Rapid growth spurt leaves amount of ice at levels seen 29 years ago. Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close. Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards. The data is being reported by the University of Illinois's Arctic Climate Research Center, and is derived from satellite observations of the Northern and Southern hemisphere polar regions.
Each year, millions of square kilometers of sea ice melt and refreeze. However, the mean ice anomaly -- defined as the seasonally-adjusted difference between the current value and the average from 1979-2000, varies much more slowly. That anomaly now stands at just under zero, a value identical to one recorded at the end of 1979, the year satellite record-keeping began.
Sea ice is floating and, unlike the massive ice sheets anchored to bedrock in Greenland and Antarctica, doesn't affect ocean levels. However, due to its transient nature, sea ice responds much faster to changes in temperature or precipitation and is therefore a useful barometer of changing conditions.
Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery. Bill Chapman, a researcher with the UIUC's Arctic Center, tells DailyTech this was due in part to colder temperatures in the region. Chapman says wind patterns have also been weaker this year. Strong winds can slow ice formation as well as forcing ice into warmer waters where it will melt.
Why were predictions so wrong? Researchers had expected the newer sea ice, which is thinner, to be less resilient and melt easier. Instead, the thinner ice had less snow cover to insulate it from the bitterly cold air, and therefore grew much faster than expected, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
In May, concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts who claimed the animal's numbers were increasing.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION UNLIKELY TO UNDERMINE ECONOMY BY COSTLY CLIMATE POLICIES
And if the The New York Times thinks so, it must be right!
In the fall of 1997, when the Clinton administration was forming its position for the Kyoto climate treaty talks, Lawrence H. Summers argued that the United States would risk damaging the domestic economy if it set overly ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions. Mr. Summers, then the deputy Treasury secretary, said at the time that there was a compelling scientific case for action on global warming but that a too-rapid move against emissions of greenhouse gases risked dire and unknowable economic consequences. His view prevailed over those of officials arguing for tougher standards, among them Carol M. Browner, then the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and her mentor, Al Gore, then the vice president.
Today, as the climate-change debate once again heats up, Mr. Summers leads the economic team of the incoming administration, and Ms. Browner has been designated its White House coordinator of energy and climate policy. And Mr. Gore is hovering as an informal adviser to President-elect Barack Obama. As Mr. Obama seeks to find the right balance between his environmental goals and his plans to revive the economy, he may have to resolve conflicting views among some of his top advisers.
While Mr. Summers's thinking on climate change has evolved over the last decade, his views on the potential risks to the economy of an aggressive effort to limit carbon emissions have not. But he now works for a president-elect who has set ambitious goals for addressing global warming through a government-run cap-and-trade system. It may once again prove to be Mr. Summers's role to inject a rigorous economist's reality check into the debate over the scope and speed of an attack on global warming.
According to a transition official familiar with Mr. Summers's thinking, he is wary of moving very quickly on a carbon cap, because doing so could raise energy costs, kill jobs and deepen the current recession. He foresees a phase-in of several years for any carbon restraint regime, particularly if the economy continues to be sluggish, a slower timetable than many lawmakers and environmentalists are pressing. Mr. Summers and Peter R. Orszag, the economist whom Mr. Obama has designated director of the White House budget office, have both argued that a tax on carbon emissions from burning gasoline, coal and other fuels might be a more economically efficient means of regulating pollutants than a cap-and-trade system, under which an absolute ceiling on emissions is set and polluters are allowed to buy and sell permits to meet it.
But Mr. Obama and Ms. Browner have ruled out a straight carbon tax, perhaps mindful of the stinging political defeat the Clinton administration suffered in 1993 when, prodded by Mr. Gore, it proposed one. Mr. Obama was asked in a television interview last month whether he would consider imposing a stiff tax on gasoline, whose price has now fallen to below $2 a gallon after cresting above $4 a gallon last summer. He replied that while American families were getting some relief at the pump, they were hurting in other ways, through rising unemployment and falling home values. "So putting additional burdens on American families right now, I think, is a mistake," he said.
At least for the present, then, the idea of a carbon tax has been shelved, and Mr. Obama's economic and environmental advisers are working, along with Congress, to devise a cap-and-trade system. But difficult debates lie ahead within the White House, between the White House and Congress, and within the Democratic Party, whose deep divisions on climate change break down along ideological and geographical lines.
Ten global warming truths to keep us sane in 2009
Sound science put to rest numerous unsubstantiated global warming scares in 2008. Sensationalist predictions that the North Pole would melt, polar bear numbers would decline, hurricanes would run amok, devastating droughts would occur, and Antarctic ice sheets would flood the southern seas never materialized. Unfortunately, this will not stop the purveyors of gloom and doom from creating similar false global warming scares and sensationalist predictions for 2009. Keeping in mind the following 10 global warming truths will help us avoid falling prey to global warming scams in the upcoming New Year.
Global temperatures are not rising. The warmest year in the past century occurred a full decade ago, in 1998. Temperatures have been gradually and steadily falling for most of the past decade. Temperatures in 2008 were no warmer than temperatures in 1980.
The Earth is colder than its long-term average. For most of the past 10,000 years, global temperatures have been 1.0 to 3.0 degrees Celsius warmer than our current climate. Twentieth century temperatures appear unusually warm only when compared to the preceding Little Ice Age, which had the coldest global temperatures of the past 10 millennia. The rise of human civilization occurred in a much warmer climate than that of today.
Polar bear populations are not declining; they're thriving. The global polar bear population has more than doubled since the 1980s. Moreover, polar bears had no problems surviving and flourishing in the much warmer temperatures that dominated the past 10,000 years.
Polar ice is not shrinking. Arctic sea ice has moderately declined in recent years, due in large part to a recent shift in regional wind patterns. But in the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice has been growing at a record pace. Polar ice as a whole is right on its long-term average.
