The Week That Was
New on the Web: A preview of the G-8 meeting
It's been a memorable and tragic week: The Group-of-Eight meeting in Scotland to tackle African poverty and Global Warming, overshadowed by terrorist attacks in London. We lead off by recalling The Guardian (8 March 2004) story “Chief Scientist 'gagged' by No. 10 after warning of global warming threat”
Downing Street tried to muzzle the Government's top scientific adviser after he warned that global warming was a more serious threat than international terrorism….In January , Sir David [King] wrote a scathing article in the American journal Science attacking Washington for failing to take climate change seriously….Support for Sir David's view came yesterday from Hans Blix, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, who said the environment was at least as important a threat as global terrorism.
When SEPP first reported this story, we referred to Blix as a “certified idiot” for considering elsewhere “GW a greater threat than WMD”
July 9, 2005
brought to you by SEPP.
The G8 Statement CLIMATE CHANGE, CLEAN ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT is given as Item #1 below.
The GLENEAGLES PLAN OF ACTION is given as Item #2 below.
See also http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7881.asp
Some Comments on the G8 Statement:
From Marlo Lewis (Competitive Enterprise Institute)
The G8 adopted President Bush's climate policy language as its consensus statement.
Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases
The phrase comes straight out of Bush's "Global Climate Change Policy Book," from Feb. 2002, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/climatechange.html:
”This new approach focuses on reducing the growth of GHG emissions, while sustaining the economic growth needed to finance investment in new, clean energy technologies. It sets America on a path to slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and as the science justifies to stop and then reverse that growth”:
Finally, from CEQ Chairman James L. Connaughton's July 11, 2002 testimony before Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee on United States Global Climate Change Strategy, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/13774.pdf
”This [the President's policy] will put America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions and, if the science justifies, to stop and reverse the growth of emissions”
SEPP Comment: Note change from AS to IF
From Fred Singer (SEPP):
As an informed observer, I fully support the G-8 declaration. It restates in more detail previous remarks of Prime Minister Blair at the World Economic Summit (Davos, Jan 26, 2005) and also the chief recommendation of the Joint Science Academies Statement for "cost-effective energy conservation."
At the same time, it stresses the important role of technology in providing for low-cost clean energy sources as fossil fuels are gradually depleted amid rising prices.
I would only note three items:
1. Alleviating poverty and raising the standard of life for millions requires the use of more energy and will lead to more emission of carbon dioxide --at least in the short run.
2. When we talk about "clean energy," we should keep in mind that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but a natural component of the atmosphere, essential for agriculture and forestry.
3. The inevitable increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (and of methane) should lead to global warming, according to the Greenhouse theory. But the degree of warming, whether insignificant or even detectable, or calamitous, is still subject to intense scientific debate. It is likely that more precise observations and improvements in climate models over the next decade or so may resolve some of the existing uncertainties.
From Eileen Claussen (Pew Center on Climate Change) in radio interview:
“The President has said that global warming is an issue, has acknowledged the role of humans in generating the greenhouse gases that are a significant part of the problem, and has implemented a very modest program that allows our emissions to grow but at a slightly slower rate.
“Specific interests who wish to preserve the status quo have challenged the science, since that seems the best way to defeat efforts to take the problem seriously.
“I have never referred to carbon dioxide as a pollutant.”
From Samuel Thernstrom (American Enterprise Institute) in the NY Sun July 8:
First is the question of the scientific consensus behind the idea that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the sole cause of global warming. Environmental advocates are adamant on this point, and European scientists have taken to calling American skeptics “creationists.” This is sadly misleading.
The solutions to global warming are far more complicated than the science. While Europeans boast of their ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, environmental advocates would be wise to recognize that there isn't the slightest chance that Europe will actually meet its Kyoto targets.
From The Times (July 5, 2005):
If you look at it coolly, without the self-righteous passion that usually inflames the issue, global warming is essentially a risk-management problem. What risks would serious weather changes pose to our economies and societies, how likely are they to occur, and how might we reduce our vulnerability to them? The answers are still far from clear… there is scant agreement about the extent of Man's contribution, or the rate of future warming within the range of scenarios set out by scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The picture is muddied further by the way that climate change has been embraced by parts of the Left as an anti-capitalist, anti-growth, anti-American issue.
The rustic romanticism of the Left would imprison much of the world in enduring poverty. That contradiction is best highlighted by China, where hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of impoverishment and pollution is inevitably on the rise. …This debate needs less heat and more light.
