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A handful of "contrarian" scientists and public figures who are not scientists have challenged mainstream climatologists' conclusions that the warming of the last few decades has been extraordinary and that at least part of this warming has been anthropogenically induced. What must be emphasized here is that, despite the length of this section, there are truly only a handful of climatologist contrarians relative to the number of mainstream climatologists out there. Like all scientific fields, when contrary claims appear in climate research, they are to be given due attention by climatologists. But initially, they are not usually given much weight, as it is highly likely that most claims calling for radical revisions to conventional wisdom will be disproved or contain many inconsistencies that lead scientists to doubt them. When asked about my opinion of the paradigm-altering claims of most contrarians (wasn't Galileo also dismissed by the establishment?), I typically reply that indeed, we must carefully  examine all claims that, if true, would lead to paradigm shifts like that caused by Galileo, but at the same time, it is wise to note that for every real Galileo or Einstein who radically alters conventional wisdom, there are probably a thousand "fossil fools". Nevertheless, these contrarians are given disproportionate representation in the media (see Mediarology) and by certain governments, especially the Bush Administration, so far (see below).

Two of the most visible contrarians, astrophysicists Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have challenged both of these notions (warming and anthropogenic causation). They contradicted the conclusions of  Mann and others that temperatures rises in the late twentieth century are unusual (discussed in this section, and in It is well-established that the Earth's surface air temperature has warmed significantly), saying that medieval temperatures were greater than those of recent years (see Soon and Baliunas, 2003 and an accompanying press release, as well as  Baliunas' opinion article in the Providence Journal). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Soon and Baliunas received about $53,000, or 5% of their 2003 study's cost, from the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and gas industry's main trade organization (see "Warming Study Draws Fire").  In addition, they are members of the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that opposes limits on CO2 emissions and supported ths "Star Wars" space-based missile defense proposals. (For a revealing look at the contrarian views of The Marshall Institue, see their May 2004 Policy Outlook.)

Mann responded that Baliunas and Soon simply collected climatic anecdotes and proposed no systematic analysis of hemispheric-wide averages. A series of op-eds, followed by peer-reviewed papers, were produced by Mann and his colleagues and other scientists and reporters in attempts to clarify the debate in the public eye. (See Bradley and Mann, 2003; Mann and Jones, 2003; Mann et al., 2003; and Appell, 2003. Also see "Nonprofits Push Controversial Climate Study" and "Foes of Global Warming Theory Have Energy Ties"). David Legates, an actual climatologist and a colleague of Soon and Baliunas, hit back with an article in The Washington Times entitled "Global Warming Smear Targets". (Notice that Legates does not clarify his relationship with the two in the article — he was actually a co-author of the Soon and Baliunas, 2003 report, cited above).

The intense discord surrounding the publication of the aforementioned Soon and Baliunas article in Climate Research continues to grow, and sadly, it has degraded the journal's reputation in the process. Many hoped that the fledgling journal (whose then editor — Chris de Freitas — ignored several devastating peer reviews and published Baliunas and Soon anyway) would revise its editorial policies and consider changes to its editorial board and process, but none of these occurred. As a result, Hans von Storch, the next appointed Editor-in-Chief of Climate Research, as well as four other editors (Clare Goodess, Mitsuru Ando, Shardul Argawala, and Andrew Comrie) have resigned. See von Storch's note on "The CR Problem" on his website, a Wall Street Journal article on the debacle, and Andrew Comrie's resignation letter). Many in the scientific community are still hoping that the journal can attempt to restore credibility by admitting its mistake in publishing — despite ignoring critical peer reviews — the Soon and Baliunas "science" in the first place. In a critical mood but with tongue-in-cheek, I proposed to Mike Mann that he, Ray Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes write a critique of the astrophysical publications of astrophysicists Soon and Baliunas and publish it in my journal, Climatic Change. "It would be ludicrous", was the reply. "Probably, just like Soon and Baliunas pretending they can do sophisticated climatology," I said, reflecting my skeptical view of the quality of their climatology work. For more information, listen to a summary of the Mann et al. versus Soon and Baliunas debate from January 2004, produced by BBC Radio 4 (see Programme 1).

Baliunas, 2002 also stirred up major controversy when she claimed that any warming that has occurred has not been caused by human activities but primarily by natural forces like the sun: “Thus, the recent surface warming trend may owe largely to changes in the sun's energy output.” (Fred Singer, perhaps the "dean of contrarians", and the President of his think tank, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, expressed similar doubts in 2000 — see his testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation). Laut, 2003 and Kristjansson, Staple, and Kristiansen, 2002 then critiqued Baliunas' (and others') enthusiasm for a solar hypothesis, and Azar and Schneider, 2002 critiqued contrarian pessimism over the costs of greenhouse gas abatement — another staple of contrarian claims. The article, Laut, 2003, was attacked in a rebuttal prepared by Henrik Svensmark, a scientist at the Danish Space Research Institute and a firm believer in solar hypotheses, which Laut quickly disputed with a rebuttal of his own. Laut explains that Svensmark misunderstands the data used in both Laut's and Svensmark's research, and insinuates that Svensmark's rebuttal was posted on his institute's website rather than in a scholarly journal because Svensmark's comments, in the words of Laut, "cannot avoid creating the impression, that they only express his personal ideas and could not withstand a critical review". Damon and Laut, 2004 have since published another article that can be summarized by its title: "Pattern of Strange Errors Plagues Solar Activity and Terrestrial Climate Data." The paper does not refute Baliunas' work per se, but it hits on the work of other supporters of solar hypotheses and illuminates (and refutes) common -- and suspicious -- patterns of data to which solar supporters have often resorted.

Nevertheless, proponents of the solar hypothesis continue to bang the same drum. For example, Jaworowski (2003) states outright that "The atmospheric temperature variations do not follow the changes in concentation of CO2 and other trace GHGs. However, they are consistent with the changes in Sun's activity...". Jaworowski is perhaps even more contrarian than most, claiming that he can prove the climate is going to get colder through his work excavating glaciers on six different continents, which he says indicates what we should really be worrying about is "The approaching new Ice Age...". Despite it being obvious to many that Jaworowski is an over-the-top contrarian who is bending "science" to reach particular conclusions, he was invited to testify before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He did so on March 19, 2004, presenting a speech titled "Climate Change: Incorrect information on pre-industrial CO2," in which he said the IPCC's assumption that CO2 levels in the pre-industrial period were low is incorrect, and the IPCC projections should therefore be thrown out. And we wonder where the Bush Administration gets its distorted views!

As if Soon, Baliunas, and extreme contrarians like Jaworowski haven't caused enough grief, Mann's claims that the temperature rise seen in the late twentieth century is a clear anomaly in historical temperature records, as shown in his hockey-stick shaped graph, has again been challenged, this time by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, a statistician in the mining industry and an economist, respectively. In their paper, "Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series," published in a social science (rather than climate science) journal titled Energy & Environment, McIntyre and McKitrick claim that the proxy data used by Mann et al. (1998) to create their temperature reconstruction for the years 1400 to 1980 (AD) contained "collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principal components and other quality control defects" (McIntyre and McKitrick, 2003, p. 751). McIntyre and McKitrick claimed that when they applied the exact methodology used by Mann et al. to their source data (which was partly a highly modified version of data provided to them by Mann et al.), they found that global average temperatures actually peaked in the fifteenth century, and not the twentieth.

Mann and his colleagues and other members of the scientific community were outraged when they learned of the publication of the McIntyre/McKitrick article. Most credible scientific journals receiving criticism of previously published work typically give the authors under fire the chance to review and respond to an article challenging their claims. Energy & Environment never gave Mann and his colleagues that chance, and it was not clear whether any of the reviewers who did look over the paper were well-known climatologists or other natural scientists qualified to judge the validity of such a paper (nor have I seen any evidence that McIntyre and McKitrick have any training in climatology or natural science!). In fact, it is well known that the editor of Energy & Environment, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, has sometimes allowed her political agenda, rather than the high standards of scientific peer review, to dominate the content of the journal. In 2003, Boehmer-Christiansen also allowed the publication of another Soon and Baliunas paper nearly identical to the one published in Climate Research (discussed above), and she is known to be against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and supportive of the work of Bjørn Lomborg, another contrarian (discussed below). Though Energy &  Environment is geared toward social scientists, she told the Chronicle of Higher Education that she published scientific papers that refute the notion that global warming is a problem because there are very few outlets for such work. This practice fits nicely with her political stance (see, e.g., Parsons, 1995 — comment on page two) and calls the objectivity of Energy & Environment into question. (See an e-mail from Boehmer-Christiansen regarding the McIntyre/McKitrick paper to Michael Mann that was posted on the internet and an e-mail response from co-author Raymond Bradley).

