Sunday, January 27, 2008


Jim Hansen's GISS have just put out an article that contradicts everthing we know about the raw data for global temperatures over the last decade. How does Hansen do it? A large part of the answer is chartmanship -- the art of creating almost any impression you want by the way you draw a chart. If the vertical axis on the chart below had been much compressed, for instance, you would see an almost flat line instead of a steeply rising one. But that is only part of the story. There is statistical jiggery-pokery going on too. I reprint the GISS article below -- with its accompanying graph -- followed by some comments from physicist F. James Cripwell, a former scientist with UK's Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge who worked under the leading expert in infra red spectroscopy -- Sir Gordon Sutherland - and worked with the Operations Research for the Canadian Defense Research Board.

I have also inserted a couple of italicized comments on particularly slippery statements. There is also another chart in the original article that has in its subtitle the comment "Largest increases were in the northern hemisphere". They sure were! There is NO discernible trend in the Southern hemisphere! The so-called global warming is at best Northern hemisphere warming.

Graph of global annual surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 mean temperature. Air and ocean data from weather stations, ships and satellites. The 2007 point is the 11-month anomaly

Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century. "It is unlikely that 2008 will be a year with truly exceptional global mean temperature," said Hansen. "Barring a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature clearly exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next few years, at the time of the next El Nino, because of the background warming trend attributable to continuing increases of greenhouse gases." The eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990.

Goddard Institute researchers used temperature data from weather stations on land, satellite measurements of sea ice temperature since 1982 and data from ships for earlier years. The greatest warming in 2007 occurred in the Arctic, and neighboring high latitude regions. Global warming has a larger affect in polar areas, as the loss of snow and ice leads to more open water, which absorbs more sunlight and warmth. Snow and ice reflect sunlight; when they disappear, so too does their ability to deflect warming rays. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observations of record low geographic extent of Arctic sea ice in September 2007. "As we predicted last year, 2007 was warmer than 2006, continuing the strong warming trend of the past 30 years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases," said James Hansen, director of NASA GISS.

A minor data processing error found in the GISS temperature analysis in early 2007 does not affect the present analysis. The data processing flaw was failure to apply NOAA adjustments to United States Historical Climatology Network stations in 2000-2006, as the records for those years were taken from a different data base (Global Historical Climatology Network). This flaw affected only 1.6% of the Earth's surface (contiguous 48 states) [But the US data is also the highest quality data. Much of the data from elsewhere is dubious. To say that the rest of the world is warming is an act of faith] and only the several years in the 21st century.

The data processing flaw did not alter the ordering of the warmest years on record and the global ranks were unaffected. In the contiguous 48 states, the statistical tie among 1934, 1998 and 2005 as the warmest year(s) was unchanged. In the current analysis, in the flawed analysis, and in the published GISS analysis, 1934 is the warmest year in the contiguous states (but not globally) by an amount (magnitude of the order of 0.01øC) that is an order of magnitude smaller than the certainty. [Still pesky that 1934 was so warm -- at the height of the Depression, when economic activity was minimal]


Comment from F. James Cripwell

I do not believe the world's climate is on a warming trend, though I cannot as yet prove this. It is quite true that since somewhere around 1970, the world has warmed up. What is not clear is that, as of now, the world is still warming up.

And, of course, "now" is moving. As time goes on, I believe the indications that the world has ceaased warming, and has started to cool, will become more and more obvious.

As I have noted before, there are four major agencies which measure average global temperature anomalies, and report them of a monthly basis. These are NASA/GISS, NCDC/NOAA, HAD/CRU and RSS/MSU. The first, NASA/GISS data, shows that at present, average global temperatures are increasing. The other three show the opposite, that they are decreasing.

I am suspicious that Jim Hansen and Gavin Schmidt are closely connected with the NASA/GISS data, but they are very competent scientists with impressive credentials. If you ask for a linear least squares regression analysis, you find a linear trend of increasing temperatures. However, if you ask for a non-linear analysis, NASA/GISS shows an increasing trend, but the other three show that temperatures has passed through a maximum, and are now decreasing.

