Friday, March 21, 2008

The "Mystery" of Global Warming's Missing Heat

Article below from the Left-leaning NPR. The only mystery is why they think there is a mystery -- since global atmospheric temperatures have in fact been flat overall in the last 10 years. They are confused by their own propaganda

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them. This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans. "There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant," Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."

In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it's also possible that something more mysterious is going on. That becomes clear when you consider what's happening to global sea level. Sea level rises when the oceans get warm because warmer water expands. This accounts for about half of global sea level rise. So with the oceans not warming, you would expect to see less sea level rise. Instead, sea level has risen about half an inch in the past four years. That's a lot.

Willis says some of this water is apparently coming from a recent increase in the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. "But in fact there's a little bit of a mystery. We can't account for all of the sea level increase we've seen over the last three or four years," he says. One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded - and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys. But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet. That can't be directly measured at the moment, however. [A huge admission!] "Unfortunately, we don't have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they've been playing during this period," Trenberth says.

It's also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it's possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don't know about. It's an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate. "I suspect that we'll able to put this together with a little bit more perspective and further analysis [Statistical jiggery-pokery, here we come!]," Trenberth says. "But what this does is highlight some of the issues and send people back to the drawing board."

Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat. [Indeed!]


Dams are saving the planet!

Greenies hate dams so they won't like this:

Water held in man-made reservoirs is masking the true extent of sea level rise from melting ice and thermal expansion, report scientists writing in the journal Science. The researchers, from the National Central University in Taiwan, calculate that sea levels would be 30 mm (1.2 inches) higher without water stored behind dams.

The findings are significant in that they increase by a third the annual rise in sea levels observed since 1961, from 1.8 mm to 2.4 mm. Rising sea levels have been attributed to thermal expansion of warming sea water and melting of polar ice caps and glaciers. According to the University of Colorado at Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, about 60 percent of total global sea rise from ice loss can be attributed to glaciers and ice caps, 28 percent from Greenland, and 12 percent from Antarctica.

Last year the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that global warming would cause oceans to rise 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) by 2100, though some scientists said the estimates were too low due to other sources of melt. Their criticism found support in the latest study which suggests that IPCC figures are indeed underestimates.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC said it could account for only 1.1 mm of the observed annual sea level rise of 1.8 mm from 1961 to 2003. It attributed 0.4 mm of rise to thermal expansion and 0.7 mm to melting ice. Overall global average sea level rose about 17 centimeters last century.

The Taiwanese researchers used the International Commission on Large Dams' World Register of Dams to calculate the volume of water - some 10,800 cubic kilometers (2,600 cubic miles) - that is stored in more than 29,000 reservoirs worldwide. They then used data on when dams were built to calculate annual sea level rise had water not been retained by dams. They found that sea levels would have climbed by an "essentially constant" 2.46 millimeters per year over the past eight decades.



Global warming is the gift that keeps on giving to climate hysterics. For those already pre-disposed to being anti-western, anti-development, anti-growth, anti-capitalist and most of all, anti-U.S., it's the perfect propaganda tool. After all, as they screech, the survival of the Earth itself is at stake and they alone are on the side of the angels. They alone care about the legacy we will leave our grandchildren. To this crowd, the rest of us are "climate deniers," in a league with the devil, in the pay of Big Oil and out to destroy ... uh ... ourselves.

Even better for climate hysterics, they will never be called to account for their simple-minded campaign to demonize fossil fuels, which is aimed more at arbitrarily controlling human behaviour -- and for so-called "green" politicians, raising taxes -- than reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That's because everyone alive today will be dead long before we know how much of the scientific "consensus" on global warming is correct.

Over the short term -- and when talking about climate change, this means considerably longer than the life span of everyone now on the planet -- we know that no matter what we do, GHG emissions, which are cumulative and last for anywhere from 50 to thousands of years in the atmosphere, will continue to rise for many decades, along with global temperatures. That would be true even if we were reducing emissions now, which, for all the shouting, we aren't. But beyond that -- and that there will be a significant impact on climate, and us -- the scientific "consensus" touted by climate hysterics abruptly ends.


There are huge unknowns, competing theories and debates within the scientific community about what will happen, where, when and how severe. The insistence of climate hysterics (and opportunistic politicians) that the debate over anthropogenic global warming is "over" -- aimed at replacing rational decision-making with "do as we say" diktats -- is laughable. If it's "over," why are governments still spending billions of our tax dollars researching it, dwarfing anything spent by the fossil fuel industry, which climate hysterics would have us believe is funding anyone who doesn't bow before them? The reason for all this publicly funded research is because of all that we don't know.

But what we do know is that what the hysterics claim, that virtually any weather phenomenon today is "proof" of man-made climate change -- harsh winters, mild winters, dry spells, wet spells, more snow, less snow, heat waves, cold snaps, you name it -- is nonsense. The climate is always changing and was changing long before we arrived. Plus, weather isn't climate, something hysterics (and pseudo-green media) mention when it suits them, ignore when it doesn't.

Ultimately, responding to global warming is a political issue. In that context, as retired U.S. foreign service officers Teresa Chin Jones (who holds a doctorate in chemistry) and David T. Jones, wrote perceptively in their 2007 article "The Zen of Global Warming":
"It appears that every generation needs a holier-than-thou, ideological mantra ... with which to wrap themselves virtuously, while belabouring their opponents as the political equivalent of demonically possessed ...

"Pick your weapon/words and come out slanging. In this regard, the Kyoto agreement and global warming have become among the most knife-edged shibboleths of the current culture wars.