From Samuel Brittan (Financial Times: July 7)
What is “global salvationism”? The doctrine has two aspects. One relates to the economic fortunes of poor countries for which global capitalism is blamed. The other is the doomster message that “the planet” is going to hell unless far reaching changes are made in official policies.
The whole package is the accepted wisdom not only of pop stars but also of most of the arts world. G8 leaders have been flirting with it; and many business leaders are afraid to criticise it. Let me concentrate on climate change. The only thing I will say about the scientific discussion is that some of the key figures in it emit a whiff of intolerance. Knowledge is not advanced by resolutions and majority votes, even of scientific academies.
From The Scotsman, 6 July 2005
ON THE eve of the G8 summit at Gleneagles, what had appeared to be a broad consensus on climate change looked to be unravelling. First, the Russian Academy of Science withdrew its support for a recent trenchant statement from the Royal Society in London urging governments to take action. Then the American National Academy of Sciences accused the Royal Society of misrepresentation. Now comes a call from a cross-party House of Lords committee saying the Kyoto Protocol will make little difference to global warming and expressing doubts about the objectivity of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It says positive aspects of global warming appear to have been downplayed, and that the government should press the IPCC for a more balanced portrayal of policy costs and benefits.
From Holman W Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal, 6 July 2005:
From a threat to the earth or threat to the economy (depending on your point of view), climate change has become just another excuse for tax breaks, corporate subsidies and soppy PR.
From Rosemary Righter in The Times (July 6, 2005)
Britain's environmental policy is a costly shambles based on dubious predictions about the future. The most valuable present that Tony Blair could make to his fellow-summiteers at Gleneagles would be the rigorous and persuasive report on the economics of climate change published today by the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords. He is unlikely to do so, for two main reasons. The first is that the report unanswerably demonstrates not only that in terms of averting or even delaying global warming, the Kyoto Protocol is about as futile as sending seven maids with seven mops to rid a beach of sand, but that more of the same, a Kyoto-plus treaty that sets tougher emissions targets, would fail too, because the whole approach it embodies is fatally flawed.
The Government has not the foggiest notion what Britain's self-imposed and hugely ambitious target of cutting C02 emissions to 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050 will cost. The estimates range from anywhere between 60 and 400 billion [pounds, or 120 to 800 billion dollars] in today's money - and the lower figure assumes, totally implausibly, that costs up to 2020 will be negligible because the emissions targets can be met merely through more efficient use of energy.
From Fred Singer's Letter to Raleigh News & Observer (July 5)
Your July 5 editorial states that the national science academies of 11 countries endorse "that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities." Since this Statement, drafted by the Royal Society (London), was released on June 7, the climate scientists of the Russian Academy have called on their president to withdraw his unauthorized signature. [See Pravda, 5 July 2005 http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/354/15756_kyoto.html]
The US National Academy seems to be having second thoughts also. Its president, Dr. Bruce Alberts, has written an angry letter to the president of the Royal Society, accusing him of misrepresenting and politicizing the Statement. [See The Scotsman, 6 July 2005
Stephen McIntyre revisits the 'Hockeystick' in the Financial Post (Toronto) in an important review (Item #3). More detail on www.climateaudit.org Despite proof that the official 1,000-year temperature history (the hockey stick) is wrong, government scientists refuse to correct the flaws in the data. Meanwhile, the US Congress House Energy Committee has launched a federal investigation of the "hockey stick" fiasco that you will hear more about http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Letters/06232005_1570.htm
For a contrary view, see the Lead Editorial in the July 7 issue of Nature.
In Britain, the House of Lords releases its report criticizing the IPCC procedures and conclusions (Item #4). In Russia, Pravda discusses the economic penalties imposed by the Kyoto Protocol (Item #5). In New Zealand, a backlash against Kyoto restrictions (Item #6).
New on the Web
Some Straight Thinking About G-8 and Climate Change
By S Fred Singer
As heads of G8 nations meet in Scotland on July 6-8, Britain's prime minister Tony Blair has set two chief priorities: fighting poverty in Africa and settling the science of climate change – or more correctly, of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It seems to have escaped notice that these goals conflict: A higher living standard means more energy use and, inevitably, more greenhouse (GH) gas emission.
It's time for some straight thinking.
First, a hopeful sign. Blair seems to agree with George Bush that the science is still uncertain. At the World Economic Summit in Davos last Jan 26, he emphasized the ongoing debates among climate scientists: "So it would be true to say the evidence [on anthropogenic global warming -- AGW] is still disputed."
Right. Yet that's not what his own science adviser keeps preaching, ignoring the many hundreds who disagree. According to Sir David King: "Global warming is a greater threat than terrorism" and "Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked." But independent data, from both weather satellites and balloons, do not show appreciable atmospheric warming.
