Snow? Let’s talk global warming

HERE in London it feels as if I’m going about with earmuffs on – it’s so quiet in the snow, which is deep and crisp and even. And the reflected light through the window is so bright I can work at my desk without the light on.

Of course, the capital has skidded to a stop. No Tube. No buses. The biggest snowfall for 15 years – so it’s a good time to air the subject of global warming.

For the media, especially the BBC, it’s a certainty, of course, and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before global warming denial becomes a criminal offence. But the evidence does not all point one way and there are plenty of informed sceptics.

In 1988, Professor Frederick Seitz started a petition signed by more than 20,000 American scientists urging the US government to reject the 1997 Kyoto global warming agreement, which places limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Seitz’s petition said: “The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology and damage the health and welfare of mankind.”

Besides, some of the statistics that are alleged to be accurate are nothing of the sort.

In 2007, the meteorologist Anthony Watts forced Nasa’s Goddard Institute to correct a fundamental error in its data on US surface temperatures to show that the hottest decade of the 20th Century was not, as the warmist fanatics claim, the 1990s, but the 1930s. Watts’ careful research continues to be available on his website – wattsupwiththat – which shows a recent and dramatic dip in temperatures.

The winter has been raging furiously in many places. In the US, there were blizzards as far south as Texas, while in the northern states they are enduring “the winter from hell”, which has broken records for cold and snow going back to 1873.

Asia has suffered the northern hemisphere’s deepest snow cover since 1966. In Afghanistan, 1,500 people have died from the cold and the farmers have lost 30,000 cattle.

China officially reported “Our Winter Snow Disaster”. Tibet has had six consecutive months of heavy snow with record low temperatures and 500,000 animals have perished, leaving three million people on the edge of starvation.

If we look back, we see that today’s temperatures are not the highest, even in comparatively recent times. The earth is much cooler now than it was during the last postglacial warming period between 6000BC and 3000BC. We know this to be a fact from the study of tree pollen data supplemented by animal, bird and insect remains, as well as by tree-ring analysis. Global warming fanatics frequently try to frighten us by pointing to the melting polar ice caps, but the fact is that in 2009 Arctic ice covers an area 28.7 per cent greater than it did in 2007.

Even in modern times, there have occurred much bigger climate changes than anything we are seeing now. Parts of the 18th Century were much colder than today. Dickens tells us of times when the Thames froze over for weeks on end. In the 9th Century, there were vines growing in Greenland. Are we to suppose that the warmth which produced vines at such a northerly latitude was owed to Vikings driving around in four-by-fours?

Maybe there is global warming and maybe not. All I’m asking is that we be allowed to doubt it – instead of being shouted down by the politically-correct warming fanatics.

■ Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.

Comments (18)

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12:36pm Tue 3 Feb 09

PettyComplainer says...

Global warming? Well, there was an ice-age and that's all melted now, so we must be a bit warmer nowadays, eh?
As far as it being quiet in London foes - it's always quiet up here in Darlington, except sometimes you can hear an aircraft, on the odd occasion one flies overhead!
Enjoy it while it lasts!
Global warming? Well, there was an ice-age and that's all melted now, so we must be a bit warmer nowadays, eh? As far as it being quiet in London foes - it's always quiet up here in Darlington, except sometimes you can hear an aircraft, on the odd occasion one flies overhead! Enjoy it while it lasts! PettyComplainer
  • Score: 0

1:30pm Tue 3 Feb 09

miketually says...

I was waiting for these sorts of articles to appear in the press. George Monbiot described it as "blithering idiocy" when he rubbished this point of view in his blog and Guardian column four weeks ago: http://www.monbiot.c
om/archives/2009/01/
09/skating-on-thin-i
ce/
I was waiting for these sorts of articles to appear in the press. George Monbiot described it as "blithering idiocy" when he rubbished this point of view in his blog and Guardian column four weeks ago: http://www.monbiot.c om/archives/2009/01/ 09/skating-on-thin-i ce/ miketually
  • Score: 0

1:43pm Tue 3 Feb 09

miketually says...

Letter submitted:

"When the snow started, I expected to see columnists start to use it as evidence that man-made climate change can’t be happening. I was surprised that Peter Mullen managed to write and submit his column so quickly, though that possible reflects his level of research and thinking on the subject.

That Rev Mullen is able to take the weather from a few days on one small corner of the planet and use this evidence in place of a century of global temperature records is worrying. Indeed, this point of view was described as “blithering idiocy” by environmentalist George Monbiot in his Guardian column last month.

