Sceptics on global warming a baby-boomer, yuppie thing etc

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    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 skeptics continue to punch away

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/01/03 22:07


    For debunking of several of notions put forward to suggest global warming isn’t real, or isn’t a problem if it is, see this page by US Environmental Defense Fund:
    Global Warming: Fact vs. Myth

    lest you figure the skeptics are all unbiased folk, also check out the fund’s page on (US) global warming skeptics, and their funding; notice Exxon Mobil’s name keeps cropping up for funding research:
    Global Warming Skeptics: A Primer
    Guess Who’s Funding the Global Warming Doubt Shops?

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/07/28 01:55


    Union of Concerned Scientists’ site has list of some global warming skeptics organizations – which may have fancy names, like Global Cimate Coalition, Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, but are sometimes just pipsqueak groups, and/or backed by conservatives coupled with energy industry.
    Responding to Global Warming Skeptics
    —Prominent Skeptics Organizations


    Profoundly stupid conclusion to a rambling, babbling piece on global warming:

    Because the truth is – however unbelievable and inconvenient it may be to some – that God controls the Earth’s fate, even when we do our worst to it.

    Are warnings of global warming the new Tower of Babel?

    – so if this guy’s house were to catch fire, he wouldn’t do anything, just leaving its fate to God? Trouble is, here we’re talking of the planet, not this guy’s house. Deeply troubling that my future, my family’s future – and your future – depends partly on idiots like this.


    Letter on a US news site includes:

    … most of the anti-warming folks you see on TV have their degrees in health or environmental policy, as opposed to being research scientists.

    Then they treat the various speakers’ opinions equally despite the fact that they don’t have equal resumes. How ironic from the network that decries celebrity pundits for their lack of subject-matter expertise.

    The problem with the “Earth is fine” folks is that they give this issue scientific latitude that they would not give any other topic.

    If you were suffering from angina and you saw a team of 10 doctors, nine of whom were heart specialists who told you that you needed a heart operation immediately or you might die, and one chiropractor who told you that it was unnecessary and you were just suffering from gas, you would go with the opinion of the nine heart specialists.

    Warming pooh-poohers aren’t academically hot


    Just come across webpage that rightly notes:

    Many right wing web sites, and rightwingers trolling around other web sites, make much of the “economic interest” of mainstream scientists in finding that global warming exists and is man-made. Missing from their oddly similar (virtually identical) statements environmentalist bias is any concern at all with who makes up the movement opposing man-made global warming, and where they get their money.

    – continues with info on ExxonMobil funding various global warming sceptics and their organizations.
    Who makes up (& funds) the “opposition” to global warming?

    Gives link to a site ExposeExxon which says:

    As one of the world’s most profitable companies, ExxonMobil has the power to move the world toward a more sustainable energy future. Instead, ExxonMobil has acted consistently to move our country backward on energy policy by opposing efforts to stop global warming, lobbying to drill in America’s most pristine wilderness areas, and failing to promote renewable energy and fuel efficiency.

    – and in turn has a link to a site by Greenpeace: – which has a list of global warming sceptic organizations receiving funding from Exxon, plus more info such as on personnel. Whew! – a long, long list, and some such as Greening Earth Society sound like they might be greenies [info says “A project of the Western Fuels Association founded to promote the idea that global warming is beneficial to the planet.”!!]
    . World Climate Report sounds very grand; but mainly Pat Michaels and some buddies, not all of whom seem too worldly, and with further links to Western Fuels.

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/07/05 16:28


    I remember David Bellamy as an iconic figure of natural history tv; up to his thighs in bogs, he’d expound on plantlife in the big booming voice beloved of mimics – who also took to his immense beard. He even lectured at my first univ, tho I never saw him around there (I wasn’t in botany dept).

    Later, when he came to Hong Kong, Bellamy pronounced that China could use 100 cities like Hong Kong, which to me seemed odd, as would hold over 600 million people, and Hong Kong is no model of sustainability. Wondered: has the chap been given too many meals by folk connected to big business.