Although Mann and his colleagues were not given the chance to peer review the McIntyre and McKitrick paper, they did immediately prepare a couple of rebuttals, the most extenive of which was posted on Michael Mann's website, and one that was submitted to Nature. Tim Osborn, Keith Briffa, and Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia also prepared a rebuttal. The main counter-evidence presented in the various rebuttals is summarized below:

  • McIntyre and McKitrick selectively censored some important data used by Mann et al. (by either eliminating it completely or substituting other data for it), especially for the period from 1400-1600 AD, where their results deviate most from Mann's. Much of the data censored were key proxy indicators that added to cooling in the fifteenth century.
  • McIntyre and McKitrick claimed that some of their data omissions/substitutions were due to the fact that not all of the Mann et al. data were available to them. However, Mann says his datasets were actually available online and have been for the last couple of years.
  • McIntyre's and McKitrick's methodology also had technical problems. For example, they used a decomposition based on one surface temperature data set with standardization factors based on a different temperature data set, effectively mashing together two sets of incompatible data.
  • McIntyre and McKitrick requested a spreadsheet of the Mann et al. (1998) proxy data, and the data they received from one of Mann's colleagues were incorrect. Mann takes the blame for this but also wonders why the authors didn't visit the website containing all the data sets in the first place. This inaccurate data set could explain why McIntyre and McKitrick could not reproduce the Mann et al. (1998) "hockey stick" reconstruction. In addition, the data provided to McIntyre and McKitrick contained only 112 proxy indicator series, whereas Mann's work actually had 159.

Anyone wishing to verify any of this should contact Mann or consult his website.

While the McIntyre-McKitrick paper's inadequacies were very clear to these climatologists from the get-go (and are still being debated in journals at the moment), that did not prevent the media from picking up on the paper and providing a very one-sided account of the results (see a USA Today op-ed, a correction to the op-ed, a rebuttal of the op-ed by Mann, and a rebuttal of both the McIntyre and McKitrick paper and the USA Today op-ed by Annie Petsonk of Environmental Defense). After reading Mann’s and others’ rebuttals, McIntyre and McKitrick went on to create a "he said-she said account" of their interactions with Mann and his colleagues, which has also received much attention. This controversy will undoubtedly continue to brew for years to come. In fact, I know of at least two comments and rebuttals now in review in scientific journals — hopefully, the debate might eventually take place in the appropriate forums for such technically-complex issues. Though the wheels turn slowly in such peer-reviewed journals, they move inexorably and I expect the science will advance from these exchanges. It is sad it started as politics and has culminated in such rancor and distrust on all sides. I do not question the propriety of McIntyre and McKitrick in challenging methodological issues in Mann et all; in fact that is what science is about. But the lack of review by those attacked and the political circus that followed was very unfortunate.

Since the time these controversies broke out, Mann and Jones have added to the evidence that their findings on temperature trends are correct. Through the examination of instrumental records, documentary material, tree rings, corals, and ice cores, among other things, and focusing "not just on proxy reconstructions of past temperature history but also on associated changes in a number of other fields such as precipitation and drought patterns and atmospheric circulation diagnostics as well as the complementary changes in these variables in climate model integrations", Jones and Mann, 2004 found additional evidence to support their prior assertions that the late 20th Century warming has been unprecedented in the Northern Hemisphere and most likely the entire world. They again found that warming of the 20th Century was greater than that of any other Century in the preceding two millennia. In addition, Jones and Mann report that whereas natural variability does well at explaining temperature changes up through the 19th Century, only anthropogenic forcing can explain 20th Century warming:

Assessment of the empirical evidence provided by proxies of climate change over the past two millennia, combined with climate modeling efforts to explain the changes that have occurred during the period, indicates that solar and volcanic forcing have likely played the dominant roles among the potential natural causes of climate variability. Neither can explain, however, the dramatic warming of the late 20th century; indeed, natural factors would favor a slight cooling over this period. Only anthropogenic influences (principally, the increases in greenhouse gas concentrations) are able to explain, from a causal point of view, the recent record high level of global temperatures during the late 20th century.

More recently, the debate over the 'hockey-stick' has taken yet another turn with the publication of Von Storch et al., 2004, which claims that the statistical techniques employed, e.g., in Jones and Mann, 2004 have underestimated the natural variability of temperature change on a centennial scale -- thereby, it is said, underestimating the disputed temperature ranges of the so-called "Little Ice Age" and "Medieval Warm Period" (see Was there a “Little Ice Age” and a “Medieval Warm Period”?, from the IPCC Working Group I). However, nearly a dozen other reconstructions of Northern Hemisphere mean temperature by different groups independently confirm the overall existence of a 'hockey-stick' -- though I expect that it will be one with a very curvy handle. Mann and others are now preparing specific peer-reviewed replies. For more on this debate, see also Temperature Variations in Past Centuries and the so-called "Hockey Stick", Myth vs. Fact Regarding the "Hockey Stick", and What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong? on the RealClimate.Org blog, and see Osborn and Briffa, 2004.

Stay tuned, more on this will emerge every week; e.g., see a Nature item reporting a study by Moberg et al (and see Anderson and Woodhouse, 2005). As Rahmstorf mentions in the item, the evidence of anthropogenic warming is based on hundreds of "fingerprint" types of analyses, and what happened 1000 years ago or 100 million is just part of the edifice of our understanding of the climate system, and not itself the sole proof for, nor proof against, anthropogenic global warming (see also Revkin 2005). My take: look for replication studes done by the scientific community at large. For example, work done at NCAR by Amman and Wahl should be published in the near future

Other contrarians have made arguments along lines analogous to those of McIntyre and McKitrick. In an article in GSA Today, Shaviv and Veizer, 2003 claim that long-term CO2-induced warming will not be as great as most General Circulation Models (see Climate Modeling) predict. They echo (though on a very long time scale) the Soon and Baliunas view when they say "...celestial phenomena may be important for understanding the vagaries of the planetary climate." Their comments that "global climate produces a stabilizing negative feedback" and "A likely candidate for such feedback is cloud cover" are similar to the views of Richard Lindzen, another long-time contrarian, who believes that climate sensitivity will be much less than most climatologists are predicting. (See Lindzen, 1997; Lindzen et al., 2001; and the figure Estimates of Climate Sensitivity, in which Lindzen is Scientist 5. Hartmann and Michelsen, 2002 prepared a rebuttal to Lindzen, 2001, which prompted a response from Lindzen et al., 2002, followed by additional comments from Hartmann and Michelsen). See also a comment by Phillip Stott, a biogeographer at the University of London who is skeptical of anthropogenic global warming, and who cites both Soon and Baliunas, and Shaviv and Veizer to support his opinion. Many climatologists found it telling that Shaviv and Veizer failed to mention Hoffert and Covey, 1992; Crowley, 2000; Crowley and Berner, 2001; all of which are written by climate scientists and provide striking evidence for CO2 climate sensitivity from paleo-climatological data.

A group of fourteen scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PICIR) responded to Shaviv and Veizer with a short letter discussing the "highly questionable methods" the two authors employed. This was followed by a response from Shaviv and Veizer, followed by additional comments from the PICIR scientists. A more formal rebuttal has since been prepared by Rahmstorf et al., 2004. The authors conclude that the correlation of cosmic ray flux and climate is not as strong as it appears in the Shaviv and Veizer paper; they claim that Shaviv and Veizer adjusted the data to make the correlation more pronounced than it actually is. In addition, Rahmstorf et al. are skeptical of Shaviv and Veizer's estimate of the effects that a doubling of CO2 levels would have on the climate. They contend that Shaviv and Veizer's regression model used for making this determination is incomplete and oversimplified, which does not suit a complex, nonlinear system like the climate. Thus, Rahmstorf et al. believe that Shaviv and Veizer's work is not grounds for revising current climate sensitivity estimates. This is yet another example of a contrarian pretending to be the next Galileo, which is very unlikely in my opinion, but for more replies by Shaviv and Veizer, see this website.

Many of the claims of contrarians like these rest on temperature inferences made using satellite data rather than surface temperature measurements. The contrarians insist that satellite data contains little or no evidence of global warming, and many members of the Bush Administration and their supporters agree, commenting that the lack of evidence for tropospheric warming from satellite data suggests that those who believe global warming is occurring are using scare tactics, as James Schlesinger argues in "Cold Facts on Global Warming". This is unsurprising, perhaps, given that Schlesinger is currently a director of Peabody Energy, the largest coal company in the world, and was Secretary of Energy during the Carter Administration, Secretary of Defense during the Nixon and Ford Administrations, and director of the CIA. One thing he never was is a climate scientist. Both David Hawkins, Climate Center Director of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and John Holdren, Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard, wrote letters to the editor of the LA Times (which published Schlesinger's op-ed), revealing the telling biographical information about Schlesinger and warning that global warming is real and will become an increasing threat over time, which calls for action over delay. Holdren continued on by stating that Schlesinger's "...principal assertions about the findings of climate science are wrong." He reminds his audience that the satellite data Schlesinger cites is still not well understood, that the claim that temperatures were higher in 1100-1200 AD is not supported in mainstream peer-reviewed science, and "scare tactics" are not actually "scare tactics", but scientific findings and well-informed projections on future climatic conditions, which indeed have the potential to be frightening. To my knowledge, neither letter to the editor was ever published -- hardly an example of "fair and balanced" media coverage.

