Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Global Warming

11 06 2007

Growing Number of Scientists Convert to Skeptics After Reviewing New Research

Following the U.S. Senate’s vote today on a global warming measure (see today’s AP article: Senate Defeats Climate Change Measure,) it is an opportune time to examine the recent and quite remarkable momentum shift taking place in climate science. Many former believers in catastrophic man-made global warming have recently reversed themselves and are now climate skeptics. The names included below are just a sampling of the prominent scientists who have spoken out recently to oppose former Vice President Al Gore, the United Nations, and the media driven “consensus” on man-made global warming.

The list below is just the tip of the iceberg. A more detailed and comprehensive sampling of scientists who have only recently spoken out against climate hysteria will be forthcoming in a soon to be released U.S. Senate report. Please stay tuned to this website, as this new government report is set to redefine the current climate debate.

In the meantime, please review the list of scientists below and ask yourself why the media is missing one of the biggest stories in climate of 2007. Feel free to distribute the partial list of scientists who recently converted to skeptics to your local schools and universities. The voices of rank and file scientists opposing climate doomsayers can serve as a counter to the alarmism that children are being exposed to on a daily basis. (See Washington Post April 16, 2007 article about kids fearing of a “climactic Armageddon” )

The media’s climate fear factor seemingly grows louder even as the latest science grows less and less alarming by the day. (See Der Spiegel May 7, 2007 article: Not the End of the World as We Know It ) It is also worth noting that the proponents of climate fears are increasingly attempting to suppress dissent by skeptics. (See UPI May 10, 2007 article: U.N. official says it’s ‘completely immoral’ to doubt global warming fears )

Once Believers, Now Skeptics ( Link to pdf version )

Geophysicist Dr. Claude Allegre, a top geophysicist and French Socialist who has authored more than 100 scientific articles and written 11 books and received numerous scientific awards including the Goldschmidt Medal from the Geochemical Society of the United States, converted from climate alarmist to skeptic in 2006. Allegre, who was one of the first scientists to sound global warming fears 20 years ago, now says the cause of climate change is “unknown” and accused the “prophets of doom of global warming” of being motivated by money, noting that “the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people!” “Glaciers’ chronicles or historical archives point to the fact that climate is a capricious phenomena. This fact is confirmed by mathematical meteorological theories. So, let us be cautious,” Allegre explained in a September 21, 2006 article in the French newspaper L’EXPRESS. The National Post in Canada also profiled Allegre on March 2, 2007, noting “Allegre has the highest environmental credentials. The author of early environmental books, he fought successful battles to protect the ozone layer from CFCs and public health from lead pollution.” Allegre now calls fears of a climate disaster “simplistic and obscuring the true dangers” mocks “the greenhouse-gas fanatics whose proclamations consist in denouncing man’s role on the climate without doing anything about it except organizing conferences and preparing protocols that become dead letters.” Allegre, a member of both the French and U.S. Academy of Sciences, had previously expressed concern about manmade global warming. “By burning fossil fuels, man enhanced the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century,” Allegre wrote 20 years ago. In addition, Allegre was one of 1500 scientists who signed a November 18, 1992 letter titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in which the scientists warned that global warming’s “potential risks are very great.”

Geologist Bruno Wiskel of the University of Alberta recently reversed his view of man-made climate change and instead became a global warming skeptic. Wiskel was once such a big believer in man-made global warming that he set out to build a “Kyoto house” in honor of the UN sanctioned Kyoto Protocol which was signed in 1997. Wiskel wanted to prove that the Kyoto Protocol’s goals were achievable by people making small changes in their lives. But after further examining the science behind Kyoto, Wiskel reversed his scientific views completely and became such a strong skeptic, that he recently wrote a book titled “The Emperor’s New Climate: Debunking the Myth of Global Warming.” A November 15, 2006 Edmonton Sun article explains Wiskel’s conversion while building his “Kyoto house”: “Instead, he said he realized global warming theory was full of holes and ‘red flags,’ and became convinced that humans are not responsible for rising temperatures.” Wiskel now says “the truth has to start somewhere.” Noting that the Earth has been warming for 18,000 years, Wiskel told the Canadian newspaper, “If this happened once and we were the cause of it, that would be cause for concern. But glaciers have been coming and going for billions of years.” Wiskel also said that global warming has gone “from a science to a religion” and noted that research money is being funneled into promoting climate alarmism instead of funding areas he considers more worthy. “If you funnel money into things that can’t be changed, the money is not going into the places that it is needed,” he said.