What is missing is an independent study to compare and contrast the four ways of measuring world temperature anomalies, coming up with an opinion as to which is "best", whatever this means. Until we have such a stduy, we are unlikely to make any progress in this area. Or we must wait until the data showing that world temperatures are decreasing becomes too overwhelming to be ignored.


If you enjoy the benefits of affordable and readily available electricity, a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) may spur you to press your elected representatives for a reassessment of climate alarmism.

Entitled "Pipelines for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Control: Network Needs and Cost Uncertainties" (Jan. 10, 2008), the report sounds dull enough, but its contents simply undermine the notion that we'll be reducing CO2 emissions anytime soon.

More than 70 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. involves the burning of coal, natural gas or oil, and their attendant emissions of CO2. This reliance on fossil fuels is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

Though nuclear power provides about 20 percent of U.S. electricity and could, in an environment of rational public discourse, provide much more, nuke plants in the real world are difficult to site and expensive to build because of anti-nuclear activists who hype safety concerns and foment NIMBY-ism. Other sources of electrical generation -- such as hydroelectric, solar and wind -- offered limited potential with solar and wind power only as marginal sources. So if we like electricity, we're stuck with CO2-emitting fuels, mostly coal.

For those concerned about CO2 emissions, the question then becomes, can CO2 emissions be captured and sequestered (permanently stored) so that they never make it into the atmosphere to cause the much-dreaded global warming.

One proposed solution is to construct a nationwide-grid of pipelines from sources of CO2, like coal- and gas-fired electric power plants, so that the emissions can be captured and transported for storage in underground geological repositories like saline formations or depleted oil and gas fields.

Is this possible and what would it cost? The CRS report works out several hypothetical examples of CO2 pipelines running from the 11 largest CO2 emitters in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia -- all coal-fired electric power plants emitting over 9 million metric tons of CO2 annually -- to potential regional sequestration sites.

In the least expensive scenario, it would take an estimated $66 million to build pipelines each with a capacity of 10 million tons of CO2 annually from the 11 plants to a nearby geological formation called Rose Run. Unfortunately as the CRS points out, Rose Run may not have the capacity to accept all the CO2 produced and injecting pressurized CO2 may cause minor earthquakes. While the earthquakes may create additional capacity for CO2, they may also produce permanent conduits for leakage.

Unmineable coal beds in the same general area as Rose Run are another option but their capacity falls way short of Rose Run's.

The 10 largest local depleted oil and gas fields have an average capacity of 251 million tons of CO2, but the 30-year CO2 output of the 11 plants is estimated to range from 270 million tons to 491 million tons at current emission levels. Not only is their capacity lacking, but the oil and gas fields pose a significant risk of leaking.

A final option considered by CRS is pipelining the CO2 hundreds of miles west to a geological area in Michigan, Indiana and western Ohio known as the Mt. Simon formation. The average cost of building each pipeline would be $150 million. That's a bargain, however, compared to a geographically disadvantaged area like North Carolina. A Duke University study estimated it would cost $5 billion to transport CO2 from North Carolina's electric utilities to sequestration sites in other states.

The CRS report spotlighted an August 2007 decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reject a 450-mile pipeline to a Canadian oil field costing over $635 million as "not in the public interest."

But perhaps the most sobering assessment cited by the CRS comes from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group that has the official lead in selling climate hysteria. The IPCC estimates that the per ton cost of CO2 mitigation ranges from $31 to $71 for a coal-fired power plant.

Given that one ton of coal produces about 1.8 tons of CO2 and using the midpoint of the IPCC's estimated cost range ($51), the per ton cost of CO2 mitigation for one ton of coal is $92. As the current price of coal is about $10 per ton and the price of transporting that coal to an electric power plant averages about $25, capturing and sequestering CO2 could effectively raise the effective price of coal to power plants from $35 per ton to $127 per ton -- a 362 percent increase.

That sort of increase would likely dramatically impact electric bills. Since about one-third of the cost of electricity is fuel, tripling fuel costs could double the price of coal-fired electricity. To the extent that higher coal costs drove power plants to switch from coal to natural gas, the additional demand for gas would force those prices higher as well. By the way, electricity produced from natural gas already costs about four times as much as from coal.

