Apocalypse No A report on the conference held 27/01/05 ( http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2005%20January.htm#apno)
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The conference was organised by The Scientific Alliance, an independent group of scientists, without taxpayer funding. It was a nostalgic treat, in these days of Government regulated research, to be among people who were driven by their dedication to science and truth.
The celebrity opening spot was occupied by David Bellamy, who provided a tour d’horizon of the absurdities of the modern world, with a machine gun delivery that left some of the foreign participants gasping. His main theme was that carbon dioxide was a wholly beneficial compound essential to life on earth and could no way be treated as a pollutant.
Session one was devoted to the question Is Global Warming Cause for Alarm? It featured the urbane presence of Professors Lindzen and Singer from the USA, such a delightful contrast with the hysteria of much of modern debate.
Lindzen explained that we have developed a population that, if told the sky is blue, flies into a panic, and illustrated how this was done. A major method, familiar from the IPCC, involved the non-representative executive summary. One fifteen page report to the US president was preceded by a ten page summary. He dealt with the claims derived from computer models and gave examples of tuning, in which there were so many adjustable parameters that it was just an exercise in curve fitting. There was a nice hyperbolic quotation from John von Neumann, “with four parameters I can fit an elephant and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.” (actually it takes
thirty). His conclusion was that the likelihood that the Hadley models were correct, with all those adjustable parameters, was zero. He finished with an entertaining account of the dozens of contradictions in public statements.
Fred Singer, whose recent experience of global warming had been to leave a home under four feet of snow, also commented on the computer models, particularly the current ones in the news that utilised spare capacity in computers around the world. A local headline that day was 11°C rise. This was the extreme obtained by having so many adjustable parameters. He then went onto the Kyoto protocol, which according to the IPCC would deliver a one fiftieth of a degree temperature reduction. Many of his illustrations, in fact, came from the IPCC report, with page numbers; though not, of course, from the executive summary.
In session two the topic was Will Global Warming have a Catastrophic Impact? Nils-Axel Morner presented a most entertaining physical comic turn, but one laced with observations on the real world. His message, supported by graphs, tables, photographs and ancient mariner’s anecdotes, was that there is no global sea level rise going on.
Benny Peiser’s contribution was, perhaps, the most disturbing. He went back through history identifying past examples of alarmist dogmatism (even Edmond Halley was forced to recant his disbelief in the end of the world). On past form there are bound to be witch hunts. As did other contributors, he single out Tony Blair as one who is riding a tiger. He tries to appease the extreme greens with token windmills that destroy the visual environment, but comes under attack from zealots whose aim is economic depression and who will be satisfied with nothing less.
There was a lively discussion. The tragic-comic case of windmill-plagued northern Europe was to the fore, with electricity that cannot be given away when the wind blows and is priceless when it doesn’t, while standby power-stations emit carbon dioxide for no energy output at all.
A main topic of discussion was censorship. It was raised by Jonathan Leake who was clearly sceptical about claims repeated throughout the conference. It was coupled with the other main theme – the refutation of the existence of a “consensus “ about climate change.
Lindzen capped the discussion with a couple of memorable remarks:
"If the funding is all on one side, there will inevitably soon be no scientists on the other side."
"How many of the best students of your time at university went into climate science?"
It was a stimulating experience to spend time in a small temporary island of sanity in an insane world.