Amusing Group Meets in Copenhagen

By David L. Brown

According to an article in the British newspaper The Telegraph today (read it here), a small group of global warming deniers met in Denmark to discuss their many alternative theories about why climate change is not the fault of human beings. It’s amusing to read some excerpts from the report, but first you need to know that, according to Telegraph writer Louise Gray, the group in question consisted of “more than 50 scientists, businessmen and lobby groups.”

“Businessmen”? “Lobby groups”? Umm, well, OK, but when real scientists meet they don’t include these categories among their ranks. Now on to some quotes:

The meeting was organised by Danish group Climate Sense and the lobby group Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

Craig Rucker, Executive Director of CFACT, admitted the organisation have taken funding from Exxon Mobil in the past but pointed out that many environmental groups are also receiving funding from major corporations.

Um, OK again. If Greenpeace or Save the Whales R Us and so forth receive corporate funding, then it’s perfectly all right for these climate deniers to take money from the leading supporter of anti-global warming propaganda. It’s only fair. (Warning: sarcasm and/or irony may exist.)

The lead scientist quoted in the article made the case that warming is simply a result of Good Old Sol, the Sun, just doing his thing, and that rising CO2 levels haven’t anything to do with it. This Danish physicist, Henrik Svensmark, states that the present warming is similar to that experienced during the so-called Medieval Warming Period. Well, here’s a temperature chart for the last 2000 years, from several reconstructions based on ice cores, tree rings and other evidence.

2000_year_temperature_comparison

Well, it doesn’t look like Dr. Svensmark is quite correct, does it? Compared with the MWP, today’s steady increase is considerably different, and it brought us right up out of the Little Ice Age starting around 1800 when the Industrial Revolution was first gaining momentum. (There are some experts who believe the LIA was the beginning of a new real Ice Age, and that human caused global warming reversed the cooling trend.

Here’s a closer look, from a graph just released a few days ago and containing three different results from actual measurements made around the world since 1850:

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It is interesting to see that there was a fairly level line until about the time of WWI. After that it climbed until about 1940, dropped due to the devastation of industry during WWII, and around 1950 started to rise fairly steadily. That was the same time that the burst of industrial growth really took off. Coincidence? Dr. Svensmark seems to think so, but I suspect most of the thousands of climate scientists who were not among the “more than 50” scientists, businessmen and lobbyists in attendance at the alternative meeting in Denmark would question his conclusions.

Also reported at the meeting of deniers:

A geologist from Australia said that ice cap melting is due to geothermal heating rather than from warmer global surface temperatures. Um, might tell that to the Arctic specialists who have observed many times the average warming in the far north. No geothermal events there, it’s an ocean.  And in Greenland, the melting starts on top and warm water cascades to the bottom through crevasses. Is it reasonable to think that there are all kinds of sub-Arctic and sub-Antarctic volcanoes beginning to smolder and melt the ice, and if so, why now? The  ice sheets are ancient, perhaps tens of millions of years old.

Another Australian said that “carbon dioxide from volcanoes rather than humans is driving warming as part of a natural process.” Interesting that the eruption of Mount Pinatubo nearly 20 years ago caused a prolonged cooling, which can be seen in the graph above. According to Wikipedia, as a result of the Pinatubo blast: “Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F).” Numerous recent eruptions have also caused short-term cooling, but these events are superimposed on the continuing upward trend.

Then this outburst of vented spleen:

Graham Capper of Climate Sense said manmade global warming was a myth and scientists who said otherwise were lying.

“There are people who know they are lying and do it simply for money and others who think they are doing good,” he said. “But they not good scientists.”

Doing it for money? What, not Exxon Mobil, so who else is buying off scientists? And, if they not good scientists, why they not good? This is nothing  more than frothing-at-the-mouth madness, coming from the mouth of, well whoever this guy is.

Finally, the infamous Lord Monckton, described by Wikipedia as “a British politician, business consultant, policy adviser, writer, columnist, inventor and hereditary peer,” made the case against global warming by reference to public opinion. He was quoted as follows:

“As anybody knows who follows the opinion polls in Britain and Australia and the US, in the last few weeks and months there has been a rapid collapse in the global warming chimera so while we still have our freedom, let us speak out.”

How like a politician, etc. to rely on opinion polls among the general public to decide scientific questions. Lord Monckton is not a scientist himself, so one wonders whether he attended the conference as a businessman or as a lobbyist. Perhaps a bit of each.

Although it is amusing to watch the antics of the climate change deniers, it is really quite serious because their misdirection, made-up facts and propaganda has even more seriously confused the general public. And, as noted above, the opinions of the generally ignorant public are given great weight by such as politicians, decision makers and journalists who depend on them for votes, donations, audience ratings or other support.

For more commentary on this general subject, read my essay “Science, Propaganda & Climate Change,” published here on October 4, 2009.

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