Friday, November 24, 2006

In Defense of Spiderman

By Glenn Sacks

The mayor of London compares him to Osama bin Laden. He's been dubbed a "menace" holding a city for "ransom," as well as a lunatic and an extremist. What has 36 year-old David Chick done to arouse such anger? He loves his little daughter, from whom he's been forcibly separated, and he had the courage to do something about it.

The now world famous Englishman recently ended his traffic stopping, six day, one man protest atop a 150 foot high crane near the Tower Bridge in London. Dressed as Spiderman because he is his two year-old daughter's favorite comic book character, Chick says his daughter's mother has not allowed him to see his girl for eight months and has tried to alienate her from him. Interviewed by English newspapers, the ex-girlfriend admits blocking the standard yet paltry twice a month visitation which English courts have granted Chick. To date, she has declined to offer a reason publicly.

Chick is one of hundreds of thousands of English fathers who have been cut off from their children after divorce or separation. Their voices have crystallized into a widely popular campaign by the activist group Fathers 4 Justice. This campaign seeks to reform the family law system to allow divorced and unwed fathers to play a meaningful role in their children's lives.

The English Lord Chancellor's Department admits that mothers win custody in about four-fifths of all cases in English and Welsh courts, and English courts are notorious for their failure to enforce fathers' visitation rights. According to Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips, "some senior judges recently acknowledged that with so many contact [visitation] orders being flouted by mothers, the law is being brought into disrepute."

When one judge recently did transfer care of a child from the child's alienating mother to the father, it was such an event that it merited inclusion in Phillips' column. In reality, these types of transfers should be more common, and would no doubt have a salutary effect on the behavior of parents who try to prevent their children from seeing their exes.

Chick's plight will sound familiar to many American fathers. According to the Children's Rights Council, a Washington-based advocacy group, more than five million American children each year have their access to their noncustodial parents interfered with or blocked by custodial parents. And while politicians and the media hammer away at absent fathers on both sides of the Atlantic, they too often fail to examine the critical role that family courts and vengeful exes play in creating the problem.

To the minimal extent that defenders of the current system have been forced to justify mothers' actions, they claim--as the mayor of London now does--that these men often should not have access to their children.

This is no doubt true on occasion, but is inaccurate in most cases of access and visitation denial. Those opposing fathers' rights claim they are defending women and children from abusive fathers. However, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the vast majority of child abuse, parental murder of children, child neglect, and child endangerment are committed by mothers, not fathers. In addition, decades of research, including that carried out by the National Institute of Mental Health, show that women are just as likely to be violent towards their spouses as men are.

According to Carol Plummer, Chick's sister, "David would never harm his daughter or Jo [the ex-girlfriend]. He doesn't want custody of his daughter, he just wants to see her. But Jo is making him suffer by depriving him of seeing his daughter, who is his life."

Though one can sense a smear campaign against Chick on the horizon, two weeks of digging for dirt on him have turned up little. He was convicted of cannabis possession three years ago and of public indecency (for consensual sexual activity) while a teenager. According to Chick's brother Steven Reed, in the cannabis conviction David took the rap for his ex-girlfriend.

Chick says: "[My daughter] is the most precious thing in my world. I was there for the scans when she was still in the womb, I was there for her birth. I fed her, bathed her, got up in the night with her, cuddled her when she cried. "Now I'm just another statistic--another dad who has no part in his daughter's life. For me, it is a living bereavement."

Today fathers in England, America and most of the Western world stand upon a foundation of sand, knowing that our loved ones can be ripped away from us and there is often little we can do about it. We invest our lives in the children we love and tell them that we will always be there for them. But in the back of our minds we can't help but think of a question which Spiderman no doubt considered before he began his ascent up that crane hanging over Tower Bridge: will we be allowed to?


Britain: The ‘school meals revolution’: a dog’s dinner

Scare stories about kids eating 'shit' have created a crisis in school dinners. What a shock!

‘It is about one decent man’s heroic battle against an uncaring, bureaucratic system; about the exploitation of dinner ladies and everybody else who has to struggle away on the front line in a country which no longer values leadership, principles and standards; about the corruption of childhood; and the loss of virtue.’ So said a columnist in the Daily Telegraph after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched his Channel 4 TV campaign – nay, crusade – to rescue British school meals from multinationals, and children from their own bad eating habits and feckless parents. What has been the upshot of Oliver’s ‘heroic battle’? Increased bureaucratic monitoring of parents; fewer children eating school meals; even greater exploitation of dinner ladies; and local authorities struggling to pay for all this new found ‘virtue’.

New rules on meals, including restrictions on vending machines, came into force in September. This week, the BBC reported on the results of a survey conducted in 59 local authorities to find out how they had fared. In 35 of them, fewer children were eating school meals – that is, they are no longer having a hot dinner during the day. Of these, 71 per cent felt that Oliver’s campaign was one of the reasons. As it happens, Oliver is far from being solely responsible. But he has been the most high-profile promoter of an obsession with freshly prepared food, locally-sourced, at the expense of ‘junk’ containing salt, sugar and fat. If he’s happy to accept the plaudits, he should also take a few brickbats.

