Climatologists Reject Media Claims of Global Warming Consensus

Published August 1, 2005

Leading climatologists spent the month of June fighting false proclamations from non-scientists claiming scientists have reached agreement that catastrophic global warming is occurring.

Alarmists Claim Debate Over

On June 1, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) claimed “the debate is over” and global warming alarmists’ predictions had carried the day.

The Natural Resources Defense Council on June 9 declared, “The world’s leading scientists now agree that global warming is real and is happening right now. According to their forecasts, extreme changes in climate could produce a future in which erratic and chaotic weather, melting ice caps and rising sea levels usher in an era of drought, crop failure, famine, flood and mass extinctions.”

On June 13, USA Today declared, “The debate’s over: Globe is Warming.” In support of its claim, the newspaper cited the positions of some left-leaning religious groups, some corporations who will reap a financial windfall from a switch to alternative fuel sources, and some politicians.

Scientists Disagree

While each of the above claims from non-scientists received significant media coverage, leading climatologists spent the month of June rebutting such proclamations.

Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, sent a letter to the editor of USA Today directly refuting its claim. “Your editorial … claim[s] the global warming debate is over. Not so,” wrote Singer.

Singer wrote, “Sea level will continue to rise by only seven inches per century as it has for thousands of years no matter what we do or what the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] says. And temperatures in the next 100 years will likely rise by less than one degree F–not exactly a catastrophe.”

Added Singer in a subsequent letter to the Canadian media, “Thousands of scientists from many countries now fully understand that Kyoto and other efforts to control human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are ineffective and entirely unfounded scientifically.

“Even if you ignore the enormous cost of Kyoto (estimated recently by Prof. George Taylor of Oregon State University–see–at one trillion U.S. dollars a year for full implementation in OECD countries), climate science research is rapidly moving AWAY from the hypothesis that the human release of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2, is in any way significantly contributing to global climate change.”

Sun Called Primary Cause

“If we just look at the historical data, there is a scientific consensus that the global mean temperature has risen modestly during the twentieth century,” said Myron Ebell, director of global warming and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “The impacts have been small and probably beneficial in aggregate. This historical data puts the onus of demonstration on those who think this gradual warming trend will accelerate and lead to dire consequences.”

The controlling driver of global temperature fluctuations, according to Dr. Benny Peiser of England’s John Moore’s University, is solar ray activity. “Six eminent researchers from the Russian Academy of Science and the Israel Space Agency have just published a startling paper in one of the world’s leading space science journals. The team of solar physicists claims to have come up with compelling evidence that changes in cosmic ray intensity and variations in solar activity have been driving much of the Earth’s climate,” Peiser was quoted as saying in the May 17 National Post.

Moreover, reports Peiser, Jan Veizer, one of Canada’s top earth scientists, published a comprehensive review of recent findings and concluded, “empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate, with greenhouse gases acting only as potential amplifiers.”

Added Peiser, “In fact, the explicit and implicit rejection of the ‘consensus’ is not restricted to individual scientists. It also includes distinguished scientific organizations such as the Russian Academy of Science and the U.S. Association of State Climatologists, both of which are highly skeptical of the whole idea.”

False Consensus Was Predicted

Indeed, back in November 2004, German climatologist Hans von Storch, director of the GKSS Institute for Coastal Research (IfK) in Geesthacht, Germany, foresaw that claims of alarmist consensus would be made by non-scientists and even some scientists.

Von Storch, who has yet to side with either alarmists or skeptics, warned, “We need to respond openly to the agenda-driven advocates, not only skeptics but also alarmists, who misuse their standing as scientists to pursue their private value-driven agendas.”

Media Echo Scariest Claims

Noting the propensity of large media organizations to echo the alarmists’ claims, von Storch wrote, “Judgments of solid scientific findings are often not made with respect to their immanent quality but on the basis of their alleged or real potential as a weapon by ‘skeptics’ in a struggle for dominance in public and policy discourse.”

Ebell agrees: “If the debate is over, why do they exaggerate so much? It seems that once some scientist makes any sort of speculation about the extent or impact of future warming that sounds even slightly scary, then we never hear the end of it, no matter how many times subsequent research refutes it.

“After reading hundreds of scientific articles and consulting widely on what they mean and how they fit together, I am convinced that if there is a consensus, it is not alarmist,” said Ebell.

Alan Caruba ([email protected]) is founder of the weekly publication Warning Signs and founder of the National Anxiety Center.