Open Mind

Unstoppable Hot Air

September 13th, 2007 · 42 Comments

A story from Earthtimes is spreading like wildfire through the denialist blogosphere:


WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun’s irradiance. “This data and the list of scientists make a mockery of recent claims that a scientific consensus blames humans as the primary cause of global temperature increases since 1850,” said Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis Avery.

In case you don’t know who Dennis Avery is, he co-authored (with Fred Singer) the book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years. He is the director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, where he edits Global Food Quarterly. Avery crusades against organic agriculture claiming that modern industrial agriculture and biotechnology will save the world from starvation and disaster. He is also the originator of a misleading claim that organic foods are more dangerous than foods sprayed with chemical pesticides.


Although the post is dressed up as a news story, it’s actually a bit of PR from the Hudson Institute, an ultraconservative “think tank”; the “story” takes the opportunity to push Avery and Singer’s book. The book is full of baloney, including the ridiculous claim that it’s not yet warm enough to grow wine grapes in England, despite a flourishing wine industry in Britain during the 11th century. That little piece of garbage is debunked in this post.

But what about the “More than 300 of the scientists found evidence…”? A little later the story gets more specific, stating:


“We have had a Greenhouse Theory with no evidence to support it-except a moderate warming turned into a scare by computer models whose results have never been verified with real-world events,” said co-author Singer. “On the other hand, we have compelling evidence of a real-world climate cycle averaging 1470 years …

Aha! Now I know what they’re talking about: Dansgaard-Oeschger events.

Dansgaard-Oeschger events, or “D-O events,” are rapid climate changes observed in the northern hemisphere, especially in Greenland ice core data, during the last ice age (between 110,000 and 23,000 years ago). Data indicate that parts of Greenland may have warmed by as much as 8 deg.C over as little as 40 years. The events seem to follow a highly regular timing, as discussed by many researchers, including Rahmstorf and Schultz. So many researchers have explored the nature of these events that it explains how Avery and Singer were easily able to compile such a long list of scientists who have discussed “a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle…”

But they’re deliberately misleading when they refer to them as “global warmings similar to ours…” They aren’t similar to the present warming, and they’re not global. They’re highly localized, with only a few locations (especially in Greenland) showing large warming, and when the northern hemisphere warms during a D-O event, the southern hemisphere cools. Seidov and Maslin refer to this as the “bipolar climate see-saw.” The most prominent theory is that something causes a switch of ocean heat currents, so that heat which was previously transported to the southern hemisphere gets diverted to the northern; this causes a D-O event. When the transport switches back, the southern hemisphere warms while the northern cools. So the phenomenon is not a global warming at all, it’s just a re-distrubution of heat. Seidov and Maslin call it “heat piracy.”

Anyone who investigates carefully will discover that D-O events, and the 1470-year cycle associated with them, are not global warmings. But then, anyone who spends five minutes with google will find that it’s either the sloppiest possible research, or an outright lie, to claim that it’s not warm enough to grow wine grapes in modern England (go check with English Wine Producers). Why would Avery and Singer tell such tall tales? The answer is obvious: the story is spreading like wildfire through the denialist blogosphere. This creates fodder for the misinformation machine, spreads doubt about the truth of global warming, and generates book sales.

If you think this episode is the exception, an example of a couple of skeptics gone wrong — think again. The tactics, and level of inaccuracy, shown by Avery and Singer is not the exception among denialists; it’s the rule.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

Trends 1979 to 2005:

map2.jpg

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

42 responses so far ↓

  • fergusbrown // Sep 13th 2007 at 7:41 pm

    To enrich yourself through deceit is a crime as well as being morally repugnant to most of us. To do so (probably) in the knowledge that humans will die if your deceptions discourage action is at a level of depravity which few in history can match…

    I wonder, does Avery claim to be a religious person? He certainly is not a principled one.

  • galmud // Sep 13th 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Tamino said:

    “This creates fodder for the misinformation machine, spreads doubt about the truth of global warming, and generates book sales.”

    Yep. Apparently Singer and Averys book is nr 5 on Amazon bestseller list for Earth science books. Just behind Chris Horners Incorrect Guide to GW at nr 4, and Lomborgs new book at nr 3. Its nr 2 in Climatology behind Lomborg but just ahead of Svensmark and Pat Michaels.

