Friday, August 31, 2007

George Taylor, Climatologist Defending Himself From Attacks

Previously, I posted a link to a video interview with George Taylor, of Oregon State University and the Oregon State Climatologist. Here is his reply to an attack article criticizing his view that man and carbon dioxide emissions are not to blame for global warming. The vicious nature of the personal attacks on global warming skeptics is typical.
Peter

see video interview here:
http://video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=1118204436


Response
home
George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist, responds to the Willamette Week article written by Paul Koberstein

opening statement:
An article about me and my viewpoint on global warming was published on August 24, 2005 by Willamette Week. The article contained many misleading statements and errors. Below I address some of statements in the article with which I take issue.George H. TaylorAugust 26, 2005

willamette week article:
"He's also, according to his critics, one of the most dangerous men in Oregon."

taylor:
Dangerous? I’m merely expressing an opinion that runs counter to what some people think I should be saying. But I believe that the topic of the human influence on the environment should be open to debate, and I do not believe that it is "dangerous" to discuss it.

willamette week article:
"From his third-floor office in the Strand Agriculture building at Oregon State University, Taylor, 58, a state employee who runs an agency with a half-million-dollar annual budget, is often at work discrediting the well-established scientific facts about global warming."

taylor:
Not even close. State support for Oregon Climate Service is only $105,000 annually. But we share office space and personnel with the Spatial Climate Analysis Service, which gets no state money but relies on outside grants for support. Those total about $400,000 per year, for creating climate maps. Add our state support and you DO get a half-million, but the statement in the article is very misleading. I did point out to Mr. Koberstein that the state budget was much less than the combined budget, but unfortunately only the higher figure was listed.

willamette week article:
"His views have been read on the floor of the U.S. Senate and, most recently, influenced global-warming bills in Salem. In the past, he also has tried to undermine global-warming legislation in Canada."

taylor:
I was asked by Canadians to write a letter expressing my views on human effects on climate, which I did. No attempt was made to influence the legislature.

willamette week article:
"'There is a valued and much-needed role for skeptics to question the prevailing view," says Philip Mote, Taylor's counterpart in Washington state and a professor at the University of Washington. "Once in a while, the skeptics are right. But there is no debate in the scientific community over whether human-caused global warming is possible or observed. The only way one could come up with that opinion is not being familiar with the scientific literature.'"

taylor:
The issue is not “do humans affect climate?” Clearly there IS a human influence. The question is, “how much?” In my opinion, natural variations dominate the climate system, and will continue to do so. I have NEVER denied the human influence, but unlike Phil Mote I do not believe human impacts dominate the climate system.

willamette week article:
"Taylor manages the state Climate Service website (www.ocs.oregonstate.edu), which runs on a state-funded OSU server. It's peppered with criticism of global-warming theories with little rebuttal from the theories' supporters."

taylor:
There is almost no mention of global warming theories on our server. There are cases where both sides of the argument are shown: for example, a statement I made about the subject as well as links to statements made in rebuttal by two of my colleagues (both of which were referenced in the WW article; I assume the writer obtained those critical statements about me from our Web site). I have endeavored to devote the OCS Web site to Oregon weather and climate issues rather than having it be a forum for global warming theories.

willamette week article:
"Taylor's position as the leading climate expert in Oregon, a state with a national environmental reputation, has given ammo to those who are hostile to the idea that the earth is warming up. On Jan. 4 of this year, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a Senate floor speech, "As Oregon State University climatologist George Taylor has shown, Arctic temperatures are actually slightly cooler today than they were in the 1930s. As Dr. Taylor has explained, it's all relative.""

taylor:
Journal articles show that Arctic trends are similar to US trends and Oregon trends: the warmest decade of the last 100 years was the 1930s. In Oregon and the US, the warmest year was 1934. In the Arctic, it was 1937 (references available upon request).

willamette week article:
"Accuracy about global warming matters, Mote says. By spreading misinformation about the world's most important environmental issue, Taylor can encourage people not only to have doubts about proven science, but to become complacent. "People will conclude it's still uncertain," Mote says, "so we don't have to do anything.""

taylor:
The fact that humans have a minor effect on climate does not mean “we don’t have to do anything.” There are plenty of reasons to reduce our fossil-fuel use, for example, including air pollution, foreign trade, and high fuel cost. I ride a bicycle to work every day, partly for the exercise and partly to conserve resources. Most of my most vocal critics drive cars. I wish they all rode bicycles!

