Blog Archive

Monday, January 26, 2015

Professional climate-change denier Willie Soon accused of violating Chinese journal Science Bulletin's conflict-of-interest disclosure agreement

by Sylvan Lane, Globe Correspondent, Boston GlobeJanuary 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — A climate-change skeptic at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has relied on grants from fossil-fuel energy interests apparently failed to disclose financial conflicts of interest in a newly released paper, according to a complaint by a climate watchdog group.

The paper by Harvard-Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon and three other climate-change skeptics contends the United Nations panel that tracks global warming uses a flawed methodology to estimate global temperature change. Soon and his co-authors claim to have a simpler, more accurate model that shows the threat of global warming to be exaggerated.

The Chinese journal that published the paper, Science Bulletin, imposes a strict conflict of interest policy on authors, obligating contributors to disclose any received funding, financial interests, honors or speaking engagements that might bias their work.

In a note at the end of the paper, all four authors claimed no conflicts of interest on the published study. But Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, an organization based in Virginia, said Soon’s long track record of accepting energy-industry related grants indicates otherwise and might constitute a violation of Science Bulletin’s disclosure policy.

In a letter to Science Bulletin, Davies points to the more than $1 million Soon has received from companies and interests supporting studies critical of climate change.

“At the end of the article under the heading ‘Conflict of interest,’ there is this statement: ‘The authors declare that they have no conflict.’ This simply cannot be true,” Davies wrote. “I am concerned that Dr. Soon has not disclosed his funding sources or his outside consulting fees when submitting this article for publishing in your journal, and I am worried that such failure to disclosure may impact the reputation and credibility of both the journal and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian, and Science Bulletin did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Soon, the subject of a lengthy Globe profile in 2013, has long been on the radar of environmental activists, who have kept close track of his academic papers, lectures, and funding sources.

Soon has received more than $1.3 million in grants from companies, think tanks and organizations that have either publicly criticized human-caused climate change or have a financial interest in fossil fuels, according to documents obtained by environmental activist group Greenpeace through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Fossil-fuel interests that have funded Soon’s work include the Electric Power Research Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, the Texaco Foundation, the ExxonMobil Foundation. He’s also received funding from the Koch brothers, the libertarian-conservative moguls who have lobbied against anti-climate change legislation.

Soon maintains a strong relationship with the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank known for hosting skeptical conferences on climate change. He’s listed on its website as an expert and he spoken at seven of the institute’s nine conferences. In September 2013 appeared on Fox News with Heartland’s Joseph Bast to discuss the institute’s report “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science,” which downplays some of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change’s observations of global warming. He also spoke at the conservative Heritage Foundation in 2013 to support a Heartland rebuttal of IPCC claims, where he called the UN council “a pure bully” that pushed “blatant manipulations of fact.”

Though Soon uses his full Harvard-Smithsonian credential on this report, he is technically employed by the Smithsonian side and has no other affiliation with Harvard University. The institute has previously disavowed his work on climate change.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

China's attempts to solve water crisis worsen the situation

Researchers say attempts to solve China’s water crisis − already worsening through population growth, a rampant economy and climate change – are having the opposite effect.

by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, January 14, 2015

LONDON − China, the world’s most populous nation, faces one of the planet’s most intractable water crises. And scientists say Beijing’s strategy for resolving the problem is simply making it worse.

A team of international researchers say that water stress is only partially mitigated by China’s current two-pronged approach: transferring water physically to regions that are short of it − for example, by the huge projects to transfer water from the south to the north of the country − and exporting the “virtual” water embodied in products traded domestically and internationally.

China needs more water for energy, food and industry, for its rising population, and for its attempts to end poverty.

But maintaining even current levels of provision is becoming increasingly difficult as climate change lives up to its dire reputation as a threat multiplier and endangers water and food supplies.

Full inventory

Researchers at the UK universities of East Anglia (UEA) and Leeds and other international institutions have compiled the first full inventory of physical water transfers and virtual water redistribution via trade between China’s provinces. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They say the efforts to supply northern China are exacerbating water stress in its poorer water-exporting regions, with transfers of virtual water − defined as the total volume of water needed to produce and process a commodity or service − accounting for more than a third of the country’s national water supply.

