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On The Hijacking of the American Meteorological Society

by Bill Gray, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University (AMS Fellow, Charney Award recipient, and 50+ year member)

I am appalled at the selection of James Hansen as this year’s recipient of the AMS’s highest award – the Rossby Research Medal. James Hansen has not been trained as a meteorologist. His formal education has been in astronomy. His long records of faulty global climate predictions and alarmist public pronouncements have become increasingly hollow and at odds with reality. Hansen has exploited the general public’s lack of knowledge of how the globe’s climate system functions for his own benefit. His global warming predictions, going back to 1988 are not being verified. Why have we allowed him go on for all these years with his faulty and alarmist prognostications? And why would the AMS give him its highest award?

By presenting Hansen with its highest award, the AMS implies it agrees with his faulty global temperature projections and irresponsible alarmist rhetoric. This award, in combination with other recent AMS awards going to known CO2 warming advocates, is an insult to a large number of AMS members who do not believe that humans are causing a significant amount of the global temperature increase. These awards diminish the AMS’s sterling reputation for scientific objectivity.

Hansen previously studied the run-away greenhouse warming of Venus. He appears to think that man’s emittance of CO2 gases, if unchecked, will eventually cause the Earth to follow a similar fate. Hansen’s arrogance and gall over the reality of his model results is breathtaking. He has recently warned President Obama that our country has only 4 years left to act on reducing CO2 gases before the globe will reach a point of irretrievable and disastrous human-caused warming. How does he know what thousands of us who have spent long careers in meteorology-climatology do not know?

Hansen’s predictions of global warming made before the Senate in 1988 are turning out to be very much less than he had projected. He cannot explain why there has been no significant global warming over the last 10 years and why there has been a weak global cooling between 2001 and 2008.

Hansen and his legion of environmental-political supporters (with no meteorological-climate background) have done monumental damage to an open and honest discussion of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) question. He and his fellow collaborators (and their followers) are responsible for the brainwashing of a large segment of the American public about a grossly exaggerated human-induced warming threat that does not exist. Most of the global warming we have observed is of natural origin and due to multi-decadal and multi-century changes in the globe’s deep ocean circulation resulting from salinity variations (see the Appendix for scientific discussion). These changes are not associated with CO2 increases. Hansen has little experience in practical meteorology. He apparently does not realize that the strongly chaotic nature of the atmosphere-ocean climate system does not allow for skillful initial value numerical climate prediction.

Hansen’s modeling efforts are badly flawed in the following ways:

1. His upper tropospheric water vapor feedback loop is grossly wrong. He assumes that increases in atmospheric CO2 will cause large upper-tropospheric water vapor increases which are very unrealistic. Most of his model warming follows from his invalid water vapor assumptions. His handlings of rainfall processes are, as with the other global climate modelers, quite inadequate.

2. He lacks an understanding and treatment of the fundamental role of the deep ocean circulation (i.e. Meridional Overturning Circulation – MOC) and how the changing ocean circulation (driven by salinity variations) can bring about wind, rainfall, and surface temperature changes independent of radiation and greenhouse gas changes. He does not have these ocean processes properly incorporated in his model. He assumes the physics of global warming is entirely a product of radiation changes and radiation feedback processes. This is a major deficiency.

Hansen’s Free Ride. It is surprising that Hansen has been able to get away with his unrealistic modeling efforts for so long. One explanation is that he has received strong support from Senator/Vice President Al Gore who for over three decades has attempted to make political capital out of increasing CO2 measurements. Another reason is the many environmental and political groups (including the mainstream media) who are eager to use Hansen’s modeling results as justification to push their own special interests that are able to fly under the global warming banner. A third explanation is that he has not been challenged by his peer climate modeling groups who apparently have seen possibilities for research grant support and publicity gains by following Hansen’s lead. Yet another reason has been the luck of his propitious timing. His 1988 Senate testimony occurred after there had been global warming since the mid-1970s and we were experiencing a hot summer. And the global warming that occurred over the next 10 years (to 1998) gave an undeserved justification to his CO2 warming claims. Had Hansen given his Senate testimony in the 1970s or today (since we have seen weak global cooling since 2001) his alarmist rhetoric would have been taken much less seriously.

