Skip to comments.Dispute Arises Over a Push to Change Climate Panel
Posted on 04/02/2002 3:32:39 PM PST by liberallarry
fter a year of urging from energy industry lobbyists, the Bush administration is seeking the ouster of an American scientist who for nearly six years has directed an international panel of hundreds of experts assessing global warming, several government officials have said.
The specialist, Dr. Robert T. Watson, chief scientist of the World Bank, is highly regarded as an atmospheric chemist by many climate experts. He has held the unpaid position of chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since the fall of 1996. Now his term is expiring and the State Department has chosen not to renominate him to head the panel, which is run under the auspices of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.
Dr. Watson is an outspoken advocate of the idea that human actions mainly burning oil and coal are contributing to global warming and must be changed to avert environmental upheavals.
Last night, a State Department official said the administration was leaning toward endorsing a scientist from India, which along with other developing countries has been eager for a stronger role in the climate assessments.
But many influential climate experts say they have written to the department supporting Dr. Watson.
One of those letters was sent last month by Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric scientist who is chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, and chairman of a National Academy of Sciences panel that assessed the international panel's climate analyses last year at the behest of the White House.
In an e-mail message sent to the State Department, Dr. Cicerone urged the administration not to withdraw its support for Dr. Watson and, if it did, at least to replace him with another atmospheric scientist.
Otherwise, "such a change would greatly reduce the emphasis on science in I.P.C.C.," he said, referring to the climate panel. He also said it would be "very, very difficult to find anyone better than Watson."
But energy industry lobbyists and some Republican elected officials (NOT SCIENTISTS)have criticized Dr. Watson as biased and focused on building a scientific argument to justify cutting the use of coal and oil. In a letter to the White House a year ago, for example, Dr. Arthur G. Randol III, senior environmental adviser for ExxonMobil, said Dr. Watson used leaks of drafts of his panel's climate reports to further his "personal agenda."
"Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the U.S.?" read the letter. A copy was given to The New York Times by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a private environmental group. Dr. Randol did not respond yesterday to requests for comment. But White House officials said his letter had no bearing on decisions about the panel.
The only other significant candidate nominated for panel chairman is Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, an Indian engineer and economist who is now one of five vice chairmen. He is highly regarded, but many scientists said his lack of grounding in atmospheric science made him an unsuitable choice.
Nevertheless several lobbyists for energy companies and auto manufacturers are scheduled to meet with senior State Department officials this afternoon, when they are expected to press the administration to endorse Dr. Pachauri.
One of the lobbyists said that in a two-man race, it was necessary for industry to make a choice and that the choice should not be Dr. Watson.
The panel's assessments of climate change underpinned negotiations leading to two climate treaties, the latest of them the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases. President Bush rejected it a year ago.
The panel's findings have been criticized as overly dire by energy industry officials and a few scientists. But many other experts have endorsed them, including the panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences.
Campaigners at private environmental groups yesterday attacked the efforts to replace Dr. Watson.
Some climate panel scientists said that other countries were planning to push for Dr. Watson to remain, and that it might be possible to craft a compromise in which the two scientists served as co-chairmen.
In an interview, Dr. Watson said the most important thing was to keep the panel from becoming divided into factions. "We've always worked well by consensus," he said. "I would hope it does not come down to a divisive vote."
I would nominate a bum from State Street because that would mean there's one less bum on State Street.
Most bums are delusional so I'm sure the one nominated could do a great job with the fake Global Warming(TM) problem.
If the Administration wants to ignore the best scientific opinion - either because it prefers minority views or on economic or other grounds - fine. But it shouldn't corrupt that opinion. That's spin of the worst sort.
I'm sooo confused now.
The average temp. of the Earth is 18oC. The max temp rise at the current rate of CO2 increase is 1.8oC, in 2100. That's the limit, it's impossible to go beyond that temp rise. In fact the sun seems to be heating up and that's the real cause of the observed Earth temp rise. There is no disaster pending. These folks need to limit their projections and computer outputs to the limits placed by reality. A 1.8oC rise is a 0.6% increase in global energy in the year 2100 and that assumes the Earth itself doesn't suck up the heat. That's an atmospheric temp rise only.
