By Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.
The basics of science involve a number of simple rules, a healthy skepticism, and a guiding principle of letting the data settle the disputes. Data need to be checked and validated, measurements need to be explained and justified, as well as the calculational techniques described. Replication of the results by others is essential, as are the analyses of measuring errors and uncertainties.
The issues regarding climate change have not been sufficiently scrutinized. Errors, misstatements, partial statements, evasions, and lack of cooperation and candor, even ad hominem attacks are used by the proponents of global warming instead. Senators Rockefeller (D-VA) and Snowe (R-ME) called for the suppression of skeptics. Others suggest that Nuremberg Trials be held for them. Science is not conducted that way.
This international global warming lobby is large, organized, heavily funded, and mean. Whatever their the agenda may be, it is not science. Their actions are reminiscent of earlier arrogant powers imprisoning and suppressing Galileo or Giordano Bruno's burning at the stake for the heresy of suggesting that the Earth was not the center of the Universe.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a UN organization formed within the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). This should sound alarms for those familiar with the politics of some of the power brokers within the UN itself. Many are decidedly anti-capitalist and anti-American. For example, consider the statement of Maurice Strong made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro: "Isn't the ONLY hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" At the time Strong was a UN policy maker and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations. He has had the ear of the UN Secretary General for years.
About every 5 years the IPCC has issued assessments of the global climate. The Fourth Assessment is due out in several months while a Summary for Policy Makers is now released. This in itself is a very strange way to handle the release of what should be a straight forward scientific document. These documents should have been released simultaneously. Given the UN's history and agendas, one now suspects that political revisions are taking place.
Remarkably, the IPCC in this Fourth Assessment is backing away from its early climate predictions. According to Peter du Pont, while Al Gore and his alarmist movie circle the globe with predictions of 20 foot sea level rises, the IPCC has halved it earlier predictions of sea level rise for this century from 36 inches to 17 inches, in the next 100 years. 100 year predictions of nearly anything are ludicrous. They can also be fun because they produce big numbers and scary numbers. That 17 inch increase in sea level may still be too large.
Climatologist Robert Balling points out that the sea level as been rising about 1.5 mm/yr for the last 8000 years; some say as much as 20,000 years. If this rate of increase were to continue for 100 years more, it would amount to about 6 inches. Given the Dutch ingenuity with holding back the sea, I think we can adjust for a 6 inch rise. A 6 inch high "tidal wave" dribbling into Lower Manhattan suddenly isn't so scary, either. We can also marvel at the roaring successes of Al Gore's fantasies, which are void of such mundane scientific evidence.
According to the National Center for Policy Analysis study “Climate Change and its Impacts”, the ice mass of Greenland has actually grown 2 inches per year between 1993 and 2003. Additionally, during the past 30 years the ice mass of Antarctica has grown as well. This is not the stuff of alarm and not the source of global flooding.
The lack of scientific integrity permeates the global warming movement and can be traced to include the IPCC itself. In the Third Assessment Report of 2001, the IPCC published and repeatedly presented what has become known as the "Hockeystick". This is a graphical representation, shaped like a hockeystick, of the global temperatures for the last 1000 years. It was published in the science journal Nature as a two-part reconstruction of the temperatures over the past 1000 years.
The statistical studies used to produce the chart were extremely dense technically, using logically opaque and obscure statistical techniques. It was so opaque that the editors of Nature as well as its peer reviewers were not able to reconstruct the data and computing efforts needed to generate the "Hockeystick". This is not the way peer review is supposed to work.
Worse, the chart was enthusiastically adopted by the authors of the IPCC, and published in its Third Assessment Report apparently without review. Worse still, many foreign governments adopted the chart as gospel as they addressed their national policies toward "global warming", and mitigation efforts. It turns out that the hockeystick wasn't gospel at all.
