Montreal, January 28, 2007 • No 210




Jean-Hugho Lapointe is a lawyer. He holds a certificate in business administration from Université Laval.




"With this signature, we are doing the right thing for Canada, for the global environment, and for future generations."


–Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien


by Jean-Hugho Lapointe


          Warm early January temperatures brought with them a flurry of media reports about the Earth's uncontrolled man-made warming. This media frenzy stopped cold just as temperatures dipped the following week. Did the dangers of global warming vanish along with warmer temperatures in Eastern Canada?


          This bout of media sensationalism probably didn't surprise the still small but growing segment of the public that is skeptical about the legitimacy of global warming hysteria. After all, there are still many who, against the tide, are unprepared to accept that governments should be involved in trying to change the world's climate. And despite the fact that I am not a scientist or climate specialist of any kind, I am nonetheless entitled to question whether there is not something to this skepticism, and whether tax money is being spent prudently.

          Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol on December 17, 2002 under the then Liberal government. This program comes with a multi-billion dollar price tag, and compliance with it would actually reduce future warming by, according to some, a fraction of one-tenth of a degree Celsius.(1) The current Conservative government is under heavy pressure to follow suit. One Bloc Québécois MP even dismissed the government’s last pledge towards new ecological technologies, arguing that what we want to know is to what extent greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced for each dollar spent. Is there really no other way to address the issue?



"I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound." –Dr. Christopher Landsea, on resigning from the IPCC

          The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the United Nations in 1988. Its stated aims are to assess scientific information relevant to 1) human-induced (or anthropogenic) climate change, 2) the impacts of human-induced climate change, and 3) options for adaptation and mitigation.(2) Already, if there is no bias against natural causes of climate change here, a part of the story is missing.

          The IPCC has produced so far three reports (1990, 1995, and 2001). These reports are quite long (hundreds of pages) and highly technical, thus only experts read them. Therefore, the UN's IPCC communicates with the public, policymakers and the press through politically-approved summaries ("Summary for Policymakers," or "SPM"). My understanding is that SPMs reflect less emphasis on communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on areas of major concern associated with human-induced climate change.

          Dr. Chris de Freitas, from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, is particularly critical of this process: "It may seem a paradox but the IPCC process requires that all the hundreds of participating governments’ representatives agree to the text of IPCC summary reports. A statement is rejected from SPMs if only one government objects to it. This results in final reports that are not true representation of the science as a whole. Most participating governments (e.g. all Annex III countries) have pecuniary interest in supporting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) objectives (i.e. The 1992 “Rio Treaty”), and the inevitable result is biased Summary reports."(3)

          Dr. Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also lead author of a part of the main 2001 IPCC scientific report, commented that “The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The 'Summary for Policymakers' is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations’ Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.”(4)

          Dr. Lindzen gives us an example of this serious issue: “The summary began with a zinger – that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise, etc., before following with the necessary qualifications. For example, the full text noted that 20 years was too short a period for estimating long-term trends, but the summary forgot to mention this.”

          The House of Lords’ Committee on Economic Affairs also stated in its July 5, 2005 Second Report titled “The Economics of Climate Change”(5) that “we can see no justification for this procedure. Indeed, it strikes us as opening the way for climate science and economics to be determined, at least in part, by political requirements rather than by the evidence. Sound science cannot emerge from an unsound process.”(6) It is this report which issued substantial uncertainties about the science of climate change that brought Tony Blair’s government to order the now famous Stern Review, which made headlines worldwide, while the Lords’ report remained largely unread.

          Of course, the aforementioned scientists may be biased by their own opinions or personal experiences. But from what we know of politics, which works on consensus and party lines, we must admit that the possibility that some serious objections against the theory of human-induced global warming are being “filtered” is perhaps not as remote as some would like us to think.

The Science of Climatology… Alchemy of Our Time?


"Perhaps of even greater significance is the continuous and profound distrust of science and technology that the environmental movement displays. The environmental movement maintains that science and technology cannot be relied upon to build a safe atomic power plant, to produce a pesticide that is safe, or even to bake a loaf of bread that is safe, if that loaf of bread contains chemical preservatives. When it comes to global warming, however, it turns out that there is one area in which the environmental movement displays the most breathtaking confidence in the reliability of science and technology, an area in which, until recently, no one – not even the staunchest supporters of science and technology – had ever thought to assert very much confidence at all. The one thing, the environmental movement holds, that science and technology can do so well that we are entitled to have unlimited confidence in them is forecast the weather – for the next one hundred years!"(7) –Dr. George Reisman, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Pepperdine University

          Climatology is the study of climate, which is defined as the weather conditions averaged over a long period of time. It is from this science that the global warming scenarios that we know of are produced and disseminated to politicians, the media and the public. By studying the past and computing relevant data into computerized complex climate models that mostly rely on computer science, advanced mathematics and statistical analysis, climatology claims to have the ability to predict future weather conditions. At this point, it must be understood that the accuracy of climatology predictions is necessarily proportionate to the accuracy of the models used to make the predictions and the data put into them.

