July 17, 2007

Warming Debate Not Over Just Yet

Christopher Booker writing in the Telegraph says the BBC is doing all it can to distort counter the growing evidence that solar, not human activity is the primary influence on global warming. That is just one of several articles on climate change from the Telegraph, linked by the excellent European blog EU Referendum.

The BBC won't let the sunshine in

In the wake of the BBC's 15-hour marathon promoting Al Gore's propaganda fest for the "consensus" view of global warming (interspersed with rock music), a concerted effort was made last week to discredit the rival thesis which has recently been gaining widespread support: that the key to warming lies in the activity not of man but of the sun.

A rash of stories, typified by the BBC's " No Sun link to climate change", promoted a paper published by the Royal Society which accuses the scientists behind the "solar warming" thesis of "distorting" the data. The paper's authors admit that solar activity was higher in the 20th century than at any time in 6,000 years, and that until recently this could have been significant in raising temperatures on earth. But then everything changed. Since 1985, they claim, solar influence has weakened, while global temperatures have soared. "This debate is now settled," they say. The culprit is CO2 after all.

This may satisfy the BBC - but the latest surface and satellite data show that, since their peak in 1998, global temperatures have in fact dropped back. Last month, according to Nasa, they were as low as in 1983. Tellingly, the Royal Society paper ends its surface temperature graph in 2000 and omits the even more inconvenient satellite data altogether. However, if temperatures fall while CO2 levels rise, how can it be maintained that CO2 is the main driver of global warming?

Far from being settled, this debate is just beginning to get really interesting.

This commentary gets to the heart of the BBC's misleading treatment of the issue.

The report argues that while the sun had a significant effect on climate during most of the 20th century, its influence is currently dwarfed by human effects. It says that all known solar influences since about 1990 are downward and because global temperature has increased since then, the sun is not responsible.

No. The research could prove the contrary. Using the global temperature data endorsed by the Inter-national Panel on Climate Change, one can reach a completely different conclusion.

Recently the United States' National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said that 2006 was statistically indistinguishable from previous years.

Looking at annual global temperatures, it is apparent that the last decade shows no warming trend and recent successive annual global temperatures are well within each year's measurement errors. Statistically the world's temperature is flat.

The world certainly warmed between 1975 and 1998, but in the past 10 years it has not been increasing at the rate it did. No scientist could honestly look at global temperatures over the past decade and see a rising curve.

Whatever the cause, I am skeptical of any government-imposed "solution", and definitely one which would legislate the crippling of the U.S. economy by limiting our growth and development, especially while the world's worst environmental actors are not similarly constrained.

The standard dismissal of scientists who dissent from the global warming orthodoxy is that they are all in the pay of corporate oil interests. The fact that this is not true is not a deterrent to those who make the claim. They are on a mission after all. What's a little white lie when you're saving the planet?

But even if it were true, it would not change the fact that the scientists who blame human activity for warming, and advocate for strong government action, are doing research that is mostly government funded. Their very livelihood often depends on staying on the good side of the statists and their insatiable bureaucracy. How they can pose as any less self-interested than the dissenting scientists, and how so many people can lap up their sanctimony uncritically, is amazing to me.

Posted by dan at July 17, 2007 12:23 AM