Monday, February 11, 2008

Many unvalidated assumptions in Warmist theory

The science of "junk science" is to propagate a hypothesis that appears plausible but lacks substantiation and validation. The media and those with an agenda often promote the perception of plausibility but overlook the absence of validation.

The discipline of science evolved during the 13th and 14th centuries. It began with the merger of inductive analysis based on experimentation and deductive reasoning based on observation and debate. Experiments test a hypothesis. Criticism and debate establish the significance of the results.

The claim that debate has ended and "everyone agrees," or "there is consensus" that uncontrolled emissions of carbon dioxide by man will be catastrophic is the propagation of a falsity for the former and a fallacy for the latter. Not all scientists agree with the conclusion and whatever substantiation presented for the hypothesis has not been validated. Scientific validation is not about consensus.

Scientific validation for man-made global warming requires analysis of many interlocking and interdependent factors. Many of the factors are incapable of validation with computer modeling. This is evident from the information buried in the footnotes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relied on by the proponents of man-made global warming. Computer modeling is the basis for the panel's report.

Science has not developed the capability to distinguish and measure with any degree of certainty the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted solely by nature and that emitted by man. There are no scientific methods to determine what percent of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by vegetation or by the oceans and whether the unabsorbed remainder released to the atmosphere is in fact capable of causing catastrophic results.

Carbon dioxide is the "elixir of life" for vegetation. Studies have shown that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide improve crop utilization of fertilizers and water resulting in improved crops and crop yields.

A glaring omission from the IPCC study is data evaluating the Milankovitch Effect. The Milankovitch Effect measures the sun's energy and its effect on the earth as determined by the earth's orbit and its axial tilt. Other variables include unpredictable climate factors such as cloud cover, ocean circulation patterns, changes in precipitation, storms and other weather patterns.

Should significant economic policies be based on unsubstantiated projections obtained from inadequate computer climate models? Models that attempt to reduce all of the physical, chemical and biologic processes of Mother Nature to a set of mathematical equations. Arrogant? Presumptuous? Fallacious?

The fallacy of man-made global warming facilitates the ideal scare campaign for those seeking government intervention, global governance and an increase in global authority and control over energy. Control of energy is control of the economy, capital investment, the free market and wealth creation. Government intervention results in increased government dependence, taxation, income redistribution and socialism.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "When we are directed from Washington when and where to sow, and when and where to reap, we should soon want bread."


Hurricane Hysteria Revisited

Will global warming increase hurricane activity? Two studies published in the last week arrived at opposite conclusions. A link between warmer sea surface temperatures and increased North Atlantic hurricane activity "has been quantified for the first time," according to a study by University College London researchers that was published in Nature (Jan. 30). They claim to have associated a 0.5 degree Celsius increase in sea surface warming with a 40 percent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity during 1996-2005 as compared to the average activity during 1950-2000. "The scientists who have linked global warming to stronger storms said the study makes sense, and is, if anything, just repeating and refining what they have already said," the Associated Press reported (Jan. 30).

But the study result isn't surprising considering it was derived from a computer model that included only two variables -- sea surface temperature and atmospheric wind field -- which the researchers claim explain about 75 percent of the variance in Atlantic hurricane activity between 1965-2005. They claim to have teased out the association between sea surface temperature and hurricane activity by statistically removing the influence of wind from the model.

Sea surface temperatures and wind, however, aren't the only factors affecting hurricane activity. The model omitted at least two other known factors -- atmospheric humidity and sea level pressure -- and other more mysterious factors such as the tendency of hurricane activity to occur in cycles that are decades long.

Even though sea surface temperatures seem to have warmed, it's not at all clear that Atlantic hurricane activity has truly increased. As recently described in World Climate Report, the average hurricane activity during 1995-2005 was greater than that during 1971-1994, but the 1970s and 1980s witnessed unusually low hurricane activity. So the increased hurricane activity of 1995-2005 "thus appears to represent a recovery to normal hurricane activity, rather than a direct response to increasing sea surface temperature," according to World Climate Report.

Finally, regardless of whether warmer sea surface temperatures are associated with increased hurricane activity, the University College London researchers admitted that, "Our analysis does not identify whether greenhouse gas-induced warming contributed to the increase in water temperature and thus to the increase in hurricane activity."

Since the entire global warming debate depends on whether manmade greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change, without a link between such emissions and sea surface temperature changes, the claimed sea surface temperature-hurricane activity link is, at best, an academic point.

The other hurricane study, published in Geophysical Research Letters (Jan. 23) and not widely reported by the media, comes from climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The NOAA researchers compared sea surface temperatures with hurricanes that made U.S. landfall -- the most reliable hurricane measurement over the long-term, according to the researchers. They found a slight decrease in the trend of landfalling hurricanes with warmer sea surface temperatures.

