Friday, July 17, 2009

UN IPCC 'Lead Author' Tom Tripp Dissents on man-made warming: 'We're not scientifically there yet'‏

The Utah Farm Bureau opposes the notion that humans are responsible for climate change, and this week at its midyear convention, the state's largest agricultural group is making its case through the words of keynote speaker Tom Tripp. The bureau, in promoting the event, described Tripp as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, elevating him to that status because he is one of several thousand members of a U.N. panel that shared the prize with former Vice President Al Gore, even though Tripp disagreed with the panel's position that human actions are causing the planet to warm.

Tripp, a metallurgical engineer for U.S. Magnesium and Grantsville city councilman, is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which shared the Nobel Prize with Gore in 2007.

Another of the panel's members and others question whether it is appropriate for Tripp to be identified as a Nobel winner, given his tangential connection to the honor. David Randall, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University and a coordinating lead author for the IPCC, said Thursday it is inaccurate to call any of its members Nobel winners. "It is a fact that the prize was awarded to the IPCC organization, not to individuals. I would never call myself a Nobel Peace Prize winner."

Tripp, a member of the IPCC since 2004, is listed as one of 450 IPCC "lead authors" who reviewed reports from 800 contributing writers whose work in turn, was reviewed by more than 2,500 experts worldwide.

Scientists, industry experts and public officials from more than 130 countries contributed to the 2007 report, said Brenda Ekwurzel with the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists. That comprehensive body of work was the latest of five climate change reports dating to 1988 recognized by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

On Thursday at the convention, a bureau official said it was appropriate to invite Tripp to speak and label him a Nobel winner, even though he disagrees with the panel's findings. "It shows what the IPCC touts as a consensus is less than a consensus. Even within that group not everyone is in total agreement," said bureau CEO Randy Parker. On Tripp being a prize winner: "He is. The prize was given to Al Gore and 2,000 IPCC members." For his part, Tripp said the label is "technically correct," adding that the IPCC chairman and others in the organization have said all IPCC members were awarded the prize.

At Thursday's convention, Tripp found a receptive audience among the 250 people attending the conference. He said there is so much of a natural variability in weather it makes it difficult to come to a scientifically valid conclusion that global warming is man made. "It well may be, but we're not scientifically there yet."

He also criticized modeling schemes to evaluate global warming, but stopped short of commenting on climate modeling used by the IPCC, saying "I don't have the expertise."

But meteorologist Thomas Reichler did just that. He was involved in a University of Utah study that the IPCC models "are quite accurate and can be valuable tools for those seeking solutions on reversing global warming trends."

Neal Briggs, who farms nearly 300 acres in Syracuse, said he's comfortable that the Farm Bureau presents only one side of the climate debate because "the science behind it isn't sound. From what I've researched, we are not a large contributor to global warming."

Utah Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker » In his latest column before this week's conference, he blasted NASA scientist James Hansen as a radical seeking to control the issue. "This is the same James Hansen who in 2008 called for trials of climate skeptics for 'high crimes against humanity.' "

Hansen said Thursday in an e-mail » "I have never said any such thing about 'climate skeptics,' who, by the way, are more accurately termed 'contrarians,' as they simply state a position inconsistent with what the relevant scientific community (e.g., the National Academy of Sciences) has concluded."


Solar cycle affecting global climate, say scientists

Research led by scientists at the National Science Foundation-funded National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, has shown that maximum solar activity and its aftermath have impacts on Earth similar to that caused by ocean currents La Niña and El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The research, while establishing a key link between the solar cycle and global climate, may pave the way toward predictions of temperature and precipitation patterns at certain times during the approximately 11-year solar cycle.

"These results are striking in that they point to a scientifically feasible series of events that link the 11-year solar cycle with ENSO, the tropical Pacific phenomenon that so strongly influences climate variability around the world," said Jay Fein, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric Sciences. "The next step is to confirm or dispute these intriguing model results with observational data analyses and targeted new observations," he added.

The total energy reaching Earth from the sun varies by only 0.1 per cent across the solar cycle and scientists now think these ups and downs cause natural weather and climate variations other than the their subtle effects from the larger pattern of human-caused global warming.

