Wednesday, February 22, 2012

AGU has a bet each way on the Russian heatwave of 2010

It was within the range of natural variation but still caused by global warming, apparently. I guess it is a sign of the times that they admit to ANY natural causation. The CO2 "contribution" was detectable only in their "models", of course, models that have never been shown to model anything real

The heat wave that struck western Russia in summer 2010, killing 55,000 people, broke July temperatures records and caused $15 billion in damage. Searching for a culprit for the soaring temperatures, research teams have identified either natural or manmade causes. But a new study concludes the devastating heat wave had both. Soaring temperatures were within the natural range for a Russian summer, the researchers found, but due to human-induced climate change, the chance of such an extreme heat wave has tripled over the past several decades.

“Natural variability could lead to such a heat wave,” said Friederike Otto of the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, lead author of the paper. “However due to the global warming trend, the frequency of occurrence of such a heat wave has increased.”

Otto and her colleagues used a climate model that was able to run thousands of simulations. The model was part of the project, which uses volunteers’ idle computers in order to increase the computing power and answer complex questions – like the role of climate change in a particular extreme event.

The researchers ran two sets of simulations. One set looked at heat waves that would be expected using 1960s climate conditions including temperature, sea ice thickness and extent, and greenhouse gas forcing. The second set examined heat waves under those conditions for the 2000s. Under the earlier set of conditions, the simulated July temperatures for western Russia did reach the recent heat wave’s actual maximum, which topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and had a comparable pattern of daily above-average temperatures that peaked at about 12 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit) beyond the mean. So the magnitude of the heat wave could be due to natural factors, the researchers concluded.

However when the researchers ran their computer simulations, 2010 temperatures were only reached every 99 years or so under the pre-global warming conditions. Under the current, warmer, climate of the 2000s, those extreme temperatures popped up in the model every 33 years – a three-fold increase over just four decades.

'These results show that the same weather event can be both "mostly natural" in terms of magnitude and "mostly human-induced" in terms of probability,' explained Neil Massey of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University, who was also an author of the study. 'Thinking in these terms makes it possible to calculate, for instance, how much human-induced climate change cost the Russian economy in the summer of 2010.'

The research will be published in an upcoming Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

This new way of approaching the problem reconciles apparently contradictory results from two separate 2011 studies, Otto said. In the first of those studies, by Randall Dole of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo, and his colleagues, researchers focused on why the heat wave was as large as it was – coming up with a natural explanation. The second, by Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany, asked the question of how frequently such heat waves will occur, finding a manmade acceleration.

The new study stresses the need to examine both the magnitude and frequency of extreme events, Otto said. “It’s necessary to analyse both, to really judge the role of global warming,” she said.

And the results will vary with respect to the event. In a separate study, when the researchers looked at flood risk in the United Kingdom, they found that the risk for fall floods increased under warmer climate conditions, but decreased for spring floods.

Given the cost of extreme weather events, determining how the risks are changing allows scientists to better quantify the events and possibly to help build resilience in society’s responses to them, said Myles Allen, a professor in the School of Geography and Environment, Oxford University, co-author of the GRL paper and the principal investigator of the and projects.

“People deserve to know how much climate change is affecting them,” Allen said, “and we have the methods to answer the question: How is human influence loading the weather dice?”


Warmist Megan McArdle comments on the Gleick/Heartland affair

Among other things, she gently accuses him of forging the most notorious of the documents, something he has not so far admitted

This is . . . just . . . words fail me . . . I mean, seriously . . . um . . . well, what the hey?!?!

The very, very best thing that one can say about this is that this would be an absolutely astonishing lapse of judgement for someone in their mid-twenties, and is truly flabbergasting coming from a research institute head in his mid-fifties. Let's walk through the thought process:

You receive an anonymous memo in the mail purporting to be the secret climate strategy of the Heartland Institute. It is not printed on Heartland Institute letterhead, has no information identifying the supposed author or audience, contains weird locutions more typical of Heartland's opponents than of climate skeptics, and appears to have been written in a somewhat slapdash fashion. Do you:

A. Throw it in the trash

B. Reach out to like-minded friends to see how you might go about confirming its provenance

C. Tell no one, but risk a wire-fraud conviction, the destruction of your career, and a serious PR blow to your movement by impersonating a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents.

