Sunday, September 20, 2009

Short-term climate prediction: An unrealistic project

By S. Fred Singer, President, SEPP

Two widely acclaimed research papers (1,2) have tried to explain the current lack of warming in terms of natural influences on climate, but have limited their discussion entirely to internal oscillations of the ocean-atmosphere system. I do not find this explanation satisfactory. There is no theory to account for the various internal oscillations and they do not appear in current climate models. More to the point, the authors neglect the effect of any external forcing from variable solar activity. Yet geological evidence conclusively demonstrates such solar forcing effects on climate; it is difficult to account in other ways for the detailed correlation, observed in stalagmites, between carbon-14, a cosmic-ray produced isotope, and oxygen-18, the conventional indicator of terrestrial climate. While the exact mechanism at work is not completely settled, it is quite unrealistic to assume that this well-established process, which operated for millennia during the Holocene, is no longer operating today.

It is unreasonable also to assume also that two independent forcings are causing decadal-scale climate variations. I am therefore of the opinion that solar activity provides the trigger for the quasi-periodic internal oscillations, like PDO etc, -- which is not a new idea.

In addition, both papers subscribe to the basic (and unsupported) IPCC claim of a substantial anthropogenic contribution from GH gases -- contrary to the NIPCC summary report "Nature -- Not Human Activity -- Rules the Climate" See here


1. "Long-term natural variability and 20th century climate change" by Kyle L. Swanson, George Sugihara, and Anastasios A. Tsonis; PNAS, 14 September 2009, 10.1073/pnas.0908699106 -- expanding on their paper in GRL (2007)

Abstract: Global mean temperature at the Earth's surface responds both to externally imposed forcings, such as those arising from anthropogenic greenhouse gases, as well as to natural modes of variability internal to the climate system. Variability associated with these latter processes, generally referred to as natural long-term climate variability, arises primarily from changes in oceanic circulation. Here we present a technique that objectively identifies the component of inter-decadal global mean surface temperature attributable to natural long-term climate variability. Removal of that hidden variability from the actual observed global mean surface temperature record delineates the externally forced climate signal, which is monotonic, accelerating warming during the 20th century.

2. Keenlyside et al. 2008, Nature 453, 84 -- 88

Coauthor Prof Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany, has been looking at the influence of cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. When he factored these natural fluctuations into his global climate model, he found the results would bring the rise in average global temperatures to an abrupt halt.

He told more than 1500 gathered in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference (WCC-3 Aug 31 -- Sept 4, 2009) that in the next few years a natural cooling trend would dominate over any warming caused by humans. The NAO is now moving into a colder phase. Breaking with climate-change orthodoxy, he said NAO cycles were probably responsible for some of the strong global warming seen in the past three decades. "But how much? The jury is still out," he told the conference.

Latif claimed that NAO cycles also explained the recent recovery of the Sahel region of Africa from the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. Few climate scientists go as far as Latif, an IPCC author. But more and more agree that the short-term prognosis for climate change is much less certain than once thought. James Murphy, head of climate prediction at the Met Office, agreed and linked the NAO to Indian monsoons, Atlantic hurricanes and sea ice in the Arctic. "The oceans are key to decadal natural variability," he said.

SEPP Science Editorial #29-2009 (9/19/09)

Newsweak's silly little Sharon Begley flunks Calculus, Science and Politics

By Joseph D"Aleo

Sharon Begley, after a five-year stint at the Wall Street Journal returned to greener pastures at Newsweek in 2007, where she started her career. It was just in time to take part in Newsweek"s embarrassing August 13, 2007 issue " Global Warming is a Hoax" edition.

The cover story entitled, " The Truth About Denial" contained very little that could be considered " truth" by journalistic or scientific standards. In what could surely be considered one of the most one-sided coverage of any important issue in American journalism for decades, Sharon Begley with Eve Conant, Sam Stein, Eleanor Clift and Matthew Philips purported to examine the " well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry that they...created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change."

