Cockburn begins as follows:
Back in the 1970s, as the oil companies engineered a leap in prices, the left correctly identified and stigmatized the the conspiracy. Some thirty five years, here's the entire progressive sector swallowing, with religious fervor, a far more potent concoction of nonsense to buttress a program which will savagely penalize the poor, the third world and the environment.
His purpose is to challenge the notion that there is a consensus that there is global warming. That is great -- if that is indeed the case. I am sure all of us would rather not have to deal with a problem of global warming. But reality is not what we want it to be, but what it actually is. And as much as a smoker, for instance, would not want there to be health hazards from smoking, we have to accept the reality that smoking actually is.
First of all, he cites Peter Sciaky. But Sciaky raises a red flag when he writes thus:
I do not know a single geologist who believes that it is a man-made phenomenon.
Right away, when you see him making a sweeping claim like that, it raises a red flag. And this statement has been debunked
Well the two biggest geological societies are the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the 45,000+ member strong American Geophysical Union (AGU). The USGS claims that the IPCC is the "The most authoritative report on this issue". And it might be hard to imagine why a USGS geologist would be excluded from environmental meetings when their Earth Surface Dynamics Program "focuses on understanding the likely consequences of climate change, especially by studying how climate has changed in the past." The AGU released an official statement in 2003 saying that:
Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.
And not only that, the Logical Science blog goes on to point out that the Real Climate blog, which specializes in explaining why climate change is human-induced, has several geologists on staff.
So, what we have here is someone who is not giving a scientific reason why there is no such thing as human-induced climate change. Instead, he is merely stating his opinion, one that is shaky when you consider this basic factual error.
And another giveaway is the fact that he is retired. That, combined with his basic factual blunder of claiming that there were no geologists who supported the idea of human-induced climate change, shows that he has been out of the loop for a long time. Old opinions and old books about science are not as reliable as new sources because new findings change old conclusions about things all the time.
Next, Cockburn cites Zbigniew Jaworowski. But it turns out that googling up Jaworowski opens up an even bigger can of worms. Boojums points out 20 things that are wrong with one particular paper, but let us dwell on two -- one, that he lied about testifying before the Senate; records show that he did not. The second is that he is a LaRouchite and has been published in their literature.
And on top of that is his tone -- the persecution complex, where he plays the victim and complains that everyone is out to get him. That is the cry of everyone who has done something wrong and who has to suffer the consequences. That is like the people who are demanding a pardon for Scooter Libby.
Next, he cites Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov as follows:
Or take Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov, of St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory. He says we're on a warming trend but that humans have little to do with it, the agent being a longtime change in the sun's heat. He predicts solar irradiance will fall within the next few years mainly based the well documented sunspot cycle, and therefore we may well face the beginning of an ice age very shortly, as early as 2012. The Russian scientific establishment is giving him a green light to use the nation's space station to measure global cooling.
But that is a fallacy known as a non-sequitur. The problem with his line of reasoning is that it does not rule out human intervention in causing global warming. In other words, his conclusions about what will happen to the climate and what other have done to prove human-induced climate change are not mutually exclusive.
And there is another conclusion that raises a red flag -- the claim that we will be entering an ice age as early as 2012. Extraordinary claims like this require extraordinary evidence -- evidence that has not been replicated anywhere else that I am aware of.
Next, Cockburn turns to Dr. Jeffery Glassman, who claims:
This absorption and release is very much a function of the earth's temperature and Glassman shows how the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the consequence of temperature, not the cause.
But once again, we have a dead giveaway -- Glassman is retired. So, first of all, his conclusions are suspect -- old ideas are changed by new findings all the time, as I mentioned before. But the fact of the matter is that he lacks a basic understanding of how the atmosphere works.
The notion that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the consequence of temprature and not the cause is debunked here:
This is false. The major constituents of the atmosphere are nitrogen (as N2) and oxygen (as O2) molecules, which are almost transparent to infra-red radiation and so cause no greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane and nitrous oxide do cause the greenhouse effect because they are all molecules with three or more atoms, which have different modes of vibration and do strongly absorb infra-red radiation. Even tiny quantities (parts per billion) of very strongly absorbing molecules like methane and nitrous oxide may have a significant greenhouse effect.
Next, Cockburn points out Dr. Patrick Michaels. But it turns out that he is funded by Exxon, who has funneled millions of dollars towards junk science theories. This is unethical behavior just as much as an umpire from the Bronx doing the seventh game of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox or the chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign counting the votes in Ohio.
I state that this is unethical because he is being funded by the very people that he is supposed to investigate, research, and make conclusions about. People are free, of course, to get funding from whoever they want. But if they are to expect us to rely on them as authorities for science, then they have to avoid every appearence of conflict of interest. It would not have done any good, for instance, for a judge hearing the Pentagon Papers case to have been a political contributor to the Nixon-Agnew campaign.
Next, he cites Christopher Landsea, who believes that man-made global warming does not increase hurricane activity. This is a matter for debate, but even he accepts the premise of manmade global warming:
"We agree the potential is there for hurricanes to get worse due to man-made global warming, but the big issue is by how much," he said.
