June 14, 2013

Climate Science 2

Naomi Oreskes: Merchants of Doubt

[If] anyone was meddling in the scientific assessment and peer review process, it was the political right wing, not the left.
It wasn't the Sierra Club that tried to pressure the National Academy of Sciences over the 1983 Carbon Dioxide Assessment [—] it was officials from the Department of Energy under Ronald Reagan.
It wasn't Environmental Defense that worked with Bill Nierenberg to alter the Executive Summary of the 1983 Acid Rain Peer Review Panel [—] it was the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
And it was the Wall Street Journal spreading the attack on [Ben] Santer and the IPCC, not Mother Jones.
(Merchants of Doubt, 2010, p 211)


Blaming the Sun

The Attack on Roger Revelle

Doubling Down on Denial


Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University.

  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Bloomsbury, 2010.
    Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway.


    Blaming the Sun

    In 1984 Bill Nierenberg retired as director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and joined the Board of Directors of the George C Marshall Institute.
    … Robert Jastrow had established the Institute to defend President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative against attack by other scientists.
    But by 1989, the enemy that justified SDI was rapidly disappearing.
    The Warsaw Pact had fallen apart, the Soviet Union itself was disintegrating, and the end of the Cold War was in sight.
    The Institute might have disbanded — its raison d'etre disappeared — but instead, the old Cold Warriors decided to fight on.
    The new enemy?
    Environmental "alarmists."

    In 1989 — the very year the Berlin Wall fell — the Marshall Institute issued its first report attacking climate science.
    Within a few years, they would be attacking climate scientists as well.
    Their initial strategy [was] to blame it on the Sun.
    They circulated an unpublished "white paper," … entitled "Global Warming: What Does the Science Tell Us" …
    Nierenberg gave the briefing himself, to members of
    • the Office of Cabinet Affairs,
    • the Office of Policy Development,
    • the Council of Economic Advisers, and
    • the Office of Management and Budget. …
    The briefing had a big impact, stopping the positive momentum that had been building in the [administration of George HW Bush.]
    (p 186)

    It looked like they were relying on peer-reviewed science.
    But Jastrow, Nierenberg, and Seitz had cherry-picked the data …
    What [James] Hansen and his group had done was to explore the role of various "forcings" — the different causes of climate change.
    One was greenhouse gases, a second was volcanoes, and the third was the Sun.

    The observed climate of the twentieth century was a product of all three forcings, but since Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg had shown their readers only the top portion of Hansen's figure, they'd made it appear as if only the Sun mattered. …
    (p 187)
    Steven Schneider [Climate Modeler]:
    The Marshall Institute … can't have it both ways: they can't argue on the one hand that small changes in solar energy output can cause large temperature changes, but that comparable changes in the energy input from greenhouse gases will not also produce comparable large signals. …
    Sensitivity cuts both ways.
    And as physicists, Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg would of course have known this. …

    [In 1992] Nierenberg insisted that global temperatures would increase at most by 1°C by the end of the twenty-first century [—] based on a [simple] linear projection of twentieth-century warming. …
    [However, due to] the time lag induced by the [buffering effect of the] oceans — which Jule Charney had warned about a decade earlier — [one would expect the atmospheric warming to] accelerate over time.
    (p 188)

    [The] Cato Institute [also] distributed an uncorrected version of the graph printed in the original Marshall Institute white paper — the one [showing] only the top part of Hansen's graph.
    Given [the exhaustive efforts made by climate scientists] to set the record straight, it's not plausible that this was simply a mistake. …
    Robert Jastrow:
    It is generally considered in the scientific community that the Marshall report was responsible for the Administration's opposition to carbon taxes and restrictions on fossil fuel consumption. …
    (Letter to the Vice President of the American Petroleum Institute, February 1991)

    [The Marshall Institute] is still the controlling influence in the White House.
    (New Scientist)

    The Attack on Roger Revelle

    {S Fred Singer:
    There is major uncertainty and disagreement about whether this increase [in C02 ] has caused a change in the climate during the past 100 years [—] observations simply don't fit the theory …
    [The] scientific base for [greenhouse warming] includes some facts, lots of uncertainty, and just plain ignorance. …
    The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time.
    (What to Do about Greenhouse Warming, Environmental Science and Technology, 24, no 8: 1138-39, August 1990)
    [Precisely] what he had said about acid rain [and] ozone depletion.
    (p 192-193)

    [Roger Revelle helped] to launch the Keeling Curve [and was a] mentor to Al Gore [— who was a student of Revelle's] in the 1960s at Harvard …

