Here's another way of looking at things: global warming is good. And if there's any bad news at all about global warming, it's that it might be about over. The debate about global warming will go on forever. But while we may spend the rest of eternity trying to figure out where our weather is headed, one of the best ways of finding out where we're going is to simply look at where we came from.
When you look back across thousands of years of weather, climate and climate change, many stories are told. Some of these deal with the end of civilizations. Others with the migration of entire nations. But whether it's good or bad, they all deal with man's reaction to his environment. Or they're a consequence of it.
Some years ago I stumbled onto Charles Perry with the US Geological Survey in Lawrence KS when I was trying to track down some information on climate. In the scientific community, Charles has established himself as a firm believer that the harmonic cycles of solar output have huge cause-and-effect relationships with not only our short-term weather but also our long-term climate. In his work, Charles has connected events in world history with climate fluctuations-and has correlated those fluctuations with increases or decreases in the amount of total radiant energy reaching the earth.
In brief, there's nothing really constant about the amount of energy being emitted by the sun. It's almost like the sun has a heartbeat-with waves of energy coming in on a roughly 11-year sunspot cycle. Those short-term cycles then make up larger and longer-term cycles. And in those cycles, which have been going on for thousands and thousands of years, Charles has documented alternating periods of warming and cooling.
While global warming has gotten a lot of bad press today, Charles feels events in history show warmer climates have been accompanied by more rain, longer growing seasons, more crops and more land to settle on-times in which civilizations have prospered. Contrasting that are periods of global cooling-times in which human populations probably declined because of cold, drought and war.
As mentioned, Charles has correlated those alternating periods with events in history. For instance, there was a warming period from 33,000 to 26,000 years ago which may have allowed the Cro-Magnon Man to migrate northward and populate Europe by blending in with or eradicating the resident Neanderthals.
Another warm period ushered in the Bronze Age,which began about 3800 years ago. During this favorable climatic period, people migrated northward into Scandinavia and reclaimed farmland with growing seasons that were at that time probably the longest in more than 2000 years.
The great empires of the Bronze Age came to an end with the Centuries of Darkness chill, but warming returned during the Greco-Roman Age. During this period, philosophy made its first important advances with the thoughts of Aristotle. However, when the climate cooled again, the Roman Empire ceased.
A flourishing Viking culture in Greenland met the same fate during the Little Ice Age, which ran from about l280 to l860. The little ice ages are cooler periods, which last several centuries. They occur about every l300 years.
By the year l000, the Vikings had discovered Greenland, where their settlements started producing wheat and livestock. But after l200, the climate began to cool rapidly. The frozen harbors of Greenland failed to open in the summer-thus, trade with Europe dropped off sharply. By l400, Europe's contact with Greenland had been lost. A slight warm-up about l500 allowed ships to make it back to Greenland, but by then the stranded Viking population had starved to death-with their graves becoming shallower and shallower as the permafrost returned.
Many today say our current global warming is because of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Charles disagrees. He says while we do have global warming, it's still not to the same level as when the Vikings were farming in Greenland. "Therefore, the magnitude o f the modern temperature increase being caused solely by an increase in carbon dioxide appears questionable." On the other hand, solar output variations to climate change may be significant.
So what does all this mean? Let's assume that Charles is right. If so, his projections show the current warm period may be ending and that the earth's climate may cool to conditions similar to the Little Ice Age between the years of 2400 and 2900 following a slight cooling between 2000 and 2l00. Between 2l00 and 2400, cooling picks up steam.
But as you'd guess, time doesn't stop there. And neither does the weather. Charles further predicts that l500 years from now, the climate will again become much warmer, entering altithermal conditions on a global scale-similar to Bronze Age weather. He also predicts the weather then may be warm enough to possibly melt the polar icecaps and flood the world's coastlines. "There is evidence this happened during the last interglacial period when sea levels were 3 to 5 meters above present sea levels."
But don't worry about the ice caps. They'll be back, further on out when we cycle back into another full-blown Ice Age. And finally, your words of wisdom for the day come from Dean Bark, former Kansas State University climatologist, when asked if he thought global warming were real: "We'll know l00 years from now."