Up to 65% of the supply in some provinces is reserved for virtual water redistribution, to be used for infrastructure and for producing exports.

Until China significantly improves its water-use efficiency and addresses the impact its expanding economy is having on its natural resources, the situation will continue to deteriorate, the team concludes.

The research −  led by China’s Beijing Forestry University, UEA and Leeds universities, and the University of Maryland in the US − analyses data from 2007 and looks ahead to China’s water distribution plans in 2030. It finds that water stress is likely to become more severe in the main water-exporting provinces.

Dabo Guan, professor of climate change economics at UEA’s School of International Development, said: “China needs to shift its focus to water demand management instead of a supply-oriented approach if it is going to seriously address the overwhelming pressures on its water supplies.

“China’s current transfer programme is pouring good water after bad. The problems of water-stressed regions aren’t being alleviated, and the provinces sharing their water are suffering greatly.”

Guan and colleague Martin Tillotson, professor of water management at Leeds University, published research in 2014 showing that 75% of China’s lakes and rivers and 50% of its groundwater supplies are contaminated as a result of urban household consumption, infrastructure investment and exports.

Increased demand

Professor Tillotson said: “Even allowing for future efficiency gains in agricultural and industrial water consumption, China’s water transfers are likely to be insufficient to offset increased demand due to the effects of economic and population growth.

“A much greater focus needs to be placed on regulating or incentivising reductions in demand-led consumption.”

China aims to remain about 95% self-sufficient in food, but imports more than 60% of its oil and nearly 50% of its natural gas. Some senior officials argue that it should increase food imports so as to be able to use more of its water for producing energy.

But some of China’s neighbours and traditional suppliers are themselves facing growing problems from climate change, with several countries in south-east Asia contemplating a “shocking” future.

Some observers think that China’s growing demand for grain imports may even strain global supplies. 

Pope Francis’s U.S. tour will set off economic fireworks

Congress, U.N. will get zapped with anticapitalist, pro-climate agenda
Reuters. Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican in November.

by Paul B. Farrell, Market Watch, January 23, 2015

Pope Francis headlines are hard-hitting, targeted, staccato twitters, you get the whole truth in a series of blastings. First, starting with: “Pope Francis Has Declared War on Climate Deniers,” New Republic. Then, at the Week we read: “Republican Party’s war with Pope Francis has finally started.” Yes, 2015 is now a war zone: GOP conservatives at war with the Vatican.

Then the Federalist, a conservative website, waves a red flag warning: “Don’t Pick Political Fights With Pope Francis.” Why? “Conservatives have everything to lose and nothing to gain from getting mad at Pope Francis for his public comments on homosexuality, global warming, free speech, and more.”

Yes, conservatives warning Republicans: Don’t go to war with Pope Francis, you will lose. He’s got an army of 1.2 billion faithful worldwide including 78 million American Catholics. Francis will win.

A huge army. More important, Francis has a direct link to a heavenly power source. As the 266th descendent of the first leader of Christians, St. Peter, the pontiff will be touring America this fall. First stop, Philadelphia. Ring the Liberty Bell.

Yes, Francis is actually on a campaign tour, selling his new economic mandate. And watch out. 

Behind that sweet smile and happy demeanor, this former boxer is attacking everything conservatives, capitalists, Big Oil, energy billionaires and Republicans love, cherish and believe as gospel. And they can’t defend their agenda nor counterpunch him directly.

From Philly, the pontiff’s campaign march heads for New York City where he’ll address the United Nations General Assembly, pushing his anticapitalist, anti-inequality, anti-the-superrich, anti-global warming, pro-climate-change, pro-the poor, pro-do-the-right-thing moral agenda.

Then Francis will jet to Washington and our nation’s capitol, where a grumbling John Boehner and stoic Mitch McConnell have no choice but to invite Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress. They may wish Pope Francis would quietly disappear. But that just isn’t going to happen, not after six million just attended his mass in the Philippines. He’s a seasoned campaigner, selling a powerful new economic agenda.

