Global Warming 'Science'

It was a startling admission.  Prior to passage of "Cap-and-Trade" legislation by the House of Representatives, Mr. Henry Waxman (D, CA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and co-sponsor of the bill, in responding to a question from Mr. Joe Barton (R, TX) at a May 22 hearing, admitted the following:

I certainly don't claim that I know everything that's in this bill.  I know we left it to ....we relied very heavily on the scientists on the IPCC and others and the consensus they have that there is a problem with global warming, it's having an impact, and that we need to reduce it by the amounts they think we need to achieve in order to avoid some of the consequences.  That's what I know, but I don't know the details. I rely on the scientists.

Since then, the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate a major piece of legislation which both Republicans and Democrats agree will heavily tax certain industries, significantly raise prices on energy consumption, and increase the cost of almost all produced goods.  President Barack Obama, in a September 22 speech at the United Nations "climate summit," said, "We understand the gravity of the climate threat.  We are determined to act.  And we will meet our responsibility to future generations."

Americans have been told that climate change legislation must become law based upon findings by scientists in a group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  If that "science" becomes the justification for all of the forecasted economic pain, doesn't it deserve scrutiny and independent validation?

Mr. Waxman's justification for immediate passage of his legislation consists of two major premises:

1.  Recent unprecedented global warming appears underway which a "scientific consensus" deems a major problem.

2.  This new global warming is caused primarily by human activity mandating reduction of greenhouse gases, specifically levels of carbon dioxide, to reduce potentially profound and calamitous worldwide effects.

It turns out that work done on several fronts over recent years casts serious doubt upon the IPCC work and, in fact, may make a case for claiming scientific fraud.  Let's review the situation.


Since its inception in 1988, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has sought to evaluate the risk of climate change brought about by human activity.  There has never been a requirement to also evaluate potential natural causes.

The IPCC has published four major reports over a 19-year period.  They claim that a number of mathematical models reveal how "most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in anthropogenic (manmade) greenhouse gas concentrations".  They predict dire effects from rising temperatures including major heat waves, heavy rainfalls, and rising ocean sea levels due primarily to loss of land ice and increasing ocean temperatures.

Their reports include a graph derived from mathematical models showing average global temperatures back to 1000 AD.  The graph appears relatively flat for over 900 years.  Then, about 1920, temperatures begin to rocket upward with but a brief pause around 1970 before heading still higher with no relief in sight.  So startling was this graph when it first appeared, it became known as the "Hockey Stick" chart.  The IPCC concluded the graph's sudden change in character during the early 20th Century correlated with the introduction and increasing use of fossil fuel energy in that period, and that production of carbon dioxide (CO2) represented the principal man-made greenhouse gas culprit.

Climate Change

In examining any theoretical model purporting to deal with global warming, one must ask: Does worldwide climate actually change?  If so, is there something special about the last 60-80 years which must be scrutinized?

Nearly every student of Earth history is aware of the massive amount of geological evidence showing that significant climate changes have been ongoing for over 4 billion years. The last Great Ice Age, for example, blanketed large portions of the planet with thick glaciers and cold temperatures for thousands of years.  It persisted until about 12,000 years ago when temperatures, as shown  by ice core drilling, rose dramatically some 10 degrees Centigrade in just 2-3 years.

Australian researcher Dr. Robert Carter of James Cook University specializes in studying deep core drillings to observe effects of climate change.  He reports that whether one sees global warming or cooling depends on the time period of the observation.  After the end of the ice-age period about 12,000 ago, a significant warming occurred.  Since that time, there has been gradual cooling, though there have been numerous oscillations.  Thus, says Dr. Carter, if one wants to make a case for either global warming or cooling, it matters over what time period one wishes to look.

According to Dr. Carter, for the last 5,000 years beginning approximately 3000 BC, there have been six major warming periods, although the trend in the last 2,000 years has moved toward general cooling.  By general cooling, he means each subsequent oscillation has generally seen a lower maximum and a significantly lower minimum than the one before.

Ice core drillings record a very major warming period, with temperatures significantly warmer than at present, around 1100 BC -- about the time of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt -- followed by a significant and rapid cooling perhaps assisted by several major volcanic eruptions in the Mediterranean region.  Another warming period began near the start of the Christian epoch and peaked during the period of maximum expansion of the Roman Empire (200-300 AD).  Contemporary written records tell of wine growing in areas around Scotland -- not possible today.  Again, a rapid cooling began about the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and the advent of the Dark Ages which caused widespread famine throughout Europe.  The temperature trend reversed again around 900 AD and reached another peak about 300 years later -- called the Medieval Warm Period --when, for example, Viking explorers established major agriculture settlements in a place they named Greenland [1]. 