In reality, the satellite record is very controversial. As Schneider, 1996a mentioned early on in the satellite debate, satellite techniques are the most, not least uncertain trend indicators: "the satellite technique still has not satisfactorily accounted for distorting effects of tall rain clouds over extensive parts of tropical oceans and thus has not yet been proved to provide a fully calibrated temperature trend record for a known segment of the atmosphere.... the surface temperature thermometer network, because it [the surface thermometer record] is both a long-term record (some ten times longer than the satellite data) and a measure of climate where it is most important for humans and nature (at the surface), is still the best measure yet available for climate inferences". In my view, surface temperature measurements and historical records are more reliable, especially for surface trends. Significant controversy has arisen over what satellite records actually show, with contrarians claiming that it is indisputable that satellite records do not support global warming claims and other scientists using satellite data to show that global warming is occurring (see Santer et al., 2003, Santer et al., 2003a, and an article in agreement with the former Santer et al. article, by Hoskins, 2003; see also the Wigley testimony — his Figure 7). A new study performed by private satellite experts at Remote Sensing Systems has found that weather satellite data from the past 24 years actually shows that tropospheric temperatures are increasing, not decreasing as many contrarians believe (see "New View of Data Supports Human Link to Global Warming"). Vinnikov and Grody, 2003 obtained similar results.

Fu et al., 2004 have taken such evidence a step farther, providing an explanation for why satellite-derived temperatures in Earth's lower astmosphere (troposphere) have been rising more slowly than most models predict, especially given the rate at which Earth's surface is warming. By analyzing microwave emissions from the atmosphere recorded by NOAA's polar orbiting satellites between 1979 and 2001, Fu and his colleagues found that interactions between the troposphere and the stratosphere (the layer above the troposphere) were causing the seemingly anomalous tropospheric temperature results. The team used the satellite data to calculate the temperatures of the atmospheric layers and found that stratospheric cooling, a known effect of GHGs and ozone depletion, was responsible for differences in temperature between the ground and the satellite-derived lower troposphere. By removing the stratospheric cooling and performing a statistical analysis, Fu et al. found that the lower troposphere has actually warmed faster than Earth's surface and the trends in the lower atmosphere are very similar to those of the surface. Recent warming of about 0.2°C per decade appears to be occurring in the troposphere. Fu et al. believe that nobody has reached the same conclusion using satellite data because the channel on microwave sounding units that is supposed to measure troposphere temperature (channel 2) is not totally accurate — about one fifth of the signal it picks up comes from the stratosphere, which is decreasing in temperature about five times faster than the troposphere is increasing. They knew that channel 4 on the microwave sounding units measured tropospheric temperature, so they used information from weather balloons at different altitudes and data from channels 2 and 4 to find actual tropospheric temperatures.

Many contrarians, especially those who have relied heavily on satellite data, were quick to criticize Fu et al.'s results. John Christy (discussed in detail below), in collaboration with Roy Spencer and Phillip Gentry, all of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, prepared a press release claiming that their own interpretations of satellite data (which concluded that little or no warming was taking place — i.e., see Spencer and Christy, 2003) were still correct and that Fu et al. subtracted out more stratospheric cooling than was actually there. Spencer elaborated upon this in a critique appearing on the Tech Central Station website, and CO2 and Climate, a website of the Greening Earth Society, a group of rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities, their fuel suppliers, and individuals, backed up Spencer's assertions in two articles on their website — "Nothing's Changed" and "Assault From Above". The backlash against Fu et al. continued with an e-mail from Timo Hameranta, the moderator of a yahoo.com group for climate skeptics, to his "reading group" (as well as Fu, Christy, Spencer, and others). Hameranta questioned many of the Fu et al. claims, and Johanson, one of the authors of the original Fu et al. paper, responded, but perhaps without the degree of clarity, detail, and carefulness required to avoid being re-attacked by the contrarian set. John Christy got into the fray when he replied to Johanson's e-mail (and copied the entire reading group, of course), maintaining his opinion that his dataset was correct and the Fu et al. data were the most inaccurate produced to-date. Jarl Ahlbeck continued the e-mail chain, siding with Christy, declaring that the intercorrelation of stratospheric and tropospheric temperature signals makes it very difficult to "correct" one temperature or the other.

The overwhelming negative response from Christy and Spencer and their supporters prompted Fu and Johanson to submit a letter to the Journal of Climate rebutting the Christy/Spencer accusations. The letter reaffirms the previous conclusion of Fu et al. Fu and Johanson stated that after re-evaluating the Fu et al. data, they were still of the belief that the Fu et al. data was accurate and they had indeed managed to create a tropospheric temperature series nearly free of stratospheric contamination. They went on to say that Christy and Spencer's temperature data is likely off by -0.03 to -0.04 K per decade. And the debate continues... and will continue to continue.

However, like most new data that refutes others' findings, Fu et al.'s results were expected to be controversial, especially among contrarians, for whom the refutation of their mantra of no global warming in satellite records is a serious blow to their oft-repeated claims. However, Fu et al. gathered considerable support from mainstream climatologists, as many embraced their results and their significance. Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist and head of the climate analysis section at NCAR (and an expert on satellite and instrumental data), was one of the peer reviewers for the Fu et al. paper. He called their work "a stunningly elegant and accurate method of clarifying global trends" and called Christy's and Spencer's rebuttals "hogwash". Trenberth also suggests that Fu et al.'s data will be difficult to counter — or counter convincingly, at least: "If the models agree with what has happened in the real world, that gives them more credence. The main cry of the skeptics is that the models don't agree with the tropospheric temperature change. What (the journal article) suggests is that the record agrees extremely well in the troposphere." Like Trenberth, many other mainstream climatologists feel vindicated that their view of recent analyses of satellite data appears to be consistent with surface thermometer networks.

As promised, I will return to the subject of John Christy. Christy is Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and has been a strident and articulate believer that satellite data can be used to refute warming claims made by mainstream climatologists, despite  earlier doubts about calibration errors and the strong evidence to the contrary produced by Fu et al. For example, a paper by Christy et al. appearing in the May 2003 Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology stated that the authors believe that satellite data shows that global atmospheric warming has been occurring at a rate of 0.07°C since 1978. While this is clearly a positive change in temperature, it is very modest, and, Christy says, inconsistent with climate model projections of tropospheric trends (which show much larger increases in temperature). In addition, Christy has long disagreed with climatologists on the cause of any warming that has occurred. In a 1997 hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Christy reemphasized his view that most of the rise in temperature that has occurred since the 19th century is not anthropogenic, but a result of natural variability, which he stated twice during a discussion at the hearing. First, he said: "Most of that is caused by natural variability, the rebound from the 19th Century cold period. What part of that might be caused by our activities of the .42, I would say at most, .1." Christy said in a later e-mail to me, dated April 30, 2004, that in 1997, he stated that at least 51% of 20th Century warming was natural. However, from the figures given in the quote above, it appears that he believed then that human influence was responsible for .1/.42 = 23.8% of warming, which would make the natural component (assuming there are only two components - anthropogenic and natural) about 76%, which I believe is closer to common notions of "most".

Christy's second mention of natural variability in the 1997 testimony is as follows: "You go from one century to the next and there are large changes. The 21st Century will be different than the current one. It's definitely the case that the 19th Century was unusually cool. Bouncing back from that, as Dr. Lindzen [another contrarian] said, is part of the natural variability...". After this second comment on variability, Eric Barron, Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, and I, who were also speaking at the hearing, jumped in with a rejoinder. The conversation went as follows:

DR. BARRON: You just don't know whether we're bouncing back from anything.

DR. SCHNEIDER: How do you know we're bouncing back? How do you know it wasn't stopped by the increase of emissions from initial deforestation and industrialization? You're presupposing you know the climate is random. We don't know that. That's what we're interested in figuring out.

DR. CHRISTY: We're looking at temperatures that were warmer in past centuries than today.

DR. BARRON: But how do you know that it wouldn't have continued?

SENATOR CHAFFEE: What does he know what wouldn't have continued?

DR. SCHNEIDER: That the recovery is in fact a recovery. Maybe it's induced. We don't know that. That's one of the difficult issues where it might be partly related to some changes in the energy output of the sun. There are a number of aspects we can debate. That's what we're trying to figure out, the relative amounts, but you can't presuppose that the recent variations in the system are all natural...we know that humans started changing the land surface and started changing the atmosphere, which we began to do significantly in the 18th Century, so we cannot actually rule that potential influence out yet. That's part of the debate.

DR. BARRON: The objection occurs when he says the world is bouncing back from an unusually cold period. It's just as possible, because of the way natural variability works, that it was in the midst of bouncing to an even colder century and therefore we have an even bigger problem than we're thinking. By saying that, he's presupposing he knows the mechanisms and the way natural variability works.

DR. CHRISTY: I would say most of that occurred before these events you're talking about affected the climate.

DR. SCHNEIDER: I'm not saying humans created a little Ice Age. What I'm arguing is that it's often said this is just the recovery from that. Well, it's the recovery but that doesn't mean that there wasn't a human component of that recovery and that's what we're trying to figure out.

