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Donald F. Boesch
President, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Donald F. Boesch

Donald F. Boesch, an oceanographer, is president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland. ALL POSTS

What planet are they on?

I am in Maryland, not Copenhagen, but I am wondering whether anyone at COP15, other than the Saudi Arabian negotiator, is paying any attention at all to the Climategate/Swifthack (take your pick) e-mail controversy that has obsessed the media here. Just in the past few days the Washington Post ran full throated attacks on climate science by George Will and Sarah Palin.

Will decries "a climate change travesty" in a vituperative column on the e-mails and climate scientists, whom he serially accuses of suppressing and massaging data and rigging peer review; being at the same time metriculous, faith-based, full of shrill certainty, intellectual arrogance and exaggerated certitude and in sustained propagandistic lockstep; and compounding delusions of intellectual adequacy with messiah complexes. I guess that's one way to deal with the messenger when you don't like the message. But Will offers only two criticisms of the science rather than the scientists. The first is doubt that scientists' models, which he alleges cannot explain the present, can infallibly map the distant future. Actually, climate models are remarkably accurate in replicating the 20th century warming by factoring in all the forces that affect climate, but only when the effects of increased concentrations of greenhouse gas are included. No one has claimed that their projections of future climates are infallible, just highly probable. The second criticism is the "problematic practice of reconstructing long-term prior climate changes."This is quite a remarkable statement because it follows Will's observation that climate has always changed from millennia before the Medieval Warm Period (more appropriately the Medieval Climate Anomaly because it warm only in the North Atlantic region, not globally) through the Little Ice Age, something that we know about precisely because of that problematic practice.Having reminded us of natural climate changes, he would have us ignore this information in documenting how far outside of these natural fluctuations human-induced warming is now taking us.

Governor Palin's op-ed, which at this writing has elicited some 4,048 online comments, begin with the same assumptions that the e-mails reveal "appalling actions by so-called climate change experts" in a highly politicized scientific circle who deliberately destroyed records and manipulated data to "hide the decline" in global temperatures.In fact, the email discussions among the climatologists were in no way an attempt to avoid revealing a decline in global temperatures.Quite the contrary, the data inconsistency they were discussing was why, with 20th century temperatures as measured directly by thermometers actually rising, was the thickness of tree rings in a part of northern Asia declining.The rise in global temperatures is unequivocal.Governor Palin, whose home state of Alaska is already, as she acknowledges, experiencing coastal erosion, thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice, opines that we can't say with assurance that man's activities are changing the planet (despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and consensus), but we can say with virtual certainty that any potential benefits of proposed emission reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs (despite numerous credible assessments to the contrary).In which state and on what planet does she reside?

Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has a must-read response to Palin "Don't let the climate doubters fool you" and Post columnist Michael Gerson today acknowledges that "even if every question raised in the e-mails were conceded, the cumulative case for global climate disruption would be strong."However, Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter criticized for his own exaggerations, devotes two-thirds of his column decrying a scandal revealed by the emails and a crisis of professional credibility in climate science.Get a grip, Michael, the science discussed in the emails has essentially all been openly published, there was no falsification or destruction of data revealed, and, contrary to the Bush White House, none of the emails was deleted or lost.The real scandal is how the climate change contrarians have misrepresented and exaggerated the emails and how the U.S. media has been complicit in their attempts to confuse the public about the strength and integrity of climate science.

By Donald F. Boesch  |  December 11, 2009; 4:20 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg     Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Creating a model to accurately fit a known outcome is not difficult, so saying the present models are good because they fit the present data does not mean they can predict the future.
In the Middle Ages the science community could accurately explain how astronomical objects moved about the earth by putting them on glass panes. Then more data was found that disagreed. But soon they had gears on the discs, then more complicated ones, etc.
Copernicus and Galileo were considered kooks most of their lives. Today, would they be called 'skeptics' or 'deniers'?

