Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Open Letter to Royal Society

OPEN LETTER to Dr Garth Carnaby, MNZM, FRSNZ, President Royal Society of New Zealand

Dear Dr Carnaby,

Faced with growing world-wide disbelief in the hypothesis of known as ‘anthropogenic (ie, man-made) climate change’ (AGW), the Royal Society of New Zealand, throwing caution to the winds, has staked its case on a blockbuster paper by your Vice President, Professor Keith Hunter.

The paper is unusual in that Professor Hunter lays out the scientific arguments for all to see. But what is even more unusual is the rather obvious fact that the arguments are transparently wrong – to the point of being a serious embarrassment for both your author and your Society.

The case is based on alleged mathematical equivalences between measured increases in the use of fossil fuels, the carbon content of the ocean and atmosphere, and ocean heat content (and consequent expansion). These increases are said to match the AGW theory.

Professor Hunter’s evidence is expressed as bullet points, which appear in italics below – along with our summarised rebuttal points:

1. It is a plain fact that human activities have significantly increased the concentrations of greenhouse active gases in the atmosphere, particularly since the mid-20th century.

It is simple physics that these extra gas concentrations will trap an increased amount of outgoing solar radiation reflected off the Earth’s surface, of the order of 1.5 watts per square metre of the Earth’s surface.

Rebuttal: Greenhouse gases (GHGs) have no impact on reflected solar radiation (albedo effect). Radiative forcings caused by GHGs diminish on a logarithmic scale. Despite billions of research dollars, carbon sensitivity/feedbacks remain hotly disputed, radical hypotheses. The “simple physics”of 1.5W/m2 is flat wrong.

2. The amount of extra carbon accumulated in the ocean and the atmosphere matches the known quantity emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels.

Rebuttal: Oceanic carbon has never been measured, and cannot be estimated. The biosphere also takes up CO2 from fossil fuels (eg forests). There is a well recognised “missing carbon sink”, estimated to be as high as three trillion tonnes per annum.

3. It is also clear that the oceans absorb about 85% of the excess heat resulting from this radiative forcing by greenhouse gases (as well as about 40% of the carbon dioxide).

Rebuttal: Oceanic heat content has decreased steadily since the ARGO programme commenced measuring it in 2004 – despite sharply rising GHG emissions.

4. Detailed measurements of the changes in oceanic heat content, and the temperature rise that accompanies this, agree quantitatively with the predicted radiative forcing.

Rebuttal: This is physically impossible. Infrared energy recycled by GHGs involves wavelengths well in excess of the 3-micron ceiling of the ocean absorption spectra. The energy budget has never been balanced. In a Climategate email, Kevin Trenberth says “..we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

5. Furthermore, satellite altimetry shows clearly that the sea level has risen by the amount expected as a result of the warming-induced thermal expansion of the ocean.

Rebuttal: Sea levels have risen by about 18mm/decade for the past 100 years, having extremely poor correlation with either GHG concentrations or fossil fuel use. Satellite measures show less warming, but higher sea levels, than terrestrial measures, but show no acceleration since they commenced in 1992. ARGO buoys show that oceanic heat content has not increased (see above) - so any significantly higher sea levels in recent years would be inexplicable. The “amount expected” takes no account of ice melt.

6. Finally, in recent years it has become clear that salinity increases in the tropical ocean from enhanced water evaporation, and parallel decreases in salinity at higher latitudes as the enhanced water vapour condenses again, consistent with the higher heat content of the tropical ocean and with observed changes in the atmosphere.

Rebuttal: Quite. And why would it not? The earth’s water cycle is a key part of its natural thermostat system.

From a philosophical point of view, none of these lines of evidence “proves” the theory of AGW.

Rebuttal: How true.... or any other point of view, either. But is it fair to call this collection “evidence”? Professor Hunter goes even further and refers to his bullet points as: ‘multiple independent lines of argument, each pointing in the same direction”

Then, the Professor expresses doubts:
“In my opinion, the controversy over whether or not it is acceptable to adjust temperature readings from different geographical locations to take account of locational differences ... or whether this is a fraudulent way to “manufacture” a non-existent warming trend, is not by itself sufficient to invalidate the entire findings of IPCC”.

Well, maybe not “by itself” and perhaps not “the entire findings of the IPCC”, but the Royal Society is right to question whether the ‘manufacture’ of warming trends should lead to most IPCC recommendations being treated with great reserve.

Finally, we welcome Prof Hunter’s admission that “science is never settled”. For not only does he destroy a popular, but tragically incorrect, canon of the warmists, but also he opens the door to a dialogue where none has existed. It will be with a sense of anticipation that we put our fact-based arguments over the very existence of dangerous human-caused global warming to the gatekeepers of our public science academies and at last expect their reasoned response.

Our Coalition strongly recommends that your Society publicly distances itself from Professor Hunter’s deeply flawed statement, and withdraws it from your website.


Barry Brill


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Science Investment Plan: Universities Welcome Statement

Universities New Zealand has welcomed the National Statement of Science Investment released by the Government today... this is a critical document as it sets out the Government’s ten-year strategic direction that will guide future investment in New Zealand’s science system. More>>


Scouring: Cavalier Merger Would Extract 'Monopoly Rents' - Godfrey Hirst

A merger of Cavalier Wool Holdings and New Zealand Wool Services International's two wool scouring operations would create a monopoly, says carpet maker Godfrey Hirst. The Commerce Commission on Friday released its second draft determination on the merger, maintaining its view that the public benefits would outweigh the loss of competition. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: She Means Business

As Foreman says in her conclusion, this is a business book. It opens with a brief biographical section followed by a collection of interesting tips for entrepreneurs... More>>


Hourly Wage Gap Grows: Gender Pay Gap Still Fixed At Fourteen Percent

“The totally unchanged pay gap is a slap in the face for women, families and the economy,” says Coalition spokesperson, Angela McLeod. Even worse, Māori and Pacific women face an outrageous pay gap of 28% and 33% when compared with the pay packets of Pākehā men. More>>


Housing: English On Housing Affordability And The Economy

"Long lead times in the planning process tend to drive prices higher in the upswing of the housing cycle. And those lead times increase the risk that eight years later, when additional supply arrives, the demand shock that spurred the additional supply has reversed. The resulting excess supply could produce a price crash..." More>>


Sweet Health: Sugary Drinks Banned From Hospitals And Health Boards

All hospitals and DHBs are expected to kick sugary drinks out of their premises. University of Auckland researcher, Dr Gerhard Sundborn who also heads public health advocacy group “FIZZ”, says he welcomes the initiative. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news