Special Report

Liberals Gone Wild

Getting to the Heartland of their global warming religiosity.

By 5.19.10

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Even though the Constitution does not include the words "separation of church and state," liberals have long treated that concept as a hallowed fundamental doctrine of constitutional law. But no more. With the recent introduction of new Senate cap and trade legislation, ultraliberal supporters Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and others have now completely abandoned that doctrine in their quest to establish global warming dogma as the official, established religion of the United States.

Under that legislation, everyone in America will be forced to tithe to the new religion through higher prices for electricity, gasoline, natural gas, coal, home heating oil, jet fuel, food (especially meat), and every product produced or transported with such energy sources. Indeed, prices will soar high enough to reduce fossil fuel use and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions back to the per capita levels of 1870!

The legislation will further force Americans to engage in ritual sacrifices to the established religion, slashing back on powerful, roomy cars and SUVS, air conditioning, heat, PCs, laptops, big screen TVs, cell phones, iPods, backyard barbecues, manufacturing jobs, and traditional American prosperity. They will be forced to worship the modern, hip, pagan dogma with smaller "carbon footprints." If they do not profess their true belief, they will be shouted out of public life as troglodyte "deniers," just as those who did not faithfully maintain membership in the established Church of England were disqualified from holding public office.

But if they do faithfully follow the global warming catechism of cap and trade, they will be rewarded with the eternal salvation of a reduction in the projected rise of global temperatures of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, based on the UN's own climate models. Hallelujah! Praise the AlGore!

Given Climategate, all the other recent revelations discrediting the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the emerging modern science falsifying the notion of man-caused global warming, the continued fevered embrace of costly cap and trade legislation by Washington's ultraliberals can only be considered faith-based wilding out. The lack of scientific grounding for such policies was made clear by the just completed Fourth International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by the Heartland Institute in Chicago.

Reconsidering the Science and Economics

The conference was attended by over 800 participants from 20 countries worldwide. In sharp contrast to the ritual denunciations of those who will not believe by the High Priests of Global Warming, the conference included careful scientific presentations by such speakers as Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT; S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and the founder of the National Weather Satellite Service; Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Space Research Laboratory at the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia; J. Scott Armstrong, Professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Nils-Axel Morner, head of the Department of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics at Stockholm University; Roy Spencer, U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, and formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA; Patrick Michaels, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia for 30 years and past President of the American Association of State Climatologists; Willie Soon, astrophysicist and geoscientist at the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division of the Center for Astrophysics; David Douglass, Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester; Don Easterbrook, Professor of Geology at Western Washington University; Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, Associate Professor of Economics in the Environmental Science Faculty at King Juan Carlos University in Spain, and many others.

Heartland invited as well dozens of the most ardent advocates of the theory of man-caused global warming, but all but two refused to attend, not because they don't think they can defend their views in scientific debate, but because High Priests don't entertain doubt about their theological teachings.

The Collapsing Science of Global Warming

These world-class scientists are at least as good as any of the staunch advocates of the theory of man-caused global warming. Those who foolishly succumb to the political propaganda to just ignore them are now woefully behind the curve of the actual global warming debate. These scientists are not challenging the principle that greenhouse gases can cause a greenhouse warming effect, and so those who pontificate on how well established such an effect is in theory are not getting the argument.

The real argument is over how big the greenhouse effect is, most importantly from the carbon dioxide resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. As the intellectually dominating Lindzen indicates, there doesn't seem to be much real dispute that CO2 by itself doesn't have much effect, with even the UN models indicating a doubling of CO2 on its own would produce only an increase in global temperatures of a mere 1 degree centigrade. That should be expected, given that greenhouse gases produced by humans account for only 0.12% of the atmosphere. But the UN modelers reach potentially catastrophic warming by presuming "positive feedbacks" due to atmospheric water vapor and clouds that greatly increase the warming ultimately resulting from increasing CO2.

But what the work of Lindzen and the other top scientists at the Heartland conference has been increasingly demonstrating is that instead of positive feedback effects increasing warming, the impact of water vapor and clouds is more likely to produce "negative feedbacks" offsetting the small original increase caused by CO2. They argue that the greenhouse warming causes an increase in cloud cover and water vapor at altitudes that would reflect solar radiation back out to space before it gets trapped within the earth's atmosphere, leaving little or no effect on global temperatures.