Posted by: mastersinourhouse | December 14, 2009 2:58 AM
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presto668 wrote:

"Hey, cap and trade is the essence of the free market. It rewards people who pollute less at the expense of people who pollute more. If there's anything history teaches us, it's that people are much more likely to go along with something if they can make money from it."
_______________

Like hell it's the essence of the free market. It starts with governments deciding who the winners and losers are right off the bat, so forget about a "free" market. Billions are due to be transferred to more green companies and anyone sounding the clarion call about global warming (such as Al Gore) should be questioned about where their investments lie.

Posted by: dmlpearl | December 14, 2009 1:26 AM
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"... (more appropriately the Medieval Climate Anomaly because it warm only in the ..."

How about "it was warm"?

Look, I know you have to be in the tank for AGW Donald, otherwise you would be kicked out of your ivory tower.

But the main issue I have with AGW is that it explains away everything. That's what we call "suspicious". No theory explains it all, there are always holes and anomolous data. But somehow AGW has zero problems with anything.

There are always side effects in a medical study, even the placebo group. If there are no side effects reported, the FDA knows the data are fake.

Same with AGW. Unless you and your colleagues come clean with what doesn't fit, and the enormous variance in any climate work, forget about anyone letting their wallet get raped for WAGs a hundred years out.


Posted by: oracle2world | December 13, 2009 10:55 PM
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I loved watching Lord Monckton instruct a Greenpeace sheep on YouTube today.

Hide the Decline!

Posted by: EowynR | December 13, 2009 9:48 PM
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The lasting and sustainable solution has been given to the United Nation,
Ban Ki-Moon, US presidents Clinton, Bush and Barack Obama, Al Gore,
the EU, COP15, for the G-8, G-20 and to major religious leaders since before 1999. If they were convinced of the dangers, they would have encouraged more of a garden paradise retirement lifestyle in various degrees.

The employment lifestyle causes the world problems.
A garden paradise lifestyle would reverse and solve them easily, quickly,
fairly and inexpensively. It is the only sustainable lifestyle that reverses and
solves the pollution of our air, land, water and food, energy crisis, disease,
war, immigration, reoccurring financial crises, and social problems including
youth and elderly care.

New technology, jobs and money are not the solution;
they only create more problems and continue the lifestyle that created
the world problems.

Leviticus 26 God promises rain in due season and healthy crops, people and
animals for those who follow His wisdom.
To those who reject it, He promises terror and 4 x 7 curses UNTIL we
turn to follow as it is written in truth, not as religions teach.

If survival, freedom, peace, good health and good food are the true goals,
why does the United Nations Climate Conference turn to confusion, binding
legal agreements and oppressions that cannot do anything to stop pollution
and destruction of our planet?

The Employment Lifestyle Failed. The Garden Paradise Life Wins.
Let's Learn the Lesson Now.

http://divine-way.com/solution_for_un_climate_change_conference_in_copenhagen_dec_2009

Posted by: MarieDevine | December 13, 2009 9:31 PM
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Despite what the climate critics may say, it is a global imperative that we embark on what some would call a 'rush to judgement' so that we can begin immediately to take bold and irreversible actions to combat the problem we have named and get things underway before true facts emerge and confuse the public.

Fortunately, most media outlets continue to cooperate, and they simply forget to mention contradictory facts, like how Polar Bear populations are steadily increasing, but since they are so darned cute, they make a perfect poster child for the lie that is AGW.

2005 data from NASA revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near the planet's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row!!! Sure, the planet involved was actually Mars, and although they do not have many SUVs, they do have a few Mars Rovers and they share the Sun with the earth. Coincidence? Maybe... but most unlikely.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html

Imagine the potential (versus computer-modeled) damage to the AGW agenda if people realized that dramatic, measurable planetary warming was simultaneously occurring on our nearest neighboring planet...

