20 apr 2010

Swedish Television Goes Oreskes on the Pseudo-Sceptics of Climate Change

In addition to the Swedish television's opinion poll among Swedish climate scientists, which showed an overwhelming support for IPCC, the Swedish television has now taken a deep look into the archives of scientific articles on climate.

the Science department has gone through ISI, the worlds largest database of peer-reviewed research articles and searched for publications that clearly contradict the conclusion of human-induced global warming. The survey also looks for “climate sceptic” scientists and research articles which are often cited on Internet and blogs. From 2009 onwards, we have found a total of five articles that explicitly question the man-induced global warming. During the same period, more than 8000 research papers on climate change have been published, according to the ISI database
Now this comes as no surprise to anyone who actually tries to follow the scientific publications on global warming and climate change. However, the result will hopefully function as a wake up call for people who don’t follow the issue. A job well done by the Swedish television.

The five articles were the following:

* Chilingar, GV et al, Greenhouse Gases and Greenhouse Effect, Environmental Geology, 58 (6): 1207-1213 Sep (2009)
* Essenhigh, RH, Potential Dependence of Global Warming on the Residence Time (RT) in the Atmosphere of Anthropogenically Sourced Carbon Dioxide, Energy & Fuels, 23:2773-2784 May-June (2009)
* Gerlich, G and Tscheuschner, RD, Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects within the Frame of Physics, International Journal of Modern Physics B, 23 (3): 275-364 Jan 30 (2009)
* Green, KC et al, Validity of Climate Change Forecasting for Public Policy Decision Making, International Journal of Forecasting, 25 (4): 826-832 Oct-Dec (2009)
* Karlén, W, Recent Changes in the Climate: Natural or Forced by Human Activity?, AMBIO: 483-488 Sp. Iss. 14 Nov (2008)

Starting at the top:
Chilingar et al ignore textbook knowledge about the adiabatic gradient, the effect that air cools as it rises and expands. This is no small thing to dismiss. For more errors and further explanation, see Chilingar’s greenhouse paper

Essenhigh's paper on carbon dioxide residence time (much shorter lifetime than generally accepted) makes lots of generalisations and, from what I can tell, improper simplifications. We had a longer discussion in the Swedish blogpost about the paper, my main points being that he ignores some of the carbon fluxes, claims that carbon is being released from the ocean (despite that we know that pH is decreasing) and as far as I can see ignores that C-14 was not in isotopic equilibrium in the oceans after the C-14 spike from the nuclear tests. This is probably why it was published in Energy & Fuels, a for the subject peculiar journal.

On to the “famous” Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects within the Frame of Physics. This one deals with the total greenhouse effect, not only the anthropogenic part. If it was to be correct, our theories on the evolution of the earth would need to be revised. Not surprisingly the paper itself has been properly falsified by, among others, Jörg Zimmerman and Arthur Smith.

Regarding number 4, Green, KC et al, Validity of Cilmate Change Forecasting for Public Policy Decision Making; I had not seen it, or any comments on it, before. It's hard to know where to start. Anyway, it does not disprove any of the physics that the anthropogenic greenhouse effect relies on. It chooses one of the early IPCC projections of temperature change between 1992 and 2008 and then compare the temperature change projected by IPCC to temperature changes at different points in time (staring as early as 1850) which to me seems pointless. Different forcings on climate will have different impacts on temperature, and during the time examined in this paper a range of different forcings have been dominant (eg. Sun, Vulcano, CO2, aerosols etc.). IPCC also say that making projections are difficult; it is hard to know how, for example, prices on fossil fuels will develop in the future or what kind of technical achievements that will occur. Further, technology as well as fossil fuel prices were quite different back around the year 1900. (the paper also cites the later falsified paper Quantifying the Influence of Anthropogenic Surface Processes and Inhomogeneities on Gridded Global Climate Data.)

The last paper Recent Changes in the Climate: Natural or Forced by Human Activity? is published in AMBIO, a journal handled by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The paper is primarily a review stating that different things have affected the climate. The summary reads:

In several studies it is claimed that changes in climate before the 1900s were local and were mostly not recognized in other areas. This argues for a recent human influence on climate. However, well-dated, published data from widely separated areas show that major events predating the warming during the 1900s are global (71). A number of indications of globally synchronous changes in circulation have been discussed by Mayewski et al. (4) and Andresen and Björck (20). Humanity has always lived under the threat of disasters, e.g., famine and lately nuclear war. Now, when several of these threats have diminished considerably in the West, it seems as if people need a new threat that can be shared and thereby have a uniting effect. The possible impact of increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration seems to have taken on the role of such a shared threat. By promising that a control of this threat may be available, the greenhouse scare yields the hope that man so badly wants. However, periodic fluctuations in solar activity and the climate variation imply sensitivity to changes in solar activity. There are striking similarities in the timing and the pattern of the Greenland ice core data, many other data records, and solar activity.

For people interested in solar effects on climate I recommend AGW Observers collection of papers. This is of course something the scientists have looked into, and concluded that the sun is not the main driver of the now ongoing global warming. Citation nr 71 from the summary is the infamous paper “Proxy Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1000 Years” which made the chief editor of the journal resign after the flaws in the paper had been pointed out while despite this, the review process at the journal wasn’t changed. Eventually, half of the journal’s editorial board resigned. How this problem was missed by the reviewers at AMBIO, I don’t know.

The article also states “Most probably, human impact is not the only factor that can explain simultaneous changes in the climate, as claimed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (1).” which is not what the IPCC say.

Swedish television also interviewed Oreskes about her earlier (scientifically published) findings about the science on climate change, which is pretty much in accordance with these results. (about 1:40 in the clip)

Finally we can conclude that if these kinds of papers slip through the review system, then there exists no conspiracy of scientist refusing “sceptics” to publish their work. It also shows that peer review is not perfect and that it is important to see how the scientific community reacts to different publications (especially controversial ones) before drawing too big conclusions. Bart Verheggen has a blog post about this subject, and how Lindzen's Iris publication was handled, well worth reading.

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