Saturday, July 14, 2007

Global warming and the "debunkers" of Durkin

They fail to acknowledge that you cannot detect long term trends with short-term data

Durkin's "Swindle" film has just been shown nationwide on Australian TV and furious Warmists have concentrated their attack on the fact that his graphs of solar effects ended in 1980.

It has been known for some time that solar output has been in decline for the last 20 years or so and this is held to undermine the claim that recent global warming can be explained by variations in output from the sun. Apparently provoked by the Durkin film, Lockwood & Froehlich recently produced a paper ("Recent oppositely-directed trends in solar climate forcings and the global mean surface air temperature") that drew further attention to recent solar trends as being inconsistent with the Durkin contentions. They examined a whole range of solar measurements and showed that, by most measures, solar output was falling rather than rising in recent years. And that paper has been widely promoted as "debunking" Durkin's contention that variations in solar output are the only good long-term explanation of climate change.

I have now had a preliminary look at the Lockwood paper and note that there is a very large dog in it that did not bark. If solar output does not explain recent temperature variations, what does? With the monomania about CO2 among Warmists, one would have expected a graph of CO2 levels plotted against temperature. There is no such graph. In other words, CO2 levels do not explain recent temperature variations very well either. The fact that CO2 levels have continued to rise in recent years while surface temperatures peaked in 1998 would appear to be the elephant in the bedroom. If solar output levels and terrestrial temperature have diverged in recent years, so too have CO2 levels and terrestrial temperature.

The important point in the matter, however, is one that climate skeptics have been making for years: There are MANY variables that affect terrestrial temperature from time to time -- not just CO2 and not just the sun. And to tease out the effect of any one variable, you have to look at a fairly long data series -- so that fluctuations due to other sources will be smoothed out. It is partly for this reason that most of the plots of climate against temperature extend over many centuries. A period of just 20 years is too short to detect long-term trends. One needs long-term data to detect long-term tends and there are any number of graphs showing a long term relationship between solar output and terrestrial temperature.

Additionally, many effects may be lagged: the influence concerned may take some time to show up. One reason for this is the vast reservoir of heat, CO2 and much else that girdles the earth: The ocean. It takes some time for a surface temperature variation to show up in the amount of heat stored in the ocean. When the recent drop in solar output works its way through all the systems -- such as the ocean -- that it affects we might therefore expect global COOLING. It is COOLING that the solar data suggests as imminent, not warming.

In the circumstances, one is mildly surprised that Warmists mention solar output at all. Surely even a Warmist realizes that the sun affects terrestrial temperature!


Recent journal abstract below

How Much More Rain Will Global Warming Bring?

By Frank J. Wentz et al.

Climate models and satellite observations both indicate that the total amount of water in the atmosphere will increase at a rate of 7% per kelvin of surface warming. However, the climate models predict that global precipitation will increase at a much slower rate of 1 to 3% per kelvin. A recent analysis of satellite observations does not support this prediction of a muted response of precipitation to global warming. Rather, the observations suggest that precipitation and total atmospheric water have increased at about the same rate over the past two decades.

Science 13 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5835, pp. 233 - 235

Global warming as middle class righteousness

The planet is `burning'. The consequences could be `catastrophic', including `rising seas, searing temperatures, killer storms, drought, plague and pestilence'. Humanity is `speeding into a troubling void'. Wow. What should we do about it? Wear a jumper, apparently. And `audit your rubbish'. You might also like to think about growing your own tomatoes, riding a bike to work, wearing organic-cotton denim, and building a bat box in your garden. (It's like a birdhouse, only for bats. Apparently you can buy them flat-packed for as little as a tenner at Phew. With such useful tips, I feel far better about the whole spinning into a troubling vortex of doom thing.

The organisers of Live Earth have published a Global Warming Survival Handbook, a colourful, cartoon-packed guide to life on our warming planet that is meant to be funny - not funny peculiar, but funny ha ha hardly. It contains 77 `essential skills' that we all must learn in order to prevent a `global warming disaster'. And for all the shrill scaremongering of the global warming gloom merchants, the skills are petty indeed.

So, after telling us that humanity is heading for catastrophe - `three billion people could suffer water shortages and 200 to 600 million could face famine' - the book tells us we can turn this fate around by adopting Skill No.20: Wear A Jumper (it will help you save on heating your home), Skill No.28: Grow Your Own Tomato (`you won't believe the taste!') and Skill No.12: Throw A Party (`sometimes the best way to raise consciousness is by raising a glass - and what deserves a toast more than our venerable old planet?'). In a nutshell? The planet is f*cked, let's party!