The only problem was\emdash Newsweek knew better. Eve Conant, who interviewed Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, was given all the latest data proving conclusively that it was the proponents of man-made global warming fears that enjoyed a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics (a whopping $50 billion to a paltry $19 million for the skeptics). Newsweek contributing editor Robert J. Samuelson, called the piece " fundamentally misleading" and " highly contrived."

Begley"s next screed was " Climate Change Calculus: in the August 3, 2009 issue, subtitled " Why it"s even worse than we feared." She begins: " Among the phrases you really, really do not want to hear from climate scientists are: " that really shocked us," " we had no idea how bad it was," and " reality is well ahead of the climate models."[...] Although policymakers hoped climate models would prove to be alarmist, the opposite is true, particularly in the Arctic."

What is the reality? Well the models are failing miserably, but in the wrong direction. Over the last eight years, the world has cooled in contrast with the forecast rise in all the IPCC scenarios. The Arctic ice extent as of September 18, 2009, climatologically close to the maximum melt date, is 24.5% greater than the minimum in September 2007.

None of the models foresaw the cooling that has taken place the last 8 years.

Begley also addressed Greenland and sea level rises quoting David Carlson. " ...Greenland is losing about 52 cubic miles per year and that the melting is accelerating. So while the IPCC projected that sea level would rise 16 inches this century, " now a more likely figure is one meter [39 inches] at the least," says Carlson. " Chest-high instead of knee-high, with half to two thirds of that due to Greenland." Hence the " no idea how bad it was.""

Other scientists strongly disagree. Ettema et al. (2009) state that " considerably more mass accumulates on the Greenland Ice Sheet than previously thought...which suggests that the Northern Hemisphere"s largest ice sheet may well hang around a whole lot longer than many climate alarmists have been willing to admit." A 2006 study by a team of scientists led by Petr Chylek of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences found the rate of Greenland warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995-2005, suggesting carbon dioxide "could not be the cause". And Ollier and Pain in August 2009, AIG paper " Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are Not Collapsing" conclude " Variations in melting around the edges of ice sheets are no indication that they are collapsing. Indeed "collapse" is impossible."

And supporting this non-threat, sea levels have stopped rising in 2005 as the oceans have cooled and contracted, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Oceans and the Sun Not CO2

We have reported in earlier stories in this magazine on the importance of natural cycles on the sun and in the oceans in climate change and that these factors should support cooling for the net few decades. There is an increasing body of new peer review support for this.

Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, in New Scientist (2009) attributes much of the recent warming to naturally occurring ocean cycles.

" Little seems out of place in recent times except the predictions" , says Dr Syun Akasofu, Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and former director of the Geophysical Institute. Aksasofu says multi-decadal oscillations, discovered within the past decade, account for the variability.

Earlier this summer in a paper entitled " Has the climate recently shifted?" Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonsis, mathematicians at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, engaged with the problem that temperatures have failed to follow the predictions made by computer climate models. In the paper, Swanson and Tsonis correlated data from the El Nino/La Nina, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the North Pacific Index and found that synchronizations occurred four times: in 1910-20; 1938-45; 1956-60; and 1976-1981. When coupling between the systems was high, climate invariably changed. The recent cooling, which they suggest started in 2001, is an indicator of another phase shift with a cooling that will last for decades.

Alarmist solar scientists Lean and Rind have reluctantly attributed recent cooling to a quiet sun and foresee a repeat from 2014-2019 the minimum of the next cycle. They have not yet come around to the opinion of many solar scientists including those at NASA, that the sun, which has been quieter, longer than any time since the early 1800s, a period called the Dalton Minimum or mini-ice age, the time of Dickens and cold snowy winters in London, much as we saw last winter.

Begley would benefit from reading the widely praised NIPCC report, Climate Change Reconsidered, an ambitious peer review work the scale of the IPCC, co-authored by Craig Idso and Dr. Fred Singer, which shows why natural factors like the sun and the oceans, not man, control the climate.

