Saturday, December 22, 2007


The article below by David Whitehouse has just appeared in the Left-leaning British magazine "New Statesman". David was BBC Science Correspondent 1988-1998, Science Editor BBC News Online 1998-2006 and the 2004 European Internet Journalist of the Year. He has a doctorate in astrophysics and is the author of "The Sun: A Biography" (John Wiley, 2005). His website is

'The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 and every year since 2001'

Global warming stopped? Surely not. What heresy is this? Haven't we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that's left to the so-called sceptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?

Aren't we told that if we don't act now rising temperatures will render most of the surface of the Earth uninhabitable within our lifetimes? But as we digest these apocalyptic comments, read the recent IPCC's Synthesis report that says climate change could become irreversible. Witness the drama at Bali as news emerges that something is not quite right in the global warming camp.

With only few days remaining in 2007, the indications are the global temperature for this year is the same as that for 2006 - there has been no warming over the 12 months. But is this just a blip in the ever upward trend you may ask? No.

The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming - the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.

In principle the greenhouse effect is simple. Gases like carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere absorb outgoing infrared radiation from the earth's surface causing some heat to be retained. Consequently an increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases from human activities such as burning fossil fuels leads to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Thus the world warms, the climate changes and we are in trouble.

The evidence for this hypothesis is the well established physics of the greenhouse effect itself and the correlation of increasing global carbon dioxide concentration with rising global temperature. Carbon dioxide is clearly increasing in the Earth's atmosphere. It's a straight line upward. It is currently about 390 parts per million. Pre-industrial levels were about 285 ppm. Since 1960 when accurate annual measurements became more reliable it has increased steadily from about 315 ppm. If the greenhouse effect is working as we think then the Earth's temperature will rise as the carbon dioxide levels increase.

But here it starts getting messy and, perhaps, a little inconvenient for some. Looking at the global temperatures as used by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UK's Met Office and the IPCC (and indeed Al Gore) it's apparent that there has been a sharp rise since about 1980.

The period 1980-98 was one of rapid warming - a temperature increase of about 0.5 degrees C (CO2 rose from 340ppm to 370ppm). But since then the global temperature has been flat (whilst the CO2 has relentlessly risen from 370ppm to 380ppm). This means that the global temperature today is about 0.3 deg less than it would have been had the rapid increase continued.

For the past decade the world has not warmed. Global warming has stopped. It's not a viewpoint or a sceptic's inaccuracy. It's an observational fact. Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures. But the evidence shows that global warming as such has ceased.

The explanation for the standstill has been attributed to aerosols in the atmosphere produced as a by-product of greenhouse gas emission and volcanic activity. They would have the effect of reflecting some of the incidental sunlight into space thereby reducing the greenhouse effect. Such an explanation was proposed to account for the global cooling observed between 1940 and 1978.

But things cannot be that simple. The fact that the global temperature has remained unchanged for a decade requires that the quantity of reflecting aerosols dumped put in our atmosphere must be increasing year on year at precisely the exact rate needed to offset the accumulating carbon dioxide that wants to drive the temperature higher. This precise balance seems highly unlikely. Other explanations have been proposed such as the ocean cooling effect of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation or the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

But they are also difficult to adjust so that they exactly compensate for the increasing upward temperature drag of rising CO2. So we are led to the conclusion that either the hypothesis of carbon dioxide induced global warming holds but its effects are being modified in what seems to be an improbable though not impossible way, or, and this really is heresy according to some, the working hypothesis does not stand the test of data.

It was a pity that the delegates at Bali didn't discuss this or that the recent IPCC Synthesis report did not look in more detail at this recent warming standstill. Had it not occurred, or if the flatlining of temperature had occurred just five years earlier we would have no talk of global warming and perhaps, as happened in the 1970's, we would fear a new Ice Age! Scientists and politicians talk of future projected temperature increases. But if the world has stopped warming what use these projections then?

Some media commentators say that the science of global warming is now beyond doubt and those who advocate alternative approaches or indeed modifications to the carbon dioxide greenhouse warming effect had lost the scientific argument. Not so. Certainly the working hypothesis of CO2 induced global warming is a good one that stands on good physical principles but let us not pretend our understanding extends too far or that the working hypothesis is a sufficient explanation for what is going on.

I have heard it said, by scientists, journalists and politicians, that the time for argument is over and that further scientific debate only causes delay in action. But the wish to know exactly what is going on is independent of politics and scientists must never bend their desire for knowledge to any political cause, however noble.

