Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An ancient Earth like ours -- despite FIVE TIMES as much atmospheric CO2

Geologists reconstruct the Earth’s climate belts between 460 and 445 million years ago and find they were like ours -- findings published in a peer reviewed publication. The complete lack of logic in the last sentence below was needed to get it published, of course

An international team of scientists including Mark Williams and Jan Zalasiewicz of the Geology Department of the University of Leicester, and led by Dr. Thijs Vandenbroucke, formerly of Leicester and now at the University of Lille (France), has reconstructed the Earth’s climate belts of the late Ordovician Period, between 460 and 445 million years ago.

The findings have been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA – and show that these ancient climate belts were surprisingly like those of the present.

The researchers state: “The world of the ancient past had been thought by scientists to differ from ours in many respects, including having carbon dioxide levels much higher – over twenty times as high – than those of the present. However, it is very hard to deduce carbon dioxide levels with any accuracy from such ancient rocks, and it was known that there was a paradox, for the late Ordovician was known to include a brief, intense glaciation – something difficult to envisage in a world with high levels of greenhouse gases. “

The team of scientists looked at the global distribution of common, but mysterious fossils called chitinozoans – probably the egg-cases of extinct planktonic animals – before and during this Ordovician glaciation. They found a pattern that revealed the position of ancient climate belts, including such features as the polar front, which separates cold polar waters from more temperate ones at lower latitudes. The position of these climate belts changed as the Earth entered the Ordovician glaciation – but in a pattern very similar to that which happened in oceans much more recently, as they adjusted to the glacial and interglacial phases of our current (and ongoing) Ice Age.

This ‘modern-looking’ pattern suggests that those ancient carbon dioxide levels could not have been as high as previously thought, but were more modest, at about five times current levels (they would have had to be somewhat higher than today’s, because the sun in those far-off times shone less brightly).

“These ancient, but modern-looking oceans emphasise the stability of Earth’s atmosphere and climate through deep time – and show the current man-made rise in greenhouse gas levels to be an even more striking phenomenon than was thought,” the researchers conclude.

Reference: Vandenbroucke, T.R.A., Armstrong, H.A., Williams, M., Paris, F., Zalasiewicz, J.A., Sabbe, K., Nolvak, J., Challands, T.J., Verniers, J. & Servais, T. 2010. Polar front shift and atmospheric CO2 during the glacial maximum of the Early Paleozoic Icehouse. PNAS


Skeptical paper now accepted by an academic journal

After lots of shifty objections from other journals

By Steve McIntyre

CA readers are aware that Ross and I twice submitted a comment on Santer et al 2008 to International Journal of Climatology (both available on, showing that key Santer results (which were based on data only up to 1999) were overturned with the use of up-to-date data. These were both rejected (but have been posted up on Ross has now led a re-framed submission, applying an econometric methodology for the analysis. This is available, together with SI and data/code archive here.

Although key Santer et al 2008 results are invalid with up-to-date data, they have been widely cited as showing that there is no inconsistency between models and observations in the tropical troposphere (e.g. CCSP, EPA), as had been previously believed/argued by some.

IJC reviewers and editor Glenn McGregor took the position that the invalidity of key Santer results was not of interest to the climate science community. They proposed all sorts of other investigations as a precondition for publication – many of them interesting enterprises and suggestions, but all very time consuming and not relevant to the simple issue of whether key Santer results were overturned with up-to-data.

The reviewers of our first submission refused to permit the editor to provide us with their actual reviews, requiring the editor to paraphrase their reviews.

In our second try, one of our reviewers objected to us using Santer et al 2008 methods in a comment on Santer et al 2008. He argued that the S08 methods were incorrect (blaming Douglass et al for leading them down a “cul-de-sac”) and condemned our demonstration that their results fell apart with up-to-date data as a “descent away to meaningless arguments”. He argued that our comment on S08 should instead use “diagnostic” of Santer et al 2005.

The history of our comment was somewhat played out in the Climategate letters. In one Climategate email, Peter Thorne of the UK Met Office, a Santer coauthor, who appears to have been one of the reviewers who rejected our submission, wrote to Phil Jones notifying him of the rejection of our submission, using the defamatory term “Fraudit”.

