Monday, February 15, 2010

Have I learned? Has he?

Two months I ago I shared an experience from 5 years earlier about how I learned that a dedication to precision and scientific accuracy makes your writing unpublishable for local news media (Five scientific terms you can't in local news media). The columnist whom I was correcting in my unpublishable essay is back again with another letter about global warming (Wishing for some global warming). I've submitted another rebuttal (me, see 2nd comment), so this is a great opportunity to examine whether I have learned anything in the past 5.5 years. Likewise, it's an opportunity to see if he has too.

Because rebuttals I've posted online have mysteriously disappeared before, I'm posting the content below in this order:
1. The writer's 2004 column on global warming.
2. My unpublishable rebuttal submitted for their community forum column.
3. The writer's letter to the editor from 11 Feb. 2010.
4. My rebuttal. (I also sent a shorter letter to be printed, but I won't share that till it's published).

1. The column that was intrumental in my epiphany on climate propoganda:
(in progress; can't find it online and will have to transcribe a news clippin; will add soon)

2. My rebuttal (in italics)
If climate research demonstrates an unambiguous human-caused greenhouse effect, implementing appropriate corrective action will remain controversial. For example, it may be unfair and unscientific to limit fossil fuel consumption and not cement manufacture; or government regulations may be costly, too restrictive, or misguided. If mitigation solutions are market-based, objections to the unpleasant conclusions of climate scientists will decrease. But for the market to mitigate human-induced climate change, it will need better information, starting with the correction of numerous misconceptions about climate science.

One misconception is the belief that climate models are junk science: As in chemistry, physics, and weapons testing, computer models are our best chance of understanding phenomena that too complex to solve on paper and beyond controlled experimentation. Climate models merge the work of many specialties: paleoclimatology (the study of past climate inferred from coral, tree rings, gases in ice cores, and chemical isotopes in fossil-forming plankton in ocean sediments), atmospheric chemistry (how gases, aerosols, and particulates are formed, interact, and are removed), hydrology (water cycles), oceanography (currents, heat, salinity, photosynthesis). There are so many specialties, scientists, and publications involved that we must be skeptical of anyone claiming to understand these well enough to call them junk science.
Another misconception is the notion that a regional or short-term weather trend supports or discredits climate models. Climate models do not have the resolution to tell what's in store for a specific region, whether it's a good time for a drive among the vineyards, or not. They calculate general trends, such as averages of temperatures, precipitation, and wind direction, with resolutions varying between 200 km and 50 km. Finer resolutions will result as scientists continue to test their models against real phenomena. Climate researchers state their models' limitations, and the field has a well-published timeline projecting milestones for improvement.
Climate models are used in a variety of studies besides global warming. For example, in India scientists are trying to use them to predict their monsoons. Other scientists use them to examine natural effects hindering the recovery of over-exploited fisheries. Brief progress in the acceptance of climate models occurred in 2001 when the models showed that North America acts as a net carbon sink, meaning its forests, soils, and peat lands were absorbing more CO2 than North Americans were emitting. This lent support for rejecting the Kyoto protocol, which was doomed regardless, but I suspect these results-oriented skeptics failed to grasp the complete scenario described by the carbon sink modeling: the climate models showed North America to be a net carbon sink in wet and cool years; in dryer and hotter times the stored carbon gets metabolized by soil microbes and animals and North America becomes a net emitter of CO2. By 1999, the northern hemisphere went back to being a net carbon source.
Finally, changes in greenhouse gas concentrations affect more than climate. Oceanographers and ecologist are studying the effects of known increases in CO2. Rising CO2 levels may be changing species composition of pristine rainforests, preferring softwood species and vines (commercially and ecologically less valuable) over the densest understory trees. The pH of seawater is changing as the oceans absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere. Oceanographers are examining what this change portends for the ocean's food chain. Paloeoclimatologists are searching the geologic record for evidence of times when atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH reached levels similar to levels projected for the near future. Should they find these layers, they will learn whether the CO2 levels, ocean pH, and rates at which these changed, created conditions favorable to the agriculture, aquiculture, and economy needed today by six billion humans.
In 2001 president Bush exercised his right of a scientific review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The National Academy of Sciences confirmed that the science was sound and the conclusions valid with some qualifications. Their reply was a definitive act, like the Supreme Court choosing a president, which should be cautiously accepted so we can examine the implications.

3. Wishing for some global warming
Much of the country is deluged with record snowfall, and we are supposed to believe that this is caused by global warming? Record snow packs fall onto our local mountains. A friend of mine in the D.C. area spent two hours digging his car out of the snow. He was wishing for some global warming.
So, does global warming now cause global cooling?
After the revelations of the e-mails by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing fraud and cover-up, anybody with an sliver of common sense can conclude that global warming (and our current global cooling) are caused by, um ---- the changing of the four seasons.
Those who seek to control and regulate every aspect of our lives will utilize any moral panic available to centralize and expand government control.
Notice how they will now attempt to downplay "global warming" by substituting the term "climate change." Climate change is just the changing of the four seasons. What's the next environmental moral panic? Attacking Newton's laws of gravity?
In the meantime, I just filled up the gas tank of my Hummer. I like to think the oil comes from Iraq. Life is great.

4. my rebuttal (in italics) printed on 17 Feb 2010:
Climate change not a subject for common sense
Common sense suggests that the sun orbits the Earth; Rick Reiss (Letters, Feb. 11) asserts that common sense shows Earth is cooling. Climate change is not a subject for common sense; rather, it requires math, statistics, physics, chemistry and data collection, just as describing the solar system does. Reiss cites recent cold weather as common-sense proof that Earth is cooling. This is not common sense, but cherry picking, selecting only the information one believes. If weather observations are suitable, then you have to include killer heat waves in Europe and Australia.
Reiss says snowstorms conflict with global warming — no: Heat, then water vapor, then precipitation. Warmer climate, then more water vapor, then more snow. He claims that scientists backpedal on warming by using the phrase "climate change."
Publishing scientists have used this phrase for 20 years while showing that Earth is warming from increasing greenhouse gases. To understand the e-mails stolen from the Climate Research Center and exploited out of context by people like Reiss, you have to read science journals to know what the e-mails were talking about. One can't explain to activists the error in conclusions they've drawn from stolen information, but as long as they remain ignorant of the science, the science will remain incomprehensible to them.



Philip H. said...

Well said friend! Hopefully you get tracion this time, since as i noted today, even the Washington Post editorial board has limped into the light of the climate crisis.


jg said...

Thanks for your encouragement. My return to letter writing is partly driven by your example and suggestions. And I saw your post on the WaPo. It is encouraging; that or the WaPo has been absorbed by the ever-expanding black hole of climate conspiracy that has also captured all credible journals and professional societies....hmm I feel another letter coming on.


EliRabett said...

Its not called the IPGW is it?

jg said...

In hindsight, I wish I had added a remark like "spell out IPCC sometime" but I didn't think of it then.

Thanks for your comment, Professor. I get a lot of mileage out of small gestures of encouragement from scientists like you.


Bill Wixted said...

Nice job John, keep up the good work.