Saturday, February 27, 2010

Warmist claims of more extreme weather are contrary to the facts

Thomas Friedman argues (February 17) that global warming should instead be called “global weirding” because as a result of global warming, “The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous.” The only thing getting weirder, however, is Friedman’s interpretation of reality.

To claim, as Friedman does, that “the hots are expected to get hotter” is quite misleading. Most of the warming from carbon dioxide emissions is expected to occur at night, as carbon dioxide prevents some of the earth’s heat from radiating back into space after the sun sets. Daytime highs are not expected to change much, but evening lows will become somewhat milder. The moderation in nighttime low temperatures, moreover, is expected to occur more in the winter than in the summer. This would make conditions more, not less, comfortable for people.

Far from “global weirding,” this should translate into “global milding.” Global temperature data confirm this, showing no signs of “the hots getting hotter.” The all-time high temperature in Africa was set in 1922; in North America, 1913; in Asia, 1942; in Australia, 1889; in Europe, 1977; and in South America, 1920. In the United States, 30 of the 50 states experienced their all-time high temperature between 1910 and 1940. Fully 40 of the 50 states experienced their all-time high temperature before 1980.

As to “the wets” allegedly getting wetter, global precipitation increased during the 20th century, but this did not happen in a weird or harmful manner. National Climatic Data Center records show U.S. precipitation has increased nearly 10 percent in the past 115 years, but fully half of this increase occurred during the fall drought season, when the least amount of precipitation happens and an increase in precipitation would be most beneficial. Far from a “weirding,” this can best be described as a blessing.

A study of stream flows and flooding events published in the April 2009 peer-reviewed Journal of the American Water Resources Association confirms this. “There is broad evidence … for increased magnitudes of low and moderate flows both regionally and nationally” while “trends in high flows have been much less evident,” the study concluded.

Likewise Friedman’s assertion that global warming is causing the “dries” to get drier. Not only is precipitation--and particularly precipitation during the fall drought season—becoming more dependable, but drought as a whole is in sharp decline. A study published in the May 2006 peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters reported, “Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the country over the last century.”

A study in the March 2006 peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology reached a similar conclusion. “Evidence indicates that summer soil moisture content has increased during the last several decades at almost all sites having long-term records in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank.”

Finally, the claim that “the most violent storms [are becoming] more numerous” is demonstrably false. National Weather Service records show the number of strong (F2 and higher) tornadoes in the United States has been declining for the past 35 years. Roughly twice as many strong tornadoes struck the nation during the 1960s and 1970s, when the globe was cooling, than struck in the 1990s and 2000s.

The hurricane record is similar. National Weather Service records show hurricanes struck the United States far more frequently in the late 1800s through the 1950s than has been the case since the 1960s. In fact, global hurricane frequency during the past two years was lower than at any time since at least the 1970s.

Thomas Friedman may believe there is value in drumming up public alarm by falsely claiming global warming makes the weather “weirder.” In the real world, however, the weather is becoming milder.


Vanishing "experts"

FOR years the media have told us that there is a "scientific consensus" on catastrophic, man-made global warming with anything up to 99.9pc of scientists supporting it.

I decided to carry out a survey to see if this claim had any merit, and asked journalists, politicians and alarmist lobbyists to name two prominent scientists not funded by government or an alarmist lobby group who have said we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming. As yet, none have been able to do so. Scientists who are seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak.

With more than 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying that man-made global warming is bunkum, if there were anything like a consensus to the contrary it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying so.

I have had a total of two positive responses to my request for the names of independent scientists, who are on record supporting the theory of catastrophic, man-made global warming.

One came from the letters editor of the 'Independent' in London who said she had checked with the paper's environment correspondent who was able to give one name -- Professor James Lovelock. The other came from a South African online journal and also gave only one name -- that of Prof Lovelock.

Prof Lovelock is certainly an eminent and forthright gentleman whose Gaia hypothesis, while not generally accepted, does account for our planet's history. However, to place the entire burden of being the "consensus" among the majority of the world's scientists who are not being paid by government is going too far.

The good name of science has been deliberately abused by this claim of "scientific consensus". There may well be, or may have been, a consensus among politicians and the journalists who have taken their lead from them -- but there is no such consensus among scientists and never has been.

I think it is clear beyond dispute that all those broadcasters, newspapers and "personalities" who over the years have denigrated science by claiming this "consensus" owe an apology to the profession.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Global Warming and the philosophy of science

As people around the world watched the Winter Olympics this week, they were treated not only to images of the world’s greatest Winter athletes performing superbly in the sports at which they excel but they were also given a behind-the-scenes window into the frustrations dealt with by the games’ Canadian hosts. From bare mountain slopes to rain delays that turned what little snow there was into slush to scenes of dump trucks hauling snow up to peaks that should already be white at this time of year, an unusual warm spell in Vancouver has posed problems for the games this time around.