Begley proves that she is not only scientifically but also politically illiterate in the third installment of her latest climate crisis coverage. On September 7, in a piece titled " China and India Will Pay," she declares " A special place in climate hell is being reserved for India and China." As CORE"s Paul Driessen put it " 400 million Indians and 500 million Chinese still do not have electricity. No electricity means no refrigeration, to keep food and medicines from spoiling. It means no water purification, to reduce baby-killing intestinal diseases. No modern heating and air conditioning, to reduce hypothermia in winter, heat stroke in summer, and lung disease year-round. It means no lights or computers, no modern offices, factories, schools, shops, clinics or hospitals."

Even the IPCC"s chair, Rajendra Pachauri, has defended India"s refusal to cut its emissions, noting that millions of Indians still lack electricity.

But to the technological elite in their ivory towers, the liberal elitist political leaders in Washington, and their adoring media, their loss is but a small price to pay to save the planet from an imagined crisis, one that offers such a golden opportunity to achieve their real goal as none other than Al Gore admitted " of one world governance." In their journey there, they show more compassion for the white grizzly bear of the polar region and the snail darter than for the humans. They worry more about population than people.

China and India will make us pay as they take away our jobs and become the technological leaders as we model our government after the failed socialist experiments of an ever-declining Europe and even copy their alternative energy boondoggles that will prove to be the next bubble while we sit on huge rich fields of oil, gas and coal that, along with nuclear, could provide the power to revitalize our industries and put America back on top.

Begley authored the 2007 book " Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain." I would argue she needs to instead re-train her brain and change her mind.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Naughty NOAA

Meteorologist suggests NOAA is manipulating data to support climate claims and political goals. Some comments below by Joe D'Aleo, the first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel and former chairman of the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting. D'Aleo comments on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) claim that global sea-surface temperatures (SST's) were recently the hottest since 1880

To enable them to make the case the oceans are warming, NOAA chose to remove satellite input from their global ocean estimation and not make any attempt to operationally use NASA's Argo data in the process. This resulted in a jump of 0.2C or more and 'a new ocean warmth record' in July. ARGO tells us this is another example of NOAA's inexplicable decision to corrupt data to support political agendas.

What can I say. Between the station dropout (80% of the world's stations, mostly rural), removal in US or absence globally of any UHI (Urban Heat Island) adjustment, bad siting for 90% of the climate stations and the recent removal of satellite input into the ocean temperature assessments, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has ensured that each and every month and season will rank and 'validate' their piece of excrement called CCSP and support the government's argument for Cap-and-Tax, carbon regulations and global actions at Copenhagen.

This is not an indictment of the hard-working and honest rank-and-file NOAA employees at the local offices and even behind the scenes at NCDC. It is the fault of higher-ups and managers whose jobs and reputations rely on perpetrating the global warming hoax long enough so the governments can have their way to control virtually every aspect of our lives and keep the funding at the highest possible level for those who have abused the science to their benefit. See also here, here and here.

SOURCE. See also here

Obama disses the EU Warmists

Europe has clashed with the US Obama administration over climate change in a potentially damaging split that comes ahead of crucial political negotiations on a new global deal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Guardian understands that key differences have emerged between the US and Europe over the structure of a new worldwide treaty on global warming. Sources on the European side say the US approach could undermine the new treaty and weaken the world's ability to cut carbon emissions.

The treaty will be negotiated in December at a UN meeting in Copenhagen and is widely billed as the last chance to save the planet from a temperature rise of 2C or higher, which the EU considers dangerous. "If we end up with a weaker framework with less stringent compliance, then that is not so good for the chances of hitting 2C," a source close to the EU negotiating team said.

