The secret climate change war

Naomi Oreskes and Jonathan Renouf have a fascinating article in the Sunday Times about the secret climate change war in the early 80s:

Even today few people have heard of Jason. It was established in 1960 at the height of the cold war when a group of physicists who had helped to develop the atomic bomb proposed a new organisation that would – to quote one of its founders – “inject new ideas into national defence”.

So the Jasons (as they style themselves) were born; a self-selected group of brilliant minds free to think the unthinkable in the knowledge that their work was classified. Membership was by invitation only and they are indeed the cream. Of the roughly 100 Jasons over the years, 11 have won Nobel prizes and 43 have been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. …


In 1977 they got to work on global warming. … In 1979 they produced their report: coded JSR-78-07 and entitled The Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate. Now, with the benefit of hind-sight, it is remarkable how prescient it was.

Right on the first page, the Jasons predicted that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would double from their preindustrial levels by about 2035. Today it’s expected this will happen by about 2050. They suggested that this doubling of carbon dioxide would lead to an average warming across the planet of 2-3C. Again, that’s smack in the middle of today’s predictions. They warned that polar regions would warm by much more than the average, perhaps by as much as 10C or 12C. That prediction is already coming true – last year the Arctic sea ice melted to a new record low. This year may well set another record.

Read the whole thing.

Comments

  1. #1 yogi-one
    September 7, 2008

    So we knew about it 30 years ago and we did …nothing.
    And we knew about it 20 years ago and we did …nothing.
    And we knew about it 10 years ago and we did …nothing.
    And we knew about it 5 years ago and we…well we started talking about it.
    Today, the research is in, and we don’t like the results, so we’re still talking about it.

    Great.

    Can someone please remind me why we think our species is intelligent?

    It’s going to be tough for those of us who are around to answer to our grandchildren.

    “Why did you let it happen, Granpa?”

    “Um…some folks were making more money by preventing us from doing anything, so we allowed them to just keep making money the same old way and not change anything.”

    “Well. that was stupid!”

    “I..er,…um…yeah, I guess it was…”

  2. #2 bi -- IJI
    September 7, 2008

    Yeah, that proves it! Global warming is a secret plot concocted by an Elitist Conspiracy working in cahoots with Alternative Energy Impresarios! :-B

    Back to seriousness: Is this Jason stuff really that breaking news? Didn’t Oreskes mention the Jason report before? When do we stop talking and start doing?

  3. #3 Dean
    September 7, 2008

    If you look in your local library you should be able to find a book about this group – as i recall, it came out 5 or 6 years ago. Interesting reading.

  4. #4 Craig
    September 7, 2008

    The potential for CO2 caused global warming was made known well before this. Check out this video excerpt from a TV show in 1958. (Hat tip to DeSmogBlog.)

  5. #5 Demesure
    September 7, 2008

    “They warned that polar regions would warm by much more than the average, perhaps by as much as 10C or 12C. That prediction is already coming true – last year the Arctic sea ice melted to a new record low. This year may well set another record.”

    The Arctic climate change is a change in atmospheric & oceanic circulation patterns, with 20% of the total area COOLING (BTW, there is no data for about 20% of Arctic): see ACIA 2004, fig 1.3.

    It’s a local change, just like the cooling of Antarctica that the alarmist crowd “forgot” to mention. Hence attributing it to “global warming” and even more AGW is a simplistic, one-sided (litteraly) and ignorant claim.

    As to saying “This year may well set another [low record for Artic sea ice]“, it’s already a busted alarmist prediction.

    Those people aren’t able to confront facts now, why should they be trusted for 2030-50 climate assessments ? C’mon, that’s not about rational thinking, that’s about religion.

  6. #6 a lurker
    September 7, 2008

    “The potential for CO2 caused global warming was made known well before this. Check out this video excerpt from a TV show in 1958. (Hat tip to DeSmogBlog.)”

    Alfred Russel Wallace warned about the potential for a problem from warming caused by increased carbon dioxide. Yeah, that Alfred Russel Wallace.

    It was not completely unknown to the general population either. Soylent Green clearly mentioned what we today call “global warming” or “climate change” way back in the 1960s. I am fairly sure that the script writers were not scientists, so the idea had been in circulation in pop culture by that time.

    I am sure people here could dig up many more references.

  7. #7 ben
    September 7, 2008

    So how are you going to get China, India, and the rest of the developing world to make any changes? What’s the big plan?

    1. Can so-called alternative energy sources really be ramped up to provide enough energy when they only produce a minuscule amount of the world total at the moment?