    Recently, come across Bellamy pronouncing on global warming as being “poppycock”. Turns out this was two years ago, in Britain’s Daily Mail, in an article that included:

    Global warming – at least the modern nightmare version – is a myth. I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world’s politicians and policy makers are not.

    Instead, they have an unshakeable in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement. Humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide – the principal so-called greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up.

    They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock.

    you can read the full text of the article on the site called (I’m not making this up) junk science:
    Global Warming? What a load of poppycock!
    – and maybe note that Junk Science has a major aim of debunking environmental science, and is linked to Exxon funding: googlefight

    I tried googling for refutations of Bellamy’s baloney; at first unsuccessul, but today come across guff from UK journalist George Monbiot; entertaining, including an exchange of letters, and Bellamy’s points re warming – even his ill-founded and since retracted idea that glaciers are on the whole advancing – indeed refuted.
    Monbiot had a go at Bellamy in Goodbye, Kind World:

    Like almost all the climate change deniers, he based his claim on a petition produced in 1998 by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and “signed by over 18,000 scientists”. Had Bellamy studied the signatories, he would have discovered that the “scientists” include Ginger Spice and the cast of MASH.(10) The Oregon Institute is run by a fundamentalist Christian called Arthur Robinson. Its petition was attached to what purported to be a scientific paper, printed in the font and format of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, the paper had not been peer-reviewed or published in any scientific journal.(11) Anyone could sign the petition, and anyone did: only a handful of the signatories are experts in climatology,(12) and quite a few of them appear to have believed that they were signing a genuine paper.(13) And yet, six years later, this petition is still being wheeled out to suggest that climatologists say global warming isn’t happening.

    this prompted letter from Bellamy, and letter from Monbiot, then letter from Bellamy, another from Monbiot; Bellamy for some reason mainly covering pros and cons of wind power and not much re global warming:
    Correspondence with David Bellamy
    Monbiot followed up with another article:
    Junk Science
    Climate change denial, as David Bellamy’s claims show, is based on pure hocus pocus

    this begins:

    For the past three weeks, a set of figures has been working a hole in my mind. On April 16th, New Scientist published a letter from the famous botanist David Bellamy. Many of the world’s glaciers, he claimed, “are not shrinking but in fact are growing. … 555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980.”(1) His letter was instantly taken up by climate change deniers. And it began to worry me. What if Bellamy was right?

    He is a scientist, formerly a senior lecturer at the University of Durham. He knows, in other words, that you cannot credibly cite data unless it is well-sourced. Could it be that one of the main lines of evidence of the impacts of global warming – the retreat of the world’s glaciers – was wrong?

    So last week I telephoned the World Glacier Monitoring Service and read out Bellamy’s letter. I don’t think the response would have been published in Nature, but it had the scientific virtue of clarity. “This is complete bullshit.”(3) A few hours later, they sent me an email.

    “Despite his scientific reputation, he makes all the mistakes that are possible”. He had cited data which was simply false, failed to provide references, completely misunderstood the scientific context and neglected current scientific literature.(4) The latest studies show unequivocally that most of the world’s glaciers are retreating.(5)

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/07/24 10:41


    I'd never heard of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (a scary thought!), but doesn't look like he'll join the pantheon of great intellectuals of our time. Seems he earlier claimed global warming is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Now, more wackiness in an interview with Tulsa World. Includes:

    It kind of reminds . . . I could use the Third Reich, the big lie," Inhofe said. … While declining to watch either the Gore movie or the Brokaw documentary, the senator said he armed himself with the statements used in both. "I know the text, and I know they are using old stuff that has been totally discredited," Inhofe said. "Everything on which they based their story, in terms of the facts, has been refuted scientifically."

