Letter to the Editor, Sunday Times, Rebuttal to Bob Ward

(intended for this Sunday’s 12th May, not yet accepted)

Dear Sir,


Mr Bob Ward (letter, 5th May, ‘A roasting for climate claims’ – see screenshot below) is unlikely to be impartial on CO2, for he is Policy and Communications Director for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, an entity whose very existence (founded 2008) rests on the assumption that modern global warming (since 1900) is due to CO2 via the 19th-century idea of a so-called greenhouse effect.


Mr Ward feels geophysicist Mr Gil Gilchrist (letter, 28th April – see screenshot below) is arrogant to say geologists are “the only scientists qualified to speak with authority” on climate change. I disagree: sedimentary geologists in particular, unlike any other profession, deal almost daily with the effects of Earth’s ceaseless changes in climate (hence sea level) throughout its 4.5-billion-year history.



Gilchrist claims warming by man-made CO2 is an “unproven idea promulgated by” the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which, he rightly laments, has no geologists among its 800 “experts” (his quotation marks). In flat contradiction Mr Ward says “Many of the authors on the panel’s assessments have been geologists”. In fact IPCC’s author listings (accessible online) for its Fifth and Sixth Assessment Reports (published 2013-14 and due 2022) do indeed show “not … a single geologist” (Gilchrist) among the 838 and 784 authors, who include ‘climate scientists’ (a flourishing new discipline), meteorologists, economists, sociologists and public-health specialists; the geosciences are represented only by a few glaciologists and geophysicists. Thus IPCC lacks crucial long-term perspective.


Nobody denies man’s rising CO2 emissions accompanied modern warming. However, warming also accompanied rising solar output(dismissed in IPCC climate models). Warming reached a (geologically unspectacular) peak temperature in 2016 (NASA online graph; note cooling since then), a few decades after the solar peak (1958), a delay compatible with the vast ocean’s thermal inertia (ignored by IPCC). Astrophysicists define this 20th century solar upswing as a rare Grand Maximum (GM) of the sun’s output, unsurpassed since the 4th century GM. The latter was followed decades later by global warming and a sea-level rise of 3 to 5 metres (e.g. google Romano-British Transgression; denied by IPCC), proven by world geological evidence plus exquisite UK archaeological evidence, e.g. Portchester seaside fort’s 4th century water well, dug to 6 metres (proving low sea level), but with a deliberately introduced (stratified) 5-metre backfill, dateable by contained 5th and 6th century artefacts; and in Londinium a flow-eroded notch reaching 1.7 metres up the Thames-estuary Roman wall, and a drain-hole at 1 metre deliberately plugged with rubble including 4th-century pottery. Consider selling your waterfront property.


Yours sincerely,


Roger Higgs DPhil (geology)

Geoclastica Ltd, UK

This post was last modified on May 10, 2019

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  • How many remember this letter to James Taylor after he misrepresented that data from the survey of of APEGA members? The third paragraph is especially cogent.

    Dear Mr. Taylor

    Thank you for the attention you are giving to our research and continuing the discussion about how professional engineers and geoscientists view climate change. We would like to emphasize a few points in order to avoid any confusion about the results.

    First and foremost, our study is not a representative survey. Although our data set is large and diverse enough for our research questions, it cannot be used for generalizations such as “respondents believe …” or “scientists don’t believe …” Our research reconstructs the frames the members of a professional association hold about the issue and the argumentative patterns and legitimation strategies these professionals use when articulating their assumptions. Our research does not investigate the distribution of these frames and, thus, does not allow for any conclusions in this direction. We do point this out several times in the paper, and it is important to highlight it again.

    In addition, even within the confines of our non-representative data set, the interpretation that a majority of the respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of global warming is simply not correct. To the contrary: the majority believes that humans do have their hands in climate change, even if many of them believe that humans are not the only cause. What is striking is how little support that the Kyoto Protocol had among our respondents. However, it is also not the case that all frames except “Support Kyoto” are against regulation –the “Regulation Activists” mobilize for a more encompassing and more strongly enforced regulation. Correct interpretations would be, for instance, that — among our respondents — more geoscientists are critical towards regulation (and especially the Kyoto Protocol) than non-geoscientists, or that more people in higher hierarchical positions in the industry oppose regulation than people in lower hierarchical positions.

    All frequencies in our paper should only be used to get an idea of the potential influence of these frames — e.g. on policy responses. Surely the insight that those who oppose regulation tend to have more influence on policy-making than the supporters of the Kyoto Protocol should not come as a surprise after Canada dropped out of the protocol a year ago.

    But once again: This is not a representative survey and should not be used as such!

    We trust that this clarifies our findings. Thank you again for your attention.

    Best regards Lianne Lefsrud and Renate Meyer