Friday, September 19, 2008

Another scare bites the dust: Permafrost does not necessarily melt during Global Warming

Once again, reality does not fit the models

One of the potential consequences of a warmer world, according to scientists who study such things, is the deep thawing of the permafrost. Thawing could release huge quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, as vegetation, bones and other organic material, long locked up in the deep freezer that is the permafrost, decompose.

But a study published in Science suggests that the impact of warming on the permafrost may not be as bad as forecast. The evidence comes in the form of a wedge of ancient ice found at an old mining site in the Yukon in Canada. Ice wedges form in permafrost when the ground cracks because of cold, and spring meltwater seeps in and freezes. Over hundreds of years, the wedge builds up, like an in-ground icicle.

Duane G. Froese of the University of Alberta, the lead author of the study, said ice wedges could provide clues to the long-term stability of the permafrost. The problem is figuring out how old they are.In this case, the top of the wedge was a couple of yards deep in the permafrost, and the researchers found volcanic ash on its top surface. By dating the ash (which presumably came from eruptions in what is now southeastern Alaska), Dr. Froese and his colleagues were able to say how long the ice has been there: about 740,000 years. Because the ash had to have been deposited after the wedge formed, that's "very clear proof," Dr. Froese said, that the ice is at least that old.

That means the ice survived through several warming periods, including the last major one, 120,000 years ago. "The general view is that everything would have melted out back then," Dr. Froese said. The new finding suggests that wasn't the case, and that models of future melting need to be rethought.


Journal abstract follows:

Ancient Permafrost and a Future, Warmer Arctic

By Duane G. Froese et al.

Climate models predict extensive and severe degradation of permafrost in response to global warming, with a potential for release of large volumes of stored carbon. However, the accuracy of these models is difficult to evaluate because little is known of the history of permafrost and its response to past warm intervals of climate. We report the presence of relict ground ice in subarctic Canada that is greater than 700,000 years old, with the implication that ground ice in this area has survived past interglaciations that were warmer and of longer duration than the present interglaciation.

Science 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5896, p. 1648

Oops! Networks Wrong On Warming; Arctic Ice Still There

Wrong again! It must stink being a network global warming alarmist. They just can't seem to get their stories straight. It's only been a couple months when the networks were screaming about Arctic ice disappearing this summer. And, no surprise, they were entirely wrong. By 1.74 million square miles. As Maxwell Smart used to say: "Missed it by that much."

Less than three months ago, NBC's Anne Thompson was warning ominously of ice loss. "But this summer, some scientists say that ice could retreat so dramatically that open water covers the North Pole, so much so that you could sail across it." Or not. According to a September 16 National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) report, such predictions were off. Way off. NSIDC reported ice loss was less than in 2007. "On September 12, 2008, sea ice extent dropped to 4.52 million square kilometers (1.74 million square miles). This appears to have been the lowest point of the year, as sea has now begun its annual cycle of growth in response to autumn cooling," according to the organization.

Two days after Thompson's report, on July 30, ABC weatherman Sam Champion told the "Good Morning America" audience that Arctic ice loss was on a record pace. "Every summer we're on a record pace for losing it last summer and this summer we're at the exact same pace."

The NSIDC assessment makes it clear that claim was also wrong, calling it "above the record minimum set on September 16, 2007." "The Arctic sea ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the second-lowest extent recorded since the dawn of the satellite era. "

Earlier in the summer, media outlets warned ominously that the ice could melt away. "Today" host Lester Holt described the story as "surprising and, frankly, alarming news from the scientific community, a new report that says the North Pole could soon be ice-free."

This fits an ongoing pattern of media hype about climate change where networks no longer report the issue with any=2 0sense of objectivity. A study published by the Business & Media Institute earlier this year showed how rarely dissenting voices were included in the climate debate. The study found that global warming proponents overwhelmingly outnumbered those with dissenting opinions. On average for every skeptic there were nearly 13 proponents featured. ABC did a slightly better job with a 7-to-1 ratio, while CBS's ratio was abysmal at nearly 38-to-1.


