Thursday, August 25, 2011

Does recent Oklahoma weather tell us anything?

There are many articles coming out which make similar claims to the one below. Note however the omissions. No climate skeptic was consulted for alternative statistics or explanations. And even if we accept that there has been a recent increase of big storms and wild weather, alternative explanations to global warming are readily available.

It has for instance recently been shown that storm incidence is heavily and rapidly influenceed by aerosol load. And there is no doubt that factories and cars have been putting out a lot of aerosols (minute particles that float in the sky) in recent years. Warming need have nothing to do with it. An increase in storms may have been triggered just by an upsurge in aerosols. Since global temperatures have not increased for over 10 years, aerosols are in fact the more likely culprit.

And the basic claim that weather has been more extreme in recent years is highly suspect. As has often been documented on this blog, there were many catastrophic weather events in the early 20th century -- long before the period nominated by Warmists as influenced by anthropogenic CO2.

In support of that suspicion, note that many of the extremes noted below are only "since 1980". Nice to cherrypick your starting point! In fact just picking out Oklahoma is also cherrypicking

Oklahomans are accustomed to cruel climate. Frigid winters and searing summers are often made more unbearable by scouring winds. But even by Oklahoma standards, it's been a year of whipsaw weather.

February was so cold — with the wind chill it felt like 16 below — that Tim Gillard installed a door in the long hallway of his home in the small farming town of Marshall, walling off three rooms to more affordably heat the rest of the house. Now, in this summer's unrelenting heat, his family huddles in the air conditioning behind that same door.

The Gillards' respite ended this month when a windstorm knocked out the town's electricity. That sent many of Marshall's 290 beleaguered residents out to their porches at night to sleep, cooler than inside but still sweltering. In July, Oklahoma's average statewide temperature of 89 was the highest ever recorded for any state.

Oklahoma's misery has been writ large across the country this year, which federal climate scientists have labeled one of the worst in American history for extreme weather. With punishing blizzards, epic flooding, devastating drought and a heat wave that has broiled a huge swath of the country, the 2011 weather has been unrelenting and extraordinary.

In addition to hundreds of deaths from cold and heat and tornadoes, the national economic toll for extreme weather so far this year is estimated at $35 billion, more than five times the average annual loss.

And, climatologists warn, get used to it. The year has been so wild that Gary McManus has given up keeping track of the weather records set in Oklahoma. Begrudgingly, McManus, the associate state climatologist, briskly rattled off a few:

—The all-time low temperature (31 degrees below zero).

—Greatest 24-hour snowfall total (27 inches).

—Most tornadoes in one month (50 in April).

There's been no measurable rain in the western half of the state since October. The 11-month period ending in August was the driest such period statewide since records were first kept in 1895.

McManus said this year's back-to-back weather calamities were "out of the realm of your imagining. It's not just that temperatures are above normal, it's that it's above normal for so many months in a row." And this is the state that bore the brunt of the Dust Bowl.

"It's Oklahoma, it's feast or famine," said Annette Gonzales, 58, acting Marshall postmaster. "It's always extreme."

Oklahoma's heat wave has so far claimed 14 lives. Since 2000, Oklahoma has had more federally declared weather-related disasters than any other state....

Climate scientists point to the predictable and cumulative effects of climate change — both hot and cold — to account for much of the extreme weather, although the connection between tornadoes and climate is not clear. In any event, scientists caution that the future will hold greater temperature extremes, and for longer duration.

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that extreme weather events have been more frequent since 1980.


Perry and Global Warming

Do the warmists questioning Governor Perry really believe in science and math?

Last week Rick Perry questioned the prevailing orthodoxy on global warming. There was, as is easy to imagine, no shortage of warmists waiting to pounce. Remarkably, one of the first questions later put to Governor Perry was whether he accepted the correctness of evolution — as if the science behind global warming was supported by even a tenth as much evidence as we have for evolution. What is troubling, however, is that some of the other candidates for the Republican nomination still accept the theory of man-made warming. Worse, they are apparently prepared to act on their beliefs if elected president.

