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ETHICS IN SCIENCE October 14, 2008

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ETHICS IN SCIENCE

Professor William Alexander

Professor William Alexander

By Professor Will Alexander

Via email, October 11, 2008

I was prompted to write the attached memo by the announcement of a workshop on ethics in science, engineering and technology to be held on 28 October. Obviously there is some concern in this field.

For the past few days the global economic situation has rapidly deteriorated. These were some phrases used this morning (Friday) in the TV news reports.

Mayhem in Asian markets – Bush to address the nation – stock markets plummet overnight – biggest drop since Black Monday in October 1987 – recession in full swing – black Friday – a critical moment in history – shellshock – market knocked down – worldwide economic recession – extreme unease – Wall Street’s worst week in history – crisis of confidence.

Quite independently of this, the Internet is full of growing criticism of climate alarmism and those who practise it. These are some examples.

Time to erase the emissions trading nightmare. – The growing revolt against climate alarmism. – All over the world, the alarmists are alarmed. – The growing scientific dissent and the refusal of the weather to follow the IPCC computer model forecasts have been joined by growing economic reality. – The battle is just starting. – We must kill this snake before it is set loose to multiply and spread its venom. [Climate Sense Coalition, Australia 10 October 2008.]

In another development, two days ago a South African colleague e-mailed a copy of a 350 page report published by Transparency International, Cambridge University Press and the Water Integrity Network titled GLOBAL CORRUPTION REPORT 2008. CORRUPTION IN THE WATER SECTOR.

The introduction includes the phrase “corruption is a cause and catalyst for this water crisis, which is likely to be further exacerbated by climate change. Corruption affects all aspects of the water sector, from water resource management to drinking water services, irrigation and hydro power….”

As shown in the attached and earlier memos, current climate change science as practised by the climate extremists is itself fraudulent. What is the difference between politicians and administrators putting money in their pockets, and scientists adopting scientifically fraudulent methods to generate research funding?

This brings me to another e-mail that I have just received from another South African colleague. It included a press release headed MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS MITIGATION PROJECT. The project was undertaken by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre.

I have two questions. What is the basis for the researchers’ assumption that undesirable greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming with all its postulated consequences? Recent research refutes this assumption. The earth stopped warming 10 years ago despite continually increasing global greenhouse gas emissions. So what will be achieved by reducing South Africa’s emissions?

A second question: what will be the effect of the implementation of the proposals on South Africa’s climate? This information is also being withheld from the public for the simple reason that the climate alarmists are unable to determine it. How then can the researchers maintain that South Africa’s emissions must peak, plateau and decline, so that the country makes a meaningful contribution to keeping the temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius? This claim is absolute nonsense and grossly misleading.

The press release included the often repeated statement that South Africa’s per capita emissions are among the highest in the world. They failed to inform readers that our total emissions are miniscule compared with those of the major developed and developing nations of the world. Why did they not provide readers with South Africa’s percentage contribution to global emissions? Readers would then have realised the futility of the reduction measures that they propose. The impression created by using the per capita criterion instead of the global contribution criterion, which was the motivation for the research, is both fraudulent and misleading.

My colleague had this to say in his covering email. What is it with these chaps? Perhaps they should shut down their fancy computers, and go back to reading research data first, and then using calculators, adding machines and logs, when they should (hopefully) learn again how to judge the ORDER of things, and not just accept outspewings from some doubtful program just because “the computer says it is so”!!

Millions of people on the African continent are starving. Yet the climate and environmental alarmists are more concerned with the health of the Kokerbooms in the Kalahari and the butterflies in the Kruger National Park than the welfare of the thousands of shack dwellers living in abject poverty within kilometers of their air conditioned offices.

Perhaps you will now understand my frustration and anger with this unscientific and unethical climate alarmism and those who propagate it.

To read the rest of Professor Alexander’s memo click on “more”

Memo 39/08
Ethics in science

Friday 10 October 2008

The South African National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) invited all science, engineering and technology stakeholders to a workshop on ethics in these fields to be held on 28 October. I have been a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science since my student days in 1948. I have served on a number of national and international scientific bodies over the years.

Now for the first time in my long career I have to deal with an issue of major national and international importance where a large segment of the scientific community has resorted to highly questionable professional practices and ethical standards in order to advance their views on climate change.

