Prof. Roy Spencer has many distinctions but an important one is that he is a leading researcher into the way clouds affect the earth's climate. Greenies generally seem to feel that they need no such knowledge. They just assume that they know what cloud effects to plug into their models. Spencer's research tends to indicate, however, that those assumptions are the reverse of the truth -- with the result that the models predict far more warming than is in fact likely. Prof. Spencer has set up a new site to help circulate knowledge of what really happens. It is here. But below is the general introduction from his new site:
'Global warming' refers to the global-average temperature increase that has been observed over the last one hundred years or more. But to many politicians and the public, the term carries the implication that mankind is responsible for that warming. This website describes evidence from my group's government-funded research that suggests global warming is mostly natural, and that the climate system is quite insensitive to humanity's greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution.
Believe it or not, very little research has ever been funded to search for natural mechanisms of warming...it has simply been assumed that global warming is manmade. This assumption is rather easy for scientists since we do not have enough accurate global data for a long enough period of time to see whether there are natural warming mechanisms at work.
The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that the only way they can get their computerized climate models to produce the observed warming is with anthropogenic (human-caused) pollution. But they're not going to find something if they don't search for it. More than one scientist has asked me, "What else COULD it be?" Well, the answer to that takes a little digging... and as I show, one doesn't have to dig very far.
But first let's examine the basics of why so many scientists think global warming is manmade. Earth's atmosphere contains natural greenhouse gases (mostly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) which act to keep the lower layers of the atmosphere warmer that they otherwise would be without those gases. Greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation -- the radiant heat energy that the Earth naturally emits to outer space in response to solar heating. Mankind's burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal, petroleum, and natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this is believed to be enhancing the Earth's natural greenhouse effect. As of 2008, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 40% to 45% higher than it was before the start of the industrial revolution in the 1800's.
It is interesting to note that, even though carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth to exist, there is precious little of it in Earth's atmosphere. As of 2008, only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air were CO2, and it will take mankind's CO2 emissions 5 more years to increase that number by 1, to 40.
The "Holy Grail": Climate Sensitivity: Figuring out how much past warming is due to mankind, and how much more we can expect in the future, depends upon something called "climate sensitivity". This is the temperature response of the Earth to a given amount of 'radiative forcing', of which there are two kinds: a change in either the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth, or in the infrared energy the Earth emits to outer space.
The 'consensus' of opinion is that the Earth's climate sensitivity is quite high, and so warming of about 0.25 deg. C to 0.5 deg. C (about 0.5 deg. F to 0.9 deg. F) every 10 years can be expected for as long as mankind continues to use fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. NASA's James Hansen claims that climate sensitivity is very high, and that we have already put too much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Presumably this is why he and Al Gore are campaigning for a moratorium on the construction of any more coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
You would think that we'd know the Earth's 'climate sensitivity' by now, but it has been surprisingly difficult to determine. How atmospheric processes like clouds and precipitation systems respond to warming is critical, as they are either amplifying the warming, or reducing it. This website currently concentrates on the response of clouds to warming, an issue which I am now convinced the scientific community has totally misinterpreted when they have measured natural, year-to-year fluctuations in the climate system. As a result of that confusion, they have the mistaken belief that climate sensitivity is high, when in fact the satellite evidence suggests climate sensitivity is low.
The case for natural climate change: I also present an analysis of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which shows that most climate change might well be the result of....the climate system itself! Because small, chaotic fluctuations in atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems can cause small changes in global average cloudiness, this is all that is necessary to cause climate change. You don't need the sun, or any other 'external' influence (although these are also possible...but for now I'll let others work on that). It is simply what the climate system does. This is actually quite easy for meteorologists to believe, since we understand how complex weather processes are. Your local TV meteorologist is probably a closet 'skeptic' regarding mankind's influence on climate.
Climate change -- it happens, with or without our help.
Scrooge was a people hater
"Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.'' "Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'' "If they would rather die,'' said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
That phrase--surplus population--is what first tipped me off to Dickens' philosophical agenda. He's taking aim at the father of the zero-growth philosophy, Thomas Malthus. Malthus' ideas were still current in British intellectual life at the time A Christmas Carol was written. Malthus, himself, had joined the surplus generation only nine years before. But his ideas have proved more durable.