    On February 19 1990, the eighty-one-year-old Revelle had presented a paper entitled "What Can We Do About Climate Change?" at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in New Orleans.
    Roger Revelle:
    {There is a good but by no means certain chance that the world's average climate will become significantly warmer during the next century. …}
    [He went on to propose] six approaches that could be taken to reduce future warming:
    • emphasizing natural gas over coal and oil, conservation,
    • substitution of nonfossil energy sources,
    • carbon sequestration by stimulating phytoplankton production,
    • increasing atmospheric reflection through artificial intervention, and expanding forests. …
    (p 190)

    [After] the talk [Singer approached Revelle] about collaborating on an article [entitled "What To Do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap," [which was published the following year] in Cosmos, the journal of the elite Washington Cosmos Club …
    (p 191)

    [Singer was the lead author, and] Revelle was listed as second author. …
    [However, it clear whether Revelle approved the final version of the article because he died of a heart attack in July 1991.]
    (p 193)

    [In addition,] Cosmos wasn't a [peer-reviewed] scientific journal [and] didn't have a very high circulation. …

    [As] the 1992 election campaign got under way, the Cosmos article was [used by the New Republic, the Independent and the Washington Post to attack] Senator Al Gore. …
    Gregg Eaterbrook:
    [Before] his death last year, Revelle published a paper that concludes,
    [The] scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time.
    (New Republic, July 1992)
    [Except that those] were Singer's words, not Revelle's.
    [And Easterbrook neglected to mention that Singer was the lead author.]
    George Will:
    Gore knows that his former mentor at Harvard, Roger Revelle, who died last year, concluded:
    The scientific base for greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time.
    There is little risk in delaying policy responses.
    (Washington Post, September 1992)
    (p 195)

    Retired admiral James B Stockdale, the running mate of Ross Perot, attacked Gore with the claim, again using the statement that had originated in Singer's 1990 article [which Revelle had no part in].

    The use of Revelle's name to attack AI Gore infuriated the Revelle family, as well as his colleagues at Scripps.
    Revelle's daughter, Carolyn Hufbauer, protested Wills attack in an op-ed …
    [Oceanographer] Walter Munk and physicist Edward Frieman … wrote a letter to Cosmos, but the journal declined to publish it …
    Munk and Frieman:
    S Fred Singer wrote the paper …
    [As] a courtesy, [Singer] added Roger as a co-author based upon his willingness to review the manuscript and advise on aspects relating to sea-level rise. …
    But the person who fought longest and hardest to defend Revelle's legacy — and paid the highest price — was Justin Lancaster [one of Revelle's graduate students]. …
    Lancaster and his thesis advisor, Dave Keeling, wrote a letter to the New Republic challenging the Easterbrook article, but it was never published. …
    Lancaster was serving on the editorial board for a volume titled A Global Warming Forum, and Singer intended to republish the Cosmos piece there.
    Lancaster tried to get Singer to remove Revelle's name from it, but Singer refused.
    (p 195)
    Justin Lancaster:
    Revelle did not write the Cosmos article and was reluctant to join it.
    Pressured rather unfairly at a very weak moment while recovering from heart surgery, Revelle finally gave in to the lead author. …
    Singer denied having pressured Revelle, insisting that the Cosmos paper was based on Revelle's AAAS paper, and he attacked Munk and Lancaster for their "politically inspired misrepresentations." …

    As Lancaster continued to publicly dispute Revelle's coauthorship of the paper, Singer filed a libel lawsuit against him.
    Lancaster had little money and fewer resources, but he tried to fight Singer, insisting that the facts were on his side.
    The only other person who could corroborate Lancaster's account, Revelle's secretary, Christa Beran, did.
    [But it] wasn't enough.
    Singer's pockets were deeper than Lancaster's, and in 1994, Lancaster accepted a settlement that forced him to retract his claim that Revelle hadn't really been a coauthor, put him under a ten-year gag order, and sealed all the court documents. …
    Roger Revelle:
    There is good reason to expect that because of the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere there will be a climate warming.
    How big that warming will be is … very difficult to say.
    Probably somewhere between 2 and 5 degrees centigrade at the latitudes of the United States, probably a greater change in average temperature at higher latitudes and a lesser change at lower latitudes …
    Whatever climate change there is will have a profound effect on some aspects of water resources.
    (November 1990)
    (p 196)

    The documentary record clearly shows that Roger Revelle did not change his mind [about climate change].
    He believed that global warming was coming and it would have serious impacts …
    [He] believed that the best way to address it was to shift our energy sources.
    Nowhere did he … suggest that he considered that a "drastic" action. …

    In June 1992 … George HW Bush [signed] the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [and] pledged to
    [Take] concrete action to protect the planet.

