Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Study Doesn't Support Climate Models (But You'll Never Hear About It)

By cloud expert Roy Spencer. He finds he has to do what I routinely did in my research career: Look at the "Results" section of a scientific paper to see what was actually found. The Abstract and Conclusion of a scientific paper in a politically sensitive area can often be twisted to say the exact opposite of what the actual findings indicated. No prizes for guessing the direction of the twist, either. Almost all scientists work in a bureaucracy these days. Universities are big bureaucracies. And the cardinal sin in any bureaucracy is to "rock the boat"

A new study just published in the January 2009 issue of Journal of Climate uses a model to study the effect of warming oceans on the extensive low-level stratocumulus cloud layers that cover substantial parts of the global oceans. This study, entitled "Response of a Subtropical Stratocumulus-Capped Mixed Layer to Climate and Aerosol Changes", by Peter Caldwell and Christopher Bretherton, is important because it represents a test of climate models, all of which now cause low level clouds to decrease with warming.

And since less low cloud cover means more sunlight reaching the surface, the small amount of direct warming from extra CO2 in climate models gets amplified - greatly amplified in some models. And the greater the strength of this `positive cloud feedback', the worse manmade global warming and associated climate change will be.

But everyone agrees that clouds are complicated beasts and it is not at all clear to me that positive cloud feedback really exists in nature. (See here and here for such evidence).

The new Journal of Climate study addressed the marine stratocumulus clouds which form just beneath the temperature inversion (warm air layer) capping the relatively cool boundary layer to the west of the continents. The marine boundary layer is where turbulent mixing of water vapor evaporated from the ocean surface gets trapped and some of that vapor condenses into cloud just below the inversion.

That warm temperature inversion, in turn, is caused by rising air in thunderstorms - usually far away - forcing the air above the inversion to sink, and sinking air always warms. The inversion forms at a relatively low altitude where the air is `prevented' from sinking any farther. This relationship is shown in their Figure 1, which I have reproduced below.

The authors used a fairly detailed model to study the behavior of these clouds in response to warming of the ocean and found that the cloud liquid water content increased with warming, under all simulated conditions. This, by itself, would be a negative feedback (natural cooling effect) in response to the warming since denser clouds will reflect more sunlight. At face value, then, these results would not be supportive of positive cloud feedback in the climate models.

But what is interesting is that the authors do not explicitly make this connection. Even though they mention in the Introduction the importance of their study to testing the behavior of climate models, in their Conclusions they don’t mention whether the results support – or don’t support — the climate models. And I would imagine they will not be happy with me making that connection for them, either. They would probably say that their study is just one part of a giant puzzle that doesn’t necessarily prove anything about the climate models that predict so much global warming.

Fair enough. But a double standard has clearly been established when it comes to publishing studies related to global warming. Published studies that support climate model predictions of substantial manmade global warming are clearly preferred over those that do not support the models, and explicitly stating that support in the studies is permitted. But results that appear to contradict the models either can not get published…or (like in this study) the contradiction can not be explicitly stated without upsetting one or more of the peer reviewers.

For instance, a paper I recently submitted to Geophysical Research Letters was very rapidly rejected based upon only one reviewer who was asked to review that paper. (I have never heard of a paper’s fate being left up to a single reviewer, unless no other reviewers could be found, which clearly was not the case in my situation). That reviewer was quite hostile to our satellite-based results, which implied the climate models were wrong in their cloud feedbacks.

One wonders whether support of climate models would have been mentioned in the Caldwell and Bretherton paper if their results were just the opposite, and supported the models. Of course, we will never know.

More here (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Greenie knowalls goof

They talk about ecosystems but don't seem to be able to recognize one when they see it -- so end up shooting themselves in the foot

Eradicating feral cats on Australia's remote Macquarie Island has devastated the environment after rabbit numbers exploded, a new study shows. The study says it will cost $24 million to fix the World Heritage-listed island located about halfway between Australia and Antarctica. Scientists writing in the British Ecological Society's Journal Of Applied Ecology, said conservation agencies could learn important lessons from what happened on Macquarie Island.

