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Category — North, Gerald (Texas A&M)

Political Scientists: Gerald North and Andrew Dessler Double Down on Climate Alarmism

“I did worry that my comment on my not being willing to sign on to Kyoto right now got into the [Houston] Chronicle and in our local paper. I do not like being too public on policy matters. It ain’t my thing.”

- Gerald North (email communication, October 2, 1998)

“In his article Sunday, Rob Bradley reminds us of the errors made about dire climate predictions proffered by some climate science outliers…. Virtually all of these dire predictions were never made or endorsed by the mainstream climate community of researchers in the field.”

- Gerald North, “Fringe Predictions,” Letter to the Editor, Houston Chronicle, April 1, 2008.

“So what is the argument about? The answer is policy…. [W]e both support balanced action to address the clear and present danger of climate change.”

- Andrew Dessler and Gerald North, “Climate Change is Real and Denial is Not About the Science,” San Antonio Express News, October 6, 2013.

If Texas A&M scientists calculated that an asteroid was heading our way, we would likely head for the hills with a lot of pills. But when Texas A&M climatologists warn of dangerous man-induced global warming and call for government action (think new taxes and regulation), many of us roll our eyes and watch our wallets.

We live in a postmodern world where emotion and desire substitute for reason and scholarship. With climate alarmism in deep trouble on a variety of data fronts, from temperature increase to sea-level rise to hurricane frequency and intensity, elder Texas A&M climate scientist Gerald North joined climate scientist/campaigner Andrew Dessler to write (sign on to?) a disingenuous opinion-page editorial for the San Antonio Express,Climate change is real and denial is not about the science.”

The Dessler/North wolf cries of recent years have been made in the face of growing contradictory evidence. While alarmism may have once gotten attention, the two are are now like the Enron carnival barkers of 2000/2001, proclaiming surety and shouting ‘you just don’t get it’ at the skeptics. Andy Dessler and Jerry North are, indeed, the smartest guys in the climate room.

Emotional Scientists, Bad Science [

October 11, 2013   3 Comments

Gerald North on Climate Modeling Revisited (re Climategate 2.0)

 “If the models are as flawed as critics say … you have to ask yourself, ‘How come they work?’”

- Gavin Schmidt [NASA], quoted in David Fahrenhold, “Scientists’ Use of Computer Models to Predict Climate Change is Under Attack,” Washington Post, April 6, 2010.

 “[Model results] could also be sociological: getting the socially acceptable answer.”

 - Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), June 20, 1998.

 The above quotation by NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt suggests that quite remarkable progress has been made with climate models in recent years. Such must be the case given the verdict by leading climate scientists that climate models were not nearly ready for prime time just a decade ago.

But what do climate scientists really believe behind closed doors? Will they no longer express their innermost thoughts in emails or in fear that ‘the cause’ of climate alarm/forced energy transformation will be compromised?

Climategate 2.0: Model Quotations

<0850> [Tim] Barnett:  “[IPCC AR5 models] clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved.  I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer.”

<5066> [Gabriele] Hegerl:[IPCC AR5 models] So using the 20th c for tuning is just doing what some people have long suspected us of doing [...] and what the nonpublished diagram from NCAR showing correlation between aerosol forcing and sensitivity also suggested.”

<4443> [Phil] Jones:Basic problem is that all models are wrong – not got enough middle and low level clouds.”

<1982> [Ben] Santer:  “There is no individual model that does well in all of the SST and water vapor tests we’ve applied.”

[Jagadish] Shukla/IGES: ["Future of the IPCC", 2008] It is inconceivable that policymakers will be  willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.

Gerald North Quotations

Here are some quotations from Dr. Gerald North of Texas A&M, certainly a distinguished climate scientist, made during his consulting era with Enron Corp. [Read more →]

November 30, 2011   6 Comments

Lindzen on Kerry Emanuel’s Climate Alarmism, Non-Sequitur

When I was director of public policy analysis at Enron in the late 1990s, I hired climatologist Gerald North of Texas A&M as a consultant to help me get to the bottom of the raging debate between climate ‘skeptics’ and ‘alarmists.’ I was Ken Lay’s speechwriter, and I was concerned that Enron’s embrace of climate alarmism (we had seven profit centers banking on priced CO2 from government intervention) was intellectually off base and thus violated the honesty plank of corporate responsibility.

