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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know

Is it getting hot in here or is it just me? Likely it’s both, say Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling, Jr., in their book Climate of Extremes. Temperatures around the world are indeed rising due to global warming, they say. But contrary to popular belief, that is no reason for panic; it might even be good news. Michaels and Balling are more concerned with the demonstrated media bias toward publicizing unrealistically dire global-warming forecasts, and the equally appalling suppression of positive news regarding climate change.

Written in clear prose with only a hint of cynicism, Climate of Extremes provides an excellent source of scientific data for anyone more interested in climate-related facts than the usual partisan propaganda. Michaels and Balling present a comprehensive picture of earth’s ever-changing climate, with a keen eye toward historical facts. Their research-rich conclusion: Global warming is not a harbinger of doom, but rather the latest in a long history of natural, mostly innocuous, climatic shifts.

The authors begin with a primer on global-warming science, explaining that data indicate two pronounced periods of warming over the last century. The first lasted from about 1910 through 1945 and the second from 1975 through the available 2005 data. Crucially, there’s been no significant warming since a record-hot 1998.

But considerable problems arise when scientists try to project this global climate data forward. The vertical distribution of temperatures from the earth’s surface to the stratosphere above resides at the center of any projection. If the upper temperatures are consistently cooler—and recent measurements show they are—that means more clouds and rain, which in turn means less warming.

Citing a 2007 study, Michaels and Balling say all climate models, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have very real and quite pronounced discrepancies in vertical distribution. These invariably lead to a sizable overestimation of future warming.

“What’s more,” they write, “the fact that none of the IPCC’s midrange models generates a warming-free 15-year period in the 21st century, which is happening right now, is very disturbing.”

Climate of Extremes proceeds in subsequent chapters to explore the weather phenomena most cited by global-warming alarmists as indicative of future disasters. From hurricanes to sea-level rise, and from floods to heat waves, Michaels and Balling methodically challenge one climate claim after another.

In one particularly persuasive chapter, the authors analyze the “climate of death” hysteria following the record 2003 European heat wave. They cite a study that pegged the probability of such an event at a surprisingly high 1 in 333. Given the earth’s massive size, summer 2003 in France and Germany was then more a tragically bad roll of the dice than a precursor of doom.

Michaels and Balling then cite the European heat wave of 2006 as evidence that global warming—and our response to it—might actually save lives. People learned from the 2003 anomaly, they explain, and were better prepared in 2006 with air conditioning and action plans. A study in the Journal of Epidemiology confirmed this theory, finding the death toll from summer 2006 was much lower than models predicted.

Furthermore, studies have consistently shown that climate-related death rates are higher in cold climates than in warm. So as temperatures continue to rise slowly, it’s easy to see how an aging population might fare better with fewer bitterly cold nights and more moderate temperatures. Again, global warming might save lives.

Not that such good news is ever reported, say Michaels and Balling. More likely, because it challenges the global-warming status quo, it is ignored or buried. On writing for a copy of IPCC data used to calculate their temperature history, Australian researcher Warwick Hughes received this curt reply from IPCC-affiliated scientist Phil Jones, who in December stepped down as head of the Climate Research Unit while the University of East Anglia investigated the “climategate” email affair: “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

Most people believe science only works through the free exchange of theories and ideas. Climate of Extremes demonstrates this is clearly not the case with scientists and bureaucrats who have a vested interest in propagating global-warming hysteria and for whom fact suppression to further a predetermined agenda is paramount.

Michaels and Balling show global warming has become a sacred cow, the growing body of dissenting evidence be damned. That should be enough to prompt any concerned person to seek out the facts, even if it means getting a little hot under the collar in the process.