Sunday, January 21, 2007


An email from Paul Biggs [] to Benny Peiser in which he notes that sea levels have FALLEN in some parts of the Pacific

Andrew Glikson makes a number of assumptions about sea level rise, flawed computer models, the factors driving climate change, and what may happen in the future. We have a peer reviewed hypothesis that can explain the bulk of climate change, accross 4 billion years, and in recent decades. I refer to the solar/cosmic ray/low level cloud cover/climate connection. Nir Shaviv explains that here.

In all solar activity proxies, one can see that on top of the 11-year solar cycle, there is a secular change over the 20th century: Increase from 1910 or so to 1940, decrease to the 70's and then an increase. The catch, however, is that the secular trend at different energies is different. At low energies (which are not relevant to the amount of atmospheric ionization, but which keep on being mentioned), the increase from the 70's is week, though it is still there, and comparable to the decreased from the 1940's. When measured with high energies (e.g., as measured with muon ionization chambers), namely, at energies relevant to the amount of atmospheric ionization, the increase is larger, more than the decreased from the 1940's to 1970's.

In any case, if you read this scientific paper which I published in JGR, you'll see that the best fit estimate that I get is that solar activity explains 2/3's or so of the warming. This would imply that a good fraction of the warming from the 70's could be anthropogenic, however, we don't really know that, it would again be circumstantial evidence without a smoking gun.

From the 1940's to 1970's, CO2 and temperature went in opposite directions, the excuse being that the cooling was caused by aerosols. The solar/cosmic ray/climate connection requires no such excuse. There is the possibility that we are heading for a cooling period similar to that of the Little Ice Age, as highlighted in a number of recent articles on CCNet, due to a fall in solar activity and the solar wind. The sun's polar field is now at its weakest since measurements began in the early 1950s. A long range forecast for solar cycle 25 from NASA is here

Furthermore, according to an email from Dick Reynolds to Roger Pielke Sr last year, the trend in the global average sea surface temperature has been flat for the last few years. Ocean heat content is probably a more reliable metric than land surface temperature. Lyman et al, 2006 suggested that 20% of the ocean heat gained since the mid 1950's was lost between 2003 and 2005.

Seeing as Andrew is an Australian, and he points out that 80% of the poplulation live near the coast, I dug out a recent paper on sea levels relating to 'tectonically stable' Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, not a million miles away from the alarmist's favourite island of Tuvalu: The Holocene 16, 6 (2006) pp. 839-848 - "Holocene changes in sea level and coastal environments on Rarotonga, Cook Islands, South Pacific Ocean" by Moriwaki et al.:

The coastal plain of Rarotonga comprises the most widely developed beach ridge and wetland system in the Cook Islands. As is the case on other tectonically stable islands of Polynesia, the mid- to late-Holocene sea-level curve obtained for Rarotonga shows an elevation of +1.5 m higher than at present. The highstand likely began c. 4500 cal. BP in Rarotonga following a gradual rise of sea level from c. 6500 cal. BP at which time sea level was nearly as same as that of the present day. Sea level has fallen by c. 1.5 m since c. 800-500 cal. BP, resulting in emergence of the coastal plain. The mid- to late-Holocene highstand may be largely the result of hydroisostatic movements, as discussed elsewhere for Polynesia. However, the close agreement of the recent sea-level fall with evidence for climatic change suggests that the influence of the climatic factor is possible, and requires further examination. The mid- to late-Holocene coastal environments, in particular the shoreline changes occurring on the present coastal plain of Rarotonga, have evolved in relation to sea-level change. The Holocene coastal plain began to prograde c. 4500 cal. BP. Since then, shorelines have advanced seaward during effectively stable sea levels until c. 800-500 cal. BP. The eastern coast has experienced the most conspicuous advance, with multiple beach ridge and swale plains being formed on the antecedent reef flat, while the lesser advance on the southern coast has resulted in the formation of only narrow single ridge and swale landforms and the development instead of a wide reef flat.

We could continue to swap peer reviewed papers, but that would only serve to highlight that the uncertainties outweigh the certainties in climate change. Sea levels are spatial. Attempting to manipulate atmospheric CO2 levels will not allow us control climate change or sea levels. The magnitude of the anthropogenic influence on climate is uncertain and is not confined to a single factor such as CO2.

Meanwhile, China's CO2 emissions are expected to overtake those of the USA in 2009, and emissions from transport in Asia are predicted to treble over the next 25 years. For CO2, the only way seems to be up, and it stays in the atmosphere for around 50 to 200 years. If global cooling arrives, despite increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, then we will have a very good indication of what actually drives climate change.