I anticipate that we are going to experience a modest naturally-driven global cooling over the next 15-20 years. This will be similar to the weak global cooling that occurred between the early-1940s and the mid-1970s. It is to be noted that CO2 amounts were also rising during this earlier cooling period which was opposite to the assumed CO2 temperature relationship.

An expected 15-20 year cooling will occur (in my view) because of the strong ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) that has now been established and in place for the last decade and a half. This same condition had been present in the mid-1940s when the globe began a sustained three decade weak cooling. I explain most of the century and-a-half general global warming since the mid-1800s (start of the industrial revolution) to be a result of a long multi-century slowdown in the ocean’s MOC circulation. Increases of CO2 could have contributed only a small fraction (0.1-0.2ºC) of the roughly ~ 0.7ºC warming that has been observed since 1850. Stronger natural processes have had to have been responsible for most of the observed warming over the last century and a half.

AMS. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) was founded in 1919 as an organization dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge of weather and climate. It has been a wonderful beacon for fostering new understanding of how the atmosphere and oceans function. But this strong positive image is now becoming tarnished as a result of the AMS leadership’s capitulating to the lobby of the climate modelers and to the outside environmental and political pressure groups who wish to use the now AMS position on AGW to help justify the promotion of their own special interests. The effectiveness of the AMS as an objective scientific organization has been greatly compromised.

We AMS members have allowed a small group of AMS administrators, climate modelers, and CO2 warming sympathizers to maneuver the internal workings of our society to support AGW policies irrespective of what our rank-and-file members might think. This small organized group of AGW sympathizers has indeed hijacked our society.

Debate. The AMS is the most relevant of our country’s scientific societies as regards to its members having the most extensive scientific and technical background in meteorology and climate. It should have been a leader in helping to adjudicate the claims of the AGW advocates and their skeptical critics. Our country’s Anglo-Saxon derived legal system is based on the idea that the best way to get to the truth is to have opposite sides of a continuous issue present their differing views in open debate before a non partisan jury. Nothing like this has happened with regards to the AGW issue. Instead of organizing meetings with free and open debates on the basic physics and the likelihood of AGW induced climate changes, the leaders of the society (with the backing of the society’s AGW enthusiasts) have chosen to fully trust the climate models and deliberately avoid open debate on this issue. I know of no AMS sponsored conference where the AGW hypothesis has been given open and free discussion. For a long time I have wanted a forum to express my skepticism of the AGW hypothesis. No such opportunities ever came within the AMS framework. Attempts at publication of my skeptic views have been difficult. One rejection stated that I was too far out of the mainstream thinking. Another that my ideas had already been discredited. A number of AGW skeptics have told me they have had similar experiences.

The climate modelers and their supporters deny the need for open debate of the AGW question on the grounds that the issue has already been settled by their model results. They have taken this view because they know that the physics within their models and the long range of their forecast periods will likely not to be able to withstand knowledgeable and impartial review (see Appendix). They simply will not debate the issue. As a defense against criticism they have resorted to a general denigration of those of us who do not support their AGW hypothesis. AGW skeptics are sometimes tagged (I have been) as no longer being credible scientists. Skeptics are often denounced as tools of the fossil-fuel industry. A type of McCarthyism against AGW skeptics has been in display for a number of years.

Recent AMS Awardees. Since 2000 the AMS has awarded its annual highest award (Rossby Research Medal) to the following AGW advocates or AGW sympathizers; Susan Solomon (00), V. Ramanathan (02), Peter Webster (04), Jagadish Shukla (05), Kerry Emanuel (07), Isaac Held (08) and James Hansen (09). Its second highest award (Charney Award) has gone to AGW warming advocates or sympathizers; Kevin Trenberth (00), Rich Rotunno (04), Robert D. Cess (06), Allan Betts (07), Gerald North (08) and Warren Washington and Gerald Meehl (09). And the other Rossby and Charney awardees during this period are not known to be critics of the AGW warming hypothesis.

