Heartland Chicago Climate Meeting

Climate Report From Chicago May 2010, by Charles Battig, M.D.:

Yes, Chicago weather is still predictably windy, and this year was cooler than expected for mid-May.

I had the privilege of attending the 4th International Conference on Climate Change, May 16-18, which was sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization supported by voluntary contributions. Seventy-three climate experts from twenty-three countries took part presenting in 20 sessions with 3 to 4 lectures in each session.  These ran simultaneously so that one could attend only one quarter of the total.   Pajamas TV was there and Heartland has posted the recordings on line; see www.heartland.org. There were approximately 800 attendees. Many faces were now familiar to me as this was the third such Heartland Climate Conference which I have attended.

The organizers of the program emphasized the fact that they had made direct invitation requests to scientists known to hold views on climate science contrary to the majority of those expected to attend this meeting.  Two did respond, including Scott Denning, Ph.D. from Colorado State University and he was part of the formal scientific program.  At the conclusion of the meeting, he complimented the assembled group and wished that more of his collogues would engage in such a dialog.

What impressions do I carry away from this latest meeting?  In a broad sense, most of the presentations served to reaffirm the positions and points made in the prior meetings. That is, there is still an incomplete understanding of all the factors and their interactions driving the global climate. This limited understanding does not provide convincing scientific evidence which would foster political measures calling for a major change in our way of life and the progress attained by our civilization and use of fossil fuels.  The outputs of current climate models are based on unproved assumptions or guesses, where data are lacking, and are therefore remotely and unreliably representative of the real world.  The many

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demonstrated ills of mankind, such as lack of sanitation, medical services, clean water, and affordable energy would make a better use of current resources.

 All agree that there has been a gradual global warming of about 0.7 C per century as measured from the recovery from the “Little Ice Age” of the early 1800s with no recent temperature acceleration. The head of the U.K. Climatic Research Unit (CRU) states that there has been no statistical warming for the past 15 years.  Sea level is a local phenomenon; some locations show a rise while others show a simultaneous fall. The world-wide average sea level is a bit of a fictional number, but a 1-2 cm per decade rise with no recent change in rate was a quoted number.  All agree that the small rise in atmospheric CO2 is by itself insufficient to raise average global temperature beyond a small amount without taking into account the complex interaction of clouds of different types and at different altitudes and latitudes.  This amplification effect of water vapor is generally stated to be a positive feedback by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) modelers.  Data analysis of satellite derived global temperature by the independent Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama indicates that there is a likely negative feedback mechanism which acts to reduce global temperature.  Professor Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has analyzed the data from other satellites which measure the actual amount of infrared energy radiated out into space by the earth.  He showed that as global temperatures increase, more such energy is dissipated by earth out into space, rather than being retained by the fictional greenhouse gas blanket and forcing global temperatures ever higher, as the IPCC claims.  He also discussed the fallacy of an idealized stable climate.  The chaotic nature of climate systems contradicts the concept of a static, idealized, universal earth climate fixed in time.

Most claims of forthcoming climate disasters date back to senate hearings held in a hot U.S. Senate office, windows wide open on a particularly hot day in 1988.  The then predicted ocean level rises and global temperature disasters have not materialized.  Some 22 years later, the promoters of

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these scary stories, mostly based on computer guesses, have adapted by moving the goal posts of time ever forward so that we are still to expect the predicted disasters in the indefinite future. Hollywood film makers show us their own visions.

The “climategate” exposé last November of e-mails amongst many of the leading climate alarmists provided the basis for a review of their content by speakers actively involved in the refutation of the alarmists’ claims.  As part of the registration package of materials there was included a miniature wooden hockey stick bearing the inscription “Mann-Made Global Warming.” This was in reference to the re-working of the past global temperature record by ex-UVA climatologist Michael Mann.  In 1998 he co-authored a paper featuring the “hockey stick” shaped graph which he claimed to show a relatively flat temperature record up to the late 1800s at which point he portrayed global temperatures rising sharply.  His version  of  global temperature history had obliterated the “Medieval Warm Period”…otherwise reported to be warmer than at present, and the “Little Ice Age” known to be much colder during the late 17th century.  His reinvention of the past temperature record contradicted the prior accepted record of the founding father of the U.K. CRU, H. Lamb in the 1970s.

 In 2003 Canadians Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published their mathematical analysis of Mann’s technique and found that it would produce a “hockey stick” from a set of random numbers, completely unrelated to temperature or tree ring data. The 2006 Wegman Congressional report came to similar conclusions and noted that “Dr. Mann’s insistence that the code he developed was his intellectual property and that he could legally hold it personally without disclosing it to his peers.” Not much has changed since as evidenced by the recent stonewalling of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request of UVA to produce Mann’s paper trail while he was employed there.  This same stonewalling of Freedom of Information Act requests in the U.K. by climate scientists there was a prominent feature of the climategate e-mails going back to 1996. The CRU director, Phil Jones, was shown to be actively avoiding FIOA compliance.   Both Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick spoke on these issues at the meeting.

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The climategate e-mails included the issue of “using Mike’s Nature trick” as it appears in a 1999 e-mail by the U.K. CRU chief, Phil Jones.  This was discussed and has somewhat varying interpretations.  The gist of the matter is that in reconstructing the past global temperature record from when thermometers were not yet invented, Mann used specific tree ring proxy data.  However, this methodology started showing a temperature decline in global temperatures around 1981 in his data and in 1961 for another researcher’s data.  At this point, the modern temperature record was grafted on to the same tree ring graph, and the tree ring decline was effectively ignored, leading to the “hide the decline” controversy.

Though not on the program, a number of the attendees discussed the reported asymmetric treatment by UVA of requests for the records of former UVA Prof. Pat Michaels by Greenpeace…apparently granted, and the Cuccinelli request for M. Mann’s records…deferred pending legal advice.

As an aside, I myself wonder at the outrage expressed by the UVA Senate body over the Cucinnelli request. I wonder where the outrage by the biologists there was when the plant and human life sustaining trace gas, carbon dioxide, was deemed a pollutant by the EPA and legal fiat. All of human activity is said to be responsible for 3-4% of global CO2 emissions; the other 96% is from natural sources. I wonder where the outrage by the historians and literary scholars there was when the Medieval Warm Period and the later Little Ice Age were both erased by M. Mann’s hockey stick construct.  Both of these eras are documented in both written and art history.

Other topics included the dubious validity of surface temperature measurements because of urban heat islands swallowing up what once had been rural locations.  Many such sites are now located on or near airport runways and other artificial sources of heat thereby biasing the surface temperature record with artificially warmer data. About seventy per cent of the earth is ocean covered; satellite data are necessary to fill in the surface

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data sources. A number of speakers gave evidence of a continuing global cooling period, perhaps lasting the next 15-20 years. 

Speakers from Spain (the Obama poster child for renewable energy) and Italy presented the facts of the job-killing, and financial bankrupting reality resulting from such policies there.  Spain has acknowledged the devastating impact on their governmental finances of their massive subsidies of renewable energy.

Speakers also discussed the politicization of all these climate issues, and the role played by special interest groups.  These include politicians, environmentalist activists, investment banks, industry sectors, and university grant seekers, all of whom have learned how to game the climate issue to their financial or other advantage. 

These are my own observations. I encourage you all to visit the Heartland web site and view the original proceedings yourself.  Then form your own opinions.

Charles Battig, M.D.

P.O. Box 8185

Charlottesville, VA 22906

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