Monday, May 19, 2008

Filipino biologist disputes climate change alarmism

news report yesterday in one Philippine newspaper about an interesting lecture last week, May 14, by the Director of the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines (UP), Dr. Perry Ong. His paper is entitled, “Anthropogenic Global Warming: Beyond the Hype, Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason.”

It was a “centennial lecture” in UP to commemorate the 100th anniversary of UP this year. Centennial lectures are big events, where well-known UP academics from different disciplines and colleges are selected to give a talk before a big crowd, including the President and other officials of the university, then it is broadcast in a video-conference type so that other faculty and students from other provincial campuses of UP around the country could hear the lecture live, and they can participate in the open forum, also live. Some media people also cover the event.

Here, Dr. Ong solidly disputed Al Gore's "Inconvenient truth" documentary and partly the IPCC report. These 2 papers look like political documents with scientific twang, urging governments to take more drastic political and economic actions like more environmental regulations to cut emissions. These regulations can take many forms, from higher (or retention of existing high) petroleum taxes to creation of “carbon tariff” (eco-protectionism against exports by emerging and industrializing countries), subsidies to bio-fuels, over-regulate if not kill coal power plants, and so on. These regulations look cute but they can cost us big amount of money, from higher taxes to higher prices (in rich countries) because of protectionism and higher unemployment and poverty (in developing countries) because of protectionism.

Consequently, Dr. Ong is proposing adaptation since it’s not us, humans, who are the main “culprit” for climate change. And if we look around us, it’s not only climate that change – the worlds’ volcanoes, tectonic plates and geological formations, human culture, human religion, human mobility across the globe, etc. are changing.

Incidentally, I'm also a UP alumni, but I'm no bio-logist, I'm a "small-state-logist", hehehe.

Below are some salient points of Dr. Ong’s lecture as reported in the newspaper. I don’t know what other local or international papers covered the event.

Nonoy
------------

Blaming man convenient excuse; UP prof cites Gore errors

By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05/18/2008

....Dr. Perry Ong, director of the Institute of Biology at the UP College of Science, said human-induced global warming was among many environmental problems that interacted in the “eternal tug of war” between global warming and cooling…

Ong said GHGs spawned by humans contribute merely 33 percent to global warming compared to the 67 percent traced to natural causes, which include changes in solar radiation, volcanic eruptions and the shifting of the Earth’s tilt and orbit.

“Humankind is guilty of a lot of crimes against the Earth and pumping greenhouse gases is just one among many,” Ong stressed….

Ong has a Ph.D. in science for behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology. He was given the Outstanding Young Scientist award by the National Academy of Science and Technology in 2000 for his contributions to the better understanding of Philippine wildlife diversity. He was a former representative of Conservation International.

In his talk, Ong disputed Gore’s worst-case scenarios in the documentary, noting that its distribution as an educational material by the United Kingdom Ministry of Education has been challenged in court.

Later, a UK court declared the documentary as a political tract, citing nine blunders in the film.

Ong listed the errors followed by his contentions:

1. Sea level rise of 20 feet or 7 meters.
The 2007 United Nations IPCC reported in its fourth assessment that the harshest picture was merely .59 m at the extreme range with a 4-degree Centigrade rise.

2. Evacuation of Pacific islanders to New Zealand.
Ong said there was no evidence that this happened.

3. Shut down of the ocean conveyor.
The IPCC said anthropogenic global warming could slow down but not entirely shut down the ocean conveyor.

4. Humans, by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, are causing global temperatures to increase. According to Ong, temperature rises first, then CO2 increases.

5. Melting snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Ong said this was caused by other reasons, not just human causes.

6. Drying of Lake Chad.
Ong said no sufficient evidence was presented to establish that anthropogenic global warming caused this.

7. Hurricane Katrina.
The magnitude of the calamity was apparently caused by the US government’s neglect to fix the levee (an embankment built alongside a river to prevent flooding) before it broke.

8. Death of polar bears.
Ong said only one study was presented with four deaths and this did not support Gore’s claim.

9. Loss of coral reefs.
This could also be attributed to overfishing and pollution rather than greenhouse gases emitted by humans, according to Ong.

“Climate change has become a convenient excuse when there are other [environmental] issues that need to be addressed,” Ong said.

“If we disproportionately blame ourselves for [climate change], our response will be different … we should look at the [bigger picture] and address other issues,” he added.

* To view the full news report,

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080518-137249/Blaming-man-convenient-excuse-UP-prof-cites-Gore-errors

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ong is not expert enough to present issues unequivocally. While climate change is a hype, there are far more experts who can discuss the issues more authoritatively. His examples...not so good.

Most important, Ong is a product of an NGO dealing with all kinds of projects on environment that have no relevance--biodiversity...so on. This means he is playing plain politics.He switches from an image of the same conservationism where he came from into a pretentious alter image, lambasting on his own roots. VERY DUBIOUS intentions!

Beware of the magician who warns others about magic! Kawawa naman Pinoy kung hindi pa nakita ito. In fact, how many magicians are in the Philippines, who managed to garner awards and end up criticizing the very background of their awards?

Advice: Don't spend time on climate change. It's a commercial nonsense!

JC Mendoza said...

These are what I believe to be knee-jerk reactions to Perry Ong's statements about climate change (see earlier post). If there are any so-called climate change experts here in the Philippines, what's taking them so long to either support or refute Dr. Ong's statements?

Furthermore, do biodiversity and conservation biology have no relevance at all to climate change? I beg to differ. Climate change affects all, intimate knowledge of biodiversity and the workings of the ecosystem will contribute to effective solutions to the climate change problem.

On the Science front, we should credit Dr. Ong for bringing this up. Before now what has the state of discussion been like re climate change in the Philippines? Go figure. Now the ball is in the so-called experts' court. I'm waiting...

Tenuissimus said...

Opinions matter when comments are made based on logic and good intentions. Credibility is important. However, when did publications become the only way to measure trustworthiness? Anonymous, don’t get too toffee-nosed with publications. Try listening to the speech and reading related articles without malice and envy, and possibly you will get the point of Dr. Ong’s Centennial lecture.

Klenn Michael Jameson said...

I think you are not from UP and if you are criticizing Sir Perry about examples then cite greater examples.