Looking at: www.globalwarming.org

In my last post I looked at FOE's climate stuff and commented. I said I'd look at the "dark side" too (there are no prizes for guessing where my sympathies lie, but I'll try to be honest anyway). I struggled to find something sensible to analyse. Exxon's search engine found not a single match for "global warming" on their pages, so it looks like they've ducked out. In the end I settled for the Cooler Heads Coalition & their website, http://www.globalwarming.org/, though I'm not sure this is what I really wanted.

Top pic: two laughing children in a bush. Motto: be happy? be irrelevant? Not sure.

They don't have quite such a clear policy section as FOE, but if you go to resources you can find Global Warming In Brief - Q&A so I'll look at that. Its dated November 2000 (though the copyright notice is 2004), but presumably they still consider it up to date. In fact, leaving it un-updated from 2000 may be a deliberate ploy: there is a lot of good research since then, most of it going "against" them and what they write. If challenged, they can perhaps just say "oops we forgot to update it". I'm going to measure it against current science.

So we have: under the header (theirs in italics, mine in std):

Is global warming occurring?

According to Accu-Weather, the world’s leading commercial forecaster, "Global air temperatures as measured by land-based weather stations show an increase of about 0.45 degrees Celsius over the past century. This may be no more than normal climatic variation...[and] several biases in the data may be responsible for some of this increase.". This is a bit weird, why ask accu-weather? They don't do climate monitoring. The true answer is about 0.6 oC, and studies show that its probably not all natural, and that biases (if they mean urban heat island) are small.

Satellite data indicate a slight cooling in the climate in the last 18 years. These satellites use advanced technology and are not subject to the "heat island" effect around major cities that alters ground-based thermometers.. This was written in 2000. The satellite record starts in 1979. 1979+18 is not equal to 2000. They have missed some years out... why? For the std septic reason: the satellite record (S+C version) shows cooling if you take the trends up to about 1996-7. If you take the trends past then, it shows warming. If you take the record to end 2000, the warming is 0.047 oC/decade. So, they are lying. The UHI stuff, as noted before, is spurious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_heat_island for more

Projections of future climate changes are uncertain. Although some computer models predict warming in the next century... well no, *all* the models predict warming these models are very limited. The effects of cloud formations, precipitation, the role of the oceans, or the sun, are still not well known and often inadequately represented in the climate models --- although all play a major role in determining our climate. There are uncertainties, true. The models are as likely to underestimate change as overestimate it. And... when did you notice them make the same caveats about economic models? Scientists who work on these models are quick to point out that they are far from perfect representations of reality, and are probably not advanced enough for direct use in policy implementation. Dubious. Interestingly, as the computer climate models have become more sophisticated in recent years, the predicted increase in temperature has been lowered. Very dubious indeed. The 1.5-4.5 oC range for doubled CO2 didn't change much up to the SAR; by the TAR it had increased somewhat.

Are humans causing the climate to change?

98% of total global greenhouse gas emissions are natural (mostly water vapor); only 2% are from man-made sources. This is standard septic nonsense. See water-vapour-is-not-dominant.

By most accounts, man-made emissions have had no more than a minuscule impact on the climate. Although the climate has warmed slightly in the last 100 years, 70% percent of that warming occurred prior to 1940, before the upsurge in greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes. (Dr. Robert C. Balling, Arizona State University). I don't think thats true: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figspm-1.htm. But more than that, they are ignoring the vast bulk of attribution analysis which say things like "Statistical assessments confirm that natural variability (the combination of internal and naturally forced) is unlikely to explain the warming in the latter half of the 20th century".

A Gallup survey indicated that only 17% of the members of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Society thought the warming of the 20th century was the result of an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. I guess this may be true, but unsourced and with no way to tell what the actual question was, I wouldn't trust it.

If global warming occurs, will it be harmful?

The idea that global warming would melt the ice caps and flood coastal cities seems to be mere science fiction. A slight increase in temperature -- whether natural or mankind induced -- is not likely to lead to a massive melting of the earth ice caps, as sometimes claimed in the media. Also, sea-level rises over the centuries relate more to warmer and thus expanding oceans, not to melting ice caps. The idea that GW would melt ice caps is entirely reasonable. It won't happen in a hurry - centuries for Greenland - though. It does correctly point out that much of the warming is predicted to come from thermal expansion... but so what? Are we suppose to say "this flood is OK because its from thermal expansion not ice caps"? Weird. Recent research (it is fair that they didn't take this into account) does suggest that we are not far (decades perhaps) from irreversibly setting Greenland on a course to melt. It still wouldn't be quick, but it would commit us to 5m rise in 200-500 years.

Contrary to some groups' fear mongering about the threat of diseases, temperature changes are likely to have little effect on the spread of diseases. Experts say that deterioration in public health practices such as rapid urbanization without adequate infrastructure, forced large scale resettlement of people, increased drug resistance, higher mobility through air travel, and lack of insect-control programs have the greatest impact on the spread of vector-borne diseases. As far as I can tell, they are right about that, though this isn't my area.

Larger quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere and warmer climates would likely lead to an increase in vegetation. During warm periods in history vegetation flourished, at one point allowing the Vikings to farm in now frozen Greenland. Could be, and to be fair there certainly will be some winners from GW as well as some losers. But theres a lot of stuff they are omitting here - ecosystem responses to T change tends to get predicted as -ve not +ve in general.

Overall: poor. On the science: is GW occurring, and are we to blame, their stuff is a woeful summary of current state-of-play. On will-it-be-harmful (which should be their strong suit) they do better.

