"Repairing the hole in the ozone layer could trigger an
environmental catastrophe that would reduce life expectancy to 30 years,
says the editor-in-chief of one of the world's leading science magazines,
New Scientist. Dr Alun Anderson, who is in Sydney for National Science
Week, predicted that by 2070 rich people could be forced to live in
city-sized domes to escape air pollution. Elsewhere, smog would make
asthma the leading killer of young people, and countries such as Russia
would be devastated by famine as poisoned crops failed."
--Deborah Smith,, 3 May 2001

"Little evidence of a post mid-nineteenth century warming is present
in the proxy annual maximum temperature series."
--K. Holmgren et al., South African Journal of Science, (97)

"There is surely something rotten in more than Denmark when the
media's portrayal of increasing drought in Europe is not supported by
real-world data. We wonder where they are getting their information,
or misinformation. If this is what water shortages are all about -
"decreasing drought deficit volumes and fewer drought events" - bring 'em
on! We all could use a little more such bad news."
  --Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change,
9 May 2001 

"The question of where do we go from here is an obvious and
important one. From my provincial perspective, an important priority should
be given to figuring out how to support and encourage science (and
basic science underlying climate in particular) while removing incentives
to promote alarmism. The benefits of leaving future generations a
better understanding of nature would far outweigh the benefits (if any) of
ill thought out attempts to regulate nature in the absence of such
--Richard S. Linzen, Testimony before the U.S. Senate
Environment and Public Works   Committee, 2 May 2001

    Greening Earth Society, 8 May 2001

    Andrew Yee <>

    Environmental News Network, 7 May 2001

    BBC News Online, 3 May 2001

    SCIRO Media Release, 8 May 2001

    Andrew Yee <>

    CO2 Science Magazine, 9 May 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 9 May 2001

    WORKS COMMITTEE ON 2 MAY 2001, 8 May 2001

     CO2 Science Magazine, 9 May 2001

     The Greening Earth Society, 8 May 2001

     Andrew Glikson <>

     Steve Drury <>

     Max Wallis <>

     Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>



From Greening Earth Society, 8 May 2001

By Robert C. Balling Jr.
Greening Earth Society Science Advisor

Peter Tyson ranks among the most distinguished climatologists in the
Southern Hemisphere. For many years, he's led the Climatology Research Group
at South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand. His name dominates any
bibliography concerning southern African climate. Of late, he has been part
of a team that also includes Swedish and German physical geographers. Last
year, in the South African Journal of Science, they reported discovery of a
stalagmite in a cave in Namibia that allows a reconstruction of regional
maximum temperatures over the past 3,000 years. This is the sort of the
long-term temperature "proxy record" often cited in the climate change

Holmgren et al. analyzed the color variations in each year's stalagmite
layer and found a close correlation between a color index and regional
maximum temperatures between 1981 and 1995 using temperature records from
forty-nine stations near the Cold Air Cave outside Pietersburg. In warm
years, there is increased organic matter in water that percolates through
the soil above the cave, dissolving minerals as it goes and eventually
dripping into the cave to form the stalagmite. This lays down a dark "band"
in the stalagmite. In cooler years, decreased grass cover over the cave
results in a lighter-colored band. Using the color/temperature transfer
function that results from their coupling of the statistical relationship
between the temperature record and color variations, the researchers have
produced a high-resolution temperature proxy series extending back three
thousand years.

Tyson et al. report that the "stalagmite record" indicates that temperature
anomalies (deviations from normal) over the past century approached +1C.
However, two hundred years ago (near 1800 AD), the temperature anomalies
were almost 2C above normal. It also appears that much of the period from
1250 to 1325 was in the range of 2-4C above normal (see Figure 1).

According to Tyson et al., anomalies of 2C were frequent in time from
mid-1000 through mid-1100 AD. There was a lot of variation prior to 1300 and
little variation thereafter. Other proxy records reinforce their basic
finding - that nothing appears "out of the ordinary in the last century" in
terms of warming. In fact, indications are that many years prior to 1300
were much warmer in South Africa than they are at present.

Holmgren et al. using the same record depicted in Figure 1 noticed how the
stalagmite records cold periods between 200 and 800 BC and again between
1500 and 1800 AD. It also records unusually warm periods around 1500 AD and
100 BC. South Africa's "Little Ice Age" is particularly evident between 1500
to 1800 AD. The researchers' final sentence is particularly interesting.
"Little evidence of a post mid-nineteenth century warming is present in the
proxy annual maximum temperature series," they write.

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data is available for this area
(see Figure 2). Examining IPCC monthly temperature anomalies from January
1898 to January 2000 there appears to be no warming in the area for the past

That lonely South African stalagmite so far hasn't received much attention
(bet you "read it here, first."). Had this research instead demonstrated the
presence of substantial warming in southern Africa during the period of
greenhouse gas buildup, no doubt Tyson, Holmgren, and their fellow
researchers would be receiving much greater media attention.


Holmgren, K., Tyson, P.D., Moberg, A., and Svanered, O. 2001. A preliminary
3000-year regional temperature reconstruction for South Africa. South
African Journal of Science, 97:49-51.

Tyson, P.D., Karln, W., Holmgren, K., and Heiss, G.A. 2000. The Little Ice
Age and medieval warming in South Africa. South African Journal of Science,


From Andrew Yee <>

Scripps Institute of Oceanography
University of California-San Diego

Media Contacts:
Mario Aguilera, (858) 534-3624,
Cindy Clark, (858) 534-3624,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 07, 2001

Ocean Whitecaps Impact Global Temperatures

A new study by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the
University of California, San Diego, has dramatically elevated the
importance and influence of oceanic whitecaps on global climates.

Whitecaps, the bright, wind-driven result of breaking wave crests, have been
mostly ignored by climate models.

In a paper that appeared in the April 15 edition of Geophysical Research
Letters, Robert Frouin and Sam Iacobellis of Scripps, along with Pierre-Yves
Deschamps of the Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphrique in France, for the
first time clearly define the amount whitecaps impact climate by reflecting
sunlight, or solar radiation. The presence of whitecaps results in less
radiation reaching the surface of the ocean -- especially in cloudless skies
-- changing the way this radiation energy impacts the ocean, the atmosphere,
and entire climate system.

"Our estimate of the global radiative forcing by oceanic whitecaps is small,
yet not negligible compared with the direct forcing by some greenhouse gases
and even anthropogenic aerosols," said Frouin. "In contrast to well-mixed
greenhouse gases, whitecaps are more localized, and their forcing may be
much larger on regional and seasonal scales, with definite effects on

Basing their new research on Frouin's earlier findings that identified the
spectral dependence of whitecap reflectance, the researchers used satellite
data and other measurements to calculate how much solar radiation whitecaps
reflect away from the surface. They found a global average of .03 watts per
meter squared. However in certain regions, such as parts of the Indian
Ocean, this average jumped significantly -- in some cases up to .7 watts per
meter squared.

This was particularly true in the case of the Arabian Sea, which can exhibit
cloudless skies and great wind speed -- two important factors in increasing
the role of whitecaps.

Previously, white caps were largely disregarded in climate models.
Historically, they played a stagnant and incomplete role in these models.
Most models pegged their importance on a broad brush figure, rather than a
calculated global and regional influence factoring wind speed and cloud
cover, as Frouin, Iacobellis, and Deschamps have done.

"We've demonstrated that in certain cases these whitecaps might be important
players in evaluating how regions respond to climate change," said
Iacobellis. "Hopefully we've shown that whitecaps should be included in
climate models."

The authors note that compared with carbon dioxide, whitecaps have a
relatively small influence on climate. With other gases, however, such as
nitrous oxide, whitecaps can have a comparable effect.

The authors also note that their findings play into the tangled equation of
changes due to greenhouse gases. Greenhouse warming may change wind speed,
thus altering the amount of whitecaps, and as a result changing the amount
of radiation white caps reflect, ultimately changing heat content and

"Many competing effects and feed-backs may be involved, and are difficult to
untangle," said Frouin.

The research was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, the Department of Energy, the California Space Institute,
the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and the Centre National de la
Recherche Scientifique.

Note: Images available at

Journalists may request a copy of the paper from Harvey Leifert at . Please indicate whether you prefer PDF or fax and provide
your contact information.


