Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two preliminary comments on the news

A recent scientific report about the correlation between global warming and solar activity has got a lot of press. It takes a very short recent time-period and shows no correlation over that period between solar output and temperature. I have not been able to access a copy of the report as yet so I cannot really comment but I wonder about their data sources. It is true that solar output has peaked in recent years but it is also true that temperature stopped rising in 1998. That seems a pretty good correlation to me! I also understand that CO2 levels don't correlate very well with temperature over that period either.

Chief Australian Greenie, Prof. Ian Lowe has "debunked" the Durkin film but makes some strange claims in the course of it. For instance, he says: "It claims medieval times were much warmer than today, but the science shows only some regions were briefly warmer and average global temperatures were lower". I have no idea what "the science" is that he refers to. The Mann "hockeystick" was held to represent "the science" of the history of global temperature until recently but it has now been shown to be essentially a hoax and the IPCC no longer mentions it. Lowe also says: "It displays, several times, a graph showing that average global temperature declined dramatically between 1940 and 1976 and claims this debunks the science. Our hemisphere actually warmed during that period." Lowe's use of hemisphere differences is as amusing as it is unwise for him. He fails to mention that there has been NO temperature increase in the Southern hemisphere since satellite temperature monitoring began about 25 years ago. If there has been any warming in that period, it has certainly not been global.

But I am a mere social scientist so will leave it to the physical scientists to do a real critique of the two above articles. Lowe's vague and unreferenced "ex cathedra" generalizations may be rather hard to get to grips with, however.

The historical correlation between solar output and global temperature

I reproduce below just the "Overview" section of a very long, fully referenced and graphics-intensive article that should make it very clear that the earth's temperature has always undergone great fluctuations in response to cycles in output from the sun. The author, Dr. D. Bruce Merrifield, holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in physical organic chemistry and currently is a member of the Visiting Committee for Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago. It will be noted that real climate trends take long time-periods to work themselves out. Mistaking short-term fluctuations for long term trends is a fundamental error -- but is precisely the error upon which Warmist theory is based

Without the impact of solar radiation, the temperature on the earth would be about the same as the temperature of space, which is about -454 C. The amount of radiation reaching the earth is about 1,368 watts per square meter. This is a vast amount of energy, which would require the simultaneous output of 1.7 billion of our largest power plants to match. About 70 percent of this solar energy is absorbed and 30 percent is reflected. However, the amount of solar energy reaching the earth is not constant, but varies in several independent cycles of different degrees of magnitude, which may or may not reinforce each other.

These cycles include a 100,000-year cycle, which results from the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun, a 41,000-year (obliquity) cycle, which results from the tilt of the earth on its axis, a 23,000-year cycle which results from "climatic precession" or changes in direction of the earths axis relative to the sun, and an 11-year sunspot cycle, during which solar radiation increases and then declines. The most recent sunspot radiation cycle peaked in the year 2000, and currently is approaching a minimum. Curiously, NASA and the Russian Observatory both report that total solar radiation now has peaked, and all these cycles may be simultaneously in decline

Each 100,000-year peak in radiation appears to last about 15,000 to 20,000 years, and each has been coincident with massive surges of carbon dioxide and methane (the green house gasses), into the atmosphere, causing de-glaciation of the Polar and Greenland ice caps. Surges of these greenhouse gasses have always been vastly greater than the amounts currently being generated by burning fossil fuels. For example, the most recent 100,000-year cycle raised sea levels 400 feet in the first 10,000 years, but since then sea levels have risen very little. In the current warming period, sea levels are rising only about 3 millimeters per year, and temperatures over the last 100 years have risen a modest 0.6 of a degree C.

Superimposed on this latest 100,000-year peak have been 6 secondary warming periods, each coincident with additional surges of carbon dioxide and methane, lasting about 200 years and then subsiding. Each of these previous warming periods was warmer than the current warming period, and current temperatures are below the median for the last 3000 years. Most remarkably, civilization first emerged in the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile River Valleys about 3400 B.C. in that period of great warming, and even more remarkably, each of these secondary surges of greenhouse gasses (none of human origin), has also been coincident with the rise of a major civilization.

For instance, 3,000 years ago in the 1000 B.C. warming period, the Babylonian era emerged. Then, 500 years later, the Greek civilization flourished, followed by the Romans 400 years later. A 1,000-year cold period followed through the dark ages, but then in the very warm 1000 A.D. Medieval Period, the ice and snow melted on Greenland; the Danes farmed there for 200 years, until it froze over again. There are no reports of seaports being flooded during this warm period.

About 500 years after the Medieval period, another surge of greenhouse gasses initiated the Renaissance, which was followed by an unexplained "Little Ice Age" from about 1600 to about 1750. (This was coincident with the Maunder Solar Radiation Minimum). During this period, Europe was covered with ice and snow, growing seasons were short, and starvation was common. Farmer unrest may have triggered the French Revolution. The most recent warming period began as solar radiation rapidly increased.