Taking this viewpoint is perhaps understandable coming from someone who makes money by generating controversy. That the Northern Echo would continue to publish Rev Mullen’s opinions is less understandable."
Letter submitted: "When the snow started, I expected to see columnists start to use it as evidence that man-made climate change can’t be happening. I was surprised that Peter Mullen managed to write and submit his column so quickly, though that possible reflects his level of research and thinking on the subject. That Rev Mullen is able to take the weather from a few days on one small corner of the planet and use this evidence in place of a century of global temperature records is worrying. Indeed, this point of view was described as “blithering idiocy” by environmentalist George Monbiot in his Guardian column last month. Taking this viewpoint is perhaps understandable coming from someone who makes money by generating controversy. That the Northern Echo would continue to publish Rev Mullen’s opinions is less understandable." miketually
  • Score: 0

3:49pm Tue 3 Feb 09

atomheartfather says...

Quote: "All I’m asking is that we be allowed to doubt it – instead of being shouted down by the politically-correct warming fanatics".

The poor Rev Mullen feels he is being shouted down. Well give me a column in the Northern Echo, and I'll give it a try.

Before complaining about the noise levels of "warming fanatics", try googling research on newspaper column inches devoted to either side of the argument, then compare with the number of climate scientists on each side of the divide.

Just as you have a newspaper column and I don't, you'll discover the true imbalance in the reporting of climate change.
Quote: "All I’m asking is that we be allowed to doubt it – instead of being shouted down by the politically-correct warming fanatics". The poor Rev Mullen feels he is being shouted down. Well give me a column in the Northern Echo, and I'll give it a try. Before complaining about the noise levels of "warming fanatics", try googling research on newspaper column inches devoted to either side of the argument, then compare with the number of climate scientists on each side of the divide. Just as you have a newspaper column and I don't, you'll discover the true imbalance in the reporting of climate change. atomheartfather
  • Score: 0

6:02pm Tue 3 Feb 09

NYexile says...

Mr Mullen
I imagine you made the comment about global warming denial soon becoming a criminal offence in jest.
But just compare the extent of criminal law today to that of May 1 1997 and, perhaps like me, you fear that it wouldn't be so far-fetched after all.
If, a decade ago, you'd made your remark, I'd have laughed at you.
Not now.
Mr Mullen I imagine you made the comment about global warming denial soon becoming a criminal offence in jest. But just compare the extent of criminal law today to that of May 1 1997 and, perhaps like me, you fear that it wouldn't be so far-fetched after all. If, a decade ago, you'd made your remark, I'd have laughed at you. Not now. NYexile
  • Score: 0

8:11pm Tue 3 Feb 09

Engineer says...

Dear Mr Mullen,

I see you missed out the fact that Australia has had one big heatwave recently. I mean if you are going use weather as an indicator of long term climate trends you could at least be balanced.

It is also a bit hypocritical when skeptics start reeling out the current weather situation when at the same time they criticise environmentalists for doing the same.

The fact is weather events aren't good indicators of long term trends.
Long term trends are just that, long term!

I would also like to know where you get the info that grape vines have been grown on Greenland soil by people!??

I think you are confusing Greenland with Vinland (possibly North America).
Dear Mr Mullen, I see you missed out the fact that Australia has had one big heatwave recently. I mean if you are going use weather as an indicator of long term climate trends you could at least be balanced. It is also a bit hypocritical when skeptics start reeling out the current weather situation when at the same time they criticise environmentalists for doing the same. The fact is weather events aren't good indicators of long term trends. Long term trends are just that, long term! I would also like to know where you get the info that grape vines have been grown on Greenland soil by people!?? I think you are confusing Greenland with Vinland (possibly North America). Engineer
  • Score: 0

8:27pm Tue 3 Feb 09

Engineer says...

BTW.

Does the C of E still practice defrocking?
BTW. Does the C of E still practice defrocking? Engineer
  • Score: 0

10:42pm Tue 3 Feb 09

Dean M says...

He took the weather from a few days in one small corner of the planet? He mentioned China, North America, Asia, Tibet and Afghanistan, in addition to the UK.

I agree that he perhaps conveniently didn't mention the Australia heatwave but he also didn't mention the last 2 consecutive cold, wet and windy summers that we've had - the total opposite of what the global warming industry told us to expect.

