Monday, June 14, 2010
The Week That Was (To June 12, 2010) from SEPP
By Ken Haapala
In recent months, global warming alarmists have lamented that they need to do a better job communicating to the public. Apparently, they have found their voice in: argumentum ad hominem. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have authored a new book titled “Merchants of Doubt.” TWTW will reserve specific comments on the book until later. For now, it is sufficient to discuss the review of this book, and eight others from the alarmist chorus, by Philip Kitcher, Department of Philosophy at Columbia University, as published in Science Magazine. One quote from the book, used in the review, provides an adequate summary:
“There are many reasons why the United States has failed to act on global warming, but at least one is the confusion raised by Bill Nierenberg, Fred Seitz, and Fred Singer.”
Governments have spent tens of billions of dollars on global warming alarmism. The environmental industry has spent hundreds of millions touting it. Yet, these three gentlemen are singled out as a principal reason for the derailment of the global warming express. Their powers of persuasion must be super-human.
Throughout his review, the good Professor of Philosophy fails to differentiate between Medieval science, when knowledge was believed to come from authority (expert opinion), and modern, empirical science where knowledge comes from rigorous application of the scientific method – with all relevant physical evidence considered. He considers expert opinion satisfactory.
The Professor states that the issue may be too complex for many to understand. That argument would, of course, apply to both sides. But complexity is not a sufficient reason to accept the views of those who claim to be authorities, yet ignore the physical evidence contradicting their views.
On Thursday by a 53 to 47 vote, the US Senate defeated a proposal to remove from EPA the power to regulate carbon dioxide. Perhaps the length of the bill was confusing. After passing legislation ranging over 1,000 pages long without reading it, senators may have been perplexed by a simple bill which had a published length of eight lines.
The dire, false claims from the environmental industry were predictable. Comments by some senators were equally absurd. Senator Barbara Boxer (D. California) declared voting for the bill was equivalent to repealing the laws of gravity.
The Kerry-Lieberman cap and tax bill is in difficulty because it has provisions for off-shore drilling – which, thanks to the BP spill, is in great disfavor. Proponents of cap and tax are now endeavoring to produce another bill without off-shore drilling.
The BP oil spill continues to illustrate the inability of the Federal Government to work effectively with BP and local governments to contain the damage from the spill. EPA’s erratic actions concerning use of chemical dispersants were presented last week. According to reports, EPA also objected to the proposal from Governor Jindal of Louisiana to build berms to protect the coastal wetlands and shorelines. The berms would have openings, thus would not be 100% effective. Apparently, EPA’s thinking is that a break in the berm is similar to a breach in the dyke – a small breach will flood the entire area – and did not consider the possibility of partial protection from a berm.
Upon request from the administration, seven members of the National Academy of Engineering made recommendations on drilling in light of the BP disaster. According to their statements, the engineers recommended that new deep-water drilling permits be suspended for six months and a temporary pause in drilling be implemented for already-permitted deep-water wells so that additional testing can be done. The administration claimed the engineers recommended a six month moratorium on all such drilling which they did not. Fortunately, the engineers stood up to this distortion.
Last week’s TWTW referenced articles on NASA-GISS predicting that 2010 may become the hottest year on record, surpassing its surface record established in 1995. On his web site, Roy Spencer reports that the May satellite data indicates a temperature of 0.53 degrees C above the satellite norm and temperatures, thus far for 2010, are slightly less than the satellite record established in 1998. The Hadley Center did not agree with NASA-GISS in its projections of surface temperatures for 2010, but stated NASA-GISS extrapolates Arctic temperatures where Hadley Center does not.
The comments prompted a visit to the Danish Meteorological Institute web site which posts daily mean temperature measurements above the 80th parallel. See here. Up to the last few weeks, the daily mean temperatures were generally above the mean values calculated for the period 1958 to 2002. The calculated mean values range from about 243 degrees K to 275 degrees K, or slightly above freezing at 273.15 degrees K (0 degrees C).
What is interesting is reviewing the graphs of the data over the previous years. In the winter, the measured temperatures frequently varied from the mean values by ten degrees or more. In the spring and fall, measured temperatures frequently varied from the mean values, but by a lesser extent. But the measured temperatures for the approximately 70 days of summer, when temperatures were above freezing, were strikingly consistent, showing little variation from the calculated mean, throughout the entire 51 year period covered.
