Exclusive: Bestselling "Clima te Confusion" author talks with Chilling Effect!
I predict that the IPCC experience will end up being the worst case of scientific malpractice in history. Not that the scientists are at fault, I think they have just been led around by some politically savvy, almost charismatic, leaders.
The Chilling Effect
Published by Editor
at 7:34 am under General New York Times
best selling author Dr. Roy Spencer was in the nation's capital last week to talk about his book Climate Confusion
. Read highlights from the book here
. Spencer spared a few minutes out of his schedule to talk with The Chilling Effect about the book and the current state of the debate:
Let's start off with a very simple question: is the earth getting warmer?
Spencer: The way I phrase it is this: the Earth's average temperature has not warmed in about 7 years. So, we are all now waiting to see if the warming returns.
Your position on global warming is in pretty stark contrast to your NASA colleague James Hansen and you talk about him throughout the book. How do your views differ?
The major difference between us comes down to one issue: climate sensitivity. Hansen appears to believe that the climate system is very fragile...what we call high climate sensitivity. He bases this mostly on what he thinks happened on the Earth hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years ago. But I prefer to go by what we know the climate system is telling us TODAY, from NASA's Earth-observation satellites, rather than what we think might have happened in the distant past. And we have recently found, from five years of our newest measurements, evidence of a very IN-sensitive climate system...less sensitive, in fact, than any of the IPCC climate models show in any five year period in their global warming simulations.
This work has been submitted for possible publication in Geophysical Research Letters, and it could have a huge impact on the modeling community. If the climate system is as insensitive as the satellite data suggest, then manmade global warming is mostly a false alarm. But it also means that the warming we've seen in the last 100 years must be mostly natural, not manmade, most likely part of a natural cycle.
Is it because of these natural cycles that we're seeing reports of record cold temps in parts of California, Oregon and other states and why glaciers are growing in Alaska?
Spencer: Well, I think that i s indeed possible. And our latest research supports what some meteorologists have been saying for a long t ime...that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) might actually be the main culprit in climate change. We have recently used a simple climate model to show how the PDO can, by itself, reproduce most of the temperature behavior over the last century, including two-thirds of the warming, simply through the PDO's modulation of global average cloudiness. And why do I think the PDO affects global cloudiness? Because we have the satellite observations to prove it. The recent cooling we have seen might be evidence that we have entered into a new, negative phase of the PDO. If so, we could be in for 30 more years of no warming, or even some cooling, a gradual return of more extensive sea ice in the Arctic, and glaciers that start growing again.
Your book ‘Climate Confusion' made the New York Times bestseller list several months ago. Do you think your message is getting through?
Spencer: Yes, I do. I find that many of our citizens - possibly a majority - are quite distrustful of the claim that global warming is mostly the fault of mankind. And our latest work supports their gut instinct. But despite two published papers we have out there supporting our view that the IPCC has overestimated climate sensitivity, the public is largely unawa re of our work because the mainstream media refuses to report on anything that contradicts Al Gore, James Hansen, and the IPCC. So, instead, I now have to take my message directly to the people. I'm giving more lectures, as many as 3 per week, including at10 different colleges and universities this fall.
How's the response?
Spencer: It's been very good so far. Most students are interested to hear that there are a few scientists out there who don't believe in a man-made global warming Armageddon. I do get the occasional emotional and irrational folks who don't seem to want to hear any good news, but for the most part everyone seems eager to hear another point of view. Those who disagree seem to be immune to evidence...their faith in Gore's and Hansen's new religion blinds them to everything else. Their desire to substantially reduce our carbon dioxide emissions has ignored that fact that, until some new energy technology is developed, we are stuck with fossil fuels as our primary energy source...probably for decades. Yet I still get questions like, "But we can't continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere forever, can we?" Well obviously, no, and we won't. But the new technology we need to reduce CO2 emissions by, say, 50% does not exist, and cannot be simply legislated into existence.
: Speaking of curbing CO2, we've been guilted into thinking that we need to sacrifice many of the advanc ements and indulgences that currently enjoy. But you've got a chapter in your book about the benefits that fossil fuels have brought to humanity.
Spencer: Yes, that's right. Man-made global warming isn't what threatens the world's poor-it's the stupid ideas people have for supposedly ‘fixing' the global warming problem that threatens them. It's no accident that worries over global warming are almost entirely restricted to the worlds wealthy, those who have the extra time to invent things to worry about. Meanwhile, it is indisputable that disease, starvation, infant mortality, and a host of other human ills have been greatly alleviated through access to abundant and affordable energy. Affluence also leads to lower population growth, something you would think the Greens would be in favor of. It is also indisputable that environmental restrictions have killed millions of people...mainly children...through international pressure to not use safe and effective pesticides that America and Europe used many years ago to essentially eradicate malaria. Are these the people we should now be listening to on the subject of global warming and what to do about it?
Both presidential candidates have bought in to the idea that climate change poses a serious planetar y threat and both have advocated aggressive political action that will have high associated costs. If you could select one20item of scientific evidence to present to the candidates that you think best disproves the global warming hype what would it be?
Spencer: I would show them the huge disconnect between the models, which are highly sensitive and produce a lot of warming, and the actual observations published by a number of researchers over the years, which strongly suggest that these climate models are seriously in error. Sadly the presidential candidates are relying far too much on the reports by the IPCC, a body which has used sloppy science to further specific political and policy goals. It also unfortunate that several professional societies in the U.S. have made political statements in support of the IPCC.
I find it astounding that the IPCC has ignored the potential role of natural climate variability in global warming. In any other realm of science we are careful to look for alternative explanations for some phenomenon...but today, mankind is the only allowable reason for climate change. I predict that the IPCC experience will end up being the worst case of scientific malpractice in history. Not that the scientists are at fault, I think they have just been led around by some politically savvy, almost charismatic, leaders. If the new President and Congress are not careful, the resulting ‘sub-prime science meltdown' we are headed for will have caused carbon dioxide regulations whic h will make the current financial crisis seen puny in comparison.
Dr. Spencer, thanks so much for your time. Good luck on the rest of your tour and your efforts!
Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Roy W. Spencer, formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center where he received NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, is currently principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.