Saturday, September 30, 2006

Global Warming - the most media hyped environmental issue of all time?

Enough of the good news stories. On the 26th of September Senator James Inhofe gave a lengthy speech on the media's reporting of global warming. This speech is a quite astonishing example of what the world is up against. However, the speech does need to be read and considered although with Senators like this I suspect we may be doomed after all.

Pdf of the speech with slides

Some quotes:

Recently, advocates of alarmism have grown increasingly desperate to try to convince thepublic that global warming is the greatest moral issue of our generation. Just last week,the vice president of London’s Royal Society sent a chilling letter to the media encouraging them to stifle the voices of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism.

During the past year, the American people have been served up an unprecedented parade of environmental alarmism by the media and entertainment industry, which link every possible weather event to global warming. The year 2006 saw many major organs of the media dismiss any pretense of balance and objectivity on climate change coverage and instead crossed squarely into global warming advocacy.

Perhaps there is good reason why the media has finally decided to write about climate change. On the "Hockey Stick" graph:

This graph purported to show that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years, then spiked upward in the 20th century presumably due to human activity. Mann, who also co-publishes a global warming propaganda blog reportedly set up with the help of an environmental group, had his “Hockey Stick” come under severe scrutiny.

The “hockey stick” was completely and thoroughly broken once and for all in 2006. Several years ago, two Canadian researchers tore apart the statistical foundation for the hockey stick. In 2006, both the National Academy of Sciences and an independent researcher further refuted the foundation of the “hockey stick.”

What chance do we have?

Second, what the climate alarmists and their advocates in the media have continued to ignore is the fact that the Little Ice Age, which resulted in harsh winters which froze New York Harbor and caused untold deaths, ended about 1850. So trying to prove man-made global warming by comparing the well-known fact that today's temperatures are warmer than during the Little Ice Age is akin to comparing summer to winter to show a catastrophic temperature trend.

So there is no man made effect then?

In addition, something that the media almost never addresses are the holes in the theory that C02 has been the driving force in global warming. Alarmists fail to adequately explain why temperatures began warming at the end of the Little Ice Age in about 1850, long before man-made CO2 emissions could have impacted the climate. Then about 1940, just as man-made CO2 emissions rose sharply, the temperatures began a decline that lasted until the 1970’s, prompting the media and many scientists to fear a coming ice age. Let me repeat, temperatures got colder after C02 emissions exploded. If C02 is the driving force of global climate change, why do so many in the media ignore the many skeptical scientists who cite these rather obvious inconvenient truths?

This is from a Senator in the US government remember.

My skeptical views on man- made catastrophic global warming have only strengthened as new science comes in. There have been recent findings in peer-reviewed literature over the last few years showing that the Antarctic is getting colder and the ice is growing and a new study in Geophysical Research Letters found that the sun was responsible for 50% of 20th century warming. Recently, many scientists, including a leading member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, predicted long-term global cooling may be on the horizon due to a projected decrease in the sun’s output.

There is more. Inlcuded in the speech is a reference of letter written by 60 scientists (letter). In it they state:

“‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise.’”

When asked if by the media "what if you were wrong?" Senator Inhofe replies:

My answer is blunt. The history of the modern environmental movement is chock full of predictions of doom that never came true. We have all heard the dire predictions about the threat of overpopulation, resource scarcity, mass starvation, and the projected death of our oceans. None of these predictions came true, yet it never stopped the doomsayers from continuing to predict a dire environmental future. The more the eco-doomsayers’ predictions fail, the more the eco-doomsayers predict. These failed predictions are just one reason I respect the serious scientists out there today debunking the latest scaremongering on climate change. Scientists like MIT’s Richard Lindzen, former Colorado State climatologist Roger Pielke, Sr., the University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer and John Christy, Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels, Colorado State University’s William Gray, atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer, Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Oregon State climatologist George Taylor and astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, to name a few.

So Senator Inhofe can rest easy. No wonder Bush is happy to do nothing - on Kyoto:

Many of the nations that ratified Kyoto are now realizing what I have been saying all along: The Kyoto Protocol is a lot of economic pain for no climate gain.

More "economics":

While greenhouse gas limiting proposals may cost the industrialized West trillions of dollars, it is the effect on the developing world’s poor that is being lost in this debate.

The Kyoto Protocol’s post 2012 agenda which mandates that the developing world be subjected to restrictions on greenhouse gases could have the potential to severely restrict development in regions of the world like Africa, Asia and South America -- where some of the Earth’s most energy-deprived people currently reside.

Expanding basic necessities like running water and electricity in the developing world are seen by many in the green movement as a threat to the planet’s health that must be avoided. Energy poverty equals a life of back-breaking poverty and premature death.

There is then a long rant against the media that has some merit looking at scare stories of ice ages from 1930's articles etc. On Al Gore's recent film "an inconvenient truth":

I am almost at a loss as to how to begin to address the series of errors, misleading science and unfounded speculation that appear in the former Vice President’s film.

The problems with Al Gore's film can be summarised as:

• He promoted the now debunked “hockey stick” temperature chart in an attempt to proveman’s overwhelming impact on the climate.
•He attempted to minimize the significance of Medieval Warm period and the Little Ice Age.
•He insisted on a link between increased hurricane activity and global warming that mostsciences believe does not exist.
•He asserted that today’s Arctic is experiencing unprecedented warmth while ignoring that temperatures in the 1930’s were as warm or warmer.
•He claimed the Antarctic was warming and losing ice but failed to note, that is only true of a small region and the vast bulk has been cooling and gaining ice.
•He hyped unfounded fears that Greenland’s ice is in danger of disappearing. He erroneously claimed that ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is disappearing due to global warming, even while the region cools and researchers blame the ice loss on local land-use practices.
•He made assertions of massive future sea level rise that is way out side of any supposed scientific “consensus” and is not supported in even the most alarmist literature.
•He incorrectly implied that a Peruvian glacier's retreat is due to global warming, while ignoring the fact that the region has been cooling since the 1930s and other glaciers in South America are advancing.
•He blamed global warming for water loss in Africa's Lake Chad, despite NASA scientists concluding that local population and grazing factors are the more likely culprits.
•He inaccurately claimed polar bears are drowning in significant numbers due to melting ice when in fact they are thriving.
•He completely failed to inform viewers that the 48 scientists who accused President Bush of distorting science were part of a political advocacy group set up to support Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

The conclusion:

Breaking the cycles of media hysteria will not be easy since hysteria sells -- it’s very profitable. But I want to challenge the news media to reverse course and report on the objective science of climate change, to stop ignoring legitimate voices this scientific debate and to stop acting as a vehicle for unsubstantiated hype.

It is good to have debate and all economists should encourage discussion of the scientific and economic issues. However, this article should make it very clear that statistics can be made to say pretty much anything. Who should the public believe? The only worry is that if the US government is full of like minded Senators the US is not going to move very fast in cutting emissions of Greenhouse gases. Comments welcome.

No comments: