Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fred Singer on climate science

Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. He is one of the nation's leading climate scientists, and he has long been a voice of sobriety and good science in the climate science maelstrom.

He has a great essay summarizing the current state of climate science and climate politics.

Please read the whole thing. 


  1. Michael,

    No, it's not a very good article. I don't have the time to pull it to pieces (I'm currently reading Salman Rushdie's autobiography, plus Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Pharma', and I have JK Rowling's latest book on preorder for this afternoon to see if she can write an adult book - actually I'd thought that Harry Potter was for adults).

    Just two points - Singer describes the Wall Street Journal as being written by '16 prominent scientists' - not so. The list includes a Apollo 17 astronaut. It also makes the claim that CO2 is plant fertilizer, that increasing CO2 in a greenhouse increases plant growth and reduces water requirements - maybe, but a greenhouse isn't the real world, we don't know if there will be variations in rainfall with warming and increased drying of soils with warming.

    William Happer (one of the authors) has claimed that Californian orange crops have increased over the past 150 years due to increasing CO2 levels, a claim I've never been able to validate, because all the Google searches lead directly or indirectly to William Happer.

    I accept AGW based purely on the well known and well understood physical properties of greenhouse gases. Without greenhouse gases the average global temperature would be -18C (well below the freezing point of water).

    Greenhouse gases warm the Earth by trapping infrared radiation. Increasing greenhouses gases will increase the trapping of infrared radiation and increase warming, over the temperature the Earth would otherwise have, humans are increasing greenhouse gas levels by dumping around 9 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere mainly by the burning of fossil fuels releasing CO2, so humans are causing warming over the temperature the Earth would otherwise have.

    If you have a problem with AGW, then all you have to do is explain why the chain of cause and effect is wrong.

    1. No one doubts high school science, but the issue here is one of magnitude. When you light a match, you increase the temperature of the earth, slightly.

      It is not clear that the earth is steadily warming. It is not clear that the warming claimed by some is caused by man. It is not clear that the warming, if it is occurring, is harmful. It is not clear that we can stop it without causing unprecedented human misery, as eco-nuts have already done with the ban on DDT.

      It is clear that AGW hysteria is crap science, and meretricious politics.

    2. Michael,

      You're making straw man arguments.

      But getting back to your last comment, about 'eco-nuts' causing unprecedented human misery by the ban on DDT, I take it you're referring to your previous often repeated slander of Rachel Carson, which is demonstrably wrong, and which has been pointed out to you each time you've made the claim?

    3. The DDT ban is one of the singular atrocities of the 20th century. Carson's claims about toxicity are crap, and her psycho minions-- heirs to eugenicists and population control fascists-- have inflicted needless death and suffering on poor people in the third world. 30 million deaths and several hundred million illnesses since 1970 can be directly attributed to the DDT ban.

      Carson and her fans have caused death on a unprecedented scale by banning a superbly effective pesticide. It's pure ideological junk science.

    4. 30 million deaths and several hundred million illnesses since 1970 can be directly attributed to the DDT ban.

      And you persist, despite it having been pointed out repeatedly that there was never a DDT ban. Countries outside the U.S. have used DDT uninterrupted for decades. The only times DDT has gone out of use has been when its effectiveness has decreased.

      But facts don't matter to you. Only by lying can you support your ideology, so that's what you do.

    5. The USAID for 34 years refused to fund any development project using any pesticide that was banned in the US. The US policy was the framework for similar policies in funding agencies worldwide.

      In 2005 the USAID, under pressure from Congress, reversed the ban.

      You can't reverse a ban that didn't exist, asshole.

    6. Michael,

      Rachel Carson and 'Silent Spring' had nothing to do with the failure of the malaria eradication program.

      The '50s was a period of considerable human hubris. People thought that they could use science and technology to reorder the world to human desires.

      Nuclear weapons were going to be used for peaceful purposes in constructing harbors and canals. Insect pests were going to be eliminated. Hospital bacteriology departments were going to be closed down, because antibiotics were going to cure all infections, without needing to know the cause of the infection.

      And smallpox, polio and malaria were going to be eradicated.

      Smallpox was easy. There's only one disease, which affects only humans. There are no carriers; individuals who contract it either rapidly die or recover and become immune for life. Diagnosis is obvious and easy. There's an effective vaccine. Eradication requires quarantine of cases and aggressive vaccination of the surrounding population.