Exhibit 1. My evidence.

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2. The basis for my claim of climate periodicity and the solar linkage.

exhibit 2

exhibit 2

I must emphasise that the majority of climatologists, environmentalists and others in the natural sciences do not agree with this climate extremism but by doing nothing to control it they are exposing themselves to the criticism that follows from it.

Science is all about venturing into the unknown. Challenging the views of others is an acceptable means of testing theories. However, personal attacks and the deliberate suppression of contrarian evidence are inadmissible. There are many examples of these unethical practices in the activities of climate alarmists. The most obvious and readily demonstrated example is the issue of the causal linkage between variations in solar activity and synchronous variations in the climatological processes. This linkage has been known and reported for more than a hundred years in South Africa and longer elsewhere. Yet it is emphatically denied in the IPCC reports and by the South African extremists.

The reason for the denial is obvious. It contradicts their fundamental assumption of dominant human causality of global warming and the postulated consequences.
The IPCC was established in 1988 but it has been unable to produce evidence of human causality of undesirable climate changes. The principal conclusions described in the IPCC reports are demonstrably false. There is:
No scientifically believable evidence
• Of sustained climatic changes
• And the predicted consequent range of adverse consequences
• On continental or sub-continental scales.
None at all.

Climate alarmists were forced to adopt unscientific and unethical practices to defend their position. Several extremists resorted to abhorrent personal attacks on those who disagreed with their views.

Even esteemed institutions such as the Royal Society resorted to unethical practices in an effort to suppress contrarian views. The much publicised Stern Review was a politically motivated document with obvious omissions of critical contrarian evidence. Al Gore’s chickens are coming home to roost. He has just admitted that he deliberately omitted to address adaptation measures as this would dilute his case. The 15-authored report on the climate of the SW Cape is replete with unfulfilled prophesies.

It is very difficult for sceptical scientists to counter these views. However, the rejection of the causal influence of variations in solar activity on climate is the alarmists’ Achilles Heel. It requires nothing more than mental arithmetic, a pencil and graph paper to demonstrate the synchronous linkage.
If you have high-school children in the house, I suggest that you ask them to assist you with the calculations.

I produced Exhibit 1 in November 1997 (more than 10 years ago) for a conference presentation. Note the grouping of below and above average river flows before and after the occurrence of sunspot minima identified in Table 1 in Exhibit 2.

Figure 7 in Exhibit 2 is from my 1978 report. I included a copy in my last memo. Table 1 is from a later report.

Now the 64-million dollar question. Does this information demonstrate that a linkage exists between sunspot activity and river flow? Or is it purely coincidental? On its own there may be some reluctance to acknowledge the linkage but the other information in our publications over the years is incontestable.
The next question is whether or not this linkage is detectable elsewhere in the world. Bear in mind that the linkage between sunspot activity and famines in India was reported by British astronomers 150 years ago. Now refer to the appendix to this memo.

This is where you require assistance from the younger members of the family. Ask them to identify the sunspot minima in the right-hand column of the table starting in 1856. Our interest is in the double sunspot cycle so ask them to draw a double line after the 1867 minimum and every second minimum thereafter.

Now using nothing more than mental arithmetic, ask them to add the three values in the middle column above and below the double lines. Is there a pattern and if so how does it compare with the grouping of above and below average values in Exhibit 1?
What are your conclusions?
Hint: I examined the data earlier using my prediction model and was unable to detect a 21 year periodicity.

Explanations needed

The simple examples of apparently contradictory results demonstrate the need for exploratory analyses in this complex subject. We must attempt to explain why this predictability is not present in the monsoon data. There is another clue. The periodicity is also undetectable in river flows in the winter rainfall region of South Africa.

Let us dig a little deeper and move into the realm of speculation. The 21-year periodicity (and consequently the solar linkage) is readily detectable in the summer rainfall region of South Africa. Consider the energy cycle. Energy from the sun heats a parcel of water out there in the Indian Ocean. It is conveyed southwards by the ocean currents. Somewhere along the route this parcel of water evaporates and rises into the atmosphere.

