[asa] Your Upcoming Bugle Article

From: Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 17:34:10 EDT

Burgy, I found some more info for your upcoming article which I also
believe would be of general interest to this list. Namely, that the
automobile manufacturers and oil and energy companies were informed of
the scientific consensus concerning AGW in the 1990s by their own
lobbying group, the Global Climate Coalition. Here is the backgrounder
sent by GCC scientists: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/nytint/docs/global-climate-coalition-aiam-climate-change-primer/original.pdf

Andy Revkin when reporting on this noted the following on the front
page of the New York Times on April 24:

> For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group
> representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an
> aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea
> that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global
> warming. ... The coalition disbanded in 2002, but some members,
> including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American
> Petroleum Institute, continue to lobby against any law or treaty
> that would sharply curb emissions. Others, like Exxon Mobil, now
> recognize a human contribution to global warming and have largely
> dropped financial support to groups challenging the science.

Here's some interesting quotes from the backgrounder. Note that this
was written in 1995 by a group paid to be skeptical. Many of the
remaining issues in it, e.g. sufficient computer power for climate
modeling, have been addressed in the intervening decade and a half.

  “The scientific basis for Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact
of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well
established and cannot be denied.” [Note: the description given in the
memo on what the greenhouse effect is is very, very good.]

"Are there alternate explanations for the climate change which has
occurred over the last 120 years?
Explanations based on solar variability, anomalies in the temperature
record, etc. are valid to the extent they are used to argue against a
conclusion that we understand current climate or can detect a human
component in the change in climate that has occurred over the past 120
years. However, these alternative hypotheses do not address what would
happen if concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to rise at
projected rates."

"Direct measures of the intensity of solar radiation over the past 15
years indicate a maximum variability of less than 0.1%, sufficient to
account for no more than 0.1DC temperature change. This period of
direct measurement included one complete 11 year sun spot cycle, which
allowed the development of a correlation between solar intensity and
the fraction of the Sun's surface covered by sun spots. Applying this
correlation to sun spot data for the past 120 years indicates a
maximum variability on solar intensity of 0.1%, corresponding to a
maximum temperature change of 0.1DC, one-fifth of the temperature
change observed during that period.

If solar variability has accounted for 0.1DC temperature increase in
the last 120 years, it is an interesting finding, but it does not
allay concerns about future warming which could result from greenhouse
gas emissions. Whatever contribution solar variability makes to
climate change should be additive to the effect of greenhouse gas

The report does a case by case debunking of the contrarian theories of
the time (which still live!). This section was removed in later
reports. Here's an example:

"The contrarian theories raise interesting questions about our total
understanding of climate processes, but they do not offer convincing
arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-
induced climate change. Jastrow's hypothesis about the role of solar
variability and Michaels' questions about the temperature record are
not convincing arguments against any conclusion that we are currently
experiencing warming as the result of greenhouse gas emissions."

You will recall that people in Robert Jastrow's organization were
hired guns for the tobacco companies when they denied that the science
was "unsure" that cigarettes caused cancer. They were also opposed to
SO2 cap and trade in the early 90s in order to fight acid rain. A 2003
Bush Administration OMB study found that for every dollar spent on
this cap and trade resulted in forty dollars of health care cost
savings. They said the science was "unsure" about effects of CFCs on
stratospheric ozone a mere two weeks before a Nobel Prize in chemistry
was awarded on that very subject. (I should note that Nobel Prizes lag
the leading edge of science by many years and are thus the ultimate
show of consensus.)

Finally, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office just released a
report on potential effects of global warming. Contrast the current
state of climate modeling in Box 1 and the state in the 1995 memo. You
can find it here:


Rich Blinne

Member ASA

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Received on Sat May 9 17:34:45 2009

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