Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Beginning of the End

I’m back from the International Conference on Climate Change in NYC, and I have a lot of new science to talk about. But first, I’d like to thank Frank Lopinto from The Cool Blue Blog for recommending my blog to his readers. I also referred several enthusiasts to my website at the conference. I’ll be changing the format of my blog now that I may be attracting readers. Previously, I had run this blog primarily for organizing my own thoughts; for example, my last post was about 3000 words long. Now, I’m going to begin writing shorter, less-technical, more interesting arguments about climate change.

For global warming skeptics, this conference marked the beginning of the end of the anthropogenic (human in origin) global warming scare. The conference was capped at 550 attendees, with 56 Ph.D.s, 9 scientists or economists with other advanced degrees, many other scientific experts, plenty of policy experts, and many enthusiasts, like myself. Such big names as John Coleman (founder of the Weather Channel), Dr. Craig Idso (www.co2science.org), Dr. Craig Loehle (author of a new paleoclimate reconstruction), Dr. Ross McKitrick (works with Steve McIntyre of www.ClimateAudit.org to deconstruct the Hockey Stick graph), Dr. Patrick Michaels (UVA professor), Steven Milloy (www.junkscience.com), Dr. Fred Singer (professor of George Mason University), Dr. Willie Soon (Astrophysicist and Geoscientist at the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Dr. Roy Spencer (very famous research scientist from the University of Alabama at Huntsville), John Stossel (ABC News correspondent who focuses on reporting junk science), and of course, the President of the Czech Republic, Dr. Vaclav Klaus. The schedule made time for several important scientific presentations to the entire audience during breakfast, lunch and dinner, but for the rest of the time, it was divided into six tracks with a total of eight 1.5 hr blocks of time for each track in which two to four experts would speak. The tracks included paleoclimatology, climatology, impacts, economics, politics, and movies. I mostly stayed with the paleoclimatology and climatology tracks, so I have a lot of new information about scientific developments that I’ll talk about in later posts.

Here are a few general observations that I made while I was there.
For many of these scientists, they had only interacted with each other through email, and at this conference, we began to see real organization begin. The Heartland Institute, which ran the conference, is working with the scientists on two projects: to create a scientific journal and peer-review process (I assume/hope) to publish skeptical scientists’ work, which is often received poorly by some hostile scientific journals, and to create a long, 300-400 page, Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report that would use only information in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report to refute the claims made in that report.

The cosmic ray theory attracted mixed reactions, though, from what I could tell, most scientists agreed that this theory is the mechanism by which the sun can significantly impact the Earth’s temperature. One scientist, in particular, spoke against the cosmic ray theory on the basis that the data is flawed and manipulated, and the mechanism is impossible. Dr. Willie Soon mentioned this only in passing during his presentation, so I approached him Monday morning during breakfast to ask him to explain. According to Dr. Soon, he used to be at the forefront of cosmic ray research, yet now he completely disagrees with the theory. He said that the Swedish scientists (referring to Svensmark and others) are just looking for some “sexy, new theory,” and that charged particles cannot create clouds in the lower atmosphere because of the abundance of cloud condensation nuclei. I asked him to explain how large ships leave contrail-type clouds behind them, and if that would be an example of creation of clouds in the lower atmosphere through aerosol ionization. He didn’t have a great response to that (yes!), though there very well may be a way to explain it. I plan to read some of Soon’s criticisms of the theory soon.

An interesting theory was proposed by Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi, a relatively unknown European scientist. His theory, through the combination of various atmospheric mathematical laws, essentially states that the optical depth of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must remain constant. In other words, the greenhouse effect is cannot be enhanced; as humans add more CO2 into the atmosphere, water vapor (the most important greenhouse gas) leaves in the form of precipitation. He went on to use various observations from both the Earth and Mars to confirm his theory. Although much of the mathematics flew right over the head of many of us in the room, his theory seems to be very strong, and it would have huge implications. Essentially, it means that it would be physically impossible for human emission of greenhouse gases to at all change the temperature of the Earth. He was having a lot of trouble getting this published (no wonder), so this theory hasn’t really been exposed to much scrutiny. I emailed him and asked for his paper, which I then forwarded to Dr. Ben Herman, an expert on this sort of scientific research. He responded, saying that he will read it as soon as he can. When he responds, I’ll post his response and the implications of it. If this theory works, it may finally lay to rest the anthropogenic climate change theory.

This conference was of huge importance to the skeptic community. The amount of organization and networking that was created will be of great use trying to coordinate efforts. The conference was extremely well-run, and hopefully, it will attract many more scientists at next year’s conference in London. The Heartland Institute, which hosted the event, will be posting the PowerPoint presentations made by the various experts, and when that happens, I’ll put up a link.

One quick note about media coverage of the event. The NYT just couldn’t help itself. A relatively unbiased article ended with this: “The meeting was largely framed around science, but after the luncheon, when an organizer made an announcement asking all of the scientists in the large hall to move to the front for a group picture, 19 men did so.” Most of the scientists had already left the room; it would’ve taken very little time for the NYT to go online and find the real numbers that I mentioned.

1 comment:

Adam Van Auken said...

Sounds like an interesting conference, Carl. It sounds like your blog will gain in popularity (read $$). I'm glad you are changing the format. 3000 words is a little log for a blog entry. Very impressive work, though.