Diversity Abounds at New York City Climate Conference

March 12th, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The Second International Conference on Climate Change, held March 8-10 in New York City, was a great success, with considerably greater attendance than the first conference. Keynote speakers included President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, Prof. Dick Lindzen, Gov. John Sununu, Harrison Schmitt (last man to walk on the moon), Lord Monckton, and several others. A total of approximately 80 speakers packed a series of four parallel sessions throughout the 2 days of talks.

As was the case last year, several lines of evidence were presented in support of the two most important scientific objections to the currently popular view that humans now rule the climate system: (1) climate sensitivity is much lower than the United Nations claims it is; and (2) nature, not humans, dominate climate change.

On the latter point, there were several papers presented on the role of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), including my own recent results from the Terra satellite showing the PDO causes a radiative forcing of the Earth (from a change in low cloud cover) that can potentially explain most of the decadal to centennial global temperature change over the last 100 years. Bill Gray presented his theory that the PDO, as well as other long term climate fluctuations, are mostly due to salinity-driven changes in the overturning portion of the ocean circulation. At this point in our meager understanding of long-term climate change, I would agree that this is the most likely explanation.

Prof. Akasofu of the University of Alaska reported that Arctic cooling has continued, with colder Arctic Ocean temperatures and thicker sea ice being encountered by icebreakers than in previous winters. These changes are widely believed to be the result of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation having recently entered into its negative (cooling) phase.

In one of the keynote addresses, Bob Carter argued for a redirection of political and policy efforts to deal with natural rather than anthropogenic climate change, since paleoclimate evidence suggesting that sudden, large changes in regional climate can occur in just a few years.

There was considerable anger and frustration over the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) political hijacking of climate science, and the taking over of most of our professional organizations (e.g. the American Meteorological Society) by environmental activists with strong political connections. In his keynote address, Prof. Lindzen discussed the sorry state of climate science in this context. Lindzen also warned that the skeptics’ arguments need to be chosen wisely, since a few of them were clearly on weak scientific grounds.

I agree with Lindzen on this. But I would like to add that it takes only one of us to be correct for the anthropogenic global warming house of cards to collapse. We skeptics tolerate alternative scientific views, something the IPCC can not allow without undermining their political goals. The claim some others have made that we skeptics should rally around a single explanation for global warming reveals how dangerously close we have come to turning scientific research into a political process.

While it has been difficult to get research funding to investigate natural sources of global warming, a few peer reviewed papers have been getting published. Unfortunately, the greater these papers’ threat to the IPCC party line, the more they are ignored by both the news media and by IPCC scientists. This has perpetuated the public’s mistaken view of just how strong the ‘scientific consensus’ is on manmade global warming. In his keynote speech, Gov. Sununu mentioned the need to get congressional funding of climate science less dominated by a specific ideology.

Many of the talks dealt with the policy implications of global warming, including cap and trade legislation and EPA regulations. The futility of such efforts to fight a largely natural phenomenon (global warming), combined with the economically damaging effects on humanity of punishing energy use, were the main topics of discussion. Roy Innis and Paul Driessen discussed the devastating effects on the poor of current and proposed energy policies.

There was wide agreement that the tide is turning for those of us who doubt that humans play the dominant role in climate change. Increasing numbers of scientists are speaking out on the issue, and recent polls of the public in January have revealed dwindling public alarm over global warming, sentiment no doubt contributed to by the fact that global warming stopped in 2001.

This is in spite of the mainstream media continuing to try to marginalize the views of those of us who are skeptical of the role of humans in warming. Curiously, even though a new Gallup poll has found that an increased number of Americans think global warming is exaggerated, the Gallup writer who editorialized on those results said:

“Americans generally believe global warming is real. That sets the U.S. public apart from the global-warming skeptics who assembled this week in New York City to try to debunk the science behind climate change.”

This uninformed statement helps to perpetuate the myth that we skeptics do not believe in climate change when, of course, we do. Climate is changing all the time. In fact, research into natural sources of climate change was being published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature long before environmental extremists and politicians came along and hijacked the issue in order to achieve their policy goals. Equating “global warming” to “manmade global warming” shows just how successful the IPCC and activists such as Al Gore have been in their disinformation campaigns.

Of course, with hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, a sympathetic news media, and an increasing number of corporations giving in to the pressure, it’s a wonder any skepticism remains.

All in all, the conference was hugely successful. Since there are so many international participants in these conferences, it looks like next year’s conference will probably be held abroad.

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