Santer’s campaign for support for his obstruction of my data requests accounts for many Climategate letters. As members of the editorial board of Climatic Change, Santer had previously co-operated with Phil Jones in 2004 in ensuring that Climatic Change did not require Mann et al to comply with reviewer requests for supporting data and code.

Santer did ultimately place some of the requested material online. Despite Santer’s whining and delaying, this archive was very useful as it enabled co-author Chad Herman of the excellent treesfortheforest blog to benchmark his own emulation of Santer’s calculations and to create a fresh archive of PCMDI runs. Chad’s archive is FAR more usable for statistical analysis than endlessly re-processing PCMDI and may well have use for interested parties over and above the analysis in this article. (Remind me to discuss this at greater length).

After a certain point, Ross gave up on us being able to publish the simplest of comments at IJC and re-framed the analysis with “new” econometric methodology and submitted to Atmospheric Science Letters. There was a Team reviewer, but the editor permitted Ross to respond and used his own judgment on the response – this is what is referred to in Climategate letters as a “leak” in the journal network.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

U.S. electricity blackouts skyrocketing

While Greenies obstruct the building of any new generators except windmills -- and they don't like windmills much either

New York's Staten Island was broiling under a life-threatening heat wave and borough President James Molinaro was seriously concerned about the area's Little League baseball players.

It was last July's Eastern heat wave and Consolidated Edison was responding to scattered power outages as electricity usage neared record highs.

So, authorities followed Molinaro's suggestion to cancel that night's Little League games, which were to be played under electricity-sucking stadium lights.

"Number one, it was a danger to the children that were playing out there in that heat, and secondly it would save electricity that people would need for air conditioning in their homes," said Molinaro, who'd been forced to sleep at his office that night because of a blackout in his own neighborhood.

Throughout New York City, about 52,000 of ConEd's 3.2 million customers lost power during the heat wave. Triple-digit temperatures forced residents like 77 year-old Rui Zhi Chen, to seek shelter at one of the city's 400 emergency cooling centers. "It felt like an oven in my home and on the street," Chen said.

Experts on the nation's electricity system point to a frighteningly steep increase in non-disaster-related outages affecting at least 50,000 consumers.

During the past two decades, such blackouts have increased 124 percent -- up from 41 blackouts between 1991 and 1995, to 92 between 2001 and 2005, according to research at the University of Minnesota. In the most recently analyzed data available, utilities reported 36 such outages in 2006 alone.

"It's hard to imagine how anyone could believe that -- in the United States -- we should learn to cope with blackouts," said University of Minnesota Professor Massoud Amin, a leading expert on the U.S. electricity grid.


Sea Level rise most likely to level out

There is of course some levelling out already -- but not over the sort of period considered below

We are sure you’ve heard that sea level is rising? We conducted a web search on “Global Warming and Sea Level” and nearly 3.5 million websites are immediately located. And before you conduct the search yourself, you already know what you will find. The earth is getting warmer due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, the warmer sea water expands causing sea level to rise, and most of all, you will read all about the ice melting throughout the world pouring fresh water into ocean basins causing sea level to rise far more. Alarmists insist that the worst is just around the corner, and the sea level rise will accelerate or even quickly jump to a new level given some catastrophic collapse of large sheets of ice near the fringes of the polar areas. Coastlines will be inundated, the human misery will be on a Biblical scale, ecosystems will be destroyed … this goes on for millions of websites!

Back in August of 2008, scientists from all over the world attended a workshop entitled “Empirical Constraints on Future Sea-Level Rise” and they just published a summary of their findings in the Journal of Quaternary Science. Somewhere along the way, they decided to refer to the group as “PALSEA” for PALeo SEA level working group.