From Environmental News Network, 7 May 2001

Researchers are confident that desert dust absorbs far less radiation than
previously thought.

Scientists studying the Sahara Desert have found that dust particles absorb
much less heat from the sun than previously thought, possibly reducing the
amount of solar warming of the Earth's surface.

Yoram Kaufman of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA)
Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said, "Our new results, produced
with two independent sets of remote observations, found dust absorption to
be one to five percent."

This means that the Earth's surface receives less warmth in areas where dust
lingers in the atmosphere since the dust particles reflect that radiation
back into space.

The results, published in the April 15 issue of the American Geophysical
Union's Journal of Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that Saharan dust
absorption results could be representative of desert dust properties around
the world.

"The new results strongly suggest that mineral dust from other regions of
the world will also be less absorbing than previously thought," says
co-author Lorraine Remer. "So, more dust in the atmosphere will lower
current estimates of warming temperatures in those areas."

Remer has studied dust that reached the Channel Islands off the Southern
California coast from Asia and found similar levels of absorption.

Previous estimates of the ability of dust to absorb the sun's radiation were
10 to 15 percent. The researchers are confident that desert dust absorbs far
less radiation than previously thought.

To arrive at their findings, the scientists compared two images from NASA's
Landsat 5 Spacecraft of the coast of western Africa, taken two weeks apart
in 1987. One photo was taken during an intense dust storm and the other was
taken when dust levels were much lower.

A satellite image records one of the largest Saharan dust storms ever
documented. The photo was taken on Feb. 26, 2000.

The difference in the brightness of solar radiation reflected by the land
surface and the heavy dust cloud showed that nearly all the sunlight in the
visible and near infrared part of the solar spectrum hitting the dust cloud
was reflected back into space. Very little heat and light were absorbed by
the iron-rich dust particles.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joins many scientists in saying on
its global warming Web site that determining the extent of global warming is
difficult and there are many complicating factors. For example, as the ocean
warms, evaporation will increase, leading to more cloud formation.

Clouds play a dual role in the atmosphere. They cool the Earth by reflecting
incoming radiation, and they warm the Earth by trapping outgoing radiation

The amount of cooling and warming depends on the type, amount and
distribution of clouds. Currently, they appear to cool more than they warm.
If more evaporation occurs, clouds may offset the warming.

Another complicating factor is gas hydrates (frozen ice with about 90
percent methane) trapped in the oceans. Warming of the oceans will release
vast amounts of hydrocarbon gases from melting gas hydrates, which will
increase global warming.

In an article last year in the international science journal Nature,
researchers said that humans, plants and animals could also affect the rate
of global warming. As the global temperature rises and there is more heat in
the atmosphere, evaporation increases and respiration rates for plants and
animals will change. This will affect the balance of gases in the

Currently 20,000 tons of greenhouse gases go into the atmosphere each year
worldwide. North America and Western Europe, which hold 10 percent of the
world's population, produce 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Copyright 2001, Environmental News Network


From the BBC News Online, 3 May 2001

New data suggest the North Pole got a little thicker in the 90s

By BBC News Online's Jonathan Amos

If ever you needed convincing that climate science was complex stuff, just
look at the Arctic. We are told the sea ice in the northern polar region is
disappearing fast: some computer models even suggest there could be
completely open water there during the summers at the end of this century.

If this really is the case, the implications could be immense - and not just
for the polar bears which rely on the ice to go hunting for seals. The
cryosphere plays a crucial role it helping to regulate the climate on planet
Earth. An ice-free Arctic would likely accelerate any global warming process
that was taking place.

But a new, and as yet unpublished, piece of research is challenging the idea
that a big melt is underway. Dr Greg Holloway, of the Institute of Ocean
Sciences in Sidney, Canada, has got tongues wagging with his suggestion that
the missing ice is still there, piled up in locations where researchers have
not been looking for it.

The evidence for major thinning is supported by submarine data.
Upward-looking sonar readings, studied by both US and British scientists,
have produced broadly similar results: about a 40% reduction in draught
between the 1960s and 1990s - by draught, researchers mean the difference
between the surface of the ocean and the bottom of the ice pack.

But the submarine data are not exactly comprehensive: the cruises were not
continuous and the data sets only cover certain areas in the Arctic. And
this is partly what got Dr Holloway into thinking the ice may simply have
been "mislaid".

Satellite methods

He wondered if multi-decadal wind patterns known to operate in the Arctic
could have shifted the ice into areas not surveyed by the submarines, giving
the illusion that the ice was losing volume over a period of time. And when
he matched the timing of the submarine visits with what he knew about wind
cycles, his suspicions were confirmed.

Satellites show a 3%-per-decade reduction in area - but assessing thickness
is more difficult
"It's a circumstance where the ice tends to leave the central Arctic and
then mostly pile up against the Canadian side, before moving back into the
central Arctic again," he told BBC News Online. "Because of territorial
waters and where US submarines weren't allowed to go in the 1990s - the
submarines couldn't enter Canadian waters and that's where the ice was."

Dr Holloway believes the fact that the British research tallied with the
American studies was purely coincidental - a "fluke".

"Trying to get a picture of the volume of Arctic ice is pretty sketchy," he
said. "It's a question of what other information we can bring to bear so
that we get a fuller picture. The great hope for the future is that
satellite methods may be able to observe the thickness of the ice as well as
the extent."

But Dr Peter Wadhams, of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge,
UK, and one of the world's leading experts on Arctic ice, is not yet
prepared to accept the Canadian's analysis.

Stability returns

"It needs testing obviously, but I think on the whole the evidence is
against it," he told BBC News Online. "There are some submarine data sets
from these regions that are not yet published and they show no thickening,
and data from radar altimetry suggest thinning over the entire Arctic, not
just over the regions where the submarine data exists."

Polar bears use the ice to hunt for seals
Dr Wadhams said he also thought some of the theoretical basis underpinning
Holloway's ideas was not supported by what science had learnt about ice

"Modellers suspect it is not as simple as Dr Holloway suggests - the ice
will not simply pile up in some other place. There will be a change in the
distribution of ice thickness around the Arctic but it won't involve any
massive build-ups to compensate for overall thinning."

If the submarines have got it right then at least some stability appears to
have returned to the Arctic. The latest and most comprehensive analysis yet
of the sonar data collected in the 1990s shows little if any thinning - at
least towards the end of that decade. Indeed, at the North Pole, there are
indications in the data that the ice even got a little thicker.

For Dr Holloway, there is a recognition that he needs to put his research
through peer review and get it published. "There are certainly regional
changes taking place," he said. "And if you take the western Hudson Bay, it
may well be that the Polar bears are being stressed there because of
declining ice coverage. But I believe we have been a little bit overly
stampeded into the idea that there is a terribly alarming melting taking

Copyright 2001, BBC


From SCIRO Media Release, 8 May 2001


Australia will be hotter and drier in coming decades according to CSIRO's
latest climate change estimates.

"Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the culprit," says Dr Peter
Whetton from CSIRO Atmospheric Research.

CSIRO today released its projections of the likely extent of climate change
in Australia and the expected impacts across the country.

"Warmer conditions will produce more extremely hot days and fewer cold
days," says Dr Whetton.

Over most of the continent, annual average temperatures will be 0.4 to 2oC
greater than 1990 by 2030. By 2070, average temperatures are likely to
increase by 1 to 6oC. The temperature ranges quoted indicate the scientific
uncertainty associated with the projections.

"The warming won't be the same everywhere," he says. "There will be slightly
less warming in some coastal areas and Tasmania, and slightly more warming
in the north-west."

South-western Australia can expect decreases in rainfall, as can parts of
south-eastern Australia and Queensland. Wetter conditions are possible in
northern and eastern Australia in summer and inland Australia in autumn.

In areas that experience little change or an increase in average rainfall,
more frequent or heavier downpours are likely. Conversely, there will be
more dry spells in regions where average rainfall decreases.

"We may also see more intense tropical cyclones, leading to an increase in
the number of severe oceanic storm surges in the north. Rises in sea level
would worsen this effect," says Dr Whetton.

Sea level is likely to rise at a rate of between 0.8 and 8.0 cm per decade,
reaching 9 to 88 cm above the 1990 level by the year 2100.

