Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No significant global warming since 1995

by Jarl R. Ahlbeck, D.Sc.

The recovery of the earth's climate from the little ice age started about 200 years ago, but the concentration of the atmospheric carbon dioxide started to increase significantly as late as in the 1950s, probably due to rapidly increased burning of fossil fuels.

The climate recovery is still an ongoing process today. A natural warming rate of roughly 0.5 deg C /100 years has been the baseline for more than 100 years, but both short (a few years) and long (20 years) fluctuations around the baseline have occurred for natural but highly speculative reasons, for example a rapid warming in the 1930s followed by a cooling period, and recently again warming until about 1998.

According to the UK climate panel IPCC, this last warming period has been forced by increased carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. There is however no proof of that and the theory of how carbon dioxide influences the global mean temperature is complicated and unreliable. And if the global temperature again starts to increase slower than the natural long-term trend of 0.5 deg C/100 years, or even starts to cool, we can be quite certain that the recent faster warming trends have been natural too.

It has been widely discussed if the satellite-derived global temperature measurements that show only little warming should be more reliable than the temperatures obtained on the ground that show more warming. But after 1995 both sources show about the same, (see graphs below drawn from Hadley-data (ground) and satellite data (NASA)).

A good reason to start a diagram from 1995 is that since that year no big (cooling) volcano eruptions have disturbed the temperature trend. Contrary to common belief, there has been no or little global warming since 1995 and this is shown by two completely independent datasets.

The curves look very normal and it seems probable that the natural recovery from the little ice age has went on without any significant decelerations or accelerations caused by human activity. It is impossible to say what is going to happen in the future. But so far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming.


Thirty years of warmer temperatures go poof

In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement. Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.

On the same day (Sept. 5) that areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century, Brazilian meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart explained that extreme cold or snowfall events in his country have always been tied to "a negative PDO" or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs -- El Ninos -- produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones -- La Ninas -- produce below average ones.

Dr. Hackbart also pointed out that periods of solar inactivity known as "solar minimums" magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded -- none -- and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. "This is no coincidence," he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.

Also in September, American Craig Loehle, a scientist who conducts computer modelling on global climate change, confirmed his earlier findings that the so-called Medieval Warm Period (MWP) of about 1,000 years ago did in fact exist and was even warmer than 20th-century temperatures.

Prior to the past decade of climate hysteria and Kyoto hype, the MWP was a given in the scientific community. Several hundred studies of tree rings, lake and ocean floor sediment, ice cores and early written records of weather -- even harvest totals and censuses --confirmed that the period from 800 AD to 1300 AD was unusually warm, particularly in Northern Europe.

But in order to prove the climate scaremongers' claim that 20th-century warming had been dangerous and unprecedented -- a result of human, not natural factors -- the MWP had to be made to disappear. So studies such as Michael Mann's "hockey stick," in which there is no MWP and global temperatures rise gradually until they jump up in the industrial age, have been adopted by the UN as proof that recent climate change necessitates a reordering of human economies and societies. Dr. Loehle's work helps end this deception.

Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling," as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an "almost exact correlation" between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2."

An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, "Man-made global warming is junk science," explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year "equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration ... This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number." Other international scientists have called the manmade warming theory a "hoax," a "fraud" and simply "not credible."

While not stooping to such name-calling, weather-satellite scientists David Douglass of the University of Rochester and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville nonetheless dealt the True Believers a devastating blow last month. For nearly 30 years, Professor Christy has been in charge of NASA's eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily around the globe. In a paper co-written with Dr. Douglass, he concludes that while manmade emissions may be having a slight impact, "variations in global temperatures since 1978 ... cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide."

Moreover, while the chart below was not produced by Douglass and Christy, it was produced using their data and it clearly shows that in the past four years -- the period corresponding to reduced solar activity -- all of the rise in global temperatures since 1979 has disappeared. It may be that more global warming doubters are surfacing because there just isn't any global warming.


Obama's Carbon Ultimatum

The coming offer you won't be able to refuse

Liberals pretend that only President Bush is preventing the U.S. from adopting some global warming "solution." But occasionally their mask slips. As Barack Obama's energy adviser has now made clear, the would-be President intends to blackmail -- or rather, greenmail -- Congress into falling in line with his climate agenda.

