December 2004

Where’s the party?
World Climate Report, Dec 16, 2004
Preliminary data indicate 2004 likely will register as the fourth-warmest year in the world’s surface temperature record. Yet despite all the gloom-and-doom scenarios, we haven’t experienced an all-time record-setter since the big El Nio back in 1998. Our planet may be warming, but not at a torrid clip.

CO2 No Pollutant  
Financial Times, Dec 29 2004
While it is becoming increasingly fashionable to maintain that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, it was rather shocking to see the Financial Times buy into what can at best be charitably characterised as a form of “political correctness” (“The price of carbon emissions,” December 27).

Media linking killer tsunami to global warming, Dec 28 2004
With the world’s attention focused on the earthquake/tsunami that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in at least ten countries that surround the Indian Ocean, media organizations like Reuters are pinning part of the blame for the catastrophe on “global warming.”

Russia may cash in $1 billion to $3 billion selling Kyoto protocol quotas
Interfax, Dec 27 2004
Russia may net $1 billion to $3 billion by selling quotas of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere allowed to it by the Kyoto protocol, Vsevolod Gavrilov, deputy director of the Economic Development Ministry’s Material and Land Relations and Nature Use Economics Department, told Interfax on Monday.

Nature lays an(other) egg
World Climate Report, Dec 30 2004
Well grant the editorial staff at Nature this: They never are shy about printing really loosey-goosey stuff whenever the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) needs a boost or on the eve of another glitzy UN confab to discuss global climate change.

Where’s My Present?, Dec 27 2004

Global warming took a big hit this weekend in the United States as wintry weather stranded travelers, knocked out electricity and caused Christmas presents to be delayed.

Turning the page on fear, fiction of global warming
Houston Chronicle, Dec 22 2004
(George Will) — Crichton’s subject is today’s fear that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change, a belief now so conventional that it seems to require no supporting data. Crichton’s subject is also how conventional wisdom is manufactured in a credulous and media-drenched society.

Conservatives should make time to read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear
Human Events, Dec 29 2004
This year’s most politically incorrect book–and also the one likely to have the biggest impact on public opinion–is not by HUMAN EVENTS’ Ann Coulter. Nor, surprisingly, is it by any other prominent conservative writer or talker. It’s Michael Crichton’s new novel, State of Fear.

Scientist decries moral audacity of environmentalists linking tsunami and global warming
Dr. Pat Michaels / PRNewswire, Dec 28 2004
Anyone who has the moral audacity to blame thousands of deaths caused by the Indian Ocean tsunamis on global warming is in grave contravention of well- known facts about changes in sea level in that region.

Insuring climate change — high risk business
Tech Central Station, Dec 27 2004
Alarmism over climate change has created many bandwagons. One is Europe‘s insurance industry. It is an official “business partner” of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the UN’s official climate change booster. Many businesses seek a Green afterglow as global warming fellow travelers. The insurance companies claim a higher tone. They are in it to contribute. They may be taking a bigger risk than they realize.

Living in sunny times 
American Scientist, Dec 25 2004
A publication in Nature last October by solar physicist Sami K. Solanki of the Max-Planck-Institut fr Sonnensystemforschung and four of his colleagues is bound to intensify the arguments. Solanki and coworkers attempted to estimate “sunspot numbers,” a general barometer of solar activity, for times long before the beginning of the observational record, which starts four centuries ago. Their main result is expressed in the title of their paper: “Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years.”

Evidence for sun-climate link reported by UMaine scientists
University of Maine, Dec 22 2004
A team led by University of Maine scientists has reported finding a potential link between changes in solar activity and the Earth’s climate. In a paper due to be published in an upcoming volume of the Annals of Glaciology, Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, and 11 colleagues from China, Australia and UMaine describe evidence from ice cores pointing to an association between the waxing and waning of zonal wind strength around Antarctica and a chemical signal of changes in the sun’s output.

Michael Crichton takes a novel approach to global warming alarmism
CEI / National Review Online, Dec 21 2004
Michael Crichton’s new blockbuster novel, State of Fear, begins with sex, violence, and oceanography. It’s that sort of book all the way through, mixing the usual adventure novel clichs of beautiful young heroes, indestructible secret agents, and a plot to kill millions alongside hard science, including graphs, footnotes, and words like “aminostratigraphy.”

The new global warming lawsuit industry
WEBCommentary, Dec 21 2004
(Paul Driessen)The Kyoto climate treaty took a beating in Buenos Aires last week. Angry but undeterred, the ideological environmentalists are taking a new tack a wave of lawsuits against corporations that they and their acolytes claim are responsible for every observed or imaginable weather anomaly.

Australia alters stance on climate change pact
The Melbourne Age, Dec 20 2004
“The difference between the US and Australia is that we are prepared to engage in a new agreement (after Kyoto) as long as it is comprehensive. But a new agreement will have to include the US and the developing world.”

Pollution politics: Detroit and California feud over air rules
U.S. News & World Report, Dec 27 2004
If California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hummer gets regulated out of existence, he’ll have his own administration to thank.


Climate change meeting ends with goal to cut emissions
U.S. State Dept. / UN Framework Convention, Dec 19 2004
The tenth Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended an 11-day session in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 18, with the Kyoto Protocol’s signatory nations looking forward to its implementation in February, 2005.

Green groups unhappy with climate change talks
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dec 18 2004
A last-ditch compromise between the United States and the European Union resulted in a seminar next May to exchange information.

Argentina signs agreements on green-house gas reduction
Xinhuanet, Dec 18 2004
The documents were signed under the Mechanism for Clean Development within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, which will become effective in February 2005 and expire in 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol is dead
Reason online, Dec 17 2004
Buenos AiresThe Kyoto Protocol is dead. There will be no further global treaties that set binding limits on the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) after Kyoto runs out in 2012.

Greens concede Kyoto will not impact ‘global warming’, Dec 17 2004
Buenos Aires – After a relentless attack on the United States for opposing the Kyoto Protocol, environmental groups concede the international treaty will have no impact on what they believe to be impending catastrophic global warming.

MSU1278-1104.gif (29171 bytes) “Global Warming” at a glance: November 2004, Dec 10 2004
As determined by NOAA Satellite-mounted MSUs


Buenos Aires: Kyoto’s Waterloo 
Tech Central Station, Dec 17 2004
Since the refusal by the G-77, China and India to accept any commitment to reduce emissions on from 2012, when Kyoto Mark I expires, and — more surprisingly — the announcement by Italy that it will withdraw from the Kyoto process in the same year, we have entered a totally different ball game.

COP 10: Inuit all along
Tech Central Station, Dec 17 2004
(Christopher Horner) — On Wednesday the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a hard green legal group, convened the press to detail a pending human rights complaint. The forum for the complaint is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an organ of the Organization of American States (OAS). The aggrieved are Arctic Inuit peoples; the defendant is the U.S.; the allegation against the U.S. is “for causing global warming and its devastating impacts”.

Eskimo filing against US just tip of legal iceberg, Dec 17 2004
“The Kyoto Protocol is dead for all intents and purposes, so environmentalists now go to Plan B: What they couldn’t obtain through the open democratic process, they are now desperately trying to seek through the courts,” said Chris Horner of the free market environmental group Competitive Enterprise Institute who attended the U.N. conference here.

Kyoto controversy continues
FoxNews, Dec 17 2004
The international global warming worry-wart community is meeting in Buenos Aires this week to figure out how to get the U.S. to participate in the global economic suicide pact known as the Kyoto Protocol.

