Home > Environment > Exxon: We believe in global warming, so we shouldn’t be criticised for funding global warming denialists

Exxon: We believe in global warming, so we shouldn’t be criticised for funding global warming denialists

October 21st, 2006

As everyone knows (or ought to know by now), one of main reason controversy over climate change is continuing in the face of overwhelming evidence is the fact that ExxonMobil has the cash spigot open to fund anyone willing to deny the evidence – the Competitive Enterprise Insitute, George Marshall Institute and the old tobacco industry network run by Steven Milloy, Fred Seitz and Fred Singer have been among the main beneficiaries. The Royal Society wrote to them recently, asking them to turn off the money tap.

Exxon’s response

The Royal Society’s letter and public statements to the media inaccurately and unfairly described our company.”

It went on: “We know that carbon emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change – we don’t debate or dispute this.”

So, they know the groups they are funding are lying, but they need to promote the idea that there is so much uncertainty that we should do nothing. The best way to do this is to create as much Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt as possible.

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  1. Simonjm
    October 22nd, 2006 at 11:48 | #1

    Anyone want to put spin on it with a double twist.

  2. Smiley
    October 22nd, 2006 at 14:07 | #2

    It seems like a case of cognitive dissonance.

  3. Ernestine Gross
    October 22nd, 2006 at 15:18 | #3

    Thanks for the update. I should think the Royal Society has suceeded splendidly in revealing important information to the public. It is a great win of academic rigour over spin.

  4. grace pettigrew
    October 22nd, 2006 at 16:08 | #4

    Well done, say it again and again Quiggers

  5. tam o’shanter
    October 22nd, 2006 at 21:17 | #5

    Just to be helpful, here is a list of the Exxon-funded liars at the Marshall Institute:

    William Happer
    Chairman of the Board of Directors (GMI); Eugene Higgens Professor of Physics, Princeton University
    Robert Jastrow
    Chairman Emeritus (GMI); former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mount Wilson Institute
    Frederick Seitz
    Chairman Emeritus (GMI); President Emeritus of Rockefeller University
    William O’Keefe
    CEO (GMI); President, Solutions Consulting, Inc.
    Gregory Canavan
    Scientific Advisor, Physics Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Thomas L. Clancy, Jr.
    Bernadine Healy
    U.S. News and World Report
    John H. Moore
    President Emeritus, Grove City College
    Rodney W. Nichols
    Consultant on Science and Technology Policy
    Robert Sproull
    Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Rochester
    Chauncey Starr
    President Emeritus, Electric Power Research

    No doubt the biggest liars are those physicists, not to mention their universities for harbouring them. Josef Stalin lives!

  6. tam o’shanter
    October 22nd, 2006 at 22:11 | #6

    Here’s some more info on one of the Exxon liars:
    Dr. William Happer, Jr.
    Board Member Since 1987

    Dr. William Happer is a specialist in laser spectroscopy, optical pumping, radio frequency spectroscopy, and magnetic resonance. He is a professor in the Department of Physics at Princeton University and a prominent technical consultant to industry and government.

    Dr. Happer is a member of JASON, a group of nationally known scientists who advise government agencies on defense, energy, and other technical issues. From 1987 to 1990, he served as chairman of JASON. He has been a member since 1976.

    In July 1991, he became the director of the Office of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy in the Bush Administration, a position he retained until May 1993.

    He has been a member of many scientific committees, including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Strategic Defense Initiative. In 1985, he chaired a review panel of the National Academy of Sciences for the DOE’s Inertial Confinement Fusion Program.

    From 1976 to 1979 he served as director of the Columbia Radiation Laboratory, and co-director from 1971 to 1976. Dr. Happer spent the spring of 1976 at the Max Planck Institute for Laser Research at Garching, West Germany, with the support of an Alexander von Humboldt Award.

    In 1964, he went to Columbia University as a research associate in its Radiation Laboratory. While at Columbia, he held the positions of instructor, assistant professor, and professor in the Department of Physics.

    He has maintained an interest in applied physics and the impact of science and technology on public policy. He has served as a consultant to numerous firms and government agencies, including Singer-Kearfott, Litton Industries, Bendix, RCA, the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Naval Air Development Center, the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and the Department of Energy.

    Dr. Happer has published more than 100 scientific papers in The Physical Review, The Physical Review Letters, The Reviews of Modern Physics, and other scientific journals and encyclopedias.

    In 1964, Dr. Happer received a doctorate degree in physics from Princeton. During his graduate education at Princeton, he had a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and a Queen Fellowship.

    In 1960, he received a bachelor of science degree in physics from the University of North Carolina (UNC). While at UNC, he held a Morehead Scholarship and a National Merit Scholarship.

    In November 1987, Dr. William Happer joined MITRE’s Board of Trustees and served until July 1991, when he resigned to become director of the Office of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy in the Bush Administration. He rejoined MITRE’s board the following August.

  7. tam o’shanter
    October 22nd, 2006 at 22:18 | #7

    Here’s another Exxon liar:

    Gregory Canavan
    Gregory Canavan works in the Physics Division Office of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In January 2000 he was elected an APS Fellow through the Forum on Physics and Society for his contributions leading to the improvement of military science and technology and for leadership in the transfer of remote sensing and communications technologies to the scientific, civilian and commercial sectors. Dr. Canavan received his Ph.D. in Applied Science from the University of California, Davis in 1969 and came to Los Alamos in 1981 after serving as the director of the Offie of Inertial Fusion at the Department of Energy and as a deputy to the Air Force Chief of Staff.

    No doubt he would never have been accepted for entry to UQ!

