Friday, March 06, 2009


An email from Timo Hameranta []

Paul Biggs writes:
"Kyle Swanson and Isaac Held make some odd comments in the Discovery News article (CCNet 3/3/09), which questions where global warming went. Apparently, the 'radiative forcing' of CO2 will stay in an unknown hiding place for 30 years and then jump out on us! This sounds like an excuse for buying more time for the failing hypothesis which attempts to implicate CO2 as THE driver of climate."

Well, Jim Hansen has argued that the warming is "in the pipeline" in the oceans due to the lagged response (inertia) of the oceans. This explanation is widely accepted. But, a new study by Urban & Keller (2009) presents two alternatives:
"A given surface air temperature change is consistent with either a relatively large heating which is penetrating rapidly into the oceans and delaying some of the surface warming (i.e., a high climate sensitivity and a high ocean diffusivity), or a relatively small heating which is penetrating slowly into the oceans so the surface warming is quickly experienced (i.e., a low climate sensitivity and a low ocean diffusivity)."

Ref: Urban, Nathan M., and Klaus Keller, 2009. Complementary observational constraints on climate sensitivity. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L04708, February 25, 2009, preprint online here

The studies and estimations Paul Biggs refers to give support to the latter alternative. Urban & Keller conclude:
"Our analysis suggests that one promising avenue to decide whether the true climate sensitivity is indeed located in the heavy upper tail of current estimates is through improving the skill of the existing ocean observation system to estimate the anthropogenic heat uptake."

THE crucial question, the ocean heat uptake, is still open. Climatology, climate sensitivity and the role of anthrop. CO2 are not at all `settled', yet.

Comment from Roy Spencer [] on Urban & Keller:

Theirs is not the only possibility. Another is that for a given temperature change AND a given ocean diffusivity, then it can either be the result of

(1) large forcing and low climate sensitivity, or

(2) small forcing and a high climate sensitivity.

I believe it is the former, and I now have satellite evidence of not only low climate sensitivity, but also that the large forcing is due to nature, not mankind.

It's the Sun, stupid!

New direct evidence demonstrate that changes in solar activity influence climate

By Willie Soon (Willie Soon is a solar and climate scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

The theory that climate change is chiefly caused by solar influences "is no longer tenable," says US National Academy of Sciences president Ralph Cicerone. Carbon dioxide, he argues, is the key driver of recent climate change.

I beg to differ. The amount and distribution of solar energy that we receive varies as the Earth revolves around the Sun and also in response to changes in the Sun's activity. Scientists have now been studying solar influences on climate for 5000 years. Chinese imperial astronomers kept detailed sunspot records. They noticed that more sunspots meant warmer weather on Earth. In 1801, the celebrated astronomer William Herschel noticed that when there were few spots, the price of wheat soared - because, he surmised, less "light and heat" from the Sun resulted in reduced harvests.

Is it true then that solar radiation, which supplies Earth with the energy that drives our climate, and caused so many climate shifts over the ages, is no longer the principal influence on climate change? The UN's climate panel claims there is scientific "consensus" that man-made CO2 emissions are causing "dangerous" climate change. However, its 2007 Climate Assessment is fraught with serious scientific shortcomings in its discussion of the Sun's influence on Earth's climate.

The UN said direct measurements of solar radiation since 1979 show little increase. However, this conclusion depends upon disparate and adjusted measurements that were combined from several satellites and may be incorrect.

Between 1645 and 1715, sunspots were very rare and temperatures were low. Then sunspot frequency grew until, between 1930 and 2000, the Sun was more active than at almost any time in the last 10,000 years. The oceans can cause up to several decades of delay before air temperatures respond fully to this solar "Grand Maximum." Now that the Sun is becoming less active again, global temperatures have fallen for seven years.

Next, the UN said estimates of the increase in solar radiation over the past 400 years should be reduced. The basis for this claim was a modeling study by the US Naval Research Laboratory. However, the Navy computer program was not designed to reach such conclusions, as it has no routine to calculate solar radiation.

We have known for nearly 80 years that small changes in solar activity can cause large climatic changes. Where sunlight falls, for how long, and with what effect, determine how climate will respond. The most recent scientific evidence shows that even small changes in solar radiation have a strong effect on Earth's temperature and climate. In 2005, I demonstrated a surprisingly strong correlation between solar radiation and temperatures in the Arctic over the past 130 years. Since then, I have demonstrated similar correlations in all the regions surrounding the Arctic, including the US mainland and China. The close relationships between the abrupt ups and downs of solar activity and of temperature that I have identified occur locally in coastal Greenland; regionally in the Arctic Pacific and north Atlantic; and hemispherically for the whole circum-Arctic, suggesting that changes in solar activity drive Arctic and perhaps even global climate.