COP 10: Who’s the greatest?
Tech Central Station, Dec 16 2004
(Christopher Horner) — British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Science Advisor Sir David King regularly calls climate change “the greatest threat facing mankind” and “worse than terrorism.” A local paper here, the Buenos Aires Herald, echoed this sentiment in an editorial this week. Blair himself more modestly calls climate change “the greatest environmental threat”.

More from COP 10, Dec 16 2004
(Ivan Osorio) — As in all other climate conferences, the major environmental pressure groups are making their presence felt here. Friends of the Earth International (FoE) is pushing bans on genetically modified trees, promotion of hydroelectric projects by international bodies like the U.N., and climate change litigation against business and governments.

UN conference shuts up reporter; calls global warming science questions ‘silly’, Dec 16 2004
During her original presentation, Watt-Cloutier held up a
article on Arctic melting that was published earlier this week. She ridiculed a passage quoting Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market environmental group. Watt-Cloutier was incensed by Ebell’s comment that potentially rising temperatures in the Arctic region may have some benefits.

COP 10: The EU is no longer united
Tech Central Station, Dec 16 2004
Italy has put it clear that it will not follow Brussels on the path of a perennial struggle to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Inside the Beltway: Eskimo dunk
Washington Times, Dec 16 2004
“Apparently their snowmobiles are falling through the ice,” relays Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who is attending this week’s global-warming negotiations in Buenos Aires.

Polar bear scare: Now I get it!, Dec 16 2004
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, then, was really all about laying the groundwork for the Inuits to sue the U.S. and U.S. companies! Moreover, U.S. taxpayers paid for the report, which will now be used as a basis to sue us!

Exclusive COP 10 report, Dec 15 2004
Ironically the meeting is being held at the Argentine Rural Society (La Rural, for short), an agriculture promotion body. Next to the convention hall is an amphitheater that looks like it could be used for equestrian or cattle shows.

Eskimos seek to recast global warming as a rights issue
New York Times, Dec 15 2004
Christopher C. Horner, a lawyer for the Cooler Heads Coalition, an industry-financed group opposed to cutting the emissions, said the chances of success of such lawsuits had risen lately.  From his standpoint, he said, “The planets are aligned very poorly.”

COP 10: Our low-carbon future?
Tech Central Station, Dec 15 2004
“To stop further damage to the climate we need a worldwide 60% reduction in emissions by 2050,” declared British Prime Minister Tony Blair in February 2003. Setting aside the question of whether or not catastrophic climate change due to adding extra greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere is really likely, is Blair’s goal feasible? 

Blood for Kyoto?
Washington Times, Dec 14 2004
Kyoto global-warming negotiations have resumed in Buenos Aires, where yesterday it was 85 degrees and sunny (being that the start of summer is a week away in the Southern Hemisphere).

There is NO man-made global warming
American Policy Center, Dec 14 2004
Why does the Kyoto Protocol only bind developed nations to draconian emission levels?

Penn State expert says global climate change likely to benefit Pennsylvania agriculture
Pennsylvania State University, Dec 14 2004
The effects for Pennsylvania won’t be all bad, according to research done by Shortle and his colleagues. “Climate change is likely to benefit our state’s agriculture,” he explains. “Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should stimulate photosynthesis and raise crop yields, while crops may also benefit from additional spring and summer rainfall and warmer temperatures.”

Study claiming rapid Arctic ice melt refuted at climate summit, Dec 14 2004
“The temperature graph [of the Arctic used in the ACIA study] does not agree with any of the known [temperature] data sets for the Arctic. In other words, who knows where they got this data from,” Ebell told

COP 10: Premature congratulation
Tech Central Station, Dec 14 2004
Albert Einstein once said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different outcome.” As such, the stubborn Kyoto negotiators seem in need of help.

UN climate conference called ‘meeting about nothing’, Dec 13 2004
Buenos Aires, Argentina – “The Kyoto Protocol is a treaty about nothing. It’s the Seinfeld (TV sitcom) conference,” declared Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the free market environmental group Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Extremists on the run
Scripps-Howard, Dec 13 2004
While a superficial glance indicates the extremists are winning, they are, in fact, on the run. They’ve failed – largely because opponents like MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen, who has called warming theory a “religious belief” rather than sound science, haven’t been intimidated.

Only 21 EU countries to start pollution trading
Agence France-Presse, Dec 13 2004
Only 21 of the 25 European Union nations will join the start of a carbon dioxide emissions trading market aimed at reducing gases which cause global warming, the European Commission announced here Monday.

Global warming negotiations heat up
Tech Central Station, Dec 13 2004
Last week, 5,400 delegates from 189 countries convened in Buenos Aires for further climate change treaty negotiations at the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10). Environment ministers from 90 countries are expected to attend the final three days of negotiations beginning on Wednesday. The COP10 of negotiations will conclude on Friday, December 17.

CEI experts to monitor U.N. global warming conference in Buenos Aires, Dec. 13-17
Competitive Enterprise Institute, Dec 13, 2004
Ebell and Osorio will be available for interviews live from Argentina (Osorio in Spanish and English) and will report breaking news and eye-witness accounts on:

A chilling tale
Wall Street Journal, Dec 10 2004
“State of Fear” is, in a sense, the novelization of a speech that Mr. Crichton delivered in September 2003 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. He argued there that environmentalism is essentially a religion, a belief-system based on faith, not fact. To make this point, the novel weaves real scientific data and all too real political machinations into the twists and turns of its gripping story.

Viewpoints: Tackling climate change
BBC, Dec 9 2004
Global warming alarmism is an implausible theory
Myron Ebell, director of global warming policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Global Temperature Report: November 2004
University of Alabama-Huntsville, Dec 08, 2004
Global composite temp.: +0.15 C (about 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for November.

Britain’s secret plan for new global climate pact
London Times, Dec 9 2004
TONY BLAIR is seeking to secure George Bushs backing for a new international treaty that would end Americas isolation on global warming, The Times has learnt.[…] The deal, described by one source as Kyoto-lite, would involve scientific agreement on the scale and nature of the threat, as well as an international programme to develop the technology needed for renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions.

Carbon sink or carbon source? Aerosols play significant role in shifts
North Carolina State University, Dec 8 2004
Researchers at North Carolina State University have shown that the amount of aerosols dust particles, soot from automobile emissions and factories, and other airborne particles in the atmosphere has a significant impact on whether the surface area below either absorbs or emits more carbon dioxide (CO2).

New report undermines climate change claims
Marshall Institute, Dec 7 2004
Key scientific questions remain unanswered.

U.S. has three-pronged climate change strategy, envoy says
U.S. Department of State, Dec 07, 2004
Climate change negotiator briefs at Buenos Aires meeting.

Schwarzenegger vows to defend emissions law
New York Times, Dec 8 2004
Toyota, General Motors and seven other automakers filed suit on Tuesday to block California’s new greenhouse gas regulation, which was approved by the state in its final form in September.

Essay claiming ‘scientific consensus’ for global warming ridiculed, Dec 7 2004
A Science Magazine essay claiming there is a “scientific consensus” about human-caused “global warming” was ridiculed Monday by a British scientist, who compared such a “consensus” to the near-unanimous elections that existed in the old Soviet Union.