Incredibly, there were two individuals, Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre (the M&M of the M&M Project), two Canadians researchers who had the wits, statistical and computer skills, and doggedness to unravel the complex data and the obscure statistical techniques used to construct the "Hockeystick'. Their efforts were obstructed at many steps along the way by the IPCC studies' authors. This opposition is an intellectual red-flag indicating that something--perhaps politics, funding, or fame-- besides good science was involved. Good scientists welcome replication and solid reviews.
What M&M found in the statistics behind the infamous IPCC chart serves as a great example of international scientific fraud and malpractice. That this flawed chart now drives energy policy in many nations is frightening.
M&M have given the world a classic example of what true science is about: Skilled individuals unraveling confusing data and analytical techniques and finding the errors. It has happened many times in our history. Heavy prices have been paid for challenging prevailing dogmas. The world owes a great debt of gratitude to both McKitrick and McIntyre for their unique and powerful efforts and their extraordinary findings.
Temperature proxy data from the past 1000 years was needed to construct the 'hockeystick" curve. Actual temperature measurements could not be made during much of this time simply because the thermometer wasn't invented until 1709. Such thermometers were not widely used for decades and the concept of heat was unknown (Fourier provided the Laws of Heat Transfer much later) so that actual climate temperature data did not systematically begin for another 200 years. Thus proxies such as core samples and tree rings were used.
What McKitrick and McIntyre have found in their hockeystick analysis is shattering and profound. It destroys the credibility and integrity of the IPCC, the editors of Nature magazine, and the 2500 hundred or so members of a so-called consensus of climate experts. M&M have once again shown that consensus is not science.
The authors of the hockeystick chart did not indicate finding the well known Medieval Warming Period (WMP) when temperatures were higher than they are now. They did not find the well-known Little Ice Age lasting from the 1500s to the 1800s, when temperatures were lower than now. The warming shown in the 20th century was not consistent with other data, such as the 50 years of balloon data. Their work has been a series of lessons learned about incompatibilities of politics and science. They don't mix.
Since the findings of M&M are not well known one might suspect that the climate experts don't agree with them. As a matter of fact, many do agree with M&M and have said so. For example, McKitrick has received many communications from climatologists from around the world who have expressed support for his findings.
According to McKitrick, "Since our work has begun to appear we have enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing we are winning over the expert community, one at a time. Physicist Richard Muller of Berkeley studied our work last year and wrote an article about it: '[The findings] hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others.' Suddenly, the hockeystick, the poster child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics."
He goes on: "In an article in the Dutch science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, Dr. Rob van Dorland of the Dutch National Meteorological Agency commented 'It is strange that that the climate reconstruction of Mann passed both peer review rounds of the IPCC without anyone ever really having checked it. I think this issue will be on the agenda of the next IPCC meeting in Peking this May.' "
McKitrick continues: "In February 2005 the German television channel Das Erste interviewed climatologist Ulrich Cubasch, who revealed that he too had been unable to replicate the hockey stick. He (climatologist Ulrich Cubasch) discussed with his co-workers - and many of his professional colleagues - the objections, and sought to work them through. Bit by bit, it became clear also to his colleagues: the two Canadians were right (M&M). 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."
McKitrick continues: "Recently we (M&M) received an e-mail from Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, retired director of the Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands. He wrote: 'The IPCC review process is fatally flawed.... . The scientific basis for the Kyoto Protocols is grossly inadequate.' "
Of course the likes of Al Gore and Hollywood are beyond hope when it comes to scientific skills. It is beyond comprehension just how Gore, Hollywood, and the media have not asked to sit down and confront other valid, defensible, yet opposing points of view. They have simply started with their conclusion that doom is imminent, and ignored all evidence which doesn't support it. And there is lots of such evidence.
Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., is the science and energy reporter for Hawaii Reporter and the Director of the Center for Science, Climate, & Environment at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. A resident of Kaneohe, he has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. He has also taught chemistry and energy at the university level. His interest in the communication of science has led to several communications awards, hundreds of speeches, and many appearances on television and talk shows. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.