  8. jquiggin
    October 22nd, 2006 at 22:26 | #8

    I suggest you start by Googling “Seitz+Exxon”, then “seitz+tobacco” then “Happer + ozone”.

    I agree it’s deplorable that people of real ability like Seitz should sell their souls in this way, but as you say, he’s an Exxon-funded liar, and nothing will change that. I suspect Happer and Canavan are there because they support Star Wars, the other big GMI enthusiasm. No doubt you think that’s a good idea too, Tim.

    At least GMI could only get a handful of scientists – most of the the rest are the usual collection of consultants and hacks. And what is it with the fiction writers – first Crichton and now Tom Clancy?

  9. chrisl
    October 22nd, 2006 at 22:40 | #9

    Exxon is a very nasty company
    Who on earth would use their products?
    Once we find the culprits we will surely solve the co2 problem

  10. tam o’shanter
    October 22nd, 2006 at 22:41 | #10


    What’s it with the ozone hole? still there apparently and getting bigger despite banning CFCs?

  11. jquiggin
    October 23rd, 2006 at 08:52 | #11

    “What’s it with the ozone hole?”

    I think it has something to do with the gaps in the fossil record you were going to mention next.

  12. Ken
    October 23rd, 2006 at 11:24 | #12

    The real issues for the big fossil energy co’s are taxes, regulatory requirements and emerging competition that are made more competitive as a result. Of course to date there are significant costs related to fossil fuel use that have been externalised and/or deferred for future generations to pay in the form of environmental degradation and climate change. Even if companies like Exxon give some acknowledgement to global warming they will continue to use the means at their disposal to prevent, delay or water down regulatory changes that would reduce their profitability, see them made responsible for those externalised costs or see any real alternatives given a chance to develop to where they are seriously competitive . Continued support for the paid-for-opinion factories will be part of that as will be pricing to cut down emerging competition before it can grow, buy outs of companies and patents that could become future competition as well as their lobbying, advertising and patterns of political donations.

  13. October 23rd, 2006 at 13:00 | #13

    Hmm, isn’t ExxonMobil rather a large corporation?

  14. simonjm
    October 23rd, 2006 at 15:34 | #14

    Hey Tam ever wonder how people with sci honours and other doctorates can support Creationism?I remember one astro physicist had so problem that an indian guru could materialize holy ash from thin air.

    Just because someone has a few letters after their name doesn’t mean they won’t believe some wacky stuff or be sellouts.

  15. Joseph Clark
    October 23rd, 2006 at 15:56 | #15

    Exxon is perfectly entitled to fund whatever research it likes and academics are perfectly entitled to conduct that research. Results will be tried through peer review and ultimately in the court of public opinion. As for the “cash spigot”, the pot of money and prestige available to research supporting extreme climate change scenarios is orders of magnitude larger than the pot available to research supporting moderate scenarios.

    It is possible to criticize the substance of a piece of research without using a fallacious association argument. To do so diminishes the strength of your argument in the eyes of those you are trying to convince.

  16. jquiggin
    October 23rd, 2006 at 16:18 | #16

    “Results will be tried through peer review and ultimately in the court of public opinion. ”

    The “research” turned out by Exxon shills is either not peer-reviewed at all or pushed through a corrupted peer review process (most of the editorial board of one journal resigned over one of the cases, and now the stuff has to appear in the denialist house journal E&E). There’s no independent way of validating it, so the honesty or otherwise of the people who are putting it out is entirely relevant.

    As regards the court of public opinion, the fact that this stuff is bought-and-paid for propaganda is admissible evidence in that court, which is why it’s losing credibility fast.

  17. Sean
    October 23rd, 2006 at 17:25 | #17

    It’s actually the same people as did the lung cancer denying? I thought it was just the same TYPE of people.


    “These observations reinforce concerns about the frailty of Earth’s ozone layer. Although production of ozone-destroying gases has been curtailed under international agreements, concentrations of the gases in the stratosphere are only now reaching their peak. Due to their long persistence in the atmosphere, it will be many decades before the ozone hole is no longer an annual occurrence,” said Dr. Michael J. Kurylo, manager of the Upper Atmosphere Research Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.”

    It’s only NASA though. What does Michael Crichton think?

  18. Will Alexander
    October 23rd, 2006 at 21:20 | #18

    Dear all

    Blaming Exxon for climate change or financing so-called denialists is a red herring. Oil is a much smaller contributor to CO2 emissions than coal, and if its users switch from petrol to diesel (eg double the km/litre) and from fuel oil to gassification etc its contribution to GHG will diminish still further. Meantime…

    Some of you may recall that more than a year ago I predicted that the Kyoto Protocol was in its death throes. This is now coming to pass.

    Two weeks ago the G8 nations met in Mexico to thrash out a common policy on climate change. They failed to reach agreement because of the horrific costs of implementing greenhouse gas emissions control measures as envisaged in the Kyoto Protocol.

    The next get together is the international conference to be held in Nairobi next month. The EU nations including and particularly the UK, have had to change their tune. They have switched to adaptation rather than prevention. They are using Africa as an excuse. This also has major problems because contrary to Al Gore and all those television programs produced by the BBC, there is simply no believable evidence that global warming is having an adverse effect on the African continent.

    It will be intriguing to see what the various delegations have to say at Nairobi. Will they continue with their futile claims that the consequences of global warming pose a threat and that emissions control measures are the way to go?

    Or will they accept that adaptation is the best route to follow? This is also a dangerous policy because adaptation means that the processes have to be quantified numerically. This involves civil engineering knowledge. But civil engineers have been labelled as fringe scientists.