    Doubling Down on Denial

    Despite the best efforts of Jastrow, Seitz, Nierenberg, and Singer to [foster doubt, by 1992] the scientific debate over the detection of global warming was reaching closure.
    (p 197, italics added)

    [The question now became:] could it be definitively attributed to humans?
    [So as "detection and attribution" studies] began to appear in the peer-reviewed literature … Singer and his colleagues [methodically sought] to undermine them.
    (p 198)

    [In 1979 Klaus Hasselmann (Director, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg)] proposed a new detection and attribution technique called "optimal fingerprinting." …
    (p 199)

    Fingerprinting proved to be a powerful tool for studying cause-and-effect relationships. …
    If warming were caused by the Sun, then … the whole atmosphere [would warm] up.
    [But if warming was] caused by greenhouse gases [only] the lower atmosphere [would warm — while] reduced heat flow into the upper atmosphere [would cause the stratosphere] to cool.
    Collaborating with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute, and six other research institutions around the world, [Ben] Santer started to look at the vertical [distribution] of temperature [across the upper and lower atmosphere.]
    Before they'd finished the work, Santer was asked to become the convening lead author for "Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes," chapter 8 of the second IPCC assessment [1995].
    (p 200)

    Santer's chapter [had four lead authors] Tom Wigley, Tim Barnett, and thirty-two additional contributing authors — [ie] thirty-six of the world's top climate scientists.
    (p 201)

    [In July 1995, Santer's] fingerprint study of changes in the vertical structure of atmospheric temperatures [demonstrating the human impact on climate was] submitted to Nature. …

    [In] September, a draft of the entire Working Group 1 Report was leaked.
    The central message of chapter 8, [was] that the anthropogenic fingerprint had been found …
    (p 202)

    Two weeks before the plenary session in Madrid [to ratify the SAR], the Republican majority in the US Congress launched a preemptive strike.
    (p 202)

    In the Republican hearings, [Patrick J] Michaels [Virginia State Climatologist] was presented as an expert who somehow knew more than all the scientists working within the IPCC umbrella. …
    [He] claimed that the IPCC climate models had heavily overpredicted global warming and could not be trusted [because of discrepancies between the model results and satellite observations].
    He [also] complained [that his] many critical comments on the various chapters of the IPCC report … had been ignored …

    The particular model study that Michaels attacked was the work of … Syukuro Manabe — probably the world's most respected climate modeler …
    [In response Jerry Mahlman (Director, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, NOAA) testified] that Michaels's analysis contained an elementary flaw.
    [Because] Manabe's study was designed to [isolate] the impact of CO2 on climate [it] deliberately [corrected for of ther sources of natural variability] — including volcanic dust.
    [There] had been a set of large volcanic eruptions in the early 1990s, most famously Mt Pinatubo in 1992 [causing the satellite observations to diverge from the model results.]
    It was obvious why the IPCC had ignored Michaels's complaints.

    [The hearings weren't] very successful at getting press attention …
    [Nevertheless, they] had the desired [political] effect of reinforcing the Republican majority's do-nothing attitude.
    (p 203)
    Bill Nierenberg:
    I doubt that Congress will do anything foolish.
    I can also tell you that at least one high-level corporate advisor is advising boards that the issue is politically dead.
    (27 November 1995)
    (p 204)

    The final stage in the process was the IPCC plenary meeting, scheduled to start in Madrid on November 27.
    When Santer arrived at the Madrid meeting, he was handed a sheaf of comments — including comments from the US Government — that he had never seen before.
    (p 202)
    Summary for Policy Makers:
    The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate. …
    (Second Assessment Report, 1995)
    The draft chapter 8 had summary statements at both beginning and end of the chapter …
    [All the other chapters] only had summaries at the beginning.
    [Santer was, therefore, required] to remove the summary statement at the end of the chapter so that it would have the same structure as the rest of the chapters.
    [For years afterwards, critics would] attack him for "removing material."
    (p 205)
    S Fred Singer:
    The mystery is why some insist in making it into a problem, a crisis, or a catastrophe —
    the greatest global challenge facing mankind.

    Tom Wigley:
    We do not know the origin of this statement — it does not appear in any of the IPCC documents.
    Wigley was right.
    The IPCC had not described global warming as the "greatest global challenge facing mankind." …
    Singer was putting words into other people's mouths — and then using those words to discredit them.
    (p 206)

    [Meanwhile, the] Global Climate Coalition … circulated a report entitled "The IPCC: Institutionalized Scientific Cleansing" to reporters, members of Congress, and some scientists [alleging that unauthorized changes to chapter 8 had been made after its acceptance in Madrid.]
    (p 207)
    Fred Seitz:
    In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community … I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report. …

    Few of these changes were merely cosmetic; nearly all worked to remove hints of the skepticism with which many scientists regard claims that human activities are having a major impact on climate …
    (Wall Street Journal, 12 June 1996)
    Santer immediately drafted a letter to the journal, which forty of the other IPCC lead authors signed. …
    At first the Journal wouldn't publish it.
    After three tries [a heavily edited version of] the letter was finally published on June 25 [— with] the names of the forty other cosigners deleted.
    Ben Santer:
    [The changes made were required] in response to written review comments received … from governments, individual scientists, and non-government organizations during plenary sessions of the Madrid meeting.
    This was peer review — the very process that Seitz, as a research scientist, had been a part of all his life. …
    [And, critically, none of the changes affected] the bottom line conclusion.