Let’s be honest about the real consensus
Tech Central Station, Dec 7 2004
The arguments for anthropogenic climate change often take the form of “we know it is happening, therefore we need to do something about it now”. While appealing to the uncritical thinker, it implies two important but unstated assumptions: 1) human induced climate change of any amount is very bad, and 2) public policy should be changed to fix it, regardless of the cost.

U.S. automakers challenge Calif. emission rules
Reuters, Dec 7 2004
U.S. automakers on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging California’s new vehicle emission rules.

Climate conference delegates wrestle with strategies
Associated Press, Dec 7 2004
New strategies to confront global warming took center stage in Buenos Aires on Monday, where thousands of environmentalists and government policy-makers gathered for an international conference on climate change.

Climate alarmism and the poor
Tech Central Station, Dec 6 2004
We are already exposed to nearly all the alleged negative impacts of climate change, and although any man-made climate change may make these dangers worse, there are policies that can be followed that reduce today’s harm.

Australia to Meet Kyoto Target But Refuses to Sign
Reuters, Dec 5 2004
Australia is on track to meet targets set by the global Kyoto Treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions but will still not sign the pact because it ignores key areas of the fight against global warming in developing nations.

In face of global warming, White House opts for tech fixes
Washington Post, Dec 5 2004
Rather than endorsing mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions linked to warming, the course embraced by most of America’s allies, the White House is focusing on technological fixes: developing energy sources that burn cleaner or finding ways to extract excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

U.S. officials brief foreign press on climate change policy
U.S. State Dept., Dec 3 2004
U.S. State Department and Department of Energy (DOE) officials gave international reporters an overview of U.S. global climate change policy December 2, in advance of the December 6-17 10th Conference of the Parties (COP-10) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Global warming: Satellite saga continues 
Tech Central Station, Dec 3 2004
The results of two research studies announced this week address the infamous discrepancy between satellite and surface thermometer trends over the last 25 years.

UN talks to review where ‘dangerous’ warming starts
Reuters, Dec 3 2004
The Dec. 6-17 U.N. talks in Buenos Aires will also seek ways to persuade the United States to rejoin a U.N.-led fight against climate change and also try to involve developing nations like China, India or Brazil.

On creeping collectivization
Tech Central Station, Dec 3 2004
It is often argued that CO2 emission trading is in conformity with market principles. However, if we take a closer look, it is not. It requires a prior act of creating and distributing (property) rights (to emit), where no rights existed before. Only governments can do so.

Tighter vehicle emission standards proposed for Washington state
The Seattle Times, Dec 2 2004
Washington state would follow California’s lead in establishing tough new automotive standards to slash emissions of greenhouse gases under a proposed new bill.

US says no plans to sign new climate change pacts
Reuters, Dec 2 2004
The United States, which backed out of the Kyoto agreement, feels it is too early to assign post 2012 targets, senior U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson told reporters.

Geologys long-term perspective, Dec 2 2004
This response to the contents of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) concerns alarmist and highly questionable conclusions about Arctic climate and its variability.ACIAs gloom and doom perspective on Arctic climate and changes we might anticipate over the next century cannot be justified. The best available scientific evidence does not support such claims.

NASA study links wind, current changes to Indian Ocean warming
NASA, Dec 2 2004
A NASA study suggests changing winds and currents in the Indian Ocean during the 1990s contributed to the observed warming of the ocean during that period. The findings, published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters, have potential implications for long- term regional climate variability.

Meteorologist likens fear of global warming to ‘religious belief’, Dec 2 2004
An MIT meteorologist Wednesday dismissed alarmist fears about human induced global warming as nothing more than ‘religious beliefs.’  “Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen.

Climate alarm: Where does it come from?
Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dec 1 2004
Politicization of the global warming issue has rendered real communication almost impossible. First, it leads to a meaningless polarization associated with meaningless questions: Do you believe in global warming? Are you a skeptic or a believer?

Northeastern researcher finds missing atmospheric carbon dioxide
Northeastern University, Nov 30 2004
A Northeastern University researcher today announced that he has found that the soil below oak trees exposed to elevated levels of carbon dioxide had significantly higher carbon levels than those exposed to ambient carbon levels. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that elevated carbon dioxide levels are increasing carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems and slowing the build-up of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Of grapes and hockeysticks, Dec 1 2004

The most important aspect of the 633-year temperature history, in our estimation, is the fact that it looks nothing at all like the infamous “hockeystick” temperature history of Mann et al. (1998, 1999), which underpins the climate-alarmist claim that 20th century warming is without precedent over the past thousand years.

City of London set to become carbon market world centre
UK Dept. for the Environment, Dec 1 2004
City of London is well-placed to become one of the world centres for the emerging carbon market, Environment Minister Elliot Morley said today.

Trash tax increase to fight global warming
Rocky Mountain News, Dec 1 2004
BOULDER – The City Council on Tuesday voted to nearly triple the tax on trash collection for homeowners, mostly to fund programs aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Kyoto a mixed bag for Russia
UPI, Nov 30 2004
Andrey Illarionov, Putin’s economic adviser, was quoted last September by the Russian Interfax news agency as saying Kyoto ratification could mean the country’s GDP could lose a total of $1 trillion by 2012.

Nigeria ratifies Kyoto Protocol on climate change
This Day [Lagos], Nov 29 2004
Nigeria has joined the over 120 parties that have so far ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Empty oil wells get a fill-up to reduce greenhouse gas
New Zealand Herald, Dec 1 2004
A short distance from Spindletop oil field, site of the gusher that triggered the Texas oil rush more than a century ago, scientists have found a purpose for the long-disused underground reservoirs – as storage for the pollution emitted by burning fossil fuels.

Urban heat islands of South Korea, Dec 1 2004
“Rural climatological normals should be used instead of the conventional normals to simulate ecosystem responses to climatic change, because the urban area is still much smaller than natural and agricultural ecosystems in Korea.”  Their advice should be heeded by everyone, including the IPCC.

November 2004 global warming news

Review of “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton
(HarperCollins, 603 pages, $27.95),

Michael Crichton — Dr Michael Crichton MD, to be precise – is of course well known for his techno-thrillers “The Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park,” plus more than a dozen other novels and non-fiction works. “State of Fear” is a little different. While constructed as a novel, it is also a guide to environmental issues and its advocates, principally the problem of climate change. It carries a message about Global Warming and will certainly have an important impact on the ongoing policy debate.

The message conveyed is two-fold:

**The scientific evidence does not support Global Warming fears — or even the occurrence of a significant warming trend.

**The environmental movement – and its well-paid leadership – has jumped on the GW bandwagon because that’s where the money is. The book mirrors real-life environmental activists, says Ronald Bailey, Reason magazine’s science correspondent, in his book review for the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 10, 2004).

The scientific evidence is well presented with numerous graphs and references, but more can be said. The climate has never been constant — always either warming or cooling on all time scales (year-to year, decadal, millennial, and over millions of years) -independent of any human influence. While the observed pre-1940 warming is real and mostly natural (a recovery from the preceding Little Ice Age that terminated around 1850), the cooling from 1940 to 1975 is certainly not a greenhouse effect. The warming data reported during the past 25 years from surface stations (almost all of them on land) are likely contaminated by urban effects; we don’t see such warming in the atmospheric record of weather balloons or from weather satellites that cover the whole globe (including the 70% of oceans) on a regular basis. The most we can assign to human greenhouse effects would lead to a temperature rise by 2100 of a measly 0.8 degrees C.

