I remind readers of the interesting article series by Lawrence Solomon that appears regularly on the FP Comment page of the National Post newspaper. I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing the most recent (30th) installment below. Remember, you can access the whole series at Larry’s website here:
THE DENIERS — PAR T XXX
What global warming, Australian skeptic asks
Bob Carter, a professor at James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide (South Australia), is a paleontologist, a stratigrapher, and a marine geologist.
He has been chair of the National Marine Science and Technologies Committee, director of the Australian Office of the Ocean Drilling Program, and chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council. He is Cambridge educated. And he is an outspoken global-warming skeptic.
Most global-warming skeptics criticize the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on limited grounds — they might view the science put forth by the IPCC to be at odds with science in their particular discipline, for example, or they might object to the IPCC’s secrecy, or they might object to the IPCC’s failure to observe standard peerreview practices. Moreover, when they object they generally do so quietly, often without naming names and only in private.
Prof. Carter objects on multiple grounds and in multiple arenas; he names names and he will set the record straight, even when those he believes to be in the wrong are fellow skeptics.
NASA chief Michael Griffin, for example, is a skeptic because he thinks that global warming may be beneficial, that it is not worth worrying about, and that, in any case, we wouldn’t be able to stop it, even if we wanted to. But Dr. Griffin also thinks that a global-warming trend is certainly underway, and to this Prof. Carter takes objection.
Dr. Griffin’s “opinion is unsupported by the evidence,” Prof. Carter wrote in rebuttal. “The accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4%) in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
“Second, lower-atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little, if any, global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17%).”
Moreover, Prof. Carter adds, credible scientists predict global cooling. How then can Dr. Griffin boldly assert that humans are causing global warming?
One of the most contentious areas of climate-change science involves computer General Circulation Models (GCMs), the predictive tool that generate most of the scary scenarios that arouse public alarm. Prof. Carter has long been a critic of these models, which claim to project for us what the climate will be in the year 2100.
In the past, Prof. Carter has drawn the ire of global-warming proponents with his GCM critiques. Now, to his satisfaction, he has support in his critique from an unlikely source — Kevin Trenberth, whom he thinks of as “one of the advisory high priests of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
As Dr. Trenberth recently acknowledged to Nature journal’s Climate Feedback blog, IPCC models cannot predict future climate because they don’t reflect reality: “None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate,” he stated.
“Moreover, the starting climate state in several of the models may depart significantly from the real climate owing to model errors. I postulate that regional climate change is impossible to deal with properly unless the models are initialized.”
While these statements warrant Prof. Carter’s approval , others do not, such as Dr. Trenberth’s claim that people have mistakenly believed that the IPCC makes predictions: “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been,” claims Dr. Trenberth.
To which Prof. Carter notes an audit at the 27th International Symposium on Forecasting presented earlier this month. It found that “in apparent contradiction to claims by some climate experts that the IPCC provides ‘projections’ and not ‘forecasts’, the word ‘forecast’ and its derivatives occurred 37 times, and ‘predict’ and its derivatives occur 90 times” in a chapter from the IPCC’s latest report.
“There is no predictive value in the current generation of computer GCMs and therefore the alarmist IPCC statements about human-caused global warming are unjustified,” he concludes. Until others conclude so too, expect Prof. Carter to continue his critiques without fear or favour.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.