My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Bad Science From The U.N.

On the MSNBC website tonight's headline story is 2004 was fourth-warmest year on record--U.N. conference seeks cuts in greenhouse gases .

While I thought it was a rather mild year in the Mile High City, I understand that conditions were a little harsher elsewhere. But I think the immediate jump to curb "greenhouse gases" is what is so amusing. From the bulk of the text:

The year 2004, punctuated by four powerful hurricanes in the Caribbean and deadly typhoons lashing Asia, was the fourth-hottest on record, extending a trend since 1990 that has registered the 10 warmest years, a U.N. weather agency said Wednesday. . .

The release of the report by the World Meteorological Organization came as environmental ministers from some 80 countries gathered in Buenos Aires for a United Nations conference on climate change, looking at ways to cut down on greenhouse gases that some say contribute heavily to Earth’s warming.

Note how they throw that little nugget in at the very end of a thought--"that some say contribute heavily to Earth's warming." You might think that would lead in to at least a tiny inquiry into what others say contribute to the earth's warming.

You would be wrong. Nowhere in the article is a dissenting opinion cited; instead, MSNBC spends its ink citing the recent string of unusual climate behaviors and implicitly blaming the whole thing on global waring=greenhouse gases=human activity.

Would it have been too much to ask for the MSNBC-ers to find just one dissent? Perhaps--I had to go all the way down to the fifth citation on the first page of a Google search of "global warming sun temperatures." There I find a paper by the National Center for Public Policy Research titled "Sun To Blame For Global Warming." And this paper was written in 1998, when National Centers were more or less under the control of the Clinton Administration, so I think there may be a bit more than the usual credibility here. And, from the outset, this paper makes it clear that the NCPPR finds global warming arguments unpersuasive:

Those looking for the culprit responsible for global warming have missed the obvious choice - the sun. While it may come as a newsflash to some, scientific evidence conclusively shows that the sun plays a far more important role in causing global warming and global cooling than any other factor, natural or man-made.

Further in:

It wasn't until 1980, with the aid of NASA satellites, that scientists definitively proved that the sun's brightness - or radiance - varies in intensity, and that these variations occur in predictable cyclical patterns. This was a crucial discovery because the climate models used by greenhouse theory proponents always assumed that the sun's radiance was constant. With that assumption in hand, they could ignore solar influences and focus on other influences, including human.

That turned out to be a reckless assumption. Further investigation revealed that there is a strong correlation between the variations in solar irradiance and fluctuations in the Earth's temperature. When the sun gets dimmer, the Earth gets cooler; when the sun gets brighter, the Earth gets hotter. So important is the sun in climate change that half of the 1.5° F temperature increase since 1850 is directly attributable to changes in the sun. According to NASA scientists David Lind and Judith Lean, only one-quarter of a degree can be ascribed to other causes, such as greenhouse gases, through which human activities can theoretically exert some influence.

So what does MSNBC--or, to be more specific, THE U.N.--think about global warming?

Scientists say a sustained increase in temperature is likely to continue disrupting the global climate, increasing the intensity of storms, potentially drying up farmlands and raising ocean levels, among other things. . . .

The World Meteorological Organization said it expects Earth’s average surface temperature to rise 0.8 degrees above the normal 57 degrees Fahrenheit in 2004, adding this year to a recent pattern that included the four warmest years on record, with the hottest being 1998

And from the NCPPR:

There is no reason to believe that this 10,000-year-old cycle of solar-induced warming and cooling will change. Dr. Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and one of the nation's leading experts on global climate change, believes that we may be nearing the end of a solar warming cycle. Since the last minimum ended in 1715, Baliunas says there is a strong possibility that the Earth will start cooling off in the early part of the 21st Century.

Indeed, it could already be happening. Of the 1.5° F in warming the planet experienced over the last 150 years, two-thirds of that increase, or one degree, occurred between 1850 and 1940. In the last 50 years, the planetary temperature increased at a significantly slower rate of 0.5° F - precisely when dramatically increasing amounts of man-made carbon dioxide emissions should have been accelerating warming. Further buttressing the arguments for future cooling is the evidence from NASA satellites that the global temperature has actually fallen 0.04° F since 1979.

It seems that it's entirely possible that we may be headed into quite a different climatological period than the conventional wisdom is pushing us to. Or not. I think it's important to note that NOBODY KNOWS.

What is interesting and compelling is that one side of the argument rather studiously avoids dealing with actual, measured, measurable scientific data so that their argument can go forward. It's the same side of the argument that pushes this belief on us, and really works to indoctrinate students at all levels into this way of thinking.

It's not the conclusions that bother me--it's the science. I'm not sure exactly when we, as a country, stopped asking for our scientists to behave in a scientific way, and when we started accepting junk science as fact. But it bothers me a lot.

Look, I don't really know what the status is on global warming. I'd be a fool not to notice that the world is a slightly more violent weather-place than it seems it ever was. But then, I also remember summers growing up around here when the thermometer pushed well above 90 every day for what seems like a month.

The point is that one side is using really bad science and rhetoric to makes its case. And that side has a complicit media to push its story. And, generally speaking, given the choice, I avoid drawing ANY conclusions based on bad data.

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