Monday, July 27, 2009

Heh! I guessed right about clouds

In the update to my post yesterday about the cloud research that has recently been giving Warmists uncontrollable erections, I guessed that the direction of cause was not clear. Physicist Lubos Motl discusses the study briefly below and also ends up with that point


Amy Clement, a sexy climate employee, and two of her less sexy colleagues have published a very different paper in the July 24th issue of Science:

They argue that the clouds themselves are actually a positive feedback. That would be counterintuitive from an atmospheric viewpoint. But more importantly, it also contradicts what the models say - because the models may claim that the total feedback is positive but they don't say that clouds themselves are a positive term.

What methods do they use to achieve their unusual conclusion?
Using observational data collected over the last 50 years and complex climate models, the team has established that low-level stratiform clouds appear to dissipate as the ocean warms, indicating that changes in these clouds may enhance the warming of the planet.

Well, they use some data but also "complex models". It's clearly a basic logical error to try to show that the models represent a feature of the climate incorrectly, while using the same models to derive this conclusion.

In other words, Lindzen's and Choi's paper shows that the combination "reality and models" is logically inconsistent, so one can derive anything - both correct and incorrect statements - from such an inconsistent set of axioms. Whatever you derive is therefore inevitably untrustworthy.

So it's not a "stunner", as Science claims. The Clement et al. paper is rather another example of the same stupidity that we have already gotten used to. The models will first have to be fixed - especially when it comes to the cloud-temperature interactions - and only when this job is done, they can be used to derive new sensible predictions and retrodictions about the cloud-temperature relationships.

Moreover, the Clement et al. paper really tried to study a small region in the Northeast Pacific whose cloud dynamics could be very different from the whole globe. So it would be another mistake to think that the paper would tell us something about the global climate, even if it were correct.

Also, the paper doesn't quite resolve the question which is the cause and which is its effect. We may summarize it: just forget Clement et al., it's irrelevant crap.


Even according to the IPCC, the earth's temperature over the entire 20th century rose by little more than one half of one degree -- which is tiny. We all experience much greater temperature changes every day. So projecting a similar rise into the 21st century would be most unexciting and non-alarming -- which would never do for the Warmists.

Warmists rely very heavily therefore on prophecies that such a small rise could be magnified into something much bigger by feedback mechanisms. And these feedback mechanisms are known collectively as the climate "sensitivity". But the degree of sensitivity they need to use in their models to produce anything even half-alarming needs to be high. So they assume that it is high. More and more, however, objective measurements of what the earth's climate sensitivity actually is are becoming available, and they all show that the sensitivity of the climate is much less that what the Warmists need to assume. The Lindzen paper mentioned above is an example of actual observations being used to calibrate climate sensitivity -- with a result that shows sensitivity as being nothing like what the Warmists require. Lindzen mentions that work briefly in his general-audience article below -- JR

Resisting climate hysteria: A Case Against Precipitous Climate Action

by Richard S. Lindzen (Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well. Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age. During the latter, alpine glaciers advanced to the chagrin of overrun villages. Since the beginning of the 19th Century these glaciers have been retreating. Frankly, we don’t fully understand either the advance or the retreat.

For small changes in climate associated with tenths of a degree, there is no need for any external cause. The earth is never exactly in equilibrium. The motions of the massive oceans where heat is moved between deep layers and the surface provides variability on time scales from years to centuries. Recent work (Tsonis et al, 2007), suggests that this variability is enough to account for all climate change since the 19th Century. Supporting the notion that man has not been the cause of this unexceptional change in temperature is the fact that there is a distinct signature to greenhouse warming: surface warming should be accompanied by warming in the tropics around an altitude of about 9km that is about 2.5 times greater than at the surface. Measurements show that warming at these levels is only about 3/4 of what is seen at the surface, implying that only about a third of the surface warming is associated with the greenhouse effect, and, quite possibly, not all of even this really small warming is due to man (Lindzen, 2007, Douglass et al, 2007). This further implies that all models predicting significant warming are greatly overestimating warming. This should not be surprising (though inevitably in climate science, when data conflicts with models, a small coterie of scientists can be counted upon to modify the data. Thus, Santer, et al (2008), argue that stretching uncertainties in observations and models might marginally eliminate the inconsistency. That the data should always need correcting to agree with models is totally implausible and indicative of a certain corruption within the climate science community).

