Book Review – Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

Why-Scientists-disagree front-coverThis book by climate scientists Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer is a tour-de-force on the scientific debate about global warming. The book is relatively short, just 101 pages divided into seven chapters. Each chapter leads off with a summary of key findings, and each chapter section is supported by many references to the scientific literature.

The book is published by the Heartland Institute. You can download the entire book as a PDF file (7.8Mb) for free here, or buy a hard copy from the Heartland Store ($14.95).

Many books and papers about global warming contain many, sometimes confusing, graphs. Not this one. Some readers may be happy to know that there are only three graphs in the whole book. The authors get right to the point with their succinct, easy-to-read explanations.

Here is a brief summary, key findings of each chapter, and my comments:

Chapter 1: No Consensus:

“The articles and surveys most commonly cited as showing support for a ‘scientific consensus’ in favor of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis are without exception methodologically flawed and often deliberately misleading.”

This chapter examines each major paper that claims consensus and exposes its flaws. This chapter also provides evidence for lack of consensus.

Chapter 2: Why Scientists Disagree:
The key points provide the major reasons for disagreement:

“Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields. Very few scholars have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines.”

“Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models.”

“The United Nations’ Intergovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), created to find and disseminate research finding a human impact on global climate, is not a credible source. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt.”

“Climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.”

Chapter 3: Scientific method versus Political science:

In this chapter the authors contrast the proper methods of scientific investigation with what goes on in climate science.

“The hypothesis implicit in all IPCC writings, though rarely explicitly stated, is that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The null hypothesis is that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment, as well as current changes in animal and plant characteristics, are the result of natural variability.” (The IPCC has never presented any physical evidence to refute the null hypothesis.)

“In contradiction of the scientific method, IPCC assumes its implicit hypothesis is correct and that its only duty is to collect evidence and make plausible arguments in the hypothesis’s favor.”

Chapter 4: Flawed Projections:

This chapter examines the climate modeling used by the IPCC and shows how all their predictions (projections) have been wrong.

Chapter 5: False Postulates:

This chapter shows that modern warming is neither unprecedented nor unnatural. Rather, the following statements are supported by observation evidence.

“Neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late twentieth century surface warming (1979–2000) lay outside normal natural variability.”

“The late twentieth century warm peak was of no greater magnitude than previous peaks caused entirely by natural forcings and feedbacks.”

“Historically, increases in atmospheric CO2 followed increases in temperature, they did not precede them. Therefore, CO2 levels could not have forced temperatures to rise.”

“Solar forcings are not too small to explain twentieth century warming. In fact, their effect could be equal to or greater than the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

“A warming of 2°C or more during the twenty-first century would probably not be harmful, on balance, because many areas of the world would benefit from or adjust to climate change.”

Chapter 6: Unreliable Circumstantial Evidence:

This chapter debunks scary climate claims.

Chapter 7: Policy Implications:

The authors recommend: “Rather than rely exclusively on IPCC for scientific advice,
policymakers should seek out advice from independent, non-government organizations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest.”
“Rather than invest scarce world resources in a quixotic campaign based on politicized and unreliable science, world leaders would do well to turn their attention to the real problems their people and their planet face.”

The book concludes with this:

Policymakers should resist pressure from lobby groups to silence scientists who question the authority of IPCC to claim to speak for “climate science.”

The distinguished British biologist Conrad Waddington wrote in 1941,

“It is … important that scientists must be ready for their pet theories to turn out to be wrong. Science as a whole certainly cannot allow its judgment about facts to be distorted by ideas of what ought to be true, or what one may hope to be true.” (Waddington, 1941).

This prescient statement merits careful examination by those who continue to assert the fashionable belief, in the face of strong empirical evidence to the contrary, that human CO2 emissions are going to cause dangerous global warming.

I highly recommend this book for those who want to know the real story of global warming, and I recommend it especially for those who believe the IPCC and government propaganda.

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