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Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey

Filed under: — group @ 10 October 2007

A large number of US scientists (to our direct knowledge: engineers, biologists, computer scientists and geologists) received a package in the mail this week. The package consists of a colour preprint of a ‘new’ article by Robinson, Robinson and Soon and an exhortation to sign a petition demanding that the US not sign the Kyoto Protocol. If you get a feeling of deja vu, it is because this comes from our old friends, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and is an attempt to re-invigorate the highly criticised 1999 “Oregon Petition“.

The article itself is just an update of the original article, minus an author (Baliunas), with a switch of Robinson children (Zachary’s out, Noah is in), but with a large number of similar errors and language. As in previous case, this paper too, is not peer reviewed.

Since this is a rehash of the previous paper plus a few more cherry-picked statistics of dubious relevance, instead of tediously going through the whole thing ourselves, we are going to try something new – an open source debunking.

As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve set up a Wiki to provide a one stop shop for articles debunking some of the worst climate contrarian pseudo-science. So, we’ve therefore set up a page for the new OISM paper, and what we’d like to do here is to start collecting material on this paper.

So, in the comments, please catalog any:

  1. links to articles dealing with debunkings of the previous incarnations of this paper
  2. obvious errors
  3. clear cherry-picking of data
  4. interesting edits between versions

and we’ll collate all the pertinent stuff on the RC-Wiki page. To make things easier, please label all comments by the section or figure numbers.

Just to get you started, all versions of the paper make a mistake in the dating of Keigwin’s Sargasso Sea record by 50 years (Figure 2 in early versions, Figure 1 now) since they do not notice that the published dates are in ‘years BP’ (Before Present) which is conventionally dated from 1950, not 2000. And that’s even without getting into the question of why this is the only paleo-record they highlight, or on what logical basis they put the ‘2006’ value on.

In another example, the authors appear to think that human breathing out of CO2 is contributing to accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Actually since that carbon comes directly and indirectly from recent plants taking it out of the air, our breathing is carbon neutral). Additionally, they take the ratio of temperature change to CO2 change in the ice core record and assume that is the climate sensitivity of climate to CO2 as opposed to the other way around.

There is much, much more. Have at it!

Title of this post courtesy of an email correspondent

138 Responses to “Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey”

  1. 51
    David B. Benson says:

    Nick Odoni — The Wikipdidia page on PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) contains no serious exaggerations. This period did indeed happen around 55 million years ago, so presumably something roughly similar could happen again. I fail to see how mentioning such a possiblity does not provide clear information.

  2. 52
    shocked says:

    So if we are all so committed to sound science, how come nobody from RC or related sites has yet provided a coherent, robust, scientifically demonstratable proof of the central proposition to the AGW argument? That is, that doubling CO2 levels in atmosphere will increase the global average temperature by 2.5 Degrees C.

    The lack of response to this clear and explicit question is damning.

    [Response: Been there, done that. And by the way, it’s probably 3 deg C, not 2.5. – gavin]

  3. 53
    Paul J. Camp says:

    You can add physicists to your list of recipients. I got mine today. Don’t know how they found me, but I’m glad they did. I’ll add it to my collection of crackpot science, right next to the expanding contracting universe and the guy who found the 10th and 11th planets through the use of astrology.

    For what it is worth, the NAS has publicly and explicitly dissociated itself from Frederick Seitz due to his previous efforts with the Oregon Institute and in particular publishing a report that was deceptively designed to look like an official NAS journal article.

  4. 54
    robert davies says:

    Re: comments on perceived alarmism…

    I just had another look at AIT; I have to say, I see no evidence of alarmism. Alarmism involves the cherry-picking of individual bits of information, out of step with a larger body, and making unwarranted and frightening claims. Raising the alarm, on the other hand, involves taking conclusions from a broad body of evidence as a whole.

    In particular, regarding Greenland and sea levels, Gore points out that the signs are troubling (dramatically increasing extent of summertime surface melt), that the scientific community that studies the large ice sheets are not at all certain what will happen, though large-scale melt is becoming more likely, and the dramatic consequences should the Greenland ice sheet melt. He does not give a timeframe, and none was implied in the film.

    Furthermore, I think it’s important to recognize that, from a policy perspective, the name of the game is risk management. The IPCC has done an excellent job of cataloging potential impacts and their likelihood. In addition to effects we can project with high confidence, there also exists the potential for catastrophic surprises. Given that the stakes are so high, it is important to examine these surprises. This isn’t alarmism, it’s laying out the risks of twiddling these knobs. It’s risk management.

    Suppose that 2% of all commercial airline flights ended in catastrophic crashes; i.e., a 2% probability of death when climbing on an airplane. Would anyone ever put their child on an airplane? No, of course not! Because, relative to the cost, the risk is simply too high. Risk management.

  5. 55
    Sue says:

    The mailing went out to a lot more than just “engineers, biologists, computer scientists and geologists.” As I reported in my blog, I (a Ph.D. sociologist) received the mailing, but it was addressed to me as a member of the “Communications/Humanities/Fine Arts” faculty, so they aren’t picky who they get to sign their petition.

  6. 56
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Re 41
    Thanks! I had not seen the details when I posted.

    Nevertheless, the case sets a benchmark for accuracy in school materials. I hope that such a high of standard accuracy is applied to all school materials.

    I expect all science to be one sided. That is not partisan. The truth is one-sided.

    However, the IPCC findings reflect the rather narrow view of scientists. It may be good science, but planners and engineers treat uncertainty differently and therefore have other views of the data. Thus, the IPCC is not the only correct and useful view of the data. AIT is informed by these other views. A climate scientist offering a “conservative estimate of predicted storms” means something very different from a engineer calculating a “conservative estimate of predicted storms.” One means that they have confidence that such storms will occur, and the other that they have confidence that no larger storm will occur. Failure to have strict conformance with the IPCC does not make AIT incorrect, partisan, or political.

