Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by Kimberly Strassel about the EPA “silencing a critic” who questioned the science behind global warming.
This argument was originally made a couple of weeks ago, and it has already been attacked all over the web.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a global-warming-denier group, first reported this story on June 24th. It said the EPA had muzzled Alan Carlin, an EPA economist and researcher, who presented a paper to his bosses that said the science on global warming is inconclusive. Carlin’s bosses at the EPA told him his research wasn’t convincing and told him to work on other tasks, like a market incentives report.
The emails between the EPA bosses and Carlin were then sent to the CEI, who saw this as proof positive that the administration was censoring science. In reality, it looks like the EPA told Carlin to work on other things because his work on this issue was lousy.
First off the authors of the submission; Alan Carlin is an economist and John Davidson is an ex-member of the Carter administration Council of Environmental Quality. Neither are climate scientists. That’s not necessarily a problem – perhaps they have mastered multiple fields? – but it is likely an indication that the analysis is not going to be very technical (and so it will prove). Curiously, while the authors work for the NCEE (National centre for Environmental Economics), part of the EPA, they appear to have rather closely collaborated with one Ken Gregory (his inline comments appear at multiple points in the draft). Ken Gregory if you don’t know is a leading light of the Friends of Science – a astroturf anti-climate science lobbying group based in Alberta. Indeed, parts of the Carlin and Davidson report appear to be lifted directly from Ken’s rambling magnum opus on the FoS site. However, despite this odd pedigree, the scientific points could still be valid.
Their main points are nicely summarised thus: a) the science is so rapidly evolving that IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are already out of date, b) the globe is cooling!, c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous, d) Greenland is not losing mass, no sirree…, e) the recession will save us!, f) water vapour feedback is negative!, and g) Scafetta and West’s statistical fit of temperature to an obsolete solar forcing curve means that all other detection and attribution work is wrong. From this “evidence”, they then claim that all variations in climate are internal variability, except for the warming trend which is caused by the sun, oh and by the way the globe is cooling.
One can see a number of basic flaws here; the complete lack of appreciation of the importance of natural variability on short time scales, the common but erroneous belief that any attribution of past climate change to solar or other forcing means that CO2 has no radiative effect, and a hopeless lack of familiarity of the basic science of detection and attribution.
But it gets worse, what solid peer-reviewed science do they cite for support? A heavily-criticised blog posting showing that there are bi-decadal periods in climate data and that this proves it was the sun wot done it. The work of an award-winning astrologer (one Theodor Landscheidt, who also thought that the rise of Hitler and Stalin were due to cosmic cycles), a classic Courtillot paper we’ve discussed before, the aforementioned FoS web page, another web page run by Doug Hoyt, a paper by Garth Paltridge reporting on artifacts in the NCEP reanalysis of water vapour that are in contradiction to every other reanalysis, direct observations and satellite data, a complete reprint of another un-peer reviewed paper by William grey, a nonsense paper by Miskolczi etc. etc. I’m not quite sure how this is supposed to compete with the four rounds of international scientific and governmental review of the IPCC or the rounds of review of the CCSP reports….
They don’t even notice the contradictions in their own cites. For instance, they show a figure that demonstrates that galactic cosmic ray and solar trends are non-existent from 1957 on, and yet cheerfully quote Scafetta and West who claim that almost all of the recent trend is solar driven! They claim that climate sensitivity is very small while failing to realise that this implies that solar variability can’t have any effect either. They claim that GCM simulations produced trends over the twentieth century of 1.6 to 3.74ºC – which is simply (and bizarrely) wrong (though with all due respect, that one seems to come directly from Mr. Gregory). Even more curious, Carlin appears to be a big fan of geo-engineering, but how this squares with his apparent belief that we know nothing about what drives climate, is puzzling. A sine qua non of geo-engineering is that we need models to be able to predict what is likely to happen, and if you think they are all wrong, how could you have any faith that you could effectively manage a geo-engineering approach?
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