    Forthcoming Nairobi conference
    Will Alexander
    23 October 2006

    I have had no response at all to my repeated suggestions that we get together on this fundamentally important issue. I have therefore submitted three articles for publication. These will be followed by formal papers in due course. They provide unequivocal evidence on the following issues.
    Linkage with solar activity
    1. There is an incontestable, statistically significant (95%), 21-year periodicity in South African rainfall, river flow and flood peak maxima.
    2. I developed a successful (i.e. tested and verified), climate prediction model based on this periodicity.
    3. There is an unequivocal, synchronous linkage between this periodicity and the double sunspot cycle.
    4. Together with a UK colleague we have demonstrated a synchronous linkage between sunspot activity and 21-year periodic behaviour within the solar system.
    5. This behaviour is directly related to the alternating wet and dry periods studied and reported in my publications as well as by other South African researchers.
    6. Scientists have reported synchronous linkages between solar activity and water levels in Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the African continent; the Zambezi River, Africa’s third largest river; and the Parana River in South America, which is the fifth largest river in the world. These systems drain large continental areas and integrate the effects of climatic variations over these areas.
    7. While some uncertainty exists regarding the precise nature of the causal mechanisms linking solar activity and the hydrometeorological processes, the synchronous linkage is beyond all doubt.
    Other evidence:
    8. Despite a diligent study of a very large and comprehensive South African hydrometeorological database I was unable to detect any multiyear, adverse changes in rainfall (droughts), river flow and flood peak maxima that could be attributed to global warming.
    9. I recently undertook a 6500 km tour through the Kalahari and southern Namibia where the first indications of desertification would become apparent. I found none.
    10. Nor did I find any evidence of environmental damage that could be attributed to global warming.
    11. Contrary to alarmist predictions, there have been no outbreaks of malaria or other climate-related diseases on the African subcontinent that could be attributed to global warming.
    12. Our natural environment, water resources and agriculture are all in a healthy condition.
    13. Alarmist claims made by the South African delegation at Buenos Aires in December 2004 and at the Midrand conference in October 2005 were all investigated and found to be groundless.
    I sincerely hope that the other delegations to the Nairobi conference will not repeat these alarmist claims, all of which are based on global climate mathematical models that are seriously in error. They have no multiyear predictive ability. Nor do they accommodate the undeniable 21-year periodicity in the processes. Research based on these models has been demonstrated to be without foundation.
    Claims that there is an international consensus on climate change issues are equally false. I can provide abundant evidence to the contrary.
    The imposition of restrictive measures on industries worldwide will have serious economic and social consequences. There will be a public outcry if these measures are imposed and it is later found that they were based on faulty science.
    A heavy responsibility now rests on the shoulders of climate change scientists and their institutions. History and the news media will eventually pass judgment.

  19. rog
    October 23rd, 2006 at 21:45 | #19

    I can easily find two examples where Exxon funded scientists were involved in the peer review of studies into alternative energies, one being a hydrogen review program and another the inquiry into photovoltaics


    Using the same search parameters I also found a study into what is known as “the Exxon factor” that is, others’ perceptions of Exxon’s reputational capital and control over the material means of scientific production.

    This study indicated that scientists outside Exxon were willing to accept, at face value and without proper scientific scrutiny and validation, theories that were not accepted within Exxon until after being externally validated. This throws into some doubt the validity of independant opinion of the scientific work of Exxon.


  20. wilful
    October 23rd, 2006 at 22:46 | #20

    Claims that there is an international consensus on climate change issues are equally false. I can provide abundant evidence to the contrary.

    Please feel free to list all of the recently published climatologists that consider anthropogenic climate change to be a big beat up or a myth.

  21. October 24th, 2006 at 01:44 | #21

    “We know that carbon emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change – we don’t debate or dispute this.â€? – you’re misreading Exxon’s position. They are happy to say that, and so will Singer, and so will Seitz and so will all the groups they fund. Its meaningless. What they won’t admit is that its the *major* factor or some other such wording.

  22. jquiggin
    October 24th, 2006 at 07:23 | #22

    William, while you can reconcile the two, there’s a big difference between the natural reading of what Exxon is saying here and the view of Singer, quoted in Wikipedia, that “The Earth currently is experiencing a warming trend, but there is scientific evidence that human activities have little to do with it.”

  23. Simonjm
    October 24th, 2006 at 12:54 | #23
  24. Tam o’Shanter
    October 24th, 2006 at 18:16 | #24

    Simonjm: That link was not very informative, in fact Ewing is at best disingenuous. Try the Financial Times, Special Energy Report, 20 October (you may have to pay). For example, Finland is building its fifth nuclear plant, the first since the 1980s; the project was approved in 2003, and is now due for completion in 2010. The cost is projected to be over 3 bn Euros for 1,600 MW; waste is to be stored in an on-site underground bunker. Much of Finland’s industry (paper etc) is strongly dependent on low cost energy and secure base load. Then in France, there are 59 reactors producing about 80% of its electricity, and the country (according to IEA) has per capita CO2 emissions of only 6.3 tonnes, or one-third of the US average. Naturally, (according to the FT, the Green party in Finland and Greenpeace in France still campaign against nuclear energy, while in Sweden the FT reports (“The inconvenient truth about an oil-free society”) the Greens have got the government to plan to log 1.15 mn hectares a year of its 20 mn hectares of forest for use as biofuel to reduce current dependence on oilfired energy and transport. BTW, that logging rate is much more than double the rate deemed by Greenpeace to be “unsustainable” in Papua New Guinea. Ewing’s belief that it would take 50 years to build the 3,500 nuclear plants needed to make an impact on emissions is wrong, as if we decide now to to do that it would take not more than 10 years. There are no physical or financial constraints (10 bn Euros is not much), and once production is more than just one-off as in Finland completion times will fall. BTW water is sometimes cited as a constraint, but that depends on the type of plant: I was recently at Sizewell A & B in England, which like other UK nuclear plants use seawater for cooling; the water is returned to the sea, which remained too cold for swimming even after the July heatwave.