"Evaporation will increase over most of the country. When combined with
changes in rainfall, there is a clear decrease in available moisture across
the country," says Dr Whetton.

Changing climate is likely to have a profound effect on Australia, with many
winners and losers.

"A better understanding of the likely impacts of climate change can
contribute to adaptation strategies designed to minimise adverse impacts and
optimise benefits," says Dr Whetton. "Natural ecosystems most at risk are
coral reefs, alpine ecosystems, mangroves and wetlands. Also under threat
are tropical forests, savannas, deserts and native grasslands.

"Natural systems have little opportunity to adapt to climate change. Higher
temperatures and lower rainfall will be a threat. Climate change and sea
level rise will add to the vulnerability of many of Australia's wetlands."

Higher carbon dioxide concentrations will increase plant productivity and
the efficiency with which plants use water. A moderate rise in temperature
will increase plant growth in temperate areas but may reduce it in the

Warmer conditions will reduce frost damage to many crops. However, fruit
trees need cold weather to set fruit, so some fruit yields may decline.
Wheat yield will rise with warmer conditions if rainfall doesn't change. A
rainfall decline of 20 per cent with temperature increases of more than 1C
will lower yield.

"The net effect on agriculture will be a trade-off between the positive
impact of higher carbon dioxide and the negative effect of lower rainfall
and higher temperatures," says Dr Whetton.

Forests will benefit from a carbon dioxide-enriched atmosphere, but gains
may be offset by warmer conditions.

"Some tropical pests, like the Queensland fruit fly, may spread southwards.
Other temperate pests, like the light brown apple moth, may move to cooler
areas," says Dr Whetton. "We're also likely to experience more water
shortages and less snow."

CSIRO scientists contribute to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, which is the international group charged with assessing the latest
science on greenhouse. CSIRO's new projections incorporate IPCC findings.
CSIRO issued its last climate change projections in 1996. These new
projections suggest a greater temperature increase than was proposed in the
past. Rainfall changes are similar in direction but greater in magnitude
than those released five years ago.

Copies of the new climate change projections brochure and climate change
impacts brochure are available from CSIRO Atmospheric Research and

More information from:

Dr Peter Whetton, 03 9239 4535 (w), 03 9687 7386 (h),

Paul Holper, 03 9239 4661 (w), 0407 394 661 (m),


From Andrew Yee <>

Texas A&M University

Judith M. White, 979-845-4664,
Thomas Crowley, 979-845-0795,


Carbon Dioxide Levels Key To Global Warming Predictions

COLLEGE STATION -- It's never a good idea to throw the baby out with the
bathwater, even if the baby is millions of years old -- with an uncertain
future. That's Thomas Crowley's message on global climate modeling,
published in this week's Science (May 3, 2001).

Despite incomplete agreement of computer generated models and physical
evidence, Crowley believes carbon dioxide levels still prove key to
predicting future climate events based on past history.

"Recently, some researchers have suggested that carbon dioxide changes are
not primarily responsible for past climate changes over millions of years,"
said Crowley, a professor of oceanography at Texas A&M University. "But my
co-author, Robert Berner of Yale, and I demonstrate in our perspective piece
for Science that variations in CO2 are in fact very important for explaining
past ice ages.

"Conclusions to the contrary have been based on fragmentary data," he
observed. "I think it would be hazardous to conclude, based on discrepancies
between models and data from the past, that projections interpreting the
negative impact of future anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are

Paleoclimate experts agree that over millions of years, the Earth's climate
has undergone massive changes. Glaciers sculpted the face of entire
continents, followed by warm periods with virtually no ice. Over 65 million
years ago, dinosaurs grazed in Alaska, and the ice-cold waters of the ocean
depths ran lukewarm.

Experts estimate historic atmospheric CO2 content based on analysis of
fossilized soils, marine sedimentary carbon, fossil leaves and boron
isotopes in carbonate fossils. Such indicators have suggested links between
natural variations in the amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere
and long-term climate changes.

But not all the data agree. For example, during certain periods of high
levels of CO2, reconstructed temperatures in the tropics were quite cold.

Crowley and Berner dispute the idea, however, that such discrepancies should
entirely call into question the role of CO2 in global warming, both now and
in the past.

"There are some legitimate reasons for believing the tropical chemical data
may give flawed estimates of temperature," Crowley said. "If these estimates
are, however, eventually proven correct, then perhaps climate models are not
correctly simulating tropical ocean responses to carbon dioxide changes."

"But even if there are mistakes in our modeling approaches, they may still
have limited application to future greenhouse warming," he continued. "The
locations of the continents were so different in the past from where they
are now that we cannot be sure of the effects of such continental changes on
the ocean."

Crowley and Berner's analysis of models and supporting data led them to
conclude that the CO2 model is valuable for periods of glaciation at high
latitudes, but that in the tropics, predictive applications of prior climate
change are complicated by movement of the continents on tectonic plates and
problems with interpretation of climate indicators.

"The bottom line remains the same -- CO2 is still very important to the
whole process of climate change. We just don't have all the story yet,"
Crowley said.


From CO2 Science Magazine, 9 May 2001

Hisdal, H., Stahl, K., Tallaksen, L.M. and Demuth, S. 2001. Have streamflow
droughts in Europe become more severe or frequent? International Journal of
Climatology 21: 317-333.

What was done
Noting that "the media often reflect the view that recent severe drought
events are signs that the climate has in fact already changed owing to human
impacts," the authors examine what the data show for Europe. Specifically,
they performed a series of statistical analyses on more than 600 daily
stremflow records from the European Water Archive to examine trends in the
severity, duration and frequency of drought over the following four time
periods: 1962-1990, 1962-1995, 1930-1995, and 1911-1995.

What was learned
According to the authors, "despite several reports on recent droughts in
Europe, there is no clear indication that streamflow drought conditions in
Europe have generally become more severe or frequent in the time periods
studied." To the contrary, they report that "overall, the number of negative
significant trends pointing towards decreasing drought deficit volumes or
fewer drought events exceeded the number of positive significant trends
(increasing drought deficit volumes or more drought events)."

What it means
There is surely something rotten in more than Denmark when the media's
portrayal of increasing drought in Europe is not supported by real-world
data. We wonder where they are getting their information, or misinformation.
If this is what water shortages are all about - "decreasing drought deficit
volumes and fewer drought events" - bring 'em on! We all could use a little
more such bad news.
Copyright 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


From CO2 Science Magazine, 9 May 2001

Several years ago, Charlson et al. (1987) discussed the plausibility of a
multi-link negative feedback process, whereby warming-induced increases in
the emission of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) from the world's oceans tend to
counteract the initial impetus for warming. The basic tenant of their
hypothesis was that the global radiation balance is significantly influenced
by the albedo of marine stratus clouds (the greater the cloud albedo, the
less the input of solar radiation to the earth's surface). The albedo of
these clouds, in turn, is known to be a function of cloud droplet
concentration (the more and smaller the cloud droplets, the greater the
cloud albedo and the reflection of incoming solar radiation back to space),
which is dependent upon the availability of cloud condensation nuclei on
which the droplets form (the more cloud condensation nuclei, the more and
smaller the cloud droplets). And in completing the negative feedback loop,
Charlson et al. noted that the cloud condensation nuclei concentration often
depends upon the flux of biologically-produced DMS from the world's oceans
(the higher the sea surface temperature, the greater the sea-to-air flux of

Since the publication of Charlson et al.'s initial hypothesis, much
empirical evidence has been gathered in support of its several tenants. A
recent review, for example, states that the "major links in the feedback
chain proposed by Charlson et al. (1987) have a sound physical basis," and
there is "compelling observational evidence to suggest that DMS and its
atmospheric products participate significantly in processes of climate
regulation and reactive atmospheric chemistry in the remote marine boundary
layer of the Southern Hemisphere" (Ayers and Gillett, 2000).

But just how strong is the negative feedback phenomenon proposed by Charlson
et al. (1987)?  Is it powerful enough to counter the threat of greenhouse
gas-induced global warming?  According to Sciare et al. (2000), it may well
be able to do just that, for in examining ten years of DMS data from
Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean, these researchers found that
a sea surface temperature increase of only 1C was sufficient to increase
the atmospheric DMS concentration by as much as 50%.  This finding suggests
that the degree of warming typically predicted to accompany a doubling of
the air's CO2 content would increase the atmosphere's DMS concentration by a
factor of three or more, providing a "very important" negative feedback that
could potentially offset the original impetus for warming.