The fresh-food obsession has been cut-and-pasted into a school meals service that doesn’t do that kind of thing, and which has been in steady decline. With staff not accustomed to actually doing much cooking, instead just heating pre-packed food, the jump to food preparation has been mainly at their expense. Across the country, dinner ladies have been working late and starting early to get everything done – usually without extra pay. This is hardly a surprise. In the original series, Jamie’s School Dinners, his sidekick and long-suffering school cook Nora Sands seemed to have her life taken over by the demands of making and promoting Jamie’s food.

In May this year, spiked‘s Brendan O’Neill interviewed Cathy Stewart, a dinner lady in Hackney in London and a union rep, for the New Statesman. ‘Overnight, we were expected to start seasoning meat and peeling hundreds of carrots - but that takes time and we’re not being paid for it’, said Stewart. ‘They want dinner ladies to become professional chefs. But they won’t give us the resources we need. We have outdated equipment and we don’t have enough staff.’ (2) Stewart was balloting members about industrial action.

When the food is finally ready, many children are turning their noses up at it. It’s not just that the food is unfamiliar – it’s also not actually allowed to taste of anything. In post-Jamie’s School Dinners Britain, salt is treated like nerve poison rather than an essential element of flavour, and is banned from canteen tables. When given a choice, kids have tended to choose the ‘junk’ and vote with their feet against the new options. School caterers in Denbighshire in North Wales found that 40 per cent fewer children ate meals on ‘healthy’ food days (3).

If the kids don’t like the food, they will struggle to find alternative sustenance like crisps and chocolate bars in school. The ban on ‘tuck’, along with the extra costs of ingredients, has been a double whammy for school food budgets. As the follow-up Channel 4 programme, Jamie’s Return to School Dinners, showed at Kidbrooke School, this didn’t stop children from eating sweets and savoury snacks. It simply meant that they bought them on the way to school instead – enriching local shopkeepers and depriving the school of important revenue; a sum that ran well into five figures in Kidbrooke’s case.

In other schools, it is reported that children have set up their own ‘black markets’ in junk food, selling sweets to each other behind the bike sheds or in the toilets, as if they were dealing in deadly substances. This might show that children are as wily as ever when it comes to breaking the rules; it also suggests they are developing a pretty screwed-up attitude to the joys of food in general (see The junk food smugglers).

If the sums are getting uncomfortable at Kidbrooke, they’re downright serious in Denbighshire. A report has warned councillors in the county that the school meals service is ‘no longer financially viable’ after servings were down by 100,000. The service lost £81,000 in the last year – a major blow for a relatively small local authority. Part of the problem was the decision to go for locally-sourced meat – a nice subsidy to farmers which looks like a luxury now that sales are down.

What started out as a crusade has become mired not only in the hubris of Oliver’s fantasy of a ‘school meals revolution’ (replacing chips with ciabatta does not qualify as a revolution) but also in the dumping of every other modern food prejudice into the mix. For one thing, we’ve been forced to listen to Oliver’s tirades against parents and packed lunches (see Jamie Oliver: what a ‘tosser’ and Are packed lunches the ‘biggest evil’? by Rob Lyons). This tirade became a chorus of indignation from all right-thinking newspaper hacks when two mothers started supplying takeaway food to kids at a Rotherham school. The fact that the children were struggling to be fed in the ludicrously short lunchbreak, and didn’t much like the food when they did manage to get it, was simply ignored. Parents getting involved with schools is usually regarded as a wholesome example of community spirit - except when it’s off-message like this.

We also now have the prospect of ‘fat charts’ in schools, where children will be weighed by school staff to see if they are the ‘right weight’ for their age, height and gender (4). Such a measure will effectively institutionalise that age-old trend of bullying the fat kid of the class, where children who fall short of state-imposed waist measurements will be made to feel like outcasts not only by their peers but also by the school system itself. And these fat charts are also yet another example of the undermining of parents’ authority: the clear message is that mums and dads can’t be trusted to keep their children in shape, so the authorities will have to do it.

A significant chunk of the extra millions spent on school meals has actually gone to create the School Food Trust, a quango designed to promote healthy eating (5). Did we really need another body to tell us that kids are getting too fat, or remind us of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins: food facts that every parent should know’? And vilifying the catering giants like Sodexho might provide a thrill for those who hate big corporations, but having handed a swathe of school meals over to them, it might have been easier to take a more constructive approach to working with them.

Jamie Oliver, and the government ministers and journalists who fell at his feet, told us that schools are feeding our children ‘shit’, and today’s children will be the first generation to die before their parents. None of this was based in fact, but unsurprisingly such kneejerk scaremongering has had a negative rather than a positive impact. After Jamie has ridden off on his scooter into the sunset, the school meals service may actually settle down and recover - but only if staff and parents work very hard to fix it while quietly dropping or subverting many of his more nonsensical ideas, and while kicking against that new layer of school-meals bureaucracy that is at least as obsessed with lecturing mums, dads and their children as it is with replacing butter with olive oil.


Godless Dawkins challenges British schools

RICHARD DAWKINS, the Oxford University professor and campaigning atheist, is planning to take his fight against God into the classroom by flooding schools with anti-religious literature. He is setting up a charity that will subsidise books, pamphlets and DVDs attacking the "educational scandal" of theories such as creationism while promoting rational and scientific thought. The foundation will also attempt to divert donations from the hands of "missionaries" and church-based charities.

