President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus addressing delegates at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change
There were two keynote speakers at each meal.
William Gray spoke after President Klaus and to the title ‘Oceans, Not Carbon Dioxide are Driving Climate’ and in particular about the circulation of water from the North Pole by way of the “Great Ocean Conveyor Belt” – Thermohaline Circulation (THC) – and the importance of the highly saline Atlantic Ocean.
Dr Gray has worked in the observational and theoretical aspects of tropical meteorological research for more than 40 years including studies of broad-scale cumulus interactions, processes associated with tropical cyclone structure, development and movement. And I will admit to not understanding all of his presentation, so I am going to say no more than that while acknowledging that carbon dioxide, the sun, land use change and water vapour all impact climate, Dr Gray went on to explain that it is the oceans that really drive climate and that the associated changes in energy fields and atmospheric moisture are too complex and chaotic to integrate into climate models.
A key slide from Dr Gray’s presentation.
After breakfast I headed to what is known at the Marriott Marquis as the Skylobby on the 16th floor to hear Marc Morano, Marlo Lewis and Michael Fox. The session on science and politics was introduced with reference to the so called scientific consensus and the suggestion was made that it is really a political consensus, not a scientific consensus.
Michael Fox is a nuclear specialist and he drew similarities in his speech between the current campaign against fossil fuels and the long standing campaign against nuclear energy. He suggested both reflected ‘illiteracy’ in the general public when it comes to science, maths and energy and spoke at length about environmental activists being against nuclear and hydro – yet these are the only real alternative to fossil fuels. His comments about activists being well organised and using regulation, litigation and/or taxation to attack the nuclear industry were interesting.
He finished with a quote from a Washington Congressman that “in my district it is political suicide to be rational on nuclear issues.”
I am familiar with the work of second speaker Marlo Lewis and in particular his comprehensive critique of Al Gore’s book ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ which you can find here: http://www.cei.org/pages/ait_response-book.cfm . But I had trouble following much of his speech at the conference because it was about the complexity and history of US environmental legislation the implications of which he was hopefully exaggerating because is it really possible that litigation could close down the US economy. Dr Marlo spoke about ‘ethanolism’ as an addiction which has swept over Washington and went into great detail about National Ambient Air Quality Standards and how government legislators could set the standard for carbon dioxide lower than current levels!
Marc Morano followed Marlo Lewis and I have already posted on his presentation here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002818.html . I will just add that Mr Morano also said polar bear numbers are at historical highs yet it is likely they will be listed as endangered.
I only caught part of the last session in the Skylobby which included some discussion on the Christian lobby and their links with the AGW lobby. The size of this constituency in the US runs into the tens of millions.
Instead of hearing more speakers I ended up joining UK resident and social anthropologist Benny Peiser and famous economist David Henderson for a pot of tea and some discussion on Level 8. Of course the pot was just hot water but we put the teabags into the pot rather than our cups – as the Americans get this so wrong.
Lunch was delicious; a delicate green rocket salad followed by a large piece of salmon on a wholesome risotto. The speakers were also great. Dr Roy Spencer is a principle research scientists for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the US Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite and his presentation was entitled ‘Recent Evidence for Reduced Climate Sensitivity’. While at the morning session William Gray suggested oceans drive climate, Dr Spencer’s key point was that “if there is one organising principle it is precipitation systems” (rainfall). He explained his interest in temperature anomalies since the launch of the NASA Aqua satellite in 2002 and the detailed data this satellite collects including on intraseasonal oscillations in troposhere temperatures. I was fascinated to hear how the satellite data has helped understanding of how clouds change as they evolve and the strong negative cloud feedback during troposphere warming. This is not how the climate models behave – they suggest a strong positive feedback. Dr Spencer also explained how when his findings were published last August there was no media interest to his astonishment given then importance of the findings.
In an attempt to move with the opinion within his discipline that if you can’t “put it in numbers in a climate model all you are doing is hand waving”, Dr Spencer developed his own climate model, what he described as the ‘world’s smallest climate model’.
Slide from Roy Spencer’s presentation.
What the model showed was that the real climate system (as opposed to the virtual modelled system) is much less sensitive than most modellers assume.
Dr Spencer’s talk was perhaps the most important at the conference and his conclusions including:
1. Recent research supports reduced climate sensitivity including that tropical intra-seasonal osciallations show strong negative feedback and observational estimates of feedback are likely bias due to neglect of natural variability, and
2. The accommodation of these results by climate modellers in their cloud parameterization could greatly reduce climate model projections of future warming.
The last speaker for the conference was ABC News correspondent John Stossel. He gave an interesting talk on ‘scares’ and how and why the media reports them.
In his closing remarks for the conference Heartland Institute President and CEO Joseph Blast drew parallels between our conference and the small group of economists who gathered at Mont Pelerin, near Montreux, Switzerland, to discuss the state and the possible fate of classic liberalism in 1947. Mr Blast suggested that our gathering in New York will hopefully mark the beginnings of an intellectual movement that will help turn-around the politics of climate change.
I walked and napped in the afternoon before meeting some conference delegates – Bob Ferguson and Carol Ferguson, Bob Carter and Ann Carter, blogger Joe De’Aleo and Astrophysicist Willie Soon – for a light dinner and a glass of wine (or two) in the hotel.
Conference delegates Bob Carter, Joe De Áleo and Willie Soon not in a spaceship, but rather in a lounge at the New York Marriott Marquis.
You can read my perspective on Day 1 of the conference here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002809.html and Day 2 here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002813.html
Some media from the conference is here:
Bob Carter on the Global Warming Conference
Glenn talks with Lord Monckton