It was money well spent. Dr. North was personable and honest, although he had a propensity to default toward alarmism if you did not challenge him. (Such is the neo-Malthusian propensity of most natural scientists who see nature as optimal and the human influence as only downside.) This is why I have called Dr. North, to his chagrin, the non-alarmist alarmist.

North distrusted climate models. He noted time and again the personal relationships and personality traits in driving the scientist’s views. And his own sensitivity estimate was at the bottom end of the IPCC range. (North’s climate sensitivity estimate of about 2ºC for a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in equilibrium–with a plus/minus of .25ºC I would later find out–was an intuitive number.)

Some of North’s comments in the late 1990s may prove insightful when the science finally settles out, such as: [Read more →]

September 27, 2011   12 Comments

A Positive Human Influence on Global Climate? Robert Mendelsohn, Meet Gerald North!

“[Robert] Mendelsohn’s position is rather similar to yours…. He believes the impacts are not negative at all for the US and most of the developed countries. Most impact studies seem to be showing this. It leads us to think that a little warming is not so bad. Glad I have kept my mouth shut on this issue of which I know so little.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), November 12, 1999

“I agree that the case for 2C warming [for a doubling of manmade greenhouse gas forcing in equilibrium] is pretty strong.”

- Gerald R. North to Rob Bradley, email communication, August 13, 2007.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published my letter-to-the-editor rebutting Kerry Emanuel’s letter, which, in turn, was critical of his fellow MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen’s op-ed, “Climate Science in Denial.”

My arguments opposing those of Professor Emanuel (see entire letter below) are fairly straightforward, but I end with this challenge:

“But when will many climate scientists, including Mr. Emanuel, face Climategate and the fact that the human influence on climate, on net, is as likely to be positive than negative?”

Is this challenge rash, or is it backed by the facts?  Well, let’s consider the views of an esteemed climate economist and an esteemed climate scientist. They are, respectively,

Robert O. Mendelsohn (Edwin Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of Forest Policy; Professor of Economics; and Professor, School of Management)

Gerald R. North (Distinguished Professor, Physical Section, Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the
Department of Oceanography

Dr. North’s long held sensitivity estimate of 2ºC for a doubling of atmospheric greenhouse concentrations is one-third below the “best guess” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or the IPCC’s best guess is one-half greater than that of Dr. North). That is a big difference, and if you believe Mendelsohn et al. that a 2ºC for 2x results in net positive benefits for the world, then voila!

Is it radical to believe that the human influence on climate, on net, has more positives than negatives for many decades out and even beyond a century or more?  After all, the CO2 fertilization effect is a strong positive, and warmer and wetter is going in the right direction for the biopshere…

Perhaps CO2 as the green greenhouse gas is ‘closet’ mainstream, if North’s (private) views are considered. [Read more →]

May 6, 2010   23 Comments

Gerald North: The Non-Alarmist Alarmist? (A challenge to Texas A&M’s noted climatologist to explain himself on his recent move to Dessler-Left alarmism)

[Editor note: This is Part V of a series of posts on the political activism of climate scientists at Texas A&M.]

“I really enjoyed the ‘fact’ that I saved you from being a ‘climate alarmist’. Frankly, your descriptions of my colleague Andrew Dessler are outrageous. You seem to forget that he spent several hours tutoring you and your student from [Kinkaid] on climate change during a university holiday. As I said to Steve McIntyre after spending hours trying to help him, then being mocked in his blog, ‘No good deed goes unpunished’. I am afraid to say anything more to you via email.”

- Gerald North to Rob Bradley, April 17, 2010 (cc Eric Berger, William Dawson, Andrew Dessler)

Dear Jerry:

I asked for substantive feedback from you to my post(s) and instead got a sarcastic, emotional response. You are clearly annoyed, but open debate about contentious public public policy issues should not be compromised by personal relationships or ‘favors’. And there is nothing wrong about a ‘challenge culture’ and mid-course corrections, either. We are talking about climate science, after all.

I am going to elaborate as best I can and bring in some more of your own quotations for the record.

[North as My Enron Consultant]

Jerry: you are a very interesting and important figure in the climate-change debate–and one whose views future historians of science should note.