There is no such match between the steady rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration and the often dramatic ups and downs of surface temperatures in and around the Arctic. I recently discovered direct evidence that changes in solar activity have influenced what has been called the "conveyor-belt" circulation of the great Atlantic Ocean currents over the past 240 years. For instance, solar-driven changes in temperature, and in the volume of freshwater output from the Arctic, cause variations in sea surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic 5-20 years later.

These previously undocumented results have been published in the journal Physical Geography. They make it difficult to maintain that changes in solar activity play an insignificant role in climate change, especially over the Arctic. The hallmark of good science is the testing of a plausible hypothesis that is then either supported or rejected by the evidence. The evidence in my paper is consistent with the hypothesis that the Sun causes climatic change in the Arctic. It invalidates the hypothesis that CO2 is a major cause of observed climate change - and raises serious questions about the wisdom of imposing cap-and-trade or other policies that would cripple energy production and economic activity, in the name of "preventing catastrophic climate change."

Bill Clinton used to sum up politics by saying, "It's the economy, stupid!" Now we can fairly sum up climate change by saying, "It's the Sun, stupid!"



By Rachel Nowak

Little Rachel has done so well! Getting the garbage below into "New Scientist", a famous Warmist publication. Her article is a perfect example of absurd assumptions leading to absurd conclusions. GIGO, as we say in computer-programming circles. That reptiles in fact thrived and grew to enormous sizes in the hothouse conditions of earlier geological eras every schoolboy knows but none of that appears to have bothered Rachel's fluffy little head. Mind you, those she quotes would have to be even fluffier. But probing questions directed towards them by keen journalist Rachel appear to have been entirely absent

Global warming is set to make life distinctly uncomfortable for reptiles and other cold-blooded animals. Unable to produce heat, they rely on strategies such as moving from colder to warmer areas to function. Soon that might not be an option for tropical species. Many species will need to adapt to climate change to survive, so Michael Kearney of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and his team designed a model to get an idea of how cold-blooded species, or ectotherms, would fare. They make up the majority of the world's species.

The researchers first assessed how an ectotherm's body temperature would change with body shape and colour, and surrounding environment. They then used satellite data to model wind speed, shade and air temperature in a warmer world.

For most ectotherms, a body temperature of 30 to 35 øC is ideal, with performance declining at higher and lower temperatures. Above 40 øC can be lethal.

Kearney's model showed that on a summer's day in the shade, a 3 øC rise in average temperature - the mid-range estimate for the end of this century - would send the body temperature of ectotherms in Australia's tropical deserts over 40 øC for at least an hour (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0808913106). When the team ran global simulations, the 3 øC rise expanded the land area over which ectotherms experience heat stress from 1.6 to 18 per cent.

In the model, ectotherms survived by hiding in burrows for longer, but that could limit their ability to find food, says Kearney. "Even if they manage to find shade, they are going to be heat stressed and possibly too hot to reproduce and ultimately to survive," says Raymond Huey of the University of Washington in Seattle.



I think he is right about empty rhetoric

Political language, George Orwell wrote nearly 60 years ago, is "designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". It is a pity that Orwell won't be around over the next few weeks to deconstruct the double-speak that passes for the European Union's official discourse on climate change.

Whereas the magic of nature was celebrated at spring festivals in Pagan times, an annual gathering of presidents and prime ministers in March is dedicated to crafting an illusion. Our leaders seek to convey the impression that they are as concerned about the environment as the crustiest tree-hugger, while subtly embracing policies that accelerate the planet's destruction.

Angela Merkel is one of the worst culprits. In 2007, the German chancellor used the occasion to warn: "It's not five minutes to midnight. It's five minutes after midnight." Since then, she has been doing everything possible to wreck the green agenda so that a cabal of industrialists who view it is as too costly (in the short-term, needless to say) can be appeased.

The preparations for this year's summit indicate that this pattern of duplicity will continue.

Stavros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner, has been emphasising how the meeting is of critical importance as it will help fashion the bloc's position for subsequent talks aimed at agreeing a successor to the Kyoto protocol. He has been speaking of how vital it is that finance be offered to help poor countries both to reduce their emissions and adapt to global warming if the success of a UN conference in Copenhagen this December is to be guaranteed. "No money, no deal," he says to anyone who will listen.