Beginning in the 14th Century, another major cool down ushered in what has been called the "Little Ice Age" lasting approximately 400 years.  Glacier advances forced the Vikings to abandon their Greenland settlements.  Poor crop yields caused food shortages throughout Europe and in early American settlements. In the late 18th and early 19th Century, warming began which has, with the exception of the major 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, continued throughout the 20th Century until 1998 when world temperatures, as measured by satellite and ground-based sensors, have leveled off and begun to drop.

Thus, significant historical evidence exists indicating there is always a change in climate underway and that, within the context of long-term world history, there appears to be nothing special about the last 60-80 years.  So why does the IPCC report such a major discrepancy with other records of climate history?  The answer lies in their reliance upon mathematical models -- and specifically one very convenient model.

IPCC Mathematical Models

Mathematical modeling is used throughout our world to help forecast the future in many arenas of life, including economics, biology, medicine, and even climate change.  One creates a mathematical model by taking measurements and scientific observations -- which may for one reason or another be in apparent conflict -- and attempt to reconcile them to produce a generalized unified data set which can be used to predict, to some degree of accuracy, future trends.

Mathematicians working with the IPCC possessed a significant set of temperature observations made by weather observations during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, ice core drillings, and tree ring proxies (which reveal temperature trends from rate of tree growth).  As described by Canadian economics professor Ross McKictrick, researchers using this data set initially produced a graph published in the 1995 IPCC Second Assessment Report in which the second millennial climate history includes both the Medieval Warm Period as well as a subsequent Little Ice Age (see below).


Remember, the IPCC had been founded with the express purpose of determining if rising temperature noted throughout most of the 20th Century by weather station temperature sensors and satellite measurements could be due to man-made causes -- so-called anthropogenic global warming (AGW).  This graph raised significant problems for the IPCC.  As Professor McKitrick put it:

It is easy to see why this graph was a problem for those pushing the global warming alarm. If the world could warm so much on such a short time scale as a result of natural causes, surely the 20th century climate change could simply be a natural effect as well.  And the present climate change could hardly be considered unusually hazardous if even larger climate changes happened in the recent past, and we are simply fluctuating in the middle of what nature regularly dishes out.

Then suddenly, just two years later, the IPCC produced a major game changer.  Its Third Assessment Report published in 1997 contained the results of a theoretical analysis by Michael Mann, an Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and two other researchers purporting to show climate temperature reconstruction using statistical modeling of a large number of observations and tree ring proxies.  This was the birth of the "Hockey Stick" graph [2] labeled MBH98 in a paper, Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing Over the Past Six Centuries, published by Nature magazine in 1998 [3].  It was followed up in another paper published by the same authors in 1999 [4] extending the analysis back from 1400 AD to 1000 AD (see below) through the Medieval Warm Period --  which now magically disappeared.

Another researcher, Shaopeng Huang at the University of Michigan, and two others published a 1997 analysis of 6000 borehole records yielding temperature profile data from each continent, dating back 20,000 years [5].  Analysis of that data clearly showed signs of the Medieval Warm Period followed by the Little Ice Age and confirmed that temperatures in the 12th Century were significantly warmer than today.

Huang submitted his borehole data to the IPCC, and it received a brief mention in Chapter 2 of the Third Assessment Report.  However, the Huang et al. graph showing the temperature implications from that data -- which clearly would challenge the hockey stick graph -- was omitted.  Instead, the IPCC published a graph of borehole temperature data taken from another study based on a smaller sample, but it only showed a post-1500 AD segment, which, conveniently, trended upwards from the minimums of the Little Ice Age.

As Professor McKitrick summarizes:

As soon as the IPCC Report came out, the hockey stick version of climate history became canonical.  Suddenly it was the "consensus" view, and for the next few years it seemed that anyone publicly questioning the result was in for a ferocious reception.

Why was this graph so vital for the IPCC and its work?  It provided an easily visualized iconic chart making it just a simple exercise to assert global warming correlates with the increase in manmade carbon-based greenhouse gases measured during the 20th Century, to postulate that correlation means causation, and to extrapolate that further increases in greenhouse gas emissions would spell dire consequences for the planet.