The real consequences of the greenhouse gas increase are insignificant and absolutely don't warrent reducing the world to a socialist, stone age serfdom. Folks in the free market will have plenty of time to arrange for other energy sources to replace the fossil fuels that are presently used. There is no catastrophy pending as these folks claim. Their sole purpose is to play Sim Earth and control world economies.
"Global Warming: Watson Indulges in Scare Tactics... Again
... Mind you, Watson is the same scientist who, in 1992, predicted an imminent ozone hole in the Northern Hemisphere. You remember the event; then-Senator and soon-to-be Vice President Gore called it "an ozone hole over Kennebunkport" (former-President George Bush's summer compound). Watson's (and Gore's) purpose was to stampede the U.S. Senate into a mandate that would reduce chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants. They succeeded, even though the ozone hole never appeared. "
This is Watson's second go at buffaloing a Bush Administration. Big Media's eagerness to go along is breathtaking. The January 23 edition of The Washington Post put this particular global warming story above the fold on its front page! The play could have been bigger only were it in the upper left-hand corner rather than the right.
A model of a model Neither the Post nor Watson mentions that this forecast of extreme warming is the result of a computer model. And not just any model, either. It is a product of the most extreme climate model run under the most extreme set of future emission scenarios. In other words, it's not a model based upon present trends; it's a model of a model! Putting a fine point on it, this particular result was produced by one (that's right, one) of 245 models the modelers ran.
In the backrooms at science meetings, the technique Watson and the IPCC have used in this instance is derided as a "toy model." This is because it treats the world largely as a uniform entity, one devoid of ocean currents, without mountains, and with no thunderstorms. Ocean currents, mountains, and thunderstorms just happen to be the three things that are the major movers of heat around our planet. They generally keep the Earth's surface temperature cooler than it otherwise would be.
It's not that there weren't other computer models available. There are. There were nearly 20 different sophisticated, but still flawed, models tested in the IPCC's TAR called general circulation climate models (GCMs). If Watson were forthcoming, he would have pointed out that the average for those models was a rise of only about 3.8°F--or some 2.75 times less than the extreme value Watson and the Post trumpet."
It is a good thing the Bush administration will try to get a biased agitator out of harms way and seek slightly better balance in the IPCC.
They don't. The facts are in post 13, given the sun keeps a steady output and all the heat goes into the atmosphere. That's the limit and it's nothing to harp and scare folks about.
...urging from energy industry lobbyists,
If the reporting is accurate, neither is the Bush administration. They want to get rid of Dr. Watson because industry doesn't like him - i.e. the reasons are economic.
WOSG's argument is a little different; Watson is a politician masquerading as a bad scientist. Maybe, but if the Administration made that point, the New York Times didn't report it.
Lobbyists are folks hired to represent someone. In this case the someone is the energy industry. It's lead, developed and directed by scientists/engineers. They understand what this is all about. The scientists there and elsewhere, don't believe the scare mongering BS out of the IPCC. That's why they send their reps, the lobbyists. Then Bush has his own sources, like the NSF. There report gave essentially the same numbers I did. The numbers I gave are the outside limits that no computer model can go beyond. It's a conservation of energy thing.
" If the reporting is accurate, neither is the Bush administration. They want to get rid of Dr. Watson because industry doesn't like him - i.e. the reasons are economic.
The reporting is from the NY times. They apply a left handed spin to their works before they are released. The reasons Bush has are scientific and economic. The industry and Bush's conclusions are based in reality. The NY Times should posit whether they can discern a difference in the intensity of storms differing by < 0.6% in energy. That's what the science of the NSF report said, but they also through in the speculatory mention that Earth might suffer huge storms, because of global warming. They're after funding and ears!
" WOSG's argument is a little different; Watson is a politician masquerading as a bad scientist. Maybe, but if the Administration made that point, the New York Times didn't report it."