Russians turn cold on climate action
Russian officials have always thought global warming was nonsense. Putin was bribed by the EU to sign Kyoto
The melting of the Arctic icecap has created an awkward new threat to international climate change talks by convincing senior officials in Moscow that Russia stands to reap an economic bonanza from ice-free northern oceans. Sightings of exhausted polar bears swimming in waters that were once thick with ice floes have fuelled calls for more urgent action on climate change, but the heaviest thawing in thousands of years has also raised hopes of new shipping routes and access to long-frozen oil and gas fields, The Australian reports.
"The Russians are now showing a dangerous indifference to the whole issue of climate change because they have this perception they might actually benefit from climate change," says former British government adviser on environment policy Nick Mabey, who heads E3G, a London-based environmental lobby group and think tank. "That perception is not supported by the science, because the drastic climate change we are seeing in the Arctic will have enormous effects right around the world. But the worrying thing is that they (the Russian Government) do seem to think they won't be severely damaged by climate change."
Analysts and negotiators in Moscow and other capitals say Russia has taken "a backseat role" in negotiations about a new treaty to fight global warming, and warn that Russia could replace the Bush administration as the leading obstacle to a new Kyoto-style agreement.
Russia's status as the potential recalcitrant at the treaty summit to be held in Copenhagen next year follows China's improved efforts to reduce its carbon emissions and the election of new governments in the US and Australia, the only wealthy countries to have baulked at the Kyoto Treaty.
Salps to the rescue
Yet another feedback mechanism not in the "models"
Vast numbers of marine "jelly balls" now appearing off the Australian east coast could be part of the planet's mechanism for combating global warming. The jellyfish-like animals are known as salps and their main food is phytoplankton (marine algae) which absorbs the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the top level of the ocean. This in turn comes from the atmosphere.
Mark Baird of the CSIRO said salps were notoriously difficult for scientists to study in the laboratory and consequently little attention has been paid to their ecological role until recently. Dr Baird was part of a CSIRO and University of NSW marine survey last month that found a massive abundance of salps in the waters around Sydney. They were up to 10 times what they were when first surveyed 70 years ago. Different salp species are found around the world and attention is now being paid to what effect they might have on global warming.
They are also of interest because in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica they are thought to be displacing krill, which is a key food source for many marine animals, including filter-feeding whales such as the southern right and humpback. By eating the algae, the salps turn the algae and their carbon dioxide into faeces which drops to the ocean floor. They also take carbon to the floor with them when they die after a life cycle as short as only a couple of weeks. This is thought to be a natural form of carbon sequestration similar to what scientists are trying to do with carbon capture from emission sources such as power stations.
Dr Baird said Australian salps, which grow to about half a centimetre, are biologically closer to vertebrates such as humans than to jellyfish because they have the rudiments of a primitive nervous system. "They are interesting because they are the fastest reproducing multi-celled animal on the planet and can double their numbers several times a day." Salps had in the past been considered of little interest because they had fairly low nutrient value and were insignificant as a food source. He said this was a concern because as the Antarctic ice melted, they were replacing krill, which is a high-nutrient food.
The Futile Quest for Climate Control
The idea that human beings have changed and are changing the basic climate system of the Earth through their industrial activities and burning of fossil fuels-the essence of the Greens' theory of global warming-has about as much basis in science as Marxism and Freudianism. Global warming, like Marxism, is a political theory of actions, demanding compliance with its rules.
Marxism, Freudianism, global warming. These are proof-of which history offers so many examples-that people can be suckers on a grand scale. To their fanatical followers they are a substitute for religion. Global warming, in particular, is a creed, a faith, a dogma that has little to do with science. If people are in need of religion, why don't they just turn to the genuine article?
Climate change knows three realities: science reality, which is what working scientists deal with every day; virtual reality, which is the wholly imaginary world inside computer climate models; and public reality, which is the socio-political system within which politicians, business people and the general citizenry work
The science reality is that climate is a complex, dynamic, natural system that no one wholly comprehends, though many scientists understand different small parts. So far, science provides no unambiguous evidence that dangerous or even measurable human-caused global warming is occurring.