  25. Tam o’Shanter
    October 24th, 2006 at 18:24 | #25

    OOps! make that 10,500 billion Euros, if all Ewing’s 3500 are all at MW1600 as in Finland, less if each need only be 1000MW, still not much, compared with China’s current FX reserves of US$987.9 billion, which are only a small component of that country’s financial muscle.

  26. proust
    October 24th, 2006 at 19:35 | #26

    10,500 billion Euros is a heck of a lot of money. Isn’t that about the size of the current US public debt?

    But regardless, if we’re to get rid of coal we have to do something. And nuclear has got to make more sense than sequestration.

    One of the more entertaining current doublethinks from the greenie moonbats is their total acceptance of sequestration of a gazillion cubic meters of CO2, yet total horror at a few cubic meters of nuclear waste. Someone needs to point out that while high-grade nuclear waste might take 20,000 years to completely break down, CO2 is forever.

  27. Pinguthepenguin
    October 25th, 2006 at 00:47 | #27


    1. Could it be perhaps that CO2 doesn’t decay in 20,000 years because it isn’t radioactive?
    2. Who are the moonbats totally in acceptance of sequestration? All lefties? All greenies? Who?

  28. proust
    October 25th, 2006 at 02:00 | #28

    Silly, abusive and incoherent trolling deleted. I’m letting you and TimTam run for the moment, proust, but please stick to civilised discussion

  29. proust
    October 25th, 2006 at 09:16 | #29

    Hey – I object to incoherent. Silly, abusive and trolling maybe. But incoherent? That hurts.

    Are you referring to my “Pingu, you’ve learnt English” remark? That was in reference to Pingu the penguin – the cute French/gobbledegook speaking animated plasticene character.

  30. jquiggin
    October 25th, 2006 at 12:51 | #30

    You learn something new every day in this game!

  31. Simonjm
    October 25th, 2006 at 13:08 | #31

    Tam I’m more than happy for the facts to come out come what may. I’ve read reports in the past about the huge cost to both the UK and US about the cost of decommissioning plants let alone the nuclear waste or security.

    I’ll take a pinch of salt when Sazuki talked about whatever state has nuc’s in Canada and the huge dept that has caused but it seems in line with other info I’ve heard about.

    Then we have the problem of breakdowns that has been in the news recently plus problems with use and access of water for these plants.

    Put all the info on the table and let the facts talk for themselves, I’m not a greenie with a kneejerk reaction.

    BTW with your scepticism about GW’s effect on Africa do you reject evidence from other regions of the world?

  32. Simonjm
    October 25th, 2006 at 13:33 | #32

    Global warming will greatly affect your health

    BTW Tam my track record on links hasn’t been too bad with the eco skeptics on corals and the polar bear have both come out to be wrong 😉

  33. StephenL
    October 25th, 2006 at 14:40 | #33

    The only environmentalist I have heard support geosequestration (except in fairly limited cricumstances) is Al Gore. I’m sure there are others, but most Greens, and greenies, regard it as a way of propping up the coal industry and delaying the switch to renewables.

    True, I’d imagine a poll taken of the membership of Greenpeace etc would see geosequestration as a lesser evil than nuclear, but it is hardly “total acceptance”.

    Of course one could argue that CO2 breaks down rather more quickly than 20,000 years in the prescence of high technology implements known as “trees” (or as Andrew Denton once suggested they be renamed,
    Shademakers 2000)

  34. jquiggin
    October 25th, 2006 at 15:31 | #34

    I’m pretty sure Ian Lowe has made favourable comments about research on geosequestration. The big problem is that no-one knows whether it will work on an adequate scale, so it the possibility of the option shouldn’t be regarded as a reason for doing nothing.

  35. proust
    October 25th, 2006 at 15:50 | #35

    “The only environmentalist I have heard support geosequestration (except in fairly limited cricumstances) is Al Gore”

    He’s about the only environmentalist we hear, period. I wish he would STFU.

    My favourite Gore moment was on Andrew Denton’s show when Denton asked “couldn’t there be some benefits to global warming, eg longer growing cycles?”

    Gore started to answer the question, couldn’t, and then just started raving about how if a baby has a temperature you take it to the doctor, and, well, the Earth has a temperature, and even one degree is bad, really bad. At this point he was leaning towards Denton with this demonic look in his eye, and a quaver in his voice. Denton was leaning back in his chair and quickly shifted the topic.

    I used to think the world would have been better off had Gore got elected instead of Bush. I am not so sure after that little psychotic episode.

  36. Chris O’Neill
    October 26th, 2006 at 21:37 | #36

    “the Earth has a temperature, and even one degree is bad, really bad.”

    What Gore actually said:

    “Because it could be something bad.”

    Not quite the same.

    “I used to think the world would have been better off had Gore got elected instead of Bush. I am not so sure after that little psychotic episode.”

    At least Bush doesn’t have little psychotic episodes. He just has massive ones.

  37. Chris O’Neill
    October 26th, 2006 at 21:50 | #37

    That link to what Gore actually said should be http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s1734175.htm

  38. proust
    October 27th, 2006 at 07:09 | #38

    Not quite. Here’s the full quote. My memory had confused “really really bad” with “really really matters”, but I think my recollection was fair:

    “To put it another way, if you have a child who has a fever, and the fever persists, and it steadily gets higher, you go to the doctor. And you say “Please, let’s check this out. What’s the problem here?” Because it could be something bad. Well, the planet has a fever. And one or two degrees matters. Two or three or four or five matter even more. And it will continue to get higher until we stop dumping all this pollution into the earth’s atmosphere. It is extremely damaging.”