Astrophysicist Dr. Nir Shaviv, one of Israel’s top young award winning scientists, recanted his belief that manmade emissions were driving climate change. “”Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media. In fact, there is much more than meets the eye,” Shaviv said in February 2, 2007 Canadian National Post article. According to Shaviv, the C02 temperature link is only “incriminating circumstantial evidence.” “Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming” and “it is unlikely that [the solar climate link] does not exist,” Shaviv noted pointing to the impact cosmic- rays have on the atmosphere. According to the National Post, Shaviv believes that even a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2100 “will not dramatically increase the global temperature.” “Even if we halved the CO2 output, and the CO2 increase by 2100 would be, say, a 50% increase relative to today instead of a doubled amount, the expected reduction in the rise of global temperature would be less than 0.5C. This is not significant,” Shaviv explained. Shaviv also wrote on August 18, 2006 that a colleague of his believed that “CO2 should have a large effect on climate” so “he set out to reconstruct the phanerozoic temperature. He wanted to find the CO2 signature in the data, but since there was none, he slowly had to change his views.” Shaviv believes there will be more scientists converting to man-made global warming skepticism as they discover the dearth of evidence. “I think this is common to many of the scientists who think like us (that is, that CO2 is a secondary climate driver). Each one of us was working in his or her own niche. While working there, each one of us realized that things just don’t add up to support the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) picture. So many had to change their views,” he wrote.

Mathematician & engineer Dr. David Evans, who did carbon accounting for the Australian Government, recently detailed his conversion to a skeptic. “I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry. When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical,” Evans wrote in an April 30, 2007 blog. “But after 2000 the evidence for carbon emissions gradually got weaker — better temperature data for the last century, more detailed ice core data, then laboratory evidence that cosmic rays precipitate low clouds,” Evans wrote. “As Lord Keynes famously said, ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’” he added. Evans noted how he benefited from climate fears as a scientist. “And the political realm in turn fed money back into the scientific community. By the late 1990’s, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too. I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn’t believe carbon emissions caused global warming. And so were lots of people around me; and there were international conferences full of such people. And we had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet! But starting in about 2000, the last three of the four pieces of evidence outlined above fell away or reversed,” Evans wrote. “The pre-2000 ice core data was the central evidence for believing that atmospheric carbon caused temperature increases. The new ice core data shows that past warmings were *not* initially caused by rises in atmospheric carbon, and says nothing about the strength of any amplification. This piece of evidence casts reasonable doubt that atmospheric carbon had any role in past warmings, while still allowing the possibility that it had a supporting role,” he added. “Unfortunately politics and science have become even more entangled. The science of global warming has become a partisan political issue, so positions become more entrenched. Politicians and the public prefer simple and less-nuanced messages. At the moment the political climate strongly supports carbon emissions as the cause of global warming, to the point of sometimes rubbishing or silencing critics,” he concluded. (Evans bio link )

Climate researcher Dr. Tad Murty, former Senior Research Scientist for Fisheries and Oceans in Canada, also reversed himself from believer in man-made climate change to a skeptic. “I stated with a firm belief about global warming, until I started working on it myself,” Murty explained on August 17, 2006. “I switched to the other side in the early 1990’s when Fisheries and Oceans Canada asked me to prepare a position paper and I started to look into the problem seriously,” Murty explained. Murty was one of the 60 scientists who wrote an April 6, 2006 letter urging withdrawal of Kyoto to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper which stated in part, “If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.”