News of the split comes amid mounting concern that the Copenhagen talks will not make the necessary progress. Ban Ki-moon, the UN general secretary, told the Guardian last night that negotiations had stalled and need to "get moving". Ahead of an unprecedented UN climate change summit of almost 100 heads of government in New York next week, Moon said the leaders held in their hands "the future of this entire humanity". He said: "We are deeply concerned that the negotiation is not making much headway [and] it is absolutely and crucially important for the leaders to demonstrate their political will and leadership."

The dispute between the US and Europe is over the way national carbon reduction targets would be counted. Europe has been pushing to retain structures and systems set up under the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on climate change. US negotiators have told European counterparts that the Obama administration intends to sweep away almost all of the Kyoto architecture and replace it with a system of its own design.

The issue is highly sensitive and European officials are reluctant to be seen to openly criticise the Obama administration, which they acknowledge has engaged with climate change in a way that President Bush refused to. But they fear the US move could sink efforts to agree a robust new treaty in Copenhagen.

The US distanced itself from Kyoto under President Bush because it made no demands on China, and the treaty remains political poison in Washington. European negotiators knew the US would be reluctant to embrace Kyoto, but they hoped they would be able to use it as a foundation for a new agreement.

If Kyoto is scrapped, it could take several years to negotiate a replacement framework, the source added, a delay that could strike a terminal blow at efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. "In Europe we want to build on Kyoto, but the US proposal would in effect kill it off. If we have to start from scratch then it all takes time. It could be 2015 or 2016 before something is in place, who knows."


Why CO2 is good for you

CO2 is Green... and Green is Good! More CO2 in the air means more plant growth

Earth's current atmospheric CO2 concentration is almost 390 parts per million (ppm). Adding another 300 ppm of CO2 to the air has been shown by literally thousands of experiments to greatly increase the growth or biomass production of nearly all plants. This growth stimulation occurs because CO2 is one of the two raw materials (the other being water) that are required for photosynthesis. Hence, CO2 is actually the "food" that sustains essentially all plants on the face of the earth, as well as those in the sea. And the more CO2 they "eat" (absorb from the air or water), the bigger and better they grow (see table below).

Adding more CO2 to the air also benefits plants in other ways:

They generally do not open their leaf stomatal pores as wide as they do at lower CO2 concentrations, and they tend to produce fewer such pores per unit area of leaf surface. Both of these changes tend to reduce plant transpiration or water loss; and the amount of growth they experience per unit of water lost (water-use efficiency) therefore rises, greatly increasing their ability to withstand drought. And with fewer and smaller stomatal openings, plants exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 are also less susceptible to damage by noxious air pollutants, including ozone and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, that gain entry into plants via these portals. Higher CO2 concentrations also help plants by reducing the negative effects of a number of other environmental stresses, such as high soil salinity, high air temperature, low air temperature, low light intensity, low levels of soil fertility, oxidative stress, and the stress of herbivory.

A visual example of the benefits described above is portrayed in the figure below, where the results of growing a common house plant (Devil's Ivy or Golden Pothos) at about 200 ppm below (left) or 350 ppm above (right) the atmosphere's current CO2 concentration is shown. As you examine this figure, ask yourself in which direction would you like to be heading if you were a plant: toward higher or lower atmospheric CO2 concentrations?

Yes, CO2 is green; and a wealth of research has shown that more of it in the air is a very good thing.

SOURCE (See the original for some great graphics)

The California "drought"

In the fall of 1990, I flew from Atlanta to San Diego, with our flight hugging the border of the United States and Mexico as we moved across the southwest deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. The farther west we flew, the more I saw some strange sights, those being great, circular fields of green crops located next to desert sands.

Then I saw the strangest sight of all: the place where the Colorado River simply stops flowing. As we flew past the northern end of the Gulf of California, I could see that the Colorado River did not reach its former terminus, disappearing, instead, into the soil a few miles above the gulf"s northern beaches.