    2. Can the production of carbon dioxide and other green-house gases really be limited to acceptable levels without impacting finances of the average person too harshly?

    3. If not, then what? Make the average person miserable enough and you won’t get what you want. Then what? What’s plan B?

  8. #8 pough
    September 7, 2008

    I like how you have four questions and three numbers. (I tried to number them 0-3, but something is automatically changing them!)

    0. I don’t have a plan (not sure why I would, seeing as how I’m not a politician or activist or anything) but I do think that acting responsibly in spite of the fact that others may not is the opposite of foolish. Just my opinion. Yours apparently is different.

    1. I don’t know, but some is definitely better than none and more is better than less. (This also applies to sex, BTW.)

    2. Maybe. After all, many reductions in carbon output also correspond with savings. But really, can we continue to output carbon at unacceptable levels without impacting finances of the average person too harshly?

    3. Plan B is the current plan: business as usual until circumstances force change. [Boris]Is not good plan, but is plan.[/Boris]

    What, exactly, are you offering as a solution? I mean, apart from “stupidly wait it out because doing something smart might just have an impact on some peoples’ finances”?

  9. #9 dhogaza
    September 7, 2008

    It’s a local change, just like the coolingslower warming of Antarctica that the alarmist crowd “forgot” to mentionpredicted.

    There. That’s more accurate.

  10. #10 pough
    September 7, 2008

    20% of the total area COOLING

    OMG! 20% cooling!? That’s a lot! Cooling has an insurmountable lead on warming!

    cooling of Antarctica

    Really? Like actually cooling as part of a trend or just ice forming and snow building?

    it’s already a busted alarmist prediction

    It was a prediction? I’m going to guess you’re ESL, because “may well” implies uncertainty. Also, the melting has about a few weeks left to go, and it’s not impossible for it to get the new record. I personally think it’s unlikely, but it’s hardly impossible. It’s sure as hell not “busted”. (Unless you’re into religious denial of reality, but you’re not because you like to make it up in others and then demean them for it. So you can’t be like that. That would be projection and nobody projects. Not a single person ever in the history of humankind.)

  11. #11 John Mashey
    September 7, 2008

    1) Naomi was talking about this at least a year and half ago.

    2) It’s an important part of the book she’s working on, i.e., it’s hard to describe the history without including JASON.

  12. #12 bi -- IJI
    September 7, 2008

    Uh-oh. No climate conspiracy theories involving Jason. Seriously, this is puzzling. Is it because Jason doesn’t ‘smell’ ‘leftist’ enough for inactivists, or what? Will it look more ‘leftist’ if I write it in Greek — Ιάσων? Or Cyrillic — Ясо́н?

    What’s Jason’s place in the inactivist mythos, if any?

  13. #13 z
    September 7, 2008

    ” What’s plan B?”

    delayists win, nobody does anything because they’re waiting for somebody else to come up with easy silver bullet solution, climate shifts, western civilization takes serious hit, delayists point fingers at scientists and other members of reality-based community for failing to warn us and/or do anything about climate shift, use this as talking point to support their next wrong-headed crusade.

  14. #14 eddie
    September 7, 2008

    Tonight, 9pm bst on BBC2 – Ian Stewart has a program on the Climate Wars.
    Interesting to see if jason gets a mention.
    The blurb mentions the ’70s zeitgeist was for a new ice age but its clear from jason that the govt knew the real story and spun a web of deceit.

  15. #15 Alan D. McIntire
    September 7, 2008

    That 2 or 3 C warming appears to be well above the mark.
    The actual trend has been more like 1.3 C per century

    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.2

    – A. McIntire

  16. #16 luminous beauty
    September 7, 2008

    The Arctic climate change is a change in atmospheric & oceanic circulation patterns, with 20% of the total area COOLING (BTW, there is no data for about 20% of Arctic): see ACIA 2004, fig 1.3.

    Cherry picking selective data to arrive at contra-factual conclusions isn’t rational thinking nor religion, it’s intellectual fraud.

    However, given the mass quantities of straw in demesure’s arguments, ordinary stupidity can’t be ruled out.

  17. #17 Julian
    September 7, 2008

    yogi-one: Quite frankly, the fact that businesses and ideologues have managed to obfuscate and dither this debate out as long as they have; to use concepts of fairness and diligence to forestall doing anything about this issue, even when facing clear evidence enunciated by the most well-educated people on the planet, proves the strategic brilliance of the human race, not its stupidity.