When the head of 1.2 billion Catholics — many living below the poverty line — addresses a joint session of the Republican controlled Congress in late 2015, all of the GOP’s 300 elected climate-science-deniers will be forced to sit and listen to Pope Francis deliver what conservatives totally despise as hard-core socialism, as we summarized from his opening manifesto back in late 2013. He loaded it heavily with harsh anti-capitalist edicts like:

“Inequality is the root of social ills ... As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

Get it? Capitalism is not the solution, capitalism is the enemy, A cursory reading of Pope Francis’s 10-point anticapitalism agenda leaves little doubt regarding what conservatives, the GOP, Big Oil and energy billionaires will be forced to sit and listen to when Francis speaks in Washington to a joint session of Congress, and before that, to the UN General Assembly, a message that will be translated in many languages and broadcast to all 7.3 billion people across the world in almost two hundred nations. Conservatives fear he’ll succeed.

Once in Congress later this year, poker-faced Republicans like Boehner, who could never smile at an Obama joke, let alone stand and clap at his social program proposals, will obviously have to show a bit more deferential respect when Pope Francis tells Congress about the same kind of social programs that conservatives hate. The scene should be fascinating, watching their faces on conservative-vs-progressive split-screen TV.

Imagine Francis broadcasting his new economics, loaded with these anticapitalist edicts in his own words: “Never trust the Invisible Hand” ... “New tyranny is born, an inequality gap” ... “Free-market trickle-down economics deadens society” ... “Today’s economics promotes inordinate consumption, damages the social fabric, increases violence and serious conflicts” ... “with capitalist competition, the powerful feed upon the powerless” ... “Behind capitalist economics lurks a rejection of ethics and God, debasing humans.” Oh yes, this is real war.

It’s easy to see why conservatives Republicans hate what the Pope is certain to say while addressing Congress and the United Nations. And why 2015 is destined to become a historic turning-point, the world’s already buzzing.

Pope Francis’s trip to America will come shortly after he publishes his already highly controversial papal encyclical on global warming and climate change. Around Easter, a rare announcement that not only carries the pope’s moral authority ... but many will also see it as a new commandment against sinful behavior ... definitely with more authority than any legislation enacted by the GOP Congress ... and yes, far more impact than even the decades of studies by the 2,500 scientists UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Yes, Pope Francis is already on record, says Daily Kos, “calling on his fellow Christians to become ‘Custodians of Creation’ ... issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change” As Francis put it, “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.” He has even warned that “humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act.”

The fact is, GOP leaders are at war with the Pope’s position even before his new encyclical is posted. Listen: “Pope Francis Says Humans Cause Climate Change. These Catholic Members Disagree” says ClimateProgress, listing 10 Catholics among the 300 GOP members in Congress — all hardened science deniers, including John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Peter King. Sadly, later Francis’s war on global warming will make them look like 19th century obstructionist Luddites, exposing them as mere pawns of Big Oil money.

Bottom line, the Catholic Pope is turning 2015 America into a war zone fought between his new economy and capitalism. No wonder every conservative, every capitalist, every GOP politician and their friends all feel threatened: “Pope Francis Terrifies Republicans By Wanting To Address U.S. Congress” warns Politicus USA.

And yet, oddly, the GOP just keeps digging the hole deeper for conservatives, capitalists and energy billionaires, a deep sinkhole in that no-win conflict the Federalist warned them about.

Yes, everything to lose ... and still, they seem deaf and blind to the warnings ... seemingly driven by an irrational death wish, they charge headlong into a war zone and a losing battle ... against good advice of fellow conservatives ... refusing to lead ... lacking a new generation of Reagans doing what’s best for the whole country ... not just for their myopic one-percenters ... instead they act like grade-school kids in play forts, charging into losing battles, playing for Big Oil money.

Meanwhile, we know all this must and will change soon. The GOP’s creepy climate-science denialism will soon make them all look profoundly foolish. As Mark Hertsgaard put it in his BusinessWeek editorial: “Exxon Mobil’s approach to carbon pricing was revealed” recently in the Yale Environment 360.

Get it? ExxonMobil is already doing what the GOP is denying. So “if pricing carbon is good enough for Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, and many of the world’s most profitable companies, how long can climate-change deniers keep a straight face while blocking it for the nation as a whole?”

