Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Hansen 99% Certain That Weather Is Climate

Contrary to what Warmists are saying at the moment

We read:


That pesky history again

We read:
A North Atlantic current flowing into the Arctic Ocean is warmer than for at least 2,000 years in a sign that global warming is likely to bring ice-free seas around the North Pole in summers, a study showed.

Scientists said that waters at the northern end of the Gulf Stream, between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, averaged 6 degrees Celsius (42.80F) in recent summers, warmer than at natural peaks during Roman or Medieval times.

“The temperature is unprecedented in the past 2,000 years,” lead author Robert Spielhagen of the Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Literature in Mainz, Germany, told Reuters of the study in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

Major fail. Temperatures there were much warmer 80 years ago.


Death, grit and climate: Met Office drama unfolds

Mandarins and meteorologists form circular firing squad

If a hit West End play can be made out of Bohr meeting Heisenberg, there must be some promising dramatic material in the blame-game now unravelling in Whitehall.

Airports, energy providers, local authorities and health trusts were caught short by record cold weather extremes this year, for the third winter running - raising questions about the preparedness of the national infrastructure, and the quality of the meteorological advice these agencies receive. And it's not an academic dispute: cold weather kills thousands of people each year, with UK citizens suffering one of the worst winter "excess" mortality rates in Europe. According to figures published by Office for National Statistics, there were 25,400 additional deaths in 2009/10 than in a comparable non-winter period.

The state largely relies on forecasts by the Met Office, a œ170m branch of the Ministry of Defence. Until the Met Office stopped providing long-range weather forecasts - because they damaged the "brand", according to internal documents - nine of the last 10 winters had turned out to be warmer colder than the agency forecast.

Is the Met Office being used as a scapegoat for cash-strapped councils, as an excuse for cut-backs in essential infrastructure? That seems not to be the case, as the authorities cite Met Office advice, and climate change, as a primary factor in their planning.

Based on Met Office advice, an independent audit of national preparedness PDF 1.1MB advised local authorities to reduce gritting levels.

In the report commissioned for the Department of Transport, titled The Resilience of England's Transport Systems, transport economist David Quarmby, wrote:

"The Met Office advice to our main Review earlier this year was that severe winters have only a 1 in 20 chance, that the weather in any one winter is virtually independent (statistically speaking) of weather in preceding winters, and that this incidence is slowly declining due to global warming; however, one important effect of global warming is that more snow is possible when severe weather events do occur."

In terms of practical advice, the Guardian newspaper reported in October:

"A study of England's preparedness for winter travel disruption has recommended that councils share salt stocks and reduce gritting levels. Under the new guidelines, authorities would have enough capacity to grit their most important roads 48 times over a 12-day period rather than the current recommendation of 24 gritter runs over six days."

In other words, money spent on preparing for cold weathers, by taking measures such as stockpiling salt, may be a waste of money - or in Quarmby's words, may have "limited or no value when winters are average or mild".

What is the Mystic Met really saying?

Now documents disclosed by the Cabinet Office under the Freedom of Information Act dispel the idea of a "secret" weather forecast for Government officials that contradicted public statements, by warning of an extremely cold winter. The notion of an advance warning that was shared with mandarins but not disclosed to the public, was planted by BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin earlier this month, in his Radio Times column.

Harrabin wrote: "The truth is it [The Met Office] did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October. But we weren't let in on the secret." (Our emphasis).

Is this true? Readers can judge for themselves.

Most definitely not a forecast

The public forecast made in a probablity map in October is vaguely warm. It gave a 60 to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average conditions for much of England and Wales, and an 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average conditions for Scotland.

The Met's non-committal "Initial Assessment of Risk" for November-January, delivered privately in October, is even vaguer, and looks like this.

It gave a 70 per cent change of "near average or colder" but a 60 per cent chance of "near average or milder" conditions, too. The numbers were confirmed in a Parliamentary answer to Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor, last week.

