Newsweek’s Begley Flunks Calculus, Science and Politics

by Joe D Aleo on September 21, 2009

Sharon Begley, after a five-year stint at the Wall Street Journal returned to greener pastures at Newsweek in 2007, where she started her career. It was just in time to take part in Newsweek’s embarrassing August 13, 2007 issue “Global Warming is a Hoax” edition.  

The cover story entitled, “The Truth About Denial” contained very little that could be considered ‘truth” by journalistic or scientific standards. In what could surely be considered one of the most one-sided coverage of any important issue in American journalism for decades, Sharon Begley with Eve Conant, Sam Stein, Eleanor Clift and Matthew Philips purported to examine the “well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry that they… created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change.”

The only problem was — Newsweek knew better. Eve Conant, who interviewed Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, was given all the latest data proving conclusively that it was the proponents of man-made global warming fears that enjoyed a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics (a whopping $50 billion to a paltry $19 million for the skeptics). Newsweek contributing editor Robert J. Samuelson, called the piece “fundamentally misleading” and “highly contrived.”

Begley’s next screed was “Climate Change Calculus” in the August 3, 2009 issue, subtitled “Why it’s even worse than we feared.” She begins: “Among the phrases you really, really do not want to hear from climate scientists are: “that really shocked us,” “we had no idea how bad it was,” and “reality is well ahead of the climate models.”[…] Although policymakers hoped climate models would prove to be alarmist, the opposite is true, particularly in the Arctic.”

What is the reality? Well the models are failing miserably, but in the wrong direction. Over the last eight years, the world has cooled in contrast with the forecast rise in all the IPCC scenarios. The Arctic ice extent as of September 20, 2009, climatologically close to the maximum melt date, is 25.6 % greater than the minimum in September 2007.


 JAXA Arctic Ice Extent

None of the models foresaw the cooling that has taken place the last 7 ½ years.


Begley also addressed Greenland and sea level rises quoting David Carlson. “…Greenland… is losing about 52 cubic miles per year and that the melting is accelerating. So while the IPCC projected that sea level would rise 16 inches this century, “now a more likely figure is one meter [39 inches] at the least,” says Carlson. “Chest-high instead of knee-high, with half to two thirds of that due to Greenland.” Hence the “no idea how bad it was.””

Other scientists strongly disagree. Ettema et al. (2009) state that “considerably more mass accumulates on the Greenland Ice Sheet than previously thought… which suggests that the Northern Hemisphere’s largest ice sheet may well hang around a whole lot longer than many climate alarmists have been willing to admit.” A 2006 study by a team of scientists led by Petr Chylek of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences found the rate of Greenland warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995-2005, suggesting carbon dioxide ‘could not be the cause’. And Ollier and Pain in August 2009, AIG paper “Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are Not Collapsing” conclude “Variations in melting around the edges of ice sheets are no indication that they are collapsing. Indeed ‘collapse’ is impossible.”

And supporting this non-threat, sea levels have stopped rising in 2005 as the oceans have cooled and contracted, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Oceans and the Sun Not CO2

We have reported in earlier stories in this magazine on the importance of natural cycles on the sun and in the oceans in climate change and that these factors should support cooling for the net few decades. There is an increasing body of new peer review support for this.

Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, in New Scientist (2009) attributes much of the recent warming to naturally occurring ocean cycles.

“Little seems out of place in recent times except the predictions”, says Dr Syun Akasofu, Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and former director of the Geophysical Institute. Aksasofu says multi-decadal oscillations, discovered within the past decade, account for the variability.

Earlier this summer in a paper entitled “Has the climate recently shifted?” Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonsis, mathematicians at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, engaged with the problem that temperatures have failed to follow the predictions made by computer climate models. In the paper, Swanson and Tsonis correlated data from the El Niño/La Niña, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the North Pacific Index and found that synchronizations occurred four times: in 1910-20; 1938-45; 1956-60; and 1976-1981. When coupling between the systems was high, climate invariably changed. The recent cooling, which they suggest started in 2001, is an indicator of another phase shift with a cooling that will last for decades.

Alarmist solar scientists Lean and Rind have reluctantly attributed recent cooling to a quiet sun and foresee a repeat from 2014-2019 the minimum of the next cycle. They have not yet come around to the opinion of many solar scientists including those at NASA, that the sun, which has been quieter, longer than any time since the early 1800s, a period called the Dalton Minimum or mini-ice age, the time of Dickens and cold snowy winters in London, much as we saw last winter.

Begley would benefit from reading the widely praised NIPCC report, an ambitious peer review work the scale of the IPCC, coauthored by Craig Idso and Fred Singer, which shows why natural factors like the sun and the oceans, not man, control the climate.

Begley proves that she is not only scientifically but also politically illiterate in the third installment of her latest climate crisis coverage. On September 7, in a piece titled “China and India Will Pay,” she declares “A special place in climate hell is being reserved for India and China.” As CORE’s Paul Driessen put it “400 million Indians and 500 million Chinese still do not have electricity. No electricity means no refrigeration, to keep food and medicines from spoiling. It means no water purification, to reduce baby-killing intestinal diseases. No modern heating and air conditioning, to reduce hypothermia in winter, heat stroke in summer, and lung disease year-round. It means no lights or computers, no modern offices, factories, schools, shops, clinics or hospitals.”

Even the IPCC’s chair, Rajendra Pachauri, has defended India’s refusal to cut its emissions, noting that millions of Indians still lack electricity.

But to the technological elite in their ivory towers, the liberal elitist political leaders in Washington, and their adoring media, their loss is but a small price to pay to save the planet from an imagined crisis, one that offers such a golden opportunity to achieve their real goal as none other than Al Gore admitted “of one world governance.” In their journey there, they show more compassion for the white grizzly bear of the polar region and the snail darter than for the humans. They worry more about population than people.

China and India will make us pay as they take away our jobs and become the technological leaders as we model our government after the failed socialist experiments of an ever-declining Europe and even copy their alternative energy boondoggles that will prove to be the next bubble while we sit on huge rich fields of oil, gas and coal that, along with nuclear, could provide the power to revitalize our industries and put America back on top.

Begley authored the 2007 book “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain.” I would argue she needs to instead re-train her brain and change her mind.

See post in the Energy Tribune September 15th, 2009 on-line.

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