without scientific credentials, are quick to accuse skeptics of bias, vested interest, or worse. Yet they themselves function under what Nick Nichols and Paul Driessen call Rules for Corporate Warriors' Ethics Edict 5: the more important the mission, the less important the ethics: ``Activists justify their use of phony summaries, slanted news stories, grievous errors of omission, and even ad hominem attacks, by claiming they are saving the world from a climate or other apocalypse'' (TWTW 7/2/03).
While quick to point to the smallest grant that a skeptic might receive from a productive industry, ``their own incomes, their fame, and their very existence can depend on supporting the most alarming version of every environmental scare.'' In fact, ``the Crisis Creation Industry is the last unregulated, unaccountable big business in America'' (ibid.).
The $4 billion/year environmental division of that industry is locked in a struggle against individual scientists who can stand against the herd, placing truth and integrity above peer approval, advancement, and security.
The global warmers scent the possibility of defeat. The final outcome is in doubt, but there are glimmers of hope.
In an article posted at www.co2science.org, 2/20/02, energy economist Gerald Westbrock explains this graph. It is based almost entirely on tree-ring proxies, which also depend on many variables other than temperature: perhaps most importantly, atmospheric CO2, the primary raw material required for biomass. At the very best, tree-ring data provide less than 5% of the temperature coverage needed for a global average (29% of the world's area as land times about half the hours in a day times about a third of the months in a year). Willie Soon also commented on the graph at the recent DDP meeting in Phoenix.
The Third IPCC assessment scans the past 150 years, highlighting only three forcing mechanisms: anthropogenic greenhouse gases, volcanos, and the 11-year solar cycle. The vast swings of the previous thousand years are not analyzed, and other phenomena are represented poorly, if at all. Most significantly, ``the possibility of long-term cycles in solar activity is neglected because there is a scarcity of direct measurement. Nonetheless, solar irradiance and its variation seem highly likely to be a principal cause of long-term climate change.'' We now have better instruments and better time series than ever before, but are in danger of ``prematurely embracing certitudes and losing open-mindedness'' (Wash Post 7/7/03).
Two independent scientists have come to the conclusion that not only the sun, but other stars have an effect on the temperature of the earth. Jan Veizer, geologist and paleoclimatologist at the University of Ottawa, and Nir Shaviv, astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have concluded that cosmic ray flux, which varies with the earth's position in the spiral arms of the galaxy, contributes to climate change. At least 66% of swings in temperature, violent weather, and precipitation may be related to this factor (TWTW 7/12/03). Cosmic rays from exploding supernovas charge aerosols and produce more low-lying clouds that warm the earth.
The news media mostly ignored the blockbuster paper by Veizer and Shaviv released by the Geological Society of America in favor of a pro-Kyoto announcement from Geneva (Patterson T, National Post (Toronto) 7/14/03).
To stop the sniping by embedded EPA bureaucrats at White House skepticism on global warming, S. Fred Singer suggests educating the public and officials on four basic facts:
In one egregious misuse of science by the EPA bureaucracy, the Clinton-Gore White House released the National Assessment of Climate Change (NACC) just before the 2000 election. The study planners chose two models that showed large temperature increases. But in nine of 18 regions, the two models gave directly opposite predictions for precipitation. North Dakota would either turn into a swamp or a desert, depending on the model chosen (ww.sepp.org).
Two of our readers have sent interesting scientific papers on global warming.
Robert H. Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conversion at Ohio State University, finds that atmospheric CO2 and temperature have historically fluctuated up and down together. An independent driver can be identified for temperature variability-he discusses the Arctic Ocean model-but not for CO2 fluctuations. Therefore, he concludes that temperature drives the CO2, not the opposite (Chemical Innovation, May 2001, pp. 44-46; Energy & Environment 2001;12:351-355).
Leonid Khilyuk and George Chilingar of the University of Southern California also conclude that rising temperature drives CO2 from the oceans into the atmosphere, and that temperatures are increasing because we are in the rising phase of the latest 80-90 year cycle of solar activity. Cyclic changes in nature are common, ``manifest[ing] a self-organizing process of search for the system equilibrium as a system reaction to external disturbance.'' Mankind must learn to adapt.
An example that teaches us not to rush when dealing with a large-scale natural phenomenon: After many years of steep decline (1980-1990) in Caspian Sea levels, intense speculation about the sea drying up because of human activity resulted in mammoth plans to divert northern Russian rivers into the Volga. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 prevented implementation of the plans, averting enormous ecological problems to the dense population in the Volga River basin. For some reason, the sea level then started rising again at a threatening rate (Energy Sources 2003;25:357-370).
Forrest Mims of Texas reports that the EPA allows a 20% calibration error in ozone-measuring instruments. Moreover, it measures ``ground-level'' concentrations at 10-15 ft, rather than the 1.5 m standard for temperature and humidity. The obvious purpose appears to make pollution look worse than it is. Nearer the ground, where people breathe, ozone levels tend to be lower because of reactions of nearby plants (TWTW 5/31/03).
In dollar value, CFC smuggling worldwide is second only to the drug trade. See www.unepie.org/ozonaction/customs for new tools to combat this black market that involves at least 20,000 tonnes of purported ozone-depleting substances.