    Justice Burton is not a scientist, or an engineer, or a planner. He may not be aware that different forecasts are made for different purposes, and the different forecasts have different virtues. Just like King Canute on the seashore, Justice Burton is likely to see the sea rise much faster and farther than the court predicted.

  7. 57
    Aman Haque says:

    I thought it was a petition for awareness .. and felt kind of sick when I realized it was just the opposite. Didnt take any time to trash it and start looking at Seitz bio on the web. How on earth a scientist ends up being like this?

  8. 58
    PHE says:

    With regard to the court ruling on Al Gore’s film:
    I have read several times on this website (by posters, not by lead writers), the suggestion that climate change deniers should be tried and convicted in court. It is ironic, then, that the first court judgement on the climate change debate (that I am aware of) has ruled against over-zealous AGW-promotion. The judge has not ruled against the case for AGW, or the ‘scientific concensus’ of the IPCC. He is ruling against the unscientific sensationlism that ultimately will have the effect of crying wolf. Gore’s film was the first big cry, and the judgement the first cynical response. Take note. Unless the more zealous and non-factual claims are moderated, the next two cries will follow quite quickly and the public will soon lose confidence.

  9. 59

    Figure 1: the unsourced datapoint for 2006 is incorrect. Hadley Centre data (HADISST1: for the Sargasso Sea (which I take to be the region 40-60 W, 25-35 N) for 2006 has a mean SST of 24.2 C, about where the “Medieval Optimum” peak is on the figure 1 graph.

    [Response: thanks. That’s useful, but one needs to be a bit careful since there can be offsets in the proxy-climate calibration which means direct comparisons with modern obs and inferred past temperatures can be tricky. But no prizes for why they didn’t do it your way! – gavin]

  10. 60

    OISM, figure 2. The caption states that “the principal source of melt energy is solar radiation”, which incorrectly implies that the Sun is to blame for glacier shortening. OISM fails to consider the effect of particulate carbon falling on glaciers as a principal cause of glacial melt. If considered properly, the effect of coal usage would be approximately double that for other fossil fuels.

    Other quibbles: the y-axis of the graph is mislabeled “m x 10^-2” while it should be “m x 10^2”; and the glacier shortening line, in blue, taken from Oerlemans 2005 (not Oerlemanns 2005 as in the references), was copied from Oerlemans’ “Excluding Alps” line and not the “Global” line, as it should have been. The two lines are not hugely different, but one wonders why OISM excluded the Alps?

  11. 61
    Hank Roberts says:

    PHE writes “the first court judgement … (that I am aware of) …”

    Feed your head:

    The Supreme Court’s Climate Change Decision: Massachusetts v. EPA …
    On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court handed down Massachusetts v. EPA, its first pronouncement on climate change. By 5-4, the Court held hat (1) Massachusetts had standing to sue, (2) Section 202 of the Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to regulate emissions from new motor vehicles on the basis of their possible climate change impacts, and (3) Section 202 does not authorize EPA to inject policy considerations into its decision whether to so regulate….

  12. 62

    At one point in the article they say:”Total human industrial CO2 production, primarily from use of coal, oil, and natural gas and the production of cement, is currently about 8 Gt C per year (7,56,57). Humans also exhale about 0.6 Gt C per year, which has been sequestered by plants from atmospheric CO2. Office air concentrations often exceed 1,000 ppm CO2.
    To put these figures in perspective, it is estimated that the atmosphere contains 780 Gt C; the surface ocean contains 1,000 Gt C; vegetation, soils, and detritus contain 2,000 Gt C; and the intermediate and deep oceans contain 38,000 Gt C, as CO2 or CO2 hydration products. Each year, the surface ocean and atmosphere exchange an estimated 90 Gt C; vegetation and the atmosphere, 100 Gt C; marine biota and the surface ocean, 50 Gt C; and the surface ocean and the intermediate and deep oceans, 40 Gt C (56,57).”
    and further on they say: “Human production of 8 Gt C per year of CO2 is negligible as compared with the 40,000 Gt C residing in the oceans and biosphere. At ultimate equilibrium, human-produced CO2 will have an insignificant effect on the amounts in the various reservoirs. The rates of approach to equilibrium are, however, slow enough that human use creates a transient atmospheric increase.”

    The old human production of CO2 is negligible compared with the much greater exchanges between the atmosphere and oceans and atmosphere and land trick eh- as Agent Maxwell Smart might have said.

    This is answered very concisely and accurately at
    Under questions about climate change See answer No. 7, which says “2.7 As natural emissions of carbon dioxide are very much greater than those from human activities, surely the effect of man is insignificant?
    The exchange of ‘man-made’ carbon dioxide between man-made emissions, atmosphere, ocean and land, is about 7 GtC per year, which also shows much larger natural exchanges between atmosphere and ocean (about 90 GtC/yr) and atmosphere and land (about 60 GtC/yr). However, these natural exchanges have been in balance for many thousands of years, leading to the pre-industrial concentration of CO2 remaining steady at about 280 ppm. The effect of the additional man-made emissions is to unbalance the budget and lead to the rise in concentrations seen since about 1850.”

    So here’s to you Mr. Robinsons Heaven has a place for those whose half truths innuendo and outright falsehoods come into play- hey,hey,hey.
    Malarkey is the appropriate word for this canard.

  13. 63
    John Mashey says:

    regarding UK, Gore, AIT:
    Hopefully the Royal Society will provide comments, ideally, to accompany the DVD. The RS already covered the news item at its website.
    Of course, it’s just a “mere left-leaning pressure group” according to Lord Monckton…

  14. 64
    Richard Ordway says:

    The first line of this non-peer-reviewed paper titled ‘Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’ states: “ABSTRACT A review of the research literature”

    BOING. REJECTED. It is already rejected by Science, Nature, etc. This paper in question does not quantify or qualify what it means by “research literature” at the beginning…ie. “ninety five peer-reviewed studies, published literature from 1980 to 2005.” Is this an effort to mislead gullible readers????

