Monday, June 09, 2008


An email from Lee Rodgers []. The role of soot in warming has been underestimated in climate models. Allowing for it would reduce the role of CO2

The logic of soot abatement extends beyond the air-heating and snow-melting effects. It extends into arboreal watershed protection (related to tropical glacier decimation vs. recharge), environmental health (mercury and arsenic deposition worldwide) and reforestation efforts (converting from slash&burn and wood fuels to petrol fertilizer and cook fuels). With such a project would come abatement of the corresponding sulfate and nitrate aerosols which can lead to acid precipitation. Considering at least half of ongoing mercury deposition in the American West comes from coal combustion in East Asia alone the benefits of stack emissions cleanup are truly global in scope.

The question of cook fuel conversion is problematic, however, because of the rising price of petrol. Fuel conservation is still then a worthy goal because of the indirect opportunity costs of non-point residential soot emissions.

The story behind the new-found data on soot's net heating effect is a long and tangled one. In 2003 Ramanathan's INDOEX efforts into studying the Asian Brown Cloud (now renamed the "Atmospheric Brown Cloud") were thwarted by the IPCC at the behest of China and India. Neither the Indian government nor the CCP wanted one more piece of evidence implicating their role in the ongoing regional climate anomalies of droughts and heat waves. It was no surprise to some but Ramanathan's field data discovery showing brown clouds' net warming was a great surprise to him.

And the many and varied interests that'd benefit from CO2 Cap & Trade schemes - developing nations, rent-seeking opportunists and Cap & Trade arbitreurs - are vested in obfuscating the simplicity of the soot problem. They know that real abatement of soot emissions would ultimately show how much less CO2's warming effect is than is being claimed by AGW alarmists. China is currently the biggest emitter of industrial soot & aerosols, but is ready to embark on a broad environmental cleanup along with other reforms in labor rules.

If CO2 doesn't pose a terrible threat and soot is widely perceived to be the pernicious dark horse that falsely implicated CO2 more than its due, then these ostensibly pro-environment advocates won't have a way to foist a vast command-and-control system upon the world's nations.

As for the polar bears, I frankly think the activists would rather keep the polar bears as CO2 poster children than admit that soot even exists. If they believe that CO2 is a big threat, and yet they know the data on soot (which EDF does, I know that from reading their blog last summer), and they then avoid mention of soot for fear of diluting the CO2 message with just the mere hope that soot mitigation will follow along, they would then be intentionally playing a game of brinksmanship.

Either that belies a willingness to use the bears as game pieces or it's really not a crisis. And as I mentioned above, they're afraid that the net-warming effects of aerosols, once openly discussed, will reveal a far softer CO2 warming signal. And it may well belie an ulterior political motive of social engineering via energy command and control. Let there be no doubt that CO2 Cap & Trade is the penultimate dirigist's dream.

The data on tropospheric soot's effect, however, are finally getting the attention they deserve. Already IPCC AR5 is purported to show this newfound data on aerosol soot's net warming effect, and the testimony has been offered to Rep. Henry Waxman late last year.

You'd think that Sen. Barbara Boxer, Waxman's Democratic colleague, would have taken a more-realistic tack in promoting an environmental bill and yet the Lieberman-Warner Bill was all about CO2 cap&trade, not about realistic or practical objectives like soot mitigation. It's made for facile political theater as most Republicans in the American Congress rallied against it, but the bill was doomed from its onset. It was meant for Pres. Bush to veto, but the odds are low it'll even make its way out of the Democratically controlled U.S. Senate.

Each of these attempts at subterfuge will only defer the ultimately inconvenient data on soot emissions, that soot-ladened tropospheric brown clouds are far more culpable in climate change and abatement of their effects offer far greater and nearly instant returns on expenditures in terms of environmental quality. With that will come a partially exculpatory review of CO2 as a dangerous greenhouse gas.

NOAA: U.S. Has 36th Coolest Spring on Record

The March-May spring season was the 36th coolest on record for the contiguous United States, according to an analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Separately, last month ended as the 34th coolest May for the contiguous United States, based on records dating back to 1895. The average spring temperature of 51.4 degrees F was 0.5 degree F below the 20th century average. The average May temperature of 60.3 degrees F was 0.7 degree F below the 20th century mean, based on preliminary data.

