Climate Consensus' Data Need a More Careful Look
In his Aug. 6 op-ed, "A New Climate-Change Consensus," Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp speaks of "the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather." We have seen quite a few such claims this summer season, and Mr. Krupp insists that we accept them as "true." Only with Lewis Carroll's famous definition of truth, "What I tell you three times is true," is this the case.
But repetition of a fib does not make it true. As one of many pieces of evidence that our climate is doing what it always does, consider the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's year-by-year data for wet and dry years in the continental U.S.
From 1900 to the present, there are only irregular, chaotic variations from year to year, but no change in the trend or in the frequency of dry years or wet years. Sometimes there are clusters of dry years, the most significant being the dry Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. These tend to be followed by clusters of wet years.
Despite shrill claims of new record highs, when we look at record highs for temperature measurement stations that have existed long enough to have a meaningful history, there is no trend in the number of extreme high temperatures, neither regionally nor continentally. We do see the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s setting the largest number of record highs, at a time when it is acknowledged that humans had negligible effect on climate.
What about strong tornadoes? Again there is no trend. Last year was an unusually active season, and unfortunately some of those storms ravaged population centers. We were told that these disasters were the result of human CO2 emissions. Yet 2011 was only the sixth worst for strong tornadoes since 1950 and far from a record. And have any of us heard about this tornado year? Why not? Because 2012 has been unusually quiet. Most of the tornado season is behind us, and so far the tornado count is mired in the lowest quintile of historical activity. As for hurricanes, again there is no discernible trend. Regarding wildfires, past western fires burned far more acreage than today. Any climate effect on wildfires is complicated by the controversial fire suppression practices of the past hundred years.
Lurid media reporting and advocates' claims aside, even the last comprehensive Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report noted that "archived data sets are not yet sufficient for determining long-term trends in [weather] extremes." Yet this has not stopped global warming advocates from using hot summer weather as a tool to dramatize a supposedly impending climate Armageddon.
In a telling 2007 PBS interview, former Sen. Tim Wirth gloated about how he had rigged the 1988 Senate testimony chamber to dramatize the impact of NASA scientist James Hansen's histrionic testimony on imminent danger from global warming: "We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer . . . So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington or close to it."
Not content to gamble on the vagaries of weather statistics, Mr. Wirth also boasted, "What we did is that we went in the night beforehand and opened all the windows . . . so the air conditioning wasn't working inside the room . . . when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot." Tricks like those described by Sen. Wirth have been refined to an art to promote the cause of economically costly action to prevent supposedly catastrophic consequences of increasing CO2. Contrast these manipulations with the measured and informative Senate testimony of climatologist John Christy earlier this month.
In an effort to move the science debate completely into the political arena, Mr. Krupp implies that with the exception of a few enlightened Republican governors and captains of industry, most "conservatives" are climate skeptics—and vice versa. But some of the most formidable opponents of climate hysteria include the politically liberal physics Nobel laureate, Ivar Giaever; famously independent physicist and author, Freeman Dyson; environmentalist futurist, and father of the Gaia Hypothesis, James Lovelock; left-center chemist, Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of the German environmental movement, and many others who would bristle at being lumped into the conservative camp.
Whether increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is bad or good is a question of science. And in science, truth and facts are not the playthings of causes, nor a touchstone of political correctness, nor true religion, nor "what I tell you three times is true."
Humanity has always dealt with changing climate. In addition to the years of drought and excessive moisture described above, the geological record makes it clear that there have been longer-term periods of drought, lasting for many years as during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to many decades or centuries. None of these past climate changes, which had a profound effect on humanity, had anything to do with CO2, and there are good reasons for skepticism that doubling CO2 will make much difference compared to natural climate changes.
It is increasingly clear that doubling CO2 is unlikely to increase global temperature more than about one degree Celsius, not the much larger values touted by the global warming establishment. In fact, CO2 levels are below the optimum levels for most plants, and there are persuasive arguments that the mild warming and increased agricultural yields from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity. Let us debate and deal with serious, real problems facing our society, not elaborately orchestrated, phony ones, like the trumped-up need to drastically curtail CO2 emissions.
Schmittner versus Fulks
The excellent article above was the subject of a correspondence that was copied to me. Apparently Andreas Schmittner (Associate Professor of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University) objected that the article failed to account for recent declines in Arctic sea ice.