    Their “research literature” might be non-checked, non-refereed literature from…oh let’s say the Oregon Institute, or a non-published report that failed peer-review from let’s say…oh…the Energy and Enviornment Journal.”

    Following is an actual peer-reviewed paragraph doing the same thing correctly from a *real* peer-reviewed journal (Science) quantifying and qualifying published studies (on global warming concensus!).

    “That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change” (9).”

    Science 3 December 2004:
    Vol. 306. no. 5702, p. 1686
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1103618

    The Oregon Institute paper gets rejected in the first line in the scientific peer-review system.

  15. 65
    John Mashey says:

    re: #14 CobblyWorlds
    If you mean Kristen Byrnes of ponderthemaunder (in)fame, I have found no trace of RRS involvement with that one, and I’ve looked pretty hard, so sorry, I think they’re innocent of that one.
    OISM is at 2251 Dick George Rd
    Cave Junction, OR 97523
    GoogleEarth does a little better job than GoogleMaps (satellite).

    According to Pipl, there’s an Arthur Robinson at 2252 Dick George Rd;
    there’s a Science and Medicine Rd right nearby, which may be the real location. I can’t quite tell which of several buildings matches the picture on their home page.

    If you visit their homepage,, you can see a picture of the barn-like structure where they work.

    Also, their home page offers a feature that is a first for me:
    of the people listed as faculty ….

    two are deceased.

  16. 66
    PHE says:

    Re; 61 (Hank R)
    Thank you for enlightening my head. As I read it, in that case the court does not pass judgement on the correctness of any claim, but allows Massachusents to test a claim or claims. The report goes onto say:

    “The Court’s decision leaves EPA with three options under the section: find that motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions may “endanger public health or welfare” and issue emission standards, find that they do not satisfy that prerequisite, or decide that climate change science is so uncertain as to preclude making a finding either way.”

    Is there an update?

  17. 67

    I’m an atmospheric scientist in an atmospheric sciences department, and I received the mailing. Perhaps they thought I’d be more likely to sign because I’m a State Climatologist. Since it came on Monday, and I was debating Patrick Michaels on Wednesday, I gave it a quick, close read. The close read was useless for the debate, as Michaels and I both stuck to positions that were actually defensible. But here I can put to good use the death of brain cells caused by carefully reading the article…

    Showing ‘world hydrocarbon use’ allows them to deny (p. 6) that the hydrocarbon increases are mostly anthropogenic. But no theory predicts a correlation between use and global temperatures. Putting aside the fact that a correlation (or absence) of one doesn’t prove anything, global temperatures are expected to be related to the time-lagged and smoothed integral of hydrocarbon use, not to the use itself.

    (page 2) The assertion that current Earth temperatures are 1C lower now than 1000 years ago requires rejecting a recent NAS panel report in favor of an article by one of the authors and another unpublished manuscript.

    The comparison of solar activity change over the past century (0.19%) and United States temperature change (0.21%) assumes that readers are sufficiently ignorant of basic blackbody radiation theory to think that the similarity of the numbers supports their thesis, rather than being convincing evidence against their thesis.

    Reference #19 is private communication from one of the authors!

    The first paragraph on page 8 argues that since past temperature variations were as large as they were and not considerably larger, CO2 increases cannot produce a water vapor feedback. (Yes, that is their complete argument.)

  18. 68
    BlackGriffen says:

    You can add physicists to that list. I’m a physics grad student at UCLA and I got one of those phony letters in my inbox today.

  19. 69
    Timothy Chase says:

    pete best (#50) wrote:

    DOOMED !!!!!!!!

    Oh for pete’s sake…

    I figure we are already pretty well destined for “dangerous climate change” by IPCC standards – whether the IPCC knows it or not.

    The big questions questions are:

    1. How dangerous?
    2. What will be the extent of the devastation in terms of human lives and the world economy?

    We have quite a ways to go before the existence of modern civilization itself (such as it is) will be at stake, but the important point is that the longer it takes us to curb our emissions, the more carbon dioxide will be in the atmosphere and the higher the temperatures will rise. For each degree that the global average temperature rises, things will get a great deal worse than the preceding degree. No matter what we put into the atmosphere, we have a really good reason for cutting our emissions in the future, and the sooner we do it the better.

    But we probably should focus on methane and black carbon to a greater extent for the time being — as this will buy us more time with regard to changing our ways — with regard to carbon dioxide. We should have an international Manhattan project for developing cheaper, less carbon intensive technologies, we should make these technologies widely available, particularly with the economic growth of China and India and other so-called third world countries, and we should try and raise the living standards of the globe as a whole more quickly so as to reduce population growth in all nations – as both carbon emissions per capita and population size will be large determinants of carbon emissions in the decades to come.

  20. 70
    Henk Lankamp says:

    Re the ‘warming’ on Neptune. It is summertime on the Southern Hemisphere of that planet.
    See here and here.

  21. 71
    Chris Williams says:

    re #13 and #68;
    My “package” came addressed with a generic dept. of “Sci/Tech” in the address. I would be curious to know who (e.g., publisher, professional society?) sold my work address and ultimately made it available to this group. Thanks for the open source debunking!

  22. 72
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The article that accompanies the packet is such a tired repetition of the same old lies that it reminds me of Mark Twain’s description of a certain religious text: “chloroform in print”,

  23. 73
    Chuck Booth says:

    RE # 58 PHE “I have read several times on this website (by posters, not by lead writers), the suggestion that climate change deniers should be tried and convicted in court.

    Hmm….I can’t say that I have ever read such a post on RC. But, I don’t read every post of every thread. Can you provide a specific example, or two, of such a post (name of thread, # of the post that states something like this)? It should be quite easy to do with the RC search tool.