Something or other may happen: The Met's advice to Government

The two forecasts diverge - but there's no smoking pistol - and not much evidence for an "exceptionally cold" winter, which Harrabin claimed the Met privately predicted, and which the Met apparently confirmed. If such a forecast exists, this isn't it.

"It boggles the mind that aside from the tiny amount of actual prediction in the report that this is the output of their energy-guzzling, multi-million pound supercomputer," the Katabasis blog, which was the first to lay its hands on the documents, notes.

The blogger points out another consequence of poor forecasting. The National Grid was also caught short by the prolonged cold snap, with energy demand far higher than it forecast. The Grid had relied on the Met Office probability map which suggested "a 0 - 20 per cent probability of below normal temperatures".

The Met told us: "The Met Office has never suggested that we warned cabinet office of an 'exceptionally cold early winter'. The forecasts said that there was 'an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season'. The Met Office provided a forecast to the cabinet office that showed that there was an increased risk of an average or cold start to winter over an average or mild winter. This along with a verbal briefing and the text that highlighted a 'increased risk of a cold start to the winter season' all provided useful guidance to the cabinet office."

Private met agency Weather Service International, which began life as a US military contractor, but now has a wide range of private sector clients, doesn't seem to have the warm bias of the UK's national agency

In October, WSI predicted a colder-than-average December for the UK, but a warmer-than-average January, a forecast that seems to have been confirmed by events. It now predicts a big freeze for continental Europe, and for the UK, a mild February but colder-than-average March and April.

Harrabin isn't the first journalist to be left out to dry by a dodgy source, but for state agencies dependent on accurate medium-term forecasts, the issue is far more serious than a bruised reputation.

The Commons Transport Select Committee will this month examine whether the climate has changed - in the opposite direction to what climate change activists have been predicting.

"This is now the third bad winter in a row. We need to establish whether we think there may be a change of weather patterns and if so respond accordingly," committee chair Louise Ellman said last month. The Committee is welcoming evidence until 2 February, and will examine "the provision of accurate weather forecasts to transport providers in advance of the bad weather".


MORE CO2 is needed to feed the earth's population

If one were to pick the most significant problem currently facing the biosphere, this would probably be it: a single species of life, Homo sapiens, is on course to completely annihilate fully two-thirds of the ten million or so other species with which we share the planet within a mere ninety years, simply by taking their land. Global warming, by comparison, pales in significance, as its impact is nowhere near as severe, likely being nil or even positive. In addition, its root cause is highly debated; and actions to thwart it are much more difficult, if not impossible, to both define and implement. Furthermore, what many people believe to be the cause of global warming, i.e., anthropogenic CO2 emissions, may actually be a powerful force for preserving land for nature.

So what parts of the world are likely to be hardest hit by this human land-eating machine? Tilman et al. (2001) stated that developed countries are expected to actually withdraw large areas of land from farming by the mid-point of this century, leaving developing countries to shoulder essentially all of the increasingly-heavy burden of feeding the still-expanding human population. In addition, they calculate that the loss of these countries' natural ecosystems to cropland and pasture will amount to about half of all potentially suitable remaining land, which "could lead to the loss of about a third of remaining tropical and temperate forests, savannas, and grasslands," along with the many unique species they support.

What can be done to alleviate this bleak situation? In another analysis of the problem, Tilman et al. (2002) introduced a few more facts before suggesting some solutions. They noted, for example, that by 2050 the human population of the globe was projected to be 50% larger than it was in 2000, and that global grain demand could well double, due to expected increases in per capita real income and dietary shifts toward a higher proportion of meat. Hence, they but stated the obvious when they concluded that "raising yields on existing farmland is essential for 'saving land for nature'."

So how is it to be done? Tilman et al. (2002) suggested a strategy that was built around three essential tasks: (1) increasing crop yield per unit of land area, (2) increasing crop yield per unit of nutrients applied, and (3) increasing crop yield per unit of water used.