He and Gordon Fulks go back a long way. You can read here an account of a public lecture in which it is fair to say that Schmittner and his fellow Oregon Warmists were humiliated by questions from the floor, with Fulks being prominent among the questioners.
So on this occasion Fulks [firstname.lastname@example.org] wrote to Schmittner as follows:
You never cease to amaze me with your lack of scientific sophistication and complete willingness to play the hysteria games. Yes, the Arctic sea ice is near a record low for the 30 year satellite record, which covers only about three decades. You are too young to remember a time when we did not have satellite measurements. Climate record highs or lows over just a thirty year period are hardly earth shattering.
But if you think they are, why not tout the near record high Antarctic sea ice at this same point in time? The poles are almost opposites in sea ice records this year. Of course measured as an anomaly, worldwide sea ice is below normal for now after having been above normal earlier this year. This is due to the fact that a near complete melting of Antarctic sea ice is considered "normal" while the carryover of much more sea ice is considered "normal" in the Arctic. But since the substantial melting of multi-year Arctic sea ice in 2007, we have seen a lower minimum in recent years. Are you aware that after the record melt in September 2007, the Arctic refroze faster than ever observed just a month later? A rapid refreezing is normal, and as a consequence, worldwide sea ice peaks in November.
The time to lament the disappearance of the earth's total sea ice is in January and February when it plummets dramatically. The reason you folks don't tout that decline is that people in the northern hemisphere have a hard time believing that such a decline in our coldest months could possibly be significant!
Since I am sure that your one and only explanation for the near record low Arctic sea ice will be man-made CO2, let me point out that a more sophisticated scientist would look at the many natural processes at work in addition to Arctic air temperature. Arctic ocean water temperature, salinity, and circulation are also important factors, as are winds and storms.
Even if Arctic air temperature were to blame, are you now really willing to attribute 'hot spells' to AGW? If so, was our two day hot spell last week caused by CO2? If so was our otherwise cool spring and summer not caused by CO2?
You have a very long ways to go to demonstrate that anything unusual is happening with the earth's climate!
Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
Corbett, Oregon USA
Ice core shows Antarctic Peninsula warming is nothing unusual
Press release flatly contradicts what boffins said
New ice core data from the Antarctic Peninsula has revealed that temperatures in the region during the past 10,000 years have often been higher than they are today, and that warming of the sort seen there recently has also occurred in the pre-industrial past.
The new data are derived from a massive new 364m-long core extracted from the ice sheet lying on top of James Ross Island towards the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the freezing Weddell Sea. The core was extracted by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, assisted by French boffins, who reached the area courtesy of the Royal Navy ice-patrol ship HMS Endurance and her helicopters.
The mighty core has allowed analysing boffins to reconstruct local temperatures and snowfall way back to the end of the last ice age. The info is of particular interest as the Peninsula has warmed up rather quickly over the last 50 years or so, and is bucking the overall Antarctic trend which has seen vast new expanses of sea ice appear around the coasts of the austral continent. Thus it is that the Ross Island ice core results have made it into this week's edition of agenda-setting boffinry mag Nature.
As is plain from the graphs, it has often been hotter than it is now at Ross Island during the past 10,000 years - today's temperatures are nothing exceptional. The idea that they must result from man-made carbon emissions doesn't, on the face of it, seem that credible.
But perhaps the recent warming has been exceptionally, unprecedentedly fast? The Esperanza station not far from James Ross has recorded a climb of 2°C since it was established in 1958. Maybe something is happening along the Peninsula which has never happened before in the Holocene (post Ice Age) era?
It would certainly seem so. A press release issued ahead of the Nature paper by the British Antarctic Survey states uncompromisingly: "The scientists reveal that the rapid warming of this region over the last 100 years has been unprecedented."
[Since the publication of this article the press release webpage has been amended to say "very unusual" - Ed.]
Panic Stations! Hold on though. The actual Nature paper has this to say: "The high rate of warming over the past century is unusual (but not unprecedented) in the context of natural climate variability over the past two millennia.'
And for good measure: "Repeating the temperature trend analysis using 50-year windows confirms the finding that the rapidity of recent Antarctic Peninsula warming is unusual but not unprecedented ... natural millennial-scale climate variability has resulted in warming on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula that has been ongoing for a number of centuries and had left ice shelves in this area vulnerable to collapse."