Jason Grumet is currently executive director of an outfit called the National Commission on Energy Policy and one of Mr. Obama's key policy aides. In an interview last week with Bloomberg, Mr. Grumet said that come January the Environmental Protection Agency "would initiate those rulemakings" that classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant under current clean air laws. That move would impose new regulation and taxes across the entire economy, something that is usually the purview of Congress. Mr. Grumet warned that "in the absence of Congressional action" 18 months after Mr. Obama's inauguration, the EPA would move ahead with its own unilateral carbon crackdown anyway.

Well, well. For years, Democrats -- including Senator Obama -- have been howling about the "politicization" of the EPA, which has nominally been part of the Bush Administration. The complaint has been that the White House blocked EPA bureaucrats from making the so-called "endangerment finding" on carbon. Now it turns out that a President Obama would himself wield such a finding as a political bludgeon. He plans to issue an ultimatum to Congress: Either impose new taxes and limits on carbon that he finds amenable, or the EPA carbon police will be let loose to ravage the countryside.

The EPA hasn't made a secret of how it would like to centrally plan the U.S. economy under the 1970 Clean Air Act. In a blueprint released in July, the agency didn't exactly say it'd collectivize the farms -- but pretty close, down to the "grass clippings." The EPA would monitor and regulate the carbon emissions of "lawn and garden equipment" as well as everything with an engine, like cars, planes and boats. Eco-bureaucrats envision thousands of other emissions limits on all types of energy. Coal-fired power and other fossil fuels would be ruled out of existence, while all other prices would rise as the huge economic costs of the new regime were passed down the energy chain to consumers.

These costs would far exceed the burden of a straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade system enacted by Congress, because the Clean Air Act was never written to apply to carbon and other greenhouse gases. It's like trying to do brain surgery with a butter knife. Mr. Obama wants to move ahead anyway because he knows that the costs of any carbon program will be high. He knows, too, that Congress -- even with strongly Democratic majorities -- might still balk at supporting tax increases on their constituents, even if it is done in the name of global warming.

Climate-change politics don't break cleanly along partisan lines. The burden of a carbon clampdown will fall disproportionately on some states over others, especially the 25 interior states that get more than 50% of their electricity from coal. Rustbelt manufacturing states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania will get hit hard too. Once President Bush leaves office, the coastal Democrats pushing hardest for a climate change program might find their colleagues splitting off, especially after they vote for a huge tax increase on incomes.

Thus Messrs. Obama and Grumet want to invoke a political deus ex machina driven by a faulty interpretation of the Clean Air Act to force Congress's hand. Mr. Obama and Democrats can then tell Americans that Congress must act to tax and regulate carbon to save the country from even worse bureaucratic consequences. It's Mr. Obama's version of Jack Benny's old "your money or your life" routine, but without the punch line.

The strategy is most notable for what it says about the climate-change lobby and its new standard bearer. Supposedly global warming is the transcendent challenge of the age, but Mr. Obama evidently doesn't believe he'll be able to convince his own party to do something about it without a bureaucratic ultimatum. Mr. Grumet justified it this way: "The U.S. has to move quickly domestically . . . We cannot have a meaningful impact in the international discussion until we develop a meaningful domestic consensus."

Normally a democracy reaches consensus through political debate and persuasion, but apparently for Mr. Obama that option is merely a nuisance. It's another example of "change" you'll be given no choice but to believe in.



Building new coal-power plants in Germany means the country will miss government targets to cut carbon-dioxide emissions, the environmental ministry said, countering earlier claims by Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

If Europe's largest economy builds new fossil-fuel power plants, CO2 emissions will decline 25 percent by 2020 compared with a plan of 40 percent, according to a study by Joachim Nitsch of the German DLR institute that was commissioned by the ministry. The study appeared today on the environment ministry's Web site.

Gabriel supports the construction of new coal-power plants and has said Germany will be able to meet its own CO2 emissions targets even with new fossil fuel-based electricity generation. Techniques to reduce CO2 such as carbon capture and storage won't have an impact on reducing the greenhouse gas, blamed for global warming, until after 2020, the study said.

"Mr. Gabriel should start taking the facts of scientists into account and stop selling new coal-plants as actual climate protection," Greenpeace energy policy analyst Andree Boehling said in an e-mailed statement. "Otherwise, the environment minister himself will become the biggest threat to climate protection."