    Of course, it also proves how short-sited and selfish we are; for 40 years 3 generations have put off dealing with one of the grimmest problems in human history, and now we and the future will have to deal with a 22 century much more dangerous than it needed to be.

  18. #18 Demesure
    September 7, 2008

    “Cherry picking selective data to arrive at contra-factual conclusions isn’t rational thinking nor religion, it’s intellectual fraud.”
    ———————————————–

    If I’m cherry-picking about the Arctic, so the alarmist crowd which keeps downplaying that Antarctica sea ice area has been increasing over the past 30 years must be pumpkin picking.

  19. #19 Demesure
    September 7, 2008

    #9 dhogaza
    Oreskes has quoted Jason as predicting an accelerated warming of the poleS, that is 2 poles. So saying that Jason has been vindicated just by using the Arctic example is at best cherry-picking, at worse blatant dishonesty.
    But I presume none is stranger to the alarmists.

  20. #20 Jim
    September 7, 2008

    Demesure
    When i look at what i assume is good data:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.area.south.jpg
    the total ice coverage of the Antarctic Sea seems to be fairly constant since ’78.

  21. #21 dhogaza
    September 7, 2008

    Yes, Jim, nothing of statistical significance has been happening in Antarctica.

    And Demesure, the Jason hypotheses have been supplemented by sustained efforts to increase our knowledge, and of course, that effort led to the prediction that things in Antarctica would warm more slowly than in the Arctic. And of course the Jasonites didn’t know about CFCs and the future ozone hole.

    the alarmist crowd which keeps downplaying that Antarctica sea ice area has been increasing over the past 30 years must be pumpkin picking.

    And, no, we don’t downplay it, we point out that it fits model predictions. Idiot denialists argue that predictions that come true somehow prove the prediction wrong.

  22. #22 cce
    September 7, 2008

    2 to 4 degrees for doubled CO2 is after the climate system reaches equilibrium (for fast feedbacks at least). We haven’t reached doubled CO2 levels yet, we are not close to reaching equilibrium even if we were, and surface warming is partially obscured by anthropogenic aerosols.

    Cooling in the continental interior of Antarctica is caused by strengthened circumpolar winds due to the cooling stratosphere (ozone destruction and increased CO2). The Antarctic Peninsula, on the other hand, is one of the fastest warming places on Earth.

    Antarctic sea ice has seen mild increases due to the decrease in density of the uppler layers of the Southern Ocean, which decreases heat transport to surface. Current southern sea ice conditions are low compared to that measured in the early ’70s.

    Global Sea Ice extent has decreased from 105-110% of the ’79-00 baseline in the early ’70s, to about 95% today.

    http://cce.890m.com/?page_id=25

  23. #23 luminous beauty
    September 7, 2008

    Antarctica, impersonating a pumpkin.

  24. #24 Hank Roberts
    September 7, 2008

    More proof, if any were needed, that if you’re going to mortgage your planet’s future, you need an honest and well informed broker. But nobody tells the taxpayers the anticipated costs of the choices they’re being sold.

    > Jasonites didn’t know about CFCs and the future ozone hole.

    Yep. Factor in that unimaginable unknown they didn’t include, and their numbers look even more accurate.

  25. #25 Chris O'Neill
    September 7, 2008

    Demesure:

    The Arctic climate change is a change in atmospheric & oceanic circulation patterns, with 20% of the total area COOLING

    And where, pray tell, does ACIA 2004 fig 1.3 or anywhere else show that 20% of the Arctic is cooling? Be careful, bullshitting is harmful to your credibility.

  26. #26 dhogaza
    September 7, 2008

    Well, hell, at first blush his 20% cooling figure means that 80% is either warming or static.

    So why the hell care about his 20% in the first place?

  27. #27 pough
    September 8, 2008

    That 2 or 3 C warming appears to be well above the mark. The actual trend has been more like 1.3 C per century

    Psst. 2 or 3 C per doubling, not century. Even though they’re pronounced the same way, they have somewhat different meanings. Oh wait. They’re not pronounced the same at all. And their meanings are totally different!

  28. #28 Barton Paul Levenson
    September 8, 2008

    ben writes:

    Can so-called alternative energy sources really be ramped up to provide enough energy when they only produce a minuscule amount of the world total at the moment?

    Can so-called manned spaceflight really be ramped up to provide enough voyages when they only produced a few in 1961? Or none in 1958?

  29. #29 bi -- IJI
    September 8, 2008

    BPL:

    And the amount of energy produced so far by Clean Coal and other as-yet-nonexistent clean technologies borne of conlibertarian capitalism is… let’s see…

    Oops.