As a journalist, I am in fact the semi-frequent recipient of documents promising amazing scoops, and depending on the circumstances, my answer is always "A" or "B", never "C".

It's a gross violation of journalistic ethics, though perhaps Gleick would argue that he's not a journalist--and in truth, it's hard to feel too sorry for Heartland, given how gleefully they embraced the ClimateGate leaks. So leave ethics aside: wasn't he worried that impersonating board members in order to obtain confidential material might be, I don't know, illegal? Forget about the morality of it: the risk is all out of proportion to the possible reward.

Some of the climate bloggers are praising Gleick for coming forward, and complaining that this is distracting from the real story. And I agree that it's a pity that this is distracting from the important question about how fast the climate is warming, and what we should do about it.

But that is not the fault of Heartland, or the people who are writing about it. When a respected public figure says that a couple of intriguing pieces of paper mailed to him by a stranger somehow induced him to assume someone else's identity and flirt with wire fraud . . . well, that's a little distracting.

Gleick has done enormous damage to his cause and his own reputation, and it's no good to say that people shouldn't be focusing on it. If his judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science? For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions?

When skeptics complain that global warming activists are apparently willing to go to any lengths--including lying--to advance their worldview, I'd say one of the movement's top priorities should be not proving them right. And if one rogue member of the community does something crazy that provides such proof, I'd say it is crucial that the other members of the community say "Oh, how horrible, this is so far beyond the pale that I cannot imagine how this ever could have happened!" and not, "Well, he's apologized and I really think it's pretty crude and opportunistic to make a fuss about something that's so unimportant in the grand scheme of things."

After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you've lost the power to convince them of anything else.

The other thing one must note is that his story is a little puzzling. We know two things about the memo:

1. It must have been written by someone who had access to the information in the leaked documents, because it uses precise figures and frequent paraphrases.

2. It was probably not written by anyone who had intimate familiarity with Heartland's operations, because it made clear errors about the Koch donations--the amount, and the implied purpose. It also hashed the figures for a sizable program, and may have made other errors that I haven't identified.

Did someone else gain access to the documents, write up a fake memo, and then snail mail that memo to Dr. Gleick? Why didn't they just send him everything?

If an insider was the source of the memo, as some have speculated, why did it get basic facts wrong? (I have heard a few suggestions that this was an incredibly elaborate sting by Heartland. If so, they deserve a prominent place in the supervillain Hall of Fame.)

Why did the initial email to the climate bloggers claim that Heartland was the source of all the documents, when he couldn't possibly have known for sure that this was where the climate strategy memo came from?

Why was this mailed only to Gleick? Others were mentioned in the memo, but none of them seem to have been contacted--I assume that after a week of feeding frenzy, anyone else who was mailed a copy would have said something by now.

How did his anonymous correspondent know that Gleick would go to heroic lengths to obtain confidential material which confirmed the contents, and then distribute the entire package to the climate blogs?

How did the anonymous correspondent get hold of the information in the memo?

I'm sure crazier things have happened, and as someone who has had an unbelievable encounter or two in her life, I always err on the side of believing people. But I would like more details on this story. When did Gleick receive the memo? Was there a cover letter? From where was it postmarked? Presumably he has saved the envelope and the original letter, so will he turn them over to a neutral party for investigation? I'm sure Heartland can come up donors for some forensics.


Dutch Scientist Says IPCC Draft Report Exemplifies “Worst Features of Science” – Calls For A Critical Review!

Dutch scientist and chemical engineer Dr. Arthur Rörsch has distributed a working paper to Dutch officials in his country to request a comprehensive review of the results and recommendations of the IPCC, especially its upcoming 5th assessment report.

In his paper Rörsch, former vice-president of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Research, writes that the IPCC has “deviated from the traditional scientific principles”. On man-made warming from CO2, he writes “that no indisputable scientific proof, or even strong empirical evidence, has been provided for such an effect, which therefore remains a matter of speculation.”

He adds: "These reviews would best be undertaken by senior and established scientists whose reputation rests in the traditional enabling disciplines that underpin climate science, specifically physics, chemistry, geology and meteorology.”