U.S. Temperature Highlights

* The March-May temperatures were cooler than average from the Northwest and extending throughout the central Plains and upper Mississippi Valley. In all, 19 states had a cooler-than-average spring.

* Twenty-five states were cooler than average for May. Pennsylvania was much cooler than average and ranked eighth coolest.

* The unusually cool temperatures kept the nation's overall temperature-related residential energy demand for May above average. Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was approximately 3.5 percent above average in May, but near average for the spring season.

* Florida, Texas, and Washington were warmer than average for May.


The Sanctity of Climate Models

Reading between the lines of the new Thompson et al. Nature paper suggests that once they get the details worked out, the "updated" observed global temperature history is going to fit climate model hindcasts even better than it does now, and embolden confidence in their future projections.

The majority of the alarm raised over global warming stems from climate model projections. And thus it is largely inconceivable that there is going to be a major finding published in a journal such as Nature that is going to call into question one of the fundamental results from climate models-that is, climate models accurately simulate the "known" temperature history. The "known history" may change, but you can rest assured that it isn't going to change in such as way as to make the climate models look like they aren't doing so well after all.

At first blush, it seems that new paper by Thompson and colleagues published in the current issue of Nature magazine concerning alterations to the "known" temperature history of the world oceans may be an exception to this rule.

Thompson et al. found that irregularities arising from changing observing practices and data availability during World War II produced a discontinuity on the global sea surface temperature record in the middle 1940s. In the abstract they write "We argue that the abrupt temperature drop of ~0.3C in 1945 is the apparent result of uncorrected instrumental biases in the sea surface temperature record. Corrections for the discontinuity are expected to alter the character of mid-twentieth century temperature variability but not estimates of the century-long trend in global-mean temperatures."

However, while Thompson et al. identify the existence of a significant problem in the sea surface temperature record, they don't actually fix the problem in this paper. Instead, they leave us with a we-are-working-on-it promise, "The Met Office Hadley Centre is currently assessing the adjustments required to compensate for the step in 1945 and subsequent changes in the SST observing network." And tease us with the following:

The adjustments immediately after 1945 are expected to be as large as those made to the pre-war data (~0.3 §C), and smaller adjustments are likely to be required in SSTs through at least the mid-1960s, by which time the observing fleet was relatively diverse and less susceptible to changes in the data supply from a single country of origin. The new adjustments are likely to have a substantial impact on the historical record of global-mean surface temperatures through the middle part of the twentieth century. The adjustments are unlikely to significantly affect estimates of century-long trends in global-mean temperatures, as the data before ~1940 and after the mid-1960s are not expected to require further corrections for changes from uninsulated bucket to engine room intake measurements.

This statement leaves the door wide open for rampant speculation, for the goings-on in the mid-20th century are critically import for several major issues, 1) they are vital in understanding the impact of sulfate aerosols, 2) they impact attribution of the recent warming, and not to mention that 3) a major change would reflect negatively on the general reliability of the global temperature dataset. And, not to disappoint, speculation began virtually immediately.

Our first reaction was "wow, this is going to knock the stuffing out of the sulfate hypothesis" since the climate models are specifically tuned to match the 20th century temperature history by fiddling with the cooling impacts of sulfate aerosols. If it really didn't cool as much during the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s as we thought, then all the models are fit to the wrong temperature history and the big loser is going to be the sulfate aerosols, as they will have a lot less work to do. This has far reaching impacts down the line, for in addition to forcing a cooling from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, sulfate aerosols also are required in climate models to keep the 20th century temperatures in check, otherwise, when the climate models are run with greenhouse gas increases alone, they think it should be a lot hotter now than it really is-which means that they would all be wrong. And more, in the future emissions scenarios used by climate modelers, sulfates emissions are presumed to decline (citing current and future air pollution regulations), which means that the world warms up even faster! Sulfate aerosols are like Swiss Army Knives for the climate models-they are used to get the models out of all sorts of inconvenient situations. Just imagine the problems that would arise if this all-purpose tool were suddenly lost. The Thompson et al. paper hinted at just this possibility.