The Royal Society, Britain's science academy, has managed to sign up other academies, including the US National Academy, to a much-hyped Statement endorsing AGW; it basically regurgitates the 2001 conclusions of the UN-sponsored IPCC. But these lean heavily on the so-called "hockey stick" graph of global temperatures, which claims that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years, a claim that has since been discredited. It is no surprise, therefore, that Russian climate scientists have called on the president of their Academy to retract his signature.
The consensus seems to be unraveling. As the BBC reports on July 5, the president of the US National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Alberts, has taken exception to the Royal Society's press release accompanying the statement. It claimed that US Government policy on climate change was misguided, and that the Bush administration had consistently failed the advice of American scientists. In a strongly worded letter, Bruce Alberts accuses the Royal Society of misrepresenting the NAS position, considerably changing the meaning and intend of a report the Academy published in 1991, which forms the basis of their policy. "As you may appreciate, having your own interpretation of US Academy work widely quoted in our press has caused considerable confusion, both at my academy and in our Government."
Anyway, the sum total of the academies' recommendations is "cost-effective energy conservation." We can all agree on that – even without consensus on AGW. Conservation can save money by cutting waste, but it has negligible impact on atmosphere and climate, and won't make energy resources sustainable. At best it will slow down somewhat the inevitable rise in the world price of oil -- as low-cost oil becomes depleted. This will benefit all oil consumers, especially in China. Conservation will also slow down our increasing rate of oil imports. We conducted such an experiment in conservation when automobile fuel efficiency doubled in the past few decades. Yet imports and prices have increased.
In his June 29 op-ed "Greenhouse Hypocrisy," Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson points out that scientists don't know "how much warming will occur, what the effects (good or bad) will be or where." Yet "politicians and [some] scientists constantly warn of the grim outlook [from AGW]. But all this sound and fury is mainly exhibitionism -- politicians pretending they're saving the planet. The truth is that, barring major technological advances, they can't (and won't) do much about global warming."
But many of the highly touted technological solutions are just pipedreams: "Clean coal" programs do reduce pollution but at the cost of using energy, i.e. emitting more CO2 – a terrible dilemma for those who maintain that CO2 is a pollutant. "Sequestration " of CO2, i.e. removing it from combustion gases in the smokestack and storing it underground or in the ocean, is wildly expensive, roughly doubling the cost of electric power. (Another way of looking at sequestration: We need twice as many plants to produce the same amount of electric power.) And the hydrogen economy faces many tough problems –above all, an economic method to manufacture the stuff.
Samuelson refers to Europe as the "citadel of hypocrisy." Having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, most European nations (and Canada and Japan) are unlikely to meet their Kyoto targets; but there are no real penalties for cheaters. Besides, Kyoto-sanctioned trading schemes -- buying up unused emission rights, mainly from Eastern Europe -- amount to legalized cheating; they don't reduce actual emissions. They mainly transfer money from West European consumers to Russia.
In the United States we have our own display of hot air: grandstanding from attorneys-general suing power companies -- for emitting CO2 while supplying needed electricity; grandiose declarations from the U.S. Conference of Mayors; even an impossible target from the governor of California; and abject surrender from CEOs of major corporations to politically inspired shareholders' resolutions. The US Senate just passed energy legislation, but turned down decisively the McCain-Lieberman bill to impose mandatory emission cuts, and also dropped similar efforts by Senator Bingaman that would have faced certain defeat. Instead, the Senate passed a nonbinding resolution endorsing a
"program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives on emissions of greenhouse gases … that--(1) will not significantly harm the United States economy; and (2) will encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions."
In other words, a great big "nothing-burger." It is functionally equivalent to the 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution in which the Senate voted 95:0 against any Kyoto-like treaty unless the same two conditions are satisfied.
A final word about the conflicting goals of the G8: Alleviating poverty in Africa will increase energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Just look at China. But cynics have already concluded that neither goal is realistic, and that G8 is mainly a sop to enviros and left-wing Laborites. Tony Blair's real concerns are reducing Britain's disproportionate contribution to the EU budget and paring down subsidies to French farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy. CAP now consumes 40% of the EU budget. Ah, but there is a French election coming up. What was that we said about political hypocrisy?
S. FRED SINGER
The writer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, has served as a consultant to the secretaries of Energy and the Treasury. An atmospheric physicist, he was founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service.