The irony is that Dimas has shied away from demanding that the EU makes firm commitments. Early drafts of a proposal his aides drew up on the union's contribution to the UN talks suggested that _30bn a year should be given to poor countries by 2020. Yet this was removed from the plan when he published it in late January.

This lowering of ambition is proving contagious. On Monday, the EU's environment ministers declined to specify how much aid should be provided. You can be sure that the finance ministers will not be rushing to rectify this omission when they meet next week. General budgets for overseas aid have been slashed mercilessly in Italy, Ireland and Latvia in recent months, as the fight against global poverty falls victim to recession. So it is hard to be optimistic that additional money will be released for helping the poor cope with climate change.

Reuters has reported that a separate paper being considered by Brussels officials predicts that climate change will cost the EU's economies over _6bn per year by 2020, unless action is taken to adapt to its consequences. Spain, Greece and Italy will be among the worst affected by drops in crop yields and fresh-water levels.

The scale of the problem is likely to be considerably worse in Africa. The UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change suggested in its 2007 report that between 75 and 250 million Africans could face water shortages and that harvests from rain-fed agriculture could be halved in many parts of the continent by 2020. Despite its thoroughness, the IPCC study is regarded by many scientists, including members of the panel, as presenting too conservative a picture of how climate change will manifest itself.

The heating of the planet is set to exacerbate the hunger of its most vulnerable people. And the best we are getting from our leaders is empty rhetoric.



Senior figures in the manufacturing industry do not accept that human activities are driving global warming or that action needs to be taken to prepare for its effects, the UK government's science minister saidtoday .

Lord Drayson said recent discussions with leaders in the car industry and other businesses had left him "shocked" at the number of climate change deniers among senior industrialists. Of those who acknowledged that global temperatures were rising, many blamed it on variations in the sun's activity.

Speaking in London to mark the launch of a new centre that will gather information from satellites to improve understanding of how the Earth's environment is changing, Lord Drayson said there was an urgent need to restate the scientific evidence for global warming and called for companies to focus on their environmental obligations despite the pressures of the economic downturn.

"There is a significant minority of senior managers who do not accept the evidence for climate change and don't see the need to take action," Drayson said. "It really shocked me that those views are held, and it's not limited to the car industry."

"The industrialists are faced with a very difficult challenge, which is huge infrastructure investment in existing ways of doing business and very difficult global economic circumstances.

"The temptation is to say we'll get round to dealing with climate change once we've fixed all this other stuff. We need to present them with the evidence to say this can't wait, we need to fix both," he added.



Ahead of a conference on the psychology of climate change denial, Brendan O'Neill says green authoritarians are treating debate as a disorder.

A few months ago, for a joke, I set up a Facebook group called `Climate change denial is a mental disorder'. It's a satirical campaigning hub for people who think that climate change denial should be recognised as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, and that its sufferers - who probably engage in `regular chanting and intensive brainwashing sessions in cult-like surroundings' - should be offered `eco-lobotomies' to remove `the denying part of their brain'. The group now has 42 members. Yes, some have signed up because they get the joke, but others are serious subscribers to the denial-as-insanity idea. `Thank God I've found this group', says one new member, who is sick of other Facebook groups being `hijacked' by unhinged eco-sceptics.

The idea that `climate change denial' is a psychological disorder - the product of a spiteful, wilful or simply in-built neural inability to face up to the catastrophe of global warming - is becoming more and more popular amongst green-leaning activists and academics. And nothing better sums up the elitism and authoritarianism of the environmentalist lobby than its psychologisation of dissent. The labelling of any criticism of the politics of global warming, first as `denial', and now as evidence of mass psychological instability, is an attempt to write off all critics and sceptics as deranged, and to lay the ground for inevitable authoritarian solutions to the problem of climate change. Historically, only the most illiberal and misanthropic regimes have treated disagreement and debate as signs of mental ill-health.

This weekend, the University of West England is hosting a major conference on climate change denial. Strikingly, it's being organised by the university's Centre for Psycho-Social Studies. It will be a gathering of those from the top of society - `psychotherapists, social researchers, climate change activists, eco-psychologists' - who will analyse those at the bottom of society, as if we were so many flitting, irrational amoeba under an eco-microscope. The organisers say the conference will explore how `denial' is a product of both `addiction and consumption' and is the `consequence of living in a perverse culture which encourages collusion, complacency and irresponsibility' (1). It is a testament to the dumbed-down, debate-phobic nature of the modern academy that a conference is being held not to explore ideas - to interrogate, analyse and fight over them - but to tag them as perverse.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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