The science is fascinating, the ramifications profound, but we are fools if we think we have a sufficient understanding of such a complicated system as the Earth's atmosphere's interaction with sunlight to decide. We know far less than many think we do or would like you to think we do. We must explain why global warming has stopped.



The solar physics community is abuzz this week. No, there haven't been any great eruptions or solar storms. The source of the excitement is a modest knot of magnetism that popped over the sun's eastern limb on Dec. 11th, pictured below in a pair of images from the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). It may not look like much, but "this patch of magnetism could be a sign of the next solar cycle," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall

For more than a year, the sun has been experiencing a lull in activity, marking the end of Solar Cycle 23, which peaked with many furious storms in 2000--2003. "Solar minimum is upon us," he says. The big question now is, when will the next solar cycle begin? It could be starting now.

"New solar cycles always begin with a high-latitude, reversed polarity sunspot," explains Hathaway. "Reversed polarity " means a sunspot with opposite magnetic polarity compared to sunspots from the previous solar cycle. "High-latitude" refers to the sun's grid of latitude and longitude. Old cycle spots congregate near the sun's equator. New cycle spots appear higher, around 25 or 30 degrees latitude.

The region that appeared on Dec. 11th fits both these criteria. It is high latitude (24 degrees N) and magnetically reversed. Just one problem: There is no sunspot. So far the region is just a bright knot of magnetic fields. If, however, these fields coalesce into a dark sunspot, scientists are ready to announce that Solar Cycle 24 has officially begun.

Many forecasters believe Solar Cycle 24 will be big and intense. Peaking in 2011 or 2012, the cycle to come could have significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems. (And don't forget the Northern Lights!) In this age of satellites and cell phones, the next solar cycle could make itself felt as never before.

The furious storms won't start right away, however. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build to a frenzy and Cycle 24 will be no exception. "We still have some quiet times ahead," says Hathaway. Meanwhile, all eyes are on a promising little active region. Will it become the first sunspot of a new solar cycle? Stay tuned for updates



We have visited this topic repeatedly over the past five years (e.g., here and here), and here we go again given the latest news. Every sell-respecting presentation about global warming includes a claim that hurricanes are becoming more intense, and if you don't believe it, you will be treated to images of the Katrina disaster as the final proof. Gore's film clearly makes the case that burning fossil fuel equals higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration which equals higher atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. He claims in the film and during every stop on his global circuit that the warmer sea surface in the tropics clearly means more intense hurricanes and BANG . the Katrina horrors are unveiled. It seems to work every time, and despite a lot of research that suggests the relationship is not so clear, people have bought the intense hurricane pillar of the global warming scare. If you suggest that there is some debate on the subject, you will undoubtedly be told that the climate deniers are few in number, well financed from industry, and discredited by scientists the world over.

Many would argue that Nature is the leading scientific journal in the world, and over the years, Nature has been an ally of the global warming crusade. A recent article in Nature begins with the sentence "The response of tropical cyclone activity to global warming is widely debated." That sentence alone hints that the article may be somewhat atypical of Nature, since actual acknowledgement of the "d" word is greatly frowned upon by the crusaders. The second sentence states "It is often assumed that warmer sea surface temperatures provide a more favourable environment for the development and intensification of tropical cyclones, but cyclone genesis and intensity are also affected by the vertical thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere." Once again, we get the hint that this presumed link between warmer oceans and more intense hurricanes may be more complicated than we've (or, rather, you've) been led to believe by the likes of Gore. We have been telling you this has been the case for several years.

The authors of the latest piece are Gabriel Vecchi and Brian Soden of the NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey and the University of Miami, and the work was funded by both NOAA and NASA (no evidence of industry funding whatsoever). Basically, they note that higher sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the vicinity of a hurricane could, in fact, increase the potential intensity (or, PI, how strong a storm could get if everything fell perfectly into place) of the storm. They state "With all other factors being equal, a local warming of SST would act to destabilize the overlying atmosphere and increase PI. However, remote SST changes can also influence PI through their influence on upper atmospheric temperatures. In the tropical free troposphere, where the Coriolis force is weak, temperature gradients are small and, on timescales longer than a few months, upper tropospheric temperature anomalies are determined by changes in the tropical-mean SST. Thus, local PI in the tropics is influenced by both local and remote SST changes." Basically, local SST warming can destabilize the atmosphere and increase the intensity of the hurricanes, but widespread SST warming alters the temperature structure of the higher levels of the atmosphere, which in turn cancel or even reverse the potential intensity of the events.

