Long feature in Seattle Times (from Washington Post) looks at global warming skeptics, inc hurricane expert William Gray.
By Joel Achenbach
WASHINGTON — It should be glorious to be Bill Gray, professor emeritus. He's the guy who predicts the number of hurricanes that will form during the coming tropical-storm season. He works in the atmospheric-science department of Colorado State University. He's mentored dozens of scientists.
But he's also outraged.
Much of his government funding has dried up. He has had to put his own money, more than $100,000, into keeping his research going. If none of his colleagues comes to his funeral, he says, that'll be evidence that he had the courage to say what they were afraid to admit.
Which is this: Global warming is a hoax.
He has testified about this to the U.S. Senate. He has written magazine articles, given speeches, done everything he could to get the message out.
"I've been in meteorology over 50 years. I've worked damn hard, and I've been around. My feeling is some of us older guys who've been around have not been asked about this. It's sort of a baby-boomer, yuppie thing."
Gray believes in observations. Direct measurements. Numerical models can't be trusted. Equation pushers with fancy computers aren't the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes.
"Few people know what I know. I've been in the tropics, I've flown in airplanes into storms. I've done studies of convection, cloud clusters and how the moist process works. I don't think anybody in the world understands how the atmosphere functions better than me."
In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again.
He is almost desperate to be heard. His time is short. He is 76 years old. ... [gives case for warming, including:] The 1990s were the warmest decade on record. The year 1998 set the all-time mark. This decade is on its way to setting a new standard. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global effort involving hundreds of climate scientists, projected in 2001 that, depending on the rate of greenhouse-gas emissions and general climate sensitivities, the global average temperature would rise 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit between 1990 and 2100. Sea levels could rise just a few inches, or nearly three feet.
All of the above is part of the emerging, solidifying scientific consensus on global warming.
The skeptics' view
When you step into the realm of the skeptics, you find yourself on a parallel Earth.
... Many skeptics work in think tanks, such as the George C. Marshall Institute or the National Center for Policy Analysis. They have the ear of leaders in the White House and on Capitol Hill. The skeptics helped scuttle any possibility that the United States would ratify the Kyoto treaty that would have committed the nation to cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. ...
There are all these ... anomalies.
... The skeptics don't have to win the argument. They just have to stay in the game, keep things stirred up and make sure the politicians don't pass any laws that have dangerous climate change as a premise. They're winning that battle. The Senate held hearings this spring but has put off action for now. ... Gray's crusade against global warming "hysteria" began in the early 1990s, when he saw enormous sums of federal research money going toward computer modeling rather than his kind of science, the old-fashioned stuff based on direct observation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stopped giving him research grants. So did NASA. All the money was going to computer models. The modelers are equation pushers.
"They haven't been down in the trenches, making forecasts and understanding stuff!"
The news media are self-interested.
"Media people are all out for Pulitzer Prizes!"
The IPCC is elitist.
"They don't talk to us! I've never been approached by the IPCC."
"People in the fringes"
There's a certain kind of skeptic who has no patience for the official consensus, especially if it has the imprimatur of a government, or worse, the United Nations. They focus on ambiguities and mysteries and things that just don't add up. They say the Official Story can't possibly be true, because it doesn't explain the (insert inexplicable data point here). They set a high standard for reality — it must never be fuzzy around the edges.
The Web site Real Climate, run by a loose group of climate scientists, recently published a detailed rebuttal of Gray's theory, saying his claims about the ocean circulation lack evidence. The Web site criticized Gray for not adapting to the modern era of meteorology, "which demands hypotheses soundly grounded in quantitative and consistent physical formulations, not seat-of-the-pants flying." ... When Gray is asked who his intellectual soul mates are regarding global warming, he responds, "I have nobody really to talk to about this stuff."
... Mainstream climate scientists readily accept that there is natural variation in the system. For example, greenhouse gases alone can't melt the Arctic at the alarming rate that has been observed recently. Americans sorting through this issue may feel constrained by all the unknowns. Perhaps they need to adapt to uncertainty, to see uncertainty as the norm, and not as a sign of scientific failure.
Or as an excuse to do nothing.
Global-warming">http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003040068_warming05.h... skeptics continue to punch away
Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/01/03 22:07