First, allow me to be clear about one thing. The planet is warming. Well, it was until 1998, when the warming trend abruptly ceased. In truth, it has been warming since 1850, when the last mini–Ice Age ended. In the 161 years since then, the earth’s temperature has increased . . . wait for it . . . 0.7 degrees. But we can’t even be sure of that, as all the major temperature records have been altered to the point of uselessness.

The scientists at Great Britain’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) admit to using statistical sleights of hand to change the temperature record, so as to show more warming. And then, in a total flouting of the scientific method, they tossed out all the original raw data so that no other scientist could check their work. Remarkably, a panel — including a number of persons who stood to gain financially from a global-warming panic or who were personal friends of the accused — found nothing wrong with what the CRU scientists did. Move along; nothing to see here.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is responsible for feeding data into the United States’ Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) temperature record has been caught in a number of “unintentional” mistakes. One of my favorites is replicating Russia’s September temperatures as October’s, thereby significantly increasing the global average. In this regard, I have often wondered how it is that every “mistake” the high priests of global warming make is in the direction of increased warming. Why don’t they ever make a mistake that shows any cooling? My presumption is that after altering the laws of physics, altering the law of averages was child’s play.

Still, tampering with the data in such a way is a relatively minor fraud compared to the data manipulation the GISS gets away with every day. You see, although the GISS receives temperature readings from thousands of global stations, it uses only a fraction of them. Unbelievably, the GISS still fills out the thousands of spreadsheet cells, using figures from other sources. So what does the GISS put in a cell that used to have actual data readings? Well, it is using a smoothing technique that allows it to use any temperature reading taken within 750 miles of the location the empty cell represents. For instance, rather than use a temperature reading from a mountaintop in Bolivia, the GISS can substitute a reading from the coast of Peru or from a steamy Brazilian jungle. Does no one in government see how a warming bias might, therefore, be baked into the global record?

The graph below shows how damaging this smoothing is to the data record. Note the warming in the Arctic region. It seems like reason for concern, until one realizes that almost no actual data were used to create those dangerous-looking red zones. Instead, readings from almost 1,000 miles south of the polar regions were substituted for the missing data. How does such a substitution make sense unless one can convince oneself that it gets colder the closer one gets to the equator?

What does it mean if the major recent data sets are unreliable? First and foremost, it is a catastrophe for climate scientists, since they use these data as the basis of nearly every study they do. If the data are garbage, then every one of the thousands of studies using those data are also garbage.

But let’s be generous and assume for a moment that the planet actually has warmed all of 0.7 degrees. Should we follow the Chicken Littles in frenzied panic? I would argue that perhaps we might at least want to wait until the warming trend breaks out of the bands of natural variability. The graph below shows the temperature record for the past 10,000 years.

As one can clearly see, we still have several degrees to go before we reach temperatures recorded during previous natural warming periods. At the rate the temperature is increasing, we should be as warm as the ancient Romans in another 300 years. Moreover, even if 2011 is declared (using corrupted data, of course) as the warmest year on record, it will still rank only about 9,100th out of the last 10,000 years. One might even note that all previous warming periods since mankind exited the caves coincide with the greatest achievements in civilization and culture. That is something this warming period has in common with past ones, unless you wish to discount such things as the doubling of the average lifespan and a tenfold increase in average wealth as an achievement worthy of note.

The sad truth, however, is that none of the above information nor any of the thousands of other data points I could present are going to make an iota’s difference to those who see carbon emissions as a crime against the planet. They are apparently oblivious to any fact that does not support a theory they have invested so much emotion in. Moreover, they are willing to wreck our entire economy in pursuit of the false gods of global warming.

What is one to make of an administration that puts green jobs at the center of its job-creation plans when empirically based studies from Spain and the United Kingdom show that every green job gained means the loss of between two and four other jobs? This is something worth keeping in mind when any member of the administration shows up to take credit for new jobs at a solar plant (not as likely as a couple of years ago, as they are going bankrupt and moving their operations to China faster than the government can pump in new subsidies) or a wind-turbine factory. As you listen, give a moment’s thought to the thousands of persons thrown out of work to create those green jobs.