"This paper uses observational data to demonstrate that the attribution of the recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity to global warming is premature and that global warming may decrease the likelihood of hurricanes making landfall in the United States," the researchers concluded.

As leading hurricane forecaster William Gray of Colorado State University put it, "Meteorologists who study tropical cyclones have no valid physical theory as to why hurricane frequency or intensity would necessarily be altered by small amounts (plus/minus 0.5 degrees Centigrade) of global mean temperature change."

Dr. Gray continued, "In a global warming or global cooling world, the atmosphere's upper air temperatures will warm or cool in unison with the sea surface temperatures. Vertical-lapse rates [differences between the atmospheric and sea temperatures that, when increased, tend to favor storm formation] will not be significantly altered."

In observing that there were 80 major hurricanes during 1945-1969 when the global temperature was cooling, but only 38 major hurricanes during 1970-1994 when global temperature was warming, Dr. Gray note that "Atlantic sea-surface temperatures do not necessarily follow global mean temperature trends."

Even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledged in its most recent assessment that although average Northern Hemisphere temperatures in the last half of the 20 century were very likely higher than at any other time during the last 500 years, "There is no clear trend in the annual number of tropical cyclones [hurricanes].

And, of course, Al Gore learned this lesson the hard way. His attempt in "An Inconvenient Truth" to link manmade greenhouse gas emissions with the Hurricane Katrina tragedy was sound rejected by a British High Court judge who succinctly ruled that, "In scene 12 Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans is ascribed to global warming. It is common ground that there is insufficient evidence to show that."

As Sen. John McCain emerged from the Florida Republican primary as the Republican front runner, observed that "After hitting it in most every appearance he made in New Hampshire and Michigan, John McCain now rarely brings up the topic of global warming." In talking to reporters after a campaign event in West Palm Beach, McCain said, "I try to bring it up in areas that I think that it is of great import to people."

Given the scientific evidence, it's quite easy to understand why Floridians might not think that alleged global warming-hurricane link is of great import.


Environmentalism as Religion, Religion as Environmentalism

I give you the subject header of an email that just came across our faculty/staff listserv, courtesy of the Chaplain's Office: "Christian Ash Wednesday: Why not give up carbon for Lent?" Now the idea was not literally to "give up carbon" altogether, although that would make Rand's characterization of environmentalism as "death worship" much less hyperbolic than I've always believed it to be. Rather, it was an exhortation to reduce energy usage on the margin. Still, it does serve as a reminder of what many have seen as the disturbing parallels between much of organized religion and popular forms of environmentalism. Seeing them explicitly combined in such a "logical" way makes these points even more telling:

Both are highly moralistic and use the language and strategies of "sinfulness." This also involves an implied and often explicit claim to have monopolized the moral high ground.

Both involve the idea that one must sacrifice now for some undetermined future reward. This makes the Lent connection very logical.

Both have historically been very quick to label and condemn as "heretics" those who disagree with them.

Both have a tendency toward irrationalism and mysticism, e.g. the Gaia strand of environmentalism.

I really do believe that for many young people and for older folks on the left, environmentalism is a way of creating meaning in their very secular lives that in an earlier era would have been fulfilled by religious practice. It brings the notion of living for something larger than oneself, of sacrificing in the name of a better future, and of having a set of certain moral categories by which one can orient one's own behavior and criticize that of others. In these ways it is also a response to the relativism with which many are inculcated growing up and being educated. It also explains, I think, the increasing attractiveness to young people of neo-paganism and other forms of spirituality that are linked to nature. Seeing Lent as a time to reduce carbon usage could be seen as a very clever way of speaking to young lapsed or non-practicing Catholics in the same sort of language.

And to head off a certain line of criticism, my point is not to condemn every form of concern about the environment, nor to suggest that such concerns are incompatible with reason or libertarianism. I think there are interesting and important parallels and interactions between the spontaneous order of nature and that of society that need to be taken seriously by libertarians. However, that perspective is not the one taken in the general public's environmentalism.

It is a challenge for those of us who are skeptical of both organized religion's and environmentalism's claims to being universal moralities that should inform public policy (as opposed to something one practices as a private morality) to find a way to offer people a set of meaningful and universalizable values that are more consistently congenial to classical liberalism. If we cannot offer our own way of filling that gap, it will continue to be filled for us by movements that are not so friendly to liberty and progress.


The Sun Also Sets

Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles. To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better "eyes" with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth's climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined. And they're worried about global cooling, not warming.

Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity. Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century. Such an event occurred in the 17th century. The observation of sunspots showed extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle.

This solar hibernation corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe.

Tapping reports no change in the sun's magnetic field so far this cycle and warns that if the sun remains quiet for another year or two, it may indicate a repeat of that period of drastic cooling of the Earth, bringing massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere. Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." But he and his colleagues need better equipment. In Canada, where radio-telescopic monitoring of the sun has been conducted since the end of World War II, a new instrument, the next-generation solar flux monitor, could measure the sun's emissions more rapidly and accurately.