With respect to the first of these requirements, Tilman et al. noted that in many parts of the world the historical rate of increase in crop yields was declining, as the genetic ceiling for maximal yield potential was being approached. This observation, as they put it, "highlights the need for efforts to steadily increase the yield potential ceiling." With respect to the second requirement, they noted that "without the use of synthetic fertilizers, world food production could not have increased at the rate it did [in the past], and more natural ecosystems would have been converted to agriculture." Hence, they said that the ultimate solution "will require significant increases in nutrient use efficiency, that is, in cereal production per unit of added nitrogen, phosphorus," and so forth. Finally, with respect to the third requirement, Tilman et al. noted that "water is regionally scarce," and that "many countries in a band from China through India and Pakistan, and the Middle East to North Africa either currently or will soon fail to have adequate water to maintain per capita food production from irrigated land." Increasing crop water use efficiency, therefore, is also a must.

Although the impending biological crisis and several important elements of its potential solution are thus well defined, Tilman et al. (2001) reported that "even the best available technologies, fully deployed, cannot prevent many of the forecasted problems." This was also the conclusion of Idso and Idso (2000), who -- although acknowledging that "expected advances in agricultural technology and expertise will significantly increase the food production potential of many countries and regions" -- noted that these advances "will not increase production fast enough to meet the demands of the even faster-growing human population of the planet."

Fortunately, we have a powerful ally in the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content that can provide what we can't. Since atmospheric CO2 is the basic "food" of essentially all plants, the more of it there is in the air, the bigger and better they grow. For a nominal doubling of the air's CO2 concentration, for example, the productivity of earth's herbaceous plants rises by 30 to 50% (Kimball, 1983; Idso and Idso, 1994), while the productivity of its woody plants rises by 50 to 75% or more (Saxe et al. 1998; Idso and Kimball, 2001). Hence, as the air's CO2 content continues to rise, so too will the land use efficiency of the planet rise right along with it. In addition, atmospheric CO2 enrichment typically increases plant nutrient use efficiency and plant water use efficiency. Thus, with respect to all three of the major needs noted by Tilman et al. (2002), increases in the air's CO2 content pay huge dividends, helping to increase agricultural output without the taking of new lands from nature.

We humans, as stewards of the earth, have got to get our priorities straight. We must do all that we possibly can, in order to preserve nature by helping to feed humanity and raise living standards the world over; and to do so successfully, we have got to let the air's CO2 content maintain its natural upward course for many decades to come. This is the prudent path we must pursue.


The University of Virginia has a religion -- Warmism -- that it is hell-bent on protecting

Separation of church and State?

For months, the University of Virginia has been involved in a legal battle with state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli over an investigation into government grants given to a university professor who allegedly used the money to falsify research supporting climate change. Now, some are also accusing the university of treating a professor whose views do not exactly accept the mainstream view of man-made global warming unfavorably.

At issue are the documents and research materials of two former university professors: Pat Michaels and Michael Mann. The university received Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for research materials from both professors, but its response to the respective requests has left some accusing the school of bias.

When Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall submitted a request for the research materials of Mann, he was told by university officials that the documents had been destroyed because the professor was no longer an employee.

When Greenpeace, a national environmental advocacy organization, requested the same materials for Michaels, university officials promptly began the process of complying with the FOIA and told the organization how much the fee would be.

But in an interview with The Daily Caller, Michaels said that when he found out about the disparate treatment, he called the school but it “became pretty obvious they did not want to talk to me.”

Michaels and Mann were both employed by the environmental sciences department, both did extensive research in the climatology field, and both left the university within just a couple years of each other.

Mann’s research focused on analyzing global temperature trends. His work ultimately resulted in what became known worldwide as the “hockey stick” – a graph that showed a sharp uptick in global temperatures in the 20th century. The graph became an important article of evidence buttressing the global warming theory.

Its validity, however, was called into question during the “Climategate” scandal of 2009 when some of Mann’s e-mails were leaked to the press. The most damaging showed him conspiring with Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia, to delete files that had been requested under a Freedom of Information Act request concerning a U.N. climate change report.