It will be interesting to compare these measurements with NASA-GISS extrapolations in the upcoming summer.
The deep oceans drive the atmosphere
Ever wondered how the whole planet could suddenly “get warmer” during an El Nino, and then suddenly cool again? William Kininmonth has the answer. As I read his words I’m picturing a major pool of stored “coldness” (bear with me, I know cold is just a lack of heat) which is periodically unleashed on the surface temperatures.
The vast deep ocean abyss is filled with salty and near freezing water. In years where this colder pool is kept in place we have El Ninos, and on years when the colder water rises and mixes up near the surface we have La Ninas. The satellites recording temperatures at the surface of the ocean are picking up the warmth (or lack of) on this top-most layer. That’s why it can be bitterly cold for land thermometers but at the same time the satellites are recording a higher world average temperature, due to the massive area of the Pacific.
In other words, just as you’d expect, the actual temperature of the whole planetary mass is not rising and falling within months, instead, at times the oceans swallow the heat on the surface and give up some “coldness”. At other times, the cold stays buried deep down and the heat can collect and loll about on the surface.
William Kininmonth was chief of Australia’s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology from 1986 to 1998. Below, he describes how a vast pool of cold water filled the deep ocean abyss over 30 million years, and why this water and the currents that shift it have a major impact our climate. The so-called Bottom Layer is not just pockets or pools, it forms around Antarctica, then sinks and flows along the bottom all the way across the equator and into the Northern Hemisphere. Bear in mind the average depth of the ocean is around 4 kilometers, and yet almost all the water below a depth of 1000 m is around 4°C or colder.
The Antarctic Bottom Water itself is close to 0°C. The equivalent heat energy of the entire atmosphere is stored in just the top few meters of water. It gives us all some perspective on the relative importance of different factors affecting the climate. His thoughts are in response to the latest debate essay from Dr Andrew Glikson, so the figures 1 and 2 come from that article.
Kininmonth points out that small changes in the rate of the Thermohaline Circulation (also known as the Ocean’s Conveyor Belt) makes a huge difference to all corners of the globe, and that the climate models make large assumptions about the flow of energy. Since the cold bottom layer was created by a kind of “Antarctic Refridgerator” (set into play by the circumpolar current) this colossal cold pool of water will presumably hang around until the continents shift. That’s quite a few election cycles.
Much more HERE
A 2000-Year History of Climate Change in Alaska reveals a Medieval warm period there too
Warmists claim (without proof) that the Medieval warm period was a local North Atlantic phenomenon. Alaska, however is in a very different climate zone from the North Atlantic. It is in fact in the Pacific, funnily enough
We have heard a lot of late about Alaska and other parts of the Arctic experiencing temperatures that are without precedent over the last one to two millennia, along with all sorts of calls for the United States to repent (of its usage of fossil fuels) and thereby return the climate of the planet back to what it was like before the Great Flood (of CO2 into the atmosphere). But are we really that powerful, in terms of what some people claim we have done to earth's climate in the past and what they say we can do about it in the future?
In an important study that appeared a few years ago in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Hu et al. (2001) addressed this question by noting that "knowledge of natural climatic variability is essential for evaluating possible human impacts on recent and future climate changes." Hence, as they continue, they say they "conducted multiproxy geochemical analyses of a sediment core from Farewell Lake in the northwestern foothills of the Alaska Range," obtaining what they describe as "the first high-resolution quantitative record of Alaskan climate variations that spans the last two millennia." So what did they find?
The team of five scientists say their results "suggest that at Farewell Lake SWT [surface water temperature] was as warm as the present at AD 0-300 [during the Roman Warm Period], after which it decreased steadily by ~3.5°C to reach a minimum at AD 600 [during the depths of the Dark Ages Cold Period]." From that point in time, they say "SWT increased by ~3.0°C during the period AD 600-850 and then [during the Medieval Warm Period] exhibited fluctuations of 0.5-1.0°C until AD 1200." Completing their narrative, they say that "between AD 1200-1700, SWT decreased gradually by 1.25°C [as the world descended into the depths of the Little Ice Age], and from AD 1700 to the present, SWT increased by 1.75C," the latter portion of which warming initiated the Modern Warm Period.