His plans are sparking criticism from academics, religious leaders and fellow scientists. The Church of England described them as "disturbing", while others complained that Dawkins's foundation bore the "whiff of a campaigning organisation" rather than a charity.

John Hall, dean of Westminster and the Church of England's chief education officer, said: "I would be very disturbed if this project was going to be widely supported because it's not based on reasoned argument."

Dawkins, Oxford's professor of the public understanding of science, is the author of various bestsellers extolling evolution, such as The Selfish Gene. His latest book, The God Delusion, is a sustained polemic against religious faith. He established his foundation in both Britain and America earlier this year and is now applying for charitable status. It was founded in response to what he calls the "organised ignorance" that is promoting creationism, the belief that the Old Testament account of the origins of man is true. Another challenge comes in the form of "intelligent design", the suggestion that life is the result of a guiding force rather than pure evolutionary natural selection.

"The enlightenment is under threat," Dawkins said. "So is reason. So is truth. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organised ignorance. We even have to go out on the attack ourselves, for the sake of reason and sanity."

Creationism is less widespread in Britain than in the US, but there is a growing movement lobbying to have it introduced as part of the national curriculum. The Emmanuel Schools Foundation, sponsored by Sir Peter Vardy, the Christian car dealer, has been criticised for featuring creationist theories in lessons in the three comprehensives it runs. A spokesman for the foundation denied the claims. However, Steve Layfield, head of science at Emmanuel College in Gateshead, is a director of Truth in Science, a Christian group campaigning to have "intelligent design" in science lessons. Truth in Science has sent DVDs and educational materials to thousands of secondary schools to encourage them to debate intelligent design. Andy McIntosh, director at the organisation and professor of thermodynamics at Leeds University, said: "We are not flat-earthers. We're just trying to encourage good scientific discussion."

Dawkins, however, describes the theory as a "bronze-age myth" and plans to send his own material to schools to counter the "subversion of science". He also plans to campaign against children being labelled with the religion of their parents. "It is immoral to brand children with religion," he said. "This is a Catholic child. That is a Muslim child. I want everyone to flinch when they hear such a phrase, just as they would if they heard that is a Marxist child."

But Hall said: "The European convention on human rights is clear that parents have the right to bring up children within the faith they hold."

Dawkins is also critical of donating money to religion-based charities, warning that pledges for disaster victims should not end up in the hands of "missionaries". His foundation will maintain a database of charities free of "church contamination".

Christian Aid, however, believes Dawkins is "tarring a lot of excellent charities with the same brush". Dominic Nutt, a spokesman, said: "Many charities give aid only on the basis of need."

Dawkins's approach has also offended fellow scientists. Steven Rose, emeritus professor of biology at the Open University, said: "I worry that Richard's view about belief is too simplistic, and so hostile that as a committed secularist myself I am uneasy about it. We need to recognise that our own science also depends on certain assumptions about the way the world is - assumptions that he and I of course share."



The original moonbat is a scientific ignoramus

It's a shame that George Monbiot didn't check his facts with me before using his column to describe my two recent Sunday Telegraph articles on climate change as "nonsense from start to finish" (This is a dazzling debunking of climate change science. It is also wildly wrong, November 14). He implies that a classically trained peer ought not to express scientific opinions. It's still a free country, George. And at least I got the science right.

George says my physics is "bafflingly bad" and contains "downright misrepresentation and pseudo-scientific gibberish". Yet he himself nonsensically refers to "lambda" as a "constant" in the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative-transfer equation. Lambda is not a constant, and it's not a term in the equation.

He wrongly states that the equation only describes "black bodies" that absorb all radiant energy reaching them. No qualified physicist would make such a schoolboy howler. Of course the equation isn't limited to black bodies. Its emissivity variable runs from zero for white bodies to 1 for black bodies. The Earth/troposphere system is a rather badly-behaved grey body with emissivity about 0.6.

He lifted these errors verbatim from a blog run by two authors of a now-discredited UN graph that tried to abolish the medieval warm period. I'd exposed the graph in my articles. Check your sources, George.

He says I was wrong to reinstate the medieval warm period cited by the UN in 1990 but abolished by it in 2001. A growing body of scientific papers, some of which I cited, shows that the warm period was real, global and up to 3C warmer than now. Check them out, George.

He says I shouldn't have said the Viking presence in the middle ages shows Greenland was warmer than now. The Viking farmsteads in Greenland are now under permafrost, and you can't farm permafrost.

He says I was wrong to say James Hansen told Congress in 1988 that world temperature would rise 0.3C by 2000. Hansen projected 0.25 and 0.45C, averaging 0.35C. Outturn was 0.05C. I fairly said 0.3C and 0.1C. He says my source was a work of fiction by Michael Crichton. It wasn't: it was Hansen's graph.

He says I overlooked the difference between the immediate and delayed temperature response to changing conditions. In fact I expressly addressed it, citing evidence on both sides of the theory that the delayed air-temperature response arises from warming of the oceans.

He says I said the warming effects of carbon dioxide had been "made up". I didn't. I said all were agreed that there was more CO2 around and that we could expect some warming. But there is no consensus on how much.

