by Roy Spencer | 15 Aug 2007
In case you hadn’t noticed, the global warming debate has now escalated from a minor skirmish to an all-out war. Although we who are skeptical of the claim that global warming is mostly manmade have become accustomed to being the ones that take on casualties, last week was particularly brutal for those who say we have only 8 years and 5 months left to turn things around, greenhouse gas emissions-wise.
I’m talking about the other side – the global warming alarmists.
First, NASA’s James Hansen and his group had to fix a Y2K bug that a Canadian statistician found in their processing of the thermometer data. As a result, 1998 is no longer the warmest year on record in the United States – 1934 is. The temperature adjustment is admittedly small, yet there seemed to be no rush to retract the oft-repeated alarmist statements that have seared “1998!” into our brains as the rallying cry for the fight against global warming.
Then, the issue of spurious heat influences on the thermometers that NOAA uses to monitor global temperatures has reared its ugly head. Personally, I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time. Ordinary citizens are now traveling throughout their home states, taking pictures of the local conditions around these thermometer sites.
To everyone’s astonishment, all kinds of spurious heat sources have cropped up over the years next to the thermometers. Air conditioning exhaust fans, burn barrels, asphalt parking lots, roofs, jet exhaust. Who could have known? Shocking.
Next, my own unit and I published satellite measurements that clearly show a natural cooling mechanism in the tropics which all of the leading computerized climate models have been insisting is a warming mechanism (Spencer et al., August 9, 2007 Geophysical Research Letters).
We found that when the tropical atmosphere heats up from extra rain system activity, the amount of infrared heat-trapping cirrus clouds those rain systems produce actually goes down. This unexpected result supports the “Infrared Iris” theory of climate stabilization that MIT’s Richard Lindzen advanced some years ago.
No one in the alarmist camp can figure out how we succeeded with this sneak attack. After all, there isn’t supposed to be any peer-reviewed, published research that denies a global warming Armageddon, right?
But these volleys have not gone unanswered. From the other side of the battlefield, Al Gore and Newsweek coordinated an assault on a few skeptics with all kinds of guilt-by-association accusations. They allege that a few scientists were offered $10,000 (!) by Big Oil to research and publish evidence against the theory of manmade global warming.
Of course, the vast majority of mainstream climate researchers receive between $100,000 to $200,000 from the federal government to do the same, but in support of manmade global warming. Apparently, that’s okay since we all know that the federal government is unbiased and there to help, whereas petroleum companies only exist to force us to burn fuels that do nothing more than ruin the environment.
Little damage was done by the Gore-Newsweek assault, though, since the attack amounted to little more than a verbal “Well, your mama wears Army boots!” It didn’t help matters that the magazine’s own columnist, Robert Samuelson, published a follow-up article saying the allegation of bribes offered to scientists “was long ago discredited” and that “the story was a wonderful read, marred only by its being fundamentally misleading.”
Next, I’m happy to report that we skeptics have been getting a steady stream of new recruits. In the last year or so, more and more scientists have been coming out of the closet and admitting they’ve had some doubts about this whole global warming thing.
In fact, chances are that your favorite TV weather person is a closet skeptic (unless it’s Heidi Cullen). But please observe the “don’t ask – don’t tell” rule. Most broadcast meteorologists are not ready for the public embarrassment that would accompany their outing.
And lastly, I have been heartened by new scientific intelligence that we skeptics have been gathering. I can predict there are more surprises to come, with some pretty powerful tactical weapons yet to be deployed. Climate scientists are beginning to question long held assumptions – which is almost always the first step toward a major scientific discovery. So stay tuned.
Oh, and by the way, in the interests of a fair fight, the next time someone sees Al Gore, could you ask him to stop calling us “global warming deniers”? I don’t know of anyone who denies that the Earth has warmed. I’m sure this has just been an honest misunderstanding on Mr. Gore’s part, and he’ll be more than happy to stop doing it.
The author, Roy Spencer, is Principal Research Scientist, University of Alabama. This article originally appeared in TCS Daily