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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change
Friends of Science Newsletter September 2014

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September 2014


The PDF version of this document is here.


No. 43

       "FOS is dedicated to providing the public with insight into Climate Science"



It is with considerable regret that we must inform our members that two of our prominent directors, John Wasson and Dr. Neil Hutton, were forced to resign due to health issues. John Wasson has since passed away. We miss them greatly as they were both very significant contributors to our organization. John had been our treasurer and was instrumental in putting together last year’s successful fund raising package. After persistent and persuasive efforts, Dr. Hutton was successful in publishing an article in the Alberta Science Teachers Journal – our first official entry into the Alberta school system. We now have the task of attempting to replace John and Neil, therefore we call upon all of our members to consider the possibility of volunteering to fill these vacancies. We would also consider non-members who have similar interests and a desire to contribute their time and effort to assist in our educational programs.

We found an error in the past numbering of our newsletters when going through the archives, and have now made all of the necessary corrections.  Therefore, this issue is now No. 43 and you have not missed 39 – 42 in case you noticed.

Our billboard campaign, reported in previous newsletters, has brought us a lot of positive publicity from numerous sources. As expected, it would catch the attention of detractors as well, but we were surprised that a group such as the Alberta Wilderness Association took a shot at us in one of their bulletins, equating us with the well-worn cliché “Flat Earth Society”.  They refused to retract it, and I guess they cannot comprehend that growth in our wilderness would benefit from increased CO2 and warmth.  We now have a blog and our commentary on AWA is posted here.  We thank the alert member who brought the AWA smear to our attention!

Our Communications Manager, Michelle Stirling, recently had an excellent radio interview on CJAD, Montreal. To hear it, refer to our website here.

The use of celebrities and musicians by the “warmers” to promote their cause is increasing. David Suzuki will launch a national grassroots tour next week, using star musicians including Neil Young, an Obama political campaigner, Margaret Atwood and others in an attempt to motivate Canada to modify its Constitution. His objective is to adopt a constitutional right to a “healthy environment”. They will travel to 20 communities, starting in St. John’s, Newfoundland and ending in Vancouver on Nov. 9.

I am sure everyone has heard that Leonardo DiCaprio is the latest recruit. He addressed the 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York last week, which was followed by a huge demonstration in the streets. Celebrities like him attract a lot of attention from the general public who are disinterested in the science, but unfortunately are easily misled by well known activists.

This shift will require us to continue with our educational efforts, including simplified climate change explanations that are interesting and readily understandable by the general public.   

Len Maier
                                                President, Friends of Science



Towards Paris 2015 – Part 3

After frustrating progress towards a new climate treaty, a year ago UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced the September 23 climate summit to coincide with the opening of this year’s fall session of the UN General Assembly.

This 11-hour gathering (between 0830 and 1930) consisted of:

  • 1-1/2 hour Opening Ceremony
  • Three, parallel, 3-hour plenaries for national leaders to make their “Action and Ambition Announcements”
  • 2 hours for a Private Sector Forum lunch
  • 3 hours for Multilateral and Multi-Stakeholder Action Announcements, together with Thematic Discussions
  • ½-hour Closing Ceremony

At the end of the day, Mr. Ban gave a summary of the results, which included a lot about general commitments and announcements involving a wide range of entities (national and sub-national governments, industrial sectors, financial institutions, and “civil society” (i.e., activists)). The only specific “ambition announcement” he mentioned was that EU countries would reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. However, as the EU’s energy commissioner stated after the UN summit, that 40% represents only a proposal by the outgoing Commission, and Europe accounts for only 10% of global emissions. He said: “If there is no binding commitment from countries such as India, Russia, Brazil, the US, China, Japan and South Korea, whose governments are responsible for some 70% of global emissions, I think it is not really smart to have a -40% target.” This 4:23 video makes it clear that the Commission’s target is a “negotiation card to be played” at the Paris conference, that all 28 countries would have to agree for the target to be binding, and that renewables and climate policy have become extremely unpopular in Europe because of their cost.

In President Obama’s speech to the summit he pointed to the recent EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants and said “America is stepping up to the plate” and “Nobody gets a pass” (meaning every country has to contribute.) He noted that the US will reduce its emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and promised to announce ambitious new cuts for 2050, to be made public prior to the Paris summit. The 17% reduction sounds impressive, but it is only 5.9% below 2012 levels.

At the summit, China’s vice-premier pledged $6 million to promote North-South cooperation on climate change, but made no commitments on emissions. He stressed that the Kyoto-hallmark of “common but differentiated responsibilities” should be the core of the 2015 climate agreement.

The day after the UN summit, India’s new environment minister said that his country would not offer a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions before the Paris conference. Rather, his government’s first priority is to alleviate poverty and improve the country’s economy. The minister also told The New York Times that India won’t cut emissions for 30 years. With India being the third largest emitter, after China and the US, the prospects for a binding deal next year are not good.

State of the Climate Debate

Dr. Curry gave a talk, State of the Climate Debate, at the National Press Club, an event attended by people from the federal government (US Government Accountability Office, U.S. Treasury Dept., congressional staffers, US Dept. of Energy Federal Reserve, U.S. Dept. of State), World Bank, industry, the media, universities, and think tank/advocacy groups. In her blog, Dr. Curry summarized her presentation, and a video of it is posted on YouTube.