    But they’ll probably involve big gigantic megagizmos the size of New Jersey,

  30. #30 bi -- IJI
    September 8, 2008

    … so it’s OK.

  31. #31 Valuethinker
    September 8, 2008

    a lurker

    JG Ballard ‘The Drowned World’ – 1964 – a novel about an Earth mostly undersea due to global warming

    Harry Harrison ‘Make Room, Make Room’ – 1966 – the novel that became the (inferior) movie ‘Soylent Green’. Much of Make Room Make Room came true, just not in New York City.

    Any novel (almost) by Poul Anderson included a fair bit of planet building (any of the Nicholas van Rijn/ Flandry of Terra sequence) and a mention of the greenhouse effect.

    Science Fiction has been writing about the greenhouse effect for decades.

  32. #32 Richard Eis
    September 8, 2008

    -delayists win, nobody does anything because they’re waiting for somebody else to come up with easy silver bullet solution, climate shifts, western civilization takes serious hit, delayists point fingers at scientists and other members of reality-based community for failing to warn us and/or do anything about climate shift, use this as talking point to support their next wrong-headed crusade.-

    And finally the government will decide to initiate Plan C during the rebuilding phase. A cheap alternative until restoration is complete.

    Mandatory swimming lessons.

  33. #33 Eli Rabett
    September 8, 2008

    It’s not so easy to talk about the Jasons. Dyson was certainly part of the group and the same for Nierenberg.

  34. #34 John Mashey
    September 8, 2008

    re: JASONs
    So was Burton Richter, i.e., quite sensible.

  35. #35 Ken
    September 8, 2008

    Renewables have a sustained history of improvement and expansion, unlike space flight. The analogy is a poor one. Wind has expanded enormously -is the largest growing energy source in much of the developed world- and the cost gap between solar and coal has nearly closed – with the costs of sequestration (which might be a better fit for the space flight analogy) it probably has. Take a look at First Solar, Nanosolar, CSG Solar or Ausra for where the newer versions of renewable technologies have got to – and there’s no reason to think that’s the best that can be done.

  36. #36 dave heasman
    September 9, 2008

    “It was not completely unknown to the general population either. Soylent Green clearly mentioned what we today call “global warming” or “climate change” way back in the 1960s.”

    There was a Phil Dick novel of the 60s where global warming had run through positive feedback loops and people were wearing chitinous exoskeletons. He didn’t dwell on it, though.

  37. #37 P. Lewis
    September 9, 2008

    Following up on bi–IJ’s earlier comment, how secret is secret then?

    Houghton et al. reference “it” (as “Jason, A. [!?] 1979: Long…”) in “Climate Change 1994: Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and An Evaluation of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios” and Spencer Weart has “it” listed in his AIP “The Discovery of Global Warming” bibliography.

    For info, the abstract for JSR-78-07 reads as follows:

    If the current growth rate in the use of fossil fuels continues at 4.3% per year, then the CO/sub 2/ concentration in the atmosphere can be expected to double by about 2035 provided the current partition of CO/sub 2/ between the atmosphere, biosphere, and oceans is maintained as is the current mix of fuels.^Slower rates of anticipated growth of energy use lead to a doubling of the carbon content of the atmosphere sometime in the period 2040 to 2060.^This report addresses the questions of the sources of atmospheric CO/sub 2/; considers distribution of the present CO/sub 2/ among the atmospheric, oceanic, and biospheric reservoir; and assesses the impact on climate as reflected by the average ground temperature at each latitude of significant increases in atmospheric CO/sub 2/.^An analytic model of the atmosphere was constructed (JASON Climate Model).^Calculation with this zonally averaged model shows an increase of average surface temperature of 2.4/sup 0/ for a doubling of CO/sub 2/.^The equatorial temperature increases by 0.7/sup 0/K, while the poles warm up by 10 to 12/sup 0/K.^The warming of climate will not necessarily lead to improved living conditions everywhere.^Changes in sea level, in agricultural productivity, and in water availability can be anticipated, but the dimensions of their economic, political, or social consequences can not.

    A list of possible JASON “members” (with provisos) and their research is given at Wikipedia.

  38. #38 TokyoTom
    September 10, 2008

    The Jason report is available for download here:
    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12181

  39. #39 P. Lewis
    September 10, 2008

    I doff my hat to you TokyoTom.

