In the wake of the Climategate scandal, panelists and audience members at the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4) indicated growing confidence that the tide is turning in favor of those who believe that manmade global warming is not a crisis.
More than 700 people — including a good many scientists, along with economists, policy analysts, and legislators — have gathered together since Sunday night, discussing the once-settled but increasingly controversial proposition of an anthroprogenic global warming (AGW) crisis. Any triumphalism was averted by a general agreement to explore real-world facts and test the assertions of alarmists. The presenters and audience members continually asked whether the data says what the modelers say it does.
The conference opened with a Sunday evening dinner at which Canadian statistical analyst Stephen McIntyre presented a meticulous history of the hugely influential “hockey stick” graph — which found an alarming rise of global temperatures since 1979 and led to the IPPC conclusion that AGW is causing a global crisis that requires drastic measures. McIntyre had begun publicly questioning the data several years ago, setting off an effort which ultimately led to the recent Climategate scandal, in which it was shown that the people behind the hockey stick graph knowingly altered the temperature record in a way that expanded a relatively common global temperature change into a shocking heat spike.
The scientists’ own words show them as phonying up temperature data “in order to trick you,” as McIntyre noted repeatedly in his presentation, quoting comedian Jon Stewart’s scathing mockery of the alarmists’ attempted evasions. McIntyre quoted extensively from the various parties that perpetrated this massive fraud, but he avoided using such emotionally charged words. Fellow keynote speaker Harrison Schmitt — a Ph.D. scientist and former NASA astronaut — by contrast, embraced the characterization of the Climategate events as a fraud, in response to audience comments in a lively Q&A session after McIntyre’s speech. The questioners strongly criticized McIntyre’s reticence and his argument supporting a central role for government in pressing a climate agenda.
The disagreement demonstrated that the increasing skepticism toward the AGW crisis hypothesis is not the result of an organized effort by energy industry shills but instead a serious movement investigating a scientific proposition carrying enormous political and economic implications. At breakfast on Monday, the eminent environmental sciences scholar Pat Michaels, Ph.D., a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, employed much humor and telling details in documenting an extensive cover-up by alarmists in stopping publication of articles by AGW skeptics in Climate Science and other refereed science journals. Noting that a prominent alarmist called for the editor of Climate Science to be fired for not spiking AGW skeptics’ articles, Michaels observed: “This is a hanging offense in science.”
The real core of the conference has been the panel sessions, in which scientists, economists, and other experts present the facts about the environmental effects of human activity and the causes of global temperature changes. Given that four panels were meeting at any one time, attendees were forced to make some tough choices. But in each case, the emphasis was on presenting the facts, and in the three panels I attended I heard some strong words but no polemics.