The draft volume for WG1 AR5 is a summary and compilation of papers published in scientific journals up to 2011. Rörsch makes two observations:

- The prevailing hypothesis of the assessment report is that Dangerous Anthropogenic Global Warming (DAGW) is occurring; this hypothesis has been under challenge for many years by numerous independent scientists. These scientists were not invited to participate in the preparation of the AR5 report.

- The scientific literature cited in the draft AR5 is selective towards papers that support the DAGW hypothesis, and even the papers that are included are then selectively analysed towards the same ends. These two underlying biases set the tone of the message that the authors of the AR5 report want to transmit.

Rörsch particularly criticizes the following points:

1. The IPCC assumes that atmospheric CO2 is a dominant forcing agent for global temperature without providing evidence.

2. The report authors are instructed to express their conclusions in terms of a qualitative (i.e. opinion-based) probability scale.

3. The IPCC’s use of “self-appointed experts”.

4. There’s arrogance and intolerance for alternative views displayed by the self-appointed climate experts. These experts should be treated with extreme suspicion.

5. The style of the draft AR5 report marks it as a political rather than a scientific document, for it has been fashioned within the framework of a particular cultural paradigm.

Here’s what Dr. Rörsch concludes: "The IPCC’s draft AR5 report shows insufficient objectivity, and lacks the ‘traditional’ scientific balance necessary for it to be used as the basis for policy making. Regrettably, the report exemplifies some of the worst features of the ‘post-modern’ approach to science…”


Reply to a reply

The authors of the Jan. 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed, 'No Need to Panic about Global Warming,' respond to their critics

This letter responds to criticisms of the op-ed made by Kevin Trenberth and 37 others in a letter published Feb. 1, and by Robert Byer of the American Physical Society in a letter published Feb. 6.

The interest generated by our Wall Street Journal op-ed of Jan. 27, "No Need to Panic about Global Warming," is gratifying but so extensive that we will limit our response to the letter to the editor the Journal published on Feb. 1, 2012 by Kevin Trenberth and 37 other signatories, and to the Feb. 6 letter by Robert Byer, President of the American Physical Society. (We, of course, thank the writers of supportive letters.)

We agree with Mr. Trenberth et al. that expertise is important in medical care, as it is in any matter of importance to humans or our environment. Consider then that by eliminating fossil fuels, the recipient of medical care (all of us) is being asked to submit to what amounts to an economic heart transplant. According to most patient bills of rights, the patient has a strong say in the treatment decision. Natural questions from the patient are whether a heart transplant is really needed, and how successful the diagnostic team has been in the past.

In this respect, an important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is "falsified" and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007.

These projections were based on IPCC computer models of how increased atmospheric CO2 should warm the earth. Some of the models predict higher or lower rates of warming, but the projections shown in the graph and their extensions into the distant future are the basis of most studies of environmental effects and mitigation policy options. Year-to-year fluctuations and discrepancies are unimportant; longer-term trends are significant.

From the graph it appears that the projections exaggerate, substantially, the response of the earth's temperature to CO2 which increased by about 11% from 1989 through 2011. Furthermore, when one examines the historical temperature record throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, the data strongly suggest a much lower CO2 effect than almost all models calculate.

The Trenberth letter tells us that "computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean."

The ARGO system of diving buoys is providing increasingly reliable data on the temperature of the upper layers of the ocean, where much of any heat from global warming must reside. But much like the surface temperature shown in the graph, the heat content of the upper layers of the world's oceans is not increasing nearly as fast as IPCC models predict, perhaps not increasing at all. Why should we now believe exaggerating IPCC models that tell us of "missing heat" hiding in the one place where it cannot yet be reliably measured—the deep ocean?

Given this dubious track record of prediction, it is entirely reasonable to ask for a second opinion. We have offered ours. With apologies for any immodesty, we all have enjoyed distinguished careers in climate science or in key science and engineering disciplines (such as physics, aeronautics, geology, biology, forecasting) on which climate science is based.

Trenberth et al. tell us that the managements of major national academies of science have said that "the science is clear, the world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible." Apparently every generation of humanity needs to relearn that Mother Nature tells us what the science is, not authoritarian academy bureaucrats or computer models.

