Research Debunks Greenhouse TheoryEDMONTON JOURNAL ,12 November 2003
Lorne Gunter, Columnist, Edmonton Journal
Too many scientists have based their research, their reputations and their incomes on the greenhouse theory.
So rather than debate the growing evidence that the greenhouse theory is fundamentally flawed, many greenhouse-believing scientists have begun viciously attacking those who question its conclusions and denouncing any agnostic as a heretic -- especially ones presenting uncomfortably challenging proof.
Witness Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Both are noted solar physicists. Earlier this year, they published an exhaustive study of the climate of the past 1,000 years or so in the journal Climate Research. They examined more studies on historic climate trends -- 240 in all -- than any previous researchers, and concluded the 20th century was not unusually warm. In the past millennium there had been at least one other period when, worldwide, temperatures were as much as 2 C to 3 C warmer than the 1990s.
This was not a particularly startling conclusion. There have been dozens of papers written by geologists identifying a Medieval Warm Period running from about 800 to 1300 AD and a Little Ice Age spanning 1300 to about 1850. Soon and Baliunas merely confirmed that these earlier studies were right.
But Soon and Baliunas were both vehemently attacked. Myths were spread that they had cooked their findings (as good scientists do, they acknowledged in their article the very limitations in their results that have been used to try to discredit them). Three junior editors at the journal that published their study resigned claiming embarrassment that their employer published shoddy research. Then the controversy sucked down the editor-in-chief.
However, when an independent review was conducted of the Soon/Baliunas article, no misrepresentation was found nor any shortcomings with Climate Research's peer-review process. (These latter facts are often left out of news stories on the controversy, though.)
The reason for the hissy fit over Soon/Baliunas is simple though. The pair do not shy from drawing obvious conclusions from their research: if the warming of the 20th century is not unusual, then it is likely natural, meaning the Kyoto accord is an exercise in futility. And even if the warming is not natural, it is not extreme and thus nothing to worry about.
This is a threat to the greenhouse religion. Therefore the pair must be burned at the stake.
The same fate is likely to befall Canadian researchers Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who have just destroyed the "hockey stick" theory on recent global warming for the British journal Energy & Environment. (Questioned the theory, or called it into doubt might be less-charged wording, but I'll stick with destroyed.)
The "hockey stick" has been among the holiest of holies in the greenhouse priests' liturgy. It purports to show relatively stable climate for the 900 years from 1000 to 1900, then a sharp spike upward from 1900 to today. Its implications for the greenhouse theory are so central that it formed an integral part of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's vaunted 2001 report, the one that claimed to confirm disastrous manmade greenhouse warming.
We have known for a long time that the hockey stick compared apples and oranges -- reconstructed temperatures from 1000 to 1900 (temperatures deduced from studying tree-ring growth and ice cores, et cetera) and measured temperatures from 1900 onward. When the 20th century's temperatures are "reconstructed," they don't show the warming the hockey stick shows.
But what McIntyre/McKitrick also reveal is the data used to craft the hockey stick are based on "collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation ... obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation ... and other quality control defects." The wrong places, the wrong dates and the wrong numbers were jumbled together to produce the results the authors desired -- that industrial societies are threatening the planet and only global regulation by the UN can save it.
Three "unjustified truncations" were uncovered by McIntyre/McKitrick. Of 112 temperature records used to create the hockey stick, 13 were incorrectly copied down, 18 mismatched the year and temperatures, 19 made unjustifiable extrapolations to cover missing data, 24 contained obsolete data and all 28 that used tree-ring data miscalculated the information obtained by reading the rings. That's a total of 105 records with errors, although some contained multiple errors, so there were more than seven data sets that were error-free, but not many more.
Emperor Kyoto has no clothes. It's time we called him on it.
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