willamette week article:
"Scientists have had to find a different source for their climate data. They turned to tree rings, coral, and boreholes dug deep into ice and soil for information. They added some Fortran code and produced a series of results. Since the year 1000, global temperatures were essentially flat until around 1900. In the past 30 years they have been rocketing skyward. When plotted on a graph, the result looks like a hockey stick lying on the ice, its blade pointing toward the sky."

taylor:
The “hockey stick” graph which appeared in Nature in 1998 and was quickly adopted by the IPCC has been the subject of three scientific journal articles in the last 12 months, all of which have shown that it contains significant errors. There is an interesting blog site by one of the reviewers at http://www.climateaudit.org/.

willamette week article:
"The facts of global warming have been confirmed by hundreds of climate scientists around the world, most of whom participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sponsored by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization. The panel issued its last report in 2001 and will update it in 2007. The IPCC says that global average surface temperatures have increased over the 20th century by about 0.6 degrees Celsius, or about 1.08 degrees Fahrenheit. Globally, it is very likely that the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year. But the record shows a great deal of variability; for example, most of the warming occurred during two periods, 1910 to 1945 and 1976 to 2000."

taylor:
Fitting a straight line to a series that goes up and down cyclically is not always appropriate. Start a trend at a cool period (e.g., 1900) and end in a warm periods (the 1990s) and you get an upward trend. Start it at a warm period (say, the 1930s) and end it in a cool periods (1970s) and you get a negative trend. I distrust most linear trends. But what I do is ask myself, “are we seeing unprecedented climate conditions in recent years?” When the answer is “no,” as it is for Oregon, the US, and the Arctic, I’m a lot less worried than I would be if we were seeing things that have never happened before.

willamette week article:
"Satellite data confirm the results recorded by thermometers on the Earth's surface. They also show that the area of Earth covered by snow has decreased by about 10 percent since the late 1960s. Scientists have documented widespread retreats of glaciers and sea ice, and a serious thinning of the polar ice cap in the Arctic. The oceans are warmer since the 1950s, and sea levels have risen several inches in the past century."

taylor:
This is very common: pick a cool decade (the 1960s) and begin a trend there. Yes, snow cover probably HAS decreased since then. That’s why I prefer to look at a longer record. Granted, we have no satellite data from the 1930s, but a perusal of temperature and snow information shows that the earlier period was significantly warmer and less snowy than the cool 1960s.

willamette week article:
"The National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science all agree that humans are forcing global temperatures upward."

taylor:
I am a member of the American Meteorological Society and a Certified Consulting Meteorologist. No one asked my opinion before crafting the Society’s statement. I understand the same is true of the others. And again, the human influence is acknowledged by scientists everywhere; it’s the DEGREE of influence that is being debated.

willamette week article:
"It is hard to find a single peer-reviewed journal article that agrees with Taylor's views. A report last December in the journal Science found that of 928 major peer-reviewed academic papers on the subject of climate change, all supported the consensus view that a significant fraction of recent climate change is due to human activities."

taylor:
The report cited has been widely discredited. There are hundreds of journal articles which support my viewpoint (regarding historical trends in climate in the last 100 years) (references available upon request).

willamette week article:
"Another expert is Patrick Michaels, a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and a visiting scientist with the Marshall Institute. In a statement posted on a State of Oregon website run by Taylor, Michaels claims he doesn't see global warming as a problem; what worries him more is a global conspiracy to shut down skeptics like himself."
"Taylor himself has supplemented his government salary with oil money. On Nov. 22, 2004, the ExxonMobil-funded website Tech Central Station (techcentralstation.com-"Where Free Markets Meet Technology") published the 2,300-word article by Taylor that Inhofe had read on the Senate floor. Taylor's article was a review of a report that had shown significant warming in the Arctic. Taylor, who has written seven articles on climate change for Tech Central Station, says he was paid $500 for the review."

taylor:
The statement by Michaels was posted in 2001, in response to a climate statement by the National Academy of Sciences, which was also posted. I wanted to include both sides of the argument, and Dr. Michaels is a renowned expert in climate science (and State Climatologist for Virginia). Why not address both sides?

willamette week article:
"Taylor's review said the authors of the Arctic study looked at only the last 35 years, ignoring data from the 1930s that show conditions were comparable to those of today. "Why not start the trend there?" he wrote. "Because there is no net warming over the last 65 years?""
"It's not clear what report Taylor was reading. In fact, the Arctic study takes into account an entire thousand years and places the Arctic in the context of the entire globe."
"In fact, the report does list most of Taylor's references-among hundreds of others."