ROYAL SOCIETY ISOLATED, AS US NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES THREATENS TO WITHDRAW FROM FUTURE COOPERATION
BBC Radio 4, Today Programme, 5 July 2005, (transcript)
James Naughty: Only last month we reported that the scientific academies of the world's leading industrialised nations had agreed a statement, pretty well unprecedented, urging their governments to take prompt action on global warming. Climate change was real, it said, human activities had caused atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to rise, above pre-industrial levels, there was a need to take action to reduce the causes of climate change.
Now that consensus seems to be unravelling. A few days after that joined statement - there was a great fanfare about it, you remember, at the Royal Society in London, the president of the American National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Albert, fired off a pretty angry letter to the president of the Royal Society here, Lord May, accusing him of misrepresenting their position.
Our science correspondent, Tom Feilden, is in the middle of all this and watching it. Tom, just remind us of the background here.
Tom Feilden: Well, as you said. It all goes back to the beginning of June when the world's leading scientists issued this unprecedented joined statement. Setting out the consensus view, if you like, on climate change ahead of the G8 summit.
Now, exactly how climate is changing and how much of burning fossil fuels is to blame, has really been a major bon of contention in the whole debate over global warming. And this was a statement that a majority of American scientists, crucially, felt they could sign up to. It was certainly presented in that way that whatever we may choose to do or say about climate change - one thing was certain: the facts, the science was clear.
Jim Naughty: And what are the Americans now saying?
Tom Feilden: It seems that the president of the US National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Albert, has taken exception to the way the Royal Society has spun the story, if you like, in a press release issued to accompany the text of the statement. Now, in it, the Royal Society's Lord May claimed that the US Government policy on climate change was misguided, and that the Bush administration had consistently failed the advice of American scientists.
In his strongly worded - it has to be said - letter, Bruce Albert says he is dismayed by that and accuses the Royal Society of misrepresenting their position, considerably changing the meaning and intend of a report the Academy published in 1992, which forms the basis of their policy. Now, he makes clear that Lord May's comments have caused a great deal of trouble behind the scenes in Washington and even threatens to withdraw from future collaborative efforts with the Royal Society:
"As you may appreciate, having your own interpretation of US Academy work widely quoted in our press has caused considerable confusion, both at my academy and in our Government. By advertising our work in this way, you have, in fact, vitiated much of the careful effort that went into preparing the actual G8 statement."
Jim Naughty: The words of Bruce Albert from the United States. What is the Royal Society saying in response?
Tom Feilden: The Society wouldn't put up anyone for interview this morning, but they did stress that this is a row about a press release, not about the joined statement on climate change, that stands and is not being challenged.
They have sent me a copy of Lord May's reply to Bruce Albert. And it starts with a pretty forensic line-by-line rebuttal of the points he makes in his complaint. It rejects the idea that the press release misrepresented the Academy's position. Lord May does acknowledge that the political sensitivity of the issue in the US is very severe:
"I understand that the Academy may have received criticism for re-stating its position so clearly and so appropriately now. It is clearly not a politically convenient message for the US Government, particularly at a time when media reports have suggested that there have been attempts to doctor official documents relating to the science of climate change. I am confident that we acted perfectly properly in this matter, and am surprised at your comments."
1. CLIMATE CHANGE, CLEAN ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
G8 Gleneagles 2005
1. We face serious and linked challenges in tackling climate change, promoting clean energy and achieving sustainable development globally.
(a) Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. We know that increased need and use of energy from fossil fuels, and other human activities, contribute in large part to increases in greenhouse gases associated with the warming of our Earth's surface. While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.
(b) Global energy demands are expected to grow by 60% over the next 25 years. This has the potential to cause a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change.
(c) Secure, reliable and affordable energy sources are fundamental to economic stability and development. Rising energy demand poses a challenge to energy security given increased reliance on global energy markets.
(d) Reducing pollution protects public health and ecosystems. This is particularly true in the developing world. There is a need to improve air and water quality in order to alleviate suffering from respiratory disease, reduce public health costs and prolong lives.
(e) Around 2 billion people lack modern energy services. We need to work with our partners to increase access to energy if we are to support the achievement of the goals agreed at the Millennium Summit in 2000.
2. We will act with resolve and urgency now to meet our shared and multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the global environment, enhancing energy security and cutting air pollution in conjunction with our vigorous efforts to reduce poverty.
3. It is in our global interests to work together, and in partnership with major emerging economies, to find ways to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and our other key objectives, including the promotion of low-emitting energy systems. The world's developed economies have a responsibility to act.
4. We reaffirm our commitment to the UNFCCC and to its ultimate objective to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. We reaffirm the importance of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and look forward to its 2007 report.