This contradiction - perfectly summed up in the sentence `Global warming may be the most serious challenge the human race has ever faced, but don't freak out' - captures the essence of environmentalist campaigning. Behind all the talk about climate change being the biggest threat of all time, one which requires a revolution in thought and action, there lurks a narrow-minded campaign to lower our expectations and turn us all into veggie-growing, bike-riding conformists who wear pullovers instead of turning on the heat, live in small houses rather than McMansions (someone should tell Al Gore), and only fly overseas if we really, really have to.

The most irritating thing about this book is that it is based, not on scientific investigation, but on the quarterlife crisis of some long-haired middle-class rich boy. The author is David de Rothschild - and yes, he's a member of the super-wealthy Rothschild banking family. These are the kind of people now telling the rest of us to live in little houses and wear 5 pound jumpers. Christ give me strength.

De Rothschild says he first `began to grasp the scale and complexity of climate change' during a trip to the North Pole. `Standing in the midst of the Arctic, surrounded by 5.5 million square miles of frozen ocean, I felt like nothing more than a speck of dust on the endless horizon of Earth's most raw, majestic and environmentally significant ecosystem.' And because this son of extraordinary privilege suffered an existential crisis during a jolly in the Arctic, the reading public must now suffer his exhortations to live more simply. We've all at some stage wondered `what on earth am I doing with my life?' (I did it in a field in Bordeaux in 1992, but then I had consumed vast quantities of Bordeaux's most famous product), but we're not so arrogant as to think the world should change its ways on the basis of our myopic, me-pitying angst.

The book captures the extent to which climate change campaigning is based on fear and emotion more than scientific fact. So although the intro says that climate change theory is `backed by evidence that almost every reputable scientist now calls overwhelming and unequivocal' (their scare italics, not mine), `Skill No.9: Imagine' admits, extraordinarily, that none of us knows what will happen in the future: `How can we predict the shape of [a] warmer world 50 years from now? We can't even forecast if it will rain next week.' So we should all imagine what might happen in the future, it advises.

`One approach to seeing the future is through scenarios - carefully crafted "what if?" stories that let us imagine several different outcomes', the book says. It suggests holding a `scenario party' (seriously) where you can `pool the imaginations and experiences of your friends'. In short: we have no idea what the future will look like, but let's knock about some shocking `what if?' scenarios over a glass of wine to make ourselves feel simultaneously terrified/terrifically important. It's the closest you'll get to a naked admission from the climate change lobby that its warnings of floods and pestilence and swarms of locusts are based on its members' own fevered, teenage imaginings rather than a scientifically revealed forecast of what is to come.

Indeed, de Rothschild expects his book to be popular because it combines `moral wisdom, frightfully dry statistics and imaginary scenarios' - in other words, it has all the qualities of the three most widely-stocked books in libraries around the world: `the Bible, the US Census and Mother Goose.' He has unwittingly provided a searing insight into the climate change campaign: it's a mishmash of Biblical-style hectoring and fairytale fantasises of good (Al Gore) and evil (you and me if we don't recycle), with `the science bit' used to make the campaign look serious and rational - like in those adverts for L'Oreal anti-wrinkle cream where some dolly bird from Hollywood says `Here comes the science..'

Environmentalism is fundamentally an emotional spasm, a twitch of guilt and angst, which dresses itself in `frightfully dry statistics' to look grown-up.

The book is unbearably middle class. It's packed with weblinks for companies that make eco-jewellery and eco-clothing, or organise eco-weddings and advise you on how to `green your home'. Skill No.21 advises us to `work at home'. Apparently if one million of us did that, we'd eliminate three million tonnes of CO2 a year. Okay, but what about the millions of people who work in schools, hospitals, offices and factories, and whose jobs involve, you know, human interaction? Not everyone runs virtual online stores that sell overpriced hemp-based garments to the guilt-ridden daughters of the aristocracy. Most of us have proper jobs.