So yes, ice shelves along the shores of the Weddell Sea may very well snap off in coming years, especially if warming should continue. It appears to have happened often enough in the pre-industrial past:
"There is evidence for instability of the Larsen A ice shelf between 3,800 and 1,400 yr [ago]. Farther south again, the Larsen B ice shelf probably remained intact throughout the Holocene, although there is evidence that the ice shelf was progressively weakened by melting ... temperatures similar to present occurred in this region for much of the Holocene, resulting in a regime in which ice shelves were only transient features along the northern-most part of the eastern Antarctic Peninsula and were undergoing decay farther to the south. An additional new perspective is that recent warming to levels consistent with the mid Holocene meant that the ice shelves along the northeastern Peninsula were poised for the succession of collapses observed there over recent decades."
Or in other words there really doesn't seem to be anything happening on the Antarctic Peninsula that hasn't happened before. Global warming may, as may climate scientists believe it is, be set to increase disastrously in the coming century: but there's no particular sign of it to be seen at the Peninsula, now that we have an accurate insight into the area's past history.
What this episode does show is just how blindly and unquestioningly the general scientific and media communities believe in the idea of carbon-driven climate apocalypse: the mindset of the PR staffer who wrote that press release and the various journalists who have uncritically reprocessed it is more reminiscent of religion than of science.
Did you know that president Obama has been a champion of Big Oil since he became our Chameleon-in-Chief? That’s right: Oil production is at an all time high under- hurray!- his administration because he’s been so cooperative with oil and gas producers- and, depending on your standards, or lack thereof, you might even believe him when he says it.
Last year the New York Times was so disgusted with Obama’s landmark, much-billed energy policy speech that they actually issued this correction:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: March 30, 2011
A previous version of this article misstated how many of the president's proposals to reduce the country's reliance on imported oil were new in his speech on Wednesday. None of them were, not one of them.
So let’s you, me and the New York Times agree that Obama really doesn’t have an energy policy. Recently Obama reinforced that notion.
You see, Obama was against oil production before his newest, bestest policy, just recently embraced 72 hours ago, that- to paraphrase him- says: “Drill, Barry, drill.”
His change of heart
For decades the basic policy of all US governments, Democrat or Republican, has been to keep oil prices relatively low and relatively stable. To argue a contrary policy, as Obama has done, would be like arguing that a higher crime rate leads to less crime because we’d end up getting more criminals off the street and in to jail. Crime rates would certainly go up, if we encouraged it.
So it goes with oil prices.
Since Democrats took over Congress in 2007, we’ve gone from relatively stable oil prices to all time highs, a small correction, and now we are headed back to all-time highs...again. We have neither low prices, nor stable prices.
And oil prices have been rising during a jobs recession masquerading as Obama’s Summer of Love. Just wait to see what oil prices do when we have real economic growth. But of course we neither have had growth nor will we grow under these self-defeating economic and energy policies, which are really the same thing.
Makes you wonder if the same bright federal lights who illegally sold guns to Mexican meth dealers are also in charge of energy policy (see Solyndra). It’s the only explanation that I can come up with for the willful blindness that allows the Obamanauts to not see that their energy policy, like their policy on gun-walking, WON’T END WELL.
Britain’s House of Lords Resists Global Warming Policies, Promotes Free Trade With China
Suddenly, Great Britain’s House of Lords is back in style and that’s good news for the free market. Some of the more forceful critics of anti-energy, global warming policy proposals are finding expression in the elite unelected chamber. There is Lord Christopher Monckton, a former member of the Conservative Party, who has repeatedly challenged former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore to debate the science behind the idea of man-made global warming; thus far to no avail.
Someone else who has been in the news recently is Lord Nigel Lawson, a former UK chancellor, who champions free trade over environmental restrictions. He is particularly critical of Europeans who have worked to erect trade barriers against China.
“It is wrong in two ways,” Lawson told ChinaDaily.com “It is wrong morally because it is asking them to slow their development down. It is also wrong in practical terms because it is quite clear they are not going to do it.”
Lawson, who authored “An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming,” has been on the receiving end of intense criticism from environmentalists for taking on the scientific establishment. But Lawson is convinced he has the upper hand on the economics and on key moral questions. He is far from alone. A growing number of geologists, physicists and astronomers now question the premise of man-made global warming theories. Freeman Dyson, a British-American physicist at Princeton University, who was born in Britain, backs Lawson’s arguments.
While carbon dioxide has been vilified in a series a reports from the United Nations, and by an all too compliant media, its impact on warming cycles is far from certain, Lawson informs critics. Unfortunately for him both major parties in Britain have embraced alarmist positions on climate.