Gore chickens out of an interview with knowlegeable critics. He clearly knows that his claims won't stand critical examination


Al Gore is traveling around the world telling us how we must fundamentally change our civilization due to the threat of global warming. Today he is in Denmark to disseminate this message. But if we are to embark on the costliest political project ever, maybe we should make sure it rests on solid ground. It should be based on the best facts, not just the convenient ones. This was the background for the biggest Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to set up an investigative interview with Mr. Gore. And for this, the paper thought it would be obvious to team up with Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," who has provided one of the clearest counterpoints to Mr. Gore's tune.

The interview had been scheduled for months. Mr. Gore's agent yesterday thought Gore-meets-Lomborg would be great. Yet an hour later, he came back to tell us that Bjorn Lomborg should be excluded from the interview because he's been very critical of Mr. Gore's message about global warming and has questioned Mr. Gore's evenhandedness. According to the agent, Mr. Gore only wanted to have questions about his book and documentary, and only asked by a reporter. These conditions were immediately accepted by Jyllands-Posten. Yet an hour later we received an email from the agent saying that the interview was now cancelled. What happened?

One can only speculate. But if we are to follow Mr. Gore's suggestions of radically changing our way of life, the costs are not trivial. If we slowly change our greenhouse gas emissions over the coming century, the U.N. actually estimates that we will live in a warmer but immensely richer world. However, the U.N. Climate Panel suggests that if we follow Al Gore's path down toward an environmentally obsessed society, it will have big consequences for the world, not least its poor. In the year 2100, Mr. Gore will have left the average person 30% poorer, and thus less able to handle many of the problems we will face, climate change or no climate change.

Clearly we need to ask hard questions. Is Mr. Gore's world a worthwhile sacrifice? But it seems that critical questions are out of the question. It would have been great to ask him why he only talks about a sea-level rise of 20 feet. In his movie he shows scary sequences of 20-feet flooding Florida, San Francisco, New York, Holland, Calcutta, Beijing and Shanghai. But were realistic levels not dramatic enough? The U.N. climate panel expects only a foot of sea-level rise over this century. Moreover, sea levels actually climbed that much over the past 150 years. Does Mr. Gore find it balanced to exaggerate the best scientific knowledge available by a factor of 20?

Mr. Gore says that global warming will increase malaria and highlights Nairobi as his key case. According to him, Nairobi was founded right where it was too cold for malaria to occur. However, with global warming advancing, he tells us that malaria is now appearing in the city. Yet this is quite contrary to the World Health Organization's finding. Today Nairobi is considered free of malaria, but in the 1920s and '30s, when temperatures were lower than today, malaria epidemics occurred regularly. Mr. Gore's is a convenient story, but isn't it against the facts?

He considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn't tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but don't mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn't we hear those facts? Mr. Gore talks about how the higher temperatures of global warming kill people. He specifically mentions how the European heat wave of 2003 killed 35,000. But he entirely leaves out how global warming also means less cold and saves lives. Moreover, the avoided cold deaths far outweigh the number of heat deaths. For the U.K. it is estimated that 2,000 more will die from global warming. But at the same time 20,000 fewer will die of cold. Why does Mr. Gore tell only one side of the story?

Al Gore is on a mission. If he has his way, we could end up choosing a future, based on dubious claims, that could cost us, according to a U.N. estimate, $553 trillion over this century. Getting answers to hard questions is not an unreasonable expectation before we take his project seriously. It is crucial that we make the right decisions posed by the challenge of global warming. These are best achieved through open debate, and we invite him to take the time to answer our questions: We are ready to interview you any time, Mr. Gore -- and anywhere.

The Wall Street Journal, 18 January 2007


Britain shows the way

Rail commuters travelling at peak periods should expect to stand even if they have paid 5,000 pounds for an annual season ticket, according to the head of railways at the Department for Transport. Mike Mitchell was condemned by rail unions and passenger groups for saying that it was acceptable to stand for up to half an hour in peak periods. He said that it would be too expensive to provide seats for everyone and that commuters who did not want to stand should avoid the peak, which now extends from 6.30am to 10am on many lines. The Government predicts that passenger numbers will increase by 30 per cent over the next decade, but it has no plans to increase significantly the number of trains on busy lines.

Giving evidence on January 8 to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Dr Mitchell admitted that the railways were busier now than at any time since 1946, with more than 1.1 billion passengers carried last year. Dr Mitchell said: "If you are travelling a relatively short distance, I do not think that it is unacceptable to expect to stand in the peak." Asked by Richard Bacon, MP for Norfolk South, what he meant by a short distance, he said: "Perhaps half an hour."