Interestingly, starting about two decades ago (1988), the total increase of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere has abruptly stopped, in spite of increased burning of fossil fuels.

The forcing agent for these many previous warming periods over millions of years could not have been of human origin, and the measured volumes of carbon dioxide and methane which were coincident with each warming period, were vastly greater than those currently being produced by humans.

More here

IPCC Geologist disses IPCC

We are doomed, say climate change scientists associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that is organizing most of the climate change research occurring in the world today. Carbon dioxide from man-made sources rises to the atmosphere and then stays there for 50, 100, or even 200 years. This unprecedented buildup of CO2 then traps heat that would otherwise escape our atmosphere, threatening us all.

"This is nonsense," says Tom V. Segalstad, head of the Geological Museum at the University of Oslo and formerly an expert reviewer with the same IPCC. He laments the paucity of geologic knowledge among IPCC scientists -- a knowledge that is central to understanding climate change, in his view, since geologic processes ultimately determine the level of atmospheric CO2. "The IPCC needs a lesson in geology to avoid making fundamental mistakes," he says. "Most leading geologists, throughout the world, know that the IPCC's view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible."

Catastrophic theories of climate change depend on carbon dioxide staying in the atmosphere for long periods of time -- otherwise, the CO2 enveloping the globe wouldn't be dense enough to keep the heat in. Until recently, the world of science was near-unanimous that CO2 couldn't stay in the atmosphere for more than about five to 10 years because of the oceans' near-limitless ability to absorb CO2. "This time period has been established by measurements based on natural carbon-14 and also from readings of carbon-14 from nuclear weapons testing, it has been established by radon-222 measurements, it has been established by measurements of the solubility of atmospheric gases in the oceans, it has been established by comparing the isotope mass balance, it has been established through other mechanisms, too, and over many decades, and by many scientists in many disciplines," says Prof. Segalstad, whose work has often relied upon such measurements.

Then, with the advent of IPCC-influenced science, the length of time that carbon stays in the atmosphere became controversial. Climate change scientists began creating carbon cycle models to explain what they thought must be an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These computer models calculated a long life for carbon dioxide. Amazingly, the hypothetical results from climate models have trumped the real world measurements of carbon dioxide's longevity in the atmosphere. Those who claim that CO2 lasts decades or centuries have no such measurements or other physical evidence to support their claims.

Neither can they demonstrate that the various forms of measurement are erroneous. "They don't even try," says Prof. Segalstad. "They simply dismiss evidence that is, for all intents and purposes, irrefutable. Instead, they substitute their faith, constructing a kind of science fiction or fantasy world in the process."

In the real world, as measurable by science, CO2 in the atmosphere and in the ocean reach a stable balance when the oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. "The IPCC postulates an atmospheric doubling of CO2, meaning that the oceans would need to receive 50 times more CO2 to obtain chemical equilibrium," explains Prof. Segalstad. "This total of 51 times the present amount of carbon in atmospheric CO2 exceeds the known reserves of fossil carbon-- it represents more carbon than exists in all the coal, gas, and oil that we can exploit anywhere in the world."

Also in the real world, Prof. Segalstad's isotope mass balance calculations -- a standard technique in science -- show that if CO2 in the atmosphere had a lifetime of 50 to 200 years, as claimed by IPCC scientists, the atmosphere would necessarily have half of its current CO2 mass. Because this is a nonsensical outcome, the IPCC model postulates that half of the CO2 must be hiding somewhere, in "a missing sink." Many studies have sought this missing sink -- a Holy Grail of climate science research-- without success. "It is a search for a mythical CO2 sink to explain an immeasurable CO2 lifetime to fit a hypothetical CO2 computer model that purports to show that an impossible amount of fossil fuel burning is heating the atmosphere," Prof. Segalstad concludes. "It is all a fiction."


The Warmists need to listen to Edmund Burke -- but they won't

Comment from Australian columnist, Janet Albrechtsen

PHEW, Live Earth is over. The seven concerts on seven continents featuring a bunch of jet fuel-addicted rock stars summed up the problem with much of the talk about climate change. Hypocrisy aside, the climate change rockers and other zealots would have us believe there is no problem more uniquely modern than climate change. When it comes to mapping out solutions to this most 21st century of problems, history can teach us nothing. We are on our own. Right? Well, actually, no. Wrong. Dead wrong.

Climate change is just a modern twist on a very old debate. The presenting symptom is a new one. But the underlying questions for us are ancient: what tools, what modes of thinking, will deliver the best results? Is climate change a moral issue? Or a question of risk management? Should we start with abstract fundamental principles and proceed to build an edifice based on speculative extrapolation from those first principles? Or do we start with empirical evidence and pragmatic deductions from observable realities? Will the most effective solutions be imposed by governments or from harnessing individual choices?

These are, of course, old questions. And history keeps telling us the answers. They are invariably the same answers. But, unbelievably, we often ignore them. It’s no great surprise that a bunch of climate change rock stars would fall for solutions based on symbolism, moral absolutes, central planning and universal diagnoses and prescriptions. No one would expect them to have digested the lessons of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. But political leaders ought to have learned from those lessons.

