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Smoke and Mirrors at the United Nations

Does anyone here have a comment on the following?

Jim Green

Smoke and Mirrors at the United Nations
by Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato
Institute, research professor of environmental sciences at the University
of Virginia and author of "The Satanic Gases."

Last month, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
which bills itself as the authoritative "consensus of scientists" on
matters climatic, pronounced a possible global warming of 10ºF this
century. This grave forecast got above-the-fold billing in many of the big
daily newspapers.

Two weeks later, the basis for the panel's forecast was shot through the
heart in "Nature" magazine, and no one noticed (more on that in a moment).

The original forecast of IPCC was baseless. Even Bill McKibben, author of
the gloom-saying "End of Nature" called it "science fiction." Those who
bothered to look (which apparently didn't include many news editors) would
have found that this calculation was only one of 245 made by the IPCC for
climate change in this century.

Each of the 245 calculations is based upon a "storyline" for future energy
use and technology. That's U.N.-speak for "forecast." But when people make
forecasts they're usually held accountable when they don't happen. Over 10
years ago, the IPCC scientists recognized this problem and switched from
"forecasts" to "scenarios." Apparently that still entailed too much
responsibility, so the calculations are now based on "storylines."

The "storyline" behind the big warming forecast is a stretch. It assumes
that the reason the earth hasn't warmed as predicted is because the heating
from carbon dioxide is being cancelled by another emission called sulfate
aerosol. Remove sulfates and the greenhouse effect appears. (Sulfate
aerosol goes in the air along with carbon dioxide when coal is burned for
power production.)

The problem is that no one has measured the global cooling effect of
sulfates. They are "assumed" to be canceling warming. This is because
without them climate models predict that surface temperatures should be
rising three times faster than has been observed.

The warm "storyline" assumes that sulfate emissions will drop dramatically
in the next few decades. Further, it assumes that the current sulfate
cooling is twice as large as the warming of the last 100 years. In other
words, if burning fossil fuels emitted sulfates-and no carbon dioxide-we
would be nearing an ice age.

None of this is based on fact. No one knows the energy trends and
technological evolution of the next 100 years. Think of someone trying to
predict 2001's Internet technology from the perspective of 1901's
horse-borne society.

Further, assuming a massive cooling from sulfates is absurd. Almost all
sulfates are produced in the Northern Hemisphere. And they don't survive
long enough in the atmosphere to get to the southern half of the planet.
Consequently the southern hemisphere should be warming compared to the
north. It isn't. In fact, satellite data show that, on average, the
southern hemisphere is cooling significantly-a fact that "Global Warming
News" doesn' t report.

Bad forecasts are based upon bad assumptions or bad facts. The worst fact
about the IPCC's forecast appeared in the Feb. 8 issue of "Nature," in an
article on the energy-absorbing properties of soot. According to the
author, these properties contribute to global warming as much as sulfate
aerosols contribute to putative cooling. The combination of the two is
commonly called "smoke."

Sulfates and black soot are made by burning coal, and they're both about
the same size. Any technology that takes sulfates away, including the
abandonment of coal for electrical generation, will also take away the
warming from soot. It's a push. Dialing coal out of America's energy
equation has been the goal of greens for decades now, despite the fact that
it produces the most energy for the lowest cost of any fuel.

That makes IPCC's 10º sulfate-free-driven storyline just that: a story with
no basis in scientific fact.

Scientists are notorious gossips. Everyone knows what everyone else is
doing before it hits the journals. Dollars to donuts, there were plenty of
IPCC scientists who knew this report was coming. They knew that the 10º
warming storyline had no basis in fact.

Yet several big-name U.S. scientists signed off on the 10º nonsense while
representing the Clinton Administration. In fact, at the Jan. 20 Shanghai
U.N. meeting where that forecast was released, they made sure that sign-off
was finished prior to the swearing-in of President Bush. As such, they
showed their political stripes.

Perhaps the new president can find some other scientists to represent our
interests before the U.N. publishes any more tall tales.

Jim Green