TCS Daily


Climate Science: In Need of Due Diligence

By Hans H.J. Labohm - April 14, 2005 12:00 AM

At their Summit of 22 and 23 March, European leaders decided to cancel the initial target to reduce CO2 emissions in 2050 by 60% - 80%. But they have upheld the target of a 15%- 30% reduction in 2020. Should this decision be considered as the beginning of 'salami tactics' (one thin slice at a time) to get rid of Kyoto in view of the sobering scientific critique which has been leveled against the man-made global warming hypothesis? Or have the European leaders got second thoughts because of the staggering costs of Kyoto? Probably the latter.

It goes without saying that according to European business the 2020 reduction target should have been cancelled as well. Because of the absence of worldwide support for Europe's climate policy, European industry will have to bear the brunt of Kyoto. Of course, this will adversely affect its international competitiveness, thereby jeopardizing the achievement of the so-called Lisbon objectives, aimed at making Europe the strongest economy in the world in 2010.

But whatever the underlying reasons for EU's partial withdrawal, the question could be raised why no attention has been paid to the scientific arguments against Kyoto. Because there are many and they are growing stronger.

First of all, the UN IPPC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) propensity to self-delusion could be mentioned. In IPCC's beauty parlour, curves have occasionally been 'corrected' to better fit the man-made global warming hypothesis. The infamous hockey stick is of course the most notorious example of this practice. As early as November 2003, Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published their bombshell article on the flaws in the reconstruction of the Northern Hemisphere temperatures by Mann, Bradley and Hughes, in Energy & Environment. But the article was initially ignored. Only after that the updated version of the article appeared in the Geophysical Research Letters, in February 2005, it started to dawn on the established climate science community that something was wrong. The latter article had been preceded by a paper by Hans von Storch (climate specialist at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht near Hamburg - not a climate sceptic), et al, in Science, October 2004, with a similar message. Hans von Storch went even so far as to qualify the hockey stick as 'Quatsch' (rubbish).

But the hockey stick is by no means the only example of 'creative' data handling within IPCC circles. Another intriguing case has been highlighted by Zbigniew Jaworowski (Chairman of the Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw). In his written statement for the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, March 19, 2004, (http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/) he revealed the 'correction' of the dating of ice core measurements in order to obtain a smooth alignment with the - more recent and more accurate - Mauna Loa (Hawaii) observatory record. As Jaworowski explained:

        'The data from shallow ice cores, such as those from Siple, Antarctica, 
        are widely used as a proof of man-made increase of CO2 content in the 
        global atmosphere by IPCC. The problem with Siple data is that the CO2 
        concentration found in pre-industrial ice was 'too high'. This ice was deposited 
        in 1890 AD, and the CO2 concentration was 328 ppmv, not about 290 ppmv, 
        as needed by man-made global warming hypothesis. The CO2 atmospheric 
        concentration of about 328 ppmv was measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, as 
        later as in 1973, i.e. 83 years after the ice was deposited at Siple. An 
        ad hoc assumption, not supported by any factual evidence, solved the 
        problem: the average age of air was arbitrary decreed to be exactly 83 
        years younger than the ice in which it was trapped. The 'corrected' 
        ice data were then smoothly aligned with the Mauna Loa record, and reproduced 
        in countless publications as a famous 'Siple curve'. Only thirteen years later, 
        in 1993, glaciologists attempted to prove experimentally the 'age assumption', 
        but they failed.'

Against the background of these practices it is surprising that we have often been told that 'the science is settled' and 'all scientists agree'. This is simply not true. Tens of thousands of bona fide qualified scientists have expressed their reservations as regards the man-made global warming hypothesis (see: http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p428.htm). But it could perhaps be argued that most of them were not meteorologists and/or climatologists. What about this latter category? At a recent climate change seminar, organised by the (classical liberal) Friedrich Naumann Foundation, together with the Society for the Freedom of Science, in Gummersbach (near Bonn), Prof. Dennis Brays presented the results of a survey among some 500 German and European climate researchers. They showed that the much-repeated claim of a 'scientific consensus' on anthropogenic global warming is not correct. According to the results, some 25% of European climate researchers who took part in the survey still doubt whether most of the moderate warming during the last 150 years can be attributed to human activities and CO2 emissions.

But perhaps these climate researchers are not connected with the IPCC. There will surely be a consensus within the IPCC? Again, no. Even within the IPCC there are differences of view. John Christy is one of the lead authors of the IPCC. He is professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is a specialist in satellite temperature measurements. Together with his colleague Roy Spencer of the same institute, he wrote a paper, 'Global Temperature Report 1978-2003', (http://uahnews.uah.edu/pdf/25years.pdf), dismissing much of the scare-mongering by his IPCC colleagues.

Difference of opinion and a free exchange of views are the life blood of scientific progress. Somehow, their value seems to be forgotten in climate science these days. The reactions of his colleagues to Hans von Storch's critique of the hockey stick offer an illustration of the suffocating atmosphere prevailing in those circles. People like him are occasionally being treated as defectors by their colleagues, which is a somewhat embarrassing attitude for scientists who are supposed to be committed to the search for truth. Von Storch:

        'They tell me, you cannot say this because it will be immediately misused. 
        Among them there are even people who are really suffering from paranoia 
        and see climate sceptics everywhere.'

Among many of his colleagues Storch even notices a sort of self-censorship:

        'The outcome of scientific investigation is being filtered, thus placing public 
        opinion under tutelage. That means that this politically important research is 
        in crisis. It does no longer distinguish between those who make politics, and 
        those who advise on politics, that is: offering policy options.'

Von Storch believes that Michael Crichton's best-seller book 'State of Fear (Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2004) provides an accurate description of the interaction of scientists, governments and mass media in climate policy. He warns that the 'spiral of exaggeration' used by climate alarmists to catch people's attention will undermine the credibility of science.

His colleague, Karin Labitzke (a stratospheric expert of the Free University of Berlin), shares Von Storch's uneasiness. She adheres to the school which believes that the sun is the main driver of global warming. She complains about a ban on free thought ('Denkverbot') imposed on them by the supporters of man-made global warming hypothesis. Labitzke: 'The influence of the sun has been tabooed. When we talk about it, colleagues immediately reproach us for being against energy conservation.'

All this is contrary to good scientific practice. It is high time that climatologists return to old-fashioned sound science, keeping an open mind for alternative hypotheses, and keeping all kinds of distorting political and social influences at bay. They could certainly also benefit from business experience, especially as regards due diligence.

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