Green Room

Two more scientists change sides in the AGW debate

posted at 11:14 am on February 7, 2012 by

In fact, it seems as if it isn’t really much of a debate anymore.

First, let me be clear, the debate among scientists isn’t whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas or whether, even, it can cause warming, but instead on what real (if any) total effect it has overall on the climate. In other words, is there a saturation point where additional CO2 has little marginal effect, or does it build to a tipping point where the change is radical? Robust climate or delicate climate?

Evidence is building toward the robust climate theory, which would mean that while there may be more CO2 being emitted, it has little to no effect on the overall climate. That, of course, is contrary to the AGW crowd’s theory.

So, on to the latest high profile defections:

One of the fathers of Germany’s modern green movement, Professor Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, a social democrat and green activist, decided to author a climate science skeptical book together with geologist/paleontologist Dr. Sebastian Lüning. Vahrenholt’s skepticism started when he was asked to review an IPCC report on renewable energy. He found hundreds of errors. When he pointed them out, IPCC officials simply brushed them aside. Stunned, he asked himself, “Is this the way they approached the climate assessment reports?”

Vahrenholt decided to do some digging. His colleague Dr. Lüning also gave him a copy of Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion. He was horrified by the sloppiness and deception he found. Persuaded by Hoffmann & Campe, he and Lüning decided to write the book. Die kalte Sonne cites 800 sources and has over 80 charts and figures. It examines and summarizes the latest science.

Vahrenholt concluded, through his research, that the science of the IPCC (if you can call it that) was mostly political and had been “hyped.”

Germany’s flagship weekly news magazine Der Spiegel today also featured a 4-page exclusive interview with Vahrenholt, where he repeated that the IPCC has ignored a large part of climate science and that IPCC scientists exaggerated the impact of CO2 on climate. Vahrenholt said that by extending the known natural cycles of the past into the future, and taking CO2′s real impact into effect, we should expect a few tenths of a degree of cooling.

That, as I said, points to the “robust” climate model.

Once more to make the point before I leave the subject:

Skeptic readers should not think that the book will fortify their existing skepticism of CO2 causing warming. The authors agree it does. but have major qualms about the assumed positive CO2-related feed-backs and believe the sun plays a far greater role in the whole scheme of things.

As Dr. Roy Spencer says, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Adding CO2 should cause warming. The argument is “how much” and that’s based on competing theories about the climate’s sensitivity. Skeptics think the sensitivity is very low while alarmists think it is very high. The building evidence is that rising CO2 has little warming effect in real terms regardless of the amount of the gas emitted. That there is a “saturation level”. If that’s true, and indications are it is, then there’s a) no justification for limiting emissions and b) certainly no justification to tax them.

That, of course, is where politics enter the picture. Governments like the idea of literally creating a tax out of thin air, especially given the current financial condition of most states. Consequently, governments are more likely to fund science that supports their desired conclusion – and it seems that in this case there were plenty who were willing to comply (especially, as Patrick J. Michael has noted, when that gravy train amounts to $103 billion in grants).

What Vahrenholt is objecting too is the IPCC’s key definition in which it clearly states that “climate change” is a result of and because of “human contributions”. As noted above, he thinks that the sun is a much greater factor (something mostly ignored in the models) and he finds past CO2 trends to forecast nothing like the IPCC’s forecast.

What we’re finding as this argument goes forward is that Patrick Michaels was right – “AGW theory functions best in a data free environment”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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My study of the subject led to me believe that either:

a) Scientists can claim minor global warming with a high degree of confidence

or

b) Scientists can claim major global warming with a low degree of confidence

but Scientists can’t (but often do)

c) Claim major global warming with a high degree of confidence.

PackerBronco on February 7, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Hey, the science is settled, because shut-up. Denier.

Abiss on February 7, 2012 at 11:27 AM

“AGW theory functions best in a data free environment”.

As do most theories cherished by the Left.

cicerone on February 7, 2012 at 11:33 AM

In the first sentence of the second-to-last paragraph, “What Vahrenholt is objecting too is the IPCC’s key definition” the “too” should be a “to.”

joejmz on February 7, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Why, yes, Fritz, the IPCC is corrupt and not very scientific in their study. Do not expect that a check will be in the mail. Welcome to the Denier Club.

Kissmygrits on February 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Varenholt, huh? Interesting.

Spencer pointed out nearly 3 years ago that the IPCC recognizes we have no way to identify and measure the elements of the posited “feedback” mechanism that would drive CO2-engendered warming to catastrophic levels.

We don’t understand how the posited “feedback” would work — and indeed, satellite measurements since 1978 have failed to validate a “feedback” mechanism. The earth has emitted more heat into space, not less. Heat is apaprently not being trapped and amplified near the earth’s surface in an atmospheric death spiral.

I’m glad to see scientists behaving like scientists, and withdrawing their support from political hype for untested theories. Certainly Varenholt’s action doesn’t mean he has joined the ranks of political skeptics. It just means he’s being skeptical in the way a scientist should be.

J.E. Dyer on February 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM

As a PhD from a major state university it’s no secret that graduate research is often designed to fit the professor’s theories. As bad as this is in the “hard” sciences it’s profoundly true in the areas of history and other social “sciences”. I venture to say that today it would be almost impossible to gain a PhD in history, english lit., sociology, or even clinical psychology without parroting the leftist theology espoused by the entrenched faculties in these and other areas. We are losing the culture wars and this subversion of knowledge to leftist theology needs to be stopped and reversed asap. Any ideas on how to accomplish this?

shmendrick on February 7, 2012 at 12:17 PM

believe the sun plays a far greater role in the whole scheme of things

YOU THINK?!