Linking sea-ice breakup to human activity is nothing but nonsense

Larry Venner's column (His Voice, Saturday, "The icy truth about global warming") is wrong and shows a lack of knowledge of the facts.

A recent report said that a huge chunk of sea ice had broken off an island in the Arctic, and all the "man-made" global-warming extremists jumped up and started crying about how we are all doomed, and how this sea ice was just another sign of the end of the world.

But if they had bothered to read to the end of the article, it also reported that the island had at one time been free of sea ice about 1,000 years ago. What does that mean? Well, it means that Earth was once so warm that that island had no sea ice attached, and that the increase or decrease of sea ice is not connected to man's impact on Earth.

How many cars were driving around 1,000 years ago? How many coal plants were running? Only ignorant, uninformed people believe that man is causing global warming.

The effect of the sun is the major reason for global warming, to the exclusion of all others. Solar flares and sun spots are the real reason Earth gets warmer or cooler.

If you chart the cycle of Earth's rising and falling temperatures and superimpose a chart of the solar temperature increases and decreases, they match perfectly.

The "man-made" global-warming crowd wants America to spend billions to reduce a naturally occurring gas (carbon dioxide) that has a virtually zero effect on global warming. This is insane. People who willfully set aside common sense and allow themselves and their children to be brainwashed and never question20what they are hearing are without excuse.


Astronomical Influences Affect Climate More Than CO2, Say Experts

Warming and cooling cycles are more directly tied in with astronomical influences than they are with human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, some scientists now say. Recent observations point to a strong link between "solar variability" - or fluctuations in the sun's radiation - and climate change on Earth, while other research sees the sun as just one of many heavenly bodies affecting global warming in the later half of the 20th century.

Contrary to what has been stated in a "Summary for Policymakers" attached to the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report -- and in subsequent press coverage of the report -- there is scant evidence in favor of human-caused global warming, according to geologists, astrophysicists, and climatologists who have released updated studies. The IPCC report was issued most recently in February 2007.

An examination of warming and cooling trends over the last 400 years shows an "almost exact correlation" between all of the known climate changes that have occurred and solar energy transmitted to the Earth, while showing "no correlation at all with CO2," Don J. Easterbrook, a geologist with Western Washington Univers ity in Bellingham, Wash., told

The isotopes located in Greenland's ice core, along with layering features, make it possible to date and track some of the climate changes that have occurred, he explained. Consequently, he has identified about 30 warming and cooling cycles that have taken place reaching back over the past several hundred years. "Only one in 30 shows any correlation with CO2," he said. "So if you're a baseball player with 30 at bats, that's not a very good average."

The ice core records also show that after the last Ice Age ended, temperatures rose for about 800 years before CO2 increased, Easterbrook pointed out in a recent paper. This demonstrates that "climatic warming causes CO2 to rise, not vice-versa," he wrote. "There is no actual physical evidence you can point to that would say CO2 is causing climate change," he said in the interview. "If CO2 was causing global warming, you would be able to detect this warming in the lower part of the atmosphere (called th e troposphere) but there is no warming here, so the answer for some is to look the other way."

Unfortunately, the media at large is reticent to report on any evidence that contradicts human-caused global warming because there is a lot of money and political influence tied up with the theory, Easterbrook said. Meanwhile, other scientists are beginning to attach themselves to the idea that the sun, not mankind, is primarily responsible for driving global warming. Dr. Bruce West, the chief scientist of the U.S. Army Research Office's mathematical and information science directorate, sees a strong link between the dynamics of the sun and the Earth's ecosystem. In the March, 2008 issue of Physics Today, West wrote, "The Sun could account for as much as 69 percent of the increase in Earth's average temperature."

