By Notra Trulock
Editorially, the Times didn't
equivocate. It declared that
On July 8, a Times editorial praised
The Times Got It Wrong
But what used to be regarded as the paper of record got the
Prof. Wendler says it is still "too great
by a factor of two for the 1971 to 2000 period." He bases this on
On the Internet, Tech Central Station attributed the warming trend to a spike in temperatures during the Great Pacific Climate Shift in 1976-1977, a pattern that has been repeated over the past 100 years. Subtract those years, and there is no warming trend after 1977. Professor (emeritus) Sue Ann Bowling, a climat-ologist with the Atmospheric Sciences Faculty at UA/Fair-banks, confirmed to AIM that the Pacific climate shift caused a "step change" in temperature trends around 1976-1977.
Both Wendler and Bowling were mystified by the
Times' num-bers. Wendler
speculated that his colleagues at the Center for Global Change may have used an
earlier time period or numbers from other stations. Other scientists, speaking
anonymously, think that the Center for Global Change may have fudged the
numbers to support its projections of future change, which have temperature increases
Wrong Numbers, Wrong Consequences
If the corrected numbers in the Times article are off by a factor of two, does that mean that the Times' predictions of catastrophic consequences are equally wrong? For the Times, along with environmental activists, left-liberal politicians (and Senator John McCain) and those "mainstream scientists" the Times likes to quote, it doesn't really matter. When it comes to global warming, for this group "the debate is over."
Likely presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., in his opening
statement at a recent congressional hearing, captured the mood of this group by
saying that it is now "time to shift the focus from the science to the
solution of climate change." By solution, Kerry means mandatory reductions
of CO2 emissions and other curbs on industry, particularly
automakers. Politicians like Senators Kerry, McCain and Lieberman have all
climbed on the global warming bandwagon, and one source claims that twice as
many climate change bills were introduced in the 107th Congress as
in the previous two sessions combined. State officials, like California
Governor Gray Davis and the Democratic attorneys general of 10 other states are
all impatient with
Activists applaud these measures, but would prefer to launch a "new industrial revolution" to fundamentally transform the way we "power the global economy." This means "new fuels, new engines, new industrial processes, and new ways to generate electricity" (but not nuclear power). They urge Americans to "adjust to new realities" or go the way of the dinosaurs. You can tell how serious the issue is getting when trial lawyers start speculating about filing class-action lawsuits seeking damages on behalf of individuals or even countries that claim they have suffered from the effects of global warming.
A Failed Hypothesis
But the science on global warming, and its putative causes, is by no means settled. The earth's atmosphere has both warmed and cooled over the centuries without any human activity being responsible. Dr. S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), points out that a study of CO2 and temperatures over the past 11,000 years that was analyzed in both Science and Nature in 1999 found that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere tends to follow, not precede, a rise in temperature. Dr. Singer reminds us that "the bulk of the temperature rise in the 20th century took place before 1940, while most of the CO2 emissions took place after 1940 and coincided with a slight climate cooling between 1940 and 1975." The satellite temperature readings from 1979 through June 2002 have risen at the rate of only 0.1 degree Fahrenheit per decade or 1.0 degree per century.
The global warming advocates rely on projections of the earth's surface temperatures derived from computer models to support their claims that we are facing disaster if we don't take decisive action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The increase projected for the 21st century is 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit compared to an increase of 0.7E to 1.4EF in the 20th century. Advocates, like the authors of a recent National Research Council report, claim that, "warming trends are most clearly marked by surface temperature measurements-which have been recorded daily at hundreds of locations for more than a century." Critics don't dispute that some warming has occurred. They say the surface temperature data are not a reliable measure of the increase, citing the poor coverage of oceans and higher latitudes and the location of many stations near urban areas, making the data susceptible to an "urban heat island effect."
Satellite Data More Convincing
AIM has repeatedly pointed to the value of data collected by microwave sounding units that fly on a constellation of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar-orbiting satellites. These TIROS-N satellites record temperature fluctuations in the lower troposphere (up to about 5 miles) and the lower stratosphere (about 9-12 miles up), where the effects of greenhouse gases should be most apparent. As the NRC report concluded, "if global warming is caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it should be evident not only at the earth's surface, but also in the low-mid troposphere."