  24. 74

    Re #72 – I would hope that eventually, as far as the court of public opinion is concerned,those deniers who willfully try to obfuscate the issue, be sentenced to live on low lying lands in the equatorial regions.
    #64 asks if this is an effort to mislead gullible readers. I can’t think of any other motivation, except perhaps self promotion.

  25. 75

    Re #63 and others on Gore vs UK, actually this sentence is a good thing, and should be attached as an errata sheet with the movie. Most of the errors are not errors of climatological fact, but misrepresentations of the current consensus*). Now the movie can even claim to be “reviewed” — and by a lay person, no less. A judge is a layman on climatology, but a professional on evidence and proving things, and he did one heck of a job.

    (Wished my dissertation contained only nine errors!)

    *) As an example, the Greenland/West Antarctic ice sheet melting. The consensus view is that this takes many centuries to happen, but some scientists (like Hansen) have voiced concern about a possible “albedo flip” making this happen much quicker. This mechanism isn’t well understood, and therefore not part of current climate models (you can only model what you understand :-) ) or IPCC AR4. The concern was prompted by the prehistorical observation of extremely steep terminations of ice ages. What Gore got wrong was failing to qualify “speculative and not well understood”.

  26. 76
    Mike says:

    Anyone remember the standard form response to solutions for spam? Perhaps one would be useful here too. To start the ball rolling:
    Thank you for your thoughts on climate change.

    Your conclusion is wrong because
    ( ) You haven’t taken into account sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere
    ( ) That CO2 was extracted from the atmosphere and so is carbon-neutral
    ( ) The medieval warm period was not a global phenomenon
    ( ) The graph you refer to is designed to misrepresent the data
    ( ) Weather forecasting is not the same as climate prediction
    ( ) You cannot infer global conditions from local ones
    ( ) Other planet’s environments ar not a good model for Earth
    ( ) Correlation does not imply cause

    The authorities or papers you cite to support your argument
    ( ) do not say what you think they say
    ( ) are scientists, but not in the field of climate science
    ( ) are not scientists
    ( ) are not peer reviewed
    ( ) have since been corrected
    ( ) have been completely debunked
    ( ) are loons

    I would also like to point out that
    ( ) The IPCC conclusion is supported by the vast majority of
    climate scientists
    ( ) The mass media sometimes gets it wrong
    ( ) Politicians sometime get it wrong
    ( ) Global cooling was not a widely supported hypothesis
    ( ) Science corrects itself as new evidence comes available

    In conclusion
    ( ) Your points, while well made, are factually incorrect
    ( ) Some basic research on your part should have been done first
    ( ) Stop bothering the grown-ups

  27. 77
    Timothy says:

    42, Hume – noted for bedtime reading (thanks).

    63, The Met Office, have helped amend the guidance that goes with the DVD.

    69, No, we should concentrate on the longest-lived GHGs first, as those have the consequences that we would have to deal with the longest. Tackling CO2 first allows us to overshoot a stabilisation target (in CO2 equivalent) and bring it back down afterwards by reducing CH4, NOx, etc.

    With the situation as it is [Greenland on a knife-edge] the discussion is largely academic, because there is little sign of the determined action being taken such that it would make much difference either way.

    I completely agree though, that even if we commit to losing Greenland, we can still take action to avoid losing the Himalayan ice sheets, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, limit ocean thermal expansion, limit the carbon-cycle feedbacks, etc. We can always make things better by cutting emissions. The “We’re all doomed” language does not help. A friend of mine has likened that attitude to “climate pr0n”. It would help to grow up a little.

  28. 78
    greensmile says:

    by coincidence, I ran across OISM in a search yesterday…I was on a quest for cynically or misleadingly named NGO’s. Lobbying seems to bring out the most cynical sort of liars. This “institute” has a few superanuated old farts who seem at some point to have actually been interested in biochemistry but politics overtook their operation.

    BTW, Congrats to Gore and to all IPCC scientists! It would appear the Nobel Committee does NOT judge inconvenient truths to be too political.

  29. 79
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 77

    “I completely agree though, that even if we commit to losing Greenland, we can still take action to avoid losing the Himalayan ice sheets, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, limit ocean thermal expansion, limit the carbon-cycle feedbacks, etc. ”

    Just curious…aren’t the Himalyas more “vulnerable” that the Greenland Ice Sheet?

    I ask as there’s been a lot of talk in recent years that the Chinese are facing serious water shortage problems due to glacier melting.

  30. 80
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re #75

    I concur re judges often getting it right, even in areas outside their “expertise”. Kitzmiller v Dover illustrates this idea beautifully. Not just the discussion on the science…

    …but also in terms of the three ring circus that surrounded the issue and how the Judge, expected by some to rule politically, instead ruled on the evidence.

    On a related note, rode public transit past the hotel Al Gore is staying at here in San Francisco. It was swarming with media setting up in the rain wanting to ask him about his Nobel Prize.

    Way to go, Al!

  31. 81
    Nick O. says:

    Re #49, #51 and those in a similar vein, much as I sympathise with your views – I too share the sense of alarm and the need for urgent action, I assure you! – I have to stand by what I wrote earlier, and the other comments on this blog which take a broadly similar view (for example #58,#69,#75,#77).

    To repeat, I don’t think we clarify the science by using apocalyptic language or exaggerating our case. I think I understand why Gore felt the necessity to use rapid ice sheet melting and sea level change to ‘get home’ his message. However, the styles of presentation that can work in our favour will also be used against us, with ruthless zeal, by those who wish to deny that we are likely to have to confront very serious problems because of C02 and related warming effects in the atmosphere. My ‘hunch’ is that things are changing faster (mush faster?) in Greenland than we realise or are able to model/forecast, probably because of non-linear effects related to the basal conditions under the ice cap. But that doesn’t give me the excuse to present the hunch as ‘mainstream’ or anything else for that matter without some argument to back it up, and a warning that the ‘hunch’ is pretty speculative compared with the other science (see also #75).