[The so-called scientific consensus claims that if climate is currently warming at 0.08 degC per decade, then temperatures will “increase between 4 degrees F and 10 degrees F by the end of this century” — with all sorts of dire consequences. This remarkable demonstration of poor arithmetic assumes further that all of the current increase is due to human influences rather than natural ones — and also ignores the fact that greenhouse theory predicts a less-than-proportional temperature increase with increasing carbon dioxide. My own considered estimate for 2100 is about one degree F — based not on climate models but on the observational evidence.]

The not-so-hidden message of “State of Fear,” spelled out in copious footnotes, a lengthy afterword, an appendix and a 20-page bibliography, is an oddly reassuring one for a Crichton book, even if many scientists would disagree with it: There is no such thing as Global Warming, or not that anyone can prove or predict; and when it comes to climatic change, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and the compromised and politicized experts who are in the business of purveying it.

For good measure, his protagonist, “MIT professor on special leave” John Kenner, also delivers a number of mini-lectures challenging some of the Green movement’s most cherished beliefs and arguing, for example, that DDT is safe enough to eat, that the giant sequoias are practically junk trees, and that the methane emitted by termites is potentially a greater hazard than the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide.

Throughout the novel and in the afterword, Crichton takes the opportunity to disparage a number of other widely held fears. Fossil-fuel shortage? Not to worry, we’ll come up with something. Population explosion? Nope, birth rates are coming down. Cancer from power lines? Please, you’ve got to be kidding.

Media reports I have seen (ABC, CNN, BBC) all emphasize the fact that the book is fiction, implying that readers should not believe the science either. But this would be a mistake. All scientific claims are backed by footnoted references to articles in science journals – certainly an unusual feature for a novel.

In fact, there is much more evidence backing Crichton’s message. Not only is the current warming well below even the lowest limits given by the IPCC, the UN-appointed climate science panel, but the IPCC claim (in its 2001 report) that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years has turned out to be complete fiction — based on mishandled data and faulty methodology.

The key is whether we can believe the climate predictions of the elaborate computer models quoted by the IPCC. First, the predicted temperatures span a range of over 400 percent. Even worse, none of the models can “hindcast” the climate observations of the past century. Models show the atmosphere warming more rapidly than the surface; data show the opposite. Models show the Polar Regions warming most rapidly; again – no support from the data. [The Arctic “warming” reported in Nov 2004 by the inter-governmental Arctic Council has turned to come from a gerrymandered choice of the Arctic region to include areas that experienced strong warming; all previous publications show a cooling trend with max temperatures in the late 1930s.

As the book points out, many influences on the climate are so poorly known that they have not been included into the models – even though they could be important enough to change the sign of the outcome from warming to cooling. So, until the models are validated, it would be irresponsible to use them as a base far-reaching policy.

Crichton’s story starts out with a series of seemingly disconnected events in far-flung places: Paris, Malaysia, London, Tokyo, Vancouver, Iceland, etc, and mostly California — but gradually comes into focus as we discover that the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF), a fictitious environmental organization, is planning a gigantic worldwide conspiracy: major catastrophes to simulate imagined impacts of a sudden climate change. In contrast to the notorious movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” these disasters are carefully engineered by eco-terrorists and not at all connected to any climate change.

But our heroes, led by John Kenner, manage to scotch the nefarious doings of NERF and its egomaniac chief, Nicholas Drake – but just barely. Drake and his minions want to surreptitiously trigger a series of natural disasters, including a supersize hurricane and a giant tsunami that would hit California with 60-foot waves; these disasters would be timed to coincide with NERF’s big media conference, thereby awakening the public to the dangers of climate change wrought by Global Warming.

In the process, Kenner and company survive all sorts of perils, from frostbite in Antarctica to death by multiple lightning strikes to captivity by cannibals in the South Pacific. It is an exciting story. I read it in essentially one sitting, broken only by a few hours of sleep.

“State of Fear” is on its way to becoming a bestseller and will be read by members of Congress (including, we hope, Senators McCain and Lieberman) and by politicians throughout the world (including, we hope, Britain’s science adviser Sir David King). Although the author displays no political agenda, his book will strengthen the position of President George Bush (and most of the US Senate) in turning down the Kyoto Protocol. This may account for the rather negative book review in the New York Times and the gnashing of teeth by environmental bloggers.

What then are Crichton’s agenda? Hugely successful and nearing retirement age, why would he want to stick his neck out instead of playing it safe? There are certain clues, many of which appear in his widely quoted Michelin Lecture at CalTech::

He disparages consensus science: If it’s consensus, it’s not science. He would have fun with a current controversy started by a Univ of Cal professor: In an article in Science, Naomi Orekes claims that there is a “complete scientific consensus” about Global Warming, based on a literature search she conducted. She was forced to admit, however, that she used the wrong key words in her search; but that did not stop her from later publishing an op-ed in the Washington Post (12/26/04) making the same outrageous claim.

I suspect that Michael Crichton is motivated by the same anger of so many of us who don’t want to see science misused for political purposes or just to gain grants from government and foundations. These are the sentiments that led to the founding of my organization, The Science and Environmental Policy Project. I was therefore pleased to see the great respect paid by Crichton to the late UCal professor Aaron Wildavsky, a founding director of SEPP.

Tellingly, the book points out that critics of the “consensus” and skeptics about Global Warming tend to be mainly retired academics, scientists who are no longer in the rat race for tenure, research grants, and career-building honors.

As Crichton states disarmingly (p.573): “Everybody has an agenda. Except me.” Well, almost. The hundreds of scientific skeptics who have signed the Heidelberg Appeal, Leipzig Declaration, and Oregon Petition share the same agenda as Crichton.

Atmospheric and space physicist S. Fred Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and serves as president of the non-profit Science & Environmental Policy Project .< > He has held a number of academic posts and federal positions, including as Director of the US Weather Satellite Service and as Chief Scientist of the US Department of Transportation. He has received many civic and professional honors and holds degrees in Electrical Engineering and a D.Sc. from Ohio State and a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. His most recent book is “Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate.”

Well grant the editorial staff at Nature this: They never are shy about printing really loosey-goosey stuff whenever the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) needs a boost or on the eve of another glitzy UN confab to discuss global climate change. Who can forget Natures 1996 gaffe timed in conjunction with the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland that gave rise to the Kyoto Protocol? Nature published a paper by various federal climatologists intended to demonstrate how upper-air data from 1963 through 1987 was in synch with gloom-and-doom generated by various climate models.

     As our long-time readers will recall, the researchers failed to use the complete temperature record a record that actually spanned 1957 through 1995. Once the long-term record was plugged in (sometime after the conference) all correspondence between the climate model results and climate reality evaporated. It turns out 1963 (six years after the starting point of the available data) was very cold thanks to eruption of Agung, a very large volcano. And it hardly was a coincidence that 1987 (a point eight years shy of the available records end) was unusually warm because of an El Nio event. The use of a foreshortened record of course results in a projection of robust global warming whereas the overall record shows no dramatic trend.
  But that was then and this is now a time when things really are political.
  British Prime Minister Tony Blair shortly will assume a years presidency of the G-8. Hes already spoken of his two top priorities: global warming and terrorism. Is that really the order of precedence? It seems to be. Blairs science advisor, Sir David King, is hopscotching the world and telling anyone who will listen that global warming is a far greater threat than international terrorism.

     Its no surprise, then, that Nature is willing to oblige Kings political agenda and publish yet another were-all-gonna-die story pegged to Europes 2003 summer heat waves, citing them as evidence that such a thing can be expected to happen every other year by mid-century, according to researcher Peter Stott.