In commenting on these findings, Hu et al. remark that "the warmth before AD 300 at Farewell Lake coincides with a warm episode extensively documented in northern Europe -- whereas the AD 600 cooling is coeval with the European 'Dark Ages'." They also say that "the relatively warm climate AD 850-1200 at Farewell Lake corresponds to the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, a time of marked climatic departure over much of the planet." And they say that "these concurrent changes suggest large-scale teleconnections in natural climatic variability during the last two millennia, likely driven by atmospheric controls."
Noting that "20th-century climate is a major societal concern in the context of greenhouse warming," Hu et al. conclude by reiterating that their record "reveals three time intervals of comparable warmth: AD 0-300, 850-1200, and post-1800," and they say that "these data agree with tree-ring evidence from Fennoscandia, indicating that the recent warmth is not atypical of the past 1000 years," in unmistakable contradiction of those who claim that it is.
The great importance of these observations resides in the fact that they testify to the reality of the non-CO2-induced millennial-scale oscillation of climate [see Climate Oscillations (Millennial Variability) in our Subject Index] that brought the world, including Alaska, significant periods of warmth comparable to, or in some cases actually greater than, that of the present some 1000 years ago, during the Medieval Warm Period, and some 1000 years before that, during the Roman Warm Period. These earlier periods of warmth were unquestionably not caused by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (which were 100 ppm less during those periods than they are today), nor were they due to elevated concentrations of any other greenhouse gases; they were manifestly due to something else, which fact makes it very clear that the warmth of today could be due to that same "something else" as well.
To rant and rave, as climate alarmists do, about what's been happening in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic over the past few decades and claim, without reservation, that it is the result of CO2-induced global warming is unconscionable, especially when hard scientific evidence such as that provided by Hu et al. - and many others (see our Subject Index for much, much more) - has been around for years. It is clearly not science that is fueling the fervor for fossil fuel abandonment, it is politics, pure and simple -- or perhaps we should say politics not so pure and not so simple.
The Senate just claimed the title of the world's most delusional body by refusing to strip unelected EPA bureaucrats of the power to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. This was the day freedom died.
One wonders why we have a Congress at all. The 53 profiles in cowardice that could not get a cap-and-tax bill through the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to let the Environmental Protection Agency keep the unprecedented power Congress did not expressly give it. It is power that the EPA arrogated to itself through regulation to control every aspect of the American economy and our very lives.
This country was born over anger at taxation without representation. Regulation without representation may spark another revolt come November. The Tea Party movement began precisely because of such arrogant disregard for the wishes of the American people. Unlike health care reform, this time the cowardly lions of the Senate couldn't even do it themselves and ceded their authority to the EPA.
It was only a motion to proceed to consideration of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's resolution (S.J. Res. 26) which, under a forgotten provision of the Contract With America, lets legislators veto a "major rule" by any regulatory agency within 60 days of publication. It needed just 51 votes; it got 47.
All 41 Republicans, including newbie Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted not to shred the Constitution. The motion attracted, for various reasons, the votes of six Democrats — Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, the departing Evan Bayh and even Jay Rockefeller, who for once chose jobs over ideology.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin accused the Republicans of choosing "political science over the real science," even after the EPA's junk science based on the manipulation of data by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been exposed as a manufactured fraud.
The case for climate change has collapsed — a fact recognized, finally, by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who, with Democrat John Kerry and independent Joseph Lieberman, once hoped to work out some kind of compromise legislation with a token nod to domestic energy production.
Last week, Graham told reporters he would vote against the climate bill he helped author. "The science about global warming has changed," Graham told reporters Wednesday on why he was backing an energy bill by Sen. Dick Lugar. "I think they've oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they've been alarmist and the science is in question."
Hardly a profile in courage, since the legislation wasn't going anywhere, but welcome aboard nonetheless. The science behind cap-and-trade is not only in question, it's nonexistent. The Earth is demonstrably cooling, and the trend will likely continue for decades, according to scientists who don't tamper with the data.
So delusional are Senate Democrats that California's Barbara Boxer, in trying to advance her own failed cap-and-tax bill, said on the Senate floor: "I'm going to put in the record ... a host of quotes from our national security experts who tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be over the next 20 years the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way." So, forget that Iranian nuke.
