To the Editor:
Very few scientists disagree that the earth’s climate has warmed since 1850. A recent editorial implied there is a scientific consensus that global warming is manmade and that catastrophic events are close at hand. But there are thousands of scientists who question manmade global warming and who argue that there are too many uncertainties about man’s role in the warming, and that other factors, such as solar activity, volcanic influences, and the greenhouse effect of clouds, could account for a large part of the observed warming trend. The debate is not over; manmade global warming is a scientifically unresolved matter.
A 2007 report by a United Nation’s group, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), is often quoted as “proof” that manmade climate change is a fact. Some people have the idea that the IPCC is an independent science based organization – it is in fact more of a political organization. Serious doubts have been raised over the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change. They recently had to issue a humiliating apology and acknowledge that the report contains many errors and many “poorly substantiated claims”. The IPCC has made a series of embarrassing retractions regarding some of the claims about global warming, such as the claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear within 30 years, that nearly half of the Amazon jungle was at imminent risk of destruction from a warming planet, and that there was a clear linkage between climate change and weather-related economic losses. The sources for these claims turned out to be environmental advocacy groups — not rigorous, peer-reviewed science. The warning about ice disappearing from the world’s mountain tops was based on a college student’s thesis and an article published in a mountaineering magazine. The admission by the IPCC that many of its claims are speculative conclusions and not scientifically substantiated undermine the credibility of the IPCC and climatology in general. Many critics have called for the panel to be disbanded.
The IPCC’s confession of errors and sloppy sourcing in their 2007 report comes on the heels of the Climategate scandal in which hundreds of emails were hacked or leaked from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England which is the leading global warming research center in the world. Critics claim those emails revealed that scientific data has been manipulated and suppressed so that the data supports manmade global warming. The emails also indicate that scientists attempted to evade requests to share their data under the Freedom of Information Act. Phil Jones, the head of the CRU and central Climategate scientist, later stepped down from his position. In a recent BBC interview Mr. Jones acknowledged climate science is rife with uncertainty. In the interview, Mr. Jones admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, and that unanswered questions about the Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. Mr. Jones states that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. When asked if the debate was over, Mr. Jones stated – “That is not my view. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this (debate is over).”
Research from the CRU and the 2007 IPCC report are the basis for the current international debate on climate change and have led developing countries to demand billions of dollars in compensation (from the US and other countries) for the consequences of global warming based on the assumption it is manmade. Our ecological footprint, our exploitation and over-consumption of natural resources need to be addressed but we should refrain from passing radical legislation based on speculation instead of scientifically substantiated research.