     And how might Stott know this? A climate model tells him so, of course a climate model that factors in a 0.83 percent per year increase in the atmospheres carbon dioxide concentration. This is an intriguing assumption in light of the fact the actual increase was 0.39 percent in the 1970s, 0.45 percent in the 1980s, and 0.42 percent during the 1990s. The last three decades, in other words, average something like half what the climate model (and Stott) assumes.

     Climate models largely are linear with respect to the warming they project related to increasing carbon dioxide. As a consequence, the model that is the basis for this particular Nature article over-predicts warming during the next several decades by the same 50 percent! It cant help but to do so.

     We want to be clear about this. Were not claiming that the concentration of CO2 wont rise during the next fifty years. Thats the trend, after all. But assuming that it already is happening at a pace that will result in a 0.83 percent per year average increase for the next 50 years simply has no basis in fact, which should in and of itself invalidate the published result. This becomes especially true when one realizes that the time that it takes a carbon dioxide increment to fully express itself in terms of increased surface temperature is several decades (at least). In other words, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, today, will have more influence on surface temperature in 2050 than will the atmospheric concentration in 2025.

     CO2andClimate Alert senior editor Patrick J. Michaels confronted Myles Allen (listed as third author of the new Nature article) with this climatologic reality when they appeared together live on BBC-TV. Allens defense? They use the wrong number because, he says, thats the number the UN uses and it is a respected scenario. Later, under the glare of the studio lights, Allen admitted that if one were to tune their model with a realistic CO2 rise instead of their looney 0.83 percent scenario, the result would be exactly the amount of warming Michaels has projected for years a mere three-quarters of a degree rise per half-century.

     So which do you trust, reality or a made-up scenario?

     What is particularly galling about Stotts and Allens paper is its use of blatant political polemics masquerading as science. Nature routinely requires a first paragraph intended to function much as an abstract of a science paper, an opening paragraph distilling the relevant research findings into something that people who are too busy to read the details can quickly grasp. In other words, the opening paragraph (abstract) is supposed to reflect the research papers content. Consider, then, the first sentence in this particular articles first paragraph, The Summer of 2003 was probably the hottest in Europe since at least A.D. 1500, and unusually large numbers of heat-related deaths were reported in France, Germany and Italy.
    If death were the key word used to search the four-page article for additional relevant detail, what would the reader find? Nothing. Not one occurrence. A better teaser for Stotts article might have been, Sir David King, Prime Minister Tony Blairs science advisor, wants you to believe global warming is a greater threat than international terrorism, so consider this: The summer of 2003 was probably the hottest in Europe since at least A.D. 1500, and unusually large numbers of heat-related deaths were reported in France, Germany and Italy.

     In greater service to Sir David, Stott et al. go on to write: it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that potentially dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system is already under way. Well give Stott and his co-authors this much credit, they didnt go on to write, and as the climate warms, people are so stupid that they will choose to slowly fry and expire, rather than adapt to this gradual change (although the implication is there). Writing something like that would have been exceedingly absurd because that hypothesis has been tested. The results were reported by the International Journal of Biometeorology in what was awarded climate paper of the year by the Association of American Geographers. What that prize-winning research found was that, as urban climates slowly warmed for causes not related to global warming, heat-related deaths became more infrequent. In fact, in some cities, such deaths could no longer be statistically located. Yet Stott et al., brandish the future prospect of hundreds of thousands of heat-related deaths in front of Tony Blair and cant bring themselves to cite an article you can read more about at

Stott, P.A., Stone, D.A., Allen, M.R., 2004. Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003. Nature, 432, 610-614.

Davis, R.E., Knappenberger, P.C., Novicoff, W.M., Michaels, P.J., 2003. Decadal changes in summer mortality in U.S. cities. International Journal of Biometeorology, 47, 166-175.

This year’s most politically incorrect book–and also the one likely to have the biggest impact on public opinion–is not by HUMAN EVENTS’ Ann Coulter. Nor, surprisingly, is it by any other prominent conservative writer or talker. It’s Michael Crichton’s new novel, State of Fear.

When I first thumbed through my copy, I was worried that this time Crichton had gone too far in weighing down his plot with complex scientific information. That the characters spent too much time in long didactic discourses.

Happily, this first impression was wrong. Crichton works his usual magic, deftly weaving loads of technical detail, including footnotes, graphs, and charts, into a fast-paced adventure. His tens of millions of devoted readers will not be disappointed. State of Fear is a page turner.

But this review is not aimed at Crichton’s fans, but at conservatives who don’t usually read sex-and-violence-packed techno-thrillers. My advice to fellow conservatives is: make an exception. Read State of Fear.

What makes State of Fear thoroughly objectionable to liberal establishment orthodoxy is that Crichton has cast as his villains leaders of the modern environmental movement. And to top that, the scam that environmentalists are trying to peddle is global warming alarmism.

Environmentalists who have spent thirty years convincing the public that their motives are pure are going to be outraged. They will complain that the portrayal of Nicholas Drake, president of the National Environmental Resource Fund, is a reprehensible caricature of real environmentalists. True, but it does make a change from the genre’s usual assortment of slimy corporate bad guys and their crude right-wing politician stooges who have no regrets about destroying the planet if only they can make a buck out of it.

Crichton doesn’t hint that environmental leaders are in it for the money and the power. He hits us over the head with it. In one hilarious passage, Drake is caught on a surveillance tape explaining to his PR chief what’s wrong with global warming:

    “I hate global warming,” Drake said, almost shouting. “…It’s a (expletive deleted) disaster.”

    “It’s been established,” Henley said calmly. “Over many years. It’s what we have to work with.”

    “To work with? But it doesn’t work,” Drake said. “That’s my point. You can’t raise a dime with it, especially in winter. Every time it snows people forget all about global warming…. They’re trudging through the snow, hoping for a little global warming. It’s not like pollution, John. Pollution worked. It still works. Pollution scares the (expletive deleted) out of people. You tell ’em they’ll get cancer, and the money rolls in.” (page 295)
Against a background of exotic settings, beautiful women, and non-stop danger, his nave young hero, Peter Evans, is sucked into stopping a global conspiracy that threatens millions of lives. He is also slowly introduced to the facts about global warming (and a number of other environmental issues). What Peter learns is that what everything he knows is true about global warming — because that’s all he’s ever heard from the major media — is false.

Crichton asks the right questions, gets the scientific facts correct, and shows that the facts don’t support alarmism.

And for those who still have doubts or simply want more information, he attaches a lengthy bibliography, a statement of what he has come to believe about global warming and what’s wrong with the environmental movement, and an essay on “Why politicized science is dangerous.”

So hats off to Michael Crichton. He has written an entertaining book, which is normally praise enough for any novelist. But he deserves much more praise than that. For someone whose continuing success depends on media approval, speaking truth to power takes courage.

State of Fear is the perfect gift for liberal relatives and friends who do believe everything they read in the major media about global warming. Even if they’re not totally convinced, it will at least raise some doubts. And if they are offended, you can reply that the dust jacket gives no hint that it’s an attack on one of the sacred cows of modern liberalism.

Mr. Ebell is director of global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In response to the environmental experts busily creating links between the recent tsunami and global warming, Dr. Pat Michaels (VA state climatologist, author, UVA and Cato scholar) made the following announcement:

“Anyone who has the moral audacity to blame thousands of deaths caused by the Indian Ocean tsunamis on global warming is in grave contravention of well- known facts about changes in sea level in that region. Unfortunately, it is another ‘Predictable Distortion’ of global warming, similar to dozens documented in my recent book.