They didn't, it's a leftist thing. The NY Times should posit whether they can discern a difference in the intensity of storms differing by < 0.6% in energy. That's what the science of the NSF report said, but they also threw in the speculatory mention that Earth might suffer huge storms, because of global warming. They're after funding and ears!
Bush considered the science and the economics, came to a conclusion and is basing his decisions on that. His conclusion is not only sound, it supports Freedom and prosperity for all. The warmists are only interested in promoting the prosperity and interests of themselves.
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Even you can probably figure this one out, liberallarry.
On the other hand, you apparently believe that increases in global temperature here on earth are causing the corresponding observed increases in solar radiation.
If this is the position of the administration they should say so. Let's have the discussion in public.
For balance, I suggest that you read articles and testimony by Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, a leading critic of dire global warming predictions. His comments at the Cato Institute site are dated but still applicable.
The panel's assessments of climate change underpinned negotiations leading to two climate treaties, the latest of them the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases. President Bush rejected it a year ago.Just a reminder to all the FReepers here who think Bush isn't conservative enough to be our Republican President. If Goofy the Goron was now sittin'n'shittin' in the whitehouse, this terribly stupid, terribly harmful, terribly counterproductive protocol --- this Kyoto monstrosity --- would by now bear the signature of the President of the United States.
For that reason alone --- if for no other --- we should all rejoice that Bush is the president. We truly did dodge a bullet on this issue.
I've read some of Lindzen's comments (Baliunis (spelling?) also). And those of some other critics. Politics, economics, and science are a difficult mix. The point of my post was that I thought the Administration was confusing rather than clarifying the situation - making it more rather than less difficult to separate the 3. I don't approve.
Also, the administration seems to be getting its advice from businessmen, not scientists. Businessmen who have a direct financial interest in the outcome of the dispute. Hardly an impartial source of good information.
19,700 real scientist say it(Global Warming) just ain't so.
Here's the plain stated text of their petition to the Government:
"We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."
Now will you continue to champion the lies of the left, after they have been plainly exposed, or will you wisely cower away?
When I hear claims that leading scientists in the atmospheric science community have neglected to consider the effects of changes in solar radiation, or conservation of energy, or other basic scientific principles or facts I am - to be polite - sceptical.
Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric scientist who is chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, and chairman of a National Academy of Sciences panel that assessed the international panel's climate analyses last year at the behest of the White House.
Did you notice the above? The lead scientist of the panel which authored the report you cite opposes Bush's proposal because it would greatly reduce the quality of IPCC science. Just what I'm objecting to.
I don't use the New York Times for scientific explanations. They're reporters; the more arcane the controversy the less reliable the reporting. But they should accurately report what the administration says. If the administration is claiming the IPCC science is bad they should say so. I'm well aware they have first-rate scientific advisers - which is what makes the article so disturbing; I'm sure they would cite the science if it supported their pro-industry views.
Convincing to who, and why? As I said earlier, I have been unable to form an opinion on Dr. Seitz petition. But it doesn't seem to have influenced Scientific American or Dr. Ciccerone.
There a real scientific controversy here - with the potential for huge effects on human society. It does no good to try to impugn the reputations of the participants on political grounds no matter which side does it.
Then you have to consider the science itself. The idea that some folks are expert, leading scientists and others that have a good grasp of the subject are not, is a fallacy. Truth is truth regardless of the qualifiers attached to the one who holds it.
There are judgement calls that have to be made here in addition to the fundamentals of the science. The biggest one is weighing the economic and social costs of turning control of the world's energy supply over to a group that claims expert knowledge and wisdom beyond what can be found elsewhere. The fact is, the knowledge and wisdom can be found elsewhere, it's not a rarety at all. The appeal of certain folks to accept the claims of their experts, based on their credentials, is simple propaganda.
What folks fail to realize is that this global warming stuff amounts to a sales pitch for control of the world's energy use. Again, the basic science gives a max temp rise of 1.8oC. The IPCC handwaves and throws around much higher numbers and tells stories of devastating effects on the weather. Tell me how a 0.6% increase in available energy can result in more devastating weather. Can you do that? You don't need to be an expert to answer that question. A high school person should be able to answer that question. A college grad should understand it. It follows from the gas law, PV=nRT, PV is the energy content of the atmosphere. The ratio, Tafter to Tbefore, gives the energy increase available to weather after the temp rise. In this case it's 0.6%. It's negligible. That's why I can say the IPCC is attempting to con the world. They are scare mongering.
