Sunday, 14 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 list misrepresents Belgian climatologist

Marc Morano in his '650 skeptics' list copies a misrepresentation, made last year, of the words of Luc Debontridder, scientist at The Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute.

Morano's report writes :
Climate scientist Luc Debontridder of the Belgium Weather Institute's Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) co-authored a study in August 2007 which dismissed a decisive role of CO2 in global warming. The press release about the study read, "CO2 is not the big bogeyman of climate change and global warming.

This is the conclusion of a comprehensive scientific study done by the Royal Meteorological Institute, which will be published this summer.

The study does not state that CO2 plays no role in warming the earth." "But it can never play the decisive role that is currently attributed to it," Luc Debontridder said according to the August
2007 release.

"Not CO2, but
water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. It is responsible for at least 75 % of the greenhouse effect. This is a simple scientific fact, but Al Gore's movie has hyped CO2 so much that nobody seems to take note of it," Debontridder explained. "Every change in weather conditions is blamed on CO2. But the warm winters of the last few years (in Belgium) are simply due to the 'North-Atlantic Oscillation'. And this has absolutely nothing to do with CO2," he added.
Source for Morano is a website of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, a well known group of skeptics who produce more noise than actual science.

Their website points to articles in two Belgian newspapers, one being on the website of "De Morgen" which is no longer online. The other article is on the (paid section) website of "De Standaard". I bought entrance to the article in which to my surprise Debontridder actually denies minimalising the role of CO2 (i'm not quoting the exact text, to not violate copyrights).

Moreover, Debontridder states in this article in De Standaard that what happened is that yet another Belgian Newspaper (Het Laatste Nieuws (HLN)) grossly misrepresented him and the RMI report.

The article of HLN also disappeared from the net, but the story was quickly picked up by well known Flemish climate skeptics, like the aforementioned Jos Verhulst and they copied the news in a forumpost on politics.be so we can still see what was written back then.

In HLN, Debontridder was quoted saying :

"... nu moeten we toch eens terug naar de échte realiteit. De hele reeks warme winters die we de laatste jaren hebben gehad, bijvoorbeeld, zijn simpelweg een gevolg van de Noord-Atlantische schommeling. Dat heeft nu echt eens niks met CO2 te maken".
Over de 'global warming-storm' ofte media hype zou hij hebben gezegd: "
Over enkele maanden hoor je er niks meer over. Precies doordat er zo overdreven op die CO2 werd gefocust, en alles op één hoop werd gegooid"
in English, my translation :

"... now we really need to enter reality again. the series of long winters we have known are simply a result of the NAO. It's totaly unrelated with CO2."
About the global warming hype he [Debontridder] said : "in a couple of months you won't hear about it any more. Just because everything was focussed on CO2."

People with a little bit of background on the subject will probably quickly understand by themselves how and where the confusion has risen. And how Debontridder could've gotten so misrepresented.

In an article (in Dutch) with Belgian magazine Knack, Debontridder leaves no doubt what his opinion on the subject is.

Some key passages (my translation) :
Luc Debontridder Inhofe 650 global warming misrepresentation
Luc Debontridder
"CO2 isn't the big cause of global warming" is what newspaper HLN concluded. "A complete misrepresentation", climatologist Luc Debontridder of the RMI says.

(...)

"as a scientist, i'd be absolutely crazy if i'd be saying CO2 isn't the main cause of global warming"

(...)

"RMI's new climate report has been wrongly interpret. Earth's warming of the past 20 years is caused mainly by CO2"
Later on, the Knack-article has a closer look where the confusion comes from and explains that without greenhouse gasses it would be minus 18 °C. Debontridder explains wator vapour is the most important GHG, but unlike what the NZ-coalition wants to insinuate, Debontridder is not minimalising the role of CO2 :
"The increased greenhouse effect is causing problems and of 60% of the effect comes from CO2"
Debontridder concludes :
"we cannot go on, following a busines as usual policy like this, but there's no need either to needlessly frighten the public. Bruges will not be on the coastline by 2050."
I think it is clear Morano's claim that Debontridder is a "climate-skeptic" is incorrect. Something Morano could've known without speaking Dutch, because the misrepresentation had already been mentioned on Michael Tobis' initforthegold blog
j'accuse.


UPDATE : do also read how this post lead to a quote-mined erratum in the Inhofe 700