Climate Change Conference, New York – Day 3, In Review

I’ve already reported on the standing ovation given to Vaclav Klaus following his speech at breakfast on day 3 of the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York.

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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.

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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: . 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: . 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’.

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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.

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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.

I would like to again thank conference organisers and sponsors The Heartland Institute and also the people of New York who have helped make my short say here truly memorable.

You can read my perspective on Day 1 of the conference here: and Day 2 here:

Some media from the conference is here:

Bob Carter on the Global Warming Conference

Inconvenient Thermometers

Glenn talks with Lord Monckton

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19 Responses to Climate Change Conference, New York – Day 3, In Review

  1. Jennifer March 6, 2008 at 8:10 pm #

    There are related links here: .

  2. danny March 7, 2008 at 2:28 am #

    can yiu blog on this award next week?


  3. Gary Gulrud March 7, 2008 at 2:48 am #

    Hasn’t anyone told danny huffing model glue kills brain cells?

  4. James Mayeau March 7, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    That Lord Monckton talk with Glen Beck really has me energised. All we have to do is get AIT tossed out of the classroom. It seems like flogging a dead horse, but that’s exactly the attitude the global warmers count on. All criminals trade on the indulgence of society.

    The only real consensus I have recognized across all spectrums of the AGW online communities, both pro and con, is a universal disdain for the science of Al Gore’s movie. Just ask Luke.
    And yet that movie is what is being used to push policy. If not in this generation, it’s sure to drive ecolegislation in the near future, due to it’s obsequious presence in public schools.
    With one fell stroke it is within the reach of climate realists to mortally wound the beast called AGW.
    We get it banned from the classroom, branded as political propaganda, or just gelded, with court ordered addendums correcting it’s many factual errors, in the USA that’s the death nell for the global warming lobby.

  5. Graham Young March 7, 2008 at 7:26 am #

    What’s the link between the fundamentalist Christian and the AGW lobbies?

  6. Luke March 7, 2008 at 8:16 am #

    “mortally wound the beast called AGW” errr – you’re now going to shoot the global atmosphere are you?

    Suppose we can teach creation science too and encourage passive smoking exposure.

    James – reality! – you guys have not made one iota of difference. You’re irrelevant to the policy process.

  7. Luke March 7, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Anyway – all very good but back to the conference.

    How many sceptics expressed scepticism about their colleagues work.

    Did anyone take on cosmic rays vs PDOs or the like.

    Or was there a general acceptance of all papers.

  8. gavin March 7, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    It’s hard to believe we are all on the same space ship

    Graham: Try google, wiki & sourcewatch for a “link between the fundamentalist Christian and the AGW lobbies” otherwise let’s leave it as a Furphy

  9. James Mayeau March 7, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    “James – reality! – you guys have not made one iota of difference. You’re irrelevant to the policy process.”

    Luke – Do you remember a few weeks back when public pressure prevented the Cal Energy Commission withdraw the proposed installation of radio control thermostats in private homes? You might have been sulking that week. Never mind.
    Lord Monckton has already had AIT officially designated propaganda in the UK. That’s not a maybe or someday. It’s a happened already.

    Perhaps a simular ruling in the USA won’t mortally wound the AGW movement. Maybe it would just kneecap it; give it a Tonya Harding whack across the shin.
    It’ll be hard for Jimmy Hansen to skate with a bad leg.

    That would do it for me. That would suit me right down to the ground.

  10. James Mayeau March 7, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    change “prevented” into “forced” in my 12:46 post

  11. Luke March 7, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Is it just me or does it seem a bit nutty.

    Well ya gotta have a laugh.

    (takes a few seconds to load)

    P.S. James – all squeaky trivia.

  12. SJT March 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    Thanks for that Luke. Since when did Monckton become a retired scientist? Classic narcissist.

  13. James Mayeau March 8, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

    This is so funny. Tim Lambert wrote about the judgement against Al Gore’s film.
    He says, “Some of those who have waded into the issue argue that, when he put quotes around the word “errors” in his judgment, Justice Burton meant to say that the nine controversial statements aren’t wrong — they just lie outside the mainstream scientific consensus.”

    Isn’t that precious? Isn’t that sweet?
    Al’s movie isn’t wrong. He isn’t a bald faced liar.
    It’s just that there is no scientific basis for his assertions is all.
    It could happen to anybody.
    Just Al’s dumb luck.

  14. Luke March 8, 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    Deltoid has eloquently exposed Snonky-tonks litigious approach to silencing free speech.

  15. James Mayeau March 8, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Free speech in a classroom? I doubt even teachers have that right.

  16. James Mayeau March 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    Here’s something for you. The scientific basis for An Inconvenient Truth (the stuff that survived the court hearing).
    Pretty skimpy stuff.

    5. At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles.

    Some animals are moving closer to the Equator. Wolverine makes its first Sierra appearance since 1922.

  17. SJT March 12, 2008 at 9:38 pm #

    “Al’s movie isn’t wrong. He isn’t a bald faced liar.
    It’s just that there is no scientific basis for his assertions is all.
    It could happen to anybody.
    Just Al’s dumb luck.”

    Try the glaciers.

    From a transcript of AIT.

    * And now we’re beginning to see the impact in the real world. This is Mount Kilimanjaro more than 30 years ago, and more recently. And a friend of mine just came back from Kilimanjaro with a picture he took a couple of months ago. Another friend of mine Lonnie Thompson studies glaciers. Here’s Lonnie with a sliver of a once mighty glacier. Within the decade there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro.
    * This is happening in Glacier National Park. I climbed to the top of this in 1998 with one of my daughters. Within 15 years this will be the park formerly known as Glacier.
    * Here is what has been happening year by year to the Columbia Glacier. It just retreats more and more every year. And it is a shame because these glaciers are so beautiful. People who go up to see them, here is what they are seeing every day now.
    * In the Himalayas there is a particular problem because more than 40% of all the people in the world get their drinking water from rivers and spring systems that are fed more than half by the melt water coming off the glaciers. Within this next half century those 40% of the people on earth are going to face a very serious shortage because of this melting.
    * Italy, the Italian Alps same site today. An old postcard from the Switzerland: throughout the Alps we are seeing the same story.
    * It’s also true in South America. This is Peru 15 years ago and the same glacier today.
    * This is Argentina 20 years ago, the same glacier today.
    * 75 years ago in Patagonia on the tip of South America, this vast expanse of ice is now gone.

    Nine claims about glaciers. One that is open to dispute. He seems to be doing alright to me, for a layman.

  18. Colin Barton March 22, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    In answer to the ‘glaciers are receding’ comments, no argument there as in general they have been receding since the mid 1800s after the so-called little ice age. The question is – to what extent are humans causing it. Carefully look at the past data and form your own conclusion ie very very unlikely.


  1. Jennifer Marohasy » Skeptics to Gather in New York Again - October 24, 2008

    […] You can read my perspective on Day 1 of the conference last year here: and Day 2 here:  and Day 3 here:… […]

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