San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley,
Tornado Alley
& the Gateway
to the Rockies

Has Climate Change Been
Scientifically Established?

I ntroduction

The Media reports pronouncements by political fingures and Hollywood celebrities which make it appear that catastrophic climate change has been scientically established and is currently occuring. Futhermore it is asserted that global catastrophes will occur in the near future.

The term Climate Change is basically a linguistic substerfuge adopted by global warning alarmists to divert public attention from the fact that Average Global Temperature since the year 2000 was not continuing to increase significantly. Using the linguistic substerfuge of calling that a Pause in Global Warming was not effective enough and so Climate Change was adopted instead. Climate Change was nebulous enough that any bad weather could be interpeted as evidence for Climate Change.

Another example of a linguistic substerfuge adopted by global warning alarmists is the use of the term Denial for the iseas of their intellectual opponents.One can only deny something that is true, so by labeling their opponents' ideas as denial they are presuming that they have won the argument. The issue is not global warming versus no global warming. Instead it is moderate global warming of about 0.5 °C per century versus catastrophic global warming. The alarmists try to make it appear that arguments against catastrohic global warming are arguments against any global warming. Those using the Denial labeling have no intellectual integrity..

The Recent Record on
Average Global Temperature

There are two general sources of measurements of global temperature. One is from thermometer readings on the Earth's surface. The other is from electronic readings from satellelits orbiting the Earth. One inherent weakness of the surface temperature measurements is that about seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered by oceans. Surface temperature readings have to come from passing ships. Only a relatively small number of readings can come from this source. A second major weakness is that surface temperature readings are subject to the Urban Heat Heat Island Effect which is a different phenomenon than that due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Temperature measurements from any source are subject to the problem that they include the effects of the ENSO's (El Niño Southern Oscillations) which also is a different phenomena than that due to greenhouse gases. The way this problem is generally dealt with is to leave the temperatures of the ENSO years out of the computation of the average temperature. However the ENSO effect occurs not just for its peak year but also for the year before and the year after that peak year.

For more on this topic see El Niño Profile

The most accurate measurements of average global temperature of the atmosphere come the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Unfortunately those only started in 1979.

If the ENSO years are left off of the analysis the past two decades involved an increase in global temperature of about 0.1 °C or about 0.5 °C per century. It is not catastrophic global warming. And it should be noted that there can be no significant climate change without significant temperature change.

Now compare the profile of AGT with that of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The steady rise is CO2 and the irregular profile for AGT indicates that something other or something besides the level of CO2 is involved in the rise of AGT.

In order to properly understand the greenhouse effect one must take into account the nonlinearity of the effect of increased concentration of greenhouse gases. One must also take into account that different greenhouse gases may have different spectra for the absorption of thermal radiation.

First consider the matter of the nonlinearity. According to the Beer-Lambert Law the proportion of radiation absorbed upon passing through a distance x of a medium is

1 − e−ax

where a is a parameter that reflects the concentration of the absorber and its radiative efficiency. The parameter a is the product of two terms. One is the concentration ρ of the absorber and the other is a characteristic of the absorber α, called its radiative efficiency.

The relationship is the one shown below:

The source of the nonlinearity may be thought of in terms of a saturation of the absorption capacity of the atmosphere in particular frequency bands. The concentration of greenhouse gases can make the atmosphere essentially opaque in a particular band. If the atmosphere absorbs 100 percent of the radiation in a band the absorption will not be increased when additional greenhouse gases are added. The atmosphere would then be said to be saturated in that particular frequency band. However full saturation may not occur; it is a matter of relative saturation.

Because of the nonlinear response a small increase in a greenhouse gas under conditions of low concentration can have more of an impact than a much larger increase under conditions of high concentration. In the diagram below the increase from A to B produces a much bigger impact on the proportion of radiation energy absorbed than the increase from C to D even though the magnitude of the increase from C to D is larger than the increase from A to B. In fact, from point C no increase in concentration no matter how large will produce as much of an impact as the increase from A to B.

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is on average an order of magnitude less than the concentration of H2O. But it is not the global averages which are important, it is the local concentrations which are important. CO2 will have its effect largely where the concentration of H2O is low; i.e.; in the deserts of the Earth. The polar regions are just as much deserts as the Sahara and the Gobi.

The summer minimum of the Arctic icecap has generally decreased, but it has fluctuated and the level for the year 2007 was not surpassed for more than a decade. And the level of that minimum may have as much to do with the flow of the rivers of North Asia as the greenhouse effect.

The Rise of Ocean Levels

(To be contiued.)

The Experience of State Climatologists
Dealing with Governors Who Disagreed with Them
on Matters Concerning Global Warming

Patrick Michaels is an academic climatologist who has authored and co-authored numerous wonderful pieces on global warming and related subjects. He was the state climatologist of Virginia and here is his story of his experience and that of other state climatologists whose professional climatological udgements differed from the governors of the states they served in. It is from the book entitled Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know, published by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. in 2009.


At the end of June 2009, I will be leaving the University of Virginia, as fine a public school as there is in the world. The university cannot guarantee me both academic freedom and a full salary from the Commonwealth of Virginia. My faculty position was "Research Professor and State Climatologist, Department of Environmental Sciences." My salary was paid in its large majority by a separate line in the university's budget, labeled "State Climatology Office," itself a part of the overall budget for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I was appointed Virginia State Climatologist on July 7, 1980. Like most other State Climatologists, I was faculty at a major public institution, and the appointment was without term, although the faculty position itself was without academic tenure. It was nonetheless subject to the same review process (without teaching duties) for promotion to associate and then to full professor.