Botanist Dr. David Bellamy, a famed UK environmental campaigner, former lecturer at Durham University and host of a popular UK TV series on wildlife, recently converted into a skeptic after reviewing the science and now calls global warming fears “poppycock.” According to a May 15, 2005 article in the UK Sunday Times, Bellamy said “global warming is largely a natural phenomenon. The world is wasting stupendous amounts of money on trying to fix something that can’t be fixed.” “The climate-change people have no proof for their claims. They have computer models which do not prove anything,” Bellamy added. Bellamy’s conversion on global warming did not come without a sacrifice as several environmental groups have ended their association with him because of his views on climate change. The severing of relations came despite Bellamy’s long activism for green campaigns. The UK Times reported Bellamy “won respect from hardline environmentalists with his campaigns to save Britain’s peat bogs and other endangered habitats. In Tasmania he was arrested when he tried to prevent loggers cutting down a rainforest.”

Climate scientist Dr. Chris de Freitas of The University of Auckland, N.Z., also converted from a believer in man-made global warming to a skeptic. “At first I accepted that increases in human caused additions of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere would trigger changes in water vapor etc. and lead to dangerous ‘global warming,’ But with time and with the results of research, I formed the view that, although it makes for a good story, it is unlikely that the man-made changes are drivers of significant climate variation.” de Freitas wrote on August 17, 2006. “I accept there may be small changes. But I see the risk of anything serious to be minute,” he added. “One could reasonably argue that lack of evidence is not a good reason for complacency. But I believe the billions of dollars committed to GW research and lobbying for GW and for Kyoto treaties etc could be better spent on uncontroversial and very real environmental problems (such as air pollution, poor sanitation, provision of clean water and improved health services) that we know affect tens of millions of people,” de Freitas concluded. de Freitas was one of the 60 scientists who wrote an April 6, 2006 letter urging withdrawal of Kyoto to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper which stated in part, “Significant [scientific] advances have been made since the [Kyoto] protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases.”

Meteorologist Dr. Reid Bryson, the founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at University of Wisconsin (now the Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, was pivotal in promoting the coming ice age scare of the 1970’s ( See Time Magazine’s 1974 article “Another Ice Age” citing Bryson: & see Newsweek’s 1975 article “The Cooling World” citing Bryson) has now converted into a leading global warming skeptic. In February 8, 2007 Bryson dismissed what he terms “sky is falling” man-made global warming fears. Bryson, was on the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor and was identified by the British Institute of Geographers as the most frequently cited climatologist in the world. “Before there were enough people to make any difference at all, two million years ago, nobody was changing the climate, yet the climate was changing, okay?” Bryson told the May 2007 issue of Energy Cooperative News. “All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it’s absurd. Of course it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air,” Bryson said. “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide,” he added. “We cannot say what part of that warming was due to mankind’s addition of ‘greenhouse gases’ until we consider the other possible factors, such as aerosols. The aerosol content of the atmosphere was measured during the past century, but to my knowledge this data was never used. We can say that the question of anthropogenic modification of the climate is an important question — too important to ignore. However, it has now become a media free-for-all and a political issue more than a scientific problem,” Bryson explained in 2005.

Global warming author and economist Hans H.J. Labohm started out as a man-made global warming believer but he later switched his view after conducting climate research. Labohm wrote on August 19, 2006, “I started as a anthropogenic global warming believer, then I read the [UN’s IPCC] Summary for Policymakers and the research of prominent skeptics.” “After that, I changed my mind,” Labohn explained. Labohn co-authored the 2004 book “Man-Made Global Warming: Unraveling a Dogma,” with chemical engineer Dick Thoenes who was the former chairman of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society. Labohm was one of the 60 scientists who wrote an April 6, 2006 letter urging withdrawal of Kyoto to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper which stated in part, “’Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise.’”

