Memorandum by Mr David Holland MIEE
1. I am a retired Electrical Engineer and
claim no other expertise than having lived through many false
hopes and despairs. Like Professor Lindzen, I am sceptical of
IPCC predictions not because of the science but their processes
and conclusions. I hope you will consider this lay view because
there is a large and growing body of informed scepticism which
will have to be overcome if governments are to successfully implement
the policies deemed necessary by the currently claimed consensus.
That said few would disagree that on the grounds of common sense
alone we should conserve our natural resources and I was delighted
to have been bought a woodland tree as a Christmas Present.
2. Lord Lawson of Blaby in Q16 went straight
to heart of climate scepticism in his reference to the so called
"hockey stick" graph of Professor Mann's MBH98 paper
which is the basis of the IPCC TAR. It suggests that world temperature
was little changed for a thousand years then shot up in the last
century. This graph is in stark contrast to the consensus prior
to 1998 and conflicts with historic evidence laid out by the late
Hubert Lamb founder of the CRU. It also conflicts with the longest
known instrument record of temperature in the world
3. The graph (dated 17 October 2003) below
was sent to me by the Met Office, but as Dr Sophia Oliver of DEFRA
told me last August, it apparently needs up to two more years
of peer review before it will be used on government web sites.
This graph relates to Central England only and the data prior
to 1772 is considered less reliable than the later data. However,
much anecdotal evidence for the Little Ice Age leaves little doubt
that it is broadly correct. What this graph suggests is that,
for Central England at least, there was a period of rapid cooling
followed by one of rapid warming well in excess of what we experienced
in the last century. There is historic evidence of the discomfort
caused by the rapid cooling, but I am unaware of any complaint
relating to the 2 centigrade degree temperature rise in less than
4 decades. Not only does this evidence suggest we can adapt to
rapid climate change but as CO2 levels were smaller and believed
to be fairly constant it demonstrates, on a regional basis at
least, that temperature changes without anthropogenic forcing
can be large.
4. Another long instrument record is to
be found at the Observatory in Armagh. The graph below is published
Of it they say "In the Armagh Observatory's records we
already see the influence of Global Warming over the past century
and they indicate strongly that changes in the Sun are at least
5. A plot showing the change in temperature
at Armagh Observatory since 1796 and the simultaneous changes
in the length of the "11-year" sunspot cycle, adapted
from the article "A provisional long mean air temperature
series for Armagh Observatory", Journal for Atmospheric and
Solar Terrestrial Physics, Vol 58, p 1657-1672, 1996, by CJ Butler
and DJ Johnston.
6. Squares represent the mean temperature
at Armagh. The solid histogram represents the length of the sunspot
cycle. I was taught that where two distinct phenomena correlate
well, as these clearly do, then it is probable that one is caused
by the other or some other phenomenon is causing them both. You
will be told that, from what we know of solar variance, it is
not enough to cause the warming we are seeing, but surely the
rise of a degree centigrade at Armagh from 1800 to 1840 could
not have been due to CO2. More to the point the Little Ice Age,
when temperatures in Central England were lower than any time
recorded since or inferred by historic accounts earlier, was at
a time of very low sun spot count. This strongly suggests to me
that not only are there well known aspects of climate science
that are poorly understood but in the well quoted words "there
are unknown unknowns".
7. You have heard that to get the sort of
temperature increases of which we are being warned, substantial
positive feedback or amplification is needed. You experience one
significant feedback process any time you walk bare footed from
your lawn onto your path or drive when the sun is shining. This
feedback acts directly on incoming radiation. Mankind's construction
of homes and roads has increased the amount of the sun's energy
that is turned directly into heat at the surface of the earth,
where incidentally the temperatures preferred by the IPCC are
8. If you look at the USGS web site,
which shows cement production statistics (and asphalt is very
similar) and plot them you will have another hockey stick graph.
Most of the cement and asphalt ever made was made after 1940.
London and most of the world's large cities are several degrees
warmer than the surrounding countryside. Many feel that the Urban
Heat Island effect is a significantly underestimated factor in
the recent temperature rise at the surface and explains why satellites
and weather balloons record much lower warming. Intuitively most
would say that if CO2 is the cause of rising temperatures we would
see it throughout the atmosphere but we do not. Characteristically,
climate scientists have devised a basket of "fiddle factors"
that enable their models to live with this difficulty.
9. This is a point directly relevant to
your main enquiry. The design of most cities and roads unquestionably
(only the extent is debated) add to global warming. Careful design,
as in the case of Canberra can minimise or reverse this at modest
10. DEFRA have a web site
to inform the public on matters of climate change and show the
graph below on it. They are selective as to what they show of
what they know and this totally alters the impression that the
common man gets when shown it. It shows that in recent years Central
England is similar to the global average. Clearly the vastly greater
number of temperature readings that have gone into the global
average have had a smoothing effect. No one disputes that regional
variations occur and that "ups and downs" in the trends
can be skewed in time by regional effect. Given that, I believe
it is fair to say that the CET is broadly representative of global
temperatures. I would, however, argue that the half degree that
Central England is above the global average at the end of the
graph supports the exaggerated claim that we have concreted it
over and it is now one large heat island.
11. What DEFRA do not show (but as the Met
Office graph on page 1 shows they have the data for) is that Central
England, in 1738, was probably warmer than today's global average.
At the time 1738 was the sixth warmest year on record and seven
out of the eight hottest years on record had occurred in that
decade. Does that sound familiar? Nor do DEFRA go even further
back and show the Little Ice Age for which they have data albeit
with less confidence. They certainly do not show the solar cycle
length with its exceptional Maunder Minimum or today's exceptionally
short solar cycle.
12. This brings me back to the famous "hockey
stick" that Lord Lawson raised in Q16. Around 40 of the years
deemed by DEFRA to be unsuitable for public viewing until peer
reviewed, are incorporated into the peer reviewed paper, (MBH98),
of Professor Mann that the IPCC used to such great effect that
I would argue it is the most recognised graph in the world. It
is in fact their trade mark.
13. The blade of the hockey stick is designed
(and I suspect designed is not an exaggeration) to shock, but
it is the shaft where the real mischief lies. The extra years
Professor Mann used (as compared to what DEFRA and the Met office
show on their web sites) began in the 1730's and were far hotter
than the previous decades which were part of the Little Ice Age.
In his peer reviewed paper Professor Mann does not offer any justification
for not using the full CET data set or using data DEFRA think
unreliable or even mention that it is truncated. He uses a statistical
process known as Principle Component Analysis in which a number
of data series, some physical temperature readings but mostly
proxies, are reduced to data that is shown in the "hockey
14. Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick
wrote a paper
(M&M2003) that exposed what they considered serious defects
in the MBH98 paper. They published the graph below. In their "corrected
version" the little ice age is colder and the mediaeval warm
period that had disappeared in the MBH version reappears.
15. Arguments followed as to whether it
was peer reviewed and a proper understanding of the difficulty
in dealing with climate science is incomplete without reading
a recent paper, Kyoto Protocol Based On Flawed Statistics Proof
That Mankind Causes Global Warming Is Refuted, published in
Natuurwetenschap and Techniek and for which a translation
(with poor graphics) is available.
16. Eventually Professor Mann and his co
writers were obliged to publish a corrigendum
in Nature and, more importantly, more of the data and methodology
that has enabled McIntyre and McKitrick to update their analysis
of MBH98 and the argument can now be reduced to just two questions.
(i) Is it statistically correct in PCA to
centre the proxy data around just a part of the time period covered
by the data rather than the entire period?
(ii) Are the Bristlecone Pine series of tree
rings used by Professor Mann as proxies representative of the
temperature at the time of their growth?
17. The first question may sound difficult
to understand, but is not. From just a few hours study of the
mathematics which was unknown when I qualified, I am satisfied
that M & M may well be right. It is frequently necessary to
standardise or normalise data to make it suitable for processing.
Subtracting the average so the numbers all sit above and below
a mean sounds reasonable whereas subtracting the average of a
part of the series seems odd. When that part corresponds to the
time span of what turns out to be the blade of the "hockey
stick" it begins to look like a design feature. I would think
that we have enough statisticians in the UK to answer the first
18. The second is straightforward. Without
these Bristlecone Pine tree ring series there is no hockey stick.
