Heartland Conference Gave Global-Warming Skeptics Great Ammunition
Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley pulled an enormous calculator out of the inside pocket of his finely tailored English suit, pointed to a formula in the paper he was holding, punched some buttons, and explained, showing me the calculator results, that if we shut down the entire world’s economy for 25 years, the maximum possible impact on global temperatures would be 1 degree centigrade.
That’s what passed for light banter at the Heartland Institute’s 4th Annual Conference on Climate Change, which I had the good fortune to attend for three days last week, meeting a pantheon of climate “skeptic” heroes including Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Steve McIntyre and Roy Spencer, just to name a few of the dozens of speakers hailing from two dozen nations.
Heartland’s president, Joe Bast, set the tone the first night while addressing the meeting’s roughly 800 attendees. Bast quoted a scientist—and I use that term very loosely—from the University of East Anglia, home of the Climategate scandal, who actually wrote in a recently published book: “We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but what climate change can do for us.” Rarely has there been a more public statement of the mindset of global warmists.
The three-day meeting was composed of meals in a large room for all attendees with four simultaneous interspersed break-out sessions, usually with three or four speakers each, on topics of science, economics or public policy. Because there were four sessions at once, I necessarily missed three quarters of the presentations, but Heartland has already begun posting video coverage and PowerPoint presentations on their web site so people can see what they missed. Pajamas Media (PJTV) also streamed and archived many of the presentations and speeches.
Following are some of the highlights of the various presentations and speeches I attended. My focus tended toward the science-oriented break-out sessions.
From Sweden’s Nils-Axel Mörner, one of the world’s leading experts on sea levels: Sea levels are simply not rising around the Maldives, Tuvalu, Bangladesh, even Venice, despite the fact these low-lying places are the poster children for the supposed coming catastrophe caused by “global warming. Referring to some of his older work, Mörner made a point I had never heard before: If the sea level were rising, then the Law of Angular Momentum says that the speed of Earth’s rotation must slow. However, the earth’s rotation is not slowing, thus confirming his data that sea levels are not rising.
From New Zealand scientist Bob Carter: Sea levels around Australia have fallen more than a meter over the past 6,000 years. Still, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) continues to trumpet sea-level rise as a cause of major concern and a reason to curb worldwide carbon emissions. According to Dr. Carter, “In using IPCC advice to set their policies, national governments are negligent and fail utterly to do their duty to their people.”
From Western Washington University’s Don Easterbrook: “We have begun global cooling which I predicted in 1998.” He also noted that natural global warming much more intense than modern warming has occurred many times in the geologic past without substantial changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Easterbrook also pointed out that twice as many people are killed by extreme cold as by extreme heat and that global cooling poses far greater other risks as well, including risks to food production and increased demand for energy.
Perhaps the most important non-warmist scientist, MIT’s Richard Lindzen said that doubling the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would contribute only 1 degree (Celsius) to warming. All IPCC models predict more because they assume “positive feedbacks” which exist only in models; real measurements show slight negative feedback. (Positive feedback means that climatic reaction to warmer temperatures would be changes that would lead to even warmer temperatures, which is not what is happening.)
Lindzen savaged IPCC models, saying that their higher sensitivity to CO2 changes is made consistent with observed warming by invoking arbitrary negative forcings and other adjustments. He also noted that “even if it were true that models are our only tool, it would be true only if models were objective and not arbitrarily adjusted.”
He argued that we should be suspicious of climate alarmism for five primary reasons: The alarmists claims of incontrovertibility, their arguing from authority instead of scientific reasoning or even elementary logic, their use of the term “global warming” without either definition or quantification, their identification of complex phenomena that have multiple causes as being based on a single cause, and their conflation of natural climate variability with man-made global warming.
And in the most fundamentally significant words spoken about those who disagree with the cult of Al Gore, Lindzen suggested that the word “skeptic” should not be used:
“Skepticism” implies doubts about a plausible proposition. Current global-warming alarm hardly represents a plausible proposition. Twenty years of repetition and escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary. The failure to improve the case over 20 years makes the case even less plausible as does the evidence from Climategate and other instances of overt cheating.
I asked Dr. Lindzen whether, much as government seems inherently corrupting to many politicians, something in the structure of science has become inherently corrupting to many scientists. His response was that “science has changed to being ‘programmatic,’ meaning that when you get the answer, you end the program. So we have a structure in science that tends to cause scientists to want to avoid getting answers.”
Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick spent some time signing small hockey sticks that said “Mann-made global warming” on them, in reference to the infamous IPCC “hockey stick” graph created by Michael Mann and utterly destroyed by McIntyre and McKitrick. It is a wonder that Mann still has a job anywhere. Indeed, several conference speakers noted how every investigation into the corruption of the climate alarmists, including Climategate, has been an utter whitewash.
One of the other fascinating scientific topics was how global temperatures are measured. Joe D’Aleo of Icecap noted that 75% of the world’s weather stations dropped out around 1990, with missing data increasing ten-fold after 1990. There are either no adjustments or totally inadequate adjustments for “urban heat island effect”, a point made by several speakers who suggested that most of the warming the IPCC has measured is simply the warming created in big cities. The point was driven home by a picture of the Rome airport weather station: It’s in a fenced area right behind the jet wash of airplanes taking off.
IPCC data is changed frequently with no explanation: 20% of NASA’s data changed 16 times in 2.5 years from 2004 to 2007. Data modifications for Darwin, Australia changed a cooling trend of .7 degrees into a warming trend of 1.2 degrees, and other such shenanigans. It’s the ultimate example of “garbage in, garbage out.”
Perhaps one of the most remarkable presentations was by Andrei Illarionov of Moscow’s Institute for Economic Analysis. He showed that the methodology of Phil Jones and the “keepers of the surface temperature data” at the University of East Anglia was such that no matter how many of Russia’s weather stations were used, the resulting data sets were nearly identical, matching the data from Russia’s four oldest stations, all of which are in major urban areas and thus substantially overstate actual changes in climate. The same fraudulent methodology is almost certainly used for data for everywhere else on earth. I spoke with Illarionov for more than half an hour trying to understand how it was possible. I still don’t understand except that it’s clear the warmists’ data prove Mark Twain’s maxim that “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
The conference concluded with one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard, by the aforementioned Lord Christopher Monckton, one of the most important and effective opponents of Al Gore in the world. Describing Monckton’s speech can’t do it justice. Instead, I urge you to watch it yourself at this link, clicking on the third video in the first row. It will be one of the most enjoyable and informative hours you’ve heard. His infectious enthusiasm and drive for the truth is a large part of the reason that the 4th International Conference on Climate Change had just a hint of celebration, of the sense that maybe we’re finally winning—or at least no longer losing.