All this is quite unfortunate for the many federal, state and local officials who have painted themselves into Al Gore's corner. The only way out of the climate panic that they've helped to foment is to take another look at the science. After all, who would want to be the politician-on-duty when electric bills double or, worse, the lights go out for those who can't afford such increases?



If you thought the 2008 presidential race was shattering all records for windy rhetoric, it's nothing compared to the political eco-rhetoric being spun to US taxpayers -- to get them to cough up billions of dollars to fuel a renewable wind power industry boom sensible investors won't touch with a turbine's rotor blade.

At present, the growth of the wind power industry in the US lags behind that in Europe. While Denmark and Germany pioneered wind power growth in Europe, Britain is about to steal the world lead. The UK wants to develop an unprecedented 33 gigawatts of wind power, mostly offshore, that will, literally, change the face of Britain. 7,000 wind turbines -- one every half-mile around the entire coastline -- are to be built in a bid to install power capacity that theoretically would be enough for all 25 million homes by 2020.

Wind power sounds a great European success story -- one to be echoed in the US, it seems, as 2008 is set to see wind power developments shatter records for the fourth consecutive year. However, a closer look at the European "success" story reveals that all is not quite as it seems. Wind seems to be blowing in the mind of the politically correct and those on the recent environmentalist bandwagon but the cost is going to be huge, no companies will plunge into it without massive government subsidies and, if actually built, power reliability will take a nosedive.

Having announced the grandiose British plan in January 2008, Industry Secretary John Hutton told the BBC, "There is no way of making the shift to low-carbon technology without there being change and for that change to be visible and evident to people." So there will be an enormous aesthetic environmental, as well as economic, cost. A cost driven primarily by the belief that man's carbon emissions are the main cause of the 1 degree or so of global warming the world has experienced over the last century.

But even wind industry supporters spotted the real flaw in the British plan. Gordon Edge, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) Director of Economics and Markets, called the government's plan "piece in the sky." Edge recognized that private capital investment will not be forthcoming. Dan Lewis of the Economic Research Council added that the British Government was "deluding itself on a grand scale. There will be no race by investors to build offshore wind farms." These voices recognize that, to date, the taxpayer alone has picked up the wind power tab.



Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that we must take a certain course of action because the experts tell us we must? The issue might be the threat of another country or an environmental risk, but increasingly we see appeals to authority used as the basis for arguing for this or that action.

In a new book, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith take the appeal to experts somewhat further and argue that in order to deal with climate change we need to replace liberal democracy with an authoritarianism of scientific expertise. They write in a recent op-ed:

"Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. . . There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. . . We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions."

On their book page they write:

"[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power."

So whenever you hear (or invoke) an argument from expertise (i.e., "the experts tell us that we must ...") ask if we should listen to the experts in just this one case, or if we should turn over all decisions to experts. If just this one case, why this one and not others? If a general prescription, should we do away with democracy in favor of an authoritarianism of expertise?


Greenhouse cuts would land us in the Middle Ages, says Australian Labor Party sceptic

THE Hawke government finance minister Peter Walsh has warned the Rudd Government that cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 would send Australian living standards back to the Middle Ages.

Mr Walsh, who was at the forefront of Labor's conversion to economic rationalism in the 1980s, heads the Lavoisier Group of hardline climate-change sceptics. In a submission lodged with the Garnaut climate change review, the former West Australian senator disputes the scientific evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are causing rising global temperatures. He points out that the Romans grew grapes in northern England in the first millennium and the Vikings grew cereals in Greenland in the second millennium. "Those much warmer periods cannot reasonably be attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gases," he says. He also says the temperature on Mars has risen in a similar way to that on Earth.

Mr Walsh says that changes in solar behaviour are a better scientific explanation for temperature changes and that many scientists believe a cooling period will set in within the next decade or so.

The review by Professor Ross Garnaut is examining the economic costs for Australia of tackling climate change.

Mr Walsh tells Professor Garnaut that a mooted 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 would have significant adverse consequences: "The latter figure is unachievable without substituting nuclear power in place of coal and crude oil or, alternatively, a reversion to the living standards and population densities of the Middle Ages." He describes emissions trading as the "cargo cult of the 21st century".



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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