5. We face a moment of opportunity. Over the next 25 years, an estimated $16 trillion will need to be invested in the world's energy systems. According to the IEA, there are significant opportunities to invest this capital cost-effectively in cleaner energy technologies and energy efficiency. Because decisions being taken today could lock in investment and increase emissions for decades to come, it is important to act wisely now.
6. We will, therefore take further action to:
(a) promote innovation, energy efficiency, conservation, improve policy, regulatory and financing frameworks; and accelerate deployment of cleaner technologies, particularly lower-emitting technologies
(b) work with developing countries to enhance private investment and transfer of technologies, taking into account their own energy needs and priorities.
(c) raise awareness of climate change and our other multiple challenges, and the means of dealing with them; and make available the information which business and consumers need to make better use of energy and reduce emissions.
7. Adaptation to the effects of climate change due to both natural and human factors is a high priority for all nations, particularly in areas that may experience the most significant change, such as the Arctic, the African Sahel and other semi-arid regions, low-lying coastal zones, and small island states also subject to subsidence. As we work on our own adaptation strategies, we will work with developing countries on building capacity to help them improve their resilience and integrate adaptation goals into sustainable development strategies.
8. Tackling climate change and promoting clean technologies, while pursuing energy security and sustainable development, will require a global concerted effort over a sustained period.
9. We therefore agree to take forward a Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, and invite other interested countries with significant energy needs to join us. We will:
(a) address the strategic challenge of transforming our energy systems to create a more secure and sustainable future;
(b) monitor implementation of the commitments made in the Gleneagles Plan of Action and explore how to build on this progress; and
(c) share best practice between participating governments.
10. We will ask our Governments to take the Dialogue forward. We welcome Japan's offer to receive a report at the G8 Summit in 2008.
11. We will work with appropriate partnerships, institutions and initiatives including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and World Bank:
(a) The IEA will advise on alternative energy scenarios and strategies aimed at a clean clever and competitive energy future.
(b) The World Bank will take a leadership role in creating an new framework for clean energy and development, including investment and financing.
12. Following the success of the Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable held in London in March, the UK will hold meetings to take the Dialogue forward in the second half of this year, including by identifying specific implementation plans for carrying out each of the commitments under the Plan of Action.
13. We welcome the Russian decision to focus on energy in its Presidency of the G8 in 2006 and the programme of meetings that Russia plans to hold.
14. We acknowledge that the UNFCCC is the appropriate forum for negotiating future action on climate change. Those of us who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol welcome its entry into force and will work to make it a success.
15. We will work together to advance the goals and objectives we have agreed today to inform the work of the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal 2005. We are committed to move forward in that forum the global discussion on long-term co-operative action to address climate change.
2. GLENEAGLES PLAN OF ACTION: CLIMATE CHANGE, CLEAN ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
1. We will take forward actions in the following key areas:
- Transforming the way we use energy
- Powering a cleaner future
- Promoting research and development
- Financing the transition to cleaner energy
- Managing the impact of climate change
- Tackling illegal logging
Transforming the way we use energy
2. Improvements to energy efficiency have benefits for economic growth and the environment, as well as co-benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preventing pollution, alleviating poverty, improving security of energy supply, competitiveness and improving health and employment.
3. At Evian, we agreed that energy efficiency is a key area for G8 action. And following agreement at the Sea Island Summit in 2004, the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) initiative was launched in Tokyo this April - an important step towards encouraging more efficient use of resources and materials, which increases economic competitiveness whilst decreasing environmental impacts.
4. We also recognise the importance of raising consumer awareness of the environmental impact of their behaviour and choices including through international efforts such as the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
3. Revisiting the 'stick'
Despite proof that the official 1,000-year temperature history (the hockey stick) is wrong, government scientists refuse to correct the flaws in the data
By Steve McIntyre
Financial Post (Toronto), June 17, 2005
In the global warming debate, one of the most potent tools of Kyoto treaty advocates was the "hockey stick diagram," which became famous a few years ago when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) used it to argue that the "1990s were the warmest decade in the millennium and 1998 the warmest year." These sound bites were used in speeches advocating Kyoto during the 2002 ratification debate; the government of Canada promoted the hockey stick on its Web site, sent it to schools across the country and quoted its conclusion in pamphlets mailed out to all Canadians.
The "hockey stick" theory overturned the findings in the first IPCC report that the world's climate had been warmer in the medieval era, when, for example, Vikings settled in Greenland.