Back in 1998, I picked you out of many candidates as a corporate consultant because you seemed to be more open to finding the middle than many of your colleagues. Thinking that Enron was progressive on the climate issue (and they unfortunately were–Ken Lay saw many rent-seeking opportunities with CO2 pricing), you said yes.

“In talking over consulting with ENRON with many friends, I decided to do it, only because of the open-minded position ENRON seems to be taking. I decided that I might even have an influence on what course ENRON eventually takes. I am not concerned with one ideological position or another—just the truth. If ENRON makes use of the truth to make a profit, good show. If ENRON wants to twist the truth to the detriment of everyone else, I will drop out—tarnished but wiser.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), March 25, 1998

I think you provide an excellent ‘case study’ to understand:

1) how the climate alarm got out of control, and

2) how/why a good many in your profession got off scientific track (as evidenced by Climategate and the growing recognition of problems with the IPCC reports).

My Major Point: You Have ‘Gone Political’ and ‘Gone Left’ Post-Climategate Despite Your Skepticism About Climate Alarmism–and Climategate Itself

I have a treasure trove of emails from you that are fair and insightful, in retrospect. (And you have stated that you write your emails as if they would be made public–nothing to fear from your own views.) Some of them are very critical of scientists–skeptics and alarmists. Your criticisms of the skeptics are public (I can provide citations); your more ‘private’ views against alarmism should be made public too. [Read more →]

April 25, 2010   10 Comments

Climate Model Magic: Washington Post Today, Gerald North Yesterday (Part IV in a series)

[The other parts of this series on the activism of Texas A&M climatologists are here: Part I, Part II, and Part III]

“If the models are as flawed as critics say … you have to ask yourself, ‘How come they work?’”

- Gavin Schmidt [NASA], quoted in David Fahrenhold, “Scientists’ Use of Computer Models to Predict Climate Change is Under Attack,Washington Post, April 6, 2010.

“We do not know much about modeling climate. It is as though we are modeling a human being. Models are in position at last to tell us the creature has two arms and two legs, but we are being asked to cure cancer.”

     – Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), November 12, 1999

A Washington Post piece last week, “Scientists’ use of computer models to predict climate change is under attack,” has brought attention to the importance of climate modeling in the current debate over climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases (GHGs). And not surprisingly, few mainstream IPCC scientists want to cast doubt on the current state of the art.

But what do open-minded climate scientists who are not formal modelers say behind closed doors? For part of this answer, I have collected these quotations from Dr. Gerald North of Texas A&M’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Department of Oceanography.

Prior to Climategate, at least, North was a straight shooter on the problems of climate models. [North's Left turn to go arm-in-arm with Andrew Dessler with regard to Climategate is examined here , here, and here.] 

North’s estimate of climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases is about one-third below that of the model average that make up the IPCC projection (about 3ºC). As he said:

“I agree that the case for 2ºC warming [for a doubling of manmade greenhouse gas forcing in equilibrium] is pretty strong.”

- Gerald R. North to Rob Bradley, email communication, August 13, 2007.

North’s error range is 1/4th of a degree, so his warming estimate for a doubled GHG forcing is between 1.75ºC and 2.25ºC, the low end of which is outside of the IPCC range of 2ºC–4.5ºC. Yet Dr. North dare not advertise his dissent or what he believes is climate realism versus model-contrived climate and the resulting alarmism.

Climate models are only as good as what goes into them and our understanding of some of the physical processes that control key aspects of the climate (for instance, cloud behavior) and their response to human alterations of the atmospheric composition is less than ideal. Models cannot magically generate the real, operative microphysics of climate to inform us what will happen when climate forcings are altered. However, a preference for a particular outcome can quickly turn a garbage in-garbage out situation into alarmism in-alarmism out.

Models are not ready for prime time and may not be for many more years if not decades. But this inconvenient fact is downplayed by the scientists involved for two reasons. One is the massive government funding of climate modeling predicated on an assumed “climate problem.”  And two, there is a widespread Malthusian virus among natural scientists–a belief that nature is optimal, man’s influence is bad. (Just the opposite might be the case.) So the happy middle of the debate has been absent.