If they put two and two together without requiring an arcane and complex computer model to handle the math, you'd see many more outbreaks of pitchforks and torches (increasing CO2 levels in the process) as common folks with critical thinking skills rebel against the manipulative agendas being foisted upon us.

But pay no attention to practical realities, for the day of reckoning for those who manipulated the science to match their agenda is not yet at hand. Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by: dbsinOakRidge | December 13, 2009 8:37 PM
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crunkcar wrote:
"The US has the largest reserves of coal in the world, vast reserves of natural gas, and abundant oil off the shores of California and Florida and on land in ANWR. We need to unlock these oil reserves."

The entirety of the US oil reserves are a drop in the bucket compared to what we get from the mideast.

"Ample energy reserves have always been part of the American success story, back from Colonial times when virgin forests supplied abundant firewood and fuels for steelmaking."

...and if it was good enough for our great, great grandparents it's good enough for me!

"We do not need to force our citizens to buy small, unsafe cars mandated by upcoming EPA regulations."

Here's a tip: small cars are only unsafe when they get into a collision with some ridiculously oversized vehicle. Shall we mandate that everyone buy Hummer H2s instead?

And even if global warming turns out to be completely false, isn't reducing our dependence on oil is a good thing in the long run?

"We do not need to rely on expensive, sporadic electric power from windmills and solar panels."

Yeah, and we do not need to rely on expensive, dirty automobiles when we have perfectly good horses. Let's let technology stand still.

"The perpetrators of the global warming hoax"

Oh? Please present your evidence of this vast, intricate, decades-long conspiracy that undermines thousands of man-years of work by scientists all over the world.

"Do we want to entrust our environment to Wall Street, buying and selling cap and trade credits?"

Hey, cap and trade is the essence of the free market. It rewards people who pollute less at the expense of people who pollute more. If there's anything history teaches us, it's that people are much more likely to go along with something if they can make money from it.

Posted by: presto668 | December 13, 2009 8:13 PM
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As Vice Chancellor for "Environmental Sustainability", Dr. Boesch may benefit financially from his support of alarmist threats to sustainability. Just maybe. Credible, unbiased source?

Posted by: inglesita | December 13, 2009 8:07 PM
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Al Gore could have been president!
My God!
Thank you George Bush a hanging chads.

Posted by: jpalm32 | December 13, 2009 7:19 PM
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Posted by: Essence_ | December 13, 2009 5:29 PM
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The computer models of the climate are not accurate. None of the computer models predicted the temperature decline of the last 10 years. Despite this, the scientists are asking our citizens to accept the results of these same computer models out to the year 2050 as valid cause to implement drastic, draconian laws and regulations which will cripple our economy. The next decade will witness escalating competition between the US and China in economic and military arenas. One of our key advantages is abundant fossil fuels. The US has the largest reserves of coal in the world, vast reserves of natural gas, and abundant oil off the shores of California and Florida and on land in ANWR. We need to unlock these oil reserves. Ample energy reserves have always been part of the American success story, back from Colonial times when virgin forests supplied abundant firewood and fuels for steelmaking. We do not need to force our citizens to buy small, unsafe cars mandated by upcoming EPA regulations. We do not need to rely on expensive, sporadic electric power from windmills and solar panels. We do not need to listen to global warming scare stories promulgated by Al Gore and his cohorts. The perpetrators of the global warming hoax are playing on environmental guilt feelings to engineer a takeover of our economy and shackle energy production by creating a cap and trade market for carbon. Do we want to entrust our environment to Wall Street, buying and selling cap and trade credits? Farming releases CO2. Do we want to force a farmer to buy carbon credits from Wall Street for the privledge of plowing his own field? Do we want to force a small business owner to pay Wall Street for the privledge of buying gas or diesel for his trucks?

Posted by: crunkcar | December 13, 2009 3:54 PM
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Copenhagen won't accomplish anything. Everyone should have emitted less CO2 gas and stayed home.

Posted by: clankie | December 13, 2009 3:01 PM
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Hello from Oz.