    Santer also pointed out that Seitz
    • wasn't a climate scientist,
    • hadn't been involved in creating the IPCC report,
    • hadn't attended the Madrid meeting, and
    • hadn't seen the hundreds of review comments to which Santer had to respond.
    [His] claims were [pure] hearsay.

    Bert Bolin and Sir John Houghton also responded with a long letter defending Santer and the IPCC process [which was also heavily edited by the Journal.]
    (p 208)

    [This] so offended [the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and] the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research [UCAR] that [they] republished the letters in their entirety [in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society to show] how the Journal had edited them. …
    Bert Bolin and John Houghton:
    [There appears] to be a concerted and systematic effort by some individuals to undermine and discredit the scientific process that has led many scientists working on understanding climate to conclude that there is a very real possibility that humans are modifying Earth's climate on a global scale.
    Rather than carrying out a legitimate scientific debate through the peer-reviewed literature, they are waging in the public media a vocal campaign against scientific results with which they disagree.
    (p 209)

    On July 11, the Wall Street Journal published three more letters reprising the charges, one from Fred Seitz, one from Fred Singer, and one from Hugh Ellsaesser.
    (p 210)

    By this time, the IPCC report had been published and available for months, so [it was clear] that chapter 8 contained six pages of discussions of model and observational uncertainties …

    [S Fred Singer,] Bill Nierenberg, Patrick Michaels, and [Richard Lindzen] then attacked the AMS/UCAR Open Letter [—] repeating the refuted charges of "substantial and substantive" deletions of uncertainty [and alleging political conspiracy. …]

    In her 1999 analysis, [Anthropologist] Myanna Lahsen pinned Singer's efforts to
    envelop the IPCC in an aura of secrecy and unaccountability
    to a common American conservative rhetoric of political suppression.
    (p 211)

    [Neirenberg] lamented the rift that was developing in the climate science community over the ongoing public attacks …
    [But is was] by participating in this assault on Ben Santer [that he had] marked himself … as a political actor, not a scientific one.
    [The] climate science community was most definitely becoming polarized, but it was due to his own actions [—] and those of a small network of doubt-mongers.

    [More importantly, their claims were being] published in the Wall Street Journal, where they would have been read by millions of educated people.
    Members of Congress also took them seriously.
    Dana Rohrabacher [US House of Representatives]:
    [Trendy] science that is propped up by liberal/left politics rather than good science.

    James Inhofe [US Senate]:
    [Global warming is] the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.
    (July 2003)

    Dick Cheney [US Vice President]:
    [There] does not appear to be a consensus [as] to which that's part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it's caused by man, greenhouse gases etc. …
    [Small] numbers of people can have large, negative impacts, especially if they are organized, determined, and have access to power.
    Seitz, Jastrow, Nierenberg, and Singer had access to power — all the way to the White House — by virtue of their [prestige as Cold War] physicists …
    [And they] used this power to support their political agenda, even though it meant attacking science and their fellow scientists …
    (p 213)

    [The] mass media became complicit …
    Journalists were constantly pressured to grant the professional deniers equal status … and reporting on climate in the United States became biased toward the skeptics and deniers …

    In an active scientific debate, there can be many sides.
    But once a scientific issue is closed, there's only one "side."
    Imagine providing "balance" to the issue of whether the Earth orbits the Sun, whether continents move, or whether DNA carries genetic information.
    These matters were long ago settled in scientists' minds.
    Nobody can publish an article in a scientific journal claiming the Sun orbits the Earth …
    [Likewise] you can't publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal claiming there's no global warming.
    [Most] well-informed professional science journalists wouldn't publish it either.
    But ordinary journalists repeatedly did.
    (p 213)

    [There has been a scientific] consensus about the reality of global warming and its human causes … since the mid-1990s.
    Yet throughout this time period, the mass media presented global warming … as a major debate.
    [This so-called] "balanced" coverage [was, in fact,] a form of "informational bias" …

    [It has made] it easy for [the US] government to do nothing about global warming.
    In July 1997, three months before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized, US senators Robert Byrd and Charles Hagel introduced a resolution blocking its adoption [— it] passed the Senate by a vote of 97-0.
    Scientifically, global warming was an established fact.
    Politically, [it] was dead.
    (p 215)

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