    Now Mr Gore has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his film. Much as I think he is to be applauded for this and for his wider efforts, I still feel very uncomfortable about the situation more generally, and I don’t doubt that this weekend we will get a raft of articles in the press stating how the Nobel Prize has been ” … corrupted by the zealotry of those supporting the ‘unproven theory’ of global warning …” or words to that effect. It wouldn’t even surprise me if some people go so far as to say that they would be tempted to send their prizes back, because they disagree with Gore’s getting the award, on the basis that he does not qualify his stronger claims clearly enough, or highlight the uncertainties properly etc etc. Anyway, stand by everyone for the attacks to start on the Nobel Prize committee itself and the Nobel award process, as being yet another established body infected by ‘global warming hysteria blah blah blah …. ‘

  32. 82
    Walt Bennett says:

    We are in the process of inventing the language to convey urgent issues which are not evident through observation.

    This is a unique time in the history of man as well as the planet.

    It was always an impossible goal to expect Gore’s message to hit everybody the same way. It would be naive to think that the opponents of AGW reduction would suddenly see the errors of their ways and stop denying.

    On the other hand, the science keeps advancing. Soon AIT will be obsolete, its impressions and speculations replaced by knowledge. Some of what we learn will be good news – the Northern Atlantic will not stop receiving warmer waters after all. Some of it will be bad – the ice shelves and sheets are disintegrating far more quickly than we had previously believed they would. This will go on.

    AIT was a moment in time. It was meant to convey urgency. If it was strident in areas, the intent was to make people pay attention.

    The general message is 100% accurate. Anybody who stoops to pick at nits will just have to be expected to be left aside as the real thinking and planning go on.

  33. 83
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Nick O., I do not hear Al Gore speaking in apocolyptic terms–certainly less so than the neocons preaching against the “islamofascists”. You have to realize that Science tends to be conservative in its assessment of consequences. Unfortunately, we are still neophytes in developing such assessments, and underselling the consequences has the potential to breed complacency among politicians. Gore does not even begin to discuss some of the most disturbing potential consequences of a warming world trying to support a population of 9-11 billion humans. The American right has at this point abandoned science in their efforts to cater to ideology. In doing so they have handed politicians like Al Gore a formidable weapon, an Oscar and now a Nobel prize. It remains to be seen whether they will wake up before handing him the Presidency.

  34. 84
    J.C.H. says:

    I don’t think Al Gore is going to run for President. He’s no longer a politician. Among politicians, not one speaks loudly enough to be heard – maybe Inhofe’s last gasps.

  35. 85
    Richard Mett says:

    Very interesting discussion. Where did they get the money to do this mailing? And the 1999 one? What organizations support the Oregon Institute?

  36. 86
    Majorajam says:


    Don’t you think the fact that the EPA tried to make its case on jurisdictional and other procedural grounds, notably refusing to make a judgment as to whether green house gases, “cause[s], or contribute[s] to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare,”, is pretty telling of the scientific evidence on hand on which to base such a judgment? To wit: if the EPA had ruled GHG’s were not an air pollutant according to the statute, the State of Massachusetts wouldn’t have had any case at all that EPA was required to regulate GHG emissions. No case, no embarrassment, no ticked off petroleum lobby- is it possible this didn’t occur to them? I should think this is a very calorie rich piece of food with which to feed your head.

    As regards Al Gore’s movie, it has done nothing to affect the science. It was always educational and even political in nature. For what it has achieved in terms of publicity for a problem moneyed interests have been trying to bury for decades with increasing degrees of fraudulence, it is a success, small controversy or no. Furthermore, of the 9 issues raised by this generally fair opinion, none save perhaps the claim about Lake Chad couldn’t be addressed with some very minor tweaks in language (and meaning)- indeed, some would argue that they were addressed properly in the movie. So it is very much fair to say that the movie had the science right, as it’s been pointed out in this thread was reiterated by the judge.

  37. 87
    dhogaza says:

    To wit: if the EPA had ruled GHG’s were not an air pollutant according to the statute, the State of Massachusetts wouldn’t have had any case at all that EPA was required to regulate GHG emissions. No case, no embarrassment, no ticked off petroleum lobby- is it possible this didn’t occur to them? I should think this is a very calorie rich piece of food with which to feed your head.

    To be a bit more blunt, considering that the EPA got kicked upside the head in the lawsuit as it was argued, if they’d tried arguing against the scientific consensus they would’ve been decapitated …

  38. 88

    Re #76 by Mike (form letter to respond to warming deniers) — brilliant! Made me and my wife laugh out loud. Thanks.

  39. 89
    robert says:

    In reading the comments on perceived “apocalyptic” language in AIT, I’m once again forced to beg distinction between alarmism and raising the alarm. And once again I’d ask people to stop falsely attributing comments to the film.

    Gore did not articulate a time frame on the Greenland melt. I repeat, did NOT. He made the point that the glaciaologists are quite uncertain; that there are substantial worrying signs; that other parts of the cryosphere are reacting faster than predicted; that the costs of getting this one wrong are enormous. Again, the film was not only about science, but about risk management.

  40. 90
    Jim S says:

    Re: #46

    In terms of discrediting Frederick Seitz, it is not over the top to point out that:

    When he was a “practicing” scientist his specialty was not only physics but a field of physics that has no possible bearing on climate science.
    That he has not been an active researcher for decades.
    That when he left academia he took up advocacy for politically conservative and industry causes.

    In addition an interview done for a PBS special titled Hot Politics with Seitz is particularly telling. Here is one example of his thinking.

    Why do you think, then, that so many scientists are putting their names on research that you think is so wrong?