So wake up, tell the GOP to drop the stoic faces. Smile. Do what’s right. Reclaim your lost moral compass, before you self-destruct your party, your capitalist ideology, handicap the future of the American economy, and destroy Planet Earth with your misguided belief that global warming are a “hoax.”

Even Exxon Mobil doesn’t believe that myth anymore. So go tell GOP Senator James Inhofe that Pope Francis’s new economy has a higher, moral authority driving it for America.

An Arctic ice cap’s shockingly rapid slide into the sea

by Joby Warrick, The Washington Post, January 23, 2015

For years, scientists have documented the rapid retreat of Arctic ice, from melting glaciers in Greenland to shrinking snow cover in far northern Eurasia. Now researchers have discovered one Arctic ice cap that appears to be literally sliding into the sea.
Ice is disappearing at a truly astonishing rate in Austfonna, an expanse of frozen rock far north of the Arctic Circle in Norway’s Svalbard island chain. Just since 2012, a portion of the ice cap covering the island has thinned by a whopping 160 feet, according to an analysis of satellite measurements by a team led by researchers at Britain’s University of Leeds.
Put another way, the ice cap’s vertical expanse dropped in two years by a distance equivalent to the height of a 16-story building. As another comparison, consider that scientists were recently alarmed to discover that one of Western Antarctica’s ice sheets was losing vertical height at a rate of 30 feet a year.
“It is a very large signal,” said Mal McMillan, a geophysicist and one of two researchers at Leeds’  Center for Polar Observation and Modelling who worked on the study. “The ice cap has slumped out into the ocean with a substantial loss of ice.”
McMillan and colleague Andrew Shepherd analyzed changes in Austfonna’s ice using data from satellites that measure, among other things, changes in elevation. They found that the gradual melting of the island’s 1,550-cubic-mile ice cap recently shifted into overdrive, for reasons that aren’t fully understood.  Small ice caps like the one over Austfonna are believed to be more vulnerable to climate change-related thawing because relatively more surface area is exposed to the air and sea.
In this case, the ice cap lost one-sixth of its original thickness in two years, and the flow of ice from the summit to the sea accelerated by 25 fold, to a rate of several kilometers a year, a fast clip by glacier standards, the study found.
“What we see here is unusual because it …  appears to have started when ice began to thin and accelerate at the coast,” Shepherd said.
The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, illustrates how quickly ice caps can evolve, highlighting the challenges associated with predicting future impact of climate change, the scientists said. Arctic experts are closely watching changes in polar ice because of the potentially profound implications for sea-level rise. About a third of the increase in sea level in recent decades is attributed to melting glaciers and ice sheets, and researchers worry that more rapid melting could eventually swamp coastal cities around the world.
Still, researchers say, it’s too early to say definitively if the shrinking of the Austfonna ice cap is due to global warming. Ice caps can shift suddenly for reasons that have nothing to do with climate, McMillan said. But in this case the list of possible culprits would certainly include warmer ocean water and air temperatures, both of which have risen more rapidly in the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet, he said.
“We’ve only seen this for a couple of years,” he said of the Austfonna meltdown, “so we really need to monitor it further.”

Sea level rise increase 3-fold in last 25 years -- rate of increase much larger than previously thought

Harvard researchers find that there has been an almost three-fold annual increase in global sea levels over the last quarter of a century

by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, January 22, 2015

LONDON − Sea level rise for most of the 20th century may have been over-estimated by as much as 30%. But the less welcome news is that, if that’s the case, then sea levels since 1990 have started to accelerate more sharply than anyone had ever expected.

Scientists at Harvard University, in the US, report in the journal Nature that they came to the conclusions after deciding that old data needed fresh analysis − using sophisticated mathematical filtering techniques for handling the uncertainties and gaps in such data.

Estimating and accounting for global mean sea level (GMSL) rise is critical to characterising current and future human-induced changes. The catch is that sea level measurement hasn’t been going on for very long, so not all measurement techniques have been the same. In addition, reliable, systematic and sustained sets of data are relatively sparse.