Other research has shown that this same chain of events can be set in motion
by means of phenomena not discussed in Charlson et al.'s original
hypothesis. Simo and Pedros-Alio (1999), for example, discovered that the
depth of the surface mixing-layer has a substantial influence on DMS yield
in the short term, via a number of photo-induced (and thereby mixing-depth
mediated) influences on several complex physiological phenomena, as do
longer-term seasonal variations in vertical mixing, via their influence on
seasonal planktonic succession scenarios and food-web structure.

It has also been suggested that a DMS-induced negative climate feedback
phenomenon operates over the land areas of the globe, and that the
volatilization of reduced sulfur gases from soils may be just as important
as marine DMS emissions in enhancing cloud albedo (Idso, 1990).  On the
basis of experiments that showed soil DMS emissions to be positively
correlated with soil organic matter content, and noting that additions of
organic matter to a soil tend to increase the amount of sulfur gases emitted
therefrom, Idso (1990) hypothesized that because atmospheric CO2 is an
effective aerial fertilizer, augmenting its aerial concentration and thereby
increasing vegetative inputs of organic matter to earth's soils should also
produce an impetus for cooling, even in the absence of any surface warming.

Two years later, Idso (1992) expanded the concept even more.  First, he
noted that since carbonyl sulfide is another biologically-produced sulfur
gas that is emitted from soils, it too is likely to be emitted in ever
greater quantities as earth's vegetation responds to the aerial
fertilization effect of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content. Then, he
noted that carbonyl sulfide is relatively inert in the troposphere, but that
it eventually makes its way into the stratosphere, where it is transformed
into solar-radiation-reflecting sulfate aerosol particles.  Consequently,
Idso concluded that the CO2-induced augmentation of soil carbonyl sulfide
emissions constitutes a mechanism that can cool the globe's surface, even in
the absence of clouds.

In spite of the overwhelming empirical evidence for both a
temperature-induced and a CO2-induced DMS-driven negative feedback to global
warming, the effects of these processes, as well as related processes
involving carbonyl sulfide, have not been fully incorporated into the best
of today's climate models. Hence, the warming they currently predict must be
much larger than what could actually occur in the real world. In fact, it is
very possible these biological-based phenomena could totally compensate for
the warming influence of all greenhouse gas emissions experienced to date,
as well as all those anticipated to occur in the future.


Ayers, G.P. and Gillett, R.W. 2000. DMS and its oxidation products in the
remote marine atmosphere: implications for climate and atmospheric
chemistry. Journal of Sea Research 43: 275-286.

Charlson, R.J., Lovelock, J.E., Andrea, M.O. and Warren, S.G. 1987. Oceanic
phytoplankton, atmospheric sulfur, cloud albedo and climate. Nature 326:

Idso, S.B. 1990. A role for soil microbes in moderating the carbon dioxide
greenhouse effect?  Soil Science 149: 179-180.

Idso, S.B. 1992. The DMS-cloud albedo feedback effect: Greatly
underestimated? Climatic Change 21: 429-433.

Sciare, J., Mihalopoulos, N. and Dentener, F.J. 2000. Interannual
variability of atmospheric dimethylsulfide in the southern Indian Ocean.
Journal of Geophysical Research 105: 26,369-26,377.

Simo, R. and Pedros-Alio, C. 1999. Role of vertical mixing in controlling
the oceanic production of dimethyl sulphide.  Nature 402: 396-399.

Copyright 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change




I wish to thank Senator Voinovich, Senator Smith and the Environment and
Public Works Committee for the opportunity to clarify the nature of
consensus and skepticism in the Climate Debate. I have been involved in
climate and climate related research for over thirty years during which time
I have held professorships at the University of Chicago, Harvard University
and MIT. I am a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the author
or coauthor of over 200 papers and books. I have also been a participant in
the proceedings of the IPCC (the United Nation=s Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change). The questions I wish to address are the following: What can
we agree on and what are the implications of this agreement? What are the
critical areas of disagreement? What is the origin of popular perceptions? I
hope it will become clear that the designation >skeptic= simply confuses an
issue where popular perceptions are based in significant measure on misuse
of language as well as misunderstanding of science. Indeed, the
identification of some scientists as >skeptics= permits others to appear
>mainstream= while denying views held by the so-called >skeptics= even when
these views represent the predominant views of the field.

Climate change is a complex issue where simplification tends to lead to
confusion, and where understanding requires thought and effort. Judging from
treatments of this issue in the press, the public has difficulty dealing
with numerical magnitudes and focuses instead on signs (increasing v.
decreasing); science places crucial emphasis on both signs and magnitudes.
To quote the great 19th Century English scientist, Lord Kelvin, "When you
can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know
something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express
it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind."

As it turns out, much of what informed scientists agree upon is barely
quantitative at all:

that global mean temperature has probably increased over the past

that CO2 in the atmosphere has increased over the same period,

that the added CO2 is more likely to have caused global mean
temperature to increase rather than decrease, and

that man, like the butterfly, has some impact on climate.
Such statements have little relevance to policy, unless quantification shows

The media and advocacy groups have, however, taken this agreement to mean
that the same scientists must also agree that global warming "will lead to
rising sea waters, droughts and agriculture disasters in the future if
unchecked" (CNN). According to Deb Callahan, president of the League of
Conservation Voters, "Science clearly shows that we are experiencing
devastating impacts because of carbon dioxide pollution." (Carbon dioxide,
as a >pollutant= is rather singular in that it is a natural product of
respiration, non-toxic, and essential for life.) The accompanying cartoon
suggests implications for severe weather, the ecosystem, and presumably
plague, floods and droughts (as well as the profound politicization of the
issue). Scientists who do not agree with the catastrophe scenarios are
assumed to disagree with the basic statements. This is not only untrue, but
absurdly stupid.

Indeed, the whole issue of consensus and skeptics is a bit of a red herring.
If, as the news media regularly report, global warming is the increase in
temperature caused by man's emissions of CO2 that will give rise to rising
sea levels, floods, droughts, weather extremes of all sorts, plagues,
species elimination, and so on, then it is safe to say that global warming
consists in so many aspects, that widespread agreement on all of them would
be suspect ab initio. If it truly existed, it would be evidence of a
thoroughly debased field. In truth, neither the full text of the IPCC
documents nor even the summaries claim any such agreement. Those who insist
that the science is settled should be required to state exactly what science
they feel is settled. In all likelihood, it will turn out to be something
trivial and without policy implications except to those who bizarrely
subscribe to the so-called precautionary principle - a matter I will return
to later. (Ian Bowles, former senior science advisor on environmental issues
at the NSC, published such a remark on 22 April in the Boston Globe: "the
basic link between carbon emissions, accumulation of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere, and the phenomenon of climate change is not seriously disputed
in the scientific community." I think it is fair to say that statements
concerning matters of such complexity that are not disputed are also likely
to be lacking in policy relevant content. However, some policymakers
apparently think otherwise in a cultural split that may be worthy of the
late C.P. Snow's attention.)

The thought that there might be a central question, whose resolution would
settle matters, is, of course, inviting, and there might, in fact, be some
basis for optimism. While determining whether temperature has increased or
not is not such a question, the determination of climate sensitivity might
be. Rather little serious attention has been given to this matter (though I
will mention some in the course of this testimony). However, even ignoring
this central question, there actually is much that can be learned simply by
sticking to matters where there is widespread agreement. For example, there
is widespread agreement

that CO2 levels have increased from about 280ppm to 360ppm over the
past century, and, that combined with increases in other greenhouse
gases, this brings us about half way to the radiative forcing associated
with a doubling of CO2 without any evidence of enhanced human misery.

that the increase in global mean temperature over the past century
is about 1F which is smaller than the normal interannual variability for
smaller regions like North America and Europe, and comparable to the
interannual variability for the globe. Which is to say that temperature
is always changing, which is why it has proven so difficult to demonstrate
human agency.

that doubling CO2 alone will only lead to about a 2F increase in
global mean temperature. Predictions of greater warming due to
doubling CO2 are based on positive feedbacks from poorly handled water
vapor and clouds (the atmosphere's main greenhouse substances) in
current computer models. Such positive feedbacks have neither empirical nor
theoretical foundations. Their existence, however, suggests a poorly
designed earth which responds to perturbations by making things

that the most important energy source for extratropical storms is
the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles which
is predicted by computer models to decrease with global warming. This
also implies reduced temperature variation associated with weather since
such variations result from air moving from one latitude to another.
Consistent with this, even the IPCC Policymakers Summary notes that no
significant trends have been identified in tropical or extratropical
storm intensity and frequence. Nor have trends been found in
tornados, hail events or thunder days.

that warming is likely to be concentrated in winters and at night.
This is an empirical result based on data from the past century. It
represents what is on the whole a beneficial pattern.

that temperature increases observed thus far are less than what
models have suggested should have occurred even if they were totally due
to increasing greenhouse emissions. The invocation of very uncertain
(and unmeasured) aerosol effects is frequently used to disguise this. Such
an invocation makes it impossible to check models. Rather, one is
reduced to the claim that it is possible that models are correct.

that claims that man has contributed any of the observed warming (ie
attribution) are based on the assumption that models correctly predict
natural variability. Such claims, therefore, do not constitute
independent verifications of models. Note that natural variability does not
require any external forcing - natural or anthropogenic.

that large computer climate models are unable to even simulate major
features of past climate such as the 100 thousand year cycles of ice
ages that have dominated climate for the past 700 thousand years, and the
very warm climates of the Miocene, Eocene, and Cretaceous. Neither do they
do well at accounting for shorter period and less dramatic phenomena
like El Nios, quasi-biennial oscillations, or intraseasonal oscillations -
all of which are well documented in the data.

that major past climate changes were either uncorrelated with
changes in CO2 or were characterized by temperature changes which preceded
changes in CO2 by 100's to thousands of years.

that increases in temperature on the order of 1F are not
catastrophic and may be beneficial.

that Kyoto, fully implemented, will have little detectable impact on
climate regardless of what one expects for warming. This is partly due to
the fact that Kyoto will apply only to developed nations. However, if one
expected large global warming, even the extension of Kyoto to developing
nations would still leave one with large warming.

None of the above points to catastrophic consequences from increasing CO2.
Most point towards, and all are consistent with minimal impacts. Moreover,
the last item provides a definitive disconnect between Kyoto and science.
Should a catastrophic scenario prove correct, Kyoto will not prevent it. If
we view Kyoto as an insurance policy, it is a policy where the premium
appears to exceed the potential damages, and where the coverage extends to
only a small fraction of the potential damages. Does anyone really want
this? I suspect not. Given the rejection of the extensive US concessions at
the Hague, it would appear that the Europeans do not want the treaty, but
would prefer that the US take the blame for ending the foolishness. As a
practical matter, a large part of the response to any climate change,
natural or anthropogenic, will be adaptation, and that adaptation is best
served by wealth.

Our own research suggests the presence of a major negative feedback
involving clouds and water vapor, where models have completely failed to
simulate observations (to the point of getting the sign wrong for crucial
dependences). If we are right, then models are greatly exaggerating
sensitivity to increasing CO2. Even if we are not right (which is always
possible in science; for example, IPCC estimates of warming trends for the
past twenty years were almost immediately acknowledged to be wrong B so too
were claims for arctic ice thinning ), the failure of models to simulate
observations makes it even less likely that models are a reliable tool for
predicting climate.

This brings one to what is probably the major point of disagreement: Can one
trust computer climate models to correctly predict the response to
increasing CO2?
As the accompanying cartoon suggests, our experience with weather forecasts
is not particularly encouraging though it may be argued that the prediction
of gross climate changes is not as demanding as predicting the detailed
weather. Even here, the situation is nuanced. From the perspective of the
precautionary principle, it suffices to believe that the existence of a
computer prediction of an adverse situation means that such an outcome is
possible rather than correct in order to take >action.= The burden of proof
has shifted to proving that the computer prediction is wrong. Such an
approach effectively deprives society of science's capacity to solve
problems and answer questions. Unfortunately, the incentive structure in
today=s scientific enterprise contributes to this impasse. Scientists
associate public recognition of the relevance of their subject with support,
and relevance has come to be identified with alarming the public. It is only
human for scientists to wish for support and recognition, and the broad
agreement among scientists that climate change is a serious issue must be
viewed from this human perspective. Indeed, public perceptions have
significantly influenced the science itself. Meteorologists, oceanographers,
hydrologists and others at MIT have all been redesignated climate scientists
- indicating the degree to which scientists have hitched their futures to
this issue.

That said, it has become common to deal with the science by referring to the
IPCC >scientific consensus.= Claiming the agreement of thousands of
scientists is certainly easier than trying to understand the issue or to
respond to scientific questions; it also effectively intimidates most
citizens. However, the invocation of the IPCC is more a mantra than a proper
reflection on that flawed document. The following points should be kept in
mind. (Note that almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted
to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by
representatives from governments, NGOs and business; the full reports,
written by participating scientists, are largely ignored.) In what follows,
I will largely restrict myself to the report of Working Group I (on the
science). Working Groups II and III dealt with impacts and responses.

The media reports rarely reflect what is actually in the Summary. The media
generally replace the IPCC range of >possible= temperature increases with
>as much as= the maximum B despite the highly unlikely nature of the
maximum. The range, itself, assumes, unjustifiably, that at least some of
the computer models must be correct. However, there is evidence that even
the bottom of the range is an overestimate. (A recent study at MIT found
that the likelihood of actual change being smaller than the IPCC lower bound
was 17 times more likely than that the upper range would even be reached,
and even this study assumed natural variability to be what computer models
predicted, thus exaggerating the role of anthropogenic forcing.) The media
report storminess as a consequence despite the admission in the summary of
no such observed relation. To be sure, the summary still claims that such a
relation may emerge B despite the fact that the underlying physics suggests
the opposite. The media=s emphasis on increased storminess, rising sea
levels, etc. is based not on any science, but rather on the fact that such
features have more graphic impact than the rather small increases in
temperature. People who have experienced day and night and winter and summer
have experienced far greater changes in temperature, and retirement to the
sun belt rather than the Northwest Territory represents an overt preference
for warmth.

The summary does not reflect the full document (which still has not been
released although it was basically completed last August). For example, I
worked on Chapter 7, Physical Processes. This chapter dealt with the nature
of the basic processes which determine the response of climate, and found
numerous problems with model treatments - especially with clouds and water
vapor. The chapter was summarized with the following sentence:
"Understanding of climate processes and their incorporation in climate
models have improved, including water vapour, sea-ice dynamics, and ocean
heat transport."

The vast majority of participants played no role in preparing the summary,
and were not asked for agreement.

The draft of the Policymakers Summary was significantly modified at
Shanghai. The IPCC, in response to the fact that the Policymakers Summary
was not prepared by participating scientists, claimed that the draft of the
Summary was prepared by a (selected) subset of the 14 coordinating lead
authors. However, the final version of the summary differed significantly
from the draft. For example the draft concluded the following concerning

From the body of evidence since IPCC (1996), we conclude that there has been
a discernible human influence on global climate. Studies are beginning to
separate the contributions to observed climate change attributable to
individual external influences, both anthropogenic and natural.

This work suggests that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a substantial
contributor to the observed warming, especially over the past 30 years.
However, the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by
uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and
anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing.

The version that emerged from Shanghai concludes instead:

In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining
uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is
likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas

In point of fact, there may not have been any significant warming in the
last 60 years. Moreover, such warming as may have occurred was associated
with jumps that are inconsistent with greenhouse warming.

The preparation of the report, itself, was subject to pressure. There were
usually several people working on every few pages. Naturally there were
disagreements, but these were usually hammered out in a civilized manner.
However, throughout the drafting sessions, IPCC "coordinators" would go
around insisting that criticism of models be toned down, and that
>motherhood= statements be inserted to the effect that models might still be
correct despite the cited faults. Refusals were occasionally met with ad
hominem attacks. I personally witnessed coauthors forced to assert their
"green" credentials in defense of their statements.

None of the above should be surprising. The IPCC was created to support the
negotiations concerning CO2 emission reductions. Although the press
frequently refers to the hundreds and even thousands of participants as the
world's leading climate scientists, such a claim is misleading on several
grounds. First, climate science, itself, has traditionally been a scientific
backwater. There is little question that the best science students
traditionally went into physics, math and, more recently, computer science.
Thus, speaking of >thousands= of the world=s leading climate scientists is
not especially meaningful. Even within climate science, most of the top
researchers (at least in the US) avoid the IPCC because it is extremely time
consuming and non-productive. Somewhat ashamedly I must admit to being the
only active participant in my department. None of this matters a great deal
to the IPCC. As a UN activity, it is far more important to have participants
from a hundred countries B many of which have almost no active efforts in
climate research. For most of these participants, involvement with the IPCC
gains them prestige beyond what would normally be available, and these, not
surprisingly, are likely to be particularly supportive of the IPCC. Finally,
judging from the Citation Index, the leaders of the IPCC process like Sir
John Houghton, Dr. Robert Watson, and Prof. Bert Bolin have never been major
contributors to basic climate research. They are, however, enthusiasts for
the negotiating process without which there would be no IPCC, which is to
say that the IPCC represents an interest in its own right. Of course, this
hardly distinguishes the IPCC from other organizations.

The question of where do we go from here is an obvious and important one.
From my provincial perspective, an important priority should be given to
figuring out how to support and encourage science (and basic science
underlying climate in particular) while removing incentives to promote
alarmism. The benefits of leaving future generations a better understanding
of nature would far outweigh the benefits (if any) of ill thought out
attempts to regulate nature in the absence of such understanding. With
respect to any policy, the advice given in the 1992 report of the NRC,
Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, remains relevant: carry out only
those actions which can be justified independently of any putative
anthropogenic global warming. Here, I would urge that even such actions not
be identified with climate unless they can be shown to significantly impact
the radiative forcing of climate. On neither ground - independent
justification or climatic relevance - is Kyoto appropriate.


From CO2 Science Magazine, 9 May 2001

Stanhill (2001) recently published a "scientometric study" of the growth of
climate change science, wherein he determined that the number of scientific
publications dealing with the subject of climate change currently stands at
7000 and is doubling every eleven years. He also determined that the
worldwide cost of climate change research is presently about three billion
U.S. dollars annually.

With respect to the future of this field of research, Stanhill suggests two
"plausible alternatives." One scenario holds that the research embodied in
the 7000 scientific publications represents "an emerging major new field of
study." The other view is that the burgeoning latter portion of this work is
"a currently fashionable aspect" of an already mature subject.

Application of the first hypothesis to the empirical data suggests that by
the time the field of climate change research "saturates," somewhere around
the middle of the current century, "the number of publishing scientists will
reach 10,000 with an annual global cost of seven trillion U.S. dollars at
1997 prices (four times the current U.S. Federal budget)." We think everyone
would agree we can only hope that this particular hypothesis will be proven
wrong ... and quickly!

The second scenario (we'll call this one a theory) suggests that the current
rapid growth of the climate change field is "a very temporary episode to be
followed by an equally fast decline," which seems much more likely to be
true than the budget-busting first alternative.  Stanhill notes, for
example, that "the reasons for societies' interest in climate change are
many and complex and by no means confined to scientific considerations."
This is the situation, in fact, that persists in the world today, where
there is great political pressure upon the industrialized nations to reduce
their emissions of CO2 in an attempt (more feigned than real) to save the
planet from predicted (but far from proven) catastrophic global warming.

This "temporary episode" theory of the "currently fashionable aspect" of
climate change research - which is definitely of non-scientific origin - has
all the signs of being correct; for it should be obvious to everyone that it
is not pure and unadulterated science that is driving the growth of the
field, but something vastly different.  The continued expansion of climate
change studies thus requires, in the words of Stanhill, that "public
interest and government support continues to grow," because (1) its not
going to happen on its own, lacking any substantive basis, and (2) the
non-scientific purpose for which the grandiose funding has been provided has
not yet been achieved.  Therefore, because the money spent in pursuit of the
elusive goal has grown so large (and it comes from the tax payers),
continued support at an even higher level of funding will soon require, as
he puts it, "unambiguous and palpable evidence of widespread and
economically damaging climate change, preferably in accordance with current
scientific predictions."

Perhaps this precarious perch on which the forces behind the global warming
movement find themselves teetering is the explanation for why nearly every
drought, flood and hurricane is trumpeted by climate alarmists and
sensation-seeking journalists to be evidence of the predicted climate
catastrophe, irrespective of what the scientific data show, i.e., that there
have been no significant increases in any of these phenomena, even over the
acknowledged period of significant global warming that accompanied the
demise of the Little Ice Age (see Extreme Weather in our Subject Index).
The climate alarmists and their political allies desperately need to make
the public believe that the dramatic weather events they periodically
experience on a regular basis are truly unprecedented and caused by global
warming produced by the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content; for that is
the only way they can build a base of political power sufficient to coerce
the governments of the nations of the world to act upon their proposed
"solution" to the manufactured "problem."

Holding back the floodgates of both scientific and political irrationalism
in this regard is what Stanhill calls "the most reliable, objective basis
for evaluating the likelihood that the current warming will continue in an
intensified form," namely, "the global surface temperature record of the
last 140 years."  This record, he says, can be broken down into four parts,
beginning with "a long and very irregular but generally cool first period
between 1860 and 1910, followed by a very rapid, regular and prolonged
period of global warming between 1910 and 1943, succeeded by an equally long
period of small and irregular cooling from 1943 to 1975 and, since then, the
current warming period."

And why is this record so important?  Because, in the words of Stanhill,
during the prolonged period of global warming in the early part of the past
century, "the rate of anthropogenic releases of radiatively active gasses,
the presumed cause of the current global warming, was approximately one
tenth of that in the present warming period," the temperature increase of
which "has been shorter, more irregular and less rapid than the earlier
warming."  And when one considers the fact that the
order-of-magnitude-greater release of greenhouse gases since 1975 has not
produced a warming as dramatic as the one that occurred in the early part of
the century that was coeval with the release of but a tenth as much CO2 and
other greenhouse gases, there is little reason to put much credence in the
politically-correct version of future climate change, i.e., catastrophic
CO2-induced global warming.  In fact, there is no real-world science-based
evidence for this prediction at all.

In light of this situation, in the words of Stanhill, "there is little
doubt" that "non-scientific factors will continue to influence the support
given to climate change science."  We agree.  Governments and the forces
that pull their purse strings will continue to purchase research that will
promulgate the view of the world they want its inhabitants to have; for they
have well learned the sad-but-true fact that you can buy nearly anything in
this world for money.

Except, of course, the truth.  And that is why, in the parlance of those who
study such matters, the "very temporary" ascendancy of the CO2-induced
global warming hypothesis will shortly experience "an equally fast decline."

Believe us. It will happen. "Nature, and Nature's Laws," to borrow a phrase
from the poet, will not be mocked.

Dr. Craig D. Idso, President 
Dr. Keith E. Idso, Vice President 

Stanhill, G. 2001. The growth of climate change science: A scientometric
study.  Climatic Change 48: 515-524.
Copyright 2001. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


From The Greening Earth Society, 8 May 2001

Stanford University's Steve Schneider is often pilloried for something he
was quoted in Discover as saying several years ago about how scientists
sometimes feel compelled to "offer up scary scenarios" to get attention for
their research. It may be time to let him off the hook. Writing in the May
3, 2001, edition of Nature, he provides insight to the relative
improbability of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's projections
of future temperature in a doubled-CO2 world. What he finds is that things
aren't as bad as the popular press (spun by IPCC leaders like Dr. Robert
Watson) might have us believe.

First, some background. In its Third Assessment Report (TAR), the IPCC
provides an estimate of warming between now and 2100 in the range of 1.4C
to 5.8C. At the high end, expressed in degrees Fahrenheit, we're talking
about 10.4F. This is the figure that made the headlines and is the key to
the extreme storylines crafted by IPCC authors.

