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The Climate Caper: Facts and Fallacies of Global Warming Paperback – May 16 2010
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. . . refreshingly impartial . . . (The Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley)
About the Author
Emeritus Professor Garth W. Paltridge is an atmospheric physicist and was a chief research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Division of Atmospheric Research before taking up positions in Tasmania as director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies and CEO of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre. He retired in 2002 and continues to live in Hobart, Tasmania.
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Paltridge has an interesting style. He writes in a quiet, understated tone, whilst making fatal attacks on the warming doctrine. From the very brief overview of the IPCC process (with the recommendation committee charging ahead before the scientific committees had had time to collect any avidence or make any findings), he proceeds to a layman's introduction to some physics. His main message here is how much is still unknown about climate processes. In this I disagree with his presentation, because some basic 'outer envelope' considerations do show, in my opinion, how extremely unlikely the IPCC's forecasts really are.
He moves on to some economics questions, and here he is devastating, but in his usual understated style. On the Australian Government's own Garnaut Report findings, Australians of 100 years hence will be four times better off than we are, and yet we are being asked to impoverish ourselves to save them a ten percent reduction in their living standards. Given the uncertainty in any of these forecasts, the policies being promoted now are in the lunatic fringe, but Paltridge leaves it to us to come to that conclusion.
Then in a chapter on sociology, he shows how a complete society can be led into turning a delusion into public policy and common 'knowledge'. At this point even the sedate and quiet Paltridge has to acknowledge that the warming madness has more in common with religion than science.
He then addresses how the scientific process itself has been subverted and in many cases rendered inoperative. That is a hard case to sell because it is more vague than the bald fact that the IPCC forecasts can be shown to be wrong, period. However, I believe it is at least as important because we are in the process of bequeathing to our descendants a world that has lost the ability to do real science and gain wisdom. It will lose its freedom too, but that's another matter.
What is missing from this book - and it might be a positive or a negative, depending on your reasons for reading - is any mention of the fact of geological history that for the past 2.5 million years our planet has been yo-yoing into and out of ice ages (spending roughly 90% of the time in them), and the successive ice periods are deeper and colder, whilst successive warm periods are less warm; and the regular schedule has us down for another ice age right now. The book's message seems to be "The global warming claims are not a cause for concern." But that is not going far enough in my opinion. There really is a big cause for concern, namely that the alarmism is recommending exactly the most dangerous policy for human life, wild life and the planet's health in general, in that it suggests trying to cool the climate just as it is about to slip into what the regular-as-clockwork geologic history would suggest will be a planetary killer of an ice age.
Paltridge doesn't mention this. Maybe he thinks it is uncertain, maybe he thinks talking about that would be a 'bridge too far' for nervous readers. Either way, the book is a bit timid for my taste, although hard-hitting in spite of that. But I can imagine there would be many readers for whom it would be exactly the reality clarifier that I think Paltridge wants it to be. The final chapter is both depressing and concerning, and rightly so. I cannot understand anyone who could continue boasting about 'reducing my carbon footprint' after reading this.
Finally, my pet peeve, the book has no index. It is probably less of a problem for such a short book, but I don't think any author is doing his hard work justice by stopping 5% short of perfection.
Emeritus Professor Garth Paltridge is an atmospheric physicist, previously a Chief Research Scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research and more recently Director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies. He is Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
He provides historical perspective because he was involved in climate science from the beginning of interest in warming, he was close to the epicentre of the explosion in the IPCC and he explains how the scientific committees of that body became subservient to the political committee.
On the science of warming he provides a luminously clear explanation of the problems with the models that provide the core of the case for alarm.
In the Australian policy-making process he was very close to the action when the chief advisor to the Government encouraged a committee from the Academy of Science to water down some potentially damning criticisms of the model he was using as the basis of the proposals that have been taken up by the Administration.
He understands enough of the sociology of science to understand the significance of the rise of Big Science, almost entirely government-funded, and the parallel proliferation of Kuhnian "normal scientists".
As a bonus the book is short and very clearly written with a light and humorous touch.
He wrote "There is a fair amount of reasonable science behind the global warming debate, but in general, and give or take a religion or two, never has quite so much rubbish been espoused by so many on so little evidence. The "consensus" amounts to the view that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will be associated with a higher temperature than otherwise, in the order of a degree or so in the rest the century. "it is certainly not the consensus of the majority of scientists that the actual impact on humans will be significant - or indeed that it will be detrimental."
It is critically important to understand the problems with the computerized forecasting models which are the basis for predictions of future ecological disasters. Many factors are inserted in the computer models and to get close to a match with observed values you have to insert some "tuneable parameters as well. A tuneable parameter is a piece of input information whose actual value is chosen on no basis other than to ensure that the theoretical simulation matches observation.
Paltridge reports that the twenty or so leading models calculate global-average temperatures that range several degrees about the observed value of 15 degrees C. (p 21) Several degrees! It gets worse when you try to predict other things like rainfall (a central feature of the model that is driving Australian policy).
Using the collection of models to predict future rainfall in Australia, the average outcome was a small increase. But the Government advisor used a model which predicted a substantial decrease and this drives the current "carbon tax" policy.
Paltridge recounts that climate research became institutionalised as a formal international program in the 1970s when it evolved out of the programme of the World Meteorological Organization. The new program did not have a specific focus (until the political program of the IPCC provided one) and it did not have a hard core, an "experimental centrepiece" where progress could be demonstrated.
Governments will fund research that delivers huge human or economic benefits (a cure for cancer, or cheap carbon-free power), or projects that scientists manage to convince them are sexy in a fundamental scientific sense (hadron colliders). At that stage climate science lacked human implications, economic benefits, and an exciting or progressing scientific program.
So during the eighties and early nineties there began what Paltridge called "an almost subconscious search" for a rationale for more increase in less time. This involved massive computer models which could take years to develop and run to obtain results.
"Different modelers developed their own particular ways of simulating the processes determining climate and used as well their own values of tuneable parameters. Thus emerged a highly satisfying spread of the forecasts of the likely rise in the Earth's temperature over the next hundred years. Some were as high as six or seven degrees." What is highly satisfying about the spread of the forecasts? Some would regard this as a reason to take the whole venture with a very large amount of salt. The point is that the spread enabled people to use the higher values as though they are credible.
Paltridge pointed out that people have intuitive ideas about the value of different models and most know in their bones that some are just over the top, but there is no killer argument against any of them. And so arose the practice, no doubt subconsciously, of quoting the range of forecasts without discussion of their relative merits. At the same time a parallel program developed of ecological studies of the impact of climate change. Paltridge displays barely concealed horror at the quality of some of this research (by ecological activists?)
"Suffice it to say that there arose enough semi-scientific myth and legend about the possible detrimental effects of small climate changes that it was easy to contemplate doomsday in the face of somebody's mooted six or seven degree rise in global temperature. The old adage of bad data are worse than no data was largely forgotten."
Enter the IPCC. Concerns about the effects of climate change prompted the establishment of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. This has three separate international working groups (1) on the science behind the predictions (2) on the potential impacts and (3) the possibilities for political and social responses. "Right from the outset is was clear that only the third group was really significant...The main reason for the existence of the other two working groups is to lend gravitas and respectability to the essentially political deliberations of the third."
Summaries of the research are released regularly "with much fanfare". Each of the successive summaries has been stronger on the dangers, not because of any particular advance of the science. "Rather, it is a function of how strongly a statement about global warming can be put without inviting a significant backlash from the general scientific community."
The author explains the how the combination of political pressures, modern content-free managers and the professional imperatives of the scientific community have created the impression of consensus on "settled science" which in fact does not exist. The illusion persists because dissenters have been marginalized by mostly unfair means. The bank of credibility that science enjoys may be seriously run down by this episode, not to mention the collateral damage to the economies of nations that stampede into activities that serve very little useful purpose at ruinous expense.
The book is somewhat light in style,easy reading for the general reader;I wanted more content,more revelations,but what can you expect for $10.
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