To say the least, including the effect of more distant SSTs really changes the outcome. Vecchi and Soden used three different, but highly correlated SST datasets and calculated the potential intensity of tropical storms for the North Indian Ocean, the western tropical Pacific Ocean, and the tropical Atlantic Ocean (see figure below). In their own words, they note "All three SST data sets indicate substantial warming in the three regions over the twentieth century. In the Atlantic sector, SSTs have been at unprecedented levels since the late 1990s, yet the tropical Atlantic PI is at near-average levels for that period, and had its highest levels during the middle of the twentieth century. The only long-term increase in PI has been in the Indian Ocean, and recent Pacific PI has been lower than the long-term mean (the decrease arising abruptly in the 1970s)." Furthermore, they state "The combined influence of local and remote SST changes on PI can be seen clearly in the Atlantic basin. Atlantic PI began to decrease in the mid-1950s, even though local SST was not changing substantially (PI decreases by 0.6-0.7 øC from the 1950s to the 1980s, while local SST decreases by only 0.1-0.2 øC). This reduction in PI was not dominated by a local SST decrease, but by the rapid warming elsewhere in the tropics (much of it in the Indian Ocean)."

OK, so there hasn't been any great increase in potential intensity of tropical cyclones over the long run, despite what the global warming advocates would lead you to believe. Well, you could suggest that like everything else, the disaster will reveal itself a decade or so from now. Unfortunately for such optimists (or are they pessimists?), Vecchi and Soden calculated PI for the next 150 years, and as seen below, SSTs are expected to rise, but in the North Indian Ocean and the tropical Atlantic Ocean, there should be no rise whatsoever in potential intensity of hurricanes.

Let's all wait and see if the global warming crowd (or the media) embraces these results - of course they won't and of course they will continue to scream that hurricanes are becoming more intense and will become even more intense in the decades to come. The results published in Nature by Vecchi and Soden will be nothing more than inconvenient trash to be swept under the rug of truth!



The current issue of Nature has a lengthy profile of Rajendra Pachauri, its "Newsmaker of the Year." In the profile Dr. Pachauri discusses his personal views on the politics of climate change and his responsibilities as IPCC chair. Here is how he characterizes his own efforts, as quoted in the Nature profile:

"We have been so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more whatever the cost to the environment that we're on a totally unsustainable path. I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development."

In recent weeks and months, Dr. Pachauri, and other representatives of the IPCC, have certainly not been shy in advocating specific actions on climate change, using their role as IPCC leaders as a pulpit to advance those agendas. For instance, in a recent interview with CNN on the occasion of representing the IPCC at the Nobel Prize ceremony, Dr. Pachauri downplayed the role of geoengineering as a possible response to climate change, suggested that people eat less meat, called for lifestyle changes, suggested that all the needed technologies to deal with climate change are in the marketplace or soon to be commercialized, endorsed the Kyoto Protocol approach, criticized via allusion U.S. non-participation, and defended the right of developing countries to be exempt from limits on future emissions.

Dr. Pachauri has every right to these personal opinions, but each of the actions called for above are contested by some thoughtful people who believe that climate change is a problem requiring action, and accept the science as reported by the IPCC. These policies are not advocated by the IPCC because the formal mandate of the IPCC is to be "policy neutral." But with its recent higher profile, it seems that the IPCC leadership believes that it can flout this stance with impunity. The Nature profile discusses this issue:

"The IPCC's mandate is to be 'neutral with respect to policy' - to set out the options and let policy-makers decide how to act. The reports themselves reflect this. Every word is checked and double-checked by scientists, reviewers and then government representatives - "sanitized", as Pachauri puts it. But Pachauri is the face of the IPCC, and he often can't resist speaking out, despite a few "raps on the knuckles" for his comments. He insists that he always makes it clear he is speaking on his own behalf and not for the IPCC. "It's one thing to make sure that our reports are sanitized. It's another for me as an individual to talk about policies that might work. I feel I have responsibility far beyond being a spokesman for the IPCC. If I feel there are certain actions that can help us meet this challenge, I feel I should articulate them."