The IPCC's temperature range came about when thirty-five different levels of
potential anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions were run through a climate
model tuned to seven different climate "sensitivities." A "sensitivity"
represents a climate model's prediction as to how much things will warm
given a doubling of earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The
exercise resulted in 245 different temperature predictions ranging between
1.4 and 5.8C. Are all equally likely?

A rise of 5.8C undoubtedly would result in severe consequences. But is it
as probable as a rise of 1.4C, which is something that would be of very
nearly no concern? A reading of the IPCC on this point provides little or no
guidance. Its Special Report on Emission Scenarios stipulates, "No judgment
is offered in the Report as to the preference for any of the scenarios and
they are not assigned probabilities of occurrence..." The vaunted Summary
for Policymakers asserts, "All [scenarios] should be considered equally
sound." Here's where Schneider steps in to save the day.

According to Schneider, the IPCC was unwilling to assign individual
probabilities to its outcomes "in an attempt to avoid endless disputes"
among the participants in a scenario development meeting that he attended
and where he unsuccessfully argued for their inclusion in order to provide
scientific credibility.

Because the IPCC refuses to present anything more than a range - as opposed
to an actual distribution of the 245 possibilities - no one is able to
assess whether a prediction of 5.8C is a single "outlier" or is accompanied
by other forecasts nearly as high. Without this kind of information, readers
are forced to assume the 245 forecasts fall into a "normal distribution"
(bell shaped curve) with an average value of 3.6C being the most common
prediction (see Figure 1). In such a distribution, half the values would be
above the mean and half below it. But that assumption is wrong, as Schneider

When he plots the actual distribution of warming forecasts, Schneider finds
it is significantly skewed toward the low end (refer again to Figure 1). In
other words, the IPCC's average value is higher than the value represented
by the average of all the forecasts. Instead of half the forecasts
predicting temperatures higher than 3.6C, only about a quarter do.
Amazingly, just under fifty percent come in at less than 2.5C, meaning
absent any further guidance from the IPCC (their assessment of probability),
it is much more likely that any global warming we might expect is toward the
low end of the IPCC range of 1.4C rather than the high end. The IPCC has
known this all along, but they've let an hysterical environmental and
popular press run with apocalyptic scenarios touting 10.4F warming.

So give Schneider credit. In wanting us to believe the reason the IPCC
hasn't taken a stand on a preferred value of warming for the next hundred
years is that they want to "avoid endless disputes," we now reasonably can
conclude that the IPCC prefers to play up the possibility of disastrous
climate change - the very thing Schneider in the past has pointed out can
happen to advocates.



From Andrew Glikson <>

Dear Benny,

Thank you for your candid response to my letter to CCNet "CCNet, climate
research and conspiracies" (CCNet 02-05-01) included in your item "The
science and politics of global warming hysteria" (CCNet 02-05-01).

In order to allow a constructive debate of the differences, it is important
to seek the common ground that does exist. In this respect I appreciate your
comment "I actually share Andrew's preference for an open-minded and
balanced debate" (CCNet 02-05-01). On this basis, I like to make one inquiry
and one suggestion, as follows:

1. Please clarify whether you are willing to give views which point to
environmentally destructive effects - such as anthropomorphic greenhouse
effects, ozone depletion, deforestation, salination and chemical and nuclear
pollution - equal emphasis in CCNet headlines as well as for contrary views?

2. I am willing to summarize the views of scientists concerned with the
advanced degradation of the planetary environment in a summary essay or
letter titled "Science and the anthropomorphic effects on the terrestrial
environment" (not longer than, say, about 1500 words), to which you and
other potentially interested scientists may wish to respond, in order to
enhance a balanced debate of the issue in CCNet.

Kind Regards
Andrew Glikson

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Dear Andrew, I am more than willing to give equal emphasis
to *any* scientific evidence of environmentally destructive actions if,  o n
b a l a n c e, they can be shown to have had catastrophic rather than
beneficial effects on societal progress and living standards. However, I am
not prepared to let pessimistic diatribes or environmental doomsday
predictions go unchallenged. Your contributions to CCNet are much
appreciated and have always been published. I do not intend to change this
policy. BJP


From Steve Drury <>

Dear Benny,

A great deal of the climate-change debate is clouded by individual "spins"
and by models that, as Freeman Dyson indicates, are only as good as the
algorithms they use and the power of the computers on which they run.
Incidentally, by comparison with a "super computer" of 1960's vintage, I
suspect that the PC that I am using to write this would then have been the
size of two planets!

Dyson complains about how the "public" receives information, i.e simplified
into single issues, and dramatised for impact. There is nothing new in that,
and responsibility for it lies with the "red-top" tabloids and also the
newspapers of record (broadsheets), as well as pop-sci TV and the ignorant
and self-serving rabitting of politicians of many hues. The "public" does
not queue at the newstands for Science and Nature, and indeed I wonder if
Dyson reads the continual stream of peer-reviewed articles on current and
past climate change in such primary sources. Homilies of the kind Dyson has
contributed to CCNet, no matter what his academic standing, are simply
populism in a different guise

Before he submits more views on the role of CO2 in climate change, he should
read the compilation of data on climate change on time scales from annual to
the order of tens of million years assembled in the 27 April 2001 issue of
Science. There he will see that a great deal more processes are implicated
in climate change than "greenhouse" gases, but that all interweave in a
vastly complex web of interactions. Then he should begin to read the earlier
primary sources to which they refer. It is an odd scientist who commits to a
view without researching the field, but is is a big one!

In the record of climate change he will learn that major shifts take place
frequently within a matter of decades, effectively switching climate from
one state to another. One of the papers in last week's Science deals with
the last millennium (op. cit., p. 662-667) figuring dramatic shifts in
surface-temperature anomalies in both hemispheres that coincide with the
exponential growth of carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the
Industrial Revolution. A correlation does not provide a causal mechanism,
but it does draw attention to oddities in the record.

Present cultural emissions are of the same order of magnitude as those
released by natural processes, currently dominated by volcanoes. The rate of
increase in those emissions since ca 1800 matches that estimated for the
release of methane (another "greenhouse" gas that oxidises to CO2) from
sea-floor gas hydrates at the end of the Palaeocene Epoch (55 million years
ago). That led to a lengthy period of rapid climatic warming against the
overall trend of cooling through
the Cainozoic Era. However the carbon-cycle part of the Earth system
functions, and, despite Dyson's Cartesian reduction of it to "four
reservoirs", this tiny part of the global energy partitioning-distribution
system is vastly complex. It is by no means understood fully. It is
indivisible from the iron, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur cycles, and that
by no means limits the dynamism of the system. All link to processes of
erosion, sediment transport and deposition,
thereby to the tangibles of precipitation and air temperature. Aside from
variations in insolation through orbital changes, a central engine in
climate change is equatorwards deep-ocean flow of thermohaline waters in the
North Atlantic. For Dyson's information that drags the warming influence of
the Gulf Stream against Coriolis' Force to otherwise infeasibly high
latitudes.  Where and how do such deep, dense brines form? Why, from the
formation of sea-ice around Iceland.  Sea ice is pure water, and leaves a
cold, more saline brine to sink. Should the critical area (it is quite
small) undergo less winter freezing, then the deep flow, and thus the
warming influence of the Gulf Stream, slows and eventually shuts down. And
what indeed is happening in those Icelandic waters? They are freezing less
and less.

Sure, let us have "local observatories", but perhaps a few aimed at
monitoring other critical parameters, rather than blurring the issue with
radiation flux measurements, and which are not in Oklahoma!

I am inclined to agree with Dyson that we should take the results of
mathematical models of anything with a pinch of salt. Unable to match the
complexity of empirical climate data from the past, they bear little
relation to reality. They currently have the scientific status of basket
weaving - a cottage industry awaiting an advance in the means of production!
However, he should not forget that it was early meteorological modelling by
Edward Lorenz that revealed mathematical chaos - crudely put as sudden and
unpredictable changes in state. That's climate, that is!