Did you really need a Ph.D to figure out that the giant, ball of gas in the sky that is consuming more hydrogen now than when the dinosaurs roamed the earth (aka producing more energy) might have some effect on our climate?

Queue the Picard/Riker facepalm:

cmsciulli on February 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Aw Hot Gas ate my link: http://media.giantbomb.com/uploads/1/17166/1252807-facepalm_combo_large.jpg

cmsciulli on February 7, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Vahrenholt’s skepticism started when he was asked to review an IPCC report on renewable energy. He found hundreds of errors. When he pointed them out, IPCC officials simply brushed them aside. Stunned, he asked himself, “Is this the way they approached the climate assessment reports?”

Vahrenholt is just now discovering “the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect”, as defined in an often-quoted excerpt from a talk by Michael Crichton at the International Leadership Forum, La Jolla, April 26, 2002, titled “Why Speculate”

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward — reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

Most scientists really don’t think of their professional journals as being in the same class as the popular media; it comes as a profound shock to discover they are wrong.

AesopFan on February 7, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Did you really need a Ph.D to figure out that the giant, ball of gas in the sky that is consuming more hydrogen now than when the dinosaurs roamed the earth (aka producing more energy) might have some effect on our climate?

Queue the Picard/Riker facepalm:

cmsciulli on February 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM

And yet there are plenty of people who think it’s absolutely ridiculous to assert that the sun has much impact on the planet’s climate, much less be the main driver of warming.

joejmz on February 7, 2012 at 12:39 PM

We are losing the culture wars and this subversion of knowledge to leftist theology needs to be stopped and reversed asap. Any ideas on how to accomplish this?

shmendrick on February 7, 2012 at 12:17 PM

(1) for the current generation of kids: home-schooling followed by college at one of the few conservative universities; (2) while the adults keep pushing for more charter-schools and private school vouchers; (3) educate ourselves so we can talk to the youth about how leftist politics is ruining their own lives; (4) but don’t betray their trust by lying in the service of conservative causes.

AesopFan on February 7, 2012 at 12:40 PM

It is at least a little refreshing to see that there are still some scientists out there who are not leftist government whores willing to sell their ethics for another grant.

dentarthurdent on February 7, 2012 at 12:44 PM

And yet there are plenty of people who think it’s absolutely ridiculous to assert that the sun has much impact on the planet’s climate, much less be the main driver of warming.

joejmz on February 7, 2012 at 12:39 PM

It was 8 degrees this morning before the sun came up. Now it’s up to 25. I wonder what could have caused that 17 degree increase in temperature….. Must have been me firing up my truck to drive to work and spewing all that CO2….. /s

dentarthurdent on February 7, 2012 at 12:49 PM

AGW based on CO2 emissions is, and always has been, a fraud. If there were a plausible connection between human activity and climate, it would be much more likely found in the substitution of irrigated cropland for low-density native scrub — both from the decreased solar reflection from lush greenery and the release of water vapor through transpiration (water vapor being substantially more of a greenhouse gas than CO2).

My theory as to why this should be involves the public reaction to government response. If agriculture is targeted, this shows up directly in food costs, which has historically been associated with rapid increases in civil unrest. By focusing on CO2 as a proxy for industry, the burden can be shifted onto businesses.

cthulhu on February 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Although I admit that the carbon taxes, quality of life, etc. would make my life a great deal harder, I still get a certain sick pleasure out of watching some Ph.D. chasing around a few elk trying to measure their CO2 and methane emissions.

Turtle317 on February 7, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Hmm, let’s see..
A nutrient gas that’s essential to life on Earth, comprising less than 0.04% of the atmosphere regulates the climate and is causing the Earth to heat up to the point where life as we know it is in danger, but the nuclear furnace that crosses the sky every day is insignificant.
Got it.
I suppose I should panic.
Hold your breath while you wait.

single stack on February 7, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Hold your breath while you wait.

single stack on February 7, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Absolutely, because every time you exhale you pollute mother earth with that deadly greenhouse gas CO2…..

dentarthurdent on February 7, 2012 at 4:33 PM

I fully expect the next enviro-wacko scare to be about eliminating that deadly chemical dihydrogen-monoxide.

dentarthurdent on February 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I fully expect the next enviro-wacko scare to be about eliminating that deadly chemical dihydrogen-monoxide.

dentarthurdent on February 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Water you tryin’ to say? :-)

Lammo on February 7, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Water you tryin’ to say?

Lammo on February 7, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Don’t cloud the issue and rain on my parade. I could drown you in a sea of facts that would wash away any doubt as to how dangerous this stuff is. Any chemical apocalypse deniers better have a chemistry phd or you’re not allowed to question my authoritah….

dentarthurdent on February 7, 2012 at 11:19 PM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Jazz Shaw on February 8, 2012 at 2:05 PM

As a PhD from a major state university it’s no secret that graduate research is often designed to fit the professor’s theories. As bad as this is in the “hard” sciences it’s profoundly true in the areas of history and other social “sciences”. I venture to say that today it would be almost impossible to gain a PhD in history, english lit., sociology, or even clinical psychology without parroting the leftist theology espoused by the entrenched faculties in these and other areas.

shmendrick on February 7, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I’m a doctoral student, currently working on my dissertation. While not in a hard science, my colleagues and I are trained on the same scientific rigor and study science, theory, and quantitative analysis. I’ll graduate in May (hopefully).

I have a friend in history who was working on his dissertation before I entered doctoral school 4 years ago, and is still trying to get his through. Why? Because he’s trying to propose a concept that doesn’t run parallel with his committee. In my field, such a task would need a great deal of rigor in research, but is plausible. In history, it can’t get off the ground.

The worst part of this is considering what should be a hard science has falling prey to being a political one. And who loses?

Science. And us.

itsspideyman on February 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM