Global warming revisited

In 2011, I wrote about global warming in this column (Part 1 / Part 2). With the just-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, it is worth revisiting the topic. I said then that there were scientifically legitimate reasons to be skeptical about the global warming scenario as presented by the United Nations and the environmentalist movement. 

This scenario (known as “anthropogenic global warming,” or AGW) makes two main claims — No. 1: The Earth is warming to such a dangerous degree that it will produce worldwide flooding of coastal cities around the world, extinction of a vast number of animal species, and intensified cyclones, hurricanes and droughts, all of which will in turn produce international wars and generate tens of millions of refugees; No. 2: This is all caused by human beings emitting carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere (“greenhouse gases”).

To bolster these predictions, a newer claim has appeared recently (cited, unfortunately, even by President Barack Obama): “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: Climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” 

That claim is false.

As reported in the Canadian national newspaper, The National Post, “The number stems from a 2009 online survey of 10,257 Earth scientists, conducted by two researchers at the University of Illinois. The survey results must have deeply disappointed the researchers — in the end, they chose to highlight the views of a subgroup of just 77 scientists, 75 of who thought humans contributed to climate change. The ratio 75/77 produces the 97 percent figure that pundits now tout.”

If that is not convincing that the “97 percent” figure is dishonest, this might help:

The Web site features scientists who are cited by the two researchers at the University of Illinois, but who deny that their scientific papers affirm the man-made global warming hypothesis.

One is Craig D. Idso, who holds a doctorate in geography. He is the chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. When asked, “Is this an accurate representation of your paper?” Idso responded: “That is not an accurate representation of my paper. … It would be incorrect to claim that our paper was an endorsement of CO2-induced global warming.”

Another cited scientist is Nicola Scafetta, who holds a doctorate in physics, teaches physics at Duke University, and is a member of the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Union. His actual position is that “at least 60 percent of the warming of the Earth observed since 1970 appears to be induced by natural cycles which are present in the solar system.”

These are only two of the scientists who have announced that their views were changed by the University of Illinois researchers who came up with the “97 percent” figure.

In other words, the “97 percent” figure represents very few scientists, and some of these very few claim that their views were thoroughly misrepresented.

There is much more evidence that the AGW-leading-to-catastrophe prediction is widely questioned among scientists.

Here are but a handful of examples: 

• “Professor Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, a social democrat and green activist, decided to author a climate science skeptical book. … Vahrenholt’s skepticism started when he was asked to review an IPCC report on renewable energy. He found hundreds of errors. When he pointed them out, IPCC officials simply brushed them aside. Stunned, he asked himself, ‘Is this the way they approached the climate assessment reports?’ ” (The Telegraph, Feb. 7, 2012)

• Contributors to Vahrenholt’s climate science skeptical book include: Nir Shaviv, astrophysicist, professor at the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Werner Weber, emeritus professor of physics at the Technical University of Dortmund; and Henrik Svensmark, professor in the Division of Solar System Physics at the Danish National Space Institute in Copenhagen.

• “The United Nations issued a dramatic warning [in 2005] that the world would have to cope with 50 million climate refugees by 2010. But now that those migration flows have failed to materialize, the U.N. has distanced itself from the forecasts. On the contrary, populations are growing in the regions that had been identified as environmental danger zones.” (Der Spiegel, April 18, 2011)

• “In 2007, the IPCC predicted that rising global temperatures would kill off many species. … The IPCC [now] admits that there is no evidence climate change has led to even a single species becoming extinct thus far.” (Der Spiegel, March 26, 2014)

• “A chilly Arctic summer [in 2013] has left 533,000 more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year — an increase of 29 percent. The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice free in summer by 2013.” (Daily Mail, Sept. 28, 2013)

• It is now more than 15 years since global average temperature rose significantly. Indeed, “the U.N.’s climate change chief, Rajendra Pachauri, has acknowledged a 17-year pause in global temperature rises.” (The Australian, Feb. 22, 2013

• “A recent study in Nature Climate Change by Francis Zwiers and colleagues of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, found that models have overestimated warming by 100% over the past 20 years.” (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17, 2013)