    He offered his point-by-point response to both. They include such claims as that polar bear populations are shrinking along with their food supplies, and the glaciers in Glacier National Park are disappearing. Inhofe insists that the number of polar bears is not dropping and that some of the glaciers in the national park are actually getting bigger. [err, scientific references if you please, Senator]

    As for the Kilimanjaro glacier, which reportedly is disappearing, Inhofe said the loss can be blamed on the cutting of trees, which once held the moisture. "One by one, you can refute everything they are saying," Inhofe said.

    Heat wave has senator sticking to beliefs

    Looks like if you don't bother with actual science, with bothersome things like peer-reviewed papers and suchlike, you can indeed refute everything "they"are saying. Much as you could claim, say, that genetics is a hoax, or that humans and dinosaurs co-existed (latter cited in an Esquire article:

    Greetings from Idiot America; the senator may wish to read this sometime, including,

    "In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron").


    More evidence that the global warming "sceptics" are receiving some juicy support from industries involved in producing greenhouse gases:

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Colorado electricity cooperative is urging other power groups to support global warming skeptics and has donated $100,000 to a climatologist who has labeled some of his colleagues "alarmists." The Intermountain Rural Electric Association’s general manager wrote in a letter to other energy cooperatives that it also helped raise contributions from others for Dr. Patrick Michaels, a climatologist at the University of Virginia and a fellow at the CATO Institute in Washington D.C. … "I would say it’s smoking gun evidence that industry is trying to buy science to back its anti-environmental propaganda on global warming," said Frank O’Donnell, president of Washington D.C.-environmental group Clean Air Watch. "Something coming from a Patrick Michaels should carry a warning label," he said. "’Caution: this commentary bought with industry money."’

    Power group promoting global warming skeptic

    from Washington Post:

    Lewandowski [of power company], who said he believes global warming is real just not as big a problem as scientists claim, acknowledged this is a special interest issue. He said the bigger concern is his 130,000 customers, who want to keep rates low, so coal-dependent utilities need to prevent any taxes or programs that penalize fossil fuel use. He said his effort is more aimed at stopping carbon dioxide emission taxes and limits from Congress, something he believes won’t happen during the Bush administration.

    Utilities Give Warming Skeptic Big Bucks – ah yes, the Bush administration…


    Commentary on Delaware Online is a further demonstration of how notions there is a "debate" about whether global warming is real are just plain wrong.


    An op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal a month ago claimed that a published study affirming the existence of a scientific consensus on the reality of global warming had been refuted. This charge was repeated again in a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. I am the author of that study, which appeared two years ago in the journal Science, and I’m here to tell you that the consensus stands. The argument put forward in the Wall Street Journal was based on an Internet posting; it has not appeared in a peer-reviewed journal — the normal way to challenge an academic finding. (The Wall Street Journal didn’t even get my name right!) My study demonstrated that there is no significant disagreement within the scientific community that the Earth is warming and that human activities are the principal cause. Papers that continue to rehash arguments that have already been addressed and questions that have already been answered will, of course, be rejected by scientific journals, and this explains my findings. Not a single paper in a large sample of peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 refuted the consensus position, summarized by the National Academy of Sciences, that "most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations." …

    To be sure, there are a handful of scientists, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, the author of the Wall Street Journal editorial, who disagree with the rest of the scientific community. To a historian of science like me, this is not surprising. In any scientific community, there are always some individuals who simply refuse to accept new ideas and evidence. This is especially true when the new evidence strikes at their core beliefs and values. … Climate-change deniers can imagine all the hypotheses they like, but it will not change the facts nor "the general induction from the phenomena."

    Global warming: Signed, sealed and delivered

    LONDON — Britain’s leading scientific academy has accused oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. of misleading the public about global warming and funding groups that undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. The Royal Society said Wednesday that it had written to Exxon asking it to halt support for groups that have “misrepresented the science of climate change.” …

    Scientists Chide Exxon on Global Warming

    The Royal Society website has a section on global warming, inc debunking the apparently contradictory obfuscation from the sceptics. Climate change: evidence and causes


    Back in my univ days in the UK, used to hear of the “Loony Left” for some political types with daft ideas. In UK, not sure how should call the rightwingers – Rabid Righties? – who seem oblivious to facts and commonsense (we know CO2 asorbs heat emitted after sun heats the earth; so add more, and earth is likely to get warmer – err, which part of this can’t you understand, rabid ones?)