I found Skill No.18 the most grating. It advises us to say no to packaging by unpacking everything we buy in store and leaving all the cardboard and plastic with the store manager. `This sends a message to retailers to downsize their waste.' Grrr! When I spent my eighteenth summer working in Argos, a regular customer used to do precisely that. `I won't be needing this, thank you very much' she'd say, after unwrapping her teamaker-cum-alarm clock and dumping the box and its polystyrene insides with me or some other unfortunate stroppy teenager on duty. The only `message' it sent to us was: `What a BITCH.' When the Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook is not encouraging you to fantasise about future doom, it's giving you a licence to behave antisocially in shops.

At least the doom-mongers and death cultists of old had the courage of their convictions. They'd hide themselves away in caves for 70 years or wallop themselves across the back with sticks and whips in anticipation of God's furious judgement. Today's end-is-nigh preachers prefer to visit their guilt and panic on to the rest of us. Sorry, but I will not be sitting in a draughty house while wearing bamboo-based trousers and sorting through my weekly rubbish just to make some rich snots feel better about themselves.



A recent gem from New Scientist magazine... "Climate Change Sceptics Criticise Polar Bear Science", a story about some bad scientists, funded by bad money, who have apparently published some bad science in what is presumably a bad science journal, for bad reasons.

"As the poster child for the climate change generation polar bears have come to symbolise the need to tackle climate change. But their popularity has attracted the attention of global warming sceptics funded by the oil industry, who have started to attack polar bear science. Willie Soon's paper, which appears in the journal Ecological Complexity, questions 'whether polar bear populations really are declining and if sea ice, on which the animals hunt, will actually disappear as quickly as climate models predict.'

But that's all New Scientist has to say about the science.

"Soon, who receives funding for this and other work from Exxon-Mobil, has been attacking climate change science for several years. Three of the six other authors also have links to the oil industry."

The social construction of science doesn't get much attention from the science press - or anyone else - these days. Science won the Science Wars. Scientific findings flourish or fail by the cold, objective, rational method of hypothesis testing, peer review and replication. And that's all there is to it. Except, of course, when the science in question is funded by the oil industry. Because oil money, or just the faintest whiff of it, trumps the scientific method every time.

Ultimately, carping on about Exxon-funded scientists only serves to undermine the worth of all that hypothesis testing, peer review and replication. Because if dirty money overrides them, what else does? Is it any wonder that science doesn't get the respect the scientific establishment thinks it deserves? Science is having its own Science Wars all by itself - with not a sociologist to be seen.


What is at risk is not the climate but freedom

By Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic

We are living in strange times. One exceptionally warm winter is enough - irrespective of the fact that in the course of the 20th century the global temperature increased only by 0.6 per cent - for the environmentalists and their followers to suggestradical measures to do something about the weather, and to do it right now.

In the past year, Al Gore's so-called "documentary" film was shown in cinemas worldwide, Britain's - more or less Tony Blair's - Stern report was published, the fourth report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was put together and the Group of Eight summit announced ambitions to do something about the weather. Rational and freedom-loving people have to respond. The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us. Everything else is denounced.

The author Michael Crichton stated it clearly: "the greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda". I feel the same way, because global warming hysteria has become a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem. It requires courage to oppose the "established" truth, although a lot of people - including top-class scientists - see the issue of climate change entirely differently. They protest against the arrogance of those who advocate the global warming hypothesis and relate it to human activities.

As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.

The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions. They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence. Does it make any sense to speak about warming of the Earth when we see it in the context of the evolution of our planet over hundreds of millions of years? Every child is taught at school about temperature variations, about the ice ages, about the much warmer climate in the Middle Ages. All of us have noticed that even during our life-time temperature changes occur (in both directions).

Due to advances in technology, increases in disposable wealth, the rationality of institutions and the ability of countries to organise themselves, the adaptability of human society has been radically increased. It will continue to increase and will solve any potential consequences of mild climate changes.

I agree with Professor Richard Lindzen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said: "future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century's developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age".

The issue of global warming is more about social than natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than about tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature. As a witness to today's worldwide debate on climate change, I suggest the following:

*Small climate changes do not demand far-reaching restrictive measures

*Any suppression of freedom and democracy should be avoided

*Instead of organising people from above, let us allow everyone to live as he wants

*Let us resist the politicisation of science and oppose the term "scientific consensus", which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority

*Instead of speaking about "the environment", let us be attentive to it in our personal behaviour

*Let us be humble but confident in the spontaneous evolution of human society. Let us trust its rationality and not try to slow it down or divert it in any direction

*Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives.



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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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