  39. October 27th, 2006 at 10:25 | #39

    StephenL – “The only environmentalist I have heard support geosequestration (except in fairly limited cricumstances) is Al Gore. I’m sure there are others, but most Greens, and greenies, regard it as a way of propping up the coal industry and delaying the switch to renewables.”

    The main problems I have with geosequestration are:

    1. The time frame. Practical large scale geosequestration is at LEAST 25 years away even by the most optimistic estimates. Other alternatives exist now that can do the same CO2 reductions however the accepted answer is to wait until we can fix the ‘serious’ baseload power. Australia’s small power output would require 140 million tons per year of CO2 to be captured, compressed and stored safely. Ramping up to this level of sequestration could take 30 or more years.

    2. The fact that we do not now for absolute sure that the CO2 will not escape. Like with nuclear waste there is no way we can predict into the future what the geological conditions will be like in a million years. Imagine a future civilisation suddenly having to cope with billions of tons of escaping CO2 that was put there by us simply because we wanted a lot of luxury.

    3. Geosequestration, like nuclear, fosters the dangerous notion that we can continue on, business as usual, with no changes forever and ever. Fossil fuels are not sustainable in the very long term. For our society to continue beyond this golden age of plunder we need to change to using nature’s flows rather than natures stores. All long term systems on this planet, including the plants that all life depends on, use solar power and recycle everything. Without this life would have lasted a couple of thousand years not the billions of years that some form of life has existed on the planet.

  40. Simonjm
    October 27th, 2006 at 11:42 | #40

    As with nuclear i’m open to the possibility of geosequestration but given problems with it I can think of better ways to spend the money.

    Even if they get the technology up to scratch -10 years- you have the problem of old plants and the cost of attaching it plus for NSW we don’t have the right geology to store it so would have to have the extra cost of pumping it interstate.

    Again note no energy or resource efficiency just throw some money at solar and continue to plug nuclear.

  41. Simonjm
    October 27th, 2006 at 11:47 | #41

    JQ how about this for any remaining sceptics that pop up?

    How to Talk to a Global Warming Sceptic

  42. proust
    October 27th, 2006 at 15:56 | #42

    After you’ve read simonjm’s piece by a self-confessed non-climatologist (in fact, by someone with no relevant qualifications whatsoever), try this
    WSJ piece.

    Actually, don’t even bother with Coby Beck’s drivel – jump straight to the WSJ.

  43. October 27th, 2006 at 16:46 | #43

    From real climate about Coby Beck’s ‘drivel’:

    “His new blog ‘A few things ill-considered’ has a point-by-point rebuttal of almost all the most common ‘contrarian’ talking points. The list of topics by category is a good place to start, and it shows the huge amount of work done so far. We’re very impressed!”

    If it impresses climate scientists then perhaps proust has not got his information right.

    The same source on the Wall Street Journal:

    “We are disappointed that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has chosen to yet again distort the science behind human-caused climate change and global warming in their recent editorial “Kyoto By Degrees” (6/21/05) (subscription required).

    Last week, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies expressed the consensus view that “there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring” and that “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”. And just last week, USA Today editorialized that “not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming”.

    It is puzzling then that the WSJ editors could claim that “the scientific case….looks weaker all the time”.”

  44. proust
    October 27th, 2006 at 17:20 | #44

    Realclimate suffer from the same groupthink Lindzen objects to in his WSJ article.

    We’ve seen two examples on this blog in recent weeks of how political bias becomes interpretational bias: JQ on browning of Australia, and JQ again on the gun buyback thread.

    In both cases the evidence points counter to his conclusions. Multiply that by thousands of left-wing scientists, greenies, and politicians and you can see how this has got completely out of control.

  45. October 27th, 2006 at 21:09 | #45

    proust – “Realclimate suffer from the same groupthink Lindzen objects to in his WSJ article.”

    Yeah I can see that now – just like the pesky groupthink on things like gravity and quantum theory.

    “In both cases the evidence points counter to his conclusions. Multiply that by thousands of left-wing scientists, greenies, and politicians and you can see how this has got completely out of control.”

    Absolutely – obviously the melting of the Arctic ice, melting permafrost, shifting species is just out of control lefties distorting the science. We need more right wing people to conteract this left wing science. They should take a look at relativity as well – Einstein was a bit of a lefty.

  46. proust
    October 28th, 2006 at 02:53 | #46

    “just like the pesky groupthink on things like gravity and quantum theory.”
    If only the climatologists were that numerate. As a bunch, they’re mediocre statisticians.

    From the WSJ op-ed:

    “Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don’t know why.”

  47. jquiggin
    October 28th, 2006 at 06:10 | #47

    Oh dear. The WSJ opinion page as a source of science info. This is truly desperate.

  48. Con
    October 28th, 2006 at 07:32 | #48

    WSJ op-eds, Devine, Bolt, Akerman and Michael Crichton. Wow, the last great ‘brains’ of modern science.

  49. October 28th, 2006 at 09:15 | #49

    proust – “If only the climatologists were that numerate. As a bunch, they’re mediocre statisticians.”

    That all you got mate – trying desperately to cling to the hockey stick. That surely is the last refuge of the incompetant.

    If you think the WSJ prints cutting edge science then go for it.

  50. Simonjm
    October 28th, 2006 at 10:21 | #50

    One thing I will say in Prousts defense is while he may not see his own bias i wouldnt be so quick to mock.

