by Bill Gray, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University (AMS Fellow, Charney Award recipient, and over 50-year member) June 2011
[ I knew Bill Gray well even before I was a Program Manager for the National Science Foundation (NSF). When I was at NSF, Bill Gray visited me several times with his well-organized research plan. I was always happy to approve funding for Bill Gray’s research projects. – Ed ]
I am very disappointed at the downward path the AMS has been following for the last 10-15 years in its advocacy of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) hypothesis. The society has officially taken a position many of us AMS members do not agree with. We believe that humans are having little or no significant influence on the global climate and that the many Global Circulation Climate Model (GCMs) results and the four IPCC reports do not realistically give accurate future projections. To take this position which so many of its members do not necessarily agree with shows that the AMS is following more of a political than a scientific agenda.
The AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter and the other AMS higher-ups and the Council have not shown the scientific maturity and wisdom we would expect of our AMS leaders. I question whether they know just how far off-track the AMS has strayed since they foolishly took such a strong pro-AGW stance.
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) was founded in 1919 as an organization dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge of weather and climate. It has been a wonderful beacon for fostering new understanding of how the atmosphere and oceans function. But this strong positive image is now becoming tarnished as a result of the AMS leadership’s capitulating to the lobby of the climate modelers and to the outside environmental and political pressure groups who wish to use the current AMS position on AGW to help justify the promotion of their own special interests. The effectiveness of the AMS as an objective scientific organization is being greatly compromised.
We AMS members have allowed a small group of AMS administrators, climate modelers, and CO2 warming sympathizers to maneuver the internal workings of our society to support AGW policies irrespective of what our rank-and-file members might think. This small organized group of AGW sympathizers has indeed hijacked our society.
The AMS should be acting as a facilitator for the scientific debate on the pro and con aspects of the AGW hypothesis, not to take a side in the issue. The AMS has not held the type of open and honest scientific debates on the AGW hypothesis which they should have. Why have they dodged open discussion on such an important issue? I’ve been told that the American Economic Society does not take sides on controversial economic issues but acts primarily to help in stimulating back and forth discussion. This is what the AMS should have been doing but haven’t.
James Hansen’s predictions of global warming made before the Senate in 1988 are turning out to be very much less than he had projected. He cannot explain why there has been no significant global warming over the last 10-12 years.
Many of us AMS members believe that the modest global warming we have observed is of natural origin and due to multi-decadal and multi-century changes in the globe’s deep ocean circulation resulting from salinity variations. These changes are not associated with CO2 increases. Most of the GCM modelers have little experience in practical meteorology. They do not realize that the strongly chaotic nature of the atmosphere-ocean climate system does not allow for skillful initial value numerical climate prediction. The GCM simulations are badly flawed in at least two fundamental ways:
- Their upper tropospheric water vapor feedback loop is grossly wrong. They assume that increases in atmospheric CO2 will cause large upper-tropospheric water vapor increases which are very unrealistic. Most of their model warming follows from these invalid water vapor assumptions. Their handlings of rainfall processes are quite inadequate.
- They lack an understanding and treatment of the fundamental role of the deep ocean circulation (i.e. Meridional Overturning Circulation – MOC) and how the changing ocean circulation (driven by salinity variations) can bring about wind, rainfall, and surface temperature changes independent of radiation and greenhouse gas changes. These ocean processes are not properly incorporated in their models. They assume the physics of global warming is entirely a product of radiation changes and radiation feedback processes. They neglect variations in global evaporation which is more related to surface wind speed and ocean minus surface and air temperature differences. These are major deficiencies.
The Modelers’ Free Ride. It is surprising that GCMs have been able to get away with their unrealistic modeling efforts for so long. One explanation is that they have received strong support from Senator/Vice President Al Gore and other politicians who for over three decades have attempted to make political capital out of increasing CO2 measurements. Another reason is the many environmental and political groups (including the mainstream media) have been eager to use the GCM climate results as justification to push their own special interests that are able to fly under the global warming banner. A third explanation is that they have not been challenged by their peer climate modeling groups who apparently have seen possibilities for similar research grant support and publicity by copying Hansen and the earlier GCM modelers.
I anticipate that we are going to experience a modest naturally-driven global cooling over the next 15-20 years. This will be similar to the weak global cooling that occurred between the early-1940s and the mid-1970s. It is to be noted that CO2 amounts were also rising during this earlier cooling period which were opposite to the expected CO2-temperature association.
An expected 15-20 year cooling will occur (in my view) because of the current strong ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) that has now been established in the last decade and a half and ought to continue for another couple of decades. I explain most of the last century and-a-half general global warming since the mid-1800s (start of the industrial revolution) to be a result of a long multi-century slowdown in the ocean’s MOC circulation. Increases of CO2 could have contributed only a small fraction (0.1-0.2oC) of the roughly ~ 0.7oC surface warming that has been observed since 1850. Natural processes have had to have been responsible for most of the observed warming over the last century and a half.