• “President Obama has explicitly linked a warming climate to ‘more extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes.’ The White House warned this summer of ‘increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events that come with climate change.’ Yet this is not supported by science. ‘General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media,’ climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies said last month.” (Bjorn Lomborg, Washington Post, Sept. 13, 2013

• “Judith Curry, a climatologist who heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was involved in the third IPCC assessment, which was published in 2001. But now she accuses the organization of intellectual arrogance and bias.” (Monte Morin, science writer, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 22, 2013)

• “IPCC vice chair Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria in Canada, co-wrote a paper published in this month’s Nature Climate Change that said climate models had ‘significantly’ overestimated global warming over the last 20 years.” (Monte Morin article.)

• “A new look at NASA satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded. It happened in August 2010 when it hit -135.8 degrees. Then on July 31 of this year, it came close again: -135.3 degrees.” (Associated Press, Dec. 9, 2013)

• “Some experts say their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. ‘My own confidence in the data has gone down in the past five years,’ said Richard Tol, an expert in climate change and professor of economics at the University of Sussex in England.” (Reuters, April 16, 2013)

• “ ‘I think that the latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence,’ Dr. Richard Lindzen told Climate Depot — a site known for questioning the theory of global warming” (Daily Mail, Sept. 29, 2013).  Note: From 1983 until last year, Lindzen was a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and widely considered the dean of American climatologists.

• Other world-renowned scientists who are skeptics or “deniers” include:

• Freeman Dyson, one the world’s most admired physicists, a Fellow of the Royal Society, recipient of the Enrico Fermi Award, and the speaker who delivered the Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures at Hebrew University; Roger Pielke Sr., former chairman and member of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Weather Forecasting and Analysis, chief editor of Monthly Weather Review and a fellow of the American Meteorological Society; Denis G. Rancourt, former professor of physics at the University of Ottawa (and, for the record, a left-wing activist); Claude Allegre, member of the French Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences, and former French minister of education (Socialist Party).

• “Over 100 Prominent Scientists Warn UN Against ‘Futile’ Climate Control Efforts” on the Web site of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

• Another list of dozens of prominent scientists who dissent from the AGW-catastrophe scenario appears on Wikipedia.

Despite all these facts, despite all the false predictions and despite thousands of dissenting scientists, some of whom are among the most prominent in their fields, the left dismisses all skeptics as either nonexistent (see “Yahoo! Answers” below), as paid hacks of energy companies or as the equivalent of Holocaust deniers. And always as “anti-science.”

The lies about dissent permeate the media. Here is an example from the Web site Yahoo! Answers. The question: “Can you please name a few prominent scientists who deny global warming by man-made causes?” Here is the Yahoo! response: “From my understanding, the scientific community is unified in thinking that humans are causing global warming. I’ve done my research, and I can’t find people who deny it.”

It is not possible that the Yahoo! writer is not lying. 

Typical of the language used in response to skeptics and deniers of the AGW-catastrophe thesis is what Nick Cohen, a columnist for the British newspaper the Observer, wrote on March 22: “The evidence for man-made global warming is as final as the evidence of Auschwitz.” He essentially restated what another columnist, Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe, wrote years ago: “Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.”

Why all this dishonesty — from the “97 percent of scientists” falsehood to the denial that many prominent scientists are among the skeptical? Because for most of the environmentalist left, truth is less important than environmentalism. Environmentalism is our generation’s false religion. That many Jews such as Cohen and Goodman — and more than a few rabbis — have embraced this religion is very sad.

Just a few days ago, on March 30, James Lovelock, one of the world’s best-known environmentalists, the scientist who originated the Gaia theory of the Earth as a living organism, told the British newspaper The Guardian “that he had been too certain about the rate of global warming in his past book.  … that fracking and nuclear power should power the UK, not renewable sources such as windfarms.” 

And most important, “Talking about the environmental movement, Lovelock says: ‘It’s become a religion, and religions don’t worry too much about facts.’ ”

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host (AM 870 in Los Angeles) and founder of His latest book is the New York Times best seller “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” (HarperCollins, 2012).