Friday, March 20, 2009

A clanger from the Green/Left "New Scientist" magazine

An email from Mike O'Ceirin []

I recently happened across an article on the New Scientist Web Site the title is "Climate myths: We can't trust computer models"

The article was written by one Fred Pearce who seems to be one of the leading lights in the AGW debate. You can find some information on him here - which gives quite a lot of detail about his journalism, but nothing about his educational background.

I have done a web search and even looked for such information. For instance he wrote a book called "Confessions of an Eco-Sinner" on Amazon Books the best I can find is he is a "Veteran Science Journalist". Despite any apparent expertise in the field he has this to say about computer models:
"Even though the climate is chaotic to some extent, it can be predicted long in advance.... The validity of models can be tested against climate history. If they can predict the past (which the best models are pretty good at) they are probably on the right track for predicting the future - and indeed have successfully done so."

The article also trots out the usual arguments and then the clanger:
"Finally, the claim is sometimes made that if computer models were any good, people would be using them to predict the stock market. Well, they are! A lot of trading in the financial markets is already carried out by computers. Many base their decisions on fairly simple algorithms designed to exploit tiny profit margins, but others rely on more sophisticated long-term models.

Major financial institutions are investing huge amounts in automated trading systems, the proportion of trading carried out by computers is growing rapidly and a few individuals have made a fortune from them. The smart money is being bet on computer models.

Of course, in some ways financial markets are much trickier to model than the climate, depending as they do on human behaviour. What's more, trading based on computer models alters the nature of the very thing you're trying to predict."

Now this article was written in 2007 when there were many who had faith in such modelling. Now stating as evidence that General Climate Models must be valid because computer modelling of stock markets have worked so well is now obviously ridiculous. Then it was just a logical fallacy.

Pearce sets himself up as an expert on this when he obviously is not and he has been caught out by the fact that it is foolish to believe computers can foretell the future. Further to this, his extreme ignorance is shown by saying "financial markets are much trickier to model than the climate". It shows the author to lack an understanding of the complexity in the creation of a GCM and the weather.

There is also a link to prove GCMs have already predicted the future. It is J Hansen's 1988 prediction that is referenced. I thought that prediction failed!

Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics

By Gerhard Gerlich & Ralf D. Tscheuschner


The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1861), and Arrhenius (1896), and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist. Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles are clarified. By showing that (a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 degrees Celsius is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

Int. J. Modern Physics B23:275-364,2009 (DOI: 10.1142/S021797920904984X)

You've Got to Have Heartland

The chief source of hysteria over possible man-made global warming has been the United Nations and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The panel's own climate models project that if man's emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases were causing global warming, there would be a particular pattern of temperature distribution in the atmosphere, which scientists call "the fingerprint." Temperatures in the troposphere portion of the atmosphere above the tropics would increase with altitude, producing a "hotspot" near the top of the troposphere, about 6 miles above the earth's surface. Above that, in the stratosphere, there would be cooling.

All scientists, both the alarmist warm-mongers and the pacifist cooler heads, agree that this temperature pattern would result if man were causing global warming, reflecting the pattern of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that would prevail in the atmosphere. Warming due to solar variations or other natural causes would not leave such a fingerprint pattern. Higher quality temperature data from weather balloons and satellites now enable us to settle the man-made global warming debate definitively.

The observed result is just the opposite of the modeled global warming fingerprint pattern. The data from weather balloons shows no increasing warming with altitude, but rather a slight cooling, with no hotspot. The satellite data confirms this result, no increasing temperature with altitude, no hotspot, no fingerprint.

Top Scientists

This was the most important point made by the brilliant scientists from around the world who attended the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by the Heartland Institute in New York City last week. Those scientists included, among many others who deserve to be household names: S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, and the founder and first director of the National Weather Satellite Service: Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, formerly a professor of dynamic meteorology and director of the Center for Earth and Planetary Physics at Harvard; Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and U.S. Science Team Leader for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA's Aqua satellite; Patrick Michaels, research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, and past president of the American Association of State Climatologists; David Douglass, professor of physics at the University of Rochester, and winner of numerous prestigious Science awards, and Syun-ichi Akasofu, professor of physics and former director of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, winner of awards from the Royal Astronomy Society of London, Japan Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

There is no collection of scientists in the world smarter and better than these and the others who spoke at and attended the conference. Several argued further that the entire temperature pattern of the 20th century follows normal climate variations, rather than CO2 emissions. Temperatures in the U.S., which has the most thorough and consistent temperature record and historically the most CO2 emissions, were stable until 1920, increased some in the 1920s, and then soared to produce the hottest decade of the century during the 1930s. The climate then cooled during most of the period from 1940 until about 1977, except for a brief spike from about 1949 to 1953. Temperatures climbed upward from 1977 until 1998, except for a sharp downturn from about 1988 until about 1995. Temperatures are down over the past decade.

