Inadequate Poll Of Views On Climate Science By Scott Learn Of The Oregonian – But At Least An Opportunity To Debate The Climate Issue

UPDATE JANUARY 26 2012:  An update to the meeting is given at [h/t to Marc Morano]

Presentation by global warming skeptics draws big crowd in Portland

Don Bishop has alerted us to an article by Scott Learn of The Oregonian titled

*************************Original Post*****************************

Global warming skeptics to take center stage in Portland (poll)

The article refers to a meeting tomorrow evening in Portland. The article starts with the text [highlight added]

When it comes to global warming, the American Meteorological Society has strong views: “Human activities are a major contributor to climate change,” the society says, and “increases in greenhouse gases are nearly certain to produce continued increases in temperature.”

But at 7 p.m. Wednesday, the society’s Oregon chapter will give three opponents of those propositions their biggest stage, two hours before an expected audience of several hundred in a ballroom at the Portland Airport Shilo Inn.

The chapter’s invitation asks the question: “Is human caused global warming the greatest scientific myth of our generation?”

The article contains misinformation from some of those quoted; e.g.

Justin Sharp, a meteorologist for wind-power firm Iberdrola Renewables, declined to renew his membership in the local chapter. There are legitimate uncertainties to discuss about climate projections, he says.

“But devoting equal time on all subject matters just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” says Sharp, who adds that he is not speaking for Iberdrola. “If you had a panel with both sides represented in proportion to what the field believes, you’d have 900 scientists on one side and George (Taylor) on the other.”

Justin misses the critical point that there is a diversity of views on the climate issue, as illustrated by the article

Pielke Sr., R., K.  Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D.  Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E.  Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J.  Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases.   Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American   Geophysical Union.

which was co-authored by only Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (and only 0.1% of the members receive this honor). George Taylor, who is a very well-respected climate scientist, is far from alone in his concerns is to how the climate issue is being misrepresented.

The news article has a poll with the following questions

Is human-caused global warming the greatest scientific myth of our generation?

  • Yes. Human-caused global warming is a myth.
  • No. Human-caused global warming is based in fact.
  •  I’ll take no formal position, like the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society.

This is a ridiculous poll as almost all climate scientists agree that the human addition of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has a radiative warming effect. The substantive issues, however, that are naively ignored in these poll questions include, in terms of how weather patterns are affected, what is the effect of CO2 radiative forcing relative to other human and natural radiative forcings, as well as the role of negative and positive radiative feedbacks. Indeed, radiative forcing is just one of a range of climate forcings (e.g. the role human aerosol emissions on cloud and precipitation processes) as discussed in detail in

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington,D.C., 208 pp.

A much better set of questions to ask tomorrow evening are:

  • Hypothesis 1: Human influence on climate variability and change is of minimal importance, and natural causes dominate climate variations and changes on all time scales. In coming decades, the human influence will continue to be minimal.
  • Hypothesis 2a: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.
  • Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.

The Pielke et al 2009 paper provides evidence why hypothesis 2a is the only one that has not been refuted. However, this would be a much more appropriate poll for the Oregonian to run than the poll that is in their newspaper. The paper however, should be commended for at least permitting a much needed debate on the climate issue.

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