Climate dissent grows hotter as chill deepens
Last week, virtually unreported in Britain, the extraordinary winter weather of 2008 elsewhere in the world continued. In the USA, there were blizzards as far south as Texas and Arkansas, while in northern states and Canada what they are calling "the winter from hell" has continued to break records going back in some cases to 1873. Meanwhile in Asia more details emerged of the catastrophe caused by the northern hemisphere's greatest snow cover since 1966.
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In Afghanistan, where they have lost 300,000 cattle, the human death toll has risen above 1,500. In China, the havoc created by what its media call "the Winter Snow Disaster" has continued, not least in Tibet, where six months of snow and record low temperatures have killed 500,000 animals, leaving 3 million people on the edge of starvation.
It might have seemed timely that in New York an array of leading climatologists and other experts should have gathered for the most high-powered international conference yet to question the "consensus" on global warming. After three days of what the chairman called "the kind of free-spirited debate that is virtually absent from the global warming alarmist camp", the 500 delegates issued the Manhattan Declaration, stating that attempts by governments to reduce CO2 emissions would "markedly diminish further prosperity" while having "no appreciable impact" on the Earth's warming.
This inevitably attracted the kind of hysterical abuse that has become so familiar from warmist fanatics, tellingly contrasting with the measured arguments put forward by the scientists present. One was Anthony Watts, the meteorologist who last year famously forced Nasa's Goddard Institute to correct a fundamental error in its data on US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s but the 1930s.
On his website, Watts Up With That, he is currently posting a corrected version of the global temperature graph, combining satellite and surface data from all four main official sources. A measure of his scrupulous reporting is that although this shows a recent dramatic dip in temperatures, he cautiously explains that it is not yet conclusive evidence that the world has entered a new cooling phase (as he points out, there was temporarily an even sharper drop after the "peak" El Niņo year 1998).
But can we doubt that, if the data showed the opposite, the media would be rushing to report this as yet further "proof" that the planet is heating out of control? The fact is that, for all their caveats that this drop in temperatures can be explained by the cooling effect of La Niņa, the official orthodoxy that "more CO2 means more warming" is facing its most serious challenge yet. In light of the colossal price we are all in so many ways being asked to pay for it, the data in coming years will be more than interesting.