Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for global warming, the long-term worldwide average warming experienced since the industrial revolution. GHGs arise from human use of fossil fuels for energy. Major emitters of GHGs include both industrialized countries and, in recent decades, developing countries as well. Higher global temperatures cause the extremes of hot and cold, and wet and dry, weather of recent years. This blog examines global warming and its effects.
See the Tabbed Pages for links to video tutorials, and a linked list of post titles grouped by topic.
This blog is expressly directed to readers who do not have strong training or backgrounds in science, with the intent of helping them grasp the underpinnings of this important issue. I'm going to present an ongoing series of posts that will develop various aspects of the science of global warming, its causes and possible methods for minimizing its advance and overcoming at least partially its detrimental effects.
Each post will begin with a capsule summary. It will then proceed with captioned sections to amplify and justify the statements and conclusions of the summary. I'll present images and tables where helpful to develop a point, since "a picture is worth a thousand words".
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
A Denier Clouds Reality by Misrepresentations and False Accusations
Summary.This writer recently attended a presentation by a global warming
denier.The speaker accused the climate
scientists of the world, asserting that they lie, have an agenda, and conspire together
while preparing global warming reports.He also misrepresented factual findings related to global warming in a
way that would cast doubt on the reality of the phenomenon.
This post refutes
the positions taken by the denier.The
harms caused by global warming require knowledgeable, reasoned assessment of
scientific observations, not maligning of the scientists involved in studying
this subject.It is not appropriate to
shoot the messenger if one doesn’t agree with the message.Likewise, misrepresenting scientific findings
in a way intended to generate doubts about global warming cannot be tolerated.
The processes used
to generate major reports and communicate to policymakers are rigorous and free
of prejudice.The reality of global
warming is supported with virtually complete certainty by the full panoply of
most recent post published by this writer, “Denying Global Warming Has No
Scientific Basis”, was intended as a one-time response to an email from a
meteorologist, a denier of global warming.On May 15, 2014, however, this writer attended a gathering
of the New
Haven, Connecticut section of the American Chemical
Society.The featured speaker was Art
Horn, also a meteorologist, widely known locally from his role as a TV
weatherman, talking on “Understanding Climate Change”.It became quite clear that Mr. Horn is also a
denier of the global warming phenomenon, whose opinions require a forceful and
A denier maligns
climate researchers.Mr. Horn presented a slide, which showed a
short range global temperature trajectory, whose stated message is “Claims that
‘global warming is accelerating’ are clearly lies to push an agenda, not
science” (see the Details section at the end of this post).As shown in the Details below, this slide is
inaccurate in many ways, serving psychologically to goad the viewer to reject conclusions
that global warming is happening.Use of
the terms “claims”, “lies” and “agenda” are manipulative but do not contribute
to a fact-based discussion of the issue.Such tactics must not be allowed to stand uncontested.
climate scientists utter “lies to push an agenda” must be supported by
documented evidence a) that lies (i.e., deliberate untruths) were told, and b)
that an agenda exists which the supposed “lies” were intended to support.Mr. Horn provided no such evidence in the
allegations must be dismissed out of hand.
A denier accuses
climate scientists of conspiring to promote global warming fears.Mr.
Horn further accused climate scientists around the world of colluding to
produce reports warning of the dangers of worsening global warming (see
Details).He believes they do this in
order to continue receiving funding for their research.
In fact, some
leading climate scientists have been subjected to harassment and censorship as
they go about their work (see Details).Clearly, such behavior in the face of threats is not consistent with the
alleged conspiracy, for their behavior only serves to make their employment and
research funding more insecure, not more certain.
Any assertions that
the thousand or more climate scientists around the world engage in
self-promoting conspiracies are ludicrous on their face, and must be
substantiated by objective evidence openly presented.In fact the operating rules set up for the
release of major global warming reports effectively minimizes the opportunity
for collusion (see Details).
level rise.Mr. Horn also projected selected graphics
showing decreasing sea level trends for Alaska, Helsinki and Oslo (see Details).On their face these data would appear to
contradict the widely accepted view that global average sea level is
rising.But in fact, the U. S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presents an interactive graphic
showing data obtained at the large number of sea level recording stations
around the globe (see Details).The vast
majority of these stations shows an increase in sea level over the past several
decades.The Fifth Assessment Report,
Part 1, The Physical Science Basis, of the United Nations Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly shows that the global average sea level
has been rising continuously since 1900 (see Details).
selected by Mr. Horn are explained by the phenomenon of post-glacial rebound,
widely known among geologists (see Details).Thus the exceptions chosen by Mr. Horn inappropriately seek to convey
the impression that they are typical in showing that the sea level is
decreasing.In fact just the opposite is
true; they are exceptions, since the sea level is rising for the planet
considered as a whole.
denier resorted to unacceptable tactics during a presentation to a public audience.His accusations and misrepresentations cannot
stand, and must be opposed.This post
refutes the positions taken by the denier.It insists that attacks on the motives of the messengers, the world’s
climate scientists, accusing them of lying to support their agenda, be
substantiated by objective evidence, but none has been advanced.Accusations that scientists are conspiring
internationally to gain and maintain funding must be accompanied by clear
evidence supporting such allegations.None was offered.