    Most scientists are Democrats. I think, what is it, 93 percent? And there’s got to be a political issue. I think it’s simple as that.

    And you think they fake that science?

    The most strident ones would. This is a long story. I’ve met many environmentalists who said personally, in private, “I would take your side, but I would cease to be funded if I did.”

    And do you think that scientists who say that the jury is still out are also political?

    Some of them are, sure.

  41. 91
    J.C.H. says:

    An inconvenient Peace Prize

    By Bjorn Lomborg | October 13, 2007

    … Gore told the world in his Academy Award-winning movie to expect 20-foot sea-level rises over this century. He ignores the findings of his Nobel co-winners, who conclude that sea levels will rise between only a half-foot and two feet over this century, with their best expectation being about one foot. That’s similar to what the world experienced over the past 150 years. …

    Little lost North Sea boy with finger still searching for a dike.

  42. 92
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #46, no-one has “attempted to discredit Frederck Seitz”, we have simply pointed out, accurately (and we gave many supporting citations proving its accuracy), that for the past 30 years or so he has been a full-time lobbyist – first on behalf of the tobacco industry, later on behalf of the fossil fuel industry – rather than a scientist, that when he was a scientist (and he was a very distinguished one in his field of condensed matter physics, up to 1968) he did not study climate, and that his lobbying activities have been extremely disingenuous. There is nothing controversial about those statements, they are strictly factual, and the evidence is all in the public domain, as you will see if you follow up the links several of us provided. If you really believe any of these statements not to be factual please provide some citations or evidence of your own to show the basis of your disagreement, instead of resorting to simply insulting people you disagree with.

  43. 93
    Ray Ladbury says:

    You say that Fred Seitz’s politics is irrelevant and that he should be judged by his published work. OK, let’s look at what Fred Seitz has published in peer-reviewed science journals on the subject of climate change…

    [crickets chirping]

    OK, that was easy. Next!

  44. 94
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 91 JHC quoting Bjorn Lomborg in his Boston Globe article: “Gore told the world in his Academy Award-winning movie to expect 20-foot sea-level rises over this century.”

    Here’s what Gore actually says in An Inconvenient Truth:

    “If this [West Antarctica] were to go, sea level world-wide would go up twenty feet.”

    “Greenland would also raise sea level almost twenty feet if it went.”

    “If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida…”

    Note that no time frame what so ever was stated or even implied for the breakup and melting.

    Apparently Bjorn knows that If you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one.

  45. 95
    Rod B says:

    re 27: “…it is not the first foray into publishing garbage of this sort. Here is a link to something that they published in regards to DDT a few years back:….”

    Hey! How did DDT get into this?? Actually the referenced article is predominately accurate except to a few zealots. I don’t think a good smear reference.

  46. 96
    Timothy Chase says:

    Richard Mett (#85) wrote:

    Very interesting discussion. Where did they get the money to do this mailing? And the 1999 one? What organizations support the Oregon Institute?

    Don’t know about this mailing, but judging from their tax returns, their funding for 1999 expenditures consisted in large part of “contributions from unidentified sources.”

    Anyway, this will probably tell you more than you wanted to know:

    SourceWatch: Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine

    I would summarize some of it, but if I tried I would probably experience a serious (albeit temporary) decline in my typing skills….

  47. 97
    Timothy Chase says:

    Re OISM climate denial funding…?

    The original 1998 petition was authored by Arthur Robinson, Sallie L. Baliunas, Willie Soon and Zachary W. Robinson.

    Leaving out the Robinsons, a webtool by Greenpeace let’s us construct a diagram or “map” for Baliunas and Soon including most of the organizations they belong to, the amount to which those organizations are funded by Exxon, what their relationships to those organizations are – and which permits us to drill-down to find others who are associated with those organizations, etc.. Interestingly, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine isn’t in the database.

    I have gone ahead and included Patrick Michaels kind of at the center of it all because that is where he usually is and otherwise it might be rather disorienting. This wouldn’t be a very good “map” if it left people disoriented, now would it? So he’s in. But I have left out the organizations he belongs to except where either Baliunas or Soon are members as well.

    Sure enough, while Baliuanas and Soon belong to the American Petroleum Institute and the Climate Research Journal which Michaels does not belong to – two organizations, all three people belong to Tech Central Station, George C Marshall Institute, Heartland Institute and World Climate Report – four organizations. Michaels shares four more with just Baliunas and four more with just Soon. Thirteen of the nineteen Baliunas/Soon-organizations show funding by Exxon.

    Baliunas/Soon map

    However, I haven’t a clue as to where the funding for the OISM climate-denial activities are coming from – beyond what you see here.

  48. 98
    Timothy Chase says:

    My own thoughts regarding this paper….

    Their paper (The rewrite of Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide) is poorly structured, highly repetitive and ungrammatical. It involves the selection of non-representative samples (e.g., an overemphasis upon the US trends), graphs by studies which do not represent the consensus. In addition to being the amateurish product of amateurs who lack any background in climatology. Two of the main authors have a history of being financed by Exxon, it would appear to be deliberately misleading with no effort to present any balance. It is propaganda.

    Thoughts regarding its analysis…

    Should at first be line-by-line, with the with the objective of having well referenced separate essays for separate sections. Currently I have gone through it up to but not including Figure 8.

    For the purpose of speed I have done this without references, but it can be sourced and split up into separate essays later. Just going for the general gist. I would also recommend having people pick certain themes such as sea-level rise, agriculture, etc. as writing essays which begin which what is stated (in multiple places) then provide a more well-rounded picture of the real world – possibly in addition to essays dealing with specific parts of the paper.



    A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th and early 21st centuries have produced no deleterious effects upon Earth’s weather and climate. Increased carbon dioxide has, however, markedly increased plant growth. Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in hydrocarbon use and minor greenhouse gases like CO2 do not conform to current experimental knowledge. The environmental effects of rapid expansion of the nuclear and hydrocarbon energy industries are discussed.