So, since Landsea accepts the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change, Cockburn's inclusion of him was pointless. And for the record, from the BBC link, here is the rebuttal to his work:
But Dr Emanuel dismissed the idea of natural cycles in sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and maintained that they are largely due to anthropogenic - human-induced - forcing.
"There is no evidence for natural oscillation in later summer tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures on these time scales," he said.
Ken Caldeira, from the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University in California, who did not attend the conference, believes that the warming of the oceans is not sufficient to explain the increase in hurricane intensity inferred in Dr Emanuel's paper.
"But I see that as irrelevant because we know that with added greenhouse gases, sea temperatures will go up and that will provide more fuel for hurricanes," said Dr Caldeira, on the day that Noaa issued its annual greenhouse gas index, showing a continuing, steady rise in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
"The prudent assumption is that the data might reflect what could happen in the future," he said.
In other words, while 2006 was a quiet year for hurricanes, that might be an isolated occurence. The argument is that there will be a long-term increase in hurricane activities, not that there will be a record number in 2007.
Next comes Bruno Wieskel. But the problem with him is that he does not have the credentials to have an informed judgement. He is a substance farmer and a conservationist, not a scientist. And he frequently makes ad homenim arguments against his opponents:
The Kyoto Accord is about money, not science, Wiskel writes.
Like I state above, reality is not what we want it to be; it is about what it actually is. The fact that people might stand to make money off of Kyoto with the merits of the deal or the lack thereof.
Next comes Dr. Nir Shaviv. But his claim that temperature variations are caused by cosmic forces, even though it is caused by such, does not mean that human activity can't also account for climate change. Like the Russian scientist, his claim that solar and cosmic activities rule out human-induced activities as a cause of global warming is wrong because the two forces are not mutually exculsive causes. In other words, they can both happen.
Next comes Denis Rancourt. But he is guilty of unethical behavior, as this piece shows:
Colleagues of Denis Rancourt are criticizing him for teaching a course that is popular with students, but lacked the university's approval. Two professors have spoken out against what they consider Mr. Rancourt's inappropriate behaviour following a complaint about the content of the course.
The professors are preparing a statement -- signed by the five department heads in the faculty of science -- defending the way the university has handled the case. Professors in other faculties are also being asked to sign a petition expressing their support.
According to Alain St-Amant, head of the chemistry department, many of his colleagues support the dean of science, Christian Detellier, who has insisted Mr. Rancourt have his course officially approved before being allowed to teach it. "The overwhelming majority with whom I have talked are appalled by Professor Rancourt's actions," Mr. St-Amant wrote in a statement to uwatch.ca, a website on which much of the controversy is being played out.
The issue is a matter of trust -- why should we trust a "scientist" who does not play by the rules to be an authority on whether or not climate change is human-induced? He is guilty of dishonesty here through his use of bait and switch tactics. On the one hand, he says that the course teaches one thing and then teaches something completely different. So, if he can't tell the truth about what he teaches, then why should we trust him to tell the truth when it comes to his conclusions?
Cockburn continues with the failure of computer models to account for water vapors. For once he is right -- with lamentable consequences for his entire argument. In fact, as I discuss above, water vapors absorb infrared, creating global warming. And there is more:
But only now has a study uncovered evidence that water vapor is a major public enemy in Europe.
According to a team of Swiss scientists, heat from other greenhouse gases is causing more water to evaporate, releasing the vapor into the atmosphere above Europe. That vapor in turn, adds to the greenhouse effect, further warming the region.
Temperatures throughout the Northern Hemisphere have been increasing in recent years. But Europe has been heating up especially quickly, leading to studies, theories, and debate as to why.
In central Europe—Germany, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, and Slovenia—temperatures have risen three times faster than the average for the hemisphere has.
In other words, man-made global warming will only accelerate because human-induced CO2 creates more evaporation which creates more warming which creates more evaporation...
It is stuff like this which should only increase the urgency of finding a solution for these problems and electing a candidate who will solve these problems.
Besides the inability to deal with water, the other huge embarrassment facing the modelers is the well-researched and well-established fact published in many papers that temperature changes first and CO2 levels change 600 to 1,000 years later.
But this is another typical use of the non-sequitur by Cockburn. What he is saying here is true, but irrelevant. In order to arrive at a proper understanding of the relationship between human activity and climate change, one must look at the data as a whole and not in isolation. And it is well-documented that human activity causes global warming. The fact that there is also a cycle of natural climate change and carbon activity does not disprove that at all.
Cockburn set out to disprove the notion of human-induced Global Warming. But what he really succeeded in doing was creating a rogue's gallery of liars, extremists, and persons unqualified to give informed opinions on this topic. This, combined with his selective use of data and masterful use of the non-sequitur, is a perfect example of how not to write an article about any scientific topic.
In conclusion, his piece says more about him than about Al Gore. The problem is that some Greens and Republicans have much in common. They are both bound by their own dogmas and ideologies, not by objective reality. This shows that he has not learned the lessons of the Bush administration. If we are to restore the rule of law in this country, we have to be able to proclaim the death of all ideologies in favor of reality as it actually is -- not how we want it. Cockburn has advertisments all over his site for anti-Bush resouces. But considering that he is bound by his ideology, he was much more like the people he purported not to like in this piece than he would ever care to admit.
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