Many years later, in a December 12, 2003 speech at a conference hosted by the CATO Institute, one of many "independent" think tanks partially supported by ExxonMobil and other big players in the fossil fuel industry (see "What Exxon doesn't want you to know" and www.exxonsecrets.org), Christy commented that he did not think the human portion of climate change would be dangerous: "I don't see danger, I see in some cases adaptation, and in others something like restrained glee at the thought of longer growing seasons, warmer winters and a more fertile atmosphere." This seems consistent with his past views. However, in that same speech, I did detect a subtle shift in language over the causes of global warming. Christy repeated that the causes of global warming are not entirely certain, but I believe he placed less emphasis on the natural component: "Increased CO2 is part of the temperature rise (how much is more arguable). Massive alterations of the land surface - yes, that is part of the observed global warming, and it is clearly human induced. Pollution? Yes, especially in local climates. Nature? Absolutely, nature is responsible for part of the global warming we've seen. We don't know precisely how much contributes, nor do we know completely why the climate even does what it does." Rather than attributing "most" global warming to natural variability as he did in 1997, Christy says natural factors are responsible for "part" of it. While using "most" and "part" may be technically consistent, I would argue that the terms imply very different things. I thought the role of anthropogenic activities in climate change was even more pronounced in a December 16, 2003 speech Christy gave at the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) autumn meeting in San Francisco (see a press release summarizing the meeting and an NPR audio report on the AGU meeting, which includes the quote below). In that speech, Christy said: "It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities or putting dust and soot into the atmosphere and putting millions of acres of desert into irrigated agriculture and putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, that in some way the natural course of the climate system has not been changed." Since the two choices of climate forcings are human and/or natural, if Christy's implied view of the contribution of natural forcings is decreasing (from "most" to "part"), then his implied view of the contribution of human forcings must be increasing.

In an earlier version of this website, I reported the recent Christy quote and stated that Christy has apparently reversed some of his earlier views about the lack of an anthropogenic component in global warming. I very quickly received an e-mail from him, dated January 6, 2004 and titled "Palo Alto, we have a problem," saying I had misrepresented him as a reformed contrarian. He provided me with a copy of his December 2003 CATO Institute speech (discussed above), which he said summed up his real, allegedly unchanged views. However, quite frankly, I have trouble seeing how his statements over time, as quoted above, don't indicate an evolution toward admitting there may be a notable anthropogenic component to recent warming. We encourage our readers to make their own conclusions about whether Christy's views have undergone a slight phase shift or not. I hope he will be influenced by the Fu et al. and other work (cited earlier) to seriously reconsider his own hardened views about satellite data and the contrary evidence he says they provide.

Reinforcing all of these contrarian views and conjuring up new and even more provocative "evidence" is Bjørn Lomborg, a Danish statistician best known (or most notorious, at least) for his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001). In a nutshell, The Skeptical Environmentalist contends that the claims made by many natural scientists that large-scale degradation of the environment is taking place are false, or at least exaggerated; Lomborg says the "litany" being publicized by such people is not grounded in fact or solid scientific research, yet it still infiltrates into the media, where people adopt that view, or are at least frightened by it. Lomborg believes that the state of the environment is actually improving in most cases. Some specific examples he gives are that: 1) acid rain has hurt lakes but barely impacted forests; 2) we are experiencing an increase, not a decline, in ecosystem services; 3) the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill was not nearly as bad as environmentalists make it out to be; and 4) biodiversity loss has been grossly exaggerated. By far the most controversial chapter of Lomborg's book is that on global warming. He states that money used to reduce global warming now would be better spent on reducing the burden of the poor by building hospitals, schools, and clean water infrastructure. He uses the Kyoto Protocol as a specific example. He believes that it should not be implemented, as the $80 to $350 billion he asserts it would cost per annum to do so would only delay warming by six years, and would be better spent on dealing with the immediate problems of the world's poor. That same money, he says, could give clean water and better sanitation to the entire developing world, saving two million lives and preventing disease in another 500 million. For Lomborg, intergenerational equity and damage to nature do not appear to be pressing concerns.

When asked for a quick response on Lomborg, I often tongue-in-cheek reply that if experts in all of the four fields — climatology, demography, ecology, and conservation biology — that Lomborg accuses of exaggerating environmental risks were so ignorant that their projections were little better than random answers drawn from a hat, what is the probability that all four groups got it wrong, and wrong in the same direction (i.e., they projected environmental damages that are worse than what actually ends up occurring)? One sixteenth is the answer, for if experts in each of these fields had only random skill, there would be a 50% probability that each exaggerated by chance. So, 1/2 times 1/2 times 1/2 times 1/2 is 1/16, the chance that consensus opinion in all four fields is overblown. On the other hand, what is the probability that Lomborg miscalculated or misrepresented each of these fields quite consistently and in line with his ideology and well-paid storyline? I'd say that probability is a lot greater than one in sixteen — probably greater than 2 out of 3.

Formal reactions to The Skeptical Environmentalist have been polarized. It was embraced with great eagerness by various organizations and publications, including The Washington Post, The Economist and The American Geological Institute. After the book's publication in English in 2001 (it was published in Danish three years before that), Lomborg was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum (November 2001), chosen by a newly-elected conservative government to head Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute (February 2002), and named one of the "fifty stars of Europe" by Business Week (June 2002) and one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time Magazine (April 2004). He has been recognized by major media establishments, and his views, too, have infiltrated the media and gained support. But most scientists I know working on these problems are outraged by Lomborg's work and consider it to be faulty and misrepresentative of their published views. In addition to referencing a biased sample of literature that wasn't nearly broad enough, Lomborg used quotes out of context and proved numerous times that he did not fully understand the science behind climate change. Sure enough, soon after the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, many who disagreed were quick to publish rebuttals (see reviews in Grist Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times Higher Education Supplement, and The Beagle). In a collaborative effort, John Rennie, the editor in chief of Scientific American; John Holdren, a Harvard professor specializing in energy/resources, environmental science, and public policy; John Bongaarts, vice president of the Population Council in New York City; Thomas Lovejoy, biodiversity adviser to the president of the World Bank and senior advisor to the president of the UN Foundation; and I authored a comprehensive rebuttal to Lomborg's work that was published in Scientific American. Rennie wrote an introduction, and Holdren, Bongaarts, Lovejoy, and I focused on topics in Lomborg's books that corresponded to our areas of expertise: energy, population, biodiversity, and climate, respectively. In my section on global warming, I had four grievances:

  • That Lomborg arbitrarily decided that climate sensitivity had to be on the low end of the IPCC's estimate of 1.5oC to 4.5oC;
  • That Lomborg only considered the least serious of the IPCC's emissions scenarios;
  • That the benefits of avoiding climate change ($5 trillion, he declares) are said to not be worth the cost to the economy of constraining fossil fuel emissions ($3 to $33 trillion), yet no monetary estimate is given for potential climate damages to nature; and
  • That he assumes that the Kyoto Protocol will be the only emissions agreement in effect for the hundred years, whereas it is only intended to be in force until 2012 at the latest.

Rebuttals then flew back and forth (see, for example, Lomborg's rebuttal of our review in Scientific American and Rennie's reply and John Holdren's response to the rebuttal), and new players jumped into the commotion. For example, Bodnar et al., 2004 published a scathing review of the treatment of environmental health issues in The Skeptical Environmentalist. They found that many of the inconsistencies that plague other parts of Lomborg's book also run rampant in the chapters covering environmental health. Their main complaint is that Lomborg fails "to apply the scientific method in a rigorous, reliable, and logical manner". Specific examples of this include:

  • A distorted "global" perspective that relies mainly on data and statistics from developed countries and assumes that conclusions for developing countries can simply be extrapolated from that data;
  • A propensity to label those who promote and practice global awareness and responsibility as doomsayers and pessimists, when that is usually not the case;
  • Lack of discussion on reliability of published statistics used throughout the book, few of which were subject to peer review (or appeared in peer-reviewed journals).

And there are more. Negative book reviews were written by Grubb, 2001; Pimm and Harvey, 2001; Pimentel, 2002; and Gleick, 2001 and published in Science, Nature, BioScience, and on the UCS website, respectively. There are likely many other scientists who are also in agreement that Lomborg's work is deeply flawed.

In the end, the Danish Research Agency's Committee on Scientific Dishonesty agreed with those of us who spoke out against Lomborg that Lomborg's book was full of inaccuracies, ruling on January 7, 2003, that it fell within the concept of "scientific dishonesty". (See a January 2003 Science magazine article on the ruling, and a Reuters article, "Panel: Danish Environmentalist Work 'Unscientific'" pertaining to a similar report on Lomborg performed by a panel of Scandinavian scientists.The actual report on the ruling has since been removed from the web, presumably due to recent events – discussed below.) Opponents of Lomborg praised the committee's decision (i.e., Woodard, 2003), while supporters were outraged (i.e., Pielke Jr., 2003).