Rise and fall

The term “sea level” sounds pretty basic, but the oceans are hardly ever level. Tides swell and ebb, regions of sea rise and fall according to temperature and salinity, and the shorelines at which researchers take measurements can also go up because of tectonic movement or sink because of the abstraction of groundwater.

Measurements along some of the world’s great estuary systems can be skewed because of human interference over the decades with the flow downstream, and great tracts of ocean cannot be measured directly at all.

The challenge, then, is to arrive at an average sea level rise for the whole planet.

“We know that sea level is changing for a variety of reasons,” said Dr Carling Hay, post-doctoral fellow in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS).

“There are ongoing effects due to the last ice age, heating and expansion of the ocean due to global warming, changes in ocean circulation, and present day melting of land-ice − all of which result in unique patterns of sea level change. These processes combine to produce the observed global mean sea level rise.”

So the Harvard scientists, working with colleagues from Rutgers University in New Jersey, made estimates for the meltwater from glaciers and dwindling ice caps, from ocean thermal expansion and factors. They then “smoothed” the data, using a mathematical modelling algorithm.

Earlier estimates put mean sea level rise in the 20th century at between 1.5 and 1.8 millimetres a year. Dr Hay and her colleagues now think that, between 1901 and 1990, the true figure was probably closer to 1.2 mm a year.

But since 1990, global sea level has risen by 3 mm a year on average. So, in fact, the acceleration since then has been faster than anybody expected – and this in turn could affect future projections.

Question of accuracy

“Another concern with this is that many efforts to project sea level change into the future use estimates of sea level rise over the time period from 1900 to 1990,” said co-author Eric Morrow, a recent Ph.D graduate of Harvard’s EPS

“If we’ve been over-estimating the sea level change during that period, it means that these models are not calibrated appropriately, and that calls into question the accuracy of projections out to the end of the century.”

Dr Hay added: “We expected that we would estimate the individual contributions, and that their sum would get us back to the 1.5 to 1.8 mm a year that other people had predicted. But the math doesn’t work out that way.

“Unfortunately, our new lower rate of sea level rise prior to 1990 means that sea level acceleration that resulted in higher rates over the last 20 years is really much larger than anyone thought.”

Worldwide field trials show that just one degree of warming could slash wheat yields by 42 million tonnes and cause devastating shortages of this vital staple food

by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, January 17, 2015

LONDON − Climate change threatens dramatic price fluctuations in the price of wheat and potential civil unrest because yields of one of the world’s most important staple foods are badly affected by temperature rise.

An international consortium of scientists have been testing wheat crops in laboratory and field trials in many areas of the world in changing climate conditions and discovered that yields drop on average by six percent for every one degree Celsius rise in temperature.

This represents 42 million tonnes of wheat lost − about a quarter of the current global wheat trade − for every degree. This would create serious shortages and cause price hikes of the kind that have previously caused food riots in developing countries after only one bad harvest.

Global production of wheat was 701 million tonnes in 2012, but most of this is consumed locally. Global trade is much smaller, at 147 tonnes in 2013.

Market shortages

If the predicted reduction of 42 million tonnes per 1 ˚C of temperature increase occurred, market shortages would cause price rises. Many developing countries, and the hungry poor within them, would not be able to afford wheat or bread.

Since temperatures − on current projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change − are expected to rise up to 5 ˚C this century in many wheat-growing regions, this could be catastrophic for global food supply.

Dr. Reimund Rötter, professor of production ecology and agrosystems modelling at the Natural Resources Institute Finland, said that wheat yield declines were larger than previously thought.

He said: “Increased yield variability is critical economically as it could weaken regional and global stability in wheat grain supply and food security, amplifying market and price fluctuations, as experienced during recent years.”

One of the crucial problems is that there will be variability in supply from year to year, so the researchers systematically tested 30 different wheat crop models against field experiments in which growing season mean temperatures ranged from 15 °C to 26 °C.

Temperature impact

The temperature impact on yield decline varied widely across field test conditions. In addition, year-to-year variability increased at some locations because of greater yield reductions in warmer years and lesser reductions in cooler years.