Yet CO2 increased continuously throughout the century, which should have produced a trend of consistent temperature increases if it were causing global warming. Several presenters at the conference argued that the more complex actual temperature variations were fully explained by natural, long-term temperature patterns. The temperature increases until 1940 reflected mostly the continuing recovery from the Little Ice Age, which ran roughly from the early 1400s to the late 1800s. The pattern since then is consistent with the variations of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), a 20 to 30 year up and down variation in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean produced by deep sea ocean currents.

Global Cooling

Moreover, several presenters argued that due to these natural variations we have already entered a period of long-term cooling that will last at least another 20 years, and maybe more. Indeed, satellite measured temperatures show that the global atmosphere has cooled over the last 10 years, with the decline in temperatures accelerating over the last two years. As Lord Christopher Monckton, who also spoke at the conference, has said, "Global warming stopped 10 years ago. It hasn't gotten warmer since 1998….In fact in the last 7 years, there has been a downturn in global temperatures equivalent on average to about…one degree Fahrenheit per decade. We're actually in a period…of global cooling."

What portends longer-term cooling is that Pacific temperatures have now turned cold, which is likely to continue for another 15-20 years given past trends. Moreover, we have now experienced an extended period of minimal sun spot activity. If that continues, we may suffer an even longer cooling period, perhaps even a return to the Little Ice Age, as has happened in the past when sunspots declined for an extended period.

Just a couple of days ago, a separate, independent, peer reviewed study appeared in Geophysical Research Letters from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It concluded as well that the temperature variations of the 20th century were all explained by natural causes rather than human CO2 emissions. The study also concluded that the warming period of the late 20th century is over and an extended cooling period lasting another 20 years or so has begun.

Climate Science

Several other presenters at the Heartland conference went on to explain in detail why the models used by the UN to predict global warming and associated catastrophes are so wrong. As one explained, slight exaggerations in each of several variables when multiplied together add up to huge final errors. Another explained that the models assume that heat resulting from increased CO2 reduces clouds, further increasing temperatures, but satellite data now show that the clouds sharply reduce heat produced by CO2, resulting in a strong negative feedback, which leaves increased CO2 too weak to produce significant global warming. Other variables expected to produce strong positive feedback effects increasing global warming resulting from CO2 were shown to have little or no effect, or even a negative effect.

Other well-known facts further support the careful, logical, soft-spoken scientists at the Heartland conference, whose presentations should soon be available on video at Global temperatures were warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period, a span of several hundred years around 1000 A.D. Even higher temperatures prevailed during a period known as the Holocene Climate Optimum, which ran roughly from 8,000 years ago (6000 B.C.) to 4,000 years ago (2000 B.C.). In fact, temperatures were higher than today during most of the period from 9000 B.C. to the birth of Christ.


Global Warming: The Backlash Begins

Environmentalists and their allies in the Administration were stunned by the news last week that skepticism about the effects of global warming is growing. With complete domination of both the mainstream media and the political institutions by true believers in global warming, the news from Gallup that 44 percent of Americans believe that global warming has been exaggerated must have come as a shock. Yet last week’s news contained two good examples of why this should be, and why the debate that Al Gore claims is over may only just be starting.

One of the main reasons Americans are expressing such distrust about what they are told on the subject is that the science is often patently exaggerated. An example came last week from a conference held in Copenhagen where there were widely-reported claims that global warming could destroy 85 percent of the Amazon rainforest. Vicky Pope of the Met Office, the UK’s version of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told the conference, “The impacts of climate change on the Amazon are much worse than we thought. As temperatures rise quickly over the coming century the damage to the forest won't be obvious straight away, but we could be storing up trouble for the future.”