It turns out that there is a much more fundamental and unambiguous check of the role of feedbacks in enhancing greenhouse warming that also shows that all models are greatly exaggerating climate sensitivity. Here, it must be noted that the greenhouse effect operates by inhibiting the cooling of the climate by reducing net outgoing radiation. However, the contribution of increasing CO2 alone does not, in fact, lead to much warming (approximately 1 deg. C for each doubling of CO2). The larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback. It means that increases in surface temperature are accompanied by reductions in the net outgoing radiation – thus enhancing the greenhouse warming. All climate models show such changes when forced by observed surface temperatures. Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget allow us to determine whether such a reduction does, in fact, accompany increases in surface temperature in nature. As it turns out, the satellite data from the ERBE instrument (Barkstrom, 1984, Wong et al, 2006) shows that the feedback in nature is strongly negative -- strongly reducing the direct effect of CO2 (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) in profound contrast to the model behavior. This analysis makes clear that even when all models agree, they can all be wrong, and that this is the situation for the all important question of climate sensitivity.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the greenhouse forcing from man made greenhouse gases is already about 86% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 (with about half coming from methane, nitrous oxide, freons and ozone), and alarming predictions depend on models for which the sensitivity to a doubling for CO2 is greater than 2C which implies that we should already have seen much more warming than we have seen thus far, even if all the warming we have seen so far were due to man. This contradiction is rendered more acute by the fact that there has been no statistically significant net global warming for the last fourteen years. Modelers defend this situation by arguing that aerosols have cancelled much of the warming, and that models adequately account for natural unforced internal variability. However, a recent paper (Ramanathan, 2007) points out that aerosols can warm as well as cool, while scientists at the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Research recently noted that their model did not appropriately deal with natural internal variability thus demolishing the basis for the IPCC’s iconic attribution (Smith et al, 2007). Interestingly (though not unexpectedly), the British paper did not stress this. Rather, they speculated that natural internal variability might step aside in 2009, allowing warming to resume. Resume? Thus, the fact that warming has ceased for the past fourteen years is acknowledged. It should be noted that, more recently, German modelers have moved the date for ‘resumption’ up to 2015 (Keenlyside et al, 2008).

Climate alarmists respond that some of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past decade. Given that we are in a relatively warm period, this is not surprising, but it says nothing about trends.

Given that the evidence (and I have noted only a few of many pieces of evidence) strongly implies that anthropogenic warming has been greatly exaggerated, the basis for alarm due to such warming is similarly diminished. However, a really important point is that the case for alarm would still be weak even if anthropogenic global warming were significant. Polar bears, arctic summer sea ice, regional droughts and floods, coral bleaching, hurricanes, alpine glaciers, malaria, etc. etc. all depend not on some global average of surface temperature anomaly, but on a huge number of regional variables including temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, and direction and magnitude of wind. The state of the ocean is also often crucial. Our ability to forecast any of these over periods beyond a few days is minimal (a leading modeler refers to it as essentially guesswork). Yet, each catastrophic forecast depends on each of these being in a specific range. The odds of any specific catastrophe actually occurring are almost zero. This was equally true for earlier forecasts of famine for the 1980's, global cooling in the 1970's, Y2K and many others. Regionally, year to year fluctuations in temperature are over four times larger than fluctuations in the global mean. Much of this variation has to be independent of the global mean; otherwise the global mean would vary much more. This is simply to note that factors other than global warming are more important to any specific situation. This is not to say that disasters will not occur; they always have occurred and this will not change in the future. Fighting global warming with symbolic gestures will certainly not change this. However, history tells us that greater wealth and development can profoundly increase our resilience.