One reason to be on guard, as we explained in our original op-ed, is that motives other than objective science are at work in much of the scientific establishment. All of us are members of major academies and scientific societies, but we urge Journal readers not to depend on pompous academy pronouncements—on what we say—but to follow the motto of the Royal Society of Great Britain, one of the oldest learned societies in the world: nullius in verba—take nobody's word for it. As we said in our op-ed, everyone should look at certain stubborn facts that don't fit the theory espoused in the Trenberth letter, for example—the graph of surface temperature above, and similar data for the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the upper oceans.

What are we to make of the letter's claim: "Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record." We don't see any warming trend after the year 2000 in the graph. It is true that the years 2000-2010 were perhaps 0.2 C warmer than the preceding 10 years. But the record indicates that long before CO2 concentrations of the atmosphere began to increase, the earth began to warm in fits and starts at the end of the Little Ice Age—hundreds of years ago. This long term-trend is quite likely to produce several warm years in a row. The question is how much of the warming comes from CO2 and how much is due to other, both natural and anthropogenic, factors?

There have been many times in the past when there were warmer decades. It may have been warmer in medieval times, when the Vikings settled Greenland, and when wine was exported from England. Many proxy indicators show that the Medieval Warming was global in extent. And there were even warmer periods a few thousand years ago during the Holocene Climate Optimum. The fact is that there are very powerful influences on the earth's climate that have nothing to do with human-generated CO2. The graph strongly suggests that the IPCC has greatly underestimated the natural sources of warming (and cooling) and has greatly exaggerated the warming from CO2.

The Trenberth letter states: "Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused." However, the claim of 97% support is deceptive. The surveys contained trivial polling questions that even we would agree with. Thus, these surveys find that large majorities agree that temperatures have increased since 1800 and that human activities have some impact.

But what is being disputed is the size and nature of the human contribution to global warming. To claim, as the Trenberth letter apparently does, that disputing this constitutes "extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert" is peculiar indeed.

One might infer from the Trenberth letter that scientific facts are determined by majority vote. Some postmodern philosophers have made such claims. But scientific facts come from observations, experiments and careful analysis, not from the near-unanimous vote of some group of people.

The continued efforts of the climate establishment to eliminate "extreme views" can acquire a seriously threatening nature when efforts are directed at silencing scientific opposition. In our op-ed we mentioned the campaign circa 2003 to have Dr. Chris de Freitas removed not only from his position as editor of the journal Climate Research, but from his university job as well. Much of that campaign is documented in Climategate emails, where one of the signatories of the Trenberth et al. letter writes: "I believe that a boycott against publishing, reviewing for, or even citing articles from Climate Research [then edited by Dr. de Freitas] is certainly warranted, but perhaps the minimum action that should be taken."

Or consider the resignation last year of Wolfgang Wagner, editor-in-chief of the journal Remote Sensing. In a fulsome resignation editorial eerily reminiscent of past recantations by political and religious heretics, Mr. Wagner confessed to his "sin" of publishing a properly peer-reviewed paper by University of Alabama scientists Roy Spencer and William Braswell containing the finding that IPCC models exaggerate the warming caused by increasing CO2.

The Trenberth letter tells us that decarbonization of the world's economy would "drive decades of economic growth." This is not a scientific statement nor is there evidence it is true. A premature global-scale transition from hydrocarbon fuels would require massive government intervention to support the deployment of more expensive energy technology. If there were economic advantages to investing in technology that depends on taxpayer support, companies like Beacon Power, Evergreen Solar, Solar Millenium, SpectraWatt, Solyndra, Ener1 and the Renewable Energy Development Corporation would be prospering instead of filing for bankruptcy in only the past few months.

The European experience with green technologies has also been discouraging. A study found that every new "green job" in Spain destroyed more than two existing jobs and diverted capital that would have created new jobs elsewhere in the economy. More recently, European governments have been cutting subsidies for expensive CO2-emissionless energy technologies, not what one would expect if such subsidies were stimulating otherwise languid economies. And as we pointed out in our op-ed, it is unlikely that there will be any environmental benefit from the reduced CO2 emissions associated with green technologies, which are based on the demonization of CO2.