    I imagine none of us are immune to bias and even if we are unbiased on one subject or even many it doesn’t mean we aren’t on others and just as proust doesn’t see his here there would be a chance we won’t on ours.

    After all science and scientific institutions have got it wrong in the past from exactly the mechanism proust is talking about, I’ve even come across isloated instances where this sort of bias continues today.

    BTW who was it that argued here biodiversity loss is a myth or that it didn’t matter anyway if heaps of bugs died out? Link below to help inform them.

    Pollinators help one-third of world’s crop production

  51. Simonjm
    October 28th, 2006 at 10:36 | #51

    Tackle climate change or face deep recession, world’s leaders warned

    FAQ The Stern review
    What is the Stern review?

    Gordon Brown asked Sir Nicholas Stern last July to analyse the financial implications of climate change.

    What will it say?

    Climate change poses a threat to the world economy and it will be cheaper to address the problem than to deal with the consequences.

    Why does it matter?

    The global warming argument seemed a straight fight between the scientific case to act and the economic case not to. Now, economists are urging action.

    What next?

    International action beyond 2012 is debated in Nairobi next month.

    What about the US?

    The great sticking point. Some believe only a change of president will bring serious action.

    Chew on that little Jonny H.

  52. wilful
    October 28th, 2006 at 11:19 | #52

    Good to see Will Alexander came back with his ‘abundant evidence’ of no scientific consensus on climate change.

    And Proust, relying on the WSJ op-ed page. Oh dear.

  53. proust
    October 28th, 2006 at 13:21 | #53

    The opinion piece in the WSJ I referred to was written by Richard Lindzen. He’s no slouch. Look him up.

    Ender, the hockeystick is just one example of poor statistical analysis by climate scientists. Read climateaudit.org if you want to see hundreds more. And climateaudit.org barely touches all the problems with the Global Circulation Models.

    How many of those who accuse me of bias have ever read and fully understood the statistical issues behind just a single, serious climate paper?

  54. jquiggin
    October 28th, 2006 at 13:36 | #54

    We’ve covered Lindzen here many times, Proust. He’s about the only working climate scientist left on the denialist side. Unfortunately, he’s an obstinate contrarian – for example, he thinks the risks of smoking have been much overstated.

    As regards the statistical issues, why don’t we start with McKitrick and Michaels (2004)?

  55. proust
    October 28th, 2006 at 14:17 | #55

    “for example, he thinks the risks of smoking have been much overstated.


    In the current climate (no pun intended) anyone who maintains an honest objective position on the science will be labeled an obstinate contrarian.

    “why don’t we start with McKitrick and Michaels (2004)?”
    Interesting choice. Not written by climate scientists. Not a paper about climate science as such. But some fundamental errors were made in that paper by opponents of AGW.

    A very good place to start if you want to present a biased view of the state of the opposition.

  56. jquiggin
    October 28th, 2006 at 14:33 | #56

    Newsweek, 23 July 2001. Relevant quote

    Lindzen clearly relishes the role of naysayer. He’ll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking. He speaks in full, impeccably logical paragraphs, and he punctuates his measured cadences with thoughtful drags on a cigarette.

    Elsewhere in the article (which presents Lindzen’s views very sympathetically) he’s described as a contrarian and “remaining steadfastly on the fringe”.

    As far as I know, Lindzen did not take exception to any of these characterisations, which exactly match those I gave (except for the standard conjugation from “I am steadfast” to “you are obstinate”).

  57. jquiggin
    October 28th, 2006 at 14:36 | #57

    BTW, while I agree that Michaels can’t be regarded as a climate scientist any more, he might take exception to this characterisation.

  58. Seeker
    October 28th, 2006 at 14:48 | #58

    “The opinion piece in the WSJ I referred to was written by Richard Lindzen. He’s no slouch.” Proust

    He’s no frickin genius either.

    Here’s the real problem, Proust.

    If Lindzen and his fellow travellers, such as yourself, are wrong, AND we do not take any preventative or remedial action, then the cost to humans is extremely high.

    However, the reverse is not true. If you guys are right, AND we do take unnecessary preventative and remedial action, then the cost is (relatively) low and still has some considerable benefits (greater energy efficiency, for example, is never a bad thing).

    That is the logic we have to deal with now, not in 100 years when the science will be settled one way or the other.

    We can’t afford to wait any longer. It is decision time. (Actually, it was decision time a decade or so ago, but it is still not too late.)

    And, please, you are going to have to do a lot better than simply labelling scientists as lefties, if you wish to properly rebut their claims. That ain’t how science works. If it is, then you have to explain why science done by lefties is hopelessly compromised by their political allegiance, but why the science done by righties is not thus compromised. I think you can see where this is going.

  59. October 28th, 2006 at 17:48 | #59

    proust – “Ender, the hockeystick is just one example of poor statistical analysis by climate scientists. Read climateaudit.org if you want to see hundreds more. And climateaudit.org barely touches all the problems with the Global Circulation Models.”

    Do you often go to the dentist when you have a broken arm that needs setting? I prefer to get my statistical infomation from people who at least have paid their dues in the field that they are working on. I would not go to a mining engineer and an economist for climate science no matter how shrill they are.

  60. proust
    October 28th, 2006 at 18:24 | #60

    “Newsweek, 23 July 2001.”
    So because a journalist from Newsweek wrote in 2001 “He’ll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking.” that means “he thinks the risks of smoking have been much overstated.”

    Is that the best you’ve got?