That was more than a decade ago, and the pressure on the Colorado River to provide water for development in the western USA has grown immensely since then. A river that nearly 15 years ago was reduced to less than a trickle where there once was a mighty flow cannot be expected to fulfill the demands of people who are creating the kinds of land developments that one would expect to see in a place with average rainfall that measures nearly three digits, not in a desert.

In a recent New York Times article, writers Kirk Johnson and Dean E. Murphy write that there exists a real possibility that a long cycle of drought could drastically alter how westerners live and work. Not surprisingly, as one might expect of mainstream journalists from the nation"s "newspaper of record," the reporters demonstrate at best only a partial understanding of what is happening and what can be done about it.

They write:
At five years and counting, the drought that has parched much of the West is getting much harder to shrug off as a blip.

Those who worry most about the future of the West - politicians, scientists, business leaders, city planners and environmentalists - are increasingly realizing that a world of eternally blue skies and meager mountain snowpacks may not be a passing phenomenon but rather the return of a harsh climatic norm.

Continuing research into drought cycles over the last 800 years bears this out, strongly suggesting that the relatively wet weather across much of the West during the 20th century was a fluke. In other words, scientists who study tree rings and ocean temperatures say, the development of the modern urbanized West - one of the biggest growth spurts in the nation's history - may have been based on a colossal miscalculation.

That shift is shaking many assumptions about how the West is run. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the states that depend on the Colorado River, are preparing for the possibility of water shortages for the first time since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930's to control the river's flow. The top water official of the Bush administration, Bennett W. Raley, said recently that the federal government might step in if the states could not decide among themselves how to cope with dwindling supplies, a threat that riled local officials but underscored the growing urgency.

While the Times portrays the federal government as the ultimate savior in this growing mess, history tells us otherwise. The American West faces severe water shortages because of U.S. Government policies of this past century; the solution is not for the government to further assert itself, but rather to end the water socialism that it has imposed. The command system of economics that has led nations like North Korea and Cuba into ruin has also created the crisis in the West.

What the Times does not tell us is that water in the western states has been distributed politically, and that agricultural interests have held sway. Unlike the riparian system that governed water rights in the eastern USA, the West has developed under a "first user" principle that has operated on the principle of "use it or lose it" allocations, which is a sure recipe for waste. In other words, the use and distribution of water in the West ultimately is an economic issue, something that the Times" reporters have missed.

As Johnson and Murphy point out, the first users in the western system are agricultural interests, and they are allocated water at subsidized prices that would not be available even in eastern states where there was much more water. At $5 to $15 for an acre-foot (enough water to cover an acre of ground with a foot of water), farmers are able to grow water-intensive crops such as alfalfa, cotton, and rice. (Even with the water subsidies, rice is also subsidized on the price end, as the cost of growing rice is greater than the price that can be obtained for it on the free market.)

Paul Milgrom and John Roberts point out that these subsidies create situations that can only be called an economic version of the Theater of the Absurd:
Water rights for farmers vary considerably throughout the state of California, depending on the source of the water. Some farmers have inherited extremely valuable water rights to have huge quantities of cheap water delivered to them. Water for farming from the federal Bureau of Reclamation sells for $10 to $15 per acre-foot, and the cheapest subsidized water sells for as little as $3.50 per acre-foot, even though it may cost $100 to pump the water to the farmers --Meanwhile, households in Palo Alto pay about $65 for the same quantity of water, and some urban water users pay as much as $230. The most desperate nonagricultural communities along the Pacific coast of California have gone as far as to build desalination plants to obtain potable water from the ocean at a cost of approximately $3,000 per acre-foot. (Since this was written, it is not now possible to desalinate ocean water at about $1,000 an acre-foot.)