However, in what was a boost to Lomborg supporters, at the end of 2003, Denmark's science ministry rejected the Committee on Scientific Dishonesty's finding that The Skeptical Environmentalist was scientifically dishonest. As reported in a January 2004 Science magazine article on the subject, the ministry claimed to find "... DCSD's findings flawed on several counts. It held that DCSD's legal mandate is to rule on allegations of fraud, not on accusations of failure to follow 'good scientific practise'. It also criticized DCSD's ruling for lacking documentation, for failing to document the argument that the book is dishonest, and for describing Lomborg's research in unduly emotional terms. The ministry did not itself evaluate the soundness of the science or the claims in the book." Ironically, the DCSD says that in addition to its 16-page report, it has 600 pages of supplemental materials supporting its finding, so that claims by the ministry — a political body — that the DCSD did not document the case against Lomborg are clearly false. The fact that the science ministry did not focus on Lomborg's "science" or the claims he makes in his book is rather perplexing, and for this reason, Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University (and one of the first people to complain to DCSD about Lomborg's book), calls the ministry's statement a political ad — "a pardon from the political leadership" rather than a scientific exoneration. I find Pimm's argument persuasive that the science ministry's ruling was a political decision, rather than a legal pardon or a scientifically competent analysis. Despite this, many reporters and others still attempt to canonize Lomborg. They found the science ministry's ruling against the DCSD to be a major victory — even though it was issued by the same government that hired Lomborg to head Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute — and their articles attempting to balance contrarian opinion with that of mainstream climatologists are very misleading (see, for example, "Sceptics, the environment needs you" and "Go ahead — buy that muscle car").

Lomborg hasn't stopped causing controversy. In May 2004, he chaired a week-long conference, sponsored by Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute and The Economist, called The Copenhagen Consensus. The panel of eight renowned economists attending the meeting was to allocate an imaginary $50 billion to what it deemed were the highest-priority projects for improving the world. The attendees were given a list of 10 global-scale problems that they were to rank in order of importance, while trying to answer the question, "What would be the best ways of advancing global welfare, and particularly the welfare of developing countries, supposing that an additional $50 billion of resources were at governments' disposal?" The 10 global challenges were: civil conflicts, climate change, communicable diseases, education, financial stability, governance, hunger and malnutrition, migration, trade reform, and water and sanitation.

More than 30 proposals were set out for the panel's review, and it was decided that the control of HIV/AIDS (which falls under the communicable diseases category) should receive $27 billion, followed by $12 billion to combat hunger and malnutrition and $13 billion to attempt to eradicate malaria (also under communicable diseases). To the horror of many, spending on climate change was near the bottom of the priority list because the panel determined that costs would exceed benefits and "approaches based on too abrupt a shift toward lower emissions of carbon are needlessly expensive" (see the Copenhagen Consensus final results and a post-meeting press release). This absurdly low ranking of climate change begins to make sense when one views the methods used for "prioritization":

In ordering the proposals, the panel was guided predominantly by consideration of economic costs and benefits. The panel acknowledged the difficulties that costbenefit analysis must overcome, both in principle and as a practical matter, but agreed that the cost-benefit approach was an indispensable organising method. In setting priorities, the panel took account of the strengths and weaknesses of the specific cost-benefit appraisals under review, and gave weight both to the institutional preconditions for success and to the demands of ethical or humanitarian urgency. As a general matter, the panel noted that higher standards of governance and improvements in the institutions required to support development in the world’s poor countries are of paramount importance.

Perhaps the results are not surprising, given that "the dream team", as the eight economists attending the meeting have been called, were all personally invited by Lomborg and paid $30,000 each to attend. To make matters worse, some of the panel members, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith, are known to be admirers of Lomborg (see "$50 Billion Question: World, Where to Begin?"). William Cline, an environmental economist for the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., and the only environmental economist on the panel, suggested that climate change was important to address and proposed a global carbon tax as the most cost-effective strategy, but his ideas were shot down as very bad investments because they would entail "large expenditures for benefits that would come far in the future" (see "Economist Rate Greenhouse Gas Curbs a Poor Investment").

The more news that came out of the meeting, the more that climate scientists and many others realized it was rigged to further Lomborg's anti-environment motives. Calling the meeting a "consensus" was laughable, in my view, given that only one type of guest -- the neo-classical economist -- was invited. In order to achieve a true consensus, I think Lomborg would've had to invite ecologists, social scientists concerned with justice and how climate change impacts and policies are often inequitably distributed, philosophers who couldchallenge the economic paradigm of "one dollar, one vote" implicit in cost-benefit analyses promoted by economists, and climate scientists who could easily show that Lomborg's claim that climate change will have only minimal effects is not sound science. It's no surprise that a group of neo-classical economists resorted to a typical cost-benefit analysis, but that doesn't make it right or just or the most efficient way to spend $50 billion. I believe adding other experts into the mix would have changed the results substantially, as these types are not wont to condone the use of cost-benefit analyses that completely exclude non-market entities like nature and the quality of life (see the 'Dangerous Climate Impacts and the Five Numeraires" section of this Web site). For example, there are about a billion people in the world who live on about $1 per day. They contribute next to nothing to the global warming problem but will likely suffer the most from its effects. Most live in marginal lands. Desertification -- the loss of productivity of the world's drylands (about 50% of the ice-free surface) -- will likely get worse as climate change spreads. Do these cost-benefit models care? Not at all! The poor of the world contribute marginally to the world's economy, so the model conclusions almost wholly neglect them. These models are only for the rich. Equity isn't an issue. Equally, nature doesn't have a vote. Economists looking at standard cost-benefit models treasure only what is traded. In addition, they tend to place little value on the future thanks to high discount rates. If one chooses a high discount rate, the future doesn't have a future. Choose a low one, and it does. (Climate change modeling is extremely sensitive to the discount rate, which is why there is so much debate over it.)

It is strange that Lomborg has advocated curing poverty or addressing the lack of clean water as if either were in one to one competition with resources needed for mitigating climate change. Deal with climate or deal with poverty, he implies, as if those were the only possible tradeoffs -- a totally false dichotomy!. That is abject nonsense! Why did Lomborg or his group of elliptical cost-benefit "concensusites" not talk about trading off subsidies for sport utility vechicles in the US or subsidies to EU farmers against climate mitigation, or of trading the costs of the Iraq war against poverty alleviation, rather than against climate mitigation?. The exclusive alternatives he poses are at best naive and at worst disingenuous -- and I think the latter is, unfotunately, more likely -- and this is fully consistent with Lomborg's pattern of partial analysis.

Interestingly, less than a month after the Copenhagen Consensus, Lomborg announced that he was resigning as director of Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute and would return to his job as Associate Professor of social science at the University of Aarhus (see Olsen, 2004). Lomborg says he is an academic at heart, and now that the Environmental Assessment Institute, which sufered a stormy period before his arrival, is on the right track and there is an "increasing understanding and acceptance of the Institute's work" (as stated in an EAI press release), he feels it's time to return to research in academia. I can only hope that the EIA undergoes a true turnaround and gets on the right track in his absence, and that Lomborg's future academic endeavors are not as grossly inaccurate as his insights in The Skeptical Environmentalist.

Despite Lomborg's clearly deceptive nature, he retains many fans. One rather well-known Lomborg supporter is science fiction writer Michael Crichton. Crichton was invited to Caltech in January 2003 to give the Michelin Lecture; he accepted and presented a speech titled "Aliens Cause Global Warming". In it, Crichton criticized mainstream scientists for attacking Lomborg's publisher, Cambridge University Press, in what he calls "the new McCarthyism". He also deplores Scientific American for the article I co-authored, saying that Scientific American attacked Lomborg for eleven pages and came up with few factual errors but only gave Lomborg one and one half pages to write a rebuttal, which he contends was not enough space. He accuses Scientific American of playing "Mother Church" and prosecuting poor Lomborg in the same way that Galileo was prosecuted for his novel ideas. (I must comment that likening Lomborg to Galileo is a very generous comparison — for Lomborg, that is.)

Other subjects addressed in Crichton's speech are even more outlandish. The title, as you might have guessed, brings Crichton to a shocking analogy: just as humans wrongly believe that aliens exist, they also believe that global warming is occurring, though it, too, is a fiction. He criticizes "consensus science" as being wrong, citing as examples nuclear winter (which many mainstream scientists believed could occur in the early 1980s, though it hasn't), pellagra (a disease thought for many years to be caused by a germ but found by a non-mainstream scientist to be diet), and continental drift (which most scientists refused to accept as a theory until the 1960s, though it was first proposed in 1912), among other things. He uses these examples of scientists who broke with consensus opinion to segue into his praise of Lomborg.