Although it was long assumed that the sun was a constant star, one that did not experience any variability in its irradiance, this is not the case, Fred Singer, an atmospheric and space physicist, pointed out in an interview. Solar variability - fluctuations in the sun's radiation - directly affects climate change on Earth, in his estimation. Unfortunately, the IPCC has overlooked some of the most important factors concerning solar activity, Singer argued. There are some significant solar changes involving solar wind, for instance, that have ramifications for Earth's climate, but those solar changes are de-emphasized in the IPPC studies, he said.

Singer co-authored and edited a report released earlier this year entitled "Nature, Not Human Activity Rules the Climate" in which he challenges some the assumptions made by IPPC and elaborates on some of his alternative theories. The report was produced on behalf of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). "By disregarding or ignoring the very much larger changes of solar ultraviolet or of the solar wind and its magnetic-field effect on cosmic rays and thus on cloud coverage, the IPCC has managed to trivialize the climate effects of solar variability," Singer's non-government report states.

Singer, in concert with some of his colleagues on the report, have identified cosmic rays as a primary factor driving climate change on Earth. Cosmic rays are high-energy particles of extraterrestrial origin that collide at almost the speed of light with atoms in the upper atmosphere of the earth.

The hypothesis is underpinned by the idea that variations in the sun's irradiance - electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun that reaches earth's surface - translate into climate changes on Earth in two key ways: 1) cosmic rays create either more or fewer low, cooling clouds in our planet's atmosphere; and 2) ozone changes driven by solar activity in the stratosphere create varying degrees of heating in the lower atmosphere. (Ozone refers to oxygen atoms that protect the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Ozone occurs naturally in the stratosphere, which is the upper atmosphere.)

Willie Soon, a climate scientist based in Massachusetts, agrees that natural forces are largely responsible for driving climate change on Earth, but he has some reservations about the cosmic ray theory. Instead, he sees a mix of astronomical influences that include the sun and other heavenly bodies. "It's a beautiful idea and I'm open-minded about it, but in the end I don't think cosmic rays are the ultimate answer," he said. "For me what works is to look at the powerful phenomenon attached to how the earth goes around the sun. Very slight changes [in the orbit] can lead to changes in the seasons."

Soon credits a mathematician named Milutin Milankovic from Yugoslavia (now Serbia) who formulated the "orbital theory of climate change" back during the World War II era for offering up an explanation that remains salient and relevant to this day. "So the way this theory works, we do not look at the energy of the sun itself," Soon said. "Instead we look at the way our earth is being pulled and tugged by bigger planets, including the sun and the most massive gas giants. This is how our orbit is changing. Seasons can be changed slightly and yet significantly by orbits being pulled and tucked."

From this larger astronomical perspective it also is possible to measure warming and cooling cycles that impact Earth's nearby neighbors, most notably Mars, Soon suggested. There is data going all the way back to 1976 that show Mars has also experienced global warming. The Martian ice cap has been melting during the same time perio d that human-caused emissions have been identified as the culprit behind global warming on Earth, he said. Soon acknowledges that the astronomical data is limited and that more research is required. Even so, for the moment, it is difficult to disprove the idea that heavenly influences are largely responsible for the warming trends over the past few decades, he added.

As it turns out, this warming trend could be over anyway, according to Easterbrook, the geologist from Washington State. A slight cooling period that began to take hold in 1998 could endure for the next 30 years, he forecasts. A phenomenon known as the "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" (warming and cooling modes in the Pacific Ocean) points the way, in his view. "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of glob al cooling," he said. Not something you will read about in the media."


Polar bear politics

AT first it seemed like a joke. Unsolicited forumemails informed me I could buy badges (or buttons, as Americans call them) with the slogan Polar Bears for Obama. Then I heard there was a T-shirt, available from the CafePress online store for $26.99, that said Polar Bears for Obama-Biden beneath a picture of a sad-looking polar bear cub. You can also buy shopping bags, bumper stickers and mugs that celebrate the polar bear-Obama love-in. There is a website called PolarBears, which describes itself as a snow-roots campaign against Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is a big meanie.