He says I claimed to know better than the UN's scientists. I'm arrogant, George, but not that arrogant: I said the contrarians were probably a lot closer to the truth than the UN.

Too many facts wrong. Too much argument ad hominem instead of ad rem. Too much ignorance of the elementary physics of radiative transfer and equilibrium temperature. Still, gie the puir numpty a cigar - at least he spelled my name right.


Gore gored

Below are some excerpts from Viscount Monckton's detailed reply to Al Gore. Gore's words are in italics. The full doc is obtainable from the author on: Prof. Brignell also has some derisory comments on Gore's defence.

To begin with, there is a reason why new scientific research is peer-reviewed and then published in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Geophysical Research Letters, rather than the broadsheets.˜ The process is designed to ensure that trained scientists review the framing of the questions that are asked, the research and methodologies used to pursue the answers offered, and even, in some cases, to monitor the funding of the laboratories - all in order to ensure that errors and biases are detected and corrected before reaching the public.

There were some 90 references to learned papers in the scientific journals in the document supporting my article on the science of climate change that was posted on the Telegraph's website. This commentary, too, is supported by a substantial list of some 60 references to learned papers in journals including the three mentioned by Gore. The many journal references (hundreds more could have been cited) demonstrate that there is no scientific consensus that the effect of increased greenhouse-gas concentrations on the climate will be as serious as the UN's reports suggest. But I shall also take some references from the UN's assessment reports, with apologies that they are more political and less scientific than the papers in the journals. The Summaries for Policymakers at the head of each of the UN's reports are written not by scientists at all but by the political representatives of governments. There is repeated evidence of substantial and significant departures from the science in these political Summaries. In every instance, the discrepancies move in the direction of overstating and exaggerating the supposed problem even more than the scientific sections.

That level of scrutiny is typically not applied to newspaper columns of course, but since the stakes are so high in the debate over the climate crisis I would like to review here just a few of the misleading claims in Viscount Monckton's submissions to illustrate my belief that readers of The Telegraph should rely upon more reliable and authoritative sources than the Viscount for information on the latest climate science.

That level of scrutiny is typically not applied to books or films, of course, but since the stakes are so high in the debate over the climate "crisis" I should like to review here just a few of the misleading claims in Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, to illustrate my belief that cinema-goers should rely upon more reliable and authoritative sources than Gore for information on the latest climate science. Here is Senator James Inhofe's list of some of Gore's scientific errors:

* Gore promoted the now-debunked "hockey stick" temperature chart for the past 1,000 years in an attempt to prove man's overwhelming impact on the climate, and attempted to debunk the significance of the mediaeval warm period and little ice age (for discussion and references, see below).

* Gore insisted on a link between increased hurricane activity and global warming that most sciences believe does not exist (for discussion and references, see below).

* Gore asserted that today's Arctic is experiencing unprecedented warmth while ignoring that temperatures in the 1930's were as warm or warmer (NCDC, 2006);

* Gore said the Antarctic was warming and losing ice but failed to note, that is only true of a small region and the vast bulk has been cooling and gaining ice (see my first article).

* Gore hyped unfounded fears that Greenland's ice is in danger of disappearing (for discussion and references, see below).

* Gore erroneously claimed that ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is disappearing due to global warming, though satellite measurements show no temperature change at the summit, and the peer-reviewed scientific literature suggests that desiccation of the atmosphere in the region caused by post-colonial deforestation is the cause of the glacial recession (see my first article).

* Gore made assertions of massive future sea level rise that is way out side of any supposed scientific "consensus" and is not supported in even the most alarmist literature (for discussion and references, see below).

* Gore incorrectly implied that a Peruvian glacier's retreat is due to global warming, while ignoring the fact that the region has been cooling since the 1930s and other glaciers in South America are advancing (see Polissar et al., 2005, for an interesting discussion of glaciers in the tropical Andes).

* Gore blamed global warming for water loss in Africa's Lake Chad, though NASA scientists had concluded that local water-use and grazing patterns are probably to blame (Foley and Coe, 2001).

* Gore inaccurately said polar bears are drowning in significant numbers due to melting ice when in fact 11 of the 13 main groups in Canada are thriving, and there is evidence that the only groups that are not thriving are in a region of the Arctic that has cooled (Taylor, 2006).

* Gore did not tell viewers that the 48 scientists whom he quoted as having accused President Bush of distorting science were part of a political advocacy group set up to support the Democrat Presidential candidate, John Kerry, in 2004.

Gore is now an adviser to the UK Government on climate change.

First, Monckton claims that Dr. James Hansen of NASA said that the temperature would rise by 0.3C and that the sea level would rise by several feet.˜ But Hansen did not say that at all, and the claim that he did is extremely misleading. In fact, Dr. Hansen presented three scenarios to the U.S. Senate (high, medium, and low).˜ He explained that the middle scenario was "most plausible" and, as it turned out, the middle scenario was almost exactly right.˜

Hansen's three scenarios, presented to Congress during the very hot summer of 1988, projected global mean temperature increases of 0.3C, 0.25C and 0.45C respectively in the 12 years to 2000: an average of 0.33C. But 0.06C was the actual increase (NCDC, 2006). I fairly said 0.3C and 0.1C.

