- - Monday, March 21, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

WHY SCIENTISTS DISAGREE ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: THE NIPCC REPORT ON SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS

By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer

The Heartland Institute, $14.95, 120 pages

The understanding of human impact on long-term global climate change is not settled science.

“Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming: The NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus” by three distinguished scientists, Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter and S. Fred Singer, challenges the popular notion that science has concluded that humans are causing catastrophic climate change. The three authors are contributors to the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), a group of “nongovernmental scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change.”

Besides being a synopsis of a much larger work — a chapter in a forthcoming volume titled “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Benefits and Costs of Fossil Fuels” — the book is a rejoinder to the sound-bite science that is so popular today. “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” chews up these sound bites, such as: “97 percent of scientists agree” with the conclusion that humans are causing catastrophic climate change; or, skeptics of the “consensus view” are paid off by big fossil fuel industries.

“Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” is a virtual handbook of well-documented arguments and cogent perspective that counter nearly every assertion given to “prove” that human beings are responsible for climate disaster.

Take surface temperature, for example. “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” notes that “[o]ver (climatic) time scales of many thousand years, temperature is cooling; over the historical (meteorological) time scale of the past century temperature, has warmed. Over the past 18 years, there has been no net warming despite an increase in atmospheric CO2 of 8 percent — which represents 34 percent of all human-related CO2 emissions released to the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.”

Good reasons abound as to why the short- and long-term temperature and other trends (like extreme weather) fail to adequately match “consensus” expectations. “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” points to natural decadal and multidecadal climate oscillations like those associated with El Nino-La Nina, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Solar activity and flux of cosmic rays among other important factors are also noted.

The book refers often to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the flaunted fountainhead of all received wisdom on the Earth’s future atmosphere. But the stated role of the IPCC is to assess “the scientific basis of the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation .” No surprise that if your well-funded, politically expedient task is to find the risk of human-induced climate change, then your obligation is to find that particular risk. But that’s not how science is supposed to work. Rather than searching for support for pre-formed conclusions, pursuit of objectivity is one of the hallmarks of authentic scientific practice.

The IPCC depends on the veracity of global climate models (GCMs), which are global mathematical simulators of the climate. “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” states that “GCMs systematically overestimate the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide (CO2), many known forcings and feedbacks are poorly modeled, and modelers exclude forcings and feedbacks that run counter to their mission to find a human influence on climate.” Furthermore, climate models “generally assume a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2 above preindustrial values, whereas meteorological observations are consistent with a sensitivity of 1 degree Celsius or less.” And limitations in computing power “restrict climate models from resolving important climate processes; low-resolution models fail to capture many important regional and lesser-scale phenomena such as clouds.”

Regarding the overestimation of a doubling of CO2 and its relationship to clouds, “IPCC models incorporate a strong positive feedback from increasing water vapor but exclude negative feedbacks such as a concomitant increase in low-level clouds — hence they predict a warming of 3 degrees Celsius or more.”

“Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” concludes, from ample references to peer-reviewed works and based on NIPCC reports “drawn from its extensive review of the scientific evidence,” that “any human global climate impact is within the background variability of the natural climate system and is not dangerous.”

So it looks like the science on climate change is nowhere near settled science. Not even close.

Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and author of “In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail” (Stairway Press, 2016).

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