BBC climate change project this week

November 12, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Posted in BBC, Climate change, Climate sceptics, IPCC, Questionnaires, Surveys | Leave a comment

In BBC NEWS Science/Nature section, today’s article is:

Unravelling the sceptics
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

wherein Richard Black explains how he has tried to collect, collate and analyse responses from a group of self-identified climate sceptics* in an attempt to understand what exactly it is that they believe, and agree on, if anything.

(What he doesn’t say is that, to be successful, sceptics do not have to agree on anything. As a matter of fact, as long as they generate confusion to prevent action being taken, in many cases they are achieving their own objectives. Ah, well. Perhaps that point’s taken for granted? I don’t think it should be. Propaganda tactics are not that well understood by most people.)

The climate questionnaire asked:


The climate questionnaire

TEMPERATURE TRENDS 1 Do you believe that the global average surface temperature has risen over the last 50 years?

2 If yes, do you agree with the IPCC’s range for that rise of between 0.10 and 0.16 Celsius per decade – alternatively, what figure or range of figures do you believe to be correct?

3 If you do not believe that the global average surface temperature has risen over the last 50 years, what is your explanation for increasing temperatures recorded by ground-based instruments over that period?

4 Do you agree that the oceans have warmed to depths of several kilometres over the last 50 years?

GREENHOUSE GAS TRENDS 5 Do you believe that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases have increased over the last century or so?

6 If so, do you agree that the rises are principally due to anthropogenic factors?

7 For carbon dioxide, do you accept the broad figure of 280ppm in the post-glacial but pre-industrial era, and the current figure of about 380ppm?

GREENHOUSE GAS IMPACTS 8 Do you agree with the principle that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases will increase radiative forcing?

9 Do you agree that the relationship between CO2 concentrations and radiative forcing, given current levels, is logarithmic?

10 If you answered ‘Yes’ to question 1, do you believe that rising greenhouse gas concentrations are the most important factor behind the observed increases in the global average temperature? If not, what would you say is/are the principal factor(s) behind the observed rise?

11 If you answered ‘No’ to question 1 but ‘Yes’ to questions 5 and 8, what is your explanation for why rising greenhouse gas concentrations, associated with higher radiative forcing, have not resulted in a rise in the global average temperature?

12 What value, or range of values, would you estimate for climate sensitivity?

NATURAL VARIATION 13 What would you say is the maximum amount by which the global average annual surface temperature can vary over the course of a century due to natural variability?

MITIGATION 14 Do you believe that if concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases rise significantly higher than they are now, there is a chance of dangerous climatic change resulting?

15 If you answered ‘No’ to the previous question but ‘Yes’ to question 8, could you explain why you do not feel rising concentrations might prove dangerous?

16 Do you think it would be wise for the global community to set a maximum limit for atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, or of carbon dioxide equivalent? If so, what limit would you recommend?

17 If anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions increase broadly in line with “business as usual” projections over the next 20 years or so, which of the following statements would most closely reflect your opinion of the likely impact of emissions over that period:

  • they will not have any deleterious impacts on human societies or the natural world
  • they will have some impacts on human societies and the natural world, but nothing that cannot be dealt with quite easily
  • they will have major impacts on some human societies and some aspects of the natural world

18 Which of these statements most reflects your view of the Kyoto Protocol:

  • it was a worthwhile attempt to tackle an issue of global significance
  • it was the wrong approach to tackling an issue of global significance
  • it was meaningless, because there is no reason for attempting to curb greenhouse gas emissions at present

CLIMATE MODELS 19 Do you believe that computer models, when used in conjunction with observational data, can in principle make meaningful projections of future temperature and climate trends at global and regional scales?

20 If so, would you say current models are, on the whole:

  • very accurate and useful
  • quite accurate and useful
  • not very accurate or useful
  • completely useless

21 If you answered c or d to the last question, could you explain what it is that you believe to be wrong with current models? 22 If you answered ‘No’ to question 19, what approach would you prefer to computer modelling as a way of forecasting future climate?

YOUR BACKGROUND 23 Which element(s) of your academic background is/are relevant to climate change?

24 Could you please supply a list of scientific publications (not exhaustive), or a weblink to such a list, which demonstrates your expertise in the climate field?

25 Have you ever received funding from a company involved in fossil fuel production or use, or from an institution which receives such funds? If so, please give details.

Richard Black’s article links to this BBC Special Report:

Climate scepticism: The top 10

What are some of the reasons why “climate sceptics” dispute the evidence that human activities such as industrial emissions of greenhouse gases and deforestation are bringing potentially dangerous changes to the Earth’s climate?

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalises its landmark report for 2007, we look at 10 of the arguments most often made against the IPCC consensus, and some of the counter-arguments made by scientists who agree with the IPCC.

There is more to come from the BBC this week on this topic. For now, there’s an appeal:

This week, ahead of the launch of the IPCC’s synthesis report for 2007, the BBC News website is looking at various aspects of “climate scepticism” and “catastrophism”. If you have something novel to say on climate change, please let us know – we will be publishing a selection of your comments on Friday.

Hmmm … something novel?

* the list of addressees was taken from an open letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year, headed and signed as follows:

Open Kyoto to debate
Sixty scientists call on Harper to revisit the science of global warming
Special to the Financial Post
Published: Thursday, April 06, 2006Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor, isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa

Dr. Tad Murty, former senior research scientist, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, former director of Australia’s National Tidal Facility and professor of earth sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide; currently adjunct professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa

Dr. R. Timothy Patterson, professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences (paleoclimatology), Carleton University, Ottawa

Dr. Fred Michel, director, Institute of Environmental Science and associate professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa

Dr. Madhav Khandekar, former research scientist, Environment Canada. Member of editorial board of Climate Research and Natural Hazards

Dr. Paul Copper, FRSC, professor emeritus, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ont.

