Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

So asks JOHN COOK, writing on a site of Australia's ABC. He has the amusing assertion that those who reject Warmism consider only the evidence that suits them. Talk about the pot calling the kettle Afro-American!

Cook does link to a large number of Warmist assertions by others but is critical of none of them. He just lists them as gospel and does not at all consider whether the phenomena mentioned are caused by human action.

As can be seen on the header of this blog, skeptics generally accept that there has been SOME warming but dispute both its likely future magnitude and its origin.

Mr. Cook quite ignores the fact that he is peddling prophecies. And they rely purely on supposition, not evidence. And as far as I can find, Greenie prophecies have a record of complete falsity so far. Prophecy really is a mug's game.

Since he is so keen on taking into account ALL the evidence, it would be amusing to get his response to the fact that the tidal gauge data do not show an acceleration of Sea Level rise; that the NOAA -NODC data do not show a significant rise in Ocean Heat Content between 1979 and 1997; that the warming of the last 150 years has been a perfectly comfortable total of less than one degree Celsius -- etc.

In the charged discussions about climate, the words skeptic and denier are often thrown around. But what do these words mean?

Consider the following definitions. Genuine skeptics consider all the evidence in their search for the truth. Deniers, on the other hand, refuse to accept any evidence that conflicts with their pre-determined views.

So here's one way to tell if you're a genuine skeptic or a climate denier.

When trying to understand what's happening to our climate, do you consider the full body of evidence? Or do you find the denial instinct kicking in when confronted with inconvenient evidence?

For example, let's look at the question of whether global warming is happening. Do you acknowledge sea level rise, a key indicator of a warming planet, tripling over the last century? Do you factor in the warming oceans, which since 1970 have been building up heat at a rate of two-and-a-half Hiroshima bombs every second? Glaciers are retreating all over the world, threatening the water supply of hundreds of millions of people. Ice sheets from Greenland in the north to Antarctica in the south are losing hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice every year. Seasons are shifting, flowers are opening earlier each year and animals are migrating towards the poles. The very structure of our atmosphere is changing.

We have tens of thousands of lines of evidence that global warming is happening. A genuine skeptic surveys the full body of evidence coming in from all over our planet and concludes that global warming is unequivocal. A climate denier, on the other hand, reacts to this array of evidence in several possible ways.

The most extreme form of climate denier won't even go near the evidence. They avoid the issue altogether by indulging in conspiracy theories. They'll pull a quote out of context from a stolen 'Climategate' email as proof that climate change is just a huge hoax. I have yet to hear how the ice sheets, glaciers and thousands of migrating animal species are in on the conspiracy, but I'm sure there's a creative explanation floating around on the Internet.

The hardcore denier, firmly entrenched in the "it's not happening" camp, denies each piece of evidence. When confronted by retreating glaciers, their thoughts flick to the handful of growing glaciers while blocking out the vast majority of glaciers that are retreating at an accelerating rate.

They ignore sea level rise by focusing on short periods where sea levels briefly drop before inevitably resuming the long-term upward trend. The key to this form of denial is cherry picking. If you stare long and hard enough at a tiny piece of the puzzle that gives you the answer you want, you find the rest of the picture conveniently fades from view.

Some climate deniers have found it impossible to ignore the overwhelming array of evidence that the planet is warming (cognitive bias does have its limits) and moved onto the next stage of denial: "it's happening but it's not us". After all, climate has changed throughout Earth's history. How can we tell it's us this time?

The answer, as always, is by surveying the full body of evidence. Warming from our carbon dioxide emissions should yield many tell tale patterns. We don't need to rely on guess work or theory to tell us humans are causing warming. We can measure it.

If carbon dioxide is causing warming, we should measure less heat escaping to space. Satellites have observed this, with heat being trapped at those very wavelengths that carbon dioxide absorb radiation. If less heat is escaping, we should see more heat returning to the Earth's surface. This has been measured. Greenhouse warming should cause the lower atmosphere to warm but simultaneously, the upper atmosphere to cool. That's indeed what we observe is happening.

As far back as the 1800s, scientists predicted greenhouse warming should cause nights to warm faster than days and winters to warm faster than summers. Both predictions have come true. Everything we expect to see from greenhouse warming, we do see.

So which camp do you fall in?

Do you look at the full body of evidence, considering the whole picture as you build your understanding of climate? Or do you gravitate towards those select pieces of data that, out of context, give a contrarian impression, while denying the rest of the evidence?