It saddens me to see the intelligence level of our educators has dropped so low.
What a waste of column space. Pease allow me to elaborate.

The good oceanographer states:-

"Actually, climate models are remarkably accurate in replicating the 20th century warming by factoring in all the forces that affect climate, but only when the effects of increased concentrations of greenhouse gas are included".

Does he read what he writes? Obviously not. Let me site the IPCC's own report to policy makers (SPM).
On page 8, fig SPM2 they list all the forces effecting climate, both man made (8) and natural (1). In the last column, they state the LOSU ( level of scientific understanding) from High to low.

Guess which ones are high? Yes, CO2 Methane and Nitrous Oxide, green house gasses. Now guess which ones are low? No? 5 that are man made and THE SUN.
Yes thats correct. Their LOSU of the effects of the SUN is low. So what do they do? They IGNORE IT.
THEY IGNORE THE SUN FROM THEIR MODELS.

Why is that important? Well, without the sun, earth freezes, zero, zip zilch heat. But because of the sun, we have a balmy climate. So what do they argue over? 0.7deg Celsius warming OVER A CENTURY supposedly caused by CO2 (remember we really really understand CO2 lol).

Then they send out disaster scenarios ad nauseum for over 10 years and tell us UNLESS WE PAY THE UNITED NATIONS billions of dollars annually, we are doomed.

Unless we totaly revamp our lifestyles (whilst giving away our hard earned living standards over many generations to poor countries like China and India and Brazil, with the UN taking their cut ofcourse) our planet will be doomed.

Here in Australia we started to fight back by getting rid of the opposition leader who was in bed with the alarmists through a grass roots campaign.
May I suggest to our best friend and strongest ally, you need to do similar. Don't let this Europe led Global Warming Scam ruin your wonderful country for you nor especially for your kids, because they will suffer the most for it.

I apologise if I've stepped on any toes.
Regards from Oz

Posted by: BaaHumbug | December 13, 2009 8:48 AM
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"Actually, climate models are remarkably accurate in replicating the 20th century warming ..."

This is the first time I have ever heard anyone make the claim that the climate models are accurate (even the developers of the models cannot explain the inaccuracies).

"No one has claimed that their projections of future climates are infallible, just highly probable."

Who has stated that the model projections are highly probable? And how can they be if they cannot predict the current climate? Any links to any of these ethereal climate scientists?

"... he would have us ignore this information in documenting how far outside of these natural fluctuations human-induced warming is now taking us."

What data have you been reviewing that shows that "human-induced warming" has taken us outside of the natural fluctuations? It's nice to make a broad statement like this, but it's not so nice when you don't provide any supporting data.

"... the data inconsistency they were discussing was why, with 20th century temperatures as measured directly by thermometers actually rising, was the thickness of tree rings in a part of northern Asia declining."

Because some of their climate indicators do not correlate with the actual temperature. Doesn't this concern you, as a scientist, that you are basing some of your projections of future climate results against indicators that do not track actual climate change? What other indicators do you use that do not correlate? Why don't they?

"...but we can say with virtual certainty that any potential benefits of proposed emission reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs (despite numerous credible assessments to the contrary)."

Again, I have not seen anything that has provided assessments that any emission reduction policies are NOT outweighed by their economic costs. If you have numerous credible assessments to the contrary, can you share any of those with us? On what planet do you reside?

"... devotes two-thirds of his column decrying a scandal revealed by the emails and a crisis of professional credibility in climate science. Get a grip, Michael ..."

Get a grip yourself. If you haven't noticed, there IS a "scandal and a crisis of professional credibility," and it has been the subject of global focus for the past several weeks. The real scandal is how the climate change proponents have misrepresented the data, AND attempted to shut out any contrary findings. Until the global scientific community reviews the AGW skeptics' findings at a peer-review level, "the strength and integrity of climate science" will continue to be shrouded in a cloud of doubt and suspicion, and submissions such as yours will not make the scandal go away.