"To complicate matters, global warming and its political surrogate (the Kyoto accord) appear to have become aspects of bilateral differentiation between nations -- distinguishing the moral, environmentally-conscious, energy-conserving Kyoto cultists, from the right-wing, gun-toting yahoos and Kyoto-deniers epitomized by the United States."


They argue for a pragmatic approach -- energy conservation and industrial innovation to develop alternative energy sources, based on the precautionary principle that, regardless of global warming theory, we know the Earth's population is increasing and that non-renewable energy sources (oil, coal, natural gas) are precisely that -- non-renewable. "In short, we do not need a new 'Crusade'," they conclude, "but rather, a new Industrial Revolution."

Exactly. One based on technological innovation, that climate hysterics -- their Luddite heads filled with dangerous notions that humanity can be returned to a pre-industrial, pastoral state -- will fight every step of the way. Ironic, isn't it?


The Jevons' Paradox

By emeritus professor Philip Stott

"It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth." [William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882)]

It is widely assumed that the more efficient use of a resource (e.g. energy or fuel) will automatically reduce both the consumption of that resource and consumption in general. This belief has fueled a widespread current trope that increasing energy efficiency is a no-brainer, whatever one thinks about global warming. But how valid is such an argument?

In 1865, the Liverpool-born logician and economist, William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882) [above], wrote an influential book, entitled The Coal Question; An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines (London: Macmillan & Co). Jevons observed that the consumption of coal rose rapidly after James Watt had introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which much improved the efficiency of Thomas Newcomens earlier designs. Watts innovations made coal a more cost effective source of power, leading to an increased use of the steam engine in a wider range of industries. This in turn increased total coal consumption, even though the amount of coal required for any particular application dropped through efficiency gains.

This phenomenon has become known as Jevons Paradox, and we hear remarkably little about it these days. Indeed, somewhat paradoxically, it appears to be the last thing politicians would like us to contemplate. The basic paradox goes thus: any increase in the efficiency with which energy is employed will cause a concomitant decrease in the price or cost of that resource when measured in terms of work done. Thus, with a lower price/cost per unit of work, more work will be purchased. This additional work need not be for the same product, as it was with Jevons coal, but it may be displaced into the purchase of new product ranges or work. To put it simply: if I save money by insulating my home, I may use those savings to buy an additional computer, a patio heater, or holiday abroad. The degree of additional work, or displacement, will depend above all on the price elasticity of demand.

Thus, the more a government subsides so-called energy efficiency, the more I shall be able to use the money saved to buy further energy-using goods and services, which may well increase my overall energy demand. If my car is more energy efficient, I may well decide that I can make many more journeys.

The assumption that Homo oeconomicus will adopt energy efficiency for its own sake, and for an indeterminate good promoted by politicians, flies in the face of normal economic behaviour. Homo oeconomicus will embrace energy efficiency above all to release resources for increased overall and wider consumption.

Thus, Jevons remains highly relevant today. What is also of interest is the fact that Jevons was, fundamentally, a Malthusian, who was deeply worried about the peaking of coal, just as we are of the peaking of oil:

I must point out the painful fact that such a rate of growth will before long render our consumption of coal comparable with the total supply. In the increasing depth and difficulty of coal mining we shall meet that vague, but inevitable boundary that will stop our progress.

Yet, Jevons fell into a typical Malthusian elephant-trap, believing that petroleum would not become a significant energy source, and that coal could not be replaced by other forms of energy. Jevons was, of course, proved dramatically wrong over such energy boundaries, just as today. Neo-Malthusians will likewise be found wanting (and, highly paradoxically, it will be partly through the return of King Coal).

Nevertheless, Jevons famous Paradox could well prove the undoing of political pontificating over energy efficiency, as the money saved widens consumption yet further. Indeed, energy efficiency may increase energy use overall. What a Green paradox!



Paul Saunders [] writes:

About children's books presenting the truth about global warming: I heard author Dr. Holly Lippke Fretwell (Adjunct Professor of Natural Resources Management at Montana State University) on the radio discussing her children's book "The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming (Paperback)." It is aimed at children 8 years old and older. Judging from her comments on the radio and the publisher's book description, it appears that the book is accurate scientifically. I do not own and have not read her book.

The description is here. From the description:

"The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK To Chill About Global Warming" is for parents sick of seeing their kids indoctrinated by has-been politicians and Hollywood stars. Unlike books written by would-be celebrities without any scientific or economics background, "The Sky's Not Falling" is everything a book about the environment written for kids should be: fact-filled, apolitical, fun and optimistic about the future of our magnificent, ever-changing planet.

In "The Sky's Not Falling," author Holly Fretwell, a natural resources management expert, shows kids ages 8 and up that human ingenuity combined with an "enviropreneurial" spirit will lead us to a bright environmental future, not one where people ruin the earth. '

Dr. Fretwell is an adjunct professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics

Kenneth Green [] writes:

There is a good balanced book on climate change that a bright fifth-grader should be able to handle. It's a bit out of date, though little has changed at the fundamental level that a kid would learn from: "Global Warming: Understanding the Debate by Kenneth Green.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your headline "Cool It" reminds me of something has hasn't really been pointed out. That Bjorn Lomborg, author of the book "Cool It" has caved in, possibly strategically, but nevertheless for real, NOW (unlike before) adopting the idea that warming has been due to CO2, but that economically, it's dumb for a generation to worry about the lives of their great great great (...) grandchildren when there are people living today who need help.


But his original book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was a DAMNING condemnation of the entire Environmental movement as the hypocritical, dishonest, power-hungry domain of rich liberals who basically didn't want their mountain summer homes to have any people (urban sprawl) living around them, and the story of how Environmentalists responded with *horror* to the idea of safe fusion power being finally figured out.