In two peer-reviewed articles published this past winter, Ross McKitrick and I showed that there had been no effort by the IPCC to verify the hockey stick study, and that there were problems in the calculations sufficiently serious to overturn its conclusions. Our main article was published in the same scientific journal that published the hockey stick graph used by the IPCC.
The story was reported around the world. Coverage began in the National Post and the Dutch science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek. Since then articles have appeared in, among others, Nature, Science, The Economist, and the front page of The Wall Street Journal. The story has been reported on the BBC and Global, as well as German and Dutch television. My Web site -- www.climateaudit.org -- has received more than 250,000 hits since mid-February.
Our most publicized claim has been pretty much universally accepted: We showed that an unreported step in the original calculations mines datasets for hockey-stick shaped series. We showed that this method can produce hockey sticks even from random data. Since we published our computer code, many others easily verified this result.
The authors' original study puts the maximum weight on the most controversial data, in that the hockey stick relies on indexes of tree ring widths to project temperatures. Amid more than 400 tree ring series, the authors included a controversial set of 15 U.S. bristle-cone pine records, which have a pronounced hockey stick shape. However, the specialists who studied bristle-cones had explicitly stated their hockey stick shape is not a temperature signal but is likely due to aerial carbon dioxide fertilization. The hockey stick program loads maximum weight on these bristle-cone records: If they are removed from the data, the hockey stick shape disappears. We showed that the authors had discovered this themselves and they not only failed to disclose it, they claimed the opposite in a later commentary on their own work.
We also showed that the hockey stick authors (Mann, Bradley and Hughes) had withheld vital data (certain verification statistics) that showed their conclusions were statistically insignificant, and that their interpretation of the one verification statistic they did report was incorrect.
The reaction from climate scientists has been varied. Richard Muller of Berkeley likened our contribution to removing a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that was in the wrong place so that investigation about climate history can resume with a clean slate. Hans von Storch, a famous German climate scientist, said it was "good that debate about the temperature history of the last millennium can be resumed again without reservations," and that we were entitled to "thanks" for this contribution. On the other hand, Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, a prominent Canadian climate scientist, said our original paper should have been "rejected" and he believed that giving equal space to both sides in a dispute can be dangerous, particularly when applied to scientific matters.
To date, none of our claims has been disproved. This is not to say they have all been accepted or that our work has not been criticized. There has been much more effort by climate scientists to try and disprove our results than ever went into checking the original hockey stick. We made the process easy by publishing all our computer code, unlike the hockey stick authors, who still refuse to release theirs seven years after the original publication. They told the Wall Street Journal that to show the algorithm they used would be "giving in to intimidation."
We know of five submissions thus far to academic journals commenting on our most recent results (in addition to two submissions last year on some earlier results). In the United States, the mere submission of two papers criticizing our results prompted the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a prominent, federally funded institution that receives hundreds of millions of dollars for climate research, to issue a nation-wide press release declaring our criticisms were "unfounded." Although one of the two papers was shortly thereafter rejected by the journal (the other is still undergoing review), UCAR has not announced its rejection and the original press release remains on the UCAR Web site.
Without getting into particulars beyond what has been publicly disclosed, none of the papers commenting on our work actually contest any of our specific findings. None dispute the undisclosed computational step. None contest the unacceptable dependence of the results on the bristle-cone pines; none try to argue that bristle-cone series are a valid "proxy" for temperature history. None address the failure of the hockey stick to pass simple verification tests.
Instead scientists are trying to argue that the hockey stick errors "don't matter." One style of comment does not test the impact of the erroneous method on the hockey stick itself but on completely different data sets or on unrelated computational problems. Our reply to these responses is more or less: "So what?" The only context we are interested in is the actual hockey stick itself.
The other type of response is to argue that a hockey stick can be produced even without the erroneous method by, for instance, increasing the number of principal components used to represent the North American tree ring network. But every such permutation that we have seen boils down to a back-door method of allowing the bristle-cone series to dominate the final results. Once you are aware of the role of these defective proxies in the hockey stick, you can't simply ignore them or reintroduce them (as the authors did). But this is what is being attempted. Further, these salvage attempts fail common statistical verification tests. But in every example we have seen, these failed statistical tests are withheld from the reader, as they were in the original article and as they are in the papers cited in the UCAR press release.
A third type of response has been to mischaracterize our work. As Muller and others have clearly understood and as we have explained on many occasions, our work to date has been entirely critical. We are not advocating our own reconstruction of climate. We are simply arguing against "flawed intelligence" which is not backed by the data. If this reopens debate for other interpretations, including those held by the IPCC in the pre-hockey-stick-author era (see the lower half of the chart above), then that would be a welcome outcome.