Dr. Ross McKitrick, associate professor, Dept. of Economics, University of Guelph, Ont.

Dr. Tim Ball, former professor of climatology, University of Winnipeg; environmental consultant

Dr. Andreas Prokoph, adjunct professor of earth sciences, University of Ottawa; consultant in statistics and geology

Mr. David Nowell, M.Sc. (Meteorology), fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Canadian member and past chairman of the NATO Meteorological Group, Ottawa

Dr. Christopher Essex, professor of applied mathematics and associate director of the Program in Theoretical Physics, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

Dr. Gordon E. Swaters, professor of applied mathematics, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences, and member, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Research Group, University of Alberta

Dr. L. Graham Smith, associate professor, Dept. of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

Dr. G. Cornelis van Kooten, professor and Canada Research Chair in environmental studies and climate change, Dept. of Economics, University of Victoria

Dr. Petr Chylek, adjunct professor, Dept. of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax

Dr./Cdr. M. R. Morgan, FRMS, climate consultant, former meteorology advisor to the World Meteorological Organization. Previously research scientist in climatology at University of Exeter, U.K.

Dr. Keith D. Hage, climate consultant and professor emeritus of Meteorology, University of Alberta

Dr. David E. Wojick, P.Eng., energy consultant, Star Tannery, Va., and Sioux Lookout, Ont.

Rob Scagel, M.Sc., forest microclimate specialist, principal consultant, Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, B.C.

Dr. Douglas Leahey, meteorologist and air-quality consultant, Calgary

Paavo Siitam, M.Sc., agronomist, chemist, Cobourg, Ont.

Dr. Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, associate professor, The University of Auckland, N.Z.

Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Freeman J. Dyson, emeritus professor of physics, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.

Mr. George Taylor, Dept. of Meteorology, Oregon State University; Oregon State climatologist; past president, American Association of State Climatologists

Dr. Ian Plimer, professor of geology, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide; emeritus professor of earth sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. R.M. Carter, professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Mr. William Kininmonth, Australasian Climate Research, former Head National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology, Scientific and Technical Review

Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, former director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

Dr. Gerrit J. van der Lingen, geologist/paleoclimatologist, Climate Change Consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations, New Zealand

Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, professor of environmental sciences, University of Virginia

Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, emeritus professor of paleogeophysics & geodynamics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Gary D. Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, Calif.

Dr. Roy W. Spencer, principal research scientist, Earth System Science Center, The University of Alabama, Huntsville

Dr. Al Pekarek, associate professor of geology, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Dept., St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minn.

Dr. Marcel Leroux, professor emeritus of climatology, University of Lyon, France; former director of Laboratory of Climatology, Risks and Environment, CNRS

Dr. Paul Reiter, professor, Institut Pasteur, Unit of Insects and Infectious Diseases, Paris, France. Expert reviewer, IPCC Working group II, chapter 8 (human health)

Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, physicist and chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw, Poland

Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, reader, Dept. of Geography, University of Hull, U.K.; editor, Energy & Environment

Dr. Hans H.J. Labohm, former advisor to the executive board, Clingendael Institute (The Netherlands Institute of International Relations) and an economist who has focused on climate change

Dr. Lee C. Gerhard, senior scientist emeritus, University of Kansas, past director and state geologist, Kansas Geological Survey

Dr. Asmunn Moene, past head of the Forecasting Centre, Meteorological Institute, Norway

Dr. August H. Auer, past professor of atmospheric science, University of Wyoming; previously chief meteorologist, Meteorological Service (MetService) of New Zealand

Dr. Vincent Gray, expert reviewer for the IPCC and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of ‘Climate Change 2001,’ Wellington, N.Z.

Dr. Howard Hayden, emeritus professor of physics, University of Connecticut

Dr Benny Peiser, professor of social anthropology, Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.

Dr. Jack Barrett, chemist and spectroscopist, formerly with Imperial College London, U.K.

Dr. William J.R. Alexander, professor emeritus, Dept. of Civil and Biosystems Engineering, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Member, United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, 1994-2000

Dr. S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences, University of Virginia; former director, U.S. Weather Satellite Service

Dr. Harry N.A. Priem, emeritus professor of planetary geology and isotope geophysics, Utrecht University; former director of the Netherlands Institute for Isotope Geosciences; past president of the Royal Netherlands Geological & Mining Society

Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey professor of energy conversion, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University

Dr. Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist and climate researcher, Boston, Mass.

Douglas Hoyt, senior scientist at Raytheon (retired) and co-author of the book The Role of the Sun in Climate Change; previously with NCAR, NOAA, and the World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland

Dipl.-Ing. Peter Dietze, independent energy advisor and scientific climate and carbon modeller, official IPCC reviewer, Bavaria, Germany

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, senior marine researcher (retired), Geological Survey of Finland, former professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, Finland

Dr. Wibjorn Karlen, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr. Hugh W. Ellsaesser, physicist/meteorologist, previously with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif.; atmospheric consultant.

Dr. Art Robinson, founder, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Cave Junction, Ore.

Dr. Arthur Rorsch, emeritus professor of molecular genetics, Leiden University, The Netherlands; past board member, Netherlands organization for applied research (TNO) in environmental, food and public health

Dr. Alister McFarquhar, Downing College, Cambridge, U.K.; international economist

Dr. Richard S. Courtney, climate and atmospheric science consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, U.K.


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