John Houghton’s response to the documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle”March 19, 2007 at 4:17 am | Posted in Answer, Britain, Climate change, Climate science, Environment, IPCC, Science, Science Education, Unequivocal | 6 Comments
Sir John Houghton was co-chair of IPCC Scientific Assessment working group 1988-2002, and Director General of the UK Meteorological Office.
The IPCC was one of the main targets of the polemic that aired recently on Channel 4, so Sir John Houghton has written a comprehensive response to the programme, giving his assessment of some of the main assertions and conclusions in “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. He begins by pointing out:
1. First, it is important to note that the main lines of evidence for human-induced climate change not addressed in the programme were:
- * growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mainly due to fossil fuel burning to a level greater than for at least 600,000 years;
- * observations of global warming at the earth’s surface (in magnitude and pattern) consistent with the increase in greenhouse gases, the basic science of which has been known and understood for over 200 years.
This is crucial. These main lines of evidence for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) were omitted!
(At this point, I should ask the kids who watched Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles with me recently: what would the ace detective make of that?! He would be excruciatingly scathing of anyone who came up with a rebuttal while ignoring the main evidence in a case as serious as this, no doubt )
Then Sir John continues to unravel the truths from the half-truths and lies, as in:
2. Climate is always changing – TRUE. However, the programme also argued that changes in global average temperature over the last 50 years and as projected for the 21st century are within the range of natural climate variability as observed over the last few millennia – NOT TRUE.
Many of the prominent climate changes over past centuries have been regional … (more)
Another senior authority on climate science has written his own response in NewScientist this week. He is Professor Alan Thorpe, chief executive of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Director of the NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). His response is here, and I have requested permission to publish it in full.
I shall try to summarise both responses in a form that is easily digestible by school students later this week
There is also a wonderful ensemble of claims, reactions and references to “The Great Global Warming Swindle” at Wikipedia, including this summary of Sir John’s assessment:
According to Houghton, three of these were true, seven were not true, and one was possibly true.
He flatly contradicted two of the programme’s statements, that “The troposphere is warming less than the surface” and that “Volcanic eruptions emit more carbon dioxide than fossil fuel burning”.
Overall he described the programme as “a mixture of truth, half truths and falsehood”.