The rest of the body of scientific evidence is increasingly consistent with this Lindzen/Singer led view rather than the man-caused global warming view. The temperature record even as we have it (revealed as faulty by Climategate) does not show temperatures rising with rising CO2, but rather a pattern of periodically rising and falling temperatures consistent with the natural causes emphasized by the prevailing refuseniks at the Heartland Conference. That record shows an increase in temperatures from the 1920s to the 1940s, with a roughly reversing decline from the 1940s to the late 1970s. Temperatures then rose from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, giving rise to the global warming scare, but since then they have been declining with perhaps accelerating force.

Rather than following consistently rising CO2 emissions and accumulations, this temperature pattern follows the variations of natural causes such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), El Niño effects, and sunspot patterns. The PDO reflects the circulation of colder water currents from the deeper ocean to the surface, which changes surface water temperatures from warm to cold, only to be warmed by the sun again, every 20 to 30 years. Such changes in Pacific surface temperatures, along with changing sunspot activity which may correlate with PDO changes, can explain the rising global temperatures of a couple of tenths of a degree or so from the 1920s to the 1940s, as well as the reversing decline from the 1940s to the 1970s, the again reversing increase from the 1970s to the 1990s, with an assist from the spiking El Niño of 1998, and then the reversing and accelerating decline since then.

This natural causes explanation debunks the fundamental argument methodology of the UN IPCC reports, which is surprisingly weak on its face once you dig it out from deep within the voluminous reports. That basic argument is that the warming trend that was supposedly documented by the reports can't be explained by anything other than man-caused global warming. QED (not). The upshot of the Lindzen/Singer counterrevolution is that the warming trend, such as it is, is adequately explained by the natural causes.

Still another developing problem for the global warming theory is that the accumulating temperature data in recent years is not consistent with the predictions of the UN climate models, and the difference is growing larger and larger. The global warming advocates tried to explain this away by speculating about possible temporary negative feedbacks, perhaps from man-caused emissions of atmospheric aerosols, blocking out the greenhouse warming for a time. But the implausibility of never proved, "temporary," negative feedbacks giving way then to positive feedbacks powerful enough to cause catastrophic warming made the global warming alarmists sound like pre-Copernican astronomers still trying to explain that the planets revolve around the Earth in their temporarily reverse elliptical orbits. The actual data is again far better explained by the natural causes.

The natural causes counterargument also explains another major developing anomaly. The UN's own climate models all predict that man-caused global warming would be revealed by a "fingerprint" in atmospheric temperature patterns, involving a "hotspot" in the troposphere portion of the atmosphere above the tropics. A few years ago, new data from satellites and weather balloons in closer study of the issue revealed that the predicted hotspot was not there. No hotspot, no fingerprint, no man-caused global warming. Game over. The lack of the hotspot is again consistent with the natural causes theory of global warming.

One of the chief medicine men of global warming, Ben Santer, tried to counter this with another, increasingly typical, global warming fudge, recalculating and sharply expanding the error margins of the UN models, and then concluding that the results of those models were "not inconsistent" with the actual observed atmospheric results. But the natural causes advocates at the Heartland Conference came back with the answer that models with possible error variations wide enough to include no hotspot at all were not producing statistically meaningful results. Notice, moreover, that Santer's answer did not involve showing there was a hotspot. It involved the argument that no hotspot was needed for this theology after all. But that leaves us at this point with far more evidence for the Resurrection than for man caused global warming.

Lindzen's latest work further refutes the man caused global warming hypothesis. Solar radiation increasingly trapped inside the Earth's atmospheric greenhouse to cause global warming should mean a decline in solar radiation reflected from Earth back out to space. But the recently published results of a long-term Lindzen project involving satellite measurements shows no decline in such reflected solar radiation. Lindzen argues that this shows some negative feedbacks are offsetting any significant global warming greenhouse effect. This, again, would be consistent with varying global warming due to natural causes.