Yet this claim was immediately challenged by other scientists. Dr Yadvinder Malhi, an Oxford University expert on the subject of the Amazon and climate change, said in an email, “I must say I find it frustrating that the gloomiest take on news gets such a big profile. This is based on one model, and that model has flaws…If that conclusion was based on solid empirical science then so be it, but when such a story goes out on a pure model study (not yet peer-reviewed) with significant imperfections, it may do a lot of damage in the real world.” Indeed, the Met Office’s model has been criticized before, with a 2007 study from the University of Arizona finding that the mechanism on which the Met Office predictions were based was actually not present in the short-term.

What appears to have happened is that scientists have abandoned traditional methods of communicating science for an approach based on catastrophism – an extreme application of the news maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Yet this approach is inherently unscientific. As Mike Hulme, who directs the influential Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK, has written, “I believe climate change is real, must be faced and action taken. But the discourse of catastrophe is in danger of tipping society onto a negative, depressive and reactionary trajectory.” The rejection of exaggeration is proof of Hulme’s wisdom.

Yet even if the scientific debate doesn’t permeate the consciousness of the average American except as obviously contrived, there is another reason for Americans to feel skeptical. The “sticker shock” of the cost of climate alarmism is starting to hit. Most people know by now that the President’s enormous budget relies in part on an increasing income stream from fees on energy use, called a cap-and-trade program by economists. When the Congressional Budget Office examined a similar scheme last year, it found that the costs of such a scheme rested most heavily on the lowest income levels. This should be unsurprising; the poorest spend a greater proportion of their income on energy than anyone else. Therefore, the supposed tax break that 95 percent of working Americans have been promised by the President will to a large extent be wiped out by the increase in energy costs. All this for a purported effect on greenhouse gas emissions far less than the Kyoto Protocol demanded.

Now Congressional Republicans could be expected to object to this, but more interesting opposition is forming in the ranks of Congressional Democrats, particularly the so-called “blue dogs.” They are unhappy that the money raised from cap and trade is not being used to soften the blow on the poor in a more targeted fashion than a general tax break. Senate budget committee chairman Kent Conrad put it bluntly: “There an awful lot of senators who are on the margins of this issue who would be very concerned if their leverage was reduced by that mechanism.” It should be noted that every attempt to introduce a cap and trade program in the Senate has floundered on this very issue: it appears to cost much more than the supposed benefits it will provide.

Moreover, initiatives such as the President’s raise cynicism about environmental policies. In Europe, where they have been trying such things for a while now, there is widespread belief that “green taxes” do not help the environment. For example, when asked to describe the motivations for politicians to promote green taxes, 74 percent of Britons polled said that, "politicians are not serious about the environment and are using the issue as an excuse to raise more revenue from green taxes."

If they believe that neither scientists nor politicians are to be trusted on environmental issues (and given that we only hear one side from the mainstream media, we can extend that to journalists too), then Americans are likely to grow increasingly cynical about environmentalism. If there are genuine concerns over the environment, then they need to be debated on a credible. So far, environmentalists have rejected so-called “no regrets” approaches that use genuine market-based principles to reduce environmental risks. The atmosphere they have helped create, however, may mean they are the only politically acceptable option. It’s time to forget hype and taxes, and explore another way.


Climate debate focus shifts away from environment, toward jobs

The debate over climate change is shifting away from saving the planet and toward rescuing the American worker. In selling his controversial plan to cap carbon dioxide, for example — as he did in his address to Congress last month — President Obama has linked the need to save “our planet from the ravages of climate change” with the need to “truly transform our economy.”

In a subsequent speech to a group of CEOs, meanwhile, Obama again sought to sell his plan as a way to green the environment and promote economic growth. He told the business executives that he did not “accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders.” “You and I both know that we need ultimately to make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy,” Obama said. “We know that the best way to do that is through market-based caps on carbon pollution that drive the production of more renewable energy in America.”

Not everyone sees the cap-and-trade bill as a strategy for growth, of course, and who wins the debate will likely have won the day on whatever climate bill emerges later this year.

Although Democrats, who are more supportive of a cap-and-trade program than Republicans, are firmly in control of Congress, several prominent members within the caucus remain concerned about job losses and the impact higher energy prices could have on lower-income workers under the climate proposal.

Given that dynamic, supporters say, the shift from save-the-planet to save-our-jobs is no accident, and Obama’s success in convincing people of his worldview will determine how successful his climate program will be. “It’s deliberate and very smart,” said Matt Bennett, vice president for public affairs at The Third Way, a think tank with close ties to centrist Democrats on Capitol Hill. “The president understands that the only thing that really resonates with the American people right now is economic recovery and growth. “This is a big shift in the economy. … If they can frame the debate properly, they can make it happen,” Bennett said.