But it isn't. As noted above, satellite data show a 0.1EF increase per
decade since 1979, when the program was started-a dramatic difference from the
surface temperature trend. The satellite data correlate with those collected by
weather balloons using completely different sensors. The coverage is global and
extends over oceans and surface areas where land-based systems are infrequent.
Measurements are taken in atmospheric layers above the effects of urban heat
islands. The satellite sensors are calibrated by NOAA's
practice of putting new birds in orbit before older satellites are retired. But
global warming advocates generally ignore satellite data. During the
For global warming advocates, the chief culprit is greenhouse gas emissions, and especially CO2, produced by burning fossil fuel. Deb Callahan, President of the League of Conservation Voters, a Washington-based political action group that funds "pro-environment" candidates, says "carbon dioxide pollution" is to blame for all the problems. Another advocacy group, Environmental Defense, labels carbon dioxide "global warming pollution." This simply reflects the consensus of global warming advocates who point to human activity, especially fossil fuel burning, as (mostly) responsible for the warming trends.
To its credit, the Bush administration has tried to slow down the global warming propaganda machine. James Mahoney, the new Assistant Secretary of Commerce who is the deputy chief of NOAA, used his recent congressional testimony to remind the Senate that "substantial uncertainties remain to be addressed" in global warming science. He said scientific knowledge about "specific cause-effect relationships" is only beginning to emerge. Nevertheless, the Bush administration has embraced the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 18% over the next decade. The administration prefers voluntary methods, but it still pours billions of dollars into climate change research.
Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, disputes the link between climatic change and CO2. In 2001, he testified before a Senate committee that past major climatic changes were either "uncorrelated with changes in CO2 or were characterized by temperature changes which preceded changes in CO2 by hundreds or thousands of years." Lindzen argued that there is no demonstrable linkage between growth in CO2 generation and major climatic change of the type forecast by global warming advocates. Others stress that if CO2 emissions really are the culprit, then temperatures in the troposphere should be warming faster than surface temperatures. The satellite data show the reverse is true.
A central problem with global warming theories is the reliance on two large computer models to project impacts of warming and greenhouse gas emissions on the environment. These two models, according to the critique, vastly exaggerate the atmosphere's sensitivity to increasing CO2 and cannot replicate other variables like clouds or water vapor that also impact climates. Most damaging, the models fail to accurately simulate recorded experience when put to the test, so many wonder why these models should be used to support policy making on climate change.
It's Not About the Science
The dirty secret is that global warming is driven more by the search for funding than the search for scientific truth. "Big science" was adrift in the early 1990s, like many other beneficiaries of the Cold War, and was desperate to sustain its federal funding. Global warming had all the key attributes of the next big cause. It could be used to frighten the politicians and the public, using threats of catastrophic consequences to extract billions of dollars for research to prevent it. The science was immature, and the door was wide open to all sorts of proposals and projects by scientists promising solutions. High-performance computers were the tools, and the projects promised to be long-term and career-sustaining. Getting funds was easy. As MIT Professor Lindzen has noted, "saving the planet" had a nice ring to it and seemed to portend big bucks at the end of the global warming rainbow.
By the early 1990s, there was a
convergence between the proponents of big science and the left-oriented
activist community. Many of the Left's old myths and socialist dreams had
collapsed with the demise of the
Global warming fanatics found powerful allies in the Democratic Party, and especially then Senator Al Gore. Government control and public opinion were the levers needed to implement the global warming agenda. Activists would need to capture key policy jobs in those federal agencies with science portfolios, like the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and NOAA. Once secured, these jobs would give activists control of the key levers of influence over the scientific community-research grants and federal funding of national labs and universities. They knew that they could always buy scientists who would turn out scientific studies and research reports that would help them shape and mold public opinion.
