The End-of-Year “Anthropogenic Global Warming” Post – The Emperor Has No Clothes

British journalist Christopher Booker makes the claim that 2008 is the year “man-made global warming was disproved”. His three reasons are:

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare.


Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a “scientific consensus” in favour of man-made global warming collapsed.


Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world.

In my opinion, Booker hits around the reasons, but doesn’t quite make his case.

But in perhaps the most devastating critique of AGW I’ve had the pleasure to read, Australian scientist David Evans makes Booker’s case.

From 1975 to 2001 the global temperature trended up. How do you empirically determine the cause of this global warming? It turns out we can learn a lot simply by observing where the warming occurred: each possible cause of global warming heats the atmosphere differently, heating some parts before others. The pattern of warming is the cause’s “signature”.

The signature of an increased greenhouse effect consists of two features: a hotspot about 10 km up in the atmosphere over the tropics, and a combination of broad stratospheric cooling and broad tropospheric warming. The signature of ozone depletion consists just of the second feature. These signatures are theoretically derived by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and are integral to our understanding of how the atmosphere works. [1]

We have been observing temperatures in the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes – weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. The radiosonde measurements for 1979-1999 show broad stratospheric cooling and broad tropospheric warming, but they show no tropical hotspot. Not even a small one. [2]

Empirically, we therefore know that an increased greenhouse effect was not a significant cause of the recent global warming. (Either that or the signatures from the IPCC are wrong, so its climate models and predictions are rubbish anyway.)

Human carbon emissions were occurring at the time but the greenhouse effect did not increase. Therefore human carbon emissions did not increase the greenhouse effect, and did not cause global warming. So AGW is wrong, and carbon is innocent. Suspect exonerated – wrong signature.

Fairly straight forward – if the signature for the greenhouse effect includes X,Y and Z and only X and Z are present, whatever is going on isn’t the greenhouse effect.

Evans documents the machinations the warmists go through to ignore this fact, but there it is.

He also roundly condemns Al Gore, saying Gore knew the new data (produced by new technology) about ice core samples and released in 2003 didn’t support his theory. So he used the old data instead. To everyone but the left, that’s called a lie.

What was it the new ice core data showed? Proof that temperature changes preceded corresponding carbon changes by an average of 800 years. You’d think that would be important if you were engaged in science, wouldn’t you?

How did the “science” of AGW become established? Evans provides a very interesting timeline:

Governments have spent over $50 billion on climate research since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence for AGW. [5]

So if there is no evidence to support AGW, and the missing hotspot shows that AGW is wrong, why does most of the world still believe in AGW?

Part of the answer is that science changed direction after a large constituency of vested interests had invested in AGW. The old ice core data provided support from 1985, the IPCC was established by the UN in 1988 to look into human changes to climate, and the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1997 to limit carbon emissions. By 1999 the western political class were doing something, the western media were rallying behind “saving the planet”, and scientists were being paid by governments to research the effects of human-caused global warming.

But then the evidence took science off in a different direction: the new ice core data in 2003, the missing hotspot in 2007, and the global temperature has stopped trending up since 2001 [6]. Governments, the media, and many scientists did not notice.

The remainder of the answer for the current belief in AGW is darker and more political. An offbeat theory in the 1970s, AGW was adopted by a group of about 45 atmospheric modelers and physicists. That group dominated climate science journals, peer reviewed each others papers, and hindered competing ideas by underhand methods [7]. AGW gained political support from proponents of nuclear power, and vice-president Gore appointed AGW supporters to science positions in the USA.

There are some pretty bold charges in there. But they are certainly not unbelievable. And a second problem compounded the first. Government funding of research:

AGW grabbed control of climate funding in key western countries. Lack of diversity in science funding has been a major problem since government took over funding science in WWII. Science is like a courtroom – protagonists put forward their best cases, and out of the argument some truth emerges. But if only one side is funded and heard, then truth tends not to emerge. This happened in climate science, which is almost completely government funded and has been dominated by AGW for two decades. Skeptics are mainly scientists who are retired or who have moved on to other areas – their funding no longer depends on allegiance to AGW. The alarmists are full time, well funded, and hog the megaphone.

Frank Tipler, a distinguished mathematical physicist at Tulane University has observed the same problem:

I agree with Dick Lindzen that the AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science. If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract. If he is a skeptic, then no contract. There is a professor at Tulane, with a Ph.D in paleoclimatology, who is as skeptical as I am about AGW, but he’d never be considered for tenure at Tulane because of his professional opinion. No government contracts, no tenure.

This is why I am astounded that people who should know better, like Newt Gingrich, advocate increased government funding for scientific research. We had better science, and a more rapid advance of science, in the early part of the 20th century when there was no centralized government funding for science. Einstein discovered relativity on his own time, while he was employed as a patent clerk. Where are the Einsteins of today? They would never be able to get a university job — Einstein’s idea that time duration depended on the observer was very much opposed to the “consensus” view of the time. Einstein’s idea that light was composed of particles (now called “photons”) was also considered crazy by all physicists when he first published the idea. At least then he could publish the idea. Now a refereed journal would never even consider a paper written by a patent clerk, and all 1905 physics referees would agree that relativity and quantum mechanics were nonsense, definitely against the overwhelming consensus view. So journals would reject Einstein’s papers if he were to write them today.

Science is an economic good like everything else, and it is very bad for production of high quality goods for the government to control the means of production. Why can’t Newt Gingrich understand this? Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government funding for science.

But remember – science will no longer be “twisted” to fit an ideology.

Evans then delves into the evidence presented as “proof” by AGW supporters and why it fails the test. However, near the end, he talks about the real problem we face.


Among non-scientists, AGW appeals strongly to two groups. Those who support big government love the idea of carbon regulations – if you control carbon emissions then you control most human activity. And those who like to feel morally superior to the bulk of their fellow citizens by virtue of a belief (the “warm inner glow” and moral vanity of the politically correct) are firmly attached to AGW. These groups are politically adept, are planning to spend your money and tell you how to eat, travel and how to live, and they are strenuously avoiding the evidence.

The one silver lining in the global financial crisis may be that it gives skeptics the chance to marshal their forces and make the anti-AGW case convincingly before politicians use the canned “science” of Al Gore to commit us to an economic road to ruin.

In 2007 almost no one in the west knew that the hotspot was missing, that there was no evidence for AGW, that temperatures had been flat for six years, that the hockey stick was a fraud, or that Al Gore lied when he gave the old ice core data as a reason for blaming carbon. But due to the Internet the public is gradually finding out anyway, which risks further discrediting many media outlets. Why buy a newspaper if it’s not going to tell you the actual news?

And as the public become generally aware, what politician is going to risk being so ideologically stupid as to unnecessarily wreck the economy by slashing carbon emissions?

The key – getting the media on board with the skeptics. The way to do it? Keep circulating factual information like this which refute the sensationalist and alarmist AGW claims the media seems so fond of publishing right now. There has to be a limit to how long they’ll tolerate looking foolish on this issue. One has to hope it is before the politicians can tax us into the poor-house.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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