How much of the cheap water is used? One agricultural use alone, irrigating pastures for grazing cows and sheep, used 5.3 million acre-feet of water in 1986. This is enough water to cover the District of Columbia to a depth of 1,250 feet! --Yet the industry of raising cattle and sheep on irrigated pasture in California had gross revenues for that year of less than $100 million. Plainly, devoting so much water to such a low-value use is possible only because the water used to irrigate pastures is sold so cheaply.[i]

Government policies ensure that the water will be wasted, since those who have the water rights, as noted earlier, must "use it or lose it." Furthermore, they have been prohibited from selling those rights to other farmers or urban users. (The "reasoning" behind such regulations is that the government wishes to "preserve" the farm culture of Central California.)

Thus, we have taxpayers being forced to subsidize both the inputs into the crops and the crops themselves, all in the name of producing "cheap food" for consumers. However, such obvious waste cannot go on indefinitely, since government can only provide subsidies, not create new sources of water.

While much rhetoric is spewed out extolling the "public" uses of water, it is clear that California and the American West in general would have benefited from private ownership and distribution of water. No private firm would distribute a precious commodity like water in a desert in the way that the Bureau of Reclamation has done it. While the subsidized farms in the West are private, the federal government owns the main input that is needed for their crops: water. Thus, the term "private enterprise" here is meaningless, since the farms are wards of the state.

As the Times article demonstrates, however, this ridiculous saga may very well come to an end precisely because the government cannot create that which does not exist. Under a private system of ownership -- or even a semi-private one in which those with water rights would be permitted to sell them to whomever they would choose -- the water would go to users willing to pay for them.

However, one might object, would that mean the end of some farms in California and elsewhere in the West? Yes, that is exactly what that means. The government has engaged in egregiously wasteful policies in order to politically distribute water, and those policies have created the current crisis. One can be assured that if people actually had to pay market prices for water, and that water were privately owned in that region, it is doubtful that we would have seen the kind of wasteful development that has treated the western landscape as though it were a rain forest, not a desert.

To put it in a way that Austrians would understand, government policies have resulted in malinvested resources and development that cannot be sustained. As in Austrian Business Cycle Theory, which stresses that recovery cannot begin until the malinvested capital has been liquidated, the American West cannot begin to see true "sustainable" development until new policies are implemented.

Yes, the reality of less water will change much of how things are done in the West, and for many who lose jobs or a way of life, those changes will be very painful. Unfortunately, had private enterprise prevailed in water from the beginning, we would not be faced with the prospect of almost certain depopulation of the West and the elimination of many farms and ranches.

Being that water is politically distributed in the West, it will be difficult for members of Congress and the unelected bureaucrats who have created this crisis in the first place to be willing to make the necessary changes. However, changes will occur whether or not the government acts to get itself out of the water business. That is because government can only create hot air, not water itself.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An author wrote: "...the Northern Hemisphere"s largest ice sheet may well hang around a whole lot longer than many climate alarmists have been willing to admit."

I suspect they are being tripped up by treating melting as a surface effect rather than dependent on the overall mass of the ice, which must be considered since to an extent a large mass of ice must warm up to near freezing instead of very much below it for surface melting to occur by which I mean you don't get much melting at all until serious melting begins and that cannot happen until you pump in hundreds of years of heat into the very body of the entire mass of ice.

It is quite easy to change the temperature of ice in comparison to it being quite hard to change it that final degree to above melting, due to the quite high energy of phase change, so there is much chance that warm ice on the surface will have a chance to merely warm more ice deeper down than to actually have heat energy cause any surface melting.

The ratio of surface area to volume of a mass of ice is a number with units of 1/meters. It depends on the absolute size of the object in meters. A 10 meter wide cube has a ratio 0.8. At 1 kilometer cube has a ratio of 0.008, so instead of about 1 it becomes 1%. This is why a glass of water sprayed onto the floor will evaporate in an hour whereas the original glass of water would take at least a week to dry out. Likewise, a glass of water made into ice cubes that are spread out on a table will melt faster than a frozen glass of water freed from the glass and also set on the table.

Since the mass of arctic ice is is monstrous, our intuition about ice is wrong if it is based on how a hot day can melt mere ice cubes.