A denier’s misrepresentation
of worldwide sea level rise has been exposed in this post.It is incontrovertible that worldwide average
sea level has been rising for more than a century.
Deniers may be
entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to misrepresent objective
scientific findings, or to slur the people carrying out such studies.Global warming is a reality and becoming more
pronounced.The correct response to that
conclusion is to reach worldwide agreement on how to minimize its effects and
how to protect against damaging processes already under way.
A denier maligns
climate researchers.Among the misrepresentations in the
presentation by Mr. Horn that this writer attended, two stand out for their
descent into personal attacks on scientists.One of the slides he showed, reproduced below, was found on his web site,
where one can play numerous videos of his PowerPoint presentations.Specifically, the following still image from
the video “Global Warming Exposed by Art Horn Part 6” was included in his May
There are several
problems with the illustrated statement.First, if the words in quotations represent a statement by an individual
or group, the author of the statement must be identified.A vague assertion of a “claim” leaves open
whether anyone actually stated it.Second, accusing anyone of lying is very serious, because it carries
with it the notion of intent to deceive.If the denier feels so strongly, it is his responsibility to provide evidence
for such intent and for the nature of the deception.Lastly, if the denier believes there is an
“agenda”, he must identify its goals and provide evidence that climate
scientists are promoting it.
corroborations were offered.
A denier accuses
climate scientists of conspiring to promote global warming fears.During
the presentation Mr. Horn also explained another slide to the effect that
climate scientists around the world are colluding to produce reports warning of
the harms anticipated from global warming.According to Mr. Horn, they do this in order to continue receiving
finances for their research from their funding agencies.(This writer was unable to find a slide image
in Mr. Horn’s videos displaying this message; such a slide was shown to an
audience of at least 50 during the May 15 presentation.)In other words, the speaker is accusing the
vast majority of the world’s climate scientists of engaging in a vast
conspiracy for their own venal purposes.
Statements of this
nature are highly reprehensible, since they are directed at the individuals and
not at the science underlying the debate.In other words, if deniers don’t like the message, they presume to be
free to attack the messengers instead. This cannot be tolerated.
promoting a worldwide conspiracy, prominent scientists are being harassed and
James E. Hansen is
a renowned veteran climate researcher who has been forthright in his warnings
about global warming for decades.During
this time he was employed by the U. S. National Aeronautics and Space
Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a federal agency. Had his superiors found fault with his
scientific capabilities or his professional behavior, they could have relieved
him from government employment.This
never happened.What did happen,
however, is utterly inconsistent with the conspiracy theory that Mr. Horn is
promoting.For during the years that
President George W. Bush was Dr. Hansen’s boss, the scientist’s publications
and public appearances warning of worsening global warming were constrained and/or subjected to prior review by his supervisors for political objectives,
not scientific reasons.In other words, by insisting on
speaking the truth about global warming, Dr. Hansen ignored the censorship
imposed by his superiors, and acted contrary to any notions of
self-promotion and contrary to behavior that would help assure that his
research support, indeed his employment, be continued.
In a second
instance, the University of Virginia was subpoenaed by the State of Virginia to produce internal research documents of
veteran climate scientist Michael Mann during his tenure there.This action, conducted by the Attorney
General (the chief prosecutor) of the State of Virginia, could have had the effect of intimidating
Dr. Mann from spreading truthful information about global warming.Again, his resistance to intimidation is contrary
to what we might expect if Dr. Mann’s primary objective was to promote his
professional standing among his supervisors and employer.
These examples of
prominent scientists in conflict with their employers and funders are
inconsistent with any notion of self-aggrandizing behavior that might be part
of a conspiracy, whether national or worldwide.
global warming are prepared with stringent peer review and responsiveness to
external oversight.The extended, rigorous processes used to
prepare national and international reports dealing with global warming
convincingly eliminate opportunities for alleged conspiracies to be operating.