Paleoclimatologist Tim Patterson, of Carlton University in Ottawa converted from believer in C02 driving the climate change to a skeptic. “I taught my students that CO2 was the prime driver of climate change,” Patterson wrote on April 30, 2007. Patterson said his “conversion” happened following his research on “the nature of paleo-commercial fish populations in the NE Pacific.” “[My conversion from believer to climate skeptic] came about approximately 5-6 years ago when results began to come in from a major NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Strategic Project Grant where I was PI (principle investigator),” Patterson explained. “Over the course of about a year, I switched allegiances,” he wrote. “As the proxy results began to come in, we were astounded to find that paleoclimatic and paleoproductivity records were full of cycles that corresponded to various sun-spot cycles. About that time, [geochemist] Jan Veizer and others began to publish reasonable hypotheses as to how solar signals could be amplified and control climate,” Patterson noted. Patterson says his conversion “probably cost me a lot of grant money. However, as a scientist I go where the science takes me and not were activists want me to go.” Patterson now asserts that more and more scientists are converting to climate skeptics. “When I go to a scientific meeting, there’s lots of opinion out there, there’s lots of discussion (about climate change). I was at the Geological Society of America meeting in Philadelphia in the fall and I would say that people with my opinion were probably in the majority,” Patterson told the Winnipeg Sun on February 13, 2007. Patterson, who believes the sun is responsible for the recent warm up of the Earth, ridiculed the environmentalists and the media for not reporting the truth. “But if you listen to [Canadian environmental activist David] Suzuki and the media, it’s like a tiger chasing its tail. They try to outdo each other and all the while proclaiming that the debate is over but it isn’t — come out to a scientific meeting sometime,” Patterson said. In a separate interview on April 26, 2007 with a Canadian newspaper, Patterson explained that the scientific proof favors skeptics. “I think the proof in the pudding, based on what (media and governments) are saying, (is) we’re about three quarters of the way (to disaster) with the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere,” he said. “The world should be heating up like crazy by now, and it’s not. The temperatures match very closely with the solar cycles.”

Physicist Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, chairman of the Central Laboratory for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiological Protection in Warsaw, took a scientific journey from a believer of man-made climate change in the form of global cooling in the 1970’s all the way to converting to a skeptic of current predictions of catastrophic man-made global warming. “At the beginning of the 1970s I believed in man-made climate cooling, and therefore I started a study on the effects of industrial pollution on the global atmosphere, using glaciers as a history book on this pollution,” Dr. Jaworowski, wrote on August 17, 2006. “With the advent of man-made warming political correctness in the beginning of 1980s, I already had a lot of experience with polar and high altitude ice, and I have serious problems in accepting the reliability of ice core CO2 studies,” Jaworowski added. Jaworowski, who has published many papers on climate with a focus on CO2 measurements in ice cores, also dismissed the UN IPCC summary and questioned what the actual level of C02 was in the atmosphere in a March 16, 2007 report in EIR science entitled “CO2: The Greatest Scientific Scandal of Our Time.” “We thus find ourselves in the situation that the entire theory of man-made global warming—with its repercussions in science, and its important consequences for politics and the global economy—is based on ice core studies that provided a false picture of the atmospheric CO2 levels,” Jaworowski wrote. “For the past three decades, these well-known direct CO2 measurements, recently compiled and analyzed by Ernst-Georg Beck (Beck 2006a, Beck 2006b, Beck 2007), were completely ignored by climatologists—and not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by several Nobel Prize winners, using the techniques that are standard textbook procedures in chemistry, biochemistry, botany, hygiene, medicine, nutrition, and ecology. The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic climatic warming. I regard this as perhaps the greatest scientific scandal of our time,” Jaworowski wrote. “The hypothesis, in vogue in the 1970s, stating that emissions of industrial dust will soon induce the new Ice Age, seem now to be a conceited anthropocentric exaggeration, bringing into discredit the science of that time. The same fate awaits the present,” he added. Jaworowski believes that cosmic rays and solar activity are major drivers of the Earth’s climate. Jaworowski was one of the 60 scientists who wrote an April 6, 2006 letter urging withdrawal of Kyoto to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper which stated in part: “It may be many years yet before we properly understand the Earth’s climate system. Nevertheless, significant advances have been made since the protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases.”