The evaporated water is conveyed through the atmosphere taking this energy with it. It is conveyed landwards by the atmospheric processes. It is later precipitated as rainfall over the Vaal River catchment and ends up in Vaal Dam. It still possesses some residual energy that can be used to generate hydropower for example. The energy has its origins in the solar energy received at a point thousands of kilometres away but the solar linkage is still detectable despite the complex energy transforms and conveyance mechanisms en route.

But the monsoon rainfalls and the winter rainfalls in South Africa are also the consequence of the redistribution of solar energy but do not display the statistically significant 21-year periodicity and consequently the solar linkage. Why is this?

I do not know the answer. What I do know is that studies of the multiyear properties of the hydrometeorological data provide useful information on the solar processes that influence the earth’s climate. This information should be examined by others who are more knowledgeable in this field. All this information provides valuable insights into the nature of the solar influence.

There are two broad schools of thought on the observed linkage between solar activity and the climatic responses. One is that the causal linkage is related to the nature of solar emissions and their direct effect on cloud cover, etc.

Our view is that it is directly related to changes in the receipt and redistribution of solar energy and the instability phenomena related to the large scale storage and release of this energy from the oceans. It may be a mixture of both processes. While the direct causes may be obscure the consequences are incontestable. It is the consequences that are of practical concern not the theories. The absence of an agreed theory does not negate the interpretation of the consequences.

In this situation the arrogant attitude of climate alarmists that variations in solar activity do not influence the world’s climate is false, unscientific and unethical. In view of the very large financial and sociological implications of this whole climate change issue, their actions in denying the solar linkage are also reckless and irresponsible.

Unlike the engineering profession, there is no body with powers to control this unethical behaviour. The image of science as an honourable profession is being seriously damaged by this reckless opportunism and manipulation of public opinion. There are many other examples.
All of these developments are based on faulty science and unethical scientific practices. The only consolation is that this bubble must eventually burst. But the damage caused in the interim is immeasurable.

Returning to the present

The world is in economic turmoil as I write this memo. The general view is that a global economic recession is in progress and that it will continue through to the end of 2009 at the earliest. The likelihood that enforceable international agreements will be reached on substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is increasingly remote. It will be interesting to see the reactions of the alarmists when they realise that their efforts to persuade nations to enforce economically and sociologically damaging measures have failed.

One more concern

There is another growing concern. The sun has been unusually quiet for more than a year beyond the expected solar minimum. There has been a lot of comment on the Internet but nobody seems to know how this will affect global climate. Some say that it is the beginning of the next Ice Age.

Returning to Exhibit 1 above, widespread floods followed the solar minima. On the other hand my periodicity analyses indicate the likelihood of a period of global droughts during the next eight years.
Climate alarmists have not expressed any views one way or the other. Their tactics are to wait until the event occurs and only then proclaim that it was the consequence of climate change. This is because their complex mathematical models are incapable of predicting future events.

Whatever may happen in the year ahead – widespread floods or droughts – the consequences while the world is in the grip of an economic recession will be very severe indeed.
The alarmists have gone into hiding. This is the only bright news in these dark days.

APPENDIX
Indian monsoon data

A Canadian colleague referred me to the paper by Khandekar on India’s future climate and the monsoon rainfall data. He told me “I am fascinated by integrating this with your Net Inflow: Vaal Dam Plus Grootdraai.”
This is a good opportunity to see if there is a correspondence.
He supplied this information.

“Khandekar, Madhav L., 2008: India’s future climate: No Cause for Alarm, Global Warming and Climate Change, GreenIT, August 2008, p. 24-28.
The present debate on the global warming and climate change science has brought out several uncertainties in future projection of climate change and its worldwide impact. For India as a whole, future climate change impacts appear to be minimal and pose no concern for alarm at this point in time. The Indian summer monsoon has been and will remain the most important climate event for India in the foreseeable future. Future climate change impacts can be adequately sustained using suitable adaptation strategy. A useful adaptation strategy would be to develop and improve the present skill in seasonal prediction of summer monsoon with a lead time of few weeks to a few months. Improved skill in seasonal prediction will enable appropriate measures to be implemented which could minimise impacts of future droughts and floods in the Indian monsoon.

This is the table based on Khandekar’s paper.

Table 1: All India summer monsoon rainfall (in mm) from 1844 to 2000 (Khandekar, 2008)

ftp://ftp.ngdc.NOAA.gov/STP/Solar Data /sunspot numbers/Yearly

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