Topex-Poseidon satellite data published in 2001 in Science Magazine by Cabanes et al. show that the region where the tsunamis were most devastating has, in general, experienced a recent decline in sea level. When extended back 50 years, by matching satellite data with submarine measurements, the region shows a rise averaging about 0.35 inches per decade, for a fifty-year total of 1.75 inches. This is typical of global rates of sea-level change that have been constant for centuries, even millennia, as the planetary surface has warmed, cooled, and warmed.

The highest estimate for the recent tsunami currently stands at 35 feet, or 24,000% higher than the secular rise in sea level in the region in the last half-century. Additionally, the long-term record of sea level changes for Bombay was published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1995. It shows a net decline in sea level in the last 50 years.

In his new book, State of Fear, Michael Crichton repeatedly demonstrates that global warming ambulance-chasers often assume things to be true that simply are not. The book centers around a lawsuit by pacific islanders because of sea level rise; their case falls apart when the facts disclose that sea levels were actually falling in the region in question. Life imitates fiction. Michael Crichton should sue environmentalists who blame the massive death toll from the Indian Ocean’s tragic tsunamis on sea level rise for plagiarism.”


Cabanes, C., et al. Sea level rise during the past 40 years determined from satellite and in situ observations. Science, Vol 294, 840-42 (2001).

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 1995: Climate Change 1995. Cambridge Press. Data on page 367.

Dr. Michaels is a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and visiting scientist with the Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C. He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and was program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society. He holds A.B. and S.M. degrees in biological sciences and plant ecology from the University of Chicago, and he received a Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1979. Michaels is a contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His writing has been published in the major scientific journals, including Climate Research, Climatic Change, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Climate, Nature, and Science, as well as in popular serials such as the Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, and Journal of Commerce. He has appeared on ABC, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC and Voice of America. According to Nature magazine, Pat Michaels may be the most popular lecturer in the nation on the subject of global warming.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Michaels, please contact Audrey Mullen at 202-861-5677 or 202-270-2772.

"" says is guilty of distortion and data manipulation and, since they obviously need all the help they can get, we’re proud to provide a medley of our recent climate meddling, where we manipulate (tabular) data (into graphical format) and willfully distort the global warming industry’s scary message.

Monthly meddling – "Global Warming" at a glance

(produced as data become available)


MSU1278-1104.gif (29171 bytes)

As determined by NOAA Satellite-mounted MSUs

Information from Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama – Huntsville, USA
The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded here

Global Mean Temperature Variance From Average, Lower Troposphere,

November 2004:

+0.151 C

(Northern Hemisphere:

+0.292 C

, Southern Hemisphere:

+0.010 C

Peak recorded:

+0.746 C

April 1998. Current change relative to peak recorded:

-0.595 C

GISS1278-1104.gif (30202 bytes)

GISTEMP Anomaly November 2004

+0.72 C

The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded here

Peak recorded:

+0.97 C

February 1998. Current change relative to peak recorded:

-0.25 C

Best estimate for absolute global mean for 1951-1980 is 14 C (57.2 F)
Estimated absolute global mean November 2004 14.72 C (58.5 F)

Discrepancy between GHCC MSU & GISTEMP November 2004: 0.569 C

"What a crock" meddling –

This silliness is everywhere:

"Global warming severest in Arctic: four-year, eight-country scientific study" – "EDMONTON – Global warming is happening twice as fast in the Arctic as anywhere else and could cause everything from the extinction of polar bears to the flooding of large parts of Florida, says a report released Monday. The report, the most extensive ever done on climate change in the North, calls for immediate action on greenhouse gases." (CP)

Also prevalent is: Global Warming Exposes Arctic to Oil, Gas Drilling (Reuters) [We could wish] and all these are based on: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and their really pretty graphics – it’s such a shame they’re projections and modeled fantasy but you have to admire the way the atmospheric CO2 representation has been fitted to and overlaid on the ‘hockey stick’ temperature ‘track’ – apparently quite wrong but very impressive. Chartsmanship lives!

The thumbnail (right) links to a graphic of the annual mean temperature track for the zone 64North-90North taken from here (both links open in a new browser window). Rather obviously there was a significant warming to ~1940 (series max 1938, prior to any significant atmospheric CO2 increase), followed by a cooling persisting into the 1970s (great global cooling scare) and a subsequent recovery to temps similar to those seen 65 years previously. Total zonal warming over 65 years?

-0.06 C

There’s been no net Arctic warming since 1938. Alternate trend representations here, here and here.

"Immediate response" meddling –

"Stratosphere temperature data support scientists’ proof for global warming" – "A new interpretation for temperature data from satellites, published earlier this year, raised controversy when its authors claimed it eliminated doubt that, on average, the lower atmosphere is getting warmer as fast as the Earth’s surface. Now, in another study headed by the same researcher to be published Dec. 15 in the Journal of Climate, direct temperature data from other scientists has validated the satellite interpretation." (University of Washington)

Fu has a slight problem – direct measure by radiosonde balloons indicates significantly less atmospheric warming than indicated by satellite-mounted MSUs, which is a very long way from his 40%-70% inflationary reinterpretation. Regardless, the MSU decadal trend is +0.078 C and thus Fu’s 40%-70% inflation would make that in the order of +0.11 C/decade – +0.13 C/decade – extrapolating which gives a range of +1.1 C/century – +1.3 C/century. To put that another way, Fu’s reinterpretation is still short of even the lowest guesstimate of the silly IPCC storylines and well within the realms of natural climate variability.

Trends: Radiosonde Balloon; Microwave Sounding Unit and four major datasets compared.
Data sources where not noted on graphics: Radiosonde "balloon" 850-300 mb (approx 1,000-10,000mtrs) from J. K. Angell, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, September 2004 and MSU from Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama – Huntsville, USA.

"We beg to differ" meddling –

"Climate change sceptics ‘wrong’" – "One of the main arguments used by people sceptical of climate change has been undermined by a new scientific study from the UK Meteorological Office. The argument is that measurements of temperature are inherently unreliable because of where weather instruments are situated. Most are in or near cities, which produce their own heat; so the warming they have measured over the last century or so could be down to increasing urbanisation rather than global warming. But a new analysis by Dr David Parker from the Met Office in Exeter shows this ‘urban heat island’ hypothesis is wrong. Using data for the last fifty years, Dr Parker has created two separate graphs; one plots temperatures observed on calm nights, the other on windy nights." (BBC)

Sorry Dr. Parker, don’t agree. Comparing datasets is a great idea – we do it all the time – but directly comparing the datasets looks like this. Clearly, the near-surface amalgam is racing ahead of the measures of the well-mixed atmosphere, which is exactly opposite to what we would expect from enhanced greenhouse, where the atmosphere should warm and the near-surface measure should follow.

While this looks a superficially attractive means of testing for UHIE in the near-surface amalgam record it is apparently flawed (UHIE is well-established as fact, we’re only looking at how to remove it from global trend analysis). The bottom line is that purely rural recording stations don’t show significant warming (many indicate cooling) and yet urban stations do – the only available hypothesis for this discrepancy being UHIE. Given the magnitude of weather effect observed for cities it is not particularly surprising that windy nights could provide n degrees cooling in both urban and rural environs while leaving intact quite similar if not identical warming curves in the record.

