Consensus collapses: APS re-opens debate on global warming; Update: APS "reaffirms" stance

The American Physical Society had been a proponent of the “consensus” on anthropogenic global warming/climate change — until now.  While the main organization has not addressed its position — yet — a major unit within APS has declared global warming unproven and that the IPCC’s conclusions unsupportable.  The APS will re-open the debate on global warming with a new paper accusing the IPCC of deliberate obfuscation (via Memeorandum):

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming.  The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science.  The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.” …

The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity — the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause — has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling.   A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.

Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chairman of the New England Section of the APS, called Monckton’s paper an “expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and “extensive errors”

In an email to DailyTech, Monckton says, “I was dismayed to discover that the IPCC’s 2001 and 2007 reports did not devote chapters to the central ‘climate sensitivity’ question, and did not explain in proper, systematic detail the methods by which they evaluated it. When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method.”

The paper points out that the warming seen on Earth during the period under question matched the warming seen on other planets in the solar system, a point repeatedly made by skeptics over the last few years.  Mars, Jupiter, Pluto, and one of Neptune’s moons experienced the same climate shift at the same time, and Monckton assigns the blame not to SUVs or belching smokestacks, but to the only energy source all have in common: the sun.  Solar activity during the past seventy years, Monckton states, exceeded what had been seen for 11,000 years, which led to the warming activity here on Earth and elsewhere in the system.

At the same time, one of the authors who built Australia’s compliance protocol for the Kyoto Accords admits what most of us suspected all along — that the scientific community jumped to conclusions:

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

In other words, the science community had reasons to jump to conclusions.  They got grants, they got attention, and they started getting all the hot chicks — well, at least they got money and felt important.  Those are powerful motivators to reach conclusions that keep money and attention flowing, instead of concluding that they aren’t terribly necessary at all.

And governments had powerful motivations to believe them.  It gave politicians reasons to impose greater control on energy production, and to increase the power of the state.  That creates winners and losers, which begets lots of lobbyists and campaign contributions.

Unfortunately, the recent data argues against anthropogenic climate change, and in fact its advocates never really proved anything.  For one thing, as David Evans points out, the “greenhouse” model should have produced an atmospheric hot spot — which no one has ever found, despite years of looking.  Despite ever-increasing production of carbon, the last seven years have produced a cooling trend.  And more recent data shows that carbon increases at the end of warming cycles, not at the beginning, which demolishes the cause-and-effect assumptions for climate-change advocates.

In short, the Earth is not in danger of “getting a fever”, and the global-warming theory has been shown to be a Chicken Little scenario with no real scientific basis.  Even those who helped lead the hysteria now have serious doubts.  It’s time to stop wrapping public policy around a fraud.

Update: As I noted in the first paragraph, the APS has not changed its position on anthropogenic global warming, at least not yet.  This effort comes from a subgroup within APS.  They “reaffirm[ed]” their November 2007 position, but momentum is shifting away from them, and the debate will occur regardless.  (via Rick Moran and Jonah Goldberg)