As to sea levels, I corrected this point in my second article. Mean sea level is difficult to measure. It probably rose by less than 1 inch between 1988 and 2000; the rate of increase - 1 inch every 15 years - has not risen for a century; and there is little reason to suppose that the rate of increase should accelerate. Morner (2004), who has spent a lifetime in the study of sea levels, provides an "official evaluation of the sea-level changes that are to be expected in the near future." He finds that "sea level records are now dominated by the irregular redistribution of water masses over the globe ... primarily driven by variations in ocean current intensity and in the atmospheric circulation system and maybe even in some deformation of the gravitational potential surface."

Morner says: "The mean eustatic rise in sea level for the period 1850-1930 was in the order of 1.0-1.1 mm/year," but that "after 1930-40, this rise seems to have stopped (Pirazzoli et al., 1989; Morner, 1973, 2000)."˜This stasis, in his words, "lasted, at least, up to the mid-60s."˜Thereafter, "the record can be divided into three parts: (1) 1993-1996 with a clear trend of stability, (2) 1997-1998 with a high-amplitude rise and fall recording the ENSO event of these years and (3) 1998-2000 with an irregular record of no clear tendency."˜Most important of all, in his words, "There is a total absence of any recent `acceleration in sea level rise' as often claimed by IPCC and related groups."

He concludes: "When we consider past records, recorded variability, causational processes involved and the last century's data, our best estimate of possible future sea-level changes is +10 +/- 10cm in a century, or, maybe, even +5 +/- 15cm." See also Morner (1995); INQUA (2000).

Van der Veen (2002) intended "to evaluate the applicability of accumulation and ablation models on which predicted ice-sheet contributions to global sea level are based, and to assess the level of uncertainty in these predictions arising from uncertain model parameters."˜He concluded that "the validity of the parameterizations used by glaciological modeling studies to estimate changes in surface accumulation and ablation under changing climate conditions has not been convincingly demonstrated."

Munk (2003) says: "Surveys of glaciers, ice sheets, and other continental water storage can place only very broad limits of -1 to +1 mm/year on sea level rise from freshwater export." It is not known how the cryosphere will respond to global warming.˜

Braithwaite and Raper (2002) analyze mountain glaciers and ice caps, excluding the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.˜ They begin by saying: "The temperature sensitivity of sea level rise depends upon the global distribution of glacier areas, the temperature sensitivity of glacier mass balance in each region, the expected change of climate in each region, and changes in glacier geometry resulting from climate change."˜ They end by reporting that "None of these are particularly well known at present," and they conclude that "glacier areas, altitudes, shape characteristics and mass balance sensitivity are still not known for many glacierized regions and ways must be found to fill gaps."

Monckton goes on to level a serious accusation at all the scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claiming that they have "repealed a fundamental physical law" and as a result have misled the people of the world by exaggerating the sensitivity of the Earth's climate to extra carbon dioxide.˜If this were true, the entire global scientific community would owe Monckton a deep debt of gratitude for cleverly discovering a gross and elementary mistake that had somehow escaped the attention of all the leading experts in the field.

Here and elsewhere, I shall not respond to ad hominem remarks, but shall comment only ad rem. As will be shown below, the shortfall between the observed 20th-century temperature increase of 0.45 to 0.6C and the 20th-century increase of 1.6 to 3.75C that would have been expected from the projections made by the models upon which the UN relies is unwarranted either in the laws of physics or in the 20th-century global mean surface air temperature record. This shortfall between reality and the UN's projections is well established in the scientific literature (see, for instance, Hansen, 2006), though until my article was published it was not known to the public. There is certainly no scientific consensus on the reason for the very substantial discrepancy. Some, such as the Hadley Centre (IPCC 2001, quoted by Lindzen, 2006) blame pollutant aerosols for reflecting some of the Sun's radiance back to space. Others (such as Barnett, 2005, or Levitus, 2005), say the oceans are acting as a heat-sink. If there is in fact no good reason for the discrepancy between reality and projection, and if - as I am by no means alone in thinking - the UN's models are simply over-projecting the likely temperature effects of elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, then the UN's projections of future temperature increases may be around three times greater than they should be.

But again, this charge is also completely wrong, and it appears in this case to spring from the Viscount's failure to understand that these complex, carefully constructed supercomputer climate models not only have built into them the physical law he thinks he has discovered is missing, but also many others that he doesn't mention, including the fundamentally important responses of water vapor, ice and clouds that act to increase the effects of extra carbon dioxide.

The laws of physics say the increase in temperature is 0.3C for every additional watt per square metre of temperature. The UN says 0.5C (IPCC 2001). Several physicists have confirmed my result, which readers may like to check for themselves using a scientific calculator.....

Both in my article and in the supporting discussion document and calculations, I explicitly mentioned climate feedbacks from water vapour and ice-melt. I did not mention climate feedbacks from clouds because, as the UN itself says, even the direction of the change in radiative forcing and hence in temperature caused by clouds is not known (IPCC 2001). I explained that the UN's reason for using a figure nearly twice what the laws of physics mandate for the increase in temperature for each watt of additional forcing was to incorporate an allowance for climate feedbacks.

