U.N. Scientist Rejects Nobel Prize Share, Denounces Climate Alarmism

November 1st, 2007 9:46 AM

Has the global warming alarmism movement hit its apex? Maybe so.

In recent weeks, we've seen a resurgence of hard scientists who have come out strongly against the warm-mongers, the latest of which is Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change member John R. Christy. In an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, Christy tells the world that not only does he believe it's unproven that humans cause global warming, he's refusing his "share" of the Nobel Peace Prize that he was awarded because it was based on a misunderstanding of science.

An excerpt from this must-read op-ed:

I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume.

The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat. But that's another story. Large icebergs in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Winter sea ice around the continent set a record maximum last month.

Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases. The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe. Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

Read the whole thing.

Update 11:16. Eric Scheie:

What Christy has done amounts to high treason, if not outright apostasy.

Fortunately, the global warming alarmists don't issue fatwas or behead people, so I think he won't suffer the extreme penalty.

Update 15:25. I like the Anchoress's comments here:

It occurs to me that there is a delicious irony playing out before our very eyes, and no one seems to have spotted it, and here it is:

President Bush, using dubious (but largely agreed-upon) intelligence, and inspired by his view - a view some would call “alarmist” - that terrorism is the greatest threat to humanity life and liberty on the planet, went to the UN and called for international movement to depose Saddam Hussein and engage Al Qaeda in a ground war. Some say Bush brooked no debate and suggested that dissent was “unpatriotic.” Those opposed to the war, both outside of the press and from within, cry “why did the press not ask more questions? Why did they simply go along with what Bush said?”

Al Gore, using dubious (but somewhat agreed upon) intelligence, and inspired by his view - a view some would call “alarmist” - that global warming is MAN MADE and the greatest threat to humanity on the planet, has traveled the globe calling for international movement and legislation that will threaten human liberty and whole economies. He refuses to debate, and suggests the press not report upon dissent. Some of his supporters suggest that that dissent on the issue is akin to “holocaust denial.” Those who take a differing view are now crying, “why will the press not ask more questions? Why are they simply going along with what Gore says?”

The difference between the two, of course, is that the press did engage in debate over the Iraq war, they did question it - although admittedly, probably not as strongly as they might have. The press does not engage in debate over Man Made Global Warming, even though the the models, which do not take something as basic as precipitation into their calculations, is unsettled and the science is admittedly complex.

As per usual, there's more to her post, in this case, a discussion about how evangelical Christians are viewing global warming as an issue.