Yep. Those evil businessmen.
Does it occur to anyone who criticizes businessmen, that they have the same stake in both sides? If there is true global warming (a position to which I don't subscribe) it will have an affect on their businesses just like it will on anyone else. Heck, a good businessman would be working on a way to profit from it! On the other hand, if there isn't, should they be plowing money into preparing for something that ain't gonna happen?
Their stake is as big as anyone elses, and I believe the free market would respond as it does to all other things.
I am one of the signers.
Its unusual to have a liberal come on this forum and discuss things with an intent to expose facts or falsehoods, rather than feelings. Very refreshing. Welcome aboard. The comments can get rough here, but don't take it personally, we do it to ourselves too.
On to the discussion. Ask yourself the following questions:
1) Why does the Kyoto treaty exclude China and India, the two biggest net producers of manmade CO2?
2) If the true goal was to reduce CO2, why is the United States penalized when it and its forests are a net consumer of CO2?
3) If mankind were able to heat the earth with its activities, is there any technology that would allow mankind to cool the earth (one that would be cheaper than partial-global carbon regulation)?
I understand your point, but remember that even the Senate voted that lunacy down 95-0. And that was back in '97 when Clowntoon was still in charge.
The main reason that it's bad PR is that it comes right on the heels of the released documents showing how much influence industry had on the crafting of the energy policy and how little influence environmental groups had. But the environment and even energy is not a hot-button issue right now, despite the current Mideast turmoil.
Lindzen, Patrick Michaels, and now James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies all generally agree that greenhouse gas warming will be somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 C this century. Hansen's estimates have been edging down, primarily based on energy/emissions projection changes.
2 deg. C (the middle of the estimate range) would be annoying but not catastrophic. I'll be posting an article summarizing a just-published paper in Nature that shows ecosystem changes are being noted due to the warming of the last 30 years, most notably due to earlier onset of spring.
That's funny, I read that the environmentalists were invited but refused to attend. I suppose that we should rely on the opinions of Hollywood stars in the crafting of our energy policy rather than anyone that is actually in the energy industry?
I don't think Hollywood stars should have been consulted, but groups that are familiar with alternative sources and useful energy conservation measures should have been.
In his Congressional testimony last year (www.senate.gov/~epw/lin_0502.htm), Lindzen said that there was widespread agreement that a doubling of CO2 concentration would result in about a 2 degree F temperature increase. That's 1.1 degrees C.
He also said that such warming "is likely to be concentrated in winters and at night"..."on the whole a beneficial pattern". He states that the points people agree on are consistent with minimal impacts of increased CO2.
Lindzen notes the disconnect between the IPPC Summary written by representatives from governments and the rest of the IPPC report written by scientists. Would you trust information summarized by governments of the world when they can benefit by taking positions that cripple your economy but have little effect on theirs? If so, you are naive.
Doubts and qualifications expressed by the scientists didn't make it to the Summary. He notes that the media rarely reflects what is actually in the Summary and express results in terms of upper limits. Lindzen notes that there is evidence that even the bottom of the IPPC temerature increase ranges are overestimates..
Yes, but according to the global warming crowd, that's because the sun can't shine through all the clouds of smog. I swear, I've read it! Go figure.
We have been down this path before. IMO alternate sources of energy will be utilized when they are economically viable, either through advances in technology or prohibitive prices of petroleum products.I believe this is called the law of supply and demand.
I am currently reading a book called Northwest Exposures
I would like to get your comments on this work and the authors opinion that we are currently in a warming trend in geologic time following the ice ages of as few as 15,000 years ago.
While my leisure time is limited (3 toddlers!) and my reading list is correspondingly backlogged, tell me more (author, availability, etc.) and I'll see what I can do.
Publisher is Mountain Press Publishing Company from Missoula, Montana