Or what is one to make of wind power? It costs much more than coal or gas, and it is not nearly as efficient as either. This is something Governor Perry knows all about. Texas has emplaced about 9,700 megawatts of wind power, at tremendous cost to ratepayers. In early August, Texan demand topped 63,000 megawatts, but less than 500 megawatts was available from those expensive wind farms. It seems the wind stops when it gets too hot. How much more money are we going to invest in a system that is capable of only 5 percent efficiency when it is most needed? Fortunately, Texas had also built a few new coal-fired plants to back up its unreliable wind farms.

But all of this is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the many trillions of dollars the warmists want us to “invest” in a destructive effort to replace carbon-based energy sources. That is a lot of money to spend on fixing a problem that probably does not exist — money that would then be unavailable to help us adapt to the effects of “natural” climate change.

The simple fact of the matter is that even if global warming were caused by human activity, the cost of mitigation is far greater than the cost of adaptation. And if humanity is not adding any significant amount to global warming, then anything we spend on mitigation is not only wasted, but damaging to the welfare of many millions. That of course assumes that the developing world follows our example. So far it has shown little inclination to do so. The populations of India and China should be thankful that their governments appear to be in no hurry to impoverish them, as, while paying lip-service to the warmist orthodoxy, they continue building new coal-fired plants at a rate of one every two or three days.

Given the growing body of evidence showing that human activity has little if anything to do with global warming, it is time to stop questioning Governor Perry’s beliefs and turn the questions the other way. It would be good to hear the media ask candidates who support the tenets of global-warming theory why they believe it is worth putting a huge and unsustainable burden on an already weak economy. Make no mistake about it, the warmist agenda aims at nothing less than a curtailment of individual freedoms and the further destruction of our economy. You can’t be rich if you’re energy poor. When did this become something Republicans could support? For that matter, when did it become something thinking Democrats could support?

The warmists always claim to be great believers in science and math. So here is a math problem I want them to solve. We know that GDP and carbon use are closely correlated. In fact, given the current state of technology, the 60 to 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions the warmists call for would reduce our GDP by approximately 40 percent. The problem therefore is simple: How are the warmists going to find employment for the people thrown out of work by a downturn twice as deep as the Great Depression?


Another IPCC prediction fails

In a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) earlier this month, climate researchers have found that another prediction in the UN’s IPCC reports — what Al Gore likes to call “settled science” — is simply wrong, and that IPCC’s predicted rise in sea level over the next century is likely not going to happen.

First let me quote from the AGU’s own description of the paper, sent out to reporters to highlight important new findings:

With the power to drown low-lying nations, destroy infrastructure, and seriously affect sensitive coastal ecosystems, sea level rise may be one of the most readily apparent consequences of global warming that is already under way. However, the sources of the rising waters, and the dynamics driving them, are not so clear. Melting land-locked glaciers, shrinking ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica, and the ocean’s thermal expansion will all play a part, but the expected contribution from each of these sources is still up for debate. Previous studies have suggested that thermal expansion driven by rising sea surface temperatures will account for up to 70 percent of sea level rise in the near future, but research by McKay et al. suggests this may be a drastic overestimate.

What McKay et al. found is that the thermal expansion of the oceans actually contributed less than 1 percent of sea level rise during the last ice age., which means that the Antarctic ice sheet had to have contributed the bulk of the water for the almost 20 feet of sea level rise that occurred.

The problem this poses for modern predictions of sea-level rise is that the Antarctic ice sheet today does not appear to be melting. Thus, in order to produce the end-of-the-world scenarios that the global warming scientists like so much, the IPCC scientists assumed that the thermal expansion of the ocean would contribute most of the sea-level rise. To quote the 2007 IPCC report:
In all scenarios, the central estimate for thermal expansion by the end of the century is 70 to 75% of the central estimate for the sea level rise.