Evaluating the IPCC Model

As political hysteria over "man-made" or anthropogenic global warming (AGW) increased, other scientists began checking the mathematical analysis and measurements behind the hockey stick chart because it did not correlate with other known historical temperature data.  In 2003 Professor McKitrick teamed with a Canadian engineer, Steve McIntyre, in attempting to replicate the chart and finally debunked it as statistical nonsense.  They revealed how the chart was derived from "collation errors, unjustified truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, incorrect principal component calculations, geographical mislocations and other serious defects" -- substantially affecting the temperature index [6].

Worse yet, McIntyre and McKitrick prepared a database using a system of quality control which avoided the arbitrary filling in or truncating of data they had observed in the IPCC analysis and computed principal components using standard algorithms. Without endorsing the MBH98 methodology or choice of source data, they simply applied that same methodology to their improved database and recomputed a temperature index history using the same source data.  Their new work yielded a Northern Hemisphere temperature index in which the late 20th century showed nothing exceptional compared to preceding centuries, displaying neither unusually high mean values nor variability.

Their key graph published in 2005 (see below) showed two lines:  the 1998 MBH98 profile and their corrected version.  The corrected temperature graph they produced now revealed substantially higher global temperatures in the 15th Century not shown by MBH98.   Following the 2005 publication of their work, McIntyre and McKitrick (like all skeptics of AGW) were savagely criticized.

However, far more trouble for AGW supporters came in 2006 when a panel of experts, chaired by Dr. Edward Wegman, Chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, concluded that the statistical methodology underpinning the hockey stick version was, indeed, profoundly flawed.  The Wegman panel submitted a report to the U.S. House of Representatives (which should have been available to all House members including Rep. Waxman) which cited results of an earlier National Research Council panel endorsing the work and results of McIntyre and McKitrick.  Wegman's work also found the McIntyre and McKitrick analysis independently verifiable, their observations of the IPCC flaws correct and "valid," and their arguments "compelling."

Perhaps even more devastating, Wegman criticized Dr. Mann and his IPCC colleagues for their systematic unwillingness to freely share research materials, data and results outside of a small group of like-minded analysts.  "[W]e judge," he wrote, "that there was too much reliance on peer review which was not necessarily independent."   He further observed:

Overall, our committee believes that Mann's assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.... Based on the literature we have reviewed, there is no overarching consensus on MBH98/99.

One would expect that credible criticism of the iconic hockey stick version of global temperature trends by a well-recognized expert on mathematical modeling would generate useful debate.  However, the IPCC refused to back down, leading scientific journals (such as Nature and Science) refused to publish critical articles, and political leaders around the world spurred public opinion supporting the IPCC report.

The hockey stick graph presented visually arresting scientific "support" for the political contention that fossil-fuel emissions were causing higher temperatures.  As such, it paved the way for adoption of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol by numerous countries and provided the basis for a worldwide campaign to alarm and motivate government officials to limit production of such fossil fuels.  It thus achieved its purpose of providing a "scientific" foundation for legislation seeking to limit or reverse global warming.

Manmade Greenhouse Gases

It is one thing to say the planet overall may be warming and quite another to assert such warming is manmade as opposed to the result of natural forces.  AGW advocates say manmade warming comes from production of so-called "greenhouse" gases.  These are considered those constituents of the atmosphere capable of absorbing infrared (heat) radiation.

Numerous gases make up the Earth's atmosphere.  Of these, nitrogen represents about 78% by volume,  oxygen comprises just under 21%, and other gases (including "greenhouse gases") make up slightly over 1% by volume remaining.  Of the principal greenhouse gases, water vapor is by far the most prevalent.  Second place belongs to carbon dioxide (CO2) at 0.04% with methane and nitrous oxide finishing a very distant third and fourth.

What complicates analysis of any manmade greenhouse effect is the relatively overwhelming prevalence of water vapor -- a gas ignored by the IPCC.  The U.S. Department of Energy estimates water vapor makes up 95% of identified greenhouse gases and, of that amount, less than 0.001% can be attributed to manmade causes.  Thus, the IPCC and AGW proponents have focused on CO2 as the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas.

There is little doubt that the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy, which has been going on since the start of the Industrial Revolution, releases large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Also, CO2 levels have been increas­ing steadily and are now estimated from ice core analysis to be some 35 percent higher than 200 years ago.