    Just read of a republican senator, Jim Inhofe, who’s someohow on senate environmental committee, giving blustering speech saying global warming isn’t real.
    Over at ThinkProgress – CNN Fact Checks Inhofe’s Diatribe Against Global Warming Sci, there’s a blog post inc link to CNN item showing Inhofe was factually incorrect. CNN notes that in recent five-year period, Inhofe received US$850,000 from oil and gas industries.

    See also a post on blog at Grist Magazine:
    Inhofe’s speech and right-wing global warming myths
    – comments posted there include quote from book, The Republican War on Science:

    There may be no other issue today where a corruption of the necessary relationship between science and political decision-making has more potentially disastrous consequences. And together, Jame Inhofe and the Bush administration have made that corruption systematic and complete.

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/10/01 03:32

    UN chief Kofi Annan has criticised a “frightening lack of leadership” in tackling global warming, at a major UN climate summit in Nairobi.
    Mr Annan told delegates the phenomenon was as grave a threat as conflict, poverty and the spread of weapons.

    He said sceptics were “out of step, out of arguments and out of time”.

    “It is increasingly clear that it will cost far less to cut emissions now than to deal with the consequences later,” he told the 189-nation meeting in Kenya’s capital.

    The UN chief said climate change was also a threat to peace and security.

    “Changing patterns of rainfall, for example, can heighten competition for resources, setting in motion potentially destabilising tensions and migrations…

    “There is evidence that some of this is already occurring; more could well be in the offing.”

    UN chief issues climate warning

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2006/11/16 12:00


    Just come across a bizarre letter to the editor of the Freelance Star, by a doyenne of the global warming skeptics, Patrick Michaels.


    Can the news [about global warming] really be this bad?

    – and then answers with a truly lunatic piece of logic:

    Every time some “new” information is added to a weather forecast, it should have an equal chance of making it warmer or colder. In global warming, which is really just a super-long-range forecast, every new finding should also have an equal chance of making it warmer or cooler, or “worse than we thought” or “not as bad as we thought.”

    Michaels writes a lengthy missive based on this – which he does not substantiate, and seems as crazy as saying (for instance) that in considering whether the earth is round or flat, or smoking does or does not cause cancer, the chances of the answer being one of these choices is 50%.

    Thus, in noting that:

    I counted 115 articles in the last 13 months–52 in Science and 63 in Nature. Twenty-three were in the “neutral/can’t classify” bin. In the remaining two categories, nine were in the “better” class, meaning things wouldn’t be as bad as previously thought, and 83 were in the “worse” box.

    – Michaels is able to say this must be a result of bias. It couldn’t be that global warming is indeed serious (for by his reasoning, if it was, half the papers would say it wasn’t).

    But, perhaps his audience is simply idiots, keen for even the flakiest of pseudo-science to buttress their notions. And, of course, could please his backers in the energy industry.

    You can see this at:
    No, Virginia, the sky is not falling Warming to debate Are we responsible for the planet’s changing climate?

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2006/12/03 15:04


    Another skeptic who seems to be flailing is Fred Singer; extracts from an answer he gave to question on global warming:

    In other words, we cannot deny the greenhouse effect, that’s real, but it’s small. … you implicitly assume … that warming is bad. I would question that. … how can you argue logically that a warmer climate is worse? Or would you say that the present climate just happens to be the optimum climate? …

    Tilting at Warming
    Oh dear, seems the poor fellow’s gotten stuck in a quagmire; almost seems he’s thinking of how ridiculous his comments are even as he makes them. Global warming fears aren’t about any wishy-washy notion of “optimum climate” – but about major changes to the climate we’ve long had. As a commenter notes on blog with the quote, we have cities on seacoasts, crops suited to existing climates etc.

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