New Scientist Tantrum: AGW Alarmists in Denial

Published June 16, 2010

New Scientist magazine is throwing a tantrum—stamping its feet, covering its ears, and holding its breath until its face turns blue (or red, in this case)—because tens of thousands of scientists and the majority of the American public recognizes humans are not causing a global warming crisis.

Dedicating a full issue to smarmy attacks on scientists who follow that obsolete, politically incorrect code of scientific inquiry known as the Scientific Method, New Scientist‘s “Age of Denial” issue attempts to throw enough mud, ignore enough science, and employ enough discredited propagandists to convince the American public to ignore the fact that scare scenario after scare scenario has been discredited by sound science and failed to materialize in the real world.

Human-induced global warming (also known as “anthropogenic global warming” or AGW) is at worst a marginal influence on global climate that has brought about more real-world benefits than harm. The same anti-free market activists who 35 years ago claimed industrial emissions were causing global cooling and that it was the worst thing that could ever happen quickly changed to claiming industrial emissions are causing global warming and such warming is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Global warming alarmists are the true “deniers” of climate science. Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently repeated alarmist myths and the science that debunks them.

Myth #1: The past decade was the hottest on record.

Misleading the public about the context of current temperatures is vitally important in the playbook of global warming alarmists. After all, warming is of little concern if the trend is merely rescuing the planet from a prolonged stretch of abnormally cold temperatures. Yet this is precisely what is happening, and the alarmists will do everything possible to hide this from the public.

They claim recent warmth is unprecedented, yet ice core data from Greenland and Antarctica and proxy temperature data from around the world tell us most of the past 10,000 years were significantly warmer than today.

In order, then, to claim current temperatures are the hottest ever, AGW alarmists simple declare “recorded history” began around the year 1900, at the end of the Little Ice Age, and that nothing before that matters. This is an astonishingly bold evasion, ignoring temperature data for more than 90 percent of human history.

Myth #2: Natural factors have little influence on global temperatures.

When examining global temperature changes over spans of decades and centuries, scientists have discovered a very strong correlation between solar output, ocean cycles, and global temperatures. Global temperatures mirror these natural factors far more closely than carbon dioxide levels.

Solar scientists such as Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics researcher Dr. Willie Soon report global temperatures have risen and fallen in almost exact unison with solar output over the past several centuries, including during the “unprecedented” warming of the past 35 years.

Roy Spencer, Ph.D., who oversees the NASA program that employs satellite instruments to measure global temperature, reports a similarly strong correlation during the past 100 years between natural ocean cycles and global temperatures.

By contrast, there is a glaringly strong disconnect between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures. Most of the warming of the 20th century occurred before 1945, yet global carbon dioxide emissions barely rose at all during that time. From 1945 through 1977, during the post-World War II economic boom, carbon dioxide emissions rose dramatically, yet the planet cooled. From 1977 through 1998 carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures both rose in a measurable manner, but global temperatures have not risen at all this century despite an ongoing increase in CO2 emissions.

Over the past 100-plus years, there has only been a single, brief, 20-year period in which carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures coincide at all.

Myth #3: Computer models are reliable scientific evidence.

Global temperatures rose merely 0.6 degrees Celsius during the 20th century, as the earth recovered from the Little Ice Age, but global warming alarmists in charge of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim temperatures will rise 3.0 degrees Celsius during the 21st century. Alarmists claim these computer models should be treated as scientific “fact” and anyone who disputes the accuracy of these speculative predictions is a “climate science denier.”

Global warming computer models are anything but settled science. IPCC itself acknowledges its modelers have little understanding of many of the factors crucial to predictions of future climate. For example, most of the warming projected by computer models comes from predicted increases in relative humidity and cirrus clouds, yet in the real world relative humidity and cirrus clouds have demonstrated an inverse relationship to carbon dioxide levels.

Global warming alarmists scratch their heads as to why warming is occurring at such a modest pace (0.6 degrees per century rather than 3.0 degrees per century). The answer is simple: Their computer models fail to replicate accurately how the two most important factors in projected future warming—relative humidity and cirrus clouds—respond in the real world to changes in carbon dioxide levels. As the old saying goes; garbage in, garbage out.

Meanwhile, as global temperatures show no consistent correlation with carbon dioxide emissions, temperatures continue to mirror natural factors such as solar output and ocean cycles.

Myth #4: Polar ice, extreme weather, and other events confirm a global warming crisis.

Global temperatures are abnormally cool, not warm, and real-world climate conditions contradict alarmist computer models. So how do alarmists try to draw attention away from such embarrassing facts?  They invent all sorts of over-the-top scare scenarios that have no basis in reality.