    Respectfully, I suggest that relying on second-hand reports of Lindzen’s opinion on an unrelated topic in order to discount his entire AGW position on zero says a lot more about your bias than it does Lindzen’s.

    I have an idea: why don’t you write to Lindzen and ask him what he thinks about smoking?

  61. Tam o’Shanter
    October 28th, 2006 at 18:26 | #61

    The announcements this week of federal and state funding for solar and wind power in Victoria will have Exxon laughing up its sleeve. Even with a carbon tax of A$25 per MWh gas power remains highly profitable, while solar assuming it produces at full capacity for as much as 12 hrs a day 365 days a year never produces a positive internal rate of return (30 years life, finance at 8% repayable over 15 years) unless interest free funding reaches half the touted capex of A$420 million instead of just 35% so far. The wind turbines don’t look as good if windspeed does not average 50km/hour for as many hours a year. By contrast, the cited carbon tax would make nuclear fully competitive with black coal. Another facet of the reports on Victoria’s taxpayers’ heroism is that the demands on surface area are far from negligible, at 800 treefree ha for the solar (to match output from a 1600 MW nuclear, multiply that to 16,600 ha; the wind farm will require tree free land of 27,500 ha on the same basis. The turbines can coexist with other land use except forestry; not so the solar. The costings for both solar and wind as presented ignore the cost of idle backup conventional power for when there is neither wind nor sun, downtime on the backup is seriously costly and would require subsidies to those generators. Me, I will stick with my oil shares, and leave wind and sun equities to the heroic Melburnians.

  62. proust
    October 28th, 2006 at 18:30 | #62

    Seeker, your argument can be applied to most potential threats. So as not to jump at shadows, we need to decide which threats are credible. When climate science is riddled with poor statistics, it very much calls into question the crediblity of the threat posed by AGW.

  63. jquiggin
    October 28th, 2006 at 18:31 | #63

    Umm, this is a direct report of an interview with Lindzen. The fact that he’s willing to take an obviously wrong position, in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus, but in support of his personal preferences on one scientific issue gives a plausible explanation of why he, alone among serious climate scientists, is willing to do the same on another.

    Respectfully, I suggest you don’t know when to give up.

  64. proust
    October 28th, 2006 at 19:07 | #64

    Ok, we’re clear. One second-hand report of an unrelated position, 5 years ago, is enough for you to discount him to zero.

    Fine. I’ll apply the same logic to your arguments. There have been plenty of slipups here recently. You are henceforth discounted to zero.

  65. October 28th, 2006 at 20:46 | #65

    Tam oShanter – “Even with a carbon tax of A$25 per MWh gas power remains highly profitable”

    While the gas lasts.

    “The wind turbines don’t look as good if windspeed does not average 50km/hour for as many hours a year.”

    Just like a coal plant doesn’t look good 100km from a coal mine

    “at 800 treefree ha for the solar (to match output from a 1600 MW nuclear, multiply that to 16,600 ha; the wind farm will require tree free land of 27,500 ha on the same basis.”

    How many hectares do you think the roofs of Australia would be? How many hectares of covered carparks? The beauty of solar PV is that it works just as well at the 1Kw level as 1 MW. A nuclear or coal thermal only works at 100MW or larger. Coal and nuclear are only cheap if you ignore externialities like waste disposal, decommissioning and health costs from particulates.

  66. Simonjm
    October 29th, 2006 at 10:34 | #66

    Will Alexander some seem to think GW is having an affect on Africa

    Climate change ‘hitting Africa’

  67. Will Alexander
    October 29th, 2006 at 11:58 | #67

    Here is what I actually said: “…the climate alarmists maintain that Africa is already experiencing natural disasters – principally floods, droughts, malaria and other diseases, arising from unnatural global warming, and that these are causing increases in poverty, malnutrition, disease and environmental damage. IF TRUE, then it must follow that the cause is directly due to the high level of industrial activity in the EU nations. It then further follows that the African nations that are experiencing these climate-related disasters have a good claim for compensation from the EU nations, who by their own admission are the cause of the disasters”. (emphasis added) Of course it is not true re natural disasters being any more frequent now or atributable to GW; otherwise why have there been no Katrinas at all this year in the USA, but that will not stop Sir Nicholas Stern repeating yet again on Tuesday his claim last March that Katrinas will become ever more common year by year as [email protected] keeps rising.

  68. Seeker
    October 29th, 2006 at 17:18 | #68

    “otherwise why have there been no Katrinas at all this year in the USA,” WA

    The degree of ignorance in that single (rhetorical) question is stunning.

  69. Chris O’Neill
    November 1st, 2006 at 17:04 | #69

    “How many of those who accuse me of bias have ever read and fully understood the statistical issues behind just a single, serious climate paper? ”

    Papers such as Wahl and Ammann 2006?

    “Read climateaudit.org”

    By Steve McIntyre who hasn’t come up with an explanation for why his supposedly diabolical Bristlecone proxies don’t have any significant effect on Temperature reconstructions using the 1450 proxy network as shown by Wahl and Ammann in their figure 5c. According to McIntyre these Bristlecone proxies produce an enormous hockeystick bias but somehow this bias just doesn’t show up between reconstructions with and without the Bristlecone proxies using the 1450 proxy network. This is just one in a series of bogus arguments put up by McIntyre over the years. Before making a decision about the credibility of McIntyre and his website keep in mind the incompetence of his past arguments such as the above.

  70. proust
    November 2nd, 2006 at 18:53 | #70

    After you read Wahl and Ammann, read this.

    And before making a decision about the credibility of McIntyre, keep in mind the mendaciousness of Mann in refusing for years (ie, forever) to supply data showing his reconstructions failed a basic R2 test.