According to the article, rabbit numbers on the island were reduced from a high of 130,000 in 1978 to less than 20,000 in the 1980s, after a program to spread the disease myxomatosis. But as rabbit numbers fell, cats introduced in the early 1800s began to hunt the island's native burrowing birds, and in 1985 a cat eradication program began. After the last cat was killed in 2000, myxomatosis failed to keep rabbit numbers in check and their numbers jumped. In little over six years, rabbits substantially altered large areas of the island, the study found.

Dana Bergstrom, who works for the Australian Antarctic Division and was lead author of the report, said the rabbit population had reverted to 1978 levels, with up to 130,000 on the island. By 2007 the impact on protected valleys and slopes was acute, she said. "We estimate that nearly 40 per cent of the whole island area had changed, with almost 20 per cent having moderate to severe change," Dr Bergstrom said. About half of this vegetation change occurred on the island's coastal slopes, home to penguin colonies. "Before, it was lush tussocks up to 1.5 metres high," Dr Bergstrom said. "In some of the most severe cases, the tussocks have been eaten down to the ground."

The disappearance of the tussocks has exposed penguin "roads" developed over hundreds of years by penguins making their way from colonies to the beach. As a result, the penguins were exposed to large predatory birds, called skuas, Dr Bergstrom said.

The study said changes documented were a rare example of "trophic cascades", when changes in one species' abundance cause several other parts of the food web to be altered. Macquarie Island, which is just 34 kilometres long and five kilometres wide, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997.


These guys have cheek

In a previous post I discussed the way that the media hypes stories that support the theory of anthropogenic global warming. They will take singular, odd weather events and purport that they prove that catastrophic warming is happening. Similar events, which lean the other way, are immediately dismissed and the media reminds everyone that singular events don't prove anything. It's the double-standard that bugs me.

One such example was the absurd Washington Post article that had a headline connecting a tornado in New York City to warming. As I noted that article seems to have vanished from the Washington Post site. So the embarrassing article just disappeared from their site as if never written.

But if you want pure chutzpah you have go to England's Met Office. I saw a mention of these posts at Watts Up With That. but I found this so astounding I had to verify each post myself.

Let's start with their weather forecast from September, 2008. The Met "forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average."

Of course, as we reported, this winter in England was particularly bitter. So what did the Met say later about their earlier forecast? On December 12 the Met admits "that the UK has had the coldest start to winter in over 30 years." No one will fault them for not getting it right. But what I found astounding was that this statement claimed: "The Met Office seasonal forecast predicted the cold start to the winter season with milder conditions expected during January and February..."

That's chutzpah. They send out a press statement claiming the winter will be mild and when they get it wrong they send out another press statement claiming they predicted it would be unusually cold. In the same statement they told everyone that January and February, however, would be "milder" .

Unfortunately the beginning of January has remained quite cold and didn't turn mild as they forecast. But never fear. The Met Office released another press statement and ended it slapping themselves on the back. "The Met Office correctly forecast the spell of cold weather and kept the public informed via our various forecasts."


Environmental angst

As environmentalism continues to grow in prominence, more and more of us are trying to live a "greener" lifestyle. But the more "eco-friendly" you try to become, the more likely you find yourself confused and frustrated by the green message.

Have you tried giving up your bright and cheery incandescent light bulbs to save energy only to learn that their gloomy-but-efficient compact fluorescent replacements contain mercury? Perhaps you've tried to free up space in landfills by foregoing the ease and convenience of disposable diapers only to be criticized for the huge quantities of energy and water consumed in laundering those nasty cloth diapers. Even voicing support for renewable energy no longer seems to be green enough, as angry environmentalists protest the development of "pristine lands" for wind farms and solar power plants.

Why is it that no matter what sacrifices you make to try to reduce your "environmental footprint," it never seems to be enough? Well, consider why it is that you have an "environmental footprint" in the first place.

Everything we do to sustain our lives has an impact on nature. Every value we create to advance our well-being, every ounce of food we grow, every structure we build, every iPhone we manufacture is produced by extracting raw materials and reshaping them to serve our needs. Every good thing in our lives comes from altering nature for our own benefit.