Building on previous work, the NCAR researchers used computer models of global climate and more than a century of ocean temperature to answer longstanding questions about the connection between solar activity and global climate. The research, published this month in a paper in the Journal of Climate, was funded by NSF, NCAR's sponsor, and by the US Department of Energy. "We have fleshed out the effects of a new mechanism to understand what happens in the tropical Pacific when there is a maximum of solar activity," says NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, the paper's lead author. "When the sun's output peaks, it has far-ranging and often subtle impacts on tropical precipitation and on weather systems around much of the world."

The new paper, along with an earlier one by Meehl and colleagues, shows that as the Sun reaches maximum activity, it heats cloud-free parts of the Pacific Ocean enough to increase evaporation, intensify tropical rainfall and the trade winds, and cool the eastern tropical Pacific. The result of this chain of events is similar to a La Niña event, although the cooling of about 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit is focused further east and is only about half as strong as for a typical La Niña. Over the following year or two, the La Niña-like pattern triggered by the solar maximum tends to evolve into an El Niño-like pattern, as slow-moving currents replace the cool water over the eastern tropical Pacific with warmer-than-usual water. Again, the ocean response is only about half as strong as with El Niño.

True La Niña and El Niño events are associated with changes in the temperatures of surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean. They can affect weather patterns worldwide.

The paper does not analyse the weather impacts of the solar-driven events. But Meehl and his co-author, Julie Arblaster of both NCAR and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, found that the solar-driven La Niña tends to cause relatively warm and dry conditions across parts of western North America. More research will be needed to determine the additional impacts of these events on weather across the world. "Building on our understanding of the solar cycle, we may be able to connect its influences with weather probabilities in a way that can feed into longer-term predictions, a decade at a time," Meehl says.

Scientists have known for years that long-term solar variations affect certain weather patterns, including droughts and regional temperatures. But establishing a physical connection between the decadal solar cycle and global climate patterns has proven elusive. One reason is that only in recent years have computer models been able to realistically simulate the processes associated with tropical Pacific warming and cooling associated with El Niño and La Niña. With those models now in hand, scientists can reproduce the last century's solar behavior and see how it affects the Pacific.

To tease out these sometimes subtle connections between the sun and Earth, Meehl and his colleagues analyzed sea surface temperatures from 1890 to 2006. They then used two computer models based at NCAR to simulate the response of the oceans to changes in solar output. They found that, as the sun's output reaches a peak, the small amount of extra sunshine over several years causes a slight increase in local atmospheric heating, especially across parts of the tropical and subtropical Pacific where Sun-blocking clouds are normally scarce. That small amount of extra heat leads to more evaporation, producing extra water vapor. In turn, the moisture is carried by trade winds to the normally rainy areas of the western tropical Pacific, fueling heavier rains. As this climatic loop intensifies, the trade winds strengthen. That keeps the eastern Pacific even cooler and drier than usual, producing La Niña-like conditions.

Although this Pacific pattern is produced by the solar maximum, the authors found that its switch to an El Niño-like state is likely triggered by the same kind of processes that normally lead from La Niña to El Niño. The transition starts when the changes of the strength of the trade winds produce slow-moving off-equatorial pulses known as Rossby waves in the upper ocean, which take about a year to travel back west across the Pacific. The energy then reflects from the western boundary of the tropical Pacific and ricochets eastward along the equator, deepening the upper layer of water and warming the ocean surface. As a result, the Pacific experiences an El Niño-like event about two years after solar maximum. The event settles down after about a year, and the system returns to a neutral state.

"El Niño and La Niña seem to have their own separate mechanisms," says Meehl, "but the solar maximum can come along and tilt the probabilities toward a weak La Niña. If the system was heading toward a La Niña anyway," he adds, "it would presumably be a larger one."


Oops! UN IPCC Wrong Again: Deserts Getting Greener -- 'It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world's deserts'

It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world's deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places. They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking. The evidence is limited and definitive conclusions are impossible to reach but recent satellite pictures of North Africa seem to show areas of the Sahara in retreat.