taylor:
My review of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment was made shortly after its release in November, 2004. I reviewed a very cursory summary, and made my comments based on that summary. A longer report was issued in June, 2005, and I have not published comments on that report, but I was pleased to see that more detail and many additional references had been added. These included most of the journal articles I had listed in my review, so perhaps my review enabled the authors to bring more balance to their report. Perhaps, in a sense, I served as an unofficial peer reviewer.

willamette week article:
'"The best explanation I can come up with is, George is very tied into the conservative bent," Coakley added. "He gets all his information from the conservative-type think tanks. George picks it up and regurgitates it. Some of the stuff is half-baked at best, but sometimes it's so bad we have to call him on it and write letters to the editor. It's just not right; it just counters all the evidence.'"

taylor:
Actually, I get most of my information from peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Climate, Journal of Geophysical Research, and Climate Research. The articles I write (including, for example, the Arctic article) are based on journal articles and contain full bibliographies. Admittedly, I seldom give“both sides” of the argument, because the “other side” (the one that suggests that human activities exert a dominant role in the climate system) is well-represented in journals and the media. My goal is to be a voice saying “wait, maybe there’s another side to this. Take a look at THIS data and see what you think. Then let’s talk about it.” Unfortunately, this issue has become such a divisive and angry one that ad hominem attacks have replaced dialogue..

final statement:
When I write about global climate issues, I do so on my own time from home. I'm cautious about having my opinion construed as representing the State of Oregon or Oregon State University, and I try to separate my analyses of global climate from my day to day work as the State Climatologist.


link to the Willamette Week article:
Hot or NotOregon's official weatherman has good news about global warming-it doesn't exist.by Paul Kobersteinpublished 8/24/2005

4 comments:

Wm. L. Hyde said...

This type of "Yellow Journalism" is becoming rampant in the mainstream media. They are nothing more than ad hominem attacks disguised as heartfelt concern for human society. This "unprofessionalism" is evident in the scientific establishment as well. "Political Correctness" overides all logical thought processes these days. It is a shame, but I foresee another descent into the "Dark Ages". Pity it's going to take place during my "Golden Years"!
Cheers.....theoldhogger

Peter said...

Thank you for your comment. I hope you are wrong about another descent into the "Dark Ages". I think the internet and blogs like mine help diminish the negative effects of "political correctness" and the politicalization of science.

I know this is an uphill battle, but it is a good fight, one to maintain the very basis of all civilzation, and that is truth and honesty. Stay in touch and stay tuned.
Peter

Wm. L. Hyde said...

Well Peter, I didn't mean to sound so pessimistic, but I've been ruminating on the possible cascade effects of all these carbon taxes that are being recommended. Quebec just slapped several on their citizens(gasoline, diesel, home heating oil, and coal). I live in a cold part of the country, about 2 miles from the nearest food store. I'm on a fixed income(retired), and I have a family to take care of. I ask myself,"Will I be walking every day, pulling the family food on my son's toboggan? What about my arthritus?"
I saw what happened to the BC economy when the Trudeau government brought in the National Energy Plan. There were many unintended consequences and 1982 became the closest thing to a depression that I'll ever see. The fact was that the government didn't care about all the suffering. They pulled 70 billion dollars out of Alberta alone, and used it to finance their wild socialist schemes, which almost bankrupted the whole country. Now, extrapolate this scenario to the whole world and watch the economies crash. They won't be able to put Humpty together again no matter how many laws they pass, and they won't care, either. They'll retire and live off their politicians pensions and blame it all on Exxon.
If you keep pondering all the possibilities it can get very depressing, indeed.
Cheers....theoldhogger

Peter said...

There always seems to be problems. Without some kind of crisis what would politicians have to save us from? Canada's economy seems to be doing quite well, with the "Loony" now equal to the US Dollar, so I heard on the new. Canadians are supposedly flocking to the US to buy things.

Then there is the Alberta or Athabasca Tar Sands. Canada now claims they have more oil than Saudi Arabia. I think that is a joke, but that's another story.

Email me at geopete@hotmail.com
and join some other good folks and discuss the environment at:
http://boards.msn.com/MSNBCboards/board.aspx?BoardID=781

I use the nickname geoPeter there...