From the perspective of human life and happiness, a big "environmental footprint" is an enormous positive. This is why people in India and China are striving to increase theirs: to build better roads, more cars and computers, new factories and power plants and hospitals.

But for environmentalism, the size of your "footprint" is the measure of your guilt. Nature, according to green philosophy, is something to be left alone to be preserved untouched by human activity. Their notion of an "environmental footprint" is intended as a measure of how much you "disturb" nature, with disturbing nature viewed as a sin requiring atonement. Just as the Christian concept of original sin conveys the message that human beings are stained with evil simply for having been born, the green concept of an "environmental footprint" implies that you should feel guilty for your very existence.

It should hardly be any surprise, then, that nothing you do to try to lighten your "footprint" will ever be deemed satisfactory. So long as you are still pursuing life-sustaining activities, whatever you do to reduce your impact on nature in one respect (e.g., cloth diapers) will simply lead to other impacts in other respects (e.g., water use) like some perverse game of green whack-a-mole and will be attacked and condemned by greens outraged at whatever "footprint" remains. So long as you still have some "footprint," further penance is required; so long as you are still alive, no degree of sacrifice can erase your guilt.

The only way to leave no "footprint" would be to die -- a conclusion that is not lost on many green ideologues. Consider the premise of the nonfiction bestseller titled "The World Without Us," which fantasizes about how the earth would "recover" if all humanity suddenly became extinct. Or, consider the chilling, anti-human conclusion of an op-ed discussing cloth versus disposable diapers: "From the earth's point of view, it's not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby." The next time you trustingly adopt a "green solution" like fluorescent lights, cloth diapers or wind farms, only to be puzzled when met with still further condemnation and calls for even more sacrifices, remember what counts as a final solution for these ideologues.

The only rational response to such a philosophy is to challenge it at its core. We must acknowledge that it is the essence of human survival to reshape nature for our own benefit, and that far from being a sin, it is our highest virtue. Don't be fooled by the cries that industrial civilization is "unsustainable." This cry dates to at least the 19th century, but is belied by the facts. Since the Industrial Revolution, population and life expectancy, to say nothing of the enjoyment of life, have steadily grown. It is time to recognize environmentalism as a philosophy of guilt and sacrifice and to reject it in favor of a philosophy that proudly upholds the value of human life.


Australia: Senator Joyce blasts Greenie fanatics

NATIONALS firebrand Senator Barnaby Joyce has launched a fresh attack on carbon emissions trading, drawing parallels between environmentalists and Nazis. Senator Joyce warned of the rise of "eco-totalitarianism" and said he would not be "goosestepping" along with them.

The Federal Government plans to start emissions trading in 2010 to reduce carbon pollution and take up the fight against climate change.

"The idea that this scheme can go forward and no one's allowed to question because there's a new form of eco-totalitarianism that demands blind obedience, I think that is wrong," the Nationals Senate leader said on ABC radio today. "One has to fall into lockstep, goosestep and parade around the office ranting and raving that we are all as one?"

Senator Joyce rejected a suggestion he was a climate change denier and drew a parallel with the Holocaust, the murder of millions of Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II. "Climate change denier, like Holocaust denier, this is the sort of emotive language that has become stitched up in this (emissions trading) issue," he said. Senator Joyce said emissions trading would put Australians out of their homes and out of jobs. And it would do nothing to counter climate change, he said.

Senator Joyce's stance raises the possibility of a coalition split with Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull yet to announce a position on emissions trading. Some within the Coalition support taking action on climate change, while others share Senator Joyce's reservations. The Government needs the support of the Coalition to pass its scheme through the Senate, or it will have to rely on the Greens and independents, a prospect not welcomed by the business lobby.



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1 comment:

John A said...

Environmental angst

Ha. I am old enough to remember the "green" (which is more obviously becoming Soylent Green ) movement recommending wood-burning stoves for reducing dependence on non-renewable coal/gas furnaces.

Then people started complaining about smells and ash spreading through the neighborhood, insects (and other animals) in the fuel stockpiles, the appearance of said stockpiles... And now CO2 output is decried. So they are in the process of being outlawed.