The virtual reality is that computer models predict future climate according to the assumptions that are programmed into them. There is no established Theory of Climate, and therefore the potential output of all realistic computer general circulation models (GCMs) encompasses a range of both future warmings and coolings, the outcome depending upon the way in which they are constructed. Different results can be produced at will simply by adjusting such poorly known parameters as the effects of cloud cover.
The public reality in 2008 is that, driven by strong environmental lobby groups and evangelistic scientists and journalists, there is a widespread but erroneous belief in our society that dangerous global warming is occurring and that it has human causation.
William Kininmonth ("Illusions of Climate Science", Quadrant, October) has summarised well the nature of the main scientific arguments that relate to human-caused climate change. Therefore, I shall concentrate here a little less on the science, except as background information that relates to how we got to where we are today. My main aim is to explain the need for a proper national climate change policy that relates to real rather than imaginary risk, a policy position that neither the previous nor the present Australian government has achieved. Instead-in response to strong pressure from lobby groups whose main commonality is financial or other self-interest, and a baying media-our present national climate policy is to try to prevent human-caused global warming. This will be a costly, ineffectual and hence futile exercise.
The Realities of Climate Change
Science reality. My reference files categorise climate change into more than 100 sub-discipline areas of relevant knowledge. Like most other climate scientists, I possess deep expertise in at most two or three of these sub-disciplines. As Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick (in Taken by Storm) have observed:
"Global warming is a topic that sprawls in a thousand directions. There is no such thing as an `expert' on global warming, because no one can master all the relevant subjects. On the subject of climate change everyone is an amateur on many if not most of the relevant topics."
It is therefore a brave scientist who essays an expert public opinion on the global warming issue, that bravery being always but one step from foolhardiness. As for the many public dignitaries and celebrities whose global warming preachings fill our daily news bulletins, their enthusiasm for a perceived worthy cause greatly exceeds their clarity of thought about climate change science, regarding which they are palpably innocent of knowledge.
In these difficult circumstances of complex science and public ignorance, how is science reality to be judged? This question was first carefully thought through in the late 1980s by the senior bureaucrats and scientists who were involved in the creation of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Key players at the time were Bert Bolin (Sweden), John Houghton (UK) and Maurice Strong (Canada), Bolin and Houghton each going on to become Chairman of the IPCC. The declared intention of the IPCC was to provide disinterested summaries of the state of climate science as judged from the published, refereed scientific literature. Henceforward, in the public and political eye, science reality was to be decided by the authority of the IPCC. Accordingly, in four successive Assessment Reports in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007, the IPCC has tried to imprint its belief in dangerous human-caused warming on politicians and the public alike, steamrolling relentlessly over the more balanced, non-alarmist views held by thousands of other qualified scientists. Inevitably, and despite the initial good intentions, what started in 1988 as a noble cause had by the time of the fourth Assessment Report (2007) degenerated into a politically-driven science and media circus. As Essex and McKitrick have accurately written:
"We do not need to guess what is the world view of the IPCC leaders. They do not attempt to hide it. They are committed, heart and soul, to the Doctrine [of human-caused global warming]. They believe it and they are advocates on its behalf. They have assembled a body of evidence that they feel supports it and they travel the world promoting it.
"There would be nothing wrong with this if it were only one half of a larger exercise in adjudication. But governments around the world have made the staggering error of treating the IPCC as if it is the only side we should listen to in the adjudication process. What is worse, when on a regular basis other scientists and scholars stand up and publicly disagree with the IPCC, governments panic because they are afraid the issue will get complicated, and undermine the sense of certainty that justifies their policy choices. So they label alternative views `marginal' and those who hold them `dissidents'.