The problem with such seemingly serious assertions regarding CO2 is that, in spite of its increasing presence, it still remains just a trace gas in the atmosphere.  As of November 2007, the CO2 concentration in Earth's atmosphere was estimated at 0.0382% by volume, or 382 parts per million by volume.

Another problem is that natural production of CO2 from such sources as combustion of organic matter, natural decay of vegetation, volcanic emissions, and the natural respiration of all aerobic organisms dwarfs that produced by fossil fuel burning.  The U.S. Department of Energy has released estimates that nearly 97% of total CO2 emissions would occur even if humans were not present on Earth and that, because of the overwhelming presence of water vapor, manmade CO2 causes less than 0.12% of Earth's greenhouse effect.  To attribute so much power to affect the earth's climate to a man-made gas so minor in amount would appear to defy common sense.

Put another way, if accumulation of greenhouse gases has any impact on global warming, Department of Energy data indicates nearly 99.9% would have to be attributed to natural causes.  Nevertheless, AGW proponents blame approximately 1/1000 of all produced planetary CO2 -- this trace gas  which, in its totality, comprises less than 4/10,000 of the atmosphere -- as the principal cause of climate change because it provides the only way to link global warming to human activity.

Numerous scientists and climatologists point to the terrible flaw that the IPCC analysis totally ignores the impact upon climate of solar activity, water vapor, and effects of cloud formation on global air pressure, temperature and winds.  As Dr. Tim Ball, a former climate scientist at the University of Winnipeg, put it:  "The analogy that I use is that my car is not running that well, so I'm going to ignore the engine (which is the sun) and I'm going to ignore the transmission (which is the water vapor) and I'm going to look at one nut on the right rear wheel (which is the human-produced CO2) ... the science is that bad!" [7]

What Are Effects from Global Warming?

In spite of evidence that increases in CO2 levels follow elevated global temperatures rather than drive global warming [8, 9], the entire subject of manmade global warming has been overlaid by predictions of imminent catastrophe if we do not immediately institute steps to reduce CO2 production.  Predictions of planet destruction and species loss due to unbearably hot air temperatures, major storms, warming oceans, melting glaciers, disappearing arctic ice, and rising ocean levels swamping islands and coastal cities seek to foster a sense of impending doom. 

Remember, such predictions were first made nearly 15 years ago.  No one disputes that manmade CO2 emissions have continued to increase.  However, the catastrophic results have failed to materialize.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that low altitude atmosphere temperature data obtained from satellite measurements show global temperatures have not risen since 1998 and have cooled slightly in the last five years in spite of rising CO2 levels each year.
  • Another NOAA and NASA project, monitoring 3,000 buoys deployed around the world's oceans, confirms static or slightly cooling ocean temperatures in the same time period.
  • In a 2004 paper published in Global and Planetary Change [10], Stockholm University professor Nils-Axel Mörner, of Sweden reports that rising sea levels predicted for the Maldives island chain due to global warming are not showing expected results. He concludes that the sea level about the Maldives has actually fallen approximately 11 inches in the past 50 years. He notes: "In our study of the coastal dynamics and the geomorphology of the shores we were unable to detect any traces of a recent sea level rise. On the contrary, we found quite clear morphological indications of a recent fall in sea level."
  • At the 2007 UN High Level Meeting on Climate Change, the Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Tavau Teii, said that major greenhouse polluters should pay Tuvalu for the impacts of climate change due to its loss of land to ocean encroachment. However, recent geological studies show Tuvalo is "sinking" due to excavation of coral for hotel and infrastructure construction [11]. The mining has severely compromised the atolls, creating the impression that the islands are sinking, when in fact they're merely being dug up.
Scientific "Consensus"

It seems reasonable to ask, therefore, how can a seriously flawed -- if not actually fraudulent --mathematical model linking production of the relatively minuscule amount of an atmospheric trace gas be used to blame mankind for major planetary climate change?  The answer lies in the intense public relations campaign launched by environmentalists worldwide following publication of the 1997 IPCC report.  The entire debate has been framed by presenting only one side to the maximum extent possible while demeaning any skeptics.  The worldwide distribution in 2006 of the Al Gore movie An Inconvenient Truth added to the simplistic polarization and politicization of debate.