Good one, I thought. Sometimes elections need to be shaken up with a bit of quirkiness, and if it can be snow-coated, animal-related quirkiness, that's all the better. Only now I'm not so sure it was a joke after all. The polar bear issue - or what we may call, for want of a better and less insane phrase, the polar bear vote - has become big news. Serious newspapers have published articles titled "Love polar bears, loathe Sarah Palin". MSNBC analysed the differences between Palin and her boss, John McCain, on the polar bear issue. Palin is referred to as a polar bear hater, and at an anti-Republican rally in Alaska last week one protester wore a polar bear suit and wielded a sign saying: Polar Bear Moms Say No to Palin.

No doubt some will put this down to the nuttiness of US politics. In fact, it reveals more about the nuttiness of the politics of climate change. The politicisation of the polar bear in the US presidential campaign is hinged on Palin's opposition to the listing of polar bears as a threatened species. In May this year, Palin, as Governor of Alaska, said she would sue the federal Government for labelling polar bears as officially threatened. She argued that giving special protection to polar bear habitats would cripple oil and gas development off Alaska's northern and northwestern coasts. She also said there was not enough evidence to support the listing of polar bears. On this basis, she is known as a polar bear hater and campaigners are claiming that if polar bears had the vote they would definitely support Obama because, as one baby polar bear says, "My daddy says Sarah Palin doesn't like us."

Call me a polar bear hater (actually, some people already have), but it just so happens that Palin has a point. There is not exactly a groundswell of evidence that polar bears are going extinct. In fact, experts claim global polar bear numbers have increased during the past 40 years.

In 2001, the World Conservation Union found that of 20 polar bear populations, one or possibly two were in decline, while more than half were stable and two sub-populations were increasing. Its more recent study in 2006 found a somewhat less rosy picture, but it wasn't that bad: of 19 polar bear populations, five were declining, five were stable and two were increasing (there wasn't enough data to judge the fortunes of the remaining seven populations). The global population has increased from about 5000 in the 1960s to 25,000 today.

Today's widespread polar bear concern is shot through with myth and misinformation. One of the nine scientific errors found in Al Gore's horror film An Inconvenient Truth, following a case brought in the British High Court last year, concerned his claims about polar bears. Gore claimed a scientific study had discovered that polar bears were drowning because they had to swim long distances to find ice. Yet the only scientific study Gore's team could provide as evidence was one showing that four polar bears had recently been found drowned because of a storm. According to Bjorn Lomborg, the sceptical environmentalist, the international tale about polar bears suffering at the hands of ruthless mankind springs from this single sighting of four dead bears the day after an abrupt windstorm.

It may be true that as a result of hunting and human intervention around the North Pole, polar bears will suffer. But the politics of the polar bear is not a scientific, fact-driven phenomenon: it is a morality tale. It is an anthropomorphic story every bit as daft as Bambi in which the polar bear has become a symbolic victim of man's wanton destruction of the planet. The polar bear has become the poster boy of the green lobby. It featured heavily in An Inconvenient Truth. Leonardo DiCaprio posed with one on the front cover of a special green issue of Vanity Fair. The bear he posed with - Knut from Berlin Zoo - is having his life story turned into a blockbuster movie, with Suri Cruise (daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) reportedly lined up to provide his voice. Leaflets inviting people to join green movements now come with photos of stranded (or allegedly stranded) polar bears. So do adverts for low-energy light bulbs.

It was not scientific fact that elevated the polar bear to this privileged status of Bambi-style victimhood; it was the human self-loathing of the environmentalist moment. We are expected to believe that our most simple everyday activities, from what light bulbs we use to how many cups of tea we drink, are directly and terribly affecting polar bears thousands of kilometres away. So now you find serious green commentators saying things such as: The idea that turning on your kettle helps to drown polar bears has never really sunk in with many people. Yes, there's a reason for that: because when I turn on my kettle it has absolutely no effect whatsoever on any polar bear anywhere in the world. And that is a fact.

