Sceptical seminar opposing climate report of Dutch Science Academy

(Adapted from this  Dutch blog on December 13th)

Seminar in the Dutch parlemental press center                      

KNAW Climate Report
By Hans Labohm

In April 2010 a discussion took place between Netherlands protagonists and antagonist of the AGW hypothesis (AGW = Anthropogenic Global Warming) under the aegis of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam. After more than a year the KNAW has finally published a report, entitled: ‘Climate Change, Science and Debate‘ (only in Dutch).

Contrary to what many had expected, the report was not a balanced record of the meeting, but a one-sided overview of what some people within the KNAW believed to be the current state of climate science, ignoring many existing uncertainties and dismissing the views of climate sceptics as expressed during the fore-mentioned meeting.

The KNAW has submitted its report to Parliament.

Immediately after its publication Theo Wolters has written a sharp rebuttal of the report, which has been translated into English.

In the mean time some twenty Netherlands climate sceptics, including many (em.) university professors and other senior scientists, have formally requested the KNAW to retract its publication (link in Dutch). In an accompanying letter they have extensively elaborated on the many flaws in the report.

On 12 December the Dutch climate sceptics held a seminar under the aegis of the ‘De Groene Rekenkamer’ (GRK, The Green Board of Auditors), focussed on the KNAW climate report. The announcement of the meeting can be found here (link in Dutch).

Bart Verheggen (pro AGW) made a brief report of the meeting, which can be found here on the website of the PCCC (link in Dutch)  (Platform Communication Climate Change):

Theo Wolters (climate sceptic) also put his impressions on paper, which has been published here.
Below you will find a rough translation of the latter report.

Audience supports request for retraction KNAW climate report
by Theo Wolters

The more than hundred participants who came to the climate seminar at ‘Nieuwspoort’ got value for their 10 Euro entrance fee: not only five presentations by climate sceptics, as announced, but moreover a detailed explanation of the KNAW climate report and the intentions behind it by Rudy Rabbinge, the chairman of the KNAW committee that was responsible for its publication. Additionally, there were short presentations by scientists of the PCCC (Platform Communication Climate Change), Rob van Dorland and Bart Verheggen, and finally a surprise appearance by Leo Meyer, member of the Dutch IPCC delegation, who presented breaking news.

The meeting has been recorded by the Leiden Video & Film Society (LVSL) with various cameras, for which we are very grateful. The result (which will take a Sisyphus job …) will be posted in due course on this website and that of the ‘Groene Rekenkamer’ (GRK).

Many visitors asked for the on line release of the Powerpoint presentations, which can be downloaded here (mostly in Dutch).
For those unfamiliar with the flaws of the KNAW report, read my blog about the fundamental issues (Dutch)  and the specific objections (English).

The audience
The largest group of participants consisted of friends of the Groene Rekenkamer (GRK, Green Board of Auditors). Although the GRK usually attracts large numbers of visitors to its seminars, this time the high turnout exceeded expectations. But also the regular visitors of climategate.nl were well represented. Moreover, there were even some local politicians of D66 (Democrats 1966) and the PvdA (Socialist Party). Finally ˗ and very much appreciated by the Dutch climate sceptics – there was a large delegation of scientists from the official institutes, KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences), KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), PBL (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency), ECN (Energy Research Centre), and the PCCC (Platform Communication Climate Change), as well as from M & I, (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment).

From the Lower House the seminar was attended Jhim van Bemmel (PVV, Party for Freedom). Since MPs are usually on working visits in the country on Monday, it was expected that only few would attend.

No one from the MSM did show up – at least, no one approached me to ask questions.

Hans Labohm skilfully chaired the meeting and highlighted the common thread between the presentations, drawing on his extensive knowledge of the issues at hand.

The first speaker, Marcel Crok, criticised the main conclusions by the IPCC and presented some exciting new insights. It turned out to be an ideal prelude to my own expose.

Subsequently, Dick Thoenes explained in plain and simple language – also accessible to non-scientists – on what issues climate alarmists and climate sceptics agree and on what issues they disagree.

Rudy Rabbinge (KNAW) extensively dwelt upon the philosophy behind the climate report by the KNAW. The intention was to promote a constructive dialogue about climate science. It should certainly not be regarded as a polarizing input into the debate.

Prof Rabbinge emphasises that the climate report does not contain "the hard facts" about climate

Theo Wolters acted as a prosecutor, pleading to the  jury – the audience – for the retraction of the climate report by the KNAW, while highlighting the many flaws in the report.

Bas van Geel presented a wide and impressive array of paleoclimatological data, which clearly showed the important role of the sun in earlier times. As usual he concluded that one should reject CO2 phobia as soon as possible and return to an effective energy policy.

Arthur Rörsch explained that the earth is a water planet rather than a radiative body. In doing so he presented an innovative hypothesis that the climate thermostat could very well be connected with the shift in wind zones and that of the meteorological equator.