The basic flaw that was incorporated into IPCC methodology from the beginning was the assumption that matters of science can be decided on authority or consensus; in fact, and as Galileo early showed, science as a method of investigating the world is the very antithesis of authority. A scientific truth is so not because the IPCC or an Academy of Science blesses it, or because most people believe it, but because it is formulated as a rigorous hypothesis that has survived testing by many different scientists.
The hypothesis of the IPCC was, and remains, that human greenhouse gas emissions (especially of carbon dioxide) are causing dangerous global warming. The IPCC concentrates its analyses of climate change on only the last few hundred years, and has repeatedly failed to give proper weight to the geological context of the 150-year-long instrumental record. When viewed in historical context, and assessed against empirical data, the greenhouse hypothesis fails. There is no evidence that late-twentieth-century rates of temperature increase were unusually rapid or reached an unnaturally high peak; no human-caused greenhouse signal has been measured or identified despite the expenditure since 1990 of many billions of dollars searching for it; and global temperature, which peaked within the current natural cycle in 1998, has been declining since 2002 despite continuing increases in carbon dioxide emission.
Therefore, science reality in 2008 is that the IPCC's hypothesis of dangerous, human-caused global warming has been repeatedly tested and failed. In contrast, the proper null hypothesis that the global climatic changes that we observe today are natural in origin has yet to be disproven. The only argument that remains to the IPCC-and it is solely a theoretical argument, not evidence of any kind-is that their unvalidated computer models project that carbon-dioxide-driven dangerous warming will occur in the future: just you wait and see! It is therefore to these models that we now turn.
Virtual reality. The general circulation computer climate models (GCMs) used by the IPCC are deterministic, which is to say that they specify the climate system from the first principles of physics. For many parts of the climate system, such as the behaviour of turbulent fluids or the processes that occur within clouds, our incomplete knowledge of the physics requires the extensive use of parameterisation (that is, "educated guesses") in the models, especially for the many climate processes that occur at a scale below the 100 to 200 square kilometre size of the typical modelling grid.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the GCMs used by the IPCC have not been able to make successful climate predictions, nor to match the observed pattern of global temperature change over the late twentieth century. Regarding the first point, none of the models was able to forecast the path of the global average temperature statistic as it elapsed between 1990 and 2006. Regarding the second, GCMs persistently predict that greenhouse warming trends should increase with altitude, especially in the tropics, with most warming at around ten kilometres altitude; in contrast, actual observations show the opposite, with either flat or decreasing warming trends with increasing height in the troposphere.
The modellers themselves acknowledge that they are unable to predict future climate, preferring the term "projection" (which the IPCC, in turn, uses as the basis for modelled socio-economic "scenarios") to describe the output of their experiments. Individual models differ widely in their output under an imposed regime of doubled carbon dioxide. In 2001, the IPCC cited a range of 1.8 to 5.6 degrees warming by 2100 for the model outputs they favoured, but this range can be varied further to include even negative outputs (that is, cooling) by adjustment of some of the model parameters. Indeed, the selected GCM outputs that the IPCC places before us are but a handful of visions of future climate from amongst the literally billions of alternative future worlds that could be simulated using the self-same models.
The confidence that can be placed on GCM climate projections is indicated by the disclaimers that the CSIRO always includes in its climate consultancy reports. For example:
"This report relates to climate change scenarios based on computer modelling. Models involve simplifications of the real processes that are not fully understood. Accordingly, no responsibility will be accepted by CSIRO ... for the accuracy of forecasts or predictions inferred from this report or for any person's interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in reliance on this report."
It is clear from all of this that climate GCMs do not produce predictive outputs that are suitable for direct application in policy making; it is therefore inappropriate to use IPCC model projections for planning, or even precautionary, purposes, as if they were real forecasts of future climate. Notwithstanding, it remains the case, amazingly, that the IPCC's claims of a dangerous human influence on climate now rest almost solely on their unrealistic, unvalidated GCM climate projections. Which makes it intriguing that during recent planning for the next (fifth) IPCC assessment report, due in 2015, senior UK Hadley Centre scientist Martin Parry is reported in a recent Nature article as saying: "The case for climate change, from a scientific point of view, has been made. We're persuaded of the need for action. So the question is what action, and when." Well, the IPCC may be so persuaded, but what about the rest of us?