It could be that an increase in rainfall has caused this effect. Farouk el-Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, believes the Sahara is experiencing a shift from dryer to wetter conditions. "It's not greening yet. But the desert expands and shrinks in relation to the amount of energy that is received by the Earth from the Sun, and this over many thousands of years," Mr el-Baz told the BBC World Service. "The heating of the Earth would result in more evaporation of the oceans, in turn resulting in more rainfall." But it might be hard to reconcile the view from satellites with the view from the ground.

While experts debate how global warming will affect the poorest continent, people are reacting in their own ways. Droughts over the preceding decades have had the effect of driving nomadic people and rural farmers into the towns and cities. Such movement of people suggests weather patterns are becoming dryer and harsher.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned recently that rising global temperatures could cut West African agricultural production by up to 50% by the year 2020. But satellite images from the last 15 years do seem to show a recovery of vegetation in the Southern Sahara, although the Sahel Belt, the semi-arid tropical savannah to the south of the desert, remains fragile. The fragility of the Sahel may have been exacerbated by the cutting of trees, poor land management and subsequent erosion of soil.

The broader picture is reinforced by studies carried out in the Namib Desert in Namibia. This is a region with an average rainfall of just 12 millimetres per year - what scientists call "hyper-arid". Scientists have been measuring rainfall here for the last 60 years. Last year the local research centre, called Gobabeb, measured 80mm of rain. In the last decade they have seen the local river, a dry bed for most of the year, experience record-high floods. All this has coincided with record-high temperatures.

"Whether this is due to global change or is a trend anyway, it's hard to distil actually out of the [data] but certainly we've had record highs of temperature," said Joh Henschel, director of Gobabeb. "Three years ago we had the hottest day on record, 47 degrees Celsius." The mean annual evaporation is several hundred times higher than the actual rainfall. This is an intense environment.

His colleague Mary Seely agrees. "Deserts and arid areas always have extremely varied rainfall," she said. "You would have to look at a record of several hundred years to maybe say that things are getting greener or dryer. For the last few years there has been higher than average rainfall. "That said, there is even greater variability in the rainfall and the weather patterns than there has been in the past."

Though positioned on the Atlantic coast, the rain that falls on the Namib desert actually comes from the Indian Ocean, having travelled across Africa. It is therefore hard to explain an increase in rainfall without accepting that higher temperatures globally are causing shifts in established patterns. The thing these scientists are most keen to work out is what is man-made change and what is natural fluctuation. Since 1998 the centre has observed a steady but unmistakable trend of rising levels of C02. They are sure this increase has not been caused locally, since Gobabeb is in a pristine, isolated part of the world with no local sources of pollution. This is a change that comes about on a global level.


British 'green jobs’ claim a sham

Government claims that Britain already supports nearly one million “green-collar” jobs have been exposed as a sham after the figures were found to include North Sea gas industry workers as well as some petrol station attendants and skylight manufacturers.

Britain’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, outlined yesterday by Lord Mandelson, claimed that the economy already supported 880,000 “low-carbon jobs” — a figure that he said was poised to grow by up to 400,000 by 2015 to more than 1.28 million. But a detailed breakdown of the figures obtained by The Times shows that they include an extraordinarily loose definition of the term.

About a third of the jobs (266,000), comprises workers in “alternative fuels” — a category that includes the production and supply of natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as well as nuclear power and conventional “green” fuels such as biodiesel, bioethanol and hydrogen.

John Sharp, of Innovas, a consultancy in Winsford, Cheshire, which was paid by the Government to produce the figures earlier this year, confirmed that this included thousands of workers on gas production platforms in the North Sea as well as petrol station attendants on forecourts where liquefied petroleum is dispensed and employees at gas-fired power stations. The list also includes manufacturers of a bizarre array of products — from skylights to wooden pallets and noise insulation materials, on the basis that they use recycled materials. Figures supplied by Innovas showed that the total included 207 jobs in the supply and manufacture of animal bedding, 90 providing equestrian surfaces and 164 in the recycling of footwear, “slippers and other carpet wear”. Mr Sharp acknowledged that there were some “weird and wonderful” categories. “We try to capture as much of the supply chain as possible,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change claimed that Innovas had defined the methodology used in the report. “They are looking at the whole low- carbon supply chain, not just at the end-energy production,” she said.

