on April 26, 2013
The allegations Senator James Inhofe makes in The Greatest Hoax are unlike any since Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed to have documented evidence that Communist agents were overrunning our government. This time, liberals at the UN are corrupting science to scare us into accepting global governance, huge tax increases, and severe limits on our way of life.
When a U.S. Senator makes such an extraordinary claim, history teaches us to check the evidence. Inhofe's Green Scare could be as fake as McCarthy's Red Scare. If Inhofe is a second McCarthy, we will catch him fabricating evidence, manipulating data, and twisting truth.
We can verify Inhofe's truthfulness using Al Gore's marvelous invention, the Internet. Take, for example, Inhofe's argument that global warming is inconsistent with the "widespread global cooling scare" in the 1970's. He quotes the National Science Board as saying in 1972 that "judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end...leading into the next glacial age." Not quite. Going to the source we find what they wrote was, "leading into the next glacial age some 20,000 years from now." We find talk of the cooling effects of air pollution and the warming effects of carbon dioxide, but no imminent ice age.
Inhofe's assertion that the "hockey stick" temperature reconstruction was rebuked in a journal holds up no better. He writes:
"Three geophysicists from the University of Utah, in the April 7, 2004, edition of Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that Mann's methods used to create his temperature reconstruction were deeply flawed. ... As they wrote, Mann's results are ... 'just bad science.'"
We learn different with help from Google. The commentary where Inhofe gets this quote explicitly refers to an article titled "Ground vs. surface air temperature trends: Implications for borehole surface temperature reconstructions." What the geophysicists criticize is a narrow issue in a study about the relationship between air and ground temperature. Saying their criticism applied to the hockey stick is a lie, a flat lie.
Inhofe's most serious allegation is that for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), "science was secondary, even non-essential, to the ultimate goal of confirming catastrophic global warming and achieving global governance." Under "Flawed IPCC Assessment Reports," Inhofe channels McCarthy, charging "systematic and documented abuse of the scientific process."
No evidence of corruption in the 1990 IPCC First Assessment Report is needed though as the flaws were "glaringly apparent." The IPCC had found temperatures over the last hundred years were "broadly consistent" with models that took greenhouse gases into account. That "appeared suspect," Inhofe says, because "the climate cooled between 1940 and 1975.... How does one reconcile this cooling with the observed increase in greenhouse gases?"
This simple question reveals how little Inhofe knows about climate. He would know if he had he done his homework on the Environment and Public Works Committee. Still, it's a fair question, how could temperatures have fallen while greenhouse gasses were increasing?
It's simple really. How can deficits go down when spending goes up? If spending is more than offset by revenue. How can your weight go down when you eat more? If the extra calories are more than offset by exercise. Temperatures could have fallen while greenhouse gases were increasing if their warming effect was more than offset by cooling.
Inhofe knows about global cooling. He cites, for example, a 1974 report to show that temperatures had fallen in the previous 20 to 30 years. Checking, we learn that burning fossil fuels was believed to cause warming, while dust from industry and agriculture reduced sunshine reaching the earth, causing cooling. "By the middle of this century," the National Science Board wrote, "the cooling effect of the dust particles more than compensated for the warming effect of the carbon dioxide, and world temperature began to fall." His Newsweek story on cooling confirms this, reporting that "the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3 percent between 1964 and 1972." Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, a 2001 report by the National Research Council, echoed the 1974 report, finding that "it seems likely that aerosols ... have caused a negative climate forcing (cooling) that has tended to offset much of the positive forcing by greenhouse gases."
To sum it up, U.S. science in 1974 was consistent with the IPCC's assessment in 1990, which was consistent with U.S. science in 2001, which U.S. Senator Inhofe found "suspect" but couldn't say exactly why, other than it must be a conspiracy.
When he comes to the IPCC's Second Assessment Report, released in June, 1996, Inhofe's first allegation involves "altering of the document." His evidence is a Wall Street Journal op-ed describing the differences between the published version of a chapter dealing with the human causes of global warming and an approved draft. Alleging corruption, the author characterizes the edits as not trivial, not in keeping with IPCC rules, and all increasing certainty that global warming is man-made.
Inhofe doesn't submit the incriminating draft chapter into evidence. We don't need it though, because when describing the report's second problem--that it was "replete with caveats and qualifications, providing little evidence to support anthropogenic theories of global warming"--Inhofe unwittingly undermines his first charge. First he says, "Nearly all the changes removed hints of scientific doubts regarding the claim that human activities are having a major impact on global warming." Then he says, "...the IPCC report...is actually quite explicit about the uncertainties surrounding a link between human actions and global warming." Is it your contention, Senator, that the IPCC removed the doubts but left the uncertainties?
Inhofe further alleges that the IPCC inserted a key finding in the report's Summary for Policymakers behind the backs of reviewers. It reads: "The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate." But thanks to Google, we can find a firsthand account describing how the finding was debated for more than an hour and was the consensus of delegates from 96 countries. (Nature, 9 October 2008)
The Greatest Hoax is a poorly edited anthology of unsubstantiated blog posts folded into a political memoir and wrapped in a grandiose, attention-seeking accusation. Claim after claim, Senator Inhofe manipulates the science to allege the science was manipulated. The evidence is worse than thin, it's phony. On the charge of promoting a false conspiracy with intent to deceive the American people, Senator Inhofe provides plenty of solid evidence.