What has been the reaction from the government and the IPCC? Not once have we been contacted by Environment Canada or any other Canadian government ministry dealing with climate research to discuss our work. I contacted Canada's then-chief climate science advisor (Henry Hengeveld) last fall and took him to lunch to explain our work. He shrugged it off and never followed up. Environment Canada has a comment on its Web site dismissing our work, based only on a claim by the original authors that the errors did not matter. A reader from Manitoba forwarded to us an e-mail from Environment Canada responding to his question about why they still promote the hockey stick. Apparently they have dismissed our research on the basis of some unpublished and fallacious commentary they found on the Internet, without ever asking for our input. We have had no contact from the IPCC either.
Our efforts to promote the concept of auditing important climate studies prior to usage in public policy is getting increased attention. We have learned that people have the wrong idea about journal peer review. Users of scientific research for policy-making generally assume that when an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal it means someone checked the data, checked the calculations and checked that the stated conclusions are supported by the evidence presented. But peer review does not guarantee any of this.
Influential papers in climate research can go for years without the data or methods even being disclosed, let alone independently checked, even as huge policy investments are made based on them. So we have urged policy-makers to put in place formal processes to ensure complete disclosure of data and methods for any scientific work that is being used to drive policy debates. We urge the development of audit procedures to verify compliance with such requirements. We believe such innovations would be good for science and good for the policy-making process, even if a few more scientific icons get broken as a result.
One of the first places we would recommend such procedures is the temperature data set used by the IPCC. Other researchers have tried without success to get access to the supporting data. One of them shared with us the response he received from the principal author of the dataset: "We have 25 years invested in this work. Why should we let you look at it, when your only objective is to find fault with it?"
BOX: THE ANTI-CONSENSUS ON CLIMATE:
It is commonly held that there is a global scientific consensus on climate change. Here are some comments from scientists who are not part of the consensus.
- - -
"[The McKitrick and McIntyre findings] hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics."
Richard Muller, 2004. Global Warming Bombshell. MIT Technology Review
- - -
"The IPCC review process is fatally flawed. The behaviour of Michael Mann is a disgrace to the profession.... The scientific basis for the Kyoto protocol is grossly inadequate."
Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, retired director of the Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands.
- - -
"It is strange that the climate reconstruction of Mann passed both peer review rounds of the IPCC without anyone ever really having checked it."
Dr. Rob van Dorland, of the Dutch National Meteorological Agency in an article in the Dutch science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek (NWT) Feb. 27, 2005.
- - -
"Between 1400 and 1600, the temperature shift was considerably higher than, for example, in the previous century. With that, the core conclusion, and that also of the IPCC 2001 Report, was completely undermined."
Dutch Climatologist Ulrich Cubasch interviewed on German television, February, 2005.
Stephen McIntyre is the co-author (with Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph) of three peer reviewed articles on statistical defects of the hockey stick climate history
4. House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee Report
The Committee concluded that:
The science of climate change leaves considerable uncertainty about the future.
The balance between mitigation and adaptation needs to be re-examined. The costs of mitigation are uncertain, as are the benefits, which are also more distant. Adaptation - including for instance flood defenses and water conservation - has recognizable costs and calculable benefits.
- Because the Kyoto Protocol will make little difference to rates of warming and because a continuation of the same approach focusing excessively on emission reductions is likely to fail, the UK should take a lead in exploring alternative approaches based on agreements on carbon-free technology and its diffusion.
- There are concerns about the objectivity of the IPCC process and about the IPCC's crucial emissions scenario exercise.
- Positive aspects of global warming appear to have been downplayed in IPCC reports. The Government should press the IPCC to reflect the costs and benefits of climate change in a more balanced way.
- The Government should review its energy and climate policy, which includes some dubious assumptions about the roles of renewable energy sources and of energy efficiency.
- The Government should review and substantiate the estimated costs of achieving its objectives, and present these estimates transparently to the public.
- UK nuclear power capacity should be maintained at least at its present level, even after existing plants have been decommissioned.
- The current UK Climate Change Levy should be replaced by a carbon tax as soon as possible.
House of Lords. Select Committee on Economic Affairs, 6 July 2005
The Committee, having considered various aspects of the economics of climate change, calls on the Government to give HM Treasury a more extensive role, both in examining the costs and benefits of climate change policy and presenting them to the United Kingdom public, and in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
We have some concerns about the objectivity of the IPCC process, with some of its emissions scenarios and summary documentation apparently influenced by political considerations.