Other e-mails showed Mann planning to blacklist scientific journals that challenged the idea of man-made global warming and keep similar reviews and papers from being published altogether.

Michaels, conversely, is a global warming skeptic and one of the most notable scientists challenging the global warming theory. It’s not something he hides either. His latest books is titled, “Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.”

The Climategate scandal opened Mann up to numerous investigations, which is why it was no surprise that Marshall became concerned about the use of taxpayer money to support Mann’s work and requested the relevant research materials from the university in December 2009.

“They said they had no documents at all,” Marshall told TheDC about his FOIA request. “But they did have Michael Mann’s, they just didn’t want to tell me.”


Climate change: A new religion complete with evangelists, tithes, indulgences and superstitions

Last night BBC Four aired a documentary which took a look at climate change sceptics and in particular one of the movement's most prominent poster boys, Lord Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley.

The programme, like climate science itself, attracted controversy before it even came on air. James Delingpole, a vocal climate change sceptic who appears in the documentary, yesterday called the programme "another hatchet job" on his Telegraph blog.

The presenter of the programme, Rupert Murray, concluded by saying that despite the arguments of the sceptics he did not want to take the risk that they were wrong. He was, he said, willing to give up some of his freedom if it helped to stop climate change.

This was a rather startling thing to say, especially as his own programme did not conclude that the warmists are right and the sceptics wrong. In fact he appeared to be saying he would give up his freedom just in case the warmists are right.

There was worse still in the programme, with one scientist effectively saying that democracy might need to be suspended in order for governments to successfully prevent a climate catastrophe.

Such statements are of course why sceptics such as James Delingpole and Lord Monckton have become all the fiercer in their criticism of climate change activists in recent years, seeing in climate change activism a threat not just to prosperity but to liberty.

The great problem with climate change is that it no longer seems like a scientific theory, but more like a 21st century version of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, complete with evangelists, tithes, indulgences and bizarre superstitions.

Just as in medieval times when the people were expected to (and often did) believe everything they were told by the priest, now we see that it is the scientist whose word is gospel. Even today panellists on programmes such as BBC Question Time who question climate change can be booed and jeered at by people who read scientific papers on the issue even less than illiterate medieval peasants read the Bible, at the time still un-translated from the Latin.

This new religion does not yet have any martyrs (although maybe Professor Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia comes close), but it has plenty of evangelists foremost amongst them being former Vice-President of the U.S.A. Al Gore and His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Great Britain.

Many of these evangelists attempt, not to explain the science, but to scare the population into believing, through dire warnings that we face some kind climatic Judgement Day. Indeed if they are to be believed then we are already seeing signs of judgement because of the sin of burning fossil fuels.

Floods, hurricanes, droughts and famine are all blamed on man-made climate change and more is to come if we don't clean up our act we are told. One would have thought, listening to the doom mongers, that such disasters had never happened in the history of mankind until some Pandora-like figure had the idea of burning the energy out of coal and oil.

What is worse is that these doom mongers are so often found to be wrong and yet keep on going with their apocalyptic forecasts, rather like crazed American televangelists who predict that the Antichrist will come next Tuesday or that God will purge the land of homosexuals and then keep on making their bizarre pronouncements long after the date they said the world would end.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said before the Copenhagen summit in 2009 that we have "50 days to save the world". Copenhagen was of course a complete flop and yet we are all still here, although his government is no longer with us. Similar predictions of impending doom have come and gone.

Then we have the language used by the warmists themselves. For years the public was warned of the dangers of "global warming" and indeed such warnings were easy to believe as year after year the weather kept getting warmer. However since 1998 temperatures have been falling and the seasons have been getting noticeably colder in the Northern hemisphere.

However rather than admit that there might be a flaw in the theory, warmists simply rebranded "global warming" into "climate change", so that cold weather as well as hot can be taken as evidence of our upcoming destruction. Given this one wonders what kind of weather it would take to indicate that global warming is not a problem.