This number, however, was not really based on any good data, something the IPCC does admit. The reason it exists, however, is because the IPCC scientists do have better data on the melting (or not melting) of the glaciers and icecaps of Greenland and Antarctica, and these do not produce enough water to produce the sea-level rise these global warming activists want. Without thermal expansion, the oceans could not rise significantly, even if the world warms as much as the IPCC says.

So, the IPCC scientists guessed that thermal expansion had to be a major contributor to sea-level rise, estimating its contribution to be anywhere from 55 to 70 percent of the total.

Let me highlight the differences: IPCC estimate: 55 to 70 percent of the total; New data: less than 1 percent of the total. The IPCC’s estimate seems a bit wrong, eh?

Above all, this result does not prove anything. What happened during the last major sea-level rise in the last ice age might not be a good proxy for sea-level rise in the future. Also, these new results could easily be incorrect, as they are trying to figure out what happened a hundred thousand years ago using limited data and computer models.

What this result does prove is the continuing uncertainty of climate science. We simply don’t know enough to truly understand what is happening to the earth’s climate. And anyone who says we do (Hi Al Gore!) is showing themselves to be an untrustworthy source of information, completely ignorant of the complexity of the science.


Will climate change cause war?

Weather causes war, a new study claims. So should we limit CO2 emissions and give peace a chance? Make love not CO2?

The study published in this week’s Nature claims to correlate El NiƱo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycles with wars around the world during 1950-2009. The study’s intended implication, then, is that if only we can stop climate change (i.e., limit CO2 emissions), peace will be at hand.

The study’s major problem, however, is that even if there is a statistical correlation (pardon the redundancy) between ENSO events and wars, the study authors failed to examine any of the actual socio-political circumstances surrounding the wars. To insinuate weather cycles as a cause of or contributor to war simply because they can be correlated is to mindlessly exalt numerology over socio-political reality.

Next ENSO cycles are real and result in actual weather phenomena. Extrapolating the actuality of ENSO to the dubious hypothesis of catastrophic manmade global warming, is yet another leap of faith.

The goal of this research is to link CO2 emissions with national security. That is, we don’t just have to wish for world peace anymore; we can stop burning fossil fuels, cooling our homes, driving SUVs, eating meat, etc. It is merely a ploy to tug at the consciences of conservatives who, as a tribe, otherwise generally oppose Al Gore-ism.

FYI, this study’s sponsors include the U.S. EPA, the brother of George Soros and the Environmental Defense Fund.


Science When It Suits Them

Even if you believe in global warming, you may still reasonably question the solutions proposed

So every now and then, liberals are treated to a big self-righteous laugh at the expense of some backwoods Christian conservative candidate who "ignores science" by doubting evolution or global warming -- or, gasp, both.

Much, for instance, has been made of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recent suggestion that evolution is a "theory that's out there" with "gaps in it." He even insinuated that evolution and creationism should both be taught in schools -- because folks are "smart enough to figure out which one is right."

Sanctimony to red alert!

Now, I have no interest in watching my kids waste their time with creationism, but unlike progressives, I have no interest in dictating what other kids should learn. Remember that these folks, bothered by the very thought of their offspring's hearing a God-infused concept in school, have no problem forcing millions of parents to accept bureaucrat-written curricula at government-run school monopolies. They oppose home schooling. They oppose school choice. They oppose parents choosing a religious education with their tax dollars.

As a voter, like me, you may find Perry's view on creationism disconcerting and a sign of an unsophisticated candidate. But the fact is that the progressives' faith-based devotion to government is far more consequential than Perry's faith-based position on evolution.

Despite the rare political dispute, in the real world, science -- real science -- is rarely controversial. It's politicized science that is prickly. And science is easy to politicize. Maybe if schools began teaching students that "life" begins at conception and that each zygote, embryo and fetus is a unique human being in some early stage of development just waiting to be born, liberals would see the point.

No, my kids haven't been chewing over Charles Darwin text or the Holy Bible in elementary school. There's simply no time. Not with global warming out there.

Perry, not surprisingly, was also recently asked about "global warming." He responded that "the issue has been politicized" and that pouring billions of dollars into "a scientific theory that has not been proven and ... is more and more being put into question" is not worthwhile.