Added Daniel Weiss, the director of the climate change program at the Center for American Progress: “They are talking about the energy and jobs, rather than energy and birds and bunnies.”

The theory is that through wind turbines, solar panels, energy-efficient products and carbon sequestration technologies, America can grow new industries and export the technologies to large emitting countries such as China and India.

But a broad disagreement between Democrats and Republicans emerged yet again in a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that examined how American companies could remain competitive if carbon limits were imposed. “There seems to be a consensus on our side that we are going to lose jobs, where[as] you feel we will gain jobs,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), after listing studies from the National Association of Manufacturers, the Heritage Foundation and Charles Rivers Associates that estimated a cap-and-trade system could cost between 4 million and 7 million jobs. “More often than not,” warned Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), “the cost of energy is the difference between operating in the United States and shutting the doors to move overseas.”

In the weeks since the release of the budget blueprint, Republicans have used the president’s cap-and-trade proposal to hammer the new administration. They deride the plan as a “cap and tax” that will force more American businesses overseas, to countries that don’t have a carbon cap — a specific kind of outsourcing known as “carbon leakage.”

One of the central questions in the debate is whether the United States should proceed unilaterally, or at least before developing countries like China and India. While emissions from those countries are rapidly increasing, officials there argue that the developed world should move first because those economies are mostly responsible for the carbon already in the atmosphere that is warming the planet.

One of the central questions in the economic debate surrounding the climate change bill is how to protect particularly sensitive American companies should the U.S. government move forward without a broader, international climate agreement.

Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee of Washington state and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania have co-authored a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to distribute emissions allowances to certain industrial sectors that would be put at a particular disadvantage in the global marketplace due to a carbon cap.

One of the chief criticisms of Obama’s proposal is that it would not give any allowances to industry away for free, requiring instead that they purchase the credits at an auction. The president’s budget projects such a sale to generate around $646 billion between 2012, its first year, and 2019, the last year of the budget projection. But Margo Thorning, a senior vice president and chief economist at the American Council for Capital Formation, told the House panel that the costs on emitters could be much more than that, from $1 trillion to $3 trillion. The president’s climate change proposal is “almost certain to reduce jobs and increase unemployment,” Thorning said.

Other proposals would impose tariffs on products from countries that do not limit their carbon emissions. Chinese officials, however, are already warning of a trade fight under that scenario.

How to reassure lawmakers that the cap-and-trade bill won’t cause further loss among the manufacturing base in particular may attract Democrats from industrial states to join their colleagues from the coasts in supporting the legislation, backers say.

Many eyes are on the Gang of 16, the bipartisan group of centrists that tried to find a compromise last year to the controversial issue of offshore drilling. Lobbyists said staff for some of these members are beginning to meet informally to discuss a climate change bill. “The pain in some of their states is extraordinarily raw and real. They are waiting to see what emerges… There are a whole series of delicate issues to confront,” said Bennett of The Third Way.


Australia: Victoria's Leftist government is closing the door now the horse has escaped

Controlled burns begin in bid to avoid bushfire repeat

Controlled burning has begun in Victoria aimed at preventing a repeat of the devastating summer firestorm that killed at least 210 people. Environment chiefs have started a program of controlled burns on public land this week following criticism not enough was done to reduce rural fuel loads in the lead-up to summer. The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) will burn 25ha of public land near Bendoc, in East Gippsland, today to safeguard the town. About 120ha near Mallacoota, in the far east of the state, will also be burnt.

DSE spokeswoman Jennifer Willis said more than 150,000ha of land was torched in fuel reduction burns last financial year. There were no targets for this year's autumn/spring program with the burns being weather dependent. She said conditions needed to be dry enough so that the fire ignited and spread, without getting out of control.

Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said controlled burns would continue as conditions allowed, but acknowledged they may be stressful for some residents. "We are aware that seeing smoke will cause some anxiety for people, especially people impacted by the recent bushfires and ask the community for their patience throughout this program,'' he said.

Mr Jennings said burning would occur in strategic locations to protect towns and minimise disruption to bush ecology. Asset protection burns will target most areas, including the Otways coast, the Wombat Forest and Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges.



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