Sunday, December 12, 2010

“Gore Effect” on Steroids: Six straight days of record low temperatures during COP16 in Cancun Mexico – more coming

The irony, it burns. Do you think maybe Gaia is trying to send the U.N. and the delegates a message? One record low was funny, three in a row was hilarious, a new record low for the month of December was ROFL, but now six straight days of record lows during the U.N. COP16 Global Warming conference? That’s galactically inconvenient. The whole month so far has averaged below normal


UN climate change talks in Cancun agree on a new "tone" and "mood"

And giving lots of money to poor countries (which will probably never materialize -- as in the past)

UN talks in Cancun have reached a deal to curb climate change, including a fund to help developing countries. Nations endorsed compromise texts drawn up by the Mexican hosts, despite objections from Bolivia.

The draft documents say deeper cuts in carbon emissions are needed, but do not establish a mechanism for achieving the pledges countries have made. Some countries' resistance to the Kyoto Protocol had been a stumbling block during the final week of negotiations. However, diplomats were able to find a compromise.

Delegates cheered speeches from governments that had caused the most friction during negotiations - Japan, China, even the US - as one by one they endorsed the draft.

The Green Climate Fund is intended to raise and disburse $100bn (£64bn) a year by 2020 to protect poor nations against climate impacts and assist them with low-carbon development.

A new Adaptation Committee will support countries as they establish climate protection plans. And parameters for funding developing countries to reduce deforestation are outlined.

But the deal is a lot less than the comprehensive agreement that many countries wanted at last year's Copenhagen summit and continue to seek. It leaves open the question of whether any of its measures, including emission cuts, will be legally binding.

"Overall, we've moved on from Copenhagen - we can leave that ghost behind - it's another mood, another tone," said Tara Rao, senior policy adviser with environmental group WWF.

The final day of the two-week summit had dawned with low expectations of a deal. But ministers conducted intensive behind-the-scenes diplomacy to formulate texts that all parties could live with.

Russia and Japan have secured wording that leaves them a possible route to escape extension of the Kyoto Protocol's legally binding emission cuts, while strongly implying that the protocol has an effective future - a key demand of developing countries.

The Green Climate Fund will initially use the World Bank as a trustee - as the US, EU and Japan had demanded - while giving oversight to a new body balanced between developed and developing countries.

Developing countries will have their emission-curbing measures subjected to international verification only when they are funded by Western money - a formulation that seemed to satisfy both China, which had concerns on such verification procedures, and the US, which had demanded them.


New paper shows that there is no means of reliably predicting climate variables

NO model "backcasts" past climates and there is much to suggest that climate prediction is intrinsically impossible

A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data

From Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55:7, 1094 – 1110

By Anagnostopoulos, G. G. et al


We compare the output of various climate models to temperature and precipitation observations at 55 points around the globe. We also spatially aggregate model output and observations over the contiguous USA using data from 70 stations, and we perform comparison at several temporal scales, including a climatic (30-year) scale. Besides confirming the findings of a previous assessment study that model projections at point scale are poor, results show that the spatially integrated projections are also poor.


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global circulation models (GCM) are able to “reproduce features of the past climates and climate changes” (Randall et al., 2007, p. 601). Here we test whether this is indeed the case. We examine how well several model outputs fit measured temperature and rainfall in many stations around the globe. We also integrate measurements and model outputs over a large part of a continent, the contiguous USA (the USA excluding islands and Alaska), and examine the extent to which models can reproduce the past climate there. We will be referring to this as “comparison at a large scale”.

This paper is a continuation and expansion of Koutsoyiannis et al. (2008). The differences are that (a) Koutsoyiannis et al. (2008) had tested only eight points, whereas here we test 55 points for each variable; (b) we examine more variables in addition to mean temperature and precipitation; and (c) we compare at a large scale in addition to point scale. The comparison methodology is presented in the next section.

While the study of Koutsoyiannis et al. (2008) was not challenged by any formal discussion papers, or any other peer-reviewed papers, criticism appeared in science blogs (e.g. Schmidt, 2008). Similar criticism has been received by two reviewers of the first draft of this paper, hereinafter referred to as critics. In both cases, it was only our methodology that was challenged and not our results. Therefore, after presenting the methodology below, we include a section “Justification of the methodology”, in which we discuss all the critical comments, and explain why we disagree and why we think that our methodology is appropriate. Following that, we present the results and offer some concluding remarks.......