I totally agree with his final sentiment - maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. There are plenty of scientists on both sides of the argument for us to make our own choice.
He took the weather from a few days in one small corner of the planet? He mentioned China, North America, Asia, Tibet and Afghanistan, in addition to the UK. I agree that he perhaps conveniently didn't mention the Australia heatwave but he also didn't mention the last 2 consecutive cold, wet and windy summers that we've had - the total opposite of what the global warming industry told us to expect. I totally agree with his final sentiment - maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. There are plenty of scientists on both sides of the argument for us to make our own choice. Dean M
  • Score: 0

11:33am Wed 4 Feb 09

Engineer says...

Re: Dean M.

The season are largely determined by the tilt of the earth on it's axis.
eg. It's currently cold in the Northern Hemisphere and hot in the Southern Hemisphere.

The weather isn't relevant because global warming is about the earths retention of energy from the sun and you measure that by measuring the mean temperature of whole earth.

(on a smaller scale as an example measuring the mean energy of an object: Your car will have a total mean energy/temperature when it is running, but it will be cold in some places. The point being that measuring local temperature on the car gives a false impression of the total energy the car has).

Currently the Northern hemisphere will be cold, it will be the opposite in six months time.
Re: Dean M. The season are largely determined by the tilt of the earth on it's axis. eg. It's currently cold in the Northern Hemisphere and hot in the Southern Hemisphere. The weather isn't relevant because global warming is about the earths retention of energy from the sun and you measure that by measuring the mean temperature of whole earth. (on a smaller scale as an example measuring the mean energy of an object: Your car will have a total mean energy/temperature when it is running, but it will be cold in some places. The point being that measuring local temperature on the car gives a false impression of the total energy the car has). Currently the Northern hemisphere will be cold, it will be the opposite in six months time. Engineer
  • Score: 0

12:44pm Wed 4 Feb 09

Derek Tipp says...

Science is never about the number of supporters of an argument. It is simply whether a theory fits all the facts. The current global warming theory states that CO2 increases will cause catastrophic warming of the planet. The evidence for it is based entirely on computer models of the climate. These models have data fed into them which have to take into account all the hundreds of variables that affect our climate. The models predict that the warming will be greatest in the lower atmosphere above the tropics, but actual measurements by satelites show that his has not happened. None of the models predicted that warming would cease for a decade, which is what has happened. If a theory does not fit the facts then it would normally be rejected.
Science is never about the number of supporters of an argument. It is simply whether a theory fits all the facts. The current global warming theory states that CO2 increases will cause catastrophic warming of the planet. The evidence for it is based entirely on computer models of the climate. These models have data fed into them which have to take into account all the hundreds of variables that affect our climate. The models predict that the warming will be greatest in the lower atmosphere above the tropics, but actual measurements by satelites show that his has not happened. None of the models predicted that warming would cease for a decade, which is what has happened. If a theory does not fit the facts then it would normally be rejected. Derek Tipp
  • Score: 0

1:21pm Wed 4 Feb 09

Dean M says...

Re: Engineer, Portsmouth.

If the weather isn't relevant, why were we told to expect long, hot dry summers and mild winters? We're not told that any more I notice!

I'm not a scientist but when information is given that then seems to turn out completely wrong then scepticism is bound to follow..
Re: Engineer, Portsmouth. If the weather isn't relevant, why were we told to expect long, hot dry summers and mild winters? We're not told that any more I notice! I'm not a scientist but when information is given that then seems to turn out completely wrong then scepticism is bound to follow.. Dean M
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Wed 4 Feb 09

Engineer says...

Re: Dean M. said

"If the weather isn't relevant, why were we told to expect long, hot dry summers and mild winters? We're not told that any more I notice!"

Engineer:

Because that is a prediction of a change in climate. The winters are mild, even this one, compared with past trends, the last ten years of global temperatures have been mild and warm when compared to the 1920s.

Weather is something that happens in the short term. A sequence of yearly weather events over many years is an indication of climate.

Taking single winters like this one is pointless, which is why i said weather isn't relevant.





Re: Dean M. said

I'm not a scientist but when information is given that then seems to turn out completely wrong then scepticism is bound to follow..

Engineer:

It's not wrong completely wrong, the problem is most people can't understand the big picture.

People expect perfection because on a smaller scale, (for example) someone can cut a tree down and know what the outcomes are within the local boundaries. They expect certain outcomes, they are used to predictability.
Re: Dean M. said "If the weather isn't relevant, why were we told to expect long, hot dry summers and mild winters? We're not told that any more I notice!" Engineer: Because that is a prediction of a change in climate. The winters are mild, even this one, compared with past trends, the last ten years of global temperatures have been mild and warm when compared to the 1920s. Weather is something that happens in the short term. A sequence of yearly weather events over many years is an indication of climate. Taking single winters like this one is pointless, which is why i said weather isn't relevant. Re: Dean M. said I'm not a scientist but when information is given that then seems to turn out completely wrong then scepticism is bound to follow.. Engineer: It's not wrong completely wrong, the problem is most people can't understand the big picture. People expect perfection because on a smaller scale, (for example) someone can cut a tree down and know what the outcomes are within the local boundaries. They expect certain outcomes, they are used to predictability. Engineer
  • Score: 0

2:13pm Wed 4 Feb 09

Engineer says...