[Oops: it looks like I stopped after 3 headers and omitted the policy bits. Well, I'm sick of them for now, tomorrow maybe... :-)]


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

hi, thanks for letting me post in your blog... i don't really like globalwarming.org i'd be weary of them... it seems kinda like it might be propaganda. i'm not just saying this because i don't agree with it, i just, i dunno, i get the same feeling browsing their sight that i got when i was conn'd into buying a fake spyware program that ruined my computer. seriously im not kidding. i don't know what it is. anyway.

Joach said...

Thank you Stoat for posting this! Although it's more than three years since you wrote this I think it's really good that someone like you critiques globalwarming.org. I find it scary that if one googles "global warming" their site is 2nd from the top (Wikipedia is 1st)! A lot people who doesn't have the sort of depth of knowledge of climate change like you have, people who just want to get a general idea of what global warming is all a about, can be very deceived by the misrepresented information on globalwarming.org. Very few people go to the source of scientific research to see what the real truth about global warming really is. It's no wonder there are so many people out there who think that global warming is a hoax!
Anyway, I doing my little bits to fight global warming like using public transportation and changing to low-energy light bulbs. I also wrote this song about global warming. Hope you enjoy it! It's my hope is that people conscious of environmental issues will come to know this song and find inspiration from it.

Unknown said...

Belette quoted much info from the globalwarming.org website, including a very nasty little piece of confirmed propaganda stating:

"A Gallup survey indicated that only 17% of the members of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Society thought the warming of the 20th century was the result of an increase in greenhouse gas emissions."

Belette rightly comments this factoid looks untrustworthy. But I have interesting background on this little piece of propaganda.

Years ago, someone forwarded this same blurb (about the 17% Gallop poll number), and I researched it out to find the source of the information.

First of all, there's not even such a thing as the "American Geophysical Society," which is the first tip-off the data is dubious. It's actually called the "American Geophysical UNION."

The second tip-off is, as belette points out, that there's no year given when the poll was done, and no link or reference to any supporting evidence.

It was quite hard to track down the truth about the Gallop poll, because those who orchestrated this rumor saw to it that the facts would always get scrambled up a bit to make it very hard to do any fact-checking. For example, they would sometimes quote the poll being from 1990, and sometimes say it was from 1992 (the real poll was in 1991). The quotes don't even always say 17%, but will sometimes say it was 19% and 20% of scientists (the real number was 66%!) And, as we've seen, they screw up the names of the organizations -- all to make it harder to Google your way to the truth. If they throw out the wrong year here and a slightly wrong percentage number there, and say "Society" instead of "Union," it makes it much harder to search out the actual Gallop poll, thus harder to catch their LIE. It's very deliberately used to keep people confused and misinformed. Very calculated.

So it seems clear to me that globalwarming.org is NOT to be trusted. These are NOT people you should be trusting, no matter WHAT they tell you.

Of course, lots of people are innocently quoting the bogus poll data, believing it's true -- and being totally taken advantage of.

The 17% number has been floating around for almost two decades now, seemingly gaining credibility simply by virtue of being repeated so many times, by folks like Limbaugh and Easterbrook. But it all dates back to a totally baldfaced lie made by George Will in his 9/3/1992 column.

In that column, he refers to an actual Gallop poll, and writes that the poll showed only 17% of climate scientists thinking humans are causing global warming. BUT THE ACTUAL FINDING WAS NOT 17% OF THEM BELIEVING THAT. IT WAS 66%!! Unless you can convince me that George Will is THAT stupid or absent-minded to honestly mistake 66% for 17%, then this was a DELIBERATE LIE.

And now, George Will was just recently (as of Feb.'09) caught again creating a bogus climate factoid when he wrote that some major University has concluded the polar ice caps are just as big as they were in 1979 -- another totally made-up lie. This guy needs to be kicked off the airwaves and stripped of his column.

But the fact that the 17% poll quote is still even CIRCULATING after all these years is a wonder of modern propaganda! It also really makes one wonder how confident the climate change deniers are with whatever ACTUAL facts they might have on their side that they would have to resort to FAKE poll results from ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO.

The plain fact is that both the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union (the climate science organizations whose membership Gallop polled in 1991) have official statements on climate change, statements that their members have endorsed and that you can easily find on their websites, that clearly state that they, the expert climate scientists, believe that human-induced global climate change is real, and that if we don't change our energy habits very quickly, the future will likely be very very unpleasant. THE SCIENTISTS ARE ON RECORD. THEY ARE ON AL GORE'S SIDE. LET'S JUST ACCEPT THE FACTS AND GET BUSY DEALING WITH OUR RIDICULOUS PETROLEUM ADDICTION ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Of course, if you don't believe any of what I've said here, feel free to track it all down yourself. But below are some source materials to help you confirm what I've said.

* AMS CLIMATE STATEMENT: http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2007climatechange.html
--USA TODAY article (1/6/99): "Global warming debate generates much heat" http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/wclis28c.htm
--Page 4 of http://www.edf.org/documents/2246_AMomentofTruth_PartOne.pdf
-- http://www.bestofmaui.com/rush.html
-- The original Gallop poll may be hard to get hold of, but here's how I've seen it cited:
The Gallup Organization, A Gallup Study of Scientists' Opinions and Understanding of Global Climate Change, November 1991, pp. 5, 8. Available from the Center for Science, Technology and Media, 6900 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 700, Chevy Chase, MD 20815