Debate. The AMS is the most relevant of our country’s scientific societies as regards to its members having the most extensive scientific and technical background in meteorology and climate. It should have been a leader in helping to adjudicate the claims of the AGW advocates and their skeptical critics. Our country’s Anglo-Saxon derived legal system is based on the idea that the best way to get to the truth is to have opposite sides of a continuous issue present their differing views in open debate before a non partisan jury. Nothing like this has happened with regards to the AGW issue. Instead of organizing meetings with free and open debates on the basic physics and the likelihood of AGW induced climate changes, the leaders of the society (with the backing of the society’s AGW enthusiasts) have chosen to fully trust the climate models and deliberately avoid open debate on this issue. I know of no AMS sponsored conference where the AGW hypothesis has been given open and free discussion. For a long time I have wanted a forum to express my skepticism of the AGW hypothesis. No such opportunities ever came within the AMS framework. Attempts at publication of my skeptic views have been difficult. One rejection stated that I was too far out of the mainstream thinking. Another that my ideas had already been discredited. A number of AGW skeptics have told me they have had similar experiences.
The climate modelers and their supporters deny the need for open debate of the AGW question on the grounds that the issue has already been settled by their model results. They have taken this view because they know that the physics within their models and the long range of their forecast periods will likely not to be able to withstand knowledgeable and impartial review. They simply will not debate the issue. As a defense against criticism they have resorted to a general denigration of those of us who do not support their AGW hypothesis. AGW skeptics are sometimes tagged (I have been) as no longer being credible scientists. Skeptics are often denounced as tools of the fossil-fuel industry. A type of McCarthyism against AGW skeptics has been in display for a number of years.
Recent AMS Awardees. Since 2000 the AMS has awarded its annual highest award (Rossby Research Medal) to the following AGW advocates or AGW sympathizers; Susan Solomon (00), V. Ramanathan (02), Peter Webster (04), Jagadish Shukla (05), Kerry Emanuel (07), Isaac Held (08) and James Hansen (09). Its second highest award (Charney Award) has gone to AGW warming advocates or sympathizers; Kevin Trenberth (00), Rich Rotunno (04), Graeme Stephens (05) Robert D. Cess (06), Allan Betts (07), Gerald North (08) and Warren Washington and Gerald Meehl (09). And the other Rossby and Charney awardees during this period are not known to be critics of the AGW warming hypothesis.
The AGW biases within the AMS policy makers is so entrenched that it would be impossible for well-known and established scientists (but AGW skeptics) such as Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Bill Cotton, Roger Pielke, Sr., Roy Spencer, John Christie, Joe D’Aleo, Bob Balling, Jr., Craig Idso, Willie Soon, etc. to ever be able to receive an AMS award – irrespective of the uniqueness or brilliance of their research.
What Working Meteorologists Say. My interaction (over the years) with a broad segment of AMS members (that I have met as a result of my seasonal hurricane forecasting and other activities) who have spent a sizable portion of their careers down in the meteorological trenches of observations and forecasting, have indicated that a majority of them do not agree that humans are the primary cause of global warming. These working meteorologists are too experienced and too sophisticated to be hoodwinked by the lobby of global climate modelers and their associated propagandists. I suggest that the AMS conduct a survey of its members who are actually working with real time weather-climate data to see how many agree that humans have been the main cause of global warming and that there was justification for the AMS’s 2009 Rossby Research Medal (highest AMS award) going to James Hansen.
Global Environmental Problems. There is no question that global population increases, and growing industrialization have caused many environmental problems associated with air and water pollution, industrial contamination, unwise land use, and hundreds of other human-induced environmental irritants. But all these human-induced environmental problems will not go away by a draconian effort to reduce CO2 emissions. CO2 is not a pollutant but a fertilizer. Humankind needs fossil-fuel energy to maintain its industrial lifestyle and to expand this lifestyle to be able to better handle these many other non-CO2 environmental problems. There appears to be a misconception among many people that by reducing CO2 we are dealing with our most pressing environmental problem. Not so.
It must be remembered that advanced industrial societies do more for the global environment than poor societies do. By greatly reducing CO2 emissions and paying a great deal more for our then needed renewable energy we will lower our nation’s standard of living and not be able to help relieve as many of our and the globe’s many environmental, political, and social problems.
Obtaining a Balanced View on AGW. To understand what is really occurring with regards to the AGW question one must now bypass the AMS, the mainstream media, and the mainline scientific journals. They have mostly been preconditioned to accept the AGW hypothesis and, in general, frown on anyone not agreeing that AGW is, next to nuclear war, our society’s most serious long-range problem.
To obtain a balanced back-and-forth discussion on AGW one must consult the many web blogs that are both advocates and skeptics of AGW. These blogs are the only source for open debate on the validity of the AGW hypothesis. Here is where the real science of the AGW question is taking place. Over the last few years, the weight of evidence, as presented in these many blog discussions, is beginning to swing against the AGW hypothesis. As the globe fails to warm as the GCMs have predicted the American public is gradually losing its belief in the prior claims of Gore, Hansen, and the other many AGW advocates.
Prediction. The AMS is going to be judged in future years as having foolishly sacrificed its sterling scientific reputation for political and financial expediency. I am sure that hundreds of our older deceased AMS members are rolling in their graves over what has become of their and our great society.