Robin Oakley, climate change campaigner for Greenpeace, said that the definition used by the Government seemed unfeasibly broad and that there was “no need for the Government to massage the figures” because it was unquestionable that the economic future opportunity in the low-carbon sector would be huge.

Yesterday Lord Mandelson said: “The Government is determined to ensure the economic and employment opportunities that this transition [to a low-carbon economy] offers to us.”

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that the low-carbon economy presented “big potential” for economic growth and job creation.

But The Times revealed yesterday that a factory in Newport, Isle of Wight, which is Britain’s only significant manufacturer of wind turbines, will produce its last batch of seven-tonne blades this week. More than 600 people employed at the plant and a related facility in Southampton, will be made redundant at the end of the month. All 7,000 turbines that the Government committed itself yesterday to installing over the next decade will be manufactured overseas.

By 2020, renewable energy sources will provide 31 per cent of Britain’s electricity, up from 6 per cent today, while nuclear’s share will fall to 8 per cent from current levels of between15 per cent and nearly a quarter, depending on the variable output of nuclear plants.


Global cooling hits India hard

Cooler oceans mean less evaporation and less rain so global cooling COULD be the culprit but there are many other possible factors at work. But global warming has been blamed for lots of things so why not blame this on the recent temperature downturn?

India is looking anxiously to the skies as the worst start to the monsoon in 80 years raises fears of food shortages, power cuts and riots. In Bhopal a young couple and their son were beaten and stabbed to death yesterday, allegedly after a dispute with their neighbours over water in the drought-stricken city. In the surrounding state of Madhya Pradesh water tankers were under police guard as they visited areas where normal drinking supplies have been exhausted for weeks. “Street brawls are happening as the water supplies are coming in. It’s hot; tempers are short; people are thirsty and frustrated,” said Indira Khurana, of WaterAid India.

The monsoon’s prolonged tropical downpours, which account for 80 per cent of India’s annual rainfall, should have started early last month but have only just begun. The delayed onset of the rainy season has pushed back the planting of staples such as rice and grain after a scorching June, in which temperatures in the northwest hovered 6-7C above historical averages, and led to vegetable crops and paddy nurseries withering in the sun.

While food prices have risen, the stock market in Mumbai has plummeted. Last week it suffered its worst falls since October over fears that a failed monsoon could ruin the livelihood of millions of poor consumers. Economists now fear that the vagaries of the weather could wreck a national economy that has weathered the financial storms of the global credit crisis relatively unscathed.

State governments in the central region of Jharkhand and the north eastern region of Manipur have already declared droughts — a highly unusual step so early in the growing season. Assam, also in the northeast, which produces tea and rice, said 14 of its 28 districts are suffering drought.

In Punjab, the northern region known as the bread basket of India, rainfall has been less than half the historical average. Across the country as a whole it is about 30 per cent below normal. The Government banned wheat exports from the country this week, over concerns that a poor harvest will lead to shortages and price increases.

The looming crisis has emphasised just how dependent India remains on the monsoon — even to keep the lights on. The country relies on hydroelectric generation for about a quarter of its power output. With electricity being diverted to irrigate crops, vast areas face blackouts.

Meanwhile, most of the 800 million Indians who rely on agriculture for their living are hanging on the weather man’s every word. Here, at least, the latest news is comforting, with the heavy rains that have descended on much of the country in the past few days forecast to continue. Indians pray that now the rains have started they will continue.


Australia: The real reason I’ll fight in the Senate on climate change

by Senator Steve Fielding

Climate change is real. Yes that’s right, contrary to the misreporting in the media, I do believe in climate change. That might come as a shock to some of those on the left side of politics, but it’s the truth. The question that concerns me, however, is what is driving it? Is it increasing levels of human made carbon dioxide emissions, variations in solar radiation or something else?