In view of the above, one may reasonably ask why there is the current alarm, and, in particular, why the astounding upsurge in alarmism of the past 4 years. When an issue like global warming is around for over twenty years, numerous agendas are developed to exploit the issue. The interests of the environmental movement in acquiring more power, influence, and donations are reasonably clear. So too are the interests of bureaucrats for whom control of CO2 is a dream-come-true. After all, CO2 is a product of breathing itself. Politicians can see the possibility of taxation that will be cheerfully accepted because it is necessary for ‘saving’ the earth. Nations have seen how to exploit this issue in order to gain competitive advantages. But, by now, things have gone much further. The case of ENRON (a now bankrupt Texas energy firm) is illustrative in this respect. Before disintegrating in a pyrotechnic display of unscrupulous manipulation, ENRON had been one of the most intense lobbyists for Kyoto. It had hoped to become a trading firm dealing in carbon emission rights. This was no small hope. These rights are likely to amount to over a trillion dollars, and the commissions will run into many billions. Hedge funds are actively examining the possibilities; so was the late Lehman Brothers. Goldman Sachs has lobbied extensively for the ‘cap and trade’ bill, and is well positioned to make billions. It is probably no accident that Gore, himself, is associated with such activities. The sale of indulgences is already in full swing with organizations selling offsets to one’s carbon footprint while sometimes acknowledging that the offsets are irrelevant. The possibilities for corruption are immense. Archer Daniels Midland (America’s largest agribusiness) has successfully lobbied for ethanol requirements for gasoline, and the resulting demand for ethanol may already be contributing to large increases in corn prices and associated hardship in the developing world (not to mention poorer car performance). And finally, there are the numerous well meaning individuals who have allowed propagandists to convince them that in accepting the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue For them, their psychic welfare is at stake.

With all this at stake, one can readily suspect that there might be a sense of urgency provoked by the possibility that warming may have ceased and that the case for such warming as was seen being due in significant measure to man, disintegrating. For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real indeed. However, for more serious leaders, the need to courageously resist hysteria is clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever present climate change is no substitute for prudence. Nor is the assumption that the earth’s climate reached a point of perfection in the middle of the twentieth century a sign of intelligence.


Greenland not exceptionally warm now

Another new paper was just published in Journal of Climate. Jason Box, Lei Yang, David Bromwich, and Le-Sheng Bai wrote an article called "Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007" (See here) ...

which discusses data from Greenland since 1840. No unprecedented recent warming is found. For example, they find that the 1919-1932 warming was 1.33 times greater than the 1994-2007 warming.

A subset of the authors was very kind to Lonnie Thompson from the same Ohio State University: they wrote about their insights in a very diluted way, so that Mr Thompson's AGW religious sensibilities are not hurt too much.


Is the Climate Science Debate Over? No, It’s Just Getting Very, Very Interesting (with welcome news for mankind)

The available terrestrial temperature data is corrupt and shows temperatures as higher than they actually are

How many times have you been told that the debate on the science of climate change is “over”? Probably almost as many times as Al Gore has traveled in private jets and limousines to urge audiences to repent of their fuelish ways.

Although tirelessly intoned by politicians, major media, advocacy groups, academics, and even some Kyoto critics, the “debate is over” mantra is just plain false. The core issues of climate-change attribution, climate sensitivity, and even anthropogenic detection remain very much in play.


The world has warmed overall during the past 130 years, as evidenced by melting glaciers, longer growing seasons, and both proxy and instrumental data. However, the main era of “anthropogenic” global warming supposedly began in the mid-1970s, and ongoing research by retired meteorologist Anthony Watts leaves no doubt that in recent decades, the U.S. surface temperature record–reputed to be the best in the world–is unreliable and riddled with false warming biases.

Watts and a team of more than 650 volunteers have visually inspected and photographically documented 1003, or 82%, of the 1,221 climate monitoring stations overseen by the U.S. Weather Service. In a report summarizing an earlier phase of the team’s investigation (a survey of 860+ stations), Watts says, “We were shocked by what we found.” He continues:

We found stations located next to exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.

In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations–nearly 9 of every 10–fail to meet the National Weather Services’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source. In other words, 9 or every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.

“It gets worse,” Watts continues:

We observed that changes in the technology of temperature stations over time also have caused them to report a false warming trend. We found gaps in the data record that were filled in with data from nearby sites, a practice that propagates and compounds errors. We found adjustments to the data by both NOAA and another government agency, NASA, cause recent temperatures to look even higher.

How big a problem is this? According to Watts, “The errors in the record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature of 0.7ºC (about 1.2ºF) during the twentieth century.” Based on analysis of 948 stations rated as of May 31, 2009, Watts estimates that 22% of stations have an expected error of 1ºC, 61% have an expected error of 2ºC, and 8% have an expected error of 5ºC.

Much more HERE

The Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming

The Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming offers succinct replies to questions about climate change. The Cocktail Guide is a handy reference for anyone following the efforts of the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to construct domestic and global restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions (and the energy producing those emissions).

When climate alarmists publicly state that the threats of global warming should be exaggerated to motivate regulation, it is hard for the public to know what the truth about climate change really is. The Cocktail Guide considers 8 basic questions about the scientific basis for global warming.

