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My Nobel Moment

Wall Street Journal – November 1, 2007

This is a very interesting commentary from John Christy, a member of the IPCC and, thus, a partial receiver of the Nobel Peace Prize. In short, it appears that Mr. Christy doesn’t think that he deserves his .001% of the prize.

I was pointed to this commentary by two regular readers (thank you to Scott and to Ron – check out their sites by clicking on their names).

Since this is a commentary, I am hesitant to say too much as Mr. Christy’s words are important. However, I do think it is important to note that he is not saying that the predictions of the IPCC are categorically wrong. He appears to be saying that he does not share the level of confidence and conviction of some of his peers because he feels there is too much data to understand and we do not have computer models that are accurate enough to make these conclusions.  This is very similar to what I have said multiple times in this forum.

I’m sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.


As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don’t find the alarmist theory matching observations.


It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system’s behavior over the next five days.


…As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with ‘At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .’"


…Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.


California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day. [Editor’s note: this is an interesting statistic that I was not aware of and I have not been able to confirm via another source]


My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

You can read the entirety of this article here.

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One Response to “My Nobel Moment”

  1. Here is another one from Dr. Christy that is excellent:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7081331.stm