Not surprisingly, Global Warming advocates have pointed to the abnormally warm weather in Vancouver this year, as supporting evidence for their theory. As also did Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., last year, when he published a piece reminiscing about the snowier winters he experienced in the Washington area as a child and bemoaning the relative lack of snow in recent Washington Winters.

Of course, that was before this winter’s record snows in the nation’s capital. Now, critics of Global Warming have understandably mocked Kennedy for his remarks, as they slogged through nearly fifty combined inches of Global Warming in one short week. Undaunted by such skeptics, defenders of the theory have countered “that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events,” as reported recently in the New York Times and Time magazine.

What a strong theory then is Global Warming, some may think, that supporting evidence can be found for it in such diverse, seemingly opposite, and apparently unrelated events.

But some well-established insights from the Philosophy of Science would quickly disabuse someone of this notion. For, as famously pointed out by giant-in-the-field Karl Popper, it is not a strength of a theory that nearly any observation can be taken as confirming it but this may actually mark it out as a bit of pseudo-science, immune to falsification and held tenaciously by its defenders as an article of faith.

The problem, Popper emphasized in his monumental Conjectures and Refutations, is not one of being able to find confirmatory evidence for a theory, for proponents of pseudo-scientific theories find confirmatory evidence for their theories around every corner. If you held such a theory, he notes, “you saw confirmed instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth…”

What Popper admired most in a theory, and what he thought separated one out as scientific, was that it took risks by making predictions which, if not borne out by observational evidence, would actually disconfirm or falsify it. And perhaps this is a good time to ask the proponents of Global Warming if there is any possible observation that they would take as disconfirming their theory.

To be fair, it did happen once. Last year, Stephan Faris of the UN’s IPCC predicted that “if global warming continues at its current rate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates, the glaciers could be mostly gone from the mountains by 2035.”

Citing inaccuracy in the data on which it was based: “it [the IPCC] plucked the date for the glaciers’ disappearance from a 2005 report by the environmental advocacy group WWF, which in turn had taken the figure from a 1999 magazine article attributing the claim to an Indian glacier expert, who now denies he ever said such a thing.”

This move, while saving the theory from falsification, hardly engenders confidence in the IPCC and shows that scientists can make similar critical mistakes causing misguided government intervention.


British Communist newspaper publishes skeptical letter!

From inveterate Scottish letter-writer Neil Craig of Glasgow. Glasgow probably has Britain's greatest concentration of Communists so Neil's address may well have helped -- JR

Paul Levy (M Star February 18) is erecting a straw man argument when he denounces Jean Johnson (M Star February 17) for claiming "a systematic attempt on the part of the climatic research unit to manipulate" in her response to Michael Meacher's playing down of the collapse of the catastrophic warming evidence.

She did not say that the disappearance of data from Chinese sites and the Climate Research Unit's reliance on measurements which have been urbanised or moved or both was deliberate manipulation.

She merely said that it had happened - though untrusting folk like myself may find it improbable that all the errors uncovered here and elsewhere should accidentally be angled towards scaring us.

The urban heat island effect is well proven and indeed it is obvious that cities, using electricity, cars, fire etc will give off more heat than countryside.

With the very rapid industrialisation of China it is equally obvious that this is an even greater effect there. Those claiming to see catastrophic CO2-caused warming by using uncorrected or not fully corrected measurements from urban areas are clearly doing very bad science, if it can be called science at all.

Unfortunately time after time in figures from country after country this is what we see being done. When Stephen McIntyre found a programming error of this sort in the US figures, he proved that the actual warmest year in the non-urban US was 1933, not 1998.

The alarmists explained that catastrophic warming was still proven by 1998 being the warmest year outside US boundaries, but there must be doubt about that. If so not only do we not have any catastrophic warming but we have had cooling, not only over the last decade but since 1933.

Never mind. I am sure there will be another eco-catastrophe story along shortly.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Meteorological organizations promise to do better next time

World weather agencies agreed this week to enhance data-gathering significantly and allow independent scrutiny of raw figures used in assessing climate change amid charges by critics that global warming scientific data were skewed.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) made the concession after an outcry over e-mails revealing that researchers in Britain had suppressed certain data to bolster claims of global warming. Critics also said some of the manipulated data were included in a 2007 U.N. report on the subject.

