RE: Don 't Be Spooked Mr. Sulzberger

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From: Lisa Dusseault (
Date: Tue Oct 31 2000 - 18:52:15 PPET

My first take on reading this posting is to realize that just because the
timing and slant of the report may help Gore, doesn't mean it isn't
accurate. But ignoring the election issues (oh how I wish I could), is the
report accurate?

We all know there are knee-jerk reactions from the environmentalist side
(ever noticed that any human-linked change is BAD by definition), but there
are also knee-jerk reactions from the other side. I suppose people who are
sick of environmentalist scares that end up being hot air (heh heh)
eventually react like the villagers to the boy who cried wolf.

So, know and recognize your biases.
 - "", originator of the article posted by Jay, sounds
awful anti-environmentalist due to the general pro-big-business and
anti-intervention slants of supply-siders...
 - Tech Central Station, originator of the article posted by Y. Zhang,
although it sounds apolitical, is not: the sig on the posting said
"free-market agenda" and again free-marketers are typically opposed to
intervention for environment-preserving purposes.

Who else can we look at?

According to, both
NASA and the World Meterologcial association say that the surface
temperatures are the warmest "ever". In fact, these only measure since

The Economist recently had an article on coral death due to global warming,
full article available only for subscribers:
"A report by marine biologists estimated that 50-95% of the coral reefs in
the Indian Ocean have died. Warmer seas over the past two years have caused
the damage."
Also more broad reportage:
"Giant firms such as United Technologies, Intel, American Electric Power
(AEP), DuPont and BP now openly accept that the evidence for climate change
is sufficient to take it seriously. "
The Economist's bias? Well, many economic journals are very
non-interventionist, but the Economist is unusual in preaching intervention
in some cases. In general, the Economist reports science fairly
straightforwardly, and when it discusses policy, which it does discuss very
clearly separate from the science, it favours some taxation or other
intervention to discourage fossil fuel use. I can't recall if they ever
justified that position.

National Geographic:
"a _minority_ of scientists say there is no proof that the warming of the
20th century is anything but natural, and they argue that the computer
models used to predict climate change are not reliable. " (emphasis mine)
I would assume NatGeo would be likely to treat global warming as a disaster.
Very conservationist.

Scientific American:
"Today few scientists doubt the atmosphere is warming. Most also agree...
that the consequences of this temperature change could become increasingly
disruptive. "
SciAm definitely has a pro-science-funding bias, which puts them under
suspicion of wanting more research into anything. Tends to make them report
things as problems.

"Many panel members said the summary represented the closest thing to a
consensus possible in science"
"evidence of increasing warming has shown up in retreating glaciers,
thinning polar sea ice, retreating snowpacks, warmer nights and other
"One of its most striking findings is its conclusion that the upper range of
warming over the next 100 years could be even higher than it estimated in
Although major newspapers do fairly straight reporting of whatever seems
like "news", there is in fact a bias because "environmental disaster
looming" is news, whereas "no disaster" is no news.

On the anti-environmentalist side, I have run across a fairly scientific yet
readable report at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine:
Those guys are extremely libertarian, which correlates strongly with
It's very interesting to compare their graphs to the graphs which NASA has
produced at

A fairly balanced MSNBC report talks about the difference between
temperatures measured for the surface, water and atmosphere. (I'm not
always in favour of "balanced reporting" -- it's inappropriate to balance a
science article between geneticists talking about evolution and
Creationists -- but in this case it seems appropriate).

Government research organizations can generally be assumed to be fairly
biased. By human nature, their continued job security depends on finding
evidence to indicate there is a problem worth continuing investigation on. "Present-day
atmospheric burdens of carbon dioxide and methane seem to have been
unprecedented during the past 420,000 years" "Trends in
annual mean temperature anomalies for the globe show relatively stable
temperatures from the beginning of the record through about 1910, with
relatively rapid and steady warming through the early 1940s, followed by
another period of relatively stable temperatures through the mid-1970s. From
this point onward, another rapid rise similar to that in the earlier part of
the century is observed. "