This is a Congress full of hypocrites who complain about executive branch power under Republicans but are willing to give the EPA unprecedented power because they don't have the votes for cap-and-trade. "Who elected the Environmental Protection Agency?" asked Wyoming Republican John Barrasso. It is a question we, and the voters, ask too.
'Green New Deal' is a raw deal for the U.S.
Europe's path deeply inhuman, economically destructive
By Holger Krahmer (Holger Krahmer is a German Liberal and a member of the European Parliament's environment committee)
The financial crisis and subsequent recession in the United States have prompted some to begin calling for a completely new kind of economy. This new economy would be based on environmental values, a so-called "Green New Deal" to be ushered in by President Obama and leaders in Europe. The plan includes cap-and-trade legislation, new spending on "green" jobs, subsidies for favored firms and technologies, and trade restrictions against out-of-favor products and industries.
The United States is the world's most crucial economic engine, and before it goes much further down this road, it might want to look at Europe's experience with a similar deal. It has done little to help the environment but much to harm consumers and the broader economy.
In Europe, green ideas have been in fashion for two generations and have driven policy to a much greater extent than in the United States. Despite this, we have not witnessed a sizable green wave of new jobs, as evidenced by our unemployment rates, which are routinely several percentage points higher than in America.
The green movement has succeeded in generating increased government spending and subsidies at taxpayer expense. Much of this spending has been directed toward inefficient renewable-energy projects, such as solar and wind power. In my own country, these subsidies appease Germany's mighty pro-green lobby, but they have done little to put downward pressure on unemployment, and their contribution to Germany's overall energy mix is small.
Germany, like the United States, is a major industrial and manufacturing powerhouse. It continues to rely on fossil fuels and will do so for a long time to come. There is no escaping this fact, no matter what the Green New Deal enthusiasts say.
To that end, it's important that Washington not make some of the mistakes we in Europe have made. Specifically, U.S. political and industry leaders should be careful not to follow Europe's path of buckling under to "greenmail," which undermines sound policy and genuine sustainable economic growth.
Here is what has happened in Europe: Caving to pressure from alarmist environmental groups, European companies such as Carrefour, Metro AG and Unilever have elected to halt the purchase of certain food, industrial and paper products from developing countries. The green groups claim these products, made in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, harm rain forests and other critical habitats.
However, several reputable studies show that nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the global trade in goods created in these areas provides jobs and incomes to those desperately in need of economic advancement. These economic advances make environmental improvements in their home countries possible. The irony is that by refusing to trade with producers from these developing countries, European companies are making the global environment worse, not better.
Consider the global trade in paper products that are produced in Southeast Asia. This has been one of the great economic success stories of the region, as undeveloped countries such as Indonesia tap their environmental resources - in this case, renewable forests - to create products for exchange in global markets. The resulting pulp and paper industries employ hundreds of thousands of people across Southeast Asia, giving them good jobs and a chance to provide steady livelihoods for themselves and their children. This has been crucial to establishing a middle class and promising a better economic future for all in the region.
But radical environmental groups, mostly based in Europe, claim that the purchase of paper goods from these countries harms wild habitat. This is untrue. Countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia have some of the strongest wildlife and rain-forest protections in the world. They have set large swatches of their land off-limits, out of the reach of industrial interests. Their commitment to their own natural environments far exceeds anything in Europe's own environmental history.
But facts rarely stop green pressure groups once they fixate on a target. The eco-activists pressure Western companies - via greenmail campaigns - to stop purchasing these goods, thus harming the economic prospects of Southeast Asia. The activists believe this is part of the larger Green New Deal they are orchestrating. But it's a raw deal for the workers of developing countries and the consumers of Europe and the United States. And it does nothing to protect the environment.
Of course, this fits well with the agenda of the environmental left, which wants to limit consumer choice for wealthy Westerners and prevent the poor in developing countries from kick-starting economic growth. For too long, Europe has been complicit in perpetuating these deeply inhuman policies. It will be an even greater economic and humanitarian shame if America follows suit.
If the Science Is Solid, Why Stoop?