Britain's Met Office formally submitted a proposal that scientists around the world undertake the "grand challenge" of measuring land surface temperatures as often as several times a day, and it was approved in principle by about 150 officials at a WMO meeting in Antalya, Turkey.

"This effort will ensure that the datasets are completely robust and that all methods are transparent," the Met Office said, though it added that "any such analysis does not undermine the existing independent datasets that all reflect a warming trend."

It also said that current measurements were "fundamentally ill-conditioned to answer 21st-century questions, such as how extremes are changing, and therefore what adaptation and mitigation decisions should be taken."

Last fall, it was revealed that thousands of e-mail messages discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global warming claims had been obtained through hacking of a server used by the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain. The controversy was dubbed "climategate."

The WMO move is the latest in the growing debate over climate change. Global warming theorists insist that man-made activities have the potential to produce devastating consequences, while skeptics say temperature increases are less alarming and not human-induced.

Scientists and other climate specialists said the WMO has wanted to enhance data collection for years, but it took a persistent campaign by opponents of the global warming science to take the issue more seriously.

"It's interesting how they are couching it and linking it to the skeptics' community," said Sarah Ladislaw, senior fellow in the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There has been a big push in recent years to improve data collection to make sure we understand things better."

Melanie Fitzpatrick, a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the new measures will require additional funds, although the cost will depend on whether data will be gathered from existing temperature sensors or whether new installations are needed.


Obama’s opposition to drilling in Alaska is a romance not supported by the facts

President Barack Obama recently offered some concessions designed to improve the prospects for an energy bill this year. Notable for its absence was opening up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and gas development.

This is no surprise. ANWR has become a sacred symbol for the environmental movement, and any Obama overture to develop the refuge would have enraged many core environmental supporters. Yet, if Mr. Obama wants to demonstrate real commitment to “common sense” policies, ANWR is a leading opportunity.

The case is not complicated. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that ANWR has a likely 10.4 billion barrels of oil. At current prices, that amounts to about $800 billion in oil revenue. After production and transportation costs are accounted for, the net ANWR oil “profit” would likely exceed $500 billion. This net revenue would be divided in some fashion among oil companies, the state of Alaska and the federal government. A reasonable estimate is that the federal share would exceed $250 billion.

The potential economic gains represented by ANWR dwarf the costs resulting from environmental impacts. In 2003, for instance, a National Academy of Sciences study on the environmental consequences of oil development on the North Slope of Alaska found that in the Prudhoe Bay area, past oil development “had not resulted in large or long-term declines in the size of the Central Arctic Herd” of caribou. Some animal species—including the caribou—actually increased in numbers and benefited from “the ready availability of new sources of food from people in the oil fields.”

But ANWR is important to the environmental movement in another sense—as a powerful religious symbol. For environmentalists, ANWR has come to represent the preservation of a “last remaining wild place” on earth, a remnant of Eden. This image is powerfully appealing to many Americans. Throughout Christianity’s long history, the faithful have seen the natural world as a product of the handiwork of God at the creation. Christians can learn best about the mind of God, they have believed, by experiencing nature exactly as God designed it. As John Calvin said, “the knowledge of God [is] sown in their minds out of the wonderful workmanship of nature.”

American theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote similarly that encounters with nature “will tend to convey instruction to our minds, and to impress things on the mind and to affect the mind, that we may, as it were, have God speaking to us.”

Environmentalists today usually leave out any explicit references to God, but otherwise the message is little altered. They speak of experiencing powerful spiritual feelings in the presence of wild nature. They can more clearly see the humble place of human beings in a large and wonderful universe.

If ANWR were really a last remaining Eden, the arguments for preserving it would be compelling. Yet the ANWR of the environmental imagination is more a Disneyland creation than a true remaining product of God’s actions at the time of the creation. For one thing, the Earth is 4 billion years old and has experienced countless geological and biological upheavals over time. In truth, every place on earth has already been altered by past human actions. Even before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans hunted widely, set fires, harvested food and otherwise altered nature for their own purposes. More recently, global climate change has been affecting the ANWR ecology, and more is sure to come.

It is one thing to sacrifice hundreds of billions of dollars for a divine purpose. It is another thing to make this sacrifice for a Hollywood fiction.

Environmental groups have raised many millions of dollars, and enlisted thousands of supporters, by appealing to the powerful imagery of protecting ANWR and other remaining parts of “original nature.” Many environmentalists may in fact believe their own words. The price for the rest of us, however, is too large. America can no longer afford the enormous public expenses required to sustain the cherished illusions of the environmental faithful.



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 are mirrors of this site here and here


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