          Yet, climatology is, by its very nature, far from being a simple research field. In opposition to most traditional sciences, it does not stand as a science by itself and instead encompasses many fields of research; phenomena of climatological interest which climate models must integrate include the atmospheric boundary layer, circulation patterns, heat transfer (radiative, convective and latent), interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans and land surface (particularly vegetation, land use and topography), and the chemical and physical composition of the atmosphere. Related disciplines include astrophysics, chemistry, ecology, geology, geophysics, glaciology, hydrology, oceanography, and volcanology(8), not to mention quantitative methods and relevant computer sciences.

          It has been suggested that the actual climate models are not really exhaustive and cannot take appropriate account of a few important climate parameters, such as the Sun’s varying intensity or cloud physics. And to say the very least, the extent to which climatology can take into account future technological advances remains questionable.

          Nevertheless, the very nature of climatology leads to another concern: no person on Earth can claim to be a perfect climatologist, who could have a specialist-level knowledge of all the relevant disciplines and necessary fields of research. While this should raise doubts for some, others will note that it makes climatology findings almost irrefutable. But to paraphrase Karl Popper, “it began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness.”

Epistemology and the Limits of Science


"The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance."(9) –Sir Karl Popper

          While most people hardly ever take the time to reflect about this, science can not produce absolute and indisputable truth. It rather provides theories, which remain valid as long as they are not falsified. In a few cases, such as gravity, a theory may leave the realm of science and become fact, but global warming scenarios do not share the same appeasing certainty provided by gravity.

"While most people hardly ever take the time to reflect about this, science can not produce absolute and indisputable truth. It rather provides theories, which remain valid as long as they are not falsified."

          In other words, this philosophical issue suggests that some sciences, especially new and particularly intricate ones like climatology, do not provide the same certainty that mature sciences like physics and chemistry provide. Believing in climatology findings should therefore call for more prudence.

          This is one aspect that Dr. Valerio Lucarini touched in his 2002 work at MIT:

 is conceptually incorrect to expect that climate science could provide answers having comparable precision and similar structure to those provided by sciences that investigate less complex systems. [...]

          The presence of structural uncertainties [...] and of parametric uncertainties [...] implies that every model used to generate projections about future climate change is a priori false, or better, weak in its descriptive power. Climate science does not have a laboratory where theories could be tested against experiments; every model can be tested only against data from the past, which are not necessarily precise. The natural variability of both the model and of the real system contributes to blur the line between a failed and a passed test. Anyway, a positive result would not at all guarantee that the model is able to provide good future projections while at most we can conclude from a negative result that the model does not work properly.

          The distance from Galilean science is so wide that it is impossible to apply the usual scientific validation criteria to the results of climate science.

          The different epistemology pertaining to climate science implies that its answers cannot be singular and deterministic, while they must be plural and stated in probabilistic terms.(10)

          This means that Jean Chrétien’s “gut feeling”(11) was actually to involve Canada in a multi-billion dollar program which relies on scientific assumptions that range from “perhaps” to “probably” correct. But, in Mr. Chrétien’s defence, this also means that he is probably not the only leader who has relied on a “gut feeling” before involving his country into Kyoto.

The Politicization of Science


"And the whole apparatus for spreading knowledge – the schools and the press, radio and motion picture – will be used exclusively to spread those views which, whether true or false, will strengthen the belief in the rightness of the decisions taken by the authority; and all information that might cause doubt or hesitation will be withheld. The probable effect on the people’s loyalty to the system becomes the only criterion for deciding whether a particular piece of information is to be published or suppressed." –Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, 1942 (Chapter XI – The End of Truth)

          For leaders and public decision makers, making decisions on the grounds of scientific assumptions involves a necessary risk factor, which is that the assumptions can be proven to be false by future developments. For them, the realization of this risk involves significant consequences which human instinct naturally tries to avoid.

          Thus, when the UN and governments adopt public policies on the grounds of science, especially findings that have occurred in the very recent past and/or are still subject to notable uncertainties, fear that the relevant science will become politicized is legitimate. This politicization may involve use of propaganda (to maintain the existing beliefs in accordance with the decisions taken) after the discovery of scientific evidence that is likely to create doubt, as well as scientists becoming afraid to speak against the mainstream conclusions for fear of losing their funding, positions or public credibility.

