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?
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
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 or Bob Ryan). 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 is Principal Research
Scientist, University of Alabama.