French Academy Lays a Warming Egg

Published November 27, 2010

The august French Academy has spoken: After a cursory examination of the issue, a single day of selected testimonies, and some internal discussion among admitted non-experts, their Oct. 28 report concluded global warming is “real and anthropogenic.” Too bad; this report will remain as a stain on the Academy’s reputation for years to come, once the true scientific facts gain acceptance.

Global Temperature Trends
The global climate indeed warmed between 1910 and 1940, but due to natural causes, and at a time when the level of atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions was quite low. There is little dispute about this rise in temperature and the subsequent cooling from 1940 to 1975, which were also seen in proxy records (such as ice cores, tree rings, etc.) that are independent of thermometers.

The Academy, following the UN-supported Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), then reports a sudden temperature jump around 1977-1978, followed by a steady increase in temperature until at least 1997. It is this steady increase that is in doubt, however, because it cannot be seen in the proxy records.

Even more important, weather satellite data, which furnish the best global temperature data for the atmosphere, show essentially no warming between 1979 and 1997. Now, according to well-established theories of the atmosphere, the surface warming must be smaller than the atmospheric trend, by roughly a factor of two. But one-half of zero is still zero.

This suggests that the surface warming reported by the IPCC, based on weather-station data that had been processed by the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University (CRU-EAU), may not exist.

Temperature Record Disparities
How could this have come about? We will get the answer once we learn how the CRU selected particular weather stations (from some thousands worldwide) to use for their global product and how they then corrected the actual data (to remove urban influences and other effects).

So far, none of the investigations of “Climategate” have delved into these all-important details. Nor have they established the exact nature of the “trick” used by the CRU and fellow conspirators to “hide the decline” of recent temperature in the proxy records, referred to in the leaked Climategate e-mails.

The disparity between surface trends and atmospheric data as measured by satellites and independently also by radiosondes in weather balloons has been known for more than a decade. Yet it has been steadfastly ignored by the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers and also by the French Academy.

Reconciling the Data
Evidently, it is not a subject they wish to discuss. In my book Hot Talk, Cold Science, published in 1997, I include a graph that clearly delineates the difference between surface and atmospheric trends in the tropical region. In 2000, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences even published a study called “Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change”; they tried to account for the discrepancy between atmospheric and surface trends [between 1979 and 1997] and concluded that they could not.

A federal government report of 2006, by the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP-SAP-1.1), shows again the same disparity. Yet, an obvious way to solve the puzzle is to conclude that the surface trends are vastly exaggerated and may even be close to zero.

Of course, it is also necessary to deal with sea surface temperatures, since oceans cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface. An analysis of the available data shows again no appreciable warming trend, after appropriate corrections have been made. As suggested in studies published in 2005, the reported warming trend of sea surface temperature is based on an artifact and is not real.

Warming’s Vested Interests
This conclusion of “no recent warming” has immense consequences for policy. It would mean the impact of rising CO2 levels is negligibly small, as has already been concluded by the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), a group of scientists skeptical of the UN-supported IPCC. It would also mean wind power, solar power, and other “non-carbon” energy sources are not needed and are in fact counterproductive. It would also mean carbon trading, cap and trade, and fanciful schemes for carbon capture and sequestration belong in the dustbin of history.

One may expect a huge outcry and serious, protracted opposition from those who have built their careers on global-warming hype, have made investments in alternative energy, or are looking for immense profits from carbon trading. Yet the scientific facts must win out in the long run, even against the financial interests of favored groups, wind farm profiteers, ethanol refiners, carbon traders, and the investment firms and banks that have placed hundreds of billions of dollars of their clients’ money in Green projects.

Nothing has been learned from Europe’s disastrous experiences, it seems. As Bjorn Lomborg (a firm believer in AGW) reports, Germany led the world in putting up solar panels, funded by €47 billion in subsidies. The lasting legacy is massive debt and lots of inefficient solar technology sitting on rooftops throughout a fairly cloudy country, delivering a trivial 0.1 percent of its total energy supply. Denmark’s wind industry is almost completely dependent on taxpayer subsidies, and Danes pay the highest electricity rates of any industrialized nation. Spain finally discontinued its solar subsidies as too costly; as Prof Gabriel Calzada reports, the program actually caused a net loss of jobs.

S. Fred Singer, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is founder and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project.