Malthus taught the world to fear new people. An amateur economist, he created a theoretical model which allegedly proved that mass starvation was an inevitable result of population growth. Populations grow, he said, geometrically, but wealth only grows arithmetically. In other words, new people create more new people, but new food doesn't create new food.
Malthus' influence, unfortunately, grew geometrically and not arithmetically. His ideas provided fodder for Darwin, and Darwin's lesser mutations used the model to argue for the value of mass human extinction.
Hitler's hard eugenics and Sanger's (founder of Planned Parenthood) softer one, both owed a great debt of gratitude to Thomas Malthus. So do the zero-growth, sustainable-growth, right-to-die, duty-to-die, life boat bio-ethicists who dominate so much of our intellectual discussion. Malthus turned out to be, ironically, right in some sense. His prediction of mass death has taken place; not because he was right, but because he was believed.
Dickens, I think, saw it first. Ebenezer Scrooge was clearly a Malthusian. When he turns away an opportunity for alms giving, he uses the zero growth rationale. When he meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, he reiterates it:
"You have never seen the like of me before!'' exclaimed the Spirit.
"Never,'' Scrooge made answer to it.
"Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?'' pursued the Phantom.
"I don't think I have,'' said Scrooge. "I am afraid I have not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit?''
"More than eighteen hundred,'' said the Ghost.
"A tremendous family to provide for!'' muttered Scrooge.
At this, the Ghost rose in what I presume is indignation. Scrooge cowers and submits. Then the ghost raises his torch (in the shape of a cornucopia) and leads Scrooge to the public market, brimming with food from all around the world. Dickens especially emphasizes the fruits of trade: almonds, Spanish onions and oranges (in winter, no less). The message is clear: The dirge-ists of the day are wrong. England, even with its poor classes, is a prosperous society. The world is abundant. Rest is possible. So is generosity.
Scrooge's philosophy is not one based on the evidence; he ignores the evidence. He keeps setting aside the evidence of his senses with reference to the secular philosophy of his time. When he sees a spirit, he says that it's just a piece of undigested beef causing him to hallucinate. He denies the realm of the spirit until it becomes simply undeniable.
Scrooge is not following reason; he's following trauma. His mother died when he was young. He was sent to a boarding home where he and the other children were poorly fed. By the time he was brought back from exile to his home (which his sister said is 'like heaven'), the damage to his core personality was done.
Dickens' message is clear enough: The Malthusians of his day did not need evidence (which they ignored every day in the marketplace) or reason. They needed conversion. They needed healing. They needed to be reminded on the day where the world celebrates the birth of a child whom Rome and Herod try to assign to the role of 'surplus population,' that the frightened men who rule the world in the name of scarcity should not be followed, but saved.
"A Scam, With No Basis In Science"
Our friend William Katz has been corresponding with physicist and mathematician Frank Tipler at Urgent Agenda on the subject of global warming. A few excerpts from Professor Tipler's letter to Katz:
As regards global warming, my view is essentially the same as yours: Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science.
It is obvious that anthropogenic global warming is not science at all, because a scientific theory makes non-obvious predictions which are then compared with observations that the average person can check for himself. As we both know from our own observations, AGW theory has spectacularly failed to do this. The theory has predicted steadily increasing global temperatures, and this has been refuted by experience. NOW the global warmers claim that the Earth will enter a cooling period. In other words, whether the ice caps melt, or expand --- whatever happens --- the AGW theorists claim it confirms their theory. A perfect example of a pseudo-science like astrology.
In contrast, the alternative theory, that the increase and decrease of the Earth's average temperature in the near term follows the sunspot number, agrees (roughly) with observation. And the observations were predicted before they occurred. This is good science.
I no longer trust "scientists" to report observations correctly. I think the data is adjusted to confirm, as far as possible, AGW. We've seen many recent cases where the data was cooked in climate studies. In one case, Hanson and company claimed that October 2008 was the warmest October on record. Watts looked at the data, and discovered that Hanson and company had used September's temperatures for Russia rather than October's. I'm not surprised to learn that September is hotter than October in the Northern hemisphere.
Another shocking thing about the AGW theory is that it is generating a loss of true scientific knowledge. The great astronomer William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus, observed in the early 1800's that warm weather was correlated with sunspot number. Herschel noticed that warmer weather meant better crops, and thus fewer sunspots meant higher grain prices. The AGW people are trying to do a disappearing act on these observations. Some are trying to deny the existence of the Maunder Minimum.