Paleoclimatologist Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor of the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Ottawa, reversed his views on man-made climate change after further examining the evidence. “I used to agree with these dramatic warnings of climate disaster. I taught my students that most of the increase in temperature of the past century was due to human contribution of C02. The association seemed so clear and simple. Increases of greenhouse gases were driving us towards a climate catastrophe,” Clark said in a 2005 documentary “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled: What You’re Not Being Told About the Science of Climate Change.” “However, a few years ago, I decided to look more closely at the science and it astonished me. In fact there is no evidence of humans being the cause. There is, however, overwhelming evidence of natural causes such as changes in the output of the sun. This has completely reversed my views on the Kyoto protocol,” Clark explained. “Actually, many other leading climate researchers also have serious concerns about the science underlying the [Kyoto] Protocol,” he added.

Environmental geochemist Dr. Jan Veizer, professor emeritus of University of Ottawa, converted from believer to skeptic after conducting scientific studies of climate history. “I simply accepted the (global warming) theory as given,” Veizer wrote on April 30, 2007 about predictions that increasing C02 in the atmosphere was leading to a climate catastrophe. “The final conversion came when I realized that the solar/cosmic ray connection gave far more consistent picture with climate, over many time scales, than did the CO2 scenario,” Veizer wrote. “It was the results of my work on past records, on geological time scales, that led me to realize the discrepancies with empirical observations. Trying to understand the background issues of modeling led to realization of the assumptions and uncertainties involved,” Veizer explained. “The past record strongly favors the solar/cosmic alternative as the principal climate driver,” he added. Veizer acknowledgez the Earth has been warming and he believes in the scientific value of climate modeling. “The major point where I diverge from the IPCC scenario is my belief that it underestimates the role of natural variability by proclaiming CO2 to be the only reasonable source of additional energy in the planetary balance. Such additional energy is needed to drive the climate. The point is that most of the temperature, in both nature and models, arises from the greenhouse of water vapor (model language ‘positive water vapor feedback’,) Veizer wrote. “Thus to get more temperature, more water vapor is needed. This is achieved by speeding up the water cycle by inputting more energy into the system,” he continued. “Note that it is not CO2 that is in the models but its presumed energy equivalent (model language ‘prescribed CO2’). Yet, the models (and climate) would generate a more or less similar outcome regardless where this additional energy is coming from. This is why the solar/cosmic connection is so strongly opposed, because it can influence the global energy budget which, in turn, diminishes the need for an energy input from the CO2 greenhouse,” he wrote.

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Hot Air Study Melts Global Warming Theory

9 06 2007

Global warming alarmists may want to expedite their efforts to hamstring the global economy with greenhouse gas regulation. A new study touted as showing that we’re not sufficiently panicky about manmade carbon dioxide emissions actually supports the exact opposite conclusion.

“Warnings about global warming may not be dire enough, according to a climate study that describes a runaway-train acceleration of industrial carbon dioxide emissions,” USA Today shrieked this week.

The study authors reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the rate of manmade carbon dioxide emissions was three times greater during 2000 to 2004 than during the 1990s.

Since increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels allegedly are causing global warming, the new study must mean that global temperatures are soaring even faster now than they did during the 1990s, right?

Wrong, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Climatic Data Center.

By overlaying the atmospheric carbon dioxide trend onto graphs of near-surface temperatures, surface temperatures and ocean temperatures, it is readily apparent that ever-changing global temperatures aren’t keeping pace with ever-increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

The bottom line is that while we may be burning more fossil fuels than ever before — relatively inexpensive coal, oil and gas are facilitating steady global economic expansion — that activity isn’t having any sort of discernible or proportionate impact on global temperatures.

Not surprisingly, the study authors don’t seem to want you to know that fact since nowhere in their study do they even mention the word “temperature,” let alone do they present a graph comparing trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide with global temperature.

Are such increasing rates of carbon dioxide emissions grounds for future worry?

Study author Michael Raupach of the Center for Marine and Atmospheric Research in Canberra, Australia, told the Orange County Register that, “If emissions continue to increase at the rate of 3.1 percent a year, carbon dioxide concentration would rise to 560 parts per million in 2050 and soar to 1,390 parts per million in 2100.”

That sure sounds scary, but what would such increases really mean for global temperatures?

No one knows for sure. But it could easily be a non-event and there’s no scientific basis for pressing the panic-button.