Several of the scientific presentations at the Heartland Conference went on to warn that the natural causes portend a continuing period of colder, declining temperatures rather than global warming. These include the PDO, which reversed to a cold trend in the last decade that can be expected to go on for 20 to 30 years. This would take us back to the declining temperatures of the 1940s to the 1970s, if not the more severe decline of 1880 to 1915. Then there is the extended period of little or no sunspot activity, which presages a return to the even colder period of the Daulton Minimum from 1790 to 1820, or even to the Maunder Minimum of the Little Ice Age itself in the 17th century. Abdussamatov representing Russian research at the conference argued, in fact, that another Little Ice Age would start as soon as 2014. Easterbrook pointed out that during the past million years of geologic history, the Earth has suffered 8 full blown, 100,000-year ice ages, punctuated by warmer interglacial periods like the current one, lasting 12,000 to 13,000 years. Except that the time since the last Ice Age is now 16,000 years.       

Scientists Who Want To Be Politicians

While this long-term scientific debate was raging, Climategate exploded last November. That affair involved the public exposure of more than 1,000 hacked emails from the computer of Dr. Phil Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain, a central repository for the global temperature record used by the UN's IPCC. Those emails involved private conversations among the top scientists in the U.N.'s global warming crusade.

Those conversations reveal these supposedly scientific knights in shining armor behaving not as objective scientists, but as activists or missionaries for their environmentalist views, hiding, manipulating, and even destroying data, intimidating scientific journals not to publish scientific papers with contrary arguments, breaking laws requiring data disclosure, personally disparaging those with alternative views, and, in one celebrated remark, even threatening to "beat the crap" out of one particularly effective critic. As Reinhold Huttl, President of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, explained to the European magazine Der Spiegel last month, what Climategate shows is "more and more scientists who want to be politicians."

The Climategate revelations then led the European media to examine more closely the latest IPCC report claiming to demonstrate the scientific foundation for man caused global warming. That led to further cascading revelations of wild exaggerations, phony claims, and bogus citations, particularly regarding melting glaciers and polar ice caps, rising sea levels, droughts, hurricanes, and other supposedly harmful effects of global warming.

Unfortunately, little of this was covered by the Democrat party controlled, so-called, mainstream media in the U.S. When it was mentioned, it was whitewashed with unjustified comments that the basic science of global warming has not changed. The reality of the debate discussed above shows how misleading such supposed "reporting" is. Try to warn your friends and family. You will have no idea of what is going on in the real world if you just read and watch the "mainstream media." It regularly exhibits the same problem as revealed by Climategate, supposed news reporters who want to be politicians.

The scientific upshot of Climategate is that the UN scientists had collaborated to exaggerate the land-based record of temperature increases since the late 1970s, dropping out weather station reports from colder climates around the world, failing to account for urban heat island effects correctly, splicing in mismatched data from proxies and real world observations, and producing historical temperature records (the so-called "hockey stick") that left out the Medieval Warm Period and subsequent Little Ice Age so thoroughly documented in geological records. This explains another data anomaly, the increasing disparity between the satellite record of global temperatures showing much smaller temperature increases since the late '70s, and the land-based record that Jones and company manipulated.

Most shocking, in their zeal to prevent disclosure of their data, so contrary to the true scientific method, Jones and his colleagues have apparently now "lost" the raw temperature data underlying their land-based temperature record, so it cannot be replicated by anyone else, as in the true scientific method. Indeed, Jones now claims he cannot reproduce the "homogenization" methodology he used to massage that raw data into a global temperature record. As Peter Webster, meteorologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told Der Spiegel, "It's as if a chef was no longer able to cook his dishes because he lost his recipe." With similar problems in the records of the other two official sources of land-based temperature records, those records are now scientifically worthless unless they can be reconstructed from scratch. The satellite record is now the only scientifically reliable source for global temperature trends.

Getting to the Bottom of Global Warming

Too many people are naïve about the UN and its underlying motives. They recognize that commercial interests seeking private profits are self-interested and untrustworthy regarding possible global warming. But they fail to see that the UN has its own vested interest in the cause of global warming, which can be used to justify massively increased powers and resources for the UN, maybe even global taxes and global government. That is why the UN mandate of the IPCC is not to investigate the possibility of manmade global warming, but to validate it.

The UN has repeatedly demonstrated that it is a corrupt, untrustworthy institution that cannot be trusted with the responsibility of global warming. What is needed is for the American government, not under the current power grasping Administration but under the new Administration in 2013, to appoint a Team B of global warming investigators to document and report to the American people and the whole world alternative views on manmade global warming. That Team B can be led by a leading top scientist like Richard Lindzen, and should include pathbreaking, independent, climate scientists from around the world, as found at the Heartland Conference.


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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.