This might all be harmless fun if it just stayed in people's minds. But governments are already taking steps to deal with this alleged threat to civilisation, steps which already damage the least well off more than any other.

Last year energy companies in Britain announced that they would be raising household energy bills, partly so that they could fund the government's climate change and social policies. In addition to paying this compulsory tithe to the church of climate change through their energy bills, sincere believers can also purchase an indulgence for every time they take a flight by paying extra to offset their carbon emissions.

I do not know if climate change is a real problem. I've heard many convincing arguments from both sides of the debate, however I cannot help but feel weary about a movement which claims we will face the apocalypse if we don't abandon our prosperity and liberty, especially when we have seen that the people making these predictions can and do make mistakes like the rest of us. Of course we should listen to the scientists on both sides, but we should also remember that they are no more infallible than the Pope is.


Climate looters in Australia

Climate alarmists join looters in exploiting flood tragedy

Disasters bring out the best and worst in humanity. For most, it's a time to set aside petty differences and unite in a common cause. Altruism becomes the norm and genuine heroism common. For a rancid few, however, the temptation to take advantage of tragedy and chaos cannot be resisted. As always, the recent floods have been accompanied by a smattering of looting and price gouging amidst overwhelming acts of selflessness.

Nor has the looting been restricted to property and purse. Some have seized the chance to blame climate change and push the alarmist agenda. They are what might aptly be described as climate looters. To their credit, the majority of proponents of global warming have not attempted to claim the floods as due to human induced climate change. However, for a few it seems the temptation was too great to resist and, as might now be expected, the media have afforded them prominent coverage. Also not unexpectedly, the ABC has been prominent in propagating this blatant alarmist opportunism.

Interestingly, both here and overseas the alarmists who have attempted to promote the idea that these floods are due to human induced climate change have taken such a noticeably similar line of presentation one might be forgiven the impression they were following an agreed upon approach. They first cite a brief disclaimer stating that the cause of individual weather events such as this cannot be known with certainty. This is immediately followed with the suggestion that, of course, increasing incidence of extreme weather events is exactly what we should expect from climate change. The remainder of the discussion then accords with the assumption that this is the cause.

The ABC was a first responder along this line in a news story dated Friday, December 31, 2010 and titled, "Climate expert says more extreme weather likely". To assure the viewer received the desired message it was helpfully sub-titled, "Nobel prize-winning scientist David Karoly says Australia's current extreme weather is evidence of climate change."

This was followed up by a similar item on the Midday Report of 20 January 2010. This one featured Prof. Matthew England of the UNSW Climate Change Centre speculating on the role of CO2 in the floods.

Not to be outdone by the similarly named Oz network, the American ABC ran a similar story on 13 January. In this one Derek Arndt of the NOAA National Climatic Data Center and Richard Somerville from Scripps, UCSD were interviewed. This report went for a Hat Trick in which the floods here, in Sri Lanka and in Brazil were all attributed to GW with the recent blizzards in the U.S. tagged on for added impact.

Another example in the same vein appeared in The Australian of 11 January. It featured an interview with Professor Will Steffen, the executive director of the ANU Climate Change Institute. In it he said, "... there was no direct link between global warming and the tragic flash flooding in Toowoomba.." ; but, then went on to say that climate change would lead to heavier, more frequent rain. However, the headline was, "Global warming will cause further extreme weather patterns, climate change chief says" and the subtitle, "One of Julia Gillard's top climate change advisers has warned that global warming may cause more extreme rain events."

As to any possible merit to these claims, let's briefly consider but a few important facts. The Bureau of Meteorology has posted on its website a most interesting document entitled, "Known Floods in the Brisbane & Bremer River Basin, including the Cities of Brisbane and Ipswich". For Brisbane it shows 10 previous major floods since 1840. Eight of these were in the 60 years from 1840 to 1900. Six of these were higher than the current flood. The record for Ipswich shows 21 major floods with 9 between 1840 to 1900 and the longest period free of major floods being the past two decades. If an increasing greenhouse effect is having any influence on the frequency and height of floods in this region it would seem we might benefit from more of it.

