November 11, 2008
China Dialogue fails to objectively review the scientific debate about global warming in the environmental best seller, The Deniers, by Lawrence Solomon of Energy Probe, Canada’s top energy industry watchdog. Probe International calls the author’s response a “must read” for Chinese environmentalists, lawmakers, and scholars.
Response to China Dialogue review
In July of this year, China Dialogue, a London-based media website, prominently reviewed Lawrence Solomon’s The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud (Lawrence Solomon is a colleague at Probe International’s sister organization, Energy Probe). To further the debate over the science of global warming, we at Probe International suggested to China Dialogue that its reviewer, George Marshall of www.climatedenial.org, and our Mr. Solomon, engage in a debate on China Dialogue’s website. China Dialogue declined the invitation. It also declined to grant Mr. Solomon equal space for a reply to Mr. Marshall’s review. To provide the response that we believe is warranted, we have asked Mr. Solomon to respond here. – Editors
Lawrence Solomon responds:
When China Dialogue commissioned a review of The Deniers, my book about the global warming views of many of the world’s most renowned scientists, I was grateful. While The Deniers has received considerable coverage in North America – it was for four months the #1 environmental best seller in both Canada and the U.S. – it has attracted little attention in China, now the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and thus the country that stands to lose most from ill-informed climate change policies.
Upon seeing the review, I was perplexed. China Dialogue’s choice of reviewer — George Marshall, whom it acknowledges runs a blog, www.climatedenial.org, that “regularly challenges climate skeptic arguments” — was unlikely to produce an objective review of the scientific debate. And China Dialogue’s choice didn’t.
Mr. Marshall does give me credit for relying only on scientists of the highest rank. “There are no dodgy hired guns here: pukka, medal-wearing scientific stars the lot of them,” he acknowledges. But he misleads China Dialogue readers by implying that these scientists ultimately subscribe to the consensus claimed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — that global warming is occurring, that it’s manmade, and that, if unabated, it will likely lead to catastrophe.
“Solomon’s key witnesses actually are leading scientists who accept the core consensus but have some important and relevant reservations around the specifics of the causes and the impacts. By page 45 of his book, Solomon has admitted as much: “I noticed something striking about my growing cast of deniers. None of them were deniers.”1
Remember page 45 – I will explain its significance shortly. Before I do, let’s consider Mr. Marshall’s claim that my scientists accept the man-made global warming thesis, albeit with a few “reservations.” Mr. Marshall fails to describe those reservations but China Dialogue’s readers deserve to know that , taken together, those “reservations” effectively destroy the theory that global warming is manmade and catastrophic.
The first “reservation,” by Dr. Edward Wegman, former chairman of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, involved the IPCC’s famous “hockey stick graph.” This graph, created by a computer model that relies on indirect, theoretical data, purported to show that the 1990s was the warmest decade of the warmest century of the last millennium. More than any other piece of research, this graph convinced the press and the public that global warming was real and manmade.
Dr. Wegman, one of the world’s top statisticians, determined that the scientists who produced the hockey stick graph had made an elementary error in their statistical model – with the result that their model would produce a hockey stick graph regardless of the data that was fed into it. In other words, there is no scientific evidence to prove that temperatures were warmer in the 1990s than in earlier decades of the 20th century2, or that the 1900s was the warmest century of the millennium. Dr. Wegman’s findings demolished one of the central pillars of the so-called climate change consensus — that temperatures today are unusual.
The second “reservation” that Mr. Marshall doesn’t tell readers about involves the Stern Review, the economic report that made banner headlines around the world by claiming that global warming could lead to a global catastrophe “on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.” These claims, according to Dr. Richard S. J. Tol, one of the world’s leading environmental economists, were based on numerous errors and were ultimately “preposterous … The Stern Review can therefore be dismissed as alarmist and incompetent.” Dr. Tol (along with other leading economists3) thus demolished a second central pillar of climate change doomsayers — that global warming could lead to economic catastrophe.