She begins with the recent scary climate quotes from the Obama administration, based on the increasingly alarmist IPCC reports. Whereas the administration, and the IPCC establishment, view the climate as a tame problem with a simple solution – reduce CO2 emissions – Dr. Curry sees it as a “wicked mess”, due to the complexity of interrelated issues.

After describing how she became skeptical of the IPCC climate orthodoxy (and attacked for her heresy), Dr. Curry summarizes what climate scientists agree and disagree on:


  • Surface temperatures have increased since 1880
  • Humans are adding CO2 to the atmosphere
  • CO2 and other greenhouse gases have a slight warming effect on the planet


  • Whether the warming since 1950 has been dominated by human causes
  • How much the planet will warm in the 21st century
  • Whether warming is “dangerous”
  • Whether we can afford to radically reduce CO2 emissions and whether reduction will benefit the climate.

Dr. Curry describes how the IPCC came to the conclusion: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by humans. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution is similar to the observed warming over this period.” The IPCC used global climate models to prepare simulations with only natural forcings to simulations with both natural and anthropogenic forcings and compare these with observations. This works well only for the 1975 – 1998 warming period but fails to match the 1940-1975 cooling and the flat temperatures since 1998.

There are two views of the climate for the 21st century. One is that of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report projecting continued warming, and the current pause ending with the next El Niño. The other perspective emphasizes natural variability with the pause continuing for another decade together with solar cooling and weak El Niños. One important aspect of the natural variability is multidecadal oscillations of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A new theory, which Dr. Curry espouses (16:30) is the “stadium wave”, which combines Atlantic and Pacific decadal/multidecadal oscillations into a ~60-year cycle, which predicts a cool phase continuing into the 2030s.

Dr. Curry poses an interesting question (23:40): What climate do we want – that of the 1930s, the 1950s, 1970s, or would a warmer climate be more desirable? Much of the climate debate relates to a conflict of values (25:00): Survival, Sustainable, Resilience and Thrivability. The UN climate policy is driven by sustainability, but this conflicts with survivability in the developing world. Rather than focusing on the UN-ENGO preference for only sustainable strategies (which entail high costs), these should overlap with resilient ones to develop robust policies with little downside. Examples of robust strategies include water resource management, ecological conservation and restoration.

Dr. Curry admits that her views are unpopular with colleagues in the climate community, but are gaining traction in the broader academic community (30:00). In pursuing the “wicked” climate problem she is following a non-traditional path for an academic scientist. The reason the IPCC and its advocates resist criticism, is that it they prefer the simple, tame climate problem while speaking consensus to power; if there’s no consensus there’s no power (32:30).

                                        Ian Cameron
                                        Director, Friends of Science



Antarctic Sea Ice Grows

Antarctic sea ice area has been increasing over the last three years and is now 1.2 million square kilometers above the 1979 to 2008 average.

Antarctic Sea Ice Area Anomaly

Graph data.

Sea ice area is widely used as a leading indicator of anthropogenic global warming because temperatures in the polar regions were expected to be more responsive to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions (due to the very low humidity) than in other regions.

The increase in Antarctic sea ice illustrates a major failing of climate models. The climate models hindcast an average annual  Antarctic sea ice area decline of 9.7% from 1980 to 2014, but the year-to-September area actually increased by 24.4% and was at a record high on September 18, 2014, which was 660,000 km2 greater than the 2013 maximum.

Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice minimum summer area in September 2014 was 50% above of the 2012 minimum.

Now 52 Excuses for the 'Pause'

The website Hockey Schtick updates a list of excuses for the pause in global warming.

This list currently shows 52 excuses from scientific papers, media and blogs. Most of the "excuses" have links to papers that debunk the excuse.

The IPCC AR5 only provides three excuses:

  • Low solar activity
  • Volcanic aerosols
  • Heat redistributed to the deep oceans

These excuses were shown to be false in the September 2013 Science News.

Now there are 49 more excuses for the climate model failures for the IPCC to consider. Each excuse shows a reason why climate models should not be used to set public policy.

See the list here.

What Controls Upper Atmosphere Water Vapor?

The small direct effects of CO2 in climate models are amplified three times by increasing water vapor in the upper troposphere (UT). However empirical evidence shows that water vapor has not increased in the UT.

A paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research here investigates the processes that controls the UT water vapor using eight years of aircraft measurements.  The abstract shows that water vapor is controlled by three dominant transportation processes:

  • Hadley circulation
  • mid-latitude convection
  • Brewer-Dobson circulation

The upper troposphere water vapor does not seem to be affected by CO2 levels or lower atmosphere temperatures. This is the reason that the climate models predicted tropical troposphere hot-spot does not exist in the measurements.

Ken Gregory
                                                  Director, Friends of Science



To accomplish our goal of educating the broader public and policy makers on the diversity of views on climate change, and the important natural factors, we need financial help from our members. Thank you for your help to date.  This debate matters, you are making a difference. 

Please continue to make donations to Friends of Science.  We can be a voice for your climate change issues – and we thank all of you who have given us tips on the misinformation they see in the marketplace.  Donations made directly to Friends of Science will help us bring in quality guest speakers, expand our media presence and create a platform for informed debate. To make a contribution at; click on DONATE in the upper right of the home page. Alternately, you can mail donations to FoS at the following address:

Friends of Science Society                         
P.O. Box 23167
Mission P.O.
Calgary AB T2S 3B1
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