If MBH98 has solid foundations, the removal of these series should
not affect it, but they do. The Bristlecone Pine series are anomalous.
They show, according to M & M, a spurt in growth in the 20th
Century which is not matched by contemporary temperature readings
from nearby stations. Other things including CO2 concentration
affect ring growth and the growth spurt occurs at a time of rising
19. What excites those with a leaning towards
conspiracy theories is that Professor Mann appears to have experimented
with data series and had at one time some data remarkably similar
to that M&M produced in the FTP location: ftp://holocene.evsc.virginia.edu/pub/MBH98/TREE/ITRDB/NOAMER/BACKTO1400-CENSORED
20. I have pressed DEFRA to the point of
becoming persona non grata on the issue of checking the
IPCC hockey stick but, as other testimony seems to suggest, there
is a culture of "group think" which I find disturbing.
The constant reference to peer review and consensus is as irritating
as it is nonsensical. A single paper can change the consensus
just as Professor Mann's did. In 1932 a consensus, which included
Einstein, and was as solid and as important as today's on climate
change, was quickly reversed almost without a murmur when James
Chadwick presented his paper on the neutron which led the way
to nuclear fission. On other occasions peer review has been hoaxed
or defrauded. It is unrealistic to expect that every science paper
will be independently replicated but the standard should be that
all data and methodology is available to allow it and government
departments that sponsor research should replicate the most important
and a random sample of the rest.
21. If I may turn to a further issue that
greatly worries me, in December I attended a meeting at which
presentations were given by three distinguished scientists with
hundreds of peer reviewed papers between them.
22. Dr Paul Reiter gave a compelling explanation
as to why suggestions of an increase in vector born diseases was
unsupported by the known and published data. He also told us that
he had resigned from the IPCC working group he was on because
they wanted his name included in the list of contributors but
would not include his views.
23. Professor William Keatinge gave a clear
and authoritative explanation of why even in the hottest countries
deaths due to cold exceed vastly those from heat. I accept his
view that the sad loss of life in Europe in 2003 due to the exceptionally
hot summer was a failure of systems and is unlikely to happen
again. Any increase in heat related deaths is bound to be more
than offset by the reduction of cold related deaths.
24. Professor Nils Axel Mörner gave
a well reasoned explanation as to why alarmist fears of rising
sea level are misplaced.
25. I mention these presentations because
I found what happened at the end shocking. It was a polite, friendly,
private "learned" meeting in which all were free to
disagree and debate the science. Yet a group of individuals from
a well known environmental organisation found it necessary to
infiltrate and hijack the meeting to harangue the speakers and
organisers as stooges of the Oil Companies. Two of the three had
absolutely no connection with the oil industries and what funding
was readily admitted to by the others was neither recent nor of
26. While not violent, the outbursts were
intimidating and clearly pre-planned. I have no doubt that if
the arguments start to run against them, as we have seen in other
areas, hard core activists will increase the vigour of their approach
and adopt the tactics they use in other fields. So vehement are
accusations of Oil Industry funding that no respected scientist
dare avail himself of this source of perfectly legal and proper
27. Climate Alarmists are, so to speak,
the incumbents and will be difficult to dislodge even if overwhelming
evidence emerges that CO2 is not the main driver of climate change.
Professor Robinson mentioned in answer to your Q4 how difficult
it was to accept that Nuclear Energy might not be all that was
claimed of it. In that case there were powerful commercial lobbies
and industries that worked to reverse the consensus. Despite the
alarmists' myth, there is no contrarian industry secretly funded
by the oil industry. I receive no income whatever from my interest
in this area. If I were beginning my career I cannot imagine that
I could make a living in climate science without accepting the
current consensus and therein lies the real risk.
28. There must be sceptics in DEFRA and
the Met Office but it is hard to see why they would make public
their views. At the moment there seems to be a competition to
see who can publish the most scary scenario.
29. If there were just one outcome from
your enquiry I would hope that it would be the unfettered availability
of all papers, methodology and data pertaining to matters that
involve significant public expense. If there were a second it
would be to elevate auditing or replication above peer review
3 February 2005
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