    Deleterious effects upon the Earth’s weather and climate have included:

    1. Increased drought, going from 20% of the world experiencing drought at any given time to 30% at present with a projected 50% experiencing drought at any given time later this century under Business As Usual;

    2. Increased flooding in some parts of the world;

    3. Increased heatwaves, with the likelihood of Europe experiencing heatwaves on the similar to that during 2005 doubling;

    4. Larger deadzones as the result of gigantic algae blooms;

    5. Food shortages in some parts of the world;

    6. Some wars are already being attributed to reduced to climate change;

    7. Larger hurricanes in the Atlantic;

    [with the number of hurricanes of strength 4 or 5 doubling in the past 30 years as the result of increased surface and subsurface temperatures resulting in larger reservoirs]

    8. Larger cyclones in the Pacific;

    9. Cyclones showing up where they have no history of doing so in the past;

    Katarina in 2004 in Brazil where none had formed in the Southern Atlantic and a hurricane near the Arabian Penninsula where no had formed in modern times according to any records;
    10. Forest fires which are more frequent and on a much larger scale than they have been in the past – partly due to earlier melts and drier summertime conditions;

    12. While plants do better under increased levels of carbon dioxide, on the whole, increased droughts would appear to already be negating the affects of this on the whole.

    Political leaders gathered in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 to consider a world treaty restricting human production of “greenhouse gases,” chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2). They feared that CO2 would result in “human-caused global warming” – hypothetical severe increases in Earth’s temperatures, with disastrous environmental consequences. During the past 10 years, many political efforts have been made to force worldwide agreement to the Kyoto treaty.

    When we reviewed this subject in 1998 (1,2), existing satellite records were short and were centered on a period of changing intermediate temperature trends. Additional experimental data have now been obtained, so better answers to the questions raised by the hypothesis of “human-caused global warming” are now available.

    Data is bearing out predictions, particularly since the turn of the millenia. No actual data is cited regarding satellite records.

    Figure 1: Surface temperatures in the Sargasso Sea, a 2 million square mile region of the Atlantic Ocean, with time resolution of 50 to 100 years and ending in 1975, as determined by isotope ratios of marine organism remains in sediment at the bottom of the sea (3). The horizontal line is the average temperature for this 3,000-year period. The Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Optimum were naturally occurring, extended intervals of climate departures from the mean. A value of 0.25 °C, which is the change in Sargasso Sea temperature between 1975 and 2006, has been added to the 1975 data in order to provide a 2006 temperature value.

    The Sargasso Sea is hardly representative of the paleoclimate record. Where periods may have been warmer in the past, the consensus is that this was a localized phenomena due to different climate patterns which may have been the result of different ocean circulation patterns.

    A great deal of data and numerous studies has borne out Mann’s original hockey stick diagram for the past 1000 years which showed that global average temperatures during the past century have been higher than in the previous nine centuries, and the the rate at which temperatures rose since roughly the turn of the 20th century has been unprecendented. The only “studies” showing otherwise relying upon the use of red noise which is 100% red being introduced into the the proxies where standard practice would normally be to employ red noise which at the highest only 15% red.

    The average temperature of the Earth has varied within a range of about 3°C during the past 3,000 years. It is currently increasing as the Earth recovers from a period that is known as the Little Ice Age, as shown in Figure 1. George Washington and his army were at Valley Forge during the coldest era in 1,500 years, but even then the temperature was only about 1° Centigrade below the 3,000-year average.

    Temperatures rougly 3000 years ago may have been higher.

    Figure 2: Average length of 169 glaciers from 1700 to 2000 (4). The principal source of melt energy is solar radiation. Variations in glacier mass and length are primarily due to temperature and precipitation (5,6). This melting trend lags the temperature increase by about 20 years, so it predates the 6-fold increase in hydrocarbon use (7) even more than shown in the figure. Hydrocarbon use could not have caused this shortening trend.

    Glacier mass and length are also in part a function of black carbon. Hydrocarbon use is not the only source of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Levels of greenhouse gases due to human activities (particularly carbon dioxide and methane) would appear to have been rising as far back as 5000 years ago.

    Finally, it would appear that the glaciers chosen for this chart were not representative.

    Figure 3: Arctic surface air temperature compared with total solar irradiance as measured by sunspot cycle amplitude, sunspot cycle length, solar equatorial rotation rate, fraction of penumbral spots, and decay rate of the 11-year sunspot cycle (8,9). Solar irradiance correlates well with Arctic temperature, while hydrocarbon use (7) does not correlate.

    The arctic temperature trend given for the twentieth century looks suspiciously like the continental contiguous 48 and should be checked. The forcing given for solar activity does not look correct and would appear to be ascribing the result of anthropogenic aerosols from 1940 to 1970 to solar activity. Likewise, differences between the Northern hemisphere temperature trends and the Southern hemisphere temperature trends would suggest that the actual cause of an apparent dip in the temperature graph for the global average temperature was due to aerosol emissions in the Northern hemisphere as the Southern hemisphere experienced only one year of statistically significant cooling whereas the Northern hemisphere experienced five years of statistically significant cooling.

    Best estimates suggest that relative to 1880, it is only during the first year that forcing due to solar activity exceeded anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    Atmospheric temperature is regulated by the sun, which fluctuates in activity as shown in Figure 3; by the greenhouse effect, largely caused by atmospheric water vapor (H2O); and by other phenomena that are more poorly understood. While major greenhouse gas H2O substantially warms the Earth, minor greenhouse gases such as CO2 have little effect, as shown in Figures 2 and 3. The 6-fold increase in hydrocarbon use since 1940 has had no noticeable effect on atmospheric temperature or on the trend in glacier length.

