The topic of climate change is hot right now with the release of the new UN report. I believe that climate change is occurring. Mainly because we consume like drunken sailors and leave so much behind. All that byproduct of manufacturing, cars, etc is unnatural and can’t be good. This week as I watched coverage of the new report and climate change in general, I saw a “mob-mentality” set in. Basically any dissenters were basically labeled “bad dishonest people.” I found this irritating. I’ve been having an email exchange on this topic with good friend and former co-worker, Jordan. He’s a journalist by training and we disagree on climate change. Below are his thoughts on why he disagrees with the main-stream opinion on climate change. I would love for those of you who agree/disagree to post your comments. I’ve seen a lack of honest debate on this topic.
I would like to re-open the topic of global warming for discussion on this blog. Here’s why …
Global warming policy is one of the biggest issues of our generation with far-reaching consequences. Yet, as I have written previously on this blog, it is an issue where I am convinced we are not getting the whole truth. So I think it might be healthy to have an open debate on the subject to see if I can quiet my doubts — or strengthen them.
I should start by saying that I am a global warming skeptic, and that I am a journalist by training, not a scientist. However, there are certain parallels I feel qualify me for this debate. Journalists, like scientists, are trained to be skeptical. They question things others simply accept. In journalism, this translates into there being ‘two sides to every story.’ So when one side is trying to spin a story by claiming ‘everyone agrees,’ journalists know there is valid dissent out there, and that the dissent itself could be the real story.
Consider the recent release of the IPCC “Summary for Policy Makers.” The one side of the story is that everything has become more solid than before. In 2001, “the panel said the confidence level for its projections was likely,’ or 66 to 90 percent,” according to a New York Times report. “That level has now been raised to ‘very likely,’ better than 90 percent.”
The other side of the story is that the IPCC has downgraded several of its previous projections. (This information cannot be found in mainstream media reports. I found it in a report from Lord Christopher Monckton at http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20070201_monckton.pdf.)
* In the 2001 IPCC report, the high-end best estimate of the rise in sea levels by 2100 was three feet. In the upcoming report, the high-end best estimate is 17 inches by 2100. Bob Giegengack, a geologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “For the catastrophe of flooded cities and millions of refugees that [the worst-case scenario] envisions, sea levels would have to rise about 20 feet.” At the present rate (17 inches per century), that’s 14 centuries from now.
* In the 2001 IPCC report, there were 12 factors in climate “forcings” identified. These are the factors the IPCC uses in its computer models that predict future warming. In 2001, the IPCC said the level of scientific understanding for seven of the 12 factors was “very low.” In the upcoming report, the factors have been consolidated to nine, and the level of scientific understanding for six of the nine are considered “low” or “medium-low.”
* In the 2001 IPCC report, the worst-case prediction for global temperature increase was half a degree Celsius higher than in the latest report (3.5 degrees Celsius vs. 3 degrees Celsius).
* In the 2001 IPCC report, the estimate of human influence on global warming was one-third higher than in the latest report.
It’s also worth noting that in the 2001 IPCC report, Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph was Exhibit A. It showed a spike in global temperature during the last 50 years, and led many to the conclusion that the earth is warmer today than at any other point in the last thousand years. Since then, Mann’s graph has been called into question by scientists and non-scientists alike. The main criticism is that it erases a medieval warming period and little ice age. A second criticism showed the model used is biased toward producing “hockey stick” shape graphs no matter what data you input. In any case, the graph is not included in the latest IPCC report.
That is just the tip of the (perhaps non-melting) iceberg. There is an entire body of research out there that runs contrary to the so-called consensus on global warming, yet we seldom hear about it. Dissenters have been ‘dissed and dismissed.’ But science is all about dissent (think Galileo). Consensus, or groupthink, is antithetical to it.
That’s just one reason why I continue to be skeptical of global warming claims. Another is that since the 1980s, when the concept of global warming was first introduced, it has been a cause célèbre – a pet issue of Hollywood celebrities (from Robert Redford to Leo DiCaprio) and grandstanding politicians (Sen. Gore, for instance). Journalists know that when celebrities get involved, it will be hard to separate the facts from the hype. When politicians get involved, it will be hard to separate the facts from the spin. And when both get involved, you will get Oscar-nominated movies like “An Inconvenient Truth.” You will not, however, get an accurate depiction of the truth.
Finally we have the environmentalist groups. When you scratch the surface of the global warming issue, you find environmentalists galore. They are even providing scientists to testify before Congress these days. Environmentalists are passionate people with a clear agenda, and there is nothing wrong with that – unless truth-getting is your game. It amazes me how quickly people dismiss scientists and research associated with Big Oil while swallowing whole whatever environmentalists feed them. I suppose this is a triumph of marketing on their part, but thinking people should know better.
2/28/13 – I have nothing to add here, except that Jordan is still a close friend. In fact, he edited my book for me. Lifetime loyalty for that one! – surya