Turning to the letter of the president of the American Physical Society (APS), Robert Byer, we read, "The statement [on climate] does not declare, as the signatories of the letter [our op-ed] suggest, that the human contribution to climate change is incontrovertible." This seems to suggest that APS does not in fact consider the science on this key question to be settled.

Yet here is the critical paragraph from the statement that caused the resignation of Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever and many other long-time members of the APS: "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now." No reasonable person can read this and avoid the conclusion that APS is declaring the human impact "incontrovertible." Otherwise there would be no logical link from "global warming" to the shrill call for mitigation.

The APS response to the concerns of its membership was better than that of any other scientific society, but it was not democratic. The management of APS took months to review the statement quoted above, and it eventually declared that not a word needed to be changed, though some 750 words were added to try to explain what the original 157 words really meant. APS members were permitted to send in comments but the comments were never made public.

In spite of the obstinacy of some in APS management, APS members of good will are supporting the establishment of a politics-free, climate physics study group within the Society. If successful, it will facilitate much needed discussion, debate, and independent research in the physics of climate.

In summary, science progresses by testing predictions against real world data obtained from direct observations and rigorous experiments. The stakes in the global-warming debate are much too high to ignore this observational evidence and declare the science settled. Though there are many more scientists who are extremely well qualified and have reached the same conclusions we have, we stress again that science is not a democratic exercise and our conclusions must be based on observational evidence.

The computer-model predictions of alarming global warming have seriously exaggerated the warming by CO2 and have underestimated other causes. Since CO2 is not a pollutant but a substantial benefit to agriculture, and since its warming potential has been greatly exaggerated, it is time for the world to rethink its frenzied pursuit of decarbonization at any cost.


Citigroup Says Peak Oil Is Dead

Citigroup announced to the world Thursday that peak oil is dead. The controversial idea that world crude oil production is almost at its peak and will soon begin an irrevocable long-term decline has been laid to rest in the highly productive shale oil formations of North Dakota, with potentially big consequences for oil prices, the bank said.

However, despite this reading of last rites, the data suggest it would be premature to pronounce this patient dead.

Changes in oil markets in the past decade have given significant traction to the argument that world oil production is close to peaking. Despite the huge incentive of a near-threefold increase in the price of benchmark Brent crude from 2000 to 2010, the world barely managed to eke out a 10% increase in crude oil production, according to BP data.

Many have argued that this proves the physical limit on global crude oil production is near, or may already have been passed.

“The belief that global oil production has peaked, or is on the cusp of doing so, has helped to fuel oil’s more than decade-long rally,” Citigroup said in a note to clients. “This is now all changing because of what is happening in North Dakota,” where new technology has led to a large and unexpected surge in oil production from shale rock.

After decades of decline, “U.S. oil production is now on the rise, entirely because of shale oil production,” said Citigroup. Shale oil could add almost 3.5 million barrels a day to US oil production between 2010 and 2022 and has already slashed 1 million barrels a day from U.S. oil imports. One day it may allow the U.S. and Canada to be self-sufficient in oil, it said.

There are other parts of the world with similar promise, the bank said. Argentina has already discovered significant shale oil deposits. Australia may have shale reserves. The prospects for Europe may not be so good, given that one of the more prospective areas is in the Paris basin of France, where shale gas drilling has already been banned.

“The surge in U.S. production clearly indicates that human ingenuity is rising to the challenge issued by long-time oil bulls,” and peak oilers, said Citigroup.


Facts don't bother Warmists

The Himalayan glaciers aren’t melting, at least for the moment, says a recently study published in Nature. Between 2003 and 2010 the effective change in the size of glaciers in the high mountains of Asia was “not significantly different from zero,” said a British scientist not involved with the study, who added, “I believe this data is the most reliable estimate of global glacier mass balance that has been produced to date.” Low-lying glaciers were indeed melting, but ice added at higher altitudes made up the difference.

Astoundingly, the scientists don’t seem to have realized the significance of their own findings. “People should be just as worried about the melting of the world’s ice as they were before,” said one of the researchers. In other words, we should be just as worried as we were when the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was scaring us with the news that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 (or was it 2350?). It turns out, too, that the polar bear population in the Arctic is much more stable than previous estimates suggested.

The science is never settled.



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