It is interesting watching the nation's defenders of reason, empirical evidence and science fail to display a hint of skepticism over the transparently political "science" of global warming. Rarely are scientists so certain in predicting the future. Yet this is a special case. It is also curious that these supposed champions of Darwin don't believe that human beings -- or nature -- have the ability to adapt to changing climate.

Like 99 percent of pundits and politicians, though, I have no business chiming in on the science of climate change -- though my kids' teachers sure are experts. Needless to say, there is a spectacular array of viewpoints on this issue. The answers are far from settled. There are debates over how much humans contribute. There are debates over how much warming we're seeing. There are debates over many things.

But even if one believed the most terrifying projections of global warming alarmist "science," it certainly doesn't mean one has to support the anti-capitalist technocracy to fix it. And try as some may to conflate the two, global warming policy is not "science." The left sees civilization's salvation in a massive Luddite undertaking that inhibits technological growth by turning back the clock, undoing footprints, forcing technology that doesn't exist, banning products that do and badgering consumers who have not adhered to the plan through all kinds of punishment. Yet there is no real science that has shown that any of it makes a whit of difference.

So no doubt, it is reasonable for voters to query presidential candidates about their views on faith, religion, God, Darwin and science. It matters. Sometimes, though, it matters less than they'd like you to think it does.


“Wealthy Liberals” Seek to Shut Down Job Producing Drilling Innovations in Pennsylvania

“Wealthy liberals” are spreading false and misleading information about new drilling techniques that have opened up natural gas resources in Pennsylvania, according to a report from the Commonwealth Foundation.

A geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which cuts across New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Viriginia, was beyond reach at one time. But this has changed as a result of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Almost 489 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is sufficient to cover all of America’s natural gas needs over a 20 year period is recoverable, the foundation reports.

Unfortunately, anti-drilling activists have stepped in to obstruct further development of the natural gas industry, which is responsible for creating tens of thousands of new jobs, according to the report. Herb and Marion Sandler, who founded the S&L known as World Savings Bank, are identified as the primary culprits here. In 2007, they launched an investigative reporting outfit called ProPublica, which proceeded to inveigh against the natural gas industry.

“Much attention has been paid to the efforts of gas companies to influence the political debate through campaign contributions and lobbying efforts,” the report says. “But anti-drilling activists — while claiming gas companies use their vast financial resources to weaken regulatory structures and silence poorly funded environmental groups — influence politicians through their own lobbying efforts and by spreading myths about drilling. Among the myths alleged about “Big Gas” is that drillers are flocking to Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus Shale reserves, engaging in dangerous and highly polluting drilling activities, and shirking responsibility for damages while successfully avoiding paying taxes.”

After scrutinizing several of the natural gas articles produced by ProPublica, the Independent Institute uncovered several areas that cast the industry in very bad light. Here is a portion of Institute’s commentary on the reporting from ProPublica: “The Colorado experience of zero cases of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing is consistent with the 2002 study from the Interstate Oil and Gas Com3 policy brief pact Commission (a consortium of state regulatory agencies). The Commission surveyed regulatory agencies in 28 states (including Colorado and the other four states where ProPublica claimed that there were more than 1,000 “documented” cases of contamination). The response covered the entire history of hydraulic fracturing in those states. Every single one of those 28 states reported that there had never been groundwater harm due to fracturing.”

The ProPublica report declined to report on any evidence from this study.

The slanted reporting and misinformation could come with a serious price tag for Pennsylvania, if state officials are persuaded to impose restraints on natural gas development. Penn State economists have concluded that the Marcellus development has already resulted in over 88,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania. Moreover, the investments in natural gas drilling have translated over to improved infrastructure for the state.

In 2010, natural gas companies poured about $200 million into rebuilding and improving local roads, the Commonwealth Foundation reported.

The enhanced drilling techniques have opened the way to economic development that would not have been possible just a few years ago. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have helped to take the edge off the recession in Pennsylvania. But job creation could be offset if green pressure groups and “wealthy liberals” are permitted to circulate anti-industry propaganda without a forceful response.



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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