One cannot ignore how the IPCC report initiated within the United Nations played into an anti-Capitalism agenda.  The report became justification to launch a major campaign throughout much of the late 1990s beginning with the 1997 Kyoto protocol and incorporating numerous U.N. special sessions and other international conferences during the following decade.  All focused on accusing the world's richest countries of being long-standing polluters who must bear the burden for cutting greenhouse gases.  A special 2007 UN conference, dominated by third world countries, demanded that rich industrial nations curtail their economic growth by reducing CO2 emissions and use their wealth to finance cuts in emissions in other countries.  As British Prime Minister Gordon Brown put it, the effort involved "making the issue of climate change one of justice as much as economic development." [12]

Given these multinational political forces seeking worldwide redistribution of wealth, it also becomes clear why throughout much of the 1990s only that scientific work promoting the concept of manmade global warming received serious financial support from government sources.  This led to the perception of a scientific "consensus."  Numerous scientists and mathematicians complained that serious debate on climate change was being suppressed by the lack of funding for skeptical research and the systematic criticism of such skeptics as just "tools" of energy companies or paid servants of Corporate America

However, as the work of McIntyre, McKitrick, Wegman, Carter and others has spread, scientific "consensus" in recent years has begun collapsing.  A detailed review of 539 technical papers about climate change published between 2004 and 2007 found no evidence -- none --supporting specific "catastrophic" climate change due to man.  In March 2009, a petition signed by over 31,000 scientists stated in part: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."


From the above analysis of recent work evaluating "man-made global warming," it appears possible to respond to the two major premises which Representative Waxman uses to justify immediate legislative action:

1.  There appears to be no serious evidence that some form of unprecedented global warming is underway.  The mathematical modeling effort used to support AGW claims has been shown to be flawed, if not fraudulent.  Any  scientific "consensus" of a major problem appears to be coming from a self-reinforcing group within or financially dependent upon the IPCC.

2.  No serious scientific link between any perceived global warming and the miniscule amount of manmade CO2 in the atmosphere (beyond the flawed or fraudulent IPCC mathematical model) has been made.  Also, in 15 years since the first predictions of catastrophic events were announced, none of those events can be demonstrated to be underway today.

On July 22, 2009, the Science and Public Policy Institute released a study showing that the U.S. government alone has spent more than $79 billion of taxpayers' money since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, public relations campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.  The study documents that audits of the science involved has been left to unpaid volunteers.  They cite how a dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of "global warming" theory competing with a lavishly-funded, highly-organized climate monopoly and how major errors have been exposed again and again.

What is becoming clearer is that the concept of "manmade global warming" may be one of the greatest hoaxes in world history.  How soon this will become generally known will depend on how forcefully the political effort seeking both national and international control of industry and wealth redistribution can keep the hoax hidden by intimidation and forcefully amplified rhetoric while systematically jeopardizing the economies of America and other developed nations.


[1]  "20th Century Climate Not So Hot," Press Release, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, March 31, 2003

[2]  Technical Summary of the Working Group 1 Report, IPCC Third Assessment Reports, 2007, page 29

[3]  Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K. (1998). "Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing Over the Past Six Centuries", Nature, 392, 779-787.

[4]  Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K.. (1999) "Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations", Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 759-762.

[5]   Huang, Shaopeng, Henry N. Pollack and Po Yu Shen (1997). "Late Quaternary Temperature Changes Seen in Worldwide Continental Heat Flow Measurements." Geophysical Research Letters 24: 1947-1950

[6]  McIntyre, Steven and McKitrick, Ross (2003). "Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series." Environment and Energy 14(6) pp. 751-771

[7]  Young, Gregory, "It's the Climate Warming Models, Stupid!",, March 31, 2009

[8]  Hopper, William, Professor of Physics Princeton University, Statement to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, February 25, 2009

[9]  Zeebe, Richard E., et. al., (2009) "Carbon Dioxide Forcing Alone Insufficient to Explain Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum Warming," Nature Geoscience 2, pp. 576 - 580

[10]  Mörner, Nils-Axel, "New Perspectives for the Future of the Maldives", Global and Planetary Change Vol. 40, January 2004, Pages 177-182

[11]  Sussman, Brian, "Sinking Islands or Stinking Islands?",, April 22, 2009

[12]  Zabarenko, Deborah, "U.N. Climate Change Meeting Aims at Rich Countries," Reuters, July 31, 2007

Mr. McLaughlin retired as vice president of a company producing special-purpose military communications equipment.  He lives in California and may be reached at j-c-mcl
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