Global warming is not causing more droughts. Throughout the twentieth century and since, global precipitation has been increasing, as has global soil moisture. A recent paper in one of the world's foremost peer-reviewed science journals noted, "the terrestrial surface is literally becoming more like a gardener's greenhouse"--an environment that is great for plant growth.
Higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are not killing sea life. Numerous recent studies show that aquatic ecosystems become more productive and robust under higher carbon dioxide conditions. Assertions that higher carbon dioxide concentrations cause harmful ocean acidification are unsupported by real-world evidence, ignore the prevalence of shellfish during prior geological periods when there was much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and would apply to only a small subset of aquatic creatures versus the vast majority of aquatic life that benefits from higher atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Global warming is not causing more extreme weather. The frequency of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events is no greater now than in prior decades and centuries. Even daily high temperature records were more frequently broken 70 years ago, in the 1930s, than they are today.
Global warming is not melting Mt. Kilimanjaro's alpine glacier. Temperatures at Mt. Kilimanjaro have been slightly cooling since at least the middle of the twentieth century, and those temperatures virtually never rise above freezing. Scientists have long known that deforestation at the base of the mountain is causing the mountaintop glacier to shrink, by reducing the moisture and resultant precipitation in mountain updrafts.
Global deserts are not growing. On the contrary, the Sahara Desert and others like it have been retreating for decades.
Scientists do not agree on a policy of alarmism. More than 32,000 scientists have signed a formal statement, prepared by a past president of the National Academy of Sciences and co-authored by an atmospheric scientist at Harvard University, saying there is no global warming crisis. By contrast, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has only 2,600 participants, many of whom are not scientists, and counts the staff of activist groups Environmental Defense and Greenpeace as its lead authors.
Climate crook claims Australia 'destroying life on Earth'
Hansen's hysteria never stops. He even fabricates climate data in aid of his scares. His temperature graphs are so edited that they are vastly different from the graphs produced by others
AUSTRALIA'S use of coal and carbon emissions policies are guaranteeing the "destruction of much of the life on the planet", a leading NASA scientist has written in a letter to Barack Obama. The head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor James Hansen, has written an open letter to Barack Obama calling for a moratorium on coal-fired power stations and the use of next-generation nuclear power.
In the letter he says: "Australia exports coal and sets atmospheric carbon dioxide goals so large as to guarantee destruction of much of the life on the planet." Prof Hansen said goals and caps on carbon emissions were practically worthless because of the long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the air. "Instead a large part of the total fossil fuels must be left in the ground. In practice, that means coal," he wrote. "Nobody realistically expects that the large readily available pools of oil and gas will be left in the ground."
Prof Hansen said that emissions reduction targets, like Kevin Rudd's goal to cut emissions by a minimum of 5 per cent and up to 15 per cent by 2020, do not work. "This approach is ineffectual and not commensurate with the climate threat," he wrote of reduction plans. "It could waste another decade, locking in disastrous consequences for our planet and humanity."
Professor Hansen also works in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and has given testimony on climate change to the US Congress. He said he wrote to Mr Obama as the incoming US president is in a position to instigate global change and "his presidency may be judged in good part on whether he was able to turn the tide (on climate change) - more important, the futures of young people and other life will depend on that".
He called for the end of coal plants that do not capture and store carbon dioxide and for funding for "fourth generation" nuclear power plants that could run on material now regarded as waste. Comment is being sought from Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.
Global Warm-mongering: More Silk from a Pig's Ear
It seems that NASA's James Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), is at it again. He just can't let the data speak for itself. In yet another egregious display of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) arrogance, he changed the temperature data from 1910-2008 to reflect what is clearly a cooling trend to reflect a warming trend. (Y-axis = Annual Mean Temperatures in centigrade; X-axis = Year)
These are the USHCN (United States Historical Climatology Network) "raw" and "homogenized" data plots from the GISTEMP (GISS Surface Temperature) website synthesized into one chart with polynomial fit trend lines. As seen in this comparison chart, the Blue Lines represent raw data -- clearly indicating a cooling trend. Whereas the Red Lines are the adjusted trends after subjected to Hansen's own curiously compensating algorithm. Junk in = Junk out.
Indeed this past year (2008) is set to be the coolest since 2000, according to a preliminary estimate of global average temperature that is due to be released this month by the Met Office's Hadley Centre in Great Britain. The global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, which is 0.14C below the average temperature for 2001-07.
Nevertheless, global warming partisans at the Met and elsewhere have taken to assuring everyone that cool temperatures are "absolutely not" evidence that global warming is on the wane. Yet those warning and cautionary adamancies are always absent when it comes to linking heat waves to global warming. "Curiouser and curiouser," said Lewis Carroll.
However, One major glitch in the reporting of temperatures has been quietly forgotten by the Met and others of AGW persuasion as documented here.... When the Soviet Union fell in 1990 the number of reporting weather stations around the world declined from a high of 15,000 in 1970 to 5,000 in 2000, no appropriate compensatory weighting mechanism was thereafter applied. Such an absence critically skews everything thereafter to the warmer side of things, since it takes some of the coldest places on the planet (like Siberia) out of the equation. With that absence, it's likely getting colder than we now know. How convenient!
Said Geophysicist Dr. David Deming, associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma who has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles:
"Environmental extremists and global warming alarmists are in denial and running for cover.... To the extent global warming was ever valid, it is now officially over. It is time to file this theory in the dustbin of history, next to Aristotelean physics, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, phlogiston, and a plethora of other incorrect scientific theories, all of which had vocal and dogmatic supporters who cited incontrovertible evidence. Weather and climate change are natural processes beyond human control. To argue otherwise is to deny the factual evidence."
Amen and Amen!
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.