    Climate denialism sells..

  • jre // Sep 13th 2007 at 8:48 pm

    So Avery and Singer think it is appropriate to invoke Hans Oeschger in arguing that human activities are not having a significant effect on climate?

    In responding to one particularly shameless denialist, Prof. Oeschger said

    The problem with these publications is that a broader circle of persons interested in the Global Change issue will receive the impression that the assessment of the problem is partly based on doubtful information, that there are serious weaknesses in experimental procedures, that the whole Global Change problem does not need to be taken so seriously and that there is no urgency regarding the control of CO2 emission. The time lost now is crucial for attempts to limit the anthropogenic climatic change to a range with more absorbable negative consequences.

  • Peter Hearnden // Sep 13th 2007 at 8:54 pm

    I see the UK Daily Mail quotes Singer thus (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=481613&in_page_id=1811) “On the other hand, we have compelling evidence of a real-world climate cycle averaging 1470 years (plus or minus 500) running through the last million years of history. The climate cycle has above all been moderate, and the trees, bears, birds, and humans have quietly adapted”

    I wonder, how significant are cycles of 1470 yrs ‘+-500′?

  • Dano // Sep 13th 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Apparently Singer and Averys book is nr 5 on Amazon bestseller list for Earth science books. Just behind Chris Horners Incorrect Guide to GW at nr 4, and Lomborgs new book at nr 3. Its nr 2 in Climatology behind Lomborg but just ahead of Svensmark and Pat Michaels.

    Climate denialism sells..

    I wonder how much of this is Scaife and wingnut welfare, where these books will end up in the bargain bins in 6 weeks at deeply discounted sale prices similar to the deeply discounted conclusions…

    Nonetheless, my continuing point still stands that wingnuttia/denialists are far, far better at disseminating their ideas than scientists or folks like Flannery/Mooney/et al.

    Best,

    D

  • Anon // Sep 14th 2007 at 12:26 am

    > more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares.

    At least one of these scientists is threatening the Hudson Institute with legal action if they don’t take his name off their list.

  • K.M. // Sep 14th 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Hi, newbie here….love this blog, very informative as I’m not an expert in the material and need to learn from these things! Tell me, of these 500 scientists, how many are actually involved in climatology research? Is Fred Singer himself involved in climatology?

    [Response: It’s important to realize that most of the scientists on the list are legitimate researchers, many are involved in climate science, but they *don’t say what the press release implies they say*. They *do* say there are D-O events which are probably timed by a roughly 1500-year cycle. They do *not* say that these events are “global warmings” (because they aren’t). And they do not say that this cycle is still obervable since the last glacial termination (it’s an open question). Yes, Singer is involved in climatology.]

  • John Mashey // Sep 14th 2007 at 10:25 pm

    K.M. & tamino

    Watching, I perceive a potential disconnect in the last interchange.

    K.M.: did your question mean: “Is Singer a current climate researcher who publishes such in peer-reviewed journals?”

    or did it mean something different?
    Singer is certainly interested in climatolofgy - I’ve read two of his of books, which make for interesting comparisons.

  • windansea // Sep 14th 2007 at 11:10 pm

    So the phenomenon is not a global warming at all, it’s just a re-distrubution of heat. Seidov and Maslin call it “heat piracy.”

    hmmm, pretty similar to our current “global warming” that seems to be concentrated in Eurasia and the Artic.

    [Response: Baloney. See the update.]

    Climate denialism sells..

    or maybe CO2 alarmist GW doesn’t.

    Of course when a NASA scientist loses a AGW debate to a science fiction writer, that indicates you still have much work to sell AGW.

    The carbon credit market is a joke, crashed last year to less than a euro, they’ve propped it up and it’s going to crash again. Scams abound, the public does not believe in it, doesn’t help that your most public spokesperson is pushing 280 lbs and has the carbon footprint of a small town.

    I sell oceanfront condos in Mexico, ground floors are about 2 meters above sea level. Not once in 3 years has even one of our American/Canadian/Mexican clients asked about rising sea levels. Tsunamis & Hurricanes they ask about, GW induced sea level rise? never. 20 cms since 1900? yawn

    Anyway, I think most of you CO2 AGW alarmists are in for a hard ride. If solar cycles 24 and 25 go low as some physicists have predicted, we will have a nice direct confrontation of solar vs CO2 forcings.