On the basis of some twisted or at least questionable facts, and conveniently cropped, heart-rending photos, the polar bear has come to represent human guilt and self-doubt. In the past, we Catholics were told not to misbehave because God would be displeased. It was said that if we wasted our food, then a little black baby would die. Today we are told that if we don't watch our energy use, trim our carbon footprint, follow Gore and make regular donations to various green groups, then polar bears will die. The great white bear of the north has taken the place of God in the clouds as the barometer of human behaviour and morality.

The political promotion of this animal represents the denigration of human desire, the subordination of the human will to the animalistic fearmongering of environmentalism.

In a more profound sense, then, the politics of the polar bear represents the disavowal of human interests, which come to be seen as grubby, greedy and destructive. The intervention of the polar bear even into the US election is striking. That many Democratic Party supporters and radical activists are claiming to act on behalf of the polar bear, even dressing up as bears for anti-Palin protests, shows the extent to which environmentalism threatens to empty politics of its human, self-interested, democratic component. Some people are not representing themselves in the election but are speaking for the cute (eh?), voiceless polar bear. Polar Bears for Obama does not spring from the typically dumb Disneyfication of US politics but from the misanthropic, people-less politics of being green.



Comment from Prof. Stott in Britain

The Green movement has become dangerous for the survival of our society. It is surely time to stop pandering to its often ridiculous whims and fancies. We have been far too kind to its utopianism. Politicians of all parties have become enfeebled by indulging its fanaticism and unrealistic proposals, especially on food and energy. This has led to inertia, and to a serious failure to act when action is urgently required, a situation often exacerbated by the ludicrous obligations laid on us through a bureaucratic and unaccountable EU.

But we have to act, and we are going to have to challenge the EU. We need no more reports. We do not have the time. We require new coal-powered plants, new nuclear power stations, additional LNG storage facilities, and the Seven Barrage. "And when do we want them? We want them now!"

Green gobbledygook over so-called 'renewables' has helped to undermine UK energy policy to such a degree that we are facing an energy gap of between 30% to 40%, a threat Global Warming Politics has highlighted over and over again [e.g., 'The Energy Elephant Trumpets At Last', August 4]. Today, thank goodness, this threat has been spelt out once more in a new report, and with 'Janet-and-John' simplicity: 'Power cuts warning must be taken seriously' (The Daily Telegraph, September 17): "Between now and 2020, 23 gigawatts of generating capacity will be lost as old coal and nuclear stations are de-commissioned. Yet Labour Ministers spent a decade twiddling their thumbs over energy policy.

Only last year, when our dangerous dependence on energy from either potentially hostile (Russia) or unstable (Middle East) sources finally registered, did the Government belatedly accept that there has to be a new generation of nuclear reactors to meet the shortfall. Since then, there has been precious little evidence of any sense of urgency in getting that programme under way.

Today's report shows how dangerously negligent this lackadaisical approach has been. It also confirms that wind power, on which the Government has expended the better part 1 billion a year in subsidies, is little more than environmental window dressing. Its unreliability - wind is not a constant - means it cannot replace a single watt of permanent generating capacity."

When we add to this Green unreality over energy a self-indulgent opposition to conventional agriculture and to GM crops, tropes which are now threatening the poor and the disadvantaged the world over; total confusion over biofuels; frequent support for protectionism against trade; the desire to heap increased costs and retrogressive taxes on everyone, but especially on the poor; the wish to force people into lifestyles that few can afford or want; and the championing of breaking the law when protesting, we can see that the moral charge sheet against the Greens is long and extending by the day.

The idea that the Greens hold any moral high ground is sentimental rubbish. Many of their so-called ethical investments will cripple us, while impoverishing the poor even further.

It really is time for both of our leading political parties [I have no hope whatsoever for the dire Liberal Democrats, whose 'leader', Nick Clegg, didn't even know the level of the State Pension when asked] to return to economic reality in an increasingly unforgiving world. We can no longer afford to play at Green fantasies. We must grow up. Indulging The Greens Must Stop



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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