  40. #40 TokyoTom
    September 10, 2008

    For those interested, I’ve put up the the authors, reviewers and conclusions of the JASON report here:

    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/09/11/the-1979-jason-report-quot-carbon-dioxide-and-climate-a-scientific-assessment-quot.aspx

  41. #41 Dano
    September 10, 2008

    What P. Lewis said. Gestured.

    Best,

    D

  42. #42 thingsbreak
    September 10, 2008

    Guys, that’s not the ’79 JASON report. That’s the Charney report.

    JASON Report: The Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate

    Charney Report: Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment

  43. #43 pough
    September 10, 2008

    Over in Stoatland, Nierenberg’s son is weighing in. (And I think he’s providing the report on his website.) He claims Orseke’s full of it, at least as far as her claims regarding his father are concerned. (I know this thread is more about the science, but it’s still somewhat relevant.)

  44. #44 TokyoTom
    September 11, 2008

    Actually, as ThingsBreak kindly points out, I see I’ve managed to confuse the Jason Report with the Charney Report that followed it in 1979 – and served as a kind of SPM. My bad!

    I have updated my blog post both to note the correction and to add a little more info on the Jason report.

    According to the Charney report bibliography, Jason report authors were:

    MacDonald, G.F., H.Abarbanel, P.Carruthers, J.Chamberlain, H.Foley, W.Munk, W. Nierenberg, O.Rothaus, M.Ruderman, J.Vesecky, and F.Zachariasen

    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/09/09/the-1979-jason-report-quot-carbon-dioxide-and-climate-a-scientific-assessment-quot.aspx

  45. #45 John Mashey
    September 11, 2008

    Correction:

    The TimeOnLine paper seems a short condensation derived from the material in Chicken Little to Dr. Pangloss, a scholarly paper that covers some of the middle of her talk American Denial of Global Warming.

    The comment “So Reagan commissioned a third report” is incorrect, as per Stoat, although the chronology is right in the paper above, and in the earlier draft Chapter I’d seen. Someone erred when condensing about 10 pages down to a sentence, because this error is not in that paper.

    The committee had already been formed, but the Reagan administration got the report it wanted, a few years later. The issue isn’t the exact timing of committees, but whether or not Nierenberg overrode the results of the earlier committees, and of the climate scientists on his committee to get the desired result of “don’t worry.”

    Nicolas Nierenberg (William’s son) complains about this at DeSmogBlog, along with other things,so see what he says.

    Also, see my quote of George Woodwell, and reactions to it:

    I sent this to Dr. George M. Woodwell, who is one of the few *scientists* on that committee still alive.
    You can read a little about him at:
    http://www.whrc.org/about_us/whos_who/staff.htm

    He replied almost immediately, and kindly gave his permission to quote what he said, so I will, in its entirety:

    “Dear Dr. Mashey:
    Yes, I remember well that committee and how it was controlled and deflected by new economic influences as the environmental issues appeared to become acute. The study was under the auspices of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, not the National Science Foundation. We resorted to individual papers because we could not agree, or see any way to agree, on a single report. Even within my own paper there was systematic pressure to dilute the statements and the conclusions. I had previously written and signed along with Roger Revelle, Davide Keeling, and Gordon MacDonald a stronger statement for the CEQ at the end of the Carter administration. That statement was widely publicized by Gus Speth, then Chairman of CEQ, and ultimately used in testimony in the Congress and as bakground for the Global 2000 Report publishe by CEQ in 1980.

    As far as the summary statement of the Report was concerned, as the Preface states: there were “no major dissents”. That means no one chose to fight with the chairman. It was poor, sickly job, deliberately made so for political reasons characteristic of the corruption of governmental purpose
    in the Reagan regime. Naomi Oreskes has it right. GMW”

  46. #46 Dave Andrews
    September 13, 2008

    Tim,

    You may not have heard about the JASONs until recently but it has long been known of in circles relating to nuclear weapons policy and proliferation.

    So maybe Oreskes, supposed discovery is nothing of the sort?

  47. #47 John Mashey
    September 13, 2008

    Oh, JASONs have been long known to Oreskes and lots of other people. The interesting thing was the connection with climate change issues.
    Of course, they’ve long done other things.

    Also, I’ve changed my mind about “commissioned” being incorrect.

    See my long comment at
    Atmoz.

    Basically, Carter+COngress commissioned one sort of report, but Reagan administration commisioned another kind in mid-stream, and that was the final result.