How well does wind "blow away excess heat" from built up areas? Apparently not well enough.

"Extended period and perspective" meddling –

NatStat.gif (2713 bytes)

"Temperatures Rising: 4 of 5 record years in England after 1990" – "Both local (central England) and global average temperatures rose during the 20th century." (UK National Statistics)

Linked at right is the UK’s National Statistics idea of chartsmanship. Their listed data source is Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research – no problem there, that’s the repository for the Central England Temperature record (newly updated to February of this year). At this point, however, NatStat seem to have run into trouble.

CET1659-2003.GIF (49357 bytes)

Rather than charting the available data series they have produced the above-linked pathetic little cripple – somehow shorn of all perspective and leaving the less well informed with the impression of dramatic, even unprecedented warming occurring in Central England. As can easily be seen in the chart linked at right, virtually identical warming occurred at the beginning of the 18th Century – identical with the obvious exceptions that it occurred much more rapidly then and there had been negligible change in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. What the record appears to indicate is a slow and ponderous 20th Century recovery from the Little Ice Age. Somehow, we suspect that is not quite the impression NatStat intended to leave viewers of their deceptive little chart.

For a Fifth Avenue perspective see "Warming By Design?"

So, there we have it, five examples plucked from just the last few months. Without doubt we are "guilty" of manipulating digital data to graphical, although nowhere near as prettily as those in ACIA (and we’re not likely to in the near future either). Similarly, we "admit" to distorting the global warming industry’s post hoc, ergo propter hoc scare campaign regarding atmospheric carbon dioxide by highlighting information omitted by Big Warming and its well-financed cohort of flacks, shills or, as they are more politely termed, lobbyists.

Will we continue to do so?

Count on it.

A team led by University of Maine scientists has reported finding a potential link between changes in solar activity and the Earth’s climate. In a paper due to be published in an upcoming volume of the Annals of Glaciology, Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, and 11 colleagues from China, Australia and UMaine describe evidence from ice cores pointing to an association between the waxing and waning of zonal wind strength around Antarctica and a chemical signal of changes in the sun’s output.

At the heart of the paper, Solar Forcing of the Polar Atmosphere, are calcium, nitrate and sodium data from ice cores collected in four Antarctic locations and comparisons of those data to South Pole ice core isotope data for beryllium-10, an indicator of solar activity. The authors also point to data from Greenland and the Canadian Yukon that suggest similar relationships between solar activity and the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere. They focus on years since 1400 when the Earth entered a roughly 500-year period known as the Little Ice Age.

The researchers’ goal is to understand what drives the Earth’s climate system without taking increases in greenhouse gases into account, says Mayewski. “There are good reasons to be concerned about greenhouse gases, but we should be looking at the climate system with our eyes open,” he adds. Understanding how the system operates in the absence of human impacts is important for responding to climate changes that might occur in the future.

Mayewski founded the International Transantarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) and is the co-author of The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change, published in 2002 with Frank White. The United States’ ITASE office is located at UMaine. Antarctic locations used in the paper include: Law Dome, a 4,576-foot high ice mound located about 68 miles from the coast facing the Indian Ocean and the site of an Australian research station; Siple Dome, a 2,000-foot high ice covered mound located between two ice streams that flow out of the Transantarctic Mountains into the Ross ice shelf, and the site of a U.S. research station; and two ITASE field sites west of Siple Dome where ice cores were collected during field surveys in 2000 and 2001.

The authors are Mayewski, Kirk A. Maasch, Eric Meyerson, Sharon Sneed, Susan Kaspari, Daniel Dixon, and Erich Osterberg, all from UMaine; Yping Yan of the China Meterological Association; Shichang Kang of UMaine and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Vin Morgan, Tas van Ommen and Mark Curran of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC in Tasmania.

Since at least the 1840s when sunspot cycles were discovered, scientists have proposed that solar variability could affect the climate, but direct evidence of that relationship and understanding of a mechanism have been lacking.

The ice core data show, the authors write, that when solar radiation increases, more calcium is deposited at Siple Dome and at one of the ITASE field sites. The additional calcium may reflect an increase in wind strength in mid-latitude regions around Antarctica, they add, especially over the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Calcium in West Antarctic ice cores is thought to derive mainly from dust in Australia, Africa and South America and from sea salt in the southern ocean.

That finding, they note, is consistent with other research suggesting that the sun may affect the strength of those mid-latitude winds through changes in stratospheric ozone over Antarctica.

The authors also refer to sodium data from Siple Dome ice cores that have been reported by Karl Kreutz, director of UMaine’s stable isotope laboratory. Changes in sodium appear to be associated with air pressure changes over the South Pacific.

Ice core data from Law Dome focus on changes in nitrate and may reflect changing wind patterns over Antarctica. The wind currents that bring nitrate to the continent, however, are less well known than those that carry sodium and calcium.

Researchers in the UMaine Climate Change Institute ( have focused on the relationship between solar variability and climate, particularly the use of isotopes in tree rings and ice cores to provide an indication of the sun’s strength. The ice core data reported in the paper demonstrates a direct atmospheric consequence associated with changing solar radiation.

Michael Crichton’s new blockbuster novel, State of Fear, begins with sex, violence, and oceanography. It’s that sort of book all the way through, mixing the usual adventure novel clichs of beautiful young heroes, indestructible secret agents, and a plot to kill millions alongside hard science, including graphs, footnotes, and words like “aminostratigraphy.” As such, the book is half a rip-roaring roller coaster of a read (as Edmund Blackadder would put it) and half didactic tract. It is a testament to Crichton’s skill as a novelist that he pulls it off. This is definitely one for the Christmas list.

The adventure centers on a conspiracy to accentuate natural disasters in order to keep the developed world in the state of fear of the title. One particular environmental charity stands to benefit most from this state, and the main plot device is the dawning realization by an idealistic young lawyer named Peter Evans that the cause he believed in for so long is rotten to the core. His Virgil as he wanders through hell to achieve salvation is an almost superhuman character, John Kenner, who is a strange blend of academic physicist, Jack Ryan, James Bond, and, erm, John Graham, real-life director of the Office of Management and Budget (I said it was strange in a former job, Graham was director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, and Kenner directs a similar organization at MIT).

Together, and with the help of the usual beautiful-but-tough woman and a tech-savvy Gurkha, they are placed in danger in the wilds of Antarctica, a state park in Arizona, and in a cannibal-infested jungle in the Solomon Islands. They face blizzards, bullets, lightning, poisonous octopuses and insufferable Hollywood celebrities. There is no peril so great that Evans and his friends do not face it. Their adventures unfold at a breakneck pace that keeps you turning the page, and it is in the brief downtimes between these escapades that Crichton expounds his scientific case.

This didacticism is directed primarily at global-warming alarmism, which Crichton thinks is overblown (he goes over the case in an appendix). Yet Crichton does not, as some have alleged, criticize the science underlying global-warming alarmism. In fact, he argues from it; as well he should science is what it is. Instead, it is the use to which the science is put that Crichton argues against most forcefully. The science, by itself, does not argue that the world must take certain actions now. Science can never be prescriptive. All it can do is raise issues for the world’s attention. It is politics and economics that then decide what to do about them. People who argue that the science says we must do something are being disingenuous about their true motives. If those people are also scientists, then they are abusing science. This is a tremendously important point.