The scientists say that the way to adapt is to cultivate more heat-tolerant varieties, and so keep the harvest stable.

The results of the study − by scientists from the Finland, Germany, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, Colombia, Mexico, India, China, Australia, Canada and the United States − are published in Nature Climate Change.

Professor Martin Parry, who is leading the 20:20 Wheat Institute Strategic Programme at Rothamsted Research to increase wheat yields, commented: “This is an excellent example of collaborative research, which will help ensure that we have the knowledge needed to develop the crops for the future environments.”

Chinese geologists duped by Heartland Institute and junk science -- again! Heartland Institute finds route into U.S. science news conduit through China

by Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter, E&E, January 23, 2015

For global warming deniers, the latest outlet appears to be the Chinese publishing industry, and through that venue they arrive at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) portal for journalists. After that, a study popped up in a major global newspaper.
The study appeared last week in the Science Bulletin, a journal of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and was authored by well-known climate change deniers. The study -- not surprisingly -- challenges the basis of climate change models in use today and has been called flawed by numerous scientists.
"We didn't even think of publishing in the West," said Christopher Monckton, a climate denier who is also the lead author on the study. "We decided the West is now no longer doing science, it is doing propaganda via the learned journals, so we weren't playing that game anymore."
To make the study freely available to the public, Monckton turned to the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank made infamous in 2012 for its billboard ads on climate change featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. The organization also promotes the tobacco industry. Heartland paid the journal a $3,000 open access fee.
The journal's public information officer then submitted a press release, originally penned by Monckton, to EurekAlert, a platform run by AAAS that informs journalists of upcoming studies in over 1,900 journals. EurekAlert published the release, which was picked up by the United Kingdom's Daily Mail Online, which uncritically asked, "Is climate change really that dangerous?"
EurekAlert's director of editorial content, Brian Lin, said in an email that the journal is a "credible, peer-reviewed journal." It is in the Science Citation Index, which lists all credible journals. In the hierarchy of publications, however, Science Bulletin comes in rather low, with an impact factor of 1.36 (in comparison, Nature has an impact factor of 42.35). It is primarily read by Chinese researchers.
Beyond validating the journal, EurekAlert does not vet individual press releases, Lin said.
"Our disclaimer states clearly that the accuracy of the release rests with submitting public information officers, and further that news releases submitted to the EurekAlert services do not represent any endorsement by AAAS," he said.

Geologists dig into it

As for the journal itself, its editors said the study underwent two rounds of peer review by three anonymous reviewers before they decided to accept it. Most editors associated with the journal on the masthead appear to be geologists and not climate scientists or modelers.
"My question for you is: why we can't decide to publish it??" Yaoling Niu, a geologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom and an executive editor of the journal, asked in an email.
He said the journal would be open to publishing any rebuttals of the study. Previously called Chinese Science Bulletin, the journal was rebranded this month to match a new vision envisaged by the CAS as a "China-based flagship international journal."
Niu said he did not know who sent out the press release, which equates Science Bulletin with Nature or Science. The release then states that the study shows there are "elementary but serious errors in the general circulation models relied on by the UN's climate panel, the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]."
The target of the study is climate sensitivity, a measure of the degree to which global temperatures rise when carbon dioxide levels double. The IPCC currently predicts temperatures will rise by 1.5-4.5 degrees Celsius as CO2 concentrations double.
Monckton, who is not a trained physicist or physical scientist, borrows assumptions from the field of process engineering to rejigger fundamental equations used by climate modelers. In doing so, the study suggests a world with low climate sensitivity.
The authors "cherry pick numbers" to support their hypothesis, Piers Forster, professor of physical climate change at the University of Leeds, said in an email.
"Such a low-sensitivity world is unlikely when factoring in other evidence that was ignored by the authors," he said.
But even using the climate model outlined in the paper, "we can still expect significant manmade warming in the decades ahead," Forster said.