The AGW biases within the AMS policy makers is so entrenched that it would be impossible for well known and established scientists (but AGW skeptics) such as Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Bill Cotton, Roger Pielke, Sr., Roy Spencer, John Christie, Joe D’Aleo, Bob Balling, Jr., Craig Idso, Willie Soon, etc. to ever be able to receive an AMS award – irrespective of the uniqueness or brilliance of their research.

What Working Meteorologists Say. My interaction (over the years) with a broad segment of AMS members (that I have met as a result of my seasonal hurricane forecasting and other activities) who have spent a sizable portion of their careers down in the meteorological trenches of observations and forecasting, have indicated that a majority of them do not agree that humans are the primary cause of global warming. These working meteorologists are too experienced and too sophisticated to be hoodwinked by the lobby of climate simulations and their associated propagandists. I suggest that the AMS conduct a survey of its members who are actually working with real time weather-climate data to see how many agree that humans have been the main cause of global warming and that there was justification for the AMS’s 2009 Rossby Research Medal going to James Hansen.

Many thousands of scientists from the US and around the globe do not accept the human-induced global warming hypothesis as it has been presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports over the last 15 years. These IPCC reports have largely followed the global modeling results and despite the Noble Prize Award that its authors received, should not be taken as having any credibility concerning its future of its climate predictions.

A doubling of anthropogenic greenhouse gases will not cause global warming anything like the 2-5ºC as projected by nearly all of the GCMs climate simulators and as accepted by the IPCC. I estimate that we will see a global warming resulting from a doubling of CO2 of only about 0.3-0.5ºC (see Appendix). Humankind can adapt to this much lower level of global warming without having to sacrifice much of its fossil fuel energy usage to much costlier renewable energy. If society is to eventually convert from fossil fuel to renewable energy it would be much more economic and far wiser if this conversion took place over a long period of time without having to be held hostage to the belief that we must hurry because a massive global temperature increase is rapidly approaching.

Global Environmental Problems. There is no question that global population increases and growing industrialization have caused many environmental problems associated with air and water pollution, industrial contamination, unwise land use, and hundreds of other human-induced environmental irritants. But all these human-induced environmental problems will not go away by a draconian effort to reduce CO2 emissions. CO2 is not a pollutant but a fertilizer. Humankind needs fossil-fuel energy to maintain its industrial lifestyle and to expand this lifestyle in order to be able to better handle these many other non-CO2 environmental problems. There appears to be a misconception among many people that by reducing CO2 we are dealing with our most pressing environmental problem. Not so.

It must be remembered that advanced industrial societies do more for the global environment than do poor societies. By greatly reducing CO2 emissions and paying a great deal more for our then needed renewable energy we will lower our nation’s standard of living and not be able to help relieve as many of our and the globe’s many environmental, political, and social problems.

Obtaining a Balanced View on AGW. To understand what is really occurring with regards to the AGW question one must bypass the AMS, the mainstream media, and the mainline scientific journals. They have mostly been preconditioned to accept the AGW hypothesis and, in general, frown on anyone not agreeing that AGW is, next to nuclear war, our society’s most serious long range problem.

To obtain any kind of a balanced back-and-forth discussion on AGW one has to consult the many web blogs that are both advocates and skeptics of AGW. These blogs are the only source for real open debate on the validity of the AGW hypothesis. Here is where the real science of the AGW question is taking place. Over the last few years the weight of evidence, as presented in these many blog discussions, is swinging very much against the AGW hypothesis. As the globe fails to warm as the models have predicted the American public is gradually losing its belief in the prior claims of Gore, Hansen, and the other AGW advocates.

Page built 23rd February 2009


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