First, despite all the carbon dioxide emitted by man since the industrial revolution, manmade carbon dioxide is an exceedingly small part of the total greenhouse effect — on the order of about 0.11 percent.

Remember that we’re talking about atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in parts per million. You may choose to believe that a 3 percent annual increase in manmade carbon dioxide emissions — releases that represent way less than 1 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions — is something to worry about, but the numbers seem to speak for themselves.

Next, we’re not even really sure of the true relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature. While the alarmists want us to believe that rising carbon dioxide levels necessarily increase global temperatures, scientific data from Antarctic ice cores indicate the exact opposite — increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide appear hundreds of years after increases in global temperature.

If the temperature-carbon dioxide relationship indicated by the ice cores is correct, then Raupach’s concern is entirely backwards and misplaced.

On the other hand, even if it were true that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels discernibly increased global temperatures, temperatures wouldn’t likely increase by very much.

Based on the physics of the greenhouse effect, a doubling of carbon dioxide levels from the pre-industrial period (supposedly around 280 parts per million) to 560 parts per million (about 48 percent higher than present levels), might lead to an increase in average global temperature on the order of less than 1 degree centigrade — and we’ve already experienced about 60 percent of that increase.

A further doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide to 1,120 parts per million would result in even less of an increase in temperature because of the energy absorption properties of carbon dioxide.

Essentially, the Earth only radiates so much energy back into the atmosphere that is available to be absorbed by carbon dioxide. Once all that energy is absorbed, superfluous carbon dioxide will not add to the greenhouse effect.

Study author Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution made the bizarre comment in the press release that we must “shift more of the economy toward activities like service industries and information technology” — as if the ever-expanding global population won’t require even more goods like food, energy, housing, clothing and transportation in the future.

We should, of course, strive for energy efficiency and new energy technologies to an extent that’s reasonable. But we shouldn’t condemn conventional energy sources based on dubious reasoning, risk harming the global economy for no good reason and deprive poor nations of their right to develop — all in the misguided hope of manually adjusting the global thermostat.





Study Finds Hurricanes Frequent in Some Cooler Periods

7 06 2007

Over the last 5,000 years, the eastern Caribbean has experienced several periods, lasting centuries, in which strong hurricanes occurred frequently even though ocean temperatures were cooler than those measured today, according to a new study.

The authors, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, say their findings do not necessarily conflict with recent papers asserting a link between the region’s hurricane activity and human-caused warming of the climate and seas.

But, they say, their work does imply that factors other than ocean temperature, at least for thousands of years, appear to have played a pivotal role in shaping storminess in the region.

The study compared a 5,000-year record of strong storms etched in lagoon mud on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques with data on ocean temperatures and climate and storm patterns. The analysis is being published today in the journal Nature.

The Woods Hole team found that stormier spans, including one from 1700 until now, were associated with a relative paucity of El Niño warm-ups of the tropical Pacific Ocean and also with periods of heightened monsoon intensity in West Africa.

El Niño episodes tend to change wind patterns in ways that weaken Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, and Africa is a nursery for storm fronts that can drift westward and develop into hurricanes.

Storm records extracted from sediments on the Gulf Coast by other scientists, and near New York City by the Woods Hole team, show a similar pattern, implying that the shifts from quieter to stormier times are not just a local phenomenon, the authors said.

Jeffrey P. Donnelly, the lead author, said the findings pointed to the importance of figuring out an unresolved puzzle: whether global warming will affect the Niño cycle one way or the other. More intense or longer Pacific warm-ups could stifle Atlantic and Caribbean hurricanes even with warmer seas, Dr. Donnelly said.

“Warm sea-surface temperatures are clearly the fuel for intense hurricanes,” he said. “What our work says is that without sea temperatures varying a lot, the climate system can flip back and forth between active and inactive regimes.”

He added that a disturbing possibility was a warming of waters while conditions in the Pacific and Africa are in their hurricane-nurturing mode.

“If you flip that knob and also have warming seas,” Dr. Donnelly said, “oh boy, who knows what could happen?”