    From that:
    “Suppose a town council has gotten reports that there may be pollution problems if a local refinery is expanded. They commission a planning group to do a more extensive scientific study. The planning group selects a lead who believes pollution regulations get in the way of business. He selects a team that includes several refinery employees. Meanwhile, the town council is replaced by a new one that is very pro-refinery, the team lead works for that council on other tasks, and six months later, the planning group gets its official charge. The team lead bookends the science with the work by the refinery employees, and guess what: the bottom line is that the refinery should be expanded. So who commissioned the report that finally happened?”

  48. #48 Antti Van Wonterghem
    September 14, 2008

    For my known the first one who end up in publicity with the idea of AGW was Svante Arrhenius.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius#Greenhouse_effect

    So, in other words, mankind has wasted over 110 years

  49. #49 Dave Andrews
    September 14, 2008

    JM, #47

    There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in there wnich could lead us anywhere!

  50. #50 Nicolas Nierenberg
    September 15, 2008

    I wasn’t aware until just now that this discussion was going on. Dr. Mashey and I don’t agree on the Times article, or much else it seems. In any event for another view on these issues a critique has been published at http://www.nicolasnierenberg.com along with a scan of the executive summary of the 1983 CDAC report.

  51. #51 Heatwave
    September 16, 2008

    Nicolas Nierenberg.

    Perhaps you would care to reiterate your case here, as I find very little to dispute in John Mashey’s account of the issue.

  52. #52 Nicolas Nierenberg
    September 16, 2008

    Heatwave,

    I would be happy to discuss this here as well.

    It is important to note that there are two separate issues and Dr. Mashey is combining them a bit. Dr. Oreskes published a paper “Chicken Little…” with which we largely disagree. I have posted a complete critique of that paper here

    For the purpose of this discussion we dispute the idea that the executive summary and the synthesis did not reflect a fair summary of the separately peer reviewed chapters that made up the very large 1983 CDAC report. We also dispute the idea that the summaries did not represent the consensus view of the committee.

    Dr. Mashey focuses on the phrase “no major dissent” in the introduction. But the statement of consensus is much stronger than that. I quote it in its entirety so that I won’t be accused of selecting the parts that I like :-).

    “The CO2 issue is so diverse in its intellectual components that no individual may be considered an expert on the entire problem. For this reason, as noted above, the CDAC prepared or commissioned separately authored and separately peer-reviewed papers in each area, with no attempt to force unanimity of style or of views. For the same reason, the Committee members felt themselves incapable of judging and endorsing as a group the details of each paper’s analysis and findings. Thus, each paper should be viewed primarily as the product of its individual members and other reviewers but not enjoying the unanimity of conclusions possible in a more homogeneous and less controversial topic. However, the Committee’s work did reveal a large core of views, findings, conclusions, and recommendations on a more general level, which all members could wholeheartedly and responsibly endorse. These are presented in the Synthesis of the report. Despite the existence of some areas of continuing controversy, such as the carbon cycle, there are no major dissents with respect to the contents of this assessment.”

    I would focus on the phrase “wholeheartedly and responsibly endorse.” As to Dr. Woodwell he put his name on the report, and there is no record of any dissent on his part in the minutes of the meetings, or in any subsequent correspondence. The executive summary was printed essentially verbatim in the NY Times, and Dr. Woodwell did not choose to write a letter separating himself from the result. If he felt that strongly at the time, then I think he would be due criticism rather than other members of the committee.

    I’m sorry it has taken a bit of time to get here, but then we arrive at the article in the Times on line bylined by Dr. Oreskes. The following is a direct quote from that story.

    “So Reagan commissioned a third report about global warming from Bill Nierenberg, who had made his name working on the Manhattan Project developing America’s atom bomb. He went on to run the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he had built up the Climate Research Division.”

    I contend that it is incorrect and misleading to say that Reagan commissioned this report from Dr. Nierenberg. The report was commissioned by an act of the US Congress under then President Jimmy Carter. It was produced by the National Academy of Sciences. The entire committee was in place, and holding meetings by the time the election was held in November of 1980 where Reagan defeated Carter. This is the simple truth.

    One of Dr. Oreskes strong objections to the committee was the presence of the economists. There are two observations about that. First they were selected well prior to Reagan’s election so I guess you would have to hang that where it belongs on the National Academy, or if you are Dr. Mashey perhaps with Jimmy Carter since the president is so influential over the academy :-). Second Dr. Schelling was a logical choice since he had chaired a previous committee on the topic under President Carter.

    Dr. Mashey goes on a long process of discussing his theories of influence over the committee etc. But this is just idle speculation. There isn’t a word on that topic in Oreskes et al 2008.