John Perry, a Fellow and editor at the American Meteorological Society, prepared an analysis of Crichton's speech that repudiates many of his claims. On the issue of consensus versus non-consensus opinion, he wonders why consensus views are automatically wrong (and non-consensus views right) just because they have been on certain rare occasions in the past. (Crichton never mentions positive consensus outcomes in his speech, though there have been many.) Perry also criticizes Crichton's comparison of climate and weather, saying that it is incorrect to assume that climate is impossible to predict in the long-term just because weather is. They are two very different systems, Perry reminds us, and there are many encouraging signs that climate can be predicted. I wholeheartedly agree with Perry's review. Crichton is a gifted science fiction writer, but unfortunately, when he dips into real science like climate change, his declarations turn out — like Jurassic Park — to be fictitious. His book and movie scenario of cloning ancient ancient dinosaur DNA is the microbiological equivalent of space ships rumbling in a vacuum -- good entertainment, impossible science.  I'd as much trust Michael Crichton, a medical doctor by training, on complex systems science issues like climate change as I would one of the actor-doctors in his ER television show operating on my appendix! Crichton acted like a medieval scribe, simply repeating the litany of questionable science loudly professed by most contrarians. He should either learn what he is talking about or stick to his lucrative and creative science fiction practice. His anger at the global warming polemical move, The Day After Tomorrow, is matched by Crichton's own counter-polemical novel, (State of Fear), which might be more aptly titled The Day Before Yesterday. This recently released novel just repeats Crichton's absurdities;  unabashed, he is crying all the way to the bank, despite the outrage of so many real scientists at his polemics. (See also Sandalow, 2005 -- Michael Crichton and Global Warming., and Roberts, 2005 -- Crichton Mad)

Even in the face of strong rebuttals of contrarian work like the many mentioned above, some people, groups, and governments still adopt the contrarian stance. In fact, perhaps the most powerful "contrarian" to date is the Bush Administration. While President Bush may be most notorious (climate-wise) for his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 (see "Anger at US climate retreat"), he has proven his unwillingness to address the global warming problem in many other ways as well. In place of the Kyoto Protocol, Bush introduced an ineffective climate policy founded on voluntary (rather than mandatory) greenhouse gas emission cutbacks (see Ethan Podell's critique of the voluntary emissions scheme in his October 1, 2003, testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation as part of their hearing on The Case for Climate Action). The Bush plan called for more research to better understand the scope of the problem, rather than any abatement measures, despite the fact that strong scientific evidence is already available (see "The triumph of fringe science"). The Bush Administration has been accused (and with merit, I believe) by a number of climatologists and other scientists of its own form of "scientific dishonesty" — hand-picking scientists (mostly contrarians) and advisers to further their moral and political agendas rather than airing the scientific consensus of most government climate scientists (see Herrera, 2004 and the "Sticking your neck out: some guidelines for communication" section of Mediarology).

As for the Bush "climate policy", scientists and economists have calculated that the Administration's "target" of reducing greenhouse gas intensity by 18% by 2012 will actually cause emissions to increase by 13-15%. This is because, as stated by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE): "reducing carbon intensity is not the same as reducing carbon emissions. Intensity is a relative indicator, expressed in kilograms of carbon emissions per dollar of economic output." Yet economic growth can outweigh intensity reductions, causing total emissions to increase. ACEEE's analysis, which summarizes this “Carbon Gap”, shows that drops in intensity don't necessarily mean drops in emissions." (See also my discussion of emissions intensity in an answer to a question from Senator Kerry related to my October 2003 testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation as part of a hearing on The Case for Climate Action.)

Since then, the importance of climate to the Administration has only declined. The White House has attempted to repudiate two major reports on climate change, the National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change and the State Department's Climate Action Report 2002, through a lawsuit filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or CEI (see some responses to this lawsuit: "AGs from Maine, Conn. question lawsuit origins", "Maine, Connecticut AGs Call on Ashcroft to Investigate White House Role in Lawsuit", and related correspondence). As discussed in "Bush Covers up Climate Research", the CEI and the White House appear to have colluded on playing down the threat posed by climate change. It was discovered that Myron Ebell, one of the directors of the CEI, sent an e-mail to Phil Cooney, chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, outlining how the CEI would help the White House underplay the State Department's report that was posted on the EPA's website (discussed above) and suggesting that certain higher-ups at the EPA, including Christine Whitman, should be fired. She resigned from the EPA on May 21, 2003.

In late 2003, the CEI withdrew its lawsuit from the federal court with prejudice, meaning it cannot be re-filed. While this was ostensibly a victory for climate scientists and others supporting the National Assessment, the lawsuit was withdrawn only after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) added a caveat to the website hosting the report stressing that the report in question was not subjected to OSTP's Information Quality Act Guidelines -- failing, however, to mention that the guidelines were not even in place when the report was written! The CEI distorted the meaning of the caveat in a press release, saying that it indicated "that the Clinton White House pressured bureaucrats to rush out an incomplete and inaccurate report despite protests from government scientists" and "that the federal government has now put the public on notice that the National Assessment is propaganda, not science", The CEI report was guided by the work of people like Patrick J. Michaels. The caveat and the CEI's response incensed many scientists, and they responded that the report underwent extensive peer review and would have met the Information Quality Act Guidelines had they been in place (see a statement by the NRDC; a letter to James Mahoney, the Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, from thirty-one of the scientists who authored the National Assessment. It seems clear that the propaganda engines spin hard at the White House and the CEI, much more so than at meetings of the National Assessment team. I wonder if any of this will ever be reported by Lomborg, or Crichton, or by Fox News in their "fair and balanced' rhetoric?

The White House has also removed information about the health threats of emissions from a draft report of the EPA (see "White House cuts global warming from report"). In another EPA report, the Bush Administration attempted to insert some of Soon's and Baliunas' claims, which was followed by the EPA's deleting the entire climate change section of their report (see "Warming Study Draws Fire"). See also the Science in Policy Web site.

The Bush Administration's tendency toward gross exaggeration about climate change as official policy has continued to affect and influence the EPA. This was again made evident in June 2004, when the EPA rolled out a very deceiving Energy Star ad campaign. Given that the campaign was for Energy Star, a program the EPA created in 1992 to label energy-efficient appliances and other items (like homes and buildings), it makes sense that it would focus on energy conservation in the home -- see the EPA's press release, which includes five steps everyone can do at home to save energy. However, in TV ad spots filmed for the campaign (see the video clips or a text description), the EPA seems to be suggesting that we cannot improve the efficiency of cars and that conserving energy around the home will do more good anyway. The ads show a woman, Suzanne, who is lambasting her husband's efforts at rigging their car first with a sail, then with a contraption with satellite dishes, and finally with a helium tank, in order to improve fuel efficiency and thus save energy. She comments that "the EPA says the energy we use in our home can cause twice the greenhouse gases of a car". What she fails to bring up is that most households have multiple vehicles, not to mention that the EPA states in a report (US Emissions Inventory 2005) on its own Web site that greenhouse gases generated in the US by the transportation sector account for 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions, whereas residential use accounted for only 6%. (The tranportation line in the EPA's graph also appears to have a steeper slope than the residential line, meaning emissions from transportation are increasing more rapidly than emissions from residences.) In addition, David Friedman, a senior policy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that with a car, you can cut your fuel usage in half by driving a hybrid, but it's unlikely that you'll halve your home electricity use (see a New York Times article, "E.P.A. Energy-Saving Spots Give Cars Short Shrift"). The EPA says it did not intend to underplay the importance of reducing vehicle emissions, and only wanted to make an Energy Star-centric ad, but it is difficult to believe this stance after viewing the ad.

Another scuffle related to the Bush Administration has been over an April 2003 Sense of the Congress on Climate Change resolution authored by Representative Henry Waxman. The resolution outlined the IPCC's most recent findings and suggested that the U.S. "should demonstrate international leadership and responsibility in reducing the health, environmental, and economic risks posed by climate change", outlining several actions that it thought imperative. Paul Georgia of the Republican Policy Committee (RPC) challenged the claims of the resolution in a June 2003 briefing, "The Shaky Science Behind the Climate Change Sense of the Congress Resolution". This alarmed many climatologists and prompted additional reports supporting the original Sense of the Congress, including comments by John Holdren and similar remarks by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which have been fully endorsed by Senator John McCain. McCain, a Republican, wrote a  letter encouraging colleagues to speak out against the RPC's briefing, accompanied by an attachment detailing concerns over the RPC's allegations and a letter to McCain from Tom Wigley explaining how Wigley's work was misrepresented. This was followed by commentary rejecting the RPC's assertions by many world-class scientists. Rather than remedy the problem, the Bush Administration went on to make a conscious effort to soften its environmental vocabulary to make the issue seem less important. (See the original memo on the subject by Republican strategist Frank Luntz, in which he encouraged the Bush Administration to take advantage of the uncertainties in the climate change debate: "The scientific debate is closing but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science..." See also a New York Times article, "Republicans Aim for Softer, Greener Environmental Talk"; and a parody of Luntz, Luntzspeak.com). The White House also stood behind the EPA's decision not to require the auto or oil industries to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles (see "Vehicular Geocide - EPA Declines to Regulate Greenhouse Gases").

The debate over the April 2003 Sense of the Congress on climate change and its related rebuttals, and rebuttals of rebuttals, continues. In July 2003, Republican Senator James Inhofe of  Oklahoma, the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, made a floor speech to the Senate on "The Science of Climate Change". In it, in addition to elevating my status to "the father and promoter of the catastrophic global warming fearmongers," Inhofe states that "catastrophic global warming is a hoax", and possibly the greatest hoax "ever perpetrated on the American people"; that an additional 1.4oC of warming "doesn't really matter," and that the uncertainties associated with climate change have not been reduced from one IPCC report to another, among other things. Follow-up questions in October (2003) Senatorial testimony (see next paragraphs) on the 'Case for Climate Change Action', answered by Mann, by Wigley, and by Schneider serve as rebuttals to the Inhofe speech. Nevertheless, Inhofe went on to create a brochure based on his July 2003 speech titled "The Facts and Science of Climate Change", which contained few facts and little competent science, and he distributed it at the UNFCCC's ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) meeting in Milan, Italy, in December 2003. His actions brought to mind a favorite Mark Twain quote: "Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." An article by Chris Mooney, 2004 also debunks the Senator's views.

