Why can’t scientists agree on Global Warming?

I couldn’t get to this meeting, but Ross Muir went along and sends us this report. – Richard

the real consensus - cartoon by Jo Nova

Last Thursday night the University of Auckland hosted an evening titled “Global Warming: Why can’t scientists agree?”

As both the title and the list of speakers made obvious, it was very pro-AGW, however I went along to see if there were any dissenters in the large audience and what sort of response they would get.

The speakers were: Prof Glenn McGregor (Director, School of Environment), Prof Roger Davies (Chair in Climate Physics, Physics Dept), Dr Jim Salinger (Hon Research Associate, School of Environment), Dr Anthony Fowler (Snr Lecturer, School of Environment) and Dr Mary Sewell (Snr Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences).

Handouts were made available on the way in. One by Prof Kurt Lambeck, the President of the Australian Academy of Science, on “The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers” and another large one, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change”, co-authored by Anderegg, Prall, Harold and Schneider (American and Canadian Universities). The latter contained graphs comparing the numbers of scientists/researchers and publications between the believer and non-believer camps. The graphs were so vastly different that I seriously doubt their veracity.

Glenn McGregor relied heavily on 1800s data and science plus NOAA, NASA and UEA data – nearly all of which is subject to considerable doubt, but according to him is absolute Gospel – even the East Anglia results that have been maligned by the ‘deniers’. Solar effects are so small that they can be totally ignored – he had graphs to prove it …

All his graphs (with suitably calibrated axes) showed exactly the same ‘hockey stick’ swoop up at the end (all the speakers used the hockey stick and most of them named it). On one he had the IPCC upwards projection limits. His graph of the “actual” present conditions sat at the extreme upper edge of the worst case IPCC scenario. The IPCC, of course, is the only source of international government guaranteed actualities, backed by ALL the reputable scientists – the deniers are unqualified non-scientific people who have no data of any standing to back up their claims.

He mainly used graphs of the last 150 years to show the warming, CO2, etc., etc., since they did not indicate the earlier warm periods. Interesting that the time scale on the horizontal axis changed in a strange manner, and that the last two divisions on the graph were marked for the future two centuries, but his spoken words from his notes indicated that they were the future two decades!

Roger Davies used an exponential timeline on his graphs covering a fair distance back (millions of years), again showing the sharp increase at this end (single year intervals). He admitted that it was warmer 5,000 years ago and admitted that CO2 was higher in the glacial period – BUT – this was a dilemma and a mystery – nothing to do with the ‘proven’ science that links the two to AGW… He assumed that there were no other changes at all that could have had any influence and that the effect of the sun could be totally ignored. He also said that there was a dilemma re the water vapour and clouds and the tie-up with the melting of the arctic ice (clouds). He also used the hockey stick graph.

Jim Salinger said that he would talk actual observations and facts. He started with the hockey stick, which was proven by real proven data from NOAA, NASA, UEA and NIWA. He knows what he is talking about, since he got his doctorate from this data, and doctorates are subject to the tightest scrutiny, etc., etc. The maligned adjustments (which he would defend successfully against the unbelievers in court) were only carried out on land (1/3 earth’s surface) and not on sea temperatures, which the 1890 – 2010 graphs showed were the highest on record.

Also stated that the urban heat island effect could be ignored for his set of measurements – movement of stations and urbanization did not affect his results. The 7SS was shown to indicate warming. The Wellington results were used to show how/why he had made adjustments. The 11SS was combined onto one graph again to show disaster looming. Spoke of the huge decrease in Arctic sea ice from 1978 to 2010. The Glacier Mass Balance from 1980 to 2010 was ‘way down’ purely due to heat alone. Showed a photo of the Tasman Glacier indicating -16% in the last 30 years. Glacier level down 30m. Spoke of the sea level rise 1899 – 2005. Auckland Port 180 – 200 mm up. Global sea level 1990 – 2010 a 6 cm rise (by satellite) due to warming of water and glacier melt.

Anthony Fowler started with the hockey stick – validated by the IPCC, etc., etc. Stated that the LIA and MWP indicated that it was not AGW – hockey stick again. Said that models tell us nothing about ENSO in the future. Talked about tree rings vs El Nino and La Nina and temperatures. Did not contribute much, except to indicate that the temp was going up sharply and we were responsible to do something about it.

Mary Sewell made the first sensible statement. She promised to be brief so that we could go to the bar and refill our wine glasses before question time. Her theme was the sea. Warmer, less oxygen, animal deaths, effect on whole food chain ignoring the effects of pollution. Stated that the sea level rise (200 mm in 50 years) due to warming and melting of ice would cause the shut-down of thermohaline circulation (Gulf Stream, etc.) which will lead to Europe freezing and becoming uninhabitable. Hockey stick produced again to show how imminent this was. CO2 more soluble in cold rather than hot water, thus more acidic oceans. Doom and gloom.