Public reality. The answer to that question is that opinion polls show that most of the rest of us have become severely alarmed about the threat of human-caused climate change. Therefore, public reality, as perceived by the Rudd government at least, is that the Australian electorate now expects the government to "do something" about global warming-that is, to introduce a carbon dioxide taxation system. This means that there exists a strong disjunction between climate alarm as perceived by the public and the science justification for that alarm. How come?
The means by which the public has been convinced that dangerous global warming is occurring are not subtle. The three main agents are: the reports from the IPCC; incessant bullying by environmental NGOs and allied scientists, political groups and business; and the obliging promulgation of selectively alarmist climate information by the media. Indeed, the combined alarmist activities of the IPCC, crusading environmental NGOs, some individual leading climate scientists and many science agencies and academies can only be termed a propaganda campaign. However, because all of these many interest groups communicate with the public primarily through the gatekeepers of the press, it is the press that carries the prime responsibility for the unbalanced state of the current public discussion and opinion on global warming.
An earlier false alarm: In 1933
There WAS a temperature peak in the 30s, but after that it dropped again. This 1933 paper, "Is our climate changing? A study of long-term temperature trends" by J B Kincer of the U S Weather Bureau in Washington DC published in the Monthly Weather Review Vol 61 pages 251 to 259, has an eerie resonance with the current debate
The present wide-spread and persistent tendency toward warmer weather, and especially the recent long series of mild winters, has attracted considerable public interest; so much so that frequently the question is asked "Is our climate changing? " Historic climate has always been considered by meteorologists and climatologists to be a rather stable thing, in marked contrast to geologic climate and to weather. We know there have been major geologic changes in climate and that weather, which is the meteorological condition at any particular time, or for a short period of time, such as a day or a month, is far from stable. Different kinds of weather come and go in comparatively brief, alternating spurts, as it were, or with short periods of irregular length-cool or cold, then warm, and vice versa-succeeding one another with a continuous recurrence that everyone takes for granted. However, an exhaustive statistical examination of these short period temperature fluctuations fails to disclose any regularity that would afford a basis for forecasting future weather independent of the standard forecasting methods of the Weather Bureau, in which daily synoptic charts play an important role.
The phase of weather, or climate, that is attracting attention at the present time is not these short-period changes from warm to cool, and vice versa, for they are always present, but rather an apparent longer-time change to cool periods that seem to be less frequent and of shorter duration, and duration, and warm periods that are more pronounced and persistent. It has been thought that these fluctuations in temperature eventually neutralize one another, or smooth themselves out, when the long-time record is taken into account. In other words, meteorologists consider that climate, which is the normal run of the weather, for a long period of time, is a fairly stable thing, and that the average temperature for, say, any consecutive 20 years, selected at random from a long record, would not differ materially from that for any other consecutive 20 years so selected from that particular record. It20appears, however, from the data presented with this study that the orthodox conception of the stability of climate needs revision, and that our granddad was not so far wrong, as we have been wont to believe, in his statements about the exit of the old-fashioned winter of his boyhood days. We are familiar with statements by elderly people, such as "The winters were colder and the snows deeper when I was a youngster", and the like.
Temperature has dropped since Gore's book was released (less than 3 years ago)
Each month the GORE LIED graphics department marks up Dr. Roy Spencer's monthly UAH Globally Averaged Satellite-Based Temperature of the Lower Troposphere to illustrate Gore's personal inconvenient truth.
This month's map which has been updated to include the month of October 2008 is essentially unchanged since September: it's ticked up 1/100th of a degree Fahrenheit (or 5/1000ths of a degree Celsius). Bad news for Al Gore. Temperatures have gone down a total of .37ø F. (or .205ø C.) since An Inconvenient Truth was released at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2006.
Al Gore was correct when he said he'd "failed badly". The weather/climate just hasn't cooperated with Gore and the IPCC's computer climate models. Remember, Gore said that CO2 drives temperature. It isn't happening folks.
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