Earlier China ploy fizzled

This is not the first time that the Heartland Institute has been linked with the CAS. In 2013, the National Science Library ordered the institute's Climate Change Reconsidered, a publication that discounts human-caused global warming, to be translated to Chinese.
Heartland trumpeted the release as an endorsement by CAS. The academy reacted with a press release stating, "The claim of the Heartland Institute about CAS' endorsement of its report is completely false."
Heartland then issued a statement acknowledging the academy does not share its skeptical views.
With this latest study, Monckton said the idea to publish in China came from co-author Willie Soon, an astrophysicist from Harvard University and prominent global warming denier who is also affiliated with the Heartland Institute.
"We persuaded them in the exchanges that go on between the reviewers and the authors over the months before this was published that what we are doing is questioning the official figures from the IPCC and from the big climate models on the properly scientific basis," Monckton said. "We were raising legitimate and nontrivial questions."

15 Health Problems Linked to Monsanto’s Roundup

by Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association, EcoWatch, January 23, 2015
Monsanto invented the herbicide glyphosate and brought it to market under the trade name Roundup in 1974, after DDT was banned. But it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the use of Roundup surged, thanks to Monsanto’s ingenious marketing strategy. The strategy? Genetically engineer seeds to grow food crops that could tolerate high doses of Roundup. With the introduction of these new GE seeds, farmers could now easily control weeds on their corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa crops—crops that thrived while the weeds around them were wiped out by Roundup.
In the nearly 20 years of intensifying exposure, scientists have been documenting the health consequences of Roundup and glyphosate in our food, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe and where our children play.
In the nearly 20 years of intensifying exposure, scientists have been documenting the health consequences of Roundup and glyphosate in our food, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe and where our children play.
Eager to sell more of its flagship herbicide, Monsanto also encouraged farmers to use Roundup as a dessicant, to dry out all of their crops so they could harvest them faster. So Roundup is now routinely sprayed directly on a host of non-GMO crops, including wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, dry beans and sugar cane.
Between 1996 – 2011, the widespread use of Roundup Ready GMO crops increased herbicide use in the U.S. by 527 million pounds—even though Monsanto claimed its GMO crops would reduce pesticide and herbicide use.
Monsanto has falsified data on Roundup’s safety, and marketed it to parks departments and consumers as “environmentally friendly” and “biodegradable, to encourage its use it on roadsides, playgrounds, golf courses, schoolyards, lawns and home gardens. A French court ruled those marketing claims amounted to false advertising.
In the nearly 20 years of intensifying exposure, scientists have been documenting the health consequences of Roundup and glyphosate in our food, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe and where our children play.
They’ve found that people who are sick have higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies than healthy people.
They’ve also found the following health problems which they attribute to exposure to Roundup and/or glyphosate:
ADHD: In farming communities, there’s a strong correlation between Roundup exposure and attention deficit disorder (ADHD), likely due to glyphosate’s capacity to disrupt thyroid hormone functions.
Alzheimer’s disease: In the lab, Roundup causes the same type of oxidative stress and neural cell death observed in Alzheimer’s disease. And it affects CaMKII, an enzyme whose dysregulation has also been linked to the disease.
Anencephaly (birth defect): An investigation into neural tube defects among babies born to women living within 1,000 meters of pesticide applications showed an association for glyphosate with anencephaly, the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp that forms during embryonic development.
Autism: Glyphosate has a number of known biological effects that align with the known pathologies associated with autism. One of these parallels is the gut dysbiosis observed in autistic children and the toxicity of glyphosate to beneficial bacteria that suppress pathogenic bacteria, along with pathogenic bacteria’s high resistance to glyphosate. In addition, glyphosate’s capacity to promote aluminum accumulation in the brain may make it the principal cause of autism in the U.S.
Birth defects: Roundup and glyphosate can disrupt the Vitamin A (retinoic acid) signaling pathway, which is crucial for normal fetal development. The babies of women living within one kilometer of fields sprayed with glyphosate were more than twice as likely to have birth defects according to a study from Paraguay. Congenital defects quadrupled in the decade after Roundup Ready crops arrived in Chaco, a province in Argentina where glyphosate is used roughly eight to ten times more per acre than in the U.S. A study of one farming family in the U.S. documented elevated levels of glyphosate and birth defects in the children, including an imperforate anus, growth hormone deficiency, hypospadias (an abnormally placed urinary hole), a heart defect and a micro penis.
