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.