A reader alerts us to this excellent interview with Dr. S. Fred Singer, coauthor (with Dennis Avery) of Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years. Here is a small portion of the interview, on the failure of climate models to account for the past and on the alleged need to “do something” now:
What can the models do? Can they take an era and plug in some figures and reproduce what happens?
A number of researchers have actually tried to reproduce past climates, using models. And to some extent, they’ve been successful. And to another extent, they have not been successful, in the sense that you cannot derive what is called the climate sensitivity. In other words, what we really are after is some way of validating these models. We’d like to know how much of a temperature change is produced if carbon dioxide doubles in the atmosphere? That’s called the climate sensitivity. What is the climate sensitivity? As I’ve mentioned earlier, it can range from as little as one degree in some models to as much as five degrees Centigrade, which equals eight degrees Fahrenheit, in other models. That’s a big difference, a huge difference.
Which of these numbers is correct, if any? You cannot just take the median or the average. There’s no reason why the average should be correct. Maybe it’s the high number; maybe it’s the low number. We don’t know. We need to find out by making observations and understanding really what happens in the atmosphere.
Some say we don’t have the time for that, and that it would be prudent, since this is at least a plausible scenario, that we do something about it now, because as you said, these measurements are very difficult to take. You need to do it over a long period of time and very accurately. It might take fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years. Should we do nothing until that point?
Well, the question is what you mean by “doing” something. I’m not a great believer in buying insurance if the risks are small and the premiums are high. Nobody in his right mind would do that. But this is the case here. We’re being asked to buy an insurance policy against a risk that is very small, if at all, and pay a very heavy premium. We’re being asked to reduce energy use, not just by a few percent but, according to the Kyoto Protocol, by about 35 percent within ten years. That means giving up one-third of all energy use, using one-third less electricity, throwing out one-third of all cars perhaps. It would be a huge dislocation of our economy, and it would hit people very hard, particularly people who can least afford it.
For what? All the Kyoto Protocol would do is to slightly reduce the current rate of increase of carbon dioxide. And in fact, the UN Science Advisory Group has published their results. And they clearly show that the Kyoto Protocol would reduce, if it went into effect and were punctiliously observed by all of the countries that have to observe it — by the year 2050, — about 50 years from now — it would reduce the calculated temperature increase by .05 degrees Centigrade. That amount is not even measurable. So this is what you are being asked to buy.
Listen to Dr. Singer while you still can. There aren’t many climate scientists following in his footsteps. Here is one reason why:
Do you think, then, this is no longer operating as “normal” science, that there’s some kind of pathological mechanism here?
I think climate science is on its way to becoming pathological, to becoming abnormal in the sense that it is being guided by the money that’s being made available to people. I don’t blame people for accepting money. And the people who take the money and do research, by and large, are doing very competent research. [But] you’ll find them very careful not to speak out against the global warming “threat” — I’m putting “threat” in quotes, of course. And you’ll find also that when they do speak out, as many of them do, they suffer consequences. They lose support. And I can give you examples of that. Or they have other consequences that are equally disagreeable. And if you’re a young professor at a university and want to get tenure, or if you want to get a permanent academic position, you must do published research. And to do published research, you must write proposals to get money to do the research. So you’re locked into a vicious spiral here. You have to go along with the current wisdom that global warming is a threat. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the job that you want.
UPDATE: The interview above is undated but appears to be several years old. Reader John Vogt emails his recent exchange with Dr. Singer about his new book (questions in bold, responses in caps):
I enjoyed Unstoppable Global Warming very much. I have a few questions and I’d really appreciate your opinions.
Several question I’m interested in: Do the models show how we get out of an ice age?
Is there proof that the CO2 increase since 18xx originated from fossil fuels? What would a rough calculation of quantity burned vs. quantity in the atmosphere look like? Can isotope comparisons fingerprint the source? Could it be outgassing from oceans? Could it be less uptake into vegetation? Could it be our metabolic conversion of O2 to CO2? Is there any proof?
PARTLY OUTGASSING — THE AMOUNT IS BEING DEBATED.
Has anyone looked at a correlation with the strength or alignment of earth’s magnetic field? Cosmic ray influx would depend heavily
on that, I’d think.
CORRECT, BUT NO DEFINITIVE WORK I KNOW OF.
I can’t remember his name right now, but the Isreali researcher promoting the cosmic ray theory says there’s a 200 or so million year cycle that correlates positively with our position in relation to the dusty, supernova prone, high cosmic ray, radial dust arms of the
galaxy, and that we travel through these arms periodically. That doesn’t smell right. Why would our solar system move through the dust arms of the galaxy? Newton says that everything orbiting at the same radius has to orbit the center at the same rate? Why would the dust lanes move slower? I don’t get it.
NIR SHAVIV. YOU CAN GOOGLE HIS PAPERS.