    The western pacific is starting to cool, looks like La Nina is coming, stay tuned climate freaks.

  • windansea // Sep 14th 2007 at 11:25 pm

    PS

    2 years ago I planted about 5000 mango trees on a 50 acre plot, so I am definitely carbon negative. Anyone need credits? :)

  • richard // Sep 14th 2007 at 11:44 pm

    “so I am definitely carbon negative.”

    Guess that depends on whether you are counting the BS.

  • Anna Haynes // Sep 15th 2007 at 12:02 am

    I sell oceanfront condos in Mexico, ground floors are about 2 meters above sea level.

    Thanks for disclosing, windansea.

  • Anna Haynes // Sep 15th 2007 at 12:58 am

    Off topic, but what’s the story behind this graph (said to be of this data)?

    I’d guess it was Christy’s debunked troposphere data (covered by Monbiot in in here) but that happened in 2005, and the graph goes to 2007.

    Help?

    [Response: I don’t know, but this might be data for a different layer of the atmosphere. You can see the graph for UAH estimates of lower-troposphere temperature here and get the data here.]

  • Boris // Sep 15th 2007 at 1:49 am

    “I think most of you CO2 AGW alarmists are in for a hard ride. If solar cycles 24 and 25 go low as some physicists have predicted, we will have a nice direct confrontation of solar vs CO2 forcings.”

    What does this even mean? Why can’t we compare CO2 forcing with solar forcing we have now? Why do we have to wait till solar cycles are decreasing? Are you saying a solar Wm`2 is greater than a CO2 Wm`2? I don’t get it.

    Does anyone know if GCMs are run with alternate solar forcing scenarios?

  • Hank Roberts // Sep 15th 2007 at 2:13 am

    Anna, did you read the file in that directory?
    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2/readme.15Dec2006

  • Anna Haynes // Sep 15th 2007 at 3:42 am

    Thanks Hank, I hadn’t - too well trained by Microsoft to ignore any file named “readme”, I guess…

    Not quite sure what to make of its content though. Except that the data is presumably Middle Troposphere (since file suffix is .mt)

  • Anna Haynes // Sep 15th 2007 at 4:10 am

    Oh. Never mind. (The Readme file tells what adjustments have been made to the dataset over time and why)

  • windansea // Sep 15th 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for disclosing, windansea.

    disclosing?? have I done something naughty?

  • Hank Roberts // Sep 15th 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Yes, you haven’t gone to Interlibrary Loan where even in Mexico they can get you the original journal articles to read. Your condominium buyers will expect you to be able to help them use the Mexican library system.

  • windansea // Sep 15th 2007 at 4:25 pm

    heh, that was funny Hank! I was thinking maybe Anna meant that because I own and sell ocean front real estate, I have a vested interest in promoting my scepticism of AGW alarmist theories including catastrophic sea level rise.

    If one of my clients ever asks about this (not one has in 3 years) I would tell them if the current rate of 20 cm per century continues they might want to sell in 500 years.

  • windansea // Sep 15th 2007 at 4:39 pm

    “If you were asked to name the biggest global warming villains of the past 30 years, here’s one name that probably wouldn’t spring to mind: Jane Fonda. But should it?”

    The authors observe that Fonda’s antinuclear thriller “The China Syndrome,” which opened just 12 days before the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, helped stoke “a widespread panic.” Fonda became a high-profile anti-nuke activist in an already-strong movement. The nuclear industry halted plans for expansion. “And so,” they continue, “instead of becoming a nation with clean and cheap nuclear energy, as once seemed inevitable, the United States kept building power plants that burned coal and other fossil fuels. Today such plants account for 40 percent of the country’s energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions.

    the above will be in sunday NYT Magazine

    Is it okay to be pro nuke plant again? I always was just wanted to check.

  • Hank Roberts // Sep 15th 2007 at 5:02 pm

    > clean and cheap

    Clean? If those plants had been built 50 years ago, they’d have reached the end of their safe structural life, the country would be decommissioning them now, and trying to find a place for all the waste and radioactive structural material. Nevada?