Mr Bacon then asked: "Standing for half an hour is acceptable even though you are paying your local train operating company 5,000 a year?" Dr Mitchell replied: "It has to be said that there are alternatives . . . if one travels off-peak." He added: "The cost of providing sufficient capacity to enable everyone to get a seat would expand the railway budget way beyond anything we have here."

The DfT said that Dr Mitchell travelled to work either on foot or in standard class. Tom Harris, the Rail Minister, supported Dr Mitchell yesterday. He said: "It's not realistic that passengers get a seat for every journey." He said that trains might be lengthened "in the long term", but refused to give any date, and would not rule out further above-inflation fare increases.

Gerry Doherty, of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, said: "Dr Mitchell is arrogant and out of touch if he thinks it is acceptable for commuters not to get a seat when they are paying 5,000 a year to commute into London.


Why Global Warming is Probably a Crock

As a scientist I've learned never to say "never." So human-caused global warming is always a hypothesis to hold, at least until climate science becomes mature. (Climate science is very immature right now: Physicists just don't know how to deal with hypercomplex systems like the earth weather. That's why a recent NASA scientist was wildly wrong when he called anthropogenic warming "just basic physics." Basic physics is what you do in the laboratory. If hypercomplex systems were predictable, NASA would have foolproof space shuttles --- because they are a lot simpler than the climate. So this is just pseudoscientific twaddle from NASA's vaunted Politically Correct Division. It makes me despair when even scientists conveniently forget that little word "hypothesis.")

OK. The human-caused global warming hypothesis is completely model-dependent. We can't directly observe cars and cows turning up the earth thermostat. Whatever the human contribution there may be to climate constitutes just a few signals among many hundreds or thousands.

All our models of the earth climate are incomplete. That's why they keep changing, and that's why climate scientists keep finding surprises. As Rummy used to say, there are a ton of "unknown unknowns" out there. The real world is full of x's, y's and z's, far more than we can write little models about. How do you extract the human contribution from a vast number of unknowns?

That's why constant testing is needed, and why it is so frustrating to do frontier science properly. Science is difficult because nature always has another surprise in store for us, dammit! Einstein rejected quantum mechanics, and was wrong about that. Newton went wrong on the proof of calculus, a problem that didn't get solved until 1900. Scientists are always wrong --- they are just less wrong now than they were before (if everything is going well). Check out the current issue of Science magazine. It's full of surprises. That's what it's for.

Now there's a basic fact about complexity that helps to understand this. It's a point in probability theory (eek!) about many variables, each one less than 100 percent likely to be true. If I know that my six-sided die isn't loaded, I'll get a specific number on average one out of six rolls. Two rolls of the die produces 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36. For n rolls of the die, I get (1/6) multiplied by itself n times, or (1/6) to the nth power. That number becomes small very quickly. The more rolls of the die, the less likely it is that some particular sequence will come up. It's the first thing to know in any game of chance. Don't ever bet serious money if that isn't obvious.

Now imagine that all the variables about global climate are known with less than 100 percent certainty. Let's be wildly and unrealistically optimistic and say that climate scientists know each variable to 99 percent certainty! (No such thing, of course). And let's optimistically suppose there are only one-hundred x's, y's, and z's --- all the variables that can change the climate: like the amount of cloud cover over Antarctica, the changing ocean currents in the South Pacific, Mount Helena venting, sun spots, Chinese factories burning more coal every year, evaporation of ocean water (the biggest "greenhouse" gas), the wobbles of earth orbit around the sun, and yes, the multifarious fartings of billions of living creatures on the face of the earth, minus, of course, all the trillions of plants and algae that gobble up all the CO2, nitrogen-containing molecules, and sulfur-smelling exhalations spewed out by all of us animals. Got that? It all goes into our best math model.

So in the best case, the smartest climatologist in the world will know 100 variables, each one to an accuracy of 99 percent. Want to know what the probability of our spiffiest math model would be, if that perfect world existed? Have you ever multiplied (99/100) by itself 100 times? According to the Google calculator, it equals a little more than 36.6 percent.

The Bottom line: our best imaginable model has a total probability of one out of three. How many billions of dollars in Kyoto money are we going to spend on that chance? Or should we just blow it at the dog races?

So all ye of global warming faith, rejoice in the ambiguity that real life presents to all of us. Neither planetary catastrophe nor paradise on earth are sure bets. Sorry about that. (Consider growing up, instead.) That's why human-caused global warming is an hypothesis, not a fact. Anybody who says otherwise isn't doing science, but trying to sell you a bill of goods. Probably.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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