This point was not lost on Vice-President Gore when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in July 2008. There is no argument between the two major parties in Great Britain over the scientific evidence, Gore told committee members at the time. Although they are “competing vigorously” with one another, they are vying to see which party can offer the “most creative and meaningful” solution to the “climate crisis.”
When he was running for office, Prime Minister David Cameron didn’t exactly distance himself from the green energy restrictions that are at the heart of modern environmentalism. In the aftermath of the “climategate” scandal implicating the University of East Anglia, green initiatives are suddenly less of a priority from Cameron and the Tories. They have pulled back on unsound policies, but for purely political reasons.
That’s where the House of Lords is still valuable. While the political class was racing ahead with “cap and trade” schemes that were economically unsound, and as it turns out, greatly detached from scientific findings, it was in the House of Lords where skeptics found expression.
The Lord has lost power since the beginning of the 20th Century, but it still plays a valuable role. Under former Prime Minister Tony Blair, legislative changes removed all but 92 of the 750 hereditary peers. This means it is no longer possible to become a peer by family pedigree. However, Blair’s government fell short of converting the Lords into an elected body like the U.S. Senate; this for the good.
In early American Republic, each state selected two U.S. Senators, who in effect, served as ambassadors to the national government in Washington D.C., where they safeguarded local interests. But after progressivism interceded, the 17th amendment was adopted on May 13, 1913. From that point forward, U.S. Senators were elected and not appointed. Almost overnight, they went from being careful custodians of states’ rights to agents of the federal government. The end result was a rapid expansion of federal power.
Since the House of Lords remains a fully appointed, unelected body, it is in position to resist popular trends and fashionable ideas that do not hold up under careful scrutiny; like the concept of man-made global warming, which has been largely discredited by updated research.
Just as man-made global warming has been pilloried in the House of Lords, protectionist policies against Chinese produced goods have also come under fire.
Lawson has told colleagues that free trade with China should be encouraged and not criticized. Arguing that the country’s rising economic power will boost living standard for vulnerable populations.
“It [China’s growing economy] means the world is a much more competitive place, but on the whole it is an excellent thing,” he said. “It has taken millions of people out of poverty and provides a huge market for exports.”
This is the refreshing kind of free market discussion that has largely gone missing in elected bodies in Europe and America. Hopefully, the honest debate in the House of Lords will spread across the pond.
Australia: Conservative leader fights no-fishing bid in Coral Sea
PLANS to lock-up the Coral Sea as the world's biggest marine park face a fresh attack with Tony Abbott to push a Bill through Parliament to stall controversial new marine park protected areas.
The Opposition Leader, in opening the Brisbane Boat Show, will today detail a Coalition bid to stop a plan for a network of marine reserves around Australia.
He said commercial and recreational fishermen were not "environmental vandals".
"They want to be able to catch fish tomorrow as well as today, in the next decade as well as this one," Mr Abbott said. "That's why they're normally the strongest conservationists of fish stocks."
Furious fishers believe the proposed closures will kill access to fresh seafood with losses also in the Gulf of Carpentaria prawn industry.
High-profile advocates like Virgin founder Richard Branson and musicians Jackson Browne and Neil Young, calling themselves "Ocean Elders", have publicly backed the Coral Sea proposal.
The Coalition will support a private member's Bill from Member for Dawson George Christensen to put on hold any proclamation on new conservation areas and obtain independent scientific, economic and social analysis.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday rubbished a report showing a billion-dollar hit to Cairns alone as a "scare campaign".
"Their figure of $1 billion would only be correct if you were taking the impact of the marine parks over the next 200 years," Mr Burke said.
"I'm surprised that council would spend rate payers' hard earned money on a scare campaign like this."
Cairns Regional Council is asking Mr Burke's office to unveil a breakdown of its detailed cost analysis after an independent report by Cummings Economics revealed a $1 billion loss to the far north Queensland economy over three decades.
"We are all for protecting the Great Barrier Reef and our outer marine environment," said CRC officer Fiona Wilson.
"But this is not just the loss of a couple of fishing businesses, but a vast widespread impact, and we worry there is a risk they have heavily underestimated the cost.
"We want them to show us the modelling."
Protect Our Coral Sea advocates believe the green zones over nearly 1 million km sq will protect iconic marine species, fish stocks and coral reef in pristine waters.
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