When Burke wrote that book in 1790, the French Revolution was in the first flush of idealistic success. A new utopia based on abstract principles - in that case, liberty, equality, fraternity - was being built, with those principles imposed from above. Burke thought this was likely to end in tears. He thought history was a better teacher than philosophy, that incremental improvements based on empirical observation worked better than revolutions built on grand utopias.

Burke was decried as a revolution sceptic. Or, even worse, a revolution denier. Sound familiar? Burke was proved right. The French Revolution did end in tears. Unfortunately, the early stages of the climate change debate had all the hallmarks of revolution. It started - badly - with Kyoto. Climate change was a moral issue. Only the sinners did not sign up. The principles were far reaching, imposed from above with little understanding of the realities below. Driven as always, by the best of intentions, Kyoto was an inherently flawed protocol. Sure, 35 developed nations signed up. But none of the developing countries that account for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions did so.

The Kyoto period was framed around a classic progressive agenda, defined by symbolism and moral absolutes, universal diagnoses and universal solutions. That’s why Kyoto was a joke. And it’s why Al Gore and his Live Earthers, with their impossible goals, will be sidelined in the same way history has sidelined other dreamers.

Now to some reality. John Howard pointed out in a speech last month that during the Kyoto period China and India will build 800 new coal-fired power plants. The combined CO2 emissions from those plants alone will be five times the total reductions in CO2 mandated by the Kyoto accord. These jarring realities explained why countries such as Australia did not sign up. In fact, getting Howard to sign up to Kyoto would be akin to Burke, had he lived another 100 years, joining the Fabian Society. It was never going to happen.

Fortunately, the post-Kyoto period is increasingly heading down a different ideological path. You won’t hear about it from rock stars. That’s because framing a response around risk management rather than symbolic gestures and utopian promises is so damned boring. Suggesting incremental steps based on empirical evidence and observed phenomenon is not sexy compared with Gore’s public pledges for a moratorium of new coal stations. Basing a policy response on pragmatic conservatism - learning from the mistakes of the past, advocating caution and encouraging realistic outcomes - is hardly enthralling enough for rock stars.

Unfortunately, for too long the debate has been hijacked by alluring but meaningless symbolism. Just as, in the early days, those who advocated practical reconciliation for indigenous communities were treated as mean-spirited heretics, those who rejected Kyoto as empty-gesture politics were scoffed at as climate change deniers who did not care about the environment. When global warming debate was hotting up, so to speak, there was an imperative to educate the community about the need to achieve real long-term reductions on greenhouse gas emissions outside the flawed Kyoto Protocol. Instead, it appeared that those who rejected Kyoto had simply chosen irresponsible inaction over action, effectively handing more credibility than they deserve to the advocates of Kyoto.

For too long, the Howard Government failed to craft an alternative message about the virtues of cautious, practical responses to climate change. In short, the case for pragmatic conservatism needed to be carefully mapped out. But it wasn’t. Into that vacuum stepped the zealots. Everyone has heard about Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. But who has heard about the Government’s involvement in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate?

Most people will have no idea that Australia has been working towards closer engagement with non-Kyoto countries - China, India, Japan, South Korea and the US - which account for half the world’s emissions, energy use, gross domestic product and population.

It’s easier to listen to Missy Higgins, Wolfmother and Sneaky Sound System than read a copy of the Government’s report from the Task Group on Emissions Trading.

It’s boring to learn that Australia’s economy and abatement challenges are different from those of many other industrialised nations, particularly those in Europe. And that our natural resources and access to low-cost energy are integral to our international competitiveness. And that any model for long-term emissions reductions must take account of the need to protect that prosperity.

Live Earth was promoted as yet another episode in raising awareness on climate change. We needed that like a hole in the head. Instead of repeating dire predictions about the future, a better goal would have been to educate people about the real world. About the social and economic realities confronting the real world. Realities such as poverty. But poverty is so old hat these days. Live Aid has been replaced by Live Earth. Cool cats talk about climate change. The reality is that if we are to include the world’s main emitters in long-term climate change initiatives, they need to feed their people first. Just don’t expect to hear about it from Snoop Dogg or Madonna.


The Dark Side Of 'Green' Power

Generating energy from renewable sources such as wind and water often requires stringing new transmission lines to remote areas, a prospect that concerns some environmentalists.

State law requires California to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. This new mandate has utilities searching out locations for wind, solar and hydro sites that could generate megawatts.

"But as utilities try to find and tap environmentally superior electricity sources, they are finding that even "green" power development often has a price tag environmentalists and their supporters are unwilling to pay - namely, the degradation of parks and natural areas."

Perhaps the most contentious green proposal involves Sunrise Powerlink, a transmission corridor that would cut through a state park northast of San Diego that is prized for its remoteness and habitat values.



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.


1 comment:

Gary Falkes said...

I really liked your top article. You mention some things that really aren't talked about in widespread. Maybe because human beings like to panic.