Derek Tipp said:

"Science is never about the number of supporters of an argument. It is simply whether a theory fits all the facts. The current global warming theory states that CO2 increases will cause catastrophic warming of the planet. The evidence for it is based entirely on computer models of the climate."

Engineer said:

Well actually the core evidence is that we know CO2 is a green house gas. Kids at many schools do basic experiments that show this. You could do one at home.

Given that we know this, it is natural to then investigate the CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere.
Given that everything we do has an impact on the earth, it makes sense to see what the extra CO2 from fossil fuels is doing.

On your comments about theories...

I'm guessing you reject Einsteins theories because they are not perfect?
Or Newtons?

We don't reject theories because they are faulty, we actually use them to this day because they are useful even if they have faults!

If we rejected everything that had faults we would be living in caves, do you want us to live in caves?
(some irony there!)
Derek Tipp said: "Science is never about the number of supporters of an argument. It is simply whether a theory fits all the facts. The current global warming theory states that CO2 increases will cause catastrophic warming of the planet. The evidence for it is based entirely on computer models of the climate." Engineer said: Well actually the core evidence is that we know CO2 is a green house gas. Kids at many schools do basic experiments that show this. You could do one at home. Given that we know this, it is natural to then investigate the CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere. Given that everything we do has an impact on the earth, it makes sense to see what the extra CO2 from fossil fuels is doing. On your comments about theories... I'm guessing you reject Einsteins theories because they are not perfect? Or Newtons? We don't reject theories because they are faulty, we actually use them to this day because they are useful even if they have faults! If we rejected everything that had faults we would be living in caves, do you want us to live in caves? (some irony there!) Engineer
  • Score: 0

9:45pm Wed 4 Feb 09

Derek Tipp says...

Engineer - "We don't reject theories because they are faulty."

Erm - well actually we do.

Einstein's Theory has been proved correct. If its prediction had found to be wrong it would have been dropped. Newton's Laws hold for all bodies. That's why they are called Laws of Motion (not theories).

I accept that CO2 does absorb some energy, but that is completely different to saying that increasing the level from 300 to 600 parts per million (ppm) will cause "catastrophic" increases in temperature of the planet. For a start the relationship between CO2 and temperature is logarithmic. In other words the first 20 ppm will absorb 80% of the heat. It has been calculated that over tha last century we have had 0.6C increase in temperature. The Extra CO2 should only cause an increase of about another 0.3C. The rest has been theoretically calculated to come from increases in water vapour. This is completely unproven. To read much more come and visit this website http://climatescienc
e.blogspot.com
Engineer - "We don't reject theories because they are faulty." Erm - well actually we do. Einstein's Theory has been proved correct. If its prediction had found to be wrong it would have been dropped. Newton's Laws hold for all bodies. That's why they are called Laws of Motion (not theories). I accept that CO2 does absorb some energy, but that is completely different to saying that increasing the level from 300 to 600 parts per million (ppm) will cause "catastrophic" increases in temperature of the planet. For a start the relationship between CO2 and temperature is logarithmic. In other words the first 20 ppm will absorb 80% of the heat. It has been calculated that over tha last century we have had 0.6C increase in temperature. The Extra CO2 should only cause an increase of about another 0.3C. The rest has been theoretically calculated to come from increases in water vapour. This is completely unproven. To read much more come and visit this website http://climatescienc e.blogspot.com Derek Tipp
  • Score: 0

12:38am Thu 5 Feb 09

Engineer says...

Derek Tipp said:

"Einstein's Theory has been proved correct. If its prediction had found to be wrong it would have been dropped. Newton's Laws hold for all bodies. That's why they are called Laws of Motion (not theories)."

Engineer said:

Newtons laws held up fine in the world he knew, which is what most of us are used to. But the model fails when pushed outside those boundaries.
If you accept Newtons 'model' then you can hardly reject other models.

