Crumbling consensus

Diverse — Drokles on June 15, 2010 at 4:58 am

Fra National Post

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming, according to Mike Hulme, a prominent climate scientist and IPCC insider.  The actual number of scientists who backed that claim was “only a few dozen experts,” he states in a paper for Progress in Physical Geography, co-authored with student Martin Mahony.

“Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous,” the paper states unambiguously, adding that they rendered “the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism.”

Samme konklusion er Peter Taylor kommet til ifølge Spiked Online

I (…) took time out, visited the science libraries, and checked the original science upon which today’s models are based.

I was shocked by what I found. Firstly, there’s no real consensus among the scientists in the UN working groups, especially around oceanography and atmospheric physics. The atmospheric physics of carbon dioxide for example is presented as being pretty straightforward: it is a greenhouse gas, therefore it warms up the planet. But even that isn’t settled. There’s a huge amount of scientific disagreement on how much extra heating in the atmosphere you will get from carbon dioxide. It is even broadly accepted that carbon dioxide on its own is not a problem. So, you can double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and get half to one degree warming, which is within the natural variability range over a period of 50 years from now at the current rate of emissions.

The role of water vapour in planetary warming is also open to questioning. While it is presented as being a heat amplifier, in fact because it can turn into cloud it could actually regulate temperature instead. As it turned out, at the very beginning of the UN discussions, Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, and a leading expert appointed to the committee because of his meteorological expertise, was saying precisely that: the amplification effect asserted cannot be relied upon to increase warming because the vapour could turn into cloud. This needed to be proved before basing assumptions on it. But Lindzen was overruled. Despite still being a key part of the IPPC process, he is now vilified by the press and by the environmental movement. So even on the most basic science of the atmospherics, there is doubt.

Or take oceanography. Most of the heat of the planet is not contained in the atmosphere; it is in the oceans. And what happens in the oceans is absolutely vital to the dynamics of heat moving around the planet. So while of course it is possible to warm up the planet to an additional extent as a result of human activity, if the planet then lets more heat out than it would normally do, then it will balance out. That is to say, you have only to produce less cloud over the oceans and the oceans will release heat to space. Like CO2 itself, the atmosphere doesn’t actually hold heat – it simply delays its transmission to space.

The real dynamic of the planet is to do with clouds, yet this area of science – oceanography and cloud cover – is incredibly uncertain. When I first looked at the basic science, the findings were surprising. Over the global warming period – which I limit to the past 50 or so years – the globe didn’t warm at all between 1950 and 1980, even though carbon dioxide emissions were going through the roof due to the postwar expansion of industry; global temperatures stayed pretty much flat.

The times they are achanging.

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