The PALSEA group begins their article noting:
The eustatic sea-level (ESL) rise predicted for the 21st century represents one of the greatest potential threats from climate change, yet its magnitude remains a subject of considerable debate, with worst-case scenarios varying between 0.59m and 1.4m. In general, the basis for this debate revolves around the uncertainties in the dynamical behaviour of ice sheets (such as loss of buttressing through ice shelf break-up or enhanced ice flow through water lubrication of the ice sheet base), which may lead to a nonlinear sea-level response to climate change.

Note that the authors are talking about worst-case scenarios leading to “0.59m and 1.4m”; if the trend of the past 50 years continues (from Figure 1), sea level will rise around 0.20 meters (around 8 inches) by 2100. The PALSEA team notes that measuring sea level can be tricky “Because changes in ice mass will also cause changes in regional (due to gravitational and rotational feedbacks) and global (due to volume) sea level, the changes in sea level at a particular coastline record the difference between vertical motions of the land and sea, commonly referred to as relative sea-level (RSL) changes. Such isostatic effects are a function of the distance from the large ice sheets.”

Now for the good stuff! The PALSEA team states that
Given a broad range of emission scenarios the IPCC AR4 predicted global warming of between 1.18C and 6.48C during the 21st century. The last time that a global warming of comparable magnitude occurred was during the termination of the last glacial period (TI).

Furthermore, they write
Given this evidence for periods of rapid warming during TI, at least some of this warming occurred on decadal to centennial timescales. Because of the general similarity between the magnitude and rate of warming predicted for the 21st century and the warming that occurred during certain periods of TI, it is interesting to consider rates of sea-level rise during TI as a case study of the response of sea level to climate change.

The PALSEA group presents the graphic below (Figure 2) showing three different rates of sea level rise following an increase in temperature. As seen there, sea level could rise exponentially (as suggested by many climate change alarmists), it could rise linearly, or it could rise and then level off (the “asymptoting” curve).

Here’s what they conclude:
Therefore, we suggest that option 1 (exponential sea-level rise) is extremely unlikely. …An exponential increase in rates of sea-level rise with respect to temperature would result in 21st-century sea-level rise an order of magnitude larger than estimates using alternative patterns of response – it is an important result that the palaeo-sea-level data rule out such a response.

Finally, they write “the palaeo sea-level data suggests that sea-level rise related to current warming may be rapid at first and slow over time.”

Basically, their analysis of what happened in the past favors the “asymptoting” curve that is quite different from the exponential curve favored by those proclaiming the worst is yet to come! Mother Nature showed us in the past how sea level responds to warming

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Antarctic temperatures have never been stable

It is said frequently that the climatic data for Antarctica for the past 30 years – the period for which records are far superior to previous times - shows clear signs of mankind’s influence. However, it is important to look at such changes in a historical context. This is important else we attribute any and every change seen in the past few decades to mankind alone. When it is done today’s changes are seen in a new light.

Never Stable

Antarctica’s climate has never been stable, and there have many significant changes in the past few thousand years, indeed the past few hundred as well. Proxy indicators from ice cores show abrupt alterations in atmospheric circulation and temperature. One of the most dramatic changes was the intensification of the circumpolar westerly winds between 6000 and 5000 years ago and between 1200 and 1000 years ago.

Going back even further there is strong evidence for dramatic changes obtained the synthesis of ice core isotope proxy records for temperature showing that there was a warm period, much warmer than Antarctic is today, between 11,500 and 9000 years ago, a period sometimes referred to as the early Holocene climatic optimum. The ice sheets responded to this warmth. Analysis of grounding lines in the marine-based parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet, at the head of the Ross Ice Shelf, show that the sheets started to retreat to their current position from a position close to the edge of the current Ross Ice Shelf 7000 - 9000 years ago.

It is also clear that the climate of the Earth’s polar regions are linked. Intensification of atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere (indicated by a stronger Siberian High and northern circumpolar circumpolar westerlies and a deeper Icelandic Low) and to a lesser degree in the Southern Hemisphere (stronger circumpolar westerlies and deeper Amundsen Sea Low) occurs 8200 - 8400 years ago. Date from Siple Dome (West Antarctica) and the Greenland Ice Sheet Project ice core climate proxies for northern and southern circumpolar westerlies show remarkably concurrent major intensification periods between 6000 and 5000 years ago and starting 1200 - 600 years ago. It appears that Antarctic events start earlier and less abruptly than those in Greenland.