Another most important consideration with regard to the frequency and intensity of floods in this area is the major and now well documented influence of natural climatic cycles, specifically El Nino/La Nina and the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). In particular Dr. Stewart Franks and colleagues from the Newcastle University School of Engineering have published a series of studies on this. They have clearly demonstrated a strong correlation between the frequency of severe flooding and La Nina events occurring in the negative (cooler) phase of the IPO. As the phase length of the IPO is about 3 decades and the positive (warmer) phase has just recently ended, it should be expected that over the next few decades increased flooding is likely. (For more on these studies click here, here, and here.) For a recent (24 January) ABC radio interview with Dr. Franks click here.

Despite multiple publications in peer reviewed journals, the climate alarmists must be either unaware of this whole body of highly relevant work or have chosen to not mention it. It would seem that if their expertise is not lacking, their honesty must be. The only apparent reason for ignoring key evidence offering significant capacity to predict the broad pattern of frequency in flooding events is that it is founded on natural cycles and thus does not support the claims of the climate alarmists.

The attempt to attribute these floods to global warming is only a rerun of a similar attempt with tropical cyclones after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Since then several years of below average storm activity plus statistical studies showing no recent trend of increase have left the warmists looking for a new alarm. The floods have provided it, if they can just insert GW as the suggested cause and keep ENSO/IPO unmentioned....

Regardless of all this, for GW to remain credible temperature must keep increasing. It's pretty hard to sell catastrophic warming when millions of people all over the world are suffering from bitterly cold weather. At this point all we have is a purported 0.7 degree C increase in average global surface temperature over the past century. This is about the same increase as may be encountered in moving a hundred miles closer to the equator or while eating breakfast on many mornings. It is, however, not nearly so certain.

The global temperature record is fraught with multiple uncertainties. These include poorly maintained and badly sited stations, an increasing sampling bias in favour of urban over rural weather stations and unexplained "adjustments" to data. All of these have contributed to warmer readings over time irrespective of any change in the actual climate. Not only is the margin of uncertainty larger than the purported warming, but there is also no means to determine what portion of any warming trend might be due to natural variability and what, if any, is due to human influence. Worse yet, there is good reason to suspect that much, if not all, of the claimed warming trend is an artefact of deliberate selection and manipulation of data such as has been found to have occurred in the fabrication of the infamous hockey stick graph and just recently in the New Zealand national temperature records.

Although the claimed warming is highly uncertain, the unadjusted raw data from numerous rural stations demonstrate no clear warming trend and those from urban areas show a distinct warming with increasing urban growth. Whatever contribution increased atmospheric CO2 might be having on a global scale, it must surely be very small.

The expenditure on and level of concern about climate change has been out of all proportion to the barely detectable and highly uncertain warming trend of the past century. Attention and resources have been diverted from the very real and dangerous natural variables and events of climate. It has also distracted from the far more urgent political and economic problems now threatening most developed nations. It is time we take a deep breath, get a grip on ourselves and start to reconsider what should be our most urgent priorities. It is also time to begin exercising some healthy disregard for unverified computer models, priggish academics claiming to be experts, ill-informed concerns of urban greens over things they know nothing about and the self-righteous bleatings of sundry activists who presume to know better than we do about how we should conduct our own lives.

The entire developed world is now suffering from a systemic economic malaise. This is already critical and promises only to become worse. The fantasy of clean green renewable energy is a delusion we cannot afford. In actual practice it has proven to be not nearly so friendly as imagined. It has also proved to be too costly, meagre and inconsistent to be a viable solution to our energy needs. The ongoing push to squander billions of dollars and sacrifice our economies on the altar of climate change is dangerous nonsense. Like sundry other isms, Climatism is a triumph of belief over evidence, of righteousness over reason. Whether the prophets of this one are destined to be rendered into harmless fools or dangerous fanatics ultimately depends upon the power we accord them.

More here. (See the original for links)


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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