Governments and organizations nominate
authors, who are then selected by the organizers of the Working Group
(here called a “Part”)
449 coordinating lead authors, lead
authors, contributing authors and review editors from over 58 countries
were selected to prepare a first draft of Part 3, considering over 10,000
references to the scientific literature;
The first draft was reviewed by 1,530
other experts who considered 16,188 comments provided by 602 expert
reviewers from 58 countries;
939 individuals prepared a second
The second draft was reviewed by 469
expert reviewers from 53 countries, and by 24 governments, who provided
The final draft of the Summary for
Policymakers was prepared by representatives of 37 governments,
considering 2,573 comments; and
The final draft was approved and
accepted by all 195 member nations of the IPCC, and released.
As a result of this
thorough drafting and review process, the ARs are rigorously objective.The reader cannot seriously believe that the
ARs offer prejudiced or directed findings or opinions. Indeed, the approval and
acceptance process likely leads to consensus positions on unresolved or
contentious issues while minimizing the importance granted outlying results or
b) The United
States National Climate Assessment (NCA)
used the following process to produce its report.
The NCA was
prepared under the supervision of a federal advisory committee whose members were
drawn from every department and agency, thirteen in all, substantively involved
in an aspect of global change science or policy.The Assessment itself was assembled by over
300 scientists and experts drawn from academic research settings, federal
agencies and research facilities, state agencies, nongovernmental
organizations, private consulting organizations, corporations and foreign research
organizations.The Assessment is based
on citations to a large number of original research articles published in
peer-reviewed journals, and other reports of comparable scientific validity.A draft version was reviewed by others in
federal agencies, the academic community, the public, and the National Academy
of Sciences.The final Assessment took
4,000 comments submitted by such groups into consideration.
The details of this
process provide high assurance that the Assessment communicates the scientific
basis of the various aspects of global change treated, without projecting
particular points of view not supported by scientific findings.
Sea Level Rise.During his presentation Mr. Horn projected a
slide purporting to cast doubt on the widely understood phenomenon that
globally, the sea level has been rising steadily for a long time (again, this writer could not find this
material in Mr. Horn’s videos).Specifically, he showed decreasing sea level trends for the cases of Alaska, Helsinki and Oslo.Images likely to be the same ones he presented, shown below, were culled
by this writer from the website of the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Images of tide
gauge readings from 1924 to 2006 for, left to right, Sitka, Alaska; Helsinki, Finland; and Oslo, Norway; showing decreases in the range of 2 to 3
Mr. Horn neglected to show, however, is a worldwide rendering of sea level
changes, such as the following interactive web page from NOAA showing a display
of the locations of most (if not all) tide gauge stations worldwide.
Locations of tide
gauges worldwide with arrows showing sea level rise (upward arrows) and sea
level lowering (downward arrows).The
arrows are color coded for the range of the changes in mm/yr or feet/century
using the color key included above.Readings at various locations incorporate data from
at least 30 years, and up to 150 years.
(The reader is
strongly encouraged to turn to the NOAA web page cited in the caption to the
graphic.Rolling a tracking device over
each arrow gives its location and numerical value for sea level change.One can expand the view to see various regions
of the U.
and can link to gauge locations around the world, including the images shown
It is quite clear
from the display above that the vast majority of tide gauges worldwide shows
rising, not decreasing, sea levels.
Data such as these
underlie the summary graphic for global average sea level shown in the IPCC Fifth
Assessment Report, Part 1, The Physical Science Basis, shown below.
Global average sea
level change from 1900 to the present.Different colors represent different data sets.Shaded bands show corresponding confidence
There can be no doubt from this image
that the long-term trend of sea level for more than a century has been a
continuous and unrelenting increase.
The isolated few examples of a
decreasing sea level such as those “cherry-picked” by Mr. Horn are due to the
phenomenon, widely recognized among geologists, of post-glacial rebound.It is prevalent in sub-Arctic latitudes of
the Northern Hemisphere (such as Alaska, Helsinki and Oslo), and similarly in Antarctica.As glaciers melt the weight burden they
impose on the underlying land masses is reduced.As a result the land rises up, buoyed higher
on the molten magma on which it floats.As
this process proceeds the apparent sea level is measured to be lower relative
to the rising land mass.Thus the
melting of the glaciers and ice sheets producing post-glacial rebound is
actually in agreement with the effects of global warming, not contrary to
them.Mr. Horn simply showed examples reflecting
this geological phenomenon, perhaps selected to leave the impression that these
exceptions are actually the norm, which they clearly are not.It should be noted that Mr. Horn did not show
any examples from the large number available that would actually have shown a
rising sea level.