"Every American should understand these central issues to the global warming debate," Marshall Institute President Jeff Kueter said. "President Obama and the Congress have set the U.S. on a precarious path based on assumptions and preconceptions, not documented facts. Our Guide will help the public become better informed about the uncertainties in the scientific evidence used to justify severe constraints on energy use and intrusions into day-to-day lives of the American people."

Please contact the Marshall Institute at 202-296-9655 or for details on how to obtain your "Cocktail Party Pak" (15 copies of the Guide, cocktails napkins and drink swizzles), everything you would need to host your own climate change cocktail party!

Full Text of "The Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming" (PDF, 1117 KB)


British "organic" farmer goes broke

These jerks always think that they are so holy, that they know it all and that everyone else is a fool. Reality has a way of intruding, however

It is The Good Life dream that turned sour. Just months after landing a job as the “food champion” of the London mayor Boris Johnson, Rosie Boycott has had to wind up her organic farm after it failed to make a profit. The demise of the smallholding, set over eight acres in Somerset, left Boycott, a former editor of the Daily Express, and her husband £200,000 out of pocket and has resulted in the couple falling out with their former farm manager.

Boycott launched the venture more than four years ago in an attempt to grow healthy, locally produced, affordable food. She charted her progress as townie-turned-country dweller in a book called Spotted Pigs and Green Tomatoes.

It was Boycott’s passion for sustainable living which inspired Johnson, the capital’s Tory mayor, to appoint her as his principal food adviser in September last year. Boycott said at the time: “There are many aspects of our current food system which are damaging the environment through wasteful practices and producing poor-quality food. “It simply does not need to be the case that Londoners cannot have access to locally produced, top-quality food but we have to have a radical rethink to find ways to make this happen.” Since taking up the role, for which she is paid up to £20,000-a-year, Boycott has been busy drawing up plans to convert unused plots of land in London, including the roof of the Hayward art gallery, into public vegetable patches.

However, her own rural idyll appears to have been unravelling. The Gloucestershire old spot pigs and chickens Boycott once kept have long gone and the site of her farm, Dillington Park Nurseries, has now been converted into allotments. Accounts filed at Companies House show that the farm never made a profit. Early on, monthly outgoings were £2,329 and income a meagre £1,544. The last published set of accounts, for the year ending 2007, reveal a loss of more than £41,000.

Boycott, a former alcoholic, and her second husband, Charles Howard, a barrister, paid £70,000 to set up the farm at the end of 2004 on the site of a Victorian walled garden on the Dillington estate near Ilminster. It was located close to the Dairy House, a weekend retreat that the couple rented since 2002. Boycott wrote in her book: “We were looking to make every square inch as productive as possible and we were looking to find as many ways as possible to generate an income. “Our friends all too often refer to our farm as a hobby but I realise that has changed. It’s not just a hobby any more, it’s something that matters very much to Charlie and me and our life together. Somehow it has to succeed.”

To smooth their way, the couple recruited David Bellew to manage the farm. Last week, however, it emerged that Bellew, who is listed as a director and shareholder of Dillington Park Nurseries, has fallen out with Boycott and moved on to another job. A local shop owner said: “David worked his fingers to the bone. He was the unsung hero. Yes, Rosie financed it, but it was David’s expertise that got it off the ground and kept it going. He came very close to pulling it off.” Bellew refused to elaborate on the acrimony this weekend. “With hindsight I wish I had never got involved,” he said. “Ironically, I’m better for the experience. I’ve learnt the true value of things and people.”

When asked about the farm’s collapse and her relationship with Bellew, Boycott referred inquiries to her lawyers at Harbottle & Lewis, a firm which acts for the Prince of Wales, Kate Moss and David and Victoria Beckham. The lawyers sought to deflect a series of questions from The Sunday Times and threatened to sue on grounds of privacy, citing the European Convention on Human Rights.

Boycott claimed through her lawyers that the decision to convert her farm into new plots for up to 18 families had been mutually agreed between herself, Lord Cameron, the owner of Dillington estate and a former head of the Countryside Agency, and the Allotments Association, which controls the project. Boycott and Howard have retained one of the allotment strips.

A spokeswoman for Boris Johnson said the mayor thought Boycott was doing a “terrific” job. “She seizes opportunities in the most unlikely corners and through her force of personality and uncompromising commitment will leave a lasting legacy in London of thousands of extra food- growing spaces,” he said.



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