    Cheap? (Not to mention, safe from TMI-type accident):

    Unfortunately, the USA wasn’t planning on using the cheap and safe design, because it was Not Invented Here: ww.candu.org/candu_reactors.html

    ” * CANDU is the most efficient of all reactors in using uranium: it uses about 15% less uranium than a pressurized water reactor for each megawatt of electricity produced
    * Use of natural uranium widens the source of supply and makes fuel fabrication easier. Most countries can manufacture the relatively inexpensive fuel
    * There is no need for uranium enrichment facility
    * Fuel reprocessing is not needed, so costs, facilities and waste disposal associated with reprocessing are avoided
    * CANDU reactors can be fuelled with a number of other low-fissile content fuels, including spent fuel from light water reactors. This reduces dependency on uranium in the event of future supply shortages and price increases ….”

    Instead, the USA insisted on PWR reactors that required enrichment and fuel reprocessing because they produced excess plutonium. Fast forward to today. What are the biggest concerns?

    Right. That Korea or Iran will be reprocessing fuel and enriching uranium, to be able to produce electricity, using the design the USA forced on the market.

    If the world had indeed built all those reactors 40 years ago, imagine ….

  • Petro // Sep 15th 2007 at 5:18 pm

    windansea, I still would like to know your point on view about the ability of CO2 to absorb heat.

    Does CO2 aborb heat or not?

    Also, what is your opinion on the level of CO2 in atmosphere, has it increased or not?

    You already have stated that you accept the third principle of climate change, that the global mean temperature has raised recently.

    By responding the questions above, it would help me evaluating what are your justifications for denying the observable phenomena.

  • Chris O'Neill // Sep 15th 2007 at 7:06 pm

    “The carbon credit market is a joke, crashed last year to less than a euro”

    So what is the problem with mitigation? This means that it’s really cheap. Maybe windansea is just a mitigation alarmist.

  • windansea // Sep 15th 2007 at 7:52 pm

    So what is the problem with mitigation? This means that it’s really cheap.

    I hope you are kidding, otherwise you are really dumb.

  • Steve Bloom // Sep 16th 2007 at 12:18 am

    Gosh, Windy, you’re very credulous. The nuke industry was already moribund by 1979. The key political event in killing it was the 1976 California law banning any new nukes until the disposal problem was solved. Interestingly it still hasn’t been.

  • Chris O'Neill // Sep 16th 2007 at 1:42 am

    “less than a euro”

    For those who are really, really dumb, less than a euro per tonne for CO2 emissions is cheap.

  • John Cook // Sep 16th 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Anna, that graph is by Bob Carter - he uses it to prove there’s been no warming in the troposphere since 1998. But if you download the satellite data (even the UAH version), there definitely is a warming trend. I emailed Bob Carter asking where he got the data from - he replied saying he’d mistakenly used the middle troposphere data instead of the lower troposphere data. I’ve done a page about Bob’s response and the whole satellite UAH vs RSS thing

  • windansea // Sep 16th 2007 at 3:23 pm

    For those who are really, really dumb, less than a euro per tonne for CO2 emissions is cheap.

    ok, for dummies who do not understand markets

    The ramifications of the slump are potentially disastrous for the environment, as developing countries encouraged to keep emissions low with the promise of cash for credits question whether it is worth their while and industrialised nations see a cheap way out of making any reductions.

  • Steve Bloom // Sep 16th 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Regarding the nuke industry, I should add that the late ’70s/early ’80s WPPSS financial disaster had a big impact as well.

  • windansea // Sep 16th 2007 at 9:52 pm

    William Connelly wants a bet on sea ice.

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/09/betting_on_sea_ice.php#comments

  • guthrie // Sep 17th 2007 at 8:23 am

    A bet which is under the category of “climate fun”. William has a funny sense of humour at times.

  • Chris O'Neill // Sep 17th 2007 at 10:42 am

    “The ramifications of the slump are potentially disastrous for the environment”

    Can’t imagine why since there’s no such thing as global warming.

    “as developing countries encouraged to keep emissions low with the promise of cash for credits question whether it is worth their while”

    No one’s forcing them to sell anything. They can question and choose as they please. That’s the way markets work.

    “and industrialised nations see a cheap way out of making any reductions”

    As I said, if mitigation is cheap then what is the problem? For those who don’t understand markets, carbon credits are cheap when the currently allowed level of carbon emissions is easily enough to satisfy the demand for emitting carbon. As the level of allowed emissions is reduced as it will need to be, the price of carbon credits will increase.