    I would encourage anyone interested in this topic to read the Oreskes paper as well as the critique that we have published. Of course the best thing would be to obtain a copy of the 1983 report. As has been pointed out it is exremely similar to the current IPCC report in its scientific conclusions, which make up almost all of the report.

    Atmoz has posted the charge to the committee and made some interesting observations on this topic here and here .

  53. #53 Dave Rado
    September 18, 2008

    Hi Nicholas

    I would strongly recommend that you submit your critique as a comment to “Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences” – IMO that is the best and most effective way to correct an inaccurate peer reviewed paper.

    Dave

  54. #54 Dave Rado
    September 18, 2008

    Also, if you wrote to The Times about this, and if they refused to publish your reply, I suggest you take it up with the Press Complaints Commission.

    And if you feel the BBC film misrepresented your father you could take it up with the BBC Trust.

    Dave

  55. #55 Dave Rado
    September 18, 2008

    Also, re. the BBC Trust, see here and here.

    Dave

  56. #56 Nicolas Nierenberg
    November 18, 2008

    As a postscript to this story at the suggestion of Dave Rado I did contact the press complaints division, and the story has been corrected.

  57. #57 P Devlin
    November 30, 2008

    Re:antarctic sea ice
    Account for the depth of the original Scott – Amundsen base camp, to say that levels are pretty constant – dont make me laugh – any current satelite images will show an increase in cover – and what of the increasingly harsh winters and the increase of many glacier footprints globally.

    Read Monktons report – IPCC’s figures do not add up yet the 4th Annual Report was published and disseminated before the 30+ amendments were made.
    Talk about one sided!
    The Margin for error re: co2 is so great even when water vapour is not taken into account it swallows up any carbon footprint made by human activity.
    We need an equally represented scientific debate that is devoid of politics – not the $40billion that has been provided to research specifically into AGW as opposed the measly $20million apportioned to dissenting scientific research.
    All I read is unbalanced polemics from many of the commenters here – very religious indeed.

  58. #58 Chris O'Neill
    November 30, 2008

    P Devlin:

    Read Monktons report

    We know all about Monkton.

    All I read is unbalanced polemics from many of the commenters here

    What a hypocrite.

  59. #59 luminous beauty
    November 30, 2008

    The Margin for error re: co2 is so great even when water vapour is not taken into account it swallows up any carbon footprint made by human activity.

    If there are prizes given out for unbalanced polemical glibberish, this sentence certainly deserves honorable mention.

  60. #60 p devlin
    November 30, 2008

    and your not a hypocrite Chris O’Neill heh!

    Luminous beauty – that statement is correct – please prove otherwise instead of spouting rubbish.

  61. #61 z
    November 30, 2008

    ” that statement is correct – please prove otherwise ”

    “Can you PROVE it didn’t happen?”
    -Plan 9 from Outer Space

  62. #62 p devlin
    November 30, 2008

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/08_Beck-2.pdf

    http://www.globalwarminghysteria.com/

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/

    I suppose you alarmists also regard GM crops as the solution to projected (falsely) food shortages and promote the use of GM bio fuels.

  63. #63 p devlin
    November 30, 2008

    with little regard to the 20 thousand or so indian farmers who committed suicide because they could not cope with the debt and the untold suffering that GW alarmists will cause developing countries through demand for GM being forced on them because of false claims about climate change.
    I spent 3 months travelling the Maldives and there were no exceptions to the people who said sea levels there were falling and had fallen over 30cm’s in the past 30 years.

    Nowadays Who talks about saving the rain forests or cleaning up the oceans anymore – certainly not the popular media – industry causes the majority of pollution in the sea and on land and countless species become extinct each week as a result of industrial pollutants and you people twat on about co2! that we all exhale! part of a natural cycle – your perspective is sick and shows how media driven and susceptible to it you are – totally conditioned and screw everyone else – lets impose taxes on your average citizen effectively licensing the weather.
    You bunch of preposterous buffoons!

    You really show yourselves to be less than useless promoting industries agenda’s for them while they sit back and laugh at you – pathetic really – even vestigial

  64. #64 bi -- IJI
    November 30, 2008

    > the untold suffering that GW alarmists will cause developing countries

    Weird, because climate inactivists don’t seem to have a problem ignoring the plight of Kivalina villagers (who have actually spoken out). Suddenly, these villagers are just being greedy and trying to rob the virtuous oil companies of their hard-earned wealth, and maybe they should’ve just lived with Al Gore.

    I guess any suffering is real only when it can be used as a rhetorical trope to whack liberals.