Brain cancer: In a study of children with brain cancer compared with healthy children, researchers found that if either parent had been exposed to Roundup during the two years before the child’s birth, the chances of the child developing brain cancer doubled.
Breast cancer: Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors. The only long-term animal study of glyphosate exposure produced rats with mammary tumors and shortened life-spans.
Cancer: House-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities in Argentina where Roundup is used, known there as the fumigated towns, found cancer rates two to four times higher than the national average, with increases in breast, prostate and lung cancers. In a comparison of two villages, in the one where Roundup was sprayed, 31% of residents had a family member with cancer, while only 3% of residents in a ranching village without spraying had one. The high cancer rates among people exposed to Roundup likely stem from glyphosate’s known capacity to induce DNA damage, which has been demonstrated in numerous lab tests.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance: Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. There are parallels between the characteristics of celiac disease and the known effects of glyphosate. These include imbalances in gut bacteria, impairment in enzymes involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, mineral deficiencies and amino acid depletion.
Chronic kidney disease: Increases in the use of glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Scientists have concluded, “Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with [hard water] and nephrotoxic metals.”
Colitis: The toxicity of glyphosate to beneficial bacteria that suppress clostridia, along with clostridia’s high resistance to glyphosate, could be a significant predisposing factor in the overgrowth of clostridia. Overgrowth of clostridia, specifically C. difficile, is a well-established causal factor in colitis.
Depression: Glyphosate disrupts chemical processes that impact the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite and sleep. Serotonin impairment has been linked to depression.
Diabetes: Low levels of testosterone are a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Rats fed environmentally relevant doses of Roundup over a period of 30 days spanning the onset of puberty had reduced testosterone production sufficient to alter testicular cell morphology and to delay the onset of puberty.
Heart disease: Glyphosate can disrupt the body’s enzymes, causing lysosomal dysfunction, a major factor in cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
Hypothyroidism: House-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities in Argentina where Roundup is used, known there as the fumigated towns, found higher rates of hypothyroidism.
Inflammatory Bowl Disease (“Leaky Gut Syndrome”): Glyphosate can induce severe tryptophan deficiency, which can lead to an extreme inflammatory bowel disease that severely impairs the ability to absorb nutrients through the gut, due to inflammation, bleeding and diarrhea.
Liver disease: Very low doses of Roundup can disrupt human liver cell function, according to a 2009 study published in Toxicology.
Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS): Sulfate deficiency in the brain has been associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Glyphosate disrupts sulfate transport from the gut to the liver, and may lead over time to severe sulfate deficiency throughout all the tissues, including the brain.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS): An increased incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) has been found in association with MS. Glyphosate may be a causal factor. The hypothesis is that glyphosate-induced IBS causes gut bacteria to leak into the vasculature, triggering an immune reaction and consequently an autoimmune disorder resulting in destruction of the myelin sheath.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: A systematic review and a series of meta-analyses of nearly three decades worth of epidemiologic research on the relationship between non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides found that B cell lymphoma was positively associated with glyphosate.
Parkinson’s disease: The brain-damaging effects of herbicides have been recognized as the main environmental factor associated with neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. The onset of Parkinson’s following exposure to glyphosate has been well documented and lab studies show that glyphosate induces the cell death characteristic of the disease.
Pregnancy problems (infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths): Glyphosate is toxic to human placental cells, which, scientists say, explains the pregnancy problems of agricultural workers exposed to the herbicide.
Obesity: An experiment involving the transfer of a strain of endotoxin-producing bacteria from the gut of an obese human to the guts of mice caused the mice to become obese. Since glyphosate induces a shift in gut bacteria towards endotoxin-producers, glyphosate exposure may contribute to obesity in this way.
Reproductive problems:  Studies of laboratory animals have found that male rats exposed to high levels of glyphosate, either during prenatal or pubertal development, suffer from reproductive problems, including delayed puberty, decreased sperm production, and decreased testosterone production.
Respiratory illnesses: House-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities in Argentina where Roundup is used, known there as the fumigated towns, found higher rates of chronic respiratory illnesses.