Judith A. Curry, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech, said the new study, together with other recent research on warming and storms by her and others, added to a picture of rising risk and lagging government action on reducing vulnerability of coastal populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean hurricane zone.

“The bottom line is that we are in an unusually active period of hurricane activity, as a result of a combination of natural variability and global warming,” Dr. Curry said. “Analyses have been done, plans have been put on the table, but nothing seems to be happening.”





Climate change skeptics say it’s hard to get heard

5 06 2007

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – skeptics of the seriousness of global warming complained on Wednesday of not being heard by the public or policy makers while warning governments to take a second look at the scientific consensus on climate change.

Scientists who doubt the scope and cause of climate change have trouble getting funding and academic posts unless they conform to an “alarmist scenario,” said Roger Helmer, a British member of the European Parliament, at a panel discussion on appropriate responsesclimate change to rising global temperatures.

“If global warming is happening, we can then ask: is it accelerating and is it likely to be catastrophic?” he said. “Many people think not.”

European Union leaders agreed in March to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least a fifth compared with 1990 levels by 2020 and as much as 30 percent if other industrialized and emerging countries joined in.

The EU pledge came shortly before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which groups 2,500 scientists and is considered the world authority on the issue, said all regions of the planet would suffer from a sharp warming.

David Henderson, an economist at the Westminster Business School in London and former head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, said governments had given the IPCC a monopoly on climate advice.

“The very idea of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself dubious,” he said, urging countries to seek a more balanced approach than the IPCC and to stop pursuing programs to urgently reduce carbon emissions.

“In this area of policy it’s high time for governments to think again,” he said.

Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at environmental group Greenpeace, rejected criticism of the IPCC.

“Saying that the IPCC is not balanced is probably the most ridiculous claim that anybody can make,” she said, stressing the group’s reports were based on scientific consensus.

The IPCC findings are approved unanimously by more than 100 governments and will guide policy on issues such as extending the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions, beyond 2012.

Benny Peiser, a professor at Liverpool John Moores University, questioned the methods used by climate scientists. He said many were recognizing that using computer modeling to predict an “inherently unpredictable future” was illogical.

“Today’s scientific consensus very often turns out to be tomorrow’s redundant theory,” he said. He said that scientific journals refused to take papers from scientists who doubted climate change.

Most scientists say climate change will cause seas to rise, glaciers to melt and storms to intensify, potentially leading to more natural disasters around the world.





Everybody Talks Weather; All of a Sudden, It’s Controversial

4 06 2007

At The Weather Channel, which has its headquarters here, that talk once amounted to a reliable humdrum of forecasts and storm coverage in the United States and abroad. heidi cullenIn addition to broadcasting weather reports, the channel has thrived by selling its utilitarian but appealing content to newspapers, radio stations and Web sites, and by developing specialty programs around everyone’s favorite elevator-ride conversation topic.

“The weather is not controversial, but people are very engaged with it,” Debora J. Wilson, the president of the network, said in a recent interview in her office.

The daily weather forecast is rarely controversial, but the broader topic of climate change has generated no end of debate.

As the network has seen its primary subject turn into a hot-button issue, it has had to grapple with how it wants to address it — and has decided not to tread gingerly.

The issue started influencing the network’s coverage in a new way after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast in 2005, and has been shaping its programming decisions.

“If The Weather Channel isn’t talking about climate change and global warming, who is?” said Kaye Zusmann, the vice president for program strategy and development for the network. “It’s our mandate.”

The network, which had been gearing up for the opening of hurricane season on Friday, sees the engagement with the issues surrounding climate change as important for content and for business.

“We have a point of view, and we think it’s really important to articulate why it’s happening. Secondarily, it’s good business,” said Ms. Wilson, the network president. “Many consumers want to know, ‘What should I do?’ ”

The lightning rod for controversy, so to speak, is Heidi Cullen, the network’s resident climate expert.

In December, she raised the ire of Fox News and others by writing on her weather.com blog that the American Meteorological Society should not give its “seal of approval” to any meteorologist who “can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change.” (There are now more than 1,700 comments on that one post.)