There are significant doubts about some aspects of the IPCC's emissions scenario exercise, in particular, the high emissions scenarios. The Government should press the IPCC to change their approach.
There are some positive aspects to global warming and these appear to have been played down in the IPCC reports; the Government should press the IPCC to reflect in a more balanced way the costs and benefits of climate change. The Government should press the IPCC for better estimates of the monetary costs of global warming damage and for explicit monetary comparisons between the costs of measures to control warming and their benefits.
Since warming will continue, regardless of action now, due to the lengthy time lags in climate systems, and since there is a risk that international negotiations will not secure large-scale and effective mitigation action, a more balanced approach to the relative merits of adaptation and mitigation is needed, with far more attention paid to adaptation measures.
We are concerned that UK energy and climate policy appears to be based on dubious assumptions about the roles of renewable energy and energy efficiency and that the costs to the UK of achieving its objectives have been poorly documented. We look to the Government, with much stronger Treasury involvement, to review and substantiate the cost estimates and to convey them in transparent form to the public.
We think that current nuclear power capacity, before further decommissioning occurs, should be retained.
We urge the Government to replace the present Climate Change Levy with a carbon tax as soon as possible.
We are concerned that the international negotiations on climate change reduction will be ineffective because of the preoccupation with setting emissions targets. The Kyoto Protocol makes little difference to rates of warming, and has a naive compliance mechanism, which can only deter countries from signing up to subsequent tighter emissions targets. We urge the Government to take a lead in exploring alternative "architectures" for future Protocols, based perhaps on agreements on technology and its diffusion.
FULL REPORT HOUSE OF LORDS: THE ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
5. Kyoto Protocol To Destroy Russian Economy With Unnecessary Payments
Pravda, 5 July 2005
Russia already suffers losses from the ratification of the climate change treaty. The idea, which permeates through the Kyoto Protocol, is connected with the myth of the global warming. However, Russia's congresses, addresses and most prominent scientists were trying to prove to the world that the actual reasons of the global climate change were still unknown. Russian specialists repeatedly said that the problem needed to be developed and studied further. It is noteworthy that Russian scientists were not allowed to participate in international discussions on the matter. They are not going to give up fighting, though: a delegation of Russia specialists reportedly prepares a scandal for the G8 summit.
Russian scientists disliked the fact that the British report about the global response to the climate change issue (the report will be presented at the G8 summit in Scotland) was signed by the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yury Osipov (in addition to eleven signatures made by foreign academicians).
The chairman of the climate change and Kyoto Protocol council of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yury Israel, said that the collective discussion of the document prepared by British specialists started only [last week]. As a result, members of the council asked Yury Osipov to withdraw his signature from the report. "Russian academicians have not changed their stance regarding the Kyoto Protocol," Israel said at yesterday's press conference.
Russian scientists still consider the Kyoto Protocol scientifically ungrounded and inefficient in terms of achieving the goal of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In addition, specialists are certain that the Kyoto Protocol is harmful to the Russian economy.
6. And the latest report from our associate on the saga from 'down under' -- not Australia but New Zealand (see also earlier TWTW)
In what must surely rate as one of the most blatant pieces of deceit by any New Zealand Government in recent times, it appears that the Labour Government was aware of its grave Kyoto miscalculations as early as mid-April - when it was apparently reported to the United Nations - but chose to bury the matter 10 pages into the section on contingent liabilities in this year's Budget, with the comment that it was not feasible to quantify the extent of the liability at this stage.
The opposition National Party has said that should it become the government - a distinct possibility - after the general election due before end September, there is no way it will be spending hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars, buying carbon credits on the international market. Given that: (a) major countries are still refusing to ratify the Protocol, (b) there is still debate about whether global warming is taking place, (c) there is also debate on the role of human activity even if warming is taking place, and (d) there are enormous economic costs to slowing the growth of greenhouse gases vis-ŕ-vis the modest reductions in temperature which such reductions might achieve.
From the (July 7) "Dominion Post," Wellington, NZ.
“This government loves to be in bureaucratic control of people's daily lives - from the smacking of naughty children to stopping you from having a quiet beer and a smoke in a club or public bar with friends. It looks back with nostalgia to when you needed government's permission to import anything or buy foreign currency to travel overseas. Then, of course, government also used to control shopkeepers' prices.
Kyoto has come as a God-send for more bureaucracy. Government has grand visions of an army of inspectors, employed by the Carbon Regime Administration Panel (CRAP), who will trudge the country dipping manufacturers' fuel oil tanks and counting forest owners' trees to make sure they are doing as they are told.”
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