    The phenomena in which forcing due to carbon dioxide results in higher temperatures is well understood. The amplification of the effects of this forcing by water vapor feedback through increased partial pressure that increases exponentially as the result is well understood. Water vapor itself is generally incapable of resulting in forcing as any disequilibria which might result from fluctuations in atmospheric water vapor content falls out as precipitation before it could possibly raise temperatures on its own enough to maintain a higher absolute humidity.

    The 6-fold increase in CO2 would appear to have had a highly significant effect over the whole of the twentieth century, particularly since anthropogenic aerosols have diminished since 1970. It is however logarithmic. With respect to glacier mass balance (the standard measure of glaciers) we have seen a highly significant loss of global mass balance which has been accelerating over the latter half of the twentieth century. In some cases, particularly at higher altitudes mass balance has actually increased, but this is by no means the norm.

    While Figure 1 is illustrative of most geographical locations, there is great variability of temperature records with location and regional climate. Comprehensive surveys of published temperature records confirm the principal features of Figure 1, including the fact that the current Earth temperature is approximately 1 °C lower than that during the Medieval Climate Optimum 1,000 years ago (11,12).

    Figure 1 is not illustrative. The consensus is that the global average temperature during the Medieval Climate Optimum was significantly lower than temperatures in the latter half of this century.

    Figure 4: Annual mean surface temperatures in the contiguous United States between 1880 and 2006 (10). The slope of the least-squares trend line for this 127-year record is 0.5 ºC per century.

    The United States is by no means representative of the globe but consists of only 2% of its area and would appear to be strongly influenced by a long-period oscillation. the statistically significant period of cooling for the globe as a whole consisted of only 5 years.

    Between 1900 and 2000, on absolute scales of solar irradiance and degrees Kelvin, solar activity increased 0.19%, while a 0.5 °C temperature change is 0.21%. This is in good agreement with estimates that Earth’s temperature would be reduced by 0.6 °C through particulate blocking of the sun by 0.2% (18).

    This paragraph is not simply misleading but incoherent. A discussion of a rise in temperature is immediately followed by a sentence which begins, “This is in good agreement…” and a discussion of a downward trend in temperature. The paragraph is misleading inasmuch as temperature is proportional to radiance raised to the fourth power. This paragraph is also misleading inasmuch as it treates the effects of aerosols as well-understood whereas the effects of greenhouse gases other than water vapor were treated as poorly understood when the forcing due to greenhouse gases is far better understood than that of aerosols – partly due to the effects of aerosols being more localized and temporary – given the fact that they tend to be washed out by precipitation, at least in the troposphere.

    Figure 6: Comparison between the current U.S. temperature change per century, the 3,000-year temperature range in Figure 1, seasonal and diurnal range in Oregon, and seasonal and diurnal range throughout the Earth.

    Figure 6 is bizarre, particularly in comparing seasonal changes between winter and summer (presumably) and it would appear that this is not based upon any sort of average but a cherry-picking of extremes. Smaller changes over an extended period of time and globally are highly significant, particularly in terms of weather patterns – as noted previously.

    Figure 7: Annual precipitation in the contiguous 48 United States between 1895 and 2006. U.S. National Climatic Data Center, U.S. Department of Commerce 2006 Climate Review (20). The trend shows an increase in rainfall of 1.8 inches per century – approximately 6% per century.

    The fixation upon the US trend continues. Meanwhile it involves averaging over the US as a whole when precipitation is in some places increasing for only certain seasons and drought has become the norm in California. Forest fires have become larger and more frequent in the US, and according to at least one study which had taken out effects of local human population would appear to be the result of increased temperatures. (However, the study did not however rely upon data from the US.)

    During the current period of recovery from the Little Ice Age, the U.S. climate has improved somewhat, with more rainfall, fewer tornados, and no increase in hurricane activity, as illustrated in Figures 7 to 10.

    The increased rainfall has been the result of increased extreme weather events with a trend towards increased flooding – generally with the increase being during the winter. And as noted previously, droughts have become more common and more extended, particularly in Australia, California and parts of Africa. Then trend when viewed in terms of non-extreme weather has been towards either no change or reduced precipitation.

    It is difficult to say what the change in tornado activity in the United States has been – partly due to the localized nature of tornadoes. As previously noted, hurricanes are more likely to be of higher intensity.

    Sea level has trended upward for the past 150 years at a rate of 7 inches per century, with 3 intermediate uptrends and 2 periods of no increase as shown in Figure 11. These features are confirmed by the glacier record as shown in Figure 12. If this trend continues as did that prior to the Medieval Climate Optimum, sea level would be expected to rise about 1 foot during the next 200 years.

    The rate at which sea-level rises has been increasing and is expected to as the result of the clear nonlinear response of ice to hgiher temperatures. The response of ice has included the trippling of significant ice quakes in Greenland and the loss of major ice shelves along the West Antarctic Peninsula which buttressed glaciers that are now moving at substantially higher rates towards the sea. Likewise there would appear to exist the potential for considerable positive feedback between Greenland and the West Antarctic Peninsula. Moreover, paleoclimate records demonstrate that such nonlinear responses have occurred in the past.

    [Note: Current analysis ends just prior to figure 8, a chart presumably representing the ttrend in US tornadoes.]

  49. 99
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re: 91

    I wonder where the line is drawn between accepting an editorial piece laced with rhetorical fallacy, and one with falsehoods. I haven’t had a chance to go back and review AIT, but my recollection tends to follow Robert’s comments in 89. If this is the case, Lomborg is lying.

    Where should the line be drawn?

  50. 100
    Jim Eager says:

    Re: 99 J.S. McIntyre: “I haven’t had a chance to go back and review AIT…”

    I did exactly that last night. See the pertinent transcript segments in my post no. 94.

    “If this is the case, Lomborg is lying.”

    Indeed, he is. I suggest everyone here write the Boston Globe to point this out.