It is claimed that GCMs provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at continental scales and above. Examining the local performance of the models at 55 points, we found that local projections do not correlate well with observed measurements. Furthermore, we found that the correlation at a large spatial scale, i.e. the contiguous USA, is worse than at the local scale.

However, we think that the most important question is not whether GCMs can produce credible estimates of future climate, but whether climate is at all predictable in deterministic terms. Several publications, a typical example being Rial et al. (2004), point out the difficulties that the climate system complexity introduces when we attempt to make predictions. “Complexity” in this context usually refers to the fact that there are many parts comprising the system and many interactions among these parts. This observation is correct, but we take it a step further. We think that it is not merely a matter of high dimensionality, and that it can be misleading to assume that the uncertainty can be reduced if we analyse its “sources” as nonlinearities, feedbacks, thresholds, etc., and attempt to establish causality relationships.

Koutsoyiannis (2010) created a toy model with simple, fully-known, deterministic dynamics, and with only two degrees of freedom (i.e. internal state variables or dimensions); but it exhibits extremely uncertain behaviour at all scales, including trends, fluctuations, and other features similar to those displayed by the climate. It does so with a constant external forcing, which means that there is no causality relationship between its state and the forcing. The fact that climate has many orders of magnitude more degrees of freedom certainly perplexes the situation further, but in the end it may be irrelevant; for, in the end, we do not have a predictable system hidden behind many layers of uncertainty which could be removed to some extent, but, rather, we have a system that is uncertain at its heart.

Much more HERE

The Antarctic had a Medieval Warm Period too

Discussing: Hall, B.L., Koffman, T. and Denton, G.H. 2010. "Reduced ice extent on the western Antarctic Peninsula at 700-907 cal. yr B.P." Geology 38: 635-638. Note: "BP" is jargon for "ago"

Authors Hall et al. (2010) write that "over the past 50 years, the Antarctic Peninsula warmed ~2°C," and that resultant rapid breakups "have destroyed several small, thin ice shelves fringing the Antarctic Peninsula (i.e., Cook and Vaughan, 2009, and references therein)."

Climate alarmists make much of this phenomenal warming and its destructive impact on the peninsula's ice; but before we get too excited about what's happening there, we have to ask ourselves, as the authors do: "Is the recent warming of the Antarctic Peninsula unique in the Holocene?" [Geologically recent past]

"In order to put current ice recession in context," as they describe it, Hall et al. "examined organic-rich sediments exposed by recent retreat of the Marr Ice Piedmont on western Anvers Island near Norsel Point," where glaciers "have been undergoing considerable retreat in response to the well-documented warming."

There, they "obtained moss and reworked marine shells from natural sections within 26 meters of the present ice front," as well as "both peat and reworked shells from sediments exposed in a tunnel beneath the residual ice mass," several samples of which were radiocarbon-dated and the results converted to calendar years.

The three U.S. scientists report that "peat from the overrun sediments dates between 707 ± 36 and 967 ± 47 cal. yr B.P.," leading them to conclude that "ice was at or behind its present position at ca. 700-970 cal. yr B.P. and during at least two earlier times, represented by the dates of shells, in the mid-to-late Holocene."

In language pure and simple, Hall et al. say their findings mean that "the present state of reduced ice on the western Antarctic Peninsula is not unprecedented," which leads them to pose another important question: "How widespread is the event at 700-970 cal. yr B.P.?"

In answering their own query, the researchers respond that (1) "Khim et al. (2002) noted a pronounced high-productivity (warm) event between 500 and 1000 cal. yr B.P. in magnetic susceptibility records from Bransfield Basin," that (2) "dates of moss adjacent to the present ice front in the South Shetland Islands (Hall, 2007) indicate that ice there was no more extensive between ca. 650 and 825 cal. yr B.P. than it is now," that (3) "evidence for reduced ice extent at 700-970 cal. yr B.P. is consistent with tree-ring data from New Zealand that show a pronounced peak in summer temperatures (Cook et al., 2002)," that (4) "New Zealand glaciers were retracted at the same time (Schaefer et al., 2009)," and that (5) their most recent findings "are compatible with a record of glacier fluctuations from southern South America, the continental landmass closest to Antarctica (Strelin et al., 2008)."