Posted by: c0lnag0 | December 13, 2009 12:34 AM
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"These are typical short-term fluctuations like many others punctuating the long term warming trend since the 1970s"

It's statements like this that make you shake your head in wonder; the writer doesn't even know how ironic a statement like this is, but yet they have no problem basing a religion around a "long term" view of 20 years (LOL).

It would be funny if they weren't trying to pick our pockets to pay for their religion.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 12, 2009 4:32 PM
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This guy is funny. He says he basically doesn't know what he's talking about, but he trusts those who make money from "climate change" who tell him that there's climate change.

It's like asking Joe Biden if he thinks O'bama is doing a good job.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 12, 2009 1:46 PM
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Among conservatives, scientific uncertainty about global warming becomes "disproof", alternate theories for global warming become "facts", and minor disclosures concerning some climate scientists become "conspiracies".

VANHOOK99: There is no "10 year decline in global temperatures." 1998 was a particularly warm year followed by a decline, then a rise, then another decline. These are typical short-term fluctuations like many others punctuating the long term warming trend since the 1970s. Average temperature over the last 5 years is warmer than over the 5 years centered on 1998. Not being able to predict the fluctuations does not invalidate the trend. On March 15 of a particular year I can't predict whether March 30 will be warmer or colder in Washington (it depends on the weather), but I can predict that June 15 will be warmer than both.

www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/index.html

Posted by: klinger1 | December 12, 2009 12:26 PM
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US conservative political culture turns scientific uncertainties about global warming into "disproofs", alternate theories for global warming into "facts", and relatively minor internal documents from some climate researchers into "conspiracy."

VANHOOK99: There is no "10 year decline in global temperatures". 1998 was a particularly hot year because of a big El Nino. Since then temperature went down, went up again, and went down again. Such short-term fluctuations are hard to predict and have occurred several times during the general warming trend since the 1970s. In the same way, on any March 15 in Washington, it's hard to predict whether March 30 will be warmer or colder (because of weather), but it's easy to predict that June 15 will be warmer than both. The short term fluctuations don't invalidate the long term trend. Average temperature over the last 5 yr is warmer than 1995-2000 average.
See
www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/index.html

It's true that model hindcasts (reproduction of past behavior) aren't as convincing as successful predictions of future behavior. But neither should they be dismissed. Given everything that is known about the atmosphere, there is a lot of evidence to pin late 20th century warming on greenhouse gas emissions, and not much evidence to attribute it to anything else.

Posted by: klinger1 | December 12, 2009 12:18 PM
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Mr. Boesch:

Not being a scientist, I was wondering if you would check my math. I've been reading a lot the past few days about the warmest decade ever recorded. Let's say the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. If you depicted the history of the Earth as a ruler 1,000 miles long, how long would a decade be? I think it's between one-tenth and two-tenths of an inch. Also, how much recorded history do we have of actual temperature measurements? If it's 200 years, how long would that be on the 1,000-mile ruler? I think it's about three inches.

Posted by: Chippewa | December 12, 2009 5:00 AM
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Poor Donald is so enamored with his worldview! He just cannot be objective or intellectually honest! He says, "Actually, climate models are remarkably accurate in replicating the 20th century warming by factoring in all the forces that affect climate, but only when the effects of increased concentrations of greenhouse gas are included." Hey, Donald, hear heard of 20/20 hindsight? These faulty computer models are easy to adjust looking back! Did you know that the the computer code for these models were tampered with as well? Why didn't these models predict the 10 year decline in global temperatures? In fact, they haven't predicted anything accurately yet, have they? Just admit it! You are a liberal and just cannot pass up this historical chance to impose your worldview on the rest of us. Your extreme bias and close-mindedness proves our inclination to ignore you. You need to get a grip and realize that you and your cohorts have little credibility.

Posted by: vanhook99 | December 11, 2009 9:31 PM
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