Is Global Warming a Bubble about to Burst?

Shows the pattern of temperature and ice volum...Image via Wikipedia
Have you wondered lately about how real Global Warming is? Here in Italy we've had the coolest summer in the last 20 years and the coming winter bodes ill: more rain and bad weather. And that seems to be the case in many parts of the globe: flooding, rains, waves of unusual cold weather.

Is a second Ice Age coming? Of course not.
We've gone through bouts of "unusual" weather before and countless divergences from the "norm" (whatever that "norm" is).

The UN Panel on Climate Change has confirmed the planet is heating up and everyone agrees it's Man's Fault. Glaciers are melting, ice on the poles is collapsing in the sea, white bears are threatened with extinction, whole countries at sea level will find themselves under water, extreme events like floods and tsunami will accelerate, etc etc Politicians are meeting in China to prepare for the next round after the Copenhagen disaster. That meeting collapsed in large part as a result of the so-called "Climate Gate", i.e. the airing  of emails from some important scientists that questioned the conclusions of the UN Panel.

Now comes another blow to the fans of Global Warming. A respectable physicist and a major scientist of our time, Professor Harold Lewis who is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has just called Global Warming a fraud in his letter of resignation to the American Physical Society    I can't resist quoting large chunks from from it:
Dear Curt [This is the President of the Society - Curtis G. Callan Jr, Princeton University]
When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago)...
How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist [highlight added]...
So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:
1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership... In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate
2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch... So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it... In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety... The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe...
3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.
4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation...
5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses...
6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.
APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?
I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives... Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. [highlight added] Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing...
I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.
I've cut out some minor points but you're welcome to follow the link and  read the whole letter.

It's an eye-opener.

Now, this "Hal" is someone with an extraordinary cv:  Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety; Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making).

Has the man gone crazy? I don't think so. He mentions several times in his letter the trillions of dollars that are behind the Climate Change hoax...if it is a hoax, of course - let's not jump to conclusions quite yet. But when there is that kind of money involved, it is worrisome.Opportunities for corruption are only too numerous...

Let me count the ways in which this Climate Change hypothesis (better call it that - it's a neutral term) is not entirely convincing. And the ways I'm counting are just those that I see from my modest standpoint as an informed citizen, nothing more.
1. There is a world-wide and historic tendency to collect temperature near urban agglomerations (this is natural, that's where the weather stations were first located). But this tilts averages towards the high end and distorts historic trends, since cities are notoriously warmer environments than the countryside; so it is just possible that the warming trend that has been detected is not quite as warm as it is made out to be.
2. As the historical data shows (to the extent that it is credible) ice temperatures have been going through ups and downs at least as large (if not larger) than the one we are now experiencing (see chart above going back 450 thousand years); it is therefore hard to see why one would conclude that the present warming is caused by human activities;
3. With global warming there should be an acceleration in extreme events, but is it really happening? The devastating floods in Pakistan this summer and now in China and Vietnam seem to point to this. Everytime we turn on the news we hear of another humongous catastrophy. True enough. But to what extent are these caused by global warming? I suspect that the soaring number of victims is caused just as much by demography: the earth is overpopulated and people have been settling now for decades in highly marginal and unstable environments. That was very strikingly the case in Pakistan in the Sindh valley, where farmers have settled in areas where none used to live 35 years ago. Hence the disaster when the Indus river and its affluents overflowed.
4. Admitting that the present warming  is only a natural divergence from the "norm", how much should we worry? How much should we invest to prevent future disasters?  Nature has an amazing capacity to regenerate itself. If you leave it alone, it tends to regenerate itself faster than if you try to "help it out". With the BP spill in the Golf of Mexico we have been reminded how true this is - yet that truth was given little space. From past experience,  it was known by scientists that the chemicals meant to dissolve the spilling oil can do more damage to flora and fauna than the oil itself. Instead of refraining from using these chemicals, millions were spent to pour them all over the place. There are two advantages to doing this stupid thing: one, the chemical producers make money, and two, you look like you're doing something and you earn political kudos. Bah!
5. Last but not least, the main point made by our professor of physics in his letter of resignation: there are trillions of dollars involved in research and in "green technology". The vested interests in global warming are HUGE! And the effects can be worse than a Tsunami. Take for example wind turbines. They are all the rage across Europe. Here in Italy, forests of loud and unsightly windmills are covering beautiful stretches of coastline and even lovely inner valleys although it is well known that on the Italian peninsula, in places far away from the sea, the wind is  fickle and unreliable. But there is political support and money incentives - so the wind turbines go up, regardless. A perfect example of how the hype around climate change has encouraged governments to adopt market-distoring measures distorting the market all the while feeling virtuous about it.

What makes me sad in all this is the role of the UN. It should have been above dispute. It should have remained clean and honest. This UN Panel on Climate Change was supposed to attract the best minds and the best science...What happened? I don't know. Perhaps it got out of hand: too many scientists, too many people involved and not enough quality control. Quality control? Yes, that may not have been done the right way. In principle, you should establish TWO committees: a large one that does the work and a small one which spotchecks the other's output. I don't believe that the UN Panel's work followed that procedure - yet it is standard procedure in my specialty, programme evaluation (something I've done for over 20 years).

What a pity, this was clearly a lost opportunity.  My hope is that something will be done - that the debate will re-open and produce the basis for a CREDIBLE global warming summit. Then it could still be held, if not this year in Mexico, next year somewhere else.

Wouldn't it be nice if climate change could be addressed directly without the hype, accusations and finger pointing that offuscate the real issues? Real issues like how to make agriculture resilient to higher temperatures, or how to contain the effects of natural disasters with measures to stabilize fragile environments or stop people from settling there without adequate protection.

Climate warming is not a bubble about to burst (just look at the chart above: the polar ice, whether for human causes or not, is definitely rising).What should burst is the hype around it, but with human nature being what it is,  I doubt that it will...
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