By Stanley W. Trimble (Stanley W. Trimble is professor of geography at UCLA)
I must preface my remarks by saying that I believe that there has indeed been climate warming over the past few decades and I believe that human action may be one of the causes. While Climategate may bring into greater question some of the work underlying climate warming, it decidedly does not disprove it.
Having said that, I must add that Climategate is, in my view, the greatest science scandal in my lifetime. Beyond any scientific implications are the implications of the behavior of the East Anglia scientists and their correspondents - suppressing information, denigrating those who don’t agree with them, trying to deny others access to scientific journals, questioning motives, and conniving to disfellow skeptical colleagues. These are the earmarks of zealotry. While maybe not illegal, they are most certainly unethical. Civilized people, much less scientists, just don’t do those things - but then, apparently they do.
Some time ago, I published a piece about the double standard in environmental science.
Springing from experiences in my own specialty (soil erosion) the main message was that it was much more difficult to publish a skeptical piece or “good news” than a jeremiad. I said that I suspected that environmental zealots, acting in the usual arrogant politically correct guise, tried to suppress skeptics and even viciously discredit them when possible. But my proof was limited to mainly circumstantial evidence and the actions of a few environmental extremists; and there was no smoking gun to expose a general conspiracy to do these unethical deeds. But with Climategate, there is.
Indeed, Climategate seems to prove most of the points I made in that essay. I wish to make only five points here:
1. The rush by some climate warmers to dismiss this scandal, claiming it’s just vernacular conversation ("boys will be boys!"), is bankrupt. These apologists need to get a grip on reality. This stuff was not taken out of context: indeed, the context is quite clear. They were wrong and the climate warming establishment should acknowledge this. And if they don’t, we have every right to suspect they are in on it too.
2. Was East Anglia targeted by the hackers because they knew this skullduggery was going on - or did the hackers simply tap into a random sample of widespread skullduggery? If the latter, we truly have something to worry about and it raises the stakes by perhaps orders of magnitude. Is this merely the tip of a dark and dangerous iceberg?
3. Climategate leaves no doubt that at least some zealots connive to exclude skeptical environmental science from refereed scientific journals. Then, the ploy is to invoke democracy ("The overwhelming majority of papers in peer-reviewed journals support..."). Where would this have left Darwin or Einstein?
4. The environmental zealots like to paint skeptics or “deniers” (or “denialists") as on the make for money - money generally characterized as coming from, you guessed it, “big corporations.” But even if that’s so, it’s the science that should be on trial, not the funding. What we do know, and what many Greens don’t want the public to know, is that some of them are riding their own gravy train. Neither funding agencies nor scientific journals want to hear about environmental successes. They want environmental problems, the bigger, the better.
Of course, this means more money for research, more likely publication of one’s papers in scientific journals (bad news is good news), and the approbation of like-minded academic colleagues. And with that, one’s career accelerates with lucrative promotions, speaking tours, and prestigious awards. As I noted in my aforementioned article, it’s no accident that prestigious journals keep picking the same people to review papers and books and especially to write op-ed
If the Science Is Solid, Why Stoop? An Environmental Scientist Parses Climategate 55 pieces. They know what they want and the revelations from Climategate show us why. To summarize, any academic careerist is well advised to be an environmental zealot. That’s where the rewards are. Skeptics are sidelined as soon as possible. It’s the Greens who are getting the largesse, academic and otherwise, not the skeptics.
5. As we can see from Climategate, climate warmers can do some dastardly things to the scientific process and to scientific colleagues. But the most despicable thing they do is to call skeptics “deniers.”
What they are doing, of course, is trying to connect environmental skeptics with Holocaust deniers. If their science is so solid, why must they stoop to such measures? And why hasn’t the rest of the climate warming establishment condemned this and other vilification tactics? I’m proud to be a skeptic. Skepticism, in my view, is the watchword of good science. It is the process of challenging, perhaps even if Hegelian, that keeps the scientific enterprise honest and moving forward. The recent editorial by Donald Kennedy, then editor-in-chief of Science, proclaiming that the climate war was over, that the “warmers” had won and no one else need apply, is in my view a travesty - and Orwellian. (Donald Kennedy, editorial, “Climate: Game Over,” Science 317, issue 5387, July 27, 2007, 425-27.)
Any idea in applied science is always open to question. Period. (PDF) H/T PopularTechnology.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here
Posted by JR at 4:55 PM