Rebuttal to Comments by F. Singer that Charge Faulty Science in Predicting Global Climate Change:
A January 23, 2001 Washington Post story,
Issue Dire Prediction On Warming: Faster Climate Shift Portends Global
Calamity This Century," reported the unanimous views expressed at
a UN conference by a panel of hundreds of scientists of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But the same story stated: "Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental
sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the U.S.
Weather Satellite Service, called the new report 'a political statement'
based on theoretical models that does not conform to existing scientific
data from thermometers at weather stations, Earth-circling satellites
and high-altitude balloons. Almost all instrumental data, he said, show
no warming trend in the past 60 years, and he called data that do 'suspect.'"
Stanford climatologist Stephen
H. Schneider commented on Singer's views:
"It would seem that the public and political leaders would be savvy
enough to realize that hundreds of scientists and thousands ofreviewers
from a hundred countries would very likely be more credible than a few
frequent dissenters like Fred Singer. The assertion that almost all
instrumental data show no warming trend for the past 60 years would
disqualify any such claimant as being a balanced commentator, and would
likely qualify anyone who offered this assessment as being out of touch
or unfamiliar with the hundreds of published studies that clearly show
warming in the thermometer records, the balloon records and even the
satellite record--even though the latter two show less warming for the
brief two decades satellites have been available.
"Moreover, recent reconstructions of the temperature of the past
1000 years from tree rings and coral reefs among other proxies of temperature
show that the past 50 years are the warmest in the past 1000. On top
of this there is very highly statistically significant new evidence
that environmental systems like lake and sea ice, bird migration dates,
tree flowering dates and the ranges of butterflies have all responded
coherently with recent warming. How all this overwhelming volume of
data could constitute evidence characterized as 'political' is hard
to fathom--unless those who so claim are simply projecting their own
behavior onto the thousands of scientists who participate in the assessment
of climate problems. Several years ago Fred Singer also said the ozone
hole was a hoax, and that nuclear winter was really nuclear summer.
"It is high time, I believe, that serious-minded people simply
ignored virtually anything these career contrarians have to say in which
their 'expertise' is invoked to challenge conventional wisdom that has
been repeatedly reassessed by different scientific bodies in different
countries. There is, of course, always the chance that dissenters will
be proven correct, but public policy must be based on the scientific
consensus. Maybe the sun does circle the Earth, as flat-earthers claim,
but space programs should not be designed around that assertion.
"The media needs to do its homework and tell the cadre of non-disinterested
doubters to take up their complaints in the refereed literature, not
op-eds in the business press or other ideological periodicals. Anybody
can say 'It ain't so.' But if they can't get the few dozen scientific
assessments over the past two decades to take their concerns seriously,
maybe it is time to quote more credible critics. Most of the latter
are represented in the IPCC reports, which are famous for pages of caveats
that the career contrarians claim they are unmasking. And the IPCC concerns
are expressed with full cognizance of the caveats--the kinds of balance
that governments expect from an open expert process as opposed to pronouncements
from the outside by special interests."
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