In light of these several observations, it would appear that much of the southern portion of the planet likely experienced a period of significantly enhanced warmth that falls within the broad timeframe of earth's global Medieval Warm Period, which truly impressive interval of warmth occurred when there was far less CO2 and methane in the atmosphere than there is today.


Scaring the kids: Santa might not come unless you are Green enough!

Even the Leftist "Guardian" (below) is dubious about it

CiTV, the children's arm of ITV (the UK's oldest and most-viewed terrestrial commercial network), is set to feature a new series called Mission: Green Santa, during the run-up to Christmas. This is how the media news site is reporting it:

The new 10-part children's show, Mission: Green Santa, has been licensed to ITV and in each 12-minute episode, climatologist and amateur reporter, Dr Maurice Bergs will tell children about the dangers and global warming and encourage them to log onto the Green Santa website to make an environmental pledge. The programmes will include interviews with Santa's helpers and live links to schools taking part across the UK.

Dr Bergs is played by newcomer Ben Faulks, who stars alongside Anita Dobson, as Mrs Santa.

Mission: Green Santa is produced by Patrick Egerton and directed by its co-creators Danny Brooke Taylor (creative director at MCBD) and Colin Offland, Chief's managing director. Matt Baker is the writer. It was licensed for CiTV by Jamila Metran. The series kicks off on 13 December and will run until Christmas eve.

For those of you who recognise the Green Santa idea, it was originally thought up in December 2008, when Love joined forces with Chief to launch the then web-only initiative to get children interested in green issues.

Over at the website for Chief Productions, the Manchester-based production company responsible for the series, this is how the programme is being described:

Dr Maurice Bergs is a climate scientist and he's discovered something truly shocking that he needs to tell the world. We know the ice-caps are melting, and that it's all our fault. But did we know that global warming is threatening Christmas itself? Why? Because Santa's ice runway is melting too. If it gets much shorter, then Santa's sleigh won't make the take-off on Christmas eve and good children across the world will go without their presents.

The objective of Green Santa is to engage kids with the story of Santa's melting runway and then encourage them to make online pledges to save energy in their homes and schools. Kids will be given direct feedback on the positive impacts of their pledges and will be kept up to date on what's going on at Santa's compound. Get involved at [not yet live].

This description alone is sure to raise hackles is certain predictable corners. But, for somewhat different reasons, I have to say that I'm also not convinced that this is an entirely sensible way of getting children interested in the topic of climate change.

The three-minute trailer for the programme appeases me a little given that the presentation style is clearly light-hearted and self-mocking, but the central premise that climate change is melting Santa's runway and, therefore, could, if you don't make a pledge, result in a lack of Christmas presents (which, of course, will be advertised to the young viewers in the ad breaks!) is, in my view, an unhelpful blancmange of psychophysical triggers and one that is dangerously close to warrant being labelled emotional blackmail.

Surely, we've learned the lesson by now that scaring people into action has been shown to rarely work in the long term? If any lesson was learned through the Department for Energy and Climate Change's ill-judged Act on C02 "Bedtime Stories" adverts, then this was it.

I asked Adam Corner, a research associate in the Understanding Risk research group at Cardiff University, to watch the trailer and offer his own view. Corner specialises in the "application of psychological and social scientific research to practical questions such as the effective communication of climate change, and the psychological barriers to engaging in pro-environmental behaviours".

This is what he told me afterwards:

Children learn through stories – and so trying to weave climate change into stories that children already understand, like Santa and his sleigh, is an important idea. The danger – as shown by the Act On CO2 "bedtime story" advert – is that scaring children to care about climate change can be counter-productive, not least because their parents resent it. Is threatening kids that their presents won't be delivered unless they save energy at home really the best approach?

People respond better to being shown what to do than they do to being told what to do. What if Santa was shown setting a good example for children? Showing a much-loved (and respected) figure being concerned and making changes to his routine because of climate change might be a more palatable message for kids and adults than the threat of no presents.


Do You Believe In Magic Numbers?

Average annual global temperatures have risen a degree or two since the Little Ice Age ended some 150 years ago. Thank goodness. The LIA was not a particularly pleasant time.

Prolonged winters, advancing glaciers, colder summers, more frequent storms and extended cloudiness reduced arable land, shortened growing seasons, rotted grain in wet fields, and brought famine, disease and death. Coming after the prosperous Medieval Warm Period – when farmers grew wine grapes in England and Vikings raised crops and cattle in Greenland – it must have been quite a shock.