"I think Patchy needs to be careful," says Bert Metz, a senior researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in Bilthoven, who is one of the co-chairs of the IPCC's working group on greenhouse-gas mitigation. "One of the things about the IPCC is that it lays down the facts. If you start mixing [that] with your own views that's not very wise. But he gets away with it because of his charm." Steve Rayner, director of the James Martin Institute at the University of Oxford, UK, and a senior author with the same working group, feels that Pachauri's personal statements place too much stress on lifestyles and not enough on technologies. But he also concedes that a certain amount of outspokenness is an essential part of the job. "I don't think you can provide inspirational leadership in an enterprise like this unless you are passionate. That's something Bob [Watson] and Patchy have in common. They are both very passionate about the issue and I think that's appropriate."

In general, those who agree with the political agenda advanced by Dr. Pachauri will see no problem with his advocacy, and those opposed will find it to be problematic. And this is precisely the problem. By using his platform as a scientific advisor to advance a political agenda, Dr. Pachauri risks politicizing the IPCC and turning it (or perceptions of it) into simply another advocacy group on climate change, threatening its legitimacy and ultimately, its ability to serve as a trusted arbiter of science.

On this point reasonable people will disagree. However, before you decide how you feel about this subject, consider how you would feel if the head of the International Atomic Energy Association responsible for evaluating nuclear weapons programs were to be an outspoken advocate for bombing the very country he was assessing, or if the head of the CIA with responsibility to bring intelligence to policy makers also was at the same time waging a public campaign on certain foreign policies directly related to his intelligence responsibilities. For many people the conflation of providing advice and seeking to achieve political ends would seem to be a dangerous mix for both the quality of advice and the quality of decision making.

The IPCC is riding high these days, but as Burt Metz says, they need to be very careful. Saying that your organization is "policy neutral" while behaving quite differently does not seem to be a sustainable practice. Policy makers will need science advice on climate change for a long time. The IPCC politicizes its efforts with some risk.


Why I Don't Care About Global Warming

By Evan Sayet

I was reading a comment on one of these boards from a Brit who said that he "just doesn't understand the Americans' attitude toward global warming." Allowing me to explain it, then.

The vast majority of thinking people recognize "global warming" as but the latest in a long line of hyped up "threats" to humanities existence. There was, in no particular order, "global freezing," "global drying," "global wetting." There was going to be mass starvation by 1976, heterosexual AIDS, killer bees, swine flu and avian flu, just to mention a few during the past few years alone.

Further, we are not impressed either by the "players" who are swearing that, no, no THIS time the sky is REALLY falling, nor by their tactics. Their longstanding ideology -- anti-Americanism, socialism, communism and the like fosters no great confidence in their latest hysteria either.

Those of us who think rather than just dance to the tune of Al Gore, Hollywood insiders and their allies in the communist, Islamic and socialist worlds, recognize that far from an "Inconvenient Truth" being an honest attempt to accurately portray the information, it is a leftist funded, lie-filled propaganda movie from those with a vested interest. Even Al Gore's own advisors admit that the claims are "hysterical" and not scientific.

The lie that "every scientist agrees" that global warming a) exists, b) isn't just a normal phenomenon and c) is caused by evil, horrible America further undermines the thinking person's faith in the hysterics. Far from "every scientist agreeing," the leading scientists, from the father of modern climatology to the leading scientists at MIT all consider it nothing less than folly.

I am further unmoved by the plans to curb "global warming," plans that allow the biggest polluters -- China and India for example -- to continue to pollute unabated while American and Americans (of course) foot the bill.

If the threat was as dire and as imminent as the leftists and the Islamists declare, then the Kyoto Protocols would pull out all the stops, with every nation asked to make at least SOME sacrifice and not but another leftist social experiment, another "affirmative action" program where the evil, failed or wrong benefit and the good, right and successful are punished.

It might be helpful in moving me some (though not much) if the guru Al Gore wasn't such a clown. His buffoonish (and lie-filled) anti-American attacks at Bali, his pocketing of tens of millions of dollars in cold, hard cash, his continuing to spew pollution from his own home(s) at twenty times the rate of the middle class American he, as a leftist, is seeking to destroy, all don't argue for a man who is serious about a threat to the very existence of the earth. I know that if I thought the world was doomed, I would probably turn off the heater in my indoor pool from time to time. Not Gore.

I remember seeing a line somewhere that said "I'll take global warming seriously when Al Gore takes global warming seriously." I couldn't agree more.

For now, somehow I survived global freezing and global wetting, heterosexual AIDS and the swine flu, thus I'll throw my lot in with America and not with the communists, Islamists, socialists and genocidal dictatorships Al Gore turns to for his big payday and his sense of meaning and importance.



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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