However, I demonstrated that, if one assumed that the UN's positive climate feedbacks were matched by negative feedbacks, the observed climate response over the 98 years 1900-1998 was identical to the climate sensitivity projected by use of the UN's greenhouse-gas forcing equation. In short, there is no direct observational evidence in the 20th-century global mean surface air temperature record that any allowance at all should be made for climate feedbacks in response to temperature increases arising from elevated greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere. As will be seen, the implications for forward projections of temperature increase are substantial.

Moreover, direct observations from the 20th century, from the last ice age and from the atmosphere's response to volcanic eruptions, all give estimates of the earth's sensitivity to extra CO2 that are exactly in line with model results (around a 3 degrees Celsius warming for a doubling of the CO2 concentration).

The UN gives observed centennial temperature change as 0.6C, equivalent to 1.98wm-2. So projected figure of 5.36wm-2 derived from the UN's model results using the UN's own formula and coefficients projects a sensitivity to extra CO2 that is not exactly or even approximately in line with observation, but is in fact 2.7 times greater than what was actually observed.

Direct observations from the last ice age

Direct observations from the last ice age were not possible. We were not here. Temperatures and CO2 concentrations have been indirectly deduced from samples of air from former ages locked in the ice of Greenland or Antarctica. The results do not provide a basis for reliable estimates of the earth's sensitivity to extra CO2: they show that increases in CO2 do not precede increases in temperature - they follow it.

Petit et al. (1999) reconstructed surface air temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration profiles from Vostok ice core samples covering 420,000 years, concluding that during glaciation "the CO2 decrease lags the temperature decrease by several thousand years" and "the same sequence of climate forcing operated during each termination."

Using sections of ice core records from the last three inter-glacial transitions, Fischer et al. (1999) decided that "the time lag of the rise in CO2 concentrations with respect to temperature change is on the order of 400 to 1000 years during all three glacial-interglacial transitions."

On the basis of atmospheric carbon dioxide data obtained from Antarctic Taylor Dome ice core samples, and temperature data obtained from the Vostok ice core, Indermuhle et al. (2000) looked at the relationship between these two variables over the period 60,000-20,000 years ago. A statistical test on the data showed that movement in the air's CO2 content lagged behind shifts in air temperature by approximately 900 years, while a second statistical test yielded a mean lag-time of 1200 years.

Similarly, in a study of air temperature and CO2 data obtained from high time resolution samples at the Antarctic Concordia Dome site, for the period 22,000-9,000 ago, covering the last glacial-to-interglacial transition, Monnin et al. (2001) found that the start of the CO2 increase lagged the start of the temperature increase by 800 years.

In yet another study of the 420,000-year Vostok ice-cores, Mudelsee (2001) concluded that variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration lagged behind variations in air temperature by 1,300 to 5,000 years.

In a study using different methodology, Yokoyama et al. (2000) analyzed sediments in the tectonically stable Bonaparte Gulf of Australia to determine the timing of the initial melting phase of the last great ice age.

Commenting on the results of that study, Clark and Mix (2000) note that the rapid rise in sea level caused by the melting of land-based ice that began approximately 19,000 years ago preceded the post-glacial rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration by about 3,000 years.

Caillon et al. (2003) focused on an isotope of argon (40Ar) that can be taken as a climate proxy, thus providing constraints about the relative timing of CO2 shifts and climate change. Air bubbles in the Vostok ice core over the period that comprises Glacial Termination III - which occurred 240,000 years ago - were studied. They found that "the CO2 increase lagged behind Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 ~ 200 years."

We conclude that there is plentiful evidence in the scientific literature that increases in atmospheric CO2 have followed increases in temperature in former ages and cannot have been the cause of those increases. In this respect, ice-core studies can tell us no more than that there may be a small climate feedback from increased atmospheric CO2 in response to temperature.

Direct observations of the atmosphere's response to volcanic eruptions

The most recent major volcanic eruption to have been observed directly was that of Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines, in June 1991. Sassen (1992) reported that cirrus clouds were produced during the eruption, Lindzen et al. (2001) proposed that cirrus clouds might provide a possible negative feedback that might partially counteract the positive feedbacks assumed in the UN's climate feedback factor.

Douglass and Knox (2005) considered this negative climate feedback in some detail: "We determined the volcano climate sensitivity and response time for the Mount Pinatubo eruption, using observational measurements of the temperature anomalies of the lower troposphere, measurements of the long wave outgoing radiation, and the aerosol optical density." They reported "a short atmospheric response time, of the order of several months, leaving no volcano effect in the pipeline, and a negative feedback to its forcing."

They also note that the short intrinsic climate response time they derived (6.8 ~ 1.5 months) "confirms suggestions of Lindzen and Giannitsis (1998, 2002) that a low sensitivity and small lifetime are more appropriate" than the "long response times and positive feedback" assumed in the UN's models. They conclude that "Hansen et al.'s hope that the dramatic Pinatubo climate event would provide an `acid test' of climate models has been fulfilled, although with an unexpected result."


We conclude, on the basis of a study of the UN's own reports and of the academic literature in the peer-reviewed scientific journals, that the UN may have failed to take negative climate feedbacks sufficiently into account, there is no consensus among climate scientists on any of the three classes of evidence for the UN's estimate of climate sensitivity cited by Gore, and that in all three classes - 20th-century observation, palaeoclimatological reconstruction and studies of volcanic eruption - there is recent, frequent and compelling evidence in the scientific literature that raises serious questions about the validity of the "consensus" position.