The point i was making is that these 'models' are accepted, despite any flaws or holes in the knowledge. It is something fundamental of knowledge, it will never be complete.
As i said, if you are looking for completeness then you will be waiting forever.
Nothing is perfect. It's the same for Einstein, push the model to the boundaries we know today and things start looking flaky. There are plenty of references on the internet that point out the limitations

Evicting Einstein:
http://science.nasa.
gov/headlines/y2004/
26mar_einstein.htm
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
http://aether.lbl.go
v/www/classes/p139/s
peed/fgr.html

The point is, you naively assume perfection, but we continue to use imperfect models to live our lives and create technology.






Derek Tipp said:

"I accept that CO2 does absorb some energy, but that is completely different to saying that increasing the level from 300 to 600 parts per million (ppm) will cause "catastrophic" increases in temperature of the planet."

Engineer:

There are plenty of peer reviewed papers on CO2 that include the logarithmic relationship with temperature. That isn't exactly news. The relationship between CO2 and temperature are complicated by other parts of the eco system, which can result in more CO2 remaining in the atmosphere as temperature changes.
Derek Tipp said: "Einstein's Theory has been proved correct. If its prediction had found to be wrong it would have been dropped. Newton's Laws hold for all bodies. That's why they are called Laws of Motion (not theories)." Engineer said: Newtons laws held up fine in the world he knew, which is what most of us are used to. But the model fails when pushed outside those boundaries. If you accept Newtons 'model' then you can hardly reject other models. The point i was making is that these 'models' are accepted, despite any flaws or holes in the knowledge. It is something fundamental of knowledge, it will never be complete. As i said, if you are looking for completeness then you will be waiting forever. Nothing is perfect. It's the same for Einstein, push the model to the boundaries we know today and things start looking flaky. There are plenty of references on the internet that point out the limitations Evicting Einstein: http://science.nasa. gov/headlines/y2004/ 26mar_einstein.htm Lawrence Berkeley National Lab http://aether.lbl.go v/www/classes/p139/s peed/fgr.html The point is, you naively assume perfection, but we continue to use imperfect models to live our lives and create technology. Derek Tipp said: "I accept that CO2 does absorb some energy, but that is completely different to saying that increasing the level from 300 to 600 parts per million (ppm) will cause "catastrophic" increases in temperature of the planet." Engineer: There are plenty of peer reviewed papers on CO2 that include the logarithmic relationship with temperature. That isn't exactly news. The relationship between CO2 and temperature are complicated by other parts of the eco system, which can result in more CO2 remaining in the atmosphere as temperature changes. Engineer
  • Score: 0

11:10pm Sun 8 Feb 09

miketually says...

Congrats Rev Mullen, you've been nominated for the 2009 Christopher Booker Prize:

"The award will go to whoever in my opinion and assisted by climate scientists and specialists manages, in the course of 2009, to cram as many misrepresentations, distortions and falsehoods into a single article, statement, lecture, film or interview about climate change. This work must be available online. You score a point for every mistake, though one point will be deducted for every retraction or correction published by the author or the original outlet within a reasonable length of time."

http://www.guardian.
co.uk/environment/ge
orgemonbiot/2009/feb
/04/christopher-book
er-george-monbiot-pr
ize
Congrats Rev Mullen, you've been nominated for the 2009 Christopher Booker Prize: "The award will go to whoever in my opinion and assisted by climate scientists and specialists manages, in the course of 2009, to cram as many misrepresentations, distortions and falsehoods into a single article, statement, lecture, film or interview about climate change. This work must be available online. You score a point for every mistake, though one point will be deducted for every retraction or correction published by the author or the original outlet within a reasonable length of time." http://www.guardian. co.uk/environment/ge orgemonbiot/2009/feb /04/christopher-book er-george-monbiot-pr ize miketually
  • Score: 0

1:50pm Mon 9 Feb 09

Dean M says...

He's up against tough competition though - all those 'climate scientists' must have a chance?
He's up against tough competition though - all those 'climate scientists' must have a chance? Dean M
  • Score: 0

2:00pm Mon 9 Feb 09

miketually says...

All the climate scientists who have their work peer reviewed, as opposed to vicars who write something the day before publication?

It's been a long running trend in journalism to make it look like there's debate over whether man-made climate change is a reality, so newspaper articles always come down 50:50. Peer-reviewed reports published in journals come down almost 100% on climate change being man-made.
All the climate scientists who have their work peer reviewed, as opposed to vicars who write something the day before publication? It's been a long running trend in journalism to make it look like there's debate over whether man-made climate change is a reality, so newspaper articles always come down 50:50. Peer-reviewed reports published in journals come down almost 100% on climate change being man-made. miketually
  • Score: 0
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