Steve Drury
MODERATOR'S NOTE: CCNet readers interested in recent claims that "average
temperatures during the last three decades [are] likely the warmest of the
last millennium" (Science, 27 April 2001) and to which Steve Drury refers,
should look more closely at Fig 2A of the Jones et al paper (pp. 664, 27
April). There, readers will notice that i) the selected proxy record stops
in 1980, and ii) the proxy data shows no warming trend after 1940. The
claimed post-1940 warming relies entirely on the instrumental surface record
which Fred Singer and other researchers consider highly suspect. According
to Singer's latest research, there is no warming trend after 1980 either. In
fact, microwave sensing units on weather satellites and radiosondes carried
in weather balloons show no marked warming of the atmosphere in the last
twenty years. This evidence contradicts enhanced greenhouse warming models
since they predict a stronger warming trend for the atmosphere than for the
surface. CCNet readers should also take into consideration how biased and
unreliable a selected sample of proxy data can be if one compares the proxy
data chosen by Jones et al. for their Science paper with conflicting proxy
data published by Holmgren et al. and Tyson et al. in the South African
Journal of Science (see item 1 above). BJP


From Max Wallis <>

Dear Benny

In your previous journalistic efforts, you called up Fred Singer as
scientific authority on the Greenhouse Warming Scare. You described him as
"eminent researcher and CCNet contributor" rather than longstanding critic
of the IPCC, then reproduced Singer's twelve "major scientific problems".

I showed they are not all, nor just "scientific", but a confusion of
legitimate scientific questioning of the greenhouse-climate theory mixed up
with overt or covert social, ethical and political biases.

I suggested this unscientific mish-mash justified Andrew Glikson's analogy
with UFO cover-up conspiracy theories. Yet rather than defend yourself, you
wheel out another authority, Freeman Dyson, as a "true scientific mind"
(CCNet Climate... 27.4.01).

Professor Emeritus in Physics he is, but his verdict on global climate
models dates from the 1960s. I myself was active peripherally in the subject
10 years ago, and well remember how the global circulation models (GCMs)
were just being developed in terms of 2-D atmosphere description and coupled
ocean-atmosphere circulation. It depended on masses of disparate data and
wide range of scientific expertise. Dyson's single fluid dynamicist from the
1960s stands no comparison.  His models apparently concentrated on CO2, so
could not represent the multiple feedbacks that are now known to be crucial.

I know nothing of (1970s) politicians that Dyson says believed the guy's
calculations. Most didn't and were right not to. Just as modern day
political leaders are right to take 1990s modelling seriously.

Dyson then shows his limited understanding of the basic carbon cycle, in
saying that the four reservoirs (atmosphere, ocean, vegetation and soil) are
"of comparable size". The atmosphere holds some 750 Gt of carbon, vegetation
about the same and soil holds double that, but the
oceans hold some 39000 Gt. Dyson might have been thinking just of surface
ocean waters which exchange heat and CO2 relatively quickly with the
atmosphere (and where photosynthesis occurs). But he does not say that and
he subsequently describes measuring temperature at depths of one km.

This is an important, even vital fact, for changes to ocean circulation
currents that upset the 39000Gt could easily swamp many decades of
anthropomorphic emissions of a few Gt per year. (For those unused to the
unit, a Gt is a billion tonnes.)  Changes to oceanic temperature and
acidity, and to marine bioproductivity can also potentially upset the
surface ocean waters, which hold say 1000Gt but are in contact with several
times that amount of carbon within limestone. Note also, that the deep
oceans hold much less CO2 than saturation, so the 39000Gt could be
substantially increased if there were mechanisms for putting the CO2 down

Dyson's third fault is sneering over "fudge factors rather than physics".
The impartial term forit is parameterisation, which is an essential part of
modelling complex systems where both data and scientific mechanisms are only
partially defined. Of course there is no full physical description of
clouds, but the scientific community is not going to sit around for years or
decades while Dyson's physicists come up with a proper theory.

Benny - you're not very successful at choosing scientific Authorities (some
of us don't dig them anyway). Offer me a third Authority and I'll have a go
at demolishing him or her too.  But wouldn't your personal expertise be
better used in examining why reputable scientists make such a hash when
stepping outside their own discipline? 

Myself, I'd support Andrew Glikson's advice (CCNet Climate... 2 May) to the
"moderator" of a "scholarly electronic network" -  to encourage debate and
refrain from allowing his/her particular views and ideological preference,
right or wrong, to dominate the bulletin.

Max Wallis
Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology
67 Park Place                         tel. 029 2087 6426
Cardiff University CF10 3AS           fax  029 2087 6425

MODERATOR'S NOTE: I'm afraid I have to object to this rather misguided
attack on Freeman Dyson's integrity. In the context of CO2-induced global
warming, the *total* carbon reservoir in the world's oceans is simply
irrelevant (just as irrelevant as the 10,000,000 Gt of organic carbon stored
in sedimentary rocks and the 40,000,000 Gt of carbonate carbon - also stored
in sedimentary rocks). While the oceans contain indeed some 38,000 Gt
carbon, the greatest part of these stores (as much as 37.000 Gt) are held
essentially out of circulation in the form of dissolved bicarbonate in the
intermediate and deep ocean. The surface of the oceans absorbs CO2 from the
air by combining it with carbonate and borate ions, in a self-limiting
buffering reaction that keeps the acidity of the oceans low enough to store
dissolved carbon. The actual CO2 reservoir of the ocean is thus restricted
to the surface and amounts to little more than  1000 Gt C, which is, as
correctly stated by Freeman Dyson, about a quarter of all the relevant CO2
reservoirs (atmosphere 750 Gt; forests 600 Gt; soils 1600 Gt). This
much-lower number moves the oceans from the major leagues into the minors,
as far as global warming is concerned. BJP


From Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

Dear Benny Peiser,

Having followed the debate on climate scares for some time it strikes me as
odd that the underlying axiom appears to be to freeze (if you will excuse
the pun) the status quo - in the face  of a possible global warming, that

Yet we hear little about which measures need to be taken to avoid the next
ice age - maybe just 5,000 years away. Is that punch to be taken without a
flinch due to it being a natural occurrence?

In my view what needs to be agreed to is an INTERVAL of global temperatures,
inside which mankind must strive to make the planet stay. At the lowest
possible expense, of course.

A return to temperatures 5 degrees warmer than to-day would no doubt benefit
large areas, Siberia and Canada in particular. On the other hand we cannot
afford famines in equatorial countries or India.

It seems as if the political agenda in favour of implementing the Kyoto
agreement is based upon the assumption that thereby nobody owes anyone else
indemnification for climatic hardships.  But a much more responsible
attitude in my view would be for the rich countries to accept a duty to
assist any country subjected to climatic turbulence or permanent
deterioration - irrespective of whether the Sun, galactic dust, Milankovich
cycles, CO2 emissions, or deliberate clima control is to blame.

Yours sincerely
Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark  


From, 3 May 2001


By Deborah Smith, Science Writer

Repairing the hole in the ozone layer could trigger an environmental
catastrophe that would reduce life expectancy to 30 years, says the
editor-in-chief of one of the world's leading science magazines, New

Dr Alun Anderson, who is in Sydney for National Science Week, predicted that
by 2070 rich people could be forced to live in city-sized domes to escape
air pollution. Elsewhere, smog would make asthma the leading killer of young
people, and countries such as Russia would be devastated by famine as
poisoned crops failed.

He said the cause would be a "hydroxyl holocaust" - plummeting levels of a
molecule in the atmosphere that few people have yet heard of, called a
hydroxyl radical, which has a vital role mopping up pollutants.

Hydroxyl levels began to drop as the world produced more smog, but they rose
again during the 1980s. The growing hole in the ozone layer allowed in more
UV light, which stimulated the production of more hydroxyl.

Dr Anderson said that if the ozone hole was repaired, hydroxyl levels would
be expected to decline dramatically, and the world would choke in smog.

The prediction was one of three doomsday scenarios discussed at an
Environmental Roadshow presented by the magazine in Sydney last night, with
the assistance of Australian experts.

The roadshow was first held last month at the Edinburgh International
Science Festival.

Climate change and population growth are the other two doomsday scenarios
predicted by the magazine on the basis of the latest scientific research.

It describes how, in a "bizarre series of feedbacks", global warming could
trigger a catastrophic ozone loss in the Northern Hemisphere, and
devastating release of the greenhouse gas methane from peat bogs and tundra.

It also paints a gloomy picture of a world with 9 billion people, where
disease flourishes in megacities of refugees.

National Science Week begins tomorrow. Program details are at

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