And, despite Viscount Monckton's recycled claims about the so-called "hockey stick" graph (an old and worn-out hobby horse of the pollution lobby in the U.S.), this faux controversy has long since been thoroughly debunked. The global warming deniers in the U.S. were so enthusiastic about this particular canard that our National Academy of Sciences eventually put together a formal panel, comprised of a broad range of scientists including some of the most skeptical, which vindicated the main findings embodied in the "hockey stick" and definitely rejected the claims Monckton is now recycling for British readers.

No. In fact the committee of the National Research Council, (North et al., 2006), which answers to the National Academies of Sciences and of Engineering, while confident that today's temperatures are warmer than at any time in the past 400 years, was "less confident" about the UN "hockey-stick" graph's abolition of the mediaeval warm period, because of a lack of data before 1600 AD. The committee's report criticized the methodology of the authors of the "hockey-stick", The committee notes explicitly, on pages 91 and 111, that the method used in compiling the UN's "hockey-stick" temperature graph has no validation skill significantly different from zero. Methods without a validation skill are usually considered useless.

Similar grounds for concern were listed in a report by three independent statisticians for the US House of Representatives (Wegman et al., 2005), who found that the calculations behind the "hockey-stick" graph were "obscure and incomplete". Criticisms of the hockey-stick summarized in my article came from papers in the learned journals: e.g. McIntyre and McKitrick (2005). Wegman et al. (2005) found these criticisms "valid and compelling". It found that the scientists who had compiled the graph had not used statistical techniques properly, and found no evidence that they had "had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians". It found that the scientists' "sharing of research material, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done." It found that the peer review process, by which other scientists are supposed to verify learned papers before publication, "was not necessarily independent". Finally, it found that the "hockey-stick" scientists' "assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by their analysis". It recommended that State-funded scientific research should be more carefully and independently peer-reviewed in future, not only by the learned journals but also by the UN's climate change panel. It recommended that authors of the UN's scientific assessments should not be the same as the authors of the learned papers on which the UN relies; that State-funded scientists should make their data and calculations openly and promptly available; and that statistical results by scientists who were not statisticians should be peer-reviewed by statisticians.

The NAS stated that the late 20th century warming in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years and probably for much longer than that. They also noted that the finding has "subsequently been supported by an array of evidence."

No. In fact, North et al. (2006) said this: "Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900. ˜Very little confidence can be placed in statements about average global surface temperatures prior to A.D. 900 because the proxy data for that time frame are sparse." These quotations, taken from an executive summary signed by all members of the committee that prepared the report, bear no relation to what Gore says they said.

As to the "array of evidence" supporting the "hockey-stick" graph's conclusion that there was no mediaeval warm period - a conclusion which could not be properly drawn from the methodology used to produce the graph itself - Wegman et al. (2005) said: "In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to [the graph's lead author] by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus `independent studies' may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface."

So, no matter how many charts or graphs the Viscount might want to create, the basic facts remain the same. What the models have shown, unequivocally, is that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases mainly released from industrial activities are warming the planet.

My first article said: "There are more greenhouse gases in the air than there were, so the world should warm a bit, but that's as far as the `consensus' goes." There is no consensus at all on how much warming there will be, or about whether or when it will be dangerous. Models are of theoretical interest, but they are not definitive. Until recently they contained "flux adjustments" - or fudge-factors - many times larger than the very small changes in tropospheric radiant energy that are at issue.

Computer models are not capable of showing anything "unequivocally": they are suitable only for making projections, which may or may not prove reliable. The models upon which the UN so heavily relied failed to predict either the timing or the magnitude of the El Nino Southern Oscillation event in 1998. More recently they have failed to predict the sharp cooling of the climate-relevant surface layer of the ocean that has occurred in the past two years (Lyman, 2006).

Sixty Canadian scientists expert in climate and related fields, writing to the Canadian Prime Minister earlier this year (Canada, 2006) said: "Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future."

Dr. Vincent Gray, a research scientist and a reviewer working on the UN's 2001 report (IPCC, 2001) has noted, "The effects of aerosols, and their uncertainties, are such as to nullify completely the reliability of any of the climate models."

Freeman Dyson, an eminent physicist, said this in a talk to the American Physical Society (Dyson, 1999): "The bad news is that the climate models on which so much effort is expended is unreliable. The models are unreliable because they still use fudge-factors rather than physics to represent processes occurring on scales smaller than the grid-size. . The models fail to predict the marine stratus clouds that often cover large areas of ocean. The climate models do not take into account the anomalous absorption of radiation revealed by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurements. This is not a small error. If the ARM are correct, the error in the atmospheric absorption of sunlight calculated by the climate models is about 28 watts per square metre, averaged over the whole Earth, day and night, summer and winter. The entire effect of doubling the present abundance of carbon dioxide is calculated to be about four watts per square metre. So the error in the models is much larger than the global warming effect that the models are supposed to predict. Until the ARM were done, the error was not detected, because it was compensated by fudge-factors that forced the models to agree with the existing climate. Other equally large errors may still be hiding in the models, concealed by other fudge-factors. Until the fudge-factors are eliminated and the computer programs are solidly based on local observations and on the laws of physics, we have no good reason to believe the predictions of the models. . They are not yet adequate tools for predicting climate. . We must continue to warn the politicians and the public, `Don't believe the numbers just because they come out of a supercomputer.'"