Others, such as Roger Pielke Jr. on his Prometheus blog, focused more on what the Thompson et al. correction could mean for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) recent attribution statement that "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." If the total warming since the mid-century is significantly reduced by the forthcoming corrections, then perhaps the ability to clearly determine the difference between anthropogenic causes and natural causes is blurred more than the IPCC suggests. One of their fundamental conclusions could be in error.

And still others, such as's Steve McIntyre, wonder just how much faith we can have in a temperature record that is full of so many measuring inconsistencies that the task of developing a meaning temperature record is so intractable. After a while there are so many different adjustments applied that the final product looks little like the underlying original observations (but, surprise surprise, it looks more and more like what climate models say it should).

But signs abound that the above are simply wishful (or wistful) thinking. Those who are a closer to knowing the unpublished details of the pending "fix" are suggesting something else entirely. For instance, RealClimate's Gavin Schmidt has this reply to a commenter on the blog:

The first cut at the revisions.has effectively the same match to the [climate] model trends as before (maybe a little better) and so no revisions to the models nor to attribution studies are likely.

So much for the death to the sulfate hypothesis. In fact, the "revised" temperature history will probably even make the models look better. And the last line of their paper, Thompson et al. let loose the following gem: However, compensation for a different potential source of bias in SST data in the past decade-the transition from ship- to buoy-derived SSTs-might increase the century-long trends by raising recent SSTs as much as ~0.1§C, as buoy-derived SSTs are biased cool relative to ship measurements.

Ah, yes, not only are they going to tweak the mid-century temperatures, but they are also going to make recent temperatures warmer than they are currently being reported. This will kill two birds with one stone. It will serve to (more than?) compensate for any mid-century temperature corrections, and it will take some of the wind out of the sails of the good ship "Global Warming Stopped 10 Years Ago." Again, the models will come out of this like shining stars.

Call us skeptics, but we have grave doubts that the corrections to the observed global temperature history will result in a lessening in the overall confidence that is proclaimed that climate change is manifesting itself even worse than we imagined. After all, there is an overwhelming, odds-busting tendency for publications in the journal Nature to report that things are tending worse (rather than better) than we ever imagined. In an unbiased world, the expectation should be 50-50 that publications in Nature would find things either better or worse than the expectations. In reality, the publication ratio is about 10 to 1 for the worse side. We have a bad feeling, that despite the initial optimism, that the outcome of the Thompson et al. findings will ultimately prove to increase the tally on the worse-than-expected side of things.



After half a century of campaigning, botanist David Bellamy still believes the answer lies in the soil, discovers Peter Elson

ONCE upon a time, botanist Dr David Bellamy was all over our television screens, like a rash of the invasive fungi he so often enthused about. He was in that flock of eccentric telly egg-heads (such as Dr Magnus Pike), plucked from their natural academic habitat, hired to round up vast herds of untamed mainstream viewers, previously untempted by a diet of hard science. But like the formerly prolific house sparrow, Dr Bellamy, aged 75, is also now a relatively rare sighting. Luckily, keen boffin-watchers without binoculars can view him at close-quarters as the Cheshire Show's special guest, later this month.

Can we blame his scarcity on global warming? Well, yes, indirectly, he says. More shockingly, he believes an appearance on children's magazine Blue Peter killed his small screen career. "I stopped a Welsh windfarm on Blue Peter in 1996 and I've not been on television since. Also, it was rumoured my stance on having an anti-EU referendum was unpopular with TV bosses," he mutters. "If that's true, it's a very bad sign for democracy in this country."

He claims to have "smelt a rat" when the BBC sacked one of its top journalists, Julian Pettifer, for being president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "Also Julian Pettifer made a wonderful programme about the effect of farmed salmon on wild salmon and he was publicly sacked," he alleges. "From this moment on the BBC became a pusher of global warming. I'm proud to be a global warming heretic, because the theory's wrong.

"If you wanted to show Al Gore's anti-global warming film An Inconvenient Truth, by law you have to give the other side now. How many teachers know what to tell the children to balance the 35 mistakes in this film?"

Global warming theory has never been tested and is based on a series of computer models, he says. "Since 1998 there has been no rise in the average temperature of the world, although we pour 44 giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. "There are now three times more polar bears in the world than 20 years ago when I was working in the Arctic, yet the US Senate has given them special protection."