The Clinton/Gore Legacy
The Clinton/Gore victory in 1992 opened that door. President George H.W. Bush's refusal to personally attend the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and his reluctance to accept binding agreements on carbon dioxide curbs gave the Clinton/Gore team another issue in their campaign to show that "President Bush was out of touch with the people and their daily concerns."
Once in power, Al Gore, a strident environmentalist, began to remake the
government bureaucracy in his image. His life experience in
He installed his former legislative
director, Carol Browner, as the new EPA administrator in 1993. Under Browner,
EPA became the central coordinator of the federal global warming campaign,
dispensing funds through a variety of inter-agency committees and programs. At
the Defense Department, the position of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for
Environmental Security was established, and the CIA established a task force to
apply national technical means (satellite collection platforms) to monitor
world environmental issues. Tim Wirth, a former Democratic senator from
Colorado, became Undersecretary for Global Affairs at the State Department. He
Naysayers Not Wanted
The fate of Bush appointee William Happer, a
Robert Watson had predicted that an ozone hole would open up over Kennebunkport, ME, President Bush's vacation home. Happer had publicly ridiculed Watson's suggestion and so Happer was almost certainly on McGinty's enemies list. Happer, in a later interview, correctly identified the Clinton/Gore approach as "politically correct science." The huge amounts of funding made available by Clinton/Gore ensured that the new administration would get the "answers" on global warming it was seeking. Happer said that science was being turned on its head. Instead of science driving policy, policy now determined the results it wanted and then paid scientists to come up with them.
Also, at the Energy Department, a staff lawyer from the Natural Resources Defense Council, another Washington-based environmental advocacy group, became Secretary Hazel O'Leary's chief of staff and then went on to become an assistant secretary, with control of over $1.3 billion annually in climate-change funding. The Energy Department doled out billions of dollars in global warming funding to its National Laboratories, which had convinced the department that many of its computer models used to develop nuclear weapons were applicable to climate modeling. In addition, the Department funded university research grants and scholarships in the various climate-change academic disciplines.
The largest Energy project is the
Atmosphere Radiation Measurement (ARM) project, run by Sandia
National Laboratory along with the other nuclear weapons design laboratories.
The ARM program even has its own air force; it uses a fleet of Unmanned Aerial
Vehicles (UAVs) and propeller-driven aircraft to
collect cloud data at three sites:
Over its two terms, the
Scaring The Public
As part of its campaign to mold public opinion, the EPA sponsored
regional conferences throughout the
Global warming advocates also had a
reliable ally in the mainstream media. In most cases, the media simply report
research findings and results handed to reporters in government news releases
and interviews. The more provocative and alarming the reports, the more likely
they are to find their way onto the front page. The
The media have helped create the false impression that the vast majority
of scientists agree that global warming is a serious threat that calls for
drastic action. Agreement with this seems to be a litmus tests for Times reporters
covering science. One such reporter, Kenneth Chang, answered a question on the
Times Internet site about global warming by saying that it's a complicated
subject, but 97% of all scientists think it is real and is caused by CO2
emissions. He said there are uncer-tainties in the
science, but he admitted that he tries to write his articles on global warming
from the majority viewpoint. Nevertheless, he had a good article in the Times
last April that corrected the impression given by an earlier story by another
reporter that global warming was affecting
GLOBAL WARMING PROVIDES MANY EXCELLENT EXAMPLES OF THE MEDIA'S FAILURE TO get the facts straight, correct their errors and avoid political bias. Notra Trulock calls attention to many of these in this AIM Report. The most persistent error is the refusal of most journalists to recognize and report what the satellite temperature data have demonstrated since 1979-that there is no significant change in the warming trend since then. Most of the journalists who cover this subject persist in giving the public the impression that virtually all the scientists in the world agree that greenhouse gases are causing the planet to warm at an accelerated rate. They do this by reiterating it as a fact and by citing in their stories mainly those scientists who profess to believe this. Unfortunately, the same temptation that has caused the corruption in the business world has corrupted science in recent decades. That is the lure of big money. Billions of dollars in grants are available to those who hold out promises of proving that we face dire catastrophes if we don't take drastic action to stop the globe from overheating. It is naive to think that this has no corrupting effect.