I would like to offer context to the letter submitted by Mr. Bertram, published in the Sept. 1/21 issue. I don’t disagree that it’s essential that we continuously question the validity of the information being presented to us on an array of matters, including climate change. And I agree that it’s very useful to have as much sound information as possible about the causes of a problem before embarking on solutions ‑ problem definition before problem solving is never a bad idea.
However, given that Mr. Bertram offered up an article by Prof. Gray as making an important contribution to the discussion around the causes of climate change, it may be helpful for readers to have some relevant context regarding the cited article.
A paper published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 98, No. 11 (26 pgs), Nov. 2017, authored by P. Klotzbach et al., entitled The Science of William. M. Gray: His Contributions to the Knowledge of Tropical Meteorology and Tropic Cyclones, provides a thorough overview of Gray’s work and scientific contributions.
It describes Gray’s area of expertise as tropical meteorology, particularly tropical cyclones (TCs). It makes note of his strong disagreement with the science behind the human‑induced global warming hypothesis in later years. Klotzbach was a long‑time mentee of Gray, and penned a very positive tribute to his mentor in a eulogy (Gray died in 2016, aged 86) published in the Washington Post. In the eulogy, Klotzbach writes that Gray, who retired from Colorado State University faculty in 2005, is best known for developing the first seasonal forecasts for Atlantic hurricanes in the 1980s. Klotzbach’s review can be accessed at journals.ametsoc.org.
From Klotzbach’s review’s summary: “In the later decades of Gray’s life, he was a prominent “skeptic” or critic of the prevailing view on climate change science. He had a well‑known distrust of climate models and believed that the water vapour feedback from increasing CO2 was negative, not positive. He argued that the recent increase in global temperatures was primarily due to long‑term weakening in the strength of the Atlantic thermonaline circulation (Gray 2012). While his thoughts on climate change were well known among his students and presented at several conferences, they were never published in the peer‑reviewed literature…… His primary contribution to the peer‑reviewed literature was with regard to the impact of climate change on TCs.” (emphasis added)
Turning to Gray’s article cited by Mr. Bertram, a few details are relevant when weighing the soundness/validity of the arguments made therein. The Physical Flaws of the Global Warming Theory and Deep Ocean Circulation Changes as the Primary Climate Drivers is a self‑published article that was prepared by Gray in 2012 and never peer‑reviewed. By the author’s own admission, the article contains only a partial listing of the references he used/cited. Of the listed references, the most recent is dated 2011, now a decade old.
Finally, the conference for which, and at which, Gray’s article was presented was the Heartland’s Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change held in May 2012, which Klotzbach describes as a “venue for climate change skeptics to voice their views”.
I close with this. Prof. Gray was a highly‑regarded scientist who made many important peer‑reviewed contributions in the field of tropical meteorology, especially TCs, which included the impact of climate change on TCs. But during his lifetime, he did not make peer‑reviewed scientific contributions regarding the causes of climate change. Klotzbach greatly admired Gray; yet his 26‑pg review of Gray’s many scientific contributions is silent when it comes to contributions regarding the causes of climate change, because Gray never published peer‑reviewed literature on this question. The article cited by Mr. Bertram must therefore be viewed as Gray’s opinion/interpretation of whatever data he chose to consider and include in his article, one that is now almost a decade old.
Maybe Gray was onto something. Maybe he wasn’t. All readers must do the critical thinking to decide for themselves. I’m just pointing out that critical thinking must be applied equally to the source of the article as well as its contents.