But he concurs with the World Wildlife Fund's new report that a third of all species face extinction. "We've overfished the world and completely screwed up 2% of the world's soil. The main reason for species extinction is habitat destruction," he splutters.

More here

What's the MPG of your soap?

Gasoline accounts for only 45% of the oil use in the USA. Swapping the SUV for a Prius sounds like a good idea, but of the 20 million barrels of oil used each day in the USA, only 9 million go to the production of fuel. See the chart. The rest is used in a variety of ways. Including asphalt. Which is rising in price. At the same time, state gas tax collections are down because people are driving less. On the other hand, less driving, less wear and tear on the roads. Well, except for those freeloading electric cars who pay no gas tax but still use the roads the gas tax pays for.

Manufacturers like Procter & Gamble consume oil to make their products, the New York Times reported:
Price increases have helped to offset this cost. They have averaged nearly 5 percent for paper towels, bath tissues and diapers, all made with chemicals derived from oil, said Paul Fox, a company spokesman. Natural oils have been substituted for ingredients made from petroleum; for example, palm oil now goes into a variety of laundry soaps. But like rubber, the cost of palm oil and other natural commodities is rising.

And doesn't the production of palm oil harm the environment? Why, yes it does.

How did we get here? We put offshore drilling off limits. Then we expanded federal land holdings and put them off limits for oil drilling. Now the price of oil has shot up and we're demonizing the SUV because, well, it creates carbon dioxide which trees "breathe" but nonetheless is considered a bad thing by the political environmentalists. We seek alternative boutique fuels like palm oil because they make us feel good and we make ethanol not out of sugar like any sane person would but out of the least efficient plant available: corn. The runoff from the fertilizers has created a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size and shape of New Jersey just off the Louisiana cost, which screws up the fishing industry. We are doing all this because of some half-witted environmentalists who think they know what they are doing and can bully the idiots we put in Congress into doing the "right thing" even if it is the stupid thing.

Yes, we should not pollute. I get that. But we should also not put our economic freedom in the hands of socialists who are hiding behind a green cover.

No, it is not simple. It never is. Unintended consequences abound - especially when you jump off into the deep end without knowing just exactly what the liquid is in the pool.


Obama is a fully fledged Warmist

From his site:

As this week's debate on climate change has unfolded, the American people and those watching us around the world had every reason to hope that we would act. Every credible scientist and expert believes action is necessary. This is critical and long overdue legislation that represents a good first step in addressing one of the most serious problems facing our generation.

Like many of my Senate colleagues, I believe the legislation could have been made even better. Had there been a substantive Senate debate about some of the concerns with this bill, I believe the outcome could have generated broad support. It certainly would have received my support.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate has chosen to block progress, rather than work in a good faith manner to address this challenge. This is a failure of our politics and a failure of leadership - a President who for years denied the problem, and a Republican nominee, John McCain, who claims leadership on the issue but opposes this bipartisan bill.

We can't afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. We are already breaking records with the intensity of our storms, the number of forest fires, and the periods of drought. By 2050, famine could force more than 250 million from their homes. And if we do nothing, sea levels will rise high enough to swallow large portions of every coastal city and town.

This bipartisan legislation establishes an economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. It helps states, cities, and towns invest in technologies to reduce energy bills for homeowners, increase energy efficiency, construct green buildings, and expand public transit. It invests in green technology to help our automakers to retool and our fossil-fuel industries to become clean. The bill provides real financial relief to working families. Importantly, the bill restores our great nation's international leadership role, while including provisions to ensure that all major emitting nations also take serious action to solve this global problem.

Let me be clear, this bill is not perfect. Emissions reductions must reflect the scientific consensus, which are reductions of at least 80 percent 2050. We must ensure that more middle-class families reap more of the financial benefits created by this bill. And we must direct greater resources to the regions of the country that will bear the brunt of this critical transition to a clean energy economy.

I believe that the American people are ready to lead the world on this issue. The time for distractions, divisions, and excuses is over. The time for new coalitions, informed and civil debate, and a sense of shared purpose is long overdue. As president, I am committed to ensuring that our children and our children's children can point to this generation as the time when American found its way again.



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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