British government chasing after wind

Today, my old sparring partner, John Vidal of The Guardian/The Observer, writes a good piece on the impossibilities of meeting Gordon Brown's wind energy targets [`UK wind farm plans on brink of failure', The Observer, October 19]. John does not go far enough, however. The whole project is ill-thought out:

(a)The UK currently accounts for only 1.87% of world carbon emissions, a proportion that is falling quickly with the growth of the developing countries, and especially of China, India, and Brazil. Achieving one third of our energy from wind power by 2020 will have no effect, predictable or otherwise, on climate. Indeed, taking into account the massive amounts of steel, concrete, and transport required in constructing these vast arrays of wind turbines, the development of wind power will actually result in an initial rise in carbon emissions;

(b)Opting for wind power, especially offshore, is the most expensive choice, one that will impose huge costs on electricity generation and distribution, but more importantly on the general public and business consumers, who will be hit by high price rices precisely at a time when recession is already putting households and jobs under severe strain;

(c)Thirdly, an additional argument goes as follows: "Alright, (a) and (b) above might well be true [admitted through gritted teeth], but we must set an example to the rest of the world on climate change, and this will provide a great chance for us to lead the world in technology for a low carbon future." Unfortunately, where wind power is concerned, these points are hopelessly wrong. Meteorologically-speaking, the parts of the world where wind power is a serious option are limited, the UK being an exception, not the rule. Moreover, the idea that we are leading the world in wind-power technology is laughable, as most of the technology, equipment, and engineering comes from abroad, from countries such as Germany.

In essence, Brown's policy is lunacy. As John rightly reports, even the wind power industry itself admits that the targets are completely unrealistic: "A major threat to Britain's ambitions for renewable energy will emerge this week when wind industry leaders admit that targets set for 2020 are looking increasingly unrealistic. They will use a high-profile conference in London to warn Gordon Brown that there is little chance of achieving the government's goal - of wind generating one third of all UK electricity within 12 years - without a huge injection of public money."

I love that last bit - "a huge injection of public money." Of course! But just think of the costs to the consumer, and to the marginal poor in energy terms.

Gordon Brown will tell the delegates at the annual conference of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) that the UK industry is now a world leader. This is `pie-in-the-sky' politics. The harsh realities are that we have a severe shortage of engineers; the rising demand for wind-power equipment cannot be met; companies are currently pulling out of wind power because of rising costs; and two-thirds of proposals are rejected, with even the Ministry of Defence concerned over the effects on its radar coverage.

But most importantly of all, the programme will have no effects on climate change whatsoever. This is Gordon Brown at his Scottish blethering worst. The public should not be fooled.


Australia: Tasmaniam Premier rebuts Greenies over forestry

TASMANIAN Premier David Bartlett has sided with the forest industry in a fierce debate with conservationists about whether old-growth forests should be protected as reservoirs of carbon. Mr Bartlett told The Australian that calls by the conservation movement to suspend old-growth logging, because of evidence they might be more valuable as carbon sinks, were nonsense.

"This is bulls**t - this is just not true," the Premier said. "They can make that claim at the moment because Kyoto Protocol accounting for timber got it totally wrong. "When you chop down a tree under Kyoto and you burn it, or you alternatively turn it into a high-value coffee table, it's accounted for in exactly the same way. And that is clearly false. "If you burn a tree, obviously the carbon is realised. If you turn it into a coffee table, that carbon is sequestered for life or for a very bloody long time."

Australian National University researchers recently found that old-growth forests in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania stored up to three times the amount of carbon that was previously estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The research - criticised by industry because it was funded by the Wilderness Society, but strongly defended by the ANU - concludes that old-growth forests are more reliable as carbon sinks than as plantations because the latter are more vulnerable to fire, disease and disturbance.

Mr Bartlett is unconvinced. He said the current round of global climate change talks should ensure the carbon-storing abilities of forest products were factored into carbon accounting. "I don't think the logging of old-growth forests is necessarily related to climate change," Mr Bartlett said. "Tasmania emits 1.2 per cent of the nation's emissions and Australia emits 1.5 per cent of the global emissions. And 86 per cent of our old-growth forests (in 2004) remain locked up, never to be touched. "I don't think stopping the logging of old-growth forests in Tasmania is really pivotal to world history when it comes to climate change."



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