The LIA underscored how much better a warmer planet is than a colder one. Moderate warming above today’s norm would likely bring expanded cultivation during longer growing seasons in northern latitudes, fewer people dying from hypothermia during frigid winters, and many other benefits.

What caused the Medieval Warm Period to end, and the Little Ice Age to come and go, is still debated. Even the best scientists don’t fully understand what alignments of solar, cosmic, oceanic, atmospheric and planetary forces control this millennial warm-cool rhythm.

In any event, the initial warming of 1850-1900 was followed by perhaps an additional overall 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) of warming during the twentieth century. However, it was not a steady rise in temperatures, proportionate to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, as “manmade climate disaster” themes suggest. Instead, Earth warmed noticeably1900-1940, cooled slightly 1940-1975 (“most scientists” worried about another little ice age), warmed again 1975-1995 (“most scientists” feared global warming), and exhibited little change from then to the present.

The 20-year late twentieth century warming supposedly justifies demands that we stop using hydrocarbon fuels, halt US economic growth, hold back Third World development, ban incandescent light bulbs, blanket the planet with unreliable wind turbines and solar panels, make recompense to poor nations for emitting CO2 and “causing global climate disruption,” and even consider “geo-engineering” (putting dust particles or tiny mirrors into space to block the sun’s rays) to prevent warming that stopped in 1995. Even though no reliable or factual evidence shows that this recent warming was (primarily) human-caused!

These are important issues for the next Congress (and others) to grapple with. But an even more fundamental question is rarely raised, and almost never addressed.

How much credence can we give any claim that average global temperatures have risen or fallen X degrees over a certain period, or that this year or decade is “the warmest ever,” or “since record-keeping began” – especially when the alleged difference is measured in tenths or hundredths of a degree?

The answer: Not much. The truth is, we cannot trust the hype and numbers that routinely come out of the IPCC, NOAA, NASA, CRU, White House and other branches of the climate crisis industry.

Certainly, satellites have gathered arguably reliable atmospheric temperature data since 1980. However, they obviously provide no insights into pre-1980 warming and cooling trends. And for 1850 to 1930, we must rely on scattered land and oceanic thermometer measurements; historic anecdotes, diary entries and paintings that give only general descriptions of climate, heat waves, floods and blizzards; and “proxy” records like tree rings. Even together, this evidence is so sparse, scattered and of uneven quality that it cannot and must not be used to drive major energy, economic and environmental policy decisions.

Calibrated thermometers were invented in 1724, but they provide only random measurements for vast continental land masses until well into the twentieth century – and across much of Africa, Asia and South America even today. No one can calculate 1850-1950 average global temperatures from that. To fill in the huge gaps, scientists often utilize tree rings. However, annual tree growth is determined as much by rainfall as by temperature. Far worse, researchers have been caught selecting twelve trees out of hundreds from Siberia, to generate desired “warming trends,” and splicing thermometer measurements onto tree ring data that suddenly showed inconvenient “cooling” trends.

Temperature data from the 71% of Planet Earth covered by oceans is even more sporadic. Today, buoys and satellites cover large expanses that previously were measured only by ships traveling different routes, during favorable times of the year, using a variety of methods to measure seawater and air temperatures. But even today only a small portion of Earth’s oceans are measured regularly or accurately.

Compounding these problems, 55% of the 12,000 surface temperature stations operating in 1990 have been closed down – and many of the now missing stations were in Siberia and other cold regions. This alone has created a significant 20-year “warming” bias, notes former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Tim Ball.

Today, nearly half of the world’s remaining stations are located in the United States, on 1.9% of the Earth’s surface. The vast majority are in the Lower 48 States. And as meteorologist Anthony Watts has documented, most of those stations are near parking lots, air conditioning exhaust ports, highways, airport tarmac and other artificial heat sources – all of which skew the recorded temperatures upward. His report, “Is the US surface temperature record reliable?” is a real eye-opener.

However, none of this sobering reality deters climate chaos alarmists, who consistently show a penchant for distributing dire news releases on the eve of important global warming votes and conferences.

2000-2010 was “the hottest decade ever,” and 2010 “is shaping up to be the hottest year on record,” NASA and NOAA breathlessly announced … on July 28, prior to hoped-for Senate votes and the Cancun summit. “World temperatures in 2010 may be the warmest on record. 2010 will be one of the two warmest years, going back to 1850,” Britain’s Meteorology Office intoned … in late November.