More HERE (See the original for links)

Don't follow Germany's rejection of nuclear power, eminent British Warmist says

A new but predictable outburst of irrationality from Germany. They have already shut some reactors. So where are they getting replacement power? From France. And where do the French get it? From nuclear reactors! The French love their nukes.

This latest folly is very German, however. The Germans were Greenies at least a century before anybody else. It seems to be inbred in them. Even Hitler was a Greenie and the Nazi dream of a return to an imaginary bucolic past was simply a widespread German dream which Hitler co-opted -- and which is now a worldwide Greenie dream.

Nazism was in most ways very German. Hitler's socialism was, for instance, just a follow-on from the welfare state invented in the 19th century by Bismarck, Prussia's "Iron Chancellor". And nationalism was so pervasive in Germany that even Friedrich Engels (co-author with Karl Marx of "Das Kapital") was a fierce German nationalist

THE world must follow Britain's lead on nuclear power if it wants to curb greenhouse gases, not that of Germany, which is to scrap all its nuclear plants by 2022, a former government chief scientist said. Germany's plan to close all its 17 nuclear power stations is an overreaction to the earthquake disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan, Professor Sir David King said.

The International Energy Agency said that its latest estimates of carbon emissions would make it almost impossible to stop a global temperature rise of more than 2C (3.6F). Fatih Birol, its chief economist, said: "This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2C."

Sir David, who as Chief Scientist described climate change as a bigger threat than terrorism, told The Times that it would be difficult to reverse this trend if more countries followed Germany in rejecting nuclear power as a low-carbon source of energy.

"It is worrying," he said. "I think it would be a big surprise if Germany can achieve the same targets as Britain for decarbonising its energy supply without nuclear."

Germany plans to disconnect eight of its oldest reactors almost immediately, of which seven had been shut for three months of safety tests after Fukushima. Six more will shut by the end of 2021 and the three most modern will shut the following year.

Sir David said that Britain had acted more sensibly than Germany by commissioning a technical report from Mike Weightman, the nuclear chief inspector, which concluded that the Fukushima incident had little relevance to plans to build a new generation of nuclear plants.

"The British Government's decision is based on a technical analysis of risk and a thorough examination of the lessons learnt from Fukushima, which has rightly not deflected it from its plans," Sir David said. "If other countries wish to follow an example, they should look at Britain's response rather than Germany's."

The IEA figures, Sir David said, were no surprise, because carbon emissions' link to economic growth was well established. "Global GDP is still heavily powered by fossil fuels, so the recovery after the global recession, which has been stronger in developing countries, was expected to bring carbon emissions back up."

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, hopes the nuclear plan will steal some of the Greens' electoral territory, and possibly make them potential coalition partners in a future federal Government.

But the plan, which means the country must find 22 per cent of its electricity from other sources, has been questioned by German industrialists. Dieter Zetschke, head of Daimler, said: "Turning our backs on an affordable energy source is clearly a risk. I see certain risks ahead for Germany as a place to do business."


Even Revkin of the NYT slaps down silly little Sharon Begley

Sharon is best known for writing a "science" column for Newsweak

A @DailyBeast story By Sharon Begley, besides claiming a link between this epic tornado season and global warming, also includes this unsupported line: “From these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone.”

Separate from the tornado non-issue, anyone positing that we’re entering a new period of uniquely freaky climate conditions after an equable Holocene Epoch hasn’t looked at any lake beds. A couple examples:

- Sub-Saharan Africa’s multi-millennium pattern of mega-super-uber-droughts beyond anything experienced in recent centuries.

- The northeastern United States’ lake-bed record of unbelievably astounding super-deluges, which make the epic flooding events of recent history look mild by comparison. In other words, the “flood of record” for Vermont, in November 1927 (amazing video), appears to be 10 times less powerful than truly epic gullywashers occurring with some regularity in recent millenniums.

The last 200 years have been pretty comfy, but the last few thousand - let alone 12,000 - hardly!

The overstatements are unfortunate because the story makes some important points about the lack of focus on building resilience to climate extremes — a no-brainer already and particularly important as building greenhouse gases jog the system (and as human numbers crest).

Global warming will surely tip the odds toward some unpleasant surprises, but recent human history has barely tasted what nature can serve up.


Archaeologists rediscover the Medieval Warm Period

The end of the Norse settlements on Greenland likely will remain shrouded in mystery. While there is scant written evidence of the colony’s demise in the 14th and early 15th centuries, archaeological remains can fill some of the blanks, but not all.