The most dramatic changes in atmospheric circulation during the Holocene noted in the Antarctic are the abrupt weakening of the southern circumpolar westerlies 5200 years ago and intensification of the westerlies and the deepening of the Amundsen Sea Low starting 1200–1000 years ago.

Following the early Holocene warming Siple Dome data indicate significant cooling between 6400 and 6200 years ago, followed by relatively milder temperatures over East Antarctica 6000 – 3000 years ago that lasted until about 1200 years ago in the Siple Dome area. There then seems to have been a flattening and a slight decline in temperature starting 1200 – 1000 years ago, followed by warming in the last few decades.

Penguin Optimum

The timing of these climatic changes can also be deduced from observations of abandoned Adelie penguin colonies along the coast of Victoria Land. This is because penguins depend on sea ice extent. Research into penguin rookeries suggest a ‘‘penguin optimum’’ associated with a warmer climate and less sea ice between 4000 and 3000 years ago. This ‘optimum’’ ended abruptly 3000 years ago, as the inland lakes began to fill and the coastal lakes began to decrease in size. It seems the abandoned rookeries were reoccupied between 1200 and 600 years ago, also suggesting warming along the southern Victoria Land coast.

The abrupt climate change commencing 1200 – 1000 years ago is the most significant Antarctic climate event of the past 5000 years. Its onset is characterised by strengthening of the Amundsen Sea Low and the southern circumpolar westerlies with cooling both at Siple Dome. It is this event that provides the underpinning for centennial and perhaps shorter-scale natural variability upon which future climate change over Antarctica might operate.

In the past 300 years there has been major changes in what appears to have been a significant shift in atmospheric circulation above the entire trans-Antarctic region between about 1700 and 1850. Concurrently there has been abrupt climate change in the North Atlantic as well as a significant change in atmospheric circulation in the North Pacific.


Australian Greens promoting death taxes

“There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.” It’s a phrase that originated more than 200 years ago (first attributed to Benjamin Franklin) and it still holds true today. But did you know an Australian political party is trying to combine life’s two certainties?

The Australian Greens advocate the re-establishment of an estate tax as part of their economic platform, which the Greens are taking to the upcoming federal election. Estate taxes, otherwise known as death duties, were a common part of Australian life for most of the 20th century, and forced individuals to pay tax on a deceased family member’s estate, mainly their property and other valuable possessions. The United States still enforces an estate tax today.

Exemptions and thresholds were implemented to spare low and average income earners from much of the burden, but Queensland abolished estate taxes in the late 1970s, and by the mid 1980s, the Commonwealth and other states had followed Queensland’s lead.

The Greens’ proposal to reintroduce an estate tax promises to “protect the family farm, the family home and small business with a threshold of $5 million”, but it is hard to understand why a party so strongly dedicated to protecting vulnerable members of society plans to tax the dead in order to enforce its social policy.

Also, in contrast with both major parties’ pledges to cut company taxes once the budget bottom line improves, the Greens plan to increase the company tax rate to 33 per cent, which would irreparably harm productivity and lead to a death of a different kind: the figurative death of the Australian economy. They also seek to impose a higher rate of tax on the Australian mining industry.

For a party growing in influence and poised to hold the balance of power in the Senate from July 2011, the Greens’ policies warrant further examination. Their estate tax plan is nonsensical and would only increase the hardship and sorrow suffered by grieving families after the death of a loved one, and force many sons and daughters to either sell their business, bring in partners, borrow more, downsize or lay off staff.

As US magazine Investors Business Daily editorialised this year, people “should not be punished because they work hard, become successful and want to pass on the fruits of their labour, or even their ancestors’ labour, to their children”. An estate tax can also be a disincentive for people and businesses to save and invest, and, rather ironically, can even be considered harmful to the environment, as an American review argued in 1998.

Perhaps it’s time to add a third certainty to the list to join death and taxes – bizarre Greens economic policy.



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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