The third “reservation” that Mr. Marshall trivialized involves hurricanes, which in 2004 and 2005 were widely blamed on global warming, in good part because IPCC scientists held a press conference that convinced the world to that effect. Dr. Christopher Landsea, the IPCC’s own hurricane expert, tried desperately to stop that press conference, saying “There are no known scientific studies that show a conclusive physical link between global warming and observed hurricane frequency and intensity.” None of the IPCC scientists at the press conference had expertise in hurricanes. Dr. Landsea then resigned from the IPCC. His story demolished yet another pillar of the conventional wisdom on climate change — that global warming increases hurricane activity.
The fourth “reservation” involves Dr. Duncan Wingham, director of the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling and principal scientist of the European Space Agency’s Cryosat Mission, a $130-million project designed to map changes in the depth of Antarctica’s ice. Dr. Wingham’s satellite data demonstrates that Antarctica is not melting, as doomsayers, claim. Rather, it is thickening. Dr. Wingham thus demolishes a fourth pillar of climate change catastrophics — that Antarctica’s vast store of ice will melt, raise ocean levels, and flood low-lying coastal areas.
We are now at page 45 of my book, the page Mr. Marshall notes. “None of them were deniers,” he quotes me as saying, implying that all the scientists in my book actually support the climate change consensus. In fact, by page 45 I had only profiled four scientists and, by chance, they were not out-and-out deniers – they each objected to global warming claims made in their own spheres of knowledge but did not dispute scientific findings in other spheres. At page 46, my book begins to profile numerous scientists who entirely reject the IPCC consensus. These include:
Dr. Antonino Zichichi, Italy’s best known scientist. He is the discoverer of nuclear anti-matter, the former president of the European Physical Society, and the president of the World Federation of Scientists. Dr. Zichichi believes that global warming is almost entirely a natural phenomenon and that the UN models that show otherwise are “incoherent and invalid.”
Dr. Syun Akasofu, founder of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska. He is the discoverer of the origin of the storms of the aurora borealis, has been honored by the Royal Astronomical Society of London and the American Geophysical Union, and was twice named one of the “1000 Most Cited Scientists.” Dr. Akasofu notes that Earth has been warming at the same rate for more than three centuries because Earth has been climbing out of the last Little Ice Age.
Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov is the head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Pulkovo Observatory, and of the Astrometria project on the International Space Station, which Russia shares with the U.S. He notes that global warming has been occurring on Mars and other planets as well as on Earth, and that all the warming is due to the same reason: they all share the same Sun.
Dr. Reid Bryson (who recently died), was a hero to the American environmental movement going back to the 1970s. Known as the “Father of Scientific Climatology,” he was a member of the United Nations’ Global 500 Roll of Honor and was judged “the world’s most cited climatologist” by the Institute of British Geographers. Dr. Bryson characterized global warming: as “a theory for which there is no credible proof.”
No fair-minded person can claim that the science is settled on global warming. Mr. Marshall has not only failed to be fair-minded, he has compounded the unfairness by attacking the integrity of many of the scientists who had the courage to speak out despite the repercussions that they faced — some have lost their funding, some their jobs, all have become subject to slander.
We simply do not yet know whether man has played a significant role in global warming. We do know that we will not find out by putting blinkers on ourselves and punishing the scientists who dare to speak out. And we do know that there are sensible, straightforward measures that we can and should take to protect the global environment, measures that make sense regardless of the scientific findings on global warming.
Governments in western and developing countries alike should stop subsidizing energy producing and energy consuming industries. Doing this would scale back energy consumption, along with uneconomic capital projects such as gas pipelines, nuclear plants, ethanol plants, pulp and paper mills, and smokestack industries. Greenhouse gas emissions, NOx, SOx, and nuclear wastes would then decline for economic reasons, energy conservation would soar, communities now poisoned by known pollutants would be relieved, and the stage would be set for an economically sustainable energy future.
If Mr. Marshall has objections to this, he’s welcome to reply.
Lawrence Solomon is Executive Director of Energy Probe, the chief critic of the energy industry in Canada.
1 “Deniers” is a pejorative term, used by supporters of the UN position to liken global warming skeptics to Nazi sympathizers, i.e., fascist extremists who are not accepted by the mainstream of society. I use this term ironically.
3 Another such economist is Yale University’s William Nordhaus, the world’s leading climate change economist. For a fuller discussion of how misguided Stern is, and the consequences for China, see the exchange between Nordhaus and Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson in the pages of the New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494