If there is one scientific exercise Crichton does criticize, it is the use of global-climate models. These models are the basis of the alarming estimates of future temperature rise, yet at their very base they are only partly scientific. Models are a hybrid of science and economics. If science says that a rise in atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations will have certain effects on climate, then it can tell us nothing about the future until economic projections of energy use are fed into it. A scientific model without good economic input is useless, and we have been aware for quite some time that the economic scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are seriously deficient. It is a shame that Crichton makes one of his few factual slips when he says that NASA’s James Hansen overestimated future emissions when he brought the global-warming issue to the world’s attention before Congress in 1988. In fact, Hansen had a range of scenarios, and actual emissions have followed the lower trajectory quite well (and Hansen has updated his projections, now estimating a very small temperature rise by 2050 of around 0.5C.) Crichton would have done better to take aim at the IPCC here.

Yet, more widely, the novel raises stinging criticisms of the way the environmental movement conducts itself. Its mutual infatuation with Hollywood, its preoccupation with litigation, and, above all, its preoccupation with obtaining more money so as to continue its privileged existence are all writ large in the text. One of the chief villains, a lawyer turned green-group director, regularly rages about the difficulties he has fundraising. His main problem, he rants, is that global warming is not the immediate threat that pollution was in the 70s. It is therefore harder to get people to give money to combat it, something that can be solved if people come to believe that the climate is changing now. These are, of course, tactics the real-life environmental movement has embraced, arguing, for instance, that the recent hurricane season was exacerbated by global warming rather than being sheer bad luck. During one of his rants, that character also, delightfully, called my organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Neanderthals.” This was tremendously gratifying.

In the conclusion of the novel (which seems as if it is ready for a sequel there are a surprising number of loose ends not tied up), Crichton has a former alarmist conclude that there are serious things wrong with the environmental movement:

Face the facts, all these environmental organizations are thirty, forty, fifty years old. They have big buildings, big obligations, big staffs. They may trade on their youthful dreams, but the truth is, they’re now part of the establishment. And the establishment works to preserve the status quo. It just does.

(Interestingly, these comments echo those made by some committed alarmists recently in an essay entitled, The Death of Environmentalism.) If Jefferson was right about continual revolution being a good thing, then the environmental movement would do well to take heed.

He also has some very interesting suggestions for getting politics out of science by making the researchers more distant from their funders, to the point of blinding them to the source. As Crichton implies, this would strengthen the science against accusations that it is done to benefit the funders, whether they be industry, government, or activist group. This is something that requires serious attention from science itself.

Doubtless much of this scholarly discussion will be removed when the inevitable movie is made, but the exhilarating plot should still make it a success (and it will be streets ahead of the scientifically bereft turkey The Day After Tomorrow).

Me, I’m waiting for the video game.

The international global warming worry-wart community is meeting in Buenos Aires this week to figure out how to get the U.S. to participate in the global economic suicide pact known as the Kyoto Protocol.

Russias recent ratification of the Protocol allows the treaty become effective in February 2005 though it’s pretty widely known that Russia only signed on in exchange for European support of Russias admission to the World Trade Organization, not because President Putin frets about a less frigid Siberia.

The treaty will nevertheless be a meaningless gesture without U.S. participation not only is the U.S. the largest energy consumer, but the real purpose of the treaty is to hamper the U.S. economy, to Europes advantage, by rationing American energy use.

Although the U.S. Senate, in 1997, and President Bush, in 2001, wisely rejected U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol, there are worrisome efforts in the Senate and White House to do something on global warming.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.both dyed-in-the-wool global warming worriers have introduced legislation to impose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

While President Bushs recent public statements seem to indicate that he may also be falling for global warming junk science so far, hes only for voluntary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as well as technology-based solutions.

President Bush is also being pressured by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to do something on climate. As Mr. Blair has been a major supporter of President Bushs effort in Iraq, its possible that Blair may have chits to call in.

Peruvian Plants Debunk Kyoto

Despite the anxiety-fest in Buenos Aires, the real global warming news this week comes from the Peruvian glaciers.

Ohio State University glaciologist Lonnie Thompson reported at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union that he found two prehistoric plant beds dating back 5,000 and 50,000 years, respectively, near a high Andean glacier. The plants’ ages were pinpointed through carbon dating; until recently, the plants had been covered by ice.

Climate clamor-ers, upon hearing such news, will likely jump to the conclusion that the receding glaciers, which revealed the plants after covering them for thousands of years, are simply more evidence of manmade global warming.

But a more thoughtful person might point out the plant find is a strong indication that, thousands of years ago, the high Andean climate must have been warm enough to cause the glacier to be recessed and to allow for the plants to grow in the first place a time frame that obviously predates oil and gas companies, the internal combustion engine, the industrial revolution, and recorded history.

So neither the warm climate that sustained high Andean plant growth 5,000 years ago, nor the subsequent frigid climate that caused the glacierization, could possibly have been caused by human activity.

So if natural forces caused those climate changes, isnt it reasonable to conclude that perhaps natural forces might also be largely responsible for whatever climate changes may be occurring now?

Any prudent person would agree that we dont yet understand the complexities with the climate system, said Thompson. Its too bad he didnt deliver that message in Buenos Aires.

Where’s the party?

by William Yeatman on December 15, 2004

in Science

Preliminary data indicate 2004 likely will register as the fourth-warmest year in the worlds surface temperature record. Yet despite all the gloom-and-doom scenarios, we havent experienced an all-time record-setter since the big El Nio back in 1998. Our planet may be warming, but not at a torrid clip.

     If global climate really were to respond the way climate models project it should, the warmest year on record would be announced every other year or so after natural variation in annual average temperatures was factored in. But the warmest year designation only is proclaimed every five years or so. At that frequency, earths climate appears to be warming at a rate somewhere near the low end of the range of estimates hypothesized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC projects a temperature rise somewhere between 1.4C and 5.8C by 2100. The upper end of that range is a result of the IPCC researchers climate models routinely being fed extreme emissions scenarios that result in an extreme rise in global temperature.

     Another indicator that global warming is an under-achiever is that the overall warming trend since 1976 has been 0.17C per decade. Things began to warm back then after 30-plus years of cooling a trend that prompted a mid-1970s fear we were plunging into an imminent Ice Age. There is no evidence the trend since 1976 is picking up despite claims things are getting worse at an ever-increasing rate (see Figure 1). A rudimentary calculation reveals the IPCC low-end warming rate to be 0.14C per decade with its upper-end 0.58C. Obviously, we are experiencing something akin to the lower rate.

This should be cause for celebration! If we cant stop the warming no matter how hard we try (and we cant) and we are pretty much stuck with the fossil-fueled energy infrastructure we have, then we should be thankful things only appear to be warming up at a relatively slow rate. If you dont feel especially thankful and are convinced there are alternative means to energize the needs of 6.5 billion people, thats fine. We celebrate your optimism and idealism. Happy New Year!

But heres our scenario: If the past three decades are any indication (we believe they are), then earths climate will continue its modest warming. In time, human dependence on fossil fuels will run its course and well move on to other sources of energy and the environmental challenges that inevitably will accompany their use. Global average temperature will be a bit higher than now as will agricultural productivity and average human life span. So heres to realism, pragmatism, and the fourth-warmest year on record 2004!


Figure 1. Global average temperature anomalies (from the 1961-1990 mean) since 1976. The established warming trend is 0.17C per decade. News reports of an increasing warming trend are hogwash. (Note: We choose our terminology carefully.)