    Now Wahl and Ammann want to argue that RE is the test of choice, not R2.

  71. November 2nd, 2006 at 19:47 | #71

    proust – “And before making a decision about the credibility of McIntyre, keep in mind the mendaciousness of Mann in refusing for years (ie, forever) to supply data showing his reconstructions failed a basic R2 test.”

    Repeat after me I will not feed the trolls I will not feed the trolls.

    biting and possibly witty retort deleted – JQ

  72. November 2nd, 2006 at 19:49 | #72

    BTW – I did actually write the previous post – JQ did not censor it. I wrote it to JQ to show I can control myself occasionally.

    Sorry if anyone got the wrong idea.

  73. proust
    November 2nd, 2006 at 20:08 | #73

    Chris O’Neill,

    this is what McIntyre has to say on the W&A interpretation of his Bristlecone results:

    Once again, in MM05b[EE], we presented an MBH98-type reconstruction without bristlecones or with reduced bristlecone weight, which yielded high 15th century values. In MM05b {E&E], we interpreted this result as only demonstrating the falseness of MBH claims of robustness to presence/absence of all dendroclimatic indicators, not as an alternative reconstruction. W&A stated that an MBH98-type reconstruction with reduced bristlecone weights (which they called an “MM� reconstruction) was without “statistical or climatological merit�. We agree that an MBH98-type reconstruction with reduced bristlecone weights is without “statistical merit�, but this does not mean that an MBH98 reconstruction with high bristlecone weights has “statistical merit�.

    In fact, this is a similar argument to the one I made on the Browning Australia thread: if by omission of one data “point” – one proxy in this case, one year’s rainfall in the Browning Australia thread – you drastically change the conclusion, then your method cannot be robust.

  74. Chris O’Neill
    November 3rd, 2006 at 02:00 | #74

    A lot of people have a great deal of difficulty understanding the results in Wahl and Ammann 2006, Steve McIntyre and proust among them. Probably partly because they don’t read it carefully. If you’d read my comment carefully you would have noticed I was referring to the 1450 proxy network rather than the 1400 network. For the 1400 network, leaving out the Bristlecone proxies DOES make a significant difference to the Temperature reconstuction and that is why they must be used to get a valid reconstruction before 1450. However, leaving them out of the 1450 MBH98 proxy network gives a reconstruction which is not significantly different from keeping them in. This contradicts what McIntyre says the Bristlecone proxies do, which is to put in a hockeystick bias when they are included in the proxy network. Thus when the opportunity presents itself to objectively test whether Bristlecone proxies cause a bias or not, the test result is that there is no bias. McIntyre has no explanation for this.

    I notice proust also repeats McIntyre’s lie about what MBH98 is referring to where MBH98 says:

    “On the other hand, the long-term trend in NH is relatively robust to the inclusion of dendroclimatic indicators in the network, suggesting that potential tree growth trend biases are not influential in the multiproxy climate reconstructions.”

    and a similar sentence later in MBH98.

    What MBH98 is actually referring to are tests described here that show that leaving out all the dendroclimatic indicators makes very little difference to the low frequency signal in a reconstruction that is valid without them. i.e. including the dendroclimatic indicators has no adverse effect on the reconstruction and as the example shows it can be expected to reduce the noise in the reconstruction.

    I haven’t been through all the detail of every one of McIntyre’s arguments but whenever I have, I have come to a fundamental defect in his argument.

  75. proust
    November 3rd, 2006 at 07:39 | #75

    Chris O’Neil: I can’t reconcile your comments with McIntyre’s analysis. What am I missing?

  76. Chris O’Neill
    November 4th, 2006 at 04:07 | #76

    Before commenting on the content of McIntyre, I’ll say that I think it’s amazing that he was carefully reading Wahl and Ammann for that comment more than a year after he sent in his review of the paper to the journal concerned. Doesn’t say too much for how carefully he read the paper when he reviewed it.

    Anyway, regarding his comment, McIntyre comes perilously close to understanding Wahl and Ammann’s point about Bristlecone proxies but then suddenly recalls that the NAS panel said that Bristlecone proxies ‘should be “avoided” in temperature reconstructions’. Phew, that was a close one for McIntyre. Thank heaven for the NAS panel. Makes careful thinking unnecessary. The point is, McIntyre is clinging desperately to the notion that it’s impossible to make a valid Temperature reconstruction that depends on Bristlecone proxies and he’ll latch on to anything, such as the NAS panel statement, that provides any sort of support for his belief. His belief is based on the well-known fact that the Bristlecone proxies have a growth bias caused by increasing CO2 levels since 1850. But there’s no law of Physics that says it’s impossible to use these proxies, biased as they are in nature, to determine a valid Temperature reconstruction. There are obvious ways to avoid the problem such as only calibrating the proxy before 1850 or determining the degree of bias by comparing with other proxies since 1850 and removing the bias. The latter is done in MBH99. The proof that this works is the consistency of reconstructions obtainable during the time that there are plenty of proxies to choose from (as I have already pointed to in this paper. This issue has been dealt with but all McIntyre can do is dismiss it out of hand. So in spite of McIntyre’s wishy washy objections, valid Temperature reconstructions can be made using Bristlecone proxies. Wahl and Ammann’s paper is simply another example of proof that Bristlecone proxies can be used to produce valid reconstructions, in their case they have the ability to prove, based on checking against independent proxies, that a Bristlecone proxy-dependent reconstruction is valid from 1900 back to 1450. If such a proxy is valid all the way back to 1450 there is no objective reason why it should suddenly become invalid before that. McIntyre just doesn’t get the logic but I’d agree that Wahl and Ammann don’t put it very well.

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