MARC Hendrickx (Letters, 17-18/10) alleges that Pen Hadow “had to be rescued in the Arctic in 2003 due to the extreme cold and excessive ice”. Hadow in fact had always planned to be airlifted off once he arrived at the Pole, and the only issue was that he started his solo walk from Canada to the North Pole late in the season, when a pick up was risky because the ice was breaking up.
If it’s impossible to support an argument without resorting to fabrication or ad hominem attack, you don’t have a case. Every global warming denial theory falls apart when examined against the evidence, so the denial cult has given up arguing the facts.
Here’s one they won’t like. Despite the fact that we are in the deepest solar minimum—the period of least solar activity in the solar cycle of the sun—in almost a century, temperatures remain close to record highs. Had the “it’s all the sun” crew been right, we should have seen temperatures close to 100-year lows over the past few years.
As for the actual state of the Arctic, Hadow is not the only authority who has Arctic summer sea ice disappearing in the next 20 to 30 years. Several papers and reports have backed this conclusion. I’ve been working in science for nearly 30 years, and I have yet to encounter a situation where wishful thinking overturns a theory, especially when that wishful thinking runs counter to well-established physics (as is the theory of greenhouse gas warming).
If there are genuine climate-change sceptics who have alternative theories that explain the facts better than the mainstream theory, let’s hear them by all means. That’s how science works. But if the accepted theory is right, we are running out of time fast. The alternative theories have all failed any reasonable scientific test, while the mainstream has held up pretty well against the most concerted political attack on any scientific theory since the Inquisition stopped burning scientists at the stake. It’s time to move on and start addressing the real problems.
Then, a day later, a response:
USING dubious observations to bolster a preferred hypothesis is not how science works. Philip Machanick (Letters, 20/10) is on thin ice when he suggests that the human-caused global warming scenario is the only plausible explanation for our recent climate history. There is a plethora of contradictory data.
Reconstructions of the solar intensity record for recent centuries, referred to by Machanick, are speculative. Prior to 1978 there were no direct observations from outside the atmosphere and estimates of changing intensity have been made from proxies, such as sun spot numbers. As reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even the successive satellites have calibration uncertainty. It is therefore a matter of dispute as to whether or not we are in the deepest solar minimum in almost a century, as Machanick claims.
If melting of Arctic sea ice is to be taken as the canary in the coal mine for human-caused global warming, then there are relevant reputable data extending over hundreds of thousands of years from which to draw comfort. Oxygen isotope ratios from Greenland ice cores and pollen analysis from sea-bed sediment cores off southern Greenland independently show a consistent pattern.
Over the past half-million years the Arctic has oscillated through glacial cycles, each of about 100,000-year duration, and we are currently in a relatively warm interglacial phase. During each of the previous interglacials the Arctic was warmer than at present. The pollen and isotope records also suggest that the Arctic was warmer during the current interglacial between 4000 and 8000 years ago, when the carbon dioxide concentration was much less than now, and well before industrialisation.
Kininmoth is accusing me of gross misconceptions about how science works (note the bits I’ve highlighted). Heavy. I should return my PhD, and stop working as a researcher. Or, maybe I should do what a researcher does, and re-examine the evidence – starting from the pronouncements of Kininmoth himself. My original letter did not come out of nowhere: I was attempting to demonstrate how the data the denialists use directly contradicts the evidence. Well, here’s another Kininmonthian contribution from December 2008:
THE attempt by Professor Marvin Geller to discredit scientists who do not follow the climate alarmist agenda only highlights the inconsistencies of his case ("Professor sheds light for climate sceptics”, 4/12).
The evidence of solar influences on climate is well documented, especially the relationships established over many centuries of observations, that link sunspot numbers and cosmic ray activity to global temperature.
The lack of a creditable explanation for the relationships should be reason for more research, not dismissal of the mechanisms.
It is wrong to claim that the past few decades of warming cannot be explained without including human influences.
The error of his statement is obvious from his own explanation for the temperature peak of 1998 as a massive El Nino event. The El Nino is a temporary reduction of upwelling in the surface layer of the tropical Pacific Ocean that decreases the entrainment of cold subsurface water; the warmer tropical waters provide additional energy to warm the planet during an El Nino event.
Research by Michael McPhaden and Dongxiao Zhang, published in the journal Nature in 2002, identified a major and sustained reduction in Pacific Ocean upwelling and warmer ocean surface temperatures that became established in 1976.
This was at the beginning of the most recent global warming episode that the alarmists mistakenly attribute to human-caused carbon dioxide.
Interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, the two fluids that regulate Earth’s climate, are now widely recognised as contributing to climate variability on a range of timescales.
Note again my highlighting.
What was that again, about “Using dubious observations to bolster a preferred hypothesis”? Is that not a vaguely similar methodological flaw to changing your degree of support for the validity of a data set when it no longer supports your “preferred hypothesis”?
I could also dispute other points he makes, but this to me is sufficient. If you want to accuse others of unscientific practice, make sure your own approach is beyond reproach.
The WCC3 conference has downloads of speakers’ slides, and a voice recording. Latif’s talk (about a third of the way into the audio) is especially interesting since it has been so widely misreported. In particular, he addresses the need to get better resolution and accuracy for decadal predictions; this has somehow been interpreted as his saying that it will get cooler over the next two decades. If you want to get the best out of his talk, download Latif’s slides and follow them while listening to his part of the audio. I’ve posted a longer article elsewhere on how Latif has been misinterpreted.