  65. #65 bi -- IJI
    November 30, 2008

    (And likewise, the death of Jdimtyai Damour will only be a serious issue when someone finds a way to blame it on liberals; otherwise it’s just a trivial matter. But I digress.)

  66. #66 Bernard J.
    November 30, 2008

    p devlin.

    With respect to your second paragraph at #62: in my part of the world unsustainable forestry/other habitat destruction, water/air pollution, and feral animal/weedy plant species invasions, in addition to climate change, are all hot topics of discussion in various fora. As an ecologist these provide more than enough for me to be concerned about, but this does not eclipse the problems that AGW has the potential to bring.

    I see no objective and critical analysis in your diatribes. I do see strawmen – the fact that we all exhale has about as much bearing on AGW as the fact that we also have sex has on rape.

    For what it’s worth, if you had any acquaintance with some of my previous postings here you’d know that I don’t condone GE technology as an answer to ecological and agricultural problems. Not because the technology doesn’t have profound biological potential (it does), but because we have other, viable and more conventional alternatives to various problems, and because we have no understanding of how our modifications will interact with the rest of the planet’s ecosystems. I’m not speaking of the hysterical paranoia of Frankenstein GMOs, but rather of more subtle, but ultimately more profound, biological problems that will accompany a GE approach.

    I’m impressed that you managed to insert ‘vestigial’ into a sentence, but I am rather less impressed with the quality of your overall scientific discernment. If you are ever going attempt to contribute anything coherent to a discussion such as this one, you will need to use far more greatly defensible scientific points, and not just a couple of pointed vocabulations.

  67. #67 Chris O'Neill
    December 1, 2008

    p devlin:

    and your not a hypocrite Chris O’Neill heh!

    Just pointing out that you are. BTW:

    and your not

    had fallen over 30cm’s

    promoting industries agenda’s for them

    Please try to get your apostrophes organized. It grates when you fail to use or misuse them over and over again. It makes it too obvious that we’re dealing with an ignoramus.

  68. #68 p devlin
    December 1, 2008

    I’m so sorry that my apostrophies give you so much trouble.

    So you are all able to smugly rest with your laurels intact while the media still promotes the warming agenda.
    When the climate obviously shifts towards the cooler side of normal which it is now slowly doing your inaccurate theories like yourselves will become useless appendages and I really would like to see the alarmists among you argue your way out of that during the coming years – I will revisit this site to see who still remaining to defend your sensationalist theories – I am sure that as the popular media promotes – warming is causing the cooling!!

    http://en.rian.ru/science/20080122/97519953.html
    http://www.dailytech.com/Alaskan+Glaciers+Grow+for+First+Time+in+250+years/article13215.htm
    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24693398-5005961,00.html
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24723425-11949,00.html
    http://www.odt.co.nz/the-regions/central-otago/30559/039unprecedented039-cold-snap-hits-south
    there are many many examples worldwide where evidence of extreme cooling is taking place if you care to look.
    Bury your heads if you want but you will have to open your eyes at sometime and submit to reality.

    Worldwide cooling – the media censors by omission – but of course you already know that!
    Punctuation is not something I really worry about when I comment on a website matey – imagine the apostrophes don’t exist you sensitive soul!

    So I will be back in a few years if this website still exists – more likely not!

  69. #69 Chris O'Neill
    December 4, 2008

    p devlin:

    I’m so sorry that my apostrophies give you so much trouble.

    You should be caring that they make you look like an ignoramus. But if you’re happy to show you’re an ignoramus that OK by me.

    When the climate obviously shifts towards the cooler side of normal which it is now slowly doing

    Yeah, it’s cooling so slowly it’s actually warming. You’d save yourself a lot of time if you just said:

    THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING.

    etc.

  70. #70 luminous beauty
    December 4, 2008

    p devlin,

    I confess to being unable to judge the veracity of your statement one way or the other, as I am unable to parse a whit of concrete sense or meaning from it.

    Humble apologies for my poor wit and intelligence at failing to comprehend the paradigm shattering genius embedded therein.

  71. #71 Bernard J.
    December 4, 2008

    p devlin.

    If you knew how to precise the whole body of pertinent climate knowledge, rather than relying upon cherry-picking, and if you knew how to scientifically extrapolate from the body of knowledge rather than relying upon your ideology, then you might begin living in ‘reality’.

    Instead you persist in demonstrating to many people, who know far more about the state of the science than do you, how ill-informed you are.

    You can be proud though to know that you have confirmed to the world that there really is no bottom to stupid.

    Congratulations.

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