What climate scientists have been able to ascertain is that an extended cold snap, called the Little Ice Age, gripped Greenland beginning in the 1400s. This has been cited as a major cause of the Norse’s disappearance. Now researchers led by Brown University show the climate turned colder in an earlier span of several decades, setting in motion the end of the Greenland Norse. Their findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Brown scientists’ finding comes from the first reconstruction of 5,600 years of climate history from two lakes in Kangerlussuaq, near the Norse “Western Settlement.” Unlike ice cores taken from the Greenland ice sheet hundreds of miles inland, the new lake core measurements reflect air temperatures where the Vikings lived, as well as those experienced by the Saqqaq and the Dorset, Stone Age cultures that preceded them.

“This is the first quantitative temperature record from the area they were living in,” said William D’Andrea, the paper’s first author, who earned his doctorate in geological sciences at Brown and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. “So we can say there is a definite cooling trend in the region right before the Norse disappear.”

“The record shows how quickly temperature changed in the region and by how much,” said co-author Yongsong Huang, professor of geological sciences at Brown, principal investigator of the NSF-funded project, and D’Andrea’s Ph.D. adviser. “It is interesting to consider how rapid climate change may have impacted past societies, particularly in light of the rapid changes taking place today.”

D’Andrea points out that climate is not the only factor in the demise of the Norse Western Settlement. The Vikings’ sedentary lifestyle, reliance on agriculture and livestock for food, dependence on trade with Scandinavia and combative relations with the neighboring Inuit, are believed to be contributing factors.

Still, it appears that climate played a significant role. The Vikings arrived in Greenland in the 980s, establishing a string of small communities along Greenland’s west coast. (Another grouping of communities, called the “Eastern Settlement” also was located on the west coast but farther south on the island.) The arrival coincided with a time of relatively mild weather, similar to that in Greenland today. However, beginning around 1100, the climate began an 80-year period in which temperatures dropped 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit), the Brown scientists concluded from the lake readings. While that may not be considered precipitous, especially in the summer, the change could have ushered in a number of hazards, including shorter crop-growing seasons, less available food for livestock and more sea ice that may have blocked trade.

“You have an interval when the summers are long and balmy and you build up the size of your farm, and then suddenly year after year, you go into this cooling trend, and the summers are getting shorter and colder and you can’t make as much hay. You can imagine how that particular lifestyle may not be able to make it,” D’Andrea said.

Archaeological and written records show the Western Settlement persisted until sometime around the mid-1300s. The Eastern Settlement is believed to have vanished in the first two decades of the 1400s.

The researchers also examined how climate affected the Saqqaq and Dorset peoples. The Saqqaq arrived in Greenland around 2500 B.C. While there were warm and cold swings in temperature for centuries after their arrival, the climate took a turn for the bitter beginning roughly 850 B.C., the scientists found. “There is a major climate shift at this time,” D’Andrea said. “It seems that it’s not as much the speed of the cooling as the amplitude of the cooling. It gets much colder.”

The Saqqaq exit coincides with the arrival of the Dorset people, who were more accustomed to hunting from the sea ice that would have accumulated with the colder climate at the time. Yet by around 50 B.C., the Dorset culture was waning in western Greenland, despite its affinity for cold weather. “It is possible that it got so cold they left, but there has to be more to it than that,” D’Andrea said.


Wind farms: Britain is 'running out of wind'

Despite the freak gales that battered parts of the country last week, climate experts are warning that many of Britain’s wind farms may soon run out of puff.

According to government figures, 13 of the past 16 months have been calmer than normal - while 2010 was the “stillest” year of the past decade.

Meteorologists believe that changes to the Atlantic jet stream could alter the pattern of winds over the next 40 years and leave much of the nation’s growing army of power-generating turbines becalmed.

The Coalition has drawn up plans to open more wind farms in an effort to meet Britain’s European Union target of providing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.More than 3,600 turbines are expected to be installed in offshore wind farms over the next nine years.

But statistics suggest that the winds that sweep across the British Isles may be weakening. Last year, wind speeds over the UK averaged 7.8 knots (8.9mph), a fall of 20 per cent on 2008, and well below the mean for this century, which stands at 9.1 knots (10.5mph).

Usually Britain has warm, wet and windy winters, thanks to Caribbean air carried here by the Atlantic jet stream, a fast-flowing current of air.

But the last two winters have featured exceptionally low temperatures and were remarkably still when they should have been the windiest seasons of all, as high pressure diverted the jet stream from its normal position.