Around three months ago one of my advisors pulled me aside and asked me what I thought was driving climate change. I smiled and said automatically that it was obviously a result of increasing carbon dioxide emissions. I had never really looked at the science and just assumed what was reported in the media to be true. Well wasn’t I in for an enormous shock.

My advisor presented me with data and some comments from a number of scientists which suddenly had me asking many questions. This led me to do some further reading and I ultimately decided to head over to Washington on a self funded trip so I could find out more about the science behind climate change.

In the US I met with numerous scientists on both sides of the debate. Some media outlets would have you believe that I met only with climate skeptics who they accuse of being paid off by the fossil fuel industry. These claims are wholly inaccurate.

Moreover, I strongly believe in giving everyone a fair hearing even if it isn’t the most popular view. I believe it’s my role as a a politician, to wade through all of the spin and come up with my own conclusions after hearing all of the facts.

Some of the data led me to question whether the Rudd government had got the science right. I then took some of the information and questions I had to the White House where I met with one of President Obama’s senior climate change advisors. While these discussions were fruitful, I was left at the end with even more questions than when I had started.

In an effort to try to get to the bottom of the issue I started to talk to a number of scientists based in Australia to get a feel for what their views were on the subject. Amongst the many presentations, one item really stood out. I was presented with a graph based on data that IPCC use which showed carbon dioxide emissions sky rocketing over the last 15 years while global temperatures had remained steady.

Above: The chart Senator Fielding says sparked his doubts about climate change

This graph left me nothing short of flabbergasted. Up until this point I had truly believed that human made carbon dioxide emissions were responsible for climate change.

However, this graph basically said otherwise. I was left asking myself how I could vote for a carbon pollution reduction scheme if it appeared as though carbon dioxide emissions were not driving climate change. It is important to point out that the IPCC had predicted in their models that there would be a direct correlation between increasing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing global temperatures. However, if you look at the graph it is obvious to everyone that this correlation simply does not exist.

Armed with this information I sat down with Minister Wong, the Chief Scientist and Professor Will Steffen of the ANU to hear their explanation. After an hour and a half I left none the wiser.

I received a written response to my questions from the Minister a few days later which had me even more uncertain. According to the Minister, air temperature, a measurement relied upon by the IPCC and the Rudd Government to justify its emissions trading scheme was irrelevant.

Instead, I was told that I should really be concerned with the variability in ocean temperatures. Not only did this contradict all of the information which the Minister had provided me with only a few days earlier but I was also aware of an IPCC report which stated that the measuring of ocean temperatures was not reliable.

I went back to the government with this question but was met with a wall of silence. They had clearly decided it was safer not to engage with me because I had legitimate questions which they probably were unable to answer.

I was left feeling that the only responsible thing to do was to vote against this legislation. At the end of the day, it would be a betrayal of my duty to the Australian people to put at risk the national economy and many thousands of jobs on what is clearly inconclusive science.

But then enter Al Gore. Here was a man who had a lot of power and went around the world preaching about climate change. I thought he might have the answer for me, the ones I couldn’t extract from the Rudd government. I briefly met Mr Gore at a breakfast in Melbourne attended by more than a thousand people. He was aware of the important role Family First plays in the senate and was keen to catch up.

After a series of phone calls I was met with a stonewall of resistance. I offered to meet Mr Gore at any place at any time but had no luck. Here we had the former Vice President of the United States, a self proclaimed climate change preacher running away from me over a few simple questions. I could hardly believe it.

I would have thought if Al Gore was really committed to the cause he would want to meet with all senators who had concerns about the science if it would help ensure that the CPRS legislation would pass. Obviously I was wrong.

I have written to every senator urging them to look at the graph and ask themselves the key question - what is driving climate change? If they can’t answer that simple question they shouldn’t be voting for a CPRS. This decision is the biggest economic decision in this country’s history, one which is too important to vote along party lines.

I call on the government to answer my question with a straight answer. If they’re not prepared to do so, I’m happy to fight the lone battle in the senate until those senators who are honest with themselves break party lines.



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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