PBS/Nova is somewhat respected, but they're pretty bright green, IMO.
Luckily, their site has more in-depth coverage than a TV show can generally
have. I like their debate section, it's really worth reading the actual
statements of various scientists with their affiliations clearly stated. "The overwhelming majority of scientists
agree: earth's temperature has risen during the past century. But is it due
to man's use of fossil fuel energy? And if so, how can we prevent the
catastrophic results that some scientists predict if global warming

My summary/take on the whole situation is this:

1. It's clear that bodies of water and surface temperatures are warming up.
It's not so clear that the atmosphere is warming up. Those who deny that
there are temperature changes which affect wildlife (coral, plants, bird
ranges) have their heads in the sand.

2. It's not clear whether human action has caused the warming up, or
affected it, and if so, by how much. Particularly when you take into
account other factors besides fossil fuels, like deforestation, changing the
reflectivity of land in a massive way by picking crops (anybody remember
Gaia sim?). One of the debates is over the atmosphere temp: if our fossil
fuel use was causing a greenhouse effect, wouldn't atmosphere temps rise?

3. It's very clear how easy it is to pick the data you want to use for this

4. We don't know what the "ideal" temperature for the world should be --
past centuries have seen both warmer temps and colder -- and different
groups have different norms to compare to.

5. Rarely does anybody, ever, talk about the cost/benefit ratio of doing
anything about global warming. The two sides only say "This is a problem we
must do something about" or "this is not a problem". Anybody, anywhere,
think this might be a real problem that is nonetheless too
expensive/difficult to tackle???

Or perhaps that we might like the world warmer? Hey, as a Canadian myself,


> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2000 1:06 PM
> To:
> Subject: Don 't Be Spooked Mr. Sulzberger
> Next batch of fuel for the fire...
> Don't Be Spooked Mr. Sulzberger
> Memo To: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., NYT Publisher
> From: Jude Wanniski
> Re: Scary editorial on Global Warming
> I bet when you got up Saturday morning and read the lead
> editorial in your newspaper, Arthur, you got the willies, and it
> wasn't even Halloween. "A Sharper Warning on Warming"
> showed up just in time to give a boost to Vice President Gore's
> decision to scare little children about getting fried by greenhouse
> gases long before Medicare runs out of money. Here is the lead
> paragraph, in case you forgot:
> The international panel of climate scientists considered the
> most authoritative voice on global warming has now
> concluded that mankind's contribution to the problem is
> greater than originally believed. In addition, the panel warns
> that warming over the next 100 years could increase more
> than originally estimated. Its worse case scenario calls for
> a truly unnerving rise of 11 degrees Fahrenheit over 1999
> temperature levels.
> Don't be scared. It is all a bunch of baloney, cooked up
> specifically to help Gore. I'm informed the draft summary, which
> the Times reported Friday, was whipped together by a small group
> of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who got
> together at the headquarters of Environmental Defense Fund in
> your town, NYC. They could have waited a few weeks, but Gore
> needed it now. If you read the NYPost two weeks ago, Dick
> Morris wrote a column about how the only way Gore could win on
> November 7 was to scare people about global warming. Gore
> loves to do that anyway, so he could use the Morris column to
> overrule his campaign team, which does not see this hoax as a
> winning issue. (When Gore mentioned it in his acceptance speech,
> we could hear the sound of one hand clapping.)
> Hoax is not too strong a term, Arthur. Once the greenies
> succeeded in getting the Democratic establishment to buy into it,
> your newspaper had no choice but to go along with it. I've been
> trying to get your editors for years to make a serious effort to
> consultphysicists on this issue, as opposed to "climate scientists."
> Do you realize how much money is poured down the drain on this
> nonsense, how many little children contribute their nickels and
> dimes to keep the earth safe from -- boogie, boogie -- CARBON
> DIOXIDE!! You may recall that it was James Hansen, director of
> NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who got Gore all
> excited about global warming with a study he did about 20 years
> ago. It was Hansen who figured that too much carbon dioxide
> would cloak Mother Earth with a shield that would trap the heat,
> like a greenhouse, and temperatures would rise inexorably until we
> were all fried -- or drowned when the icecaps melted.
> You may have missed it, because the Times buried the story deep
> inside, but Hansen, an honest man, finally threw in the towel when
> the predictions he made based on his computer model just did not
> come to pass. Carbon dioxide isn't so bad after all, Arthur, so you
> don't have to hold your breath. Now if the Times had put the story
> on Page One, the Vice President might have seen it and
> announced that, based on this new information, he would change
> his mind. Or not. Maybe, like the UN's "climate scientists," he
> has too much invested in the hoax and has to see it through to the
> end. When the IPCC "draft" was leaked last week to your
> reporter, Andrew V. Revkin, we learned from the headline: "A
> Shift in Stance in Global Warming Theory; Scientists Now
> Acknowledge Role of Humans in Climate Change." Nowhere in
> the story is Dr. Hansen mentioned, but Revkin did call Richard
> Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT,
> who had been debunking the Hansen hoax all these years. Alas,
> Mr. Revkin quoted Dr. Lindzen as one of the scientists
> "acknowledging" mankind's cooking of the climate: "There has to
> be a human component to the change that's underway," he said.
> Well, now, I've never met or spoken with Lindzen, but I could not
> believe what I was seeing in that quote. It had to be taken out of
> context in order to justify the headline, which is all Al Gore needs
> to proceed. So I contacted Dr. Lindzen, who already was pretty
> upset, saying he had complained to Revkin, who apologized, he
> said, saying what he had written had been edited. Now I don't
> know what happened, Arthur, and I'm NOT saying your editors
> are part of a giant left-wing conspiracy. Forget that part and read
> what Lindzen actually believes, as he wrote in an e-mail to me:
> It was definitely quoted out of context, and Revkin claims
> that his article was altered from what he had written. For
> starters, I have always said that there had to be a human
> component to climate change. I have also said that that is a
> trivial statement since the important question is whether the
> influence is practically significant or not... The models, in
> effect, argue that the earth is very poorly designed. Our
> work suggests that the models are missing a very strong
> negative feedback which would more than cancel the
> models' positive feedbacks -- even if they were correct,
> which they almost certainly are not. Our paper will appear
> in the February issue of the Bulletin of the American
> Meteorological Society.
> Now what Lindzen is saying is that while yes, carbon dioxide
> could be a greenhouse gas if it did build up the way Gore thinks it
> does, it doesn't (as Hansen found). This is because the "climate
> scientists" who build these computer models "are missing a very
> strong negative feedback." Maybe Lindzen will leak Revkin the
> secret negative feedback, if asked, but the physicists I have been
> talking to about this for the last 20 years have made the argument
> that if there were not an offsetting negative feedback, we would
> have fried millions of years ago. In other words, if there is an
> extra carbon dioxide molecule that floats into the atmosphere,
> more than Mother Earth is comfortable with, there is a process by
> which she breaks up the molecule. Dr. Gordon Prather, a nuclear
> physicist I know who writes for WorldNetDaily, tells me there is a
> parallel in nuclear fission which helps us understand negative
> feedback. He reminds me that before the Manhattan Project
> detonated the first atomic bomb in Nevada in 1945, there were
> scientists who argued against the project because they said the
> chain reaction would not stop, it would continue until the whole
> earth blew up. Prather says those in charge understood that the
> chain reaction would reach a point where the explosion would
> "quench" itself, which is what actually happens. The "climate
> scientists" lauded by your editors and Mr. Gore do not see that
> whatever teeny bit of carbon dioxide mankind produces relative to
> natural carbon dioxide is "quenched" by Mother Nature.
> Because so much of what Gore wants to do involves limiting the
> use of hydrocarbons, let me add my own little unscientific
> illustration: If we took all the petroleum consumed in the last
> century and a half and put it into a dry Lake Tahoe, it would only
> fill one-fifth of the space. My guess is that you have in your office
> a globe. Go to it and see if you can find Lake Tahoe on the globe.
> You will not. This should remind you how tiny mankind is
> compared to the planet, except when you sit at the top of the
> Times and imagine how big you are. Then please read through
> these two columns Gordon Prather wrote last summer.

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