From focus on climate scepticism to a more comprehensive outlook
The seminar was focussed on the correction of the false impression among politics and the media, caused by the climate report of the KNAW. It was a follow-up of a letter of more than twenty scientists, requesting the KNAW to retract its report. When the Dutch science institutions, affiliated with the IPCC, showed their interest to participate in the meeting, the programme had to be amended in order to accommodate their requests to present their views. However, the agenda was already tight. Therefore they were asked to keep it short. Consequently their presentations were brief and did not offer an opportunity to discuss the subject matter in more depth.

Rob van Dorland (KNMI) explained climate sensitivity on the basis of the rate of temperature change in the past and IPCC’s assumptions regarding the positive feedback of water vapour. On this, he was fiercely criticised by Bas van Geel.

Bart Verheggen explained IPCC’s position on the temperature development over the last century, which was complementary to Marcel Crok’s earlier presentation, who had exposed flaws in IPCC’s reasoning.

Leo Meyer, former member of the Dutch IPCC delegation, presented an overview of the IPCC’s activities and procedures and concluded with breaking news. He announced that he had been invited to coordinate the team that will be responsible for the preparation of the synthesis report, summarizing the contents of all underlying reports in 30 pages. This is a very delicate undertaking. The experience so far is that in this process many uncertainties, provisos and caveats are vanishing, which leaves only a strong alarmist message in the end. Leo Meyer said that he was firmly committed to perform this task with integrity. We wish him all the strength he will need!

Leo Meijer announces his new position as head of the IPCC synthesis report committee

Concluding remarks
The fundamental differences between the presentations by AGW protagonists and those of the antagonists clearly confirmed the premises on which my plea was based. Climatology is labouring under many uncertainties and there are profound divergences of view about major aspects between serious scientists. The proposition by KNAW president Dijkgraaf in the KNAW climate report that it contains the “hard physical facts” and “issues on which science is settled” does not correspond with the contents of the report, which mainly represents the IPCC view. Therefore, the report is misleading and should not have been submitted, with the scientific backing of the KNAW, to Parliament as a basis for policy decisions.

Apparently Rudy Rabbinge did share this view, because he insisted that the report did not pretend to present the hard facts about climate, but was meant to be a discussion paper.

Kees le Pair observed – and rightly so – that the report would have been less offending without the the strong wording in the foreword by Dijkgraaf.
But despite good intentions, the report clearly contains strong indefensible claims and should therefore not have been submitted to Parliament. It is high time that the KNAW acknowledges that this is the case, more than two months after it has received the request by 23 scientists to retract the report. In my view, retraction is the only option.

When I asked the reaction of the audience only two participants disagreed with me on this.

Regrettable misunderstanding
The organizers particularly welcomed the presence of Rudy Rabbinge. He knew that the KNAW climate report would come under fire, but still had the courage to present his views on it in the ‘lions’ den’. Since we did not want to catch him unprepared on what could be perceived as a rather fierce attack on the KNAW, we e-mailed him my speaking notes on Friday, together with details of the programme. Unfortunately, this e-mail did not reach him. Consequently, he felt being ambushed and perceived my presentation as an attempt to discredit him. That was not my intention. I very much regret the course of events and I want to reiterate my sincere apologies for what has happened.

Friendly chat afterwards
It is gratifying to note that in the Netherlands meetings between protagonists and antagonists of AGW are now traditionally followed by a friendly informal chat. This has become an important feature of these gatherings – perhaps sometimes even more important than the formal exchange of views during the meeting itself. This time was no exception. Ultimately, Marcel Crok and I and amongst others  Rob van Dorland (KNMI), ended up in a nice tavern, where we continued to talk a couple of hours about the physics of radiation in the atmosphere. That was very elucidating and enjoyable rounding of a successful climate day!

Door | 2012-01-29T00:19:05+00:00 29 december 2011|4 Reacties

4 Reacties

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  2. NN 4 januari 2012 om 00:46- Antwoorden

    In April 2010 a discussion took place between Netherlands protagonists and antagonist

    Was er sprake van een discussie? Graag bevestiging van de wetenschappers die er (ieder een paar minuten) spraken.

  3. Theo Wolters
    Theo Wolters 4 januari 2012 om 04:54- Antwoorden

    @NN

    Hoewel de bijeenkomst bedoeld was om onze positie te stellen tegenover die van de KNAW klimaatbrochure, en dus (ook) best eenzijdig had mogen zijn, hebben we op verzoek vier wetenschappers de gelegenheid geboden om de brochure en de AGW hypothese te verdedigen:

    Rob van Dorland (KNMI)

    Bart Verheggen (ECN)

    Leo Meyer (PBL,IPCC)

    Rudy Rabbinge (KNAW)

    En de eerste rijen voor het projectiescherm waren gevuld met de overige bekende "klimaatmannen" van KNMI en PCCC.

    Na afloop is ruim de gelegenheid geweest voor iedereen in de zaal om te reageren op de presentaties, en dat leverde goede en af en toe felle reacties op.

    Daarbij is het mijn ervaring dat de meeste vooruitgang in de discussie (namelijk begrip van elkaars standpunt) vooral plaatsvindt in de gesprekken in de pauze en na afloop.

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