Salvaging the Mythology of Man-Caused Global Warming

This column by ACRU General Counsel and Senior Fellow for the Carleson Center for Public Policy (CCPP) Peter Ferrara was published December 1, 2011 on

If you read this column completely and carefully today, you will learn about the true state of the scientific debate over global warming. You will not get the truth about that from the Washington Post, the New York Times, or the rest of the self-regarded “establishment” media. They are devoted to the fun and games of play acting as if there is no legitimate scientific debate over whether mankind’s use of low cost, reliable energy from oil, coal and natural gas portends catastrophic global warming that threatens life on the planet as we know it.

Recently, the media Knights Templar of the religious orthodoxy of man-caused global warming made a contrived pass at reviving flagging public respect for their fading catechism. The occasion was massively overhyped and misrepresented reporting of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project. But all that was new from that project was the departures from the official catechism.

The project reported only on the recorded temperature history since 1950 from temperature stations on land, which covers less than 30% of the earth’s surface. As the project leader Berkeley Professor Richard Muller reported in a Wall Street Journal commentary on October 21, after obtaining and reviewing “more than 1.6 billion measurements from 39,000 [land based] temperature stations around the world… the result showed [drum roll please] a temperature increase similar to that found by other groups.” Those are most prominently NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S., and the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom.

In other words, that is nothing new. But this review and confirmation of the established land based temperature records that everyone working on the issue is familiar with was widely celebrated in the liberal/left Democrat Party controlled media as definitive new proof of the truth of the man-caused global warming religion.

Muller, however, was more intellectually honest than any of them in confessing in the Journal article that the BEST project involves no independent assessment of the question of “how much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects.” But that is the whole issue in the global warming debate.

Muller also honestly admits that “The [land based] temperature station quality is largely awful,” noting that “A careful survey of these stations by a team led by meteorologist Anthony Watts showed that 70% of these stations have such poor siting that, by the U.S. government’s own measure, they result in temperature uncertainties of between two and five degrees Celsius or more. We do not know how much worse are the stations in the developing world.” He adds that, “The margin of error for the stations is at least three times larger than the estimated warming.”

He also admits that the land based temperature records are corrupted by urban heat island distortions which are constantly growing over time, building in a warming bias. He recognizes that the established temperature authorities mentioned above today use data from only about 2,000 weather stations, down from 6,000 in 1970, which raises questions about their selections among available sites.

Moreover, Muller admits the recognized temperature authorities try to homogenize the temperature records from the thousands of temperature stations around the globe to come up with a summary statistic of the degree of global warming, and serious questions can be raised as to how to do that, disputing a large portion of the warming attributed to humans. Muller also confesses that one-third of land based temperature stations worldwide show cooling rather than warming.

These concessions are important to recount because of more basic problems with the established land based temperature record that Muller doesn’t confess. Weather satellites measuring atmospheric temperatures worldwide, over land and water, which are not subject to the above troubles of land based weather stations, show no warming since their record began in 1979, and before that there was actually global cooling dating back to 1940. The satellite record regarding atmospheric temperatures is independently confirmed by weather balloons. Moreover, the computer based climate models utilized by the UN’s own Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the atmospheric theory they rely upon, all insist that if man’s use of carbon based fuels was warming the planet, the atmosphere must be warming faster than the surface.

In addition, the scientifically recognized temperature proxy data from tree rings, ice cores, lake and ocean sediments, and stalagmites also show no warming since 1940. Note that the warming before 1940 is attributable to the global recovery of temperatures from the Little Ice Age, and even the land based records show no warming over the last 13 years.

Fred Singer concludes as a result “It is very likely that the reported warming during 1978-97 [from land based weather stations] is simply an artifact — the result of the measurement scheme rather than an actual warming.” When Singer sent a letter to the editor to the global warming cheerleading Washington Post, pointing out the above anomalies and his conclusion, he reports the peculiar response that “they were willing to publish my letter, but not my credentials as emeritus professor at the University of Virginia and former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service. Apparently, they were concerned that readers might gain the impression that I knew something about climate.”

But there is more. Even the land based temperature record is not consistent with the theory of man-caused global warming. That record does not show persistent warming following persistent growth of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Rather, it shows an up and down pattern of temperatures more consistent with natural causes. Those include solar flare and sun spot cycles, and the periodic cycling of warm and cold water in the oceans from top to bottom, particularly the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

The truth is a vigorous global scientific debate persists over whether man’s use of carbon-based fuels threatens to cause catastrophic global warming, and the media not reporting that is not performing journalism. The most authoritative presentation of this debate can be found in the 856 page Climate Change Reconsidered, published by the Heartland Institute in 2009. This careful, thoroughly scientific volume co- authored by dozens of fully credentialed scientists comprehensively addresses every aspect of global warming, and indicates that natural causes are primarily responsible for climate patterns of the last century. Heartland has just published a follow up 416 page Interim Report updating the debate.

When you run across a Knight Templar threatening you with a lance and a sword unless you confess the truth of catastrophic man caused global warming, ask him for his rebuttal to Climate Change Reconsidered. You will find the effect is like showing a cross to a vampire.

Indeed, the latest and best work actually provides scientific proof that the man-caused global warming catechism is false. Fully documented work by Roy Spencer, U.S. Science Team Leader for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, and Principal Research Scientist for the Earth Systems Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, shows using atmospheric temperature data from NASA’s Terra satellite that much more heat escapes back out to space than is assumed captured in the atmosphere by greenhouse effects under the UN’s theoretical climate models. This explains why the warming temperature changes predicted by the UN’s global warming models over the past 20 years have been so much greater than the actual measured temperature changes.

In August, 2011 came the results of a major experiment by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), involving 63 scientists from 17 European and U.S. institutes. The results show that the sun’s cosmic rays resulting from sunspots have a much greater effect on Earth’s temperatures through their effect on cloud cover than the UN’s global warming models have been assuming. This helps to explain why the historical pattern of temperature changes seems to follow the rise and fall of sunspots, rather than the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. This further confirms what Heartland’s Climate Change Reconsidered argues — that natural causes have the dominant effect on Earth’s temperatures, not greenhouse gases.

Finally, the UN’s own climate models project that if man’s greenhouse gas emissions were causing global warming, there would be a particular pattern of temperature distribution in the atmosphere, which scientists call “the fingerprint.” Temperatures in the troposphere portion of the atmosphere above the tropics would increase with altitude producing a “hotspot” near the top of the troposphere, about 6 miles above the earth’s surface. Above that, in the stratosphere, there would be cooling. But higher quality temperature data from weather balloons and satellites now show just the opposite: no increasing warming with altitude in the tropical troposphere, but rather a slight cooling, with no hotspot, no fingerprint.

So the scientific foundation for shutting down our modern, 21st century, industrial economy has been obliterated. But that is not stopping religious crusaders, due to the extremist ideology and special interests driving the global warming charade.

Commenters, you can pass on the ad hominem attacks. No one is the least bit interested.