      And eradication only just succeeded.

      Polio was easy too. Largely one disease, affecting only humans, a nasty disease causing fear and panic within parents and an effective immunization - two actually - available.

      And it still hasn't been eradicated, because it's still present in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Completing eradication would cost just one billion dollars, which would save $20 billion a year. But there's no will to complete eradication.

      Malaria is difficult. There's 4, perhaps 5 (a fifth form is in the progress of shifting to humans from its monkey host) types. It affects other species besides humans. There are human carriers who have partial immunity. There's no effective immunization yet. The mosquito vector readily becomes resistant to insecticides such as DDT and the malaria parasite to antimalarials such as chloroquine, particularly with inadequate treatment. Diagnosis is difficult; fever in a malaria area may not be malaria.

      In the '50s it was thought that malaria could be eradicated by stopping its transmission by spraying houses with DDT and aggressively treating human cases for a period of 4 years, after which the occasional rare case of malaria could be easily covered by the standard healthcare systems of the affected countries.

      So in 1958 the American Congress generously funded the malaria eradication program, planned to run out in 1963, which it did. It wasn't renewed. Perhaps because Congress had thought that the eradication had succeeded? Or because they realized that it hadn't, wasn't going to and didn't want to throw good money after bad? Or because they had other concerns in 1963 and didn't think to renew?

      Rachel Carson in 'Silent Spring' excluded calls for banning DDT from malaria control programs.

      And anyway, DDT wasn't banned in 1963. It continued to be used in enormous quantities in agriculture in the developing world. Part of the reason for the success of the Green Revolution was the replacement of a patchwork of subsistence crops in developing countries by a single crop, highly productive, over large areas, which however were more prone to insect attack and requiring the use of more insecticides. A patchwork of different crops means that an insect attacking one crop wouldn't be able to spread to surrounding ones to cause devastating swarms.

      It's pure scientism thinking that we knew enough back in the '50s to be able to eradicate a complex disease such as malaria. 60 years later, we still don't know enough, despite the large sums Bill Gates has been donating, to be able to eradicate it.

      I'm beginning to think that the main characteristic of a conservative is the inability to change his or her mind when faced with confounding evidence. An inclination to see the world in black and white, without nuances. To be rather simplistic. Describes you perfectly.

    7. Death rates from malaria worldwide were dropping steadily since the introduction of DDT in the 1940's. In amny areas (US) it was eradicated.

      Beginning in 1970, which is when the DDT ban by USAID and other agencies was imposed on all poor countries receiving Western developmental aid, sub-Saharan African death rates began climbing again. []

      Stop denying the obvious.

    8. Michael,

      DDT was never used as a malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa, because it was thought that it wouldn't be effective in tropical areas with poor infrastructure and year long transmission, so even if DDT was banned, there was no pre-ban or post-ban sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in malaria incidence was probably due to the post colonial turmoil and civil wars disrupting infrastructure.

      And the USAID never banned DDT.

      Malaria was largely eradicated from America and other western countries before DDT was introduced, by controlling mosquito breeding areas near human habitation.

      Stop denying the facts and get out of your one track rut in your mind.

    9. Still waiting for Egnor to retract his lies.


  2. which has been pointed out to you each time you've made the claim?

    Silly bachfiend, believing that Egnor can be swayed by evidence! Evidence has nothing to do with it.

    If something agrees with Egnor's precambrian political & religious views, it's right, no matter what. No retraction ever ever ever.

    If something disagrees with Egnor's views, it's wrong. No amount of evidence can possibly change it.

    The man is a brick wall of inane stupidity. But it's amusing!

  3. Michael,

    I've now looked at your link to a graph showing malaria mortality in 1900, 1930, 1950, 1970 and 1995 for the world, world minus sub-Saharan Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

    You are illogical aren't you? The graph doesn't make any link to any factor. Correlation doesn't imply causation, particularly when there wasn't a correlation in the first place. Banning DDT (though it wasn't anyway) can't increase the incidence of malaria in areas where it wasn't used in the first place.

  4. Wake up, sheeple. Climate "science" is bullshit. There is no man-made climate change. That's what Reptilians want you to believe.