Question time

Question whether debris washed down in rivers could help offset melting ice effect on sea levels. Answered by Jim Salinger. Interesting that he believes that one tenth of the berg is above water, not one ninth. Interesting also that he still uses Centigrade, even though that was knocked on the head a loooong time ago – only Celsius now. Only the British used Centigrade to spite the French over an argument over who thought of the scale first.

Question re Russian heat wave. Extremes of climate are to be expected and fit with the theory of AGW.

Question re skeptics. Answered by Jim. Called them denialists. Their arguments have shifting goal posts. They call the real scientists liars and chasers of funds, yet Jim and company seek only the truth. Reiterated that his 1981 thesis was genuine, etc. The denialists’ arguments continually change – give up on one when shown they are wrong and start another. The IPCC must be right considering the huge official backing and tremendously accurate sources they have.

Question on solar effects. Anthony Fowler was definite that the sun’s effects are negligible.

Question on Urban Heat Island effect on long-term measurements. Whole panel chipped in on this. No effect at all. Most measurements are taken outside urban areas and suitable adjustments are made. Jim stated that 17% of measurements are outside the effects of urban areas. Oops – what about the 83% that are not? Nobody picked up on this. I was out of the sight range of the chair of the meeting, so my raised hand was not seen at all during the evening.

Final conclusion by whole panel – ETS is the right thing to do. It may be a tax, but we must go along with it to try to correct the situation. Just how it would fix it? Nobody was at all specific about this. Power generation must go the renewable way – the accent would be on solar and any other “new” methods.

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4 Thoughts on “Why can’t scientists agree on Global Warming?

  1. Flipper on 24/08/2010 at 6:06 pm said:

    Are all those people paid by the taxpayer or by taxpayer funded sources?

    I doubt Mr Salinger, for one, will be quite so confident in the High Court when facing an expertly briefed QC.

    The High Court case will be important because it will unquestionably influence the membership and terms of reference of the ETS 2011 Review Group. That aspect MUST NOT be over-looked.

  2. Mike Jowsey on 25/08/2010 at 9:28 pm said:

    Judging by your well-written review of the meeting, Mr. Muir, it doesn’t sound like they addressed the topic at all. I mean, I thought “the science was settled”. You mean to say there is disagreement?

    Sounds like they just threw hackneyed, disproven (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/17/breaking-new-paper-makes-a-hockey-sticky-wicket-of-mann-et-al-99/) hockey sticks all over the place in order to rhetorically say “Why can’t scientists agree on Global Warming?”

    Or am I wrong and they actually did address the topic? Would be interested in their answer. No, wait – I can’t be bothered in their politically driven ecospeak.

  3. Richard C on 26/08/2010 at 7:59 pm said:

    Re: Prof Kurt Lambeck, the President of the Australian Academy of Science, on “The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers”

    Joanne Nova has a post in response to this and will do an extensive follow-up soon.


    The AAS handout is a desperate attempt to perpetuate the “consensus” but it highlights the deficiencies of the IPCC case more than anything (except for the unwitting) e.g:-

    * The IPCC’s grossly inflated Climate Sensitivity (CS) estimates in response to CO2 levels.

    * The bizarre omission of natural cloud cover from the IPCC Global Climate Models (GCM’s).

    * The un-physical nature of radiative forcing methodology in climate simulation.

    * The IPCC’s assignment of a positive cloud feedback in the GCM’s when the introduction of a natural cloud cover parameter would result in a negative feedback. There is an interesting development here see:


    * The IPCC’s warming scenario is hanging by an unraveling thread.

    The good news is that Kurt concedes that scientists are still arguing about the complex Earth systems feedback mechanisms, such as the possible cooling effect of clouds – this will be very tricky for ar5 to deal with but I’m sure they will manage to make go away.

    See also We Have Been Conned – An independent review of the IPCC


    • Richard C on 29/08/2010 at 11:42 am said:

      Here’s the game-changer that the IPCC will have to address.

      On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence
      of unknown radiative forcing
      Roy W. Spencer1 and William D. Braswell1
      Received 12 October 2009; revised 29 March 2010; accepted 12 April 2010; published 24 August 2010.


      Spencer: “this paper puts meat on the central claim of my most recent book: that climate researchers have mixed up cause and effect when observing cloud and temperature changes. As a result, the climate system has given the illusion of positive cloud feedback.”

      How will Kurt Lambeck bat this one away? Into the sight-screen? Hook it out of the park? Or will he be caught at slips by Nova, making a rash shot? (mental images of Lambeck flailing wildly)

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