A Guest Weblog By Will Alexander “Climategate Chaos”

The following is a guest weblog by Will Alexander [and thanks to Madhav L Khandekar for introducing us to Professor Alexander!].  As I have posted before, I encourage climate scientists with peer-reviewed papers on this subject to present their viewpoints as guest posts on my weblog. Following is his brief biographical sketch

WJR (Will) Alexander is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Honorary Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering. He spent the past 35 years of his career actively involved in the development of water resource and flood analysis methods as well as in natural disaster mitigation studies. His interest in climate change arose from claims that it would have an adverse effect in these fields. In his subsequent studies of very large hydrometeorological data sets he was unable to detect any adverse human-related changes. He has written more than 200 papers, presentations and books on these subjects. [alexwjr@iafrica.com]

Guest Welog By Will Alexander  Adelaide, Australia – Climategate chaos  Monday 7 December 2009

Google search for ‘Climategate’: Beginning of November: Nil   – 28 November: 10.4 million hits and rising – 6 December: 31.6 million and still rising!!!!

The international stakes are monumental. Never in the history of science has a single issue generated so much interest and controversy. Looking closer, never in the history of science has there been such a flagrant disregard for the fundamental requirements of scientific endeavour. These are clearly described in the UNESCO/ICSU Declaration on science and the use of scientific knowledge (1999). 

The following are passages from the declaration that are directly relevant to the climate change issue. The emphases are mine.

We seek active collaboration across all the fields of scientific endeavour, i.e. the natural sciences such as the physical, earth and biological sciences, the biomedical and engineering sciences, and the social and human sciences.

Today, there is need for a vigorous and informed democratic debate on the production and use of scientific knowledge…Greater interdisciplinary efforts, involving both natural and social sciences, are a prerequisite for dealing with ethical, social, cultural, environmental, gender, economic and health issues.

Scientists have a special responsibility for seeking to avert applications of science, which are ethically wrong or have adverse impact.

The practice of scientific research and the use of knowledge from that research should always aim at the welfare of humankind.

The social responsibility of scientists requires that they maintain high standards of scientific integrity and quality control, share their knowledge, communicate with the public and educate the younger generation.

There are obviously many scientists who are deeply disturbed by the climategate affair and its inevitable consequences on the image of science as an honourable profession. For example, this is what the UK Prime Minister is reported to have announced.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown led a chorus of condemnation against “flat-earth” climate change sceptics who have tried to derail the Copenhagen summit by casting doubt on the evidence for global warming.

As Shakespeare once wrote – herein lies the rub.

Surely, it is elementary high school science that in order to prove that A is a consequence of B, it is a fundamental requirement to demonstrate that B is not the consequence of C or D. In the case of global warming there is another possible cause. An obvious alternative to human causality is that the warming may be the consequence of changes in received solar energy and its poleward redistribution via the atmospheric and oceanic processes.

This possible linkage has been the subject of investigations in South Africa alone for more than 100 years, but completely ignored by the climate change scientists. They blithely maintain that the changes in received solar energy are too small to influence climate. However, they still have to explain what causes El Nino that everybody agrees has a large influence on climate. If it is not related to the effects of variations in solar activity what alternative explanation is there?

In 1889, more than 100 years ago, the Knysna forester D E Hutchins reported as follows in his book Cycles of drought and good seasons in South Africa.

This confirmation comes from the Cape Town Observatory. The returns for thirty years from the Cape Town Observatory show a close correspondence between sun-spots and temperatures the maximum of temperature lagging a year behind the minimum of sun-spots. (p17).

At Cape Town, the correspondence between the mean rainfall and mean sunspot frequency has long been an established fact. (p25).

For these reasons we ought to consider the Cape Town Observatory rainfall figures as of great importance to ourselves, an importance enhanced by the fact that they go back to the year 1842. For the three cycles comprised in the period 1842 to 1875 the mean annual rainfall at the Royal Observatory, Cape Town, was: –

During Minimum Sunspot years               21.05 inches.

   “       Intermediate     “                        23.59    “

   “       Maximum        “                          27.95    “

In 1970 the South African Commission of Enquiry into Water Matters recommended that research be undertaken on the possible solar influence on water resources.

Two days ago the UK Met Office buckled under public pressure. It announced plans to release, early next week, station temperature records for over one thousand of the stations that make up the global land surface temperature record. I can be of assistance. One of the records will be that of the South African weather station at Cape Agulhas. This is the southern tip of the African continent. It is far removed from urbanisation or other disturbing influences.

This is one of my early sketches. While there was an increase in temperature from 1918 to 1986 it was associated with increases in both solar activity and beneficial increases in widespread rainfall. This confirms Hutchin’s observations 100 years earlier. It negates the claim that temperature increases will have undesirable consequences and result in our planet becoming uninhabitable. 

Concurrent increases in sunspot activity, temperature and widespread rainfall. 

A more sophisticated and incontestable linkage is shown in the following figure from one of my early presentations.

Comparison of the characteristics of annual sunspot densities with corresponding characteristics of the annual flows in the Vaal River.

These two examples are a very small sample of our well documented studies on the solar linkage during the past thirty years. The linkage is unequivocal.

Despite a diligent analysis of a comprehensive hydroclimatic database of more than eleven thousand annual observations, we were unable to detect any trends or abnormalities in the data that could be attributed to human activities. Why are we vilified for our solidly based scientific endeavours? There can only be one reason. Our conscientious studies completely undermine the very basis of climate alarmism. There is abundant, well documented evidence demonstrating the solar connection, but none at all that supports human causality. We are not sceptics. We simply presented the facts based on thorough, prolonged studies. Our publications and reports are freely available. They include the data and analytical methodologies. 

Where do we go from here?

The millions of Google hits (about a million per day) confirm that there are thousands of scientists and others who share our concerns. The climate change scientists and their institutions have painted themselves into a corner from which there is no escape. If the investigations that are now underway confirm that global temperatures increased during the past century this is still a long way from proving human causality.

When the Met Office provides global temperature data do you think that they will provide concurrent rainfall data from the same stations? If not, then why not? If rainfall decreased synchronously with temperature increases this would provide undeniable proof of a linkage. Why did they not follow this route? Once again the answer is obvious. There is no scientifically believable linkage between temperature increases and rainfall decreases. Rising temperatures will increase the habitability of our planet and the welfare of its citizens.

Tactical error

The most recent development is that on 4 December Working Group 1 of the IPCC issued a statement that it firmly stands behind the conclusions reached in its 2007 assessment reports, “The key finding that the warming in the climate system is unequivocal.”  This is still a long way from proving human causality. The only proof that they can offer is manipulated deductions from limited tree ring measurements in remote areas of the globe that show that present global temperatures are higher than any experienced in the past thousands of years. Therefore the increases must be due to human activities. I repeat my question. Why did they not base their conclusions on solid analyses of rainfall and river flow measurements during the past 100 years?

Their statement also defends the integrity of the individual scientists involved in the climategate affair. I share the view that the individuals should not become the scapegoats for the scientifically corrupt system. I have personal experience of the extent to which climate alarmists are prepared to go to silence the opposition.

An unforeseen consequence of the working group’s proclaimed support for the individuals and their tactics in particular, now places the whole IPCC structure in the same boat. If the investigations confirm serious shortfalls in procedures used in the two institutions, then by its own admission, the same criticisms must apply to the IPCC itself.

WJRA.   7 December 2009

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