Representative Waxman has again spoken out against the Bush Administration's lack of scientific integrity and tendency to politicize science to the point that it is untrue. This time, it was regarding a new measure implemented by the Bush Administration that requires all government scientists to be cleared by a Bush political appointee before they can advise the World Health Organization (WHO). Officials in the Bush Administration claim that they are only trying to assure that the WHO receives advice only from the best scientists, but we agree with Waxman that "the administration is tightening their controls over the professionals and their scientists...to favor its right-wing constituents" (see "Gov't scientists need approval to help WHO").

Fortunately, courageous members of Congress like Henry Waxman, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman help to maintain our respect for some politicians. In January 2003, Senators John McCain (R - AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D - CT) co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act Amendment (S. 139), which, had it been passed, would have called for companies emitting more than 10,000 tons of carbon annually to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 (see an October 2003 statement by Lieberman on the amendment). Senators McCain and Lieberman bemoaned the poor record of the Bush Administration on the subject of climate change, noting that the Senate had not debated the issue of mandatory emissions controls since 1998. They pointed out that the amendment, fashioned after the acid rain segment of the Clean Air Act, would be relatively easy to implement, costing only $20 per household annually, not a bad price for slowing global warming! The amendment would affect electric utilities, major industrial and commercial entities, and the refining (of transportation fuels) industry, but in reality, taking measures to curb emissions could actually cause some of these companies to save money in the form of efficiency gains. In addition, the amendment would permit the industries affected to engage in emissions trading, thereby creating an effective market for greenhouse gas reduction.

Many reputable businesspersons and scientists backed the McCain-Lieberman amendment and showed their support by testifying to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation at an October 1, 2003, hearing on "The Case for Climate Action". My testimony focused on the climate science, the possibility of "dangerous" climate change, the impacts of global warming, and the policy implications of all of these, reminding those in attendance that policy decisions should be aided by scientific evidence but are ultimately value judgments that must be made by decision-makers. Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research also testified on climate science, giving more detail on temperature changes in the 20th and 21st centuries. Providing a business perspective was Christopher Walker, the Managing Director of Greenhouse Gas Risk Solutions for Swiss Re, the world's second largest reinsurer. Walker provided convincing evidence that businesses do care about climate change and want to do something about it. Swiss Re has acknowledged that "climate change is a fact" and is concerned about how climate change-driven natural disasters will affect its property and casualty, life, and health insurance lines. These concerns led it to hold various conferences on the risks and opportunities posed by greenhouse gases and to form a Greenhouse Gas Risk Solutions unit in 2001. This unit has done its part in the effort to prevent climate change by providing companies with insurance to eliminate emissions trading risk, raising the credit rating of alternative energy projects by providing them with insurance, which decreases the projects' cost of capital, financing energy efficiency projects, and developing programs for voluntary reductions of greenhouse gases, among other things. They advocate sound market-driven public policy balanced between environmental goals and social objectives. They hope that such efforts by Swiss Re, Insurance Australia Group (see Tony Coleman's paper on climate risk and how IAG is confronting it) and other insurance and reinsurance companies will help them to avoid the $150 billion per year in losses that global financial centers are expected to incur within the next ten years.

As the McCain-Lieberman bill went to vote at the end of October 2003, it appeared that there was much support for it (see "Testing the Senate's Mettle") and that it was backed by a bipartisan coalition. However, in the end, the amendment was defeated, with a vote of 43-55. While disappointed, Senators McCain and Lieberman considered the growing support for measures to slow or stop global warming encouraging, as discussed in a press release on Lieberman's website (see also “The Thrill of Defeat”). The vote also brought some surprises: Six Republicans, including senior Senator Richard Lugar (IN), voted in favor of the amendment, while ten Democrats voted against it (see voting results). Republican Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon’s take on the Climate Stewardship Act (that the bill is supposedly "more politics than science") is a very common explanation (or excuse) for voting against the bill. (See a rebuttal of Senator Smith's statement written by a group of scientists from the Pacific Northwest.) In reality, the bill is the product of politics reflecting sound science. However, 43 Senators voting for mandatory climate emissions reductions is a major step forward relative to the 95-0 Byrd-Hagel Sense of the Senate vote in July, 1997 which opposed U.S. targets at Kyoto if poor countries like China or India didn't also have targets. This myopic view disregarded the fact that rich countries dumped 80% of the greenhouse gases that have built up since 1950, use ten times more energy per capita,  and have gotten many times richer per person than the citizens of poor countries, and should therefore take the first step. So, this 43-55 vote defeat was also a victory. McCain and Lieberman hope to bring up the bill for another vote on the Senate floor and are hoping that the increasingly bipartisan effort on climate change policy will help to get it passed (see "Housewarming - Bipartisan House bill" may signal growing consensus on climate change). However, even if the bill were to pass the Senate, it would likely have more difficulties in the House of Representatives. House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA) have co-authored numerous editorials with titles like "Drilling Won't Harm Environment" and are known to be anti-environment when it comes to lawmaking.

So, despite the optimistic undertones, the McCain-Lieberman vote went to show that while they and their supporters have made clear their dismay over the Bush Administration's environmental unfriendliness clear (see, for example, Nitze, 2003; Barnett and Somerville, 2003; and Lautenberg, 2004, who states "Ignoring the accumulation of thirty years of science may serve the narrow, shortsighted interests of a few but, in the long run, it will harm us all"), the Administration's views, like those of the contrarian scientists, have attracted a loyal following in the political realm and especially in the media debate (see an Anti-'Climate-Alarmist' reply to Barnett and Somerville, long-time fossil-fuel industry funded contrarians; see also a letter to Science editor Donald Kennedy by the contrarian Fred Singer, supporting the Bush Administration, and Kennedy's response). This is what fuels the fire of "Courtroom Epistemology".

Shortly after the McCain-Lieberman vote, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) singled out thirteen government programs it considered failures and eventually hopes to shutter. Among them, unsurprisingly, were the EPA's $9 million environmental education program and the $11 million nuclear research initiative (which falls under the watch of the Department of Energy) -- see "OMB Draws a Hit List of 13 Programs It Calls Failures". It is sad to think that the White House is willing to spend billions upon billions of dollars on military adventures and defense, with no clear evidence that this has enhanced our long-term security, but it restricts much smaller amounts of money (that could have benefits measured over centuries) when it comes to the protection of the environment. In fact, in 2004, the Administration announced it was going to cut funding of social science research related to climate change (and abrupt climate change in particular) while simultaneously boosting funding on research into so-called "clean coal technology". (See "Bush budget cuts environmental spending by 7 pct").

This trend has been continued by Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives. A memo dated February 4, 2004 which came out of the communications office of the House Republican Conference (the organizational entity for all Republican members of the House of Representatives and their staff, headed at the time by Representatives Deborah Pryce, Jack Kingston, and John Doolittle) acknowledged that Democrats would likely pummel the Republicans on environmental issues as the 2004 presidential election neared. As a precaution, it provided Republicans with "talking points" on dealing with environmental topics. According to an article "GOP Split by environment strategy" produced by Gannett News Service on March 23, 2004 (and published in The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, CA), the memo states that: "'Global warming is not a fact', 'links between air quality and asthma in children remain cloudy' and that the EPA is exaggerating when it says at least 40 percent of U.S. streams, rivers, and lakes are too polluted for drinking, fishing, or swimming", and it advises Republicans to convey such claims to voters (see excerpts). While using the talking points is not mandatory for Republicans, many of the more moderate members of the party were angry nonetheless; Republican House member Mike Castle (Del.), for example, found the strategy to be overly negative and defensive as well as evasive on the health threats of pollution. Perhaps Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, now an independent (after defecting from the Republican party in 2001) summed it up best when he called the memo "outlandish" and an attempt to deceive voters. Differing views on the environment will likely further polarize relations between the Democrat and Republican parties, as well as within them.