As we have noted many times, perhaps the biggest impact on the Earth's climate over time has been the sun. For instance, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar Research in Germany report the sun has been burning more brightly over the last 60 years, accounting for the 1 degree Celsius increase in Earth's temperature over the last 100 years.

R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center of Canada's Carleton University, says that "CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales." Rather, he says, "I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet."

Patterson, sharing Tapping's concern, says: "Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth." "Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again," Patterson says. "If we were to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."

In 2005, Russian astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov made some waves - and not a few enemies in the global warming "community" - by predicting that the sun would reach a peak of activity about three years from now, to be accompanied by "dramatic changes" in temperatures.

A Hoover Institution Study a few years back examined historical data and came to a similar conclusion. "The effects of solar activity and volcanoes are impossible to miss. Temperatures fluctuated exactly as expected, and the pattern was so clear that, statistically, the odds of the correlation existing by chance were one in 100," according to Hoover fellow Bruce Berkowitz. The study says that "try as we might, we simply could not find any relationship between industrial activity, energy consumption and changes in global temperatures."

The study concludes that if you shut down all the world's power plants and factories, "there would not be much effect on temperatures." But if the sun shuts down, we've got a problem. It is the sun, not the Earth, that's hanging in the balance.


Study: Ethanol May Add to Global Warming

The widespread use of ethanol from corn could result in nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the gasoline it would replace because of expected land-use changes, researchers concluded Thursday. The study challenges the rush to biofuels as a response to global warming. The researchers said that past studies showing the benefits of ethanol in combating climate change have not taken into account almost certain changes in land use worldwide if ethanol from corn - and in the future from other feedstocks such as switchgrass - become a prized commodity. "Using good cropland to expand biofuels will probably exacerbate global warming," concludes the study published in Science magazine.

The researchers said that farmers under economic pressure to produce biofuels will increasingly "plow up more forest or grasslands," releasing much of the carbon formerly stored in plants and soils through decomposition or fires. Globally, more grasslands and forests will be converted to growing the crops to replace the loss of grains when U.S. farmers convert land to biofuels, the study said.

The Renewable Fuels Association, which represents ethanol producers, called the researchers' view of land-use changes "simplistic" and said the study "fails to put the issue in context." "Assigning the blame for rainforest deforestation and grassland conversion to agriculture solely on the renewable fuels industry ignores key factors that play a greater role," said Bob Dinneen, the association's president.

There has been a rush to developing biofuels, especially ethanol from corn and cellulosic feedstock such as switchgrass and wood chips, as a substitute for gasoline. President Bush signed energy legislation in December that mandates a six-fold increase in ethanol use as a fuel to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, calling the requirement key to weaning the nation from imported oil.

The new "green" fuel, whether made from corn or other feedstocks, has been widely promoted - both in Congress and by the White House - as a key to combating global warming. Burning it produces less carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, than the fossil fuels it will replace. During the recent congressional debate over energy legislation, lawmakers frequently cited estimates that corn-based ethanol produces 20 percent less greenhouse gases in production, transportation and use than gasoline, and that cellulosic ethanol has an even greater benefit of 70 percent less emissions.

The study released Thursday by researchers affiliated with Princeton University and a number of other institutions maintains that these analyses "were one-sided" and counted the carbon benefits of using land for biofuels but not the carbon costs of diverting land from its existing uses. "The other studies missed a key factor that everyone agrees should have been included, the land use changes that actually are going to increase greenhouse gas emissions," said Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and lead author of the study.

The study said that after taking into account expected worldwide land-use changes, corn-based ethanol, instead of reducing greenhouse gases by 20 percent, will increases it by 93 percent compared to using gasoline over a 30-year period. Biofuels from switchgrass, if they replace croplands and other carbon-absorbing lands, would result in 50 percent more greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers concluded.

Not all ethanol would be affected by the land-use changes, the study said. "We should be focusing on our use of biofuels from waste products" such as garbage, which would not result in changes in agricultural land use, Searchinger said in an interview. "And you have to be careful how much you require. Use the right biofuels, but don't require too much too fast. Right now we're making almost exclusively the wrong biofuels."



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Roommate from hell analogy to Global Warming tithing. Uptight Jewish guy. To "not do work" for some religious holiday, he taped the damn kitchen light switch off and got all pissed off when it had been removed by me, that is when he arrived home his car! Not only was I a heartless atheist (destined to the hot knife eternal torture described in his religious book), but a racist too! I thought it was a practical joke, but his rage made me realize (age 20) that religious people can really get stormy on you if you don't "respect" their beliefs.

The problem with the excellent hypothesis of man-made global warming is that, unlike the story of Heaven and Hell, which is unfalsafiable, not only is Global Warming falsifiable, but has been falsified, and not just because it's not man-made, but that it's not even warming up, globally!