“This year will be the third warmest year on record, since 1850,” the World Meteorological Organization declaimed … on December 3. Other organizations issued similar headline-grabbing alarums.

But before you say kaddish or “requiescat in pace” for Mother Earth, keep the previous caveats in mind and note a few other realities. One, only a few hundredths of a degree separate the 2010 decade from the similarly very warm 1930s – and NASA and other researchers refuse to release their raw temperature data and analytical methods, so that independent researchers can examine their calculations and claims.

Two, most of 2010 was marked by El Nino, the warming phase of the periodic climate pattern across the tropical Pacific Ocean that typically makes summer months warmer than usual. Three, the pre-Cancun pronouncements were based on January-through-October temperatures, and an assumption that November and December will be “average.”

Four, the climate and record books are not cooperating with that assumption or the hype, headlines and summit on Climate Armageddon. South Florida just had its coldest night in 169 years, Wales its coldest since recordkeeping began; and in the middle of its global warming gabfest, Cancun set four record low temperatures in a row. Other local cold records are falling all over the Northern Hemisphere, hot on the heels of record cold and snow during the 2009-2010 winter in both hemispheres.

But then “climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection,” IPCC Working Group III co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer reminded us recently. In fact, “the world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” [emphasis added] Keep that in mind, too, next time someone says we have a climate crisis.

Magic is delightful when it’s Criss Angel or Harry Potter. Magic numbers – pulled out of hats, computers and fertile imaginations – are a lousy, fraudulent way to set public policy.


Rage against the dying of light (bulbs)

Somewhere in Wayne County there's an ACO hardware store without a single incandescent light bulb in stock. They're all on a shelf in my basement.

The idea of soon having no illumination choice other than those twisty light bulbs has left me a little bit nuts. So now part of my Saturday routine is making the rounds of various stores and loading my pickup with packages of incandescent bulbs. It's an obsession I bet I share with others who dread the day a year from now when the old-fashioned bulbs become extinct by federal fiat, and all that's left are the smug compact fluorescent lights.

Congress has decided that everyone should use the new bulbs because they are more energy efficient, though I doubt anyone factored the extra energy used to ship them from China, where they're being made instead of the Midwestern plants that produced the old bulbs to price them anywhere near affordable.

I hate everything about the new bulbs. So I've done my best to calculate how many of the old bulbs I'll need to light the rest of my days. I figure I burn out about 25 bulbs a year. If I'm lucky I've got 30 years left. If I'm really lucky and someone comes up with a major life-extending breakthrough, 40 years.

So I'll need 1,000 bulbs. If I've overestimated my expiration date, any remaining bulbs will make a nice next egg for my heirs. I've got to believe they'll be like glass gold once folks can't get them anymore. There may even be a trading exchange.

I've been buying them in every wattage and shape. Three-ways. Spotlights. Sconce bulbs. I'm even thinking about stashing away some colored Christmas twinklers.

Revulsion to the new bulbs is rooted in two of my many character flaws: impatience and stubbornness.

It's as simple as this: When I flip a light switch, I expect light. Immediately. The delay between switch and light with the new bulbs is unsettling. No matter how many times it happens, my reaction is always to keep flipping the switch on and off again.
I suppose I could get used to that, but not to what the new bulbs represent. I don't want to use them mostly because the federal government is telling me I have to.

We've been bullied and brainwashed into accepting the ever-growing intrusion of politicians, regulators and do-gooders into our personal decision making in the name of the greater societal good.
We're told that if we give up some of our individual freedom to buy what we want, drive what we want, smoke and eat what we want, the world will be a better place.

But we can't be trusted to make the right decisions on our own just because we understand the need to conserve and may hope to save a few bucks. We need laws to make sure nothing is left to chance.

Those mandates have already saddled us with toilets that won't flush, washers that won't wash, ethanol-laced gasoline that burns up our lawnmower engines and electric cars that aren't nearly as comfortable, powerful or practical as the models they're supposed to replace. And next, we get crazy-looking light bulbs shoved into our sockets that may or may not come on before we fall down the stairs in the dark.

Well not my sockets. If I can hoard enough bulbs to make sure I die by the glow of an incandescent light, I'll consider it a small blow for freedom. If you feel the same way, you'd better get to ACO before I do.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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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