Guest post by Ken Haapala who attended the Markey-Waxman BEST briefing on Monday.
“Where are they?” the lady sitting beside me asked out loud, looking around anxiously.
“Who?” I inquired.
“The press!” she said, “The place was packed the last time.” Apparently, she was referring to a hearing held in the spring of 2010. Indeed, the usual staff was setting up the television cameras and the typical photo opportunities, but nothing unusual. No commotion on Monday, November 14, 2011.
The US House of Representatives National Resources Committee Room is a deep, chamber-shaped room, dominated by a large, elongated horseshoe-shaped table adequate for seating the 48 members of the Committee with sufficient room for several staffers to sit behind each member. At the open end of the horseshoe, a table was set up for the three speakers: Professor Richard Muller of the BEST project, Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and William Chameides, Dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Vice-Chair of the National Academies’ Committee on America’s Climate Choices. The three scientists appeared early, assuring that their visual presentations would work properly. Behind them were three rows of chairs totaling about 40 seats for the audience.
“No one is here,” the lady stated, looking at the small audience.
“Perhaps they were not notified,” I commented, hoping to be reassuring.
“That’s impossible,” she retorted, “I notified everyone I know.”
The Press Release of the event had announced: Congressional Climate Briefing to Push “End of Climate Change Skepticism.”
As the two o’clock hour approached, a number of legislative staffers dutifully filed in, filling the many empty chairs. TV cameramen despise a void.
“Will there be only two!” the lady exclaimed, noting that only two chairs were prepared for members of the Committee, both at the bend in the horseshoe, as far from the speakers and audience as possible.
There were only two:
Of a total of 48 members, only Ranking Member Edward Markey attended, along with Representative Harry Waxman (who is not a member of the Committee). Two years ago, both were powerful congressmen who were well known for their environmental advocacy. That day, the other 19 Democrats (there is a vacancy) and all of the 27 Republican members of the Committee had other business. There were no announced regrets.
Rep. Markey began the briefing with stock claims that his opponents are anti-science and that today’s briefing would reveal the scientific basis for global warming. Rep. Waxman reinforced Markey’s statements with more blunt statements as to the anti-science nature of the Republican Party.
Professor Muller presented himself as a former skeptic, but he couched his skepticism as questioning the quality of the land-base surface measurements – according to him 70% of measuring stations in the US are poorly sited with a possible error of 2 to 5 degrees C. He evaded the real issue: that most skeptics: realize that temperatures have risen, but question that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the principal cause of global warming.
He presented his research of some 39,000 stations and admitted some 13,000 of which show a cooling. His conclusions were that the poor quality of siting is not introducing a bias, that there is virtually no urban heat island effect, and there is little bias from the removal of stations covered by NOAA, NASA-GISS, and CRU. Questions concerning his research have been discussed in The Week That Was by SEPP and elsewhere.
Muller failed to mention that he told Judith Curry that the title of his Wall Street Journal op-ed, which was incorporated in the press briefing, was chosen by the editors; that he questioned the human influence on global warming; that his calculations of temperatures show no warming for the past ten years; that he has suggested that the cause for the pause in warming is a change in ocean oscillations, and that there is a disconnect between land surface data and atmospheric data.
Ben Santer began his comments with a reference to Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans. He did not mention that environmental groups had used the Federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to block a barrier system that would have prevented the major flooding of New Orleans from Katrina. Perhaps Reps. Markey and Waxman would not have cared to be reminded of the consequences of some Federal environmental laws.
Santer stated he has been involved with all four UN IPCC reports and emphasized that he inserted in the second report that humans have a discernable impact. He did not mention that he inserted this statement after the document was fully approved by all reviewers – an act that Fredrick Seitz publically stated was the worst abuse of the peer-review process he had witnessed in fifty years of involvement in American science.
Santer reminded the members he testified before the same committee in the spring of 2010. There was no recognizable acknowledgement of the statement by the two members attending.
Among other comments, Santer emphasized the only natural causes of temperature changes are changes in solar irradiance and aerosols from volcanoes, the standard IPCC claims. He failed to mention changes from ocean oscillations, the solar-cosmic ray influence, or other influences.
Most interestingly, after disparaging the satellite temperature data from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, for a small error since corrected, Santer presented a straight line graph from the beginning of the data to the end point – falsely implying the data indicates a trend. The data demonstrates a discontinuous jump in temperatures, indicating a cause contrary to the carbon dioxide claim. Santer’s straight line hides the meaning of the data.
William Chameides began his presentation emphasizing America’s Climate Choices. The publication is an excellent example of the logical fallacy of a false dilemma. It uses highly speculative projections from unverified computer models to present an unrealistic choice about global warming. Then, it provides an economically destructive choice as the alternative. Projections from unverified computer models are scientifically meaningless. Such is the standard of science of the National Research Council.
After a few minutes into the Chameides talk, I decided to leave to beat the traffic, almost feeling sorry for the staffers who had to sit through the remainder of briefing – a rehash of dubious science from a bygone era presented on the behalf of two once powerful Congressmen in the empty chamber.
Nov 17, 2011