    BTW, it’s rather ironic that the people who are alarmist about the cost of mitigation are the same people who think it’s a joke that so far, the cost of mitigation strategies is very low. Of course, these will be the same people who loudly complain when the cost of mitigation rises with reductions in allowed levels of emissions.

  • windansea // Sep 17th 2007 at 4:17 pm

    As I said, if mitigation is cheap then what is the problem?

    you just don’t get it. If you want the largest CO2 emitters (power generators) to actually reduce their emissions, cheap carbon credits are bound to make the system fail. Unfortunately, the costs associated with emitting carbon are simply too low. The excess of credits at present are not incentivizing electricity producers to switch away from cheaper coal. Even at their peak in April 2006, when EU emission allowance prices hit the E30 per metric ton mark, it was still more profitable for power generators to burn coal as opposed to gas.

    So they can just buy cheap meaningless carbon credits from Russia, China etc

  • Chris O'Neill // Sep 18th 2007 at 5:36 pm

    “The excess of credits at present are not incentivizing electricity producers to switch away from cheaper coal.”

    You just don’t get it. Try to understand the following sentence for a start.

    “As the level of allowed emissions is reduced as it will need to be, the price of carbon credits will increase.”

  • Dominic // Sep 19th 2007 at 4:31 pm

    ok, for dummies who do not understand markets

    The ramifications of the slump are potentially disastrous for the environment, as developing countries encouraged to keep emissions low with the promise of cash for credits question whether it is worth their while and industrialised nations see a cheap way out of making any reductions.

    Windansea, your ignorance about the carbon knows no bounds. I work in carbon trading. The market crash you refer to was in the EU-ETS, in it’s first phase. it was part experiment - part set-up for the phase 2 which will run in line with the kyoto compliance period (2008-2012). the second phase looks as though it will be much tighter, so much so that numerous governments have taken the EC (european commission) to court over the tight allocations they have been given. There is also a limit (average 10%) as to how many credits can be imported from projects in developing countries - thus maintaining scarcity.

    The important thing about the first phase was the setting up of the infrastructure and procedure.

    ‘So they can just buy cheap meaningless carbon credits from Russia, China etc’

    have you heard of the Green Investment Scheme? obviously not.

    There have been and will be problems and issues with carbon trading systems, but it’s a learning process.

    I still don’t understand what failing carbon markets has to do with climate science denial. Some people hate everything about it.

  • windansea // Sep 21st 2007 at 1:31 am

    update update update

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/climo.html

    “As the level of allowed emissions is reduced as it will need to be, the price of carbon credits will increase.”

    heh, before you told us “if mitigation is cheap then what is the problem?”

    now you postulate that “prices will rise” and validate the “market”

    I work in carbon trading.

    go short in carbon futures, dust off the resume

    have you heard of the Green Investment Scheme?

    what % does your company take off the top from investors and what are your verification procedures?

  • windansea // Sep 22nd 2007 at 4:15 pm

    get your cheating offsets here:

    http://www.cheatneutral.com/

  • Define // Sep 26th 2007 at 10:45 am

    What the labeling of anthropogenic global warming skeptics as “deniers” does very strongly suggest is a good deal of desperation on the part of those who deploy that term. It suggests less than serious confidence in their own projections, needing instead of evidence the demagoguery of throwing around ad hominems, that is, insults.

  • Hank Roberts // Sep 26th 2007 at 3:58 pm

    > It is hard to imagine that this kind of
    > denial is based on mere ignorance.

    Yep. That’s the difficulty with listening to the same ignorant talking points over and over from people who don’t read the science, but do read the PR sites.

  • dhogaza // Sep 26th 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Oh, I see, climate scientists are wrong because science deniers don’t like being called “deniers”.

    Now, there’s logic for you!

  • James Lilling // Sep 26th 2007 at 6:32 pm

    We have a really great nuclear fission reactor, a fast-neutron fuel breeder that runs our planetary ray deflecting shield system.

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/98/20/11085.pdf

    Deep-Earth reactor: Nuclear fission, helium, and the geomagnetic field

    Plus, it not only keeps the inside of the planet toasty, it also makes mounds and mounds of julian fries.

    And there is no doubt there is indeed a net change in the dipole moment of CO2 molecules when they vibrate.

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