Ironically, shortly after the Republican Conference memo was released, the Pentagon produced a report warning of the havoc that climate change could wreak on the planet as soon as the next few decades. The report, commissioned by Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall (a very senior official often fondly called Yoda -- after the Star Wars movie character) and authored by Peter Schwartz, a CIA consultant, and Doug Randall of the Global Business Network, focuses on the potential for near-term abrupt climate change. It contends that between 2010 and 2020, annual average temperatures could drop by up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit over Asia and North America and up to 6 degrees Fahrenheit in Europe (due to a collapse of Thermohaline Circulation beginning in 2010 -- see Climate Impacts for more detail on Thermohaline Circulation), while temperatures could rise by up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in places such as Australia, South America and southern Africa. Extreme weather events will become more frequent and intense, say Schwartz and Randall, and human carrying capacity will decrease, causing instability and insecurity and the possibility of war, disease and famine. This view of impending damages from climate change, while overly radical, contrasts starkly with the rhetoric coming out of the Bush Administration. Robert Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summed it up when he said: "Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going to be hard to blow off this sort of document. It's hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group; generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tends to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon." (For this and other quotes, see an Observer article, "Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us".) I am skeptical as to whether the Bush Administration will heed the Pentagon's advice, which, despite an over-the-top disaster scenario, includes several excellent steps that the US should take to prepare for climate change (from pages 2-3 of the Pentagon report) :

  • Improve predictive climate models to allow investigation of a wider range of scenarios and to anticipate how and where changes could occur.
  • Assemble comprehensive predictive models of the potential impacts of abrupt climate change to improve projections of how climate could influence food, water, and energy.
  • Create vulnerability metrics to anticipate which countries are most vulnerable to climate change and therefore, could contribute materially to an increasing disorderly and potentially violent world.
  • Identify no-regrets strategies such as enhancing capabilities for water management.
  • Rehearse adaptive responses
  • Explore local implications
  • Explore geo-engineering options that could control the climate [but see Schneider, 2001a for a cautionary note].

At the same time the Pentagon report was being hyped, the media also picked up on a film released on May 28, 2004, titled The Day After Tomorrow, a 20th Century Fox eco-armageddon movie. The Day After Tomorrow depicts horrible global-warming-induced scenarios, including tidal waves sweeping through cities, snow piling halfway up New York City's skyscrapers and pounding other cities like New Delhi, tornadoes ripping through Los Angeles, and hail the size of grapefruits devastating Tokyo (see "Hollywood disaster film set to turn heat on Bush" and "New Movie Could Make Climate A Star"). As noted before, this exaggerated global warming scenario is "balanced" by Michael Crichton's comparably ridiculous anti-environmental polemic, State of Fear.

I believe that both the contributors to the Pentagon report and the Hollywood producers of The Day After Tomorrow, though way ahead of the Bush administration in recognition of the need for serious climate policy measures, built their cases on scenarios almost no responsible scientists would endorse as more than fanciful (especially the movie). However, the potential seriousness of abrupt climate changes should not be ignored, as discussed in Climate Impacts. Rahmstorf, 1997; Calvin, 1998; and Lemley, 2002. The need for climate policy is easy to defend, even with less extreme mainstream climate change scenarios (see Climate Policy).

The Pentagon report reminded me of a 1977 book called The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age, authored by a group called The Impact Team, which was made up of reporters, writers, researchers, and "back-up" people, as they called themselves -- but no weather experts among the 18 of them. Hence, they were forced to rely on outside scientific "expertise", so they turned to two CIA reports on global cooling. At the end of 1977, I wrote a review of The Weather Conspiracy that appeared in Nature magazine titled "Against instant books", in which I commended the Impact Team for their extensive (albeit incohesive) material on climate and for their proposed measures for combating their hypothesized global cooling, but berated them for their treatment of a controversial scientific topic (whether the planet will warm or cool) as a one-sided issue. They were very firm in their assertions that global cooling would indeed occur, rather than facing the reality of the discipline: that we did not know enough to choose definitely at that stage whether we were in for warming or cooling - or when. Allegations like those of The Weather Conspiracy and the CIA reports upon which it was based, when pitted against reports such as the recent Pentagon one and movies like The Day After Tomorrow, spawn debates that just confuse policymakers and give them an excuse for "wait and see" policies. In "Against instant books", I argued that what policymakers need is: "a realistic assessment of what is and isn't known about the science of problems like climate change, along with some estimates of the vulnerability of different segments of society to a variety of plausible climatic scenarios; and also, some estimate of how long it might take the scientific community to reduce the large uncertainty that exists over the alternative projections of the future." This is not much different from the advice I often give today, some 25 years later, now that nature has "cooperated" with theory and a "discernible" impact of humans on climate has been clearly detected.

While we can forgive Hollywood for artistic license and unrealistic scenarios, the actual science, such as that found in the US National Assessment and IPCC reports, is bad enough: coin-flip odds of serious climate change should motivate any responsible official concerned with stewardship of the Earth and our children's futures to act to mitigate such a high chance of risks. The too-soon scenarios of the Pentagon and the essentially impossible scenario of the movie producers do not detract from the fact that their call for climate policy is justified by mainstream scientific scenarios that do not include near-term ice ages in New York or a total collapse of the Gulf Stream in a decade or so from now (though elements of these scenarios could become realities far into the future). Unlike the earlier CIA pieces, the Pentagon report was intelligently written, had good policy suggestions, and had the right motivation, especially in addressing uncertainty in the climate change debate and the need to confront the possibility of abrupt events:

Rather than predicting how climate change will happen, our intent is to dramatize the impact climate change could have on society if we are unprepared for it. Where we describe concrete weather conditions and implications, our aim is to further the strategic conversation rather than to accurately forecast what is likely to happen with a high degree of certainty. Even the most sophisticated models cannot predict the details of how the climate change will unfold, which region will be impacted in which ways, and how governments and society might respond. However, there appears to be general agreement in the scientific community that an extreme case...is not implausible...history tells us that sometimes the extreme cases do occur, [and] there is evidence that it might...and it is the DOD's [Department of Defense's] job to consider such scenarios (pages 7-8).

While I think there is only a minute (say, 1 in 1000 or less) chance that Europe's climate could resemble that of Siberia by 2010, this is as projected as plausible in the Pentagon report (page 11); the more realistic prospects of enhanced droughts and floods, rising sea levels, super heat waves (like those that killed some 30,000 in Europe in summer 2003), disturbed patterns of plants and animals, melting glaciers, and slowly-building changes that could potentially be irreversible over time, should be enough to motivate any person who puts the planet and our future above short-term politics often driven by campaign contributions. I do, though, appreciate the Pentagon report's advocacy of the precautionary principle and its warnings that global warming could become a serious national security issue:

Violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different type of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today. Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water rather than by conflicts over ideology, religion, or national honor. The shifting motivation for confrontation would alter which countries are most vulnerable and the existing warning signs for security threats.

In these respects, "Yoda's" strategic thinking is miles ahead that of the Bush Administration, but his cause is not helped by  essentially implausible scenarios. That the Bush Administration had the temerity to propose cutting funding for climate change research (and especially abrupt climate change research) is inexplicable in all but their own political calculus. My fear is that the usual contrarian backlash will try to paint environmental science and scientists with the same brush as the people behind these recent scare shows (to some extent, the Pentagon report, and particularly the Fox movie), and unfortunately, many won't see the difference between the scientific groups and other groups. As noted, Michael Crichton's counter-polemic to The Day After Tomorrow neither balances the situation or honestly educates the public. Dueling exaggerations via Hollywood just add to the confusion.

For this reason, many mainstream climatologists, environmental groups, and well-informed reporters have seized upon the opportunity that the Pentagon report and The Day After Tomorrow have produced to attempt to better inform the public and policymakers on climate change and the possibility of abrupt events stemming from it. Myles Allen's lighthearted review of the movie in Nature magazine suggests that people should go see the film but understand that it is seriously overblown relative to the worst scenarios most climatologists could imagine. If it pushes students to study climate or policymakers to implement more stringent GHG emissions abatement measures, then perhaps it has been successful. In fact, the overwhelming message from most scientists and movie critics alike is: Go see it, but don't consider it sound science. (For more reviews, see an interview with policy analyst Frank Muller on ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] Radio National, Amanda Leigh Haag's review in The Daily Camera (Boulder,CO), Robert Semple Jr.'s review in The New York Times, Stefan Lovgren's article in National Geographic relating to The Day After Tomorrow, containing commentary from Tom Prugh of the Worldwatch Institute.) The Union of Concerned Scientists agree, and they attempt to eliminate confusion by outlining the characteristics of abrupt climate change in their brief report, "Abrupt Climate Change: Science, Science Fiction, and Helping the Public Distinguish Between Them". Another example is The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which has created a web page titled "The Day After Tomorrow: Could it Really Happen?" to educate the public on abrupt climate change. Other groups that have put together informational pages on abrupt climate change after the release of the Pentagon report and The Day After Tomorrow include the Worldwatch Institute, weatherquestions.com, The Environmental Literacy Council, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's Ocean & Climate Change Institute, and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) -- see articles in the NRDC global warming media center. NOAA also has an excellent primer on climate change on its website. These types of tireless souls can keep the climate debate honest and prevent it from falling into the hands of environmental extremists and/or glib contrarians and ideological anti-environmentalists.

And finally, a recently released report ("Uncertainty in Analyzing Climate Change: Policy Implications"), from the Congressional Budget Office, examines the climate issues, and while stressing the uncertainties -- including a number of papers by my students and myself -- it is forthright in also showing climate change risks. This is in stark, and welcome, contrast to the incredible nonsense of Senator Inhofe of the Republican Policy Committee, mentioned earlier. Relative to the Contrarian views I've discussed above, here is a refreshingly candid and honest examination.

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Copyright 2011, Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University