Byline: Patrick J. Michaels, Fred Singer and David H. Douglass, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
How many times have we heard from Al Gore and assorted European politicians that "the science is settled" on global warming? In other words, it's "time for action." Climate change is, as recently stated by Hans Blix, former U.N. Chief for weapons detection in Iraq, the most important issue of our time, far more dangerous than people flying fuel-laden aircraft into skyscrapers or possibly detonating backpack nukes in Baltimore Harbor.
Well, the science may now be settled, but not in the way Mr. Gore and Mr. Blix would have us believe. Three bombshell papers have just hit the refereed literature that knock the stuffing of Mr. Blix's position and that of his company, the United Nations, and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC states repeatedly:
(1) We have reliable temperature records showing how much the planet has warmed in the last century.
(2) And computer projections of future climate, while not perfect, simulate the observed behavior of the past so well they are a reliable guide for the future.
Therefore, they say, we need to limit carbon dioxide emissions (i.e., energy use) right now, despite the expense and even though the cost will fall almost entirely on the United States, gravely harming the world's economic engine while exerting no detectable change on climate in the foreseeable future.
The IPCC claims to have carefully corrected the temperature records for the well-known problem of local ("urban," as opposed to global) warming. But this has always troubled serious scientists, because the way the U.N. checks for artificial warming makes it virtually impossible to detect in recent decades - the same period in which our cities have undergone the greatest growth and sprawl.
The surface temperature record shows a warming rate of about 0.17 degrees Celsius (0.31 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 1979. However, there are two other records - one from satellites, the other from weather balloons - that tell a different story. Neither annual satellite nor balloon trends differ significantly from zero since the satellite record started in 1979. These records reflect temperatures in what is called the lower atmosphere, or roughly between 5,000 and 30,000 feet.
Four years ago, a distinguished panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded there is a real disparity between the reported surface warming and the temperature trends measured in the atmosphere above. Since then, many investigators have tried to explain the cause of the disparity while others have denied its existence.
So, which record is right, the U.N. surface record showing the larger warming or the other two? There's another record, from 7 feet above the ground, derived from balloon data recently been released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In two research papers in the July 9 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, two of us (Mr. …