I served Republican and Democratic administrations. I met all the Virginia governors. I really liked Republican Governor George Allen. I told Governor Jim Gilmore, also a Republican, how fortunate I was to be able to speak the truth on climate change, even as it was becoming politically unpopular. I was incredibly impressed by the professional staff that served Democrat Mark Warner. His staff mem¬bers were as good as or better than many federal staffers I have worked with.

Given the political nature of climate change, it was only a matter of time until some governor went after his State Climatologist. I'll be happy to say I brought it on myself. I'm articulate, chatty, and, thanks to the Cato Institute, have great access to TV, radio, and major news outlets. I fully used my privileges as a University of Virginia faculty member, which included the right to consult for whomever I wanted without jeopardizing my position or the academic freedom that went with it. Which meant, of course, consulting for entities ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency to power producers with a dog

in the global warming hunt. One of those was Intermountain Rural Electric Association, a small Colorado utility. When my work for them became public knowledge, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine told me not to speak as State Climatologist when it came to global warming. If the State Climatologist is a political appointment, that's his call. If it is a lifetime honorific, it's not. But regardless of which of those it is, almost all my university salary was contingent upon my being State Climatologist.

The University of Virginia valiantly, if clumsily, attempted to paper this over. All of a sudden, I was told I should no longer refer to myself as Virginia State Climatologist. Instead, I should cite my seal of certification as Director of the Virginia State Climatology Office, given by the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC). The position of State Climatologist had apparently become a political appointment.

I wasn't asked to do the impossible, merely the impossibly awkward. The University of Virginia Provost wrote to me:

You should refer to yourself as the "AASC-designated state climatologist" and your office as the "AASC-designated State Climatology Office," or if you prefer, "AASC-designated State Climatology Office at the University of Virginia." I recognize that the titles may be awkward but the message from the Governor's Office was very clear about what they expected.

Needless to say, this quickly became unworkable. Newspaper editors wouldn't suffer such encumbering verbiage, it didn't fit on a TV Chiron, and making a disclaimer every time I spoke about climate that my views didn't reflect those of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the University of Virginia (despite their being correct!) would never fit in a sound bite. So I had the choice of speaking on global warming and having my salary line terminated, or leaving.

Other State Climatologists soon had similar difficulties. George Taylor at Oregon State University, who is very popular with the AASC (and the only person ever elected to consecutive terms as president), was told that he was simply not to speak on global warming. Having read the playbook established by Governor Kaine in Virginia, Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) told Portland's KGW-TV that "Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases."

Taylor had long questioned glib statements about a 50 percent decline in Pacific Northwest snowpack, which were being made by climate alarmists worldwide. The 50 percent figure is only part of the story. That figure accrues if one starts the data in 1950 and ends in the mid-1990s. If one uses the entire set of snowpack data (1915-2004), a different picture emerges (Figure P. 1, bottom). Taylor was told to shut up as State Climatologist even though he was merely telling the truth.

Taylor resigned his Oregon State University position in February 2008.

David Legates, at the University of Delaware, was told by Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) that he could no longer speak on global warming as State Climatologist. His faculty position is a regular tenured line in the geography department. He's free, as State Clima¬tologist, to say anything about the weather, so long as there's no political implication. Unfortunately, as most State Climatologists will attest, most reporters specifically ask whether this or that unusual storm or unusually hot (or cold!) day is related to global warming. Scientists who refuse to answer that question don't get return calls.

Minner was upset because Legates was an author of an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court (Baliunas et al.) in its first global warming-related case, Massachusetts v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Baliunas et al. sided with the federal government (namely the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]), which maintained that it was not required to issue regulations reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Justice Antonin Scalia cited Baliunas et al. in his dissent, as the court voted 5-4 that it was within the EPA's purview to propose and then enforce carbon dioxide limitations.

So Legates stopped speaking about global warming as Delaware's State Climatologist.

Out West, things got even uglier. The Assistant State Climatologist for Washington, Mark Albright, was fired because, despite his boss's orders, he refused to stop e-mailing—to journalists, to inquiring citizens, to anyone—the entire snowfall record for the Cascade Mountains rather than the cherry-picked one. For e-mailing that record, the assistant state climatologist in Washington lost his job.

What had started with Oregon's George Taylor had migrated across the Columbia River.

Professor Clifford Mass, commented, "In all my years of doing science, I've never seen this sort of gag-order approach to doing science."

What is so scary that some governors don't want you to know it?

Apparently it is this: The world is not coming to an end because of global warming. Further, we don't really have the means to significantly alter the temperature trajectory of the planet. All of this will be spelled out in considerable detail within the rest of this book.

Governors Kaine, Kulongoski, and Minner, this book's for you!

Robert C. Balling, Jr., the coauthor of the book from which the statement camem, gave a speech about ten years ago at San Jose State Universityon global warming. The person making an introduction of Balling mentioned that Balling had a million dollar grant from the Federal Government to research global warming and its effects. When Balling began his presentation he said wanted to dispel any notion that he was managing an exceptionally large research ugrant concerning global warming. He said that about five hundred million dollars was being given out for such research and there are only about five hundred individuals qualified for such grants. He was only getting an average share of such grants.

The Global Strike of Children

This was a public display involving children but organized by adults. Its perception ignores the fact that children are notably ignorant and gulible.


Climate change has not been documented. Instead the global warming alarmists are relying upon political figures and movie celebrities more noted for their good looks than their knowledge of anything. More recently they are relying upon attractive and sincere children to make the case for the danger of catstrophic global warming and leaving it for the skeptics to tell these children that they reallydo not know anything about the subject they are talking about. They know what only the pronouncents of the proponents of political control of the economy have told them.

HOME PAGE OF applet-magic
HOME PAGE OF Thayer Watkins