          French climatologist and author Marcel Leroux is one among many to believe that such a thing is already happening:

          In the end, global warming is more and more enclosed with an aspect of manipulation, which really looks like a "scientific" imposture, and of which the first victims are the climatologists who receive funding only when their works are in accordance with those of the IPCC.(12)

Between Religion and Science


"Not only is the Kyoto approach to global warming wrong-headed, the climate change establishment's suppression of dissent and criticism is little short of a scandal. The IPCC should be shut down… In Europe, where climate change absolutism is at its strongest, the quasi-religion of greenery in general and the climate change issue in particular have filled the vacuum of organised religion, with reasoned questioning of its mantras regarded as a form of blasphemy."(13) –Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer

          A letter signed by 60 scientists from around the world(14) issued warnings about the uncertainties of the science behind the Kyoto Protocol. Other examples of scientific criticism about the “global-warming-is-caused-by-humans” theory are many and cannot be recounted here (although I will touch on cloud physics hereafter). According to these 60 scientists, there are significant natural sources of warming to the Earth’s climate that would make human-produced CO2 a negligible source of the recorded warming.

          Without knowing whether they are right or wrong, concern comes from the fact that the debate, which obviously exists, is avoided like the plague by most policymakers and members of the press who have already fallen under the spell of the IPCC’s self-proclaimed consensus. But as criticism mounts, this self-proclaimed consensus becomes an appeal to belief rather than to reason. Appeals to belief(15) are the basis for communal reinforcement and bandwagon effects, which over time transform concepts or ideas into strong beliefs in many people’s minds. Coupled with the marginalization of dissent, this form of political communication can result in effectively “creating” truth.

          An example of a scientist who has criticized the accuracy of the climate models and whose concerns, as far as I know, have not been answered (or considered) so far is Hendrik Tennekes, retired director of research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. He argued that climate models do not, and cannot adequately integrate turbulence issues (turbulence, indeed, remains an unsolved problem in physics):

          From this perspective, those that advocate the idea that the response of the real climate to radiative forcing is adequately represented in climate models have an obligation to prove that they have not overlooked a single nonlinear, possibly chaotic feedback mechanism that Nature itself employs. [...]

          The blind adherence to the harebrained idea that climate models can generate "realistic" simulations of climate is the principal reason why I remain a climate sceptic. From my background in turbulence I look forward with grim anticipation to the day that climate models will run with a horizontal resolution of less than a kilometre. The horrible predictability problems of turbulent flows then will descend on climate science with a vengeance.(16)

          According to Richard Lindzen, Hendrik Tennekes was dismissed from his position at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming...(17)

A Hoax?


In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. –Principle 15, Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 3-14, 1992)(18)

          Puzzling texts like this one would deserve little attention if they were not part of the background of public policies that have cost, and will continue to cost, billions of dollars to taxpayers around the civilized world. Of course, such a statement does not mean by itself that the science behind Kyoto is wholly erroneous or lacks adequate scientific certainty.

          The Kyoto Protocol may indeed have the practical effect of a world-wide wealth redistribution plan; this could just be a coincidence and does not exclude the possibility that Kyoto is a sound program for our planet.

          Then you remember that you've never heard of or known a socialist that was not a staunch supporter of this climate change policy.

          Next you start worrying when you hear Timothy Worth, a former U.S. Senator (D-Colorado) suggesting that "We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing – in terms of economic socialism and environmental policy."(19) Or Richard Benedict, State Department employee working on assignment from the Conservation Foundation, suggesting that “A global climate treaty must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the greenhouse effect."(20)

          Finally, once such statements are added to all those made at closed-door United Nations conferences and summits that we will never hear of, and to others such as one reportedly made by Christine Stewart, former Canadian Environment Minister, suggesting that "No matter if the science is all phoney, there are collateral environmental benefits... climate change provides the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world,"(21) you are left wondering how far from the truth Senator James Inhofe was when he asked, in a 2005 speech, if “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phoney science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?”


1. By the year 2050, around 0.06 C global warming is averted by the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, according to the Hadley Center (, pages 4 and 14).
6. See Chapter 7: The IPCC Process (note 5 above).
7.'s Toxicity.htm.
9. Popper, Karl, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963).
10. Lucarini, Valerio, Towards a Definition of Climate Science (2002), Int. J. Environment and Pollution, vol. 18, no 5.
11. As per David Anderson, former Environment Minister, on Jean Chrétien’s signature of the Kyoto Protocol: "His critics, who frequently denounce this, fail to realize it is one of the signs of his genius that he doesn't want to know too much about certain things. He gets the right gut feeling. And he's got the antenna, which very few people have, the political antenna.” (Ottawa Citizen, December 19, 2002).
12. Agriculture & Environnement, no 18, Octobre 2004 ( My translation of: "Finalement, le réchauffement climatique revêt de plus en plus un caractère de manipulation, qui ressemble vraiment à une imposture « scientifique », et dont les premières victimes sont les climatologues qui ne perçoivent de financements que lorsque leurs travaux vont dans le sens du GIEC."
13. Prospect Magazine, November 2005.
15. Appeal to belief is a form of the well-known sophism argumentum ad populum.
16. models-Tennekes.htm.
21. Idem note 19, or