Alarming, but Flawed, Climate Models

One of the reasons I am not a climate alarmist is because of Dr. North. I believe North points us toward the elusive happy middle of the science debate between ultra-skepticism and alarmism. [Read more →]

April 13, 2010   17 Comments

Reconsidering the Dessler/North Op-Ed on Settled Alarm, Climategate-as-Distraction (Part III in a series)

[The other parts of this series on the activism of Texas A&M climatologists are here: Part I, Part IIPart IV, and Part V]

Scientists find themselves fighting science when it comes to the highly unsettled physical basis of climate change. An example of this is the March 7th Houston Chronicle op-ed by two Texas A&M climate scientists (and four colleagues from other universities), “On Global Warming, the Science is Solid.”

I took general exception to their piece in Part I in this series, titled “Andrew Dessler and Gerald North on Climategate, Climate Alarmism, and the State of Texas’s Challenge to the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding.” Chip Knappenberger yesterday took issue with their claim that the Texas Petition was flawed because it “contains very little science.”

This post critically reconsiders the op-ed, which argued, in effect, that the science behind climate alarmism is settled and that Climategate is a distraction from the core issues. Just the opposite may well be true.

Some Background

Evidently, Dr. Dessler wrote this op-ed and got sign-on from other Texas scientists to make it a ‘consensus’ statement. Here is how the Houston Chronicle attributed it:

This article was submitted by Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M University; Katharine Hayhoe, research associate professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas Tech University; Charles Jackson, research scientist, Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin; Gerald North, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M University; André Droxler, professor of earth science and director of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society, Rice University; and Rong Fu, professor, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin. 

I refer to the piece as Dessler/North because the activist-oriented Dr. Dessler is the leader, and the most distinguished climate scientist of the six named authors is Dr. North.

Criticism of Dessler/North (et al.) Piece

A critique follows with the exact language of the (entire) op-ed in quotation and black and my comments in blue for ease of reading. [Read more →]

March 19, 2010   4 Comments

The Texas Petition against the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding: A User’s Guide (Part II in a series)

[The other parts of this series on the activism of Texas A&M climatologists are here: Part IPart IIIPart IV, and Part V]

“Texas’ challenge to the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon dioxide contains very little science….”

- Andrew Dessler, Gerald North, et al….., “On Global Warming, the Science Is Solid,” Houston Chronicle, March 7, 2010. [Also see yesterday's Part I post on Dessler/North.]

Last month, the State of Texas filed a petition for reconsideration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (summary here) against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Petition lays out why the EPA’s reliance on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide an assessment of climate change science was a very bad idea.

After documenting flaws in the scientific literature, flaws in scientific behavior, flaws in the IPCC process, and flaws in the IPCC’s conclusions, Texas asks the EPA to re-examine its conclusions regarding climate change and its potential impacts on human health and welfare, and this time, not to rest its conclusions on the biased opinion of the IPCC.

In other words, Texas asks the EPA to do the work themselves—something they are mandated to do anyway.

The complete Texas Petition is available here in a single pdf file. But for easier navigatation, we have broken the full Petition up into its individual sections, and linked them into the Table of Contents page, which is reproduced below.

Hopefully, this will enable you to read through it in a more directed fashion so that you can go straight to which ever section you may be most interested in and see how Texas lays out its case for Reconsideration. [Read more →]

March 18, 2010   6 Comments

Andrew Dessler and Gerald North on Climategate, Climate Alarmism, and the State of Texas’s Challenge to the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding (Part I in a series)

[The other posts in this series on the activism of Texas A&M climatologists are here: Part IIPart IIIPart IV, and Part V]

On March 7th, the Houston Chronicle published an editorial by two Texas A&M climate scientists, Andrew Dessler and Gerald North (et al.):  “On Global Warming, the Science is Solid.” The op-ed argued that Climategate was a mere distraction and that climate science was settled in favor of alarm–both points being intended to challenge the State of Texas’s Petition for Rehearing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding, which was based on a belief of “settled science.”

A week later, a response/defense followed in the Chronicle, written by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott: “State Suing for Responsible Scientific Conclusions.” His argument was that significant scientific uncertainties (nonsettled science) were tweaked away at Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England, and major errors in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have come to light.

Challenging the Dessler/North (et al.) Op-Ed

The general problem of the Dessler opinion piece was oversimplification and the use of half-truths. I took issue with it in this (unpublished) letter-to-the-editor that I sent to the Chronicle: [Read more →]

March 17, 2010   5 Comments