Thursday, June 21, 2007

Consensus on global warming? Not so much

It's amazing how an open mind can receive and process information better than a biased one. Lawrence Solomon has been writing a series, now at 23 parts, about "The Deniers" -- scientists who doubt the effects of man's action on the global climate. Even the title of the series demonstrates that Solomon was working within the greenie framework to some degree -- "Denier" is the heinous Holocaust analogy used by the ecological alarmists to taint the skeptics as akin to anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers like David Irving and 90% of the leaders of the Muslim world.

Solomon accepted that consensus existed on the "fact" that man had a significant contribution to global climate change, but wanted to show that even prominent scientists disagreed. But Solomon found much more:

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction.

But Solomon analysis goes deeper than that -- he notes that the recent IPCC report has numerous dissenters among the scientific community, and that the IPCC's claim of approval by 2500 reviewers has a weak foundation.

What of the one claim that we hear over and over again, that 2,000 or 2,500 of the world's top scientists endorse the IPCC position? I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. "The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world," the IPCC Secretariat responded. "The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007."

An IPCC reviewer does not assess the IPCC's comprehensive findings. He might only review one small part of one study that later becomes one small input to the published IPCC report. Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.

A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.

That 59% number is notable because people listed in that registry have an incentive to believe in global warming -- government research grants.

An interesting series.

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