The list of alleged catastrophes is long and daunting. Global warming, we are told, is causing polar ice retreat, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, ocean acidification, rapidly rising sea levels, shrinking Himalayan glaciers, the retreat of the Mt. Kilimanjaro snowcap, and a shutdown of the Gulf Stream, to name just a few.

Each of these alleged catastrophes has been soundly contradicted by real world evidence. Here are facts that contradict a few of the most frequently asserted catastrophes:

Reality: Polar ice caps are not shrinking.

Arctic sea ice declined somewhat dramatically in 2007, and alarmists were quick to point to global warming as the culprit. However, NASA scientists have confirmed the ice decline was due to local wind currents, not global warming. A quirk in local wind patterns blew much of the Arctic sea ice to the south and east of Greenland, where it was then sucked into the Atlantic Ocean and melted.

Local wind patterns returned to more normal conditions after 2007, and Arctic sea ice has been growing ever since.

Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been growing to record extent during the past three years. If global warming were really causing the loss of Arctic sea ice, Southern Hemisphere ice would be shrinking as well. Instead, even with the much-ballyhooed decline in Arctic sea ice, overall polar ice has not diminished at all.

Reality: Hurricanes are not becoming any more frequent.

Hurricane Katrina provided global warming alarmists a convenient opportunity to spread the myth of global warming causing more hurricanes. Hurricane scientists tell a different story.

National Hurricane Center scientist Dr. Chris Landsea told the Miami Herald, “We don’t see any new trend. There’s no link to global warming that you can see at all” (May 1, 2007).

The March 2008 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found global warming should reduce incidence of hurricanes: “A new technique for deriving hurricane climatologies from global data, applied to climate models, indicates that global warming should reduce the global frequency of hurricanes.”

Although there was a moderate spike in hurricane activity during the middle of the last decade, global hurricane activity during the past two years is lower than for at least 30 years. As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained on its Web site after the relatively active 2005 hurricane season, “NOAA attributes this increased activity to natural occurring cycles in tropical climate patterns near the equator.… NOAA research shows that the tropical multi-decadal signal is causing the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995, and is not related to greenhouse warming.”

Reality: Drought is becoming less frequent and intense.

One of the most frequently claimed results of global warming is more frequent drought. Drought has become nearly synonymous with global warming, thanks to alarmist propaganda and media shills all too willing to drum up alarm. These claims are laughably false.

A study of global soil moisture, published in March 2006 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology, reported, “Evidence indicates that summer soil moisture content has increased during the last several decades at almost all sites having long-term records in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank.”

A study of U.S. soil moisture, published in May 2006 in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters, agreed. “An increasing trend is apparent in both model soil moisture and runoff over much of the U.S.… This wetting trend is consistent with the general increase in precipitation in the latter half of the 20th century. Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the country over the last century,” the study concluded.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agrees. “A number of tree-ring records exist for the last two millennia which suggest that 20th century droughts may be mild when evaluated in the context of this longer time frame,” the NOAA Web site reports.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.


Criminal Mischief: Publishing the Propaganda of a Convicted Felon

Not content with publishing its own biased global warming claims, New Scientist employed Richard Littlemore, the mouthpiece of a global warming activist group founded by a convicted felon, to smear climate scientists further in its “Age of Denial” issue. Littlemore’s group, DeSmog Blog, employs “six degrees of separation” arguments to try to mislead its readers into believing all of the tens of thousands of scientists who have gone on record rejecting alarmist global warming theory are bought and sold by Big Oil.

Littlemore employed these same smear tactics in his “Age of Denial” article. Lord Christopher Monckton pointed out the irony of such tactics during a 2008 debate with Littlemore on Canadian radio:

“DeSmog Blog was founded with $300,000 of money from a man called John Lefebvre who is an Internet gaming fraudster convicted last year of making hundreds of millions of dollars … by unlawfully laundering money to do with unlawful Internet gaming.… So let’s get that thing clear first of all. DeSmog Blog was founded, is funded, and is run by a convicted and self-confessed crook, and furthermore that crook is now in the business of running a solar energy corporation and therefore has a direct vested interest in peddling the climate change scare.

I would start by making it clear that Mr. Littlemore is a public relations executive working for a convicted Internet fraudster.”

On his DeSmog Blog Web site, Littlemore concedes Monckton mopped the floor with him in their debate.

“Score one for Monckton…. Thanks (and my apologies) to those of you who volunteered some much-preferable debating strategies. Maybe next time,” said Littlemore.