Eugene Parker, a leading solar physicist, has said: "The inescapable conclusion is that we will have to know a lot more about the Sun and the terrestrial atmosphere before we can understand the nature of the contemporary changes in climate. . In our present state of ignorance it is not possible to assess the importance of individual factors. The biggest mistake that we could make would be to think that we know the answers when we do not" (Parker, 1999).

Scientists have also carefully examined the real world evidence (temperature change as measured by air balloons, ground and satellite measurements, proxies like ice cores and tree rings, for example) and have found that the models do indeed match the observations.

Until last year, the observations did not even match each other. NASA (2005) said the trend in satellite measurements of the lower troposphere (from the surface to about 5 miles up) was just 0.08C per decade since 1979, but the trend in surface temperature measured on the ground (NCDC, 2006) is twice that, 0.16C per decade in the same period. NASA (2005) commented: "These differences are the basis for discussions over whether our knowledge of how the atmosphere works might be in error, since the warming aloft in the troposphere should be at least as strong as that observed at the surface." More recently, however, NASA has found that its satellite sensors had been pointing in the wrong direction. Satellite tropospheric temperature trends now accord with those at the surface. Balloon temperatures were also out of alignment with both surface and satellite temperatures for many years. Recently, however, a correction has been made to the handling of the data and they now conform.

Furthermore, the fact of warming does not tell us its cause. Though carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are likely to be a contributing factor, they are not likely to be the only factor, and may not even be the main one. Even if greenhouse gases are the sole factor, there is no consensus about the UN's projected warming trend for the future. Besides, as we have shown, the models do not match the observed change in temperature, the discrepancy is large, and there is no consensus either about the reason for the discrepancy or about whether the discrepancy is real.

It is important to understand that there is not just one single strand of evidence leading us to believe that global warming is occurring, but rather that all of the peer-reviewed evidence, from scientists around the world, points in the same direction.

Mr. Gore says that all of the peer-reviewed evidence points in the same direction. A very large proportion of it points in the opposite direction, as the papers listed here make plain. For instance, Soon and Baliunas (2003) listed some 240 scientific papers in which a period of at least 50 years of anomalous drought, rainfall or temperature were indicated at some time during the mediaeval warm period. The authors of the "hockey-stick" graph angrily dismissed Soon and Baliunas (2003) as irrelevant, but - whatever the paper's faults - it demonstrates that the "consensus" repeatedly claimed by the UN and its supporters is far from real.

To be sure, not all of the finest workings of the climate system are yet fully understood to the finest grain. However, all of the basics are absolutely clear.˜ Global warming is real, human activities are causing the problem, many of the solutions are available to us now, it is not too late to avoid the worst, and all we need to get started solving the crisis is the political will to act.

"Global Warming Is Real", says Gore. Sixty leading climatologists and scientists in related fields wrote to the Canadian Prime Minister (Canada, 2006): "Climate Change Is Real" is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate change catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes, and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from the natural `noise'."

For the third time Gore recites the already-agreed fact of warming. However, there is no consensus on whether or to what degree human activities are causing "the problem", or even whether there is a problem. Global cooling, widely predicted in the 1970s, would have been much more dangerous than warming. The unusual hot weather in mainland Europe killed 3,000 elderly Frenchmen a couple of years ago. Like so many other events, it was blamed on global warming but was not caused by manmade climate change. It arose from natural climate variability. The most recent cold snap in the UK killed 25,000 people.

This is what prompted the national academies of science in the 11 most influential nations on the planet to come together to jointly call on every nation to "acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing." They added that the "scientific understanding of climate changes is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action."

The "scientific understanding" is so crude that the central question - by how much can the temperature be expected to rise as a result of a given additional amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere - has not been definitively established either empirically or theoretically. It has been established by laboratory experiment that increased CO2 concentrations can cause additional scattering of outgoing longwave radiation at the tropopause, but not at or near the surface, and only at the fringes of one of the three principal absorption bands of CO2. It has been established that the stratosphere is cooling, suggesting that less outgoing radiation is emerging from the tropopause. But it is insufficiently clear whether or to what extent the temperature increase since 1900 is attributable to anthropogenic as opposed to natural factors, and it is not even clear by how much the temperature rose between 1900 and 1998 (NCDC US global mean temperature anomaly 0.3C, AccuWeather from land-based stations 0.45C, NCDC global mean 0.53C; UN 0.6C).

Another crazy Muslim: "A Muslim who killed a swan while fasting during Ramadan has been given a two-month prison sentence. Shamsu Miah, 52, killed the mute swan at a boating pond in Llandudno, North Wales, on September 25.When challenged by police he said: "I am a Muslim, I am fasting, I needed to eat." Llandudno magistrates were told that Miah, from the town, had white feathers stuck in his beard and blood on his shirt. Jim Neary, for the prosecution, said: "The officers told him the swan was the property of the Queen and he replied, `I hate the Queen, I hate this country'." Miah, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to intentionally killing a wild bird and possessing a bladed article. He was released from custody, having served two months on remand."

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