Professor Tipler notes the discreditable role played by Obama's chief science adviser, the left-wing partisan John Holdren:
AGW supporters are also bringing back the Inquisition, where the power of the state is used to silence one's scientific opponents. The case of Bjorn Lomborg is illustrative. Lomborg is a tenured professor of mathematics in Denmark. Shortly after his book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," was published by Cambridge University Press, Lomborg was charged and convicted (later reversed) of scientific fraud for being critical of the "consensus" view on AGW and other environmental questions. Had the conviction been upheld, Lomborg would have been fired. ...
I find it very disturbing that part of the Danish Inquisition's case against Lomborg was written by John Holdren, Obama's new science advisor. Holdren has recently written that people like Lomborg are "dangerous." I think it is people like Holdren who are dangerous, because they are willing to use state power to silence their scientific opponents.
Finally, he points out how toxic the combination of government (which is to say, politics) and science can be:
I agree with Dick Lindzen that the AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science. If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract. If he is a skeptic, then no contract.
This is why I am astounded that people who should know better, like Newt Gingrich, advocate increased government funding for scientific research. We had better science, and a more rapid advance of science, in the early part of the 20th century when there was no centralized government funding for science. Einstein discovered relativity on his own time, while he was employed as a patent clerk. Where are the Einsteins of today? They would never be able to get a university job...
Science is an economic good like everything else, and it is very bad for production of high quality goods for the government to control the means of production. Why can't Newt Gingrich understand this? Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government funding for science.
Provocative stuff, but clearly correct insofar as it relates to global warming. In the Telegraph, Christopher Booker writes, "2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved." As usual, though, the politicians are lagging far behind the advance of scientific knowledge.
Optimistic Data Pessimistic Reporting
Washington Post correspondant Juliet Eilperin, in her 12-26-08 report entitled "New climate change estimates more pessimistic," dutifully surveys the latest bleak findings of the climate change community. Her primary source is a recently released survey comissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program - expanding on the findings of the 2007 4th IPPC Report on Climate Change. Apparently this "new assessment suggests that earlier projections may have underestimated the climatic shifts that could take place by 2100." One of Eilperin's primary examples of alarming new data is reported as follows:
"In one of the reports most worrisome findings, the agency estimates that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea level rise could be as much as 4 feet by 2100. The IPCC had projected a sea level rise of no more than 1.5 feet by that time, but satellite data over the past two years show the world's major ice sheets are melting much more rapidly than previously thought. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are now losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year, equivalent to twice the amount of ice that exists in the Alps."
This indeed sounds ominous, until one recalls the data from just over two years ago, released and reported with similar overtones of dreadful urgency. Our October 20th, 2006 report entitled "Greenland's Ice Melting Slowly" referenced then recent findings from NASA indicating that Greenland's ice was melting at "a net loss of 27 cubic miles of ice per year."
In our above-noted critique of this 2006 NASA report, we correctly noted 27 cubic miles of new water in the world's oceans per year would result in a net rise of sea level of 1.2 inches per century. The calculations for this claim are fairly straightforward and are outlined in that post. Now in this new 2008 report in the Washington Post, not only Greenland, but Antarctica as well are only combining to contribute 48 cubic miles of net ice-melt per year into the world's oceans on average during the last three years. That is about 2.0 inches per century, and clearly these datapoints don't indicate a trend towards faster melting, when Antarctica's ice mass is nearly 10x that of the Greenland ice cap.
It would help if Eilperin and others would have included links to the original just-released study from the USGS Climate Change Science Program, "Abrupt Climate Change." Using the key words "USGS faster climate change feared," the many, many links found on www.google.com, including the Washington Post story's own link to the study, only reference the Washington Post story itself. And despite the overwhelming intent of all these posts spawned by Eilperin's latest dispatch, to crow yet again that our worst primal diluvian fears could come true, the most supposedly alarming data they themselves have cited suggest strongly otherwise. Three years ago what NASA quantified as an alarming loss of annual ice loss from Greenland was easily demonstrated at that time to be an insignificant loss, and today NASA's updated data appears to suggest the annual rate of global polar ice loss has actually decreased since then.
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