Dr. Cullen, a tiny woman who speaks with conviction, said she believed that people were “finally seeing climate connected to weather,” but that a lot of information still needs to be disseminated. “If you turn on the local forecast, you wouldn’t necessarily know that global warming exists,” she said.

Far from being intimidated by the political backlash, Dr. Cullen and executives at the channel say they have embraced the issue of global warming. Dr. Cullen is host of the weekly show “Forecast Earth,” formerly named “The Climate Code” where she has entertained such guests as former Vice President Al Gore. She also appears on the channel’s other programming with segments on hybrid taxicabs in New York City and the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The network’s other programs have also directly engaged the elephant in the room — or, in this case, the polar bear on the melting ice cap: a recent anniversary roundup of “The 100 Biggest Weather Moments” listed global warming as No. 1. And the network is training its meteorologists so that they can discuss long-term trends as well as five-day forecasts.

“Weather information on an on-demand basis is the foundation of what we do, and a deeper experience on an emotional level brings us to life.” Ms. Wilson said.

Besides sections devoted to travel, golf and pets (yes, pets), the weather.com Web site also has interactive features like blogs and user-submitted videos — as well as consumer-information sections that give users tips on how to prepare for a severe storm, or how to reduce a carbon footprint.

Recent developments, from the strong scientific consensus about global warming to President Bush’s proposal last week to set goals for cutting global emissions, seem to have made the network’s embrace of the topic less risky and more closely tied to its service-journalism mission.

“I think the debate for most Americans has moved away from, ‘Is global warming happening?’ to ‘What do I do?’ ” Ms. Zusmann said. “The viewers want what they always want; they want good television.”

And rather than jeopardizing its relationships with potential advertisers, which include car and airline companies, the network’s focus on global warming might make it more attractive, said Jason Maltby, president and co-executive director for national broadcast at MindShare North America, an advertising agency owned by WPP.

“There might be some categories that shy away from global warming, but I don’t think that would have an overall large impact,” Mr. Maltby said.

The Weather Channel is owned by Landmark Communications, a privately held company controlled by the Batten family of Norfolk, Va., which also owns daily newspapers and other media properties. Ms. Wilson said that she is often asked whether, in the frenzy of media mergers, her network might be sold to a larger corporation.

“Every media conglomeration has approached Landmark, and there’s never been a yes,” she said, adding that after working through the “hard early years,” Landmark has no plans to lose the channel.

“We actually think that we’re stronger being independent,” she said, adding that she is glad to avoid the “distractions” that would come with being part of a larger company. “We like focusing on what we do.”

In one of its most significant investments, The Weather Channel celebrated its silver anniversary by breaking ground on a new $50 million high-definition video studio, which will adjoin its current building. All programming will eventually be available in high-definition when the studio is fully operational, by October 2008.

The Weather Channel continues to cut deals with advertisers and media companies, like the online portals Yahoo and AOL. Toyota sponsors a section of the weather.com Web site that gives tips on fishing conditions at various lakes, and WCBS, a local New York television affiliate, supplies The Weather Channel with local videos. Under a partnership with BusinessWeek, The Weather Channel’s “First Outlook” program offers a look at how the weather affects business.

The main weather.com Web site, established in 1995, regularly lands on Nielsen’s list of top 10 to 15 sites, attracting 39 million unique monthly visitors in April, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Of the channel’s 800 employees, over 200 work on the Web site; by contrast, the channel has only about 125 dedicated meteorologists.

Ms. Wilson acknowledged that ratings for The Weather Channel were down in 2006 from 2005 — she attributed the decline to the comedown after coverage of Hurricane Katrina — but said that revenues are “growing fairly robustly.”

As other television channels and their advertisers struggle to retain viewers in the age of DVRs, The Weather Channel has largely remained immune. Last year, the channel entered into a partnership with Starcom, an agency that is part of the Publicis Groupe, guaranteeing minute-to-minute ratings; at this year’s television upfronts, the network extended that guarantee to qualified other advertisers and agencies.

Viewers, Ms. Wilson said, need to keep watching. “It’s perishable information,” she said, “It’s really TiVo-proof.”

Global Warming link