Meteorologists have found that the position of the jet stream has been influenced by the lower levels of activity on the Sun. This decline in sun-spot activity is expected to continue for the next 40 years, with potentially serious consequences for the viability of wind farms.

Professor Mike Lockwood, from Reading University, said: “Changes in the jet stream will change the pattern of winds that we get in the UK. That, of course, is a problem for wind power.

“You have to site your wind farms in the right place and if you site your wind farm in the wrong place then that will be a problem.”

Dr David Brayshaw, also from Reading’s Department of Meteorology, added: “If wind speed lowers, we can expect to generate less electricity from turbines - that's a no-brainer.”

The gales that swept Scotland last week, with gusts of over 80mph, were the worst in the month of May for almost 50 years. The power to almost 30,000 homes was temporarily cut and two people died.

Prof Lockwood said the recent spell of exceptionally dry weather in the south and wet conditions in the northern half of the UK was influenced by the position of the jet stream.

“The jet stream is sitting over the north of England so we are getting very dry weather to the south of the jet stream,” he said.

The Atlantic jet stream brings warm, wet weather to the UK and Europe from the south-west. If it is “blocked” as a result of changes in solar activity, cold air flows across Britain from the east.

One such period of prolonged blocking of the jet stream is thought to have occurred between 1645 and 1715, when Britain experienced a mini ice age, yet also spells of hot, dry summer weather.

Prof Lockwood said solar activity was especially low during this period, adding that current levels of sun-spot activity were continuing to decline. “We reached a high point of solar activity in 1985,” he said.

“Since then, it has been declining. We are now halfway back to the levels seen during the Maunder Minimum. The probability is that that decline will continue for the next 40 years.”


Elitism doesn't sell

Even Australian Leftist journalist David Penberthy (below) sees that. NOTE: Because Australia has few blacks, inner city areas are prestigious in Australia, not dangerous ghettoes

The decision of actors Cate Blanchett and Michael Caton to front advertisements supporting the Federal Government’s climate change policies has been denounced as a shocking act of impertinence by a pair of cashed-up lefties who have no right to enter the debate.

These advertisements are 100 per cent privately-funded and in a democracy such as ours people have every right to spend their money as they wish to make their point. That said, there’s a separate issue as to whether the advertisements are tactically smart. It’s more likely that rather than galvanising support for a carbon tax, they will have the opposite effect of alienating mainstream voters who simply want details about how much the carbon tax will cost them, and what type of compensation they will get in return.

The left of politics in Australia seems to be permanently afflicted by what could be described as the Don’s Party syndrome, whereby affluent and educated people think you can win debates by telling people what’s good for them.

Advertising executive Adam Ferrier wrote a good piece on The Australian yesterday fleshing out the point.

“One of the risks of any green campaign is that it appears like lefty, progressive, idealistic and elitist, detached from the struggles of everyday people,” Ferrier wrote. “At worst, Cate is at risk of making the cause elitist. For the millions this (ad campaign) cost, there are so many other ways to change behaviour than having an elitist talking head spruik a carbon tax as easily as spruiking x, y or z.”

The best example of this was the republican campaign, which culminated with a tragi-comic cocktail reception for the failed yes vote on the night of the ballot where Rachel Ward sobbed on husband Bryan Brown’s shoulder as Malcolm Turnbull declared that John Howard had “broken the nation’s heart”. What had really happened was that the republicans had completely stuffed their campaign by leaving much of the talking to celebrities while overlooking their first responsibility – to explain how a republic would work, why we needed one, and how life would change for the better under the new constitutional model.

The same mistakes are being made now by progressive people who believe in climate change. And the same mistakes are being made, spectacularly, by the Gillard Government. The PM looks like she is dancing to the tune of the Greens purely because of the disastrous quirk of democracy at last year’s election, where no-one actually won, and she decided to break her own promise of not introducing a carbon tax in order to form government. We are now moving headlong towards putting a price on carbon – ie, introducing a tax – and the Government is trying to win a debate when it is yet to provide people with any detail.

It’s a ludicrous manoeuvre, asking people to take you on trust when you have already breached their trust by changed the position you adopted in the election campaign. Until such a time as the Government releases details of how it will actually work, how much it will cost, how much compensation families will receive, they are sitting ducks.

The pro climate change lobby and actors such as Blanchett and Caton can say and do what it likes in an attempt to bolster its cause, and spend as much money as they wish in the process.

There is a separate issue though as to whether it will actually bolster the cause. In the absence of policy detail, and with the voters still smarting from being misled by the PM, you would have to say they’ve probably done their dough.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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