Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is the CO2 narrative cooling in Edinburgh?

Professor Tom Crowley has a distinguished academic career and is a paleoclimatologist based in Edinburgh.

He has been linked with the narrative that CO2 is associated with the warming of the world's temperature and in the past his work, extensively quoted in IPCC Assessment Reports, has come in for some criticism, most notably by Steve McIntyre.

However in a press release today from the American Geophysical Union, Professor Crowley is quoted for his views of a study suggesting the sun is more linked to climate than previously thought:
"With the new paper, Sirocko and his colleagues have added to the research linking solar variability with climate", said Thomas Crowley, Director of the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment, and Society, who was not involved with the study.
“There is some suspension of belief in this link,” Crowley said, “and this study tilts the argument more towards thinking there really is something to this link. If you have more statistical evidence to support this explanation, one is more likely to say it’s true.” (My emphasis.)

I reported in 2011 that Professor Crowley had softened in his stance in an argument with Steve McIntyre to the point where he proffered an apology.

Signs of change?


  1. Cameron, climate change IS happening and the scientific consensus is that human activity is a significant cause. I have seen the effect that climate change is having on food security in Africa due to the decreased growing seasons and flooding in Bangladesh (due to snow melt). The situation is getting worse as time goes on.

    How should Christians respond to this? Do they not have a duty of leadership on this issue?

    It seems to me that Christians downplay the biblical commands about caring for creation when it suits them financially and that this is a form of sin. I think this happens because they understand the gospel as being about the individual and not the world.

    John 3:16 says "God so loved the world". The greek word translated "world" is "kosmos" which means the created world not "oikumene" which would mean the inhabited world (i.e. people).

    If God cares for the planet so should we. We should not waste precious finite resources when there are other forms of energy available and we should be willing to make changes to our behavior in order to assist those whom we are affecting.

  2. Gordon,

    Allow me to pass on the theological debate - which rests on the assumptions in your first sentence.

    First, neither I, nor the vast majority of sceptics I know, argue that the climate is not changing. Nor would we contest that it is warming.

    Second, nor do I rule out human influence. There is a question as to the extent of that influence, certainly.

    The verity of a hypothesis is not established by scientific consensus. I think it was Einstein who said that it didn't require a consensus to prove him wrong. Just one person.

    Fourthly, I don't for a moment believe there is a scientific consensus as you suggest. Take Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, a climate scientist of the first rank. He argues that the focus on CO2 is not justified by the evidence and that the extent of the warming is, in context, trivial and not justification for predictions of climate catastrophe. There are many, many more like him.

    Finally (for now) on the issue of what you describe as a scientific consensus, can I invite you to read The Hockey Stick Illusion by Andrew Montford which is substantially an analysis of the quality of the so called 'scientific consensus'.

    Thanks for engaging and happy to engage further - preferably over a coffee if you are in Edinburgh. Especially if you have read the book.